Qmunity

WE are all about creating community at C4C and so when we were given the opportunity to work with the transgender youth group at Qmunity in Vancouver, we were delighted to come up with a novel idea for a workshop.  We wanted a short program that would be fun and not only give participants the chance to learn something through the experience of photography, but also create the space for them to safely share about themselves and get to know other group members too.

Lead volunteer facilitator Kimberley French decided that a polaroid portrait session, complete with lights and a backdrop would be the perfect solution.  The evening workshop began by meeting with the group and then sharing a short slideshow complete with an intro to the colorful and fun polaroid work of Andy Warhol.  After that we hooked up the participants into small groups so that they could each take turns photographing themselves and each other.  Afterwards they were encouraged to get even more colorful and use their creative writing skills to expand on themselves through the theme “What I like about being queer is ….”

All of the participants work was mounted on a wall to admire and then afterwards we all spoke about the experience.  We capped the evening off with a draw for a brand new Nikon Coolpix camera from Nikon Canada.

We loved the comments:

  • “This was the most fun I have ever had”
  • “These portraits really boosted my self esteem”       
  • “I have only ever seen photos of myself as a boy, and this is the first time there are photos of me as a girl, and I love them. I didn’t even know if I wanted to participate, but I am so glad I did”      
  • “I loved that you told us about Andy Warhol”

As ever we love creating workshops that allow others to explore themselves in a positive way, have fun, create a stronger community, and all through the art of photography!

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Big thanks to volunteers Kimberley French, Kathryne Racich and Cate Cameron

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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!

Cameras4Change in Thailand – a volunteer’s story

Early this May, volunteer extraordinaire Justin Yapp partnered with C4C to run a program in Thailand!  We loaned Justin a workshop in a backpack! He took a small lowepro backpack with 10 Nikon Coolpix cameras, cards and a thumbdrive containing all of the essential information to run a C4C photoworkshop.  It was exciting to get his newsupdates and photos from the kids, so much so that we asked him to do a guest blog post and here it is!

This past June, myself and four other young adults from Vancouver ventured off to Chiang Rai, Thailand to volunteer at Baan Nam Jai (BNJ) also known as Home of the Open Heart– an orphanage developed for kids who have been affected by HIV.

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 10.23.39 PMDuring the kid’s summer break, we organized various activities such as swimming in a river, venturing through a night safari, walking at night markets, and after partnering with Cameras 4 Change, we were able to include photography.
These kids were able to express themselves through photography where words could not be expressed. Their passion, desire to be heard, love for their surroundings and love for one another are seen through their photographs.
Everyday we picked a topic such as shadows, favourite spots, plants, and friends and they eagerly ran up to us to show what they came up with… including multiple selfies. I remember one of the boys showing me a photograph that he took of his favourite spot in the orphanage and why it was important to him.
I am extremely impressed by their perseverance, hope, and outlook in life despite being marginalized and going through hardships at an early age. It was a privilege to be able to share that time with them and to be able to see things from their perspective through photography.
Thanks Cameras 4 Change for making this activity possible!

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Our Partners are making us Proud!

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Our lives expand in so many different ways, whether we tend to them or not, things will change.  So it is with the seeds that we have planted through Cameras4Change too!  We could not be prouder of the many accomplishments that have taken place in the past couple of years since we began this journey.  Our last workshop in Mexico City in June was the result of an ongoing collaboration between C4C and three different partners there.  Sometimes we don’t always know what will happen when we begin working with a new partner, but we are sure that the experience and work we do in these initial projects will be worthwhile in itself.  To our delight however, the partners in Mexico have taken things to an all new level, using our photo workshop model and incorporating it into their programs and proving the sustainability and legacy of what we envisioned from the beginning is possible!  Since the original workshop in June, Proyecto ConcentrArte has utilized the cameras gifted to the Paz Paz Bus for a number of different workshops in other areas in .Mexico, Huamantla and incorporated them into a longterm annual project they participate in every September in Cuatro Cienegas, a Mexican biological reserve.  This past week we learned that the cameras will now be used in a very interesting eco-project in Balancán Tabasco Mexico. Cameras4Change friend Shiara Gonzales, a veterinarian will be giving guided tours to groups of 9-12 year olds, touring them into the jungles where the Saraguato Monkey lives.  The Saraguato Monkey is an endangered species and the children will photograph the monkeys and their habitat as a way to explore their importance and where they live.  We love how the cameras continue to be utilized in new and creative ways, but more importantly that they continue to live on in meaningful projects, and others continue to experience the art and joy of photography, and tell their own stories in their own ways.

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Segunda Semana Internacional del Mono Saraguato Negro – Balancán, Tabasco, México

This is the ethos of cameras4change, community, learning, changing and growing!

Cameras4Change a year in review

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Here attached is a pdf document we want to share with our friends, it is a year in review recently presented at our AGM in June.  It has been a busy year for our C4C volunteers as you will see.  We will have a more in depth newsletter coming out soon, and look forward to sharing a short video from our Mexico workshop!  More photos in the attached PDF!

