Here To… share what happened at the Photography How To

Yesterday evening saw the coming and going of Here To’s first ever photography workshop at Platform.

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Facilitated by Nena – an Angel based professional photographer, graphic designer, Pilates teacher and Here To Wizard – the session covered digital camera basics (camera functions, focusing, pixel and resolution), setting up the camera, framing the image (composition, the Rule of Thirds and ‘thinking in colour’) and taking a picture (portrait and group photography, and capturing events).

Attendees included representatives from the London Canal MuseumFinsbury Park Community HubClidiveLondon Metropolitan University and the Turkish Education Group, and the common challenge experienced by those present was capturing events and activities in a way that excites people and motivates them to join in.

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Key takeaways

We covered a lot of concepts at the first session, but here are 5 key points to remember that can make a difference to your photography right now:

Take time to consider your composition: what are you taking a picture of and why? How do you want others to feel when they view it?

Lighting is crucial: a quick way to improve the quality of your pictures is to ensure light is shining onto your subject, rather than behind it

Stand your ground: lean against walls, use your elbows, kneel down or stand on a chair to try new ways to steady your shot. And don’t forget to hold your breath when taking your picture!

Rules are there to be broken: concepts like the Rule of Thirds are very helpful, but there are exceptions. So remember to keep an experimental approach and to take lots of pictures

Every time you edit or crop an image, you’re reducing its quality: Nena will cover this more in the next session. Her advice was to try and crop your image as much as you can in the viewfinder before you take the photo, rather than relying on editing it afterwards

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Why we’re Here To run photography workshops

We’re running these FREE photography sessions in direct response to feedback from Here To users: that more help taking, selecting and cropping images for the Here To website would be really useful.

This is because photography is a really important aspect of the Here To website, and each opportunity is accompanied by a beautiful and relevant photo to excite residents about the project on offer.

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Interested in joining us?

We have 2 more sessions left in the series for 2013. Each session takes place 4-6pm on a Monday at Platform.

* Session 2 – How to make the best of your photo – 25 Nov

The second session will be very computer-based and will explore how to use image manipulation software, such as Photoshop, to make the very best of the photos you have taken in session 1 or that you have brought with you. Nena will go through basic tools and techniques common to most photo editing software: selecting, cropping, contrast, exposure, colour balance and sharpening.

* Session 3 – Using mobile phones to take pictures – 9 Dec

As most of us carry one around in our pockets, this session is devoted to taking great pictures on mobile phones and preparing these photos for use on the web.

How to book

To book yourself or a team member onto a session, please RSVP by emailing Katherine, the Here To Manager, at

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Please include the session(s) you would like to attend and a contact name, phone number and email address.

This is a great chance for you and your organisation to get a photography skills boost for free, so we hope you can join us. These sorts of sessions and courses led by professional photographers usually cost hundreds of pounds!

Here To… find a new team member

We’re Here To share some good news: the Here To Islington team is expanding!

Here To t-shirt

After a busy but amazing summer, we’ve decided to create a new role to support our core mission of making volunteering easier and more exciting for everyone involved: a Community Development Co-ordinator.

Despite being less than a year old, Here To has evolved quite a bit over the last 6 months. We’ve come up with lots of new ideas based on our action learning, and we’ve got big ambitions for the future. We’re Here To find a new person to join our team so we can work together to undertake new activities. Specifically, we are looking to build our own income streams that make us less reliant on grant funding, and also to target what we offer by creating mini-projects under a more general Here To umbrella.

This is a really exciting time to join the Here To team and there is scope to have a significant impact on the future direction of the project.

Are you a highly motivated person? Do you enjoy organising new, fun filled events? Is research and impact assessment your thing? Do you know a thing or two about working in the voluntary sector? Are you a master at communicating with everyone and anyone? If ‘yes’, we can’t wait to hear from you!

Deadline: Monday 2 December, 9am

Community Development Co-ordinator

How to apply – CDC 

p.s. You may have noticed that this blog has changed since you last looked at it. You’re not going mad: we were originally looking for 2 part-time team members. However, we decided to combine the 2 roles into a single full time post in response to feedback from potential applicants and to build in a bit more security into the position (considering it is also offered on a contract basis for 6 months). Thanks for bearing with us if you’ve been affected by this change.

Here To… round up the #HereToTakeover


Following a summer of Islington community festivals, we set ourselves a challenge. We asked: ‘is it possible to visit five venues across Islington in a single day to tell more people about Here To?’

