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.

Flashbacks serie

This is the result of different time lapse that I made around the world. Here’s Bariloche (Argentina)

“Travel is a kind of door through which you exit from reality to penetrate in a unexplored reality that seems a dream” -Guy de Maupassant

S/He in Belgrade!

I’m happy to announce that today I’ll exhibit my project S/He at Kafe-knjižara Meduza in Belgrade, Serbia (9pm UTC+01)

S/he” seeks to reflect the lifestyle of transgender people in different parts of the world their passions, routines, fears, hobbies and lifestyle by capturing moments of their daily life.

Paulina (31) is one of the 9 million of LGBT Americans estimated¹. Some transgender individuals may identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual². We had a great time visiting some friends of her, driving to the top of Waimea Canyon, enjoying the views from there while smoking pot and listening 95.5 Surf radio station. This was the optimal environment to talk about her experience being a transgender in a low class neighborhood. The suffering and frustrations that she felt before showing up as a woman, but also the satisfaction and freedom of facing to the rest as she is.

Fear only exists when you avoid who you are. When you face your own fears you just discover that there’s no fear.

paulina

Kaitie (59) is a veteran. She was married and had a daughter with “his” wife, by then. They got divorced 20 years ago. Since then, she is living in the beaches of Waimea, Kauai or occupying from time to time. We had some drinks at her place while showing her crafts and sharing some of her vital experience.

 

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¹ Surveys in the United States and across the world include questions that allow for an estimate of the size of the lesbian, gay,
  Bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population.
  National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2009
  California Health Interview Survey, 2009
  General Social Survey, 2008
  National Survey of Family Growth 2006-2008 (Age 18-44)
  National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions 2004-2005
 ² It is not possible to make a precise the concrete number. Survey methods can also affect the willingness of respondents to  report stigmatizing identities and behaviors.

 

You can check it out until the 2nd of April at the Kafe-knjižara Meduza Gospodar Jevremova, Београд 11000, Serbia.

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.

sādhu

In Hinduism, a sādhu (Sanskrit: साधु sādhu, “good; good man, holy man”) is a religious ascetic or holy person. Although the vast majority of sādhus are yogīs, not all yogīs are sādhus. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa (liberation), the fourth and final aśrama (stage of life), through meditation and contemplation of brahman. Sādhus often wear saffron-coloured clothing, symbolising their sanyāsa (renunciation). This way of life is open to women; the female form of the word is sādhvī साध्वी. In 2014 an all-female akhada (group of sadhus) was formed; it is believed to be the first such group in India.

* Naga sadhu in Pashupatinath temple, Nepal

* text: Wikipedia
* photos: Lena Prieto
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