I will be at BlueSky gallery this Saturday showing my prints from Rwanda

Join me this Saturday March 14th from 1-1:45 at BlueSky Gallery.  It’s the last chance to see and purchase these prints from my project in Rwanda, which I was honored to have selected by jurors for the 2014 photography viewing drawers.

For more information: Portfolio Walk
2014 Pacific Northwest Photography Viewing Drawers

Saturday, March 14, 12:00–2:00 PM
Last chance to view work and meet several artists juried into the 2014 Drawers.

blueskygallery.org

Gallery Exhibition at the University of San Diego showcasing my photos from Rwanda, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Genocide.

I was truly honored to be asked to be part of this exhibition at the University of San Diego  to mark the 20th anniversary of the Genocide, a milestone on the path of reconciliation in Rwanda.   Images from 7 photographers including myself, Fazal Sheikh, Robert Lyons and others, span two decades showing both what unfolded during that dark April in 1994 as well as the road that Rwanda has since taken to move forward, to develop their country,  and to try to live in peace with their fellow Rwandans, many of whom played some role in the mass killings.

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Radio Girls, Kigali, Rwanda, 2012

 

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Musical artist on red carpet at Salax Awards, Kigali, Rwanda, 2012

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Mural outside Ivuka Arts Center, Kigali, Rwanda, 2012

 

http://www.sandiego.edu/about/news_center/events/events_detail.php?_focus=47525

The gallery opening is Thursday April 24th at 5, followed by a panel discussion: Preventing Mass Atrocities:Lessons Learned from Rwanda

Joining me on the trip will be my dear friend Dida, who is a genocide survivor, though that is a small part of who she is and if you know her you know what I mean because she radiates a light, an energy and is a bright spot of love and compassion in this world.  Though I know what she has been through and often wonder how any person can be asked to bear as much grief as Rwandans have been handed, she has never once seemed like a victim to me, but instead is on a mission to do her part to help propel Rwanda forward to a brighter future.  She has been generous enough to join the panel to speak about her own experiences as well as what she and other young people want for Rwanda now and what they are working so hard to achieve, a peaceful future for the country they dearly love.

It was quite humbling to be asked to speak on the panel as well, since compared to Dida and others such as Philip Lancaster, an aide to General Romeo Dallaire in Rwanda during the genocide, I do not consider myself an expert on Rwanda.  But what I can speak to, in addition to representing the photographers’ work in the show, is my experience living and working in Rwanda and what I took away from that in terms of where things are now as they continue to try and move forward from their painful past.  Particularly because the focus of my teaching and of my personal photography work there was on young people, and the ways in which they are learning to use the arts to communicate with each other and express themselves.

I no longer look at the Rwandan genocide as a far off, distant human crisis, like we often do with the many humanitarian crisis around the world, understanding only so much as the media tells us about them, and usually having very little context for the country or for the people who are going through such massive traumas.   To me now the genocide is personal because I know people, I love people, who lived through it, who lost those closest to them and who saw their country fractured into a million pieces.   And I love Rwanda and feel a deep desire for it to be able to continue on it’s path of healing, something that I feel like this younger generation is very much capable of helping to bring about.  My friends deserve that, all Rwandans deserve that.

 

 

 

 

 

I am excited to share some of the amazing photography coming from our photojournalists at the Global Press Journal

I am honored and excited to share some of the powerful photography being created by the photojournalists at the Global Press Journal.   It is such a pleasure to get to be their editor and to work with their wonderful images every day, getting to see their communities through the eyes of those who know and understand them best.   I will continue to share some of their images and photo essays as we publish them, so you can enjoy their amazing work as well.

You can see all of the work of our journalists and photojournalists on the Global Press Journal website.  http://www.globalpressjournal.com/   It is a great site to visit as part of your daily news consumption, because you will get direct access to the unique GPJ stories and content that show a side of many communities and countries that are not traditionally covered in the media.  Since our content is also syndicated by many of the world’s top newswires and publications, such as Reuters and UPI, you may sometimes see our stories being re-published by any number of international news outlets as well.

This beautiful photo essay is about a remote village in Nepal that is being forced to relocate due to lack of water.  by Nepalese photojournalist Shilu Manandhar.

http://www.globalpressjournal.com/asia/nepal/desperate-water-all-residents-remote-nepalese

Here are just some of the wonderful images from her essay.  All images copyright GPJ

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Mountains and cliffs surround Samzong, which is located close to Nepal’s border with Tibet.

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Dolker Gurung, 3, embraces her mother while she prepares lunch for the family. Food shortages are now common here

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Dolker Gurung’s mother, who declined to be interviewed, weaves a carpet in her yard.

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There are no roads, just rough lanes, to Samzong. People can access the village only by foot or on horse.

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The Samzong Khola, the only river that flows through the village, depends mostly on snowfall. Because of climate change, the river is no longer sufficient for residents to irrigate their fields.

