The Photo Editors Series are conversations with well-known photo editors about how they view the media today, the role of visuals in reporting, the work they like to see, and advice for photographers on how best to connect with publishers.
In this event, hosted by David Campbell and Ilvy Njiokiktjien, the series will combine an overview of the contemporary media landscape with practical tips. The editors in the series will speak as individuals rather than representatives of their organizations, and the event will be interactive with good opportunities for audience questions.
In this third episode, we speak with Wacera Njagi, a photo editor for Everyday Africa.
David Campbell: So, Wacera, it’s fantastic to have you as part of the Photo Editor Series. In the series, we’re trying to talk to photo editors from around the world to get their perspectives on, on the profession, on the industry and how they go about their work. And we’re really looking forward to hearing from you about, in particular, Everyday Africa and how it operates, because I think it is an extraordinarily important initiative that’s been very successful over the years. And I guess to begin with, could you outline for us a little bit about your background as a freelancer and how you came to work for Everyday Africa? And what are the sort of major responsibilities that that you have with the organization?
Wacera Njagi: Thanks. Thanks, David, and Ilvy. My name is Wacera. I am a photo editor based in Nairobi, but currently in Kampala. I enjoy working with story and the power of story. And I got started working in the storytelling business by just going into journalism school. I learned how to write story mostly for branding, because that’s what universities teach. But then, out of curiosity, I learned how to use the camera, and later on, Adobe, and learned how to, you know, edit a whole magazine story, and pitch a story and have my stories on my favorite newspapers, magazines, blogs. And that’s how I started freelancing, basically, in journalism school. Then after graduating, my work started, my work experience started in marketing communications associate because in Nairobi, at least from my own experience, it’s hard to transition from photography from journalism school, to be a straight up journalist and get into the legacy newsrooms, it’s very difficult to do that fresh out of school. So I got into, it was around 2017, 2018, I got into— Nairobi was a hot Silicon Valley type. So there were so many, so many companies building apps, and they needed teams to tell their branding stories and make photos for their branding. And Nairobi was a nice place to hire at the time. And so goes the tech story. So from then on, I was still freelancing, because there are so many stories to be told here. And the wires take on documentary photography, at least a bit more responsive, they were more responsive than legacy newsrooms here in East Africa. So I sent some of my stories to the AP, you know, pitched them to my favorite independent media sites like Guardian in the UK, and got my portfolio thicker, growing a little bit bigger. And that, I just knew that there’s no way I would work without telling a story. That’s the, that’s the most fun way to work and to tell a story and for me. In 2020, I joined the Everyday Projects to run the Africa cohort, the Everyday Africa, which is a collective of photographers based across the continent. And their main focus is to broaden the perceptions of, the perception that many people have about Africa by telling the day-to-day regular mundane, in showing the mundane images so that we can know that Africa is beyond all the stereotypes that the news legacy has applied to it. Yeah. So I guess that’s a little bit of a background. I don’t know.
David Campbell: You said, it was difficult to get into journalism in the legacy newsrooms in East Africa. I mean, and the wires were a bit more responsive and so on. What is kind of the situation with local media in in East Africa? Is it commissioning work from photographers? Is it using visuals in storytelling? Or is that something that the wires do and local media doesn’t do?
Wacera Njagi: Oh, well, I feel like the role of the photograph goes beyond any type of media, print, new media, like the photograph is here to stay period. So if local news stations want to buy my documentary story, photography stories or not, there’s still a market for it, I just need to, it’s now up to us as creatives. And as, how do they call us now like, creative, like business owners. Like, it’s the whole thing now where I see (inaudible) run their craft as businesses, so that we can know that when we are producing our photographic stories, we know where to trade them. Luckily, the role that photographs play, especially in the new media, has opened up a door, a very unique door for African artists, African visual artists, African photographers, especially in the context of telling frequent stories from the continent. So many many documentary photographers are finding ways to feed, to share their work with magazines, and that’s a very like digital- based, or we work with a lot of, work with publications that are like, very strictly new media or very strictly digital, so that they can get an opportunity to share their stories often, because I feel like traditional media is very restrictive, and it already has its people. So we have to wait. As we wait, we’ll explore the opportunity that’s on this, on the internet.
David Campbell: And do you think that that East African media is turning principally to East African photographers to do the visual work? Or are they? Or do they think that international photographers are more important? I mean, how do they balance that commitment to work with local photographers versus international photographers?
