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On the Power of Photography

100cameras helps students from around the world to share their narratives, as exemplified by these ephemeral, yet profound photos of summer.



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"WHEN PEOPLE LOOK at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice,” the photographer Robert Frank once declared. Photography does something to time — it both stretches and compresses it, freezes and releases it into collective memory. Summer has similar effects, with longer days that feel unending, washes of color, and sensory impressions that linger in the mind.

For Romina Hendlin, a photographer and educator from Venezuela based in New York City, one particular moment of one particular summer teaching with the nonprofit organization 100cameras encapsulates this phenomenon: After eight sessions learning about photography, practicing, playing, and rehearsing techniques in the rural surrounds of Cúcuta, Colombia, Hendlin took 10 students — half of whom had come from Venezuela as a result of forced migration — on a field trip.

“We took a minivan to this beautiful place,” she says, “a library on top of a hill where you can see the city. We were sitting there and talking and there were some prompts. And I remember some of them sharing their deep stories about their migration and their loss, and I felt at that moment: This is why I do this. They can express themselves … you enable them, with the tool of photography, to share.”



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Now almost 15 years old, 100cameras was founded by a group of artists, creatives, and supporters who asked: What would happen if children were given cameras and taught how to use them? “Would photography be a tool to help kids document how they saw the world and document their communities?” recalls Angela Popplewell, CEO and co-founder of 100cameras. “Would the images [tell stories] that other people around the world would want to see and want to connect with, and would this connect others to that community?”

Through trial programs in New York City; Havana, Cuba; and in a community in what is now South Sudan, children, educators, and local leaders provided a response. “What we saw firsthand and from listening and learning is that photography is so much more than just a tool to share your perspective and to document life around you,” Popplewell confirms. “It’s a medium and a gateway to help you connect with yourself, your experiences, and the world around you — past, present, and future. In the very first lesson, we emphasize to students that this has always been your story, this has always been your voice, and photography is going to be a tool to help you uplift that voice and amplify your perspective.”


The photographs within these pages reflect how students from Chaing Mai, Thailand; Cartagena, Colombia; Kawergosk, Kurdistan; White Plains, U.S.; and beyond have taken that lesson to heart, capturing their own unique narrative in their corner of the world — in an enduring moment of summer.

Established in 2009, 100cameras is a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization that has collaborated with youth, schools, and community organizations in over 75 countries. To support its mission, please visit 100cameras.org and click ‘Donate.’

Our Contributors

Amelia Stein Writer

Amelia Stein is a writer, editor and teacher based in London.

100cameras Photographer

100cameras is a nonprofit organization that works with youth around the world and teaches them to process and tell their stories through photography in a way that impacts how they view themselves and their role in their community.


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