Bidyadanga Photography Workshops Help Kimberley Women Become Shooting Stars

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.

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. “

A woman looks at photos in the Ladies New Look exhibit at Broome Circle.(ABC Kimberley: Madison Snow)

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.

Image © Tahlia Badal, 'the golden days'
The Golden Days photo by Bidyadanga photographer Tahlia Badal on display in the Ladies New Look exhibition at Broome Circle.(Provided: Tahlia Badal)

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.”

Four images of people and landscapes in an exhibition.
The photos were posted on slightly transparent material and hung around the front porch at Broome Circle. (ABC Kimberley: Madison Snow)

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.

Three women standing on a beach.
Bidyadanga photographer Nuria Jadai’s Thomas’ 1 piece, which was on display in the Ladies New Look exhibition at Broome Circle.(Provided: Nuria Jadai)

“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.

Footprints in the sand
The Jina image of Bidyadanga photographer Cecilia Brolga was featured in the Ladies New Look exhibit at Broome Circle.(Provided: Cecilia Brolga)

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. “

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