Street Photography in Washington, D.C.

November 15, 2012 9:50 am

Life is funny and people do interesting things just going about their daily business.  Mix in a few photographers who watch and snap, and the genre of street photography was born. 

This isn’t a new concept -  a small handful of photographers, including Eugène Atget and Henri Cartier-Bresson, captured moments on the streets of Paris over a hundred years ago, pioneering the style.  This type of “life reportage” involved individualized techniques, personal preference, and an eye for the decisive moment to hit the shutter.  Viewed out of context, images like these can invoke a lot of questions, be confusing, uncomfortable, or hilarious, or simply offer an unfiltered look at humanity.  An example is Cartier-Bresson’s iconic Rue Mouffetard, Paris of a small boy carrying two giant bottles of wine on a Paris street, one of my personal favs.

Locally, street photography has been categorized by a group of photographers, each with an individualized approach and style.  Recently, a few banded together to create STRATA Collective with the aim to strengthen their work and increase exposure to the artform.  This collective includes Aziz Yazdani, whose split-view look at two generations was a winner in the 2010 FotoWeekDC festival, so I asked him about STRATA Collective and their exhibit up now.

H St, DC, 2012, Photograph by AzizYazdani

>>  How did STRATA Collective get its start?

Aziz:  The idea of creating a street photography collective has actually been floating around in our minds for a couple of years. Over this past summer I finally decided to make something happen and shot an email out to a group of DC based street photographers whose work I deeply admired: Bill Bramble, Matt Dunn, Steve Goldenberg, Mike Hicks, and Chris Suspect. The creation of the group was essentially two fold: 1) to strengthen our photographic skill set by offering valuable and intellectual critique and 2) to expose the community to Street Photography, a genre of photography that is not represented or respected enough in my opinion.

>>  Where can we see STRATA Collective’s work?

Aziz:  Since our creation just a few months ago we’ve made quite a bit of progress. We have been fortunate enough to be part of two exhibitions. We are currently exhibiting 22 prints at Submerge, located at 7 th and H St. NE. through November 18, 2012. We will also be having a one night exhibition/party in collaboration with another DC-based photography collective, FotoPartner InstantDC [whose involvement with FotoWeek spans several years] on November 15th. We also just found out that three of our members were chosen to be exhibited at the Miami Street Photography Festival during the second week in December. Out of 78 prints that will be exhibited, 11 are from STRATA. Not too shabby.

Ocean City, MD, 2012, Photograph by Mike Hicks
Ocean City, MD, 2012, Photograph by Mike Hicks

>>  What can we expect from STRATA in the future?

Aziz:  Things are looking pretty good for us so far. I can’t express how exited I am for the future of our group and how lucky I am to be surrounded by such amazing photographers. We constantly strive to improve our images and push (>cough< encourage) each other to step up our game. For the time being we are going to stick to the six of us and work out all of the kinks of what it takes to run a successful Collective.  Hopefully by next summer we will be looking to expand as a group.

San Francisco, CA, 2012, Photograph by Chris Suspect

The work of STRATA Collective photographers may be seen at Instant DC’s 3rd Annual 2012 Soul of the City Photography Exhibition exhibit at the Josephine Butler Parks Center tonight, Thursday, November 14, from 6 to 10 p.m.  Tickets are $10.

Experience Fall in Dupont Circle with Nancy Libson

November 13, 2012 10:00 am

Dupont Circle 3, 2012, Photograph by Nancy Libson

FotoPartner Documentary Photography Workshops with Nancy Libson offers a unique 8-hour immersion workshop opportunity to explore Dupont Circle with your camera this Sunday, November 18.

We asked Nancy Libson about her workshops, how she got started, what she’s learned along the way about photographers and photography.

“The first stop is the wonderful and long-familiar tradition – Sunday farmer’s market – filled with seasonal fresh vegetables, Thanksgiving pies, colors of autumn, and crowds to fill lots of photos.  We’ll explore the main streets and side streets of the neighborhood looking to capture “your” essence of the place!  Before and after our photo shoot we’ll be indoors – learning tips and looking at slides before we head out – and, after we explore Dupont Circle, we’ll head back indoors to critique your work!

