Fall 2017 Barbara Stewart Scholarship Winner and Honorable Mentions

Congratulations to our Fall 2017 Barbara Stewart Scholarship Winner and honorable mentions!

Self Portrait as Theme
Winners currently on display in Gallery Obscura

Winner ($250 scholarship):
Sony Maharjan

Honorable Mentions:
Rodney Doty
Monica Hayden
Vilerx Perez
Charleston Pierce
Setareh Rasouli
Timothy Woo

Slide show of all entries:


Walking in Their Shoes

Ruth Landy is a strategic communication consultant with worldwide experience advocating for UNICEF and other global development organizations. She was thrilled to upgrade her photography skills in a CCSF PHOT51 Beginning Photography Summer intensive course. Below, Ruth shares some of the work she examined at the “Visa Pour L’Image,” Southern France’s premiere annual photojournalism festival which takes place every September.

Walking in their shoes

Women photojournalists break new ground
by Ruth Landy

In the Intensive Care Unit of a California hospital, a distraught mother holds vigil for her young son after his surgery for a grave head injury. The woman, Malalai Rafi, is an Afghan refugee resettled to the Sacramento area with her family. The photographer, Renée Byer, spent two years chronicling the ordeals facing Malalai and other Afghans who risked their lives to support US and coalition forces in their native country. Granted special visas because of their service, these refugees arrived full of hope, only to find danger and heartbreak in the United States, their country of adoption.

Describing her long journey to record No Safe Place, Byer shared her many challenges, including barriers to photographing at the hospital. She was allowed two frames, then ushered out.

No Safe Place

Malalai Rafi watches over her son Omar, 8, at UC Davis Children’s Hospital after an operation to repair a deformity in his skull. The surgery was not successful and he had to wear a protective helmet until they could operate again many months later. © Renée C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee

Compassion. Sorrow. Anger. Inspiration.

A deep dive into the world of photojournalism today is truly an emotional roller coaster. The venue – Visa pour L’Image – is France’s premier annual photojournalism festival. In the Mediterranean town of Perpignan news and documentary photographers and photo agencies gather to exhibit their stories —  witnesses to our turbulent world. They also grapple with the dramatic changes upending their industry: so many opportunities to share images, such an uncertain future.

Visa church

During Visa pour l’Image, the city of Perpignan opens up its historic places for free viewing of photojournalists’ exhibits. Here, its grand Dominican Church. © Ruth Landy

Photojournalism is still a man’s world. Between 80 to 100 percent of major publications’ significant images of 2016 carried male photographers’ credits.

But this is changing. In the US, the top photo editors of National Geographic, Time, The Washington Post, The New York Times and many other American publications are now female.

What does visual storytelling through a gender lens mean in 2017? At Visa pour l’Image, three award-winning American photojournalists shared what it takes to shoot their complex and compelling subjects in the U.S. and around the world:

  • Based in Caracas, Meridith Kohut is a regular contributor to The New York Times covering the collapse of Venezuela and other hard-hitting stories in the region:

“ Because I’m blonde and female, the soldiers in Caracas don’t think I’m as tough as them. Venezuela is a very machista culture but they don’t see me as a threat whereas male photojournalists might get caught up. I try to really feel the story so it comes across in my work. This is a story that is so unseen. I draw a lot of strength knowing that what I’m doing is actually making a difference.”

M Kohut

At Visa, Meridith Kohut comments her powerful images of Venezuela in crisis. Here, a schizophrenic patient in a psychiatric hospital which faces chronic shortages of food and medicine like the rest of the country. © Ruth Landy

  • Photojournalist Amy Toensing is a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine. At Visa to present her reportage on Widowhood, Toensing shared her experience covering the intimate stories of women in India, Bosnia and Uganda:

“One cool thing about being female and traveling is a certain camaraderie that happens. You don’t have to speak the same language and you can make that connection with body language. It’s such a collaboration to tell their story. What I have experienced with these women is ‘we did it, we worked together and told my story.’ That in itself has been powerful.”

