FiftyCrows Blog

Social Change Photography

Archive for January 2010

Affect/Effect: Photographs That Create Change – Phil Borges, A child in a far away photograph is given an education

leave a comment »

Consider the metaphor of a grain of sand: one grain in a thousand is insignificant, while it can also be unique in shaping everything that it touches. Now apply this idea to photography. Countless photographic images give us a consciousness about what is going on in the world, but our lives are awash with powerful images, most of which fall away by day’s end. A sub-clause to the metaphor: even if that one image (grain of sand) does produce an emotional response, it is rare the feeling that the image elicited will inspire action.
But what happens when one grain of sand (image) gets stuck in your eye so persistently that you must make a move to change the way you feel? The affect/effect: Photographs That Create Change series will feature stories from photographers and friends of photography that share how one image affected an individual to make a profound effect in the world.

PHIL BORGES

In 2007, FiftyCrows presented an exhibition called Women Empowered, a photography project by Phil Borges, who combined images and stories of courageous women from developing countries. Rooted in his astonishment for the high level of gender discrimination around the world, he wanted to offer examples of women “whose bravery and determination allowed them to move from victim to leader, and speak to the universal themes of courage, empowerment and human rights.”

Another incredible project from Phil, entitled Enduring Spirit was created in conjunction with Amnesty International’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Once again, each of his images was accompanied by a short story about the person and what they do in their daily lives. One of Phil’s images, of a six-year-old girl in Ethiopia struck a man named George so deeply that he was compelled to extend his help from around the world. Yet another moving example of how photography can create change in the world through an individual image.

Buzayan story is as follows: She is six-years-old and lives with her mother and three older sisters in a small Ethiopian village. Her father took a job as a policeman in a neighboring town and later abandoned the family for another woman. Even though it is very expensive for her, Buzayan’s mother is committed to keeping all the children in school. When I asked Buzayan about kindergarten, she squealed with delight and started jumping up and down.

When George saw the image of Buzayan in the book titled “Enduring Spirit” he was so moved by the image of Buzayan that he felt he wanted to help her. He contacted us for information on how to reach her but we were only able to give him the name of the village she lived in. George’s health did not allow him to travel but he had a friend who was visiting Ethiopia and was willing to try to find Buzayan. The effort was successful. George was able to make arrangements to help cover the cost of Buzayans education which he did for several years.

Advertisements

Written by Zara Katz

January 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm

FiftyCrows Fine Print Program – Larry Sultan

leave a comment »

One of the most important components of FiftyCrows is the Fine Print Program, which is a major source of funding for the foundations initiatives. These limited-edition prints have been donated by 35 masters of photography, such as Eve Arnold, Hansel Mieth, and Jacques Lowe. Purchasing a print from the FiftyCrows Fine Print Program enables the foundation to cultivate the future of documentary photography by creating more exhibitions, lectures, and grants. All the prints can be viewed and purchased online at the FiftyCrows website. Please note that if you become a member of FiftyCrows for $35/year you can receive a $200-$1500 discount on photographs from the Fine Print Program. Contact FiftyCrows at info@fiftycrows.org if you are interested in membership or Fine Prints.

Conversation Through Kitchen Window, Los Angeles, 1992. Ektacolor print, 11x14 inches, signed by the artist. Introduced as a Photo Fund collector print in 1999 as edition of 100. Market Value: $1000 Member price: $750

Larry Sultan was born in 1946 in New York. His work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Sultan’s “Pictures form Home” (1992) combines images of his aging parents with dialogue that hints at the conflict beneath the surface. This particular image is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago. In 2005, he published “The Valley,” a body of work documenting pornographic film sets in Southern California. Sultan was a professor at the California College of the Arts and sadly passed away last month.

Larry Sultan Obituary in the New York Times here.

Written by Zara Katz

January 25, 2010 at 11:32 am

Bear Guerra – Before the Quake

with one comment

Whether it was the day the earthquake hit in Haiti, post aftershock or from six months prior to the natural disaster, when looking at images of the island, the abject poverty, despair, and chaos is apparent and abrasive. In the fall of 2008 photographer/reporter team, Bear Guerra and Ruxandra Guidi traveled to Haiti with a International Reporting Project fellowship from Johns Hopkins University to report on the efficacy of aid. With billions of dollars of aid invested into Haiti, the question on their minds was why no concrete and sustainable improvements had been established for the Haitian people. Together, Ruxandra and Bear created a multimedia piece which contains his black and white photographs and poignant interviews with several officials on Haiti.

