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My city, our view: The Photovoice Project through the eyes and lens of a young photographer

beyond the practical side, and get a different glimpse into the way only a camera can transform sceneries, portraits and still objects into art. The photographer in charge of the project shared the same passion and excitement as all of the participants. “A photograph doesn’t have to be impressive in order to impress someone”, he said. “Capturing the details of life and keeping in mind the main message you want to convey will help the person who views your photographs 37 feel what you felt, see what you saw”. That also helps them travel through space and time in your shoes. After explaining the principles of photography like aperture, ISO speed, shutter speed and so on, someone asked what was the correct way to take good pictures. The answer was as simple and reviving as photography itself is; “Practice, practice and then practice some more”. As Henri Cartier Bresson stated, “The first 10.000 photographs are your worst.” After that, one can only expect to get the hang of it. And so we did. After a few sessions of basic photography lessons that were filled with questions, answers, controversies and passionate discussions, it was about time to put theory to the test and actually practice our photography skills. Hours went by trying different settings and different angles of shooting the same subject, all while searching for a way to convey the city’s beauty and the city’s problems through our photography. The workshop was demanding and time consuming. Going through hundreds of photographs, choosing the most appropriate and representative ones, and going back to shoot the same scenery again using better techniques, settings and perspectives.

The goal of Photovoice was to capture our city and the way we view it through two different, diametrically opposite perspectives. One side was the positive one in which we were asked to promote the beauty of the city, the places we love, the characteristics of the city’s vibe and culture, and what general living in Thessaloniki feels like to us. The other side asked us to portray the negative side of the city. The problems, the omissions and any other aspect we felt could be improved with intervention and a more active role from the authorities in the city’s general revival. The goal was not to capture a perfect or ideal city, but a real one. The good, the bad and everything in between... After a long process of learning, assimilating new information and techniques, putting them into practice and at last choosing the final material we all agreed represented the city as well as possible, we reached the point of presenting our work to the city. A beautiful exhibition was set up in the in the heart of Thessaloniki’s youth scene where people had the chance to view our photographs and read the short stories describing the reasons why we chose these specific shots that accompanied them. Most importantly, the guest could mingle while exchanging opinions and impressions about the outcome and the actual purpose of the workshop. As all good things come to an end so did Photovoice Project in Thessaloniki 2013. When asked whether I enjoyed my experience I couldn’t help but spontaneously smile. There are moments in life when you realize that a chance is given and a motive is provided to take the first step and actually make a difference. Even if the step is quite small and the difference is barely noticeable every single bit counts. When trying to change the world small gestures result in bigger effects. Margaret Mead once said that “One should never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Photography is a way of capturing how you feel and preserving it long after the moment is gone. It’s not about the camera, the lens, the equipment or the technique. Photography is about seeing the beauty and finding a way to convey it. Thinking out of the box, out of the frame and sharing your moments with others.

Angeliki Mavromati

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