Tag: Photographers

Screen: The collaborative future of storytelling

A few years ago, a group of bright minds decided to support visual storytelling and founded Screen.

They are photo editor and curator Jamie Welford, producer and curator Liza Faktor, filmmaker and cultural producer Frank Kalero, media producer Ivan Sigal, interactive storytelling pioneer Bjarke Myrthu, agent and multimedia producer Anna Zekria, recently joined by photo editor and cultural producer Monica Allende.

They put their skills together to define the future of sustainable storytelling and have taken on producing outstanding solo projects such as Libyan Sugar by Michael Christopher Brown, The Backs of Men by Dominic Bracco and Uncomfortable by Laia Abril.

Their next big step: A brainstorm lab for storytellers!

Blink’s Laurence Cornet spoke to the co-chiefs of content Jamie & Liza and the Screen Lab’s executive producer Amber Terranova to see what they have been up to.

 

Laurence: How did Screen come about?

Liza: Most of us have a traditional journalism background, and like many others we have played with multimedia tools. Five years ago, Jamie (Wellford) and I did a show called Projections of Reality to aggregate groundbreaking visual storytelling. That’s how Screen was born; we wanted to get away from the conversation about technology and new tools and focus on the subject matter of the stories.

Jamie: We are trying to channel the energy of discovery. Not knowing is thrilling and requires courage. Collaborative is the theme of the day. How do you build on that? You begin to work with designers, enlightened thinkers and put together a combination of people to walk down the path of turmoil. It’s a group effort.

 

Laurence: Concretely, what does that mean?

Jamie: The question is: “Can we take self-initiated projects further? How to diversify them and make them bigger in a way that we collectively believe in?”

Traditional media has a really painful standard. I have worked in it long enough to say that publishing a project sometimes kills it. How do you move beyond that and actually engage with it in a deeper way? Is it possible to diversify it further? The answer is obviously yes. There are many variations on a theme, and ways to look at it.

With the Projections of Reality exhibition back in 2010 we presented 22 pieces at the crossover of photography, multimedia and video – multi-channel video installations, web-based projects, and interactive documentary films by Tim Hetherington, Brenda Ann Kenneally, Alex Majoli, Yuri Kozyrev, Magnum In Motion and the New York Times. It was a collaboration of artists, architects and designers. We have curated several projects since then, between Barcelona, Brazil, Goa, Paris and Dubai, among other places, and at one point decided to move even further with the idea of collaborative projects.

Liza: A recent example is The Backs of Men, Dominic Bracco’s project exploring the roots of migration and the modern American frontier. Dominic has been shooting for five to six years on the border in Texas, Mexico and Honduras working with Jeremy Relph and other journalists. He’s been writing a fictional play based on the characters he met in Ciudad Juarez. By the time we met last year at the New York portfolio review Dominic had already enlisted a brilliant theatre director Danya Taymor to work on the production of his play, he’s done extensive outreach in universities and highschools across the U.S. and Mexico talking to students about the patterns of violence and poverty that their fellow migrant friends have come from.

The material is overwhelmingly rich, both visually and thematically. Now, how do you approach something like this and make it digestible, entertaining and epic at the same time? You need people with different expertise to find the right tone: film editor and multimedia producer Adrian Kelterborn, art director Ramon Pez, creative technologists Mandy Mendelstein & Ivaylo Getov are now all attached to the project. I’m super excited to work with all these immensely talented people. The project generated quite some buzz at the Sheffield Doc/Fest where it was presented at the Crossover Market just earlier this month.

We are aiming at the multimedia exhibition and the play to be released in 2016, with a web documentary and a book to follow.

 

 © Dominic Bracco II, from The Backs of Men, a cross-platform project about the roots of migration in production by Screen.

© Dominic Bracco II, from The Backs of Men, a cross-platform project about the roots of migration in production by Screen.

 © Dominic Bracco II, from The Backs of Men, a cross-platform project about the roots of migration in production by Screen

© Dominic Bracco II, from The Backs of Men, a cross-platform project about the roots of migration in production by Screen

 © Dominic Bracco II, from The Backs of Men, a cross-platform project about the roots of migration in production by Screen.

