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I wish I were here

Activity Studio photo done in collaboration with Studio Public.

A quick, fun way to create an interactive photography project, in which participants transport themselves to their chosen destination.

« I wish I were here »

  • Start with a brainstorming session. Ask: Where would you like to be right now? Participants work in pairs, taking turns to ask each other where they would like to be, and a mental image of that place. After a few minutes, ask them to share their answers with the group so they can start to get to know each other
  • Set up a green chroma key screen, ask participants take photographs of each other
  • Working on laptops, search the internet for images of the chosen destinations, to use as a background
  • With some quick, basic, post-production, participants can insert themselves into the background
  • Use a digital printer to print the results, and the postcards are complete
  • Discuss what the images make them feel, what they imagined Europe would be like, and how that compares with the reality

 » A reunión »

  • Participants magically “reunite” with family and friends. On their mobile phones, participants ask family and friends to send them a photo of themselves right now. Perhaps they are eating, driving, working, visiting…
  • Using the green screen, the refugees take a photograph of themselves.
  • The two photographs are “merged” so that the refugees are “reunited” with their loved ones.
  • Once the images are ready, participants can send the edited image back home. The images can be used to talk about how it feels to be separated, about loneliness, friendship, family, etc.

The exercises are fun and the results are fast and impressive. They introduce participants to the whole process of a participatory photography project, from planning and brainstorming to production and exhibition/circulation of the results.

The postcard format is a way of starting discussions about different kinds of images and different kinds of travel: tourism, migration, forced displacement etc. These postcard icebreakers are a non-intimidating way to start talking about their dreams and experiences, about how they see themselves, about loneliness and connection, etc.

The use of the green chroma key screen is a way of leaving the physical space where the workshop is held: like Aladdin’s magic carpet, it allows participants to travel to other times and places, a different space-time dimension. The use of the green screen is also linked to film and video industry productions, destigmatising the impersonal, objectified image of refugees presented by the media and photojournalism, and allowing people to recreate their own personal stories and identity.

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