They took a picture of mine in front of the wall!
You shall know me on the white paper”
We started to take the notes of the journey with a month’s delay. This will be a sort of diary. Every day, we will write down which activities we do with whom into this notebook. Of course, those who wish to add their feelings might do as they please. This study was realised on the last days of September. The photography project, thought of separately by Enfants du Monde (Children of the World) and Dayanışma Gönüllüleri (Volunteers for Solidarity), was started one afternoon in a tent overlooking the tent city when the shared idea of these two groups was expressed.
The former ammunition barrack No. 4 was going to be converted into a darkroom. We immediately started to work. The roof, door and windows had to be covered. Corpse bags were the most suitable materials we had in hand. They were of no use any more, so we took them.
We built tables from the separation boards of the tents, and electric cables were laid. While the restoration of the darkroom was going on, we decided to drive the photography circles in İstanbul into action. By the end of the first week, the basics of a darkroom were established with the 5 agrandiseurs, bathing tubs and tongs. Besides this donated equipment, we went to İstanbul and bought the things we lacked. On the first days of October, the darkroom was ready for use. In the following days, Fuji Film supported the project with 15 instematic apparatuses and numerous films.
We started with our first lesson on October 5, 1999. There was a tremendous interest. The capability and talent of the children were amazing. Such a start excited us a lot.
The photography workshop has been continuing with varying degrees of participation. Within this period we have made significant progress with about 15 children. These kids are quite in control of the camera and the darkroom. They are familiar with bathing films and printing cards in both theory and practice.
In line with the results from the experience we had had in the first month, we developed the following course schedule and methodology:
INSTRUCTORS: Allaua, Özcan, Gökhan, Mehmet, Baha, Dora are participating in this study as instructors. Allaua and Gökhan are the permanent lecturers of this project. The instructors’ group is open to new participants.
WORKING DAYS AND HOURS: The photography workshop is open throughout the week. Classes are held between 10:00/12:00 and 14:00/18:00. However, the darkroom work sometimes exceeds the given hours.
1. Cameras and components
2. Introduction of the darkroom
6. Shooting Exercise
7. Shooting on a pre-specified topic (photo-reportage)
A board has been prepared for each of these courses. The instructor gives his lecture on these boards. Thereby, integrity between the subjects covered by different colleagues can be achieved. We make utmost efforts to follow the above-mentioned order of topics. However, minor changes can be made in the order according to the level of participants.
METHODOLOGY: We try to avoid plain technical information during the classes. We are trying to do our best to teach by entertaining them in the real application. Therefore, we want all our instructor friends to use and improve their creativity and ability. We try to establish an equal, honest, just and clear relationship with the participants.
We try to teach the participants to think in terms of photography apart from teaching them photography techniques. We encourage them to use their imagination and creativity in order to understand the nature, environment and life, and express them in the language of photography. For this end, we frequently ask them concrete questions about the general photography work, a photograph they have taken, or one they have chosen, and make them write down their opinions.
Each student is keeping a notebook. During the classes, they keep notes of the lectured topics in these notebooks. Besides, the opinions, projects mentioned above are also included there. Examining these notebooks, we can easily understand the level of any student.
2. STAGE: While the studies mentioned in the first stage continue, an exhibition and book project is going on as well. We organise regular slide shows.
THE EXHIBITION: We are planning to prepare an exhibition consisting of the works of the photography workshop participants by the end of 1999. We are also planning to open this exhibition in Cephanelik, İzmit, İstanbul and Paris.
THE BOOK: We have already started to prepare a book comprising the works of the workshop participants. This book will consist of the photographs taken by the children on topics they have chosen, of photograph scripts and impressions. Additionally, photographs depicting the photography project as a whole will take place in this book as well.
SLIDE SHOWS: We are planning to organise slide shows accompanied by the works of photography artists, photography experts, photo-correspondents and pedlar photographers together with panels to be presented to the workshop participants and residents of the tent city.
SOLUTIONS WE COULD AND COULD NOT FIND:
Within the first month, 60 children joined the photography workshop. However, we lost contact with almost half of these participants because of several reasons, such as the inauguration of schools, some families moving to other places, and the loss of the child’s interest.
The groups of which we had already planned the working days and hours did not work. The working schedule of the children formed on its own during the process. We started to work every day with some participants, and several times a week with others.
On some days, we had 15-20 kids in the workshop and made classes outside and inside grouping them according to their level. This situation we were in showed us that we needed at least two instructors at the workshop every day.
There were also days, on which we had no participants at all. Instead of sitting there and waiting, we found the kids we knew and called them one by one.
Even when we had only one student, we did not cancel the study and followed the program with him/her. We saw the benefit of these two methods. The uninterrupted program recovered soon, and received broad participation.
The distribution of the cameras to the children and their return caused turmoil and obstacles. We solved this problem by sticking stickers on the cameras with names and dates of return on them and preparing a schedule. A similar chaos was experienced in the separation of the films. This problem, on the other hand was solved by putting down names on the films, bags of the negatives and contact prints “immediately”.