Photojournalism for social change


Sometimes we wonder if what we are doing ever really makes a difference. As journalists, we write articles and take photographs and, sometimes, you never really know if what you are doing is affecting anyone at all.

And, while some journalists write to get their voice out, others write for the voice of others. I am a fan of the latter.

So, I decided to highlight a non-profit organization in the United Kingdom that really caught my attention: PhotoVoice. PhotoVoice is an organization that uses photojournalism to give a voice to those who might not ever have the chance.

Started in 2000 by two graduate students at Edinburgh University, Anna Blackman and Tiffany Fairey were social anthropology students with an interest in documentary photography. After starting the Street Vision Project in Vietnam, they began the PhotoVoice organization.

PhotoVoice uses participatory photography to give marginalized groups of people a chance to tell their own stories. Participatory photography involves teaching skills within these communities so that they have the chance to share their lives through photography and other storytelling methods.

PhotoVoice provides an outlet for people to show issues that others may be afraid to talk about, or have a hard time talking about, including poverty, racism, abuse and so forth.  Their vision is “for a world in which no one is denied the opportunity to speak out and be heard.”

I have always loved the idea of participatory photography and PhotoVoice is just one organization using this method to raise awareness about social issues, and bring about social change.

On the website, you can learn more about how PhotoVoice came about, browse through photo albums and learn about their most recent projects including international ones in Russia, Afghanistan and Ecuador.

Photography stretches across international borders and can tell a story without the use of words.  So even when words cannot bring us together, the pictures can bridge the gap.

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