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PhotoVoice Talk Explores the Power of Photography

Staff from the pioneering charity PhotoVoice demonstrated the positive impact of enabling marginalised communities worldwide to express themselves through photography during a fascinating presentation at LIDC. They explained how their projects provide photographic training and equipment for such groups and showed a series of striking images captured by individuals from a range of backgrounds, including HIV+ positive women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and visually impaired people in London. References were also made during the lunchtime event for LIDC members on 24 September to the PhotoVoice pictures currently displayed within LIDC’s premises in Gordon Square.

Diverse projects worldwide
Since it was set up 10 years ago, PhotoVoice has worked with more than 1,000 participants on more than 20 projects in four continents. Consultancy and partnership projects that have been run to date by the London-based award-winning charity have included those with Christian Aid, UNICEF, Amnesty International and Save the Children. The Rose Class, the first project established by PhotoVoice and now called The Children's Forum, is still ongoing and involves working with young Bhutanese refugees in Nepal. Other high profile work has included Side by Side, a photographic dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian teenagers living in the West Bank, and Young Lives, an initiative enabling 12 and 13-year-olds in Ethiopia to document their lives. The artwork from each project is exhibited locally as well as internationally, and all the photo captions are written by the project participants.
PhotoVoice’s rationale
April Coetzee, Projects Manager at PhotoVoice, explained how each project aims to promote self-development, generate income, and improve advocacy for the communities involved. She said:  “Everyday we are bombarded by images. The problem is that they are taken from the photographer’s own point of view, not those of the people they are representing. We aim to give photographic tools to marginalised communities to document their lives. Photography is a very strong way of crossing literacy barriers.” Coetzee also demonstrated how PhotoVoice “pushes the boundaries”. Recent projects have included Beyond Sight for blind and visually impaired people, and Youth Photo-Reflect, a digital story-telling project (where participants create a voiceover explaining a slideshow of their own photographs) for township youth infected or affected by HIV/AIDS in South Africa.
The Real Dancers. Despite the fact that we are surrounded by so many bad things my friend and I are happy that we can still show our talent. © Jabu / Youth Photo-Reflect, South Africa / PhotoVoice