Category: Articles

Changes

These weeks I have been living a thrilling process in my personal and professional life. This  second one consists in my new paid position as a Co-producer at World Press Photo. Reporting to the Senior Editor Online at the Communication Department, concretely in the Academy Partnership Programs. I collaborate to create multimedia content for publication on a website with around three million annual visitors and social media channels with an organically grown audience of more than a quarter of a million fans all over the world.  My main functions are:

  • Coordinate agendas, troubleshooting and decision-making at the online meetings
  • Design and conduct interviews
  • Co-write scripts
  • Travel
  • Shoot video / photo of workshop participants
  • Video edition and post production

world press photo

I am so grateful for having the privilege to choose the last opportunities in my career as a Producer and Visual Journalist. I chose the Agency Noor images before, and WPP Organisation now. I do it by inner resonance. Criteria that goes far beyond the logical thinking.The difference between both methods is that the first one requires to be in extreme coherence with your true self, while the second one only requires the mind. I believe is important to experience this identification with the self in your work. Is when it becomes your vocation, so you can enjoy the most of it. Like an obsessive maniac.

I couldn’t be prouder of being part of a team that defends this statement, also my living mantra:

“We inspire understanding of the world through quality photojournalism”

This philosophy is what makes possible to raise empathy all over the world. Empathy is the main force to create social consciousness. Without empathy, you are alone or you just can pretend you are not, through others. But at the end, the result will always be isolation.

And this brings me to the main value of photojournalism, the truth. Because empathy is a simple and intuitive way to share the truth.  I heard somewhere a while ago, that “the truth is what cuts us, and puts us back up, and separates the things that look the same.” The ones who choose to pretend and the ones who choose to face it. Photojournalism, which should show the truth itself, is like the genuine love, you can’t fight it off, you just can’t.

Changes are a necessary condition for new opportunities. They create unexpected situations sometimes. Have you ever felt the fear for a situation to arrive and, once the moment of facing it becomes an inevitable choice, it results to be the best thing it could ever happen? (That’s the personal part of the thrilling process) The result, deep satisfaction.

Resilience.

It implies a new perspective. A new level of consciousness. With the change, one is able to see from a place that couldn’t before. Et voilà! All those amazing blind opportunities from before, appear clearly right in front of you.

And then, as Socrates said:

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old but on building the new.”

Fail matters

This month I have applied for two grants in Catalonia. The reason is that, even I love to live in other countries, I would like to conjugate my passion and profession as a visual journalist with the experience of living in my country. Come back home for a big opportunity, at least for a time. But wasn’t possible. One of the grants was the Fellowship with one of the most important press in Spain, La Vanguardia, organized by La Caixa, the Youth Department of Generalitat de Catalunya and the Photography Department of La Vanguardia press. The grant consists in 5,000€ and an Internship working part time at La Vanguardia for a year.

 

 

la-vanguardia

 

The application process is a regular one, consists in filling the application form, a project of 5 photos with its statement, the curriculum vitae and wait. The email saying that I was between the 5 finalists arrived, like the last year. In that case, though, the jury decided the winner directly and four more finalists, I was the first of them. This year the jury presented the 5 finalists who had to pass an interview round first to decide who was the winner. This process involved a punctuation system up to 120 points. The first 100 ones were calculated from the project and the rest 20 were punctuated after the interview, which was made by six people, two from each organization that participates in the grant. My mark was 110 out of 120 (95 from the project and 15 from the interview), the winner mark was 113. So my position wasn’t the winner by the whisker. Again. I think that the criteria that affected more to the jury was to have some previous experience in the edition world and the edition of the two secondary projects we had to show at the interview. Honestly, I think that the 5 points that I didn’t make in the project rating were because of the subject I chose. Monk kids in Nepal, a recurrent issue. Nevertheless, the jury considered that the composition and quality of my photos and my profile worth a chance. In regards to the interview (15 out of 20 points) I believe that the edition failed, the projects showed the reality of Rroma community in Romania and the homelessness situation in Colorado (US). I haven’t shot much in Barcelona recently so I couldn’t show any local issue, maybe that could help? Also, my lack of detail about the experience at Noor didn’t make shine my editing skills. And maybe Journalist has more chances than a Sociologist in this case.

