Truth alumni Joseph “Smoooooke” Smooke participated in the Guadalajara workshop in May of 2009. Joseph represents the non-traditional type of students who attend Truth workshops.
Prior to enrolling with the workshop, Joseph was the executive director for a non-profit serving a community in the San Francisco Bay area. He hit the ground in Guadalajara armed with a Leica and little experience as a photojournalist.
Since then, he has gone on to found Joseph Smooke Consulting. The firm seeks to support community based, social justice oriented non profit/ non-governmental organizations in succeeding with their advocacy and base building work.
You participated in the Guadalajara workshop in 2009. Tell us a little about your experience? The experience in Guadalajara was extraordinary. I photographed for FM4 Paso Libre, a young organization of volunteers supporting migrants from Central America and Southern Mexico traveling on top of the freight trains that pass through Guadalajara on their way to the United States. Instrumental to the success of my time there was the instruction from Chris Tyree, our team leader, who worked tirelessly to critique our work at the end of each long day of shooting, and who provided us with clear and insightful direction for each next day’s shooting. The design of the Truth With a Camera workshop to have each of us shoot alongside a photographer from Guadaljara and to establish a connection with the University of Guadalajara gave us the ability to maneuver our way around and gain access to people and places we would never have been able to access if we were working entirely on our own.
How did that experience prepare you for the work that you are doing now? I have worked for NGO’s for many years, most recently as the executive director for a community based advocacy and service providing organization in San Francisco, CA. I have also done photodocumentary work and photographic work in support of non profit organizations in San Francisco. This experience in Guadalajara allowed me to dig deeper into this confluence of my directorial work and my photographic work to tell the story of a developing non profit doing challenging work. Since my experience with Truth With a Camera, I have gone on to do more photodocumentary work to support NGO’s most recently in northern India. I am also shifting my career away from administering an NGO toward doing organizational development consultation and photodocumentary work for NGO’s. There is no way that I would have been able to make this career shift without the invaluable experience I had while shooting with Truth With a Camera.
Tell us about your PhotoPhilantrophy award. The award I received from PhotoPhilanthropy could not have happened without my connection to Truth With a Camera, partly because the images were from my session with TWAC in Guadalajara, and in large part because months after the conclusion of the Guadalajara workshop, Chris Tyree called me to let me know that he had just met the founder of PhotoPhilanthropy. Since the founder lived in the San Francisco area, Chris thought of connecting us, and it was that introduction that led to my entering in the first round of PhotoPhilanthropy awards. I am so proud to have been recognized by PhotoPhilanthropy, and this recognition would never have happened were it not for the relationships and support I found from TWAC, but also because of the depth of content and quality of the work I was able to produce with under the guidance of the Truth faculty.
What does the future hold for you? I recently shot for three NGO’s in northern India, and this summer, I will be starting my own consultancy to support community based organizations with their organizational development needs, and I will continue to shoot to support social justice organizations and movements. I have recently received an opportunity to return to the Philippines to shoot in July, and I see this as only the beginning of an exciting new chapter in my career as a photographer and builder of capacity of organizations to work for social justice.
Where will YOU find Truth?
There is one week left to register for this amazing workshop. Seats are limited so please mail your registrations today.
To say this is an opportunity of a life time is an understatement. Study with some of the leading humanitarian documentary photographers and film makers in the world as you work with NGOs in Zenica on projects of social significance. No where else will you stretch your limits as a photojournalist while also making strong friendships and bonds all while making a huge difference in the lives of others.
And, since you are in Europe, take advantage after the workshop to tour. Take the train or jump on Ryan Air to explore the rest of the country and nearby Italy, Greece and Austria.
If you have any questions please contact us at email@example.com.
Hope to see you in Bosnia.
The minute I received the email from Josh Meltzer, I knew, and I’ll never forget that moment because it changed my life.
I was recovering from the good ol’ H1N1 pig flu, and had spent close to two weeks sitting on my couch analzing my life and accomplishments (because after awhile TV reruns get old…) Josh sent me a brief email, something to the extent of, “Hey Britney, I think you’d like this, check it out,” and a link to the Truth website. Literally two minutes after looking at the website I called my mom and told her I was going to Ecuador.
