Photojournalism

Emily Garthwaite | London

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Emily Garthwaite is a 24-year-old British photojournalist and street photographer with a focus on humanitarian and environmental stories. She recently co-directed her first documentary in Iraq on Arba’een, the world's largest annual pilgrimage - attracting over 25 million Shia Muslim pilgrims. In 2018, the Iraq series and documentary are being exhibited in London, France, Italy, and Iran.

Emily graduated with a Masters in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from the University of Westminster in late 2016. Her photographs have been featured internationally including her image "Chained to Tradition" selected as a Finalist for Finalist for Wildlife Photographer of The Year in the Photojournalism category.

She is a Member of Street Photography International, a collective of four street photographers who formed with the aim to promote the best Street Photography from around the world. SPi is currently Instagram's fastest growing account for the genre with over 400,000 followers and reaching over 10 million people per month. Street Photography International launched The Street Awards and currently run international Street Photography workshops.

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When and why did you become a photographer?

I picked up a camera at the age of 15 and had fun with it. At that point, it was about exploration and researching photographers and painters. I didn't push for a career on photojournalism until a couple of years ago.

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You submitted incredible work shot in India. What encouraged you to start a project on India?

I have travelled to India three times over the past few years. The first was to scatter my grandmother’s ashes, during the second I travelled for six months on my own, and I spent my most recent trip with my partner.

India is a country that is, at times, incredibly challenging and I’ve always believed that it’s because of that I’ve continued to return. A Portrait of India is a long-term series that examines daily life and rituals across India. 

Walking the streets of a city alone with a camera is a meditation for me. Indian cities are paradoxical environments, allowing everyday scenes to become extraordinary. I always wait for eye contact with a passerby, sometimes it never happens, but the beauty of street life in cities is that the next photo is only moments away.

What is/was your most important project and why?

Most recently I visited Iraq with an Iranian documentary film crew. I was photographing Arba'een, the world's largest annual pilgrimage that attracts 25 million Shia Muslims a year. It encompassed everything I have worked towards over the past couple of years, and I was proud to have been selected as the main subject. I will be exhibiting the work next year and wish to open up a dialogue as to why there is a media blackout surrounding the pilgrimage.

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What does photography means to you?
Photography has allowed me to travel the world, meet new people and create art from everyday life.

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Birgit Krippner | Wellington, New Zealand

Brigit Krippner is an award winning photographer, born in Austria and has lived in New Zealand since 2003. Her specialty is capturing candid images using only available light. She has exhibited internationally and her works have been published in media like New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NZ Life & Leisure Magazine and many more. 

In 2015, Birgit was the recipient of the Team Lee Award for photojournalism, at the Missouri photo Workshop in Perryville, with her project 'Unexpect the Expected', Small Town Cop. In 2011, Birgit won an award at Grand Prix Terroirs d'images in Paris, France.

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Hello Birgit, thanks a lot for getting in touch with Women in Photography. Can you tell a bit about yourself and how you got into photography?

Hello Nicole. Since childhood, photography has been a big part of me. I am dyslexic, and expressing myself in visual ways seems to be natural to me, maybe the best way for me to communicate.  As much as I have an extroverted side, I really see myself as an Introvert and as a loner. Being on road trips on my own, traveling to exotic places and putting myself outside my comfort szone are elements which my camera is able to capture. This helps my friends, family and audience to understand me better. It helps me to understand myself better.

After finishing a master degree in Graphic Design, I started working at a design studio in Vienna. Soon I realized that this is not where my passion is, and still, I continued working as a graphic designer some more years. In 1995 I moved to NYC where more and more I picked up my camera to photograph my surroundings. When I moved to New Zealand in 2003, that was when I started needing my camera, relying on it, and when I started developing my own voice by making pictures. About nine years ago it was, that I first used the words ‘I am a photographer’. This was a milestone. About at the same time I designed my own website for photography, and I manage having my first solo exhibition in Wellington at Photospace Gallery. One thing lead to another and over years I became a photographer. 

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What does photography mean to you?

This is a big question, since it is not one thing that photography means to me. There are many different photographers out there who approach their photography from all kinds of angles. A lot of their work does not speak to me. When photography starts crossing boundaries, maybe by breaking rules - then chances are, that I will start paying attention to it. Some people are amazing photo journalists, which I very much respect and appreciate. And some of those photo journalists become superb in showing different dimensions to their pictures. Removing oneself from being too literal, showing poetry in your images and becoming figuratively, that is what I am striving with my photos.