Wacera Njagi: As old as news, anything as old, like news structures, because it’s still a very much top down approach to visual storytelling. Parachute journalism is still very much a practice that, many practice because it’s affordable, it’s easier. It’s already you know, it’s time time, it’s, it’s not as time consuming as finding someone on the ground. So I think the effects of the top down approach to like finding visuals of Africa is still very, very present. So unless, we, I hope, I feel like that the power of new media has opened up the opportunity for African photographers to come in collectives or in groups and just use their influence to kind of try to tell the stories fast, then the story will do the work and not the other way around. It’s been very hard. This is a western culture that has been, that has weaved itself into the news culture which we consume here every day. So until they make space for photographers here to give their stories, and not as and not be looked for. if this makes sense. I hope this makes sense. Well, we need to unlearn that top down approach. We’re not looking for African photographers, we’ve always been there, we just need to, how do I say, like, work towards an inclusive and anti racist collaboration, which needs for us to just accept a lot of faults in the structure, change our business communication structures, change how we price things, change, consider how cameras and insurance does or does not work here. So there’s so many things to consider if we want to change that approach to storytelling, which is still very stringent. Yeah.
David Campbell: I mean, in in Europe and North America, to an extent, there’s been kind of a reckoning in photography, following the Me Too issues, some greater attention to questions of diversity, and some greater attention to need, the need to be more inclusive, and so on. I think there’s a tremendous amount of work still to be done on all those areas and so on. How do you, from Nairobi, how do you view that about what’s happening in photography in Europe or North America? And how are those issues about identity and inclusiveness and so on circulating and percolating in, in East Africa itself? Are they the same sorts of issues that that that kind of Europe and North America is confronting? Or are they different?
Wacera Njagi: That’s such an interesting deep question. Several questions in one. I guess, my main answer, which I’ll derive a little bit—will just be the idea that I have, what I’m excited about being a part of like, the African photographic scene is that we recognize that photography, and the medium of photography is already its own tool of empowerment. So we, it’s, outside of the work of the camera, just being a documentary documentation tool, it is— we know, it has the power to empower us, to let us tell our stories, you know, to let us help us let go of some trauma. There is this tool that has been linked to so much pain and terrorism, racism, even to this day, can we can use it as a tool of empowerment. And I think that is what is exciting is seeing different projects from African photographers across the continent. They’re using their stories, too, as a catalyst for wide reaching social change, even outside of, even outside of still photographers. We can see directors of photographers who are being slowly exposed to the Netflix world who are from the continent, using the cover as a tool to you know, reach to reach many people and show them that our stories matter still and to answer your last question that we have so many of the same wounds, they’re just, in assuming that we don’t all share suffering is ignorance. And I think the excitement that I have of being a storyteller at this time, despite of the challenges of the structure, structural challenges, is knowing that my work is more the tools that I have in my access. Already a medium to lift myself out, if that makes sense. I feel optimistic, which can be a little bit toxic. But yeah, that would be my response to your question, David?
David Campbell: I think we could do with a little bit more toxic optimism? If that’s the case, Wacera. I mean, one thing I wonder about is that we often talk about African photographers, but we’re trying to complicate the view of Africa. Africa is not a single entity. I mean, are you comfortable with talking about African photographers as I know, we’ll be talking about Kenyan photographers or Ugandan photographers, is there an issue in terms of the naming of the community and how we think about about the community so that we can acknowledge the differences and diversity within the community?
Wacera Njagi: I feel like, as much as the there’s the trick of branding, the challenge would always be, you know, are we finding the stories from the countries that we don’t normally see on TV? You know, the challenge is, as much as you know, we try to, we have, for example, the original photographers who started the collective are spread across the globe right now. Are we welcoming young, budding photographers who are Gen Z right now, who are telling those stories right now? I feel like for us, the challenge has not been like, the name, the branding, more than it is, I hope, well, like our, how we find our stories. We try our best to dismantle the structure of storytelling that we keep on criticizing, especially now we have different tools of work, for example, the camera phone, and Instagram and at least the internet. So I feel like the challenge is not taking on the Everyday Africa title, it’s more in is our, our everyday or our, is our programming, amplifying local young voices. Is it shifting away, shifting away the power from the monolithic narratives, or for example, Western branding, for example, because I was, I guess, just a little bit of addition, I’m reading one of my favorite books that I never want to finish. It’s written by Akwaeke Emezi and they describe how Western vocabulary can sometimes be what holds us back. Because, you know, for example, if, I feel like if the, so many storytellers, for example, who I’ve talked to between last Wednesday and today, they not only use the camera, they also use their words, they also use paint, they’re not restricted to medium. Especially because they have several stories is in their minds. It’s so big, and they want to experience everything. So even anytime, for example, I tried to call one of the people, I know our photographer, they feel like it’s holding them back, you know, some some of these narratives of Western branding sometimes can hold us back from our true potential of like authentic storytelling. I don’t know if that’s getting a little bit closer to an answer. But yeah, I yeah, I hope I’m articulating the challenges.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: Could you maybe name an example of how that’s holding you back with that kind of storytelling with the Western language? Would you have, like a just an example for us?