We now know the answer is ‘yes’, because we’ve just completed our first ever Here To Takeover!

Getting ready 

After putting a call out for venues and having found a new super Here To Wizard called Casey to give us a hand, we set about making a brand new Here To Photomatic Machine…


…Casey made our first string of Here To bunting…


…and a LOT of baking took place.


We also set up at one of our locations the evening before (HUB Islington)…


…which involved climbing up a lot of stairs with a lot of stuff. Nevertheless, there was a great notice awaiting us at the top which made it all worth it.


#HereToTakeover first stop: Islington Central Library

With all our essential kit in tow…


…our first stop was Islington’s Central Library 9.30-10.30am. We were positioned in the foyer and were poised with our Here To Photomatic Machine to find Secret Skills.


One of the first people we met at the library was Kass, a lyricist who is Here To use poetry and the spoken word to communicate with people.


He overheard us talking about helping out on local projects, and came over for a chat and to perform one of his pieces for us.

We then met Deanna, a teacher and saxophonist who had just cycled in to drop some books off…


…and after speaking to Allan about his job managing the facilities team at Central Library, we discovered he was an expert organiser!


We met a lot of mothers at the Central Library too, who were very interested in getting involved with a local project, but find it hard to find the time as they’re caring for their children.

This has been a reoccurring theme across all our events this summer and, because we’re Here To find bite-sized opportunities for residents, we’re keen to think about more ways we can use Here To to enable parents to meet their personal goals.

Second stop: London Metropolitan University

After the library, we hopped down Holloway Road to set up at London Metropolitan University’s Learning Centre. Reach Volunteering was kind enough to host us…



…and here’s the lovely Stavroula from Reach Volunteering showing off her Secret Skill.


We then met a lot of PGCE students who were enrolling onto their course for this academic year, including Freddie, who was Here To mime whilst eating some of our biscuits…


…and the ever so cool Terry, who is Here To engage young people (amongst other things!).


As busy students, the reaction to Here To was positive, and they liked the fact that they could get valuable work experience whilst also doing something good for their community. With a growing number of projects on the site, were could also play matchmaker between local people and projects, and recommend specific opportunities to people depending on what they were looking to achieve.

Third stop: HUB Islington

Tucked away behind Angel station, we took over HUB Islington‘s boardroom between 1pm and 3pm.


A creative space for innovators and social entrepreneurs, we successfully completed a desk-drop of biscuits and flyers to those in the building, and we made some seed bombs too.



HUB Islington hosts Debbie and Iraia then took to the Here To Photomatic Machine…



…followed by Lizzie from Islington Giving


…and then Greta, who’s Here To start-up a sustainability social enterprise.


It was great to see how a different type of ‘organisation’ (the start-up and the social entrepreneur) reacted to Here To as a place to find help and support from local people.

We were similarly excited by the projects they were working on and their enthusiasm for new ideas/ways of thinking about volunteering in general.

Forth stop: Whittington Park Community Cafe

Moving from south to north Islington for the second half of the day, we set up shop at Whittington Park.


Here we bonded with residents who were Here To craft…


…and we also spoke to a couple of very intelligent young ladies (aged 6) who drew visual representations of the fact they’re Here To ‘party'(!) and Here To go swimming.



Final stop: helping out at ArchWay With Words

At 5.30pm, we arrived at our final stop off to do some helping out at ArchWay With Words, a local festival celebrating the literary heritage of Archway.

After a great briefing from Becky, we took up our positions at front of house. Our key jobs were to welcome people, direct them to the correct locations in the building and to sell tickets.


The perks? Aside from meeting some great authors, artists and local people, we got VIP access to the events we were helping to run, and we got to wear a lovely ArchWay With Words t-shirt whilst doing so!


At Here To, we’re passionate about living our values and practising what we preach. So it was fitting to round off an action-packed day by using our free time better: it’s amazing what you can achieve in just a couple of hours.

We hope that this will be the first of many Here To Takeover events as it was such fun and we had such great conversations with a whole host of people. We hope you enjoyed it too!

A HUGE thanks to Casey, Islington Council (Cedric and John), HUB Islington (Debbie), ArchWay With Words (Becky), Whittington Park Community Association (Ann, Katia and Sandra) and Reach Volunteering (Stavroula) for making the inaugural #HereToTakeover such a success.

