We began our photography project with Davis second graders today. I did an introduction to photography, in general, and to Roland Freeman’s documentary photography, in particular. The students made insightful observations and asked great questions about Roland’s photographs from two exhibits: The Arabbers of Baltimore and Stand By Me: African American Expressive Culture in Philadelphia.
“He looks proud of his work.” (comment on a photograph of a woodcarver)
“It looks like they pray over the food at Holy Heaven.” (on a photo of a soul food restaurant)
“Why are the people dressed like they are from Africa on the streets with buildings like the ones around the corner from us?” (drummers lined up at the opening of the Africamericas Festival)
“The pictures look like they are old.” (black and white; of horses and wagons; vintage clothing and cars).
Students made connections between the people, places, and things they saw in Roland’s photographs and what they might find in their photography around the Davis neighborhood.
When I introduced myself as a photographer I shared a copy of Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator. We talked about a few pictures in it and I taught them the term macro photography. We then went on to talk about Roland’s work.
The students were particularly exited to see photographs of Roland when he was young (age 5 and age 12). Several of the groups asked whether I would bring Roland with me when we went out on our field trip around the neighborhood later this month. I would love to, of course, but I told them Roland lives in Washington, D.C., and won’t be able to come. We are going to share our photographs of the Davis neighborhood with him via the blog and see if he has any feedback for us. The students wanted to know what Roland looks like now so we’re going to make sure they have a chance to do some research on the internet.
I want to thank Kacy Hellings, one of Davis’ two gifted education teachers, for taking the photographs in this post. To see previous posts about this project, which is being funded by Parents for Public Schools of Greater Jackson, click here, here, and here.