Students Find "My Neighborhood"

Natasha Joseph's 1st Place Winner

The first-place photograph can best be described as joy amidst squalor. A girl leaps with glee, her hundred-watt smile flashing through, jumping on an abandoned mattress. The backdrop is an industrial dumpster, framed by discarded boxes and trash.

Natasha Joseph says the other shots she took were not of trash, but trees. She likes that the best, she says. But she doesn't think she's destined to become a photographer.

Many students at Van Buren Middle School don't even own a camera, let alone go around their humble Sulphur Springs neighborhood snapping pictures. But works by Natasha and several other eighth-graders were deemed good enough to hang at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, in downtown Tampa.

"My Neighborhood: A Van Buren Middle School Photo Contest" is on display through the end of February. The contest is a partnership between the photography musem, the Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival and the Tampa Organization of Black Affairs.

They were inspired by a poem specially written for the class by the city's photo laureate. To hear James Tokely recite his poem, click HERE.

To watch - and listen - to an audio slideshow of the photographs, click HERE.


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