Napa students capture ‘Pictures of Hope’ with free cameras | Local News

Fourteen middle schoolers are now focusing their attention on Napa in a whole new way.

At a photography workshop on Wednesday, led by internationally acclaimed photojournalist Linda Solomon, the students each received a free digital camera. And not just for an afternoon, to keep.

“Yeah!” the students said upon hearing about the giveaway. “Wow! said the others, launching into a joyful little dance.

Kodak PIXPRO cameras were provided to students through a program created by Solomon called Pictures of Hope. The nonprofit organization helps children capture visual images that represent their dreams and hopes for the future, according to its website.

The group of middle school students participating in the Pictures of Hope event are from the leadership group of After-Class Enrichment (ACE) Napa Valley, an after-school program of the Napa County Office of Education (NCOE). Digital cameras were donated by Walgreens.

Gathered in a meeting room at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Copia, part of the activity included students reflecting on their hopes and vision for the future.

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After receiving their cameras, the students immediately embarked on their first photo assignment. Paired with local ‘mentors’, students were invited to explore Copia, photographing representations of these hopes and dreams.

McKenna Baumgardner, an eighth grader at River Middle School, said she received an instant-print camera for Christmas, “but it’s not like this. It does not have all these features.

“I would really like to use it,” she said. “I love that.”

With a squeal of delight, Saren Roberts, an eighth grader at Redwood Middle School, pulled his new camera out of the bright yellow Kodak box.

“My mom usually gives me her camera to use,” but not anymore, Saren said as they reviewed the camera’s features.

Natiesha Chant, ACE Program Site Coordinator, partnered with Saren for the event. Saren is definitely into art, “but I’ve never seen them do anything with photography, so I thought it might be something pretty cool,” for the student, Chant said. . “They said they’ve never had their own camera before, so it could open up a whole new avenue of art.”

It was also Olivia Kinsey’s first camera, the eighth grader at Redwood Middle School noted.

Olivia said she was more interested in taking photos of “nature and landscapes and inspirational photos like maybe murals. I just like to show a story,” she said, and “make people smile,” she said.

Addison Andrews, an eighth-grader at River Middle School, said other than a Polaroid-style camera and a disposable camera, this is the first time she’s owned a “professional” camera.

“Photography interests me,” Addison said. “I think it’s fun to take pictures and get the lighting right. I really like candid photos too.

What was she going to take pictures of first with her new camera?

“I could take a picture of some of the art here,” she said, looking around Copia.

Alana Collins, a seventh-grader at Harvest Middle School, said she’s always had an interest in photography.

“I love this opportunity to be able to take pictures and be my own artist,” Alana said.

She’s never owned her own camera, “And I’m super grateful to have one now. It’s amazing that I get this.

The camera came at a perfect time for Alana. This summer, she is going to Europe and “I want to photograph Paris and Spain and the red telephone booths of London”.

Casey Wedding is the ACE after-school program manager and an amateur photographer himself.

“It’s awesome,” he said of the Pictures of Hope workshop and free cameras.

Wedding explained that as leadership students in the ACE program, these students choose a topic each month to focus on.

“For example, they often do an awareness campaign. So I could see them using these (cameras) to document this; create media to spread the word,” Wedding said. After all, “unless you document it, it’s almost as if you didn’t.”

Aubrey Emerson, a seventh-grader at River Middle School, said until Wednesday her family had a camera they shared, “but now I have mine, which I’m really happy about.”

She’s definitely into photography, Aubrey said.

“When I grow up, I want to be either an architect or a photographer and maybe even, ‘an architectural photographer.

“The last time I used a camera was when I was in the yearbook in seventh grade,” said Dustin Farfan, an eighth grader at Silverado Middle School. He never had his own camera except for his phone, Dustin said.

The ACE program is for middle school students ages 11 to 13 in Napa County.

“Many students in the program do not have access to the latest technology at home and the gift of cameras and the opportunity to work with a mentor will be invaluable and inspiring,” said an NCOE press release.

After this Pictures of Hope event, the photos taken by these Napa students will then be used to create a pack of 15 notecards. These cards will then be sold to benefit the ACE program. Families and the community will be invited to a student photo celebration on May 23 at the CIA in Copia.

To learn more about Pictures of Hope, visit

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