Once in a while you get the chance to do something different – a little bit special.
For the past six weeks I have had the absolute pleasure of giving a bunch of students from the East End of London the opportunity to be photographers, and today I have been printing their work for them for a small exhibition to be held next week. Look at the work below, and remind yourself that these boys and girls (well, more lads and ladies, to be fair) had never taken pictures seriously six weeks ago, and certainly had no experience of using an SLR. More to the point, our sessions together were only for a few hours each Thursday, amounting to less than 24 hours. A standing start to this in less than a day!
They have shown imagination, creativity, insightfulness and flair. They now talk and write knowledgeably about Eugene Smith, Donovan Wylie, Garry Winogrand, Ansel Adams, and many other seminal photographers, and the research they have done in homework as preparation is frankly staggering.
It would be remiss not to mention the other people who have coached them. The enthusiasm and commitment displayed by fellow mentors Simon Mutter and Heather MacRae of Venture Thinking cannot but have inspired. Most significant, though, is the dedication, organisation and sheer force of personality of their teacher, Suresh Ravendran. If he is indicative of the calibre of teacher at Little Ilford School, then the students there are very fortunate indeed.
I hope that photography will continue to be a major factor in the lives of these students, and that they themselves are proud of what they have achieved. I know I am.