Burmese Photojournalist Yu Yu Myint Than Wins the Golden Scarf Award!

Bali, Indonesia, July 25, 2015.  Burmese photojournalist Yu Yu Myint Than has won the 2015 Foundry Golden Scarf award! 

This award, the most coveted of the workshop, is awarded to the student who most exemplifies the spirit of Founndry.  The selection of the recipient is determined by all the instructors and awarded after the final evening program.  The prize is a gold-colored scarf signed by all the instructors and staff.  Myint Than is believed to be the only native, woman photojournalist working in Burma.

Instructor Andrea Bruce giving the Golden Scarf award to Yu Yu Myint Than, believed to be the only native woman photojournalist in Burma.  The Golden Scarf award is given annually to the student whose work, attitude and diligence most exemplifies the Foundry spirit. © Neal Jackson
Instructor Andrea Bruce giving the Golden Scarf award to Yu Yu Myint Than, believed to be the only native woman photojournalist in Burma. The Golden Scarf award is given annually to the student whose work, attitude and diligence most exemplifies the Foundry spirit. © Neal Jackson

 

 

Foundry Life Is a Blur of Activity!

Bali, Indonesia, July 24, 2015. The middle of the Foundry week is a blur to all – students, instructors and staff. So much activity, so much interaction and so much work yet to do.  Students are shooting day and night and instructors are responding to student inquiries, offering guidance where needed.  Students got quality time with their instructors, and some instructors solicited group input into the review of developing student projects.

In addition, your blogger delivered his class on the Business of Photojournalism, which was well attended and incited excellent questions and lively debates on important business and legal issues.

The students used the time waiting to meet with their instructors to talk among themselves, sharing experiences and creating bonds that will further expand the Foundry community.

So, here are a few images from the last few days…

Instructor Maggie Steber meets with student Aji Styawan from Indonesia to guide him through the development of his project. © Neal Jackson
Instructor Maggie Steber meets with student Aji Styawan from Indonesia to guide him through the development of his project. © Neal Jackson
Instructor Andrea Bruce shares her review of student project with class. © Neal Jackson
Instructor Andrea Bruce shares her review of student project with class. © Neal Jackson

 

Students share food and coffee at cantine set up for Foundry at Penangi School. © Neal Jackson
Students share food and coffee at cantine set up for Foundry at Penangi School. © Neal Jackson
Staff working with Instructor Paula Bronstein to begin setting up final presentation format.  L-R Hannah West, Peter Andersson, Taylor Savvy, videotechnician with Foundry sponsor PhotoWings, Paula Bronstein and Tiffany Clark.
Staff working with Instructor Paula Bronstein to begin setting up final presentation format. L-R Hannah West, Peter Andersson, Taylor Savvy, videotechnician with Foundry sponsor PhotoWings, Paula Bronstein and Tiffany Clark.

There’s a Reason They Call it a Workshop…There’s a Lot of Work Happening!

Ubud, Indonesia – July 22, 2015.  Foundry students are beginning to feel the pressure, so they are working harder than ever on their projects…calling subjects, fixers and others who can help them, missing meals while traveling to remote island spots to expand their coverage and waiting in rural locations for expected events to happen.  Alas, it’s the plight of a diligent journalist.

But most students found time for the evening instructor presentations at Betelnut Cafe.  There, Thorne Anderson provided working tips to students, using his work to demonstrate the tips.  Then Tewfic El-Sawy showed prior work from his career, as did James Delano Whitlow who showed multimedia pieces on human trafficking and environmental damage by human activity.

Claire Rosen delivered a special program on creativity and how to develop one’s own creative skills, after which she interviewed Maggie Steber about her own personal creative process.  Then Maggie showed her work “Secret Garden,” a dark look into one’s own emotions as a basis for developing work projects.

Foundry Instructor Thorne Anderson delivers tips to students, using personal work to illustrate their application.  Here he shows an image from work in the 1990s in Macedonia, where, he says, his cooperation with other photojournalists may have saved his life. ©Neal Jackson
Foundry Instructor Thorne Anderson delivers tips to students, using personal work to illustrate their application. Here he shows an image from work in the 1990s in Macedonia, where, he says, his cooperation with other photojournalists may have saved his life. ©Neal Jackson
Foundry Instructor Tewfic El-Sawy shows his work on Balinese ceremonies. ©Neal Jackson
Foundry Instructor Tewfik El-Sawy shows his work on Balinese ceremonies. ©Neal Jackson
Foundry Instructor Claire Rosen lectures on managing one's creative side, including managing one's emotions, building self-confidence and solving creative block.  © Neal Jackson
Foundry Instructor Claire Rosen lectures on managing one’s creative side, including managing one’s emotions, building self-confidence and solving creative block. © Neal Jackson
Claire Rosen interviews Foundry Instructor Maggie Steber about her own creative process, and how she manages it. © Neal Jackson
Claire Rosen interviews Foundry Instructor Maggie Steber about her own creative process, and how she manages it. © Neal Jackson

Day Two – Students Beginning Their Projects and…Ooops!