What makes Bear and Ruxandra’s work so pertinent post-disaster, is the examination of Haiti’s socio-economic background as the root of the destruction that we see today. In one interview, Anne Hastings, Director Fonkoze, Alternative Bank for the Poor which provides aid to Haiti foreshadows current events when she says, “God forbid the day [a hurricane] hits Port-au-Prince head on because it is going to be really disastrous.” In writing, Bear makes the point that, “Haitians have been left out of the discussions about their own destinies for far too long. If the international community is serious about wanting to help the country rebuild, it must first listen to those who are most affected by their policies.” The multimedia piece concludes with a photographic stare down from the Haitian people, allowing no escape from the penetrating glare of people who need help.

By Bear Guerra and Ruxandra Guidi
Many people are aware that Haiti’s history is a troubled one. Since becoming the first black republic in 1804 after a successful slave rebellion, it has known few periods of social, economic, and political stability. What many people aren’t aware of, however, are the roots of Haiti’s current situation. Its complex history traces back to the US’s refusal to recognize the country’s independence for more than 50 years, and there is no doubt that the relationships that Haiti has had with France, the United States, and the international community have had a direct and lasting influence on shaping the country’s current situation.

This slideshow, and the stories we produced after our 2008 trip, represent the first parts of an ongoing project. Bear will be returning to Haiti over the coming months to document the clean-up and reconstruction, as well as reporting on more smaller projects to help Haitians escape extreme poverty.
Look at more multimedia stories from Bear and Ruxandra at Fonografia Collective.

Facing Climate Change and the Sustainable Prison Project

with one comment

Pete Brook is the creator and writer of the Prison Photography Blog that focuses on “The Practice of Photography in Sites of Incarceration”. Part of his personal mission statement explains, “If a camera is within prison walls we should always be asking; How did it get there? What are/were the motives? What are the responses? I consider the photograph as social document, therefore, what social and political powers are at play in a photograph’s manufacture? And, how is knowledge, related to those powers, constructed?” Pete’s very specific focus within the realm of photography leads to an array of topics and images that enlighten us on both the nuances of the prison system and the function of photography to visually stimulate concepts of incarceration.

In a post from October 2009, Pete features the work of Sara Joy Steele and Benjamin Drummond who I had the pleasure of meeting at the FiftyCrows Gallery. The pair have been getting a their names out there with a project called: Facing Climate Change which uses photography, multimedia, and interviews, to tell stories of global climate change through the stories of local people. Below you will read about a collaboration project where Sara Joy Steele and Benjamin Drummond worked with the Sustainable Prison Project, an effort to combine environmental sustainability with social justice.

Benjamin Drummond, Sara Joy Steele, Nature and Washington State Prisons

By Pete Brook

Drummond, Joy Steele

Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele have been in the news recently for their Facing Climate Change initiative. They were featured by PDN as photographers who cared and secured a $10,000 Grant4Change.

I was super happy then, to see them diversify and change focus from massive global issues to the environmental issues of our region here in Washington State.

They teamed up with Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, Evergreen State College and The Sustainable Prisons Project (which I have talked about before) to produce a 7-minute multimedia piece with a gorgeous mix of inmate, staff, student and academic volunteer voices. They also deliver the goods for the stills gallery.

__________________________________________________________

The Sustainable Prison Project has proved that environmental justice, social justice and fiscal conservatism can be delivered all in the same package. I teach in a prison and the resolve to try new programs and learn new skills is not something left wanting.

Drummond and Joy Steele’s documents make it clear more than ever that prisons often are not – and really never should be – the intimidating “neverwheres” that media (often TV and film) depict them as.

Daniel Beltra – Color, texture, rainforest: An interview with a conservation photographer

leave a comment »

This post comes from LensFlare 35, a weekly show created by Dave Warner. Below you can watch a multimedia interview with Conservation Photographer Daniel Beltrá whose images are part of the next exhibition at the FiftyCrows Gallery opening on Thursday January 7th. Daniel is a Spanish photographer based in Seattle. His images are often shot from aerial views producing a painterly effect of textured blocks of color. Abstract and even surreal, Beltrá believes his photographs will help catalyze change in ideas and action regarding environmental preservation. He has documented several expeditions by Greenpeace to the Brazilian Amazon, the Arctic, the Southern Oceans and the Patagonian Ice Fields, among many others.

This year, Daniel was awarded the Prince’s Rainforest Project from the Sony World Photography Awards. The award, granted by Prince Charles, sent Daniel for three months to the Congo, Amazon and Indonesian rainforests to create photos for a book, website and traveling exhibition about the perilous fate of the world’s rainforests.

Read an interview with Daniel Beltra on the RESOLVE Blog –

For photographers, pursuing passions always pays off

Written by Zara Katz

January 5, 2010 at 12:45 pm