Jen May Pastores (@jenmayzie) is a photographer from greater Los Angeles who has been a total rock star for Help-Portrait. Her team’s efforts as Help-Portrait Los Angeles (@HelpPortraitLA | Facebook) have drawn national attention, thanks in part to celebrity friends who participated in the past two years’ events. In this post, we share about another way Jen May has given back through photography, and how you can play a part.
In August 2009, Jen May Pastores taught a free digital photography workshop to the youth of Tiny Toones Center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. More than 50 students participated daily in the program. The workshop covered the basics of photography such as composition, lighting and finding good backgrounds for portraits. More importantly, the workshop encouraged students to exercise their voice in telling their story and how they see the world around them.
Jen May helped the students prepare for a photo exhibit where the student’s work were showcased at the Meta House in the city. “Each print sold fundraised for the center of Tiny Toones, as well as a percentage of the proceeds given towards the student of the print purchased,” she said.
Jen has since received support to tour with a series of photographs taken during that workshop, “The World Through Our Eyes.” She calls it “a vibrant statement by youth countering stereotypes of artistic, emotional and urban desolation in the developing world.” Contact her if you’re interested in hosting the exhibit in your city.
“In retrospect and speaking quite honestly, I feel as though my students gave back to me the most….Every individual student was such an inspiration to me,” she says in the video.
On her career as a photographer, Jen says, “What I believe to be most important in this career is to always make room to pursue personal projects …. Much of it has to do with knowing how you can use what you have for the better, but all of it has to do with living a life that matters to you.”