(The featured picture is a screenshot of Picture Change – Ooty page. All photos are property of Picture Change.)
We are starting #servicesaturday – a day to focus on causes and community work. Each week we will showcase an organization or individual serving the community in a unique or significant way. Our #organizationpick this week is Picture Change.
Picture Change seeks to empower women and children to discover innate creativity, develop self-confidence, and picture change in their lives and their community through photography. Through photography and writing, Picture Change seeks to empower women and children to realize that they are important merely because they exist and that their circumstances do not define them. By helping someone discover their unique voice through the arts, it can give birth to hope. Hope goes hand in hand with purpose, and purpose can lead to change– within their own lives, families, and communities.
I came across this website basically because of my hometown, Ooty, and my love for photography. I had created a Google alert for Ooty and got a notification about this fascinating project. I’ve read about the Freedom Firm, which does excellent work rehabilitating sex-trafficked women rescued from lives in notorious brothels across India. Picture Change chose four women between the age group of 20-30 years and gave them training in basic photography. After three months they learned the craft and used their imagination to create some wonderful pictures. They explored the Ooty town documenting life in the town. The budding women photographers were involved horse therapy in an awesome organization called the Leg Up India under the Freedom Firm and were able to photograph the horses that have helped them heal in so many ways. The girls also photographed residents of the Ashia Home for the Mentally and Physically Handicapped. In the process they cleaned faces, fixed the hair, and helped them to pose, thereby giving back to the community. The portraits were printed and delivered to Ashia Home. They held a Picture Change gallery show with each student displaying 15 of their favorite photographs from class. Nearly 200 community members came to the show. The girls were presented with roses and were thoroughly celebrated for the wonderful women and talented photographers they have become. Almost all their works were sold in an auction and the proceeds went back to Freedom Firm.
I was truly touched by this project and the confidence building measures enabling the women to leading a normal life.
Later, I came to know such photo shoots have helped people in Nashville, TN and in Nicaragua.
Such novel ideas should be promoted and brought to light, and this article is a small attempt towards this.
The student photos are for sale from the website, the profits goes back to the students to pursue their interests.
HOW PICTURE CHANGE BRINGS ABOUT CHANGE
1. Partnering for the long-term. Partner with an organization already established in the community.
2. Use cameras to teach basic photography skills. Students also write about themselves, their families, communities, fears, dreams, etc.
3. Give back to the community. Students are the photographers and assistants for a community-wide photo shoot by providing portrait sessions to those who would like them.
4. Picture Change puts on a gallery show. The show is to give the students and their families a public, tangible event to be proud of and give the community a show to remember. Everyone needs to be celebrated.
5. Sustainability. All of the photography equipment is entrusted to the partnering organization and student-leaders are trained to maintain the program and continue photography in the community. Picture Change also creates social media pages which the students maintain for their photography and share their work and their voice with the world.
FOUNDER AND TEACHER
Kate Gazaway is the founder of Picture Change, from Georgia and lives in Nashville. She teaches photography to all involved in Picture Change and committed in bringing about change through photography.