Campers capture the city in images

A national photography camp gives 17 high school students `an excuse to be nosy' around Annapolis


The students were sent out to document the city they live in. To show Annapolis through their eyes.

They came back with photos of a young girl feeding ducks, a man eating in a restaurant, an artistic shot of the round spokes of a city trash can against a backdrop of the red brick road.

After the first day of the National Geographic Photo Camp, some students found that their vision of Annapolis was being transformed.

Over four days, 17 students from Annapolis High School, armed with cameras, were to shoot post offices, churches, restaurants, buildings, objects, people, even pets.

After the first day, the students viewed one another's work.

Jack Turner, 15, praised the photos of the three other students in his group.

"It's a different view than you usually see with professional photographers," he said, after pointing out the unique view of one of his classmates. His assignment on Thursday - to shoot details - caused him to scrutinize elements of the city in a way he hadn't before, he said.

"It makes me look more carefully at things, to look at what's going on," he said. "It gives me an excuse to be nosy. I like that - it's fun."

National Geographic photographer Annie Griffiths Belt also had praise for the students' photos. When one complained about some shots she had taken, Belt disagreed.

"I like the blurry," she said. Later, she said that working with the students at the camps reminds her to be playful.

"By the time it's a profession, you can take it so seriously," she said.

On Thursday, Belt, who has worked at National Geographic for 28 years, presented a slide show of some of her work, explained to students how she got her shots and offered advice for getting into the field.

She said she hopes to help the students see and think differently, and hopes that by the end of the four-day camp, they understand the importance of stories told through photos.

"I would hope that it would awaken an artistic spark inside of them, even if they don't go on to a photography career," she said.

The camp brought together students of different backgrounds. Among them were a football player, a member of the marching band, students experienced in photography and a few students for whom English is a second language.

And though they all ventured out into downtown Annapolis to take photos, the students took very different shots, and many of them continued shooting after the camp ended for the day.

Roslyn Smith, 13, took photos from behind the window of a bus on a rainy Thursday evening, and then turned her lens on some of her fellow passengers. She also shot a boarded-up house and a strip mall from the bus. She explained that she was trying to show that Annapolis isn't all "white houses."

"Every city has its 'hood, and that's what I tried to bring," she said.

Kirsten Elstner, a photographer and the director of the camp, said she founded the program three years ago as a way to give voice to the students, and offer a youth's perspective on the community. The program, which includes lectures, slide shows and mentoring from professional photographers, is also a chance for students to get a feel for what a career in photography is like.

Nanine Hartzenbusch of The Sun was one of the professional photographers mentoring students during the camp.

Students are lent digital cameras for the camp - which is held in six U.S. cities - and are given daily assignments. At the end of the camp, an exhibit of the students' work is put together by one of the professional photographers.

The students' work in Annapolis will be shown at 1 p.m. today in the auditorium of Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. An exhibition of the photos also will be shown during First Night Annapolis on Dec. 31.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.