You submitted photos of your latest project called „Smitty“. Can you tell us something about the project and how did the idea came up?

In October 2017 I was accepted to Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey’s photo workshop in Brooklyn, NY. About six months before that, I was introduced to Smitty and thought that he would be a person who I would enjoy getting to know better, and to photograph. One thing led to another, and Smitty opened up his doors to me. He welcomed me into his world as a musician, as a man who is passionate about all he does. I put a lot of time, thoughts and emotions into this project and the feedback which I have receive really was mind-blowing. A lot of positive comments from people around the world.

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What is your creative process when you work on a project, like „Smitty“? 

It all starts with a conversation. At the beginning I don’t introduce my camera to my subject. I find it important, getting an understanding of who the person is, who I am about to photograph. Equally important it is, that my subject gets an understanding of who I am. Only then, my subject and I can start our calibration together. Smitty and I became friends during this process, which not only brings an assignment to a different level, it actually exceeded what I was hoping for, and the photos seem to reflect this curious and positive feeling. 

When you plan a new project. What are you looking for? 

More often then not, a new project is approaching me, not the other way around. How I live my life, being open minded, challenging my comfort zone, and stepping into the unknown and excotic only makes curious situations come to me. My projects get me excited. It can be almost anything that gets my attention, but photographing people definitely is what I enjoy most. I love capturing low light situation, especially twilight/low light. This means that my camera is constantly on its limit. Aperture fully open, ISO on as high as bearable, and shutter speed on as long as my hand allows without creating shakiness. 

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You shoot with Leica cameras using only available light, which gives your photos a fantastic cinematic look. Can you tell us something about your post processing ? 

Thank you for your kind comment on the cinematic look of my photos. For post processing I have been using Adobe Lightroom for many years. I used to convert my pictures to B&W, which I found Silver Efex Pro 2 works really well. Over the last couple of years I have been confronting color photography. I vey much enjoy this change, but saying so, I find color photography more difficult to make it work, than if in B&W. My specialty is low light, twilight, photography. In Lightroom I make sure that the different light sources which I show in photos go well with each other, and that the white balance reflects in a way how I want it to be seen. I might bring out the contrast. On of the world’s best photo editors told me four years ago, that I should not crop my photos. I took his advice and hardly crop my pictures at all. 

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Besides your work as a photographer, you are the judge for the international „I-shot-it“ photo award. What are you looking for when you judge work from other artists?

Sometimes a photographer submits a photo to the I-Shot-It competition, which breaks the rules in a way that is difficult to put into words. I find it important that a good photographer is aware of rules, which need to be followed in photography. Only then, a good photographer can become a great  (or even exceptional) photographer. This can happen in breaking rules of photography. Framing, seeing light, being sensitive of what you photograph, how you want to show it, and also post production. These are all elements which are which are extremely important to create a potential good photo. The bottom line is, there is no formula on how to become a good photographer. My thoughts on this are, follow your heart, keep all your senses open, and have your camera with you as much as possible.

 

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The photography industry has changed a lot over the past years. What advice would you give female photographers who want to start a career into photojournalism?

I am not sure if I’d be a good person to give ‘advice’ on this, but I would like to share some of my insight. I find it important to be as much informed about other photographers in the industry as possible. To be aware of which photo projects have been done in the past, and who is the photographer who did that project best. If you decide on repeating a project which was done by someone else in the past anyway, make sure that you have your own way how to do this. Create your own voice and style as a photographer. Be authentic. Get strong in your vision and don’t give up easily. Believe in yourself, surround  yourself by photographers who you look up to, and share your work with them for critique. Be honest to yourself and be honest to others. Honesty will reflect in your work.

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Next year you will give a 2 day workshop on Smartphone Photography in NYC.  What can your students expect from this workshop?

I am rather excited about running this Two-Day-Smartphone workshop in NYC! This workshop on Smartphone photography will be the first of its kind, which I will give. I am looking forward to it since there is so much to be forwarded. With today’s high end smartphone cameras, a photographer can shoot the cover of a magazine without a professional camera needed. And this is happening! It does not show anymore, if a good photographer shoots with a smartphone or a ‘real’ camera. This line is getting thinner, and smartphone photographer is only getting stronger in the future. I have been asked to consider running a workshop in smartphone photography, so I will give it a try. If people will sign up, I might use this model in different cities and countries. 

