‘Picture My Rights’ is a photo contest and campaign that seeks to raise awareness on children’s rights by UNICEF Malaysia with a hashtag to give all of them #AShotAtLife. The platform provides young people an avenue to share their creativity, courage and optimism to help change the world around them.
Here, we talk about what the contest is about, why it is so important to hear from the youth, and what are some considerations when looking into how to enter this contest.
What is Picture My Rights / #AShotAtLife about?
The contest runs for two months from 17 July to 20 September 2023, and encourages children and young people aged 13 to 24 years old and living in Malaysia to submit photos that demonstrate any of the five following themes:
- Dignity & a fair chance
Every child deserves to be treated with respect. It doesn’t matter what your gender, race, religion or nationality is, or if you have a disability. Children have a right to a life of dignity.
- Survival & Development
Shelter, nutritious food, clean water, medical and health care are basic needs that every child deserves to survive and thrive. Children have a right to grow up in a clean, safe, and healthy environment.
Every child has a right to a quality education – and not just in school. Children’s education should develop their personality and abilities and help them respect other people, cultures, and the environment.
- Protection from violence
No child should ever have to experience abuse, bullying, sexual violence, exploitation, or neglect – whether at home, in school, in institutions or online. All children have the right to be protected from being hurt or badly treated in any way.
Children have the right to give their opinions freely on issues that affect them. They should be allowed to share their thoughts through photographs, drawings, writing or in any other way, unless it harms other people.
The pictures need to be posted on Instagram with a caption that includes the hashtags #PictureMyRights and #AShotAtLife. Those without an Instagram account or who have private accounts can submit their photos via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The best photos and caption will be in the running to win four iPhone 14s, with two winners accorded to each age category (13-17 years and 18-24 years). Winning entries will also be featured in a special World Children’s Day virtual exhibition in November 2023.
This is the third Picture My Rights children’s photo contest. The first was in 2014, and the second in 2017.
Why is it important to hear from the youth?
Technological advancement means young people have the tools to speak out about the issues they believe in. We are asking them to lean into their creativity, to show us striking images that tell a story about how young people see their rights in today’s Malaysia. We want them to take a shot at life.
Article 13 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child uphold children’s right to express themselves in ways that are meaningful to them. Picture My Rights invites young people to express their views about children’s rights and issues that matter to them through the medium of a photo.
Child participation is a key principle in the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Participation is an opportunity to have a say about issues and decisions that affect them, learn new skills, have fun, and develop a closer connection to their community. Through Picture My Rights, we want to encourage young people in Malaysia to express themselves freely, to show us life through their lens.
So now we know what the contest is all about, it’s time to get snapping. Here are some things participants might want to consider as they decide about the photos and captions to submit to UNICEF:
Think about what is meaningful to YOU and youth
By this, UNICEF wants you to capture your daily reality. What concerns you in your sphere is what they want to hear about. This could be anything encountered on your way to school, things you observe in your community, or issues faced within your neighborhood. Issues could be wide ranging from social media bullying to discrimination or a lack of food or shelter – think about what issues resonate with you and bring it to life.
Pictures speak a thousand words as they say, and your picture and accompanying caption are meant to evoke something within the viewer (and judge). This could sometimes be disturbing or sad. Or it could inspire someone to take action and raise conversation around the theme. It could help to show your pictures to a parent or someone close to you to get opinions on how they feel when they look at your picture.
This sounds simple enough, but it needs to be said. Pictures submitted need to be original pictures taken by the person submitting the entry. Likewise, captions should be your own and not copied. Try writing from the heart to capture what you were thinking when taking the photo. Avoid using ChatGPT, as it runs the risk of sounding generic, however feel free to use it as a tool when researching what you want to say and edit the caption in your own authentic voice.
We all take photos on a daily basis, but taking a good photo is not that straightforward. Here, Amir Faiz, Group Creative Director of Mediabrands Content Studio (MBCS) who is also a judge for the contest, shares some tips and photography basics to help take your shot (or shots – multiple entries allowed) to the next level!
Rule of thirds
This is the most popular of photography basics. Draw 2 imaginary horizontal lines, intersected by 2 vertical lines – like a tic tac toe board. In fact, some newer cameras might have the option to turn on this grid. Use this as a way to ensure your main subject is at a cross section to become a focus point. If you want the viewer to explore further into the distance, then you might consider positioning your subject off-center.
Filling the frame vs Negative space
While filling the frame is a great way to bring attention to your subject, negative or empty space can be a great way to create a more impactful image by drawing you away from the main subject. By drawing attention to the environment around, you may be able to conjure a deeper sense of what is happening in that space.
A new viewpoint or perspective can help turn an ordinary scene into an extraordinary one. If you know the subject you want to capture, think about finding a different angle, moving to a higher floor or up on the roof, or try to capture it behind another object. It may sound (or look) strange, but that’s what makes an image unique and will help it stand out from the rest.
Amir said, “The photography basics are just some of the things we will be looking at when we judge the entries. Photography is an art form, and as with every art, multiple viewers will have multiple viewpoints. The most important thing we want to see is youth having their own viewpoint through the lens of the camera, and being able to bring that to life for us with a caption that is expressive and tells a story. Based on the previous competitions by UNICEF, we’re excited to be a part of this process to hear what youth have to say across these issues. To picture their rights to give them #AShotAtLife. Their opinions will become the advocacy, and that is a powerful tool.”
Learn more about the contest and children’s rights from the microsite: