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The who, what, where, when, why and how of our global photography program

Our long-Term Approach

At Photo Start, we strive to empower local partner organizations with sustainable solutions that help student participants become effective change-makers in their communities.

We continue to be committed to sustaining long-term connections with community organizations in order to guarantee the long-term sustainability of our partnerships. Our collaboration often extends beyond the initial program, with multiple cohorts completing our curriculum over an extended period. In order to foster a culture of peer support and leadership, students are encouraged to mentor other students in the program as they complete our curriculum. Our “Each One, Teach One” initiative enables program graduates to become instructors, establishing a repeatable, self-sustaining program cycle. Additionally, we promote community members’ involvement as volunteers and mentors.

Youth are enabled to recognize the worth of their voices and ideas thanks to this multifaceted strategy. They discover that they can improve not only their own lives but also the lives of those around them. Our initiatives have a beneficial effect on the community in addition to the individual students.


Our digital program, promotes digital and visual literacy, life skills, and entrepreneurship.

We tailor the program to the needs of our partner organizations and students, offering in-person, virtual, or hybrid training options. To accommodate financial needs, we provide three budget options:

  • Free programming: Partners in need can access this option at no cost.
  • Sponsored programs: Partners can seek third-party sponsors to cover all program expenses.
  • Licensed programs: Partners can purchase affordable licenses for comprehensive access to our curriculum and resources.

We aim to make our programs accessible to organizations of all sizes and financial backgrounds, enabling them to create positive community impact.


Our curriculum is divided into five steps and focuses on providing long term benefits to enhance our students’ educational, vocational, and interpersonal development.

Step 1

An introduction to the importance of digital photography, the camera, and the mobile phone.

Step 2

The elements of a good image, using different lenses, and how changing perspectives will create new and different emotions within their image.

Step 3

How to take different types of photographs dependant on the subject matter and what they are communicating – a visual story.

Step 4

Why content creation is important, which content is most effective, and how it is used to build relationships.

Step 5

Basic business practices including marketing, digital skills, people skills, budgets, your brand and voice.


This teaching model has proven successful in all our class variations, whether in-person, online, or hybrid.

The art of photography is very practical and often requires a hands-on teaching approach. Therefore, most of our teaching methodologies acknowledge that effective learning is a multi-sensory experience, regardless of the age or experience level of the learner.


Learning by reading and writing text or by seeing and reviewing images


Learning by listening to a lecture or an explanation, or by explaining verbally to someone else


Learning by engaging in physical activities that require us to use our bodies and equipment

The Photo Start training model incorporates this thinking as well as adopts a DESCRIBE – DEMONSTRATE – PRACTICE, WITH FEEDBACK sequence for all our instruction whether online, in-person, or a hybrid approach. This is better explained by the figure below:


Explain/describe a topic or idea in sequence of steps using a PowerPoint slide presentation or a series of pictures that supports the topic.
A useful approach for the DESCRIBE component is to explain:
– WHAT/WHY the topic of conversation is
– WHEN/WHERE it appears in photographs


Model/show how to implement each step using live and/or video demonstrations.
The instructor may show HOW to get the desired image either in person or using a video.


Provide opportunities for students to practice implementing each procedural step, review their work and give feedback. This is the applied learning part of the session where learners are encouraged to put the knowledge they have learned in class into practice. This can be done through spot challenges, times assignments etc Photo reviews and feedback can be given individually or during class. This teaching model has proven successful in all our class variations, whether in-person, online or hybrid.

Our Instructors: Passionate and Dedicated

For our international photography program, choosing suitable instructors is essential to ensuring that our students have an outstanding educational experience. We are looking for instructors who possess a special combination of abilities, such as technical mastery and interpersonal ability to interact.

Our instructors are chosen for their profound awareness of regional cultures in addition to their technical proficiency and enthusiasm for teaching. In order to design a program that is inclusive and respectful of many viewpoints, it is crucial to understand the local culture.

Our instructors are skilled at navigating unique cultural factors and changing their teaching strategies accordingly. They are aware that culture has a significant impact on how students learn and communicate. In order to fulfill the particular demands of each community, they take the time to understand the local context and customize their educational experience.


Photo Start partners with local organizations around the world to bring our photography program to communities in need. Before we start working with any new partners, we carefully check that they have the capacity to run the program and exercise prudent financial management. Once we’ve approved a partner, we spend two weeks or six to eight classes evaluating the program and the partner’s ability to run it. If things go well, we continue working together.

Here’s what we expect from our program partners:

  • They are responsible for all ongoing costs of their existing program, including personnel and other expenses.
  • They should be able to use their existing network to get the word out about the program.
  • They need to keep track of student information and signed commitment forms.
  • They should make sure students show up on time and participate in class.
  • They need to collect metrics and feedback to help us evaluate the program’s success.
  • They should provide regular photos, videos, and testimonials from the learners and staff to collaborate with our marketing initiatives.