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Tell us a little bit about the photography scene in New Zealand. Are there any female photographers you could recommend?

New Zealand has a vibrant scene of art, photo journalism and all kinds of photographers. One of my favorites is John Crawford, whose work I find superb. John covers a lot of social issues and he has a poetic approach in how he shows his work. When it comes to female photographers, I very much enjoy Lottie Hedley’s work, especially her photo project on Curling in New Zealand. There is a playfulness to this assignment of Lottie, and how she uses color I find rather special. Lottie is based in Auckland. Fiona Pardington, Yvonne Todd, Marti Friedlander, and Ans Westra are wonderful and influential female photographers, who are living in New Zealand.

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Website: http://www.birgitkrippner.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/birgit_krippner/ 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/birgit.krippner

Clara Vannucci | Florence, Italy

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Hi Clara tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m Clara Vannucci, an Italian freelance photographer. I work on assignments in portraiture, sport, corporate, travel, editorial, for magazine and newspaper like The New York Times, L’Uomo Vogue, Stern, Touring Club National Geo. 

The work that represents me the most are my long term projects - all related to the Criminal Justice System:

  • Crime and Redemption, documenting Volterra’s theater in prison company since 2007
  • Rikers Island, documenting the NYC’s Jail Battered women section and one of a prisoner’s family
  • Bail Bond. Bondsmen, defendants & bounty hunters. About the Bail Bond System in the US

You once said that as a child you wanted to become a Rock Star! What changed your mind to stand behind a camera rather than in front of a crowd? 
I think I sadly realized that I'm not such an interesting subject. I'm more fascinated by others people stories, that I find a lot more interesting. 

What does photography mean to you?
Photography and my camera allow me to enter into "others" lives. Even if it's just for a short time - I can mix their life with mine. Through images, I find a way to communicate with everyone, in every country. I think reportage is the best way for me to represent the subjects I photograph. 

Let’s talk about your longtime project „Crime and Redemption“, a reportage about the theater group La Compagnia Della Fortezza in Volterra. How did the idea to that project come up?
It all started when I was very young. I started to document the Theatre in Prison in Tuscany for the association OSA Teatro.  It was my first assignment - it impressed me very much. I visited so many prisons, from Juvenile to Maximum Security, but the one that really impressed me the most was the Volterra One. It was so different from the others, completely on another level. Prisoners were actors, and the impact was incredibly strong. The Volterra prison theater is considered to be a highly motivational therapeutic method of working with violent incarcerated offenders. Prison theater is about redemption. They learn a profession, they become actors, not only prisoners. They go on tour all around Italy and perform to sold out crowds. At the end of the show, they are escorted to the local prison for overnight.

Once I moved to NYC, I showed the pictures to Donna, she was really shocked and she pushed me to keep going there to shoot this incredible story. Of course, I did it. It became my first important project. 

It is rather unusual for a woman to work on different prison projects. Is there a specific intention?
No there isn't. It's just something that really dragged me into and I want to discover more about it.

Was there something you have learned about life in prison and the prisoners?
Of course, there are many different things you can learn from them. One, in particular, is how to sort out different solutions in daily life - like how to build an oven and cook an amazing cake with just three gas tank in a cell. 

You did an internship at Magnum Photo in NYC and assisted the documentary photographer Donna Ferrato.  What experience was it for you to work for Magnum and what was the most important thing you have learned during your internship?
The internship at Magnum has been such an honor. I was so excited. I didn't know that much about photography, and Magnum was the only agency I knew. When I arrived in NYC I had lunch with Paul Fusco, the Magnum Photographer, and Associated. He wrote me a letter of recommendation. I was the happiest person on the planet. The internship was mostly about to archive photographs and dealing with the negatives of the masters of photography. During that time I have learned a lot about photography history. 

During that time Donna Ferrato became your mentor. How important was this for you? Would you suggest to young photographers finding a mentor? 
I never went to a photography school. Being Donna Ferrato’s Assistant, for over 2 years, meant a lot to me. She taught me everything, like how to approach to people I want to photograph, to tell their stories. She’s definitely my mentor and my inspiration. She forced me not being lazy and carry my camera every day. The camera is the tool that now allows me to enter into other people's lives, even if it's just a short time.

Donna has been the best experience I could ever have and of course, I would suggest to any young photographer finding a mentor. It’s the best way to learn.

