A professional photographer is sharing his gift with the next generation.

AJ Brown began a photography club “Kids with Cameras” at Smart Intermediate School to teach these young girls “how to see.”

It’s a personal mission for him. He grew up in the Quad Cities, a bored teenager.

“Then I started learning photography and how to see,” he says. “I realized with photography, the QC can be beautiful too. I want them to get that, and I don’t know if they have or not, but I plant that little seed.”

AJ gave each of the girls their own digital camera after a call for donations on Facebook.

Once a week for five weeks, he taught them simple composition tips – like leading lines, rule of third, and getting closer.

“What I do is I try to make it twist and more interesting,” says 6th grader Leah Mirfield. “This tree I didn’t place it for a reason. It’s more off to the side. So it looks more interesting.”

“You want the object to be on the side,” says 6th grader Jaylissa Ramey, “just on one of the sides, up down or the sides.”

“We’re not by the Rocky Mountains or the ocean,” says AJ. “But if we learn how to see properly, like leave things out of the picture or put things in a picture the right way, Davenport can be just as beautiful.”

The elder photographer likes the smaller setting where he can spend time with each one of them and critique their pictures.

AJ is able to teach these girls his craft thanks to the group One Eighty – which works to prevent crisis, poverty, and addiction before it happens by offering positive outlets for kids to expend their time and energy.

The girls put their photography on display at a recent fundraiser and got some great feedback.

“One lady asked me if i had a business card,” says Jaylissa.

They’ve come a long way, proving what AJ says: commitment and practice pay off.

“I think people tell you you’re doing great at something, that can translate to whatever they take on within their life,” he says. “That’s what I wanted for them – to feel confident and good about what they’re doing,”

And for giving these kids a purpose, AJ Brown is one of Local 4’s Finest.

You can nominate someone doing good in the community on our website. Fill out the form on the right side of the page here.  

You can also email James a nomination, at jsears@whbf.com or on Facebook here.

For more on Kids with Cameras, click here.  

For more on One Eighty, click here.