Let’s Talk About It

When people hear about Cameras4Change they are immediately drawn towards the idea of an organization that uses cameras!  It’s fun, it’s creative, and we all pretty much love cameras and photography right? They want to know more, and often have questions as to the how and why.  Sometimes folks wonder if it is really plausible to make a difference by doing something as basic as photography?  Well…it is!

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When students first hold a camera you will know right away by the smiles on their faces that they are excited to photograph with an actual camera, it is a very different experience from that of using a cell phone.

Cameras are almost our magic tool, shooting with them our secret weapon.  We use them to connect with our participants, they connect with themselves, each other and us too.  Photography as an art form can be very thearapuetic, a way to expand on self evaluation, explore your life, your hopes and dreams as well as advocate for yourself or your community.

These simple workshops allow for participants to experience an array of creative skill sets, and follow through naturally with what they are most attracted or adapted to.  We often see group leaders and those that support them blossom when it comes to working in small groups.  We also dialogue with the participants to allow them to develop and create something that is actually their vision.  Not everyone is a natural photographer, but we also see some raw talent in the development of the program.  At the end of a C4C Workshop everyone gets to experience the pride and joy of showcasing their work in a community exhibit, and that is a brilliant moment, the smiles, the pride in working together and creating a cultural experience…that is in fact “priceless”.

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Whether you are 7 like Tenoch or 73 like Josefa, it is wonderful to create your own photos, because we all have a way of seeing things that is unique and special!

…and so it grows!

These are some serious new photographers!!!

This is the exciting part of what we can do.  Making a connection and running a workshop is only the beginning.  What happens afterwards has the potential to be even more rewarding, and ultimately it is what we strive for at Cameras4Change.  Giving people that have never had the opportunity to use a camera is an amazing experience.  It is invigorating, soul defining and gives meaning to and for everyone involved.  Workshop participants usually take the camera and run with it, to take photos, to have the experience to define their world, to look back on who they are, where they come from, and then where they want to go!  Photography has the potential to offer all of this.  Our June workshops in Mexico were just that, and now our partner organizations are continuing an even deeper and rich legacy with the cameras we left behind!  We love these photos of the budding new photographers in Huamantla eager to take photos!!  Thank you to Liliana Riva Palacio of Proyecto ConcentrArte working in conjunction with Sistema Biobolsa and Isla Urbana.  Lili is creating a living legacy with the cameras from the workshops!!  It is fantastic that they are continuing to be utilized and introducing photography to whole new generations that would otherwise not have touched a camera yet!!


It’s Simple!

8 Louise Klune   02581. connecting with nature through the camera. Margaret Dixon

Whenever people hear the name Cameras4Change they are always receptive, and often intrigued to hear more!  Everyone seems to love photography and our name rings that bell!  There is an obvious connection with cameras, but when we explain on a deeper level how the camera can do so much, there is a delightful reaction.  Just like the magic of seeing an image come to life in a tray of developer, little by little a transformation takes place through the simple process of working in a group with cameras.

Our recent workshop here in Vancouver was no exception.  When kids have cameras they have fun there is no doubt, but there are so many other subtle things happening at the same time.  They are forced to focus in the moment, and by doing that a whole domino effect takes place.  They are continually interacting with not only themselves, but their environment and each other.  They may need assistance with the camera, so they ask a leader, or friend; they want to share what they see through their lens and continually reach out to others around them.  They gain knowledge of the camera and that builds skill and understanding that can be accessed again, and also applies to learning in other areas.  Their sense of pride and self is strengthened through this very simple process.  It really does distill down to “connecting”, the hand on a shoulder, talking with each other in authentic ways, sharing, caring and taking the time to simply be there.  We could even call it Connecting 4Change!

 

These are images from the participants, the ways they approach the world with the camera can also be applied to life!9 Margaret Dixon 03492. checking out what’s growing in the garden. Margaret Dixon9 Margaret Dixon 03203. Fun with a “selfy”. Margaret Dixon

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4. Looking up.  Margaret Dixon7 Seraphina Lalonde  0213

5. Learning the ropes together on the 1st day.  Seraphina Lalonde7 Seraphina Lalonde  01995. Looking at things from a different perspective!  Seraphina Lalonde

That’s a Wrap!

Today we wrapped up our summer camp workshop, watched the youth graduate from the PIMS program at UBC in an informal but moving ceremony in the UBC Longhouse. We were able to present them with their cameras along with a Nikon bag and some great Nikon swag! Cameras were out and in use straight away! We are very proud that the workshop went so well with these kids who were truly amazing creatively, and fun to work with. We want to thank everyone of the volunteers and the corporate support from Nikon Canada and The Camera Store! Also our partners through PIMS, Le Chou, The Evergreen Foundation and The Grandview Food Connection, together we accomplished a lot! Kids have cameras and we love it!! Here are a few of them with their swag! Thanks to Sadia Ibriham for the phone shots!

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Community Happens

Community happens where ever we are on many different levels, from family and loved ones, to friends through school, online, and probably many more places.  We at Cameras 4 Change celebrate community in all of it’s forms.  We continually make new friends and add to our community, and often photography is a part of making, creating and celebrating community.  As we come together for different reasons, graduation, birthdays, weddings, reunions, we may take for granted the ease at which we can utilize cameras, phones, photography and imagery to architect our own stories, and give us a well seated place in our own history.  Just think to the many times you were able to look at family photo albums, knowing and understanding your past in a deeper way.  This ultimately gives a firm footing of self and how you move forward in the world.