What is your creative process when you work on a project?
Often people contact me and want to tell their story, but I also look for ideas while I am traveling. I start to read something about the place I'm going to visit, and then I start to find little stories to tell.  For example, my prison projects felt like a chain - they are connected in a kind of a way to each other.  I started my project in Opera Prison in Milan and after the exhibition about it, I started with the Bail Bond projects. The Bail Bond project was born, because I was talking with a person about the Rikers Island One. And so on..

You’re from Italy-  Is there an Italian female photographer you really admire?
Definitely Letizia Battaglia! Her work on the Mafia in Sicily, it is a real photojournalistic document. Over the years she documented the brutal internal war of the Mafia and the assault to society. She actually co-won the Eugene Smith Award with Donna Ferrato in the same year. They are both revolutionaries.

Thanks a lot Clara for the interview!

Héléne Veilleux | France

Hello Héléne, tell us a little bit about yourself and when did you first become interested in photography?
In my case it was a kind of inverse movement. I started as a photo model in 2011 and quickly moved to the other side of the camera. As an introvert and very shy person I discovered that photography could be a powerful language to explore my own obsessions.

You’re a former software engineer. Since 2015 you are working as a pro photographer. What made you decide you were ready to dive into the career of a full time photographer?
As often in life that choice is a subtle blend of good timing, opportunities and probably a huge amount of unconsciousness. Moving to a full time career was in my case the only solution I could imagine to really focus on my body of work, before I used to photography “on the run”, now I had time to construct and think my subjects, it is a long process but I hope it will make a big difference at the end.

You submitted your project „38th Parallel north“ - a stroll in one of the most closed worlds capitals: Pyongyang in North Korea. How did the idea came up for this project?
Lately I became very interested in the way states put in the scene public’s space, how architecture can be a major political act. Pyongyang is in my opinion the perfect example of a “theater” city, a place where every monument, every views are thought and constructed to serve the “fiction of state”. Even citizens are obviously urged to stay in their roles in this authoritarian play. So when I had finally the opportunity to visit North Korea I did.

I knew that, as a foreigner, I will not have access to the reality of the country so I choose to focus my photoset on that simple idea:  what a country is willing to show tells a lot of what a country really want to hide. What’s behind the too clean avenues, the giant ever smiling statues, that are the unspoken question which lied in “38th parallel north” ...

What did you experience while shooting this series? Where there obstacles or problems while shooting the images?
I was travelling with a small group of foreigners and we just had a very brief talk about photography rules before crossing the border between DPRK and China, the biggest NO NO was to take any subjects related to army or police. Beyond that nobody checked my pictures at any times … no big frill I am afraid.

The photographs of „38th parallel north“ look like a series of postcard images. You rarely see street life - was it difficult to get into contact with habitants of Pyongyang?

It’s probably one of the things which stroke me the first while visiting the capital, it’s definitely look like an empty shell. There is no that typical and busy street life you can encountered in most Asian cities. This emptiness add to the whole “unreality” I felt along my stay in DPRK.

What is your personal perception after shooting this project?
I probably left the country with more questions that I had at the arrival. But I am really aware that, as a foreigner, I had access to only a tiny and distorted fraction of it. As a curious person I want to go back and see more …

You said you have a major attraction for the ex soviet countries as the esthetic core of your work which is mostly influenced by the Tarkovsky movie „Stalker“. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

I cannot really explain why I developed this attraction for the eastern Europe and Russian “world” and aesthetics, nothing in my personal background or family tree are related with those cultures but I guess it something “generational”, I was only 11 years old when the USSR collapsed but I still have vivid memory of it, especially the destruction of the berlin’s wall and the Tschenobyl incident.

What type of photography do you enjoy most and why?

I crave for photojournalism even if it’s not my “world”, I am news feed addict and I am especially interested in nowadays conflicts and war zones photography and photographers.

Do you research and plan a project or is it that you wait and see what your work brings up?
I used to read a lot before travelling, checking websites, contacting people , trying to grab some useful sentences and cultural knowledge… I usually have one or two main ideas in my pocket when landing to the location nevertheless I don’t mind changing my plans if I had too...

Do you have any upcoming projects that you’d like to share with our readers?
In few weeks I will move for a long term stay in sputh caucasusarea in order to complete a body of work I started this year focusing of the various fates of post soviet countries and how they deal whith their dark past.

Here you can find more about Hélene's work:

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