Ernest and Nigel

August 6, 2010

Critical Exposure is teaching documentary photography
to high school youth at Martha's Table, a local organization that fulfills
the needs of low-income and homeless children and families. The youth learned
portrait and interview techniques, with help from photographer Danny Harris
(of the " People's District" blog), and were tasked with
capturing oral histories from people in the neighborhood as a way to learn more
about DC.

Three youth shot this portrait of Ernest Henderson, the
owner of a barber shop at 14th and U streets, with his son, Nigel. Once a high
school student at DC's Ballou Senior High School, and eventually a graduate of
a Maryland trade school, Ernest told the youth his personal story of what
can happen without education and career prep.

"When I was nine years old, I was a boxer,"
Ernest said. "In my twenties I went pro! But people kept telling me,
'You need a trade. You need to go to school, in case boxing doesn't work out.'
Which was right.

"But after that, I got in trouble. I was
hanging out with the wrong crew. Got caught up. Then somebody tried to rob me,
took my bag of drugs, and I shot them, and I had to do some time." After
serving five years, Ernest told the youth it took him two and a half years to
get his life back together. He's now happy to have kids, a family and a

Ernest is pictured outside his barbershop with his son,
Nigel, a rising eighth grader who aspires to attend DC's School Without Walls Senior
High School.