Maine Media students act as local paparazzi

Posted June 14, 2011, at 3:47 p.m.

CAMDEN — Paige Jackson, 21, of Boston wants to shoot for Vogue someday. But, as of last week she was taking pictures of local shoppers outside the Camden Renys store.

Jackson, along with several other burgeoning photographers from Maine Media Workshops, stood outside the store Wednesday, June 8, and asked shoppers if they could take their pictures.

“About 1 percent of people say yes,” said student Karima Selehadar of Washington, D.C. “You have to go up to a stranger and ask to take their picture. It’s awkward.”

Michael Wilson of Cincinnati taught “The Process of Portraits” at Maine Media Workshops in Rockport June 5-11.

“It’s an introduction to making pictures of people,” Wilson said. “It can be scary at first. You have to go up to people cold.”

A lot of times photographers have models who have had their hair coiffed and their makeup professionally patted on. This was not one of those times.

“This is a very different thing for a photographer to photograph people when they had no idea they’d be photographed this morning,” Wilson said. “It’s fearful for a lot of us. Photographers tend to be introverts — but there is so much gained by talking with people.”

That’s a lesson Rebecca Powell, 30, of Portsmouth, N.H., learned last Wednesday. When she didn’t speak with her “models,” they would just stand there and stare. When she spoke with them, they loosened up some and seemed a bit more animated — and more photogenic.

“I’m really interested in people, their stories, where they came from. Faces say a lot,” Powell said.

Outside of Renys, in front of a white sheet, the sun hit the faces of two elderly women.

“Look at all the cameras,” one of them said to the other, apparently nervous.

“You all are the paparazzi,” the other said.

Powell asked how long the two women had been friends.

“Thirty-five years,” one said.

“No. Longer,” the other said.

They laughed and moved closer to each other.

“It’s an adventure. Everyone has a story they’re willing to share with you,” said the instructor, Wilson.

John Davee of Hope just needed a light bulb and a new pair of reading glasses. Before he could put his shopping bag in his SUV, a student grabbed him.

“I had nothing better to do,” Davee said.

The mustached man in a T-shirt and jeans, like all the other local models, will get a copy of his picture sent to his email free. The students get to add the portraits to their portfolios.

Approximately 1,800 students and professionals travel to Rockport each year from around the globe to explore filmmaking and photography at Maine Media Workshops, a nonprofit organization.

For more information visit mainemedia.edu.

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