October 2016

Designing Posters

Now that we had interviews, portraits, and photos of the issues, the Jr. Viewfinders put it all together to design their own posters. Using the graphic design knowledge that they gained during September, the Jr. Viewfinders used Canva, a website that simplifies graphic design, to create a couple different posters each. They used quotes from the interviews they'd conducted. They used cutouts of portraits and placed them on background photos that they'd taken. They played around with the text by adjusting font, color, size, and other settings. They experimented with framing and composition. We encouraged them to do multiple designs, so that they could really see the different effects of just the smallest of design choices.

Then, we all looked at the different posters as a group and discussed them. We offered feedback and constructive criticism to each youth participant. After that, they went back and made some revisions. Each youth participant ended up with at least two poster designs they were happy with. Then, we sent some to print so that next week we could begin the next phase of the project: handing the posters out!

Here are just a few examples of the posters they made.

More Interviews | Beginning of Eastside Stories III

After our experience with interviews last week, we decided it would be best to go out again and get some more interviews. We had two very interesting interviews at the Tench Tilghman Playground. First, we talked to Ms. Eunice, who no longer lived in the area, but grew up here. She felt that the neighborhood had started to improve lately, that they were really cleaning it up. She thought a lot of the vacant housing problems tied back to negligent landlords, who never did anything to fix up the houses they owned. Then, we talked to Niles Ringold, a lifelong resident of the neighborhood, who runs a small bakery business now. He felt that the city and politicians needed to do a better job of investing in communities in Baltimore. He wanted the young people growing up in the neighborhood to have more opportunities, to be able to get a good education, and to have good-paying jobs. Two portraits of them are at the bottom of this post.

Meanwhile, the Sr. Viewfinders started their work on a long-term project. Eastside Stories III is a project that will culminate in the publication of a magazine of the Sr. Viewfinders' photos, writings, graphic art, and interviews. Throughout the year, they will be focusing on the theme of home  and what it means to the people of East Baltimore. They'll talk to their fellow students, people who are new to East Baltimore, lifelong residents, and many others to create a picture of the many meanings that home holds. We'll be sure to keep you updated as this project develops.


On The Street Interviews

This week, the Jr. Viewfinders started a new phase of the Campaign for Change project by going out and conducting interviews with neighbors and community members. In order to get them ready for that, we did a workshop of interviewing. We went over the difference between open-ended questions and close-ended questions and how we want to ask questions that elicit interesting, substantial responses from our interviewees, as opposed to short, one or two word answers. We talked about follow-up questions and how important it is to listen to the responses of the person you're talking to. Then, we split into groups and did some practice interviews. Luckily, we had a community member who happened to be in the building, and she offered to help the youth do a practice interview.

Each group picked an issue to focus on. One group continued to explore the impact of vacant housing; another asked about the need for a recreation center in the neighborhood, while the last group dug into how sharing good news can help improve community morale. The groups then set out with their questions and conducted a number of interviews with community member, who were willing to lend their time. There were definitely some nerves with approaching and talking to strangers, so the youth didn't always do a great job of listening. However, once they got some experience doing the interviews, they really improved with their listening and improvising. Overall, they all gathered some really interesting stories and perspectives. And, they took some wonderful portraits and photos of the process. Be sure to check those out below. 



Out Taking Photos

During this first week of October, the Jr. Viewfinders turned their attention to our Campaign for Change project. The Campaign for Change project is made up of a few core elements: photography, interviewing, community engagement, and graphic design. This week, we focused on the photography portion of the project. We started by going over some photography basics. Most of the youth in Jr. Viewfinders had some experience with point and shoot cameras, but this year we wanted them to learn how to operate a DSLR camera. Moreover, we wanted them to learn how to adjust settings like white balance, ISO, shutter speed, and aperture, so we provided them with some useful handouts and let them play around with the settings to learn. 

Once they got the hang of the cameras, we went out into the neighborhood to take some photos. The goal was to take photos that fit into the themes and issues that we'd decided to focus on for the project. One of those themes was vacant housing. So, we found a few blocks that had a lot of vacant homes and the youth took a bunch of photos. They played with the settings to adjust the lighting and they experimented with framing and composition. Ultimately, some of their photos ended up being used in our poster designs later on in the project. The Sr. Viewfinders joined us later on in the afternoon and took some great photos themselves. Check out a few really good ones below.