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Young People from across Dominica Explore Their Home Island from Ridge to Reef during National Geographic Photo Camp

Local students from the “Nature Island of the Caribbean” spent a week with National Geographic Explorers as they learned and practiced photography skills

Young people from across the island of Dominica, ages 14-32, participated in a National Geographic Photo Camp, a week-long interactive experience where they learned about photography and the power of storytelling. The Photo Camp took place April 6-10 in Dominica and was hosted in collaboration with the locally-based Project CETI (Cetacean Translation Initiative), another National Geographic program and an approved Dominican charity focused on applying advanced machine learning and state-of-the-art robotics to listen to and translate the communication of sperm whales in Dominica.

National Geographic Explorers Malaika Vaz, Ronan Donovan, and Sirachai Arunrugstichai provided mentorship and guidance as the students explored the island from “ridge to reef,” learned the basics of photography, and shared how they feel connected to the island’s ocean and marine ecosystems, wildlife, and culture. Locally-based Dominica Marine Conservation Fellows (DMCF) participated in the event as well as part of the Photo Camp’s partnership with Project CETI.

“Working with our young students was a real pleasure. Besides learning photography and storytelling skills, it was amazing to see how the students pushed themselves outside of their comfort zone during Photo Camp to be more confident, connect with many new community members on their assignments and approach each day with curiosity, empathy and passion,” said National Geographic Explorer Malaika Vaz. “They worked collaboratively and used their photo stories to highlight important issues that impact Dominica—including poverty, the impact of tourism, women's safety and environmental protection. They also channeled their awe and wonder at the natural landscapes and ecology of their island to create beautiful visuals that drew their audience in during the final show. I am looking forward to following their journey and hearing about the impact they create in the world of photography and beyond in the years to come.”

“At the core of our mission and vision at Project CETI, is creating new opportunities for the youth of Dominica,” said National Geographic Explorer Dr. David Gruber, Founder and Leader of Project CETI. “The participants in Photo Camp have beautiful and important stories to share through their photography and writing.”

As a locally-based nonprofit, Project CETI connected with schools—including Dominica State College—as well as local clubs and local organizations to ask for recommendations for participants for the National Geographic Photo Camp.

National Geographic hosted a virtual Photo Camp in 2021 that included students from Dominica, several of whom returned as mentors and team leaders for the recent in-person Photo Camp with Project CETI. National Geographic has also hosted other Photo Camps in the Caribbean including in Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Cuba, and Barbados.

An image captured by Photo Camp Dominica student Apindi McIntyre as the students explored the island on their first day. Addressing the week’s theme, Apindi wrote, “The crystal clear rivers and the deep ocean with our dynamic sperm whale population, is another one of our precious wonders. It is these small gifts that we appreciate everyday. Being from the nature isle and getting in sync with Mother Nature has allowed me to find my sense of identity.”

Photo Camp Dominica student Kerbeshia Elie made this image on the second day. In another student's reflection at the end of the week, Tracey Daway wrote, “The average Dominican endures, struggles and fights daily to survive a harsh reality in a picture perfect paradise. Tall is her body; wilted are her people. Ruins cover her body where colonisers took from her.”

A Dominican anole (Anolis oculatus)] documented by Photo Camp Dominica student Russell Raymond. Raymond wrote, “The hustle, the noise, the heat, the rain. Keeping you afloat is our music, the laughter, a warm hug or just some good soul food. Nature may come to us in various forms. Be it in a sweet grafted mango you pick from a tree or a friendly lizard that strolls along looking for its next meal.”

Following the program, Dominica’s newly trained storytellers and photographers presented their work at a closing ceremony showcasing their stories and photos. Selected images from the final show will later be exhibited at the Project CETI Fellowship Summit this July in Dominica.


National Geographic Photo Camp provides a meaningful introduction to photography for young people from around the world. Each Photo Camp is an immersive experience where students receive instruction and guidance from world-class National Geographic Explorers and photographers, build skills and confidence, explore the world around them, and develop deep connections with each other. The goal of the program is to inspire the next generation of storytellers, and support them in sharing their experiences and perspectives. Follow @NGPhotoCamp on Instagram to see more!

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About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 15,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit or follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.