 

This is the selection showed to the jury:

Project applied:

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Secondary projects presnted at the interview:

Portrait serie:

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Anyways and despite the intrinsic frustration of second positions, I am glad to have tried it. To have the self-demanding and self-confidence to believe in what I do, and that it can be recognized out there. The main conclusion extracted from this year’s experiences so far (2nd in two categories in Clic Grant, photo and fellowship) is that my name appears everywhere I apply for, as one of the best works presented. It just needs to be pushed a liiiittle harder, another twist.
This recognition gives me force to keep trying with perseverance and more intensity than ever, in and out of Catalonia, to end up working as a visual journalist for a living. A quality and independent journalism. With passion, strategy, vision and all my heart. To see this as an excuse to think even bigger and work harder to have the chance to be published all over the world and to accept the challenge to keep trusting myself and to produce, shoot, edit and make public stories about unknown heroes which need telling.

 

_CATALÀ_

Fallar importa
Finalista Beca a La Vanguardia

 

Aquest mes m’he presentat a dos premis a Catalunya. El motiu és que m’agradaria poder conjugar la meva professió com a periodista visual amb el fet de viure al meu país. Tornar a casa per una bona oportunitat, com a mínim per un temps. Però no ha pogut ser. Un d’ells era La Beca Connecta’t a la Fotografia de La Caixa, Departament de Joventut de la Generalitat i La Vanguardia. Aquest consisteix en 5,000 € i un any treballant mitja jornada a la redacció del diari La Vanguardia (sense sou). Potser si li comentes això a un americà et dirà que no és un premi que és un sou extremadament baix per un període massa extens de temps treballant en pobres condicions. Aquí a Catalunya ho veiem com la gran oportunitat de formar part d’un dels grans.

 

El procés d’aplicació és l’habitual, consisteix en omplenar una aplicació, un projecte a exposar (5 fotografies) juntament amb la sinòpsis, enviar el currículum i esperar. El email que havia quedat entre les 5 finalistes va arribar, com l’any passat. En aquell cas però, van decidir guanyador directament i 4 finalistes més, jo n’era la primera. Enguany van presentar els 5 finalistes i feien ronda d’entrevistes per decidir el guanyador/a. Consitia en una escala de puntuació de 120 punts. Els primers 100 es decidien segons el treball presentat i la resta de 20 punts a l’entrevista. Aquesta es va realitzar als 5 participants durant dos matins. Un grup de 6 persones et reben, 2 del departament d’Edició de La Vanguardia, 2 del Departament de Joventut i 2 de la Caixa. La meva puntuació va ser de 110 punts (95 del treball entregat i 15 de l’entrevista). La puntuació guanyadora va ser de 113.
Axí doncs, el resultat ha estat per pèls de nou. Penso que els criteris que van infuenciar més vàren ser el fet de experiència professional en el món de l’edició anteriorment i l’edició dels projectes secundaris que calia presentar a l’entrevista. Honestament crec que els 5 punts que em van faltar en l’entrega del projecte vàren ser deguts a la temàtica escollida nens monjos a Nepal, prou recurrent enguany. No obstant, el jurat va considear que la composició i qualitat de les mves fotos i el meu perfil professional mereixien una oportunitat. Pel que fa a l’entrevista (15 de 20 punts), crec que l’edició va tornar a fallar, els projectes presentats parlaven sobre la comunitat gitana a Romania i les persones sense sostre a Denver. En cap cas podia presentar feina disparada a Barcelona, potser quelcom que s’hagués valorat, potser no. També la manca de detall sobre la meva experiencia amb Noor no va fer brillar prou les meva experiència previa com a editora. També crec que unaPeriodista té mes possibilitats que una Sociòloga en aquest cas.

