Maggie Steber
Photography: Daring to See the World in a New Way

Session Two - June 19-25, 2016

Praying Over the Land

Course Description

This workshop is about visual storytelling in a new way. What story a participant wants to tell is up to the individual. The main purpose of telling a story in one week, whatever shape it takes, is meant to hone skills and give participants a new way to see the world, or to re-see it, if you will. We will also concentrate on finding new approaches to stories and ideas that have been photographed repeatedly, to think outside the box on how we photograph these ideas. This is the most important thing you will take away from this workshop. Don’t think of storytelling in the traditional way in terms of subject: we want to think outside the box.

We look at things every day but we don't always see them. When we focus our cameras on something, be it an object, idea, or issue, we begin to see it for the first time, or to re-see it instead of just looking at it. In our world, one billion photos are taken each day: we suffer from photographic overload, a collective visual fatigue even among a vibrant array of venues and greater opportunities for sharing photos. The big challenge is to show people something they haven’t seen before – a new approach to an old issue or idea that won’t go away. These are the two big goals for this workshop.

Participants can come with ideas, or we will brainstorm about what interests you and what you hope to accomplish. You may continue to work on projects already in progress, or produce a five-day series that would address some of the challenges you face in augmenting your storytelling abilities. The workshop will include 1:1 discussions about editing and sequencing, and in-class exercises in putting work together. Participants may bring a portfolio of work for review and discussion.

All visual approaches may be incorporated: documentary style, portrait style, or a more conceptual interpretive style. This is your chance to break out of what you think makes a good photograph or what is expected of you as a photographer, whether you are a professional, student, or enthusiast. We will look at examples of contemporary photography and sometimes more personal approaches that have made storytelling more intriguing and liberated from traditional visual ideas.

Experience with your camera is necessary to be successful in this class.

FIRST CLASS DAY:

On our first day we will look at the work of a variety of photographers in both the documentary world and the art world whose styles you might want to apply this week to your own work. I will also show my work. Participants should bring 10 to 15 images of their own which we will review as a class. In these images, I’m looking for how you shoot and what you find interesting so I can decide how to be of the most assistance to you during the week. We will discuss ideas and focus them. Focusing an idea is one of the hardest things to do, and this will be a helpful lesson.

The remaining days will be spent shooting photos, coming to class to edit them, and discussing your progress and what might come next. We will probably meet in the mornings but we can set a firmer schedule day to day depending on the needs of the participants. We will also try to find time to discuss the business aspects of photography if there is interest. You do a project and then what??? Aha! State secrets will be revealed!

If any participants are working on longer term projects, please bring them for me to review with you.

Artist's Biography
Maggie Steber is a documentary photographer known for her humanistic stories of and cultures. She is a National Geographic Woman of Vision and has worked in 66 countries, producing cultural stories as well as significant work on Haiti, Native Americans, and the sciences of sleep and memory loss. She has photographed for 30 years in Haiti. Aperture published her monograph entitled DANCING ON FIRE: Photographs from Haiti.

Steber’s photographs are included in the Library of Congress. She was Assistant Managing Editor for Photography and Features at The Miami Herald from 1999-2003 and has served as judge on many competition and grant panels, including the Pulitzer Prize Committee for Photography for 2015. She regularly teaches workshops at the World Press Photo Master Classes in Amsterdam, the Foundry Workshop, LOOK3 Photo Festival, Bursa Photo Festival in Turkey, and the LeicaAkademieUSA. Clients include National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times, Smithsonian, The New Yorker, and many American and European publications

Honors Include
  • Leica Medal of Excellence
  • The Overseas Press Club’s Rebbot Award for Best Reporting from Abroad
  • Medal of Honor for her Contribution to Journalism from the University of Missouri
  • First Prize in World Press Photo
  • First Prize in World Press Photo and Pictures of the Year
  • The Ernst Haas Grant
  • The Alicia Patterson Grant
  • The Knight Foundation Grant

Artist's Statement
I love to tell stories and I’m interested in telling them in all sorts of ways. My work is mainly documentary in style and you can see this work in National Geographic Magazine and in my 30 years of working in Haiti, along with a long project I did on my mother’s memory loss. (see www.maggiesteber.com).

I’m fascinated by exploring new visual ways to tell stories. I think we are at the precipice of a sea change, a shift in the paradigm, in how that is being done, no matter what the project, the story, the issue, or the form the story takes. I am fascinated, too, by how everyone looks through a frame, no matter what it is on, and sees something different. It’s mind blowing!

Of late, I’ve been working on a long-term project called the Dark Side, and I’m having so much fun with it because it is wide open and free without expectations from others or rules to which I must adhere. You can see a small bit of this work on my website under The Secret Garden of Lily LaPalma at the very bottom of the menu.

Photographing is a privilege. It gives us everything, including a new way to consider things. I believe it can save us. It opens a door for us to enter the lives of people whom we might not otherwise know, go to places we might not otherwise see, experience life in a way we might not otherwise be able to. It’s exciting and exhausting and bewitching and demanding. It is a universal language and with it, we can begin to understand one another a bit better.

I adore looking at other peoples’ photographs. In them I can see all kinds of possibilities for the work and the stories behind the photographs, which is the most intriguing thing to me. I love the intimacy of teaching workshops: for me they are like a short sweet intense love affair. The reasons I teach are to see new work, to meet new people, to encourage, and to be inspired.

I have been a picture editor and a Director of Photography at a major American newspaper (The Miami Herald). I have published 2 books of my own and my work has been featured in a myriad of books and museum collections. I have taught all over the world. I have covered everything from war to fashion, but mostly I have told cultural stories on countries, and people, and even my own life. I have worked largely in magazines but also exhibited worldwide. I have served as judge on many grant panels and international competitions. I have received some really nice honors – but I’m a big believer in keeping my ego in my back pocket where I can sit on it.

Artist's Website: www.maggiesteber.com/main.html

Supply List
Participants must own their own cameras and bring them to this class.


Cree Girls Swimming


Philomene


Mother's Funeral


Elly in a Sea of Memories


Madje's Happy Birthday


Madje Sleeps


Breakfast in Bed


Madje Sits for a Portrait


Morning Bath


Nightmare


Maggie Steber

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