Here To… announce a takeover!

Now the Here To Beach Hut tour of Islington is over (sad face), we’ve got a bit more free time to spare on our hands. In true Here To style, we wanted to ‘use our free time better’, so we thought to ourselves: why not organise another event?

Ruth at the launch event

Here To Takeover!

The Here To Takeover is an action-packed day of helping out and spreading the word that will take place on Wednesday 25th September.

A group of our Here To Wizards will visit 5 locations across the borough to raise awareness of the live opportunities we have available for residents, and how we can help organisations, community groups, start-ups and proactive people to find helpers with the right skills.

The locations

Owing to the sporadic nature of the day (and the fact that you’ll be giving us some tasks to complete!), we’ll be following this loose schedule:

* 9-10.30am Islington Central Library
* 10.30-12.30am London Metropolitan University, Learning Centre
* 1-3pm Hub Islington
* 3-5pm Whittington Park Community Cafe
* 6-8pm ArchWay With Words

At each location, members of the Here To team will be available to explain what Here To is about, show you how to sign up to an opportunity, explain what’s involved in creating an opportunity, to share home-baked edible goods and to teach you how to make a seed bomb.

Just look out for people in the grey and red Here To t-shirts!

Here To t-shirt

We’re Here To help

We’ll also be looking for Secret Skills at each location using the Here To Photomatic Machine, creating a noise on social media using the hashtag #HereToTakeover and offering our time to local people and projects who need it.

The Here To Photomatic Machine being built by Tom

If you would like us to help you out in any way on the day, from cleaning your desk to making you a cup of tea or brainstorming an event idea, simply tweet or Facebook your request to us and we’ll try and get to you.

We’ll have a backpack of goodies with us, and our Bucket of Community Spirit, so the more imaginative the requests the better!

bucket of community spirit

The Here To Takeover is all about getting more people excited and inspired about a new way of helping out locally and to get as many people as possible supporting the movement.

If you’re interested in using your free time better to meet personal goals, we’d love to see you there at a time and location that suits you!

The Here To Takeover has now taken place. Check out what happened by clicking here.

Here To… find secret skills at Festival for All

The final stop on our summer tour of Islington saw the Here To Beach Hut set up shop at Festival for All.


This was our first time at the festival in Whittington Park, so we were very much looking forward to all the action!

There was also a slightly different emphasis at Festival for All which we really valued too: it was as much about sharing information and discussing key issues as having fun and eating yummy food.

One thing was for sure: we didn’t need to bring our own sand pit this time!


Photomatic fun!

The Here To Photomatic Machine was once again out and about getting snap happy. We met some really interesting people who told us they were Here To…




…life coach


…twang guitars(!)


…help people





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…and draw!

We also had the first ever animal share their Secret Skill with us…


…and I was Here To make and decorate my very own bird box (thanks to Islington Council’s parks team).

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Entertainment was running all day on the main stage, but we had our very own band of steel drummers to keep us company and energised.


We also saw some Pearly Kings, tried goat curry and got to hang out with other amazing organisations like Livibility, Help on Your Doorstep and the Islington Law Centre.


Here To crowdsource ideas

We learnt at Festival for All about how we can make Here To more accessible for disabled and blind people.

Elizabeth from Talking News Islington spoke of the challenges of keeping informed about what’s happening in Islington as a blind person, and how she facilitates the recording of an audio newsletter on a monthly basis.

Looking for helpers to support her in running the project, Elizabeth and I had a chat about how we could help her get an opportunity on the Here To website and we hope to meet up for a coffee to discuss the idea further soon.

We also met Mr. Simani who thought it would be great if we could make clear which opportunities on the website were suitable for disabled people. We will look into that too when we are able to embark on our second iteration of the website.

The Here To Beach Hut is now closed!


The last stop in our Islington tour, Festival for All marks the closing of our Here To Beach Hut until next summer.

You can catch up on all the action by checking in with #HereToBeachHut on Twitter, or reading our other blog posts related to each stop:

Whitecross Street Party

Angel Canal Festival

* Pop-up event as part of The Challenge

The Cally Festival

Once again, the summer has been eventful and we have enjoyed meeting all the people and organisations who have amazing Secret Skills to offer, and who are all working hard to make Islington a great borough to live in.

Thanks for all the insight and fun!

But we’re not disappearing for the winter: we’ll be out in force very soon in a different guise. Watch this space