One of the great things about Arequipa is its constant deep blue sky and the surrounding mountains. This speaks for itself. To see a more detailed view of this panorama (be sure to zoom in) click here. I’m sure going to miss the Summer in the south while I’m freezing here in Philly.
Category Archives: Peru
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An exhibit with a vision, Somos Fotógrafos is a captivating collection of photographs from Philadelphia photographer Seth Shimkonis and the kids of New Hope Children’s Home in Arequipa, Peru. Somos Fotógrafos hopes to raise financial support for and awareness of the void in these children’s arts education by presenting greater opportunities in photography and, in the process, aid in emotional recovery and build self-esteem. From black and white to color, abstract to realism, this collection from Somos Fotografos contains works of art that capture the diversity of perspectives which these kids always possessed; now they are able to show the world.
Sunday, September 13th, 11am to 6pm at St. Stephen’s Cathedral House, 221 North Front St. Harrisburg PA 17101
Read more about the Annual Harrisburg Gallery Walk we’re a part of (click on links below):
Hope to see you there!
Sunday was my last day at New Hope and me and Julia gave out a 4×6 photo album to each kid who took photography classes. On the cover was a their portrait and on the inside we put their photos from class and a few photos of them with friends and family from the home. The idea for the album was a very easy decision after I saw how I the kids kept their photos. They kept them stuffed in envelopes packed somewhere where only they know. I found out that Rosmel keeps his photos in an envelope hidden in his bed, while Roberto would keep all his photos in an envelope packed away in his dresser under clothing. Now the kids can keep their memories in an album, safe from dust that would scrap their photos when two rubbed together in the envelope. I saw photo taken only a few days ago ruined due to the dust.
We received all kinds of reactions from the kids when giving them their album. Some kids were very excited, some were extremely thankful for the album and others just smiled shyly. These albums in hindsight are exactly what I set out to do when I planned this trip. I wanted to give the kids a way to show off their photographs that showed their lives and said something about them. And while the original project didn’t happen (which only differed in presentation) these albums filled with pictures they took and pictures of them with family and friends definitely says something about them and provides the kids with memories for years to come.
After handing out the albums they all quickly became busy with packing their new albums with all kinds of past photos from from people who have visited in the past, and their own photos from previous classes. Some kids were even treating their pictures as trading cards (I’ll give you this picture of you if you give me that one of me). It’s interesting to see what photography means to each person. There is one girl who had half her album filled with pictures of just her! And then there was little Luis, you’d think it was Christmas with how excited he was. When Luis would see me after receiving his album, he would yell to me “Hermano Seth! Tengo muchas fotos! (Brother Seth! I have many photos)” I would get a big kick out of that, because to Luis I think he was happier to have more photos than other kids, and thats important when you’re younger than most. He carried his album around all day after packing it with all his photos. I caught him playing on the swing set with it and I had to tell him to put it in his closet because it was starting to collect a bunch of dirt and get scraped up. The little girls were by far the most excited group of kids to receive them. And after everyone filled their albums with pictures, it was time to go around and see what everyone else had in their album. People traded albums back and forth pretty much all day and I was really happy to see the effect such a small simple gift had. I can’t wait for future photo projects.
A big thank you to all those who supported me through this trip. Or I should say A HUGE THANK YOU!!! To those who prayed for me, talked with me, those who helped come up with ideas, financially support me, who read the blog, who pray for the kids, and to those who have sent comments and emails that arrive right when you need them. Thank you.
Last night we had our pizza party! I’d like to thank everyone who supported me on this trip, because a portion of the support I received went towards 18 pizzas which were gone in under 30 minutes. I’ve never seen such excitement over pizza. We even had four kids who had never eaten pizza in their life!!! As someone who used to eat pizza morning noon and night, hearing that someone had their first taste of pizza via something I had a part in, well, that just makes me smile. Giodano, one of four who tasted pizza for the first time. The other three were his brother (age 4) and sisters (both age 8).
