Beautiful Photos Beleza

Salvador de Bahia, Brazil 2008

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® Sydney Dratel

I’m not new at teaching photography to teenagers. I already know their amazing resilience and ability to quickly learn all the different aspects of what makes an interesting picture. The fact of being younger is simply a plus: they understand faster what it takes to photograph daily life in an interesting way. But what never stops surprising me is how much I learn from them.
The workshop with the students from the Ross high school in Salvador de Bahia was a confirmation of that.
Besides their strong desire to learn the intricacies of picture taking each student showed a great concern in generously giving back to their subjects that truly moved me. They brought back hundred of pictures to the joy of entire communities especially the children; they donated clothes and food to many people.
I was also greatly impressed by how articulate they were in writing their own personal experiences during the workshop. I loved watching them adding new entries in their travel blog daily. Their enthusiasm for life was inspiring.
They transformed the posada where we were staying into a joyous, big, busy lab. Every morning I’d see students carrying recently processed film, shuffling pitchers full of chemicals from one room to the other.
I also have fond memories of our long editing sessions when we would order pizza or Chinese take out and spend hours selecting their best images while savoring the delicious food.
I like to treat my younger students as I treat the older ones. I strongly believe in their capacity to grow tremendously if they pay attention to my advice and suggestions. I’m not surprised that they all did exactly that. There is no comparison to be made between the photographs they came with and the new images they left with. It all goes to their credit, their hard work, their instructors, their school, their parents and in a small part to the maestro that simply helped inspiring each one of them.
We lived some very powerful, unforgettable days together. Their images tell in a personal way the unique experience that each one of them lived with their eyes and under their skin.


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