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  • My names is James and I am a photographer and sailor. Earlier this year I was in Haiti shooting for an innovative new startup called Commogri, who are currently building a social media platform for philanthropy. During that shoot I was given the opportunity to teach some villagers about photography. We had some spare point-and-shoot cameras so armed with them and a basketball, I taught some fundamentals of shooting people. Three steps. First, know where the light is. For that I had one of the kids hold the basketball which was the "sun", and as he moved around the others told me what impact that would have on the subject. Second, think about where you put the person in the frame. I touched on the thirds principle without saying as much. Third, think about your position compared to the subject. For that I had them shoot up (to show power) and down (to show meekness).

    The thing is, this was the most satisfying photography class I have ever taken.

    I had a grannie accidentally take a selfie thinking she was shooting her granddaughter. This was the first time she had ever held a camera. Starting with the grannie, everyone cracked up with laughter. I had one young guy really fascinated and later obsessed, reminding me of the feeling the first time dad asked me to shoot his Pentax SLR in the church yard when I was seven. It was all there.

    I wandered what I could do to expand this. The first thought was to put the word out in the west, ask for the old point-and-shoot cameras that lie on shelves around the country yet don't get thrown out because we don't have the heart to. Then to give them to these poor communities, starting with Haiti. But then what I noticed when in Haiti is that this sort of well-intentioned charity can have negative consequences. We don't value what we are given for free.

    To cut a long story short, the idea manifested into Tribe Photo. Tribe Photo will be a camera rental service, where we will work with a partner in a village who is the Tribe Photo store. We will put the price of a camera to hire at the same rate as the cost of a ticket to the local cinema. In Haiti this is about 10c. This partner will rent cameras to villagers and Tribe Photo will provide free training in the form of online (where possible) or videos on USB sticks. Tribe Photo will also provide a platform where these budding photographers, once they have achieved enough badges (through training), will be able to upload a certain amount of images per week to sell. We will set the non-commercial price at $1 per image. The photographer will get half, the local Tribe Photo store a quarter and Tribe Photo a quarter. Tribe Photo uses this to cover costs and keep reinvesting.

    We will kick off our crowdfunding campaign this Thursday in a bid to make this idea a reality. Go to if you would like to learn more.

    Thanks for reading!
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