Looking to see : How the camera can be used as a tool of cross cultural understanding.

The camera is one of the most powerful tools on earth. It has been this way since our world fell into total war and photographer, Robert Capa got in close enough, making pictures good enough so the world could finally see.

What the world saw was an experience outside of themselves, an undeniable representation of life happening contemporaneously elsewhere. The language used was imagery - a transcendent language that details life without needing to be verbally translated. An easy language to grasp for those who have eyes to see. 

The camera is the tool of communication that makes this happen. The portability, accessibility and ease of use of the camera allows photography to be a discipline that everyone can practice, making photos a universal language of expression. 

To make a photo is to express oneself creatively - to share a time, a place, an experience, and to contribute this individual experience to the collective.

This matched with the ability to spontaneously share images throughout the world affirms that photography can be utilised as a global tool for understanding. 


Pictures make clear what wasn't clear before. Pictures can demonstrate how we live. And through pictures lives and worlds open up that didn't exist before. Through pictures you can see the whole world. 

When we look at pictures we look for two things - what is the same? what is different? Or, what do I recognise, and what is unfamiliar? In my own experience, each time I have shown pictures to people this is what they see. 

Based on these common reactions my eyes opened to the possibility that pictures perform an important role as conduits for cultural understanding. If we can look at photographs, really look to see, and find within them the familiar - recognition and understanding grows. 

When we recognise the familiar in the strange, when our experience resonates with what is being represented in the image, its called universality - and at its root, unity. And if our experience doesn't resonate with the content of a picture, a fascination begins to grow along with the desire to comprehend the meaning of the subject, in that place and time. 

It is these emotions or drives - which we can label curiousity, that creates the space allowing for the dissolution of hatred, apprehension and fear. It is in this nexus that the image becomes all powerful - a perfect cultural conduit - linking lives, communities, worlds throughout our planet Earth.

This process of looking to see becomes ever more powerful when considering a set of images that tell a story. In narrative photography a series is used to to uncover the truth of a situation - to bring depth to someone's story, to bring dignity to their life and to represent them as authentically as possible. 

In our creative photography workshops for kids we encourage, through the use of the camera, narrative story telling.The basis of our program is essentially the teaching of manual camera skills to children linked with direct observation of our world (light, form and perspective). The camera becomes a channel through which the kids intimately observe the world outside of themselves and use its endless manifestation to create a camera story.

At Camera Story we believe that everything created should be shared, so the kids then share these camera stories with others - their peers, parents and community - allowing their creative expression and interpretation of the world to be celebrated. 

See the whole world with Camera Story. 

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