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Harnessing talent for a purpose

10 Jul 2019

Harnessing talent for a purpose Image

By David Schout

Through a partnership with Amnesty International, freelance photographer and Photography Studies College (PSC) tutor Rod Ceballos has formed a program where students can “practice with purpose”.

Rod had always been a keen photographer, but it wasn’t until a “restless” period working in middle management that he really discovered his love for it.

After moving to Melbourne from Chile with his family at the age of the 10, he would finish his schooling and study design – and then photography – here in Melbourne.

But upon finding love during a trip to Venezuela, Rod would soon move back to South America.

It was there, in the humdrum of daily life, that he picked up the camera again.

“I was getting restless, I needed something else,” Rod explained.

“I had mentioned to people that I studied photography and someone suggested I did wedding photography. I was initially very hesitant – when I got married my wedding photographer didn’t even turn up!”

After some convincing, and an erasing of his own wedding day scars, he came around to the idea.

“I looked at some of the wedding photos being taken and thought ‘well, there’s no way I can do worse’. I don’t want that to come across as arrogant, but let’s just say they weren’t as good as wedding photos in Melbourne.”

So, he took on the task, to swift and positive feedback.

Rod would eventually return to Melbourne at the end of 2014, and soon found work as a photography editor for a community newspaper in the city’s inner-north.

After working with a number of talented yet unreliable volunteer photographers in the role, he turned to PSC for a more constant supply of student photographers keen for experience in local news.

The experiment proved a success, and his partnership with PSC has grown ever since.

He now combines his freelance photography career with work as a tutor at the college.

Perhaps most importantly, however, he has established an internship program between PSC and Amnesty International where students are tasked with capturing different Amnesty events.

The Amnesty International Photographers Network, under Rod’s coordination, gives students the chance to document important events organised by the human rights group.

“That’s one of the things I’m most proud of,” he said of the network, which was established within the last 12 months.

“Growing from experience in local news I saw the benefit that community-based organisations can have for developing people in different ways, and this does exactly that.”

The first group of student photographers and videographers have finished their nine-month internship, with some continuing their work with Amnesty.

Rod paid tribute to the partnership.

“One of the things I’ve always loved with them (PSC), they have always been eager to give their students as much experience as possible. They see the value in that and additionally, Amnesty get value in having photographers at their events.”

He said among his work, community-based projects gave him the most professional fulfilment, and he was glad he could work with students on something.

“The benefit of the program is to give students the space to learn something new, but it also allows them to do work that means something. It’s practice and development with a purpose.”

 

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