On July 17, 2017, students participating in the Tomodachi Youth Exchange had the opportunity not only to learn about a culture and language outside of their own but also to learn about the art of photojournalism from Pulitzer Center grantee and photojournalist Allison Shelley.
At the end of their workshop with Shelley, the students—six from Japan and six from the United States—paired up, explored downtown Washington, D.C. to find their own inspiration for photos, and presented the resulting images to the class.
One pair of students used a worm's eye view to capture an image of a skyscraper framed by tree branches. Another pair captured the reflection of a city block on the fascade of a glass building. They framed their photo to highlight the symmetry of the street scene on the building.
Shelley, who has helped lead a number of educational workshops through the Pulitzer Center, visited the Tomodachi Youth Exchange students at the offices of the American Councils for International Education to talk about her work with Everyday Africa and highlight techniques students can use in their own photography.
During the workshop, Pulitzer Center Senior Education Manager Fareed Mostoufi also led the students in a discussion about media portrayals of Africa, explaining how the Everyday Africa project fills a gap by showcasing moments of everyday life in Africa that we don't normally see in the media.
Then, Shelley showed the students a number of her own photos and explained the techniques she used, the types of photos she took, and why she made specific journalistic choices. She instructed students to take photos that told a story about Washington, D.C., encouraging students who live there to notice details they didn't normally notice, and students from Japan to notice things that were new to them.
In a post-workshop evaluation, one student wrote that they learned about "the theme of paying attention to the details that are often overlooked, taking photos of that and telling stories with those photos."
"I will take surroundings, colors, and symmetry more into context when taking pictures in the future," another student wrote.
Surveys also showed that the students' interest in global news increased following the workshop: before the workshop, 25% of students said they were highly interested in global news; after the workshop, 63% said they were highly interested.
When asked in a post-workshop survey about what he learned, Ko Soto wrote, "There are meanings in pictures. I will take pictures with a meaning too."
"Allison's pictures and advice were really great," wrote Skyy Genies. "Simple tips go a long way."
In August 2017, students participating in the Tomodachi program began the second phase of their exchange in Japan. While there, they will be responsible for applying the photography techniques they learned from Shelley to devising a photography exhibition examining everyday life in Tohoku, Japan. To prepare for their assignment, students met with Pulitzer Center's Multimedia Coordinator Jordan Roth on July 31, 2017 to learn techniques for conducting strong interviews. Roth modeled how students can take stronger portraits by using interviews as a method to develop a relationship with subjects. Students then worked in pairs to practice conducting interviews while taking portraits.
If you are interested in bringing Pulitzer Center staff and journalists to your school to introduce reporting and photography skills, contact the education team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.