April - June, 2015

In April of 2015, Picture Change expanded our work in Nicaragua to the community of Chichigalpa. This city is located in the western lowlands of the country and surrounded by fields of sugarcane.

Our nine students quickly learned to use the camera and apply basic photography principles to their work, developing their own style as they documented the lives of their family, community, and themselves.

A unique aspect of this project was a “graduation” of sorts for Rosa Umanzor Diaz, one of our first students in Padre Ramos. Picture Change was able to hire her as an assistant teacher. Rosa truly flourished as an educator, relating deeply to these students in both a personal and professional way. We are excited to support Rosa’s gift and role as an educator in her country.

The students had the opportunity to use their new skills to “give back” when we visited the home of Cheryl Spence outside of León, Nicaragua. Cheryl provides a home and medical care to children in dire circumstances and those with serious physical and mental needs. We also visited an art museum in the city and were able to discuss how art and media play a role in influencing our culture and society.

Partner organization:

New Song Mission

This was the first time we’ve had, not one, but two gallery shows featuring our students’ photography: one in the city of León at Manhattan Sushi and Resto Bar, which was well-attended by international tourists and Nicaraguans alike, and finally in the students’ community of Chichigalpa. Each of the students made at least one photo sale to gallery show attendees. It was a memorable, tangible way for these new photographers to be celebrated for their work and to share their stories on a very public platform.

Since the completion of Stories From the Source, a few students have been hired as photographers by local missionaries or journalists in the area. We hope to continue to foster creative relationships in this community, for there is a powerful story to be told in Chichigalpa and we believe these students are more than capable of telling it.

 

 

 

Gallery links:

Student Photos

Behind the scenes

Collaboration with Finca Aurora coffee farm

 

 

April- June, 2014

In April of 2014, Picture Change conducted a project with refugee students in Nashville, Tennessee entitled “Redefining Refugee.” We partnered with ESL To Go, a division of the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute, to bring photography as an additional means of communication to these relocated students. 

These students, who were between the ages of 22-40, had arrived in the United States with little more than a duffel bag of belongings and have spent the past few years adjusting to a new life in the United States. Thanks to ESL To Go, they were proficient in English and eager to learn advanced photography skills. 

The photography they produced was original and intimate, showing ‘normal’ scenes of home with their own unique cultural flair. We asked them to write about life before Nashville, about the circumstances which led to them coming to the United States. 

 

Partner organization: 

ESL To Go

Stories of violence, injustice, and terror emerged; the only two options were to flee or be killed. They told these stories with tears, yet spoke of their new lives in the United States with a smile. Of course, they all said, they long for their home countries and the family they left behind, but they are grateful to be here. 

We titled the show “Redefining Refugee,” as a platform to empower these students to share and educate Nashville and beyond of their new neighbors in this country. Our gallery show at Houston Station in Nashville provided a deep, moving ‘Then and Now’ retrospective featuring the students written stories and their current photography.

 

Gallery links:

Student Photos

Behind the scenes

 

 

 

November - December, 2013

In 2013, Picture Change returned to Padre Ramos, Nicaragua for a project unlike any other we've done. We selected five of our original students from 2011 and spent a few weeks learning in depth documentary and interviewing techniques. Then, in November, we were joined by cinematographer Jesse Carr and embarked on a two-week journey around Nicaragua. 

Our purpose was two fold: produce a body of work using the photography and video created by the students and provide a way for the students to tell their own stories as they documented the story of their country.

Working through this method of storytelling, Picture Change played a part in impacting stories on both side of the camera:  empowering the storyteller and also raising awareness for those being photographed. Our students created media that draws attention to issues challenging Nicaragua by putting faces and stories to these issues, allowing the students to evoke compassion, action, and funding through their own work and empowering them to create positive change in their country. 

Our purpose was two fold: produce a body of work using the photography and video created by the students and provide a way for the students to tell their own stories as they documented the story of their country.

Working through this method of storytelling, Picture Change played a part in impacting stories on both side of the camera:  empowering the storyteller and also raising awareness for those being photographed. Our students created media that draws attention to issues challenging Nicaragua by putting faces and stories to these issues, allowing the students to evoke compassion, action, and funding through their own work and empowering them to create positive change in their country. 

Gallery links:

Student Photos

Behind the scenes

 

 


June - August, 2012

      Photography was a form of expression and healing for these four women who were recently rescued from lives sex-trafficking and abused in India’s brothels. None of the these girls went willingly, but were tricked, trapped, and sold. Because of their bravery and faith, they were rescued out and eventually made their way to Ooty, India with Freedom Firm, a rescue and rehabilitation organization for women and minors in India.

The women were between 20-30 years old, had minimal knowledge of reading and writing, and had never held a camera before, yet the 3 months that Picture Change was involved saw them growing in their freedom of expression, creativity, and confidence. We explored the town of Ooty, from the streets, markets, back alleyways, and even some homes; documenting life in this mountainous town. The women were also involved in horse therapy with Leg Up India and were able to photograph the horses that have helped them heal in so many ways.

 

Partner organization: Freedom Firm

The girls used their photography skills to give back to others when we gave portraits to residents of the Ashia Home for the Mentally and Physically Handicapped. They cleaned faces, fixed the hair of the residents and helped to pose and smile as we all took turns on the camera. The portraits were printed and the girls delivered them to the smiling residents of the home.

We held a Picture Change gallery show in Café Coffee Day in downtown Ooty, with each student displaying 15 of their favorite photographs from class. Nearly 200 community members came out and enjoyed the photography, coffee, and cakes. The girls were presented with roses and, though they were a bit shy with all the attention, were thoroughly celebrated for the wonderful women and talented photographers they have become.

Nearly all of their work was sold in an auction and the money went back to Freedom Firm and the rescue and rehabilitation of more women out of sex trafficking. 

Gallery links:

Student Photos

Behind the scenes

 

 

February- March, 2012

In the spring of 2012, Picture Change embarked on our second project, partnering with Imagine Ministry in Los Brasiles, Nicaragua. Our nine students came from broken families, lived in homes built of whatever materials could be found, and were often required to take on many more responsibilities than the average pre-teen.

 

Partner organization: 

Imagine Ministry

Their photography showed thoughtful observance of their barrio (neighborhood), providing a glimpse into their lives and family structures, yet also see their home as they see it- a close-knit community with a strong sense of family.

We had over 200 people come to see our gallery show and the students were excited to give their printed photos back to the community at the close of the show.

 

Gallery links:

Student Photos

Behind the scenes

 

 

 

January - March, 2011

Picture Change began in 2011 in the tiny Pacific-coast fishing village of Padre Ramos, Nicaragua.

What began as a brief humanitarian photography trip became lasting relationships with the community, beginner’s photography classes, seventeen eager students, and an eight-week project ending in a gallery show and the idea of “Picture Change.”

Our students learned basic photography skills and which progressed into documentary storytelling: capturing themselves, their family, and their village through the lens of a few donated cameras. 

Partner organization: 

Together Works Nicaragua

We were able to host a “give back” day in which the students assisted in providing printed portraits to over 120 families of Padre Ramos. We also had the opportunity to travel with some of our older students to Limonal, a landfill village near Chinandega, Nicaragua, and build relationships with the individuals living there. These families invited the students into their homes, allowing the students to photograph their lives, their families, and their work in the landfill.

The project ended with a fantastic gallery show among three palm-thatch cabanas near the beach. The students invited their families and the entire community out for an afternoon of food, music, and photography. They were truly celebrated for their hard work and beautiful photography, setting a precedent for Picture Change projects to come.  

Gallery links:

Student Photos

Behind the scenes