Regent Park Focus After-school Photography Program
In October 2010 Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre began offering after-school photography programs for children and youth in the area. The 12 week program was a partnership between Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre and the Gerrard Kiwanis Club and was offered Mondays through Thursdays and involved four different groups of youth. All the program sessions were facilitated by Nick Kozak, a professional photographer conducting a year long residency program at Regent Park Focus. As Regent Park is in the midst of re-development the focus of the work revolved around photographing the changing neighborhood. The following is a description of the programs that were offered.
Mondays Sessions at Regent Park Focus
Each Monday a group of 6 to 10 children met at Regent Park Focus to learn some basic tips on camera use as well as receive instructions on focus and composition. Students were also shown examples of documentary and travel photography. Then, armed with cameras, they took to the streets. Activities included portrait taking of one another and portrait taking of people in the streets. The children in the program also captured candid photos of the area along with many wonderful urban landscape shots of the neighbourhood. The focus of the Monday group was on capturing the old and the new in Regent Park and during our walkabouts we had many interesting conversations about the redevelopment going on in the area. The group that shows up tends to vary in size and some students have returned more regularly than others but because new faces show up every time a large number have experienced documentary photography for the first time.
Tuesday Photography Sessions at Queen Alexander School
The Tuesday photography workshops took place at Queen Alexander Middle School. Similar to the Monday sessions, students were first given basic instructions on camera use and handling followed by instruction on the rules of composition. Each session included a walkabout with the cameras and the kids regularly went out to photograph each other and other people out in the streets. Usually we would return in time to do editing using Adobe Lightroom which gave the students an opportunity to view each other’s photographs and comment on what worked and what did not. Some of the most interesting and challenging sessions have come from approaching strangers. Several students have shown lots of enthusiasm for documentary photography and have improved greatly during the workshop period.
Wednesday Photography Sessions
Our Wednesday group was from Lord Dufferin School. The participants in this session were all around the age of 10 years old. Each week they would be walked over to the Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre by Gerrard Kiwanis Club as part of our partnership. This group has consistently shown up to the photograph sessions with plenty of enthusiasm. During the first few sessions participants were introduced to documentary and travel photography through viewing photographs in magazines and online. These sessions were followed by instruction on basic camera use and composition theory. Most weeks the group went out to take photographs around Regent Park and nearby in Cabbagetown with a focus on capturing the redevelopment of the Regent Park area. With adult support, students learned how to get over their shyness and approach strangers to ask permission to photograph them. In addition the group took plenty of urban landscape photos. Even on very cold days students braved the weather and low light conditions and continued to go out to photograph in the area. Each week participants return with great stills and to take part in edit sessions using Adobe Lightroom. The students would view everyone’s photographs on a projection and learn what can be done to enhance a photograph in the editing process. The strengths and weaknesses of each photo are pointed out in order to provide participants with knowledge on how to improve next time they photograph. The group has also been taught to use Lightroom on Mac computers in the computer lab and edit their own photos. It has been an incredible experience seeing what the young kids capture, what they see out in the neighbourhood and just how much fun they can have with the cameras.
Thursday Photography Group
The Thursday photography session consisted of older youth who were familiar with Regent Park Focus and have participated in many programs in the past. One of our photographers in this group, William Kuan, took part of The City of Toronto’s Our City Our Stories contest in 2009 and was awarded one of the 10 prizes by Canon and the City. He has since received paid work assignments photographing buildings with Daniels, the company in charge of redeveloping Regent Park. This fall term the group has been instructed on basic composition and has viewed many projects online to get a good sense of the variety of documentary photography done by professionals. The group decided to pursue a project in which young people would be photographed in front of their homes in Regent Park. These portraits serve the purpose of documenting both the buildings and its residents.
If you want to view their work check out our on-line galley in the photography section.