 

De totes maneres i malgrat la frustració intrínsica de les segones posicions, me n’alegro d’haver-ho intentat. D’haver-me exigit fer-ho i de tenir la confiança suficient per creure que el que faig pot ser reconegut. La lectura que faig del resultat d’aquesta beca i d’altres com el Clic és que apareixo a tot arreu on em presento, el meu nom és allà, i és reconegut. Em falta uuuuuuuna mica més una volta més. El seguir disparant temàtiques que responguin els criteris adequats, amb coherencia i valor en el missatge. Amb una edició més acurada, probablement demanant ajuda a col·legues que em donin una segona opinió, una visió fresca de la meva feina. El reconeixement em dona ànims per seguir endavant amb perseverància i més intensitat que mai, en aquest país i fora, per acabar dedicant-me professionalment i de cor al que és la meva passió, el periodisme visual d’alta qualitat i independent.
I potser, aprofitar l’avinentesa per pensar en més gran encara, i treballar dur la possibilitat d’ésser publicada en revistes i premsa arreu del món i acceptar el repte de seguir confiant en mi i seguir produint, disparant, editant i fent públiques històries d’herois desconeguts, que valen la pena ser explicades.

1st Finalist “Young Photojournalism” and “Scholarship” CLIC 2015 (Visa OFF Festival)

To be the 1st Finalist in two of the three categories makes me feel recognized and also makes me think a lot. What is that I have to improve to be the one? The idea, the subject, the edition, the quality of the photos, the geographical area that I have chosen?
I find pretty challenging to choose only 4 shots that explain a reality with a deep look, is such a tough process in terms of edition.

Dharma explains the dialog existent between two distant realities that seek each other organically in Nepal. On the one hand, the daily life of children monks in the Monastery of Khawalung in Kapaa area of Kathmandu. On the other hand, the reality of the children in the rural areas of the Himalayas, who have to work and often miss school, thus increasing the children labor rates of the country. Following the Buddhist value of the universal order, Dharma, those kids who have grown in the Monasteries, privileged ones for having received education and protection, go back to their native villages with the goal of building new schools with modern education. Then, the next generation won’t have to leave their families looking for a better future and will be able to improve the lifestyle in the mountains. A right that they never had.

Here are the photos presented:

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Personally I think that one has to observe and analyze pretty well the winners of other editions and have a clear idea of what the jury of a prize is looking for. I don’t think was a problem of quality nor style but of the subject and the geographic region. I did doubt a lot about the subject. To be honest, how not to be repetitive talking about Nepal? Mainly this year. Maybe transgender was a better bet for this grant. Maybe Spain a better region to talk about. However, I recommend presenting your works to grants and scholarships as much as you can. Gives oneself consistency, setting goals and self-exigency.

Chisapani

Thanks to the jury, the organisation and the rest of awarded participants! CLIC 2015

CAPTIONS:

1. Once a month, monks shave as as a symbol of liberation to any attachment and to reaffirm the vow they made entering at the Monastery.
2. The monks of Khawalung have Enlgish class 4 hours a week, sometimes they watch English movies with Nepali subtitles.
3. Choying Dorjee (25) is a member of Khawalung, he is going to Gisapani, a 8 hours trekking village from Kathmandu. He collaborates in an educational program for poor children.
4. Ashish (8), is from Gisapani, he doesn’t go to school because has to help his widowed dad to work on the field and at home.

Work with Noor in Visa pour l’Image 2014

My work for Noor at Visa Pour l’Image, some shots of  Sebastian Liste’s presentation about his work “On the Inside: Venezuelan prisons under inmate control

Vista Hermosa is a notorious prison in Venezuela. With violence plaguing the country, there are more and more prisoners, and more clashes between prisoners and guards. The authorities have made no attempt to improve conditions, and have let the situation degenerate into near chaos. National Guards patrol outside the walls, while the inmates live and die in a world of their own making on the inside.

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Sebastián explained, “For several months I met with people that would take me directly to the leaders who control the prisons. These people control all movement in the prison and their consent was totally necessary to enter their realm and achieve my goal: to introduce myself for several days into the daily life of this strange prison led by the prisoners. I was aware of the danger of the situation but it was the only way of documenting this hidden reality.”

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The exhibition runs from the 30th of August until the 14th of September in the Couvent des Minimes in Perpignan (France).

