My First Visit to Esperanza

I was greeted at Esperanza by Zafka Banks-Christensen and her student teacher, Tina Matczak,  a student at Moore College of Art & Design. Ms. Christensen’s room has two walls of computers on either side and a corner in the front of the room set up with lights and a white backdrop. The project the students are working on is self-portrait that includes a background of collage objects  representing their personalities. Over the collage, students will then place a transparency of a photograph of themselves that they have each manipulated in Photoshop.

The class began with students taking out their folders and heading over to their computers. Ms. Christensen asked if anyone remembered to bring in a photograph of someone they are familiar with or close to. As the photographs were collected students began to work on a journal assignment.

An image pops up on each of their computer screens and they are instructed to “list 10 things you observe in this image. Write a sentence describing one of the subjects’ personality or interests in life, etc. Also, make inferences based on what you observe.”

Manny Arocho shared with me that he sees a middle-aged man smiling at a woman. He observes a book and pen in the man’s shirt pocket. Ms Christensen asked the class to go around the room and everyone tell 1 thing they observed in the picture. The students mention: a woman with a necklace, grass, wood, a mustache, window, rocks, a picket fence, wrinkles, and a barn or factory. Ms. Christensen then asked a few students to share what inferences they made from looking at the picture. Students shared that they think the two people are married and very happy  because the of the way the man is looking at the woman. The class is then told that this is a picture of Ms. Christensen’s grandparents. She talks a little bit about their background and where the picture was taken. She points out the small details within the photograph that help give the viewer a better understanding of the couple.

The next part of class was spent with students working on character sketches. Each student was randomly given a photograph, including the ones that were brought in from home, and asked to write about one of the people in the picture in the first-person. They are asked to use their imagination and were given the two following phrases as possibly starting points: “Today I feel” or “Today I am.”

Students then exchanged pictures with a neighbor and shared what they had written from the images. Katherine Pena told me she was writing from the point of view of the little boy in her picture. “Today I feel happy because I am spending time with my grandmother,” she shares.

Next, students watched a demo video that illustrated how they will be manipulating images in Photoshop. The class will be working with self portraits taken in a previous class using one of the following types of lighting techniques:

After viewing the demo, a few students who had not yet taken their photographs worked with Miss Matczak on setting up their backdrop. The classroom has an area set aside with a white backdrop and proper lighting that they can move and manipulate as they determine what type of  lighting they want to use.

While these few students work on taking photographs, the rest of the class began uploading one image to manipulate in Photoshop.

Amanda Miranda, who chose to use “side lighting” when taking her photograph, is shown above using written instructions to enlarge her photograph in Photoshop.

Above, Alissandra is working on re-sizing her image and unlocking the background layer.

The students continued to work on their images until the end of class. Their next step will be printing the images on transparent paper and  incorporating them into the collage.