One of the greatest parts of the C4C workshops is giving those that don’t have this opportunity the chance to use cameras, take the pictures that they want and keep those memories activated.  The joy alone that we saw on the girls faces as they handled the photos that they created is worth it for us!  In fact our team witnessed the moving evolution of the emotional reaction to being able to take photos and keep them.  It swiftly begins to build in a level of self that is quite profound.  We saw some girls transform from quiet, disengaged participants, to joyous, excited participants.  The level of engagement was palpable and really validated the power of photography, creativity and expression, and magnified what we were able to do with the children.

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Sol Garcia shows students at Heshima Kenya digital imagery and they can’t wait to get started!

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Taking pictures of close friends was definitely at the top of the list for girls that have been dislocated from family.  Top: Heshima Kenya, Bottom, Maasai Girls Education Fund

Our first set of C4C grads at Heshima Kenya, all holding their cameras!

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Girls from the Kajiado Educational Center/Maasai Girls Education Fund after finishing the workshop!

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Going home with the camera was very exciting!!  One participant taking shots as the school mini bus takes them home!

Life Lessons in Kenya

Today is the first day after returning from East Africa that I have actually slept until 7 am, although I have been home for nearly 2 weeks, my sleep rythyms were somewhere over the Atlantic, as I was continuing to wake at 3am.  A solid day of physical work put that to rest yesterday.  As I was bright eyed in the wee hours of the morning over the past week or so, it gave me plenty of time to reflect.  Photographing as much as I do at times can be a visual bombardment, you see it, you react, you click the shutter, you look at the image on the camera, you download, look at it again, again and again in editing.  Always returning to the image, sometimes you dream about it, especially when what you are recording is a powerful emotional experience.  Which is exactly what our team has just done.  Although we ran the workshops and shared and taught skills, it was truly an exchange, as the participants (19 girls and 1 boy) had been through much in their short lives.  Conflict, War, loss of family, displacement, rape, female circumcision/cutting, physical and emotional abuse, early child marriage, trauma, depression, PTSD, abduction and more; this list could go on but I am certain you are getting the picture. 

The drama in our lives is often related to the heirarchy in our societies culture, taxes, insurance, trouble with cars, and also very obviously in our own personal lives with relationships with neighbors, loved ones and family.  I have also heard and believe that suffering is relative and you can not compare, but I can not help but compare at times when I hear of unspeakable things that happen to minors.  Yet here they all were, survivors of what we would find incomprehendable in our lives here.  We as a team had much to learn from them.  They were ready to engage with us, excited about the cameras and learning a new skill, taking part in the experience.  The joy was paplable, and yet only a month prior some of our students had been in situations where there was no certainty as to whether they would even survive.

The abundance was evident all through the programs for all of us participating together, and if that is not success then I don’t know what is.  Girls (and 1 boy!) were learning about digital cameras, many had never held them previously, but took to it quickly.  Equally as important they were learning about themselves, what is possible, how to express emotions, literalize thoughts and use creativity as a tool moving forward in thier lives. 

Some participants began expressing themselves eloquently in poetic fashion, others showcased amazing talent at becoming advocates for themselves, thier issues and communities, they floored us, we are so proud to have met and worked with them all!  To all our students, we thank you, miss you and will NEVER forget you!  Extra thanks so our team:  Sol Garcia, Shannon Kohli, Thea Grivakes, Gillian Harrow, Barb Briggs and Allie Fluevog!

Day 1 Kenya-Off and Running!

Today will be the first day of our first workshop in Kenya with a group of participants from Heshima Kenya.  We met with the group briefly yesterday to introduce ourselves.  It was a hectic day as we are all newly arrived from half way around the world, a bit disorientated and jetlagged.  We found Heshima Kenya with a little help from our driver and it was like opening into another inner world driving into the compound.  There were a few girls coming and going with inquisitive looks and once we spoke with our points people there we got to meet outdoors under a tree with the group.

This group consists of students that are “unnacompanied minors” from other countries that live here in Nairobi.  These refugee children are separated from family and country, and all of this group have been taking part in a journalism program here at Heshima Kenya through a curriculum set up by Imgard, a journailsm graduate volunteering with the organization.  I loved that they all described themselves as “Journalists”, or “Journalism Students”!  Many have never held a camera before, so this will be a big experience for them and Imgard has told us they are all really excited to learn and take part.

Our Cameras4Change Team on the ground here worked really hard yesterday pulling all of the pieces together, we all helped to collect intake data from the participants, and our DP Shannon Kohli began filming a number of shots as we hit the ground running.  There is so much we need to accomplish in this short format 3 day program, so our work is cut out but it is super exciting to finally be rolling it all out.  We are all learning so much on every level, we are giving skills and time, but we are also learning so much from the crew here at Heshima, this group is amazing!

Huge high fives to everyone on the team here, Thea Grivakes & Gillian Harrow from C4C, Sol Garcia who is partnering with us from Project X Impact, and our Director of Photography Shannon Kohli!  Here We Go!

PS:  I have been so busy with the workshops that I am not really photographing as much, so will be making a few adjustments to that!  We are struggling to find internet, hence I am up to use the one internet stick at 3am!