Empowering Kenyan Girls Through the Art of Photography is NOW!

This is the first post for the Empowering Kenyan Girls Though the Art of Photography project!  Now, for the photography classes….for this particular class, the focus was to use the camera to empower both the model and the photographer. I told them that the camera could be used as a weapon or a key to unlock the beauty and power of a person just by the way they introduced it. The model , in turn, could reject the invitation or let the photographer into their intimate world by accepting the invitation and trusting the process. By revealing themselves, the model gives the photographer the permission to do the same when the roles are reversed, It is a dance to give and take. That was the goal, but the realty was yet to be seen.Just coming off a train of non-stop classes, the girls stumbled in, glass-eyed and half-open to receiving yet another download of info. i made the lecture short but sweet and got the cameras in their hands right away. They barely knew how to turn on the cameras, let alone where to find the exposure compensation. lo and behold, their quick minds absorbed the know-how and they were on their way to taking portraits of their classmates. Vertical vs. horizontal composition, the rule of thirds, focus points and exposure composition were the technical aspects. Making the subject feel comfortable in front of the camera was another matter. Jules was there to help them find certain functions on the cameras and reminded me of things I might have missed.Our hour slipped by so quickly! I told the girls that I would hang out longer to show them more about portraiture and that was when the action really started! They got their hands on my cameras and all of a sudden, they all became super models…..beaming smiles, s-curves, wide-eyed mavens, their personalities came alive and I could see who they were behind the veils of conformity. Their strength of presence amazed me! This was the one time of the day where they could unleash themselves without restraint. They had no issue being seen and that gave me permission to be seen too. It is so amazing how that works! We were all experimenting with what made a strong portrait, what distracted the viewer from the subject like foreground and back objects that did not compliment the over-all scene. I showed them the difference between an environmental portrait and a headshot. The Kenyan sun acted as our light source and there were billowing clouds that acted as intermittent diffusers. Against the mural of empowering slogans, the girls laughed and clumped together in group poses, all the while I instructed them to mind the light source and keep the rule of thirds in mind while composing the shots. We laughed and ran around in different configurations: models, posers, assistants, picture takers -round and round as we inspired each other to one up the other’s creative impulses. What a delight to behold! Without pressing the agenda, the magic of empowerment unfolded beautifully – we all left the lesson lit up and inspired to do it again and again – I was reminded once again this kind of creativity is a collective process and usually it is best to get out of my own way and become a vehicle of the creative spirit. Neither owning it or rushing it, if I stay in the mindset of eggless service, the process unfolds in ways I could have never imagined!


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