Be a part of helping to arm GPI reporters with photography training and cameras! Check out our Kickstarter page!

Every where I go people ask me about what they can do to get involved and help support my project and the work of the Global Press Institute.  I am thrilled to say that our Kickstarter campaign is up and running and you can directly support our efforts in bringing cameras and photo training to our amazing women reporters around the world, as well as in the creation of a photo book and exhibitions to showcase their work and the story of GPI.

I felt the same way when I met Cristi Hegranes and learned about GPI, realizing that she had created that elusive thing, a program that brings long-term positive change to the lives of women in the developing world, and on top of that is creating a new model for international journalism.   On both the global level and in the lives of the women it employs, GPI is a changemaker.

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Nakinti – GPI reporter in Cameroon

That is why I got involved as the photojournalism trainer to bring the power of visual storytelling to the talented GPI reporters, which we have now done in Nepal, Haiti, Cameroon, Kashmir, Argentina and later this month I will be going to Sri Lanka.  Help us arm the GPI reporters at 10 more desks with new cameras and photojournalism training to give them additional tools to tell the powerful stories in their communities.  And please consider sharing this with your friends and posting the link below on your social media pages.   With much gratitude from the reporters and the entire GPI team!

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

Our project is also featured on the International Center of Photography curated page

http://www.kickstarter.com/pages/internationalcenterofphotography

“I thought only men were photographers”

Wed the 24th

As I have traveled teaching photography, in Rwanda, Nepal, Haiti, and now Cameroon, this is a common message from the women and girls I meet.  Based on their experience and what they see around them, photographers are men and so most of the reporters never thought of photography as something they would pursue.  When a reporter here told me “I thought only men were photographers”, it was after a day of photo training, when we had looked at a lot of photography and photo essays and they had begun to see the power of images and were realizing that this could be another form of communication for them and a new tool to tell their stories.    It’s so exciting to watch that light go on when they discover that they can and will be photographers and that they will be able to harness the power of visual storytelling.

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The reporters of the GPI newsdesk in Cameroon with their new cameras

I am very grateful to Pro Photo Supply for their continuing support of my work and for becoming the equipment sponsor for our Cameroon desk by donating the cameras our reporters will be using here.  Nakinti, Irene, Comfort and our newest reporter Mosina, live and work in different towns so it was essential that they all have their own cameras.   It will allow them to be able to take photographs for every story, increasing the impact of their work.

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GPi reporters during the photojournalism training in Cameroon

We continue to tweek the original curriculum that I had put together, as we learn about new challenges our reporters face, additional skills we want them to have, or when we find better approaches to some things.  One of the recurring issues we are seeing and realizing we need to address more, while true for photographers everywhere, seems to be even more of an issue in many of the reporters’ communities, and that is the difficulty in finding a comfort level with photography, both in taking the pictures and in trying to make their subjects comfortable.

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Cameroon reporter Nakinti taking photographs for one of her stories

In Haiti reporters told us that they wouldn’t be allowed to take pictures, because people were generally suspicious of why you were taking it and what you would do with it.   I think they were surprised when we went to a local hospital to do a workshop and we had people lined up wanting to have their picture taken, and it was a good lesson not to assume that your subject will protest.    But I know that they and reporters at other desks have faced a number of difficult shooting situations, and it’s true that these are sometimes challenging environments in which to make pictures, in part because photography isn’t nearly as prevalent, in some cases there are cultural objections to photography, and there is not a paparazzi culture as we have in the US, where you know there is a possibility of having your picture taken around any corner.  So like photographers everywhere, the reporters are learning to negotiate those spaces, to find their own comfort level in photographing people and to teach their subjects about why they need to spend significant amounts of time taking their pictures, rather than just the quick snap shot that they are usually expecting.

“Picture no di Lie” – An inspiring and fun week in Bamenda, Cameroon

I just returned from Cameroon, my most recent trip to teach the photojournalism program to the fabulous women reporters of the Global Press Institute.