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Tsedhup Gurung keeps his cattle in the shed after rearing them. Stockbreeding is becoming residents’ other source of livelihood.

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There are 17 households in Samzong. All families are planning to leave by summer 2014 because water has become scarce.

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“Finding Beauty in Breast Cancer”, video on Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/12/kimberli-ransom-breast-cancer-photography_n_4256728.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

Kimberli’s fabulous project, “Finding Beauty in Cancer” was featured on the Huffington Post and I am so proud of the impact she is having on so many people.  We have all been touched by cancer one way or another, and the way in which she has decided to deal with her diagnosis by collaborating with other photographers to create these expressive and beautiful scenes, reminds us all that even when so much is out of our control in these situations, you can still seek out joy, laughter and beauty in your struggle.

I am continuing to document her journey and she and I will be showing more of the images from that part of the project soon.  I will be accompanying her during her surgery tomorrow in what was yet another very brave decision on her part that if we were going to show the reality of her situation, that her mastectomy needed to be part of that.

Kimberli has a huge circle of friends, a new fan base online and a great photography community here in Portland that I know will be sending her lots of love and good wishes tomorrow.

Documenting a friend’s battle with Breast Cancer

I am honored by the opportunity to work with my friend and fellow photographer Kimberli Ransom, to help her document the day-to-day experience of her fight with breast cancer.

It is an act of trust to be allowed into these very real and difficult moments of her life and a show of her bravery to be willing to open up this way to the world.

I think we sometimes feel we have to protect people from the really difficult stuff, the reality of battling cancer, of being sick.  What it does to our spirit, our bodies, and our view of ourselves and our world.  We strive to put on a happy face for everyone, to show how tough we are.   Certainly Kimberli is one tough lady, and she has decided to use her art to help process her journey, with her project “Finding beauty in Cancer”.

She has partnered with many of her photographer friends here in Portland to create these fabulous fantastical photo shoots, playing with some of her dreams, fantasies and ways in which she can create narratives with them that speak to her search to find beauty even in her difficult battle with breast cancer.  www.findingbeautyincancer.com

But being strong and brave doesn’t mean you don’t also feel vulnerable, scared and overwhelmed.   The face you put on even for your close friends, often belies the truth of your daily reality, the moments behind the scenes, when you are alone with yourself, your daily challenges and thoughts, the constant doctor appointments and medication schedules.    The range of emotions that accompany a battle like this are staggering and unpredictable, changing from moment to moment.   Kimberli and I agreed that it would be an important piece of her project to also document the “real” moments, both good and bad, the daily reality that is her life battling breast cancer.

I understand some of these moments first hand from having walked this path with my Mom during her battle with Leukemia.  That has allowed me to have a connection with Kimberli about her journey, and though everyone experiences illness differently, to have at least some idea of what this is like for her.

Shooting this project has really taken me back to moments with my Mom, being in the hospital with her for chemo and being in her house surrounded by the towering piles of medical paperwork that make an already overwhelming situation even more daunting.

It is rewarding to know that while I will sometimes take a certain shot based on my own experiences with illness, when I show the image to Kimberli, it often resonates with her as well.   That’s why Kimberli’s project is so important, because so many cancer patients and survivors will be able to relate to her moments.

Our first shoot was during one of her chemo treatments, which began with walking down one those many cold and sterile hallways Kimberli finds herself in often these days.

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I took the shot below because it reminded me of the feeling of being in the hospital for hours and days on end, where your life has largely come to a grinding halt and most things you do now revolve around this battle you are in.   Your world looks completely different now, but outside things go on as usual, the drumbeat of day-to-day life.  I distinctly remember during my Mom’s illness and before I went in for a surgery myself for a brain aneurysm a few years ago, looking out the window and feeling a disconnect from the world that was moving along outside.  Realizing that everyone else was going about their life as they always had, but you were inside this hospital, with everything riding on this surgery or this treatment.   We all go about our lives as if we are invincible and you just never know when your life will change in a moment.

The flip side to that is that when you come out the other side and are able to go on with your life, you will probably never take the day-to-day routine for granted in the same way again.

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This photo is about the way you look at each treatment and the people who are caring for you.  You wonder will this drug do the trick, is this the one that is going help me win this war?   And how is going to make me feel, what will my body do with this drug in it, will I have a bad reaction to it?  You look to treatments with such hope and dread all at the same time.

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You develop special relationships with the people who administer the drugs and help you navigate the medical maze, and your doctors who see you week in and week out, because you literally are putting your life in their hands.

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Shared moments of humor help you get through it.

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This one speaks to me about Kimberli and who she is.  At the end of the day here she is looking right at us, showing us her both her strength and vulnerability, that she doesn’t intend to hide away but is facing this head on and asking us to come along on the journey with her.

