by Judi Jordan
My husband and I have been hosting international students for a few years now. It has been a great experience and we have made many life time friends from many countries. We have had students from China, Japan, Spain, Brazil and Belgium. This past summer we had the privilege to have Esti from Spain spend a month with us. The agency that places students with us in the summer hosts groups of students that come together generally from the same country. They are teenagers and are coming to learn english and to get an American vacation, teenage style, amusement parks and all.
Being a photographer and a storyteller I like to document their time with us. So of course when the bus of kids arrive I’m taking pictures of all the excitement of their arrival and meeting their host families. The kids have been traveling for a long time, so first stop before going home I take Esti to In & Out!
Esti shared with me while we were at In & Out that she is not very photogenic and she has never in her life had a photo of herself that looks good! She said either her eyes are closed, her head is cut off or there is some problem with it! She was pretty much telling me not to expect to get any good pictures of her, but was fine with me trying!!
We mostly host girls, so one of the things we do for them when they are here is have a time when we set up our lights and back drop and have a modeling session. The girls always enjoy this, especially if there are two of them doing each other’s makeup and cheering each other on. When talking with Esti and getting to know her we find out she likes gossip magazines as she calls them.
So we pick out some fun poses like you’d see in magazines. She picked out a couple of outfits and I pulled boots out of my closet that just happened to be her size and we start shooting. She didn’t want to stop and wanted to know if we can do it again before she goes home!
A few days later after I have edited our favorite ones, we show them to Esti. Now here’s where the light comes on! She can’t believe how beautiful she looks and her comment was,”Oh I’m so lovely!” It touched me so much and made me realize that photography can really do a lot for a child’s self image and self esteem. Her mothers response to the pictures were, “Wow they either have better cameras in America or the photographers are better!!!” I’m sure she was kidding! Esti had shared with us that her sister was the pretty one, not her. She showed us pictures of her sister and yes she is a very pretty girl, but now Esti knows she pretty too! In fact she came alive in front of the camera and we told her we thought she could be a professional model if she wanted to be. Her response was yes, but I want to be a doctor! So be it, Esti will be a doctor, I’m sure of it, she is a very smart girl who loves and cares about people.
Here is a link to an interesting study done on the subject:
Can Family Pictures Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem? The Experts Speak