The Boy Monks from Dohla

Two weeks ago, I photographed a group of children who left their homes to join the monastery. They are between six and ten years old.

Over the last few months, I’ve begun building a relationship with a Tamang community that was displaced after the earthquake and one of the nonprofits that is helping them. Their homes and livelihoods were destroyed and there was no hope of rebuilding. The community has been living in tents for over a year and the monsoon season is coming. Their lives are far from easy, which is why I joined a project supporting them in building new houses.

I want to better understand why such young children are joining the monastery. I try to keep my own judgments at bay. I ask a lot of questions and I learn that there are a variety of reasons that children come to the monastery. For some, it means a roof over their head, food on the table, and education. For others, it is truly an honor to their devout families to have a Buddhist monk in the family. I realize that almost every family in the community has sent at least one child. There are also more nefarious reasons that drive children from their communities.  In many rural communities, child trafficking has increased since the earthquake and families may feel that the monastery is simply a safer place for their children. One monk tells me that he joined at 14 because he knew it was the right thing for him. I honestly don’t know why these children are joining today, but I am grateful to be present for a small part of their journey. 

The boys unload off the bus. They walk into the monastery with khatas tied around their neck, uncertainty on their faces, and their parents by their side. They line up for a group photo and sweetly greet the camera with a namaste. Then they rush over each other to get to lunch.

Afterwards the monks lead them down a set of steps to the water pump. Here they will have their heads shaved for the first time. They rinse and shampoo their hair and wait in line for an free monk, razor in hand. The older monks meticulously shave all but one small bit of hair, leaving this final, holy task to lama Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche. He will remove that last bit of hair when the boy Monks take their initial vows.

As I photograph this small part of their ceremony I sense the comradery between them. One boy assists his friend whose arm is in a cast with removing his t-shirt. A mother gently wipes water from her six-year-old’s shoulder. While the boys are leaving the home and the life they know, they are doing it as a part of their community. I gather them together for one last – and this time hairless – group shot.

A few days later I see them in their red monks’ robes ­– the boys from Dohla, still hanging together. 

2015 Hunger Report from Bread for the World Institute

In March, I had the opportunity to travel with a team from Bread for the World Institute as they gathered information for the 2015 Hunger Report. The institute's goal is to educate policy makers and the public about hunger in the United States and abroad. The 2015 Hunger Report explains why ending discrimination against women and girls is crucial to ending hunger.

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I am thrilled to have some of my images included in the report, but more importantly to have a small role in educating the world about the experience of women in Rwanda. Take a few minutes to read the report and learn how women are the key to addressing hunger in international communities.

On Being Grateful

During November, I always try to sit down and take stock of my life. We live in a world that moves quickly, and there is always a list of things to accomplish. It’s easy to get lost in the depths of your business and forget to acknowledge the work you did and how grateful you are to be able to create for a living.

I arrived in Rwanda in July 2013. I had it on good authority that I could set up a business. I started the process right away, but my business wasn’t official until November. In the mean time, I started learning video online. I put together my first video on Nasson, a psychotherapist who has done amazing work post-genocide. My second video was for Creative Mornings and allowed me to broaden my community by meeting local artists and entrepreneurs. It was a win-win situation, but I didn't know that at the time.

My first Rwanda-based worked started rolling in January 2014. It was the beginning of an incredible journey in the land of a thousand hills. What a glorious ride!

As of November 2014 I've hit some pretty amazing goals that include:

Working for 20+ organizations and nonprofits

New Squarespace website with the help of my amazing friend Ryan Boden

Photography Workshop for Rwandan Photographers: How To Create Better Business Practices with Laura Pohl

Taught Photography Workshop: Digital SLR 101

Creative Collaboration Project: Pholaborate with Hannelle Lahti & Magda Rakita

Community Creative Event: Slideluck Kigali

Expat Community Group: Artist Abroad with Kevin McCarthy

Pro bono Projects for nonprofits Nyamirambo Women’s Project & WAG

Personal Project on Rwandan Entrepreneurs with Laura Pohl

Personal Project on Maternal Health

 

This year has taught me two valuable lessons. You can always do more than you think you can, and it’s important to collaborate with people who live their life with passion. As you can see, most of my creative endeavors were done in collaboration with other people. I am grateful for the friendship, adventure, and creative journey. 

