Photography lesson

Lesson of the day: “In Los Angeles, glimpses of an oasis with deep immigrant roots”


Featured Article: “In Los Angeles, glimpses of an oasis with deep immigrant roots. “Photographs and text by Stella Kalinina.

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with travel restrictions in place around the world, The New York Times launched a new series, The World Through a Lens, in which photojournalists transport you, virtually, to some of the most popular places. most beautiful and intriguing on our planet. In the featured article, Stella Kalinina shares a collection of images from a community garden in Los Angeles, a place that has provided physical and spiritual nourishment over the past half-century to several generations of Angelenos immigrants.

In this lesson, you will discover the power of community gardens and consider the importance of nature in our lives. Then you will act as a photojournalist to document an oasis in your own life.

Before reading the article, reflect on your experiences with nature by responding to one or more of the following prompts in writing or in a discussion with a partner:

  • Describe your relationship with nature: What role does it play in your life? Do you have a favorite place? How has nature positively affected your life?

  • What experiences have you had growing plants, vegetables, flowers or fruits? Have you ever grown anything in your house or garden? Have you contributed to a community garden or farm at your school or in your neighborhood?

  • How accessible is the natural world you live in? Are there many gardens or parks available for walking or sitting? Do you have plants in your school or home? Are you spending as much time in nature as you want?

  • Do you think humans need contact with nature to be healthy? Why or why not?

Read the article, then answer the following questions:

1. Look at the photographs and their captions throughout the article:

  • What do you notice ? What can you learn about San Pedro’s community gardens and the people who garden and cultivate there?

  • What questions do you have about the gardens?

  • Taken together, what story do these images tell?

2. Now choose a photo of the article that you think is meaningful. What appeals to you about this image? What does this make you feel or think? What do you find fascinating, informative or moving?

3. The article features many wonderful and expressive photographs, but it also includes vivid language as well as thoughtful personal thoughts and ideas. How does Ms. Kalinina place the reader in the San Pedro Community Gardens in the opening paragraphs? What words, images and details are particularly evocative?

4. Why have so many immigrants, like Raúl Laly Fernández, joined community gardens? How did they become a “link with home and a means of preserving and transmitting their cultural heritage” for Mr. Fernández and other gardeners?

5. Ms Kalinina said the project arose out of her interest in “stories of migration, broken ties, longing for her own culture and building new homes”. Which personal story in the article do you find most memorable or moving? What connections can you make with your own life? Have you ever researched your own cultural heritage or needed to build a new house?

6. The goal of the World Through a Lens series is to transport readers to some of the most beautiful and fascinating places on our planet. In what ways has the featured article succeeded in doing this? What does seeing and learning about another community tell you about your own? Does reading the article and viewing the photographs make you want to join a community garden or explore nature more?

Option 1: Imagine the garden of your dreams.

If you could plant a dream garden, what would it look like? What types of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and other plants would you include? What smells, tastes and flavors are you hoping for? Why? How do these choices represent your own interests, culture, or family history? Would it be open to the public or would it be a place of solitude and reflection for you and your family?

Now draw, label and caption the garden of your dreams. Be creative and think big – this is your own backyard oasis.

Option 2: What is your oasis? Document your place of refuge with photography.

Where do you go to relax and find peace when you are feeling stressed or depressed? Is there a place to go to nourish yourself physically and spiritually, to find a connection with your cultural heritage or simply to appreciate the beauty of the world?

Now capture your oasis through photography. Use the photos featured in the article for inspiration, whether it’s Ms. Kalinina’s close-up of a gardener’s hand delicately tending to a flower or her wide low-angle shot. to capture the gratitude and pride of a garden member.

How would you reveal your special place to others? Who or what would you photograph? What details would you show? When would you use wide, medium, or close-up shots?

After capturing at least three photographs, write a short artist statement that explains why you chose them and what they say about your oasis.


Want more lessons of the day? You can find them all here.