Take Three Participants Bring New Perspectives to Black Aesthetics in Photography - Nia Centre for the Arts

Take Three Participants Bring New Perspectives to Black Aesthetics in Photography

By Nia Centre, p
Posted on August 15, 2022

In an age where most young people have access to cameras through their cell phones, photography has become an increasingly accessible medium for young Black people to share their stories with the world. At Nia Centre, our photography programs are some of our most sought after workshops. Each year, we are able to provide young people with the opportunity to experiment with camera techniques and storytelling methods and in each program, we see youth find unique ways to express who they are.

In July, we presented the Take Three “Community” exhibition, which highlighted the work of 10 emerging photographers from our annual Take Three photography program. Sponsored by Adidas and facilitated by seasoned photographers Ebti Nabag and Nyaomi, the nine-week program encouraged participants to explore ‘Black aesthetics in photography’. Through a combination of educational workshops, on-the ground street photography walks and personal research: these young people learned technical skills and honed in on their own unique styles.

At the Centre, we emphasize that art is about building a legacy. It’s also about understanding the legacy on which we already stand. The program encouraged photographers to explore the history of Black photography and aesthetics as a way to ground themselves creatively. Through their guided workshops, participants built an understanding of how Black aesthetics and narratives continue to change over time is the key to telling our stories authentically. In prioritizing the Black imagination, we encourage participants to challenge stereotypes and put forward ideas about what their futures could look like. 

Ebti Nabag, who has maintained a relationship with the Nia Centre since joining the photography programs in her youth, believes that the best way to engage students is by teaching them about what is relevant to their own personal lives. Coming in to really hone in on the technical aspect of the program, Nabag explained that each Take Three session focused on a different aspect of the photographic process and included lessons on how to operate a DSLR camera, how to compose an image, how to develop a story, and the post-production and editing process. Through her guidance, the sessions aimed to help participants hone in on their technical and communication skills while providing them with a space to tell their authentic stories. 

Due to the high interest, the program ran in two cohorts. In both groups, each facilitator invited a professional photographer to speak to the participants and share elements of their journey. Nyaomi, who is interested in repressed human experiences and introducing people to new ways of thinking, invited Wade Hudson, a portrait photographer interested in documenting visceral human emotions. Throughout the program, she guided participants through understanding the relationship between photography and emotion.

Crowd enjoying the 'Community' Exhibition

Providing an environment in which young people can explore the depths of their creativity in a safe, community centric space is the core of our work at the Centre. Shaza Tariq, a Take Three participant, told us that the program encouraged the students to form a community within themselves. “Everyone in class was really supportive, encouraging, and looked out for each other. We all came with a lot of ideas and learnt about ourselves and our art through the course of the program,” said Shaza. “The students were eager to help themselves out and would often assist or model for each other's projects”.

As a young artist creating in the age of social media, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and forget that art is a constant learning process. Shaza praised the workshop-eque nature of this program as it allowed someone like her who can be too hard on themselves to let loose and experiment without consequences. During the program, she learnt that the way we see the world will inevitably change over time and that realization allowed them to embrace the beauty in fluidity.

The students developed bonds that are bigger than the program and so it’s no surprise that when asked, they decided to name their exhibition “Community”.

Check out the photos from the exhibition below!



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