Photography workshops for youth, students and professional photojournalists.

There is an enigmatic teacher who has charmed me since childhood. Although I know him only as an ephemeral figure in family reminiscences about my Italian grandfather, I am in equal measure curious about and deeply grateful to him.

As a boy my grandfather, Donato DeCesare never was able to attend school. He worked shining shoes on the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Papa had natural artistic talent. He amused himself between customers drawing on the surface of the street with chalk. One morning an art teacher who had been admiring papa’s handiwork for weeks approached with an offer of classes in his studio. Papa was thrilled, but my great grandfather wouldn’t hear of it. The teacher pleaded offering his instruction without charge, but to no avail. “Art is for people who don’t have to work, “ was my great grandfather’s final retort. Although papa never formally studied art, he cherished forever the gift of that teacher’s interest and belief in his talent.

The practice of good teaching day to day is of course a more complicated business than simply validating student self-confidence in their abilities. However the goals of such validation––expanding intellectual horizons and transforming how students or subjects see their place in the world––are universal guiding principles that inform my creative work and my teaching.

I have learned that the best teaching is always by example. Choosing exemplary work from the canon of photojournalism to illustrate concepts as well as modeling through my own creative work and practice ––the ethics, high technical standards and broad-based enquiring interest that are essential to successful documentary photojournalism––forms one pillar of my teaching. The other is giving students opportunities for practice that open the way to their own discovery process.

I teach undergraduate and graduate University students of photojournalism and Latin American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin from September to May. But during my academic breaks I also teach workshops. Some are geared toward professional photojournalists, others to young people eager to learn the art of self expression through community arts programs. I’ve collaborated with the Garcia Marquez New Journalism Foundation in Cartagena Colombia, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University, the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at UT Austin, the Desearte Paz project of the Colombo Americano in Medellin Colombia, the Museo Tecleño and Central American University in El Salvador among others.

On this website you can see two videos related to my workshops. Santa Tecla: A History is the work of a group of Salvadoran teenagers I taught multimedia storytelling in summer 2011. Witnessing and Picturing Violence is a video I created for the workshops on journalism ethics and emotional self care I conduct for the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. The link to the Garcia Marquez Foundation’s New Journalism Project (FNPI) has an overview of my latest workshop in Spanish which I did with Latin American photojournalists in summer 2012 in El Salvador.

Teaching Workshop