The Picture of Life project consists of a 3-month training program in which photographers from the Manfrotto School of Xcellence teach photography techniques, lighting effects, street photography - and much more - to people who have faced hardship or marginalization. The objective is to offer them a chance to recover from their difficulties by making a fresh start towards a brighter future through a new professional experience.
Manfrotto supports the project by donating and setting up a permanent photography studio in the project centres, by providing participants with the photographic equipment they need for the duration of the program, and by organizing the course in all its aspects. At the end of the training process, the most promising photographers become owners of their equipment.
The program was launched in 2014 in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Justice and two youth rehabilitation centres, one in Naples - Jonathan Association - and the other in Verona - Don Calabria Institute - with sessions involving a dozen or so boys aged between 14 and 20.
In view of the positive response, the initiative was replicated in Italy over the years, and extended abroad.
We have organized ten editions so far: four in Naples, one in Verona, one in Vicenza, two in New York (USA), one in Birmingham (UK) and one in Shanghai (China), training about 80 people.
Even though the project shares a common format, each edition has its own characteristics: the Vicenza edition involved an association helping women who have suffered violence, the United States editions' protagonists were teenagers from New York's immigrant communities, the UK edition was aimed at young hearing-impaired people struggling to find employment, while the one in China involved "Left-Behind Children", kids living in difficult conditions because, instead of following their parents to the cities, they are left behind in rural areas cared for by their grandparents or by local communities, impacted by abandonment caused by parents who are so far away.
Each year, a theme is chosen, a fil rouge linking the different editions held around the world: 2014 was titled "Shoot" for a new life, 2015 Change, 2016 Invisible cities and 2017 dealt with the theme of Beauty.
At the end of each edition, the most passionate participants received awards and everyone's work was exhibited in various itinerant exhibitions, including the Volunteer Festival in Lucca and the San Fedele Gallery in Milan. For some, the project offered access to the photography profession, but all participants involved received and continue to have a chance to start afresh, with new perspectives on life, made of personal commitment, passion, discipline and merit.