The context in a nutshell:

My name is Alessandra McAllister. I grew up in various parts of London and have spent the best part of my 21 years there. After school I studied a year on an Art Foundation course at Ravensbourne College, where I specialised in photography for the final project and developed a penchant for seeing the world from behind a lens. However, after some careful decision, I decided I was not cut out for a full-blown photography course and I moved to Liverpool two years ago to attend its university, where I am now studying BA History and Hispanic Studies.

Since this degree course requires that you spend a year abroad in a Spanish-speaking country, in the hope students might return for their last year of study speaking the language fluently, I chose to take this as an unmissable opportunity to go to Mexico to work with street children in the capital. Under the auspices of NGO Casa Alianza, who support street children and victims of trafficking across Central America, I am going to undertake a photography programme with the children resident at the Mexico shelter. This blog is about documenting the course and development of the whole project, from the fundraising stages to the final exhibitions next year.

Taken for my Ravensbourne end of year project on eccentric individuals

The Photography Project:

The programme will run over the course of 8 months between September 2011 and May 2012. As there is a huge variance in age at Casa Alianza (from the very young up to 18) groups will be split according to age and level of interest, with sessions in photography running once or twice every week.

The programme will consist of exploring with the children different fields in photography. Therefore it will include excursions for practicing landscape photography or for visiting galleries and exhibitions, and days in which we explore lighting effects, portraiture and still life. Most of all though, I am hoping the childrens’ own stories will emerge in the images they take. Photography is a great way for young people without a voice to express themselves and communicate with audiences they could not usually communicate with.

The programme’s aim is to create a body of images that would be displayed at exhibitions in Mexico City, London and Liverpool. For any prints sold, the street child photographer would receive a small dividend and the remaining profit would go towards continuing the project for the next year.

I hope that this project will work in providing some of the children with a life long vocational skill or passion and in helping to break down social barriers.

School Receptionist, Chiapas, taken on my first trip to Mexico, 2009

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