A New Perspective

During my experience in the photography workshop, I not only improved my picture taking skills, but I also realized how versatile photography can be. When we arrived at the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum in Inwood, Manhattan, we were welcomed by the kind members of the Cooperstown Graduate Program and a professional photographer, Stephen Michael Joyce, who opened up to us about his emotional connection to film photography, which he chose as his major in college. I was happy to see that he took lovely shots of simple subjects such as trees or windows; it helped me believe that anything could be made aesthetically pleasing through a good photo. 

When we were first taken to C-Town, I was not sure how I was going to take good shots in a poorly lit, ordinary supermarket. I used to think photography was all about having the perfect lighting, and that I could only take photos of sights such as beautiful landscapes or flowers. Despite this moment of uncertainty, I was pleasantly surprised at my abilities. I took several photos of foods I remember most vividly from my childhood such as rice, beans, plátanos, and my favorite Colombian chocolate powder growing up called “ChocoListo.” All unexpectedly came out to be images I am proud of. 

When writing about why I chose to take photos of the foods I decided to capture, I realized how I had an emotional connection to many of the photos I took. It was an almost therapeutic way of reflecting on my childhood; remembering how we would eat the same things everyday since we could not afford to eat much else. This provided me with a deeper appreciation of photography, and now when I look at photographs, I wonder what connection the artist had with the image. 

Later in the day, when we went to a farmers market, I was intrigued by all of the new food I’ve never seen before, and the fact that everything was organic. I took photos of anything and everything that caught my eye. A key takeaway is that I should write about the photos I take and encourage others to do the same. Doing this will allow you to be more in touch with your artistic abilities and be able to reflect on how you felt in that moment when you took that shot of an ordinary fruit.

I want to thank Araya Henry, the Cooperstown Graduate Program, and Stephen Michael Joyce, who guided us and encouraged us to be vulnerable with our work, and made this amazing opportunity possible for us all.


By Natalia Villota Montoya, HRM Junior Docent featured in Food for Thought: Teen Perspectives on Scarcity and Abundance