Valérie Berta

Voices Workshop
Location: Columbia, MO, U.S.
Nationality: American, French
Biography: Valérie Berta is an international photographer based in the United States. B orn and raised in the South of France, she has a Master's in English from Université Paris VII and in Photojournalism from the University of... read on
Public Story
Voices Workshop
Copyright valérie berta 2021
Date of Work 10/28/17 - 11/04/17
Updated 11/06/17
Archived as ,
Photography Workshop

      The Voices photo workshop is a hands-on workshop that introduces minority and at-risk children to documentary visual story-telling through the practice of photography and an introduction to photojournalism. Its goal is to build self-confidence and integrate creative thinking and self-expression. It is also to foster social and racial justice by empowering minority youth to be the visual communicators of tomorrow and help increase diversity in the media.

    The Voices Workshop integrates creative thinking and self-expression through photography, as well as audio and video storytelling. It encourages students to open their eyes to the world around them (their family, their neighborhood, their town, their country) and to the different ways in which it can be seen, experienced and told: their world, their voices. Voices also introduces children to the media, why it is important in our democracy and how it works. It aims to give them the skills to read all the images that surround them in print media, social media and in the streets, and to become informed visual communicators themselves.

    The Voices workshop is made for up to ten children, aged 10 to 14, from the City of Columbia, MO. We are continually looking for volunteer photojournalists to mentor the children in our program.

    Workshop elements    
    The Voices Workshop is an eight-week long, two-hour meetings workshop, with a moderator and six volunteers (Mizzou students and professional photographers,) with presentations followed by hands-on activities.

    It involves:
- an introduction to the technical principles of photography (types of cameras, ISO and lens formats, as well as emergent visual techonology;)
- an introduction to documentary photography and photojournalism;
- an introduction to the media, how it works and how it is evolving today;
- photo assignments centered around students"™ lives and surroundings;
- guided critiques/presentation of the students"™ work;
- a presentation of photographs by documentary photographers and photojournalists from around the world.

    1/ It's your vision: the first assignment involves taking a picture of a single object from as many different angles as possible (low, high, from far away, from very close, etc) in order to show students that pictures can be as varied as each of their unique eyes, or that the "reality" of a picture is in fact a uniquely constructed one;
    2/ It"™s who you love: this assignment asks students to take a portrait of someone they love, and introduces the art of portraiture;
    3/ It's in your heart: in this assignment students will have to show emotion in their picture, and they will be introduced to the notion of "the moment" in documentary photography;
    4/ It's around here: for this assignment students will have to take a picture of nature around their home or Columbia, and we will talk about landscape in photography, rural or urban, and how it can inform us or move us;
    5/ It's all that jazz: students will work on taking a feature picture, i.e. a picture of somebody performing a task around the house or at work, and we will talk about composition and light, as well as what different people do for work in different cultures, and social and economic justice;
    6/ It's who you are: the final assignment will be an open one, where students will be asked to show who they are through a photograph, with or without a multimedia presentation involving audio and video work in addition to photography, and a narrative (non-fiction, poem, diary.) We will talk about what makes us unique as individuals and cultures, how they can celebrate that individuality in documentary work, and why it is important to both celebrate and respect that specificity. Another option open to students is to work on a visual narrative all along the workshop, incorporating each assignment into that narrative to create a coherent body of work that reflects what they want to express (for older students only.)
    The first week will be devoted to an introduction to the workshop, its rules of conduct and what is to be expected from participants, as well as getting to know the cameras and an introduction to the media. The final week will be devoted to putting photographs and words (and audio and video if applicable) together to create a unique body of work.

    Since the aim of Voices is to increase awareness of under-represented and minority groups, as well as to increase minorities"™ presence in the mainstream media, every effort will be made to secure an exhibition of the students"™s work in the community, through an exhibition in a public space. The world will also be displayed on a dedicated website.

    Volunteers and sponsors
    In the past Voices has enjoyed the generous support of photo industry leaders, such as Canon and Kodak, as well as volunteers from the University of Missouri"™s Photojournalism sequence students. This year we are honored to count MU students again among our volunteers, as well as some of Columbia's best professional photographers.
    We would also like to thank Miller Labs for their generous support of Voices this year, and Dr. Joel Beeson of West Virginia University"™s Reed School of Journalism, for their generous support.

    Some photographers whose work will be shown:

- Jacob Riis, the Farm Security Administration photographers and Robert Frank (documentary photography as tool for social reform and as personal critique, from the U.S. and Europe)
- Henri Cartier-Bresson (B&W composition, photography as both document and art, from France)
- Gordon Parks (documentary photography, from the U.S.)
- Raghu Rai (documentary photography, from India)
- Sebastiao Salgado (B&W and color composition, from Brazil)
- Joshua Rashaad McFadden (portrait photography, from the U.S.)
- Michael McCoy (documentary, from the U.S.)
- Adeola Ladungu (documentary photography, from Lagos) and Omar Victor Diop (portrait photography, from Cameroun)
- Mary Beth Meehan (documenting her immediate world around Boston, MA, 1993 graduate from Mizzou)

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