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Building a History of Citizen Photography: the TAFOS Story

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-82
Number of pages26
JournalPhotography and Culture
Issue number1
Early online date25 Jun 2019
Accepted/In press31 Dec 2018
E-pub ahead of print25 Jun 2019
Published2 Jan 2020


King's Authors


From 1986–98, over the years of Peru’s bloody internal conflict, Talleres de Fotografia Social (TAFOS) armed over 270 Peruvians from 30 communities – campesinos, miners, Afro-Peruvians, youth, men and women in the barrios – with cameras. Defining itself as being born out of the people’s need ‘to recover their own image’, TAFOS photographers documented daily life, working conditions, political upheaval and grassroots mobilization during a turbulent period of Peruvian history. TAFOS created a visual memory gathered by the very people that lived it that has become part of the visual social make-up of Peru society. The TAFOS photographers were doing citizens journalism before the term was coined. Sketching a potential history, this article tells the story of TAFOS. It re-presences it as a forbearer to contemporary developments in citizen and participatory photography and argues its significance as a counter archive of photographic history. The TAFOS experience pushes contemporary visual practitioners to examine the criteria by which they devise and articulate socially engaged projects. Its narrative challenges the tendency to mythologize photography’s capacity to empower and enable social change by insisting that people and politics, not just photography, lay at its core.

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