I did some writing while I was there, but it was one of the most challenging locations yet in terms of electricity and internet capabilities, so I’m finally sitting down to start posting my thoughts from the week.    It is just one more reason to admire the work that GPI reporters do every day, when you see how much of a struggle it can be just to get online and communicate with their editors, update their stories, let alone try to upload photographs to me.

Cristi and I received an incredibly warm welcome in Cameroon and had an amazing week, teaching, eating good food, making new friends, and learning a lot, including some Pidgin, my favorite saying being “Photo na da lie”, which the reporters inscribed on a picture frame for me as a gift.   The reporters taught me this Cameroon Pidgin proverb during a conversation in class about whether a photo should be considered a fact, or the “truth’.

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GPI founder Cristi Hegranes with Cameroon newsdesk reporters Comfort, Irene, Mosina, and Nakinti

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Me with GPI reporters Comfort, Mosina, Irene and Nakinti

 

As you can tell, we had a great time, which really reflects the tone and environment that Cristi has created at GPI.   Everyone works very hard and takes their commitment as journalists very seriously, but we also have a lot of fun and there is the very real sense that this is not a top down organization but instead it really is a team and the work is a collaboration.

Tuesday 23rd

It is so great to be here in Bamenda Cameroon with our GPI reporters, especially after a long journey of almost 42 hours including the 7 hour drive from Doula during which we lost 2 hubcaps from the many bumps in the road.   Every minute of the travel was well worth it, to finally get to meet in person the reporters whose photographs I have been working on as the GPI photo editor.

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I am really looking forward to the week and to our first photography class tomorrow!

Some time to relax and enjoy the beauty of Haiti

After the last day of training, we got a ride out to the local beach to take portraits of the reporters for my ongoing project, which will eventually bring together images of all 133 + Global Press Institute journalists around the world.    We also thought it would be nice to relax, after a long week for us and for the students who put in very long days at their college and then would come to the GPI trainings each day after school.

making portraits of the reporters

making portraits of the reporters

After swimming and playing around on the beach, which always has a way of bringing out the kid in all of us, we began to write in the sand.    The reporters wrote these notes for us which I think convey the love and appreciation that they showed us and which we feel for them in return.    I can’t wait to see the stories and the photographs that will continue to come from the amazing ladies at the GPI newsdesk in Haiti!

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Another successful GPI training

We are coming to the end of what has been a very successful trip on many levels.   I will miss the reporters here, but Maura and I both feel a bond has been formed which will help us all as we work together in the future.   It is nice to be able to edit the work of someone you have gotten to know and it helps to understand the stories they are covering now that we have been to Jeremie and seen many of the places they write about.   Each community has it’s own challenges for reporters, especially with different societal views about the role of journalism.

Me shooting while the reporters practiced making portraits

Me shooting while the reporters practiced making portraits

I had a great time doing some shooting of my own, though there were times that for safety reasons it was better that I not bring my camera out with me.   In certain places it was made clear to me that people would not want to have their pictures taken, but that was not the case everywhere.   We did a hands on lesson at the local hospital where the reporters found subjects to interview and photograph.   To my surprise I turned around and there was a line of people, wanting me to take their photograph, something I was very pleased to do.  I plan to send the images back to the newsdesk to be printed for them so they can have a photo of themselves, something very few people have here.

Practicing interviewing subjects for their stories

Practicing interviewing subjects for their stories

People at the hospital lined up because they wanted to have their photo taken

People at the hospital lined up because they wanted to have their photo taken

Our trip wouldn’t have been the same without guidance and assistance from Les, who helps to run the hotel where we stayed.  He was kind enough to take time from his schedule to give us a tour of Jeremie where he grew up and has now moved back to, after many years living in the states and working on Wall Street in New York.   His unique perspective taught us a lot about Haiti and I very much appreciate that.   He took us to an open air gym where he and some other guys have built their own weight lifting machines out of leftover scrap metal they have found.   As he said, they have to be creative and made due with what they have.

Open air gym in Jeremie

Open air gym in Jeremie

Thanks to Jon and the folks back at Pro Photo Supply in Portland for their ongoing support.   I have found that with my neck issues, my D4 gets really heavy on these long trips and so they lent me a D600 to use which has really helped.   I also fell in love with the 24mm 1.4 lens that I borrowed, so now I know what to start saving up for next.

