In books, we often lose ourselves in other realms and seek to escape, often too bored or unamused by the life we deem as “reality.” Justice explores the idea of bringing fiction to our reality by using collaboration with his peers to bring fiction to his reality. He is taking Smaug the magnificent and terrifying dragon out of J. R. R. Tolkien’s 1937 novel The Hobbit and crossing it over to his realm. Turns out, photographing mythical creatures like Smaug can be quite the challenge. So then what should Justice do? Find another idea?
Literacy Through Photography seeks to foster creativity in children, extending past linear thinking bounds, and flexibly finding new ways and ideas of responding to the world. As Justice and his peers are challenged with the task of photographing a dragon, they cleverly use their understanding of the physique and cultural aspects associated with dragons. Faced with the conundrum of forming a long slender body of a dragon, Justice and his classmates thought of possibilities to lengthen their bodies, and what better way than to link their bodies together. Because playing with fire is not an option for young children, the problem of depicting Smaug’s fire was solved as the students sought to find some object that is red and unbound in its shape. To represent flight, the students decided it was best to hoist themselves up on chairs rather than lay on the floor. In the presence of the obstacle of bringing fiction to life, the students are able to use multi-dimensional thinking and creativity to represent a dragon’s body and his story. The task could not be accomplished without the collaborative work of the students. In this way, LTP provides a progressive educational setting in which cooperative learning allows for the development and production of student ideas.
Through cooperative learning, Justice and his peers allow their viewers to understand who Smaug is. Smaug ignites fear in those who dare challenge him and take what is his. His lanky body slithers like a snake and engulfs his victims. His amorphous red fire is his source of power and control and he breathes it on the foolish boy who questions his might.
An observer of the photo would not be able to tell that the kids are depicting a mythical dragon. This in no way means that they did a poor job on the project assignment. Rather, they excelled. One of the greatest things about photography is the endless possibility of stories that can be associated with a photo based on its details. Through photography, they say that a picture is worth a thousands words. Yet, Justice holds the power, the control over the story depicted in this photo. With his written word, he guides his audience through his imagination and sets them free to roam. LTP allows students to explore the world through photography, which they use to facilitate written expression. Through LTP, we see this untamed outflow of ideas and inspiring thoughts that are born from previously learned concepts and observations and developed into new ideas and depictions. Through the terror Smaug ignites in the eyes of those who foolishly challenged him, you can see how the fire of ambitious writing flows out of Justice much like it flows out of a dragon. And that’s when you realize, that LTP allows Justice to become Smaug. So in this photo, we can physically see Justice as a part of Smaug, and we can understand his transformation into a dragon unleashing his expression onto the world.