The Kennedy Plaza Portrait Project
Kennedy Plaza has been the state of Rhode Island’s transportation hub for decades. It is perhaps the only location in Rhode Island where one can find tens of thousands of strangers passing by a small geographic area on a given day. It was here that my students from the AS220 Youth program were challenged to make professional quality photographs of strangers they met at Kennedy Plaza. In addition to learning and mastering the hard technical professional photography skills of using a medium format Hassleblad film camera and wet darkroom for making their photographs, they also needed to learn soft social skills. My usually shy 14-21yr old students needed to approach total strangers and explain why they should want to be apart of this project. Gradually I started being on location less and less as the students themselves became more proficient as a team both technically and socially. It was then that I felt the project was successful. Over the course of three summers we produced sixty professional quality portraits taken by students Treasure Price, Krysbel Sepulveda, Justin Hernandez, Justin Espinal, Anthony Villavencenzio, Dana Heng, Norlan Olivo, Fernando Flaquer, Danny Ong, James Sawyer, Carlos De La Rosa, Ray Min, Miguel Rosario and myself. Here is a small sample of this project.