Pictures of Hope workshop helps Napa County students photograph their life dreams

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Friday, May 20, 2022
Workshop helps Napa Co. students photograph life dreams
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The Pictures of Hope program, created by Linda Solomon, teaches Napa County students about the power of photojournalism.

NAPA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- To go to college. To help those in need. To find a talent I'm truly proud of. To find self peace and allow myself some love. These are just some of the many heartwarming dreams written down by a group of Napa County students who recently participated in a workshop called Pictures of Hope.

The program, created by internationally acclaimed photojournalist Linda Solomon, teaches students about the power of photojournalism.

At a recent workshop at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia, each student was surprised with their own camera and then challenged to share their hopes and their dreams through photography.

"Sometimes it's very difficult to share something deep within verbally," Solomon told ABC7 News. "But through an art form, through photojournalism, it's often easier to share something that's so personal."

This is something deeply personal for Solomon, who received her first camera at the age 5 and went on to make a career as a Detroit-based photojournalist. She was Aretha Franklin's longtime personal photographer and published the book "The Queen Next Door."

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Her greatest passion, however, is sharing her love of photography with the next generation. She created Pictures of Hope to help young people from underserved communities find inspiration through images, to learn how a single photo can change the world and your own sense of self.

"One photo can change a life," Solomon said. "But you gotta just give that child a chance."

Solomon has brought Pictures of Hope to dozens of cities across the country. She recently held a workshop with 14 middle and high school students who are part of the Napa County schools after school program. She came at the personal request of Superintendent Dr. Barbara Nemko, who noticed many students struggling after two years of the pandemic.

Nemko said she often talks to graduating students who haven't thought about what they want to study. She hoped Pictures of Hope would help students start thinking about it now.

During Solomon's workshop, students are asked to write down their hopes and dreams. They then take their new camera and take images to represent those aspirations.

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"We just need to show how these kids aren't dreaming for iPhones," Solomon said. "They're dreaming for things that truly matter."

Among the students participating in the workshop: 12-year-old Jonathan Ihrag. His dream? To help someone.

After 20 minutes of walking around the Culinary Institute of America and the neighboring Oxbow Public Market, Jonathan spotted an older couple holding hands and assisting one another. He snapped a photo.

"So, what I did, I found two super nice people who were holding hands, and, well, she was helping him," Jonathan explained.

Another student, Addison Andrews, had a dream of equality. She gathered a diverse group of people together and asked them to put out their hands in a circle.

"I feel like that showed ages, it showed different races...I think it was a good example or demonstration of equality," Addison, 13, said.

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live

The workshop will culminate in an exhibit on Monday, May 23 at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia. Solomon has printed each students' photo, along with their dream, on a set of notecards. Those notecards will be sold to the public with 100% of all proceeds going to the Napa County Office of Education afterschool program.

Anyone in the community is invited to attend the May 23 exhibit from 5:30 p.m to 6:30 p.m.

Those who would like to purchase a set of notecards may do so here.

"Every child needs that chance to share a dream," Solomon said. "And know that it can come true."