Snapshot Project Rio De Janiero was led by the talented Scott Bennett, a Spanish professor and photographer from San Diego, CA. His vision for this 100cameras Snapshot Project was to see local youth learn photography and engage in creative expression as a means to grow both personally and professionally in the neighborhood of Morro da Providência, a favela in Rio. Scott has a deep passion for photography, teaching, and Brazilian culture as he lived and worked in Brazil as a volunteer for extended periods of time. Prior to leading a Snapshot, Scott already spent time in the Providência neighborhood in Rio, and was excited to give back to the community through this project.

We are excited to take you through this Snapshot Project experience through the writings and updates that Scott shared with his friends, family, colleagues, and supporters throughout the project. Thank you, Scott, for sharing your talent and experience!

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It was our first class meeting for the 100cameras Snapshot Project in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This collaboration between 100cameras and French artist JR’s nonprofit CoFondation will be a month-long course on photography and storytelling that gives the youth involved a chance to give back to their own community through creative expression. Today, we learned about the 100cameras model and how the group is now connected with other students around the world. We also learned about camera basics, and what it means to have a personal voice in creative expression. We then went out to do a “Photo Scavenger Hunt” to start taking photos. It was wonderful to see the group start taking photos and exploring the neighborhood in search of the items on their list. The students will be taking more photos over the next few days, and they have a written assignment for their journals as well. 

During our second class meeting, we reviewed the prior lesson and then also learned about composition basics, such as telling a story in the frame, point of view, leading lines, vanishing point, having a clear subject, symmetry and patterns, the rule of thirds etc. We looked at some examples of master photographers and discussed some of the techniques. We then went out to do a “Photo Scavenger Hunt” to take photos and practice with some of the composition techniques we learned in class. It was wonderful to see the group taking photos and exploring the neighborhood in search of the items on their list. The students will be taking more photos over the next few days, and they have a written assignment for their journals as well. There was much more content in our second class, so it is really stretching the students’ minds some! 

Our third class for the 100cameras Snapshot Project in Rio was a success! We reviewed some composition techniques, and we are now learning about framing, emotion, exposure, motion, and telling a story with photos. I have been impressed with the improvement in photos in only three classes, and I’m sure that the students will continue to get better as they practice and learn. At first they were very interested in checking out the cameras, and taking a few photos…but now they are actually thinking about the photo that they want to make before doing it!  

Our fifth class meeting for the @100cameras Snapshot Project in Rio was a bit different! My friend Malvina Sosnovsky is a professional musician from Switzerland who plays the violin (she did some volunteer work with kids while she was in Brazil as well). She did a mini concert for my photo class, and they were simply amazed! I asked her to come share her talents so that my photo students could hear her music and also get inspired to take photos. The joy on the kids faces was nothing less than incredible…a bit of amazement and laughter together with, wow! After, our group went out on a field trip to take photos at Praça Mauá and around the port of Rio. I am looking forward to seeing the shots from the group!

Our sixth and seventh class focused on taking portraits and shooting photos of other people in the community! We also spent time going through all of the photos that the group has taken up to this point in order to do a quick edit for the upcoming exhibition at Casa Amarela. It was great to see how far the group has come since the very first day (and how many photos they had to choose from for the edit). We will eventually get the very best photos for the exhibition, but this first step was a collaborative process in just choosing photos that would make the first cut. It was great seeing them praise and say no to both their own photos and the other members of the class. Having the students be aware that some of the photos they choose will eventually be sold on the website and the funds raised will go directly to their own community is an empowering thought! I really loved it when they said…that photo is great, but I don’t think anyone would buy it! It just shows how much their critical eye has grown over the past month!

Upon completion of the course, we had the final exhibition for the 100cameras Snapshot Project class. After curating, editing and printing the 26 photos for the exhibit, the preparations were under way! First, the smaller children participated in the exhibit by making custom painted and glittered clips to hang the photos, and they also made some beautiful invitations for the people in the community of Morro da Providência in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. For the exhibit, we decided to hang the photos on a string with clips. After cleaning and preparing the room, we also had music and some food for the celebration.

The best part of the exhibition was having each student from the 100cameras class sign their photos and then hang them. I told them that since they are artists, an artist needs to sign the work that they do. For most of them, this was the first time that they experienced such an event. Not only did we share the photos with the community, listen to music, and eat some wonderful food, the participants also received a certificate stating that they finished the 100cameras Snapshot Project. Everyone had a great time, and the students were very proud of their work…as they should be! Thanks again to all of the supporters who helped make this happen, and also to everyone at Casa Amarela who prepared the exhibit. Art is not only necessary to grow creatively and intellectually, but it also is just good for the soul to see photos by members of the neighborhood share their perspective and reality for everyone to see! Congratulations!