Wacera Njagi: Okay, but yeah, I can try to come up with an example. Okay, cool. So, hmm, this is a cheek— this is a little bit cheeky, but I guess in the context of if we want to tell, how do I say, Okay, Akwaeke Emezi tries to describe how, like, our storytelling is not, it’s sometimes even beyond the 3D. Like this is more to, to creatives outside of the academic, you know, and I feel like there’s so many artists for example, at this moment, who collaborate who are using, for example, the camera and researching their spiritual ancestry, you know. For example, there are twin siblings in South Africa who are—I’ll share with you a link soon. I don’t want to mistake the pronunciation of their names, but they work with the camera to find out more about their past, their spiritual past, their spiritual beginnings and also find out what their spiritual purposes is through the camera. So I feel like just saying they are photographers is limiting them, if that makes sense. I feel like they are spiritual artists and beyond, and then whatever they could label themselves and hope that that’s a good example.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: So not putting people in boxes necessarily in any way. Yeah. Preferably.
David Campbell: I mean, at the same time, I mean, you very powerfully said that earlier you know that the photograph is here to stay, and you want that to be the situation. What do you feel is special about photography as a storytelling tool? What do you think the photograph contributes to storytelling, even when it’s associated with all the other forms of communicating?
Wacera Njagi: That’s a tricky question. Because there’s many answers, but I think what sticks out to me is the timelessness of the image. The fact that it can, the photo can carry the present, the past, and the future, all at once. It’s the, it’s a very conflicting medium, the camera and photography, because so much violence is still being rolled out, because I see this too. But no, I think what is interesting to me as a photographer, is how you bring in your own self, with the tool, you see what you yourself will and your camera can come together, and what stories can form, because for example, I have a, I think every weekend, I always talk to my friends about how I hated knowing that, though, like two or three stories that were parachutes, journalism. And like, I knew that some people who would be perfect for the story. And it’s 2022. You know, it’s like, as much as it’s easy to complain about that, how? And also, yeah, the violences of the camera are very flattened. But the power of— I feel like the most, the perfect photo is when you can see the person’s will in the collaboration of that technique. We’re using the camera. Yeah, yeah. It’s a very tricky question.
David Campbell: In some ways, there’s, there’s certainly no right answer, but there’s no easy answer to it. You know, it’s something to start a conversation itself. We could have a whole whole session on that itself, I think. Wacera, why don’t you, you’re going to share with us some work from some of the stories you put together, one of the stories you put together on on Everyday Africa. So why don’t you show that and talk us through who the photographer is and what the story is and how you came to select this in your editorial role. And while you’re doing that, just a reminder to folks in the audience, if you have any questions, drop them into the q&a box. We’ll bring them in during the discussion or at the end.