Bali, Indonesia, July 21, 2015. Day Two of Foundry finds students moving forward with their projects and sometimes finding, well, that the selected project won’t work!

But here is where the instructors step in. Many students discover that a slight modification results in a workable project that is often more interesting than their original.  Thus the Foundry learning process proceeds.

The day saw students reviewing work among themselves, as well as a special class by Claire Rosen on marketing oneself.  The day ended with reviews of all student portfolios by different instructors than their own.

Workshop participants Agung Parameswara of Indonesia, and Khairil Safwan and Joshua Paul Gilbert of Malaysia review work the old-fashioned way.  ©Neal Jackson
Workshop participants Agung Parameswara of Indonesia, and Khairil Safwan and Joshua Paul Gilbert of Malaysia review work the old-fashioned way. ©Neal Jackson

 

Claire Rosen lectures on marketing your skills, drawing a packed classroom of eager students. © Neal Jackson
Claire Rosen lectures on marketing your skills, drawing a packed classroom of eager students. © Neal Jackson

 

 

Instructor Tewfic El-Sawy reviewing student work  at Betelnut Cafe. © Neal Jackson
Instructor Tewfic El-Sawy reviewing student work at Betelnut Cafe. © Neal Jackson
Paula Bronstein reviews the portfolio of student Mette Lampcov. © Neal Jackson
Paula Bronstein reviews the portfolio of student Mette Lampcov. © Neal Jackson

Monday: First Day of Foundry 2015 Classes — A Tornado of Action and Fun

Bali, Indonesia, July 20, 2015. An explosion of activity…that’s the only way to describe the first full day of Foundry 2015!

Classes gathered at the Pelangi School, and instructors began their interactions with students. Each instructor had their own approach…some immediately began discussing student projects, some projected and discussed student portfolios, others discussed their own work and career, with many combining some elements of all of these. Instructor Ron Haviv introduced and explained the organizational tool “Mind Mapping” for designing photo projects.

Foundry Instructor John Stanmeyer discusses with class his World Press Photo first-place award-winning photo of Somali immigrants in Djibouti.  Thry are trying to connect with Somali cell phone signals to reach their families back home. ©Neal Jackson
Foundry Instructor John Stanmeyer discusses with class his World Press Photo first-place award-winning photo of Somali immigrants in Djibouti. Thry are trying to connect with Somali cell phone signals to reach their families back home. ©Neal Jackson
Ron Haviv introducing Mind Mapping exercise to help students plan issues around their projects. ©Neal Jackson
Ron Haviv introducing Mind Mapping exercise to help students plan issues around their projects. ©Neal Jackson

Between classes, students and instructors gathered in an open building on the school grounds where a local restaurant had set up, selling food but also moving gallons of tea and coffee!  A bit of fun was also had as the excitement of being together lowered hesitations and friendships began to evolve.

Workshop Coordinator jumps into pile of beanbag chairs, about to be placed around the Pelangi school campus for students to sit and think brilliant thoughts. ©Neal Jackson
Workshop Coordinator jumps into pile of beanbag chairs, about to be placed around the Pelangi school campus for students to sit and think brilliant thoughts. ©Neal Jackson

Evening arrived and the group reassembled in downtown Ubud at the Betelnut Café to see projections of work by instructors Adriana Zehbrauskas, Henrik Kastensnov, Andrea Bruce and Ron Haviv, followed by a stimulating panel discussion on the ethics of photojournalism led by Workshop Coordinator Kirsten Luce.

Kirsten Luce leading evening panel of Ron Haviv, Andrea Bruce, Adriana Zehbrauskas and Henrick Kastenskov discussing ethical issues in photography. ©Neal Jackson
Kirsten Luce leading evening panel of Ron Haviv, Andrea Bruce, Adriana Zehbrauskas and Henrick Kastenskov discussing ethical issues in photography. ©Neal Jackson
Students, staff and instructors watching screening of instructor work at Betelnut Cafe in Ubud.  ©Neal Jackson
Students, staff and instructors watching screening of instructor work at Betelnut Cafe in Ubud. ©Neal Jackson

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2015 Foundry Workshop Kicks off In Bali, Indonesia

Kael Alford delivering the keynote address to the 2015 Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Bali, Indonesia on July 19, 2015.  She urged students not to fear taking risks with their work as a means of growing, as what appear to be failures often when adjusted just a bit can lead to major successes.
Kael Alford delivering the keynote address to the 2015 Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Bali, Indonesia on July 19, 2015. She urged students not to fear taking risks with their work as a means of growing, as what appear to be failures often when adjusted just a bit can lead to major successes.

