Socially Responsible Photography: Photographing with Intention | Eva Woolridge | Skillshare

Socially Responsible Photography: Photographing with Intention

Eva Woolridge, Photographer, Public Speaker, Activist

Socially Responsible Photography: Photographing with Intention

Eva Woolridge, Photographer, Public Speaker, Activist

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9 Lessons (44m)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:17
    • 2. The Class Project

      3:49
    • 3. What is Privilege & Accountability?

      8:46
    • 4. Trauma Photography

      6:28
    • 5. Why Story Matters

      5:26
    • 6. Exploitive Travel Photography

      6:05
    • 7. Tactics to Practice Accountability

      4:25
    • 8. Final Project

      4:33
    • 9. Conclusion

      2:00
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About This Class

Photographers play a crucial role in our society. Now more than ever, it is vital to photograph from a place of social awareness and responsibility.

Join photographer & activist Eva Woolridge for this informative, eye-opening, and thought-provoking Skillshare class to explore the necessity of accountability and its regard to dismantling exploitive photography. Broaden your understanding on identity and how it affects our ability to capture “other” cultures and movements authentically. 

This class is for a photojournalist on the front lines documenting a movement, to a hobbyist photographing the landscape, food, and people abroad. No professional experience is required, only an interest to better understand our roles as photographers, our privileges, and how we can become socially responsible when creating. 

During this class you will learn about :

  • Privilege & accountability and how they affect storytelling
  • Exploitive travel photography as photographers working abroad
  • Identity as a photographer and how to use it as an inspirational source
  • Moral values in the photography industry and tactics you can employ to uphold them

My class lecture is open to anyone, and no equipment or software is required, but encouraged. In order to participate in the class project a camera or smartphone is required. Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom is recommended for photo editing, but not required. 

Content warning: Some images in this class may be disturbing to viewers

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Eva Woolridge

Photographer, Public Speaker, Activist

Teacher

Hello, I'm Eva and my pronouns are she/her. I am an award winning photographer, public speaker and social activist. You may have seen my work featured in publications like Rolling Stone, Teen Vogue or Harper Bazaar. I hold workshops on photography ethics and project development for Leica Camera USA, on the Diversity Council for Fuiji Film of North America, and a speaker for Tedx and the Schomburg Research Center in Harlem NY. 

