Brendan Bannon and the Ripple Effect of Photography GIP Event

By Kareem A. ‘21

On November 4, the Global Initiatives Program (GIP) and the Poly Community had the privilege of hosting Brendan Bannon, a freelance photographer and educator whose work has taken him around the world. Hosted by Global Scholars Jackson S. ‘21 and Juliette H. ‘21, the evening proved to be an educational and eye-opening experience leaving many in attendance engrossed by both his personal story and accounts from his work with the UNHCR and other organizations.

Through The Most Important Picture, a workshop that teaches at-risk children, youth, and adults to use photography and writing as a tool for discovery, Brendan utilizes photography not only as an art form, but also as a form of self-expression. According to the organization’s website, “People who are often the subject of journalism become the storytellers, using their imagery and words to have their voices heard.” Brendan's workshops offer the means to share a unique first-hand perspective, which is often overlooked. He described both photography and writing as democratic mediums where any individual is able to express oneself. Their creative and personal works humanize their experiences and offer a voice for all to hear. 

Fatima’s story comes to mind when reflecting on the event. As a war-widowed 19-year-old mother of three, Fatima had experienced more trauma over the course of her short life than many will ever face. In participating in Brendan’s workshop, photography became a way in which she could set those obstacles aside and escape her grief. She found confidence in herself and held a fervent wish for her work to be shared with others across the globe. Through these intensive workshops, many who participated sensed a feeling of validation that an audience existed that cared about what they had to say. Many members of Brendan’s workshops have moved on to be featured in major publications such as the New York Times, The Toronto Star, and MoMA’s blog. 

Regarding the ripple effect, Brendan’s work has left a lasting impact, whether that be with Mr. Boyd, a celebrated jazz pianist that Brendan discovered who was able to record his first record at 85, or with Fatima, whose love of photography grew into a desire to teach just as Brendan had done. Participants in the workshop also found a sense of community in those classes. As Brendan shared with us, many students remain in contact with one another for years after those transformative experiences.