Words by Jamie Burnett | Photos by Camera Story

“We want to help women out of their situation so they have more confidence, more ability to be financially independent, more skills and more creativity in their own life. If we did that, I’d be happy.”

Jacqueline Warrick is clear and passionate when she explains the goal of Camera Story. And the truth is, Jacqueline and her business partner, Sarah Landro are already achieving it. Jacqueline explains that seven years in, the charity uses the power of photography to build confidence, upskill and help people from tough backgrounds and regional communities.

“In the beginning it was definitely a platform for people to learn skills but it was more of a creativity-based drive to express themselves and have fun. And then it became about other things, viewing photography as a positive light, as opposed to a negative view of imagery. A lot of kids use social media in a negative way, so we worked through that as well. We’re also upskilling indigenous people including ranger groups and arts workers to give them the power to photograph their own country and create their own archives.

“We’re starting to use the camera as this tool to uplift, to inspire to give skills to provide something to do in remote communities… one of the women we worked with told us our workshops gave her an amazing opportunity to heal. That’s amazing.”

If Camera Story had a home outside Western Australia, it would have to be Bangladesh. Jacqueline and her now business partner, Sarah Landro were studying at a photojournalism school that saw them come together for an assignment. It’s an experience they won’t easily forget.

“We met at a photojournalism school and were thrown on an assignment together that was really confronting. We were sent to the poorest part of Bangladesh and taken through these poor factories and we couldn’t believe what we saw. We had that experience together and that first seeded Camera Story.

“It also came about as a response to my experiences working as a photographer in southern Asia. I saw how powerful the medium of photography is as a means of communication and for people to tell their own stories.

“Having a conversation with my now business partner, we shared a very similar philosophy about the power of photography and how it could be used to uplift a community. Camera Story was really born out of that.”

And since then, Camera Story has grown. Initially the duo ran workshops in schools. And that’s now moved into other spaces including running programmes in some of Western Australia’s most remote communities.

“It definitely has surprised us. In the beginning we were working with really young kids, but we did realise that kids in Perth have these resources and we realised that it was women in remote areas. They don’t have the access they need. Men have opportunities through mining or in town, but for women once they have children and they’re in remote communities, there isn’t much to do.  Photography is something they can do in their own house, they can photograph their own community or simply just get creative.

“The communities that we work with know us and we’ve built up connections. We know people, they invite us into their homes and they introduce us to more people. There’s a level of trust we’ve built up.”

While Jacquelin and Sarah use Camera story to help others, it’s clear the learning has gone both ways.

“I’ve been helped by many people but learning that the way I saw the world is not the only way to see the world has been significant. I remember I did a workshop once with these really cool people who were all in wheelchairs. And all their photographs were from waist height, so I just saw the world from the perspective of these people and my whole perception totally shifted. We were hooning around Freo one night with their cameras, I looked through all the photos later and I saw how different they see the world to me… that’s a standout for me.”

You get the feeling that there will be more standout moments for these two women, who will continue to help others through the power of a lens.

Camera Story is the October recipient of the Alby Made Community Arts grant. They will use the $1000 grant to put toward new equipment that will be used across the state. You can see more of their amazing work here