Bali, Indonesia, July 19, 2015. Nearly 100 emerging photographers, the majority from South and Southeast Asia, gathered today in the town of Ubud on the island of Bali for a weeklong workshop to hone their visual story-telling skills.

This eighth year of the workshop also brought together over a dozen instructors, including some of the worlds “name-brand” photojournalists – whose work appears regularly in major publications and media outlets around the world. These instructors will work with students to improve their visual storytelling skills. The instructors and staff volunteer their time.

In her keynote talk instructor Kael Alford, former Niemann Fellow at Harvard University and university professor of photojournalism, urged all students to take risks with their work and not to fear failing (because it rarely happens). She told stories of two former students who felt they were failing in a photographic project but actually weren’t, and who then rebuilt the “failing” projects into successes and award-winning careers.

Founder Eric Beecroft also recognized and thanked Suzie Katz and PhotoWings for their important support for Foundry.

The Final NIght – A Flood of Excellent Student Work and Awards

Andrea Bruce awards Foundry student Linh Pham the "Golden Scarf Award" after final student screenings Saturday evening.
Andrea Bruce awards Foundry student Linh Pham the “Golden Scarf Award” after final student screenings Saturday evening.

Antigua, Guatemala – Saturday evening saw the final event of Foundry 2014, with each student’s project screened before a packed auditorium at Casa Santa Domingo. Awards were also given to students for various achievements, some dubious, some humorous, some serious.

The top award, the “Golden Scarf Award,” was won by Linh Pham. This award is given to the student who best exemplifies the spirit of Foundry. In awarding the scarf, instructor Andrea Bruce noted that Pham had finished his project earlier than many in the class, but stayed on to help others complete theirs.

The “Golden Heart Award” was won by Eriko Yoshida. In making the award, instructor Maggie Steber noted that Eriko had arrived from Japan with limited English and no Spanish, yet managed to gain the confidence of a homeless woman who allowed her to photograph her extensively.

The “Best Eye Award” was won by Daniele Volpe. The “Out of Left Field Award” went to Callum Finklater, who learned of the Foundry workshop as he flew to Guatemala from the UK with the intention of having a fun vacation. Instead he signed up for the workshop and performed admirably, according to Vic Blue, one of his instructors.

Afterwards, the group adjourned to a local restaurant which had made its rooftop available to Foundry. People ate and mingled, and said their goodbyes to each other until they meet again at Foundry or working in the field as photojournalists.

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Friday: More Pressure, A Delightful Distraction And Terrific Instructor Material

Adriana Zehbrauskas comments on issues involved in her work "Beyond Assignment," while Andrea Bruce and Oscar Castillo look on.
Adriana Zehbrauskas comments on issues involved in her work “Beyond Assignment,” while Andrea Bruce and Oscar Castillo look on.

Antigua, Guatemala – Friday brought increasing efforts by students to complete projects, including further discussions with instructors, and capturing final images, editing and sequencing them.

But it was all complicated by a huge and delightful distraction – Antigua’s annual celebration of its saint’s day (Saint James). A massive parade, which seemed to include every school child in the town and many adults as well, kicked off at 9:00a.m. and continued for several hours.

Marching bands with horns and drum lines kept the rhythm alive. A diverse group of parade participants, which included ten-foot giant figures, religious clubs wearing black robes with peaked hats and masks (reminiscent of the KKK costumes), and school groups undergoing occupational training, each gave insight into the aspirations and culture of town citizens.

Goose-stepping high school students march with their band in annual parade in Antigua on July 25, the saint's day of the town.
Goose-stepping high school students march with their band in annual parade in Antigua on July 25, the saint’s day of the town.

It ended with a simulated bullfight, supported by costumed picadors, matadors and beautiful women. The crowd shouted “Ole!” each time the paper mache bull charged the matador. The procession was a photo opportunity not to be missed.

Paper mache bull charges matador in simulated bullfight, the climax of St. James Day parade in Antugua.
Paper mache bull charges matador in simulated bullfight, the climax of St. James Day parade in Antugua.

Evening brought another inspiring showing of instructor work, led off by Adriana Zehbrauskas, who showed a portion of the video “Beyond Assignment.” The work showed her photographing life in the Tepito barrio in Mexico City. It provided a telling demonstration of effective but sensitive photographer interaction with a subjects.

Venezuela native Oscar Castillo showed a body of work he had captured in his native country, which he called “Our War, Our Pain.” The images dramatically portrayed the current civic conflict within Venezuelan society, including crime and other problems.

Next, Ron Haviv presented a video on gold mining in the Amazon basin of Peru, entitled “Amazon Gold.” It traced the illegal gold extraction, which denudes forests and exposes the Amazon river environment to poisonous chemicals used in the separation of the gold.

Finally, Andrea Bruce presented work from Iraq, Afghanistan, Guatemala and Syria. The work, compiled with thoughtful sensitivity, often focused on those suffering around the wars, such as women, children and refuges.

