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Ibali: NGO Photography

Ibali: NGO Photography

Ibali is a workshop program that teaches photography to talented youth in Cape Town’s underprivileged communities. Through the medium of photography, the kids are encouraged to raise awareness about important social issues in their communities, and voice their opinions. In week 9 of our current pilot program, the students explored the role of photography in nonprofit work.

– Text Juliana Connors, images by Fernanda Hurtado Ortiz


Friday, November 3rd: back in the classroom, the Ibali participants reconvened, ready to be introduced in depth on documentary photography. Nicky Newman’s lecture a few weeks ago began the conversation about storytelling through photography, particularly for NGO photography purposes. The week after Nicky’s lecture, the students began the exercise in NGO photography, by photographing Waves for Change. The coming Ibali workshop will provide another practical NGO photography opportunity with local NGOs still to be determined. In preparation, Dave provided the student with more background on storytelling and using photography as a platform.

Dave began by explaining the value of storytelling; how it can be used to inspire, influence and motivate. Storytelling provides a way to construct and understand our experiences and subsequently our world. We perceive our own thoughts and actions through the narrative that is our life story.

Next, Dave discussed the elements of communicating a message through photography. To photograph with intention, with a clear message and with an awareness of the audience. The students were encouraged to approach their next NGO photography opportunity with a concept in mind and a strategy in place to convey their message. With this in mind, the students were advised to be conscientious of the subjectivity of photography. A photograph can be interpreted in many ways, largely dependent on the photographer’s vision. The students will need to find their voice through the lens to communicate the story the wish to tell.

Lastly, Dave covered the semantics of storytelling through photography. Utilizing a language analogy, he explained the desired composition of a photograph, aimed to tell a story. Same as a complete sentence, an effective photograph must have a subject, verb and an object. Dave described the importance of the “verb” of the photograph, to convey emotion and interaction within the story.

Following this week’s lesson, the students are equipped to practice their storytelling skills with the upcoming NGO photography practicum. Stay tuned!

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