Teaching documentary photography to the youth of Kliptown, South Africa

The Kliptown Photo Project is dedicated to creating opportunities for the high school students of Kliptown, South Africa, one of the oldest informal settlements in Soweto, where residents live with up to four generations of their families in one or two room shacks without electricity, running water or public services.

In July 2014 we went to Kliptown and worked with one American photographer and three young African photographers to run a week long photo workshop for 15 students. We believe that learning photography is a way to foster creativity and connection. We wanted our students to show us the world through their eyes and gain skills, confidence, and agency through the process.

We provided digital cameras for each student and worked with them in the classroom, the community, and the computer lab, teaching them everything from lighting and composition to how to photograph strangers and upload their photos to facebook. The students were hard working, enthused, and hungry for knowledge; it was an exciting and powerful week for all participants.

An exhibition of the photographs taken by the students and their teachers took place a month after the workshop at Mashumi Art Projects in Soweto and was a great critical success. The students were able to see their work in the gallery, which was an empowering and thrilling experience for them. Photos are also available for sale on this website.  Proceeds from the exhibition and sale of photographs will go to the Kliptown Youth Program to further their educational and arts programs in the community.

Browse through our store -- you can purchase photos taken by our students and instructors to help sustain the project or you can simply make a donation to sustain the project. 

Ulwimi ululodwa alonelanga, which is a Zulu phrase meaning, "One language is never enough."

We are currently raising funds to run a week-long workshop in Kliptown the first week of July, 2014. 

If you'd like to donate, check out our IndieGoGo Campaign here. 

What does your money pay for?

  • CAMERAS and EQUIPMENT.  We will be teaching 12 high school aged kids living in Kliptown. We are bringing the cameras that the students will use, as well as SD cards, flashdrives, USB connections, cases and other equipment necessary to teach the workshop. When the workshop is complete, the cameras will remain in Kliptown, to be used by our students and other students who are tutored at the Kliptown Youth Project. Your money is not a one time gift. Our greatest hope is that the project will become sustainable under the auspices of the staff of the KYP. One aim of our project is to train the students so that they can set up an on-line gallery to continue to document their lives and share their stories with the world.

  • LOCAL INSTRUCTORS.  We have four instructors who will be teaching the week-long seminar. Our lead instructor, Heather Mull, is donating her time and expertise. However, we feel strongly that our local photographers will provide an invaluable service to our students and should be paid for their time and work. The unemployment rate in South Africa hovers around 25% (among black South Africans, the unemployment rate is closer to 70%). We are honored to be able to employ three talented, dynamic photographers for the week. 
  • EXHIBITIONS IN SOWETO AND PITTSBURGH. We will be exhibiting photos taken by the students and our instructors during the workshops. Zanele Mashumi, director of Mashumi Art Projects in Soweto, South Africa, will be curating and hosting the Soweto Exhibit. The location of the Pittsburgh exhibit is in the works. Your donations will pay for the cost of printing the photographs (at both locations) and other costs to mount the exhibitions. 
  • MEALS FOR OUR STUDENTS.  For the week of our workshop, we will be providing both breakfast and lunch for our students. 

We have raised enough money to run the workshop, feed our kids, supply cameras and pay our South African photography instructors. What we need now is funding for our exhibitions. Our goal is $5,000.00 and our deadline is August 19, 2014.

What if we exceed our goal? That would be a nice problem to have. Any money above and beyond the goal will be turned over to the Kliptown Youth Program, so that they may continue their work in the community. 

Please help us bring cameras and education to Kliptown through our IndieGogo Campaign here.