Visual Storytelling Through Film Photography: Womankind’s Photo Camp for Youth

Visual Storytelling Through Film Photography: Womankind's Photo Camp for Youth

Last summer, Womankind piloted a day-long photography camp for 10 youths aged 13-18, giving them a first-in-a-lifetime opportunity to use a film camera. This special event was made possible by Kodak Moment, who generously donated 56 single-use film cameras, providing a unique skills-building and storytelling experience for youth. We provided each of the participants with three cameras: two used during the photo camp and one for their independent use after the camp. Walking around Manhattan’s Chinatown and Greenwich Village, they captured first-hand perspectives of New York City through their own eyes.

The photo camp was facilitated by Masato Goda, a Womankind Advocate who works with children and youth at the Manhattan Community Office. "Venturing into this 'new experience' along with other participants helped ease their concerns about what to expect from the camp," he shares while emphasizing the novelty of the experience for all the participants. “This was the first time that they had held a film camera, let alone having experience using them. I saw some of them finish the roll of film too quickly, while others took too long to decide what to take pictures of. Having grown up with and having used the single use cameras myself, it was refreshing to see how low technology gadgets can contribute to helping young people ‘slow down’ for the first time.”

One 16-year-old participant shared her perspective, acknowledging the unexpected yet enriching aspects of the camp. "I enjoyed the photo camp thoroughly, although our group dynamic, the cameras that we used, and the environment that we took photos in were not exactly what I had envisioned," she revealed. “Nonetheless…I discovered a new appreciation for disposable cameras through the photo-camp. Walking around New York City to search for photogenic scenes to capture helped me realize beauty can be found in ordinary things."

Another participant, also 16-years-old, highlighted the concept of delayed gratification inherent in film photography. "I think the idea of delayed gratification made me conserve the film in any way that I could," she expressed. “I only took photos if I knew I would 100% love the scene that I captured because I can’t go back and review the photo to see if I like it or not, and then retake the photo, as I would with my phone camera or a digital one. It was more rewarding to see the final product after I waited to have it developed, and the excitement endured all throughout the waiting period. I think this concept can be applied to a lot of things in life."

This photo camp stands as a testament to Womankind's commitment to fostering empowerment and self-expression among youth. Overall, the participants reported that the photo camp fulfilled their expectations, and they would love to come back for a second year, mainly to focus on the technical aspects of photography. They also expressed interest in extending the camp by an additional day to review images together and reflect on the experience as a team, which Womankind is exploring for this summer.

Womankind extends heartfelt gratitude to Tim Ryugo and Kodak Moments for making this event possible. We also give special thanks to Daniela Cardinale, for enriching the camp experience with her expertise in street photography and single-use cameras. Lastly, we thank Photo Contact Lab for developing the film and assisting Womankind with covering half the processing fees, ensuring that all participants can fully enjoy their captured moments.