The Power of a Picture

November 1st marked the 10th anniversary for Critical Exposure, where the education is multipronged: Teach students documentary photography skills, and teach them to use those skills to make a difference in their schools and communities.

“The photography is a way to engage the students,” said executive director Adam Levner. “The combination of the photography and the advocacy is really a very intentional process. What we’re seeking to do is to develop students who can become civic leaders because they have experiences rooted in communities and schools. “

Critical Exposure works with low-income students in DC area high schools, offering both afterschool programs and in-school partnerships at no cost.

Photo courtesy of Critical Exposure

Photo courtesy of Critical Exposure

There are three primary benefits to the students, Adam said.

First, they learn that they have the right to question things, and more importantly, to try and change what they believe is not right. Presently, Critical Exposure fellowship students are using their photography and advocacy skills to protest the school-to-prison pipeline, which pushes at-risk students, often minorities, out of the education system and into the penal one.

Second, they learn the power of collaboration and working together.

And third, they get to see that people value what they have to say.  “The young people we work with are often told they don’t have anything to say of value,” said Adam,  “so for them to testify in front of city council, or to have their photos at an art gallery, is validating for them.”

Video from Critical Exposure (, sent for a feature on The Daily Do Go Good (

Special Event

In honor of their 10th anniversary, Critical Exposure is holding a special exhibit and workshop: From Darkroom to Digital: 10 Years of Developing Youth Advocates.

The exhibit runs through Nov. 16 and features work by Critical Exposure students. On Nov. 11, students will give a presentation on the role of photography in social movement, and how they have used it to affect change in their schools.

Where: Former Spanish Ambassador’s Residence, 2801 16th St., N.W.
When: Nov. 11, 5 – 6 p.m.