Wacera Njagi: So this work, is this, the work that I’ll share with you is made by documentary photographer Mohamed Dawod. He’s a Sudanese photographer who has been documenting the Sudan revolution since he was 16 years old. And this is from last year in the, stuck in the middle of the civilian protests, and this story to me, was— I think the challenge was picking a story that stood out amongst stories we’ve shared on Everyday Africa and for me, many have, but for me this this was important to share because first, the photographer has been covering this for years. Like this is not just a moment where he popped in and went back home. This is his home. This is his everyday life. And just from that logic, he’s fulfilled the thematic approach of Everyday Africa. Secondly, just I don’t want to get, I’m very anti- because academia failed me, but I’ll try to be as simple as possible. I think that the camera phone and Instagram has helped us as African photographers to be able to show that what is happening here in our homes is are also happening in their homes. This is protest culture, isn’t actually, it really hasn’t even hit statewide protest culture, because it’s not really a thing. We’ve been protesting for a while now across the world, and still are. And the work that Mohamed Dawod and his fellow photographers in Sudan are doing is essential because even though we don’t, we won’t see, even though we fear—okay, we will see these photos in the wires. Yeah, but we will see different framing. And some of the framing is what—and that framing is what fuels the negative stereotypes around protest culture in Africa. So I think what Muhammad Dawod does so good is tell the truth. But it’s also, it’s— I don’t want to say this word, but it is, it’s kind. It’s not—it’s the truth that is not unadulterated, but it is, it is what it is, but it does not show people in their most vulnerable state. It just shows people, you know, looking towards their goal, which is, you know, fighting for their freedom and fighting for the electoral rights. Now switch really quickly to—
David Campbell: I mean, it really shows them as as active agents of their own situation, as you say. So not passive victims, not just sitting back, but popular movements taking charge, and so on. And I think that’s a significant thing in this sort of work.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: And I think there’s a lot of dignity in these images as well, where the people are protesting, but they’re not showed in a way that you kind of— the images I know very well, from demonstrations, yeah, can kind of show a side where only violence for instance, is shown because that works on the wires quite well. While this seems more like, yeah, more combination of daily life as well. So I can imagine why this also ended up with Everyday Africa in that sense. Yeah. And he was already one of your photographers, then, I’m guessing he was part already of Everyday Africa.
He’s a contributor to the African Photojournalism Database, which is a collaborative database with the World Press Photo Foundation. And every APJD team member has the right, and we welcome, will welcome their stories to always be shared on Everyday platforms.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: So are you then, the one when all the images go in or come in do you edit what selections are going through to the website? Or through social media? Or both? Maybe?
Wacera Njagi: Yes, so yeah, once the photographer is on the ground, and they really don’t do much editing on the ground, especially in this context. So I make sure everything is— first they send so many raw files, so we must have to, we must have to make a selection. I like having a second eye amongst my team because internal bias is global. I might need something that my colleague, my colleague won’t. So once we clean them up, we can, we work on the copy, check it, take it back to the photographer because I think copy especially for partisan election work I feel should be, the photographer should check into again. So we go through issues back and forth. Make sure the photo and the copy editor are right, then we share them on the platform when the time is right.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: So the copy, the text that’s coming in, is that like captions? Or is it usually longer stories that you then have to edit or?
Wacera Njagi: It depends. So for example, his story, this story, we published it three times over a period of maybe a July, a story, then an October story, then the next January story. So there’s always context relating back to the previous story. So, but some of them are, many of them on Everyday Africa are single stories. So this is just like, one of our favorites.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: Keeps going, keeps coming back. Also, because it’s ongoing, of course. And did you just did I understand you’re correct that he would send in the raw images? Or in general photographers sending raw images? Or do they just send them in, like, a checkup that you want to see the raws or do you always edit these images from raw images.
Wacera Njagi: And not always, sometimes, they already have their affiliates also dependent on the angle that they prefer to take already chosen to take when on the ground. So some, at least most of them, the photographers have their favorite edits, but they give me a broader selection, so that we can have a variety to choose from.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: And you combine your work as an editor with your work. As a photographer, I think there must be quite a tough job because to me, it feels like as a photojournalist, or as a photographer, it can be such a full time thing because you have to arrange a lot of things and then also do the shoots. So I can imagine you must be quite busy. Can you kind of describe how much time you spend on doing the editing and how much time goes into your own photography work.
Wacera Njagi: My photography, I feel like it’s very sporadic, comes with what the young people call the feels. I only only work on my projects when I feel it’s the right time. I feel like, since at the moment, I’m currently working on a story. It will finish around election season, it’s a it’s a broad, broad time, there are many things to choose from. So I feel like it’s also— It won’t happen again for years inferiors. It’s an it’s a nice time to pick something with legs, something which is thick. So I guess to answer your question, I go with the feels. So every day, I work with Everyday Africa most of my week, like selecting stories and working with photographers. But yeah, my personal freelancing projects are very much with the feels.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: When it feels right to start them. So what are the kinds of stories that you really like to see coming in from photographers? Everyday Africa?
