Kids have a unique way of looking at things. Some of their perspective has been captured in a new book, “Coupeville: Through the Eyes of its Children,” a collection of photographs taken by children of the Coupeville Boys and Girls Club.
The project was the brainchild of Coupeville Boys and Girls Club Program Director Jo-Ellen Fischbach and was made possible by a grant from the Coupeville Festival Association. Fischbach said this was a great project for Coupeville kids to get involved with.
“The kids here on the island have an untouched perspective,” she said. “Kids are still kids here. More and more that’s a rarity.”
The club purchased five cameras with part of the grant money. Fischbach said she got cameras with built-in image stabilizers since they were to be used by children of all ages and the kids took turns using the cameras on various outings over the summer.
“Their main instruction was ‘show what you’re seeing through the camera,’” said Fischbach. “We took pictures on field trips to the Admiralty Head lighthouse, Fort Casey, Lavender Wind Farms, Ebey’s Prairie, Sunnyside cemetery and all over the town of Coupeville.
“We just let the kids go,” she continued. “They had tons of fun, although some enjoyed the project more than others.”
Fischbach said she spent time over the fall going through all the photos and pulling out the ones she felt had artistic value. For the most part, the photos that appear in the 40-page, hard-cover book are untouched.
“All I did was crop them some, straighten them and adjust the contrast, that’s all,” Fischbach said. “These are their real photos. I didn’t change the colors, I didn’t add anything or take anything away from them.”
While many many have been expecting a project that was more like a scrapbook, Fischbach said she was able to produce a true art book.
“This has the feeling of a children’s book, but it’s an art book,” she said. “Reaction has been really positive. No one expected it to be as beautiful as it turned out.”
The simple book has a series of photos taken by children ranging in age from 6 to 13 at various locations. Two photos from Lavender Wind Farm, for example, depict a small footbridge over a brook and a water lily floating on a pond, in what Fischbach laughingly calls her “homage to Monet,” on pages 18 and 19.
“When I showed the book to Colin (Engle) and showed him his picture of the water lily, he said ‘Oh yeah — I was trying to get a picture of the goldfish,’” Fischbach said.
The rest of the grant money was used to produce the book, which Fischbach did through the online service Blurb. The book uses the best quality photo paper available, which drove up the cost. Each book cost $46 to produce. The Boys and Girls Club donated a book to the Coupeville Festival Association, the Coupeville library and the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce. The remainder are being sold at the Boys and Girls Club for $50 each. Fischbach hopes to find a less expensive way to produce more of the books so they can be sold at various businesses.
“The next step is to find a cheaper way to produce them so we can get them out,” she said.
All in all, the project achieved its goal, said Fischbach. The children involved got a chance to explore their community and discover what sets it apart.
“In trying to teach the kids about positive community, we had a chance to really expose them to their community, to help them learn what’s special about it,” said Fischbach. “Most children cannot just walk down to the beach. So we have great kids who are very expressive and outgoing, with a unique perspective.”
As the children are able to pick up their book and look through it at the Boys and Girls Club, it stirs memories of summer days taking pictures, and Fischbach hopes, happy memories.
“It’s been great to be able to present that to the kids,” she said. “It achieved its goal. It’s still art, but it’s kids.”
Contact the Boys and Girls Club at 360-678-5640.