Time to head home and catch up with my kids.  I am also looking forward to the upcoming GPI summit in San Fransisco.  It will be great to come together with GPI editors who have flown in from Nepal, Nigeria, Rwanda and Argentina, and founder Cristi Hegranes who is always energizing and inspiring when she talks about the mission of the Global Press Institute, to empower women and to change the face of International Journalism.

A big welcome for us in Jeremie, Haiti

We are back from Haiti now and I will post what I wrote during our trip.  Intermittent internet and long days of working meant that I didn’t post while we were there.  Plus I’m realizing that sometimes it is nice to just be somewhere and be fully immersed in the experience and not get too distracted by having to post and tweet and message about everything in real time.

Jeremie, Haiti  A rural town on the West coast

Jeremie, Haiti A rural town on the West coast

Jeremie

Jeremie

January 23, 2013

I wrapped up my second day of photography training today and we had a great time with the reporters working on exercises around framing our images.   I read an inspiring book by Steve Simon, the Passionate Photographer, on the plane ride down and it gave me a few new ideas for class that I tried out.

Going over the photography curriculum

Going over the photography curriculum

Practicing shooting from different perspectives

Maura and I have been welcomed with open arms by the reporters here Mydrene, Lynda, Rosenie and Ganyerlar.  Renate, who helps run the college they attend, has been a great host and translator.   We had to do some rearranging of location for the classes, because there was some violence going on downtown when we arrived.    In fact it looked like we might have to leave Jeremie before we could finish out the week and the classes, but thankfully things have calmed down and we are able to stay.

Even though it is a world away from my last training in Nepal, the GPI reporters here have much in common with those in Kathmandu and around the world.   There is an intensity of purpose and a drive to learn and to push themselves to become the best journalists they can be, making it a such a pleasure to teach them and share my passion for photography.

When asked what brought them to GPI, the women spoke of their desire to give women and others in their community more of a voice, that they were tired of seeing journalists not cover the stories that need to be told.   They have a deep desire to share both the struggles of Haiti’s people, and also the stories of beauty that are there.   Their commitment and courage reinforces for me over and over why I love doing this job and working for Global Press Institute.   It is an absolute privilege to get to be a part of helping them to find their voices and hone their craft of storytelling.

Fun with photography

Next Stop Haiti

The last few months have brought many exciting developments in my new role as photojournalism trainer and photo editor for the Global Press Institute.   As I write this, I am headed to Haiti with Maura, GPI’s managing editor, to conduct journalism and photography classes for our Haitian reporters.   It is another opportunity for me to do what I love most, to share my passion for photography and journalism, and to help give GPI reporters more tools with which to tell their stories.

2012 was an amazing year of growth for GPI, and for me also, as I had the opportunity to become part of their team.   There were many impactful stories from our reporters, including one by Aliya Bashir in Kashmir, which brought attention to the fact that over 500 babies had died over the course of six months in a hospital there.    Within 48 hours of the story being picked up by international newswires, organizations from around the world were stepping up to provide much-needed medical equipment, and the government held those at the hospital responsible for the neglect that was taking place.

This is what I love about GPI: that it empowers women to tell stories about their communities that in many cases effect change as a result.

We are very much looking forward to everything that our growth will enable us to do, including increased trainings at our news desks, more editors, and a new syndication platform.   In February, we will be holding an event in San Francisco and encourage people to come learn more about the work of GPI and to meet some of our editors flying in from Nepal, Argentina, Nigeria and Rwanda.  If you are in San Fran and would like to attend, please RSVP here:

http://globalpressinstitute.eventbrite.com/#

For those of you who have expressed an interest in helping to support our photojournalism program and trainings, we are working on some specific ways you can do that, so stay tuned.

I encourage you to check out the fantastic new Global Press Institute website, to learn more about GPI and to read high-quality international stories by top-notch women reporters.

http://globalpressinstitute.org

Super excited to get to Haiti, to bring them their new cameras, and to introduce them to the wonderful world of photography!