Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Reality Check part II

If you read the earlier entry about the Goodwill ecademie HS kid who killed himself instead of getting caught by the police, you might want to know about all the successes this school has had. I just covered the event and took group photos of the young people who graduated from the ecadamie High School, and it was very inspiring and emotional.

Some of this kids were the first in their families to graduate from high school, and all had put a lot of effort into graduating.

Good thing the school doesn't have a "no cheering" policy during the ceremony; no one would have gotten their diploma. Besides the cheering and clapping for each student as they went on stage to get their diploma, I heard screams of "That's my sister!!, "We Love you Tony"and "You go, Girl!".

Immediately after the shoot, I went to a friend's son's graduation party at their house, and the differences were palpable. Everyone there expected him to graduate, with honors (he's a smart kid). He plans on spending a few months in Costa Rica exploring the jungles before going on to college.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

End of the School Year

One advantage of working for yourself, is that you have a lot more opportunities to share school events with your kids by shifting work schedules (who needs sleep anyway?).

This year, I got to see Alyssa enjoying her class's end of the year swim-party the day before the last day;

Alyssa & good friend Sophia P.

Talk about a Slam "Dunk"! The boys were going nuts catching some serious air time.

- and the last day's "Camp Multi-Age" (1st & 2nd grade) camp in her classroom. Gretch & I set up her tent before school. Of course, what's camping without a portable DVD player in the tent?!

Alyssa with tent mates Sophia P. & Jewell.

Her brave teachers even provided "smores" for around the "campfire". The kids loved it, but what a sticky mess! Mrs. A & Mrs. M, you are awesome!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Reality check

Sometimes, things happen that make you realize that what you do as a photographer is more than just make pretty pictures for people.

I do a lot of work for Goodwill of Central Arizona; photographing everything from Grand Openings to Christmas parties to PR events. Good people doing good work; I enjoy working with everyone there and being a part of something that helps people who really need the help.

One of the more recent things Goodwill is doing is called the ecademie Charter High School. Most of these "kids" come from a disadvantaged background, or worse; and are making a serious attempt to better themselves against tough odds. Some have been in prison or are already parents; but most are just having a rough time getting started in life.

On April 27th, Goodwill held a Prom for the e-cademie students at a downtown hotel, and we made on-site prints from portraits I had Jim Baker shoot for me, while my nephew Ben ran the printers and I covered the event. Most of these kids had never had professional photographs made of them, and Deana, my contact with Goodwill on this shoot said, "Make them happy, and send us the bill". The kids went nuts over the photos and we shot and printed our brains out until we ran out of paper near the end of the night. Everyone was happy, and we were tired.

Less than a week later, I received a call from e-academie asking for photos of a student at the prom named Andrew, because a few days after the prom he had attempted to hi-jack a car, and was spotted and chased by the police. When he ran from the car and in a gun battle with the police was shot in the leg, he put his gun to his head and killed himself.

He had already been in juvenile corrections. He was 17.

His mother had NO photos of him, and the school wanted to give her every photo of him they could. Especially an 8x10 for his funereal.

I remembered this kid because of who he was; a big, loud, tough acting Hispanic dude, who really wasn't all that tough, but sure tried to be. He was one of those central "life of the party" type kids who you notice.

Here is a shot from the dance floor with William (in a white shirt, towards the back), mixing it up.