Around twenty participants from various organizations; media houses, CSOs, college going students and unemployed youths were trained on story telling through photography during the photo camp from 9-14 March. The objective of the camp is to provide an opportunity for students to tell their own stories through the tools of photojournalism, with guidance from National Geographic photographers and editors.
The executive director of Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD), Siok Sian Pek Dorji said that it is important to create space and inspire citizen to tell the story to strengthen democracy. She said, “There are more of government stories in media which is of course important but people’s stories are also important.”
BCMD executive director said that this is just the beginning and need to tell more what is happening in Bhutan. She said that participants showed interest and learned to talk as photo journalists.
BCMD has also plan to organize the photo camp in other dzonkhags to trains others and get new perspective but budget and resources are main challenges according to the executive director.
An independent photographer, writer and explorer of National Geography, Arati Kumar Rao from India who was instructor of the photo camp said that she got immense satisfaction as the participants were humble, interested and mindful. She noted that participants were confident in going out getting stories towards the end despite being tentative, shy and hesitant in the beginning. She said, “There is sea change in photography and need continuous practice.”
The director and founder of National Geographic Photo Camp, Kirsten Elstner instructor from United States said that the objective of this photo camp was to hear interesting stories of young people in Bhutan through their perspective. She said, “It was striking to find that all are willing to learn and showing the pride of the country.” The instructor commented that the scale of photography has gone up knowing how to take a good photo than series of photos. She suggested to do stories in depth.
A male instructor from France who is a photographer, Matthieu Paley shared his observation from the training saying there was unity among the participants supporting each other which could be because of the size and the unity of the country beside there was nothing much to deal with logistics. He said, “Critics can help to understand the basic, staying outside the story to open and push door to go deeper and it was seen in the participants as a result of training.” He said that he hopes the participants will go forward with photography and advised not to get tempted by social media to create reality which doesn’t exist but tell true story from photography.
One of the staff from the National Geographic and coordinator of the photo camp, Jessica Elfadl said it was honor to come to Bhutan to empower the certain communities to help to have knowledge to tell stories, not other people coming and teling stories. She said, “The trainers have given the tools and should feel empowered to grab any opportunity that makes them happy.”
Sangay Dema 22, one of the participants said that she just had basic knowledge of what photograph was before the training, but now she knows some technical part and storytelling. She said, “Through this training, my third eye is opened and will continue to take good photographs.”
Recent graduate from Royal Thimphu College, Jigme Namgyal shared his experience to become a good photographer is not easy. “Yet, I learned most important aspect of photography story telling and will try to share in different platform.” He hopes it will inspire the society.
Tshering from Chithuen Phendhey Organization also shared his satisfaction in getting good knowledge of photography. He said, “I have been taking lot of photos before and those were not good. But now I know how to take photos, how to post and tell stories” He hopes that with the knowledge he acquired from the training will help in advocating his nongovernmental organization. His message to society is to take part in such training to accrue knowledge.
The six-day photo camp concluded with photo exhibition. It was organized by BCMD with support from Bhutan Foundation and few other Non-Government Organizations
By Sangay Rabten