We’re aiming straight for the inspiration receptors, as we sit down with Bay Area Photographer, Steve Disenhof. Throughout this episode, we discuss his career in social work and how his professional background lead him to a passion for street photography and the ongoing development of new school programs to teach technology and photography in Kenya.
Originally pursuing engineering on the East Coast, Steve Disenhof made an major left turn and transitioned into the social welfare and psychology program at Penn State. Following graduation, Steve spent five years as a street counselor in Boston, talking with run-aways, pimps and prostitutes, in an effort help get them off the street and to protect new runaways from being fully enveloped into the perpetual life. A very unique background that is very evident in the fearlessness and comfort of his street photography and street portraiture.
After moving to the Bay Area in the 1980, Steve became director of a day treatment program in San Francisco for several years until his daughter was born and chose to become a full-time, stay at home dad. After his daughter grew up, he then moved on to the financial industry and eventually retired to begin a new chapter of life focused on the pursuit of helping others.
One of those opportunities was inspired by his son, who lead him to working with a Residential Boarding School for girls in Kenya, who have qualified for high school but can not afford to go. In this, he started a foundation to raise money for computers, contacted camera club members to gather donated cameras and pulled together a 3 week introduction to computers and photography workshop and in the first year alone, 52 of the girls attended.
Currently as part of the board of directors for the Daraja Academy, his work and this seed has continued to grow into a full fledge educational program, with 131 girls actively on campus at any given time. Since it’s inception in 2009, 85% of the graduating girls have qualified for University. Of those attending the school, 32 of the 42 tribes of Kenya are now represented, as well as all major religions. In addition, The Daraja Academy has continued to expand by developing a highly successful 4 year women’s empowerment program.
As with any program such as this, operation and expansion depend on the generosity of the people from around the world. If interested, please feel free to donate by visiting The Daraja Academy, and clicking on Donate.
This is only the first half of the show, Casper and Steve continue the conversation on benefits of camera clubs, the activities and challenges of the Marin Photography Club, zines they create. We get into some gear talk on ISO and Variance in the new Sony sensors. As well as plenty of street talk. So tune in now!
Oh and did we mention, he is also on a Liberian postage stamp, posed with and painted by, Norman Rockwell…