Photographer tells students to end stereotypes by sharing story of their own community

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  • Photographer Peter DiCampo shows students photos from his Everyday Africa project during at talk in the gym last week. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

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    Photographer Peter DiCampo speaks about his Everyday Africa project with students in the Whitefish High School gym last week. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

  • Photographer Peter DiCampo shows students photos from his Everyday Africa project during at talk in the gym last week. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

  • 1

    Photographer Peter DiCampo speaks about his Everyday Africa project with students in the Whitefish High School gym last week. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

Photographer Peter DiCampo was working in Africa when he began to notice a trend in his work.

As a photojournalist he was often seeking out photos that told a narrative that was already decided before he began shooting pictures. Speaking before students last week at Whitefish High School, he showed two photos taken at the same time of refuges in the aftermath of civil war on the Ivory Coast.

One photo shows a sad African child looking off into the distance, while next to it was a photo of refuges buying DVDs of action films.

“They’re totally different photos taken in the same situation,” he said.

As a news photographer he was often forced to leave out photos that tell more of the story, and he began to notice that there was a story being left.

“Daily life is much broader than that,” he said. “It has much more context than that.”

DiCampo is the co-founder of Everyday Africa an Instagram-based project that seeks to counter misconceptions about people and countries in Africa by sharing photos of everyday life. Everyday Africa regularly publishes pictures from 35 photographers and shows a range of experiences including kids in a marching band, a wedding, luxury hotel and men playing golf.

“We often have to leave [these stories out],” he said. “That’s how people begin thinking of Africa as just war and hungry people.”

More than a dozen similar accounts exist today that look to show the everyday of other communities, including Everyday Middle East or in the U.S. there’s Everyday Bronx.

DiCampo speaks in classrooms on media stereotypes and promotes localized storytelling by encouraging students to take on similar projects in their own communities.

Whitefish Curriculum Director Ryder Delaloye said the school district is looking into ways to create some type of Everyday Whitefish photo project at the high school. It may come in the form of class projects and displays at the school, or an even larger exhibition for the community, but right now the details are still being worked out.

Prior to visiting Whitefish last week, DiCampo said he looked up the city online and found stories about neo-Nazis and cyber threats. He asked students to tell him what Whitefish is really like — they answered by talking about spending time with friends, festivals the town hosts, welcoming tourists and a felling that the community is tight-knit.

DiCampo encouraged students to not let stereotypes define their community.

“Take control of the narrative,” he said.

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