A Diepsloot Photo-Share

I’ve taken a lot of photographs in the developing world. And I’ve done a lot of photo-shares.

Photo-sharing. It’s great fun but leaves everyone feeling a bit unsatisfied. (Photo courtesy of Joe)

Here’s how a photo-share happens. A child sees my camera and approaches me, asking to be photographed. I snap a frame and show it to the child on the camera’s LCD screen. Suddenly the child is multiplied by ten and I have a gang of kids surrounding me. Everyone laughs and begs for a pic with this friend or that friend. After a while I get tired, say goodbye, and move on, feeling generally happy but also a little sad that I’ll probably never see those kids again.

Three months ago, about a dozen Joburg Photowalkers went for a walk around an informal settlement called Diepsloot. It was an amazing day and we did countless photo-shares. Read my post about it here.

My favorite photo from the Diepsloot Photowalk — a little boy doing his own version of the photo-share. (Photo courtesy of Joe)

The Diepsloot photowalk happened two days before Nelson Mandela’s birthday — a day that South Africans devote to giving back to their communities. We (the photowalkers) got so much out of that visit to Diepsloot, and we wanted to give something back. So André Harmse, one of the photowalkers that day, came up with an idea: Print the photos we took, bring the prints to Diepsloot, and give them back to the people we photographed.

Sounds simple, right? Not exactly. André, with a little help from the rest of us, spent countless hours pouring over photographs, identifying faces, arranging sponsorship for the printing, and planning the handover event. André secured funding for 1,000 prints to give out to the people of Diepsloot, a collage for the Diepsloot Youth Centre, 10 large prints to be hung in the youth centre, and a photobook about our visit to Diepsloot.

The handover event was yesterday morning. My photos can finish the story.

Photowalkers André and Jane help children look for their faces on a contact sheet.

André and Jane matched people up with their images on the contact sheet. Once a match was made, the person received two copies of his or her print.

Themba shows off his prints. Do you recognize him? Themba was the boy who turned my camera on me three months ago. (See photo above.)

Checking out the stunning photobook. I think the little boy in stripes is looking at a photo of himself.

Thanks to Mark Straw — the driving force behind Joburg Photowalkers who introduced us to Diepsloot in the first place — there were computer screens rotating through the photos on a continuous loop. 

A young girl admires her print while checking out the collage in the hallway. The collage is made from 500 individual prints and was put together by the staff at the youth centre.

Mark also put up a white screen so we could take studio-style portraits of people with their prints.

Re-enacting the moment when I bought my T-shirt back in July. (Photo courtesy of Joe)

Every time I do a photo-share I think to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if I printed out this photo and came back here to give it to [insert name]?’ But let’s be frank: I rarely, if ever, do that.

André, on the other hand, said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice…’ and then he actually did it. For hundreds of people, not just one. And I’m guessing that lots of these kids have never received a photo of themselves before.

Congratulations to André and the Photowalkers for making our Mandela Day project a success. And thanks to Susan van der Westhuizen and New Teltron for sponsoring this incredible event.

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52 Comments

  • Reply Tilly Bud October 16, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    What a wonderful thing to do. I smiled all the way through this post.

    • Reply 2summers October 16, 2011 at 10:12 pm

      Yay! That’s very nice to hear.

  • Reply Tilly Bud October 16, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    What a wonderful thing to do. I smiled all the way through this post.

    • Reply 2summers October 16, 2011 at 10:12 pm

      Yay! That’s very nice to hear.

  • Reply Jenty October 16, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    That is so cool! You’re right, it’s something photogs should do more often

    • Reply 2summers October 17, 2011 at 7:58 am

      Thanks very much and thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Reply Jenty October 16, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    That is so cool! You’re right, it’s something photogs should do more often

    • Reply 2summers October 17, 2011 at 7:58 am

      Thanks very much and thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Reply Bing October 16, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    Great job you guys did! I saw the photobook and it was amazing. I’m sure it means heaps to the Diepsloot community.

    • Reply 2summers October 17, 2011 at 7:58 am

      Yes! And you would know better than anyone 🙂

  • Reply Bing October 16, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    Great job you guys did! I saw the photobook and it was amazing. I’m sure it means heaps to the Diepsloot community.

    • Reply 2summers October 17, 2011 at 7:58 am

      Yes! And you would know better than anyone 🙂

  • Reply laurenbarkume October 16, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Printing and giving back photos is such a great thing to do, it’s something I’ve done on a small scale and it is so rewarding. It’s great to see the level of effort everyone put into it! Congrats.

    • Reply 2summers October 17, 2011 at 7:57 am

      Thanks Lauren! Hope you’re having fun in the States.

  • Reply laurenbarkume October 16, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Printing and giving back photos is such a great thing to do, it’s something I’ve done on a small scale and it is so rewarding. It’s great to see the level of effort everyone put into it! Congrats.

    • Reply 2summers October 17, 2011 at 7:57 am

      Thanks Lauren! Hope you’re having fun in the States.

  • Reply Kathryn McCullough October 17, 2011 at 4:32 am

    How wonderful, Heather. I can’t tell you how many photos of kids I’ve taken in the developing world, wishing I had a way to share them with the children later. This post thrills me to know end. How much this experience must have meant to you and the kids who were getting photos of themselves–likely for the first time!
    Kathy

    • Reply 2summers October 17, 2011 at 7:57 am

      Thanks Kathy. I figured you would understand!

  • Reply Kathryn McCullough October 17, 2011 at 4:32 am

    How wonderful, Heather. I can’t tell you how many photos of kids I’ve taken in the developing world, wishing I had a way to share them with the children later. This post thrills me to know end. How much this experience must have meant to you and the kids who were getting photos of themselves–likely for the first time!
    Kathy

    • Reply 2summers October 17, 2011 at 7:57 am

      Thanks Kathy. I figured you would understand!

