Slice of Life, Day 23: Zooming In

In my office are 8 frames of black and white pictures that I took in college. I took the pictures, developed the film, enlarged and printed the images and matted them.  I remember spending hours in the dark room that semester trying to get the blackest black and the whitest white in my prints.  I remember finding a theme of children playing (before I even knew that education would be my profession) and enjoying the time spent at playgrounds zooming in on shapes of equipment, facial expressions and catching childhood games in action.

I’ve had a camera in my hand for as long as I can remember. My parents are avid photographers too, so once we started taking over their camera, they gave my brother and I each one of our own.  Looking through the camera lens helps you to become an innate editor, zooming in on what’s really important and what really needs to be in focus.

When I taught Kindergarten in NYC, I gave disposable cameras to my children when we went on writing walks. I developed their film and had them use their photos to create books.  Now, when I teach writing lessons, I compare zooming in on a small moment to zooming in with a camera lens.  I hope they have that opportunity. The connection between writing and photography is so clear to me.

In my adult life, I’ve taken to creating photbooks and photo-stories for my own children. Instead of photo albums, I’ve created our own non-fiction versions of our adventures and milestones.

As we teach, and now have more digital tools at our fingertips, using photography might be the way to unlock writing for those who are reluctant or it might be the way to inspire a writer to try another angle.

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5 Comments

  1. Mark T. said,

    March 25, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I love the idea of a writing walk- especially with a camera or maybe even a sketch book. I feel like having the opportunity to use visuals in our lessons and to encourage students to write together with words and images is so important since nearly all our media, writing, and products now contain effective mixtures of pictures and words. Great post!

  2. ng said,

    March 25, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    I have done writing walks — but never with cameras. I am looking forward to trying it out. You are right about all the digital tools that are readily available.

  3. the other ruth said,

    March 25, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Really enjoyed reading how clearly you see the link between writing and photography and what you do with both professionally and personally.

  4. Linda Baie said,

    March 25, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    I’ve used photography quite a lot too, but never with such young students. What a gift you have given them, of possibilities. I also use old photos I buy at antique stores for students to write from; there are many to choose from. Thank you for describing the personal connection too.

  5. onesunflower said,

    March 26, 2011 at 1:25 am

    At one of my writing sessions with my ELL students I presented them with pictures of themselves in the classroom and invited them to choose one to write about. It was great to see their oral language blossom around that picture!


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