Go fly a kite you say? Well, why sure! Why not August is kite month in Arequipa, the only time of the year when it’s windy enough to let your string out. Julia bought a few kites for the kids and they went nuts flying kites in close spaces all around the home, running to keep their kite up. A few times strings got tangled or caught in things, but these kids are so resourceful that when the sticks or string breaks, they didn’t just discard the kites, they taped and tied the kites back together without any hesitation or even breaking a smile. I forgot how fun kites were until I saw the huge smiles on the kid’s faces when Julia gave them the kites.
Here at New Hope, we aspire to enrich the kids lives with photography in many ways. So the kids take the cameras and enrich their lives with photos of themselves, their friends and their family through their photos.
How do they do it? Almost every kid, comes back after their turn using the camera with a picture of themselves. Whether its them taking a picture of themselves or someone taking a picture of them for them, they always have a photo of themselves amongst the ton of photos they shoot (some have taken over 100 in one hour! I used to think 24 photos on a roll of film was impossible to use up!).
Probably the most interesting example I’ve seen yet is little John looking pretty fly with some sun glasses and holding a picture of himself which his sister took when she used the camera just a few days ago. It doesn’t bother me that they take pictures of themselves all the time. I think it just shows how kids in Peru are the same as kids all around the world. There is something about using a digital camera as if it’s a mirror. If you look at peoples Facebook and Myspace pictures you’ll notice that there are a lot of pictures taken by the person with their arm extending towards the camera lens with a serious expression, as if to say “Yeah, I look good”. However vain it seems, I want the kids to have photos of themselves and their friends for the future; to have memories and to look back and laugh. That’s pretty much been my goal for this trip, to provide the kids with memories of friends, family and yes, even themselves as they looked when they were younger. But at the same time, we’re planting seeds of photography and giving them something fun to do, and so far the kids are having a great time making memories.
Greetings from the place I like to call “The AQP” (the airport abbreviation for Arequipa, Peru). I’m back at New Hope doing a bunch of photography stuff for two weeks and I’ll be the first to tell you that this is a very different trip for me than my previous. First, I’m only here for two weeks instead of six months. You can get a lot done and become really comfortable in six months. Being here only a few days has been hard to get adjusted (physically and emotionally), and when my time is up after two weeks I’ll have just started to get my high altitude lungs to say the least.
This is also the first time I’m staying at the home by myself (without any other gringo friends) and things can be a bit frustrating language wise, and a bit lonely in the mornings and evenings when all is quiet (that is if it ever is quiet with 50 kids). However, the loneliness is temporary and when the kids see me they ask “Classes de la fotografia?” and then they make the camera gesture in front of their face as if they took a picture. I can never tell them a definite yes or no for a class because it all depends whether their homework and chores are done, and they have to ask their tutor too. There are kids that have been able to take pictures, but not as many as I had planned.
When planning this trip I had grand visions of photo classes galore, kids pasting, cutting, and coloring a grand photo craft and all the rest that goes along with it. But I forgot one detail when planning for these classes. The kids are already in a bunch of classes, normal school classes that is, and a ton of homework to boot. To say the least, they only have so much time to take pictures. The project I had planned isn’t going to happen this time around, but the kids who have finished their chores and homework will be able to use a camera and shoot their little hearts out with the subject I give them.
My grand vision is probably a bit too much for one person for only two weeks during the school year. It’s been really hard to let that photo project go for right now. So, instead of the glorious project, we are shifting gears to do something special for the kids with pictures. I’ll post more about it in the future as it gets closer to being finished and unveiled.
Being back has been great in many ways, I’ve hung out with kids I’ve missed and thought about a lot, and I’ve also met some new kids. Victor just arrived three days ago, and since he isn’t enrolled in school yet he’s just wandering around kicking stones and day dreaming. So, I gave him a camera and we shot some pictures together. He seemed to enjoy himself and he got a few good shots, the one of the fish that you see below. It was his first time using a camera and I think that’s the coolest part about doing all of these classes, when someone who has never used or seen a camera gets to take pictures.
Beyond cameras, I get to do some things that photographers don’t do. Like, pick up kids from school. This is one of my favorite things to do while I’m here. I get to walk in the warm sun (get stared at because I’m so tall and foreign) for about a half mile or so and then the kids come out of school all excited and run up and give you a hug. This is where you really get stared at, because all the little kids coming out of school have never seen anything like a gringo, let alone up close and knowing some of their friends from school. The kids are all smiles since school has just finished for the day and then once we have everyone we walk with partners to ensure everyone makes it home safe (usually about 15-20 kids). The kids usually pair up with a good friend and horse around the whole way home. Its hard to keep that many kids in line, but you do the best you can.
