Non-profit photography program for NYC teens
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Christian Rodriguez
37 Photos

I started shooting when I was in eighth grade. Now I’m in my sophomore year in college majoring in photography. If I could send my eighth grade self a letter I would tell him to prepare for difficult obstacles. I would warn him that photography was going to become like a drug, in the sense that nothing else would matter. I’d warn him that in six years nothing would seem clearer than the path that he was already on, and not to worry. Compared to my eighth grade self I’m now immersed with self-improvement, it’s all I think about. In September of 2011 my bags were packed and I was leaving the city that shaped me. I hugged my mother at the security gate of La Guardia airport in New York City, I could feel my face melting off and by the look of my mother’s, she felt the same. I was officially on my way to the Savannah College of Art and Design, where I am now a sophomore. Getting to Savannah wasn’t easy. Throughout High School I never made plans to attend college, but with some convincing from close friends I applied to two schools. One accepted me. That was half the battle. I still needed to come up with a large sum of money, that part was much harder than getting into the school. I paid my first year of college on a massive loan. When my second year came around I was no longer eligible for that loan, I was essentially back at zero. I feared that I would end up back in the same public housing in the lower east side, surrounded with the negative unencouraging environment that those places seem to carry. The only reason I’m still in college is because of three loving people that I met through a non-profit photography program while in High School, called NYC Salt. Alicia, the founder, Adam and Ben are the backbone to my education. Without these people I wouldn’t have made it to college and I wouldn’t be able to continue this trend of self-improvement. Nothing feels as right as a camera in my hands, the shape, the feel, and the sounds that this object emits never fails to be organic. Nothing is more comforting than apertures clicking and shutters snapping. If I could tell my eighth grade self one thing it would be that cameras were meant to fit perfectly in his hands.

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