Picture Justice is dedicated to equipping the next generation of social justice inspired storytellers. Throughout the two-week program, a varied group of high school students is learning to use photography and writing to inspire dialogue about the divisive social issues of our time, that affect life here in New York City.
This year, the program is focused on mass incarceration.
During the second week of the program, the Picture Justice team worked to weave together stories of mass incarceration.
Throughout Picture Justice, the students heard the stories of individuals dedicated to promoting fairer justice systems. On Day 6, the team traveled to Vera: Institute of Justice, where students spoke with a group of advocates about their efforts to promote reform.
“I think that while I was really interested and engaged by the stories, I was surprised at how much the policy makers and lawyers inspired me as well,” wrote one student, “I think that many of those people are equally as inspirational and this was a really exciting part of the program for me.”
On Day 7, the students met with Michael Kirby Smith, a New York Times photojournalist who specializes in documentary and portrait photography. He showed the students how to tell stories and capture setting through images.
Michael explained to the students the importance of connecting with one’s subjects, in order to make them more comfortable and to inspire more interesting photos. “Photography has helped me to connect with people we’ve been hearing from,” said Kamil, a participant.
The group traveled to Hour Children, a non-profit dedicated to helping incarcerated and formerly incarcerated mothers and their children. Picture Justice listened to the women’s stories, and took their portraits.
A group of Picture Justice participants visited Good Shepherd, an organization which serves as an alternative to incarceration and provides mentors to youth at risk of incarceration. Another group visited the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan public policy and law institute.
Picture Justice also visited Fortune Society in Queens, where they spoke with men about their experiences in the justice system.
The group planned the framework for an exhibit about mass incarceration, which they will share with their fellow students. Human Rights Educator Abby MacPhail guided the participants as they considered the messages they intended to convey through their project.
With the help of PROOF Executive Director and longtime photography editor Leora Kahn, the group selected images that they believe tell part of the story of mass incarceration.
The team came together to reflect on what they had learned, and on what they planned to do next.
“I’m excited about all of these organizations. I’m thinking about volunteer opportunities, and where I see myself in the future. I’m starting to see myself at some of these places,” said Eva, a Picture Justice participant.