Amina Mohamed, founded Cameras For Girls to change the lives of girls and women in Uganda, through the power of photography.
PHOTOGRAPHY TRAINING THAT CHANGES LIVES
I survive these days, remembering my first training that took place in August 2018. I first came up with the idea back in August 2017. At that time, I left a 15-year career in film and television and had embarked on a new career as a mortgage broker. I was a very successful mortgage broker, and I had even won a few awards, but I was not satisfied as the call of photography kept beckoning to me. However, I was not prepared to leave my well-paying job to just take photos for a living. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that, and in fact, I do that with my other business Amina Mohamed Photography. On a personal level, leaving a well-paying job had to mean I was changing lives through the power of photography.
Amina helping Hafitha with her camera at the Cameras For Girls workshop in Kampala, Uganda – Photography @DanielMoxie0
The first training in Uganda was tough for a few reasons, but it was also rewarding. The challenging part came from trying to teach 15 young women photography while at the same time trying to ingratiate myself to them. Coming from different cultures, even though I am from Uganda originally, was very difficult as I tend to speak very quickly and use my hands a lot to express myself, and they were not used to that, having learned under the British education system.
It was not until the last day of the 3-day training that some of them finally felt comfortable asking questions about the training material. Furthermore, they were hesitant to share as they were a bit afraid of what was to come; learning a new skill and operating a camera they had never touched before.
Suffice it to say that this was also a learning experience for me, and I had to change my teaching way to help them progress through the material.
WE TEACH MORE THAN THE BASICS OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN OUR CAMERAS FOR GIRLS PROGRAM
Over the three days of training, I ran through basics, such as holding a camera, operating the various buttons on the camera (each camera being different), and working with the exposure triangle – aperture, shutter, and ISO. I also covered composition and perspective. I also covered tips on succeeding in journalism, telling a story using the power of photography, and embarking on a career in journalism.
The girls had ample time to practice on daily photo walks, and as most if not all had never held a camera before, it is pretty amazing to see their progress in a short amount of time.
Some of the girls attended the training with a real purpose in mind. Joanita Nakatte, was that one girl. She sat ramrod straight in the front row every day, and I could tell from her concentrated look and the copious notes she was taking that she was there to fulfill a purpose, which was to get a full-time paid job.
Amina discussing a students images at the CFG workshop in Kampala, Uganda – Photography @DanielMoxie0
WE HELP OUR GIRLS FIND PAID WORK AS JOURNALISTS
In Uganda, as is true in many developing nations, and unlike North America, you are not provided with the tools to do your job. You not only must own a camera, but you must be proficient at using it to accompany the stories you are writing. Joanita had a job at a media house when she took the training, but unbeknownst to me, she was not getting paid or published due to the aforementioned reasons.
Two weeks after we concluded the training and after I returned to Canada, Joanita implored her editor that she could now take photos with her articles. She was immediately put on full-time payroll and is currently paid and published a minimum of four times per week. She continues to extend her abilities both creatively and work-wise, and she was recently able to upgrade the camera I gave her to a brand new DSLR. The pride for her came from the fact that she could earn the camera by herself.
We had fifteen young women take the training in August 2018, and 17 take the training in June 2019. Unfortunately, COVID stopped us from proceeding with our training in August 2020. To date, we have taught 32 girls in person and 3 others strictly online and are proud to share that eleven have full-time jobs with two more pending.
Joanita setting up her camera at the Cameras For Girls workshop, Kampala, Uganda – Photography @DanielMoxie0
Many of the girls use the cameras donated to them to progress themselves out of poverty and into full-time paid work. Through our year-long training, which happens immediately after my return to Canada, I teach using zoom meetings, video tutorials, online reviews, and monthly assignments. I can see that many of the girls are getting better and better with their photography, which makes all the work behind the scenes more valuable and essential.
As our Cameras For Girls program grows, and we become a charity hopefully later this year, I look forward to celebrating more success stories with you, such as Sharon Kyatusiimire, who is using the training to help other young women tell their stories.
Keep posted for more great stories and news about our upcoming trip to Uganda in August 2021, hopefully once it is safe to travel.
We hope our parent company Triple F Photo Tours, will resume their photo tour this year so that we can teach photography to the next cohort of girls, which will enable them to get paid work as journalists.