What We Do

Participatory Photography


Participatory Photography


We offer participatory photography clinics with marginalized populations in partnership with local organizations in an effort to:

  • empower participants
  • advocate for change
  • provide research and income opportunities
  • ultimately reframe individuals and communities with the dignity

Our Methods





Guiding Principles

On Poverty
  • Poverty is a result of broken relationships with God, self, others, and the environment.
  • Poverty demands a spiritual response.
  • God has always been at work in poor communities.




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On Photography

  • We invert the power paradigm. We give visual voice to the voiceless and allow the poor to be the authors, rather than the subjects, of the images used to represent their lives.
  • It is not the skill, but the perspective of the one behind the lens that is important.
  • Cameras and the act of choosing, reflecting upon, and sharing about the shot is part of the process of reframing identity and calling forth glory.

On Partnership

  • Our projects are a part of a larger plan of transformative development work.
  • We come alongside a national work with humility and an attitude of service.
  • We are culturally sensitive, taking cues and direction from our host partner.
  • We train local leaders to sustain the use of photography in community development.




Our Philosophy

Images about in today’s world. And, while they are often effective in raising awareness, they can be disempowering to the individual whose name and story is lost in the greater issue their image comes to represent. We do not hear enough from the poor themselves, nor see through their eyes.

Poor and marginalized women and children have the capacity and right to become the authors rather than the subjects of the images representing their lives. We shift the power paradigm by placing cameras in their hands.

Empowering participants is the first step in calling forth the image of God. The act of being seen, making a decision, and expressing an opinion are the beginnings of reframing.

What is ugly? Photo taken by Merve, age 14

We do not primarily focus on photographic skill, but on the perspective of the one behind the lens. As such, the visual expression of the participant allows us, as viewers, to glimpse a glory often marred by poverty — the glory of an individual with worth, value and dignity…a face reframed.

We partner with ministries in the developing world in an effort to help them be more effective in their work. We offer photography workshops which combine images and reflection to give a voice to the voiceless, ultimately reframing them and their communities with dignity.





Our Process

We begin with shared values. Are our organizations a match? Can we come alongside a work you are already doing and together create a sustainable and successful project?

Based on our partnership assessment and contract, we will craft a participatory photography clinic that focuses on our goal(s): empowerment, therapy, advocacy, research, or income generation.

Typically, we offer an initial two week workshop which teaches basic camera skills combined with times of reflection and simultaneous facilitator training for sustainable work. It is not about the skill, but the perspective behind the lens.

Potential Areas of Focus

Empowerment/Therapy: Vulnerable and marginalized populations have rarely been entrusted with something of value. Seldom is their opinion sought. Occasionally, they are able to find comfort in shared experiences and perspectives from their peers. Our process helps to reverse these trends.

Research: The international development community is recognizing the absence of the voices of the poor, particularly of children, in the programs and activities meant to bring about social change. Participatory photography is an effective way to hear from them.

Advocacy: Perhaps the greatest need in achieving sustainable change is raising awareness with local, national and global communities. Together, we will design an advocacy campaign that utilizes participant images, enhancing their voice to decision makers.

Income Generation: A possible outcome of the advocacy campaign may be the sale of images, photo essays, and such products that generate income for either the photographer or project. Additionally, some participants may advance in their skill to the point of it becoming a vocation.




Project Outcomes

The empowering process of our projects is a vital step in recognizing inherent worth and leading to a deeper understanding of the image in whom we were created.

Empowerment

Participants learn to express themselves visually. They become the author, rather than the subject of their story. When they learn to capture and describe what they see, they begin to imagine ways of changing their situation.

Partnership between collaborating organizations builds relationships that are historically tense if existent at all (particularly between interfaith groups). Serving alongside one another on behalf of the marginalized breaks down barriers and suspicion.

The exhibition and publication of participants’ work brings dignity to their lives, reframing them with beauty.

Public awareness impacts decision makers and changes culture. At times, it can generate revenue from international communities.

Ultimately, marginalized communities are reframed with hope and dignity.


Sustainability

A Face to Reframe seeks to empower individuals and communities to be agents of change in their own story. As such, success is achieved when local leaders have been trained and equipped to continue the process of using photography in the development of their community.

We leave our cameras and curriculum behind, but continue to be involved as consultants and advocates. The ongoing support of the chosen project is sustained because of community ownership.