Telling a human story through a compelling portrait

with Rena Effendi

In this class I would like to discuss various ways of working on a social, environmental and psychological portrait – be it a portrait of one person or a community. We will talk about approaching or sometimes confronting a stranger, building close rapport with your subject, breaking down the barriers of communication. Students will receive two assignments, one of which will be to shoot a compelling portrait story of an individual or a group. These assignments are very common in the magazine world and in class we’ll discuss the elements constituting a successful portrait. I would like to push the boundaries of traditional understanding of portraiture. I will share both examples from my own experience and work of other photographers that have a non-traditional photographic vision and approach to storytelling.

In my own work I am most interested in portraying humanity through stories of daily life, i.e. portraying a complex global issue through a simple story of an individual. In class I would like to discuss ways of developing a theme for a long-term documentary project outside the fast pace of news-oriented media.  Additionally, I will share my own experiences of working on a long-term personal project, ways of funding such projects outside of traditional media support, such as grants, book publishing etc.