For articles, see F2 eZine Archive 7 - July - Sept 2001
Article Copyright: Helen K. Garber, 2001
All photographs © Joanna Pinneo
All serious photojournalists should have a personal project according to Howard Chapnick, former president of Black Star Photo Agency. Joanna Pinneo, award winning photojournalist and National Geographic Photographer, has chosen to work with the subject of girls coming of age.
Originally thought to be a book project, The Grrlstories Project has blossomed into a fully interactive web site, www.grrlstories.org. It is a place where young girls will find positive reinforcement to find their own way as unique individuals as well as valued members of their adult communities. Before Joanna felt comfortable to take on a personal project, she spent almost thirty years preparing for the challenge.
Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Joanna fell in love with photography during a college trip to Spain. When she returned, Joanna took all the courses in photography that her school offered. She graduated Mary Williams College with a triple major in Art, Art History and Psychology. After graduation, Joanna supplemented her education with technical classes in photography and graduate courses in journalism. As she was now properly prepared, a great opportunity manifested itself. The International Mission Board hired Joanna to photograph for their magazine, The Commission. Here, amongst the staff, Joanna found her first mentors--Don Rutledge, a veteran Life Magazine Photographer and Dan Beatty, an impassioned photo editor.
Joanna would travel with a writer and cover a number of stories in a month's time. It was just an amazing experience. "I traveled all over the world, worked on some very interesting and compelling stories, worked with a great picture editor, had someone like Don Rutledge as a mentor to help me, and I got paid."
Joanna was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize while working for The Commission. It was for a photo documenting the victims of a mud slide in Armero, Columbia. "We went from hospital to clinic with missionaries to see what was needed in the way of assistance. In one of the hospitals was a baby, about a year old. As we were leaving, the missionary turned around and the baby was standing up in the crib with his arms stretched out to her crying. I quickly took a picture of the baby. Later, back in the states, the Associated Press released it. A paper in Colombia picked it up, a local television station ran the photo and the mother was located and the pair reunited. Several months later I was able to go back and photograph the mother and the baby together."
In 1986, Joanne attended a conference at The Maine Photo Workshops where she met the editor and was soon invited to join the staff at US News and World Report. Joanna was assigned to cover the former President Bush's administration in 1990.
Joanna began working for the National Geographic Magazine in 1991. "I love working for the National Geographic, both for the challenge and responsibility you have there and for the time to spend on a subject or theme. It is tough though. At the National Geographic, the photographer is responsible for determining the visual direction of a story and conducting exhaustive research before arriving on the field to shoot. You manage a budget of six figures, often juggle personnel on multiple continents, and meet a number of deadlines that are tightly constructed and cross numerous continents. The photographer has to negotiate with officials and world leaders in all the countries to coordinate coverage."
The length of National Geographic assignments seems to be getting shorter. Joanna's first assignment in 1991 lasted eight months and the average assignment length today is around eight weeks. She has shot from 400 upward to 1200 rolls on assignment for National Geo.
Joanna always travels with an interpreter when overseas. Interpreters clear many obstacles while creating images in a foreign country and offer a real sense of security. She feels that women photographers advantage over males is that they can be less threatening allowing more intimate portraits of strangers.
When requested for advice to aspiring photojournalists, Joanna replied, "Be prepared to work hard, be persistent, and be determined. Educate yourself on a variety of subjects. Read a lot; be aware of what is going on around you, in the world, in your community, wherever you want to work. Become visually literate. Be passionate about your work, life. It is a very competitive field. There are only so many jobs available. The pay for editorial work is not always great, especially when in starting in the field.... Create your own identity and learn to convince editors that they need specifically what you do."
Along with the nomination for the Pulitzer Prize, Joanna was awarded 3rd place in the Magazine Photographer of the Year Award by the National Press Photography Association in 1986. Joanna was also the recipient of the 14th Nikon Documentary Sabbatical Grant, the 1996 Harry Chapin Magazine Photojournalism Award from the United Nations and the prestigious Eisie Award in 1998, the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award, presented by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and LIFE magazine.
After traveling for more than twenty years and now recently married, Joanna now wants to travel closer to home and explore her own culture. "I am an American and I am a woman. I want to photograph something I know, something I am a part of, something that in part defines me." The Grrlstories Project will allow her to fulfill that desire. Inspired by the book, Reviving Ophelia, Joanna decided that she was interested in capturing that time of transition form girlhood to becoming a young woman, a time of turmoil and a time of beauty. Their vulnerability strikes a cord with Joanna. "I wanted to see if I could capture all of this on film. Document this time for girls in our American social history. I am also interested in the many cultures that make up the American experience and how that affects this coming of age experience".
According to Joanna, the "Grrlstories" web site will feature discussion and activity guides for download and online use. Janet Salmons will lead a team of writers and educators in creating guides and interactive features to help parents, teachers and youth leaders use grrlstories.org to engage girls in discussion and self-expression. Author Corinne Platt, will write the essays for "Grrlstories." In addition to interviewing the subjects of Pinneo's photographs, Platt will document moments and scenes, and encourage each girl to tell and write their own story.
Joanna has accomplished a great deal as a photojournalist and she sees the "Grrlstories" web site as the next level in her career development. We look forward to exploring and supporting the site as well as watching Joanna's new direction take flight.