  • Reply joshimukard October 17, 2011 at 4:48 am

    I was touched by this post. Sharing photos with those kids is a great great thing to do. I feel proud and happy to think I have a friend like you (atleast as a blogger) – you are a wonderful human being, Heather. My congrats to all those who were involved in this wonderful effort.

    • Reply 2summers October 17, 2011 at 7:56 am

      Thanks so much, Joshi. That’s very nice of you. I think the photographers got as much or more out of it as the kids did.

  • Reply joshimukard October 17, 2011 at 4:48 am

    I was touched by this post. Sharing photos with those kids is a great great thing to do. I feel proud and happy to think I have a friend like you (atleast as a blogger) – you are a wonderful human being, Heather. My congrats to all those who were involved in this wonderful effort.

    • Reply 2summers October 17, 2011 at 7:56 am

      Thanks so much, Joshi. That’s very nice of you. I think the photographers got as much or more out of it as the kids did.

  • Reply eremophila October 17, 2011 at 6:54 am

    A really heartwarming post! I’m sure the ripples from this event will go further than any can imagine – well done and congratulations to all involved!

  • Reply eremophila October 17, 2011 at 6:54 am

    A really heartwarming post! I’m sure the ripples from this event will go further than any can imagine – well done and congratulations to all involved!

  • Reply lisa@notesfromafrica October 17, 2011 at 8:24 am

    What a great thing to do! A relatively small “sacrifice” on your behalf, but something that will mean a lot to those kids.

    • Reply 2summers October 17, 2011 at 8:48 am

      It was too much fun to be a sacrifice! Although maybe Andre sacrificed a little 🙂

  • Reply lisa@notesfromafrica October 17, 2011 at 8:24 am

    What a great thing to do! A relatively small “sacrifice” on your behalf, but something that will mean a lot to those kids.

    • Reply 2summers October 17, 2011 at 8:48 am

      It was too much fun to be a sacrifice! Although maybe Andre sacrificed a little 🙂

  • Reply Tara October 17, 2011 at 9:15 am

    What you guys gave these kids is priceless! I am full of admiration for you all. Cheers!

    • Reply 2summers October 17, 2011 at 10:11 am

      Thanks so much Tara. Hope you’re doing well.

  • Reply Tara October 17, 2011 at 9:15 am

    What you guys gave these kids is priceless! I am full of admiration for you all. Cheers!

    • Reply 2summers October 17, 2011 at 10:11 am

      Thanks so much Tara. Hope you’re doing well.

  • Reply thirdeyemom October 17, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Fantastic post! What a great thing to do. I can only imagine how wonderful it is to look at all those smiling faces!

    • Reply 2summers October 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm

      Thanks, Nicole. It was a fun day.

  • Reply thirdeyemom October 17, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Fantastic post! What a great thing to do. I can only imagine how wonderful it is to look at all those smiling faces!

    • Reply 2summers October 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm

      Thanks, Nicole. It was a fun day.

  • Reply Lu October 17, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    What a fantastic thing to do! It’s great when an idea can become a reality! Well done, you guys 🙂

  • Reply Lu October 17, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    What a fantastic thing to do! It’s great when an idea can become a reality! Well done, you guys 🙂

  • Reply I Hart Travel October 17, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    I’m sure I’ve said it once before, but, you are really doing some amazing things in S. Africa. I am smiling ear to ear as I look at the photographs from the photo share prints. Kudos to you and the others who volunteered their time and made this possible. Perhaps you inspired a future Pulitzer winner or two or more that day.
    Love the t-shirt too. How can I purchase one/

    • Reply 2summers October 17, 2011 at 4:52 pm

      Thanks Fidel. You’re the second person to say this post made you smile. I think that’s the best comment a blogger can ask for.

      I told Clement, the guy who makes these t-shirts, that the shirts could have world-wide appeal. You’ve just proved me right! Unfortunately I don’t think these guys even have email addresses, let alone a way to sell shirts online. I actually think it would be great to create a line of these shirts for all of the different townships and squatter camps around Jozi. I’ll add it to my list of ideas 🙂

  • Reply I Hart Travel October 17, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    I’m sure I’ve said it once before, but, you are really doing some amazing things in S. Africa. I am smiling ear to ear as I look at the photographs from the photo share prints. Kudos to you and the others who volunteered their time and made this possible. Perhaps you inspired a future Pulitzer winner or two or more that day.
    Love the t-shirt too. How can I purchase one/

    • Reply 2summers October 17, 2011 at 4:52 pm

      Thanks Fidel. You’re the second person to say this post made you smile. I think that’s the best comment a blogger can ask for.

      I told Clement, the guy who makes these t-shirts, that the shirts could have world-wide appeal. You’ve just proved me right! Unfortunately I don’t think these guys even have email addresses, let alone a way to sell shirts online. I actually think it would be great to create a line of these shirts for all of the different townships and squatter camps around Jozi. I’ll add it to my list of ideas 🙂

  • Reply namrata October 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    heather, i’m just reading this now. this is such a heartwarming description and it makes me very excited to go on a photowalk with you soon! see you on thursday.

    • Reply 2summers October 18, 2011 at 12:54 pm

      Hey Namrata, glad you liked it. Looking forward to having you on a photowalk very soon.

  • Reply namrata October 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    heather, i’m just reading this now. this is such a heartwarming description and it makes me very excited to go on a photowalk with you soon! see you on thursday.

    • Reply 2summers October 18, 2011 at 12:54 pm

      Hey Namrata, glad you liked it. Looking forward to having you on a photowalk very soon.

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