Picture Change

"Through photography and writing, we seek to empower women and children to realize that they are important merely because they exist and that their circumstances do not define them ... By helping someone discover their unique voice through the arts, it can give birth to hope. Hope goes hand in hand with purpose, and purpose can lead to change-- within their own lives, families, and communities."

By way of introduction: I went to college with a girl named Kate Gazaway, a photographer who recently began a non-profit called Picture Change.   For the past few years, Kate has been traveling with her cameras, teaching photography, and inspiring her students to picture change for their lives through the photographs they take.  I'm honored to be able to post an article by Kate about her work, and hope you find yourself inspired as well.


{ Kate Gazaway }
I decided to become a photographer in 2005 in Swaziland, Africa, when I realized that my photos could have a greater impact than my words alone. I was dismayed at the poverty, death, and injustice I had witnessed, when an African pastor spoke these words to me and changed everything: “Christ told his disciples, ‘The poor you will always have with you, but Me you only have for a little while.’ There will always be poverty, death, and injustice in Africa. Your job is to do what you can with what you are given. Be Christ to those around you. Any more… Any less… and you are sinning.”

My name is Kate and I’m a photographer. I’ve been teaching photography to kids in “not so great” situations since 2009 - from inner-city Pittsburgh to a tiny fishing village in Nicaragua. I believe in helping women and kids discover that they are important simply because they exist. Once they realize their significance, they are empowered to change their situation because their circumstances no longer define them. They have hope, and hope is huge.

I give my students cameras and basic photography lessons and explain why their story is important. They learn to see their lives from a completely unique perspective; beginning with themselves, their families, and their communities. We encourage individuality within a community context. A small camera and captured moments can reveal more than you’d believe, and the ability to reveal that yourself is monumental.

We also put on a legit gallery show where the students can display their work and be celebrated by their families and community. When the program is over, I hand over all the photography gear to specially trained student-leaders so they can continue doing photography in the village. Also, we establish social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter for each program so the students can be connected and share their photography and stories with the world. Provisions are being made for the students’ work to be displayed and sold on our website (which has yet to be launched), thus providing additional income for them to help support their families.

That’s the general idea. We are called “Picture Change” and we’ve got a lot going on.

I'm currently in India partnering with an amazing organization called Freedom Firm (
www.freedom.firm.in) which both rescues and rehabilitates girls out of brothels, prosecutes the brothel owners and pimps in court, and gives the girls education and job training skills.

I have 4 students (soon to be 5) between the ages of 20-31 who are picking up photography at such a rapid pace that they beg me to have class even on off days because they love it so much. They have told me that they realize photography is a tool that can be used to tell stories (their stories or those of others) without language or cultural barrier so they can express themselves without words.

I occasionally have to fight back tears in class, suddenly, when I think of what these girls have been through and the amazing strides they have made forward in life and what empowered, beautiful women they are.

I am so honored to be here with them and to be part of this organization.

Besides helping the girls realize their value, potential, and beauty, I'm hoping these photos can help them earn extra income when we begin to sell prints (via postcards, calendars, and framed prints).  When I get back to the States in September, we'll be having a series of fundraising gallery shows, some of which will be going back to help the girls and continue the work of Picture Change.

... Thanks, Kate!


  1. Wow. Thanks for sharing. What Kate does is admirable!

  2. I love this! One of my favorite things I've ever heard.


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