'A Second Look'

On Tuesday, Sept. 16, the Santa Monica Public Library converted its multi-purpose room into a showcase for local young photographers.

The showcase was the culmination of a 10-week program entitled "A Second Look: Teens Exploring Santa Monica." The program took 13 teenagers from Santa Monica and taught them the basics of photography while they captured some of the overlooked beauties of the area. "For the first four to five weeks we did excursions around downtown," said young adult librarian Erica Cuyugan. "It was lead by myself and photographer, Grace Smith and all the kids pretty much got to walk around and take photos of whatever they could within those two or three blocks." Each time the group went out they went to different locations, including the Third Street Promenade, and the nearby beach.

After taking the photos, the teens had to choose only five from the hundreds of photos they shot, and do a write-up on each one. "Some researched the history, some talked about the emotions they feel when they look at the photos, so there was a wide variety of writing" said Cuyugan when describing what the group of young photographers had written. The photos were then framed, placed alongside their captions and finally displayed. A few of the photos that weren't framed were later projected during a presentation by Chelsea Palmer, Natalie Yadegar, and Welela Makonnen.

The program was made possible by a grant received by the library from the California Council for the Humanities. The grant incorporated 21 public libraries from California, and involved over 300 youths. The council supplied the libraries with equipment, which included a batch of Canon Power Shot A580 digital cameras, as well as other materials, and a curriculum for the group to follow.

Under the guidance of Smith, a professional photographer, the teens were able to hone their skills, and impress the group of onlookers at their showcase. Keshia Latrice Carol Nash-Johnson's "Cigarette," which was a black and white close up shot of a discarded cigarette butt, was well-received. Also of note were Makonnen's "The Treasure of The Beach," featuring a shot of the sand, water, and lifeguard towers that create the trademark image of Santa Monica, and Chloe Isabelle Cipolla's untitled overhead picture of Pacific Coast Highway, which was taken from the pedestrian's bridge just north of the pier.

Cuyugan has expressed interest in continuing with the program. "It's a program that the kids love, [and] that the community loves." One thing that may change however is the size of the program and the theme. "I definitely want to do this again, [however] I might do it on a little bit smaller scale," said Cuyugan "and maybe with different themes, maybe not just Santa Monica, maybe in one specific area. There are just so many things you can do with digital photography that would be great."