Hawke's Bay creative charitable trust Foto iwi was about to promote its school holiday workshop the day schools closed and lock down took hold.

Foto iwi manager and local photographer Shayne Jeffares was not to be beaten, quickly looking into how he could offer the photographic workshop on line and still connect with young creatives while meeting the challenges of lock down.

"Every day something changed and we knew we needed to consider how 'being at home' would look, so we changed our week long workshop into an online condensed version," Shayne says.

Image taken by a student during a Foto iwi holiday workshop.
Image taken by a student during a Foto iwi holiday workshop.

With so many offers on social media, Shayne says he wanted to take his time and see what could be done to offer more interaction and opportunity for young people to share their images and stories.

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"We also needed to weave the pandemic situation into our workshop, giving those involved opportunities to discuss and tell their stories, reflecting on what life was looking like and how they were coping, while reflecting the values of Foto iwi, being wellbeing through creativity."

Shayne says each day he will send out a challenge or topic of the day, with people able to upload their photographs directly to the Foto iwi website.

Students will be learning new techniques during a Foto iwi workshop.
Students will be learning new techniques during a Foto iwi workshop.

"We were planning a lot of new online opportunities through the year, and we're still working on a lot of concepts, but see it as good a time as any to jump in and support our families that have their kids at home, looking for a creative outlet."

Shayne says the message is not just about the image but also about telling the story.

"There is no focus on any particular way the photograph has to be taken, it's individual and about your own interpretation. We also have a more advanced programme for those really interested in growing their photographic skill and different opportunities to share and collaborate."

Students can express their creativity during a Foto iwi holiday workshop.
Students can express their creativity during a Foto iwi holiday workshop.

With workshop provided cameras out of the question during lockdown, Shayne says any device which takes a photo will do.

"Being online doesn't mean you can't join in in some way. We don't focus on the quality of the photograph — there are absolutely no rules to follow — it's about the story the photo tells. Phone, device or camera, anything that can create a digital image that can be uploaded will do it."

Shayne says they do add some ideas and tips along the way to give encouragement and some learning around technique and composition.

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"But it is always student led."

Before lockdown the focus for Foto iwi had been designing the holiday workshop around its new Hastings-based office space.

"Our short workshops and holiday programmes were due to open in May. At this stage we are working to grow our online presence and connect with youth that don't use Facebook, though our mailing list."

Shayne says the online holiday workshops are generally not competitive.

"We don't want anyone to feel they can't take part for any reason."

He says lockdown is the perfect time to be creative.

"Anywhere where we can create something, and take our energies and focus on that, is always good. Having a challenge or topic can help to use our imagination and also be really engaged and mindful about what we are doing. With a challenge it may be something like experimenting with a new style or technique, so at the same time we are introducing something new to try."

The online Foto iwi workshop is free for any young person aged 8 to 16. An advanced fee based membership course will also be available for older students with online
discussions and more skill based challenges and opportunities.

For more information about Foto iwi and to sign up visit www.fotoiwi.nz