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Young Seattlelites See Their City in Pixels


Text by Katy McCarthy / Photos by Youth in Focus participants

There is one small giveaway in XD Liu’s photo that this image was seemingly created decades ago: A young man in the bottom left corner is holding a cell phone. It’s subtle, and if you miss it, you are in that time 20 years ago when things were a bit quieter in Seattle.

There is a pervasive nostalgia across this gorgeous group of photographs created by young Seattleites with Youth In Focus. They harken back to a slower time in the city’s history, before the shiny new skyline. There is an air of searching about them – as if the young artists were seeking out places they visited as children, now torn down to make way for new buildings and industry.

For some of the kids, Seattle is the only place they know, where many generations have been born and raised. Others are transplants from parts of Africa, who see and capture Seattle as a land of new opportunity for a different life. Collectively, these children are learning to visualize, and perhaps better understand, the city they all call home.

One student, Jasiah, poetically describes the experience of seeing and documenting Seattle through his camera:

Painting Sky and buildings with pixels Click
Freezing time,
An instant

The damp, evergreen state looks good in black and white and sepia. Even XD’s nighttime shot of a maze of freeways and bridges seems gentle and aged. The fog settling on the radio towers in Amelie’s picture puts me at ease and reminds me of the pleasure of reading a cloudy day away.

Amelie writes:

“I am a nature-lover who thinks humans are cutting themselves away from Mother Nature, forgetting we owe her everything we have and especially forgetting to respect her. I am shocked to see what humans have done to the world; building a realm for themselves, separate from the wilderness, and believing the Earth belongs to them.”

Where Amelie’s photo tells me to seek out blankets and nature books, Christian’s sepia lake landscape makes me reminisce about summer sunsets and end-of-the-day walks in warm climes. Just cruising and talking with a friend about family … the coming of fall … plans. As Christian describes it, “I want you to just imagine you are in these peoples’ shoes. They may be just passing by each other, but I can guarantee that they’ve experienced similarities throughout their lives.”

When was the last time you saw the people of your city through a sepia lens?

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