Ten eighth-grade students and five adult mentors traveled on Columbus Day weekend along Maine’s coast snapping hundreds of photos. They were participating in Photo Treks, a place-based photography program that combines documentary photography, outdoor exploration and youth mentoring. Photo Treks is headed by Trekkers, a nonprofit, outdoor-based mentoring organization that seeks ways to connect young people and caring adults.
In the weeks before the expedition, students used a consensus decision-making process to plan the itinerary, incorporating the theme The Cultural Landscapes of Maine’s Working Waterfronts. During the expedition, the group visited Vinalhaven, where they photographed wind turbines and met several representatives from the Fox Islands Wind Project. Next, they explored several boatyards in Rockland, including Prock Marine. They also traveled to Portland, documenting the city’s Old Port and Portland Fish Exchange. Professional photographer and mentor Matthew Smolinsky taught the group photography basics and shooting techniques. During the final day of the expedition, the group used the digital labs at Maine Media Workshops to review, edit and print their photographs.
The purpose of the program is threefold — the students learn photography techniques, develop a firsthand understanding of the working waterfront and bond together as a group. When asked of her experience, participant Juliette St. Clair said, “I loved taking pictures with other photographers and seeing the finished products.”
Student Jenny Carter said, “[I discovered] that inspiration for a photo is everywhere, and I have the ability to find it.”
Another student commented, “[Photo Treks was] the best thing that I could have done on this four-day weekend!”
Photo Treks is a collaboration of Trekkers, Maine Media Workshops in Rockport and the Jonathan Frost Gallery in Rockland. The program also was funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.
The program will culminate in an exhibition showcasing the participants’ work at the Jonathan Frost Gallery. Held in December, the exhibition will be open to the public. The date of the exhibition will be announced.