Event Photography: Taking pictures of young winners
In May, Visit Baltimore hosted a culinary competition for Baltimore City Public School students.
The event was a massive success and so much fun for me to photograph. The Baltimore Times ran the story in print and digital.
The follow up to that story is that the winning students got to enjoy a fancy winner’s lunch at Fogo de Chao in Baltimore. They got to observe an authentic a full course restaurant experience and savor all the Brazilian goodness.
But these students didn’t just have a nice lunch. Visit Baltimore also awarded them with:
a big shiny trophy engraved with the school's name, Carver Technical-Vocational School
white chef coats with each student’s name stitched on
high praise for their culinary skill from Fogo's senior sales manager, Allison Bruce, who also served as one of the competition judges
But inside of this event there are more stories. Because there are always more and more stories and hidden truths under the surface.
Three days before the event date, Mia Blom, the mastermind and coordinator of this whole Visit Baltimore competition and celebration called me. She said we would need to reschedule the photoshoot because of a tragedy. A student at Carver Vo-Tech was murdered after his junior prom. The students were grieving and in shock.
Jasmine Brunson was a 17 year old at Carver Vo-Tech studying carpentry and construction. Dressed in a powder blue tux, he was having a fun night with his friends. There was no motive for his murder. You can read the WMAR story here.
At the rescheduled event, as Mia and I unloaded the big trophy, laid out the chef coats, and figured out some photo opp angles, I asked Mia a question I had on my heart: should I say anything, any words of consolation and empathy, about Jasmine's death?
In her wise, measured way, Mia told me exactly what to do. She said to let them be. She explained that they were still grieving and that this celebration was a break from that grief. I understood immediately what I needed to do. I photographed their quiet joy and politeness. I took portraits of them in their brand new chef coats. I took these photos knowing that just beneath their joy and pride was a fresh layer of grief. And with that grief a strength many of us never know, much less as teenagers.
These teens are so talented and gifted and driven. I want us to have safer streets in Baltimore and safer everything. I want all kids to have life-affirming and goal-affirming opportunities like this one.
Special thanks to Visit Baltimore, The Baltimore Times,Fogo de Chao,Baltimore City Schools and of course Carver Vo-Tech. I send my wholehearted empathy and congratulations on their of their achievements.