Pulitzer Center Update

Students Learn Storytelling Through Photography in Allison Shelley Workshop

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Students observe the Everyday DC Photography Exhibition to learn about photographing everyday life in Washington, DC. Image by Ifath Sayed. United States, 2017.

Students observe the Everyday DC Photography Exhibition to learn about photographing everyday life in Washington, DC. Image by Ifath Sayed. United States, 2017.

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Pulitzer Center grantee Allison Shelley shares images she contributed to the "Everyday Africa" Instagram feed and explains photography techniques she applied to each image. Image by Fareed Mostoufi. United States, 2017.

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Students from The School Without Walls at Francis-Stevens attend the workshop on photojournalism at Blind Whino, SW Arts Club. Image by Ifath Sayed. United States, 2017.

Students from The School Without Walls at Francis-Stevens attend the workshop on photojournalism at Blind Whino, SW Arts Club. Image by Ifath Sayed. United States, 2017. 

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A student and teacher from Columbia Heights Educational Campus explore the Everyday DC exhibition. Image by Ifath Sayed. United States, 2017.

A student and teacher from Columbia Heights Educational Campus explore the Everyday DC exhibition. Image by Ifath Sayed. United States, 2017. 

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A student from Columbia Heights Educational Campus takes photographs for the workshop. Image by Ifath Sayed. United States, 2017.

A student from Columbia Heights Educational Campus takes photographs for the workshop. Image by Ifath Sayed. United States, 2017. 

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Students from School Without Walls at Francis-Stevens with Pulitzer Center grantee Allison Shelley. Image by Ifath Sayed. United States, 2017.

Students from School Without Walls at Francis-Stevens with Pulitzer Center grantee Allison Shelley. Image by Ifath Sayed. United States, 2017.

Students spent a colorful morning at SW Arts Club when they attended a workshop on storytelling through photography with Pulitzer Center grantee, Allison Shelley.

Last Tuesday, high school students from Columbia Heights Educational Campus and middle school students from The School Without Walls at Francis-Stevens visited the Everyday DC Photography Exhibition to learn about photojournalism, and also contribute to the Everyday DC project by taking photographs inspired by the exhibition's themes. 

"Everyday DC" is a student photojournalism exhibit organized by the Pulitzer Center and District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) that visualizes daily life in Washington, DC through the eyes of over 80 sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade students from seven DC public middle schools representing all four quadrants of the city. The exhibition is the culmination of a multi-week photojournalism unit designed by Pulitzer Center and DCPS as part of the District's new visual arts curriculum. Over 500 middle school students from nine schools experienced the unit this fall.

The exhibition and unit were inspired by the Everyday Africa project, which is a collection of images from Africa shot on mobile phones and published on Instagram. Featuring numerous photographers’ works, the project is an attempt to create a more accurate understanding of the day-to-day African experience and is a response to the common media portrayal of the African continent as a place consumed by disease, poverty, and war.

As part of the workshop facilitated by Shelley and Fareed Mostoufi, Senior Education Manager at Pulitzer Center, students were asked to describe Africa in a few words. Their initial reactions were influenced by the general stereotypes that are propagated about the continent, with descriptions that included "wild animals," "hunger," "poverty," "rural," and "non-technological." Upon seeing Shelley's photographs for the "Everyday Africa" feed, which included children playing sports, snacks, baristas in cafeterias, and traditional African clothing, students were surprised to see that everyday life in Africa is different from what they've encountered in the media and commented that many of the photographs seemed relatable to their own daily lives. Shelley has worked on multiple projects with the Pulitzer Center, including "Deadly Cycle: Nigeria's Silent Abortion Crisis," which took her to Lagos, Nigeria. 

Using the examples of her own photographs, Shelley taught students about different angles, colors, themes, and techniques that they could use in their photography. After learning from her, students observed the different themes in the Everyday DC Photography Exhibition, like "Unity," "Our Art," "Journeys," and "Movement," and took photographs to contribute to these themes. In addition to taking photos that visualize everyday life in DC, students were asked to apply the photography techniques they explored with Shelley.

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This image uses a high angle to capture the colorful stairs at Southwest Arts Club. The photo was taken by Myaja Rush, a middle school student from School Without Walls at Frances Stevens, to contribute to the "Journeys" theme in the "Everyday DC" exhibition. Image by Myaja Rush. United States, 2017. 

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School Without Walls at Frances Stevens student Katie Cruz captures the flowers outside of the Southwest Arts Club. Her photo assignment was to capture an image that could be part of the "Our Art" section of the exhibition. Image by Katie Cruz. United States, 2017.

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Junior Fernandez, a high school student at Columbia Heights Education Campus, was assigned the "Movement" theme from the "Everyday DC" exhibition. When describing his submission he wrote, "I chose this photo to give a meaning as to the idea of movement. Movement doesn't have to be material things like a car or things that move. I chose this to share the idea that change happens everyday and everywhere." Image by Junior Fernandez. United States, 2017.

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A student from School Without Walls at Frances Stevens captures an image to contribute to the "Movement" section of the "Everyday DC" exhibition. Image by workshop participants from School Without Wall at Frances Stevens. United States, 2017.

At the end of the workshop, students presented their work to their classmates and received feedback from Shelley and Mostoufi. Their work will be presented as an online component of the Everyday DC exhibition on our website.

They also shared their reflections on the exhibition and workshop.

"I learned all sorts of techniques and tools for taking pictures," wrote Asha, a student at School Without Walls at Frances Stevens, in her workshop evaluation.

"Being here today made me open my mind wider to the of being a journalist and photographer," added her classmate Katie Cruz.

"I will change how I look at the continet of Africa, " wrote Columbia Heights Education Campus photography student Nilson. 

"I learned to see my everyday life in a different way," added Daniel Rivas.

The "Everyday DC" photojournalism unit, exhibition and field trips were funded in part by the D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.