What is participatory photography, also known as "photovoice"?
Photovoice is a qualitative research method used for group analysis that combines photography with grassroots social action. It is grouped into the category of "participatory action research (PAR) and is commonly used in the fields of social sciences, public health, disability services, and education fields. This is an invaluable tool for community-led development projects because it allows the participants to speak for themselves rather than be spoken for. Participants are asked to represent their communities and express their unique perspectives by photographing scenes that highlight specific concepts or themes significant to the photographer. As the individual photographs culminate into one larger story about the community in focus, clear narratives emerge that are used to deepen one's understanding about the community and determine how to best address community needs.
Why did you choose to use black and white traditional film instead of digital photography?
This choice was made intentionally by the Project Director Louise Contino for the following reasons: 1.) There is no electricity in Wanteete, which would make charging the batteries of digital cameras and uploading photos very difficult. 2.) There are elements of magic, suspense and delayed gratification in film photography that are arguably not present in digital photography. These elements add a feeling of mystery and impose limitations (i.e. number of exposures, margins for error) that inspire bigger creative sparks to fly off in the minds of people new to photography. 3.) Black and white film, unlike color film, can be easily and safely hand-processed on location in a remote area such as Wanteete. 4.) Black and white images are more easily digested than color images, which can create disharmony and busy chaos when culminated together. Since there were so many different photographers involved in the making of the project, black and white film was used to give the final collection a more continuous narrative arc and connected feel. 5.) Manual film photography requires more discipline and focus to create successful images, which leads to stronger image making overall.
How and where was the film processed?
The film was entirely hand-processed in Uganda in a variety of locations using equipment and powdered chemistry that was brought to Uganda by the Project Director Louise Contino and her lovely assistant Bruno Feder from Brazil. All equipment used in the project was generously donated by the Film Photography Project. Chemistry was mixed in large liquid batches and carried around from site to site in plastic jerry cans. No darkroom was required for film processing. Rather, light-proof changing bags and light-proof developing tanks were used, which allowed us to develop film literally anywhere with access to a water pump. To learn more about how film is developed, visit this page on photographic processing.
Who developed all the pictures?
Although the WPC members did participate in a workshop on developing their own film (visit the Behind The Scenes photo album for documentation of this awesome day), for the most part all the film was developed by Louise Contino. This was done primarily in an effort to budget time so that the WPC members were not drained during the making of Picturing Wanteete. The workshop and critique aspect of this project already required a huge time commitment from participants, who primarily work long hours as subsistence farmers, and it was too much of a time strain to ask them to develop their own film additionally. The final prints featured in The Collection are the result of digitally scanned negatives that were adjusted in Photoshop and printed on an Epson Inkjet Printer to create Archival Pigment Prints. This final production stage was done by Louise Contino at her studio at the International Center of Photography in New York City, USA.
How were the WPC collective members selected to participate?
This was done through an invitation process initiated by the community's local grassroots organization BESO Foundation. The Project Director, Louise Contino, gave the BESO Foundation team a list of different identities, ages and community roles that she wanted to see represented in the Wanteete Photo Collective, and then turned to the local experts at BESO Foundation to nominate different people to fulfill each demographic category. The intention was to cast a wide net and establish a collective that represented a diverse array of community members from age, gender and ethnicity to occupation, community involvement and personality.
How can I help?
If you purchase a print by the Wanteete Photo Collective or Louise Contino the money goes directly back to the WPC members. You can do this by visiting the Print Shop section of this site. If you'd like to make a tax deductible contribution to one of our 501c3 partners, Spark MicroGrants or BESO Foundation, you can do so by clicking on the donate buttons on the Project Partners page. If you are interested in direct volunteer involvement in Wanteete, Uganda or have another idea or suggestion, send us an email on the Contact Us page.
What language is spoken in Wanteete?
This is a tough question to answer! There is no singular language definitively spoken in Wanteete. Uganda is a multilingual country, with 42 internationally recognized indigenous languages spoken-- primarily falling into three main families: Bantu, Nilolitic, and Central Sudanic. English is also heavily spoken by the educated population because Uganda was a British protectorate state during the colonial occupation era. Most people in the WPC and their surrounding community speak a Bantu-based language called Luganda, which is the official language of the Baganda people, the main ethnic group living in Wanteete. Leaders, teachers and other educated peoples in Wanteete also speak English and several local languages fluently, which alleviated translation issues greatly during the project.
Where in the world is Wanteete?
Wanteete is a rural community of about 1,000 people located in the Kayunga District, Bugerere County, in the Baganda Kingdom of South Central Uganda in East Africa. It is about a two hours drive from the country's capital and major city, Kampala. Wanteete lies just west of the Nile River.