In my final year at university, I explored the positive benefits that the photographic process can have, specifically for adults with learning disabilities. The research I carried out led me to conclude that photography, is not only an excellent way to promote inclusion, but can help to empower individuals, particularly those with special needs, who are often socially excluded, isolated and overlooked in society.
The digital camera is an accessible ‘tool’ which easily allows a person to express themselves in a creative, unique and practical way.
At the start of 2009, I transferred this philosophy to supporting children at Berger Primary School in Hackney, where I set up and facilitated a photography after school club. I have introduced photography to groups of children between the ages of 9-11 from diverse backgrounds and of mixed abilities.
I believe photography is not only an excellent visual medium for self expression, but also a very useful, interesting and practical way to engage with children and help raise self esteem. Amongst other things, photography encourages creativity, discussion/debate and the development of ideas. It can be a powerful medium that allows children of all abilities to communicate their thoughts, feelings and emotional responses to their environment and surroundings. I have observed children feeling a real sense of achievement when they produce photographs and a sense of pride when they see their work exhibited.
The other benefits that photography brings for children are; team building skills, social interaction, independence skills, reflection and concentration.
In my experience children really enjoy using a camera and generally love to use modern technology. The wide accessibility of digital media has meant that children are able to relate to photography, be it on the internet, using mobile phones, computer games hardware or using compact digital cameras.
In 2012, I founded a community based project based at Berger Primary School, entitled 'The Well Street E9 Photographic Project' (please see the page on here to find out more) and on the 'links' page you can also find a direct link to the project website and also the Facebook page.