Wacera Njagi: Yeah. I fell, as much as this may sound corny, I feel like it’s a must. I like stories that are like, I feel like, okay, it’s based on how I thought when I started pitching stories to editors, and I always thought editors were not excited about this type of energy. But I feel like I like stories that are very driven to the personal as much as they are documenting other people’s lives. I like when— I think why I was drawn to Everyday Africa because as much, as many there are stories, there are many personal experiences on, there are many first, firsthand, emotional private moments. And I feel like first, even looking through the audience engagement in the comments, you find those stories with some emotional connect, having people even to chip in their own personal experiences, and I think that’s the idea of telling a story on new media, having camaraderie by, you know, feeling confident to share your own story on there because someone else did. So that’s my favorite type. When people share their personal deeds that make other people want to share their own personal stories. Yeah.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: And then the name, of course, I know Everyday Africa quite well. And I love the fact that it’s daily life. But what, I mean, what is daily life? For instance, a protest that you just showed from Mohamed. It’s also quite newsy. I think in the beginning, I’m not sure. But maybe in the beginning of Everyday Africa, these kind of images, you would see less. It would be more like daily life, like day-to-day life. Is that true? Or is it changing?
Wacera Njagi: Oh, well, I feel like it’s a part of everything. Because after every six stories, you’d find a story that could pass for a magazine. You know, a story that could be this is very much similar to a story on a newspaper feature. And you’d also see something that would never be featured in a magazine or never be featured in a book. And I think that’s, I think that’s the excitement of having having a magazine on the internet. It’s very, I don’t know, I think I’d like to pick a line from this book. I think I don’t want to use—my words wouldn’t be enough, but Maaza Mengiste wrote on the Everyday Africa book how— like the everyday, the mundane, why it’s important to document that regular photo, it’s because it’s malleable and subject to change, based on our emotions and experiences. So even like, I don’t know how to explain this, okay, let me explain it this way. I have never managed to explain to my mother what I do as a job. She never understands that photo editors are a thing. Why are you editing a photo? Is that a real job? Are you playing, you know, like, but just the idea that she can go through the Everyday Africa Instagram on on her phone and feel like a few changes of emotion, maybe just a regular sunset photo, then she sees a story about women working in Tanzania then feels a certain feel. It’s very, as mother, right, it’s malleable and subject to change based on our emotions and experiences. So I feel like even like editors’ work is very much I don’t know, and say everyone can do it. But if you have like some empathy, you know what you’d like to see in a story. We know what a story is made of. A story has body. So? Yeah. Yeah, I think in the context of what you’re asking about, is the everyday changing. I think it’s still, it’s malleable. Yeah, and subject to change. So things are on new media. Yeah, that makes sense.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: Yeah. No, it does a lot. And what kind of, because the one thing I don’t fully understand is do photographers who are not part of the Everyday Africa can they still pitch stories to you? Or can only the the people that are already contributors? Can they pitch to you? Or could any photographer in Africa send you a story today, tomorrow? There might be someone watching.
Wacera Njagi: We encourage photographers across the continent and who are outside of our collectives to share their stories on the platform. Firstly, because it’s the internet, there’s space for all of us. Like, I grew up, understand, I grew up on the newspaper layout and understanding that there’s only enough stories to be told today. But then I realized that you know, the, when I got immersed into the magic of the internet, the magic and the poison. You realize that there’s space for all of us. So, I think that’s, I think the difference between me and a photo editor in like, 1990. We have, like some unlimited space to play with. So yeah, we welcome photographers across the continent to share their work on Everyday.
Ilvy Njiokitjien: And if they share it with you, how do you like to receive stories? Like, like very practical? Do you want to receive an email with a PDF or a link to an Instagram account? Or what is the best way for photographers who want to reach you to, to kind of pitch to you.
Wacera Njagi: So email with a clear pitch style, and your favorite pics, together with a broader selection, two files, or just one file with your favorite pictures and a broader selection and everything to be captioned properly in the metadata. Is this photographer—? OK, cool. Every magazine has its own editorial style, of course. And we have the essentials. We have video resources where we can we describe like our pitch style, but mostly if you share your story on email, share it to me, and you tell me this is what’s it’s about, and you caption photos, we’ll have a small conversation. And yeah, we’ll see whether the photos are suitable for the platform or not. Yeah, it’s a very straightforward process. Mostly because I do not like the gatekeeping process of magazine world. In growing, that transition from university to like, my first freelancing jobs were so difficult, and it felt like puzzles, doing a very difficult puzzle. So when I tried to make it, just send me, send me something simple, and we can get the conversation, talking, but conversation going, yeah.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: Lovely what you say about gatekeeping because I feel it’s really a struggle for people recently finishing journalism school. I finished like 15 years ago and I was quite lucky to kind of get like, I won an award at the World Press Photo. And that was just lucky in a way because doors started opening up. But I get so many emails. So you probably do too from students who are like, how do I get into this place? Or this place? Or can you connect me and when you know how—there’s so few people working at these spots, shooting for these places, it’s quite annoying, annoying. So it’s really amazing to hear you talk about not liking gatekeeping and to have a space or at least have a look at the work of, yeah, people that send in to you. So would you would you have any do’s and don’ts for them? Well, do’s you kind of just explained, but are there any don’ts? Like sometimes you might receive things in your—that you don’t like to see or in ways that you don’t like to see?
