Tahanang Walang Hagdanan Workshop

Last summer, I was invited by a friend of mine in the same photography organization we set up back in Manila called Litrato. He asked if we can hold a workshop with an organization called Tahanang Walang Hagdanan. I jumped on the opportunity because it would be a great time to test out a condensed version of a curriculum we have been designing for high schoolers. I went with fellow Litrato photographers, Felix Quiogue, Mike Alegado, and Christian Matic. 

Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc. is a non-stock, non-profit and non-government organization that aims to uplift the lives of  Orthopedically handicapped persons. It is a rehabilitation and skills training center with sheltered workshops where the people with disabilities are trained to be productive and self-reliant member of the society. The center is located in Cainta Rizal which is about 15 kms. East Manila.

When we arrived at the location, I was amazed in how self sufficient these individuals in the organization are. In spite of their physical limitations, they had and operated their own steel and wood factories. They even started their own agricultural farm hoping to be more sustainable. They asked us to hold the workshop to improve their photography for the post cards they make at the end of the year to raise funds for the organization.

Our workshop was attended by 30 students whose ages ranged from 18-50 and had all kinds of cameras from cellphones to DSLR's. We knew this coming in, so we tailored the workshop to suit the scenario. Instead of teaching them how to use their cameras, we decided to focus on teaching them how to see instead. 

 Photographed by Mike Alegado

Photographed by Mike Alegado

We started the workshop with the history of Filipino photography in the hopes of basing their own practice in a timeline, which I personally feel is lacking in most workshops. We then began to cover basic composition guidelines such as rule of thirds, leading lines, point of view, framing, pattern, and lighting. After each topic, we spent about 20-30 minutes of free shooting time in where the students will go around and try the topic out. We would then guide and talk to them to help them gain a better understand of the topic at hand. After that, we would show them our own work utilizing said topic.

Overall, the workshop was a big success based on how much their photographs improved from start to finish. I never thought I could be a teacher but when it came to sharing photography, it came naturally. There's nothing more rewarding for me than to be able to empower others to take up the craft. As I saw the photographs of my students, I learned so much about them and got a glimpse of their lives. If you learn how to read a photograph, you learn how to read into the lives of the ones who took it.