“Photography amplifies the valid voices of the youth in our community so that amidst the media, ill-informed stereotypes and policy-makers in urban development, they may be heard,” says Jeppe Photo Club founder Rebecca Crook.
The club began as a dream back in November 2014; Rebecca’s vision was to create a youth-focused visual storytelling initiative that would form part of the Bjala Priority Programme of activities focused on improving the lived experiences of people within the Jeppestown community. In February this year the Jeppe Photo Club met for their first workshop and they’ve already hosted several exploratory exhibitions since.
As the founder, Rebecca’s role entails working with the youth living in and around the Bjala area – together with Platinum Sketch Studios founder Angel Sizakele Khumalo, she plans weekly workshops, sources guest speakers, organises field trips and puts on exhibitions. She believes that it’s incredibly valuable for kids to have an artistic outlet such as photography to explore their identity, experiences and community. “The root of why we do what we do is to tell stories, and to connect with ourselves and our community,” she explains. “I think youth have a unique perspective on Jeppestown, and it’s time we listen to them.”
Rebecca shared what she finds the most rewarding part of this experience, saying, “Learning from the young photographers is my greatest joy. I love being able to do life with them. Whether we are discussing the implications of xenophobia in our community or talking about what we learned about ourselves from our projects, or listening to our favourite songs – the kids’ perspectives on life and their community are rich and challenging and I feel so privileged to help them reflect and share.”
Jeppe Photo Club’s latest exhibition titled Blind Sight: Stories of Self centred on identity, and the way in which the people around us and the places in which we live contribute to and shape who we are and how we tell our stories. The kids participating in the showcase hope that the people who see their works will be open to learn from their perspectives of their own neighbourhood – there are intricacies to living around Jeppestown that are beautiful, challenging, painful and joyous all at once.
Blind Sight: Stories of Self is currently showing at the entrance of Bjala Square, 28 Madison Street, Jeppestown.
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Want to get involved? If you have any unused camera equipment to donate to the initiative or if you’d like to share your knowledge and skills by facilitating a photography workshop, get in touch with Jeppe Photo Club at firstname.lastname@example.org.