On Thursday March 20th 2014, Lyla Weiss, founder of Billy’s Camera is hosting a fundraiser. She is currently in the process of receiving 501(c)(3) status and is working hard to develop a system to provide cameras for orphaned children in under-developed areas throughout the world.
Billy's Camera is a creative outlet expressed through the beauty of photography with a goal to compile photos to sale through a variety of ways, whether at an auction, art gallery, etc. The proceeds are intended to go to orphanages. Examiner.Com had the opportunity to chat with Lyla Weiss about her upcoming fundraiser and all things related to Billy’s Camera.
Examiner: What is Billy's Camera?
Lyla Weiss: “Billy’s Camera is an organization that is working hard to develop a system to provide cameras for orphaned children in under-developed areas throughout the world. Our hope is to facilitate a once unobtainable means of creativity and self-expression through photography. Our goal is to compile the photographs for sale through various means (gallery, auction, coffee- table book and website) with the proceeds being directly re-invested into the participating, orphanages and communities.”
Examiner: What sparked the creation of Billy's Camera?
Lyla Weiss: “I love seeing kids smile. There is no better feeling. I was fortunate enough to visit an orphanage in Ethiopia. I witnessed kids who had absolutely nothing. No parents to tuck them in at night or Grandparents to teach them about their heritage and yet they still found so much to smile about. They would fight over my camera and crack up over the images that appeared on the screen. They could do this for hours. Most people say that their old photos are their most valuable possessions. It made me sad to think that these kids would grow up and not have pictures of themselves as kids with missing teeth and little hands. They would not have pictures of their friends, and of the walls in which they lived in. It’s such a simple thing but one that we take for granted. Billy’s Camera was sparked by the idea of being able to make this happen for these kids. Being able to get them cameras of their own and photographs that they could cherish.”
Examiner: Can you take us through the process of how Billy's Camera works?
Lyla Weiss: “Absolutely! Let’s say you donate a (working) digital camera, Billy’s then takes your camera and a ton of other donated cameras to an orphanage. Billy’s gives the cameras to the kids, teaches them how to use the camera and lets them play around with them. One of two things then happens - depending on the circumstance – either the volunteers at the orphanage upload the photos themselves, depending on their internet connection, or Billy’s has the volunteers send the memory cards back to the states to upload the photos. Billy’s then sends the memory cards back to the orphanage. Meanwhile, the photos are being developed and uploaded to BillysCamera.org where they are available for purchase. All of the proceeds would go back to the orphanage. Down the road, I’d love to work with schools or folks in a nursing home to create scrapbooks for the kids and send those back to the orphanage as well.”
Examiner: How powerful is the essence of a picture?
Lyla Weiss: “There is nothing like being able to capture a moment in time and reflect back on it. There is something truly incredible about looking at a photo and having it evoke old memories and emotions in you that you may have otherwise forgotten. A photograph allows you tap back into that moment in time.”
Examiner: How important do you think it is for children to be able to creatively express themselves?
Lyla Weiss: “Have you heard the song, “Flowers are Red”, By: Harry Chapin? It’s a song about a boy who sees the world full of colors with no rule as to which should apply. His teacher on the other hand wants to instill rules and structure. By prohibiting creativity the teacher destroys the kid’s spirit. To let children creatively express themselves allows them to see life as a place of endless possibilities; it allows them to dream and gives them hope, especially when their circumstances might not be ideal.”
Examiner: When did you discover your passion for photography?
Lyla Weiss: “I can’t put my finger on exactly when my passion for photography began, but it’s something I have always loved and appreciated. As a kid I could spend hours looking at old family photos and being fascinated with the concept of capturing a moment in time for forever. Doreathea Lang, said it perfectly, “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”
Examiner: What regions are you looking to reach to give cameras to?
Lyla Weiss: “"I would love to take Billy’s wherever I can go. Whether its inner-city schools in New York or a tiny villages in Africa… if Billy’s can get there, I am looking to go there.”
Examiner: Do you think this will inspire people to get into the arts?
Lyla Weiss: “I don’t see why not. I hope it inspires people to do what they love.”
Examiner: How can people get involved?
Lyla Weiss: “"If you’re interested in getting involved, please visit our website at www.billyscamera.org. You can also ‘like’ Billy’s on Facebook and follow us on Instagram (@billyscamera) and Twitter (@billyscamera) to stay updated on what Billy’s is up to!
If you have a camera to donate, please send it to:
49 West 72nd St. Apt. 2B
New York, NY