Photography, Reading, & Writing Project | Brazil

Meet Isadora and Leóncio (the enormous cat):

Isadora is from Salvador da Bahia, Brazil and is one of ten young kids who would informally gather in the story-telling circles that I ran while living in the capital city. The circles involved reading, creating oral narratives of our own, and writing the stories. At times, the kids wanted to work with images, so they would take my digital camera and go around their neighborhood, capturing the image of the concept they wanted to share. We would create slideshows together.

What convinced me even more that the kids were deeply enjoying and learning from the project was that images moved from favorite stuffed animals, to the neighborhood, to each other, and the story-telling workshop itself: Isadora’s story was about our group. Her vision of what it means to grow up in the neighborhood is seen in the images and her oral and written narratives.

Here is Isadora’s reflection on “o dia a dia” (day to day life) in the neighborhood. Her word-iamge stories reflect constant movement: kids from the neighborhood, the changing rules of games they create, the ocean that surrounds the neighborhood, pounding the rocks below.

The kids in the word-image story-telling group loved taking photographs of each other and they included each other in their stories:


The word-image-story project gets a group of kids together and is a safe space in a difficult neighborhood to share, explore, and have a structure to create in. I want to get cameras in their hands and I want to run these story-telling workshops using a reading, telling, writing method that I developed in Salvador. I want to merge the story-telling with image story-telling, with digital cameras.

What does this have to do with translation? Well, the stories would be translated by students in translation workshops in the U.S. (students who don’t really know that they are translators but are experimenting with translation). Through their translation, they will establish a relationship with the younger kids from the neighborhoods in Salvador. I hope to raise funds so that the U.S. based students can travel to Salvador. And, when the younger kids are older, hopefully they will be able to come to the U.S. As students in the U.S. translate these stories, they are working under a concept of translation that positions the translator as an intermediary and facilitator, an active shaper of meaning. It is a chance to explore as translators.

But this story-telling project is translative, also, in that stories are translations of experience. Image can be a translation of spoken/written word. And image and word transform each other–that itself is a reflection on how the translation can alter the source “text.”

Photography is also a translation of light, space, and perception into another image. The old process of exposure and preparing negatives–the dark room–is that translator’s space as well. So many models to explore, all telling stories of fragments of the translator’s experience!

If you would like to help make this project happen, please send a line:

Anyone can help by sending this link to organizations/individuals that might like to donate equipment.

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