Wacera Njagi: Hmm. I think, don’t be afraid of your voice. Your story — so I guess as a storyteller, don’t be afraid of your voice. And your story has a place. It’s important, even I think there’s also a lesson I keep learning as a working storyteller. Like I have to convince myself that these stories, as I write them, wherever I am, are interesting and someone will be interested because they’re creative and I put in good creative work into them. So yeah, trust your voice and trust what you say is, can be, is relatable to someone. I think that is a magic I keep on seeing on Everyday Africa because you’d assume the most random stories do not have an emotional attachment to them yet you find people connecting to them. I guess another small tip will be just adjust your impulses. Be your first editor. It’s so difficult, but I think this means you should read more, read, see what other photographers have been doing in the past. But don’t be obsessed with mood boards. Just learn how to adjust your impulses. Going back to one of my favorite books, Akwaeke Emezi in Dear Senthuran, how you just have to trust. Trust that, you know the stories, the story has its own its own magic, its own power. So when you, you just need to, how do I say, like, as much as you let go, and also learn how to hold back. So adjust your impulses and balance and have balance, it is just a little bit of adjustments here and there. So even as you’re working on your projects, just learn to slowly adjust your impulses. Yeah, yeah, that’s that’s my advice. I’m still working at it, so I feel giving advice is very tacky, but I think I just keep—everyday in my work.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: No. No, it’s good. Actually, I think there were two questions coming. Yeah.
David Campbell: Wacera, one of the questions. Is the book that you’re talking about as your favorite book, could you type the title of that into the chat so that we can share that with people?
Wacera Njagi: And I recommend that you read it. It’s, especially if you’re a storyteller. The writer has, includes you in the chapters. I don’t want to give away more. There’s a poet called Stephen Dunn. And he wrote one of my favorite quotes in his poems and he says, All I ever wanted was a book so good, so good, I’ll be finishing it for the rest of my life. I’ve been delaying this book.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: I’m curious now. Really.
David Campbell: So the title of the book is Dear Senthuran? And who’s the author?
Wacera Njagi: Akwaeke Emezi. Okay, I can only type to you.
David Campbell: It’s ok. I’ll put it in the chat for everyone.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: I think it is going to everyone. I’m not sure. I think it is. Is it?
David Campbell: It is now.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: And another question is, are there ways? Hello, all, are there ways to collaborate or do some online training for free? For free. I would like to learn more about photo editing part of the selecting the photos. Yeah, that’s a very, I think a lot of people would like to learn more about selecting photos. Do you see that question coming in from Simona? It might be geared for VII, but it might also be towards you or? Oh, there we go.
David Campbell: So do the, Wacera, did The Everyday Projects do training of any sort and is editing part of that training?
Wacera Njagi: So we have education program, education programming, and one of our offerings includes the essentials. These are free photography classes and they’re open to emerging and working photojournalists across the world. So I’m going to share a link. We don’t have a photo editing lesson class yet, but now that you’ve shared with me, I can take this feedback for the next iteration. Maybe that will be something we could cover. So I can share the link for the essentials. It has other classes around how to pitch a story. Let me just find it.
David Campbell: This is a question we’ve asked other editors and most other editors have reached their position without formal training in editing. They’ve come through journalism or photography itself and made a selection and I think that’s a fascinating thing, actually. That’s such an important position. Not that everything has to have a you know, formal training behind it, but that just the ability to be in a workshop and learn about certain things doesn’t always happen with editing.
