are available for a full day, or over an extended series of visits
1) PARTICIPANTS ARE GIVEN group training on various aspects of photography including, basic operation, colour, pattern, and how to fill the frame. The emphasis here is to move away from the rushed “family photo” and into truly slowing down and seeing a single image that is engaging to the eye. Participants are often amazed at this stage at how artfully they can see the world around them when given the opportunity to do so.
2) MENTORS AND PARTICIPANTS engage in discussions on the power of photography and how it can be used as a vehicle for communication and social change. For many participants, this might be the first time they have ever been invited to look through a lens of a camera as a means to express themselves. Samples are provided to participants so that they can see and hear the story of a single image and learn how a peer took a solitary image and told a moving (and sometimes humorous) story about it. Each participant is subsequently encouraged to capture an image that tells a meaningful story for him or her. At this stage they have been armed with new photography skills and a new way of “seeing”.
3 ) AFTER TESTING THEIR NEW SKILLS, participants choose an image(s) that comprises a theme or tells a story. Participants then work with a mentor to write their story before presenting their work to the group. More often than not this is where a participant discovers that he or she actually has a lot to say about something very dear to them.
4) EACH PARTICIPANT recites their story to our video camera and completes a short documentary style interview to further explore the meaning of their image(s). We also capture biographical information about the participant during this activity.
5) SEVERAL ASSETS are produced during the workshops and later compiled by for public presentation. Film footage is edited together, photos are made into photo galleries, and all assets are placed onto one project website where participants’ creations are showcased. The website and plug-ins for social media sites provide youth with a way to share their stories with each other, and importantly, with the world.
APHASIA PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP
1000WORDS involves a process whereby people can identify, represent and enhance their communication skills through a specific photographic technique. It entrusts cameras to the hands of people and asks them to use the immediacy of the visual image and accompanying stories to promote oral/verbal communication by means of sharing their images with each other and the public.
Using a creative, intuitive, abstract approach to photography participants are taught how to make a photograph. They use point and shoot cameras. Power, zoom and focus distance are covered as we strive to keep the technology simple. Participants take photos and return to the group to share, using an LCD projector. Participants are given weekly ‘homework’ assignments. We gather weekly to view and discuss and print the images. We maintain a gallery in our space for all to see. Later in the project we seek out public gallery space to display the work.
For people who are experiencing communication difficulties, being equipped with a camera and having the time and opportunity to express themselves within a safe, secure and caring environment, is an incredibly empowering experience. Our participants have trouble being heard. As they develop their photography skills and take images which they are proud of, so also their self-belief grows. Even if tentative at first, participants gain confidence as they see that people are actually interested in what they have to say and in viewing their work at exhibitions or events. Participants begin to believe that their view counts and also, very importantly, that they themselves can make a difference and be active agents in their lives.
1000WORDS provides not just training in photographic technique, but also in visual literacy, communication, leadership and life skills.
Skills gained through 1000WORDS project:
• Thinking skills: self-awareness, social awareness, goal-setting, problem solving and decision-making
• Social skills: appreciating and validating others, working with others and understanding their roles, building positive relationships with friends and family, listening and communicating effectively, taking responsibility and coping with stress
• Negotiation and decision-making skills
What is Participatory Storytelling?
According to Amy Hill, Participatory Media has diverse definitions. It is a catch-all phrase that encompasses a variety of approaches that engage people in creating and analyzing audio and visual media.
Usually it is democratic. In this context, instead of hiring trained professionals to “collect” stories with passive subjects, it allows people to tell their own stories. The facilitators still play a role in producing the material, but it is usually with a light touch. It does not necessarily undermine the honesty of first person stories.