If you ever peruse the photographs that your friends keep on their phones or post onto Facebook, you easily have a direct window into understanding what is important to them. We tend to take photos of the things that we care about: people, places, objects, activities, etc. Personal photography is a practice in memorializing, documenting, and celebrating all at the same time.
Last week, we started a new photography program with teen clients at an HIV/AIDS clinic in Rwanda. This is a ten-session course that is designed to encourage the participants to explore and express the individual identities through photography. To this end, the class will be taking cameras home so that they can photograph the people, spaces, and things that are most important to them. In each class, we’ll discuss the images and consider the many elements (family, friends, community, interests) that make up who we are.
I began our class last week by sharing some personal photographs of my own with my students (attached below). With each photograph, they asked me questions such as: “Who is with you?,” “Where are you?” and “What are you doing in this image?” It was a simple conversation based solely on images, but by the end the students had learned quite a bit about me. Photography builds those natural bridges of understanding for us.
I’m excited to see our participants’ photographs and hopefully share some with you too!