"using my photographic skills and talent ... to make a positive contribution to the lives of former street kids”
I was shot in Joburg started off as a community project in June 2009. The idea that started it all: "What I would like to propose for the project is using my photographic skills and talent and give of my time and resources to make a positive contribution to and enrich the lives of kids who might otherwise not have had the exposure nor the opportunity to develop their own photographic skills and talent. Teaching and enabling them to see the world through different eyes. Teaching them to look, to see, to compose, to capture what it is they see in a such a way that they can be proud of it."
I worked with a group of 15 students from Twilight Children, a shelter for street children in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. We met once a week on a Monday afternoon for a workshop. They will learn a new skill. We learned a new skill using disposable cameras. We learnt how to search for beauty, composition and interesting subject matter where we thought there were none.
In December of 2009 we had our first exhibition at Arts on Main, in the Maboneng District in down town Johannesburg. All nerves shattered as I introduced the guys to the guests who burst into applause after each photographer I introduced.
"I've got it. I'm going to call it: I was shot in Joburg"
They thought they were rock stars – still do if you ask me. Sandile, one of the students made a speech.
The kids mingled and chatted and explained their work like they have been doing this for their whole lives. They had a voice. I wanted to create an evening these children will never forget for as long as they live. It was a great success. Perceptions were challenged that night.
The guys and myself wanted to carry on with the project. But the question immediately arose: How does one make this sustainable. How do I find time to spend on a project that is consuming my life? I woke up one morning and I remember phoning my sister saying: "I've got it. I'm going to call it: I was shot in Joburg". I believed that if I brand it relevant, conceptual and slightly controversial that it will take off. It did. It has now been 4 years and we are going strong.