In the process of reading photographs, I ask the girls to explain where the photographer was standing, and explain how they know. Through admiring dozens of different images together, we come to appreciate just how much the photographer's point-of-view, or perspective, affects what we're seeing. Had they been standing a little to the right, or crouching, or on the opposite side of the street, the resulting image would likely tell a different story.
Before the scavenger hunt we had a short lesson in different basic camera angles and distances: close-up, medium shot, long shot, bird's-eye view, worm's-eye view, and so on. Then everyone was sent out with a list of things to find, and ways to frame them. It was thrilling to see how differently each group interpreted the prompts. As each member of the group excitedly shared her photos, we discussed the effects of adopting new positions--how looming everyday things may appear from the perspective of a worm; how intimate a close-up can feel; how much else can fill the frame in a long shot.
What is beginning to emerge through these exercises is a portrait of the community, constructed through many perspectives. As the girls get more comfortable with the cameras, they are getting used to getting closer; to pausing before shooting; to choosing the right moment; to moving their bodies to get the shots just how they want them. In the coming weeks, Lauren and I will be focusing our energies on facilitating even-more deliberate visual investigations of the community, prompting the girls to examine and explore which parts of it they are proud of, and what they might like to change.
12 de Junio is one of the highest points of Lima's Villa Maria del Triunfo district. Though Villa Maria was officially established in 1961, it has been expanding significantly over the decades through multiple waves of migration to Lima. 12 de Junio is one of the district's newest communities--it has only existed for fifteen years, which makes the young people we're working with the first generation to come of age there. I am eager to delve deeper with them into the stories of how their community came to exist. It is a rare privilege to come to know a place through such perspectives.