For the first time in Paris, a Unique One-day Workshop with Award-Winning National Geographic Photographer Ed Kashi organized in collaboration with Anna Seassau will reveal the hidden creative possibilities of Smartphone Photography (5th of October 2016, details below)
Ed Kashi is the Award-winning photojournalist and filmmaker who has worked extensively for National Geographic magazine, TIME, The New York Times Magazine and Newsweek while being on the forefront of using Smartphone Photography and the Instagram platform as a Photojournalist on assignments and for personal projects. His work has earned numerous honours and awards. Today he is also an accomplished educator who enjoys teaching photography students of all levels.
Anna Seassau creates and manages photography projects with foundations, NGOs, corporates and award-winning photojournalists. Each project and exhibition uses the power of photography for visual storytelling to raise awareness of global issues. Her most recent project was “Time To See” for The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust. Anna also organises photography workshops – smartphone workshops for anyone who loves photography and technical workshops for advanced photography students. Upcoming workshops include a smartphone workshop with a Vanity Fair contributing photographer in Paris and an advanced workshop in Sydney.
KAMSYN sat with Ed and Anna respectively for an Exclusive talk about the Importance of Smartphone Photography and how they are changing the way we see the world.
“Smartphones are revolutionising photography and storytelling in ways that are hard to measure or even keep pace with. I know that for professionals, it’s become a new currency of creativity, connection, communication, and reporting. I have used my smartphone in ways I never imagined, and it’s become a routine part of who I am as a photographer, journalist, and activist. In the future, as the quality of mobile devices improves, they could very well supplant many of the traditional kinds of cameras we still use. But ultimately, I believe smartphone photography will have more impact on how we share images and use visual language to connect with one another.”
How would you describe your relationship with Instagram ?
Authorship and control of my work makes Instagram the only channel that exists today where I am a photo publisher and can reach a growing audience without any filters or gatekeepers. Simply put it’s a space that does not exist anywhere else in photography today. Also, there’s joy in connecting with loved ones and strangers all over the world through this visual form of social media!’
This special workshop will introduce Photography lovers to the technical and creative skills needed to capture powerful smartphone images so they can stage their own photo shoot in the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens while create compelling images with their new skills.
A personal edit-and-critique session with Ed after the shoot is also included as Ed will use his work to illustrate mastering exposure, composition, focus controls, creative seeing and storytelling with a camera pinpointing which creative apps can best enhance smartphone images.
Many Professional Photographers feared the transition from Film to Digital, how did you embrace this change ?
There was a time in the 1990’s when I was quoted as saying “I would never leave film,” but that all changed in 2002 when I took part in the Day in the Life of Africa book project, where we were given for the first time what are now primitive digital cameras to shoot with. I was sent to Somaliland in Somalia and it was on the streets of Hargeisa where I had my epiphany about digital. I realized that this moment was no less revolutionary and profound as it must have been on the streets of Paris in the 1920’s and 30’s when Bresson, Kertesz and Lartique were taking the Leica with plastic roll film to make spontaneous pictures. It was that moment, coupled with the idea that the workflow is so much more efficient, the digital darkroom (photoshop) allowed me to rediscover darkroom work on my images in color and the ability to share my work globally, that hooked me into digital. I’ve not looked back since.
What lead you to Master Mobile Phone Photography skills in addition to your DSLR Mastery ?
As the iPhone came into being and it’s photographic possibilities became apparent, I realized the creative and personally fulfilling opportunities that mobile photography could afford me. On a professional level it also opened up new pathways to tell stories, create new kinds of images, share them with my own audience via Instagram and other social media channels and provide a wholly new way to produce, disseminate and communicate with audiences globally. I have also received commissions directly from this new medium as well as received new work via my Instagram feed. The skills with this new medium are constantly developing.
What is the most unusual story you told using a Mobile Phone ?
I’ve used Mobile photography to do everything from double exposures, usually off limits for serious documentary and journalistic photographers, to images of my family and daily personal visual journaling, to very serious photo essays and advocacy work. The most unusual work I published on my feed would be the double exposures, which are anathema to my work but are symbolic of the creative freedom that mobile photography and Instagram as a publishing platform allow for me.
Are pictures taken from Mobile Phones today well fit for print expos ?
Absolutely! The quality is very good now and is improving on a yearly basis.