Photography is my favorite tool for storytelling. My photo series’ explore the sexual, spiritual, and emotional nature of femininity. In my work I transcend surface-level labels of people of color by conveying strength, perseverance, vulnerability and vitality using strong lighting and composition. We all have something unique and profound t... See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: During a time where social and political movements are happening all around us, it is our job as photographers to be able to document and archive as history unfolds. My name is Eva Wooldridge, and I'm an award-winning photographer, public speaker, and social activist. You may see my work in Teen Vogue, Rolling Stones, Harper's Bazaar, or even my award-winning series, Size of a Grapefruit. I've been in the industry for a long time and I see how it works in favor for those privileged. I've witnessed and spoken to subjects who feel exploited when there are photographers that come from outside the community to photograph them just for financial gain without giving back to the community their assigned to photograph, to begin with. During this class, you're going to learn all about social responsibility, privilege, and accountability, and how that affects our storytelling. You're going to understand what exploitive travel photography is and how you can avoid being the worst in the planet. You're going to learn all about trauma porn and how in the past, artists used it as a crutch to invoke powerful emotion, and you're also going to get a deeper understanding of your own identity and how you can use that as a source for inspiration to create strong bodies of work. Ultimately, it's important for us to not only identify the problems, but provide solutions. You're going to be learning all about the tactics and ways you can implement them so that we can evolve the photography industry to be more inclusive for everyone. This is going to be a slightly different Skillshare class. At the end of each lesson, you're going to be provided writing prompts that will encourage self-reflection and you can use that as inspiration for your next body of work. Whether you're a travel photographer, photojournalist, or overall, a storyteller, this class is for you because it's going to hopefully help you consider the space that we take up and walk away with a better understanding of the value of the camera and the subjects we photograph. I'm so excited for us to not only get to know each other, but ourselves and how we can use this to create such powerful, creative, imaginative pieces of work. So let's dive in together, and meet me in the next lesson. 2. The Class Project: Welcome to my course. This Skillshare class is going to be a little bit different than most. It's focused less on technique and more on thought-provoking exercises that will encourage self-reflection. The purpose of this class is for us to acknowledge our privilege, see how it affects our storytelling, gain perspective from our subjects, and ultimately walk away with a strong body of work that is inspired by our own life experiences. The first lesson that we're going to talk about is all about three big words, social responsibility, privilege, and accountability, and how it affects our storytelling. Lesson 2 is all about trauma porn. Artists often use trauma to create strong bodies of work, but unfortunately it's more of a crunched than a powerful technique. So we're going to dive into understanding that a little bit better. Lesson 3 is all about travel photography. Whether you're a hobbyist or a photojournalists, it's good for you to understand how exploitive travel photography affects the communities and cultures that were assigned to photograph, and how overall you can avoid being the worst tourists on the planet. Lesson 4, we're going to be talking about identity and how our personal identity is the biggest source of inspiration that we can find. Lesson 5 is all about solutions. I'm a big believer in not only identifying the problems, but ensuring that we have the tactics in place to provide solutions so that we can make the photography industry a more inclusive and evolved space. At the end of the class, you're going to be given a class project. Each lesson is going to end with an assignment that's going to help encourage more self-reflection to help develop your main idea and topic for your class project. For example, as a young woman, I struggled with self-esteem, who hasn't? But I decided to create a photo project that discussed young women's evolved understanding of their self-esteem and embraced what they found beautiful about themselves. The series is called Embrace Your Essence. I made it simply because self-esteem was a topic I cared about, that I wanted to heal from. I designed this class so that we can get a better understanding of ourselves as people and artists. The best photography is those that are sourced from our own life experiences. Because we're passionate about it, we care about how it's going to develop. People who view your work can see that, which is why it makes it so relatable. They can find that small spark of inspiration or that characteristic that they can relate to, which will make it all worthwhile and make it a thoughtful piece. Tips to remember when taking this class. One, be open to perspective's different from your own. I have to emphasize this because we all come from different life experiences, and we can't say that one experience is wrong versus another. So just be open. Number 2, is be open to challenging yourself. Getting into self-reflective work can be extremely uncomfortable, so be open to allowing this to be a challenge and stepping into it. Use this information as tools to help your photography and continue to ask thoughtful questions. Don't just stop with this video class, start implementing these questions to help you in your day-to-day life. So take a moment, take a breath, and let's dive in. 3. What is Privilege & Accountability?: This class mentioned social responsibility so much. But what is it exactly? Social responsibility is an ethical framework and suggests that an individual has an obligation to act for the benefit of society at large. Social responsibility is a duty every individual has to perform so as to maintain a balance between the economy and the ecosystems. What is social responsibility mean