Original article: Noor website

text: © Noor

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photos: © Lena Prieto

 

Exhibition at the Fuel Cafe and Denver streets

I would like to thank the NGO The Wonderbound for their great job printing the photos (31.5″ x 23.6″) of my serie “Insane”. A result of a performance I organized with dancers and homeless people the last February on the streets of Denver (CO). The result of this work is being exhibited for almost two months in the Fuel Cafe in Denver. You still can visit it there. And not for long time because the exhibition is moving to the streets of Denver! Public spaces for solidarity causes. The photos will be exhibit outside the walls of The Wonderbound in the main center of Five Points neighborhood next week.

The inauguration coincided with a fundraising event for the Contemporary Dance NGO. I would also like to express my admiration to the dancers to be so open minded and have a great attitude with all their neighbors, mainly vagabonds, who spend hours and hours walking down those streets stopping right in front of their building very attracted to their art. Is easy to see members from the Dance Organization sharing breaks with a group of homeless people out on the street while smoking some cigarettes and having nice time.

THE CREATIVE PROCESS
The Dance NGO is located in a very cool basement with huge windows facing the Park Av. just in front of the Denver Rescue Mission shelter and sharing block with the Saint Francis Center. I was walking down the streets of an extremely frozen Denver evening (0º Fahrenheit not Celsius!), just after having had interviews with some users of Saint Francis, when I saw those brightly windows and beautiful dancers moving and almost flying very smoothly. I couldn’t separate my fascinated face from those windows. I was cleaning the mist every five seconds. Was wonderful! The trainer laughed of my reaction and invited me to enter. Once inside, I took some shots and I kept them in my mind for the following hours. The same night, in that moment when one is between two worlds, just trespassing the border between consciousness and subconsciousness, I opened my eyes very excited and experimented the sweet taste of a great idea. I wrote it down in my note book and went back to sleep with a big smile. The note: “Performance with dancers and homeless people on the streets of Denver”. I would like to add that my idea was already a need. Is something usual to see homeless people watching with huge eyes through those windows, as I did. So I just made possible a process that was natural itself through my photography. Another example of this existent dialog between homelessness and art is the Reach Studio project from the Redline Gallery.

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music”

THE IDEA
Insane is just a serie of a bigger project I am working on. The idea is to show the dialog between different groups that cohabit in the block between Park Av. / Curtis St. / Arapahoe St. and 24th St. at Denver, CO. This area is formed for the two main shelters for homeless people in the city, the Redline Gallery, The Wonderbound, one of the main spots for drug dealers and Ruth, a very nice and sharp old women of 102 years old, who I had the pleasure to meet few months ago and the last neighbor that actually lives in the block with her family. She has resisted every single change in the area since more than 60 years ago. By then, more houses formed the block and also the restaurant of her parents, that was located in the intersection Park Av, Broadway and Arapahoe St, where she spent a long time working as a waitress.

portrait
mappuppy
believer
nu

All of them, artists, homeless people, workers, drug addicts /dealers and neighbors come from very different worlds, live in different social status, have different nationalities and share the same space in the city. This project pretends to document their lives from a very close and honest look, by sharing time and experiences with each one of them, making some projects possible through art and creativity. Also showing their opinions about these days and history of the neighborhood.

I love to cross visible walls and invisible borders. I believe in the close look and time shared with the people I talk about.  I enter in their shelters, in their houses, in their daily dramas and happy moments. Somehow, also in their lives and learn from their experiences and their perception of the world.

5thoughts

 

OjodePez Photo Meeting Barcelona is an international photography meeting organised by La Fábrica and La Virreina Image Center inspired by OjodePez magazine.

