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[Youth Report] Bokeh publishes the work of NYC teens

NYC Salt Participants, courtesy NYC Salt.

What does N.Y.C. look like through the eyes of its teenage inhabitants? 17-year-old Merelyn Bucio describes it this way, “I’ve lived in NYC almost all my life. I love what this city has to offer, from the sunsets cutting between the sky scrapers to the man in his underwear on roller skates. Rarely people take the time to see it all, and I want to show them through my lens, what they might miss on any given day in this crazy city.” Merelyn is a participant in NYC Salt– a non-profit organization putting professional cameras in the hands of urban youth. Starting this month, Bokeh will be premiering the work of more than 20 young photographers working with NYC Salt.

NYC Salt takes a unique approach to idea of empowerment through photography. At the crux of their work is a one-year photography and mentoring program that meets weekly throughout the year. Every student gets access to professional photo tools, including a digital camera and computer, which allow them to produce a portfolio of professional work. In addition, photographers, editors and videographers are brought in on a volunteer basis to contribute lessons on their various skills and tactics for entering the job market.

As the program notes on their website, many of their students come from low-income Latino families “that struggle to provide the support needed to succeed in today’s world.” NYC Salt provides these young people with an awesome opportunity to tell their stories while also preparing for a bright future. And they have been very successful: All of their graduating seniors are pursuing a college education, many with full scholarships.

NYC Salt was founded in 2005 by Alicia Hansen, a professional freelance photographer who wanted to give back to her community and also create a platform for professional in her community to do so as well. About the program she writes, “I continue to be amazed at the way the program has grown and the photographers, photo editors, manufactuers, and business people that have so generously given their time and money to help kids in our city become the best they can be.”

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