Ten weeks ago in South Los Angeles teens from the ages of 12 to 17 came together at Seeking Peaceful Solutions Inc. for a photography class led by Ron Talley and Deborah Talley of Integral Opportunities Corporation.
What started out as simply a youth program grew to be a little family. The photography class helped the students stay off the streets of L.A. by teaching them each Saturday about snapshots, how to take photos and other photography skills. This 10-week program helped us learn something different that some of us probably would not have gotten otherwise, because we might have been on the streets getting caught by the police or getting jumped because of the color we wore..
But the program–a faith-based nonprofit called “Expressions: The Art of Communication”
which the Talleys said was inspired by God as something they could do together to help kids and adults learn to love themselves–was not just a class where the youth were taught photography. It was also an experience that showed us we can do well. This is in direct contrast to what happens in some schools, where African Americans and Latinos are treated like they can’t do well. We had the advantage of learning about photography and how to use it, and the class gave us the ability to show our expressions in a positive way.
What we did in the program was learn about the camera and how to use it. We also learned about the rule of thirds and snapshots and other things about cameras. The program, which was founded by the Talleys, because they wanted children to use the gifts God blessed them with to be able to express themselves, was also designed to help youth in need of positive ways to (live) that would not get them hurt or killed.
The 10 youth involved in this 10-week photo class were also kids who needed some good morals in their lives, and kids who tried to stay out of trouble but (previously) could not find out how.
Expressions helped many youth in need of positive ways and it helped the kids in the community by getting them off the streets and helping them get the attention they needed and probably wanted.
This program helped me as an African-American young woman by getting me off the streets and preventing me from getting in trouble with the police and having a baby at the age of 15 years old. It also helped change me a lot, because when I started, I really didn’t think that photography would change my outlook on life. But I changed a lot. Now I really think that I can be anything, because they boosted my outlook on life. This program helped me learn about my learning style and how I can use it in my life. I’m really lucky that I was a part of the class.
The class was free, but we were expected to volunteer at least one hour per week in the community. A company called Pictage processed the photographs, and we got to keep the $200 digital cameras we each used as a token of appreciation donated by the Talleys.
Now we will have the opportunity to share our work, so come and celebrate with us as we exhibit our photos on May 17, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Picture This! Photography Studio and Video, 13405 Inglewood Ave. Suite 4, Hawthorne.
As a student, I would really love your moral support.
For more information the Expressions: The Art of Communication photography class, contact Integral Opportunities Corporation at (323) 365-6688 or P.O. Box 1441, Gardena, Ca 90249.