Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

"I live in a place where everything isn't perfect, there's no such thing." --Ricardo Munoz, student at Humanitas Academy of Art & Technology.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo Munoz

"They live in a place where family is suppose to comes first and sometimes love can overcome anything."--Gabi Berchtold, photography student at Harvard Westlake School

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gabi Berchtold

Self-portrait by Humanitas Academy of Art & Technology photography student Brianna Cardiel.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brianna Cardiel

"I am in a place where one's true self cannot be hidden."-- Zohar Levy, photography student at Harvard-Westlake

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Zohar Levy

"I live in a place called Los Angeles. This is a sprawling city that can leave you feeling disconnected. Sometimes I feel, I call this home because that is what I am supposed to do." --Kate Von Mende, photography student at Harvard-Westlake

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Kate Von Mende

A self-portrait by Harvard-Westlake photography student Alena Rubin.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Alena Rubin

Self-portrait by Humanitas Academy of Art & Technology photography student Eddie Pum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Eddie Pum

Self-portrait by Humanitas Academy of Art & Technology photography student Jasmin Perez.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jasmin Perez

Self-portrait by Kissbell Preza, photography student at Humanitas Academy of Art & Technology.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Kissbell Preza

"I live in a place called Los Angeles. This is a sprawling city that can leave you feeling disconnected. Sometimes I feel, I call this home because that is what I am supposed to do." --Kate Von Mende, photography student at Harvard-Westlake School

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Kate Von Mende

"I live in a place where adolescents are considered riffraff or hoodlums, bad examples. People fear what they do not know. People think we just leave a path of destruction behind, but really more people should understand what we truly feel." --Eddie Pum, photography student at Humanitas Academy of Art & Technology

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Eddie Pum

Self-portrait by Humanitas Academy of Art & Technology photography student Ricardo Munoz.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo Munoz

"I live in a place where religion is very important in society. Some people are so devoted to their religion they choose to carry a part of it on their body. The Mexican culture is something that is a part of me and a part of where I am from. The Virgin Mary represents the beginning of the evangelization of the 'new world.'--Julian Alvarez, photography student at Humanitas Academy of Art & Technology

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Julian Alvarez

"I live in a place where you can use your imagination to explore jungles or lakes. People fear growing up. People think they just lose their imagination and freedom as an adult, but really more people should understand that to do so is a choice." --Megan Cohen, photography student at Harvard-Westlake School

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Megan Cohen

I'm in a place where many rights, freedoms, and possessions have been stripped away. However, Cubans will never allow a government to strip away their traditions, close community, and most importantly, their happiness."--Oceania Eshraghi, photography student at Harvard-Westlake School

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Oceania Eshraghi

"I am in an unfamiliar place guiding the voices and visions of young girls."--Nicole Bahar, photography student at Harvard-Westlake School

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Nicole Bahar

Self-portrait by Harvard-Westlake photography student Amy Vanderschans.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Amy Vanderschans

Self-portrait by Harvard-Westlake photography student Ian Litchman.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ian Litchman

"I live in a place where musicians and their music fill the streets."--Kissbell Preza, photography student at Humanitas Academy of Art & Technology

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Kissbell Preza

"I live in a place where people roam around streets searching for the memories of their childhood." --Angel Contreras, photography student at Humanitas Academy of Art & Technology.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Angel Contreras

More galleries on Framework

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#whereami: Student photographers explore their communities to reveal themselves

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#whereami: Student photographers explore their communities to reveal themselves

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#whereami: Student photographers explore their communities to reveal themselves

Joan Dooley, a media arts teacher at Humanitas Academy of Art & Technology, an LAUSD pilot school in East Los Angeles, has long encouraged her students to show their communities and to push themselves to reveal a mood. Joe Medina, a photography teacher at Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, drew on Dooley’s idea of exploring community and pushed his students to reveal feeling and then to share the work on social media sites such as Tumblr. Students looked at the familiar and the unfamiliar and shared what they saw with fellow students across town. The result is a compelling body of work titled “A Sense of Community” now on display at dnj gallery through June 20th at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica.

Framework talked with Dooley and Medina via email about the assignment and about teaching photography:

How did the idea for “A Sense of Community” come about? What guidance and time parameters were students given?

JD: The idea for “A Sense of Community” generated from a photo assignment I developed a few years back called Sense of Place. The basic concept of that lesson is to explore familiar and unfamiliar places and make photos that capture the essence and spirit of those places.  Students began the project in the fall semester and worked on weekends and holiday breaks to complete their initial photography portfolios.

In most all our assignments, Joe and I teach our students to go beyond the snapshot by expressing both ideas and feelings in their imagery. On my end, besides the requisite technical lessons that lead up to any photo project, we study photography through picture analysis. Students analyze the expressive works of great photographers and deconstruct and analyze how the photographers achieved that expression. For this lesson, students examined and explored telling details of the master image that convey mood and tone.

I gave the students a series of assignment worksheets helping to guide them through the process of making photos that go beyond the snapshot. One of my Sense of Place assignment worksheets gave them eight different shooting assignments: 1) the decisive moment (after studying Henri Cartier-Bresson); 2) juxtaposition (contrasting two different, contradicting elements); 3) emotion; 4) graphic design/ geometry (strong diagonals, leading lines, curves, or shapes); 5) focusing on details; 6) urban landscapes   7) common objects found in weird places; 8) self-portraits beyond the selfie (add a sense of mystery or intrigue).

