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A picture is worth a thousand words. But for Matt Carasella and his young Brazilian friends, it's worth far more. Matt founded Little Shutterbugs, a photography workshop for children dedicated to education and community outreach. The first workshop, held in 2008 for impoverished Brazilian children, provided them with access to photographic technology and a new perspective on themselves and their lives. Inspired by Worldfund, an organization that promotes high-quality education for children living in adverse conditions, Matt wanted to help change these young lives. Initially, he only planned to teach photography, but his vision grew. "I revised the project to include teaching the Little Shutterbugs workshop and producing a photo book, Class of Contrast, that tells the children's story," he says. "Book sales benefit Worldfund. Given that the average monthly salary in Brazil compares to the price of a simple digital camera, it's not hard to believe these children experienced this technology for the first time." The children learned English through basic camera vocabulary, teamwork and creativity. It fits together as a life-changing picture. To pay his bills, the media arts and design graduate runs Social Shutterbug, an event photography service in New York. Such notables as Forbes magazine, Bloomingdale's and The Metropolitan Museum of Art engage him. But even his day job has a compassionate side. 'Ultimately," he says, "I want Social Shutterbug to represent a team of photographers who donate a percentage of their earnings to schools or programs supported by Worldfund and other causes. The goal is to shoot for a cause."
"Although I was told of the horrors of drugs, poverty, unemployment and murder that these students faced, it wasn't real to me until I stepped inside the neighborhood. I remember saying, 'This is real.' In some ways I wonder if I am the one who learned the most from this experience."