The chance to change an individual’s life for the better is something most people hope to have at least once in their lives. California State University, Northridge journalism professor David Blumenkrantz will have that opportunity this summer.
Blumenkrantz will be working with students at the Kibera School for Girls in Nairobi, Kenya, teaching them the art of photography in an eight-week workshop sponsored in part by Nikon.
“I have a long history of working with street kids back in the time when I used to live in Kenya,” Blumenkrantz said. “I always had a connection to what’s going on in this in the slums of Nairobi.”
Blumenkrantz has had an extensive career working with and teaching in marginalized communities, such as with rebel soldiers in Eritrea and the unhoused in Los Angeles. He said the opportunity for this program came about after a chance conversation with his massage therapist. He was telling her about his desire to do a project with photography in Kenya and she told him about a visit she made to the Kenyan nonprofit Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) last year.
“She said they were really dynamic and interesting, and that I should check them out,” Blumenkrantz said.
The program location at the Kibera School for Girls was chosen specifically because of the few opportunities for women and girls in the area. Working with SHOFCO was ideal because of their dedication to uplifting women and girls, Blumenkrantz said.
Blumenkrantz developed his summer course with input from sponsors Nikon and the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), SHOFCO and based on his own experience working on the One Of Us project, a collaboration of writers and photographers who document life in marginalized communities in Los Angeles, East Africa and China.
The course will meet three times a week from from late May through July. During that time, students will learn the basics of photojournalism, including digital photography, portrait photography and photo essays. They will have access to Nikon DSLR cameras and lighting gear, all donated by Nikon, to complete their assignments.
Students also will have the opportunity to participate in several field trips, such as one planned for a game park, to learn the skill of wildlife photography.
Blumenkrantz said he hopes to build a strong and lasting relationship with the journalism faculty at the Kibera School and underscored the importance of the program for the students and their futures.
“For me to just get in there and do my small part, you never know who it’s going to inspire and which of those kids is going to come out of there and become a serious voice for their people and for their community,” he said.
Blumenkrantz said that his 2021 trip Kenya was his first visit to the country in 27 years. He had lived in Kenya for eight years in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“Everything just sort of gradually shifted back towards Kenya, which is a place that I really love.” he said, noting that he has stayed in touch with friends he made while living in Kenya through social media.