Prints For Prints: Afar, Ethiopia

Earlier this year while I was on assignment for an NGO based in Mekele, Ethiopia, I had the unique opportunity of visiting the incredible landscape of the Danakil Depression along with my colleague, Dardinelle Troen, and two employees of Mekele University.

Danakil Depression

For us, it was an epiphany to stumble upon this unbelievable and yet relatively undiscovered corner of the world. Everything was unexpected: the place, it’s unique geology and landscape, the people and their unique way of life. One highlight was our encounter with a mile-long camel caravan led by salt miners on their way to harvest salt from the vast salt pan we found ourselves driving across. I imagined these men traversing the same well-worn paths traveled historically for countless centuries dating back to the pharaohs.

Camels

While visiting this area, and as an excuse for making a personal connection, we stopped to take a few instant print photos of the men as they passed by, gifting them the print in exchange for a moment of interaction. Their excitement and appreciation reinforced enthusiasm for one of my personal projects, Prints For Prints.

Danakil Salt Workers

In 2013, I founded Prints For Prints, a volunteer organization that brings photographers and equipment to remote corners of the world to set up portable photo studios. A family photograph is a precious thing to many of us, and especially so to people who live in remote areas. Often in areas so far away, they do not have a record of their children, their elders or even themselves. We feel strongly that a photographic print is a wonderful way for loved ones to remember each other, whether they have passed from this life or are thousands of miles away carrying salt to Somalia. Our purpose is to create a physical keepsake that documents and preserves a moment in time to be shared and remembered, and passed to future generations.

Moroccan hands

As we’ve learned time and again in our journeys, contained within the portrait process is an opportunity to make a personal connection. In the course of capturing a picture, we shared an intimate moment exchanging glimpses into each other’s hearts and inner psyches. Warmth, humor, vulnerability, and sorrow all expressed in an instant.

This aspect was reinforced again during our brief time in the Danakil. It was a bit intimidating when we approached the salt miners in their caravan; they seemed rather intense and brooding. Even after overcoming the language barrier and agreeing to have their pictures taken, they still each gave a purposeful grimace when they stood for their portraits. It only struck us after a few moments that it was partly swagger as we watched each person being cajoled by his traveling mate as they each shared their small mementos with each other. This gesture opened the gates of wishes, and we were asked by many others to make more prints.

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In every venture of Prints For Prints, we always find ourselves drawing a crowd. Many times we find ourselves surrounded by burgeoning local photographers seeking to advance their skills. We make the most of these opportunities by making space in our process providing educational mentoring, either one-on-one with individuals or through partnerships with local schools, and we include students in our field photographs. We hope this opportunity to pass on our photographic expertise to a local community will sow the seeds for a developing photographic industry, as the passion for the craft is very apparent.

Prints For Prints Ethiopia

While experiencing this remote region and its natural beauty and seeing the salt miners’ joy upon receiving their instant print, we realized that there is a larger potential for storytelling here. Up until now, Prints For Prints’ primary focus has been connecting photographers to their subjects and leaving behind high-quality prints and the intellectual tools and inspiration for a continued photographic industry.

But there is more substantial potential as a vehicle for authentic exploration and storytelling of the area and bringing these stories to a larger audience. In a world struggling with a rise in polarization and nationalism, there is a need for a greater inclusiveness that celebrates our diversity and perhaps redefines our preconceptions of “others.” Making an intimate human connection in the same way a photographer connects to their subject in the process of making a portrait is a way to cross cultural divides.

Prints For Prints Ethiopia

We envision the Prints For Prints expedition as a vehicle for an authentic exploration of a locale by getting to know its people on a more intimate level while finding and documenting the anecdotes and rich stories that inform their life experiences along with those “1000 words” imbued in their portrait. Creating cohesive documentation in beautiful images, stories, and video can then be re-purposed in a variety of platforms: print, publications and social media to bring awareness, tourism, and commerce to the area.

Photographing each subject against a portable backdrop, we intend to create portraits as they hold artifacts they bring with them on their nomadic journey.

Prints For Prints Ethiopia

We are seeking support via project sponsorship or monetary coverage/discounts of expenses. In exchange, we will be promoting the experience and story, in traditional publications and social media platforms. The resulting photographic assets, videos and written stories will be available for sponsors to use for their marketing and promotions, as applicable.

Through our work with organizations such as Travel Oregon, we have repeatedly seen how this process results in success in reaching a targeted, diverse audience. Travel Oregon depends heavily on image based promotions to draw in tourism from around the state and region each year.

For further information about our experiences with Prints For Prints, please visit our website at www.printsforprints.com. We welcome any questions regarding our process, past experiences and budgets for upcoming project work.