Wacera Njagi: That’s true, um, for me, my learning of photo editing comes very much on a project basis. So taking, to be honest, learning through, learning about color theory, learning about composition, all those things are very, you know, technique, that’s something you can easily learn off of YouTube. I feel like I would never be the one to trick you into a Harvard course that has a big price tag. Many of the techniques you can learn off YouTube and for example, on VII and on these different webinars, for example, LensFest has Photoville, Everyday Projects, Women Photograph. There are organizations across the photographic industry that are working to making these resources free. And also please just do your projects. Just take a, take a photo, take a bad photo and start playing around with color theory. Check in a 15 minutes video, YouTube video and just try. It’s very touch and go because it’s very visual. Like I feel like it’s hard to teach someone how to sketch, like, even sketch a drawing until they touch paper and to touch the pen to the paper. So as much as you can learn the technique, you have to, it’s very project based, just like coding, I guess.
David Campbell: Ilvy, so I’ll turn the question to you. Have you ever learnt formally about editing? Or is it something that you learn in the process of working?
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: I learned in the process of working and it’s very— in a way I would have loved to learn it from someone. But what I do notice now is that everyone has their own tricks and ways of editing. What I did learn actually—Oh, that’s one question I wanted to ask you as well actually. What I did learn throughout the years is that I prefer editing with prints. I used to do everything on my computer. But when it really came down to making a book, I realized, okay, I need this to be printed, and spread them out in my apartment on the floor, on the table. And that’s a better way to make edits for me personally. And that’s something I found out quite late into my career because when I started photojournalism school, all the editing was on my laptop. So that’s one thing I learned. So how do you do that? Do you print things as well? Or do you go on laptop? Or maybe depends on what you’re editing for.
Wacera Njagi: The last time I printed paper was for government purposes. I think it’s not environmentally friendly. But I also— I’m not like recycled gorgeous, I should not be judging anyone’s environmental practices. I’m very much a laptop guy. Like, I have my Adobe Creative Cloud on deck and also my phone. So everything is synced up to my like millennial, like hunchback.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: To be honest, when I do day-to-day assignments, of course, or short stories, I always work on my laptop, people are always amazed. I’m on a 13 inch and they’re like why are you on such a small screen, but all fine. But when I edit it for my book, I realized oh, it kind of gave me another view of how the image looks on the ground. But to be honest, I think it would be great if there would be more editing workshops or learning from others that actually if it’s YouTube or a real person doesn’t really matter. But just to learn more about it, I think is would be great.
David Campbell: Yeah, yeah, we’re coming towards the end of our time, but if anyone in the audience wants to drop a quick question in, do so. This is the last chance to get those. I think it’s been an incredible discussion so far. It’s really interesting to hear that Everyday Africa perspective how many photographers are in the collective at the moment is a growing and what do you see as the future for Everyday Africa?
Wacera Njagi: Um, so the collective currently has 43 members and it’s growing through the African photojournalism database, which is, as I mentioned earlier, the collective built out by Everyday Africa, and World Press Photo Foundation. We are, we are very much encouraging and welcoming young African voices to the platform and searching for them. And so excited to talk to them every week. It’s so different to listen to 22 year olds. They’ve done photography, in their dreams right now and comparing, I’m not 22 years old anymore. So they, it’s interesting to listen to excitement and hope. And where we are, our goal is to make sure that we see young people share their identity, their culture, what they are fighting for around social justice, climate change, migration, and all these very big topics that can be broken down into everyday moments. We want to see all of them. We want to see as many of them being pitched, help people pitching, and us accepting them, publishing them. Because I guess, as I mentioned earlier, the beauty of the internet is we can all, we all it has space for all of us.
David Campbell. Yeah. Well, that’s fantastic. Wacera, it’s been fantastic having you with us. Thank you very much for for your time. I want to thank everyone in the audience for their time and questions. Ted has just dropped a quick comment in and Ilvy, I’m hoping you can read that.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: I’m reading. I took a workshop some years back with Ron Haviv and Gary Knight. Aside from shooting assignments and critiques, the emphasis on ethics and business side was worth every penny. And it was an investment that continues to pay dividends with invaluable insights on VII Insider and reading image reflections on peace was a look into reality of brokering peace, something that needs attention now. Yeah. Thanks, Ted. Beautiful. Thank you.
David Campbell: Yeah. But yeah, so once again, thank you, Wacera. It’s fantastic having you with us. Thanks for your time. And yeah, we’ll look forward to continuing the conversation. I look forward to seeing what Everyday Africa is doing because I think it is one of the most significant platforms on the web. So thank you very much.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: Good luck with everything.
David Campbell: Okay.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien: Thank you. Thanks, Wacera.
Wacera Njagi: Bye.