Training: After attending a weeklong photography workshop, Jigme Wangmo, 15, studying in Jampeling higher secondary school in Trashigang, claims that she knows how to take good photographs.

When the workshop began, Jigme Wangmo was handed a sophisticated Canon DSLR camera.  She didn’t know how to start it, let alone operate it.

Today, she can take photographs that are as good as those taken by professionals.  Her works were displayed at the Royal Society for Protection of Nature’s hall, along with 20 other participants of the workshop, yesterday.

I realised I loved taking portraits of dogs and nuns, when we visited different places during the workshop, Jigme Wangmo said.

“I learnt how to take good pictures but, at the same time, learnt the importance of telling a story through a picture,” she said.

Jigme Wangmo plans to teach her friends when school restarts.

Tutor and organiser of the workshop, Fredric Roberts, 72, said taking professional photographs was not the only thing they taught during the workshop.

“It was important that students learnt how to be patient and observe all the little things in life happening around them,” Fredric Roberts said. “It was the life changing experience we wanted to give to these students, which I’m sure they’ll cherish for life.”

Fredric Roberts is a former Wall Street investment banker turned photographer.  Six renowned photographers, based in New York, California, Hong Kong and Nepal, assisted him during the workshop.  They are volunteers and teach in different countries.

I am proud of them and they have proved that they are sponges for knowledge, Fredric Roberts said. “These kids are smart and sensitive, and it was shown in their pictures.”

While another tutor, Arthur Ollman, said the students now know how to appreciate and be impressed by all the small things, such as dew droplets and texture of the tree barks.

“They now have a different perspective on everything they see, which is really valuable and such creative thinking can be the solution for problems in the future,” Arthur Ollman said. “They’re now uncovering and seeing thing differently, which were already there.”

Arthur Ollman has been a photographer for more than five decades and is currently the director of the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego.

Impressed by their works, Bhutan Nuns’ Foundation’s Ani Namgyel Lhamo decided to join the next workshop, which will be conducted next year.

“I’m really inspired by their works and I’m bringing along other nuns for the workshop as well,” Ani Namgyel Lhamo said.

Fredric Roberts and his team are travelling worldwide teaching youth the power of expression through photography.  This is the second similar workshop they are conducting in the capital this year.

Fredric Roberts and his team also left behind two sophisticated cameras so that the students can continue learning photography.

About 20 students participated in the workshop and half of them were from rural areas.

The workshop was conducted in partnership with the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy and Bhutan Foundation with support from Bhutan Airlines.

By Thinley Zangmo