Award-winning photographer Julian Claxton is behind FOTOGRAF, the new name for his inspiring Give A Child A Camera photo project in East Africa. Ahead of a new exhibition in Cambridge, featuring real-life imagery from Ugandan children, he explains why amazing things really can happen when you give a child a camera
I’m Julian Claxton, a Suffolk based photographer and filmmaker. I have a real passion for working with people through the photographic process. It’s the part of being a photographer that I enjoy most, telling a story through emotive imagery, whether that be corporate, documentary or editorial photography. Building upon my fondness for working with people and travel, I started a project in 2015 called Give a Child a Camera, which empowers young Ugandan children through the beauty and simplicity of photography to create stunning photo stories of their life and the world around them.
It’s a project which teaches the young, disadvantaged children I work with, basic skills of photography, but also enables them to learn about composure, interactions with others, teamwork, and to understand there are opportunities in life which they may not have considered previously. Using donated cameras from the UK, the project is a fabulous way of recycling old and unwanted kit, while doing good for people less fortunate that ourselves.
Since being featured in Folk Features, back in 2021, life and work is starting to show some form of normality, which is fabulous! I’ve continued with my personal projects of stories of people in my local community through emotive portraiture and from that had the honour of being shortlisted for my striking portraits in the prestigious British Photography Awards & Event Photography Awards, which I’m incredibly proud of. To be recognised by one’s peers is something we all strive towards.
Over the last few months, the project has seen some key developments in the structure and deliverance of the workshops. The most obvious change is the new name. Transitioning from Give a Child a Camera to FOTOGRAF, which will see the move to a UK registered charity in the next few months.
Providing an extra-curricular activity, the two weeklong workshops aim to enrich the lives of young, disadvantaged children in rural East Africa, inspire them to learn and create emotive imagery and empower them to tell stories, develop their learning and enjoy experiences outside of their traditional learning environment.
Since the workshops began, the project has worked with over 90 young people, enabled two youngsters to move to vocational college on fully funded courses, provided learning materials and continued funding for photography in one learning establishment and provided funds direct to the families and young people from sold imagery in the UK.
I’m incredibly excited to announce that I will be exhibiting images from FOTOGRAF at the Guildhall in Cambridge from the 11th of January – this is a chance to view some incredible work from the young people in Uganda and to attend one of the free talks I will be giving at various points in January.
The FOTOGRAF exhibition, a collection of inspiring real-life imagery from children in Uganda, takes place at the Guildhall in Cambridge from January 11-31, from 10am-4pm. The new website, fotograf.org.uk, will become live in January. In the meantime, visit @julianclaxtonphoto on Instagram or @Jules_Foto on Twitter.