non-traditional school pictures • riviera playschool • spring 2011

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My girls have been attending this amazing, unique preschool for the past couple years. I call it a “Paradise for Preschoolers,” because it encourages children to do all the things that most parents won’t allow at home: dig in the dirt, paint with their hands, splash around in the water, run barefoot through the mud–in short, get good & dirty experiencing the world around them. It’s not that I don’t allow my kids to get messy at home–it’s more that it stresses me out, because, you know, I’m the mom; I have an agenda, & that usually includes trying to return things to a tidy & clean state at some point today, or at least sometime this month.

Riviera PlaySchool‘s program is a combination of constructivist & humanist ideas; but most importantly for me, their curriculum includes a lot of work on communication & conflict resolution. They have a very good teacher-student ratio (1:4), which allows teachers to really spend a lot of time guiding kids through their struggles & frustrations. Let’s face it: Life is at least 50% difficult situations & emotions, right? We really need to help our children acquire & practice the skills that get them through that “shadow” half of living–not just teach them to obey, comply, & be nice. They will experience failure, heartbreak, & disagreements. They will witness cruelty, unfairness, & betrayal. How they respond to those things will determine their ability to succeed and be happy–which is what every parent prays for. Their ability to get through disappointment, confusion, & pain is going to be far more important than their grades or their test scores. I truly believe that–& I was a high school teacher for 11 years.

I love this school & its mission–& I have learned so much from the teachers &, as a result, improved my parenting. I feel so fortunate to have found this community for my kids & myself, & I love contributing to it in any way I can. This month, I did the student portraits, & in keeping with the spirit of PlaySchool, we kept things spontaneous & fun. I hung out & let the kids get to know me & my camera, & then one by one, we invited them to have their portraits taken. I also snapped lots of candids of them exploring their world & enjoying the PlaySchool environment–creating art, investigating bugs, communing with friends. Traditional school portraits are always so stiff & rarely show children genuinely smiling, so I hoped to create something different–lively portraits with kids authentically relaxed & being themselves–making funny faces, studying the camera contemplatively, expressing their personalities. It was a joy to get to know them all through my lens!

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June 11, 2011 - 6:34 am

Joanne Choi As always – gorgeous. Why can’t you be at my daughter’s school? Zara…so beautiful.

June 11, 2011 - 9:31 pm

Jodie Myers Amazing! You really channeled the livelihood of these kids to these vibrant and fun images.

I’m going to share this blog with my friend’s who have parents, perhaps they can invite you to do the same at their kids’ schools!


June 12, 2011 - 6:06 am

Kate Kellogg Oh Alice!

So real! So beautiful!

I’m dying to have you photograph Milan.

Thank you for capturing the pure light and love of childhood .


June 13, 2011 - 1:37 pm

Margaret B. What refreshing (and beautiful!) photos! Now we just have to set up your x-country school tours!

June 14, 2011 - 12:16 am

Suzi Farr Alice, you’re creative work is undeniably beautiful. You’re absolutely & fabulously AMAZING. Can’t wait for you to capture our family.

June 17, 2011 - 1:59 am

Kate Kuo AMAZING Pei! Beautiful portraits of all the kids and such a great spirit behind all the photos!!

June 19, 2011 - 10:11 pm

April Oliver Alice,
These photos are incredible! You are such an amazingly multi-talented person. That school is so lucky to have you to do this!

June 23, 2011 - 9:52 pm

Anjale Perrault Alice, I am in love! This is phenomenal. I want to go to playschool!!! Hugs 🙂

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