Amy T

National Geographic photographer Amy Toensing discusses her story “Widowhood” at the Visa festival. In the background, Toensing’s Uganda image shows the backlog of cases in a local court, where widows turn to the law to battle abuse and property grabbing. © Ruth Landy

  • Renée Byer, a Pulitzer prize winning photographer for the Sacramento Bee, came to Visa to present No Safe Place. It’s a searing witness to the struggles of Afghan refugees resettled to California under special visas granted because of their support for the U.S. war effort in their country, and the deadly risks they faced at home.

“ Photojournalism is about telling stories. As a photojournalist, I spend a lot of time with my subjects — sometimes a year, two years. We are all more the same than we are different. We all have the same emotions, want the best for our children. Many of the Afghan refugees just want an opportunity, they don’t want a handout. I just want their story to be told, in their own words. ”

No Safe Place

Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Renée C Byer after commenting her exhibition No Safe Place at the Visa festival. © Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

Much of Byer, Kohut and Toensing’s photojournalism embodies best practices of the profession, which they share with their male colleagues:

  • A fierce commitment to a code of journalistic ethics – accuracy, context, no manipulation of images.
  • Deep engagement with those they are photographing — before, during and after they put down their cameras.
  • Mentorship of young photographers, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Yet their work also reveals the contours of a new visual landscape in the making: our world seen through women’s eyes, a gender lens keenly attuned to social exclusion, but also to signs of social transformation as women and girls come into their power in the 21st century.

The word photography comes from the Greek, meaning “writing with light”. As Byer, Kohut, Toensing and other women blaze new trails in their profession, their fearlessness, determination and empathy illuminates the path ahead:

Meridith Kohut, on managing feelings while photographing tough stories:

“A lot of photojournalists will block out trauma when shooting difficult subjects. When I was at the funeral of the four kids with the moms crying, I was bawling right along with them. Whenever I have strong emotions, I feel them in the moment. Maybe that’s easier for me because I’m a woman, but I try to use whatever I’m feeling not only for my mental health, but also for my work.”

Renée Byer, on what it takes to make it in photojournalism:

“There aren’t as many women in the profession, but their involvement is growing in leaps and bounds. If I were to give advice to young women aspiring to be photojournalists, it would be about the determination you need — about shooting every single day. It’s not something where you just pick up a camera and become a great photographer. You have to go the extra mile.”

Amy Toensing, on the value of educating girls in low-income countries:

“It’s important to look to the future, and that’s the essence of this. It’s about girls’ education. And these places really need to start prioritizing that.

“You give these girls something to work with, empower them and this (the social exclusion experienced by widows) won’t happen.

When you educate girls, look out – because they’re going to kick ass!”



Faculty Spotlight: Profs. Raskin & Williamson show in “Beyond Landscapes”


Solo Exhibition: Hiromichi Matsudaira “Experimental”


My photographic works explore a new possibility of photographs. Some are embodied with multiple-exposure, and the others are enhanced by chemical manipulations in the darkroom. Using urban architecture and street as a visual metaphor, I created this series of experimental photography.

Hiromichi Matsudaira 
On display at Gallery Obscura
October 17th – 31st, 2017

Reception: Wednesday, Oct 25th, 6-8pm

Hiromichi Matsudaira

Hiromichi Matsudaira, Untitled, silver gelatin print

Faculty Spotlight: “Resisters: 50 Years of Social Movement Photography in the Bay Area”

Resisters: 50 Years of Social Movement Photography in the Bay Area
Curated by Professor Ken Light and Melanie Light.

From the Free Speech Movement in 1967 to the 2017’s Women’s March, this exhibition features images by some of the foremost photographers in the Bay Area, including Stephen Shames, Nacio Jan Brown, Robert Altman, Janet Delaney, Noah Berger, Geoffrey King, Sarah Rice, Kelly Owen and Santiago Mejia. Over generations, they have witnessed social history in powerful imagery, seen in newspapers, magazines, posters books and new media.

Friday, September 22nd
Free and open to the public. Seats are first come, first served.
Reception: 6:00-7:00 p.m. North Gate Hall Courtyard
Photographers in Conversation: 7:00-8:30 p.m. Room 105 North Gate Hall
Exhibit Dates: September 5 – December 22, 2017 Monday – Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Nacio Jan Brown

© Nacio Jan Brown | Sunrise at the Oakland Induction Center. Stop the Draft Week, 1967.

