I have taken on a new documentary project with the non-profit group, Sisters with Purpose. The group puts together a grand cotillion ball every year as a fundraiser for their youth mentoring program. The mentoring program, called Pathways for Young Leaders, was created to ‘educate and empower every youth to become worldwide impactful leaders.’ It’s a great organization, and you can find out more about the group on their website.
The seed for this project was planted two years prior, when I volunteered at the annual cotillion with New York Cares to help the girls get into their fancy dresses. It was a great experience, and at the time I had mentioned to the organizers that I would love to photograph the event if they ever needed anyone. In February, I got an email from Susie Williams, the director of Sisters with Purpose, asking for my help. In addition to photographing the cotillion itself, which will be held May 18th at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach, I asked if I could document the entire process of the kids rehearsing, trying on dresses, and getting ready for their big night out. Susie said yes, and I was introduced to a great group of kids.
So far, I have photographed three rehearsals, and will be photographing a fourth rehearsal this Saturday. The group is split into two: the older kids are rehearsing their best ballroom dance moves for the cotillion, while the younger kids are putting together an African/hip hop dance which will also be performed during the cotillion. The kids are wonderfully energetic, bored with the camera, and fascinating — all at the same time. With every rehearsal, I learn a new name, make a new friend, and get someone to open up in front of the camera. I am as excited about this project as I was on a previous documentary project, Top Model Club, in which I documented a group of students at the Bronx Community College who wanted to become models. This Saturday, in addition to another rehearsal, I will also be documenting the work the group does at a food pantry. These are photos from the first three rehearsals, and I will be sharing more as the project unfolds.
If you would like to see more non-profit photojournalism images from my portfolio, please visit my website — www.KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com