Bidyadanga photography workshops that help Kimberley women become stargazers

Cecilia Brolga lights up when she talks about photography. She has dreamed of learning to use a camera for years, but living in a remote community has made it challenging.

Her home is in Bidyadanga on the Kimberley coast about 180 kilometers south of Broome. Also known as La Grange, it is a city of 750 inhabitants, making it the largest Aboriginal community in the state.

“I was in the community and I went up to the women’s center and the ladies were all there painting and they were talking about some ladies who came from Broome to take a photography course and I say, ‘oh, really?’ I say, ‘I will not let go of this one,’ she said.

“I tried to do it online, but it was not for me; we did not get the pleasure of getting the pictures. “

A woman looks at the pictures at the Ladies New Look exhibition at Broome Circle.(ABC Kimberley: Madison Snow)

Ms. Brolga was one of 19 women who attended a free photography workshop run by Camera Story, a not-for-profit organization that gives women and young people in remote communities the ability to tell their own stories through a lens.

Broome Circle’s community development coordinator, Carly Day, was an integral part of bringing workshops to the city.

She said that while the local women’s center provided many creative opportunities, it was the first time photography was offered.

An exhibition entitled Ladies New Look has shown the work of women in both Broome and Bidyadanga.

Image © Tahlia Badal, 'golden days'
Bidyadanga photographer Tahlia Badal’s photo Golden Days on display at the Ladies New Look exhibition at Broome Circle.(Delivered: Tahlia Badal)

Mrs Day said the women found out about the title during the last workshop.

“They had all been out on the beach, dressed, had a good time and talked about their new way of looking at the world through a camera lens,” Ms Day said.

For Mrs. Brolga, the image she took of her grandchildren, which hangs on Broome Circle’s exhibition porch, distills her love of photography.

“I call them my jewels,” she said.

“I just like taking pictures of everything. I like wild flowers, taking pictures of babies, people, old and young, because you capture people’s hearts.”

Four pictures of people and landscapes in an exhibition.
The images were displayed on a light transparent material and hung around the porch of Broome Circle. (ABC Kimberley: Madison Snow)

Mrs. Brolga and a number of other women take their newfound hobby a step further.

With the help of Broome Circle, the women have applied for business support to buy their own camera equipment.

“It’s a good thing that it came to Bidyadanga, and it gets myself and every woman who does it all, motivated and doing new things in life. We feel the heart of this photography course,” Ms. Brolga said.

Mrs Day said the women have ensured that the workshop could run next year by donating some of the exhibition’s profits back to the program.

Three women standing on a beach.
Bidyadanga photographer Nuria Jadai’s work Thomas ‘1, which was exhibited in the Ladies’ New Look exhibition at Broome Circle.(Delivered by: Nuria Jadai)

“We want another set of workshops that teach them to use their own equipment,” she said.

Camera Story co-founder Sarah Landro said it was “insane” to see so many women excited to take photography further.

Footprints in the sand
Bidyadanga photographer Cecilia Brolga’s picture Jina was shown in the Ladies New Look exhibition at Broome Circle.(Delivered: Cecilia Brolga)

Ms Landro said she had been working in the Kimberley region delivering workshops for eight years, but over the past year she had focused on women and young people.

“Things like taking family photos, photographing events, working with rangers; the possibilities are truly endless, and photography is an incredible way to heal, share your story, but also generate an income.”

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