© Dominic Bracco II, from The Backs of Men, a cross-platform project about the roots of migration in production by Screen.

 

Laurence: How would you define your role at Screen?

Liza: We act as a production company. We are assessing each project’s potential to speak across platforms. Depending on the form – a book, a web documentary, an exhibition or a video installation – we’re going to respective buyers to raise the money. Our task is to act as a bridge between the markets and try to make the project reach a variety of audiences.

Jamie: In the world of ideas, there are many stages for people to explore them. Screen is another stage. It’s certainly not the only one; it’s not a novel idea, but it’s a continuation of creating space where creative ideas can be realized and explored – exploration being a really operative word. There are phenomenal ideas out there that are not expanded. We expand the storytelling journey with what we think is a remarkable collective of people.

 

Laurence: How do you find these projects?

Liza: Between all of us and our collective involvement with the agency and the editorial business over the years we have established long-term relationships with photographers and journalists who have consistently been producing groundbreaking content. We also come across exciting work at portfolio reviews, workshops, or the authors just contact us.

These photographers & filmmakers have great stories with great material to start with but something is missing because they can’t identify their technical or production needs by themselves. What are your deliverables? What’s your package in the end? Can you find companies to support your project? Can you work with your pre-existing audience in a productive way?

There are only so many projects that we can produce ourselves, but we have the formula that works, and we can serialize it to dozens of other projects. That’s why we have initiated the lab where there is a burning need for this kind of production help or guidance that is not out there in the market.

 

Laurence: Can we talk about Screen Lab in more detail?

Liza: Our Production Lab is a module of two five-day sessions, separated by three months in between. Participants come to the first session with content so that we can help shape it and identify the needs of each project. We then work with them on developing their work more specifically for the outlets that make most sense for their stories. Then, during the second session we help them distribute their work, wrapping up the lab with a pitching in front of real buyers. Depending on the needs, we get museum curators, broadcasting commissioners, film and cinema representatives. We have a very wide network and we tap into it for these projects that we believe in.

Our first Lab is held in New York with the support from CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and is led by Jamie, myself, Adrian Kelterborn, Bjarke Myrthu & Amber. The next available session is in October with September 15th deadline. Link for the applications is here. The next Lab will be held in London later this year.

 

Laurence: What do you expect from the lab?

Liza: This lab is only the first one. We are already working on the next editions of the Lab with our partners in Europe and Brazil. As we are looking into the next generation of inspired visual storytellers, there seems to be a lot of demand for something like that, and many great projects we can discover, take on or simply connect to.

Amber: What sets us apart from a regular workshop is that we are a lab, which means that the projects are set on a production course. Screen picks up at least one project that comes through the Lab for further production and distribution. We consider all projects, but if we can´t take them on ourselves, we´ll help you find people who will.

 

 © Sofia Valiente, from Miracle Village, a project about the settlement for sex offenders in Palm Beach County, Florida. Having published the story as a book already, Valiente intends to exhibit the work as an outside installation in an attempt to change public opinion about the strict laws that govern sex offenders in the county.

© Sofia Valiente, from Miracle Village, a project about the settlement for sex offenders in Palm Beach County, Florida. Having published the story as a book already, Valiente intends to exhibit the work as an outside installation in an attempt to change public opinion about the strict laws that govern sex offenders in the county.

 © Sofia Valiente, from Miracle Village, a project about the settlement for sex offenders in Palm Beach County, Florida. Having published the story as a book already, Valiente intends to exhibit the work as an outside installation in an attempt to change public opinion about the strict laws that govern sex offenders in the county.

© Sofia Valiente, from Miracle Village, a project about the settlement for sex offenders in Palm Beach County, Florida. Having published the story as a book already, Valiente intends to exhibit the work as an outside installation in an attempt to change public opinion about the strict laws that govern sex offenders in the county.

 © Sofia Valiente, from Miracle Village, a project about the settlement for sex offenders in Palm Beach County, Florida. Having published the story as a book already, Valiente intends to exhibit the work as an outside installation in an attempt to change public opinion about the strict laws that govern sex offenders in the county.

