For over ten years, our Family Pictures USA methodology has been used to build community across the country, and the world, in unique experiential events, workshops and trainings. In 2020, we added a new, virtual dimension to our offerings, making our learning program available to audiences wherever they are.
Using our unique and extensive content, from over 4500 interviews with people in over 70 communities in the USA, Canada, Europe and Latin America, our fully customizable workshops and trainings are focused on helping leaders and organizations to build more inclusive and equitable cultures where every stakeholder feels a sense of belonging.
Below are a few highlights from our recent engagements. To schedule a workshop or event for your company, organization or community, please contact us at: don@FamilyPicturesUSA.com or 646-662-8409
Family Pictures USA at USC
I had a wonderful time guest visiting the USC School of Cinematic Arts to discuss Family Pictures USA and its impact with Associate Dean Michael Renov and his graduate seminar students in documentary.
We had a great discussion and I am looking forward to the Family Pictures USA campus-wide event we are planning for the fall!
Family Pictures USA at the University of Delaware
We always welcome the chance to bring our Family Pictures USA methodology to the classroom and younger generations, so we were happy to visit Debra Norris’s Photograph Conservation class at the University of Delaware Program in Art.
Thomas led a discussion with the class about his approach to community engagement and personal storytelling, some of his past work as well as about the various ways that Family Pictures USA resonated with the students. The block culminated in a poignant and touching Family Pictures USA Community PhotoShare where each student was able to share their most personal family photos and memories with their peers – creating an unforgettable experience of bonding within the group.
“I just wanted to thank you for your WONDERFUL presentation and the time you spent with our class today. I so look forward to future collaborations. It was just fantastic.” – Debra Norris
Spitfire Strategies’ 2020 Executive Training Program
Our Family Pictures USA team presented a special training session during Spitfire Strategies’ ETP on how something as ubiquitous as family photographs can create new narratives around notions of equity, inclusion, diversity and belonging in the work for social change. In the workshop, participants learned how to harness personal testimonies based on family photographs in authentic ways to create new narratives and foster more nuanced dialogues with constituents – boards, donors, staff, clients, policy makers, etc. Select members joined the Community Photoshare event where they shared their family photos and histories with us, connecting their personal family photographs with their present work.
“I’m enjoying all of this! Thank you, everyone, for taking time to share these stories about our lives.”
“I could do this all day!”
“So many of the stories highlight empowerment and success despite adversity – create way to tell the story of triumph and possibilities”
“Much appreciation to all of you who “dared to share” so personally, deeply, and thoughtfully! REALLY useful and inspiring!”
“This was an uplifting and informative session. Thanks so much for sharing and being vulnerable.”
“What a moving presentation. It is one I will never forget. Thanks to all who shared. And many thanks to you Thomas for sharing your work. It is plain to see you are living your passion. It’s so inspiring!”
Housing California’s 2020 Virtual “Un-Conference”
August 31- September 4, 2020
For Housing California’s annual conference, Family Pictures USA ran a month long campaign that culminated in keynote presentation and workshop on how family photographs can expand our notions of “Home” and can help bridge differences between the Housing Justice Movement and policymakers in order to bring housing security to everyone. Our event featured a diverse group of special guests — CEOs, staff, formerly homeless, and interns — who shared stories about their family photographs and how their family stories motivated them to join the Housing Justice Movement.
“Home is a place for family and friends to find warmth, comfort and safety, and where memories and traditions are made. Home is the foundation for a life full of love, health and security.”
“We are so incredibly happy that we organized a plenary with [Family Pictures USA] at our virtual conference this year – it was the perfect addition to the event – a way to truly connect to the ‘human side’ of the important work that this movement is doing and bring the ‘people’ front and center to our critical work. We couldn’t have done that without you!” – Jenny Welch, Operations Director, Housing California
North Carolina Network of Grantmakers 2020 Annual Meeting and Conference: People, Place, Purpose
March, 2020 – Winston-Salem, NC
In a special plenary presentation, we shared our Family Pictures USA methodology at the NCNG 2020 Annual Meeting and Conference. During the event, we discussed the impact of family photographs and their value to understanding our shared history. We participated in a dialogue with Charles Thomas, the head of the Knight Foundation about the FPUSA North Carolina episode as well as the use of photography and storytelling in helping to facilitate communication between funders, their grantees and the communities they serve. Our session featured special guest Joy Vermillion of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, who spoke about her multigenerational history in North Carolina and throughout the South.
