Through our Camera Amnesty Projects, Shutter Hub has been providing equipment and support to Sirkhane Darkroom in Turkey, enabling them to work with more young photographers, and give those young people a platform to showcase the way they see their world.
Sirkhane Darkroom is a mobile darkroom which travels from village to village teaching groups of 15-20 children how to shoot, develop, and print their own photographs. Led by Serbest Salih, a young photographer and Syrian refugee, the darkroom is founded on a fundamental belief in photography as a universal and therapeutic language, and encourages children living in the area — many of whom are themselves refugees — to experiment with the medium as both a form of play and a means of understanding the world around them.
This online exhibition features images created by young refugees (aged 7-17) from Iran, Iraq and Syria, who are learning and developing their photographic skills through their participation in the Sirkhane Darkroom project.
Serbest Salih, Director of Sirkhane Darkroom, tells us more…
Shutter Hub and Camera Amnesty Projects has helped Sirkhane Darkroom by helping us to raise young peoples’ voices and donating photography equipments to continue our journey to reach most needed children on the Turkish and Syrian border.
The idea of the project is to use photography and language to let children express themselves and the project is about the participation of children. Nowadays, adults always speak on behalf of children so in this project we want children to speak for themselves.
I’m from Kobani, a small town on the Syrian and Turkish border. At the beginning of the Syrian crisis there were displaced people from many cities coming to Aleppo. The day I got a chance to meet them is when my passion for photography started growing, and I started studying photography at Aleppo university. After my graduation, I came back to my hometown and ISIS started to come closer to Kobani. 3 months later, ISIS entered the town and began to attack civilians, so I had to come to Turkey. I started to work as a photographer with local and international NGOs in Turkey such as Welthungerhilfe humanitarian organization.
Sirkhane Darkroom was founded in 2017 under Sirkhane Social Circus School. The goal of the project was to let children participate in photography and express themselves via photography. The children really are the team that make the project and the workshops work so well. Since 2017, we have reached around 600 children. They are Syrian, Iraqi, Turkish, Kurdish local and refugee children, aged 7 to 17.
The reason for choosing analogue/film photography is because it has therapeutic benefits. With digital photography, at the beginning of the project, when they took a photo they would delete the photo immediately, due to a lack of self-confidence. But with analogue photography, when the children participate in the workshop, they are learning the skill of film photography and building their self-confidence. With this, at the end of a project, we develop the film together so that they can see the results of their photography – it really boosts their self-confidence and makes them happy. Photography is a very powerful language for them to be able to express themselves. During the workshops, the children are also given educational lectures on topics such as children’s rights, bullying, child marriage and child labour.
We continue our travelling darkroom workshops using a caravan, making it very easy to move from place to place. It’s amazing because we are able to travel to places where children are forced to grow up very fast, so being able to bring this project to them allows a new road for these children and helps them realise that they have a right to access culture workshops.
The children then take their cameras home for two weeks before returning to the workshops, where I then show them how to develop their own film and scan the negatives together. We talk about their resulting images and the children select their favourite images.
Camera Amnesty Projects delivers high quality projects across the UK and around the world, working with people who are affected by a number of difficult situations including homelessness, displacement and social injustices. Through the Camera Amnesty Projects we help deliver hands on workshops, exhibitions and print projects, enabling participants to express their ideas and creativity. We work hard to build confidence, develop transferable skills, and empower people to use photography to tell their own stories, creating outcomes that benefit them and the wider community.
Find out more about Camera Amnesty Projects here.
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