Focus on Justice: Photo Contest

High School students raise awareness of social justice in an international photo contest


Photography is a powerful medium used to convey important messages. Through the lens of a camera, one can capture glimpses of life and eternalize them. It is a way of dealing with reality in an attempt to understand it and communicate with others. When used purposefully, photography can be a vital tool in advocating for justice.


Throughout the third quarter, students in Grades 10 through 12 took part in the “Focus on Justice: Photo Contest,” an international photography competition for students. With over two hundred submissions from students worldwide, the photography of two Nations students was remarkable! In the fourteen- to nineteen-year-old category, Helena Rosa Amado, Grade 10, and Sayna Zahrai, Grade 11, earned first and third place, respectively.


In addition to having their photographs posted on the online platform “Social Justice Club Initiative,” they won cash prizes of US$ 500 for first place and US$ 250 for third.


From gender equity to economic inequality, students expressed their social concerns by capturing moments in their day-to-day lives. In addition to sending their photos, student applicants also wrote short stories that explain their thoughts behind their images and why they believe they represent social injustice.


Helena Rosa Amado, Grade 10, earned first place in the contest with her photograph entitled “Respect.”


“The main idea of my photograph is to represent that people’s differences should not influence the respect they receive from others. We should respect everyone regardless of their gender, skin color, or social position. I decided not to show any part of the person’s body and to make the picture black and white, so we have no idea of what the model looks like,” explains Helena.


Sayna Zahrai, Grade 11, earned third place with her work “#Educationisnotacrime.”


“The social justice problem I wanted to show in my picture is how Bahá´ís in Iran are not allowed to enter any university. One campaign that addresses this social injustice is #Education Is Not A Crime. In my picture, the girl represents all Bahá´ís who want to study and get a university education but who are not allowed. The blindfold represents the government that prohibits their access to education. The white pages represent their lack of resources. Hopefully, by spreading this message, such injustices will end,” says Sayna.


In Arts class, High School Arts teacher, Ms. Diana Bracarense, taught students about framing and photographic composition and how to take powerful photos. Students’ artwork was incredible! Besides taking part in the Photo Contest, students also created digital posters of renowned photographers, such as Sebastião Salgado, who works with social themes through photography.


School of the Nations congratulates all students who took part in the “Focus on Justice: Photo Contest.”

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