From Here & Away aims to make photography more accessible
Megan McIntosh, CONTRIBUTOR
Indigenous youth took cameras to the streets of the North End this past summer.
Joey Visser’s company, From Here & Away, held a youth photography workshop in conjunction with the North End Community Renewal Corporation (NECRC) at the Indigenous Family Centre (IFC) over the summer. Twenty-one youths aged five to 16 were given disposable cameras, taught the basics of composition, and then walked around the North End taking pictures. The project culminated in From Here & Away Presents: Looking Out, A Youth Photo Exhibit on Sept. 29.
Visser had previously volunteered at IFC’s summer kids’ camp program. He said he wanted the project to encourage North End youths to see the beauty in their community and be proud of where they’re from.
“It paints a really positive, true, real, first person portrait of what this neighbourhood is to these kids,” said Visser. “That’s why I think this project rocks.”
Nathalie Van der Zaag, kids’ program coordinator at the IFC, said it’s great to be able to share a different perspective.
“It’s usually portrayed as a place where you don’t want to go, and it’s scary,” she said of the North End.
By contrast, the youth’s photographs show a bright and sunny neighbourhood with ice cream trucks, basketball hoops, pets, gardens, and pools.
Van der Zaag said they had more youths come to the photography workshop than they expected.
“We had to run out and buy some extra disposable cameras,” she said. “The room was just buzzing. They were so excited.”
Even though the workshop drew in a large number of youths, only a few came to the exhibit. “There was one girl who came all dressed up in a cool outfit and got her photo taken beside [her photographs],” said Visser. “She has a couple photos and she’s very proud.”
Andrew Sannie, who works at NECRC, said he doesn’t think the photographs look like the work of kids.
“It kind of blows my mind,” he said. “We don’t give them enough credit for how smart and creative and inquisitive they are.”
He said it’s heart warming to see beautiful photographs of the North End.
Visser said he plans to do more of these workshops for From Here & Away.