I live in a place where religion is very important in society. Some people are so devoted to their religion they choose to carry a part of it on their body. The Mexican culture is something that is a part of me and a part of where I am from. The Virgin Mary represents the beginning of the evangelization of the "new world." Julian Alvarez student at Humanitas Academy of Art & Technology at Esteban E. Torres HS/LAUSD.

“I live in a place where religion is very important in society. Some people are so devoted to their religion they choose to carry a part of it on their body. The Mexican culture is something that is a part of me and a part of where I am from. The Virgin Mary represents the beginning of the evangelization of the ‘new world.’ –Julian Alvarez, photography student at Humanitas Academy of Art & Technology

JM: Joan has been my mentor teacher for some time, one of the things I have learned from her is to seek out a space where students can engage in a dialogue beyond the classroom walls and campus. In addition to my technical and conceptual photo-based projects, I have developed photo and art challenges that hopefully allow students both global and local insight into their parallel experiences as image-makers and scholars.

In these art challenges students are instructed to use smartphone photography to capture images, and social media as a critique platform and digital sketch book. Due to some students not having access to this technology we opened it up to dslr cameras as well. Both Joan and I started in October with a “selfie” and “food” project that referenced the genre of self-portrait, persona, surrealism and the still life … all legitimate genres that have a strong history in art and photography.

This work was posted collectively on a social media site.

In January, Joan and I discussed the possibility of doing another challenge and actually having the work in a gallery. We teach in the same city but may as well be in different parts of the world. I teach in a private school nestled between Beverly Hills and Bel Air. Joan teaches on the Eastside of Los Angeles. With that said, I think both schools are always striving to unite and inspire our students through educational excellence.

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Some of the photographs not only document a place but seem to reveal a feeling about that place.  How did you encourage the students to put themselves into the work?

JD: Although we are learning from the work of others, they are continually reminded to internalize, dig deep and find their own voice. At the top of their assignment sheet was this direction in large type: “Express the way YOU see YOUR lives and YOUR communities.”

Teenagers are very interested in making images that express emotion and mood. I often incorporate writing into a photo lesson, and in this one I had my students research the work of several “mentor photographers” such as Robert Frank and Mary Ellen Mark. Students responded to their favorite master photographs by writing about what stories and feelings the images told. Students then wrote their own photo plan about what stories and moods they wanted to capture in their own neighborhoods.

JM: One of the many things I learned from Joan is to constantly remind students to find a connection to what they are taking photographs of, no matter how different it may be. I always tell my students [to] take what has been done and bring your own voice to it. Find that connection. There is something very powerful when a student begins to understand this.

How did the students from the respective schools work together?

JD: Mostly the students from each school reflected on, and were inspired by, the other school’s photographs. Students also created their own visual and written responses to the photos by students from the other school.

Kate Von Mende_Dakota Currier

Collaboration by Kate Von Mende and Dakota Currier

JM: Much of the correspondence was through social media sites like Tumblr. My students would view and discuss the work created by HAAT students and vice versa.

They were then instructed to visually respond to the student images from the other school. They could do this by creating a diptych, “placing an image side by side,” double exposures or a poem. Whatever they chose, there had to be evidence that the students looked closely at the work created by HAAT or HW student. My HW students were inspired and intrigued by the HAAT student responses to their own work.

It was great hearing them talk about Telicia or Dakota in my classroom. They were on a first-name basis yet had not meet each other. Having these diverse communities meet on opening night was powerful. Everybody was in the show based on the merit of their artwork regardless of social standing.

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What was most surprising part of the project?

JD: Even though I’ve been teaching for almost 20 years, I’m always surprised by the brilliant images my students make. I was astonished by how little some of my East L.A. students had explored their own community before this photo project, for a variety of reasons. For example, the parents of some of the girls have restricted their movements around their neighborhoods, sometimes to as small a radius as a block or two, for safety reasons.

I took two of these students on a photography field-trip workshop, working one-on-one with each of them during our holiday break. I was honored to mentor them, and witness a brand new view of their community open up to them as we photographed together. I was also thrilled and gratified to see how beautiful and brilliant some of their images were that were inspired by their research mentors. For example, the musician in a cowboy hat was directly inspired by Robert Frank’s famous street photograph of a young urban cowboy on a New York City street.

JM: The east and west sides of Los Angeles seem incredibly different, but images and social media can act as a leverage tool for diverse communities to have dialogue and power over their own voice. Digital photography always seems to be reinventing itself but the one constant is the power of voice.

A portion of the proceeds from print sales will help Humanitas Academy of Art & Technology students with college expenses.

–Jeremiah M. Bogert Jr.

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1 Comment

  1. June 1, 2015, 9:55 pm

    So powerful. I commend these incredibly insightful teachers who build bridges for kids to humanize those who abide across the socio-economic and cultural chasms which divide us. Excellent inspiration! Cutting-edge instruction! Nice work, teachers!

    By: aletheaparadis

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