Kids armed with cameras sent on mission of hope

Photography show displaying their images being held at horsemen's club on Sunday

Published on June 20, 2014
Daymond Amos, 12, one of more than 30 children who were involved in a photography project at Bible Hill Estates trailer park, shows off his favourite picture, a shot of his aunt Tracy Amos flashing a peace sign.

BIBLE HILL - Little Elexis MacGillivray is a tad perplexed.

Scrunching up her face the five year old once again looks at the picture displaying a clear blue sky but nowhere can she see the rainbow. And, she knows there was a rainbow, because she created it herself with a garden hose.

"I was spraying water up in the air. But I can‘t see it in the sky here," she says, of the missing rainbow.

"Where's the rainbow?" she asks again, staring hard at the small thumbnail proof print. "Where is it?"

Ah, such is the mystery of photography, especially when film is involved. Unlike the instantaneity of digital photography, with film you never know exactly what you have until the negatives are processed and the prints come back from being developed.

"This is the first time these kids have ever seen film," says Jennifer Lilley, in reference to the 35 children from the Bible Hill Estates trailer park she recruited to participate in a special photography assignment.

"The first time they have ever seen negatives," she continued. "So I'm trying to teach them a little bit about the way film versus digital works."

Lilley struck on the idea for her project last year while working in a production capacity on a Season 8 segment of the Trailer Park Boys.

After speaking with and taking pictures of a lot of kids in the park, Lilley learned that none of them had ever been to an art gallery or a museum. So she set out to change that.

"There are very, very dynamic and creative kids who live on the park," she says, during an interview to discuss the project. "And I just thought it would be really great to bring an art gallery to them."

Initially, she thought about showing the children a presentation of the pictures she had taken of them. And then a new concept was born.

"I thought it would really be great to have photographs that the kids took themselves and that was really the seed that began the whole process of trying to get the cameras and trying to get the kids involved with the project," she says. "And it just sort of snowballed from there."

With some financial support from the Village of Bible Hill, Lilley purchased 35 disposable 35 mm cameras, lined up her amateur photographers (between the ages of five and 17) and with some basic instruction on the use of lighting, flash and how not to put their fingers over the lens, set them loose to shoot at will.

"I had visions that all of the film would be black. Or over exposed, under exposed," she says, chuckling.

And while some of that did occur, Lilley said most of the results were pleasantly surprising.

And on Sunday her final selections are going to be presented during a photography show being held at the Truro Horsemen's Club from 7 to 9 p.m.

"I think it is going to be a really beautiful experience," she says, of Sunday's event.

Lilley has also received support from the Rotary Club of Truro, Carsand Mosher Photographic and the Colchester Printing Co., to help deal with the developing, printing and other related costs for the project and says she believes it will have a positive impact on those involved.

"If I can, you know, just like, allow one kid to realize that there's a language, an art, and that they are capable of doing great things. That they have this remarkable and dynamic creative energy and if that little seed is planted at this early age of their life and they dream big and this experience somehow has a difference in their life, then that's what it's all about," she says."

Already one of the boys involved has told her he wants to become a photographer. Another boy told her that when he looked through the camera's viewfinder he saw "beauty."

"And I know that when the kids are at that opening and they see how proud everybody is of them they are going to feel really, really good about themselves. And they are going to feel very, very special and it is going to be something that will stay with them. And that makes it all worthwhile," Lilley says.

"It's just a matter of them believing in themselves. It's a matter of believing in their dreams and knowing that if they keep their dreams alive in their hearts and if they work hard that their dreams are possible.

"I want them to know that a lot of people believe in them. That's really what this project is all about, is the potential of hope."

Kind of like chasing - or even creating - a rainbow.


Twitter: @tdnharry