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Love, Pictured: Love Through the Eyes of Baltimore Youth

February 2008

Members of the Center for Adolescent Health's Youth Advisory Committee

Members of the Center for Adolescent Health's Youth Advisory Committee. Members took photographs of love in their everyday lives.

Growing up in inner-city Baltimore can be difficult. But it can also be beautiful, according to 11 high school students who participated in a photo project with the Johns Hopkins University Center for Adolescent Health, part of CDC’s Prevention Research Centers Program.

Asked to choose a photo topic based on their lives, the teens, part of the center’s Youth Advisory Committee, chose love. To learn about photography and complete the project, the juniors and seniors spent a year working with a professional photojournalist and researchers from the center and the university’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“They wanted to show that they see a lot of love in their lives,” said Jayne Blanchard, a communications specialist for the center. She said the participants live in mostly low-income neighborhoods where gang violence is not uncommon.

Ms. Blanchard recalls the participants saying, “We want to go against the stereotype people think we are living in. We are not saying it isn’t hard, but we encounter love every day.”

The teens took pictures of different expressions of love they saw in nature, their homes, and their communities. The photos have been displayed at exhibits across Baltimore and appear in a 2008 calendar.

Center Director Freya Sonenstein, PhD, said the project fit with the center's theme of promoting adolescent health and preparing teenagers for adulthood.

"Health interventions can take many forms," she said. "For teens, especially, feeling love and learning how to illustrate this feeling through photographs of their family, friends and communities reinforces their understanding of their own strengths and resources."

Pictures Featured in the Calendar


Girl looking at picture of Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is a picture of Martin Luther King Jr.’s accomplishment. Without him doing what he did we wouldn’t be able to go to school without being segregated. This is a picture of the love of black history. –LeVan Jones


Couple posing for picture

This is my mom Rhonda and her boyfriend Larry spending a joyful moment together on my mother’s birthday. They have been together for four years and now it feels like our family is complete. – Quinta O’cain


Outdoor picture of neighborhood

Sometimes, love has to learn to be still. This is love because the stillness of the trees and sun shining through captures its poetic serenity. – Asia Kenney


Picture of suit/tie

If you knew who Marcell was, you would know what he’s about. He’s about the streets. Him putting on a suit and tie at his graduation tells me he’s not always about the streets. – Tarshae Brown


Girl looking down at camera

Love takes time – Running is something you love so practice every day winners will never defeat you. – Tynecia Cannie


Man holding graduation tassel

This picture shows love of knowledge. When I took the picture I was feeling very emotional because my brother made it and I know I’m up next in line. – Donnise Nole


Boy smiling with arms folded

This picture shows the love of laughter. Laughing shows your joy for life. I was in an excited mood when I took the pictures. – Donnise Nole


Mother looking at her infant

This is my sister and her first child. She has always had a motherly influence on me, because she helped raise me. I can confide in her about anything that’s on my mind. – Shardae Young


Girl looking into camera

My sister, I love her because she is one of the best people in my life. – Ashley Scott


Woman saluting camera

Ernestine Means is my grandmother. I love her with all my heart, and everyone seems to know but her. It looks as though she’s saying goodbye; I hope not because losing her is like losing my own life. – Ikia Means


Girl posing for prom pictures

Feeling loved on prom night can make the memories everlasting. I was excited for my cousin as she got ready for her first prom. She looked beautiful. –Tynecia Cannie


Two toddlers sleeping next to each other

Even though one of my cousins may dream about basketball and the other may dream of Barbie dolls, the love they have for one another connects their minds even in sleep. – Renard Wells


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