No filter: Red Hook Houses kids snap photos for new book

A happy life: A snap taken by pre-teen Jared Wellington, one of nearly 100 kids at Red Hook Houses who learned how to take photos, which are featured in the book “Project Lives.”
Jared Wellington

Take a look inside.

A group of kids from housing projects in Red Hook spent months taking photos with disposable cameras for a new book that documents the lives of New Yorkers residing in public housing, as seen through their own eyes. One youngster involved in the tome “Projects Lives” said he enjoyed learning the mechanics and language of photography, which allowed him to tell his story.

“I like taking pictures because it makes you feel free,” said 13-year-old Jared Wellington, a former Red Hook Houses resident. “Everyone can have fun and express themselves.”

“Project Lives,” which will launch at PowerHouse Arena in Dumbo on April 8, is the culmination of a photography program called Developing Lives, which ran at 15 New York City Housing Authority buildings from 2010 to 2013. Hundreds of budding shutterbugs participated in the 12-week workshop, using single-use cameras and the techniques they learned to snap photos between classes. The idea was to encourage people in public housing to look at their own lives in a new way, challenging common stereotypes and biases, one of the book’s co-creators said.

“It is unfair that they are so misrepresented,” said activist and photographer Chelsea Davis, who edited the book with Developing Lives founder George Carrano and administrator Jonathan Fisher. “They come up with so many positive images and stories, and this is a way for them to share their stories.”

Davis said the stories that especially touched her were the children who took picture of their friends and families, and talked about how integral they are to their lives.

“They were constantly talking about their sense of neighborhood and community,” she said.

“Project Lives” launch at PowerHouse Arena [37 Main St. between Water and Front streets in Dumbo, (718) 666–3049, www.powerhousearena.com]. April 8 at 7 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
A different lens: “Projects Lives” shows New York’s public housing project through the eyes of the people that live there.
Jared Wellington

>