Michael Wasi is a 20-year-old photographer, shy and reserved he uses the camera to capture pictures of everyday Solomon Islanders.

Mike, as he is known to his friends, says that it took some courage for him to participate in a recent Youth Photography Storytelling Exhibition. He submitted his photo and was pleasantly surprised that he was accepted to join the exhibition, along with 14 other passionate young photographers.

The theme for him was Wellbeing and Freedom, so his photo had to portray or capture what it meant to him.

"I took the photo in Savo, where kids are enjoying the freedom of the environment,” Mike said.

“My photograph reflects the struggle of every youths in Solomon Islands, in a way each one has to be brave to walk their path, seeing it on display is very powerful.”

Mike said his participation at the storytelling exhibition is part of the path that he has chosen to follow, and he says he has learnt a lot in a short time.

"This exhibition has built my confidence, not just in my work as a young photographer but also things like public speaking. I would say it is a milestone in my journey as a photographer," Mike said, beaming with pride.

“I met the the Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, managed to shake hands and talk to him about my photograph. I was really impressed by the response of the Prime Minister after telling him what was behind my photo. He said you have done a great work, it is a powerful photo, keep up the good work.”

Mike’s journey as a photographer started when he dropped out of form six. Understandably, it was initially devastating for him, leaving school, and having to find work.

Having looked at his options he decided to take up work as a freelance photographer. His first engagement was through the group called One More Shot, who did a health-related campaign for Andy in 2018.

Mike said through that experience he has become a full-time freelancer, advocating for social issues, not with words but with his lens – capturing words unspoken.

"I would like to encourage every young passionate artist, whether its photography, a painter or fashion design, just keep going and learn, the best is yet to come," he said.