When You Look At A Tree, What Do You See?

We are very excited to get yesterday’s film back. Our little class went really well. Better than I expected, actually.

First we talked about all the ways to photograph a tree. Trunk, leaves, flowers, and other obvious elements. Then I talked about forests, wind in trees, sun through leaves, looking up a tree, etc.

The orphans have hardly ever left the orphanage. I can’t even comprehend exactly how familiar their surroundings are to them. So familiar, they probably don’t even see it. So this was an exercise in the hopes of helping them expand how they see their surroundings.

I held up photos from magazines that I chose based on their effective composition qualities, to play with this idea, after exemplifying Shapes, Colours, Lines and Patterns, Space and Detail.

Holding up a photo of a man biking along a red dirt road, I asked, “what is this a picture of?”

“A bike”

“A man”

“A tree”

“Yes, these are all correct. What else?”


“Is this a picture of colour?”


“Is this a picture of space?”


Soon, a few pictures in, after naming every element in the photo, they were identifying lines, colours, details, etc. themselves.

Off they then went to use a roll of film around the orphanage, just for those components. No pictures of friends, goats, or buildings allowed. Nothing specific. Just colours, shapes, space, and details.

For some, this was very challenging. They stood there with their cameras, unsure of where to go. We would ask them what they saw, and soon they were running toward lines, and colours. I pointed one child to the clothesline. We walked over together, and when I encouraged him to get closer, he started to see what it looked like from underneath. He had a new perspective. I am excited for that photo.

Others took to it right away, and could be found climbing trees looking down, or taking interesting pictures through the reflection of a car review mirror.

Yesterday was our last day of shooting, and I think we all feel it ended on a high point.

Now we are making selections for the show, and are in a high gear of planning for the community party on Saturday. We’re expecting about 200 people, orphans included. In addition to an exhibit of the 11X14 photos that the orphans took, there will be games, speakers on HIV/AIDS, music, and dialogue facilitators.

Ok, lots to do. Less writing, more action.

We’ll be in touch soon.

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