Through the lens of youth: Adobe Stock presents exclusive new global collection with 100cameras

Three girls looking at a camera.

100cameras student participants practice using their cameras and telling their stories in Khanke Camp, Iraqi-Kurdistan. Photo by Elle Wildhagen for 100cameras, 2019.

By Lindsay Morris

Posted on 06-24-2021

At Adobe we deeply believe in the power of creativity for all. Visual storytelling contributes to a greater understanding of each other and the world around us. When we are empowered to tell our own stories, we learn more about ourselves.

With the shared goal of equipping youth to process and tell their own stories through photography, Adobe Stock and 100cameras have partnered to present an exclusive premium image collection. 100cameras is a nonprofit organization dedicated to asking the question: What happens when we give youth the space and tools to process their own experiences and share their own stories?

This collection aims to represent how global youth see the world, and to uplift and amplify their perspectives, with 100 percent of the proceeds going back to 100cameras, to fund participant community needs. Angela Popplewell, 100cameras co-founder and CEO, explains: “100cameras is built on the core belief that every kid — no matter their background or circumstances — deserves the right to process and tell their experiences. To feel seen and heard and to be celebrated for their perspectives and contributions.”

Photo of someones hands making shadows on the ground.

Photo taken by 100cameras participant Seema, Age 13, Mumbai, India, 2018.

Sharing the tools for creativity — and dignity

100cameras started their first custom program in 2008 working with displaced youth in Sudan. In partnership with a local organization founded by women who lost their families during Sudan’s civil war, 100cameras provided cameras and educational support to kids and teens who had also lost their families.

The 100cameras team had several questions at the beginning of the first program- Would the students and partner organization find a program like this to be a support to their long-term goals and needs, or would it feel like a burden? Would they feel comfortable expressing themselves? Would people around the world connect with their images? At the program’s conclusion, however, the finished products answered those concerns with hope, dignity, and creativity.

Since then, the organization has expanded their curriculum to support young people who have experienced challenging circumstances. In partnership with local organizations such as schools and community centers, 100cameras programs exist in classrooms, in-person and online, and uses photography and storytelling as gateways to teaching confidence, ownership, and expression. Through their journey, they’ve also collaborated with organizations including Apple, Vitec Group, Framebridge, The Whole Kids Foundation (the nonprofit entity of Whole Foods) and ViacomCBS. These partnerships provide equipment, support, and funding to help expand the program’s reach and impact.

Participants practing using their camera equipment.

100cameras student participants practice using their cameras and Joby gear to tell their stories in Chicago, IL, USA. Photo by Andrea Arevalo for 100cameras, 2019.

Virtual volunteering and community resources

ViacomCBS’ recent support for 100cameras included a donation in 2020, which helped launch a virtual program for young people in Chicago during the pandemic. In 2021, 100cameras again partnered with ViacomCBS for their Virtual Community Day, the media and entertainment company’s day devoted to volunteering and uplifting global communities.

“ViacomCBS is purposeful when creating content and campaigns to bring awareness to topics like systemic racism and voting rights,” said Crystal Barnes, senior vice president for Corporate Social Responsibility and ESG Strategy at ViacomCBS. “100cameras is similarly intentional when it places cameras in the hands of curious young people who, through photography, discover the power of self and content’s enormous capacity to bring change.”

Teacher standing in front of the whiteboard.

Visual artist Aundre Larrow teaches students as part of a 100cameras program in Chicago, IL, USA. Photo by Elle Wildhagen for 100cameras, 2019.

Lydia Billings, director of programs at 100cameras, is continually surprised by the truths that students express through their photographs. She says, “Creativity provides a distinct access to our inner vulnerability, to our humanity, and to what we think, feel, and want to say — even, and especially, when words fail.”

In 2020, 100cameras launched Where You Are, a self-guided workshop build as an online activities resources, that is free for all to participate.

As part of the curriculum, photographer Aundre Larrow, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Ambassador and member of the 100cameras Board of Creatives, teaches a lesson focused on making environmental portraits of our loved ones.

“The impact of visual storytelling from people within the community is a revolution in itself,” Larrow says. “It takes photography; something expensive, something exclusionary, something frankly very male and white and makes it accessible. Photography is an art of observation and our highest calling is to invite more observers into the process. 100cameras does that.”

Photo of student pushing another student in a wheelchair while he takes a photo with a camera.

A 100cameras student takes a photo in Da Nang, Vietnam. Photo by Kelly Johnson for 100cameras, 2020.

Photo programs with a global lens and global reach

To date, 100cameras has worked with communities around the world in places like Cuba, Thailand, Venezuela, Vietnam, USA, India, Turkey, Iraq, Peru, Colombia and Brazil, to help young people capture a wide range of diverse life experiences.

For example, in one program, 100cameras partnered with Joby and Apple to work alongside 25 students in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, empowering them to learn new ways to share the stories of their past, present, and future.

Promize, a 14-year-old participant from the Chicago program, says, “It helps because a lot of times I feel like I’m alone so it would help reflect my feelings since a lot of times, I can’t say how I feel. Or when I try to say it, I end up stumbling over my words, or, it just doesn’t sound right. So if I can take a picture, I don’t have to speak, and you can know what I’m feeling.”

Photo of rainbow socks.
Photo taken by 100cameras participant Promize, Age 14, Chicago, IL, USA, 2019.

Brittany Kaiser, a teacher for M.S. 50 in Brooklyn, New York, uses the 100cameras curriculum in her classroom. She says the experience has helped her students open up: “Students seem eager to share their past, in some cases particularly eager to share painful experiences that I wouldn’t normally ask about during class time. It seemed almost as though they had been waiting for someone to ask them to share these experiences.”

The rise of virtual learning has expanded the reach of 100cameras’ programs. When 100cameras partnered with NATVLens, they virtually connected Indigenous youth throughout the United States to explore and share personal experiences and tribal traditions. Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne, Diné, Mohawk, Cherokee, Pokagon Potowatomi and Anishabe youth framed the moments of their daily lives and the beauty of their surroundings. Some students uncover a valuable new sense of self as the program invites them to represent themselves, their communities, and their cultures.

“It made me feel happy that we were embracing native culture and modernity at the same time. It makes me feel happy as it reminds me natives belong in the now,” says Quinn, a 13-year-old participant in the NATVLensa USA program. “We aren’t some mythical being that died out years ago… we are still here and we still belong here.”

Photo of two horses in a pasture dusted with snow.

Photo taken by 100cameras participant Quinn, Age 13, NATVLens USA, 2020.

Boosting visibility for diverse stories

Through many of these programs, prints are sold on the 100cameras website. Now, through Adobe Stock, a curated selection is available for commercial use. 100 percent of the proceeds from student photo sales fund materials that the youths’ communities need most.

This enables change to become full circle by enabling students to not only process their stories and express themselves, but to see their impact on the community. This is crucial in showing youth firsthand that they are important contributors to their surroundings and that at the core of it all — they matter.

After completing the 100cameras curriculum, 9-year-old participant Jesus David from Colombia, says, “I felt really good after the program because when I tell my story, people will listen. I took photos of the neighborhood. I am proud that my photos will be seen in other cities far away.”

Photo of a neighborhood in Columbia.

Photo taken by 100cameras participant Jesus David, Age 9, Cartagena, Colombia, 2018.

The Adobe Stock team is committed to working with creative changemakers like 100cameras to promote and champion diverse voices and global stories. To support the communities of the 100cameras participants, you can license imagery from the 100cameras collection on Adobe Stock.

Let’s support creativity for all, together.

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