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Kabul Korrespondence

Fresh, factual, and funky view of Afghanistan and the surrounding Central Asian region

Proof is in the pudding!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Well, once again I am behind schedule for publishing the progress of my Afghanistan project. Only 2 weeks of classes left and we have gone into overdrive with workload and productivity. Great!
So I will spare you the pain of exposure to another example of my literary incompetence and just show you images. The difference this week is the images are from my students.

So without further adue, Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present the class of 2007 and their first images published online!

FIRST EXCUSION: Our first excusion was to Darluman Palace, a 'warm up' exercise for the students who braved the icy conditions to capture the following images.
Sohab Hakimi
Mushgan Kabir
Hameed Ayoby
Jawad Jalai
Jawad Jalai
Would you take classes from a guy who looked like this?!!

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: Their first assignment was to capture one image of poverty. They had to source the subject, shoot it, process it on the computer and have in on my desk in 24 hours.
Zamarai Fahim
Jawad Jalai
Tamim Walidy
Tamim Walidy
Tamana Wahidy

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: I sent the students out on one of the coldest days this winter (-12.c hehehhe) and told them to capture Kabulians and how they function, work and survive in such harsh conditions.
Sohab Hakimi
Sohab Kabuli
Sohab Hakimi
Hameed Ayoby
Sohab Hakimi
Jawad Jalai
Jawad Jalai

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: I asked the students to go and photograph different occupations, concentrating on image construction and framing the subject appropriately for the situation.
Jawad Jalai
Jawad Jalai
Sohab Hakimi
Zamarai Fahim
Mariam Alimi

AND: The last set of images are random images I chose for no other reason than, I like them and think they should be displayed.
hey......I can do that can't I?
I mean its my class after all......
Sohab Kabuli
Tamim Walidy
Jawad Jalai
Tamana Walidy
Tamana Walidy
Sohab Hakimi
Sohab Hakimi

So what do you think? I wouldn't throw them into a Kandahar battle zone just as yet, but I believe from these images you can see the potential. The techniques are there and thought processes have gone into their choices of subjects. They have acquired the all important "eye" for creating aesthetic images. They have done all of this regardless of the subject the editor has asked them to shoot.
Well done class!

Stayed tuned for the results to their final project and exam results!!!!!!
posted by Travis, 9:25 pm | link | 8 comments |

The streetwise become wiser

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I started a new class today at the Aschiana Orphanage. My good friend Nouria Salehi (Doctor in nuclear mediecine at Royal Melb) fundraises in Australia for Aschiana. The kids are between 8-18. They don't go to school. They work the streets through the day and sometimes the night, selling phone cards and other miscellaneous things to make some money for their families. Some are homeless, loosing their parents in the past wars. Others have been kicked out of home, because the parents cant afford to keep them. Some have even darker backgrounds.

Aschiana offers the children free classes in everything from music and maths to carpentry and masonry. Now they are learning to use digital cameras, to enable them to make visual contributions to the children's newspaper created at Aschiana and sold on the streets by the same kids. I have interacted with some kids around my NGO compound, buying phonecards from them and sending them on errands for a little pocket money. When I entered the class and saw their faces light up I was as pleasantly surprised as they were!

posted by Travis, 10:41 pm | link | 4 comments |

Behind the 8 ball with work load

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I’m not complaining, quiet the contrary.....I’m relishing in it! But unfortunately I don’t have much time to type, so I hope the images tell the story.....this being a photojournalism course, they most certainly should.......
The students cram into the Aina van for there first field trip!

Their enthusiasm to photograph anything and everything is apparent.

Our destination is the Darulaman Presidential Palace that was pounded by the Soviet, Taliban and Coalition forces over the past 24 years.

Today theory was put into practice techniques such as exposure, angles and image construction.

At first the students complained about having to shoot in the freezing conditions, but once they got into it, there was no stopping them.

We have started an advanced photojournalism course with the students who graduated from the 2006 course.

This course is tailor made to the student’s requests, and explores areas of photojournalism that they did not have a chance to study in their first course.

The aim of the advanced course is to refresh their knowledge of the finer points of photo /media

Many of these students are now working as successful freelance photojournalists or for Afghan based news agencies.

We have also started a beginners class of photojournalism in Dari (the national language of Afghanistan). My assistant Fardin is teaching the 17 new students with the same curriculum as in my English class.

The class was created so that Afghans with little English skills could still have the opportunity to participate.
posted by Travis, 9:21 am | link | 6 comments |

Survival of the fittest

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Three weeks down in the Aina P.J. course and my students have boldly navigated their way through a survival course in photojournalism. Before anyone can conquer the P.J. battlefield, they need to know how to operate their weapons. Armed with state of the art digital cameras and the artillery of Photoshop functions, will they be victorious in their first shooting....

Exploring the uncharted territory of the Canon camera, we drilled them in what the multitude of buttons and seemingly endless functions within the camera's internal menus could do for them.

My students then chopped their way through the jungles of photographic theory. Cutting up concepts such as shutter speed, aperture, ISO, exposure, white balance and the big one.... Depth of Field!!!!!!!

Even I got lost sometimes in the maze of information I had scribbled down for them. (I really need to improve my white board writing skills!)

We then pushed them out the door into the freezing temperatures of Kabul for a bit of target practice.

Lastly we brought them back into the warm class room, threw them into the deep end of the Photoshop pool and let them treed water on image controls such as image file size, cropping, colour balance and exposure levels.

This week’s class isn’t going to get any easier. My troops will have the fundamentals of modern day photojournalism closing in on them from every angle. Will they push forward and gain valuable ground or will they let the challenges of today’s media industry get the upper hand.

I think not, but stayed tuned to the next Argus blog to find out!
posted by Travis, 11:50 am | link | 3 comments |

Hidden gems

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Been so busy with the Aina Media Centre Project lately, that I don’t get much time to do any of my own work. But tonight I was rummaging through some old folders from last year in China and found a few images I couldn’t resist uploading.

All the images were taken in the Muslim Quarter; Erdaoqiao in Urumqi.

Urumqi is the last big city in Western China before you hit the borders of Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.

Its a melting pot of diverse cultures from the Central Asian basin, a mad mix of Tajiks, Kazakhs, Han Chinese, Russians and Mongols to name a few.

With temperatures dropping to -20.c the city goes into hibernation mode in the daytime and comes alive at night. but more about the Urumqi nights in a future blog...........

One last word.

As we all do at this time of year, I've been considered what I want to do in 2007, my 'resolutions'. I came to the conclusion that, at this moment in time, I am doing exactly what I want to be doing! So my New Years resolution is easy!
posted by Travis, 10:02 pm | link | 3 comments |