When my 11 year old daughter began kindergarten at Melrose Leadership Academy, I had a simple idea. I thought I could photograph each kindergarten class as long as my children attended the school. I live in the neighborhood. How difficult could it be?
As I tell my photography students, simple and easy are not the same. “Simple” is difficult and my simple idea has become more difficult this year. I teach in a district an hour away from my home. We have the same breaks, so I don’t have a week to visit the school.
There is another complication. I try to create something different each year. MLA was at a different site the first three years, so those pictures all look different from the more recent images. Each year I wonder how I am going to create something interesting. Last year, I gave the kids magnifying glasses. This year, the students photographed me with my smartphone.
I encourage the students to participate so that they will learn how to tell their stories better. When I first started photographing the kindergarten students, I called MLA an experiment. Parents did not know if the school would survive another year, but the school has grown. I have also seen the students grow in their ability to tell their own stories.
I don’t know how I will create the kindergarten portraits next year. I will probably give them a light and let them point me in the right direction.