SF Camerawork Upcoming Events

Begin Anywhere: Paths of Mentorship and Collaboration
Co-hosted with California Sunday Magazine
Thursday, September 7, 2017
6 – 8 PM


Please join us Thursday, September 7th from 6 – 8 PM for the Opening Reception of our exhibition Begin Anywhere: Paths of Mentorship and Collaboration featuring artists Amanda Boe, McNair Evans, and Kevin Kunishi along with their mentors – Jason Fulford, Todd Hido, Mark Mahaney, Mike Smith, and Alec Soth. We are proud to co-host this event with California Sunday Magazine, and to have Fort Point Beer Company as an event sponsor.

You can read more about this exhibition here

KEVIN KUNISHI, #0002, Wailuku, Maui, 2014

KEVIN KUNISHI, #0002, Wailuku, Maui, 2014


Amanda Boe, McNair Evans, Kevin Kunishi, and Todd Hido
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
6 – 8 PM

On Wednesday, September 13th artists Amanda Boe, McNair Evans, Kevin Kunishi, and Todd Hido will be in the gallery to discuss their work and current exhibition Begin Anywhere: Paths of Mentorship and Collaboration. Please join us to learn more about the artists’ approach to artistic mentorship, and to hear them discuss the collaborative efforts that produced this current exhibition.

From the Exquisite Corpse series; Amanda Boe, 002, 2015, McNair Evans, 003, Cardinal 14006, 2017 and Kevin Kunishi, #0355 Black Nazarene, Manila, Philippines, 2016

From the Exquisite Corpse series; Amanda Boe, 002, 2015, McNair Evans, 003, Cardinal 14006, 2017 and Kevin Kunishi, #0355 Black Nazarene, Manila, Philippines, 2016


Amy Osborne & Josh Smith
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
6 – 8 PM
General Ticket Price: $10
SF Camerawork Member Ticket Price: $5

Our Storytellers Lecture Series resumes this fall featuring photographers Amy Osborne and Josh Smith. Amy Osborne, contributing photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle, will discuss her most recent project, documenting Lieutenant Taylor Miller, the first openly transitioning officer in the Coast Guard. Photographer Joshua Smith will share his latest body of work, The First Years, in which he documents his expanding family and explores the contradictions and intricacies of parenthood.
You can read more about this event here
Amy Osborne, Taylor Miller’s aunt, Jenny Lindsey, pins a shoulder board during Miller’s promotion to Coast Guard lieutenant at the Long Beach, Calif., base in January. Miller’s aunt and her husband accept her transition. Miller’s parents have disowned her.

Amy Osborne, Taylor Miller’s aunt, Jenny Lindsey, pins a shoulder board during Miller’s promotion to Coast Guard lieutenant at the Long Beach, Calif., base in January. Miller’s aunt and her husband accept her transition. Miller’s parents have disowned her.

Alex Webb & Rebecca Norris Webb
Slant Rhymes
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
6:30 – 8:30 PM

Please join us on Tuesday, September 26th from 6:30 – 8:30 PM for an artist talk and book signing with photographers Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb.  They will show work from a number of projects, both published and unpublished, and discuss the creative challenges of working together and apart over the past three decades. The creative couple will show photographs from individual projects — including Rebecca’s My Dakota, her meditation on loss and landscape, and Alex’s La Calle some 30 years of work from Mexico — as well as their new collaborative book, Slant Rhymes, and joint work-in-progress The City Within.

Read more about the event here

Left: Rebecca Norris Webb, Stained Glass; Right: Alex Webb, Arcahaie, Haiti

Left: Rebecca Norris Webb, Stained Glass; Right: Alex Webb, Arcahaie, Haiti

Faculty Spotlight: Photography Exhibition curated by Professor Stephanie Williamson


Featuring photography by
Laura Epstein-Norris
Richelle Semenza
Ed Ford Summerfield
Laurie Wagner
Jan Watten
Stephanie Williamson


Opening Reception, Friday Sept. 8. 6-9pm
Closing Reception, Friday Oct 13. 6-9pm

Jingletown Art Studios
3001 Chapman St. Oakland, CA 94601