Last Saturday nine Young Photographers, parents and family friends assembled in the Seuss on the 5th Floor of Boston Children's Museum for the Kickoff of the 2008 YPI KIDS Project:Tomorrow. Paula Rauch MD, Director of the Korff PACT Program (Parenting At a Challenging Time) at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center was there with me to welcome them.
The Young Photographers are children whose parents are or have been in treatment for cancer at MGH Cancer Center. This is a departure from last year's Project where the children were the ones in treatment for cancer but the MGH program was just too enticing. They range in age from 11 to 18.
What better way to start the day than with the famous Knot "Icebreaker". First the kids and then the parents. You simply form a circle shoulder to shoulder. Then, you reach over and grab a hand, as in with both hands, of any other person... and don't let got. Once everyone has a hand you simply need to find a way to untangle the "knot" without letting go of the hands that you are holding on to. Needless to say there was a lot of directing and misdirection .... and laughter.
Now I know if I ..... Naaaa, think this is fine!
This exercise was followed by several others that were designed to breakdown whatever other inhibitions the group might have had when they got to the door. To further loosen up the crowd I attempted my one legged version of the soft shoe. Applause was NOT overwhelming.
One of the exercises involved having a person step to the center of the room and assume a position or pose. The next person simply had to go out and attach himself/herself to that person... and so on. Again, more barriers fall ....and lots of laughter.
Before lunch, I showed some of the portrait work I had done to give the kids some type of a frame of reference as to where to start. They also got to see the images that last year's YPI KIDS created with their Holgas.
A quick lunch and then each child received his/her Holga, which they will get to keep at the end of the project. Next task was to load them with film. Final order of the day: the group photo of the kids. ... an experience not dissimilar from herding cats. But we prevailed.
Not to be outdone, the parents staged their own impromptu group photo session.
Next up, kids have to have their exposed rolls of film back (they are to take images of their respective parents) to me by July 9 and I am going to start to shoot the portraits of the kids with their parents........ a lot of excitement and energy from a very special group of "individuals".