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NYC SALT continues to teach youngins the ins-and-outs of the photo industry

NYC SALT has been — for over a decade — creating opportunities for the city’s kids to learn the inner and outer workings of the photography industry.

They just completed their latest Annual Gallery Show displaying hundreds of student photos and artwork. Kulture Hub was fortunate to be there for the amazing event along with over 75 students.


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I had the opportunity to speak with NYC SALT’s founder Alicia Hansen, Industry professional and volunteer Kelly Goucher and several of the NYC SALT students.

What is NYC SALT?

NYC SALT does everything from photography courses to college prep to mentoring and supporting students with internships.


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Kelly Goucher relates the 100 percent graduation and college acceptance rate to the power of NYC SALT as a grassroots organization.

“People forget about the successes of grassroots organizing… With SALT, it’s quality over quantity,” said Groucher.

Alicia Hansen remembers starting SALT in 2009 out of a small after-school photography class in Washington Heights. The class had eight students all of which went on to go to college and pursue successful careers in and out of the photography industry. Hansen had been working with National Geographic when she began NYC SALT.

She felt the need to share her skills and expertise with a new generation of students and was happy to find plenty of willing participants. One-hundred percent of NYC SALT students are accepted to college and 87 percent of them are first-generation college students.

“We believe that everybody is creative. Everyone,” said Hansen.

Daniel Martinez

Daniel Martinez was one of the Alumni at the this year’s NYC SALT Annual Gallery event. Martinez is a wedding photographer, filmmaker, documentary producer, professional Alumni in the field.

“NYC SALT is not just a photography program. Saying NYC SALT is just a photography program is like saying Bohemian Rhapsody is just a song,” said Daniel Martinez

Daniel Martinez is also not just a photographer, he’s also a designer. His most recent work Today I Became an Artist includes vibrant and colorful abstract facial sketches. The prints are available to purchase on his website along with merchandise featuring the artwork.


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Ayman Siam

I also spoke to a recent high school graduate, Ayman Siam. Siam’s work Dimensions was one of the showcased on the Bathhouse building banners and posters for the evening.

“Getting involved with SALT was one of the best decisions I’ve made period,” said Ayman Siam.


Ayman is a son of a taxi driver from Bangladesh and the annual gallery marked his second year with SALT.

Siam was offered a scholarship to NYU and is interested in exploring a possible career in engineering or business. Ayman also shared that he’s looking to incorporate his new found love for photography in the future.

“[NYC SALT] gave me the tools to network, to be more social and to reach my definition of success.”


Stella, also known as Ydalmi Estrella, was also one of the night’s speakers. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hunter this Spring. Stella shared that it took eight years, three gap years, three different schools in different states, and visits to 25 different countries to get to where she is now.

As an aspiring filmmaker, Stella shared her story of losing her father to false imprisonment and the hope of reuniting with him in the coming weeks.

“I am the first American born in my family and also the last.”

Stella felt that NYC SALT gave her the courage to pursue photography, visual arts, and filmmaking to tell the stories that were not being represented in media.

Stella also expressed that the program not only served as an outlet but gave her the tools as a solution to fight against the extreme social injustices of our age.

“NYC SALT gave us the outlet to use artistic expression…they also gave us the platform to heal our traumas.”


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The photography program does what grassroots organizations do best and supports those who need it the most.

Over the course of the night, NYC Salt was able to raise $15,000 for the coming Fall 2019 program. Donations are still open and encouraged online. For real, NYC SALT leaves a lasting effect and makes real changes to the lives of real kids and young adults.