It’s been great being able to connect and create amazing stories through the element of photography. I’ve been having a lot of fun figuring out how this world works as well as capturing amazing moments. Recently, I was invited to Bridge Academy Charter School in Bridgeport, Connecticut to cover some shots of a spelling bee event, hosted by a friend of mine, Carlton. He’s an alumni of the school and has been working with the youth for a while now and I was honored when he asked me to come out and document everything. I was apprehensive at first because I’ve never really covered something like this before. Usually my work is a little more intimate. I was definitely nervous because for one, I haven’t been in a school setting since graduating around 9 years ago. Also, I wanted to do well and the people being photographed to feel comfortable as well. About ten minutes into being there, a lot of my walls came down and my doubts left instantly. I didn’t just feel comfortable, but I felt like what I was doing mattered. The kids were really open, respectful, energetic, and excited to spell. Getting into the process wasn’t too much of a tough time. My batteries went out on my external flash but I was able to make it work. There were a lot of great competitors and it was nice to see Carlton and the staff who helped out encourage the kids and keep their energy at a good level.¬† Some of them got a little discouraged, but they were tough, remained calm and continued on. Very admirable to see. Since there was an event clash due to early release, I was able to have a bonus opportunity to get a few pictures of the talent show that was going on in the gym nearby. Carlton thought it would be a good idea to document everything there as well, but I already was a few steps ahead and kept the camera out. I believe it was the middle school and high school combined. What I really loved about being there was the level of energy and support that everyone showed for each other. The school is small, so naturally I witnessed a lot of love, friendships and senses of family. I think that’s beautiful to have, especially at a place like school. There were so many great acts: dance teams, singers, karaoke singers, rapping, spoken word poetry, and even a sign language club. A SIGN LANGUAGE CLUB !! Just imagine me saying that in a super loud voice because that part still blows my mind. The host had a lot of energy as well which encouraged the crowd to be very active and loud. After the show winded down, the spelling bee continued with the middle schoolers and closed out with a few of the kids spelling more words before they were dismissed.

This experience as a whole meant a lot to me, because it didn’t really feel like a photoshoot. It was very authentic, which is something I try to always go for when I take pictures. The feeling I had was liberating. To be there and capture the moments that I did was great. I’ve gone back through the pictures countless times and I feel like I’m there again when I look at them. As a person who loves photography, this is one of the best experiences I’ve had. Truly unforgettable. Thank you again to Carlton for having me.

 

Decorations and Props:

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Competitors:

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Staff and Volunteers:

 

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Judges/Word Announcers of the Competition
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Carlton Gill, Director of the Spelling Bee

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Talent Show Shots & Candid Photos:

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