The evening was topped off by a question and answer session from the audience.

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Thursday Brings Project Pressure and Instructor Conferences – But it’s Also Movie Night!

Instructor Andrea Bruce works with student, Keely Dakin, to help her refine and direct her project.
Instructor Andrea Bruce works with student Keely Dakin to help her refine and direct her project.

 

Antigua, Guatemala – Thursday saw pressure increasing on students to get their projects ready for screening to the entire workshop on Saturday.

Most students scheduled a meeting during the day or evening with their instructors to confer on their work in progress.

Instructors were met by more than a few anxious faces and sighs of frustration from students. Some were traveling into outlying villages to meet subjects and photograph people and activities essential to their stories, but were stymied by what they found in the villages or by the uncertainties of local transportation.

Students were reassured by the instructors, who also provided suggestions and ideas on how to improve their work or overcome issues in their story development.

In the evening, two movies were screened. The first, “Rite of Passage,” produced by noted videographer Brian Storm, tells the story of how instructor Maggie Steber dealt with her mother’s dementia and eventual death. It included photographs and video materials that she had taken or gathered over her mother’s lifetime.

The other was “Shooting Robert King,” which describes the early career of war photographer and former Foundry instructor Robert King, from his appearance in Bosnia at the beginning of the siege of Sarajevo, through his work in Chechnya. It traces his development and maturing as a photographer and videographer, as well as telling some of the horrors of what he saw along the way.

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Wednesday Night Brings Second Powerful Show of Instructors’ Work

Foundry panel of instructors discuss their work, how they find the topics and how they finance it.  l-r Matt Black, James Whitlow Delano and Nacho Corbella.
Foundry panel of instructors discuss their work, how they find the topics and how they finance it. l-r Matt Black, James Whitlow Delano and Nacho Corbella.

Antigua, Guatemala – On Wednesday, showings of dramatic work by four instructors, and a panel discussion by three of them, capped a day in which students worked hard to advance their projects. Instructors Matt Black, James Whitlow Delano, Tewfic El-Sawy and Nacho Corbella each presented stories they have been working on – some completed, some in process. Black presented a deep look into what brings poor Mexican workers to the Central Valley of California to work as grape pickers for the raisin industry. Wondering why they came to work and live in such difficult conditions, he went to the regions and villages from which they came. There he captured images of the desperate conditions under which they lived, including the collapse of one village and its crops, as the ground slid down an incline at the rate of a meter a day. Delano presented a body of work focused on environmental exploitation by multinational corporations. The work, from Malaysia/Borneo, to Surinam, to Cameroon, to Ecuador, showed the effect timber exploitation has had on the land and the native peoples who live on it. El-Sawy presented an audio slideshow of his work the Disciples of Mehboob-Ilahi, a fascinating religious sect which combines Sufi/Muslim practices with elements of Hinduism. Finally, Corbella showed parts of an audio/video work in progress, under assignment from a major magazine, focusing on efforts by people to maintain a traditional ranching life in Patagonia. Closing out the evening was a panel discussion by Black, Delano and Corbella focusing on where they find their stories and how they finance the capture of the images.

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It’s Portfolio Review Night!

 

Moises Castillo reviewing Foundry student portfolio
Moises Castillo reviewing Foundry student portfolio

 

Antigua, Guatemala – Lines began forming at 6 pm as instructors were seated at their respective tables. Then the portfolio reviews began.

Each student was assigned to an instructor that was different from the one in their class.  The times and instructors (which were written on the back of their name tags) had been set by staff, but, because of work on their projects, many students were held up.  Nevertheless,  the attentive Foundry staff kept the process moving so everybody could be handled.

Instructors observed and commented, students listened and explained, points were made, suggestions absorbed, and each student went away with ideas for improving their work.

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Monday Evening – Insights into The Border, Creativity and Guatemala’s Violent History

 

Fashion photographer Claire Rosen addresses students on how to be more creative in their photography
Fashion photographer Claire Rosen addresses students on how to be more creative in their photography

Antigua, Guatemala – Monday evening comes and, yes, there’s more…two hours of additional information and insights!

Students and instructors gathered in the auditorium of the Santo Domingo conference center to hear instructors talk about their work and experiences.

Leading off was Kirsten Luce, instructor and education coordinator for Foundry, as well as regular freelancer for the NY Times. She showed a variety of work, including a gripping series of images from the US/Mexico border region capturing the environment around illegal immigration.

Next came fashion photographer Claire Rosen, who focused on what helps visual and other artists to be more creative. She provided a long list of recommended activities, ranging from 20 minutes of exercise each day to recognizing your natural sleep pattern and accepting it, even if it is contrary to that of everyone around you (hear that, night owls?). It was a real crowd-pleaser.

Finally, Moises Castillo and Victor Blue talked and showed significant work covering the history of political and criminal violence in Guatemala. It was not a pleasant visual experience, but it was extraordinarily good photojournalism.