Our event concluded with a Community Photoshare workshop – highlighting the stories and photographs of a diverse group of participants – with the 300 event attendees where everyone is able to engage in our FPUSA methodology. Participants uploaded their photos to Twitter as part of a social media campaign – bringing the FPN family album to the digital sphere.
“Shared this epic family photo at the @ncgrantmakers #NCNG2020! Loved hearing everyone’s stories.”
“Loving the #familypicturesusa session at #NCNG2020! Here’s my family… in Kenya”
“Storytelling & expressing moments of joy with friends and strangers at @ncgrantmakers. ‘I feel like I know more about you after a few minutes of sharing’ #PeoplePlacesPurpose #ncng2020 #familypicturesusa” – Charles Thomas, Knight Foundation
FRANK Conference 2020
February 4 – 7, 2020 – Gainesville, FL
At the 2020 Frank Conference, our Family Pictures USA team traveled to Gainesville, FL, where Thomas presented workshops on “Awe” and “Love” and discussed how sharing publicly our personal family histories and photographs can elicit both Awe and Love, creating strong community connections. We showed how our Family Pictures USA methodology developed from Thomas’ own intimate documentary films, and also hosted a Community Photoshare where a group of strangers become a joyful family through the sharing of family photographs.
“Your work is an absolute game-changer in creating meaningful conversations with strangers. Now I’m looking at ways to use family photo-sharing in my own work, teaching people how to talk to strangers.”
“It was so wonderful to meet you at Frank… You are a true inspiration.”
Florida Philanthropic Network 2020 Statewide Summit on Philanthropy
February, 2020 – Orlando, FL
In February, 2020, our Family Pictures USA team traveled to Orlando, Florida, to teach summit attendees about why family photographs are essential for building community in our Dinner and Conversations workshop session. The workshop was preceded with a Welcome Reception, where attendees were photographed with their personal family photos.
Our special guests included Kathryn Kelly (The Heights Center), Vince Stehle (Media Funders) and Brittany Timmons (Community Foundation of South Lake) in wide ranging discussions about charting a course for the future of philanthropy and the world itself by looking towards our past in family photographs. We concluded the workshop with a Community Photoshare where members of FPN were encouraged to share their beloved family photographs and stories with those around them.
“Spending some time at #FPN2020 discussing how family photographs are essential for building community. Thankful to be apart of this impactful discussion”
University of Brasilia
October, 2019 – Brasilia, Brazil
Our Family Pictures USA methodology is applicable internationally, as demonstrated by our workshops at the Federal University of Brasilia as part of the “Plural Knowledge: The Social Relevance of the Public University” Conference, in a multidisciplinary symposium. Thomas gave a keynote presentation about the evolution of his work and our Family Pictures USA project. This was followed by a workshop on the exploration of family archives. We concluded our engagement with a Community Photoshare event at the “Family Photography: Ancestry, Memory, and History” workshop, where a full and diverse group of undergraduates, PhD candidates, artists, community activists, and scholars coming from African, Indian, Asian, and European Brazilian heritages shared their images and stories.
The photoshare event spanned multiple days and many participants found it to be a transformative experience that inspired them to use our methodology in their future work.
United Philanthropy Forum’s 2019 Annual Conference
July, 2019 – Cleveland, OH
In July, 2019, Family Pictures USA traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, for the United Philanthropy Forum’s Annual Conference. We presented at the “Clips, Conversations, and Cocktails” plenary session, where Thomas spoke with Vincent Stehle, Executive Director of Media Impact Funders, about the stories that exist behind family photographs. We showed a sneak peak of our national Family Pictures USA PBS series and led a Community PhotoShare with event attendees who shared the history and sentiment behind their family photo albums.