Seeing for Ourselves.
This 501(c) (3) non-profit specializes in empowering those whose public images have been defined by others to take control of their own narrative, improving their personal life chances while promoting social justice. SFO was founded by George Carrano. Early efforts included the gallery show of participatory photography "Unbroken" in 2004 and the exhibit "50 Years on the Frontlines" of Philip Jones Griffiths photography in 2005. The non-profit became the New York City Housing Authority's partner in 2010 when it brought participatory photography to the housing agency. SFO in turn partnered with Kodak, Dell Computers, and Duggal Visual Solutions to support the program. Project Lives was SFO's first publication. The book won global acclaim and multiple awards, setting the stage for a reset of city and state support of public housing.
Based on its global success, SFO became the partner of the Department of Probation (DOP) in 2018 when the nonprofit brought the new initiative to the agency. SFO in turn partnered with Sigma Corporation of America, the effort partly funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. This second initiative was to have led to another book, but when the pandemic brought the publishing industry to a halt in 2020, SFO pivoted to making a documentary film. In a Whole New Way went on to achieve global acclaim and many awards, setting the stage for a PBS broadcast in 2023 and helping to reform probation as an alternative to incarceration. The companion book will be published in 2023.
All in, many observers agree that the minimally-funded tiny nonprofit has been punching far above its weight.