The evening ended with students heading to their lodgings to get ready to work with their subjects early on Tuesday. Maybe it is from the years of nocturnal violence, but unlike many Latin American countries, Antigua is definitely a go-to-bed-early-get-up-early culture.

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The First Day – Getting Familiar, Looking at Student Work and Picking Projects

Foundry instructor Maggie Steber reviewing portfolios with her students on first day of workshop, July 21, 2014
Foundry instructor Maggie Steber reviewing portfolios with her students on first day of workshop, July 21, 2014

Antigua, Guatemala – It’s getting-acquainted time – both with each other and with how to work in Guatemala!

Students began Monday at 8 a.m. with talks by instructors Moises Castillo, the AP photographer in Guatemala, and Victor Blue, award-winning freelancer who has worked extensively in this country and the region, on safety and security while working here. Photographing in a nation with very diverse cultures and a history of violent criminal activity will require care and sensitivity, they stressed. Each followed with a number of suggestions to reduce a photojournalist’s risks of loss or injury.

On that note, the students joined with their instructors to introduce each other and, in most cases, also to share portfolios, getting initial comments from their instructors on style and elements of their work.   Then students discussed with their instructors proposed projects and plans for capturing the images needed to tell the stories.

“The teachers are great…I am so inspired and excited,” said student Ana Maria Buitron, from Quito, Ecuador. “I’m just so glad to be here.” She then noted she was getting up very early on Tuesday to travel to her subject’s location so she could continue work. She admitted that she had arrived early in Antigua to begin work before the workshop formally commenced.

As the sun climbed into the tropical sky, students fanned out to work on their projects, and then to reconvene at 7 pm for presentations by instructors.

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Foundry 2014 Opens in Candle-Lit Ruins of Santo Domingo Monastery

Instructors and staff listen as administrator Jen Storey addresses students at opening of 2014 Foundry Photojournalism Workshop.

La Antigua, Guatemala – “The world is not made of atoms – it’s made of stories,” said Foundry instructor and Mexico-based photographer Adriana Zehbrauskas in her co-opening address (with James Whitlow Delano) to the students of the 2014 Foundry Photojournalism Workshop.

The registration and subsequent event took place Sunday evening on a candle-lit plaza and convention center that is incorporated into the ruins of the former Santo Domingo monastery, here in historic La Antigua, a former capital of Guatemala.

Students from all of the Americas, Europe and Asia completed their registrations, then mixed and mingled with each other at a reception. Students and teachers spoke to each other, some in halting English and Spanish, as friends were made and photography bonds established.   Former students returning for another boost to their skills, caught up with each other’s personal news.

A poll was taken by Kirsten Luce, instructor and education coordinator, on whether the language of the evening activities would be English or Spanish, and the result was both – English with Spanish translation. Some instructors elected to speak in Spanish, with English translations following.

The evening ended with instructors meeting with students for the first time and discussing the week to come.

Top 5 Books to Read Before Going to Foundry Guatemala

Guest post by Foundry instructor Victor J. Blue

I am psyched to be heading back to Guatemala and to meeting all of the students and faculty at this years Foundry Workshop there. It’s going to be great. Guatemala is an incredible country that I have been trying to understand for about 12 years now. It is possessed of a resilient, dynamic people and a difficult, tragic history. The war years, the massacres and the repression of the indigenous majority, and the years of fighting for justice and the reclamation of historical memory are the defining events of Guatemala’s modern history. There isn’t much that happens there now that isn’t colored by them. It can be hard to wrap your mind around all of it, but it’s important to try. Here are a few of my favorite resources for getting into Guatemala:

1. The Long Night of the White Chickens by Francisco Goldman

Long Night of White ChickensGoldman is one of our best American authors. Half Guatemalan, he explores his divided heritage and the fear and suspicion and intrigue of the war years in this novel. When people ask me what Guatemala is like, I give them this novel to read. As a boy, the main character Roger, falls for his Guatemalan nanny then as a young man travels to Guatemala to uncover the story of her death. The constant menace of the state and the intimacy with death that is so common to the Guatemalan experience make this the best psychological portrait of the country that I have read. And it’s fun to try and find the spots along the Sexta Avenida from the book. Extra points to whoever gets a drink in the expat/ CIA bar that’s still in Zone 10.

 

2. Guatemala – Eternal Spring, Eternal Tyranny by Jean Marie Simon

EternalSpringEternalTyrannyThis is the only book of documentary photography that comprehensively chronicles the civil war years in Guatemala. It’s one of the greatest works of photo reportage ever done. Closely resembling Vietnam Inc. by Simon’s mentor Phillip Jones Griffith, it mixes strong photography, excellent reportage, and unreal access to show all the sides of a fight that cost the lives of over 250,000 people. Simon was a young photographer who dedicated herself to covering the war in Guate- one of the only foreign photographers to do so. It very deftly lays out the major events and themes from the most violent and dangerous years of the war in the early 1980’s. She was unbelievably brave. There are three printings of this, I have all three. The original English version is out of print but you can find it on Amazon. The book was reissued in a brilliant new edition in Spanish a couple of years ago, and you can get it at Sophos bookstore in Guatemala City. If you are a photographer you really ought to own this book.

