PHOTO IS:RAEL’s Social Outreach Through the Language of Photography


PHOTO IS:RAEL’s social outreach program is based on the belief that every individual in society has a right to represent themselves and their surroundings and to send a direct, unmediated message to the world.
Since 2015, over 5,000 people, old and young, from over 150 communities across Israel, have participated in our social outreach programs with the aim of sounding their voice through the language of photography.

Most participants come from marginalized communities in our society – sober addicts, people with disabilities, at-risk women and youth, minority youth, the elderly, youth on the autism spectrum and more. By photographing themselves, they craft a direct message of the individual and the community. Throughout the program, participants learn the language of photography, try their hand at documenting their lives and experience through photography and ultimately show their work in an exhibition which presents their social message to the public.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its numerous waves, this past year was rife with instability and affected the personal safety of many. We at PHOTO IS:RAEL did everything possible to return to in-person meetings as much as we could. This year, we were also pleased to join with several new partner organizations: Hillel – The Right to Choose, the Israel Association of Community Centers, Centers for

Creative Rehabilitation, the Beersheba Municipality and more. The Photography Festival’s tour of various cities across Israel has also happily brought about collaborations in cities like Arad, Hatzor HaGlilit, Kfar Yona, Mitzpe Ramon and Rahat.
The use of photography as a tool for sounding a voice and promoting social change is a well-known practice, but the past few years have seen the Photovoice method become a cornerstone of this field. Developed by American researchers Caroline Wang and Mary Ann Burris,

Photovoice has become synonymous with the practice of “participatory photography”. Rather than having photographers come into a community in order to document its weaknesses, this process allows the community to document itself, empowering it to craft its own representation.

Our social outreach is largely based on volunteer instructors who have undergone a thorough, 3-months training process to prepare them to work in collaboration with our communities. Together, they engage in hands-on photography and express their own lives and experiences. While the products of this process are used to promote discourse within the community, the highlight of the program also includes their exhibition at the International Photography Festival alongside the works of first-rate photographers and artists from across the world.

We are very grateful to all our wonderful partners: The instructors who dedicate their time and effort, the communities that welcome our work, the staff, families and support systems, the organizations and the donors who make our activities and annual exhibition possible. Above all, we thank our brave participants for letting us into their lives.

Amir Dori – Director of Social Outreach

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