By 2014, I’d invested in my second DSLR camera and was calling myself a photographer. It was a hobby though, a fairly serious hobby, but a hobby nonetheless. Some people were able to make quite a nice living out of the ‘hobby’, even if I knew that was never something I would do. Despite my advocacy for photography, for art, for ‘doing what you want’, I didn’t really see it as something important in the grand scheme of things. My trip to Nicaragua changed that. My second of 7 lessons learned from travel and photography is that it can change lives.
It’s not as important as eradicating war, hunger, or poverty. Indeed, those are barriers to being able to freely move about the planet, or buy a camera or editing equipment. I no longer, however, underestimate the impact of travel or the power of photography (or whatever art interests you).
Lesson 2: Photography (Art) Can Change Lives
In the summer of 2014, I travelled to Nicaragua on my first trip with The Giving Lens. We worked alongside Empowerment International, one of those organizations that helps send underprivileged kids to school. For a week, from dawn to dusk, we worked with the youth (ages 8-19) in their after school photography club. Beginner travellers were paired with more advanced youth and vice versa. And the advanced youth were very good, appearing in galleries and local tourist magazines.
Near the end of the week, we sat on a hill overlooking Lake Apoyo, watching the sunset. I sat with one young lady, who hoped to start Law school in a year or two and spoke excellent English. I asked her what she thought of the photography club, why she enjoyed photography, did others in the group feel the same?
She told me that joining the photography club was one of the best things she’d done. Photography, she said, had given her and many others in the group confidence that they didn’t have before. They developed a skill, an art, and were good at it. That confidence, and the gallery shows and the publications, proved to them that they could do anything. Physically, the club itself had brought them to places near their homes they never would have seen otherwise, like the volcano in this photo. It gave her a different perspective on her home.
It’s true that if she had chosen to join EI’s dance classes instead, she would have had the same experience. Think of this lesson in more general terms – art can change lives.
Her story has given me an even greater appreciation for photography and art.
How has photography or travel changed your life?
7 Lessons Learned from Travel and Photography
Check back each week to find out what else travelling has taught me!
- Break the Rules and Expectations
- Photography Can Change Lives
- 12th April
- 19th April
- 26th April
- 3rd May
- 10th May
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