Should funding or service donations be secured, our next proposed trip will be to return to the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia in February of 2018 to give those salt workers the photo prints they asked for, as well as some much desired sunglasses that have been collected by people living in a small assisted living home in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Seaside Stichers

(Seaside Stichers, photo by Mary Luther, Activities Coordinator)

 

If you would like to donate in-kind goods, airline miles, accommodations, transportation, translation services or financial support, please contact us by sending us an email or donating directly on our Prints For Prints donation page.

We appreciate any level of support!

Prints For Prints Ethiopia

You can see more images from this location in the Afar region of Ethiopia in my stock image database here. This project will also extend my earlier Market Workers project, celebrating those behind the developing world culinary scenes who bring spice and other delectable tastes into our lives.

Thank you for considering any level of involvement and support!

The Market Workers Book

Workshop: Environmental Portraiture

My Environmental Portrait workshops are up and running in the John Day River Territory, where I am spending more and more time while I am in Oregon. I can really see how this Eastern Oregon wilderness land has an effect of people, and I hope to be able to teach more in this area.

Class discussions are held at my remote cabin near the small town of Spray, but most of the hands-on training for this workshop is spent photographing people in the surrounding wilderness areas.

I have made a commitment to providing an immersion experience that focuses on “honoring the land/respecting the subject” while also enjoying great company, local fresh foods and delicious wines.

Each workshop accepts an extremely limited number of participants so that the group size is conducive for intimate exchange of ideas and nimble change of locations.

Follow along on my Instagram account for live stories and images during these workshops and throughout my on-going backroads exploration!

McKinsey

Lecture: Portland Art Museum

What an honor to be included in the Portland Art Museum’s Brown Bag Series!

The title of my lecture was “Humanity Before Us: Crossing The Cultural Divide“.  I spoke about the lessons I garner from the various cultures I am assigned to photograph.  This also includes my own self assignments with “cultures” such as my own family background and heritage.  Coming to terms with our own reflection can be daunting at times, and I wanted this lecture to expose the good and the bad and everything in-between.

We are human.  We all make mistakes.  What is most enriching and important is how we take our own platforms of experience and adversity and move them into new ventures, relationships and art.

Here is a poem written by the Greek playwright Aeschylus that I have loved since I was a very young girl:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.

Portland Art Museum Lecture

(Photo by Jon Combs of Pro Photo Supply)

Read, Set, Print! The First Prints For Prints Project

Our first Prints For Prints project was quite the ride!  Having only worked with the printers a few times before we left, we were a bit nervous about how we would perform in the field under extreme conditions. And we also did not know how we would work as a group, in Africa.

Soon after we arrived, we met up with my transportation and translator team in Ethiopia and they surprised us by taking us to see a football match between Ethiopia and Nigeria projected on a big screen which was set up in a beautiful park.  It was the perfect place for both groups to get to know each other in a spirited setting.

Dani and friends

The next morning, we got up early, grabbed our gear, and set out to go to Sheno, Ethiopia, the childhood home of our guide, Dani. His family let us set up the printers in their home so we could make photos and give prints to his extended family and to villagers around the area.  It did not take long to get the process up and running, and within a few minutes we cranked out our first print.

It was a beauty!

Sheno Ethiopia

I also brought prints that I had made before I left from images captured a year before and gave them to the family. It was an honor to spend time in this village and to see how much our prints were appreciated.

Sheno, Ethiopia

Once our process was humming along, we then branched out and made prints in various locations around Addis Ababa and in smaller villages outside of the city, some as far away as Lalibela and Arba Minch.

One other commitment of the Prints For Prints project is to train local students on various aspects of photography, in one-on-one sessions. We were fortunate to be able to coordinate this training with DESTA for Africa and the Nike Foundation’s Girl Hub projects.

Bill Purcell in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Steve in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Girl Hub Ambassadors in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

It was especially gratifying to watch local students in the workshop take over the printing, and make and donate prints to others that they met on the streets and in compounds.

Addis Ababa Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

We printed from any spot we could find, and even sometimes while on the go!

Bill Purcell in Ethiopia

We also loved giving our cameras to the subjects and letting them photograph us. Such fun!

Heather and Steve in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

We made prints in places we never imagined, such as on top floors of high rise construction sites, and also in hospitals in remote areas of the Afar region.

Hospital in Afar, Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

I also brought a print for each market worker I had photographed a year ago.  We laid the prints out on the ground, and people searched for those they saw in the prints.  My Ethiopian friend Habtamu and I gave each worker who arrived a print of themselves and they were really happy to receive it.

Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Market Workers, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Here are two of my finished portraits, created in two scenarios. The first image is Fatuma and her daughter Semed, right outside of their kitchen where they prepare food for a hospital in the Afar region.  The second image shows Raya in his place of employment, a construction site in the Bole region of Ethiopia.