in photography? Well, essentially, it's respecting the different values and perspectives of the subjects and communities that you're photographing and not trying to manipulate or make it more dramatic to make it seem more interesting. Now, who does social responsibility apply to? Well, technically, applies to all of us. But there's a certain group that specifically needs a little bit more understanding because they're the ones that benefit from privilege. Who does socially responsibility apply to? Well, technically, applies to all of us. But there are different identity groups that need to learn about it a little bit more in detail because they're the ones that are benefiting from the different access to resources and a positive experiences that not everyone else has access to. What I just described is what privilege is. Privilege refers to a certain social advantages, benefits or degrees of prestige and respect than an individual has by simply belonging to certain social identity groups. In Western societies like the United States, the different identity groups can be considered way, heterosexual, Christian, able-bodied, and rich. Now there are different identity groups that we can classify. However, these specifically refer to what is known as white male privilege. According to Frances Kendall, author of Diversity in the Classroom and Understanding White Privilege, she's quoted saying privilege is "Having greater access to power and resources than people of color in the same situation do." Now, being of privilege does not mean you never struggled. But it does mean that even with struggle, you still have access to resources, prestige of status, and benefit of the doubt than people of color who are born in the same situation do. There are different forms of how privilege exists. For example, in media representation, there's much more positive and variety of representation for white people than there would be people of color. It is the privilege to be able to be given the benefit of the doubt. It is the privilege of walking to a drug store and seeing your haircare under hair care while mine will be considered ethnic care of care. It's also not fearing for your life when you're stopped at a traffic light by a police officer. Another example of privilege within the photography industry is the Shirley card. A Shirley card is a card that Kodak developed in the 1960s and it was used for lab technicians to color correct film and it was based this off of a white woman named Shirley with brunette hair. Now the problem with this is that, that was the only example to base off of film development for skin tones. The only reason why Kodak developed more diverse Shirley card was because furniture and chocolate companies couldn't use the Shirley card to photograph their furniture and brown chocolates. That was what encouraged Kodak to diversify their next wave of Shirley cards. This is an example of how deeply embedded privilege is within the topography industry. So embedded that it affects the technology and equipment to use. We have to be more aware of how privilege exists in our life, and Shirley card is a perfect example to see how deeply embedded privilege is within the equipment we use, the models every photograph to who's represented. White privilege is being considered the norm while everyone else is considered other. White privilege is being considered the norm while everyone else is othered. When I mention it throughout the class, it's not supposed to be derogatory rather than it is an example of the system that we're forced to participate in. What's the solution to even out the playing field? Accountability. Accountability is a choice you can make in response to your privilege. A keystone of racial equity work. If you are white or male, the American or Westernized system was made for you to benefit the most, and so accountability is acknowledging how you benefit from the system consistently consider the space to take up, how it affects another person and take action to improve the access to resources and better conditions for those less privileged. Now, it may sound like you're giving something up and you are exactly right. You are giving something up. You're giving up the immediate access to resources, opportunities, and accolades for you simply being born. In turn, you're helping uplift the community that deserve the same opportunities handed to them. Here are a few key points so that you can hold yourself accountable and your privilege. Acknowledge your privilege. The reason privilege continues to transfer into new generations is due to denying its existence. Denial contributes two systems of privilege by reducing the chances of people having the conscious choice about what to do with their privilege. Two, is learning about privilege. Great first step, you took this class. Now continue research, check on Google, look up books. There are so many resources that will help you further understand privilege and how you can use it to benefit other people and be open to feedback. In the past, I've personally struggled with receiving feedback because naturally, I'm an artist and I have an ego. However, the best feedback I'm able to take and helps evolve me into a better artist and creative. So be open to other people's feedback. Don't be defensive and take what you need. Now the reason privilege exists between generations is because a lot of people refuse to acknowledge its existence. By doing so, you are preventing a person to have the conscious choice to either acknowledge your privilege and do something about it or not. Great first lesson, I know it was a lot of information, but you did a wonderful job and you're going to need some take some time to digest it. The next lesson we're going to be discussing trauma poem and I have to say it's a little difficult to receive, but it's essential for you to understand. Here is a suggested writing prompt that will help you get a better understanding of your personal privilege in your life. I want you to do a free write, 10 minutes, pen does not leave the paper and ask yourself the question, how privilege exists in your life and how you've benefited from it? After your writing prompt, you're just going to photograph 2-3 images that speak on your experience of privilege. This is not a technique-based class, so take the pressure off. This is more transferring