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As an artist I suppose there is a willingness and even a need, to explore these difficult and complicated aspects of our lives and our experiences, for Kimberli and I this is an opportunity to do this together.

I hope in our collaboration I am able to capture some moments that will help her to tell her story.

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I will continue to post pictures of Kimberli’s journey and updates about how she is doing.  So many of us have been touched by cancer, and so her battle is also our battle.

Please check out her project, and follow her blog.  http://www.findingbeautyincancer.com/ You can also donate to help with her medical expenses, since as a self-employed photographer she has limited insurance benefits and has only been able to work limited hours since her treatments began.

Thanks for joining me in sending Kimberli lots of great energy and support!

Help support photojournalism at one of the very few truly independent journalism organizations!

For those of you who are already readers of the Global Press Institute’s news wire, or who have read our reporters’ stories on outlets who syndicate our work like the BBC, Reuters or on NPR, you know that the women reporters of GPI, highly trained local reporters in 26 developing countries around the world, are doing nothing less than changing the face of the news that is coming out of their communities and their countries.

As I wrote in my last post, GPI is committed to being a platform for independent, community-based journalism created by highly trained reporters, but as a non-profit, that isn’t always easy and has meant at times turning down money from companies that expressed interest in having a say over the content of our reporting, something we won’t allow.

Now we are hard at work bringing photojournalism training and cameras to our news desks so we can provide our more than 5 million readers a month high level photography to accompany our reporters powerful stories, and we need your help.

Aliya Bashir, one of our reporters in Kashmir, did an in-depth story on the high rate of infant deaths at a local hospital, over 500 infant fatalities during a 6 month period.  Her story, in part due to her powerful photography, moved many to action included those who stepped up within days to donate new incubators and equipment to the hospital, and it spurred a government investigation.

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by Aliya Bashir, Mother and Grandmother mourning an infant who died at the local hospital

http://www.globalpressinstitute.org/asia/indian-administered-kashmir/2012-infant-death-toll-passes-500-kashmir-hospital-asphyxiation-and

Sri Lankan GPI reporter Anuradha Gunarathne completed the photojournalism training with me just last month and took her new skills down to cover the deaths of 50 fisherman and the impact on their families from a powerful storm on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka.

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by Anuradha Gunarathne – A death notice hangs on a wall, a Sri Lankan tradition to inform the community of a death.

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by Anuradha Gunarathne – Sriyani Fonseka, 35, sits with her three children in front of their rented house in Dehiwala, a village on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. Her husband died while fishing during the June 8 storm.

http://www.globalpressinstitute.org/asia/sri-lanka/sri-lanka%E2%80%99s-fishing-community-mourns-storm-casualties

Your support of our Kickstarter campaign, to provide this photojournalism training and bring cameras to reporters at 10 more GPI news desks will enable dozens more women photojournalists to be able to cover important stories like these.    Their words and now their pictures are doing no less than changing the balance and the quality of the news that the world gets from these countries.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1477211729/through-our-eyes-photojournalism-for-women-around?ref=dyqwtd

Please join us today!   We are down to the last 5 days of our Kickstarter campaign and very much appreciate your support, both donating and sharing this campaign with your friends and on your social media networks. $100 will provide the photojournalism class and a year of visual mentorship to one of our journalists!  $1000 pays for all reporters at one of our news desks to receive the photo training and mentorship, and makes the donor a sponsor of that desk’s photo program!   Every donation helps towards these goals!

Together we can train and support these 135 women photojournalists around the world.   We will also be creating a photography book telling the story of GPI,  as well as a portrait exhibit of all of our reporters so that people can see the powerful network of women journalists who make the Global Press Institute what it is and who work fearlessly and tirelessly everyday to bring the world stories from their communities that would otherwise go untold.

Sparking a passion for photography among GPI reporters in Sri Lanka – and their first photo essay!

My work with the Global Press Institute, as the photojournalism trainer and photo editor, continues to be extremely rewarding as I get to see that spark of excitement in the  reporters as they start to see the power of a strong photograph, and then the thrill when they take an image that captures what they have intended.   Having just returned from another training, this time at our news desk in Sri Lanka, I am filled with much gratitude for the experience and with excitement from watching our reporters develop an understanding of and passion for photography and how it can bring greater impact to their stories.

Manori having fun as we experimented with shutter speeds

Manori having fun as we experimented with shutter speeds

I had a feeling from the start, as soon as I met Cristi and I pitched her the idea of this photography project, that this had the potential to be transformative, for GPI but also for me.  It is a privilege to get to bring another tool, visually storytelling, to these 135 talented journalists working in 26 countries across the developing world.  Perhaps what has taken me by surprise the most is how it has touched me on a personal level to connect with so many brilliant, brave and fun women around the world.   I count myself fortunate that with every training I come away with such amazing new friends, women who inspire me, challenge me and renew my faith in the role of authentic journalism to change the world.

