I travelled to Cape Town with Momenta Workshops on a “Photography for Social Change” workshop. Our instructor Jamie Rose, an award-winning photojournalist, introduced us each to a nonprofit organisation based in Cape Town and we worked with them for ten days … it was a challenging and extremely rewarding experience. Our remit was to develop a photo story about a person associated with the nonprofit (staff, volunteer or client) or about the nonprofit itself – our choice. In addition we provided a collection of images the nonprofit can use in publicity, marketing, annual reports and websites. We were required to be independent and to organise our own workload, travel and photographic approach.
I was assigned to James House which began as a home to care for boys neglected, abused or on the streets. It has grown to embody a holistic approach involving families and the wider communities of Isimazo Yutha (Mandela Park) and Hangberg. They now have the Boys Quest Program, Adolescent Development Program, after school Safe Parks and the Isibanye Youth Club. The GOGO grannies embroider, make beads and crochet giving them respite from the grandchildren they look after in the absence of parental care. The community program called Isibindi (courage) involves helping families obtain benefits, ensuring children are fed and sent to school, providing anti-retroviral drugs to HIV sufferers amongst other tasks. A Residential Program for boys will kick-off soon. These communities are impoverished and suffer the usual consequences of unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse, teenage pregnancies and delinquency. The James House approach is broad and inclusive, focused on family reintegration and support.
The support we received each evening from Jamie in the form of review of our work, hands-on editing, coaching and help with negotiating the workload was invaluable. Making images that tell a story, communicate issues and are meaningful requires skill and the workshop was designed to offer on-the-job experience plus expert advice. This provided an excellent platform for learning.
Our small group of photographers (just five) bonded during lectures, the occasional dinner and many glasses of wine! We all faced completely different challenges and it was helpful to share our problems and successes. The superb comfort of Blackheath Lodge made up for long dusty days with the camera! It was fast paced and very tiring; but Momenta believe in pushing the students to their limits in order to capture that “decisive moment”.
I fully intended to blog each day about my experiences but editing and post-production late into the night didn’t allow that … however I will be sharing some of my experiences over the next few weeks. In summary it was a worthwhile and fascinating two weeks!