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ADOBE YOUTH VOICES 2012: PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

GETTING STARTED

Our first three sessions were really just introductory workshops to meet all the guys, explain Adobe Youth Voices in full and establish what they actually wanted to say with the project (and, of course, how they wanted to say it).

   

One of the first things we did was to ask the group to photograph each other and try to capture natural portraits. This exercise was really just a way of breaking the ice and getting them thinking about representing themselves and the difference between candid and posed imagery. Because we wanted the project to be about real young people and the opinions, we wanted to encourage the group to loosen up and relax in front of the camera. Some of our favourite pics are above.

BRAINSTORMING

The most significant exercise we did during these sessions was a series of brain storming exercises to try to establish a central topic for the project. We started by writing down on a large sheet of paper all the issues that the group thought were currently affecting young people in the local community. One of the first issues we picked out was ‘respect’ because the group felt that young people in their area don’t get enough respect due to a number of factors including media mis-representation, local community tensions and the 2011 London riots.

  

After discussing these issues in more detail over the first two sessions we eventually established that the central factor that actually affected the group’s own lives was ‘negative stereotyping’. Our group consists of some really remarkable young people. We have a Police Cadet, a Sexual Health Ambassador and a young man who sits on a council board that reviews and grants funding for local community projects. These are things that they choose to do voluntarily, both as a means of personal development and due to a responsibility they feel they have towards the local community.

Our group members don’t consider themselves to fit the conventional stereotypes they think are held about young people in Mile End and feel that they have each recently fallen foul of negative and unfair stereotyping. So we decided to do a project that explores issues relating to stereotyping, challenges people to think about the way that they stereotype other people and also challenges our group to think about issues relating to stereotyping and the way they stereotype.

APPROACH

By the end of workshop 02 we decided that we wanted to approach our project by engaging local people in conversations about how society-as-a-whole would describe pictures of our group members, based on appearances alone. We want to start conversations about the stereotypes that people hold, where those stereotypes come from, the cost (if any) of stereotypes to society-as-a-whole and how we can (if necessary) reduce stereotyping in our community.

  

We want out project to get people thinking about the issue in their own lives, so we drew up this plan for a project that challenges people directly and really gets them thinking. It will involve producing two portraits of each of our three community volunteers:

01. The first one will show them in their regular clothes

02. The second one will show them in the clothing they wear for their volunteering work

We will then go out into the local community, show members of the public the first picture and ask them to describe what they think society-in-general would think the person is like (just from looking at the image). We’ll ask them where they think those ideas come from and, if they’re comfortable, ask them what they think the person is like. We will then show them the second picture and tell them more about the person, including what that person does in the local community and ask them how their perceptions have changed and whether they are surprised that the young person is a volunteer in the community etc. We will work together to capture the project creatively through a short documentary and that film will be our final output.

THE PLAN We’ve  divided the production of this documentary into three parts:

01. The production of a series of photographic and animated materials. Because portraits are at the heart of our project we thought it would be a good idea to shoot a series of moving portraits of the group to be part of the film and we brainstormed ideas for these they were scheduled to be filmed over 4 evening sessions. We will also be having a go at some light animations to create titles and graphics for our film

02. The production of our ‘street’ and ‘uniform’ portraits for the street interviews. This will involve one evening shoot session at the MCP and then a session selecting, printing and mounting the pictures

03. The street interview shoot(s). We scheduled two sessions (a Sunday and a weekday night) to do a series of on-the-street interviews with members of the local community

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