CAMDEN — In the spring of 1991, the Eastman Kodak Co. operated out of a brick building on Mechanic Street that is now Knox Mill Senior Living. Through a project funded by Youth Arts and Kodak, each student in the seventh grade class of the the Mary E. Taylor Middle School got to use a 35-mm camera and several rolls of film and go around town for one day on May 1 for several hours shooting images that stood out for them to represent their community. Kodak assigned professional photo editors to select the photos for publication and paid for it, titling the student-created photography book, Our View: A Day in Camden-Rockport Maine.
Ian McKenzie, the technology teacher at Camden-Rockport Middle School, has revived this project twenty five years later for the eighth-grade class. “I was actually an eighth-grader when the seventh-grade class got to do this,” remembered McKenzie. “So, I watched them with pure envy. I came to teaching through media and I love media, photography and creation. This year, the students all received new iPod pros with beautiful camera capabilities and I realized that this year was the 25th anniversary of the Our View book. So, this has become the culminating project.”
McKenzie noted how far technology has come since the original photos were shot. Flipping through the Our View book, he pointed out one of the photographs that depicts a bank of pay phones. That’s not something today’s students would see. That, and the students would not need traditional 35-mm cameras because their iPads function the same way.
“Kids today live in a time of unprecedented ability to create and share through photography, video and social media,” he said. “The editing tools they have on their phones are far superior technology than anything we would had access to at their age. You would have had to owned thousands and thousands of dollars of equipment to get the same quality.”
The theme of this new photography project integrates kids’ natural inclination toward self-expression with technology with a shared sense of community. This project takes it a step beyond the original Our View book. The photos that the students took will be accompanied by writing and video and the final book will be not a coffee table printed book, but rather, as an appropriate sign of the times, an ebook with a link to each student’s personal digital photography profile.
“It’ll be free and we hope to drop the book through Kindle and iTunes Dec. 6, 2016,” he said.
Like the students 25 years before them, the CRMS students were given a crash course in photography techniques with additional training in digital filtering and color correction. On Oct. 20, McKenzie and other chaperones separated the 90 eighth-graders into 18 groups of kids (no more than five in a group) and shot photos over the course of three hours.
“When the original students shot their photos on May 1, there wasn’t much in the way of beautiful scenery at that time, but here we were in peak foliage, which made for a better time to shoot the photos,” he said. “We had a group of kids going to the top of Maiden’s Cliff, to the top of Beech Hill to both harbors, up and all over towns. We had one girl who hiked to Maiden’s Cliff at 10 a.m. and hiked it again at 5:30 in the evening and got this shot of the sunset in the same spot as her first shot.”
McKenzie said each student has to pare down his or her five best photos for submission, at which point, McKenzie will personally curate 270 photos. “We want the ebook to represent the group’s idea of what defines Camden-Rockport.”
Stay tuned as Penobscot Bay Pilot follows the rest of this project as it gets closer to the book’s release date.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org