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Photography workshop gives new perspectives to children in New Delhi

© UNICEF/HQ06-0240/Arjun
Three boys at Amar Jyoti School in New Delhi, India, in a photo taken by Arjun, 15, one of 10 children who participated in a UNICEF-organized photography workshop.
NEW DELHI, India, 18 May 2006 – A UNICEF-sponsored photography workshop has given its young participants from Amar Jyoti School in New Delhi a new perspective on people close to them.

Ten children from the ages of 7 to 16, most with physical disabilities, took part in the project, which involved documenting the life of someone important to them such as a family member or friend.

“I deliberately chose family or people close to the children as their subjects because they had a unique understanding and familiarity with these people,” said the photographer who led the workshop, Tom Pietrasik. “And they could then convey this understanding through the pictures.”

Communication through images

Mr. Pietrasik helped the children mount an exhibition of their work and discuss with each other not only what they had learned but also the merit of their photographs. In particular, he encouraged his students to debate what makes some pictures more successful than others at communicating a message.

“I tried to provoke some response from them towards images that might appear in their daily lives through advertising and the press,” he explained. “I think it was important for them to recognize that these images from the media were intended to provoke a reaction.”

© UNICEF/HQ06-0131/Pietrasik
Principal Mini Sharma helps students load film into a camera at Amar Jyoti School in New Delhi. Most of the children were using cameras for the first time.
Poonam, 16, whose pictures focussed on her two-year-old sister Aditi, said she learned that she could obtain more natural results by not always informing people that she was photographing them. Her fellow student, Gulshan, 14, said he learned about the feelings of his subjects and would like to pursue photography as a career.

“Ultimately, the intention was to make the children appreciate the ability they had to communicate through the images they captured,” said Mr. Pietrasik.

Promoting tolerance and respect

Amar Jyoti is an integrated school for students both with and without disabilities. Most of the 600 pupils are from low-income families, and many have only recently arrived in Delhi from poorer parts of India.

In addition to academic studies, the school offers on-site medical care, vocational training and extracurricular activities, including dance, music and sports. Founded in 1981, the school promotes inclusion, tolerance and respect for others.

Visually impaired students at Amar Jyoti became the subject of some of the photographs taken by Azim, 14, who said he learned about the textured floor tiles and other tactile cues that help these students find their way around the school.

“Most of the students had never used a camera before” said Mr. Pietrasik. “They all said they found the project a rewarding experience.”



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