 

C4C 2014 AGM – A Year in Review V4

Quiltepec

We have been in Mexico City for less than 48 hours, and we are keeping a pretty busy pace!  Our first day was used to settle in and get basics taken care of, capping it off with a team meeting in the evening.  The four women we will be working with come from 3 different NGO’s, Renata Fenton and Carmen Hernandez of Isla Urbana, Rachel Smith from Sistema Bio Bolsa, and Liliana Riva Palacio of Proyecto ConcetrArte, are all formidible forces in terms of the work they do here in Mexico.  The Mexican ground partners all collaborate on interdisciplinary projects around natural resources and education, through the NGO platform IRRI Mexico (Instituto Internacional de Recursos Renovables AC) and C4C is collaborating on the Agua Nuestra Vida project funded by the Porticus Foundation.  Being involved with so many partners can be a tricky road to manoeuvre but working with these ladies is proving to be fantastic, their knowledge and experience is amazing, but so are their hearts!  It is so great to be able to work and learn from them, see all that they are doing and share our process too.

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“Quiltepec”, the name resonates with the romance of the Aztec language; tepec actually means mountain, and the informal community we will be working in is literally on the top of a mountain on the south end of Mexico City. Today our meeting took a different turn however, as the road we needed to access the community was peppered with high security swat team police, who told us we would be going up at our own risk and we would have to walk up.

Driving towards Quiltepec

QUILTEPECa_0002 QUILTEPECa_0003Carmen Hernandez speaks with three very serioso police, who told us that the army was about to arrive and the road was blocked!

Carmen decided that it was too risky, and so we will wait until tomorrow when hopefully the whole sting operation is over!  Thank goodness for ground partners that know the score, and when to make the right decisions!

In the meantime we are taking the time to fully organize ourselves and get more background info on our community!

Quiltepec is a small informal community nestled high up (around 8000 ft) amongst 8 other pueblas in San Miguil de Xicalco in Distrito Tlalpan, one of the 16 Delegacions of Mexico City (DF).  Beside and behind it are homes that are recognized by the delegacion of Tlalpan, and so they have water, electricity, sewage and other infrastructure, but not so Quiltepec.  The children of the community however do attend school down the mountain, but as far as the policy makers are concerned, they do not exist, and so therefore they do not need to provide any infrastructure in the way of basic needs.

Isla Urbana decided a few years ago, that they do have the right to water and to begin installation of their Rainwater Harvesting Systems whenever they had some extra resources to do so.  So a relationship began and has grown tremendously which has been wonderful thing for this community, because now, the community has numerous rainwater harvesting systems, as well as two water treatment systems, 5000 liter water cistern, 4 hydroponic systems and 4 biobolsa bio digesters.

Our goal tomorrow will be to meet with the 15 chosen participants and dig right into our program. Tomorrow we fully expect to come home with many photos of the kids as they get their hands on the Nikon Cameras and run with them!! Stay tuned!  Hasta Pronto!!!

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meet the team!

-1This end of November and into December is turning out to be a very busy and productive time for C4C.  Cate has just returned from Mexico City where C4C worked again with Isla Urbana and Sistema BioBolsa, and we are running our 2nd fundraiser on Nov 30th in Vancouver, and our premiere event in Calgary on Dec 5th.  On top of all of this we are winding up our Indiegogo campaing to raise specific funds for our Doc project Weta Pichu.  Above is one of our updates and we will be rolling out some great student imagery., introducing some of the main Weta Pichu cast and new film clips!  We appreciate any size of donation for this, and there are some great incentives, so join our campaign and become a part of the film and its’ journey!

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/weta-pichu

The Right to Be: BAD13

Blog Action Day 2013

PREMONITION

Human Rights is this years theme for Blog Action Day.

In a world where we are increasingly micro managed during every moment, the term “human rights” has a tangible meaning to me.  One that propagates into my personal philosophy and the way I relate to the world. I have often expressed this through small almost meaningless ways, but to me they have depth.  For instance I profess to be a citizen of the world, I feel I have the right to be anywhere on this planet that I choose. I don’t profess to be a “female” photographer, but a “photographer”, I don’t minimize my right “to be” through gender, country or place.  Human Rights are at the heart and soul of our little organization, some of the rights you and I may take for granted are for some only a dream one wishes they could have.    Full Circle

At Cameras4Change, we feel strongly about Article 13 of the UN Convention of Human Rights, that “every child has the right to freedom of expression” especially through any art or media form.  We also believe that we all need to act locally, and when we can, globally.  We are all one, and it is only through connecting that we will be able to support and help each other, and ultimately ourselves.  In the past year and half C4C have been able to give girls in Kenya, and youth in Vancouver access to cameras and freedom of expression.  It seems like it may not be such a big deal, but when you see the smiles and the photos of the participants, it doesn’t matter where they are in the world, it has the same meaning when someone is able to create where they were not able to before!

We recently began an indiegogo campaign to raise funding for our Documentary film.  Weta Pichu (Our Picture) is about the inspirational power of transforming lives via cameras and photography.  We will be sharing more throughout the campaign, but in essence this film will have the capacity to show a much wider audience how simply connecting and providing skills can open a path to self expression, communication, and in turn making a difference in how we move forward in life.  We want to inspire and engage others, who knows where it could lead? Sometimes it is that spark of imagination that provides the way to something really big.   We think that every child has the right to experience these things.

Full Circle

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

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