 

3. I, Rigoberta Menchu by Rigoberta Menchu

IRigobertaMenchuThe personal testimony of Nobel Peace Prize winner and indigenous activist Rigoberta Menchu. If you don’t have any previous experience or familiarity with the reality of life for indigenous Guatemalans, this is an important book to read. Menchu grew up in a persecuted political family and fled into exile in the 80’s and told her story to Elizabeth Burgos in Paris. There is no small amount of controversy around the woman in Guatemala, and if you feel like diving into, could be worth checking out David Stoll’s book Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans, or better yet Greg Grandin’s Who is Rigoberta Menchu? No matter who you believe, the fact is that she is a symbol for millions of indigenous folks and her story is in many ways emblematic of the struggles of Mayan folks in Guatemala for, lets face it, centuries.

 

4. Memory of Silence- The Guatemalan Truth Commission Report edited by Daniel Rothenberg

MemoryofSilenceThis is a new edition of one of the two vital human rights reports issued after the signing of the peace accords in 1996. It isn’t easy reading, but then the history isn’t easy either. It’s accessible and this new edition isn’t hard to get through. Read it, get sad, and figure out what you can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

 

 

5. The Art of Political Murder by Francisco Goldman

ArtPoliticalMurderGoldman returns with this nonfiction account of one of the greatest political crimes in modern Guatemala- the murder of Archbishop Juan Gerardi days after he issued the Catholic Church’s comprehensive report on massacres committed by the Guatemalan Army during the war. He goes deep inside a story that seems impossible to get to the bottom of, and keeps going deeper. This book is vital if you want to understand the impunity and disrespect for the rule of law that has created the ultra violence in the streets that Guatemala suffers from today. This story is an onion that Goldman peels back like a chef.

 


Bonus reading:

If you can get through one or more of these, you will have a head start on understanding the human rights context in Guatemala. If you have tons of time and read fast, then these are also worth checking out:

Bitter Fruit by Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer – in case you weren’t aware the the CIA overthrew the popular, democratically elected govt. of Guatemala and all most of this crap in motion, this is a great history for you.

La Verdad Bajo La Tierra by Miquel Dewever – Plana A photo essay on the exhumation of mass graves from the war.

The Return of the Maya by Thomas Hoepker  – Photo book on the end of the war and the return of the refugees by Magnum heavy.

Our Culture is Our Resistance by Jonathan Moller – Moller was a human rights worker and shot incredible pictures of internally displace people in the later years of the war

Silence on the Mountain by Daniel Wilkinson -A kind of personal take on the end of the war and reconciliation and trying to unwind what happened.

La Patria del Criollo: An Interpretation of Colonial Guatemala by Severo Martínez Peláez – if you are really ambitious, the definitive account of Guatemala’s colonial history and the roots of it’s underdevelopment. (I am still wrestling with this one.)

 



 

Bonus films:

When the Mountains Tremble– Pamela Yates- this one from ’83 about Menchu and the war

Granito- How to nail a Dictator – Yates again, with an overview of the search for truth and justice in the aftermath of the genocide

Men with Guns– John Sayles- a fictional account of Central America in the war years. While not explicitly taking place in Guatemala, it’s pretty much Guatemala

Foundry students and faculty gathered in Istanbul, 2010. Photo © Neal Jackson
Foundry students and faculty gathered in Istanbul, 2010.
Photo © Neal Jackson

How to prepare for a Foundry workshop

[español abajo]

Preparing for Foundry Photojournalism Workshops includes the usual pre-trip planning: booking airfare, finding accommodations, getting any suggested vaccines, and making sure your gear is ready for a week full of photographing. The last thing you want to do is find out you’ve left the charger with one of your batteries at home and the hostel you booked at is much less charming than the picture suggested.

PRO TIP: If you’re still looking for accommodations, read and post on the Foundry Forum. Many students book and share apartments for 1-2 weeks with other students. It’s a great way to gain new friends and it’s fun.
Meg Saddler and other students look on in Maggie Steber's class at Foundry 2012 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo © Trevor Chistensen
Meg Sattler and other students look on in Adriana Zehbrauskas’ class at Foundry 2012 in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Foundry alumni Trevor Christensen, Wendy Johnson, and Genna Martin and instructor Tewfic El-Sawy offer some of the following advice to get the most out of the workshop experience.

