MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Right now Art Basel is all the buzz on Miami Beach and surrounding areas. You can find art selling for big money. And then there are exhibit featuring artists no one has ever heard of.READ MORE: South Florida Caravan Heads To DC To Ask US Government To End Cuba’s Communist Regime
One in particular made by children from Overtown was a real eye-catcher. With a little help, they’ve made it big.
CW Griffin, a professional photographer, points to a basketball court.
“We don’t want the typical image. We want something that has a lot of impact. So we are going to look at a little differently,” he told the young man holding a cellphone. He coaches him to get low, to frame it just right.
People might not recognize Griffin if they ran into him on the street. But chances are they’ve seen his photos on the cover of the Miami Herald for years.
From major moments to major sporting events, he’s captured it.
Even though he recently retired, Griffin is still helping the next generation of photo journalists find their way.
“At every junction there was someone that steered me in the right direction. And I have never forgotten that,” Griffin told CBS4’s David Sutta.
Giffin was one of a few photographers who spent time last month teaching a group of low income kids the value of a good photography.
Sutta went out with Griffin to watch one of his sessions.
A group of four kids followed Griffin around the rough streets of Overtown.
“This whole journey is about you guys finding things of interest to yourselves,” he told them.
With the help of Nike and Microsoft, the Play to Win foundation started a program to put the 41 megapixel phones in the hands of Overtown kids.
Conrad Thomas, a 10th Grader was excited about the opportunity to use the cameras.
“Now I can have it in my pocket and I can take pictures anytime, anywhere.” Thomas said.
Griffin and Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Carl Juste took a step further though, helping the kids see the world differently.
Last month they took the whole group out. The kids roamed their neighborhoods, told to shoot whatever caught their eye. What they captured was spectacular.
11th grader Deaundre Lundy was proud of his photos. His favorite was one where he stood on top of crime scene tape.READ MORE: Historic Little Havana House Goes Up In Flames
“It was just flying in the wind. And when I stepped on it I looked down. My foot was right there. And I was like let me just take the picture,” said Lundy.
Malachi Smith took a photo that spoke to his upbringing. The photo features a father walking with a little girl. In the foreground scribbled on the pole are the words “God, Love or Fear.”
Smith explained, “I grew up in a low poverty family. So some people grow up with only one parent. I grew up with only one mom. And you know, he’s still working hard. He’s a hard working parent. And it just impacted me. And you know the God, love or fear, people just believe in what you believe in.”
Griffin, who at one point carried around massive cameras and lens, laughed when he saw all the pictures. The tiny cameras did great. The kids though really impressed him.
“I’m actually amazed at how well they did first time out. I went back and looked through some of the pictures and I was like, ‘wow, these kids did a great job,’” he said.
And for some, they found their voice.
“It’s a one in a million chance of someone doing something like this. It can change your life. It reveals a hidden talent that you have. I found out I was good at it. Now I’m into that kind of stuff,” said Lundy.
Fellow participant Unique Prentice felt a connection to her images.
“I’m not much of a talker, so being able to express myself through photographing is really good,” she said.
Wednesday night, the kids who participated in the project suddenly found themselves in the middle of Art Basel.
Inside a big tent at FusionMIA, they saw their pictures for the first time printed and on a wall.
“Oh my goodness,” said Prentice when she saw her photo displayed. “Oh, look at my name. It’s number one. I’ve never experienced anything like this.”
None of these kids had. Their photos were not just hanging on a gallery wall; thousands were lining up to see them.
One student stood before the organizers and press proud of what they had done.
“Having our photos in Art Basel, can we just clap it up for that?” asked Elijah Wells.
Jackie Mansfield and Michelle Spence-Jones, co-founders of the Play to Win foundation, said the project was just the beginning.
“It’s really inspiring. When you give kids the opportunity they’ll shine. And that’s really what we are trying to do. Give them their opportunity,” said Mansfield.
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