Here’s what Photo Start will provide:

  • We will create a tailored curriculum that meets the needs of the program partner and their students.
  • We will provide a mentor/instructor (if agreed upon) to lead or co-lead the sessions.
  • We will provide access to equipment based on location, availability, and our discretion.
  • We will keep in touch with our program partners to help troubleshoot challenges.

Some important things to note:

  • We will not pay for the program partner’s staff or operations.
  • The program partner is responsible for all ongoing costs of their existing program.
  • We may be able to provide resource grants if there is a demonstrated need for assistance and we have the ability to help.
  • We will work with our partners to make sure the program runs smoothly, but we reserve the right to end the partnership if things do not work out.


Our program offers a high-value, cost-effective, replicable, evidence-based model that has benefited over 1600 students. Through our program, students have gained employment, international recognition, and self-esteem.

Since the organization’s inception and years of research and experience, our program has provided:

  • Education through the art and skill of photography to impart tangible digital skills that help students thrive as employees, entrepreneurs, citizens, and leaders.
  • Development in essential life skills to prepare students to respond to challenges, make informed decisions, and manage their emotions.
  • Practical and creative business skills to introduce students to the opportunities of the global, digital economy and catalyse economic advancement.
  • Advancement and career opportunities for students to become certified Photo Start instructors after graduating from the program.
  • Support and guidance to our students from inspiring guest speakers, mentors, and professionals in their field.

Our Footprint


At Photo Start, we are incredibly proud of the impact we have made worldwide. However, rather than simply taking our word for it, we invite you to hear stories from our students, partners, sponsors, and parents. Their first-hand accounts demonstrate the positive difference our organization is making in communities across the globe. Take a look at some of their rave reviews below.

We have all benefited from an outreached hand, an insightful mentor, or an opportunity that sparks a passion that changes the course of our life. This is exactly what David Lehman, founder and director of Photo Start, does each day, along with a talented staff and dedicated photography educators who work with young students in the depths of poverty to learn invaluable life skills through collaborative photography and video projects. The opportunities that Photo Start provides are life-changing..., and most Importantly, help many young people actively build a brighter future for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Katrin Eisman: Sony Artisan of Imagery; Product Manager, Engagement, Adobe Systems

I’ve been fortunate to work as a volunteer for numerous organizations, all of which are admirable and worthwhile. But of all those organizations, none of them have resonated with me personally like Photo Start. David Lehman, who is an absolute gift and a force of nature, had a vison that things don’t have to stay the way they are. He could see change where others saw only poverty, opportunity where others saw hopelessness. He could see where a camera would not only take photos, it would change lives. It would be used as a tool to further enrich young people who only needed some encouragement and a few resources.

Brad Smith: VP of Photography, WWE

We are extremely excited to be working with Photo Start to combine our network and skills in developing photography education. Photo Start has an impressive track record in the education space and is doing incredible things for youth globally. We hope to assist them in broadening their reach and enhancing their programs.

Nic Bothma: Founder and CEO, Matrix Technologies

I really, really thank you Photo Start for giving my child a chance. And her first certificate.... I have seen her pictures and they are very good. Actually, she has even improved in class and learning, and I know she is very smart and will get even better. Thank you for making her star shine.

Parent JULIET NYASILI Nairobi, Kenya

This experience with Photo Start was the first and only time in my life I was encouraged to go inward. Everywhere else in my life, I am encouraged to focus on what is external. But this was a chance to explore my own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and ideas and express them in a new way.

Student DELMARY Philadelphia, PA, USA

The children, especially the girls, have changed so much since introducing the cameras to them. Before, they were so shy and withdrawn; did not want to talk or interact with anyone.... and to see them happy and smiling gives me so much joy.

Partner PASCALIA NDUKU Inua Mimi Rescue Center Nairobi, Kenya

Champion Transformation

There is no such thing as a small donation. With only $10, you can ensure the participation of one student in an end-of-program graduation ceremony. By setting up a recurring monthly contribution, your student keeps learning and growing!

Support Us

“Now that I have gone through Photo Start’s program, I have got new connections and know how to start a business with just my phone.”

– Muribui Samuel, Cinelab, Uganda


As our instructors may need to modify their teaching strategies to accommodate various learning styles or equipment limitations, patience and resourcefulness are also crucial. We look for instructors that are dedicated to offering students a remarkable learning experience and upholding the highest standards of professionalism.

At Photo Start, we are aware that the proficiency and commitment of our instructors play a significant role in the quality of our programs. Our instructors go through a rigorous onboarding and training process to guarantee that our students receive the best caliber of instruction. The tools and resources required for success are given to our instructors during the onboarding process. In order to assist instructors in putting our curriculum into practice, we have developed a comprehensive manual that offers thorough instructions. Everything from the technical aspects of photography to the best methods for interacting with students and fostering a peer support and leadership culture is covered in the manual.

By providing them with the support and training they need, we make sure that our instructors have all they need to provide excellent instruction to our students.

Overall, our meticulous procedure guarantees that we hire instructors who are highly qualified and knowledgeable. We are dedicated to assisting these instructors in continuing to grow and develop as they can inspire and motivate our students while providing an environment for learning that values mutual respect, creativity, and teamwork.