Photo archive (partial)

Buy prints, downloads, or license images from our archives:

Tools for Schools 2007 Monday, August 20, 2007

Wells Fargo employees pack school supplies into backpacks Aug. 20 in support of Schoolhouse Supplies' Tools for Schools program. The backpacks will be given to children at Whitman Elementary School in Portland.

Every year at this time, various corporations send teams of employees to Schoolhouse Supplies to load backpacks full of school supplies for children in the Portland area. The backpacks are distributed to kids at the poorest schools in Multnomah County.

This year will be the biggest year ever for the Tools for Schools program, with 21 schools receiving kits of pencils, paper, rulers and more.

The Wells Fargo employees were challenged to beat the packing times set by other participating corporations. The 21 employees on hand managed to fill about 450 packs in an average time of 3.1 seconds—tied with Umpqua Bank for the fastest so far. Another 8 groups will be filling bags later this week.

I donated my time to photograph the action this afternoon for Schoolhouse Supplies and Wells Fargo.
You're trying to make photos that show the excitement of filling the bags, but it's a really tough assignment.

First, the bags are filled in a dark warehouse, with a wide open delivery door letting in a whole lot of light at one end. Then, you have two
shoulder-to-shoulder lines of people facing each other across a 30" table loaded with pencils, erasers, and notepads. And most of the time, they're looking down at the stuff on the table. The walls in the background are all cluttered with stacks of boxes and/or noisy posters about Schoolhouse Supplies fund raising efforts. Even the ceiling is cluttered with beams and ventilation ducts and sprinklers. If you crop in tight enough to cut the clutter, you cut out the school supplies that provide the context for the photo.

The photo above is the only one that I'm really happy with, and even it could be better.

And then the people start moving as fast as they can, joking with each other, but usually not taking the time to make eye contact. The guy on the right is a full profile, and it would be nice to see a bit more of his face. And the background is pretty messy.

Schoolhouse Supplies and the bank both wanted me to get photos of their President and CEO participating, but he didn't arrive until they were filling the last bag. He got in the group photo (light shirt in upper right).

Volunteers from Wells Fargo will be distributing the backpacks to the kids at Whitman Elementary School on Sept. 7. I don't know if it will be the same people or not, but I'll be there to photograph it.

I shot the packing part of the Tools for Schools campaign last year (see previous post), but missed the distribution day.