Behind the lens
What difference does it make who takes a photo?
Nicole Fernandes de Silva, the winner of the under-16 category of the ‘Canon Young Champion of the Year’ Award, has been at the vanguard of tackling community issues in South London. Nicole first came to the BIGKID Foundation, a south London charity dedicated to the prevention of youth violence, as an 11-year-old in 2015.
As a 6th form A-level photography student, Nicole then became inspired to take part in BIGKID’s first art exhibition in 2019. Using the theme ‘Through My Eyes’, Nicole took a series of portraits of young people in her community. Each portrait was captioned with their thoughts on growing up in south London, painting a moving picture of the everyday dangers and concerns faced by young people.
A solution to youth violence demands input from the government and other institutions, but it’s vital that local communities are put at the heart of any decision making. Nicole’s work has been key in showing the scale of the problem and giving the community a voice to demand change. She now regularly volunteers, developing media content and supporting at youth clubs to develop creative projects.
Celebrating, encouraging and learning from youth activists is key to achieving a sustainable future. The creation of this award marks the culmination of numerous projects led by Canon to support young people around the world to make their voices heard and celebrate sustainable change.
The award was inspired by the Canon Young People Programme (YPP), an initiative which provides disadvantaged young people across EMEA with education and training on the power of visual storytelling, supporting them to raise awareness and drive change on the sustainability issues that are important to them.
One of our partner charities from the YPP, Wild Shots Outreach, won the Community Partnership category for its work in helping local communities in South Africa to protect endangered wildlife by using photography to connect them with their local heritage and make their voices heard.
It’s through this process of collaboration, celebration and education that we can continue to make sustainable changes, and we look forward to the next Canon Young Champion of the Year Award in 2021.