About

 
 
 
 

Lensational is a global social enterprise committed to sharing women’s stories through the transformative power of photography. We equip marginalised women in the developing world with digital cameras and photography training. We are a global team of innovators united by a deep sense of mission to create social change.

 Founded by then 21 year-old Bonnie Chiu in Hong Kong in 2013, Lensational is now led by more than 60 young people from across the world, united by a deep sense of mission to create social change. Find out more about our Team!

 
 

We address the need for women to tell their own stories

Women and girls are disproportionately affected by barriers to freedom of expression and representation. Of the world’s 796 million illiterate adults, over two thirds are women residing in the Global South, who are barred from expressing themselves. This goes hand in hand with a lack of economic independence – in 2016, women only earn a tenth of the world’s income.

How can women’s stories be represented, if they are not able to articulate and share them? In 2014, only 30% of global news stories were about women, and the press of the shutter often created an oppressed and monolithic image of women in the Global South.

 

We believe in the transformative and communicative power of photography

In late 2011, when I was visiting Istanbul, snapping away with my Canon 600D, four girls came up to me and asked if they could take a look at my camera. I started teaching them how to take pictures. Even though they did not speak much English, we connected through photography. I realised that photography is a universal language that transcends cultural boundaries.

Bonnie Chiu, Co-founder and CEO

Globally, photography is still inaccessible in many developing countries, but it has the power to be a transformative communication tool, allowing women and girls who can’t read or write to express themselves. Photography as a language transcends barriers and cultures, and in today’s visual world, it is an important part of identity-building, giving one the ability to show one’s world, and shape one’s stories. Find out here why we think photography is such a powerful tool!

 

Through participatory photography we share unheard stories on a global stage

We work in four steps:

  1. Camera recycling: The women participating in Lensational’s photography workshops are equipped with second-hand digital cameras that we collect from individuals and corporates. More about camera donations here!
  2. Photography workshops: Each workshop is run by a professional photographer, and follows a thoroughly researched and carefully developed curriculum that is adapted to the specific context of each training. The sessions cover basic camera techniques, emotional expression and storytelling. More about our photography programmes here!
  3. Photo sales: Photos taken by our participants are sold via our online platform, exhibitions and corporate sales partners, which include Corbis, Wellcome Images and PhotoConcierge. 50% of revenue goes back to the participants; 50% goes back to Lensational. Discover the work of our students on our photography platform!
  4. Continuous training: Following the basic training participants can choose to receive mentoring and on-going training from professional photographers represented by Getty Images and Magnum Foundation via Lensational.


 
 

Since launch in 2013 we have trained 400 women and girls across 15 developing countries

Lensational is led by young people from across the world, united by a deep ambition to create social change. Since our creation in Hong Kong in 2013, we have grown substantially, from our first programme with domestic workers from Indonesia and the Philippines, to programmes in 15 developing countries, reaching over 400 women and girls, and establishing a team of 60+ volunteers across 18 countries.

 

Listen to our story - told by CEO Bonnie Chiu!

Join us in empowering women through photography!