I am a documentary photographer and I’ve been teaching documentary photography workshops for about fifteen years. I love to teach others how to capture the essence of a place.  My first workshop as teacher was on Tilghman Island when I was a newcomer to D.C.. I originally went out to do a photo story on the Tilghman Island Bridge that was being replaced and found the area to be quite special. After that initial visit I decided to hold classes on the island and over time I introduced well over 100 photographers to the area.  Eventually, many Tilghman Islanders became my friends – the Island almost a second home. And the story repeats with other areas throughout the US, where I hold classes.  The idea of exploration with my camera, the artistry involved, reaching out to others in a variety of meaningful ways, making a difference, and making connections is what moves me about photographing and teaching about a “place.”  I also think that many others could feel this way.

In my opinion, although documentary photography has changed over time, this approach to photography is still around because there always will be a curiosity about other people and perhaps a desire to help be a part of change through images, whether you’re behind the camera or trying to understand the world a bit better by viewing the images of others.

Most of my classes are documentary in nature and they vary from daylong to a week. The location varies from DC to other unique and interesting places throughout the U.S.” – Nancy Libson

Dupont Circle 1, 2012, Photograph by Nancy Libson

Documenting Dupont Circle with a Camera
Sunday, November 18
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
$105 per person

The class meets at 2737 Devonshire Place, NW, in the party room at Woodley Park Towers, located at the corner of Devonshire Place and Connecticut Avenue, NW.

To register, visit or email Nancy directly at
You may also register at the time of class with check or cash, although please RSVP to make sure there’s still room in the class.

FotoPartner Goethe-Institut Promotes Photography Year-Round

November 12, 2012 10:00 am

The success of FotoDC and the FotoWeekDC festival would not be possible without partnerships and the support of businesses and organizations throughout the area.  These mutually-beneficial alliances offer opportunities to celebrate photography beyond the walls of FotoWeekCentral through exhibits and other events, as well as providing additional locations to expand the festival’s offerings.  This year, the Goethe-Institut, located near the Chinatown neighborhood of Northwest D.C., has opened up their space to host the portfolio reviews, the FotoWeekEDU Seminar Series, and the FotoBook Award Winners.

To learn more about the Goethe-Institut and their involvement with the 2012 festival, we asked Norma Broadwater in the Institut’s Cultural Programs and Public Relations a few questions.

>>  No stranger to the FotoWeekDC Festival, Goethe-Institut has participated for several years by hosting fantastic exhibits highlighting photography by German artists.  How did the partnership this year with FotoWeekEDU come about?

Norma:  FotoWeek approached us with the idea of a workshop series in our theater. One reason was that the size of our theater and the equipment it contains seemed a good fit for FotoWeek activities. In addition, there was interest in possibly including some German photographers. We then developed the idea to present the winners of one of the competitions in our gallery, as well as to have the portfolio reviews at Goethe. With this, we would like to foster the exchange between US and European photography.

>>  How has involvement with FotoWeekDC influenced activities at Goethe-Institut with regard to visitor traffic?  Has there been increased interest in the Institut’s exhibits and other events year-round?

Norma:  With the announcements on the FotoWeek website and the resulting press coverage, we do get attention from new audiences, which includes both professionals and a general audience that does not normally know about our programs. This year, we are expecting full workshops, and we anticipate that the participants will come to additional exhibitions and other events here throughout the year. We’re also expecting an increased number of visitors to come to our FotoBook competition winners show, both participants and those interested in the results. And, we should see a number of artists coming the weekend of the portfolio reviews to have their work evaluated by experts.

>>  Tell us about the photography coming out of Germany and how it compares with the work right here in Washington, D.C.?

Norma:  With our long-standing cooperation with German photography institutions like C/O Berlin and gute aussichten, we like to give young photographers a platform to present their work, and hope that this establishes a chance for artistic exchange between Germany and the US. It’s always exciting to see how photography coming from Germany is responding to topics and trying new methods, and how that compares to work by young photographers in the U.S. We like to initiate a dialogue and discussions with local artists, as we did last year with a group show with C/O Berlin winner Iris Janke, who presented her works here alongside work by Corcoran College of Art + Design Fine Art Photography alumna Sara J. Winston and BFA Fine Art Photography candidate Kaitlin Jencso. Then, the audience can compare.

We hope you take advantage of this opportunity to explore more of Goethe-Institut’s programs – get started by looking through their events schedule listing from now through the end of the year.