This photo opportunity to grow with my subjects gave me a moment to reflect.
In 2009, a public charter school, Coney Island Prep School, opened it’s doors to their first student class. I photographed the students with the mission to celebrate their character and personality in a school portrait format. I spent a few minutes with each student to discuss what they would like to do for their portrait. Looking back at the students, school, and my work and seeing how much we’ve grown is truly rewarding. Together we created a space for the students to be themselves and enjoy the portrait process.
The students were so happy to be a part of the process. We worked together to create something they would love. I remember hearing the kids whispering and giggling in the halls, “We can do what we want!” I had two minutes to work with each student and about 70 students in total.
Fast forward to 2017; I got an invite to capture their class again as the first graduating senior class! I had learned a lot since that first year. (Let’s say that I did not attempt 60+ students without an assistant and lunch break this time around. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way! The students were so personable and engaging. I loved hearing about their plans following graduation, and several remembered our first shoot. The students were given printouts of their first school portrait before entering in our makeshift studio. We could hear a lot of laughter and conversation buzzing in the hallway.