In Search of Community

This post was originally written as part of a series of assignments for my Introduction to Social Media class at Algonquin College.

I’ve been thinking lately about community, and projects.

So much of this blog and other assignments for this course have been focused on photography, and looking at how to get myself back on track in the business of being a photographer. Mostly what I’ve been thinking about has been how to build back some of the momentum that I had previously before I moved away from Toronto, how to go about getting my name out into the world. It was in thinking about the Future Trends Discussion assignment that it kind of clicked for me.

In that assignment I mentioned how I thought that for brands to succeed on social media with younger audiences, they were actually going to have to start to think smaller and more focused, less like advertisers and more like members of a community. And I realized that the same goes for me: I need to find a way to connect with my current community. I need to find something perhaps a bit more meaningful to throw myself into. I need a project.

In 2014 I was still living in Toronto, and dating this woman who was a social worker. She worked for an organization that assisted newcomers and immigrant families in getting themselves settled in the city. Every year they held a festival in the park next to their centre that offered free food, games and entertainment, and much to my amusement and horror, she volunteered me to operate a photo booth that year. It was an incredibly hard and exhausting day — over the course of 3.5 hours, i shot 270 images of approximately 200 individual groups. It was also an incredibly fun day. I really found my groove interacting with the crowds, wrangling the children, telling jokes to keep everybody smiling. And despite the chaos of the day, I think I managed to grab some really great images. And I think it really added to my portfolio to be able to show great images, taken for a great cause, of such a diverse group of people.

Which is why, in 2015, I let her volunteer me to do it all again.

Selections from the 2014 Grange Festival Photobooth.
This is the layout I used to write about it on my Facebook page.
Selections from the 2015 Grange Festival Photobooth.

By 2016, however, we had moved away to Ottawa, and I lost the connection with that group and project. I don’t know all that many people in this city, and I don’t have any particular connection to a given community right now, so I’ve been at a bit of a loss as to how to proceed. I’ve been looking at other examples of these kind of projects for inspiration, events like Help-Portrait, or the 10×10 Project.

It also doesn’t help that portrait photography is a bit of a close contact endeavour generally, and in our new pandemic-riddled reality that is going to make things rather difficult. But I will keep looking.

I’d love to hear where you find your community, and what ways have you found to give back to them. Let me know down in the comments.

FACEBOOK: How do you contribute to your community, when you are not entirely sure who your community even is.

TWITTER: Help! Photographer in search of a community in search of a photographer.

Leave a Reply