Sunday, March 29, 2015

Photographs for Rural Moroccans

If you ask anyone in a Western country what would they save if their house was on fire, after their children and pets, they usually say, "the family photographs". With modern technology, recording and sharing events is something many of us take for granted.

But for those in rural regions in developing countries, who don't have the means to take and print a photograph of their loved ones, the Prints for Prints project is a simple but effective means of doing so.

American photographer Heather Binns was part of a recent Prints for Prints workshop which visited a remote village, and she writes about her experiences.

"I was thrilled to be a part of an amazing photography workshop for teens a couple weeks ago in Outat El Haj, Morocco. Prints for Prints collaborated with the Peace Corps to put on a three day workshop covering basic photography techniques and history as well as incorporating the Prints for Prints mission.

We had twelve enthusiastic and inspiring students and an amazing team of instructors, translators and support staff. The first two days were filled with presentations and discussions on the history of photography, examples of the different categories of photography, and hands-on exercises including a field trip to the local souk (market) and a Photoshop demo.

The Print for Prints crew

On Day 3 we loaded up two vans with our whole crew (including our two fabulous cooks!) and headed up to Oulad Ali, a small mountain village about 45 minutes outside of Outat El Haj. It was time to put Prints to Prints in action with the students! We were hosted at a lovely little gite (hostel) that catered mainly to tourists on mountain treks – it was a great home base while we explored the village.

We split up in to teams of 4-5 students, one Prints for Prints photographer and a translator and headed out into the village. Each team had a small point and shoot camera, which the students had been practicing with for the last couple days and a Canon Selphy portable printer. The students took turns approaching villagers and offering to take their portrait and printing a copy for them. Things started out a little slow but pretty soon word spread and we had a steady stream of great portrait subjects.

My favorite was Aicha, an elderly woman who my team met while she was returning to her home. After one of the students explained the project, she posed for a photo and received her print. I will never forget her reaction (thankfully translated by Tosca, one of the awesome Peace Corps volunteers). She looked at her print and said “I have no teeth but it’s still beautiful” and was just beaming. Then she decided we needed to meet her family member (granddaughter or granddaughter) who was a teacher at the school up the hill. It was truly a great day and so fun to see the students really embrace and use all the skills they had learned, while spreading the joy of photography and the printed image.

Words and photos copyright Heather Binns. To see her website, CLICK HERE. 

To find out more about the Prints for Prints charity project, CLICK HERE. 

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