What we do.
A 501(c) (3) non-profit, Seeing for Ourselves focuses on American lives, their work-a-day stories, and how they see the world around them. The content originates with those generally seen through the prism of outside observers very different from themselves. Participatory photography, the Seeing for Ourselves practice, corrects that distortion.
We look to provide fresh perspectives by equipping and training primarily disenfranchised and marginalized groups to take control of their own narratives. How? By taking photographs that
promote self-actualization, and
shift dominant paradigms.
To ensure top-quality work, we equip participants in our programs with suitable film or digital cameras, train them in the art of photography, inspire them with what the masters have done, and encourage them to document their lives. With cameras in their hands, these eager students, young and old, become the creators, frame by frame, of the pictures and words that tell the story of their lives. We then provide a platform—a book, an exhibit, or a movie—to share the results with the wider world.
Seeing for Ourselves owes its start to the encouragement of world-famous photojournalist Philip Jones Griffiths, who had attended George Carrano's staging of the groundbreaking participatory photography show Unbroken in 2004 at the Denise Bibro Fine Art gallery in Chelsea, New York. George then staged a widely-noticed exhibit of Philip's photographs in 2005 at the same venue: 50 Years on the Frontlines.
GEORGE CARRANO founded Seeing for Ourselves in 2010 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. He then successfully pitched a participatory photography program to New York's housing authority, an effort which became known as Developing Lives. George lined up Kodak, Dell Computers, and Duggal Visual Solutions as private partners to defray the already-low cost. Once the program ended in 2014, George concluded that the next step in getting the photographs before more eyeballs should be a book, which led to the publication of Project Lives in 2015.
Earlier in his career, Silent Generation member George served MTA New York City Transit, rising from the lowest ranks to become a Senior Vice President. George retired from the MTA in 1999 having implemented MetroCard, one of the largest public works projects in US transportation history. George was raised in the Bronx. He's the wizard of this enterprise, directing activities and arranging whatever is needed.
CHELSEA DAVIS was retained by the housing authority to run Developing Lives in the housing projects. A Millennial, Chelsea collaborated with George and Jonathan on the book Project Lives.
Earlier, Chelsea started up a participatory art program for autistic children in NYC and then a participatory photography effort in St. Louis for children with cancer. Chelsea was raised in Brooklyn. After serving as Marketing Director for the Tennis Academy -- providing sports instruction to underprivileged New York youth -- Chelsea joined the New York City Department of Probation in January 2018 to conduct the new effort on the ground, leaving Seeing for Ourselves. Chelsea fills the role of magical helper to our clients, those embarking on the heroes' journeys to do battle with negative stereotypes.
JONATHAN FISHER administered the participatory photography program at housing agency, extending it into other media channels. Jonathan collaborated with George and Chelsea on the book Project Lives. Jonathan was raised in the Bronx and Queens.
Earlier, Baby Boomer Jonathan enjoyed a lengthy career with MTA New York City Transit, following that with a stint on Madison Avenue while working to help ameliorate the lingering effects of Agent Orange. Jonathan is the storyteller of the trio.