© Sofia Valiente, from Miracle Village, a project about the settlement for sex offenders in Palm Beach County, Florida. Having published the story as a book already, Valiente intends to exhibit the work as an outside installation in an attempt to change public opinion about the strict laws that govern sex offenders in the county.

Laurence: What makes a story interesting for you?

Amber: We are interested in themes that can motivate change or show a unique and intimate perspective on a topic. This change can happen on a legislation level or just within a small community.

Liza: The projects don’t have to be multimedia. It’s about what the story needs to get delivered. In our guidelines we specifially stress on the potential of story to be told across several platforms, as opposed to incorporate several tools.

Amber: We are open to artists as well.

Liza: Yes, absolutely. We are interested in all kinds of issue-driven visual narratives.

Jamie: It’s a good time to talk about project examples because with us right now is Joao Pina, who has worked on a project called Condor, about the involvement of North America in South America dictatorship. Joao, in which direction does your project continue to grow?

Joao: For me the main question is how to keep growing this? Not necessarily producing more work, but getting what’s produced towards a different audience. I started this as a classic press project. I wanted National Geographic to give me $50,000 and six months to a year to work on it. That assignment never came, and six months became nine years. In those nine years, readership shifted dramatically. I can now reach as many people on Instagram as National Geographic does with a printed magazine.

That’s great, but how can we reach more and, mainly, different people?

Liza: In Joao’s case, he already produced a book in three languages and an exhibition that now needs to travel widely, especially in the region – for people to know what happened forty years ago and build it into their historical memory. He also needs to produce a film out of all the amazing footage he has from the trials and the interviews he recorded with the survivors or relatives of the operation’s victims. We will join forces with Joao to achieve these goals and look into the digital platforms to widen the project’s audience.

 © Joao Pina, from Condor, a project about the 1975 political repressions and state terror implemented by the right-wing dictatorships in South America.

© Joao Pina, from Condor, a project about the 1975 political repressions and state terror implemented by the right-wing dictatorships in South America.

 © Joao Pina, from Condor, a project about the 1975 political repressions and state terror implemented by the right-wing dictatorships in South America.

© Joao Pina, from Condor, a project about the 1975 political repressions and state terror implemented by the right-wing dictatorships in South America.

 

 

Laurence: Do you have ideas on how to reach a different audience?

Joao: I have lots of ideas. I recently did a nine minute piece that can be used in a classroom, in a museum, online – pretty much anywhere. Now, the question is: “What resources do we need to really make something interesting out of this?” I don’t know but this is fascinating. The consequence of press being in such a bad shape is that you start looking into different ways out.

 

 © Joao Pina, from Condor, a project about the 1975 political repressions and state terror implemented by the right-wing dictatorships in South America.

© Joao Pina, from Condor, a project about the 1975 political repressions and state terror implemented by the right-wing dictatorships in South America.

 

 © Joao Pina, from Condor, a project about the 1975 political repressions and state terror implemented by the right-wing dictatorships in South America.

© Joao Pina, from Condor, a project about the 1975 political repressions and state terror implemented by the right-wing dictatorships in South America.

Laurence: Does the answer lie with your target audience?

Joao: The audience is much brighter than we are and get things the way we don’t. I am excited about having that conversation between the subject of the story and the people who are interested in it.

Liza: This is something that the great masters of advertising and visual communication such as Tibor Kalman and David Ogilvy never got tired of repeating: Always assume that your audience is smarter than you, don’t talk down to them. The editorial business tends to underestimate its audience, arguing that the readers and viewers are not interested in in-depth content. But look at video on demand market and the lineup for documentary films at Netflix and Amazon, look at the amazing impact that some of the films or public art campaigns have achieved because the audience gives a damn.

Now, that’s great, isn’t it?

 

Laurence Cornet is a writer, a photography critic and a curator based in Brooklyn. Her clients include L’Oeil de la Photographie, The Magnum Foundation, Images magazine, Vice, MSNBC, Vogue and Camera.

 

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Connect with MYOP Agency on Blink

Connecting with people is easy. Connecting with the right people is much more difficult. That’s why we strive to connect you with the right people, in the right places, at the right time. Always.

