Participatory Photography

Participatory methodologies have become increasingly popular with professional photographers, development and human rights organizations over the last three decades. Although matching with overall institutional moves towards more participatory approaches, the ‘over claiming’ of the benefits of such projects has caused some criticism, as well as the ethics of some practitioners. Below are a number of organisations and individuals running either individual projects or specialising in participatory photographic projects.

China Village Documentary Project – launched in 2005 as part of the joint EU-China Training Programme on Village Governance, the project focusses on the differences made by ‘village self-governance’ (democratic reforms) in rural China. The project used participatory photography and video, putting equipment in the hands of villagers to observe the political changes in their communities.

Eye to Eye – A Save the Children project providing working children with cameras to document their lives, then developing teaching materials for education on child labour in the EU.

’42′ – Participatory photographic project with women in Sierra Leone initiated by Lee Karen Stow.

Fotografi Senza Frontiere – Participatory photography  organization based in Milan, Italy.

Fotosynthesis – Founded by a group of professional photographers & community workers who believe in the social utility of creative practices. They run a studio space & darkroom in South London, UK. They provide private classes to support community projects.

“My grandmother” by Diana Garcia. Exhibited at the British Film Institute for Refuge In Films 2012 in partnership with RefugeeYouth. A film festival curated by a group of young refugees, who produce their own films and organised the event.It aims to raise awareness about the representation of refugees and migrant’s issues.

Kids with Cameras – Kids with Cameras was founded in 2002 by photographer Zana Briski out of her work teaching photography to children in Calcutta’s red-light district (made famous through the Oscar winning documentary film, ‘Born into Brothels’. It has now merged with Kids with Destiny (which runs Hope House, a school for girls from Kolkata’s ‘red light district’). They are no longer running participatory photography projects.

‘Girl on Roof’ by Suchitra (used with permission from Kids with Cameras)

New Exposure – runs participatory photography projects using high quality digital cameras facilitated by professional photographers. They aim to build long term relationships with those they work with so they can continue to develop as photographers.

Mira´m bé – participatory photography project by Ruido Photo with young people in the neighborhood of Congost (Granollers- Barcelona), a Catalan region with an important number of immigrant population from other areas of Spain or from abroad.

Mira´m bé project

Photographs by Iraqi Civilians – project by the Daylight Community Arts Foundation that provided provided 10 Iraqi civilians with disposable cameras between April and May 2004 to picture their own world.

PhotoVoice – PhotoVoice’s mission is to bring about positive social change for marginalised communities through providing them with photographic training with which they can advocate, express themselves and generate income.

Through Positive Eyes – participatory photo project with 60 HIV+ people working with Gideon Mendel and MAKE ART/STOP AIDS.

Through the Eyes of Children (the Rwanda Project) – the project started as a photographic workshop in 2000 using disposable cameras. It now uses digital cameras and organises exhibitions.

Zakira –  “Memory” in Arabic – is an all-volunteer organization devoted to the promotion of photography in Lebanon as an art form, a means of honest reporting and a professional skill. Zakira is the brainchild of photojournalist Ramzi Haidar. Zakira has organized workshops in all Palestinian camps in Lebanon teaching 500 young children basic photography skills.

Cover of the book produced using the photos from Zakira’s ‘Lahza’ participatory photography project.

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