After the mitigation of the restriction measures due to the pandemic and as the weather improved, the BRIDGES photography team decided to organize two specific photography projects for the 2nd photography course. The need to be and interact in open environment was evident and the teenagers took advantage of the big parks and nearby nature of Thessaloniki. The initial team has further grown as the students brought their friends, while other young people joined, after having seen the BRIDGES activities on social media.
On Friday, June 12th, the action was attended by teenagers and young people from Albania, Russia, Bangladesh, Iran, Pakistan, Greece as well as Roma children. The group met in the park of Xarchakos, the bigger and most central park of the city. After some games of acquaintance and communication the photographic action began. The team was divided in mixed groups of 4-5 people, this way the youngsters worked together and strengthened their bonds.
The groups worked with creativity and imagination all together, in order to capture with their own view the natural environment. Each group chose a different photography method, such as focusing on shadows, symmetries, asymmetries, balance. The groups managed to work together and look for images in nature that with the play of light and colors would give them a special result. Then, over fresh coffee, they all discussed together technical issues of improving the photography, difficulties and solutions. During the following week the teenagers presented online to the whole BRIDGES team their work.
On Friday, June 19th, exactly one week later, the BRIDGES photography team traveled by ferry boat from the port of Thessaloniki to nearby Perea, to engage with the sea environment this time. The 28 young men and women who participated, before their departure, took the chance to be informed about the activities of the General Secretariat for Youth, whose offices are located in the Port. Mr. Babis Papaioannou, the office director, had already been informed for the BRIDGES project and as a key stakeholder in youth activities in Thessaloniki, had a lot of useful information to share with the BRIDGES team.
During the sea trip to Perea, the teenagers split into pairs, with each pair consisting of people who were not friends already, nor did they speak the same language. The “mission” undertaken was in the 50 minutes of the journey, to learn as much as possible about their couple.
Upon their arrival in Perea, the team split in 5 mixed groups of 5-6 people. As in the previous workshop, they discussed and photographed moments of seashore life, landscapes or objects that they found interest in. As in all other meetings, there was no shortage of portrait photos that teenagers like and share with each other on social media. The portraits bring them together – face to face – and give the opportunity for conversation and deeper interaction.
Closing the 2nd photography course, all young participants – locals, immigrants and refugees – stood in a large circle and talked about how they see their future. They talked about school, studies, the profession they want to pursue and other goals. They talked about whether they want to stay in Greece, leave for other countries or return to their country of origin.
Photography has proven to be an activity to promote communication, common work and artistic expression of youngsters as well as at their joint activation for more actions. Photography helps working with others despite different language and culture. Thus, on the occasion of this first coexistence as members of the same group, the teenagers have gradually created relationships of trust and friendship away from any kind of prejudice, realizing that they can live together harmoniously, create value and help each other.