I am a firm believer in following your gut. Sometimes it gets me into trouble, and some people call me impulsive… but following my heart to Truth in Ecuador has so radically changed my life and my passion, that at this point I can’t imagine how my life would be had I not gone.
In Ecuador I got paired with an NGO called El Centro del Muchacho Trabajador (the Center for the Working Boy). I spent the week taking pictures with boys who scour the streets looking for shoes to shine to make about two dollars per day. You cannot be a good journalist without first being a good person, and such a close exposure and relationship to this type of extreme poverty really changed and touched my heart.
I turned down a few shots I had at newspaper internships and decided to return to Quito, Ecuador that following summer to volunteer for the same organization that I photographed during Truth. Following my graduation in May, I will also return to volunteer for a year beginning in August, also at the same NGO.
The close relationship, bond, tie, whatever you want to call it that I developed with these people while studying them through my camera lens has forever impacted my life and my work as a photojournalist. This type of workshop, humanitarian photojournalism, changes the way you see. And the images of those children and families I shot before I even returned to really know them, will always tug at my heartstrings and remind me just how amazing life really is, and how different life is for the people of Ecuador.
And with all that said, how could I not return to Truth in Bosnia? Any workshop capable of changing my life and my future certainly deserves a second go round in my book.
Truth with a Camera is a combination of my two favorite hobbies: travel and photography, thus it was absolute heaven.
In Ecuador, I learned how to better relate to the subject of my lens, take eye-catching photos, and to tell a vivid story. Surrounded by an incredible staff of dedicated photo and media professionals meant having access to a wealth of technical information and support. I felt apart of a team humanitarian effort and came away with some amazing friends.
I plan to go on the next trip to Bosnia as I would not want to miss another opportunity like this one.
Surviving hell was just the first step.
SARAJEVO ROSES is a compelling documentary in progress told through the eyes and experiences of Dr. Asim Haracic, a Bosnian-American psychiatrist and musician who survived the Siege of Sarajevo and is now working to heal the victims of violence in his adopted home of Washington, D.C.
During the four-year siege of the Bosnian capital city of Sarajevo, hundreds of thousands of bombs rained upon the city from the surrounding hills. Every shell exploding on a road or paved area left an imprint resembling that of a flower. Today, some of these craters remain, their ‘petals’ painted red and referred to as ‘Sarajevo roses’ by its citizens, like scars on the heart, a reminder of the innocent blood that was spilled on these streets.
As the longest siege of the 20th Century rages, Dr. Asim Haracic alternates daily shifts as an army medic on the frontlines of the besieged city and as emergency room doctor at Kosevo hospital, using his skills to help wounded citizens of Sarajevo survive the daily shelling and sniper fire from Radovan Karadzic’s nationalist Serb army. He finds himself living an existentialist nightmare of no hope for the future, where the meaning of life is defined simply as a struggle for day-to-day survival.
In 1995, after surviving 3 and a half years under siege, he sends his wife and their four-month-old son through the only escape route from Sarajevo. They crawl through an underground tunnel under the tarmac of the airport, ringed by Karadzic’s forces. They then trudge on foot, at night, over heavily mined Mount Igman, the site of the 1984 Winter Olympics biathlon event. Finding sanctuary in the USA, they set about rebuilding their lives and eventually become US citizens.
Moving to near Washington, DC, the doctor begins composing songs and also putting to music some of the poems in a friend’s war journal, as part of his healing process from the emotional toll of war. Ironically, Dr. Asim Haracic, who retrained as a psychiatrist when he came to America, now counsels citizens of the Washington, DC area suffering from mental trauma resulting from violence and personal loss.
The most important aspect of SARAJEVO ROSES is that it offers an insight into how a beautiful, modern 20th century city that hosted the 1984 Winter Olympic Games, an event celebrating and showcasing the pinnacle of humanity’s athletic achievement and brotherhood, could only eight years later become a symbol of the lowest of forms of man’s depravity and brutality toward his neighbor. For generations to come these questions will be asked by scholars and historians. This film is a meditation on how the near dismantling of civilization as we know it can happen in a brief span of time when the right, or wrong, conditions are created. It also explores the concept of memory, both personal and collective, and how distorted history and memory can be passed down through generations and used to justify extremism and destroying ‘the other’.
