Descendants of All Worlds

Session 1

Heartstone ‘Descendants of All Worlds’ Photostories and an Introduction to Picture Editing

In the first session, the aim was to start by looking at photographs. Pictures are a powerful route through which to influence attitudes and opinions – we are constantly surrounded by images silently shaping how we see our world and the people within it. Our purpose in this project is to put pictures together which will present to an audience the commonality of the human experience regardless of race, nationality, culture or background.
We started by looking at a number of photographs on the ‘Faces of Kabul’ Story Module as a training exercise and explored how images can be put together to tell a story. We discovered how easy it is when using a sequence of images to tell a totally different story to the one which actually happened simply by selecting out images which did not fit with our visual picture.

We looked at:
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1. a school opening in Kabul

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2. handing out ISAF Newsletters

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3. visit of a female ISAF soldier and reactions of the local population

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as three specific exercises all of which are included on your training CD.

We asked the question: ‘am I presenting this story in the way it happened’ or ‘am I presenting this story in the way I think it should have happened’.

Selecting images to accomplish this task is not easy since you have to weigh up often conflicting priorities eg. ‘how do I get my audience interested in this story in the first place so that they will stop and look at it’ versus ‘in accomplishing that task, will I then skew the story so that I present an inaccurate or ‘sensationalist’ view which really wasn’t there’.

What we would like you to do

Over the year, through the ‘Descendants of All Worlds’ stories, your group will have the opportunity to set up their own picture desk which is receiving photographs from your photographer on assignment. Their task will then be to act as curator/picture editor. The aim in this project is to use the images you will receive, which you can print from the CD Story Modules,  to put together a feature on the story for presentation either as a wall-display, larger exhibition or, if you choose, in a different format such as a scrapbook / magazine version.

All Heartstone stories aim to present the similarities of peoples, rather than their differences and the images you receive will reflect this. Use our images to create a ‘skeleton’ exhibition into which you can drop your own words, pictures, drawings and other content.

Researching the Story

Whichever version you choose, you will have to add words including creating a headline or title to your story. We will provide you with brief background notes which come with the photographs as the photographer sent to us. Sometimes, it may be an event which he has covered, other stories may simply be related to a set location. Your group may need to do further research to add more background to the story to make their exhibition / feature.  This may be just a paragraph to describe what is taking place or a more longer piece of descriptive text.

You may choose to work with the group as a whole or divide them up into smaller groups with each group having a different part of the story which will then come together to form the exhibition / feature.
Discussion / debate

As you research the story and select images, you will have to come together to discuss its different aspects, what you feel is important in the story, what you want to highlight, why you have chosen certain images, why you are using these to create the exhibition as opposed to others and many other things which will come to light as you do your research and undertake the activities connected with each photostory.
Local Perspectives and Personal Experiences

When you are discussing Heartstone stories, make sure you include looking at them from a local perspective and how the issues affect the members of your group. Many Heartstone exhibitions include personal experiences of the groups who are involved in the project.

The Heartstone Charter

As you discuss the story, you will find your group will come to firm definitions of what you feel is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. The story featured on ‘Faces of Kabul’ covers several issues. It relates to prejudice and intolerance especially towards Muslim cultures, living with conflict, refugees and asylum seekers, the world post 9/11 and 7/7 and many other topics. As you discuss the story and do the background research, you will find you are looking at commonly held misconceptions and beliefs in relation to these issues which will in turn, help you come to firm definitions of what you feel is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in this context.

Make sure the group write these down to form the ‘Heartstone Charter’, a code for their ‘ideal world’ which can be placed centrally within the exhibition.

The ‘Faces of Kabul’ Story – a training exercise in picture editing

 ‘Faces of Kabul’ was produced in Afghanistan just after the fall of the Taleban in 2002. This story has been exhibited all over the UK including locations such as the Brussels European Parliament and the British Library and has won a considerable reputation since it was first presented for its integrity as well as quality.