the information of your writing prompt into a visual narrative. Personally, my example would discuss my privilege of being a mixed race person. Unfortunately, there is a stigma associated with mixed race people and making them seem exotic or better looking than other people or races. I do not agree with this stereotype. Unfortunately, it is a privilege that still does exist and so it isn't my right to be able to discuss it in a visual narrative. In my example, I would show images of my hair or my eyes as they speak to the key examples people like to identify when they see me as a mixed race person. I look forward to seeing what work you create and let's dive into some new information about trauma poem. 4. Trauma Photography: Welcome to your next lesson. We're about to get into some heavy, so prepare yourself. There's going to be some graphic images that may be difficult for us to view, however, it's essential for us to acknowledge. Crash course, what is trauma porn? As crude as it sounds, trauma porn is used within the arts and culture sphere to discuss sensationalizing the grief, tragedy, and pain of subjects in order to invoke powerful emotions in our viewers. In the beginning of my career, I saw a lot of photographers participate in trauma porn. Personally, it wasn't a subject matter that I enjoyed. However, once experiencing my own trauma, I saw how important it is to be able to share tragic information despite it being difficult to view. In 2019, I was awarded the Like a Woman in Photo Award for my series Size of a Grapefruit. It discussed the emotional stages before, during, and after an ovarian surgery that I had, and the microaggressions and negligence that black women experience during medical emergencies. Personally, I'm very proud and honored to receive such a profound award. But even so, I realize where black are is often place within the art and photography industry. Accolades are given when there are narratives that focus on black pain or trauma. There's evidence to pandering to the black traumatic experience. We see it in movies. Accolades are given when a narrative focuses on pain, like police brutality, slavery, poverty, or even the ride or die archetype. You see it in 12 Years a Slave, Fruitvale Station, and Queen & Slim. These are all examples of talented work, but they're receiving the funding because they focus on the black traumatic experience. It's complicated. It's difficult to navigate the black experience because it does include a lot of pain and trauma. But the question is, who is allowed to really speak on it? An example of this is from a white artist by the name of T-Rock Moore, based in New Orleans. She created a visual narrative of Michael Brown's body after he was shot and was laying face down onto the ground. The image was so disturbing that even Michael Brown father was disgusted by it. But at the same time, she was able to have access to different galleries across the country including Chicago. At one point she was able to be interviewed and was quoted saying that, she creates a stock value imagery for financial gain. We have to ask ourselves how exploited photography and exploitive art in general affects the subjects that we're photographing. Writer of art news, Taylor Renee Aldridge discusses how there's been a rise of contemporary artwork that focuses on black pain and trauma. Artists are creating work to sensationalize the black experience and collectors found value in it. Now, there's a commercial paradox that's creating black pain, making it looks sexy and desirable, where artists are forced to only create work that follows that narrative, and so it just creates a cycle and we can't really heal from our past traumas. This isn't a new method of photography either. White photographers have been capitalizing off of black pain for years. One of the earliest moments was in 1916, a white American photographer by the name of Fred Gildersleeve was assigned to photograph a lynching of a teenager by the name of Jessie Washington. There were 15,000 onlookers and a mob that beat Washington's body and buried him alive. The Texas mayor of Waco assigned Gildersleeve to photograph this experience. Not only that, he was able to capitalize off of it by creating postcards that were sent out and shared throughout the entire country. This was a common practice during this time. It's hard for us to believe that lynching postcards were such a common practice for white male photographers to participate in. Although these are painful to view, it is important for us to fully understand the depth and the historical value of these postcards, because we hopefully will no longer use photography to participate in these acts of violence again. My challenge for you as a photographer is, how do you create powerful work without exploiting other people, and it always comes back to identity, your identity. In the next lesson, we're going to be unpacking what identity means to us, and how we can use this as sources of inspiration. For your assignment, I want you to focus less on using this information to take two or three images. Instead, I want you just to write, 10 minute free write about the information that you've learned. We see how photography is used as a tool. I want you to write about how you can use photography as a tool to make positive impactful changes within our society. What are your thoughts on the information that was previously given? How did that make you feel? How can we avoid doing this again, and making a positive transformation within the industry that we all like to work in. I want to thank you so much for taking the time to digest this information. I know it wasn't easy, wasn't easy for me sharing it. But we've all learned something today and hopefully it's going to help us. Take the time to write your thoughts down, reflect on what you learned, because our next lesson is going to be a little bit more positive and exciting. We're going to be discussing identity. 