Do You Know How To Use Your Digital SLR?

I have been approached multi times since I've arrived in Kigali about teaching a photography workshop. I officially have put one together so you can take better photos. 

Do you have an awesome camera? Do you know want to know what to do with all those buttons? Do you want to make better pictures? I am hosting a half day workshop on June 28th in Kigali. This workshop is specifically for digital SLR cameras. Contact me today to reserve your slot! Location to follow registration.

This workshop it 50% Lecture and 50% Application. You will need a digital SLR camera. You will learn about basic gear, exposure (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO), focal length, semi automated settings, light, and composition. 

 

 

Experience Rwanda with Nyamirambo Women’s Center

Tourism in Rwanda often centers on gorillas, volcanoes, and Nyungwe Forest. But I want to promote an amazing community-based tourism project that showcases urban life and promotes cultural understanding in Kigali. Are you planning a vacation to Rwanda? Add Nyamirambo Women’s Center to your itinerary!

What Can You Do There?

  • Take tours of the women's homes, local food, and daily urban life.
  •  Attend a traditional Rwandan basket weaving class. It’s harder then it looks!
  •  Buy beautiful African handicrafts from the Umutima sewing project.
  • Visit the Isomero Library, which provides computer, Kinyarwanda, and English classes for the Nyamirambo neighborhood.

©2014 Crystaline Randazzo Photography, LLC. All Rights Reserved

©2014 Crystaline Randazzo Photography, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

©2014 Crystaline Randazzo Photography, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

©2014 Crystaline Randazzo Photography, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

©2014 Crystaline Randazzo Photography, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

NWC is one of my pro bono photography projects for 2014. The organization meets all my rules for working for free. Their programs are changing the lives of over ninety five women in their community by providing them with skills and education. Evidence shows that when women are empowered, they actively improve not only their life but their communities’ prosperity. 

How are women changing the world in your community? 

The Bigger Picture: Photography as Entrepreneurship


Are you interested in becoming a photographer? Are you so interested that you’d invest $100,000 and four years of your life towards pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the field? But what would you do if I told you that at least eighty percent of what you are going to need to know as a photographer isn’t taught in the best photography programs in the United States?

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I’m not really one to bash education as I have both an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in photography. But even after multiple degrees, I left school without taking a single course that addressed the business of photography.  As the graphs above indicate, a successful photography business is just that—a business.  I learned how to run my business through trial and error.

Curious to see if any photography programs have added courses on running a successful business in the seven years since I left Syracuse, I rolled up my sleeves and did some research.

UniversityDegreeCostTotal Required HoursTotal Required Business Hours
Brooks InstituteBachelor of Science in Visual Journalism$90,488 for program1206
University of MissouriBachelor of Arts in Photojournalism$36,180 per year (non resident)410
Rochester Institute of TechnologyBachelor of Arts in Photojournalism $47,336 per year1220
Syracuse UniversityPhotojournalism or Illustration Photography$59,320 for program383

I’ve invested a lot of time in the last five years into learning about business of photography. There are amazing photographers out there whose businesses are failing because they don’t understand how to run their businesses. And there are less skilled photographers that are making a good living because they do.  I am not saying that photography degrees aren’t teaching valuable skills, but I believe that we are missing the bigger picture of photography as entrepreneurship.

When you create a soapbox, you have no choice but to stand on it.  I recently partnered with my friend and collaborator Laura Elizabeth Pohl to teach a business practices workshop for photographers in Rwanda.. We both have advanced degrees that taught us to take great pictures, but we left university without knowing how to charge for our services, market our work to clients, or even do basic accounting.  We felt that teaching this course is one opportunity to pass on helpful information developed through experience and help Rwandan photographers to make a living wage.  

If the business of photography isn’t being taught to young photographers, how can they obtain the tools to become successful? What can the professional community do to help?  I’d love to know your thoughts and ideas on how we can promote entrepreneurship.

In order to do my part, I hope to continue sharing information and teaching in the communities that I live in. Keep your eyes open for the podcast from our workshop.