Review: Human Stories: Finding the Personal

Still from Betty Laura Zapata's project during the workshop "Human Stories". Helmuth and Juana get ready to go out on Oct. 5, 2019 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Helmuth is a member of the Shanty chorus in Rotterdam. He attends and participates in the choir every Tuesday. Juana regularly accompanies Helmuth to his performances when feeling in good health. ©Betty Laura Zapata

Telling personal stories and connecting with the human element is what draws many people into photography in the first place, but telling personal stories can be difficult. In this workshop, students strengthened their personal visions and worked on an ongoing or new project. They shared their work in intimate sessions and learned about the many new ways that they can tell visual stories using the new means they have at their disposal, including photography, motion, and sound. There were both individual and group critiques of student work, and students also had the opportunity to get feedback on other ongoing projects they were working on.

The workshop emphasized helping students develop their personal vision and unique styles. As Ed Kashi and Ilvy Njiokiktjien both specialize in telling human stories, they shared with students their own unique visual styles and approaches. They showed examples of many personal projects, commissions for NGOs and foundations, and their editorial work for major publications, and reviewed photographs, multimedia, and short films.

Guest lecturer Evelien Kunst enriched the students’ experience by sharing her brilliant overview of how to make it and survive as a freelance photographer. The class also got a chance to experience the Dutch book event, “Fotodok Book Club”, where international photo books were presented by their authors. The event included tutor Ilvy’s discussion and Q&A session of her new book, “Born Free”, based on her based on her South Africa work. Betty Laura Zapata and Irynka Hromotska received scholarships sponsored by the VII Academy to participate in this workshop.

View a selection of images created during the workshop by our scholarship recipients below.

Betty Laura Zapata

Helmuth Tjemmes (75) and Juana Ider (76) are recent partners. They met each other one-and-a-half years ago and they are now inseparable.

Helmuth joined a dating website to find companionship after having been a widower for several years. A friend of Juana saw his online profile and recommended that she get in touch with him. Juana was also widowed a long time ago and was feeling lonely. The day they met, he cooked for her and they immediately felt attracted towards each other.

They were both very hard-working and active people. Helmuth is a retired engineer and Juana worked for years on an agricultural potato production line and then as a hotel housekeeping maid. Their lives are now shaped by a peaceful routine together.

Irynka Hromotska

Home away from home

Irynka writes: Both of my main heroines were not born in the Netherlands. Sandra is from sunny Curaçao and Zami was born in Cape Verde. But life is unpredictable. Both of them ended up living in Rotterdam and working at the same charity organization. Far away from their families and communities, both women often feel lonely. However, they both try to find joy in everyday life: work, meeting with friends, and memories. They try to make it feel like home far away from home.

Partner: VII Photo

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