Capturing Belief

Nobody should be able to tell the story of who you are better than you. Capturing Belief uses visual storytelling to shatter stereotypes, dismantle biases, and create universal belonging for young people of color.

Capturing Belief was created in 2016 by two friends with a common desire to contribute directly to supporting young Detroiters build a strong foundation for their future.

Khary Mason was a homicide detective with the Detroit Police Department and Romain Blanquart a visual journalist with the Detroit Free Press. In their respective fields they witnessed the suffering of residents marginalized by systems perpetuating poverty with limited access to opportunities and resources, a broken school system and a racist ideology that kept the mostly Black city from prospering.

Young Detroiters start their lives with an unfair disadvantage and in a small way Khary and Romain want to change that by contributing to strengthening and inspiring the next generation of leaders.

Photographer Lamar, 14, photographs the Detroit Free Press/ TCF Bank marathon during the photography mentoring program lead by Capturing Belief and Inside Southwest Detroit and sponsored by the Ford Fund. Photograph by Romain Blanquart.

Photographer Lamar, 14, photographs the Detroit Free Press/ TCF Bank marathon during the photography mentoring program lead by Capturing Belief and Inside Southwest Detroit and sponsored by the Ford Fund. Photograph by Romain Blanquart.

Vision: In a world shaped by imagery visual literacy becomes critical to understand the world we live in. Capturing Belief uses visual storytelling to shatter stereotypes, dismantle biases, and create a sense of universal belonging for young people of color.

Mission: Through photography and creative writing, Capturing Belief inspires young minds to embrace their natural curiosity and embark on a journey of self-discovery. These tools teach critical thinking and enable them to add perspective to the narratives of who they are as young people of color in America.

Our approach is one of collaboration with people and community organizations who recognize the critical role mentoring plays in uplifting young people. A key component of this, is working with local artists who share their unique and valuable talents with our students, and by honouring them with a living wage.

Strategically, Capturing Belief

  • Acts as an extra layer of support to existing Detroit based community organizations by providing programming.
  • Promotes community engagement and mentoring by creating project- based learning initiatives that foster relationships between young people and working artists to create public art.
  • Pursues a global initiative that advises and supports individuals and organizations seeking to use the Capturing Belief model to mentor their local youth. The aim is to create a platform for our students in Detroit to travel beyond their immediate environment and to interact with their peers in other cities and countries, where they can exchange realities and experience the diversity of the world and its cultures.

Capturing Belief was conceived by two individuals but is powered by dozens of contributors and hundreds of supporters, like Fujifilm who share philosophies rooted in the importance and impact of mentorship.

Photographer Enrique Rodriguez had been watching our work from afar and recognizing that there was some intersection between Capturing Belief’s work and Fujifilm’s philosophy as a company he made introductions that have led Fujifilm to supporting our mission ever since.

 

Romain Blanquart, Co Founder and Co Director

Romain was born in France and has called Detroit home since 2002. He studied photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology and spent 16 years as a staff visual journalist documenting life in Motown with the Detroit Free Press. After producing a documentary film about the toll of homicides on Detroiters, a city whose residents lived through over 3,300 homicides between 2003-2012 and seeing how many lives one murder shatters, Romain started looking at how he could contribute to preventing young people from doing things that would take away their chance of finding purpose and growing up into healthy, productive and fulfilled adults. In 2016 Romain and his friend Khary Mason created Capturing Belief out of their common desire to contribute directly to guiding young Detroiters to build a strong foundation for their future.

Khary Mason, Co Founder and Co Director

Khary Mason is a native Detroiter, a former Detroit Police Homicide Detective, and multidisciplinary artist who has harnessed the power of art and friendship to mentor and enrich the lives of the next generation. In 2016 Khary and Romain Blanquart launched Capturing Belief, a Detroit based non-profit organization that uses imagery and creative writing to encourage young people in the exploration of self and the world around them. In 2019 Mason became a Documenting Detroit Fellow studying the effects of incarceration on individuals and their families. In 2020 Mason retired from the Detroit Police Department to accept a new role with the State of Michigan Attorney General’s Office. In 2021 Mason became a Salzburg Global Fellow.