5. Why Story Matters: Welcome to lesson 3. Let's just take a moment. I know the last lesson was a lot to take in, but I'm so proud of you and thank you for taking in in that information. Now, let's lighten the mood and talk all about identity. In 2014, I took an elective photography class at the University of Maryland, College Park. I was a self-proclaimed photographer thinking I knew everything about the industry, I was eager, and very competitive. Truth is, I didn't know, but I had a wonderful teacher that did. My teacher is Sora Devore, is an amazing photographer that really gave me perspective on what it's like to photograph from your own life experiences. She introduced us to the documentary, Finding Vivian Maier, about a street photographer whose work was discovered and praised after her death. Maier worked as a nanny, mostly kept to herself and while working would bring the cameras everywhere, capturing the daily life of New York and Chicago natives. Her work is outstanding and her photography was only of her community and neighborhoods that she worked in. From this video, my teacher, Sora , gave us longstanding advice, that the best photography can be photographed in your very own backyard. You don't need to go to the most exotic places around the world to get interesting photographs. You just need to have thought-provoking concepts. Our whole lives we're surrounded by stories. We've seen in social media, news stories we even gossip. We love telling stories, and yet some people are so afraid to share their own stories. But we all have our own unique experiences that we can share. Everyone has a magical story that they can share. A connection to a place, a person, a thing. Photography is a vessel to be able to share your story visually. Even if you're photographing another person for an assignment, there is still a story that you can involve yourself in. My personal opinion and those of my mentors like Maggie Steeper, we find that the strongest photographs when you're photographing a subject, comes from starting out, getting to know the subject before the lights are even on, have a conversation, understand their background, get to know them. Not only will it make them more comfortable, but also you're now connected with who they are in some capacity. It makes this assignment and that photograph more personal to you, thus making it much more powerful and relatable. Suzanne Santo, in 2003, had an essay to discuss how relatable an authentic photographs can be if we actually live the experience. Quote, "Photographers are limited by an inability or a limited ability to capture experiences they themselves have not lived." If we can't make an emotional connection to the story we're trying to convey, the image often falls flat. The best photographers are those that take the time to understand themselves, their place in the world, and how they make an impact on the world. The goal of this class is to develop a body of work that rings true for you, that speak on your stories, your values, and your thoughts that are important to you. This is what makes photography a personal art form that is relatable for anyone and everyone who's interested. In this 10 minute free write assignment, I want you to think back at a personal experience that you've had. It could be emotional, it could be traumatic, it could be positive and lighthearted. It doesn't matter, as long as it's your story and you provide 10 minutes pen to paper to share that experience. Ask yourself, how would you best want to visually represent your story? Create 2-3 images, include any props that you need, any editing that you want to add. Ask yourself how you want the mood to be presented. As long as you're sourcing from a past experience and see what you come up with. For my example it was the size of a grapefruit series. This was a very traumatic experience that happened to me, but honestly it was extremely healing to be able to create a work from that traumatic experience. My parents even asked, are you sure you want to share this story to the world? But they obviously don't know me because I have to share anything that happens to me to the world. But it was extremely healing for me and I was able to provide a platform for other people to relate to those images, share their stories of medical trauma, and heal from their life experiences. You can do the same with your project. There's no right or wrong way to convey your personal experience as long as it's coming from you. No pressure, just be open, vulnerable, and excited to create new images inspired by your own life experiences. 6. Exploitive Travel Photography: Now that we've talked about photographing in our very own backyard, whether that is the city that you live in or communities that you're from, now we can fully dive in what it means to photograph abroad. This lesson is all about exploitive travel photography and how we can avoid exploiting subjects and cultures that are different from where we grew up. When I was in high school, I told my sociology teacher I was going to photograph for National Geographic. It was my calling, I'm going to do it. She looked at me and said, "Before you make such a declaration, make sure that you're researching the publication that you want to photograph for because National Geographic has a long history of being a racist and exploitive travel photography publication.'' Now, when she told me that so straightforward, my heart actually crushed. I was like, "There's no photography for me then." Naturally, I obviously got out of that, but it did encourage me to research more about the publication. After doing a quick Google search, I found a National Geographic article that said, "For decades, our coverage was racist. To rise above our past, we must acknowledge it." Kudos to them for finally acknowledging it. The publication came into existence in 1887 during the rise of neo-colonization and spent decades reinforcing the Tarzan savage stereotype around the world with Gusto. Majority of images were photographed by white photographers, and irresponsibly described and depicted black natives from around the globe as unintelligent, exotic dancers, servants, or workers. Every type of cliche. Why do I mention this? Because National Geographic sets the precedence of travel photography and photojournalism. This includes the ability to exploit other cultures under a scope called the white gaze, and what is white gaze, you ask? Well, it's exploring other cultures, communities, and subjects, and bodies under the context of whiteness. In photography, white gaze and privilege go hand-in-hand. The industry has provided white photographers the access to explore other races and communities without fully understanding the complexities and the experiences of the subjects that