About the part that art plays in a globalising society

Framer Framed

Janne: Want alle beetjes natuur in de stad maken het leven mooier.

Stay Strong Photo Stories - about strength and patience in times of Covid

We have officially entered the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. People’s lives have been impacted and taken a 180-degree turn globally. We all have to learn to adapt to these trying times and find ways to gain strength and patience to make it through in solidarity with one another. The pandemic has an especially significant impact on the mental health of adolescents and young people in big cities, such as Amsterdam. For those who can use some distraction and mutual support, we organised the Stay Strong Photo Stories.

by Tara Khalili

June 2021

Together with Framer Framed, Karine Versluis from the Picture Bridge Foundation organised the fourth Stay Strong Photo Stories with the goal to guide 16 to 24-year-old residents of Amsterdam-Oost to express themselves and their struggles and joys during the four weeks of this project through photography. Irrespective of the participants’ familiarity with photography techniques and know-how. Every week, the participants came together for one hour on Zoom to share their stories.

Karine taught participants about the basics of photo theory and about the importance of these concepts and their interplay with light and composition in creating an aesthetic photograph. While some participants had more familiarity with photography, others had no prior experience. Discussing principles of photography, like frame, focus, and perspective, allowed the group to be on common ground. This enticed participants to think about how the perspective from which a picture is taken influences the story behind it.

Besides the technical concepts that were discussed, every session centered around a feeling. Participants got to share their interpretation of themes, such as hope and connection through their photography. Whether that refers to a connection to oneself, to somebody else, or to the world around us. The participants were free in their own unique visualisation of these themes and shared the stories underlying their photographs with each other.

The last Stay Strong Photo Stories took place weekly from 12 April to 3 May 2021.

Anays: Caring for others is important, but Covid-19 taught us that sometimes, by caring for yourself, you’re caring for others, too.

Aalayah:  Hey, nobody said you can’t eat chocolate ice cream in the sun. 😉

Four weeks later, and we have reached the last session of the fourth Stay Strong Photo Stories. At the end of the session, the participants went through all the pictures that were taken throughout the last month collectively and came to the realisation that everyone has their own individual style. Within the group, the participants developed an eye for each other’s styles and perspectives and often could connect the picture to the photographer. Some participants shared that the Stay Strong Photo Stories helped them look for moments to capture in their day-to-day lives. A way to find beauty, happiness, hope, and connection in everyday moments.

Scroll to see the results of the workshop:

Bo: For me, springtime and nature are symbols of hope. I also really like Amsterdam in spring.

Monica: A photo that shows paintings that are no longer visible.

Tara: What do you call that again when you’re anxious and happy at the same time? Right, going to the office after months during a pandemic.

Glodi: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Janne: Because every bit of nature in the city makes life more beautiful.

Anays:  At times when I am at a loss, my children give me strength to go on. The hands on the photo are theirs.

Bo:  This photo shows a meeting of two friends in Amsterdam. For me, the photo symbolises the silver linings of the lockdown: despite the pandemic, we remain connected.

Illaisa:  In Surinamese culture it is very normal to get a Koti one day. I got this Koti when I was 7 years old. We went to the Ketikoti on 1 July in the Oosterpark. My mother wanted to give this Koti away, but I kept it to give to one of my children in the hope that they will also pass it on to their children. I think it is a very beautiful thing. It is part of my culture.

Glodi: Me and my niece. She is me and I’m her.

Monica: My little/big  zus

Aalayah: Roaring twenties?
Volgens deze poster zal er flink geweest worden na deze pandemie…

Janne:  Lost to the earth, but now together in a home of their own making.

Tara: Sometimes, when home is so far away, or even unreachable, you have to do your best to create a replica. A replica so close to the true version, it confuses those who never enjoyed a taste of your home.

Amsterdam Oost / Community & Learning / Education / Photography /


Exhibition: Shaping Feelings

An online presentation of Framer Framed in collaboration with Amsterdam Museum


Book Launch: Stay Strong Photo Stories
Photos and stories of love, loneliness, hope and connection made during the lockdown
Stay Strong Photo Stories
Online photo project for youth


Karine Zenja Versluis