If there’s one thing I’ve found as a photographer and journalist, it’s that things rarely happen as you envision them.
This is an exception, and an example of several divergent travels and experiences coming together for an exceptional day with some extremely talented teens.
For the past several months, I’ve wanted to stretch and move more into conceptual works involving people, combining photography and art direction. Most of my people photography revolves around candids or events. Portraits are still relatively new, and while my eye leans toward the unusual/abstract in a lot of the “wandering around” shoots I do, those rarely involve people.
Last fall and again this past winter, I took a series of pictures under a bridge next to Garland Park in Washington, D.C. The area, which street artists have covered in graffiti and paintings, also serves as an impromptu skateboard park. The artwork can — and does — change regularly, so you never know what you’ll see on the next visit.
The last time I was there, taking pictures as teens from Metropolitan School of the Arts worked on a music video, I mentioned to Ben and Emma that I wanted to take pictures of ballerinas at the park, thinking the contrast would make for some interesting shots. The concept has continued to stick with me, but finding a time to do it has been elusive.
On a separate, Sunday morning trip to our nation’s capital, I walked around the Federal Triangle near the National Mall and through the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The Reagan building has a beautiful lobby, while the stone walkway outside the Federal Triangle has a series of curved arches that were almost empty on a non-workday. I thought those places also would be good locations for this type of work.
Several times this summer, I talked to several kids at Metropolitan School of the Arts about a “photo shoot” and they were enthusiastic. Then, after taking conceptual shots of Ben dancing a couple of weeks ago, the full idea came together.
What you see here, and in the Visual Storytelling section, is the result of that effort.
I have to thank the dancers — Sarah, Alex, Veronica, Katie, Lauren, and Bridget — who participated, as well as Ben and Jeremiah for their partnering efforts and Alex and Sam for coming along as well. And a special thank you to Veronica’s father, Rafael, who patiently drove the other vehicle and indulged us as we took photos.
It could not have been done without all of your help and participation. Thanks again.