Charlotte Mellgard ’15 started Humans of Groton through a Faculty-Sponsored Activity; she was inspired by Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York, which explores New York City through photos of people.
How did you learn photography?
When I was 12 years old my mother gave me her 35mm film camera from the 80s. I remember the excitement of figuring out how to use the camera and then taking photographs. I felt like I was exploring the world through a new lens. Most of the photos came out horribly given my inexperience with 35mm cameras, but I was thrilled with the few that came out somewhat well. I knew that this way of exploring my world was something I was truly interested in. I started taking photography classes at my middle school and learned more about the use of photography as an art and as a form of communication by attending summer programs on digital photography, photojournalism, etc. However, for the most part, I have developed as a photographer by taking countless photos whenever I have the opportunity.
What has surprised you about Groton’s “Humans”?
What has surprised me most about the “Humans” of Groton is how willing everyone has been to allow me to take their picture and to tell their story to someone they may not know very well. Fascinating, personal, and eye-opening conversations have stemmed from the photo shoots I have had with members of the Groton community. I have learned so much about students and faculty that I would have never known otherwise.
What have you learned about the community through these photographs?
I have learned that everyone in this community has their own story and talents and each person contributes towards making Groton a special and unique place. Even though we may make assumptions about or think we know a person from passing interactions, there is often so much more to that person. Photography has given me the ability to communicate with members of the Groton community in a new and different way. These photographic shots give me the opportunity to get to really know each person I photograph. I have felt privileged to have deepened my relationships with and learned so much from members of this community.
Which is your favorite photo, visually? Why?
Visually, my favorite photo is of Katherine McCreery, Form of 2015. One day Katherine and I decided to walk to the Groton School boathouse. Those who are lucky enough to have gone on this walk will know that, during the fall, it is one of the most beautiful walks one can go on. As Katherine was sitting on the dock, I took a photo of her surrounded by the gorgeous autumn trees that reflected on the water. It captured a serene, special moment showing all the beauty that New England has to offer.
Which photo do you think best tells a story?
I think my photo of Lillian Harris , Form of 2015, best tells a story. This photo is of Lillian playing the violin, a talent she has had since she was young. Lillian told me about how playing the violin has changed her as a person. While she was in South Africa, on a Groton orchestra trip, Lillian was able to play the violin with other children in Soweto, a township in South Africa. Just as I am able to communicate with people in a new way through photography, Lillian was able to communicate with people in a new way through music. Though Lillian and the children of Soweto were from places miles and miles away from one another, they could still connect and communicate through music.
Do you have plans for more blogs like this?
I have another personal photography blog called cmellgard.tumblr.com that I update every so often. These photos date back to when I first started taking photos in middle school. I hope to continue Humans of Groton for the rest of my Groton career and also hope to pass this blog down to another student once I graduate.