Now, Pierre Hybre, Julien Daniel, and Olivier Jobard are just a few of the people that you can connect with on the Blink network, along with the world-renowned MYOP Agency.

Founded in 2005 by photographers willing to defend information as a mode of expression, MYOP is an agency made up of photojournalists who work for acclaimed French and international newspapers. We hope that you take this opportunity to connect with the members of MYOP by searching the Blink map for “MYOP” or visit their website at www.myop.fr

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Founders of #Dysturb on current and future operations.

At midnight, the New York #Dysturb team slipped out of a cream colored Cadillac, popped the trunk and swiftly gathered a large rolled up poster, a ladder and a bucket of glue. Within 20 minutes, Olivier Jobard’s (M.Y.O.P) image of displaced migrants taking refuge in a Tioxide plant was planted firmly on the granite of the Manhattan Bridge.

This is the second time that #Dysturb has taken the streets of New York to inform the public through imagery. Blink caught up with Pierre Terdjman and Benjamin Girette, the founders of #Dysturb, to talk about their operation and its future.


K: How did #Dysturb come about?

P: I wanted to give more visibility to my stories, so this project began with my pictures. We quickly saw that people liked it and decided to paste pictures by other photographers.

This idea was born out of frustration. Photographers can spend weeks, sometimes months, on a story. These stories are published, but they have a tendency to evaporate into the continuous cycle of news. We paste these images, these snippets of stories, so that they can resonate with others. And, in some ways, we want them to transcend the cycle, because these events that we’re documenting are shaping the world in which we live.

#Dysturb campaign in NYC. ©Benjamin Petit

Ashley Gilbertson’s (VII) image pasted on the corner of Humboldt St & Metropolitan Ave, East Williamsburg. ©Benjamin Petit

K: You use guerrilla style street art tactics to paste images, yet you are not activists?

B: We do not consider ourselves activists because we do not have any agenda with regards to social or cultural changes. We simply want to inform and we do this by pasting current news photography in public spaces.

The primary goal of #Dysturb is to provide free information to the public. And in particular, we aim to educate youths, especially those still in school or university, on how they can read/ digest current journalism, and discuss current events with others.

P: There is this idea floating around that photojournalism, in general, is a form of activism. As Benjamin said, activism implies choosing a side, and, as (this is) the case with most forms of photojournalism, it is our duty not to (do this). We are only allowed to document the facts.

As members of #Dysturb, we can understand why some refer to us as activists, but ultimately the only “taking of sides” we do, is taking the side that wants to promote discussion about international issues and events through imagery.

K: Many people believe you are in competition with JR, are you?

P: We are not in competition with him. JR is doing wonderful work, and it is refreshing to see an innovative take on portraiture. While we do share some similarities, such as large format, black and white imagery, the dissemination of others’ stories in public spaces, or even the fact that we are both French, there are some very prominent differences.

Firstly, he is an artist and we are photojournalists. Secondly, photojournalists from around the world contribute to #Dysturb, either by submitting their images or by helping to paste imagery. Remember, this is a reaction to the failing economic model of the news industry, and it is our wish to inform others about current events despite the lack of funding or interest.

Once upon a time, photojournalists were well paid and their work motivated entire nations to address societal issues. Now however, media mistrust has desensitized readers to the validity of our photographs. This is why we have focused on working with educational facilities.

B: There is one thing I want to add. The only reason why #Dysturb uses black and white printing is because it’s cost effective!

K: Can you talk about #Dysturb’s work with schools?

B: At the moment, we are working with schools in France, Australia and the United Kingdom, to whom we send current photojournalism on a monthly basis. We usually begin this relationship by hosting a workshop or holding a lecture/ talk with a certain demographic at an educational facility.

It has been overwhelming to see how responsive students are. As you may know, we only paste international news within a country, so some of these children are really curious about the different worlds that are portrayed. We have taught, and pasted with, students as young as 10 years old, and regardless of the age, everyone finds them fascinating.