The meeting aims to spark dialogue and debate between specialistsphotographers and participants with an interest in documentary photography.

photomeeting ojodepez

 

planet of apes

I reaffirmed this idea listening the master class of Joan Fontcuberta. He made an accurate reflection about the work in process of different artists that are exploring what, no more than a decade ago, was called a “copia disconforme”. In English would be something like not being agree with the result of a developed (film) photography, usually because of  a technical problem from the Laboratory. Fontcuberta used that analogy to present works where the lack of quality in the images was the main characteristic or the style of the projects. A good example is the Coca Cola campaign called “Let’s look at the world a little differently”

 

 

photomeeting ojodepez2

 

“Here is the funny thing about Photography. Sometimes, just occasionally, someone at the photograph look at the viewer and it works! And this is the case whether the look… looks! That’s the mystery of photography, that’s why I am so excited about being a photographer. You never quite know how you are gonna get a good picture.” Martin Parr

martin parr

 

And after listening that, I found myself with this photo (right) and of course, I shot it 😉

socks and sandals tribute

Martin Parr                                                                        Lena Prieto

 

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Who decides where the Magazine will be sold is the distributor not the Graphic Editors. These ones like Mauro Bedoni (COLORS), Erik Vroons (GUP), Andreas Müller Pohle (European Photography) or Arianna Rinaldo (Ojodepez), who know really well which is their target and have a great vision, don’t know where their printed editions are gonna be sold. Is so common though, that the potential customers ask where they can buy the new number and the editors just don’t know what to answer. That doesn’t make any sense to me if, after all that work defining which is their tendency or style, they can not even decide to offer the Magazine to the profile of customer who can be actually interested.  So, they not only  lose those customers who are already interested, but those ones who could be their new demand. Maybe it is just a symptom that the printed editions are in decline.

colors

COLORS Magazine

 

004PHOTOMEETING OJODEPEZ

 

I felt completely identify with Martin Kollar talking about his work in progress and his future projects. We are agree in the opinion that having a clear idea of what one wants to show is crucial to have a good result. One must knows what wants to show and visualize it somehow before to shoot it.

But that doesn’t mean that one knows clearly which the result will be. Furthermore, if  the result of your work is exactly the same as you imagined from the beginning, you probably have been limiting the creative process and also being dishonest with the reality you have been surrounded by. Is also a humble attitude to let the reality to surprise yourself more than to find in the reality whatever you want to defend in your work. Letting flow the view as who you are more than the mind following your ideas of what you want to get. This process is probably much more enriching, not just as a photographer but as a human being.

martin kollar

 

 

“My experience tells me that when I think in the next project is always different of what it’s gonna be. The next thing I am going to do is just imagination and it ends up being something different. I mean, I don’t know how is it for other people but to me is a very strange  combination between knowing perfectly what I want, how is gonna looks like and not really knowing what will be. What I do in the future is kind of correcting what I failed in the previous works. So is a kind of a continuation while I’m starting something new.” Martin Kollar

 

005

 

Maybe sounds obvious but I use to see a lot of people, include myself sometimes, trying to find THE PROJECT, THE IDEA. That thought that comes from outside. I mean, it is a result of wondering what the Magazines, The Contests, the buyers and the people in general is gonna like. What’s original or unseen. I really believe that this logic can works sometimes, but not in long term. Even talking about photojournalism (where ones must be loyal to the truth itself) one must  focus in something that makes vibrate oneself. In other words, the cause to make that “click” has to be meaningful for the photographer. Even shooting an empty white room.

Then I listen Stanislas Guigui and I find the answer. Basically, he doesn’t give a shit about what the public likes or not. At least, less than others. He somehow, is talking about himself. The empathy that he has with the subjects he photographs takes his documentary to another level. The way he looks and connect with them is authentic because is like the air he breathes, they both need each other.

guigui

Guigui shares life with the people who takes photos of. They are part of his life. He never disconnects. His photography is who he is. He is not even trying to change the world or anything that naif. He needs to give voice and visibility to the people who used to be labeled as “marginal or different”.

Following that idea, I remember another thought from Fontcuberta: to be a good photographer you must be an obsessed person, and follow that obsession to the limits of the illness. Then, doesn’t really matter if you are talking about gypsies in Romania or a pot with flowers. You’ll be at least, more interesting than the rest who are just “Trying to find”. You “have already found”. The extreme of that could be Diana Arbus, and I also think that sometimes, limits are good to be respected.

 

Check the comment of Stanislas Guigui 🙂

 

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