December 20, 2017

Weekly Exposure: Special Backdrops!

By David

As you may have noticed from our Facebook and Instagram pages, Photo Start kids have been taking some incredible portrait shots. While the lighting, focus, and subjects are all important aspects of these shots, there is a very crucial, often overlooked element that we are pretty excited about….the backdrops!

In early fall, Photo Start students took several days to create massive 2×3 meter canvas backdrops to shoot against. They cut raw canvas, primed them, and then went nuts with paint. The result was a beautiful mix of blues and greens with handprints in every color. The kids were so excited to have had such a “hands on” art project, and to then get to use their work to make even more beautiful art!

Once the canvases were completed and we had taken our first round of portraits, the Nairobi National Museum agreed to hang them up in an exhibit for a month. The canvases are still hanging today, and it has filled the kids with an unmatchable sense of pride to know that their creation is adorning the walls of a museum.

While waiting for our canvas to be returned, we received an extremely generous donation of handmade backdrops from Sarah Oliphant of Oliphant Studios. If you have ever seen a Vogue or Vanity Fair magazine, you’ve seen Sarah’s work — she’s incredible! Sarah wrote us to say that she had been so inspired by our work that she wanted to make us four custom oil on canvas backdrops and we were absolutely thrilled. Really thrilled. “My fairy godmother just gave me a Ferrari” kind of thrilled.

Sarah started off by creating a “Classic Annie” backdrop, which is an Irving Penn style medium gray mottled and textured backdrop. Then she created a Deep Black/Navy Blue with mottling and vignette. Next came a crazy cool turquoise backdrop inspired by the blue tin construction of the Centre where we work. Last, but certainly not least, she made a stunning red/burnt sienna design with mottling and metallic gold highlights. We couldn’t believe it!!

We have already begun shooting with two of the four backdrops, and we can’t wait to unveil the final two at an upcoming community day. Be sure to keep an eye on our daily photos to see if you can spot the backdrops, and a huge thank you to Oliphant Studios for your incredibly generous donation!

Latest News

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“Photo Start” by Frank Doorhof “The Photo Start initiative was founded in January 2016 by David Lehman, of New York, NY, USA. David studied History and Political Science at Columbia University, received his Master’s in Digital Photography from the School of Visual arts, and obtained his Juris Doctorate from Rutgers School of Law – Newark. […]
“A New Generation of Artists in Nairobi” by Jacqui Palumbo “For children who live in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, making art may seem like an activity that’s out of reach. The non-profit organization Photo Start is working to change that, however, providing students in the slums of Kibera, Mathare and others with photography equipment […]