J'anya Homand takes a picture during the Girls Inc. Frame It Girl Spring Break Camp during a photography walking tour at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee in Chattanooga. The girls were given a walking tour history of the campus in order to practice the art of photography and learn about the history of the Chattanooga area. Staff Photo by Jenna Walker/Chattanooga Times Free Press
IF YOU GO
What: Girls Inc. photography exposition
When: 5 p.m. Friday
Where: First Lutheran Church, 2800 McCallie Ave.
Jada Donne Mills hopes to be a world famous fashion photographer one day, but before she could become an expert on aperture and shutter speed, she needed to master a more basic lesson.
“I’ve learned that we take turns with the camera,” she said.
Mills is one of 48 Hamilton County girls ages 6 to 11 who are learning about cameras, Chattanooga’s history and the importance of education at Girls Inc.’s spring break photography camp.
During the weeklong camp, the girls have taken photos all over Chattanooga. On Friday afternoon, they will show their work in an exhibition at First Lutheran Church.
Local photography and storytelling experts have taught the girls about their own art and the history of the Scenic City. They’ve taken the group to local landmarks such as Rock City and Ruby Falls, trips that can be intimidating to youngsters who spend most of their time around home and school.
“I had to hold my friend’s hand because I got superscared,” 8-year-old Sauntee Carter said of the long elevator ride down to Ruby Falls.
Still, she said, the fun she’s had and the lessons she’s learned this week have been worth dealing with her fear.
“This camp is teaching me a lot of things I need to do, like go to college,” she said.
If all the girls leave with lessons like Sauntee’s, camp leaders will feel their goals were accomplished.
“We’re leading girls on the path through girlhood to take advantage of opportunities and overcome challenges so they finish high school and go to college and find success,” said Bea Laurie, president and CEO of Girls Inc. of Chattanooga.
Girls Inc. is a 50-year-old international organization focused on helping young women grow to be healthy, educated and independent.
To accomplish their mission in the photography camp, instructors have told girls to break away from norms and take photos holding the camera crooked, placing it on the ground, zooming it in on unusual objects — whatever they can think of.
“It gives them a different way to look at their school, their neighborhood,” Laurie said. “It basically opens up their imagination, opens up their creativity.”
Sauntee said her time at camp has sparked her creativity, and she wants to take photos for the rest of her life.
“I want to take pictures of people when they’re newborn,” she said, “take pictures of stuff they want to remember.”