  1. Research several story ideas.
    Arrive a few days early and wander around, looking for stories. Bounce ideas off of local photographers and students from the area. Always have a back-up plan. Be flexible.
  2. Pace yourself.
    There will be lots of socializing at night at the local bars and restaurant. You will stay up late sharing work, editing your own work, going to classes and discussion panels. Show up well-rested to the workshop.
  3. Be a sponge.
    There will be people from all over the world who share a passion for photography. Have a goal of making, for example, 10 new friends per day. Connect with people before, during and after the workshop.
  4. Prepare your portfolio ahead of time.
    Portfolio reviews can be the most challenging moments to hear criticism of your work, but it’s also the time when you can learn and grow the most.
  5. Go to the evening talks and presentations.
    Get to know the work of the instructors so you can ask questions at their nightly talks.

On our next blog post, Foundry instructor Victor J. Blue gives a reading list to be up on Guatemalan history and culture.

 

Como prepararse para un taller Foundry

Prepararse para Foundry Photojournalism Workshops incluye las preparaciones de cualquier viaje: asegurarse de los pasajes, encontrar alojamiento, conseguir vacunas si es necesario para esa parte del mundo, y asegurarse que todo tu equipo esta listo para una semana llena de fotografía. Lo último que quieres encontrar es que has dejado tu cargador con una de las baterías extras en tu casa o que el hostal que conseguiste no es para nada como se veía en las fotos.

SUGERENCIA PRO: Si aún buscas alojamiento, lee y postea en el foro Foundry Forum. Muchos estudiantes arriendan y comparten departamentos por 1-2 semanas con otros alumnos. Es una buena manera de hacer amistades y es entretenido.

Ex-alumnos de Foundry Trevor Christensen, Wendy Johnson, y Genna Martin y el instructor Tewfic El-Sawy ofrecen sus sugerencias para sacar el mejor provecho de la experiencia Foundry.

  1. Investiga varias ideas para historias.
    Lo mejor es llegar unos días antes del taller para orientarte al lugar y buscar historias. Conversa de tus ideas con fotógrafos locales y otros alumnos lugareños. Siempre tenga un Plan B… y Plan C y Plan D. Sea flexible.
  2. Mantén un ritmo moderado.
    Va a haber mucha socialización en las noches en los bares y restaurantes. Vas a trasnochar, festejando y compartiendo con otros alumnos. Vas a compartir trabajos, proyectos, fotos. Vas a estar editando fotos para la clase la próxima mañana. Vas a ir a charlas y paneles de discusión. Llega al taller bien descansado.
  3. Sea una esponja.
    Va a haber mucha gente de todo el mundo que comparte una pasión por la fotografía. Ten la meta de hacer muchos amigos, pues cuando uno viaja después, tendrás amigos por todo el mundo para recibirte. Conecta con gente antes, durante y después del taller.
  4. Prepara tu portafolio con anticipación.
    Reseñas de portafolio son los momentos mas difíciles porque estarás escuchando criticas fuertes y honestas sobre tu trabajo. Pero donde uno enfrenta sus debilidades y desafíos es donde uno mas crece. Puedes mostrar tu portafolio en tu iPad/tableta, en tu computador o impreso si tienes.
  5. Vaya a las charlas y presentaciones.
    Conozca el trabajo de los instructors que presentarán para que puedas hacerles preguntas.

2014 Scholarship Winners

Foundry is pleased to announce our 2014 scholarship winners. We had over 70 applications to go through and these are the winners.

Foundry tiene el agrado de anunciar los ganadores de las becas del 2014. Tuvimos mas de 70 postulaciones y aquí está la lista de ganadores:

Lauren DeCicca (USA)
Natalie Keyssar (USA)
Andre Malerba (USA)
Jonas Opperskalski (Germany)
Linh Pham (Vietnam)
Tina Remiz (Latvia)
Cesar Rodriguez Becerra (Mexico)
Michelle Siu (Canada)
Christian Ugarte Bravo (Peru)
Daniele Volpe (Guatemala)

Foundry 2013 Ends; Yannis Stournas Wins Golden Scarf

Sarajevo, July 21, 2013.  The sixth Foundry Photojournalism Workshop ended tonight with nearly three hours of  student work shown to a packed house, including many Sarajevo residents who came to see the images of their people and city.   The subjects of student stories ranged from mine detection and removal to development of the Sarajevo War Theater.  The presentations included slideshows, mixed still and video materials, and video shows.

The Golden Scarf award went to Yannis Stournas who, according to his instructor Jason Eskenazi, “overcame personal challenges, transcended his fears, and transformed and improved his work to an extraordinary degree” during the week.  Stournas, below, lives in Greece.  He used creative placement of a mannequin in a variety of scenes to portray a wide range of life in Sarajevo.

 

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Attendees at the screening also saw a fourth in the notorious underground “scarf” video.  These humorous videos, produced by instructor Claire Rosen, with acting by other instructors, have become cult favorites of Foundry students, faculty and staff and are only screened at the annual workshops.  They are about the scarf as an icon of photojournalism culture, often focusing on renowned photojournalist and Foundry instructor Ron Haviv, whose clothing trademark is often the scarf.

