A quiet few weeks photography-wise has led me into the backlog of images in my Lightroom Catalog. Images I’ve either previously processed and want to change or the many neglected images I didn’t have time to deal with. There are rather a lot of those, mainly because I am very bad at editing my images. (I’m trying to improve, really!)
I revisited my Little Chair Project, developed on my Cape Town trip with Momenta Workshops and created a selection of the images in B&W. The gist of the work involved having staff and local children pose for me with a small chair … a fun concept but for me it came to embody the mission of James House. It’s a nonprofit organisation providing a variety of community services to nearby Imizamo Yutha and Hangberg where poverty and unemployment can result in the breakdown of families and problems with drink, drugs and gang violence.
I am delighted that many of the images I offered to James House appear on their website and in the 2013 annual report.
Imizamo Yethu is more commonly known as IY or Mandela Park to the people living there, many of whom have settled there from the Eastern Cape, the birthplace of Nelson Mandela. The informal settlement is next to the more prosperous suburb of Hout Bay and suffers many of the problems of Cape Town’s sprawling townships: unemployment, HIV, poverty, substance abuse and gang violence.
Nonprofits like James House provide a range of community services to help the residents and Child and Youth Care Workers like Pamela are key to their success. Isibindi is the name of the community programme and it means “courage” in Xhosa. Pamela visits her clients regularly to ensure children are ready for school and helps with household chores when there is illness in the family. She provides assistance with paperwork and obtaining medication and benefits and helps young heads of households (who may have lost their parents) to cope with looking after their siblings. Pamela is a loveable bundle of fun and compassion and has a personal understanding of the issues people face since she lives locally, as do most of the Isibindi Team.
These photos are from a few hours I spent with Pamela as she visited some of her clients in Mandela Park.
I joined the Momenta Workshop –Project South Africa 2013 to improve my understanding and practice of documentary photography and photojournalism. The workshop led by Jamie Rose was immersive and challenging in so many ways; not least of all the thorough and honest editing Jamie provided. I was assigned to James House to develop a photo profile and provide images for their website, annual report and promotional activities.
The Little Chair Project, for me, came to embody the mission of James House, a nonprofit organisation based in Hout Bay in Cape Town. James House* provides a variety of community services to nearby Imizamo Yutha and Hangberg where poverty and unemployment can result in the breakdown of families and problems with drink, drugs and gang violence. James House helps vulnerable, abused and abandoned children and teenagers from these communities, providing support, education and life skills. The ultimate goal is for ensure re-integration with their families and the wider community. It’s a serious business but my memories are of warmth, fun and compassion. There was lots of laughter and jokes from staff, kids – especially the kids – and in the wider community. People there are resilient because they have to be and a healthy dose of humor goes a long way to making life bearable.
When I saw this tiny child’s chair abandoned in the middle of the play area at James House it simply struck a chord. I realised I could show in a different way the care and love shown by the staff at James House and the joy they bring the people they support. The chair for me is symbolic – and although there was a certain look of “is she mad” about my request for people to pose with it, they were mostly willing as you can see from some of the images below!
*James House website is currently under construction.
Sadly my Momenta Workshop in Cape Town is over. It was an invigorating, exciting, frustrating and rewarding experience. Photographing for a nonprofit organisation all day and intensive editing and post-processing each evening meant we ate well, badly and not at all … but we managed to enjoy a few glasses of South African wine – well grapes are one of the five a day …!?
I am looking forward to sharing some of my impressions and images from the trip … here are some of the boys from Mandela Park enjoying the Safe Park at James House in Hout Bay.
Life has overtaken me and I haven’t had the space or inclination to take many photographs recently. But travels with my camera continue soon; this week I fly to Cape Town to work with a nonprofit through Momenta’s “Project South Africa 2013 – Photography as a Force of Change“. At this stage I don’t know what organisation I’ll be paired with, but the purpose is two-fold: providing free photography services to a small not-for-profit for two weeks while being coached by photojournalist Jamie Rose. It’s an exciting challenge – an opportunity to help a group who would otherwise be unable to afford a photographer and a chance for me to learn more about story-telling through imagery. More on this later …
To get my photographic motor running again, I joined a street photography workshop with Laura Pannack, a young award winning photographer whose approach to her subjects is truthful and genuine. I still balk at approaching people in the street but made an effort to spend time with the strangers I encountered. Fewer images resulted, but the experience was rewarding through the brief connections made: a couple down on the front enjoying ice-cream on a pretty chilly day, a man and his dog on a weekend away in his camper-van and a worker taking a well-earned break with an extremely large cigar!