Photography workshops and community projects can work hand-in-hand to achieve common goals.
We all know how photography is used for recording and communicating information about anything and everything, from the mundane to life-changing events. The weather, selfies, travel, birthdays, weddings, funerals, to mention just a few. It’s also widely used as a marketing tool for fashion and any massive range of products. There are though, other ways and contexts for applying photography as a tool, ways that can reflect other life experiences, environment, health etc.
For example, I recently taught a series of six photography workshops as part of an inter-generational project that brought together male youth and older men in north-west Toronto. The workshop was organized and hosted by Rexdale Community Health Centre. The idea was to introduce the two groups to a new interest and skills in a shared learning environment.
Although the equipment we had was minimal and had limitations, we were able over the six workshops to cover camera and photography basics, composition in different settings and subjects, and hands-on work. Most of the group had little or no experience of taking photographs and it was great to see how they became engaged in the subject and have those with some experience share their skills as the project evolved.
The workshops ended on a high note with requests for more workshops like this, and we’re not done yet. To wrap things up a small exhibit is in the pipeline to show some of the work the group produced, an opportunity for them to show what they’ve learned and how things look from their own perspective. I’ll post details when they’re firmed up so watch this space for part 2.
Photographing buildings can produce material for marketing, highlighting architectural styles, recording personal, community and cultural history as well as plain old showing off all sorts of patterns, shapes and colours. I love photographing buildings all sorts of buildings and architecture but scouting around old and derelict buildings for interesting images is one of my favourite activities. I recently posted a link on my Facebook page to a set of photographs from an urban exploration of empty buildings in downtown Detroit. Even through the rubble and the decay you could see the splendour, vibrance and richness of days gone by. Buffalo is another city that has a lot of empty buildings that speak to a once thriving industrial era that saw the construction of some massive and grandiose buildings.
As you can see from the picture above, one of these is Buffalo Central Terminal, which is currently undergoing some restoration. Opened in 1929 it’s a 17-story Art Deco building designed by the architects Fellheimer & Wagner for the New York Central Railroad. The sheer size of the building is awe-inspiring and a walk through it gives you a sense of how busy it used to be, with its ticket desks, newspaper stands, central clock and high ceiling and doorways.
Buffalo City Hall is another mammoth building and a fine example of Art Deco architecture with it’s red brick and ornate decor, and this one is also currently in use. In fact, it’s quite a busy place, housing the mayor’s office, council chambers and so much else.
While some of these remarkable buildings around the city are still in use, and some are being restored, there are many – factories, mills, houses – that are left empty and are presumably destined for demolition. A sign of how much the city has changed.