they're photographing. The subjects don't have control over where the images are going or how they're even being depicted. Most times publications will use and recycle the same experiences because there are rarely other people of color in the room to diversify the publication's content. Travel photographers that go to Cuba, India, Africa, they all share the same narrative because they don't fully assimilate to the communities that they're photographing. The subject matter is very diverse. But unfortunately, a lot of photographers are on a surface level representation of the communities that they're photographing. In 2018, Jasmine Weber, wrote an insightful article on the racial disparity in the industry, especially in the grants and awards spheres. The article referenced the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, an award that calls itself the leading international competition, open to all, which celebrates and promotes the very best in contemporary portrait photography from around the world. With only four winners, all of which were white, and all of the subjects were of black and brown people. This is extremely common. Black people are interesting subjects to exploit because they are othered. They are not within the privileged norm experience. But the privileged have the entitlement to be a tourist of their experiences. Now, this all goes back to sourcing from your own experiences and challenging yourself. Professor of African history and the legacy of Gordon Parks, John Edwin Mason is quoted saying, "I'm by no means saying that white photographers can't make portraits that challenge the white supremacists gaze. Some have and some do. But photographers of color, by and large, are more likely to make images that subvert the white gaze. They do it by creating images that are rooted in the particular historical experiences of black and brown peoples. They create, that is, new ways of seeing and of knowing." Now that we have an understanding of what is considered exploitive travel photography, let's talk about solutions. On the next lesson, we are going to be discussing tactics on practicing accountability. In this lesson's assignment, we're going to focus less on technique and more so on the information that was provided. I'm asking you to read Discerning Photography's White Gaze by Jasmine Weber. It's an in-depth article that's going to give you a little bit more understanding of what is considered exploitive travel photography. After, I want you to do another free write. I want you to write a response to the article. Do you agree or disagree? Why? Have you felt inclined to photograph other cultures without fully understanding their perspective? What made you feel like it would be an accurate representation of the subject's experience? There isn't a right or wrong answer. I just want you to be more thoughtful on it. We are choosing to explore the spaces that we take up, no matter where we are. I want you to be open and honest with yourself so that we can work on the next part, which is tactics to practice accountability. 7. Tactics to Practice Accountability: [MUSIC] Let's dive into our next lesson. It's all about solutions. I went on a solo trip to New Orleans a few years back, and I had the most amazing experience, not only because the music, and the food, and the people are amazing, but there's such a genuine experience within the New Orleans community that it's so enticing for photographers and artists to want to capture. I was fortunate enough to meet a native photographer who showed me all about the underground scene in New Orleans. Even on Easter Sunday, I was able to photograph all of the parades and visit the different wards within the city. There was a moment when I photographed a woman and she stopped me and asked me, "Where's this going?" Now, I think it was quite obvious I was not from New Orleans. But personally as a Black person talking to another Black person, I thought it was A-Okay. But she very quickly was able to see I was not from her community. Her concern was completely valid. New Orleans became so popular again that there are so many artists and mainstream media that's going back to the communities to photograph the culture and the people, but not giving anything back in return. So I understand why the woman asked me this and it had me start thinking, "Well, how am I going to give back to their community because they are giving me so much?" I chose to use the photographs that I captured to create a photo essay that discussed their frustration of feeling exploited by people coming into their community to photograph. I wanted to figure out and develop solutions so that we can feel like we can contribute to their community while we receive such beautiful imagery. We have to understand that by using images, we are affecting and becoming social tourists. We're not entitled to the subjects that we want to photograph. They're producing and giving as much energy as we are to take the photo, so we have to respect them. Here are few tactics that we can implement so that we can have a more equal exchange of energy and resources to the subjects that we're photographing. Research the community. Ask the subjects their history. What do they care about and how do they want to be compensated? If you're not in the means to be able to financially compensate them, how can you do in a different way? By providing physical prints. That's a great way to give back to the subject that gave you their energy and their face to photograph. If you're selling your work, donate a percentage back to the community or an organization from their community. Personally, I like to give back about 15-25 percent. Lead with a generous heart. You're not losing anything if you choose to give back to the community that gave you so much. We have to think less that we're sacrificing our abundance. Instead, we're receiving abundance all the time. So the more generous you are, the more generosity is going to be given back to you. Build a relationship. Sora Devore, my teacher, was a perfect example of a person that went to a community, built a relationship with a family for about 12 years, assimilated and was able to archive their family history for years. She did so by going to Mexico and capturing the different light and experiences in communities without exploiting them. You can do the same if you get