As participants in the Foto Loco Photo Workshop at the Pelathe Community Resource Center, the novice photographers were equipped with film and point-and-shoot cameras. Their task: Find interesting sights and people to go along with the theme "Hanging Out in Lawrence 2001."
"The fact that there's so much diversity in Lawrence, there's so much richness -- just trying to be able to capture that is worthwhile," said Carlisha Bell, 24, a Kansas University student from Wichita and Foto Loco participant.
The 34 pictures in the exhibition will be displayed until Aug. 31 at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt. The exhibit then will move to the Douglas County United Way Center, 2518 Ridge Court.
Foto Loco was funded by the Kansas Arts Commission, private and corporate donors, the United Way and Pelathe Center resources, said Gary Smith, artist-in-residence at the Pelathe Center, 15th Street and Haskell Avenue.
For the fourth annual workshop, Smith decided to take a different approach to teaching photography. Rather than recruit teen-agers and children for classes at the Pelathe Center, he took his message to the streets.
He set up shop on Friday nights at a bench in front of Weavers, Ninth and Massachusetts streets, and recruited anyone willing to take a quick, five-minute photo lesson. Then the students were turned loose on the town, to find new angles and views that interested them.
Many students came back for a short critique of their first roll and then another roll of film, Smith said.
"I did not tell them, 'Document Massachusetts Street in 2001,' they got that on their own," he said. "There's a whole lot of culture they got in the photos."
The photos include interesting people on the street, architectural details and alleys. The artists ranged from teens to adults, and some of them were homeless, Smith said.
Bryan Dillon, 16, a student at Free State High School, said his photography teacher at school had told him about the project. Dillon said he enjoys nature shots and street photography.
"I take pictures of about anything I can," he said.
After two years of studying photography, this will be Dillon's first public display. He hopes to become a free-lance photographer.
"I really just want to travel the world and take pictures," Dillon said.
Smith said the reward for him was when family and friends came in to view the pictures.
"The feedback that is most meaningful to me, is when teens' parents come in," he said. "It's outstanding photography and they can't believe their kid is that talented."
Carrie Murray, 27, Lawrence, said she enjoyed participating in the program.
"It's a good opportunity to see how people view Lawrence," she said.
Murray said she focused on capturing candid moments on the street and people that are typically ignored. She has taken photos for bands in town and said she hopes to do more photo work in the future.
"Definitely part of the way I see the world is through a camera lens," she said.
Alicia Thomas, 27, Lawrence, said she was walking on Massachusetts Street with her husband when Smith recruited her into the program.
"He showed me some tips and I walked around for about an hour," she said.
She said she took photos of interesting people with Lawrence landmarks in the background.
"I would hope that people look at the pictures and see the diverse community that we live in," Thomas said.
-- Staff writer Matt Merkel-Hess can be reached at 832-7187.