We’ve all heard that a picture can be worth a thousands words. What’s often not understood about this familiar saying is that the thousand words of content are not just for the viewer, but also for the photographer, for the one who learns to see the world with a photographer’s eye.
Diana Sabreen, and the non-profit she runs, Shoot Cameras Not Guns, are working on both sides of the thousand-word equation. They teach photography as a tool for social change and self-expression to people dealing with political oppression in Burma. Thailand and Kenya as well as to youth at risk in their home base, Denver.
As Susan Sontag pointed out in On Photography, cameras, approached the wrong way, can be like astronaut helmets that people put on to further disassociate and distance themselves from the world. But photography can also build bridges between worlds—the world of the self expressed to others through images, and a bridge to geographically and culturally removed worlds, worlds that are often hidden beneath the glittering barrage of idealized images from the consumer culture.
The world has never had such an abundance of cameras. Even people in the third world and inner city often have one in their pockets. (see my Reality Sandwich article on camera phone photography ) What’s sad is that while so many more have the physical tool to explore photography, so few have been trained in its bidirectional thousand word potential, the use of cameras as tools of self-expression and photojournalism.
That’s why the mission of Shoot Cameras Not Guns is so worthwhile.
A brief article on SCNG in the Idealist: Nonprofit Spotlight: Shoot Cameras Not Guns
The Elephant Journal interviewing Diana Sabreen on SCNG (a twenty minute Youtube).
Press Release for “Beers for Burma”— a fundraising event on April 26, 2014 from 7:00 pm-1:00 am at the Helikon Gallery – 3675 Wynkoop Street, Denver, CO 80216. The event will include an exhibition of photographs from Burmese photojournalists, a number of Denver’s best craft brewers, live music, and performance art including aerial acrobatics. Beers for Burma Facebook page