Picaflor House has this month played host to a team of world-class photographers from The Giving Lens during a pilot visit to confirm the project’s selection as a potential partner for the organisation. Project Manager Annie Irving, a talented photographer herself, contacted the organisation when she came across them on the Google+ photographic community and asked them to pay a visit.
Locations for the workshops are only selected if they can offer the right combination of outstanding subject matter for the photographers, and a reputable local not-for-profit organisation carrying out exceptional work with whom The Giving Lens can form a partnership. Annie was thrilled when they agreed to a scouting tour.
The trip was led by internationally renowned photographer, author and humanitarian Colby Brown whose organisation runs workshops around the world combining the very best in photography education with ways of giving something to local communities who host them.
The workshops are designed and led by Colby, who offers a unique and creative learning environment that not only showcases the latest in digital photography techniques but also emphasises the importance of lending a helping hand to help make the world a better place for all.
If chosen as an official partner, Picaflor House would receive an agreed donation for every photographer that attended one of the workshops. It was clearly important, therefore, that Colby and his team of six professional photographers should see the best that the area around Cusco could offer, and that they should be equally impressed by the work that Picaflor House does with the disadvantaged children around the village of Oropesa.
From Project Manager to Tour Guide …
Annie opened the group’s week-long tour with a guided walk around the most photogenic spots of the beautiful city of Cusco, picking out the best vantage points for its breath-taking views. Over the next week they got to haul their equipment up steep Inca trails, to rural villages and ever more spectacular viewpoints, to traditional restaurants offering the inimitable local delicacy of roast guinea pig (which some of them were even brave enough to try), through stunning valleys and exhilarating mountain-scapes, and of course to the magnificent ruins of the magical ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu.
The group also spent time with the staff and children at Picaflor House. They were treated to traditional Peruvian dancing, and a performance of Goldilocks and the three bears in one of the English classes. During one arts and crafts class Colby was even persuaded to join the children, to set his camera aside for a while and make an owl to take home to his 9-month-old son.
Annie was thrilled with the way the trip worked out and not only sees the partnership as a way of gaining much-needed funding, but also a way of harnessing the incredible creative talents of the children at the project, as she explained:
“Our kids at Picaflor House are very creative and really love our arts and crafts classes. They also love being photographed and then immediately race to the photographer to see their photo. And they love borrowing my camera and those of our volunteers to try taking photos themselves.
“I contacted Colby because I know our kids would be very keen to learn more about photography and, if they showed some talent, this might also lead to career possibilities for them. Cusco's economy is dependent on tourism, yet the quality of photographs on postcards and in tourist brochures is generally quite poor. We could really do with some good home-grown photographers!”
The results are in
With this scouting workshop having been such a huge success, Colby has already committed to a return trip to Cusco and Picaflor House for a longer period and with a bigger team in 2013. Not only will they photograph the children, they will also bring donated cameras and run workshops to introduce the kids to the basics of photography.
As Alexis Coram, one of the team, wrote on her return to the USA, this will “let them freely document life through their eyes.... I’m sure these kids are in for a real treat next year and that their involvement with The Giving Lens will only boost their personal and social growth. I predict that some of them will become photographers themselves ... they seem to be naturals.”