Cecilia Brolga lights up when she talks about photography. She has dreamed of learning to use a camera for years, but living in a remote community made it difficult.
- A photography workshop for women in the isolated Aboriginal community of Bidyadanga was a first for many of its participants
- Workshop allows women from across the Kimberley to tell their own stories through the lens
- Several women applied for funding to start their own photography business after being inspired by the workshops
His home is in Bidyadanga, on the Kimberley Coast, about 180 kilometers south of Broome. Also known as The Grange, it is a town of 750 residents, making it the largest Aboriginal community in the state.
“I was in the community, and I went to the women’s center and the women were there all together painting and they were talking about women coming from Broome to take a photography class, and I said, ‘Oh for real? ‘ and I say, “I’m not giving up on that one,” she said.
“I tried to do it online but it wasn’t for me; we did not have the joy of having the photos. “
Ms. Brolga was one of 19 women who attended a free photography workshop hosted by Camera Story, a non-profit organization that empowers women and youth in isolated communities with the skills to tell their own stories through a goal.
Broome Circle’s Community Development Coordinator, Carly Day, was instrumental in organizing the workshops in town.
She said that while the local women’s center offered many creative outlets, this was the first time that photography had been offered.
An exhibition, titled Ladies New Look, showcases the work of women in Broome and Bidyadanga.
Ms Day said the women came up with the title at the last workshop.
“They were all out on the beach, dressed, feeling good and talking about their new way of seeing the world through a camera lens,” Ms. Day said.
For Ms. Brolga, the photo she took of her granddaughters hanging on the Broome Circle exhibit verandah exudes her love for photography.
“I call them my jewelry,” she said.
“I just love taking pictures of everything. I love wild flowers, taking pictures of babies, old people and young people, because you capture people’s hearts.”
Ms. Brolga and a number of other women take their new hobby a step further.
With the help of Broome Circle, the women applied for business funding to purchase their own camera equipment.
“It’s a good thing that this has come to Bidyadanga, and it motivates me and every woman who does everything, and does new things in life. We feel the heart for this photography class,” Ms. Brolga.
Ms Day said the women made sure the workshop could take place next year by donating a portion of the proceeds from the exhibition to the program.
“We will have another round of workshops to teach them how to use their own equipment,” she said.
Camera Story co-founder Sarah Landro said it was “breathtaking” to see so many women excited to take photography further.
Ms Landro said she had worked in the Kimberley area leading workshops for eight years, but over the past year she had focused on women and youth.
“Things like taking family photos, photographing events, working with groups of rangers; the opportunities are truly endless and photography is an amazing way to heal, to share your story but also to generate income. “