“Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.”
– David Alan Harvey, Photographer
Sprinting, skipping, laughing, cartwheeling children scatter as the doors fly open. Arms wide, smiles wider, they RUN! To the trees, to the field, to the swings, the hill, and the playground equipment. From my left I hear fourth graders calling in unison, “Ali, Ali, take OUR picture,” as they wrap arms and pause for a pose. To my right I see the games starting – football with a kindergarten quarterback and an enthusiastic game of Ga-Ga. There is an activity in every corner of the yard and I want to capture them all. I quickly grab my camera and snap a photo of a second grader hanging from the monkey bars who has been working for days to master that skill. I pivot to the field in time to capture a football player reaching out his hand to help up a teammate who fell when going out for a pass. And then I hear the GIGGLES! Two Gansters are on the playground, spinning with unbridled freedom and fervor, heads back, hair flying. And suddenly, from behind the camera, I am IN the moment with them. The playground and the world become a blur in the background. Click! Click! Click! And I know immediately – that picture will tell their story.
When I’m taking pictures, I feel the moments. The confidence of students presenting their research at lunch or the tenacity of others working towards a goal. The mixture of sadness and joy when a class releases a butterfly that they’ve worked so hard to care for. And the lump-in-your-throat pride as parents, teachers, and staff watch their fifth graders flip their hats in the air at graduation.
There is a great quote by Travel and Documentary Photographer, Dragan Tapshanov. “Photography is about capturing souls, not smiles.” There are so many moments – in classrooms and on the playground, during celebrations, performancesand presentations. When I take pictures, my goal is to capture not just the images but also the emotions because when you put them all together, they are our school’s story. They are our school’s soul.
At home, I have a flower covered time machine. It’s a photo album from 1992. Opening it transports me to another time. The photos transcend the two dimensional, bringing back the smell of salt water and the sound of crashing waves. When I flip through the warped pages, I hear the laughter after a day at the amusement park with my best friend or relive the tears on graduation day when we knew everything was about to change. Photographs don’t just allow me to remember those times, but to FEEL them. They are magical. So, whether I’m watching sack races on Field Day or standing in the Gan during the first day of school, I try to capture some of that magic, hoping that someday, someone will flip through an album (or more likely a Google Drive) filled with photos and feel the soul of Hebrew Day School.