#Dysturb campaign in NYC. ©Benjamin Petit

Vlad Sokhin’s image pasted on the corner of Clifton Place & Bedford Ave, Brooklyn. ©Benjamin Petit

K: Apart from these types of collaborations, do you have any other ways of developing #Dysturb?

B: As we continue to expand our operation, we hope to add an interactive element so that the audience, regardless of their age, can communicate with the photographer and his/her stories.

We already have a functioning app (for smartphones) that enables you to view the closest images to you and information about each of them. However, we are looking to enhance it by introducing features that allow users to immediately follow the photographer on social media, to access articles in which the picture has been published, and to see alternative images that relate to a particular topic.

#Dysturb is also looking to include Podcasts into the operation. This would give photojournalists a chance to speak in detail about the story behind the image, and about their experience in the field. We really want to create a sense of intimacy between the photojournalist and the audience, and this is something that is completely absent from current media publishing platforms.

#Dysturb campaign in NYC. ©Benjamin Petit

Mario Cruz’s image pasted on the corner of Bowery St & Lafayette, Soho. ©Benjamin Petit

K: Does #Dysturb have any incoming revenue? How would your economic model differ from that of a traditional media portal?

B: Through our collaborations with schools and festivals, we are covering operational costs. At the moment, this is by no means enough to sustain #Dysturb, but we believe that if enough educational facilities partner with us, it could be.

P: Yes, we are also looking for NGO’s and GO’s for support. There is one thing I want to clarify, we don’t use advertisements for revenue.

K: If an organization donates money to #Dystub, you wouldn’t place their logo on your images?

B: No, we wouldn’t. We might make a thank you announcement via social media, or place their logo in our ‘Sponsors’ section of our website, but otherwise no.

K: Do you think photo collectives, like #Dysturb, help struggling photojournalists?

B: We believe that the idea of community is important. We are fighting together, and we give each other tips and assignments, etc. It is hard for everyone! Even people who have won a World Press award have had hard months. So, as a freelancer, it is a good idea to be involved in a collective.

Disclosure: Kyla Woods has worked for #Dysturb on a freelance basis since early 2015.

Pierre Terdjman began his career in the Israeli daily left wing newspaper Haaretz. In 2007, he returned to France to join the team of photographers at Gamma agency. Since then he has covered the post-election violence in Kenya, the Russian-Georgian conflict, Afghanistan (where he spent a year following a French unit for Paris-Match), and Haiti after the earthquake. More recently, he photographed the Arab Spring, covering both the fall of Ben Ali in Tunisia, Mubarak in Egypt and the struggle for liberation against Gaddafi in Libya. He is also regularly in Israel, and is documenting the fall of the Israeli dream in a long term project called “La La Land”. In 2012, he won a scholarship Photoreporter Festival of Saint-Brieuc to continue his work in the long term. In 2013, he covered the uprising of violence’s in Central Africa for the French magazine Paris Match. Earlier this year, he won the Lens Culture Award for a picture from his work in Central African Republic. His photographs are regularly published in Paris Match, GQ and The New York Times Magazine. In April 2015, Pierre joined Getty Images Reportage.

In 2014, Pierre and Benjamin Girette co-founded #Dysturb, and then in April 2015, Pierre joined Getty Images Reportage.

Benjamin Girette is a photojournalist based in Paris. In 2011, he joined IP3 Press agency, and since then has been covering both national and international news stories. His reports include the fall of President Ben Ali in Tunisia, illegal immigration in Italy, the Indignados movement in Spain and the fall of Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi in Egypt. One of his most recent reports was on the uprising in Ukraine, in Kiev. His photos have been published in French and international newspapers and magazines.

Kyla Woods works as a freelance writer based in New York, specializing in current affairs, photography, and design. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Kyla has contributed to articles featured in Long Cours, Le Figaro, Le Point, Gatopardo, This is the What, and Foam Magazine. Kyla has also been featured in the French magazine Jalouse. Since 2013, Kyla has regularly written for Musée Magazine, a digital magazine dedicated to displaying the work of international emerging photographers, Peril Magazine, an online magazine that focuses on issues of Asian Australian arts, and worked at the Bronx Documentary Center. She was also involved in the 2015 PhotoBook Melbourne Festival.

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