Afar, EthiopiaAddis Ababa, Ethiopia

There is much to process about this first trip, and I look forward to making a few changes to the process so that we can have an even better experience during the next offering of this service.

Thank you to the community of photographers and other supporters who generously donated their prints, time and ideas to make this project fly!

Joni Kabana, Portland, Oregon, USA

 

Cameras! Books! Supplies! For A Good Cause

I just returned from spending some amazing time with two groups of photography students in Ethiopia and I could not be more excited!

Each student had a different skill set level, but each and every one of them had an incredible eagerness to learn and their love for the craft was so very apparent. Passion abounds in Ethiopia for learning photography!

However, some students did not have access to a camera and had to borrow ours for the day.  I would love to find cameras, lenses, photography books, and other supplies to donate to the new photography school that is being developed by the amazing Aida Muluneh through her DESTA For Africa organization.

Any donations can be sent or dropped off to me and I will ensure that they go directly to the school.

Many thanks for your consideration!

 

Prints For Prints participant Bill Purcell gives a quick lesson to a student in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia:

Prints For Prints Students

 

A student gives a print to a shoe shine woman and her baby:

Prints For Prints Students

 

Aida Muluneh and I, on the first day we met each other:

Aida Muluneh and Joni

 

Prints For Prints Team Ethiopia 2013

We will soon embark upon our Ethiopia 2013 Prints For Prints project.  Today we gathered to do a test run on our printers, and all systems are GO!

Here are the members of the team with links to their websites:

Heather Binns

Steve Bloch

Joni Kabana

Bill Purcell

Constance Spurling

photo

L-R: Heather Binns, Bill Purcell, Constance Spurling, Joni Kabana, Steve Bloch

(Photo by Ben Opsahl)

Prints For Prints: A Makeshift Studio in Rural Ethiopia

One thing that has become apparent while traveling anywhere is how precious a photograph print is to a family, especially in the rural areas of Ethiopia.  Most families have no record or image of their loved ones, and when we are able to give prints to villagers, it is appreciated beyond measure.

So this November, I will be traveling to Ethiopia with a small team of photographers and we will set up a small portable studio in several villages. We will capture portraits and donate the prints to the families we photograph. In addition, each US photographer will be paired with an Ethiopian photographer so there is an exchange of talents: technical skills, cultural awareness, and love for humanity.

We are planning a fundraiser to help with the costs for this project.  The concept is simple: we are calling the fundraiser “Prints For Prints”, and we will auction matted prints from photo-loving friends (both amateur and professional photographers). The prints will be sold at a very reasonable “affordable art” cost ($50-100 sliding scale) during a fun and relaxed party, followed by music by Portland’s very own Ethiopian funk band: The Tezeta Band!

This event will be held on August 8, 2013 starting at 7pm at the Secret Society Ballroom and we hope you will be able to attend.

All ages welcome until 8:30pm, then it is 21+.

Follow me at @jkabana on Instagram during November to see this project in action.

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/PrintsForPrints

See our Website to view all of the prints and the fabulous photographers!

 

Villagers in Marovoay, Madagascar look at a Polaroid photo that was just made with their family.

(Villagers in Marovoay, Madagascar look at a Polaroid photo that was just made with their family.)

Prints For Prints Poster

 

 

 

 

Global Press Institute: Argentina Office

It was an honor to be on assignment in Argentina this week, teaching photography skills to women reporters at the Global Press Institute office. Each woman was thrilled to get their donated cameras from Pro Photo Supply, and they eagerly absorbed all of the information that was packed into a two-day class.

We covered camera operation, lighting, composition, aperture/shutter speeds and the psychology surrounding taking a compelling portrait.

I will truly miss being with these women, and I look forward to reading their stories and seeing the beautiful photographs they will make which will enhance their articles.

Dina, Ro, Lucila, Bettina, Ivonne are excited to get their new cameras

 

The women reporters at Global Press Institute in Argentina try out their new photography skills

 

Women reporters use their new photography skills while photographing a juggler on the streets of Argentina

 

 

1859 Editorial Photography Workshop

Just had a great time co-teaching an editorial photography workshop with Leah Nash. Participants’ selected photos from the weekend shooting and critique have been uploaded to 1859 Magazine, where the creative director will select final images for print and online use.

We are all very excited to see which images will be selected for the layouts. Participants learned some insider tips regarding fulfilling a magazine editorial assignment.

(Photo by Sarah Cross)

Ethiopia: A Girl Can

The imagery and sound I collected while in Ethiopia last November has been edited into a video and included in Mercy Corps’ new “A Girl Can” campaign.  It is an honor to be involved in this effort to assist girls’ education in rural Ethiopia.

(Photo by Sean Sheridan for Mercy Corps)

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