Some days you pick up the older kids, which I described above, and then some days you pick up the nuggets (aka: Luis, Julio and Nilar, the little boys). If you’ve ever had a hard day for any reason, picking up the nuggets is best cure for the blues. These little boys are so funny and cute. I once bought them ice cream when I picked them up from school and apparently its engrained in their minds that gringos picking you up after school means ice cream. And of course we spoil them with it, one ice cream is only 30 centimos, or 10 cents in dollars. So we walk home hand in hand licking our ice cream and talking about their day at school (most of which I barely understand, but I like hearing them talk about it anyway). They’re still at that age where they’ll go on and on about school instead of responding with a “nothing” to your “How was school today” question.
Two weeks is a short lived experience. It will have many memories and emotions wrapped up in these days. But this trip is more than photography or projects, its to stay connected to the kids, love them and just spend some time with anyone who wants to hang out with a tall gringo. Enjoy the photos, I know I have.
I have exciting news! I am returning to Peru for two and a half weeks in August to teach more photography classes to the kids at New Hope, as well as further develop projects for the kids’ gallery back here in the States in September. While I funded my previous trip, with people contributing by donating 4 digital cameras, I do not have the financial resources to continue to fund the trips and photography classes on my own. So, I’m reaching out, asking if you will take this opportunity to be a part of helping the kids learn photography!
By contributing to this trip, you would help me reach the goal of $1040 and would cover expenses such as travel, art supplies, printing of the kids’ photos, a Spanish/English translator for video interviews where the kids share their experiences about photography class, and a surprise pizza party! During this two and a half week adventure in Arequipa, we are providing classes for approximately 50 kids and need to purchase a bunch of art supplies for their photo project. We are doing a special project for the kids this time around entitled “Me” where they can create their own poster board with their own photographs to express their artistic talent and tell us a bit about their life. In addition to purchasing project supplies, we want to throw a surprise pizza party. It might not seem like a big deal to have pizza occasionally, but due to New Hope’s limited budget, it’s just not possible. Below is a break down of the expenses. All financial donations are tax deductible.
Airfare round trip to Lima: $460.00
Round trip bus from Lima to Arequipa $80.00
Art supplies and photo printing: $200.00
Translator for video interviews: $200.00
Surprise Pizza party for kids: $100.00
By achieving the financial goal of $1040.00, we will be doing more for these kids than you or I can fully grasp. We are using the healing power of the camera to give the kids a voice, an opportunity to express themselves through their own photographs, and a way to show off their new found talents to the world. We are building the foundations for future projects in the arts where no major artistic outlet currently exists. We are not just giving a child a camera; we are empowering a child to change the world where change was once thought impossible. And we are doing so, one photograph at a time.
To make a contribution to my upcoming trip, please make checks out to: New Hope Children’s Ministries, write “PHOTOGRAPHY CLASS” in the memo line, and send them to:
New Hope Children’s Ministries
P.O. Box 107
Yorkville, NY 13495
Thank you for all your support in this, and be sure to check the blog while I’m in Peru as I’ll frequently be posting all the great things happening.
Today, I took a drive out to Bradford Woodworking for a day of power tools and wood working. I’m seriously in my glory right now. It’s been a dream of mine to do more things with wood, like build anything. Just the smell of cut wood is enough to make me drool. Then add in the fact that I’m being taught by a master woodworker ,and I think my head will explode. But, I have to hold it together, because Bradford Woodworking was gracious enough to donate some wood and the use of their wood shop for creating some mock up frames to be used for the kids’ photographs in the gallery. Our hope is to keep costs down by using reclaimed wood in order to frame the kids’ photographs. So that is why I’m really out here. Working with wood and tools is just an awesome perk.
As I type this post, I’m waiting for the glue to dry on the frames in order to go on to the next step. This is all so exciting!
Be sure to check out Bradford Woodworking at their site to get an idea of the awesome things they make out of wood. http://www.bradfordwoodworking.com