Today I have been offering a mini photographic studio space to a group of women, mainly from Eritrea (Africa). Every Monday, they come to St Paul's Church and leave their children at the Nursery for a couple of hours to study English and do some other activities. I shared the workshop with my friend Mirela Bistran who was showing them how to make some cake decorations.

I had planned a "high tech" interactive installation, for them to be able to see themselves in a TV monitor while taking the pictures. I wanted to offer them a private space to take self-portraits while having control over their own poses. Something similar to my own self-portraits in mirrors. The main idea for me here was of "self-empowerment" : giving them the intimacy of a space and time where to feel confident enough to choose poses and select the images of themselves that they prefered.

One side of the installation, the other being a tripod with the photo camera.

The technical side of the installation was actually a bit ambtious for a first workshop and I ended up in the photographer's role. However, the idea of an enclosed and private space prooved to be necessary as some needed their friends not to be watching them.

It was the first time that I was in the role of a photographer with model. It was a bit intimidating for them and for me and they were a bit shy at the beginning. They were chosing their poses and I was turning around them, taking the pictures. Then we had a look at them together and they deleted a couple. I was very pleased with their reactions : they seemed to be surprised of the results, in a very positive way ! as if surprised to see themselves beautiful ! It was very rewarding.

It is not often that we get to be given beautiful images of ourselves and that was the point of this workshop for me ....


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