Washington, DC

Critical Exposure is a DC based nonprofit that teaches youth how to use the power of photography and their own voices to become effective advocates for school reform and social change.  Through partnerships with youth programs and advocacy organizations, we seek to create a connection between art and advocacy using a three-pronged approach that focuses on youth empowerment, public engagement and policy change.  Over the past 5 years, Critical Exposure has worked with more than 800 students in DC, Austin, Albuquerque, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Pennsylvania.

Critical Exposure’s current youth photography exhibit, “5 Years, 5000 Images,” celebrates our first half-decade of work, and features more than 100 photographs from our students.  The exhibit reception is on Thursday, April 22nd from 6-8:30pm at the Edison Place Gallery (702 8th St. NW), and will be on display through the 30th.  More information about the event can be found here.  If you have any questions, please contact us at [email protected].

Previous student photos featured on PoP can be found here and here.

Cade (6th Grade), New Orleans

“We went on a field trip to schools around the city to see what schools looked like. All the schools were really different and had lots of problems. In my school, clocks were stuck on the time when Katrina hit. In this school, the clock was completely missing.”

* Since February 2008, Critical Exposure has been working with middle and high school youth in New Orleans to document conditions in their schools following Hurricane Katrina. Youth from 5 organizations from across the city are working together on a project to ensure that there is a strong youth voice in the school rebuilding process.

Devonte (11th Grade) Ballou Senior High School, Washington, DC

I took this photo to show how Ballou is restarting its community [with a new library].

*In 2010, Critical Exposure partnered with art teacher Kelley Givens at Ballou Senior High School in southeast Washington, DC to add an art advocacy component to her high school photography class. Students in 10th, 11th, and 12th grades learned to “read” the images of documentary photographers and employed those techniques to their own photographs of what is great and what needs to be changed at Ballou. While some students documented the plight of Ballou’s student bathrooms, litter and ailing facilities, others proudly photographed the school’s new library and gymnasium and wrote of the teachers that motivated them to succeed.


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