I made an after school visit recently to the Discovery Charter Prep High School in Pacoima, where my friend Jackie teaches (here's me with three of the students and the art teacher - we're all wearing similar glasses ;-). Ostensibly, I was there to talk about photography and my work as a photographer for Hollywood movies and celebrities. My game plan when I do these visits is to integrate talk of my work into the bigger, long term picture of life. It's been my experience that the students are receptive to this, to the deeper aspect of things. For example, a few years ago I was in New Jersey with my Mom and my Sister Patti, who's in a wheelchair with paralyzed legs and very limited hand ability. I was set to do a return visit to Montgomery Upper Middle School near Princeton to speak with students age eleven to fourteen. At the time, we were putting leg braces on Patti so her feet/ankles wouldn't turn in so much (pronate). Patti suggested we wait till we got to the school and show the students how we put on the braces. We got there and I started my presentation, which at that time consisted of my hooking my laptop up to a projector and showing images from my work in the movies, as well as my celebrity portraits. While the students liked this, I could sense they were unimpressed. Some of them seemed more interested in their own desktop computers. But I went through it and then, at the end, I introduced Patti, who had been sitting quietly in her wheelchair beside me in front of the classroom. "This is my sister Patti, everybody, and she used to be a teacher's aide in day care centers, but now she has a degenerative condition they call Spino-Cerebellar Degeneration. On the way here, Patti suggested we show you how we put on her leg braces. Is anyone interested?" In unison, with great interesta and enthusiasm, every student got up from their seats and formed a semi circle around Patti and me! One girl, who told us she helps care for her sister with epilepsy, kneeled down and put Patti's braces on her legs! In other words, these kids were much more interested in real life stuff that matters over movie talk. I got a similar impression from the students at Discovery. I spoke about my work on Hollywood films and showed them pictures, but they were much more interested when I spoke about and showed them Kindsight, using photos and writing together to illuminate the richness of everyday life. They all were interested in doing their own Kindsight pieces, so I made a commitment to return within a few weeks and get them going on doing their own Kindsight pieces. At one point, in the middle of photography talk, I asked for a show of hands to the question - "How many here have seen people who blame their problems on somebody else?" At least half the students raised their hands. "Well check this out: When you blame somebody else for your problems, you give away your power to that other person. But if you take responsibility for your life and situation, then you maintain the power to change it, to make it better." I could see most of them nodding in agreement, that this made sense. At the end of our time, most of the students left, but a couple of them stuck around to talk or ask questions. I told Jackie, a college classmate of mine who does every day what I do once in a while, that I'd come back within three weeks and we'd start having her students do their own Kindsight pieces.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
This coming Sunday, December 19, 2010, there will be a Blue Carpet Reception at the Ultimate Life Living Lounge in downtown Los Angeles featuring Portraits by Robert Zuckerman and benefiting the Chrysalis Organization.
For more information and to RSVP to attend, please go to:
And for Sponsorship information, please go to: