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Empowering Bright Futures through Photography: Henrietta’s Journey

By 3 June 2024No Comments

Photography is more than just capturing moments - it's about telling stories, expressing creativity, and seeing the world through a unique perspective. At Photo Start, we believe in empowering underprivileged youth by partnering with organizations to teach photography and other essential skills. In this blog, we share the inspiring journey of Henrietta, a remarkable student at Ligstraal Special Needs School, and her dedicated instructor, Teacher Gaireyah, as they navigate the world of photography together.

Henrietta’s Perspective: Discovering a Passion

Henrietta’s initial interest in photography was sparked by a simple yet profound thought: "I felt I had to come because one day someone might ask me to take photos for them. I wanted to be able to do it properly." What began as a practical consideration soon blossomed into a deep passion. The journey wasn’t easy at first. Henrietta recalls the challenge of understanding technical concepts like leading lines. "It was very difficult at first. When the teacher said I must do leading lines, I first had to think how. I had to ask the teacher, and she would show me how to take it. With her help, I got to understand it more quickly."

Despite these initial difficulties, Henrietta's determination never wavered. Her favorite part of the Photo Start program was the way her teacher communicated the essence of photography. "When the teacher speaks, she speaks so deeply about photography, and then it’s really nice to listen and understand. It’s also nice to assist others in the class." Henrietta found joy not only in learning but also in helping her peers, showcasing her natural leadership skills.

Photography quickly became a source of confidence for Henrietta. "Like with learner drivers' lessons, I didn’t want to go sometimes because I would rather come to photography. At first, the teacher said I didn’t have to do photography again, but I wanted to come. I wanted to help my friends learn to shoot photography too. Photography made me feel like I can do anything and try out everything." This newfound confidence propelled her forward, making her prioritize her photography lessons and peer mentoring over other activities.

One moment that stands out in Henrietta's journey is when she first took her camera outside the classroom. "I first started shooting inside the school, then went outside and took photos of the light and the sun. When I looked at the photos, I thought to myself: is it me or is it the camera? When the teachers saw my photo and were proud, I felt so good. They said it was beautiful, and I learned quickly to take such photos. I felt very proud of myself." This experience reinforced her belief in her skills and potential, filling her with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Henrietta’s creativity began to flourish. "Even when I walk around, like the other day when we played basketball, I looked at the hoop as the ball went in and thought: that would make a great photo. I’m beginning to see things like that." Photography has opened her eyes to the beauty in everyday moments, allowing her to express her creativity in unique and meaningful ways.

Her role as a peer trainer became a source of immense joy. "It feels amazing because it’s nice to help someone else. Like with Kittana, she didn’t believe she could take a good photo. I told her, never say you cannot. Always believe you can. Then I showed her how to put the camera on, insert the card, and she thanked me. She said, 'Yes, I can.'" Henrietta’s ability to inspire confidence and capability in her classmates reflected her own growth and generosity.

Photography soon became an integral part of Henrietta’s life. "It plays a role because I know one day someone might ask me, and then I know what to do." This readiness and skill were now embedded in her daily life, preparing her for future opportunities. Looking ahead, Henrietta envisions a future where photography continues to be significant. "Yes, I would be interested in doing photography because I know how to do it now."

The Instructor’s Perspective: Guiding a Star

From Teacher Gaireyah’s viewpoint, Henrietta’s journey with Photo Start has been nothing short of inspiring. "Henrietta, like any other child at Ligstraal Special Needs School, lives in a world with limitations. When she came to the class, I immediately recognized her natural leadership skills. She was friendly, attentive, and eager to learn." Henrietta’s inherent qualities stood out from the beginning, signaling a promising journey ahead.

The most impressive aspect of Henrietta’s development was her natural tendency to help those in need. "Hetta, as we call her, has a natural tendency to help those in need. She showed exceptional handling of the DSLR and executed camera techniques flawlessly. She has a lot of patience with her classmates, especially those who are slower to catch on." Henrietta’s empathy and technical prowess set her apart, making her a valuable peer trainer.

Henrietta’s proactive approach and deeper comprehension of photography principles allowed her to mentor her peers effectively. "During each lesson, she would enthusiastically help her classmates with different compositions, pay attention to their surrounding light, and correct their camera stances. Her understanding went beyond the technical, embracing the artistic essence of photography." This ability to go beyond the technical aspects and grasp the artistic core of photography showcased her deeper understanding and passion for the craft.

Henrietta’s inherent confidence and willingness to lead were nurtured through encouragement and practical teaching experiences. "Henrietta already showed more confidence than I had when I started. I admired that about her. Her ability to teach and lead came naturally, and I focused on nurturing these qualities by providing her with opportunities to assist and guide her classmates." Through these experiences, Henrietta’s leadership skills flourished, making her an effective and inspiring peer trainer.

The ultimate goal of the Photo Start program is to empower students like Henrietta, providing them with skills and confidence that open up new possibilities in their lives. "Henrietta has been designated as the school’s personal photographer for all events. I am also looking into finding her a job shadowing opportunity with a local photographer. I hope that through photography, students can boost their confidence and find new avenues for self-expression and career opportunities."

Henrietta’s journey with Photo Start has laid a strong foundation for her future. "I hope that she can boost her confidence with her DSLR skills and general teaching. She has a natural talent for teaching, and I hope she finds herself in a position to continue sharing her knowledge." The skills and confidence she has gained will serve her well in any future endeavors, whether in photography or other fields.

The instructor’s final piece of advice to aspiring photographers resonates with Henrietta’s journey: "Jump in the deep and swim, one click at a time. Your world will expand into color, light, and perspective tremendously." Embracing photography with enthusiasm and persistence can transform one’s perception of the world, revealing its beauty in unexpected ways.

Nurturing and Empowering

Henrietta’s story shows how important it is to give young people the opportunity to learn and express their creativity through an outlet like photography. Nurturing the talents of the youth provides more than just tangible skills, it helps them develop their confidence and belief in themselves. Through the Photo Start program, Henrietta has not only discovered her passion but also empowered her peers, embodying the true spirit of leadership and inspiration. As she looks to the future, we are excited to see how Henrietta and other students like her will continue to use photography to tell their stories and inspire the world.