The participants departed last week and in their absence I’m left with more than fifteen hours of recordings that need to be transcribed, over one hundred pages of notes and documents that need to be coded, and a post-busy-schedule restlessness that needs settling. I spent the last month sitting in various rooms around Manhattan with nine photographers from around the world as they learned about how to improve their practice and use their images to tell stories to better promote social justice in their communities. Over the next two months I will analyze all of the data I’ve created in an attempt to understand the efficacy of social justice photography training programs. When the participants arrived at the beginning of the month, I nervously explained my presence and that I would be observing them for the duration of their program.
Six hundred people applied to the Magnum Foundation’s Photography and Social Justice training program and only nine were accepted. This highly competitive opportunity is essentially a crash course in graduate level media theory and practice. They also had just over two weeks to complete a social justice related project in New York.
While they all came to New York with an idea of what project they wanted to work on, many of them completely changed their topics once they realized the time and logistical limitations of their original ideas. The rest of their time in New York consisted of theory and production courses. The day before they departed I gave them their final survey and test which will help determine the growth they’ve experienced while in New York.
For the rest of the summer, I’ll work to make sense of all the data I’ve created. I have my assumptions but I’ll wait until I’ve properly interpreted to publicly declare anything.