Chapeltown Community nursery collaborates with local photographer to create posh selfies for children and families

A collaboration between a local photographer and a community nursery led to children taking their own end of term pictures at the click of a button.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 4:45 am

When parents said they were unhappy with the traditional style nursery and school photographs, and the cost of them, Chapeltown Community Nursery on Reginald Road, decided to mix it up a bit and let the children and their families take their own pictures - with the help of a local professional photographer.

The idea was to have more 'fun' pictures which captured the personalities of the subjects and people being 'together' after a year of coronavirus restrictions, which has disrupted communties coming together and interacting.

Staff at the nursery had already been inspired by Gerald Donne Photography, a portrait photographer on Chapeltown Road whose work featured in the recent exhibitions of Eulogy and Back to Life by the Jamaica Society and also Birmingham’s Handsworth Self-Portrait project.

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Community member and local write, Patricia Jones also got in on the action.
Community member and local write, Patricia Jones also got in on the action.

They had also seen a similar project on the streets of Lincoln Green whereby local snappers Jonathan Turner and Benedict Phillips set up a studio and dark room on the street and took pictures of local residents as they went about their daily routine.

With Mr Turner already known to the nursery as his children used to attend, they asked him if he would create something special for children and their families and the project went from there.

Nursery manager, Sarah Killoran, said: "Previously the nursery had used big organisations to do the photos and the feedback from parents was they were not really loving these. We wanted somebody local and a personal touch. He came up with really good ideas and it went from there. They loved it, some were there for 20 minutes hogging the camera. It was more enjoyable and they were free to do what they wanted."

He set up an outside studio under a shelter, brought a white screen and stood behind the camera while children had a trigger button so they could take their own shot when they were ready.

One of the families taking part in the photo project with Chapeltown Community Nursery in Leeds.

Parents and siblings were also able to get in on the action, unlike the traditional school photo format - and that was something they had asked for in response to the last year of COVID.

As, Chapeltown Community Nursery is a charity run by a voluntary management committee, it is aware of the difficulties faced by some of its families and wanted to make sure that after a challenging year they could have this experience, and others that are in the pipeline, but would perhaps have been out of reach due to cost and accessibility.

Ms Killoran added: "The feedback from parents was that they anted to be together because no-one has been anywhere all year and were not being given opportunities throughout COVID. This was a way to bring people together in a way that was safe. We try and go above and beyond. Lots of parents live in relative poverty or deprivation and we try and do what we can to support them."

The nursery also ran a workshop for preschool children to participate in a photography “treasure hunt”, during which they learned basic photography skills and how analogue photographs and cyanotype pictures are developed. The nursery is sharing photos of both sessions in a special online exhibition visible on the nursery’s website until June 30.

Chapeltown Community Nursery will be working with another local photographer, JMA Photography based in north Leeds, to capture the action from a 'graduation' ceremony, complete with cap and gown, for the children that are leaving the nursery and will be starting school next term.