When I first started the plan of teaching documentary photography in LaVallée I did tons of research on Haiti and her people so I would better understand their culture and know how to relate to my students during critiques. In my research I came across this beautiful quote by a Haitian man; “Our hope is that one-day you would learn first hand of the beauty of Haiti that endures to this day—that of its culture and of its people.” —Edmonde Laguerre.
While looking through tons of images made by my photography students in Haiti one of the first suggestion I gave them comes to mind. I said to them if what you see in your camera does not touch your heart—do not press the shutter—shoot from the heart! I wasn’t sure they understood but when I downloaded their images to my mac for critique the next day, their images were so beautiful and touched my heart so deeply I had to laugh to keep from crying. I knew they understood what I meant when I said shoot from the heart.
The first class with the young photographers was all about the camera and how to use it; they had no experience in making photographs and had never even held a camera before. I had to think back to when my brother gave me my first camera I was no more than nine or ten years old. I remember it wasn’t the camera that fascinated me it was the pictures! I couldn’t get enough of them and this is what my students were experiencing. After that working with them became easy. Their first assignment was “home and family” and I didn’t have to remind them to shoot from the heart.
When it came time for me to return to the U.S. I left them with assignments to work on while I was gone reassuring them I would return in twelve weeks. The following images are from their first assignment.
All of the images by the young photographers will be published in the book. I have applied my copyrights to all the images on the blog so they cannot be reproduced.