East Africa photo project ready for the off…

Shortly I’ll be returning to East Africa, flying into Kigali and travelling across the border into Southwest Uganda, bags packed with a couple of shirts, sleeping bag, tent but mainly occupied with dozens of 35mm & digital cameras, along with plenty of film and a few other goodies.

After discovering this amazing little school last year, I had intentions to return at some point, wanting to do something special with the children, something they perhaps hadn’t experienced and could really embrace. Around August, while hosting a travel exhibition of my recent work I came up with the idea of returning to the school, taking cameras and teaching the children how to take photos and letting them have their own cameras to photograph their life, the community etc.

The greatest gift we can give is often time and I wanted to do something using my expertise. I remember a photographer coming into my old school (when I was about 11) and teaching us photography; it had a huge impact on me and arguably was the starting block for my career choice.

Following the exhibition, donations of camera equipment and materials started to flow in, the project gained some momentum. It seems the idea really captivated the imagination of people.
Staying at the school, I will be providing some teaching assistance, providing around 25-30 of the older children with 35mm cameras and film and letting them run free with their imagination. The films will then be developed in the local town, the kids will get to keep the photographs they have taken and when I eventually return to the UK I’ll be holding an exhibition of their work, alongside an eclectic mix of my images from the local community.

Although the children have very little and with many of them being orphans, I hope this project may impact on their lives to some degree. The photographs aren’t designed to show poverty, rather the spirit, loving community and above all else human dignity.
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About Julian Claxton

My passion for photography is supported by experiences gained on exciting travel adventures and through working for fantastic photographers. In 2006, I made the exciting step of realising my dream of becoming a freelance photographer. Since this pivotal moment, I have held numerous exhibitions, been featured nationally & internationally in print and won numerous awards, including being a finalist in the National Geographic Photographic competition in 2013 with one of my documentary images from the Sudan. From an early age I began to enjoy taking pictures of my daily life, basking in the thrill of sending the film to the printers and eagerly awaiting the pocket sized prints. My first foray into the world developing and printing strangely began at school when I was asked to produce a descriptive photo for the school newspaper. A front page shot later and I was destined to start the long arduous journey of becoming a photographer. In between exciting travel adventures and working for fantastic photographers, I graduated from college and at a crossroads in my journey to becoming a pro photographer, I embarked on a career working as a medical photographer. Learning new skills and dabbling in video production as well as progressing design skills, I yearned for the challenge and freedom of becoming a freelance. I have been fortunate enough to work on some amazing assignments which have included shooting a documentary assignment with an air ambulance, gaining full access to a British Pro cycling team during an international UCI tour, cycling to Rwanda and creating a photographic documentary of my journey. The experiences continue to grow, meeting wonderful people to photograph and telling the story of their journey. The list of events and striking moments that have played out through my viewfinder continue to grow and provide me with ever increasing snapshots of life to capture. One of the highlights of my career thus far has been staying in rural Uganda, teaching photography to the kids from the region, in a project I set up in late 2014, entitled ‘Give a child a camera’. The basis of the project is to supply 35mm cameras and film to the rural schools in this region of East Africa, teaching the children how to shoot photographs. After a week of taking photos of their life, an exhibition is held at the school and the children leave with their very own album, camera and film. One of the images I shot at Eden school in rural Uganda, during morning chapel won the 2015 Travel Media Tourism and Photography award. A great honour and one that I wouldn’t have picked up had it not been for the wonderful children of East Africa. For further information please visit www.julianclaxtonphotography.com
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