Do you get many Professional DSLR Photographers to ask you to try your Workshop & method, that are interested by making the Shift ?
Usually both professional and prosumer photographers, and even pure amateurs who just love photography, all come down in the same general place when it comes to mobile photography. They enjoy it, appreciate the personal and professional possibilities, and while some are more skeptical or shy about embracing it, most folks are excited to learn and improve their skills further.
Instagram transformed the way we “see” reality, how did you use this tool to seed your unique stories and use it as a platform rather than as a competitor ?
I will leave you with this quote :
Instagram is a special space for me as a visual artist. It’s a place where I can play with imagery like never before, experimenting with making double exposures, working with post production/darkroom tools I would never use in my 35mm work, and capturing pure moments in my daily life. It’s also a space where I can be very serious, publishing photo essays and advocacy work to raise awareness and change peoples minds about the issues of the day. Like most social media, it also allows for a two way forum for dialogue and debate at times. It’s also a space where I can promote projects and issues that are important to me. Authorship and control of my work makes Instagram the only channel that exists today where I am a photo publisher and can reach a growing audience without any filters or gatekeepers. Simply put it’s a space that does not exist anywhere else in photography today.”
Are you considering experimenting Virtual Reality (VR) ?
Not yet. I’ve been asked about it a few times, but I’m not feeling it yet. It’s a great tool and super interesting development for gaming and other media, but for pure storytelling, especially of a journalistic or documentary nature, it feels too impactful and cumbersome for now.
With an extensive background in Finance, you fell in love with Photography. How did that happen ?
I have always loved photography but my interest in the power of photography and its unique ability to be used for advocacy and education came through following the career of photographer Marcus Bleasdale. Marcus has documented human rights stories for National Geographic and for Human Rights Watch, among other clients and there is tangible proof of the impact of his photographs. His photographs have been used in exhibitions and reports with HRW and have led e.g. to a Swiss gold refiner pulling out of buying illegally mined gold in Congo which was fuelling a war and to sending images directly from Central African Republic to governments on the war in 2013. This engagement with policy-makers eventually led to the French intervening and later on, the U.N. Security Council approved a U.N. peace mission. I just never had exactly the same admiration for the people I worked with in finance!
You recently led the Landmark Photography project Time to See for The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust and have organised exhibitions with the NGO Human Rights Watch. How important are Print Photography Expos in our World today and in what are they different than the photos we see /consume on Social Media ?
I think they are equally important and will reach different audiences in different ways. I recently heard the legendary Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas speak and I agree entirely with her view. Susan said that there is no denying that viewing images on Social Media are now a way of how we receive information. But Social Media is simply an entirely different experience from standing in front of a printed photograph and engaging with it. The Time To See project is online but we also had a private viewing for Her Majesty The Queen at St James’s Palace and an exhibition for all 53 heads of Commonwealth countries at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.
In October you’re organizing the smartphone workshop with Famous Nat Geo Photographer ED KASHI, why do you think even Professionals today are integrating Mobile Phone Photography in their tool kit ?
Smartphones are now a tool for photographers purely for their simplicity – it is far easier and more discrete to work with a smartphone and the quality of the camera are improving all the time. Photographers can be more agile and not worry about the hassle of lugging gear around. A cover of National Geographic magazine has now been shot with a smartphone which would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Some of Ed’s stories are all shot on his smartphone.
I think smartphone workshops open up the world of photography workshops and learning from experts to everyone rather than the just owners of DSLRs. Ed has over 250,000 followers on Instagram and has embraced smartphone photography from its earliest days and is certainly one of the best professional photography teachers around. I am delighted to be running this first smartphone workshop in Paris with him. I admire Ed enormously for his work and the awareness It has raised on very important, often forgotten issues.
What are the future Projects you would like to work on ?
I’m very excited about my next project which will be bringing Arab photography to a wider audience. I can’t say more at this point but look forward to sharing with Kamsyn as soon as I can. There are also plans for more Smartphone Workshops in Paris with a Vanity Fair contributing photographer. He photographed Paris Fashion week with a smartphone only and his last two stories were also taken using a smartphone. I’m also running photography workshops for more advanced students with other award-winning photojournalists and their beloved DSLRs in Sydney and Paris. And then of course, I would love to run a smartphone workshop in Beirut with KAMSYN in 2017!