The Light Factory’s Self-Discovery Through Photography program uses photography as a tool to help participants explore their identities, strengths, and place in the community. Through a series of photography-based exercises, participants create a personal journal that they take home upon completion of the program. SDTP was originally designed to be used with middle and high school students, but can also be used for adult groups and communities.
Prior to working with children in the Grier Heights community during the summer of 2017, TLF had Katie Hyde from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University come to Charlotte to teach a workshop to TLF staff and instructors based on the Literacy Through Photography (LTP) methodology. This is a methodology that was created by Wendy Ewald and used in Durham public schools for over 20 years. LTP increases student self-expression by incorporating visual literacy, photography, and creative writing. Afterwards—and thanks to a Reemprise Fund grant—TLF brought together diverse professionals who work with middle school and high school students for a design sprint in an effort to continue developing the SDTP program. With Faster Glass as a facilitator, the gathered stakeholders—which included staff, local teachers, and thought leaders—worked together to identify and prototype additional activities.
The results of the LTP workshop and the design sprint were a series of photography-based exercises that that also incorporate writing and critical thinking skills within the participant’s “Photo Journal.” With the guidance of an instructor—and with photography as a means, not an end—the hope is that students will improve their self-confidence and explore their role in the Charlotte community through these various exercises. SDTP was successfully piloted in Freedom Schools in the summer of 2019.
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