Pinneo's photographs are represented by the Aurora and Quanta Productions agency of Portland, Maine.
WIPI Archive #5, Jan-Mar 2001, National Georgraphic Book Review by Carole Glauber
Joanna Pinneo, Committed Photojournalist, Copyright Helen K. Garber
Joanna Pinneo Photograph, Copyright Helen K. Garber
HELEN K. GARBER PHOTOGRAPHY
a co-owner in a design company and an art
gallery, I am constantly searching for the things that inspire me.
I look forward to sunny days when I can walk around downtown San Jose,
Cyber Sampler in hand and capture our city's diversity on film. I choose
this particular camera when I am feeling especially drained from our
workload because this little plastic box forces me to let go of the
need to control and let go my expectations of perfection.
It 1, 2, 3, 4 whispers in my ear to give up my notions of how photography is supposed to be done! No exposure settings, no distance setting, no ASA setting, Cyber Sampler forbid, no one knows the exact aperture speed of the shutter. The only thing one knows is that a little gear opens the four lenses one after the other within one second, approximately a quarter second per lens.
The Cyber Sampler is a product of fun and functionality by the great minds at Lomographic Society Int. The novelty of this toy camera with the four lenses in a square should not be underestimated. It produces four simultaneous mini-photos on one frame of regular 35mm film that can be developed at any photo lab. The four images give a sense of what has been, what was, what is and what will be... The camera captures the subject in, not just a moment of time, but it shows a sequence of moments - a mini-mini-mini-mini movie, several moments of action.
The viewfinder is but a hint of what you are actually shooting. It sits
an inch or so above the lens, it is more an approximation than a means
The Cyber Sampler works best in bright sunlight with moving subjects e.g. my best friend running towards me, cars stopping at a traffic light, birds taking off into the sky, and so on.
Another way to get good images with the CyberSampler is to move the camera itself - and this is where the fun really starts. You are encouraged to jump, run, swirl around and get as close as possible to the object of your desire as you can within one second!
The great thing about this camera and also the other cameras (check out the SuperSampler-talking about plastic cameras...) by Lomographic Society Int. is that with buying a camera you automatically become member, a lomographer, in the Lomographic Society, a world wide club. Everybody is connected by the interest, curiosity and shameless desire to take pictures of everything, everyone all the time- Lomography. They organize exhibitions, competitions, parties, photo challenges and a lot of other fun things all year round.
There are 10 Golden Rules to Lomography and I think they are very explanatory to why one learns to give up control and starts to open up to the idea of having fun while taking pictures, or better said, lomographs:
The "Shoot from the hip" is my personal attitude when using the Cyber Sampler. The initial uncertainty is an important part of the experience. You don't think about work or deadlines, you think "oh! I hope that one turns out!" At first this seemed problematic for me. Over the course of two years, I have come to realize that if I let go of that need to control and that need for perfection, I am more often rewarded with a perfection that I can achieve only by chance.
Each adventure with my Cyber Sampler is a lesson in trust. Trust your instinct. Trust the creative forces that exist. Trust that not everything must be controlled in order to turn out beautiful.
** Notice to WIPI Members, upcoming Toy Camera call for entries will be posted in October Quarterly.
Aliki Sapountzi - Scotland
(all images copyright Aliki Sapountzi)
When I was twelve years old, my mother handed down my first proper camera (after the inevitable Kodak Brownie Box). It was an old Voightlander with bellows. The aperture and speed of which, I had to guess for. So much mystery and wonder!
those days what caught my attention was melancholy. B&W photography
lent itself perfectly to that. After some torturous B&W years, Colour
dawned into my life.
is a means of sharing my passion.
in Athens, Greece in 1947, I obstinately resisted learning English,
only to find myself, in the late 60s, studying photography in London!
am now living in Edinburgh, capital of Scotland, doing corporate work
for organisations with heart.
I have recently set up "aliki's photolibrary" which is specialising in Waldorf Education covering some 20 years of my work with various Steiner/Waldorf Schools and also with Camphill Communities for people with Special Needs in Britain, the USA and expanding...
Inevitably I also got involved with videomaking which to my surprise doesn't require such a distilled moment in time to communicate the message. Linking sound with imagery enthrals me.
the documentary approach is my primary preoccupation I have recently
completed a 5-minute experimental video 'The Gayatri Mantra' which took
me closer to where I am going. While conceiving it, the desire to include
visuals of ancient sacred sights guided me to the rich heritage of my
first Standing Stones. They abound, all around Scotland. These Stones
captured me, found me on a pilgrimage to some very ancient part of myself
And this, is the gift I received from this video.
I am currently collecting images and shooting video footage for an ethnographic project recording the vanishing ways of life of the Scottish Hill Folk 'whose deeply rooted spirituality is only visible to the sixth sense'.
I am working on a book/video 'The Hidden Voices of Scotland' relating
to the new spirituality emerging.
my passion for travelling keep on taking me to distant landscapes within
and without. While photography keeps on calling me back again and again
longing for interaction with the moment, in life, in love, is unquenchable
For articles, see F2 eZine Archive 7 - July - Sept 2001