And now for a visual update from the Market Photo Workshop (MPW) contingent of @TUSouthAfrica! Four Temple students (Kelsey Dubinsky, Rebekah Flake, Meaghan Pogue and Ian Watson) have the blessing and challenge of working with local students in the Photojournalism and Documentary Program of MPW to explore and document Johannesburg to create original and informative photo essays in just four weeks. Throughout this immersion experience we have connected with our South African peers to build meaningful professional and personal relationships, heard from top photojournalists, viewed documentary photography exhibitions and traversed the four corners of Johannesburg (and beyond!) in search of the best images for our stories. Here is a tiny peak into our world:
Top: Leon Sadiki has braved conflict zones as a photojournalist. He came to the Market Photo Workshop auditorium to present his work to us last week. Specifically, he presented work produced amidst a South African troops presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as the tension and eventual violence unfolding during last year’s deadly standoff between miners and police in Marikana. It was inspiring to hear about how his passion for photography gave him the courage to work in those charged locations. Still, he made sure to emphasize multiple times that his life is worth more than a picture and a conflict photographer has to be willing to walk away if the scene becomes too dangerous.
Row 2: (left) Market Photo Workshop hosts a gallery space to showcase cutting edge photography projects. MPW exhibitions coordinator Bafana Zembe led a tour through the current show entitled “Sidetracks.” The works came from the personal photographic archives of a white South African family combined with images by photographers focusing on black, colored and Indian populations. A narrative of common humanity yet stark racial divides emerges through the juxtaposition of photographs and the unique curatorial design of the exhibition.
(right) The young photojournalists in the MPW Photojournalism and Documentary Program (PDP) head out into the field to create their own visual records of news, current events and social conditions across greater Johannesburg. Here PDP student Ofentse Ramaboa interviews recycling collectors in their informal settlement on the outskirts of Soweto as she works on a photographic character essay on one of the men.
Row 3: On Monday we went to The Times newsroom in the Rosebank suburb of northern Johannesburg to meet with award winning sports photographer and photojournalist Sydney Seshibedi (second from right). He was eager to introduce us to the newspaper’s photo-editing staff to discuss the process of shooting on assignment as well as how images make it into a layout and/or circulate globally. Afterwards he took us out for coffee to discuss his career on a more personal level. The most powerful message for me was when he expounded on the discomfort in photographing people of various socio-economic strata. He pointed out that the homeless are an easy target because they have nowhere to go to avoid the photographer’s lens, whereas the wealthy have many mechanisms to protect their privacy. Most photographers fall somewhere between the extremes in terms of their personal social status, so they have to work hard to seek balance and get a variety of subjects for their work, even if it means confronting those intimidating barriers of the elite. He also taught us the value of writing descriptive captions so that the photographs are archived in a useful and accurate manner. Also pictured L-R: PDP Coordinator Kagiso Monyatsi, Temple photojournalism students Ian Watson and Meaghan Pogue, and PDP student Kabelo Emmanuel.
Row 4: (left) Temple student Rebekah Flake poses (as best she can!) with students on their recess break at Julius Sebolai Primary School in Braamfisher, Soweto. On this Nelson Mandela International Day, the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) sent out workers to perform their 67 minutes of service by painting and cleaning classroom buildings at the school. Three PDP students and two Temple students photographed at this school, while the other students from both Market Photo Workshop and Temple Journalism documented and volunteered at other locations across the city (see previous TUSouthAfrica Tumblr posts for more information).
(right) Temple student Ian Watson walks with PDP student Ofentse Ramaboa at the Orlando Station in Soweto. The exchange is producing working partnerships and new friendships for all!
Row 5: (left) PDP student Tumelo Ledingwane (right) receives a scarf as thanks from one of her documentary subjects, a blind musician who works on the sidewalks of Johannesburg’s Central Business District. The gift is a testimony to the rich relationships journalists can sometimes develop across the community as they research stories and engage with the public.
(right) Bheki, a PDP student, takes us off road in Soweto to find that perfect shot!
Row 6: Being at the Workshop gives Temple students a chance to mingle with a wide variety of emerging South African photographers and photojournalists. Here Tommy, student from Madagascar (left), receives critique of his work during an MWP Advanced Program class. In addition to the Photojournalism and Documentary Program, the Workshop provides introductory, intermediate and advanced instruction in the technical and creative aspects of photography. The halls are always bustling with photographers of many levels, ages and interests.
Row 7: Finally, the exchange has produced some great times and big smiles! Temple students frequently break off in small groups as our PDP colleagues offer guidance with our individual photography projects. In this example Anna Kamolane lights up as she explains the urban nightlife as we grab drinks downtown at the trendy Kitchener’s bar in Braamfontein while I document the shifting architectural and social topography of contemporary Johannesburg.
By Rebekah Flake