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Local teens see Hunts Point through photog’s eyes

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A group of 16 local teens viewed the borough from a new point of view when they participated in National Geographic’s New York Photo Camp 2008, from Friday, May 23, through Monday, May 26.

Under the watchful eye and guidance of National Geographic contributing photographer Ed Kashi, the students photographed, edited and created a portrait of their Hunts Point community, focusing on the environment and kids’ connections with nature.

“It was spectacular, very, very successful,” camp director Lindsay McCullough said.

She further explained that while most of the kids have lived in the south Bronx their entire lives, they fail to see where the borough’s numerous environmental problems originate.

“They had a basic concept but they were very disconnected from the source, so I think we helped make the connection,” she explained, referencing the group’s four day workshop which took them to the root of many of the borough’s current environmental shortfalls.

After viewing the excessive dumping in what should be a clean river system, McCullough said, “Some of the kids were really angry.”

Having grown up in the Bronx her whole life, 17-year-old Fordham resident Esmeralda Herrera said she was amazed at what she’s missed over her lifetime in the borough.

“When I was with them I got to see the Bronx for what it really is and not what I imagined it to be,” she explained.

After receiving lessons from Kashi on photographic vision, equipment and technique, along with how to properly compile a series of photographs to convey a message, the kids took to the streets to create their own stories.

Herrera found hers while witnessing a young girl plant a tree – a local effort to increase the borough’s greenery and alleviate asthma.

Intrigued by her action, Herrera said she was additionally captivated when the girl’s young brother decided to help.

“To see the baby tree being planted and the little boy was really rewarding,” she said. “Knowing they’ll grow up together is special.”

While selecting photos for her final presentation, from the 500 she captured during the camp, was difficult, Herrera said the chosen few were worth the work.

“We narrowed it down to the ones we liked and the ones we thought would speak to others,” she said.

Many of the participating students are active in the International Center of Photography at The Point Community Development Corporation in Hunts Point.

The students had a final showing of their work at The Point on May 26.

“We hope that Photo Camp 2008 provided the students with a unique lens on the world and helped expand their awareness of the environment and their impact on it,” said Terry Garcia, National Geographic’s executive vice president of the Missions Programs. “We feel honored to participate in this endeavor.”

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CNG: Community Newspaper Group