“These young photographers are talented and ambitious. It was great to be able to give them this opportunity to learn from some of the best in the world.” Frank Zuidweg, Nikon Europe.
Earlier this month, NOOR and Nikon invited 14 photographers to Istanbul to start an intensive five-day Masterclass in Documentary Photography. Selected from 153 unique portfolios from 13 different countries, achieving a spot in this sought-after annual event was an achievement in itself.
During five days, the 14 participants, learnt from veterans like NOOR photographer Stanley Greene, who has been capturing the trials and tribulations of mankind for 25 years. The participants also learnt from fellow NOOR members Andrea Bruce, Benedicte Kurzen, and Jon Lowenstein. Joined by Evelien Kunst, NOOR’s managing director, and Frank Zuidweg from Nikon. It was a unique opportunity for the attendees to gain new knowledge, improve skills and develop a personal vision to their documentary styles.
During the first few days the attendees had the opportunity for a one-to-one personal review of their portfolios and editing sessions with the NOOR team. “It has been a great experience editing my work with Andrea and the other participating photographers,” said Achilleas Zavallis from Cyprus. “Having the input from these photographers with diverse backgrounds, coming from different countries, gave me a new perspective on my own work. Being able to get their collective knowledge helps me to look at my work with a fresh set of eyes.”
As well as practical skills, topics such as ethics and storytelling were discussed. “I want to learn how to transform an idea into a visual story,” said one of the students, Yasaman Dehmiyani from Iran. “Documentary photography is not about a single image, but about showing a story from all angles,” said Frank Zuidweg. “For me, the most important thing to do in news stories is to humanize them,” asserted Andrea Bruce, an award-winning photographer and one of the lecturers. “To show that people are living a day-to-day normal life, even in conflict situations. I see it as my role to educate the people that read the newspaper at the other end of the world.”
Ethical issues included altering content and misuse of images by clients when they take them out of context. “It is good that we are bringing up these examples of ethical misbehavior, since it is happening all the time in this industry and it jeopardizes our credibility,” said Stanley Greene. “We need to be responsible because the public trusts us and we have to make them trust us.”
The class was also given tips and advice on how to work with editors. Benedicte Kurzen stressed that if photographers have knowledge that editors might not have, they need to communicate it. “You know your country better that any editor who sits in an office in New York, London or Paris,” she said. This was expressed by one of the participants, Kursat Bayhan, who presented a project that his newspaper Zaman initiated, called Time in Turkey. This gave the group a great example of how a newspaper can understand the importance of photo features.
“The Masterclass was like a pressure cooker of feedback and experiences. It’s always hard to tell right after the event what the participants got out of it, since it was so intense. A lot of the feedback and issues discussed need to sink in and over time things will start making sense. The immediate result is that we helped create a network of young talented photographers who can perhaps stay friends for life and help each other. For me that is valuable, since this is a lonely profession and there are no over-arching organizations for documentary photographers.” Said Evelien Kunst, managing director of NOOR.
The Masterclass will be repeated next year in March. So please stay tuned to the I AM NIKON Facebook community for next year’s location and entry details.
Lenses used in photography: AF-S NIKKOR 35mm/1.8G ED and AF-S NIKKOR 85mm/1.8G
Celebrating this Masterclass, there is an exhibition of the participants’ portraits on the I AM Nikon Flickr account. A documentary portfolio of these future documentarians.