AmeriCorps VISTA Hosts Photography Workshop for Teens

Sarah Keifer, an AmeriCorps VISTA member at Wyman, discusses her experience obtaining a grant to better support Wyman’s Teen Leadership Program teens through a photography workshop.

one way sign

Photo credit: Khalil, TLP teen

As an IT Coordinator VISTA, I rarely have the opportunity to interact with the teens that many Wyman staff mentor every day. Since I’ve always enjoyed working with youth in the outdoors, I started to think about how I could get out of the office and become more involved with the teens. I majored in Art with a concentration in Photography and always enjoyed using photography as a means of expression to share my perspective with others. Considering my own skills made me realize that organizing a photography workshop for Wyman’s Teen Leadership Program teens would be a great way for them to gain an appreciation of art while visually conveying their experiences in and excitement about Wyman!

Photo credit: Daniel C., TLP teen

My project, however, required expensive equipment in order to actualize. I started my campaign for funding by writing donation letters and researching and applying for possible grants.  It was hard work and discouraging at times but I pushed forward believing that my project, now called Teens in Focus, could be a huge success. By mid-June I received a generous award of $500 from the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) to help fund the project. Wyman kindly donated the remaining funds for Teens in Focus and I was on my way.

My program ran during the “Got Skills” day of summer programming for Wyman’s TLP. “Got Skills” is a day when Wyman group leaders host different workshops in areas of interest. Seven teens decided to sign up for my photography workshop. They started out as a quiet group that seemed unsure of their abilities to capture anything meaningful.  After giving them some very basic photography pointers I sent them out to take photos. The energy they came back with was amazing. They were all so excited about the images they captured and even more thrilled when told they’d be able to print out their best. Everyone who witnessed our workshop wanted to see the photos, and noticed that we were having a lot of fun. The teens were excited that other people liked their images and wanted copies, and noticed that many of their friends wished they had signed up for Teens in Focus.

ants on red flower

Photo Credit: Destinee S., TLP teen

Afterwards, I loaded all of the photos onto my computer and reviewed them to see what other images they captured besides the ones we printed. I was so proud of them!  I could see the different techniques, angles, and settings they tried.  Not only did they listen to my brief introduction to photography, but they followed it and were successful!  For the most part, the pictures they printed were their best, but there were some hidden gems, and some silly photos of their friends that made me laugh.

I wish that I had more time to with work with them, even just one more day to help them improve their technique. Still, I know that they had fun and, at least for some of them, I sparked an interest in photography and a desire to continue improving.

Teens in Focus

Sarah poses with the TLP teens who participated in Teens in Focus

Interested in being a Wyman Americorps VISTA? Check out current positions here!



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