A special award of thanks was given to Suzie Katz of Photowings.  Founder Eric Beecroft noted that her enthusiasm and support have made it possible for Foundry to award scholarships and pursue many other mission-related activities.  Here Suzie is shown receiving the award from Beecroft (who incidentally lost his beard for the first time in over a decade after an exercise in mis-communication with a Bosnian barber):

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Awards were also given to students from each instructor’s classes.  These awards were not always for the best work but instead for the most improvement, the greatest diligence, the clearest vision, the most positive attitude or other efforts of character.  Winners included   Marco Mestrovic, Susan Sermoneta, Sri Utame, Anette Streicher, Carole Alfarah, Erika Cei, Jonathan Clifford, Chris James White, and Francesco Castelli.

The youngest student award went to Lauren Cockrell.

Special recognition was also given to Sarajevo photographers Edin Dzeko and Amer Kapetanovic, who were on the ground, making Foundry in Sarajevo possible.  This included arranging with Sarajevo University for the use of the gorgeous Academy of Fine Arts to getting visas cleared for the Pakistani and Lebanese students who attended.  Here they shown here (L-R, Dzeko and Kapetanovic) with founder Beecroft (Ron Haviv is not so surreptitiously snapping an iPhone photo in the background!):

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Finally Eric Beecroft announced that next year’s workshop would be held in Guatemala.  So if you have the least inclination to attend, start practicing your Spanish!

The evening ended with a mass migration to the Sarajevska Brewery, for a night of happy congratulations and sad goodbyes among students, faculty and staff.  Here a table of instructors satisfy their thirst together (L-R, Paula Bronstein, Andrea Bruce, Jonathan Levinson, James Whitlow Delano (obscured) and Jason Eskenazi).

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So you can get a full understanding in your mind of what happened over the week, here are a few more images of workshop activities:

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Photographers Ron Haviv, Robert King, Tarik Samarah and Imre Szabo, who have documented the action and effect of the Siege of Sarajevo and other Balkan war crimes, gathered together to discuss the 1992-95 Siege of Sarajevo (Szabo from the Serbian side) and relate events.  This tragic time was explored repeatedly in the workshop by instructors and students alike.

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Instructor Robert King showed his dramatic reportage of operations of a rebel hospital in Aleppo, Syria, and the determination of the doctors and other medical personnel there to carry on.  King repeatedly mentioned the difficulties that war photography presented to his family, which accompanied him to Sarajevo.  Below is King with his son, Robert, Jr.

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Students and attendees used their liberal access to the instructors to learn information on technique.  Below Ron Haviv meets with members of his class and others outside of the Academy of Fine Arts during a classroom break.

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One of the great opportunities of the workshop was interacting informally with noted photographers who have played key roles in photography over the years.  Below noted photographer Imre Szabo, who generously made himself available to students, shows his impish side while clowning around outside the Academy of Fine Arts.

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I always liked Ben Lowy’s iconic image of Iraqi boys in the evening jumping off the bridge into the Tigris River.  But it was also fun hearing directly from Ben how the shot came about.  Here he is talking about it with the image behind.

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Outside the Academy of Fine Arts there were lots of urban vignettes.  One was the presence of street dogs which seemed to have their territories pre-negotiated (doing much better than their human counterparts it seemed!).  In fact they seemed much more mellow that the usual urban dogs.  Here is the one who seemed to have the turf in front of the Academy building assigned – what, me worry?  Not even intrusive photographers bothered this Sarajevo denizen.

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One Student At Work on Her Project

Samar Hawa spent a decade as an investment banker in her home city of Beirut.  She worked with private equity funds and other high value investment vehicles.

But a year ago she quit all that, “to develop my right-brain capabilities.”  Now she is exploring her creative side, including whether photojournalism and documentary photography can be a part of her life.

“I heard of Foundry from a friend whose friend had attended,” she said.  At first she was reluctant, as she thought the focus was on conflict photography. But she did block out the July time on her calendar.  Then she spoke with Nadim Bou Habib, a fellow Beirut resident and Foundry graduate, who assured her it was much broader than that.   On that assurance, she signed up.

At Foundry, she began working with her instructors, James Whitlow Delano and Paula Bronstein, to winnow down her subject to homeless people living in the Old City of Sarajevo.  She soon forged a bond with them and began to get access from them.  Even with a language barrier, they were able to show her their lives and problems.

One supportive element for them is a charity kitchen operating in the Old City.  I was able to accompany Samar early one morning as she photographed the kitchen staff preparing for the first meal of the day.  Here are a few images of Samar hard at work!

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It was clear Samar was working hard accurately to capture the action in the kitchen.  And she had learned her lesson on connecting with her subjects – to the point where one kitchen member could not let her go un-hugged!

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