Shoot4Change and Crowdphotography: creativity, social engagement and collective storytelling
I created S4C (acronym for Shoot4Change, www.shoot4change.eu) in the middle of 2009 just after the earthquake in L’Aquila, central Italy.
Born as a simple blog, it has taken on an international dimension and spirit, aggregating hidden creative minds on social networks, on the street, eventually transforming itself into a real movement.
Which, in the lazy world of photography, is a good news!
S4C is an international nonprofit social photographic volunteer association; a movement of volunteers, of people who want to go down the street to tell stories. Those small, sometimes tiny, stories that are rarely considered profitable by mainstream information. And that is why they are not made known, failing to trigger a process that could have a real impact on social change.
In a nutshell, S4C’s core business is to raise awareness on social issues, those stories that are undervalued, forgotten or ignored, of whom the world, silently, really brings about a positive change, creatively helping the sufferer. Those sparkles of Life even in the most dramatic situations.
S4C volunteers are not only photographers, but also video-makers, journalists, charters, designers, musicians. They all share the concept of “crowdphotography”.
Crowdphotography, a term coined by S4C, is a simple concept: Storytelling can be collective, democratic, and horizontal.
It is an extraordinary “social control” tool with which anyone can say ‘We, the People’ and tell a story, without waiting for others to do it in their place.
It is a quality citizen journalism, which not only refers to “facts” but tells stories. It imposes a reality observation at 0km with open eyes and loaded cameras. Creative visual communication at the service of social awareness.
Which is what Photography should be about, isn’t it?
We believe that by calling for a collective storytelling, or even an individual one, of social issues or just simply day to day Life, putting a camera, a cell phone or any other visual communication tool at work in synergy with the internet and the social media, this can trigger dynamics of real social change. But not a naïve, ideal, utopian change. A small individual change of the Storyteller him/herself, who – after telling (and reading) – a story can no longer say, “I did not know, I did not understand.”
The camera, then, becomes a powerful tool for self-reflection but also for analysis and observation of our society. Useful for those who hold it and for those on the other side of the lens.
Those who take a picture acquire awareness of the social reality in which they live, and those whose story is told relinquish their dignity and their own story with an act of trust that strengthens human ties.
In S4C we often say that getting into a story is easy for us. Coming out of it is very difficult.
So, S4C is a hub of stories and storytellers. Right.
But it’s also a platform of educational projects aiming to give opportunities to those who are in the outskirts of our societies: we constantly run photography/video making classes for free for those who cannot afford it. Homeless, refugees, asylum seekers…. We look for those amazing “hidden in plain sight” creatives whom are considered invisible.
Despite its social agenda, Shoot4Change will remain nonpolitical and totally independent.
We are planning to grow the movement, unearthing the next generation of storytellers to tell those untold stories and let people see beyond the headlines and look at real life through the lens.
But we need help. Our budget is next to zero (as it always has been, despite the amazing achievement of our volunteers).
We do not ask for financial help, nor any other help but a creative, enthusiastic, contagious support of new eyes and minds.
Because, as the African motto says “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.