A photo of a woman holding dirt with a sprouting tree growing; photo: Kenya Jade

5 reasons you should apply for the Urban Exposure Project

A woman holds a ball of dirt with a tree growing out of it; Photo credit: Kenya Jade

Are you an amateur photographer who wants to learn more about your city? Do you have big dreams about seeing your work exhibited? Do you care about social issues facing Calgarians? If you answered yes to any or all of the above, you should apply for the Urban Exposure Project. Like, now.

Like the average millennial, you might not have the time (or the attention span) for a long-winded ramble. But I’ve got you covered, folks! I’ve broken it down, BuzzFeed style.

5. It will make you a better photographer

United Way of Calgary and Area and Gen Next are connected to some phenomenal photographers who serve as teachers and mentors to the group (People like Jeremy Fokkens and Dan Lewis). I still fangirl over and follow the personal projects they are working on. You too can receive free mentorship and lessons from some of Calgary’s best photographers. For someone just starting out it quite literally doesn’t get any better than that!

4. You’ll see Calgary through a whole new lens

A black pitbull in a yellow raincoat with yellow sunglasses; Photo credit: Kenya JadeI know, I know. That pun was some serious low-hanging fruit but it was right there and I just couldn’t resist. Truly though, it’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-dayness of life that one can often forget to stop and smell (or in our cases, photograph) the flowers. One of the best things about UEP is that it forces you to pull your camera off the shelf and just photograph. Life is full of surprises, and you never know who or what you’ll encounter. Last year, as we were finishing up a session I met a pitbull wearing a yellow rainjacket. True story.

3. You’ll make great friends

I mean, you’re surrounded by a bunch of like-minded 20 and 30-somethings with an artistic side and a penchant for social causes. Odds are you’re bound to meet someone you like.

2. You can invite all your friends to your “gallery exhibit,” no big.

One of the largest hurdles photographers face is finding a way and a place to exhibit their work. Gallery exhibit right at the beginning of your career? Impressive. And even if your career aspiration isn’t necessarily to become the next Annie Liebowitz or Jeremy Fokkens, it’s a pretty cool thing to cross off that bucket list.

1. Participating in the Urban Exposure Project will make you a better person. 

I don’t mean to get existential on you, but it’s true. Being a socially aware citizen means that you can appreciate Calgary, and all of the different narratives that live within it in a different light. You have a chance to look at the spaces and places you pass by on a regular basis with a new perspective. You open yourself up to listening to other people’s experiences of a place. When your perspective is bigger, your ability to tackle life’s greatest challenges is strengthened.

That’s my pitch. Pat yourself on the back because you made it to the end of my list. But here’s the thing – instead of clicking on the next article, Buzzfeed style, I challenge you to apply now.

A photo of Kenya JadeKenya-Jade is a photographer and law student who is passionate about using photography as a tool for social change and awareness. She participated in the 2013 UEP cohort as a participant and went on to co-facilitate the project in 2014. She currently resides in Ottawa where she can often be found buried in a textbook, eating beaver tails in the market and loitering outside pretty buildings when the light is “just right.”