Solomon Islands is a country with diverse cultures and rich traditions. Given its vast dialects, locals speak different languages. For photographer Neil Nuia, it is through photos that he can tell universal stories about his island nation. Neil, 31, aspires to be a changemaker through his photography.
Another passionate youth is 29-year-old Collin Leafasia who is a self-taught photographer. His hobby eventually won him 1st place in the Pacific Financial Inclusion Program photo competition in 2017. His photograph’s subject was a woman from Malaita Province drilling shell money. Collin believes that the photograph portrays the hard work women put in everyday to earn money for their families. This award has kept him motivated to inspire young Solomon Islanders to become photographers ever since.
Award-winning photographer Collin Leafasia.
Photo from Collin Leafasia's Facebook Account
Today, many young people in Solomon Islands are starting to take interest in pursuing photography and videography. Interestingly, they too are injecting social issues into their work to raise awareness and spark conversations.
Social media today gives photographers a platform for their photographs and advocacies to generate responses and sharing of ideas. Neil is a co-founder of a Facebook group called PhotoUp - New Looks. According to him, he created the platform so he could share ideas to fellow photographers who share the same passion. Today, the group has over 30,000 members from different parts of the world. With the page’s growing following, and as people are starting to develop a fondness of the craft, Neil firmly believes that photography can be a powerful tool in shedding light to social issues in his community and his country.
From that Facebook group, Neil also gathered 30 young volunteer photographers and formed One-More-Shot Photographers. This small group is composed of individuals who dedicate themselves in advocating and fighting against issues in their country like health and corruption.
“Our lenses have saved four kids that were seriously sick with heart disease and brain tumor. Due to the lack of facilities in our main hospital, our team decided to go out and shoot photos to raise funds for those beautiful souls. With the money we have gathered, the kids have attempted to seek medical treatment overseas. A CT Scan machine is now available in our main hospital,” Neil shared.
Neil Nuia the co-founder of PhotoUp – New Looks and ONEMORESHOT team leader.
Photo from Neil Nuia's Facebook Account
A single picture can tell numerous stories but it is the photographer who chooses what story he or she tells. Niniu Oligao, the founder of Foot Print Travel Magazine expressed the importance of training more photographers in Solomon Islands. For him, it is a unique role that a photographer can capture people, their culture, and lifestyle and share it to the world. He believes that a photograph is a powerful weapon that can trigger or act as a catalyst to address societal and environmental issues. He cited climate change as an example.
Niniu Oligao the co-founder of Foot Print Travel Magazine Solomon Islands.
Photo fromNiniu Oligao's Facebook Account
These three passionate photographers started getting into photography as a hobby. Today, it has become their passion which they are using as a tool to raise awareness. Young people in Solomon Islands look up to and are motivated by them. They want young people to know that they too started out with no professional training. They want to serve as an example to the youth and prove to them that anyone can learn to be a photographer.
With the potential of social media as a platform for sharing ideas and photographers telling eye-opening stories through their photographs, Solomon Islands will likely become a nation of concerned citizens who are determined to bring positive change into their communities.
“Becoming a changemaker doesn’t mean you have to be in the parliament or a leader of a nation. You just need to be a good and responsible citizen,” Collin added.
The increasing number of young and passionate photographers in Solomon Islands could be the change the country is looking forward to. This is the generation that will listen and respond to the cries of its own people.
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