One of the aims of The Bottom Line is to share relevant content as a reference to some of the themes and topics discussed. In volume 2 issue 1 – ‘The State We’re In’, the article ‘Young Worker’s Camera’ has great relevance to the topics and issues at hand and supports the context and writings on The Bottom Line. I hope that these references are of use and help to connect the dots between the many issues we face. This segment is taken from the online and print magazine Schooling & Culture. “A new journal concerned with secondary education recognizes a critical need for collective action towards models of avant-garde political methodologies in the classroom. Schooling & Culture supports future generations to develop powerful, self-led practices of resistance and alternatives to those imposed but the state and the private sector.”
Young Worker’s Camera
By replacing the technical instructions at the back of the camera with the guidelines of the project, the social function of the camera is highlighted. The Young Worker’s Camera (YWC) challenges the conventions of what is commonly perceived as a photographic practice, inviting young people to photograph invisible aspects of their daily life.
Even though the YWC is a tool to work autonomously, without the need of further coaching, it can also be used in the context of pre-organised workshops. We have already worked with groups of young people in Fez, Amsterdam, London, Blackburn, Móstoles, Havana, Teheran and Rotterdam. A YWC workshop consists of 3 parts as follows.
1. Introduction and handing of the YWC
Asking the participants to describe their daily use of photography is a good way to discuss which situations they perceive as a suitable subjects for a photograph. This conversation often leads to an acknowledgement that the common use of photography serves to document moments of celebration and leisure rather than everyday, ordinary activities such as going to school or working, the daily domestic chores are left out of the picture.
It might be relevant to introduce the Worker Photography Movement as a historical exception to our current understanding of amateur photography. For this purpose we have designed a so-called ‘Ten Minute Photography Course’ which consists of a set of didactic posters in 3 bilingual versions: English/Spanish, Italian/Dutch, French/Arabic (for further information email: email@example.com).
After the theoretical and historical introduction, the participants are invited to go through the YWC archive, choose an image and present it to the group. The international character of the archive with images from North Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Europe, makes the YWC archive an appealing collection of images for young people.
Finally, the YWC are distributed to all participants. On the premises of the motto ‘Photograph Things That Matter!’ they will have one week to photograph their invisible routines before handing in the exposed cameras in order to be developed.
2. Writing captions
Prior to the second part of the workshop all the cameras have been developed. A template identifying them as part of the YWC archive is printed with a domestic laser printer at the back of every image. The template contains the following fields: Name, age, location, date, image description (if you would like to receive the design of the template you can email us). To write on the back of the images some indelible pens are needed.
The meaning of an image is somehow elastic. Images have the capacity to signify one thing or its opposite. It is often the accompanying text that clarifies the intention of the photographer. At the same time, if an image is too dark or un-focused we shouldn’t discard it, the YWC is not about making beautiful images (whatever that means) but about the intention behind every image. The description text can also be used to reveal what is not visible in the picture, what took place out of the frame, before or after the instant where the photo- graph was taken. Once all captions have been written, each participant selects their favorite picture and presents it to the group as a way of sharing their experiences and findings.
Since photography is a mass communication technology, in order to reach the outside world, we invite the participants to edit and design a publication. They can use their own images but also combine them with images from the YWC archive or any other materials they might find relevant to support their concept. Typography can be hand-drawn or quickly printed from a computer.
A collaborative editing and design process is achieved through analogue layout making (paper, glue and scissors). This allows the participants to work simultaneously on a design rather than a digital process where only one person is in control of the computer.
This process results in the making of one master poster or fanzine that has to be reproduced, printed and distributed between their peers and community.
’You Only Live Once’—or YOLO. A phrase used frequently by not only my generation, but by all, as a reminder to have a bit of fun. So why is it that in our teenage years, a time before we venture out into the working world, that instead of having fun, we have to face relentless sets of testing—GCSEs, A Levels? We live in a society, who base learning on results, with results defining your ability. At The Showroom, my group and I collectively tried to define what is: ‘learning’ and ‘success’. With my group, finishing our GCSEs , we felt it was time to give a youth perspective on the matter of exams and the pressure on us now. We felt that regardless of where we are or what we are doing we are constantly learning. Not only through the traditional technique of a pen and paper in a classroom but through various methods: music, social media or being outside of being in some way! Learning shouldn’t have to be stressful or feared but we should all remember try to enjoy our life (and have fun) instead of letting learning and exams control us. In the following posters we tried to express that there isn’t a definition of learning or success, every individual should have their own goals for example: for us learning how to use a camera was a huge achievement! —Lee Fernandes
The Young Worker’s Camera is an initiative instigated by Werker magazine. Werker is an art collective initiated in Amsterdam in 2009 inspired but the Worker Photographer Movement, the first group of amateur photographers to use the camera politically back in the 1920’s, to document everyday life and to build an alternative against the hegemony of imagery spread but the dominant media.
In 2014 they started Werker 10 Community Darkroom, an itinerant school of radical documentary taking the example of the North Paddington Community Darkroom in London, which played a key role in the community photography movement of the 1970’s influenced by Stuart Hall’s regards of language-use as operating within a framework of power institutions and politics/economics.
Even though technology has changed the way in which we practice and share photography, which leaves most elements of the darkroom to have become redundant, a physical space for media education and image analysis that is open to anyone, is still very relevant today, as we are producing and consuming more images than ever before.
Werker 10 explores that possibilities of social photography within a contemporary context and looks into reactivating and actualizing the community darkroom model in today’s era of digital photography and social networks.