Cecilia Brolga lights up when she talks about photography. She has dreamt of learning how to use a camera for years, but living in a remote community has made it challenging.
- A photography workshop for women in the remote Aboriginal community of Bidyadanga was a first for many of its participants
- The workshop empowers women in across the Kimberley to tell their own stories through the lens
- Several women have applied for funding to start their own photography businesses after being inspired by the workshops
Her home is in Bidyadanga, on the Kimberley coastline about 180 kilometres south of Broome. Also known as La Grange, it is a town with 750 residents making it the largest Aboriginal community in the state.
“I was in the community, and I went up to the women’s centre and ladies were there all together doing painting and they were talking about some ladies coming from Broome to do a photography course, and I say, ‘Oh for real?’ and I say, ‘I’m not letting this one go,” she said.
“I tried to do it online but that wasn’t for me; we didn’t get the joy of getting the pictures.”
Ms Brolga was one of 19 women who took part in a free photography workshop run by Camera Story, a not-for-profit that is empowering women and young people in remote communities with the skills to tell their own stories through a lens.
Broome Circle community development coordinator Carly Day was integral in bringing the workshops to the town.
She said while the local women’s centre provided many creative outlets, this was the first time photography was offered.
An exhibition, titled Ladies New Look, has been displaying the women’s work in both Broome and Bidyadanga.
Ms Day said the women thought up the title during the last workshop.
“They’d all been out on the beach, dressed up, feeling good and talking about their new way of looking at the world through a camera lens,” Ms Day said.
For Ms Brolga, the photo she took of her granddaughters that hangs on the exhibition verandah of Broome Circle distils her love for photography.
“I call them my jewels,” she said.
“I just like to take pictures of everything. I like wildflowers, taking pictures of babies, people old and young, because you capture the heart of the people.”
Ms Brolga and a number of other women are taking their new-found hobby a step further.
With the help of Broome Circle, the women have applied for business funding to buy their own camera gear.
“It’s a good thing that it came to Bidyadanga, and it gets myself and every lady that’s doing it all motivated and doing new things in life. We feel the heart for this photography course,” Ms Brolga said.
Ms Day said the women have ensured the workshop could run next year by donating some of the exhibition profits back into the program.
“We’ll have another set of workshops teaching them how to use their own gear,” she said.
Co-founder of Camera Story, Sarah Landro said it was “mind-blowing” to see so many women excited about taking photography further.
Ms Landro said she had worked in the Kimberley region delivering workshops for eight years but over the past year had focused on women and young people.
“Things like taking family photos, photographing events, working with ranger groups; the opportunities are really endless and photography is an incredible way to heal, to share your story but to also generate an income.”