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The brilliant reporters of the GPI Sri Lanka news desk

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Kumala, a GPI reporter in Sri Lanka

One of the greatest learning opportunities for me has been sitting in on the editorial meetings we have at each desk and listening as the reporters pitch their stories and have discussions with each other about the various aspects of the stories and the issues they face in their country.    I come away with a much better understanding of their communities through the insightful and often vigorous discussions they have around story ideas.  This illustrates one reason why the GPI model works so well, because no outsider would know about half of these things, or have the contacts they have to try to get information to flush these stories out.

It has also been exciting and gratifying to have such an enthusiastic response from the world-class women photographers I have reached out to help me with this project.  I have a list of photographers whose work I very much admire ready to go teach a training when we find one that works with their schedules and when we hopefully get the funding we need from the Kickstarter campaign!  Newspace Center for Photography and Pro Photo supply sponsored a great event for our project in Portland last week, and photographer Joni Kabana spoke about her experience teaching the class to our reporters in Argentina last month.   She came away with a profound appreciation for the importance of the work GPI reporters are doing and also a lasting bond with the women she had taught.  How fantastic it is to have a group of women photographers and journalists around the world coming together to teach and support each other!

Many people have remarked to me that this seems to be what I was meant to do, and I can’t disagree.   I have been able to bring together things I am deeply passionate about, journalism and photography, to help expand the platform women have to tell their stories and make their voices heard.   Most of all I get to share my love of photography and see that spark lit within others.  Within 24 hours of finishing the class, the reporters in Sri Lanka created a group photo essay about the celebration happening that weekend for the Buddhist holiday Vesak.   As they develop as photographers through practice and ongoing visual mentorship, I look forward to the impactful photographs that they will continue to create.

http://www.globalpressinstitute.org/slideshow/6781?return=home

Traveling to our news desks around the world, I have come to understand that GPI attracts truly exceptional women in these communities.  They are often from different backgrounds, religions or castes, and they bring with them differing degrees of formal education and experience, but they share a strength, bravery, and intelligence that is truly inspiring to be in the company of.  These women also share a commitment to working hard to become highly skilled journalists, and now photographers, with a profound passion for their craft and for the vital role they can play in telling the stories of their communities that the world isn’t hearing from other media outlets.

During lunch one day, a reporter thanked Cristi for walking the walk and talking the talk, for staying committed to high level ethical journalism and for making the choices time and time again that keep GPI in very limited company of news organizations that are truly independent and will do whatever is necessary, even sometimes turning down much-needed funds, in order to stay that way.

discussing the importance of ethical journalism with the reporters at the GPI desk in Sri Lanka

discussing the importance of ethical and independent journalism with the reporters at the GPI desk in Sri Lanka

Cristi teared up, something you won’t see often from this hard charging entrepreneur and seasoned journalist, but it is truly very moving to hear our reporters talk about what GPI means to them.   Global Press Institute is the result of 7 years of Cristi’s unceasing hard work and dedication to make her vision, one that many people told her would never work, a reality.  She believed based on her own experience as a foreign correspondent, that the people who were best suited to tell their stories were people who lived in those communities, and that all they lacked was high-level training and a platform, two things she could give them.

Cristi’s vision of a new model for international journalism has been so successful that our reporters stories are read by more than 5 million readers a month and are picked up by newswires such as the BBC, NPR and Reuters among many others.  Our reporters’ stories have had a direct impact in their communities, including prompting two law changes, in Nepal and in Rwanda.  GPI is creating and keeping alive meaningful and balanced journalism in these countries, and delivering unique content to readers around the world.  The addition of photographers at each desk will elevate the impact of their stories even more.

Do you believe in the power of photography to help people to connect with and understand a story in the most fundamental ways?  You can be a part of this effort and help to insure the reporters have the visual tools they need to bring the world images of stories that otherwise might go unseen.  Please consider joining us on this mission by donating to our Kickstarter campaign.   We are in our final weeks and we must meet our goal to be able to provide photo trainings and cameras for reporters at 10 more news desks.   Will you help?  $100 will provide the photo classes and a year of visual mentorship for a reporter!    If you share the campaign on your social sites and with friends, it will help us reach our goal and you will have played a critical role in empowering women photojournalists in the developing world.   How great is that?

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1477211729/through-our-eyes-photojournalism-for-women-around?ref=dyqwtd

And be sure to become a regular reader of the Global Press Institute website to access the reporters’ award-winning stories and see the images they are taking.   A photo gallery went up today by one of our most promising photographers, Comfort, who took the training last month in Cameroon.  Imagine when we are able to bring cameras and photo training to all of our 133 reporters around the world, It’s so exciting to think about the impact that will have!

http://www.globalpressinstitute.org/slideshow/6795