Last year, the Folklife Center and the Children's Department at Crandall Public Library teamed up to create Shutter Squad, a photography program for tweens between the ages of 10 and 13. A grant from the Leo Cox Beach Philanthropic Organization furnished us with everything needed to get the project off the ground (10 Canon DSLR camera kits, tripods, photo paper, frames and matting), and stalwart support from the New York State Council on the Arts-Folk Arts Program ensures that we'll be able to continue offering it for the foreseeable future.
The program is run by Emma Rogan—a professional photographer and library assistant in the Children's Department—and Kevin Rogan (that's me, by the way)—a librarian who specializes in technology and digital media at the Folklife Center. Over 6 sessions, which combine hands-on experience and classroom instruction, students receive a crash course in the principles of photography, and fine-tune their skills by bringing a camera home with them. Ultimately, we exhibit our young photographers' favorite photos in a show in the Folklife Gallery, and we celebrate their hard work with a well-deserved reception.
20 Shutter Squad alumni have graduated the program so far, and working with them has easily been the most rewarding experience I've had in my 13 years here at Crandall. It's a privilege to be around such enthusiastic, creative, kind kids, and to see them grow as artists; it's even more of a privilege, though, to see them grow as people. Their confidence and self-esteem steadily build as the program progresses, and by the night of our reception they practically float around the room, buoyed by the praise of family/friends and their own feelings of accomplishment.
With our Fall 2019 and Winter 2019 classes in the books, Emma and I kicked off the Spring 2020 class in early March with 10 new photographers. We met with the group once, taught them as much as we could in an hour and a half, and sent them home with their equipment. Sadly, the Coronavirus swept across the country shortly afterward, and we haven't been able to meet with any of our students since. We did, however, encourage them to keep taking photos, so keep an eye out for future blog posts where we'll highlight their work. If the past is any indicator, it will be stunning!