August 2015. We, Rendel Freude (photographer) and Kristin Kunze (clown), have a week's time for the photo workshop with EYE, a Rwanda Youth organization based in Kigali. EYE usually produces radio shows in their own studio and broadcast weekly for half an hour. The program is being recorded and broadcast via several broadcast stations, such as Voice of America and Radio Tayna in Goma. Whenever financial resources are sufficient, EYE also publishes a magazine on the researched topics in both languages Kinyarwanda and French. The organization is advised and financially supported by Ziviler Friedensdienst and cooperates with NEVER AGAIN RWANDA, the NGO we organized the photo workshop with, which took place last year in Huye (in the south of the country). Again the one-week program is supported by FREELENS Foundation.

Two participants of last year's workshop, Thibaut and Jean-Michel, attend the program once again. Also the five cameras donated by FREELENS Foundation in 2014 are on board again. Thibaut, a young Burundian who studies in Huye, stays in Kigali during his semester break because his parents have told him not to come home due to the tense situation in his homeland. The twelve participants are between 16 and 24 years old, some still go to school, some haven't decided yet what profession to pursue and some have begun their studies. Everyone is acquainted with radio and is pretty much familiar with whatsapp, facebook and Co. Therefore the first task on Monday morning is to deal with a short time without smartphones ...

A round of introductions gives everyone the opportunity to introduce him- or herself briefly. Next step: Handing out of the cameras. We have all Monday for various exercises on camera settings: focusing, portrait or landscape format, wide angle, tele photo and so on. The dry run exercises offer exciting insights, everyone is surprised when letting two fingers meet with one eye closed – and to realize that the third dimension in life is (un-) visible. We use small cardboard templates in order to practice how to identify and to arrange sections more precisely before taking a picture. Another interesting aspect: Basics such as aperture, shutter speed and ISO value are not any longer communicable when practicing with these modern small cameras – there are a lot of automatic settings and a lot of different technical opportunities. How to optimize depth of field? The icon with the face is the answer... Kristin offers a short break from all the technical input and invites us to physical exercises that focus on presence and posture..

On Tuesday, all activities - including many practical exercises - revolve around the topic of composition. What makes a good photo and for what reason? What kind of photos do you personally like? What do you want to achieve with the photos you take? What is a suitable topic to deal with during two project days? The solution is quite simple: Peacebuilding. This is a main topic for many Rwandan NGOs, and EYE already deals with the subject in its radio programs. We discuss possibilities to illustrate the issue, suggestions are: people shaking hands, children playing together, various growing plants. Soon the difference between making a radio program and photographing becomes very clear: the content, initially intended for one photo, would be suitable for a whole series of pictures. The day ended with the formation of the teams that will work together for the next two days. It is important for me to communicate the relevance to treat people with respect and to also take photos of them respectfully when in the field.

On Wednesday morning, the participants all set out into the neighborhood. The big challenge for everyone is to speak to strangers and to be in public with the camera instead of taking pictures of each other. After two-three hours all return exhausted (dry season: hot, dusty and black fumes …). Lunch buffet is considered lifesaving. Meanwhile, I upload the photos with the software program Lightroom. After lunch and after another physical exercise with Kristin during which the participants have danced away the exhaustion, it is time for a review and analytical discussion of the photos. Everyone is excited about the results and how their ideas work in the photos. The pictures are shown via beamer, and with Lightroom I demonstrate how sections or colors of a photo can be changed and how this changes the picture's message or the quality of a picture. Direct editing and observing is very effective, it helps to understand that and how small changes have a big impact and that your own pictures can become a lot better with these edits. Conclusion of the day: it is good to get close to the object, to be focused. It is better to have just one of the teams in one place (make sure no other photographer is in the picture). And it is "forbidden" to pose for a team member's picture  ... Everyone has done enough for the day! However, Maxime and Allyah accompany us to town where we announce our order in a photo lab: 30 prints on wood and 3 rollups for the exhibition, they have to be ready next week!

On Thursday, the teams are on the road again: their heads spinning with ideas that came up during yesterday's discussion, their stomachs filled with a rich breakfast snack that should help to avoid the exhaustion that occurred the previous day. By motorcycle taxis or by foot, everyone disappears in a different direction and comes back hours later with a smiling face. In the afternoon, we simulate a radio program in the radio studio, and my camera (the big, professional, very popular one!) is being passed from one photographer to another. It is a very lively and creative atmosphere, a lot of fun, and many good photos are being made. What impresses me most is the fact that the participants have implemented tips and clues that were pointed out during the review in such a significant way so that from one day to the next, a difference in the pictures' quality becomes visible. An important question is asked several times: do we get a certificate for this week's photo workshop? Yes, of course, please prepare, I will sign them next week at the opening of the exhibition ... In the evening and for the second time, I upload the photos on my computer. With the consent of every participant I narrow down the choice for the exhibition. Thus (despite power failure, equipped with flashlight, my laptop still has enough power) I preselect about 50 photos out of 1000.

Friday morning we start with another presentation and analytical discussion of the photos - everyone is impressed by the results, by his or her own contribution, by the amount of the photos ... Later, those interested in picture editing sit next to me while I prepare the photos for the photo lab and the printer. In the afternoon we bring the hard drive to the photo lab with the order to get everything done by next Thursday so that we are able to prepare the exhibition on Friday. And it works.

When we return to Kigali a week later, the participants as well as the photo prints are there, the house is freshly cleaned and everything shines. To hang up the pictures is very uncomplicated, and on Saturday at 2 pm everyone is ready and excitedly waiting for visitors. The buffet is still missing (no problem even though it is delivered two hours later and still needs to be prepared), but the first visitors don't take long to wait for. A cameraman and a journalist both working for a television station make interviews with the young photographers in front of their respective works. After they are gone, just before the end of the exhibition, finally the exhibition can be opened with singing and dancing and handover of the certificates to all participants.
Cologne, September 2015
Rendel Freude