Springfield teen lone high schooler giving TEDx talk

He began his photography fascination toting around a disposable camera at age 3.

On Friday, Armaan Ahmed’s passion for photography will find the 15-year-old Springfield resident as the only high school student speaking to a sold-out audience alongside CEOs, executive directors and various entertainers at the third annual TEDxDayton at the Victoria Theatre.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. Independent conferences are organized in various cities featuring a variety of speakers and performers delivering information, entertaining and sometimes motivational speeches.

The “x” signifies a local event, and Dayton’s will include speakers from all over the Miami Valley.

For Ahmed, a sophomore at The Miami Valley School in Dayton, his skill for the spoken word is becoming as accomplished as his photographic eye.

In September, Ahmed spoke at Dayton’s first TEDx youth event and impressed the organizers of the adult event enough to invite him to the roster.

Speakers committee co-chair Ron Rollins attended the youth event and saw numerous young speakers. Ahmed was the clear choice.

“He came gift-wrapped in a ready-to-go way. He was charming, had an engaging personality and a good rapport with the audience, ” Rollins said. “It’s also a good subject of general interest to our audience. Everybody with a cell phone thinks they’re a photographer.”

While Ahmed’s public speaking was mostly limited to being on student council while at Ridgewood School, you’d never know.

“I’m more excited than nervous, ” he said of speaking to the sold-out crowd. “I get so passionate when I show my photography, it doesn’t bother me.”

Ahmed’s speech, “Emotional Connection of Street Photography,” will use four visuals to illustrate the genre he embraces.

He defines street photography as regular people in an unfamiliar environment used to tell a story.

“It’s about taking the viewer to a place they haven’t been before, kind of a new experience, ” Ahmed said.

Ahmed began practicing street photography three years ago.

One of his photos is of a Navajo Indian elder he met on a trip to Monument Valley, Utah. The elder told the story of how he is teaching younger Navajos their native language, something they don’t practice in the schools, giving Ahmed a perfect subject.

Another was taken this past summer during a photography camp at Yellowstone National Park. The students went to a rodeo where Ahmed met a group of young rodeo participants about 10 years old that caught his attention.

“It’s been about the most American thing I’ve done, ” Ahmed said of the rodeo experience.

Besides street photography, Ahmed has broadened his photographic experience by taking senior portraits for classmates, charging just $50 for services that can cost hundreds.

He uses the grounds of the Springfield Museum of Art as a backdrop for the photos. It’s a special place for Ahmed as he honed his artistic skills taking classes there.

Besides photography, Ahmed is also a talented musician, playing cello for the Springfield Youth Symphony and saxophone for his school’s jazz band. He has self-proclaimed “weird talents” for yo-yos and origami, although not together.

He even finds time to volunteer at Springfield organizations such as The Rocking Horse Community Health Center, Second Harvest Food Bank and Springfield Soup Kitchen.

Ahmed plans on keeping his eye on the lens. His dream job is to be a photographer at National Geographic, the ultimate setting for a street photography enthusiast.

“I just want to keep doing photography,” he said.

Samples of Ahmed’s photography can be viewed on Instagram at @armaanahmedpiano.

For more information on the event, go to http://www.tedxdayton.com.

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