to know the subjects. There are endless ways to give back. Be open to giving back as much as you're open to receiving and in turn, we'll be able to make this a much more pleasant experience, not only for the subjects, for you, and for the industry as a whole because we'll have more ethical values to guide us. [MUSIC] Now, for our assignment, if you traveled to photograph before, think back about how you gave back to the community. Did you? It's okay if you haven't because now you know why you should. Start brainstorming different ways on which you can return the efforts that they gave you, return it back to them. 8. Final Project: Final project time. We covered so much in this class. We talked about privilege and accountability, how to be socially responsible, what not to do in terms of exploited travel photography, what is considered trauma porn, and how you can avoid using it, and tactics and solutions so we can be more accountable within the photography industry. Because we covered so much, if there's a part or a topic that came to mind during one of these lessons, I encourage you to dive in deeper. I want you to research and see how you can take what you've learned from that experience and transfer into a visual narrative. Ultimately, I want you to create a body of work that's about 5-7 images that are based off of a topic you specifically care about. It can be a social topic or from a past experience. Anything that gives you such a focus, such passion that you want to speak about it, and speaking through the form of photography. For example, a social topic that I can relate to being that I'm a millennial and grew up with not having computer to having a computer. Well, I guess our conversation could be about social media and its effects on our well-being and personalities. How much social media has affected our social interactions with one another? If that's a topic you care about, then I'm going to maybe highlight a subject in front of a computer screen and having that computer highly exposed, so we don't see what necessarily what they're using but somewhat we become zombies to technology. That could be a stretch, but ultimately, that's how imaginative it could be. It could be anything you want to experience or photograph. I'm going to remind you of another example, may embrace your essence series. Remember, I created a series that talked about the self-esteem of young women and how we can take that power back by embracing what we find beautiful about themselves. Well, that was a series I created out of a thought, a concept that I wanted to dive into. You can do the same thing. Because we're in a pandemic, it could be difficult to really meet subjects or explore the people. But it's still possible to create strong body of work, even if you don't have access to the entire world. Location wise anywhere is really possible. Like I said, your backyard is the best place to be able to photograph something. Use your room, use your house, go outside, explore your neighborhood, find the location that brings great contrasts, it's a key point for lighting. In regards to subject matter, self-portraiture is a beautiful way to be able to express not only what you care about on the inside, but also how are you going to show it on the outside. Personally, I like to work with a lot of reflective mirror work. That way, you're able to see and pose yourself as you're taking the image and it also creates a really good illusion element to it. I understand that because we're in a pandemic, it may seem like it's difficult to get started. There's a range of tools that we can consider when trying to make a body of work. You can consider location, subjects, the angles, lighting, composition, props, movement, and ultimately weaving it all together to create a narrative that makes sense. There's not just one way to do this. There's an abundant amount of ways and opportunities that we can create a strong body of work. Please submit your final project and include your writing reflection. I have a little bit of context to go off of it. As I mentioned, this is a very different kind of Skillshare class. Your final project doesn't have to be polished, it doesn't have to be fully concise. It just has to ring true for you and that you feel good about it. If you want a little bit more content on how to photograph, let's say a portrait or other techniques, there's a whole bunch of Skillshare classes that you'll be able to implement everything we learn into photography techniques. For example, I have a friend in Dallas, has a wonderful Skillshare on how to implement portrait techniques into your photography practice. I'm so excited to see what you create. 9. Conclusion: Congratulations, you finally completed the course. Doesn't it feel good knowing that you understand how powerful photography is as a tool to create a much more positive space that we can share together? There are a few key things that I want you to walk away with. One is privilege and accountability. These are not words that we should be afraid of, but more so, we should embrace because understanding it, we can start stepping into making a more inclusive space and community to live in. Number 2, authenticity. Remember the best work can be captured in our very own backyard. Number 3, generosity. lead with a generous heart. The more that you give back to the subjects that you photograph, the more you're going to be able to receive beautiful imagery and positive representation of communities. Number 4, don't rely on trauma to invoke powerful images. There are so many emotional experiences that we need to capture, that bring out the humanity in us and that we can relate to. As a black photographer, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to receive such powerful and important information. I know it wasn't easy and I know it probably made you uncomfortable. But in doing so, you're able to evolve and have a better understanding of how to connect with other people, communities and with yourself. I can't wait to see the body of work that you create, and I'm just really proud of you. I want to see your projects. Make sure that you upload your writing reflections and your photography project to the Skillshare website. I look forward to be able to see your work, and to be inspired by your writing reflection. All the peace and love and remember black lives matter.