This is how Ayzoh! uses photography
As photojournalists, documentary filmmakers and researchers, the focus of our work is the representation of the sense of community: we seek to understand what it is that creates – or inhibits – this sense of belonging, even and especially among different people, in multilocal and ever-changing societies.
This research is expressed mainly through photographic reportage, which then gives rise to editorial projects and multimedia events that aim to make tangible the concatenation, consolidation and integration of our uniqueness across different conditions, cultures and latitudes.
…is union and not division, dialog and not discussion, uniqueness and not homologation, cooperation and not competition.
It is revolt. It is an act of resistance to evoke, (re)discover and affirm our common humanity.
It is counterculture. It is an instinct for life in opposition to the dominant, selfish and deadly culture. It is freedom of speech.
It is the poetic word that breaks the rules of common speech, violates common sense, and sets out to conquer meaning, possibility.
It is the invocation of a creative urge that gives value and beauty to things. It is seduction, Eros. It is desire.
It is feeling, emotion. It is friendship that lasts. It is an emotional relationship created through real and authentic projects. It is concrete experience.
It is re-knowledge. It is gratitude to those who open their hearts, their souls and their homes to us.
Community photography is an approach to photography in which the representation and narrative in images of a place, an event, or a personal story is produced collectively and with multiple voices.
The result is not only the gaze and point of view of a single “expert” photographer, but rather the outcome of a process in which several people participate in a common action that may have different goals from time to time: for example, aesthetic, ethical, or political.
Ayzoh!’s community photography projects involve children, adolescents and adults from different backgrounds, cultures and social classes, regardless of their technical skills, to produce a collective reportage in which no one point of view prevails over the others.
Professional photographers and consultants from Ayzoh! provide technical assistance and help to activate the participatory process at different stages of the collective work: field reporting, post-production and image editing. They also – like everyone else – participate in the realization of the photographic shots, ensuring that the different points of view remain in dialogue with each other.
Often these works result in publications – print, digital, online, or video – so that a narrative of community life, and thus a collective biography or auto-biography, persists over time.
Ultimately, community photography is born with community purposes, is done in a participatory way, and speaks of community life to promote awareness, social and cultural development, and in some cases, the defense of a community against exploitation, violence, and abuse of power.
How photography can strengthen a small community
In general, photography can empower a community by preserving its cultural heritage, building a sense of identity, raising awareness of social issues, promoting social change, and creating new opportunities.
Preserving cultural heritage: photography can capture a community’s traditions, practices, and lifestyles, preserving them for future generations. It can help people connect with their roots and keep their culture alive.
Building a sense of identity: photography can showcase a community’s unique qualities and help it feel proud of who it is. Capturing images of the community in action can highlight its strengths and contributions to society.
Awareness: photography can raise awareness of social issues that affect the community. By capturing images of people and events, photographers can draw attention to issues that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Promote social change: photography can be a powerful tool for promoting social change. By capturing images that tell a story, photographers can inspire people to take action and make a difference in their communities.
Create opportunities: photography can create new opportunities for community members. For example, a photography program can provide education and training to young people who have never had access to such resources. This can lead to future careers in the arts, publishing, journalism, and advertising.
A note on credits
The photographic works of Ayzoh! are always collectively signed. Our professional photographers – Elisa Amati, Claudio Maria Lerario, Dorin Mihai, Giulia Zhang – are often joined by members of the communities with which we collaborate.
In our publications, when it is possible (sometimes, for security reasons, it is not), we always mention all the names involved, but we never state who is the author of each individual photograph.
For example, it is normal to find a photo taken by an award-winning photographer next to one taken by a street child. Unless specifically asked, no one will ever know who did what.