Blog

Rwandan Mountain Gorillas


I have some time between classes, and an upcoming assignment in Nairobi, which allowed me to take a pretty magical hike yesterday.
I spent four hours or so on an amazing journey to see the mountain gorillas at Volcano National Park in Rwanda. It was truly one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced. Here are some images:

Mountain Gorillas, Rwanda – Images by Brent Foster

A Teachers Blog-Week 2

After two weeks together, the third year Journalism and Communications students, and I wrapped up our course at the National University of Rwanda.
I couldn’t be happier with the results.

The students came back with some surprisingly solid images given the fact this was the first experience shooting a photo essay, and using a camera for most of them.

On top of that using point and shoot cameras with 10 people to a camera provides it share of challenges, to say the least.

Here’s a look at some of the images they brought back from a great two weeks together. In three weeks I will start a new course in Kigali at the Great Lakes Media Center.


Students Pictures-National University of Rwanda – Images by 3rd Year Students

A bloody day in Kigali

The scene of the attack the next day


It sounded like a canon.
As I sat drinking a coffee and discussing my teaching experience at the University with my colleague we heard a thundering thud.
I knew it wasn’t a gunshot, but never would I have expected a bloody attack had occurred about a hundred yards from where I sat.
Bertha and I looked at each other. “What was that?,” she said. I replied saying I was confident it wasn’t shots fired, and the thought of an attack simply didn’t occur to me. Not in the Rwanda I know.
Bertha and I looked around, gauged the reaction, or lack thereof, of the others around us, finished our coffees, and left on motorcycle taxis.

It was only when our friend Sam arrived at the Rwanda Initiative house that we learned what had happened. At least two grenades were set off simultaneously, resulting in at least one person dead, and dozens injured.
No one knows who’s responsible for the attack. Rumors are circulating ranging from the arrival of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, racial tensions, and the upcoming elections.

As soon as I heard about the attack I grabbed my cameras and rushed back to the scene. I walked with Sam, Bertha, and another colleague, and we searched for the attacked areas, expecting police, people in distress, and news reporters.
There was nothing.
It wasn’t until we looked down at our feet in the area we thought was a scene of the attack, only to see they were covered in blood. We were standing literally on the site of the attack, and life went on around us like nothing had happened.

A teacher’s blog- Week 1


The first day wreaked of havoc from the beginning. I arrived into a tightly packed classroom of 71 students only to discover my fly was down. As I turned around to subtly pull it back up, I realized the zipper was broken. Great. Not only that, but the speakers, laptop, and everything I had prepared weren’t exactly going to work all to well in a brightly sun-lit classroom, with one plug.

Things turned around quickly though. We moved the class into a much larger room, found an extension cord, and started to project images and multimedia onto a white sheet. The rest of the week has been golden… sort of.

To give you a little background, I’m here in land of 1000 hills, otherwise known as Rwanda, teaching multimedia and online journalism. I’m currently at the National University of Rwanda in Butare, and following that, I’ll be at the Great Lakes Media Center in Kigali for three weeks.

I was brought here by Rwanda Initiative, a Canadian NGO that recruits teachers from all over, and brings them to Rwanda to teach.

So far, the biggest challenge has been supplies. I came with several cameras in tow, donated by the Toronto Star, but even combined with those, we have 7 working point and shoots for 71 journalism students… not exactly ideal.

At the University sits a box of old Nikon D1s that have been donated from media organizations all over the world …none of them are working.

So, we’re doing what we can. Groups of 10 are going out with one camera, and learning to build sequences, shooting wide, medium and tight, how to white balance, shoot environmental portraits, features, and photo essays. They’re
excited, and so am I. Each day, the pictures improve ten fold.

All in all, things have been great so far. The students are very attentive, and have learnt quickly to come to class on time after realizing I was serious about blocking the door with a desk at 8:35 each morning. Deadlines are deadlines:)

First Week


From World Press Photo’s web site:
In this audio slideshow, jury chair Ayperi Karabuda Ecer reflects on the progress of the contest after the first week of judging. She describes the process during the first round, a time when the whole World Press office is engaged in the judging. Additionally, this year included specialized juries that simultaneously judged the categories of Nature, Sports and Portraits while the rest of the jury focused on the categories within News & documentary.”

BFC Members featured in PDN, Feb.2010


Check out February’s issue of PDN to see a story my colleague Poul Madsen from Bombay Flying Club, and I are featured in called “Turning NGOs into Paying Clients”
The important thing I think to take away from this story is that you can do work that’s important, and helpful, but still need to survive in an industry that’s getting tougher by the day. I love working with NGOs, as I feel like the work produced can actually make a direct difference when working with them… something I often battle with when working for other clients.

The Story Beyond the Still


No idea what the prizes, etc, are for THIS, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a pretty damn cool final result.

From the site “Introducing the first user-generated HD Video Contest where photographers become filmmakers, and we all see beyond the still. To kick off the contest, Canon asked me to interpret what story I saw beyond the still, and to tell that story with the new Canon EOS 7D. My short film will be the first chapter of seven, each ending with a still photograph for the next aspiring filmmaker to interpret. Posing the question to everyone, what do you see beyond the still?

My short film will premiere on January 7th on Vimeo, and the contest will begin January 15th. I look forward to seeing what everyone creates! More info coming soon!”

Teaching in Rwanda

Kigali Street Scene, 2009


I’m really excited to be off to teach journalism for in Rwanda in February with Canadian NGO Rwanda Initiative. I had the opportunity to stay with them earlier this year when working on a story on the anniversary of the genocide, and have been looking for an excuse to return ever since…

From their website: “Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication, Canada’s premier journalism school, is spearheading this initiative to collaborate with its counterpart at the National University of Rwanda (NUR), in Butare.
The central aim is to address the shortage of journalism educators in Rwanda, to build capacity, to improve journalism standards in the country and to forge a partnership between the two universities.
In addition to providing the School of Journalism and Communication in Butare with consistent access to visiting teachers, the project has a major curriculum development and exchange component and also includes media-training workshops in Rwanda for working journalists, jointly organized by Carleton and NUR.”

Oh yeah, that’s why…

LaBelle
It’s so easy, especially these days to get caught up in the kind of camera, medium, software, etc, that you use to tell a story.
It’s much harder to remember why we do this in the first place. Every photographer, especially ones who plan to teach should watch THE LESSON, as well as the other chapters in the series. Kudos to Francis Gardler for putting this together. I know it’s the kick in the ass I needed.

Kickin it old school

Picture 2
This multimedia piece, Ted Baryluk’s Grocery, was created the year I was born…. 1982.
Check it out. Powerful story telling, simple narrative. Very effective.

Thanks to Colin Corneau for pointing this out.