The nail and the door

April 22, 2007

by Jessica Reed liveblogging at the Democratic Image conference

Yesterday afternoon our wifi connection went down, but I want to write a great and relevant story Pedro Meyer told us about during the afternoon session.

A couple of years ago in Peru a project was organized around young kids and literacy – maybe photography could, after all, be a very good tool to teach young people various skills, and help them analyse their own world. The teachers decided to give them a camera, and told them to come back with a picture which would be an answer to this a question: “who is exploiting you?“.

One of the kids came back with a picture of a nail sticking out of a door. The teachers were all confused: “a nail on a door? they thought, “how could that possibly represent who is exploiting him?  He probably didn’t  understand the assignement, let’s talk to him”.

But one of the teachers decided to show the pictures to his classmates. To their surprise, all the kids vigorously nodded in agreement, immediately understanding the picture and what it represented. It turned out the kids were walking to Lima, miles away from their hometown, to work as shoeshine boys everyday. They would rent a nail from a man in order to hang out their kits every night, and the man would in turn take their money and mistreat them.

How important is it not to dismiss what the viewer is seeing in the picture?



  1. I, for one, really appreciate that you have provided accounts of the weekend. Many thanks!

  2. Hear! Hear! say I. Gracias mil, Jessica

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