This Group of Girls Were Stellar

This sounds horrible as it implies the first group of girls were not as good or not stellar – nothing is further from the truth.

The difference is that these girls had better cameras, I was more experienced the second time around (you always improve the more you do something right?) and the training venue was great.  We had it all.

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The girls this year were all in the midst of graduating from journalism school or had recently graduated and were primed to get work.  Having the camera and the training is going to help them propel themselves further and faster.  There were also a few that had their own cameras but did not know how to properly use them out of the Auto mode and there was two girls who came to the training to explore their blog voices – knowing how to tell a story is one thing but knowing how to show it visually is another.

We had the use of my partners space; Kenny uses this space to teach people film-making and editing.  His company is called Youth Arts Movement Uganda (YAM Uganda) and it was luckily located in a slum.

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Most Ugandans’ live in the slums as unemployment is currently at 65-70% and the government like other African nations is corrupt but as I mentioned before Ugandans are resilient and know how to turn an anthill into mountains of opportunity.  Kenny is no different.

I digress – so we worked out of the slums, which gave us amazing opportunities and unfettered access in most cases to walk with Kenny and meet the local people living there and see how they lived.  This is a photographers’ dream and this experience was just as valuable to my students as they could come up with stories on the spot and then know what their intention was before pressing the shutter.

The girls started day 1 with the basics; how to properly hold the camera; how to change the settings on the camera; composition; exposure triangle, etc.  After each major concept was taught we would go out for an hour and practice. 

At the end of the day I would collect the camera’s so I could recharge them and download their photos for review the next morning – this was essential as we spent time reviewing about 5 images of each girl and discussing the concepts that were taught before moving on to more advanced training.

I was amazed at how quickly they caught on and 3 days might not seem like a long time.  It’s not but the essentials in such a short time and the follow-up training through KelbyOne video training, editing with Kenny and then reviews and assignments from me, quickly gets the girls working and practicing their photography.

On the last day, I had some of last year’s girls come to meet this year’s students so that they could form a community; supporting and learning with each other just makes each girl stronger.  Joanita, from last year shared how having a camera and learning how to use it helped her get a paying job.  She had been hired at a newspaper prior to the training last year but was not getting published articles or even getting paid, because she lacked the skills and more importantly a camera.  After our 3 days together, she went and shared her camera with her editor, who immediately put her on payroll.  Fast-forward to now and Joanita is getting paid, published 3-4 times a week and more importantly has moved out of her mother’s home and when the roof on her mothers home flew off, she paid to get it repaired.

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This is what keeps me motivated and going and I can hardly wait to see the photos that these girls will continue to turn out.

I am sharing images from our training – thank you @daniel_moxie for taking the photos while I was talking and teaching the girls all about photography.