Digital Documentary Photography
"Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where
no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you
have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders." - Henry
‘SEEDS of Change’ is a piece about the importance of building
community through reconnecting with our most natural shared link: nurture.
This piece highlights the need to invest in our neighborhoods, work
with the changing demographic in Durham, empower our youth, and look
for the potential in everything. Neighborhoods are where we spend most
of our lives, were we grow up, where we grow old. At the same time,
food is what keeps our bodies alive. These two crucial aspects of life
come together in this project, as we explore the intersection between
neighborhood revitalization and personal health and growth.
SEEDS Community Garden has been an oasis nestled between residential
and industrial neighborhoods in Northeast Central Durham since 1994.
Today its programs have diversified and its effect in the community
is spreading. I photographed three of SEEDS’s programs: Community
Gardening, Youth Gardening (DIG), and SEEDlings. Together these programs
educate, unite, and serve beyond themselves.
The broken windows theory says that how a neighborhood looks has a strong
impact on whether crime is likely to occur there. In other words, making
our inner city neighborhoods look better with improved street lighting,
sidewalks and streets in good condition and other needed infrastructure
improvements can possibly help to reduce crime. This set includes one
striking shot of a broken window in the neighborhood, but SEEDS is the
hope right around the corner. SEEDS stands as a dramatic contrast to
its surroundings, with its vines and bright art, literally reaching
My project took me through the lifecycle of a seed. The seed is planted
with love in the garden at SEEDS. It is tended to, harvested, and taken
to the Farmer’s Market. Here the student employees sell their
harvest. Then the cycle continued in the cooking of the foods, with
the SEEDling program. And lastly, nothing goes to waste, as composting
steps in to recycle that which is left over. Here we see Bo, a high
school volunteer sifting through the soil. From here, the cycle recommences,
and the beauty of nature, together with the love of the community, continues
to grant us with its fruits.
The interaction I enjoyed the most was that with the DIG students, Destiney
Robinson and Anthony Green. I was able to see them work in two settings,
at the SEEDS office and running the sales booth at the Farmer’s
Market. Just to see the positive influence SEEDS had in their lifetime
alone was very inspiring.
In terms of photography, throughout nine different visits to the neighborhood,
the office, the gardens, and the Farmer’s market, I was able to
gather around 700 shots. I took new risks, by experimenting with macro
lenses and using lighting I hadn’t played with before. The idea
of composing this work with audio was a very fulfilling experience.
I recommend all photographers to try it one day!
I am deeply thankful for the welcoming environment that I was met with
throughout my project with SEEDS. A special thank you to Thad, Bekah,
Destiney, Anthony, my classmates, and especially to Susie!