The #PictureDURM Story

The story begins with me growing up in Durham and continues with me returning home. I loved growing up in Durham. I left after high school and returned in 2012 to find that I still love living here. I am one of the few who are both from here and live here now. I've come to realize that the city’s foundation has allowed for what is happening now to be possible.

When I got back, I was thrilled to rediscover what was happening in Durham. But I was also met with surprise — old friends with whom I had grown up and new friends who had moved to Durham for jobs or school shared the same sentiments towards the city.

As I settled back into life in Durham, I began to wonder: Are we growing in the right way? Are we keeping what makes Durham, Durham? How do we record and preserve where we are as a city?

I was aware that for decades Durham has been a collaborative community. I’m thankful to have benefited from that spirit growing up. So I wondered: Can Durham remain this way even as the city grows and finds new popularity?

This is where PictureDURM was born. It was literally one of those middle of the night ideas — the kind that prove why you should keep pen and paper by your bedside.

PictureDURM crowdsources the spirit of Durham, connects people through the arts, and uses social media for good.

From the beginning, the vision for the project has been to be as inclusive as possible. You do not need a degree, you do not need name recognition, you just need eyes to see.

PictureDURM is a platform for the community to share their perspective through photography. To me, one of the most beautiful things about this is that there is no right or wrong. We each carry in us a unique perspective or voice.

In the past two years, this project received over 12,000 submissions of how people #picturedurm. Its following grew by an average of 150% per month in the first year, simply showing just how much it resonates with the community. Everything from people, home, struggle, events, change, history, art, architecture, celebration, nature, and more has been shared. 

From the beginning, the vision for the project has been to be as inclusive as possible. I also recognize that not everyone has access to a camera or smart phone which limits the extent with which we can fully picture our city. So to that end, I am actively seeking to extend its reach.

In an effort to expand how the community can #picturedurm through a new lens, PictureDURM partnered with Urban Ministries. We were able to provide cameras to Urban Ministries residents through an over-subscribed crowdfunding campaign. Participants in good standing of Urban Ministries’s Workforce Development Program were able to receive a disposable camera to capture how they #picturedurm, incentives to participate that meet physical needs ($2 bus pass upon receiving the camera and a $5 Walmart card for returning the camera), and a copy of their photos. Thanks to generous community support, this collaboration with Urban Ministries gave a voice to Durham residents whose views are often overlooked and helps to make PictureDURM's vision to extend its reach as broadly as possible a reality.

Durham needs the perspective and voice of every citizen, including yours, and I’d love to know: how do you #picturedurm?

— Meredith Martindale



If you're wondering, "How do I share how I #picturedurm?", you've come to the right place. Here are a few ways to engage:

  • If you're on social media, tag your photos with the #PictureDURM hashtag. If your accounts are private, make sure that the @PictureDURM account is following you, otherwise, we won't be able to see your photos.

  • If you're not on social media, if your accounts are private, or if you want to be especially awesome and send us high-res versions, you can email your photos to [email protected]. Pssst: Sending us your photos from the onset is a great idea if you'd like to be considered for a feature in our ongoing collaboration with Durham Magazine.

  • If you need camera access, email us at [email protected] and we'd be happy to try and help make that possible.

  • If you're interested in having PictureDURM partner with your organization to further extend how we #PictureDURM, please email us at [email protected]. We loved collaborating with Urban Ministries on this, and we'd be delighted to hear from you!


PictureDURM is an archive of voluntary contributions through a hashtagging index. PictureDURM makes no claims to ownership of photos archived here that the PictureDURM team does not take. By using the PictureDURM hashtag (#PictureDURM), you are agreeing to your photo being shared and used. We will always give the photographer credit for their work when it is possible to do so.