National Geographic Photo Camp – Smith Island, Words From Our Students

National Geographic Photo Camp Smith Island/ Photo by Anastasia Jeffries

There are a lot of differences between here and home. For one thing it’s more peaceful. It’s like the rest of the world is on pause. Things are just more beautiful here. In the city a pile of bricks to me, was just a pile of bricks. But here through the eye of my camera it’s a story… just being here is like being in a whole different world. One where nothing else matters, just you and the experience. “We’re living on Island Time. Watches don’t work here.” Even with watches the time doesn’t matter. We live by the sun. Early mornings the sun rises – time to take photos. It’s when the whole island wakes up. Then is breakfast and morning activities. A photo assignment if the light is good. Usually some kind of boat trip to another part of Smith Island. Then right around the time everyone gets hungry, we have lunch. Then another assignment, then dinner. It’s basically a home away from home with strangers.
Looking back I remember my mom telling me, “Stop focusing in on you. Look at the bigger picture.” Now by having a camera basically glued to my eye for 3 days I see what she meant. Sometimes you need to just zoom out and enjoy the beautiful setting…sometimes you need to stop, slow down and enjoy the beauty. Learn to look at things from different angles…it applies to both photography and to life.
– Anastasia Jeffries

National Geographic Photo Camp Smith Island/ Photo by Victoria Dailey

This place is almost the total opposite from my house. Outside my home is mostly people yelling at each other and hurting each other. Everyone knows each other here. During this trip I feel like I have been trying to be as nice as I can to the people and my BLSYW sisters. This place has no TV or computers and I just think that if it did I wouldn’t go outside as much because at home I watch TV twenty-four-seven so this place is good for me.
– Victoria Dailey

National Geographic Photo Camp Smith Island/ Photo by Anastasia Jeffries

National Geographic Photo Camp Smith Island/ Photo by Tila Neupane

There are many differences between Smith Island and my home. Here is a silent place, and there are no words to describe how beautiful it is. Island high school students use the boat to go to school. They eat lots of crabs and fishes. Also there are boat men who get up early in the morning when the sun rises and when it sets. It is a beautiful place where neighbors are nice and respectful. At my home it is very crowded and lots of cars and roads, lots of noise and people walking on the street. Some people there are nice, but some aren’t. There is no ocean near my house…at home I stay with my friends in my home. But in the island I want to know about the people and community. It was the first time I was in a boat.
– Tila Neupane

National Geographic Photo Camp Smith Island/ Photo by Jermanna Hamilton

National Geographic Photo Camp Smith Island/ Photo by LaDaisha Thompson

This camp was very valuable to me because now I might want to become a photographer, or have a career that involves photography.
– LaDaisha Thompson

National Geographic Photo Camp Smith Island/ Photo by Andrea Morgan

I did not know the true meaning of photography so when I came here the staff taught me the definition. I thought photography was just a picture but the true definition is more about telling a story. I appreciate this trip because any other person could have been picked instead of me. I learned a lot from a lot of great people. I am very lucky to be here. Thank you Photo Camp.
It was valuable to me because I met new people. It was an amazing experience because I took pictures I did not expect to take. When I grow up I want to be a photographer.
– Andrea Morgan

National Geographic Photo Camp Smith Island/ Photo by Shian Salveson

At my home there is no wildlife, there is no water, there is no boat, the houses aren’t close and it’s more fun here. I am never quiet, but I am having fun. I am getting healthier and I am funnier.
– Shian Salveson

National Geographic Photo Camp Smith Island/ Photo by Anastasia Jeffries

National Geographic Photo Camp Smith Island/ Photo by Keara Whitehead

This island changed me because I am not so shy about things here, and I’m asking more questions. Also, I’m not giving up like usual. This camp has given me more confidence.
– Keara Whitehead

National Geographic Photo Camp Smith Island/ Photo by Julia Bainum

Smith Island is so different from my home. Being small makes it so peaceful. Every morning I love to get up and watch the sun rise. The light is so beautiful on the water and I could take thousands of pictures of it. My favorite thing to do though, was sit on the dock. It felt like nothing mattered, and it didn’t, because we were living on island time. That is a great feeling, not knowing what time it is, or what you have to do next. Being on this island with a camera has changed me. I notice the beauty more. When you don’t have a camera, you just try to have fun. You don’t notice things. When you have a camera though, you notice the beautiful things. Now, every time I go somewhere new, I will notice the beauty that I didn’t see before.
– Julia Bainum

National Geographic Photo Camp Smith Island/ Photo by Cori Grainger

I’ve learned that you don’t always have to walk around the mud, but that you can just walk through it and have fun doing it. The camp was valuable to me because I came with just one purpose, but really ended up learning a lot more. I learned about photography, the marsh, refugees, disappearing islands, saving the bay and the Earth, animal habitats, other people, and I had a really good time. I would never have known these things if I didn’t learn them here. I learned how I could make a good and beneficial difference, and that’s important to me.
– Cori Grainger

National Geographic Photo Camp Smith Island/ Photo by Julia Bainum

National Geographic Photo Camp Smith Island/ Photo by Mareen Hashim

National Geographic Photo Camp Smith Island/ Photo by Martesha Smith

On Smith Island it’s peaceful and there’s no violence here. I’ve changed because I’ve learned something new. I’ve learned to take different types of pictures, and I’ve made friends with people I’ve never met before. I’ve faced my fears and finally got dirty.
– Martesha Smith

National Geographic Photo Camp Smith Island/ Photo by LaDaisha Thompson

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