SARAJEVO ROSES is the story one man’s search for inner peace after the trauma of war, and a personal testimony to his descendants in the hope that they will come to understand that love and living fully in the present is the best thing we can hope for as human beings.
Roger M. Richards
Filmmaker-photographer-author Roger M. Richards’ work has ranged from coverage of the White House in Washington, DC to conflict zones around the world, including the civil wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador, the US invasion of Panama, political upheaval in Haiti, and the disintegration of Yugoslavia, particularly the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and the 44 month siege of Sarajevo.
Richards is the recipient of numerous awards, for photography and picture editing, from the National Press Photographers’ Association, the White House News Photographers’ Association, Pictures of the Year International, the Society of Newspaper Design, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Virginia News Photographers Association. He was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, in 1990 and 2008.
His films have been shown at several film festivals, including winning a Best Short Documentary prize at the 2009 Oxford Film Festival for “Mississippi Drug War Blues: The case of Cory Maye”, which he co-directed with Paul Feine.
Richards was Senior Producer with The Drew Carey Project at ReasonTV from December 2007 to November 2009. Prior to that he was Multimedia Editor/Producer, photo editor and staff photographer for The Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Norfolk, Virginia from 2001 to 2007. He is a former Associated Press photo bureau chief in Bogotá, Colombia, and a staff photographer at the Washington Times in Washington, DC, from 1997-2000.
He is the author of ‘Remember Sarajevo’, photographs and writings from the siege of Sarajevo (2003, Zone Zero Editions).
He is currently a member of the International Expert Team of the Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada, focused on documenting and bringing to justice war criminals wanted for acts of genocide.
In 2010 photojournalist Dijana Muminovic moved back to her native Bosnia from Kentucky USA to follow the story of women survivors of the 1995 genocide in Srebrenica. Living and working out of her native town of Zenica in central Bosnia, Dijana has been working under two grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and continues to live in Zenica. In addition to her work following the stories of the women survivors, many of whom are victims of rape and other war atrocities, Dijana has followed groups of young Bosnians volunteering to uncover and properly bury those who have been recently discovered in mass graves 15 years after the war.
Dijana is a graduate of the photojournalism program at Western Kentucky University where her work has been recognized by the William Randolph Hearst competition.
“For many of my assignments in college, I photographed recent immigrants in Bowling Green,” says Dijana. “Observing their struggles as they adapt to a new culture, I saw lives very familiar to my own. This allowed me to connect with subjects and gain access to photograph their lives on an intimate level. I saw the importance of documenting a balance of culture maintenance and assimilation in their new communities.”
“My images were presented in a gallery at Western Kentucky University. I asked four women that I photographed to speak during my event and let others know how genocide still affects their lives. Through tears they explained that their husbands are still missing and lay in mass graves with thousands of others. It may take years to identify them. For over a decade, these women wait for their return that may never happen.”
Dijana is working directly with the Truth With A Camera Workshop which will be in Zenica in May 2011. With her wealth of knowledge of the NGOs, photography community and community at large, she will be an integral member of the Truth team in Zenica, Bosnia.
In Zenica, you see them everywhere. In the bus stations and in the cafes. Roma (gypsy) children begging for dimes instead of going to school.
Using the non-negotiable standards and obligations of the United Nation’s Convention of the Rights of the Child, Roma Centro – Zenica is devoted to improving the living conditions of Roma communities throughout Zenica and the local area. The organization seeks to educate the young while preserving their language, culture and traditions.
While the Roma community comprises less than 2% of the entire Bosnian populace, Roma Centro endeavors to fight against social exclusion.
Roma Centro – Zenica is just one of the many non-profits/NGO’s in Bosnia that you can find yourself working with when you sign up for Truth With a Camera’s upcoming May workshop.