Last April, National Geographic photographers Dominic Bracco, Tyrone Turner, and Amy Toensing brought Photo Camp to Cd. Juarez to encourage young people to share their perspectives on life on the border through photography and writing.
Now, a year after photo camp, some of the participants reflect on their experience and how their lives changed after participating in this workshop.
“This was a really interesting workshop because I didn’t have any knowledge about photography. Although what stayed with me the most is the human side before taking a photo, they made us get to know the person before capturing their portrait,” said Miriam Cortez, 21 years old, a participant of the Nat-Geo photo camp. “Nowadays, we don´t really take the time to connect with others, and this workshop reminded me that we are not alone.”
National Geographic Photo Camp, selects a group of 20 young people from underserved communities from the age of 16 to 20 years old, including at-risk and refugee teens, to learn how to use photography to tell their own stories and explore the world around them. Then, through intimate presentations in their own communities and public exhibitions that reach millions of viewers, National Geographic Photo Camp showcases the students’ work.
This photo camp was possible thanks to Dominic Bracco a freelance photographer, who has worked for National Geographic. He started photographing the violence issues of the city back in 2015 and fell in love with it. This is the reason he contacted photo camp and proposed to bring it to Cd. Juarez.
“I wanted to give something back to this city because it has given so much to me”, Bracco said. The young photographer currently lives in Mexico City, where he continues his projects in photography.
Many of the participants continued developing their photography skills and started their own projects. Hugo Hinojosa 20 years old, started his own video blogs through Instagram stories, where he shares photography tips and social trends. He said the insta-stories are opening new doors for him.
Photo courtesy of Hugo Hinojosa
“Becoming a Youtuber is something that I have in mind,” Hinojosa said. “But right now I am focusing on applying all of the skills that photo camp taught me and creating my own virtual magazine.”
Photo courtesy of Paola Rojo
Paola López, 20 years old, said he is continuing to develop his photography skills and create her own projects photographing social issues.
“I´ve also started to surround myself with fellow photographers because they give me the courage to pursue my dream of photography and hope because they reassure me that this dream is not impossible,” Lopez said.
Lopez said the difference between taking a workshop with National Geographic and any other photography company is that the photographers of Nat-Geo stress connecting to the human side of images. For them, taking a photograph involves capturing a moment of somebody´s life forever. They teach students to capture the essence of the person and help viewers make a connection with them.
That’s something Cortez said made a lasting impression on her and her work.
“Nowadays, we don´t really take the time to connect with others, and this workshop reminded me that we are not alone.”