ArtReach grantee and creator of ShootForPeace, Yasin Osman, is an award-winning Toronto-based photographer and visual storyteller who specializes in capturing evocative images of the living world.
When asked how it all started, Yasin shares, “I started learning photography in the creative arts program at the Remix Project in 2014. After the program, I started my Instagram page, yescene, but I didn’t have my own camera. I was using my mom’s cellphone to capture all the changes that were happening right outside my door. Regent Park is going through a ‘revitalization’, and my friends wanted me to document their homes before they were demolished. I sold 4 of my Jordan’s, and ended buying a used DSLR camera. As I roamed my neighborhood and the city with fellow photographers, I started to get a lot of love and followers. One day a young person from the neighborhood approached me and ask how to take photos. He was shy at first, and then every time he saw me, he would ask me for more tips on how he could make his photos look like mine. Finally, I said to him, ‘Listen, meet me on Sunday, and bring a bunch of your friends along and I’ll show you how to take photos. Bring anything they can that takes photos’. That Sunday, he brought along 10 of his friends and we walked to another neighborhood to do an assignment on symmetry. When we were done the class, we talked about their experiences, and chatted about the difficulties of the assignment (not having a fancy camera, or sharing a cell phone between 3 people, etc.)”.
From that initial meeting, the group continued to meet on Sundays to practice their photography, and in 2015 at only 22 years old, Yasin formally founded ShootForPeace. The program was to be an ongoing photo mentorship program, blending his background in early childhood education and passions for youth empowerment and photography.
In 2018, ArtReach had the privilege of funding ShootForPeace. Yasin tells us, “ArtReach was the only funding we received in 4 years of having ShootForPeace. It allowed for us to provide food, transportation and the opportunity to have an exhibition”. During the nine-month project, Yasin taught participants the fundamentals of photography, and how to build a photography brand, culminating in a community photo album that was exhibited in their home-base of Regent Park.
The response to ShootForPeace has been amazing- Yasin shares that, “the community is really excited especially the parents and siblings of the participants. We have parents who drop by to join some of our sessions and during our exhibition we had many community members come by and congratulate our team on the good work”. He continues, “the biggest change I’ve seen the project make in the community is all the community partnerships ShootForPeace has made. Almost every event that happens in Regent Park, we have ShootForPeace photographers covering the event. ShootForPeace has become a movement bigger than photography. It’s amazing seeing the community so involved in the program”.
When asked what’s next for the program, Yasin tells us, “I see the program getting bigger and providing art-based programming to more communities in Toronto and even abroad. I want to share the blessings that I’ve received on a younger generation of youth”.
We wish Yasin all the best, and can’t wait to see the great photos to come out of ShootForPeace in the future. Follow their incredible work on their Instagram page: instagram.com/shootforpeace_/
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