Iphoneography Essay in Mexico City

15 February 2019

Iphone Street Photography Essay | Shooting in Mexico City with an Iphone | On the Ground, a Lower Look

Never stop learning!

It does not matter how much you already know or what makes you feel safe or confident: it's always about finding new knowledge, experiences, developing new skills and being better every day. That’s why besides being a mentor and educator in the world of photography, I will always be an eternal student. You might think that there is nothing more to learn about something you already consider yourself to be good at, but I remember clearly a sentence from my father that he told me once: “Non c'è mai limite al meglio” which means

“There is never a limit to the best”

And he is right, there is never a limit to improve, you can always be better on what you do, always. That is why, periodically when my mind and heart drive me to want to go further I know that I just need to learn more. When I feel that I’m little stocked on what I do, or just when I eager for new motivations, new skills to learn, or simply see the same thing but in different way… There is when I study a lot.

I am daily looking for great content around the web, I read books, I often go out and shoot some genuine street photography, or just trying to do something very different with my cameras. But sometimes this is not enough and I want more.

That’s why about a year ago I joined:

The Foundry Photojournalism Workshop

It is an annual photo workshop held in various international locations where well known photojournalists are bring together to teach visual storytelling. I had heard about it before, but it never caught my attention until some things happened: 1) I was mentally prepared for it, 2) It was the right time for my photographic vision, 3) They were organizing a special edition for its tenth anniversary, 4) It was not expensive, as I thought, and 5) Best of all, it took place in Mexico City :-) Only two hours away from Cabo San Lucas, which was much more practical than traveling to the other side of the world! ...

I remember someday I was snooping on the web when I found this:

“Join us for the 10th Annual Foundry Photojournalism Workshop. After 9 workshops held all over the world, from Bali to Buenos Aires, Foundry is returning to the place where it all started: Mexico City.

A Foundry workshop is like no other. Over one hundred photojournalists from all over the world come together for a week of intense learning. Students choose to take one class with one or two instructors that lead the week's work of shooting, editing and producing a final project.

Our instructors are among the world's finest visual journalists, working for top publications like The New York Times, National Geographic, The Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and services like the Associated Press and Getty Images.”


Humm! Very close to my home town? Half price for locals? Oh Yeah! I want to do that! So, I registered myself. I remember I had to pick an instructor between all of them, and I chose Michael Robinson Chavez, a staff photographer at The Washington Post. I guess he was the one with whom I best identified my photography and my vision, for his excellent black and white photos, so I got going to live the Foundry experience!

This time I will not go into detail about everything I did in those five days of the workshop, but I do want to share with you the selection of the photographs I took, explaining why and most importantly HOW I took them...

—Dennis Berti, Foundry Photojournalism Workshop

Every student had a private classroom, a 30 minutes portfolio review and an assignment to do, which could be a photo story or an essay. What’s the difference? In a few words:

A picture story tends to be about one place or person or situation... Whereas an essay tends to be about one type or aspect of many places, things or people.

In my case, I chose a photo essay but I did not do research on a particular topic or subject prior the workshop, I just decided to go and discover later, during the workshop, what moved me and why.

I read once an interesting article of Eric Kim, where he said: “So my excuse of not having an “interesting enough” neighborhood to photograph is bullshit. I just have adapted to my neighborhood to find it boring. I have therefore made a new approach: Approaching my neighborhood as if I were a tourist. I imagine myself as an alien, seeing my neighborhood as if I saw it for the first time. Once I start seeing my neighborhood as an outsider, I start to see interesting things. I start photographing interesting signs, urban landscapes, colors, and people etc.” I guess this is truly the best part:

when you force yourself to see the same things you already know, in a different way. Love it!

—Dennis Berti, Foundry Photojournalism Workshop

When we walk the streets, for example, we usually pay attention to what we see in front of us, but we often overlook what is below or above. We usually use, as we say in the photographic world, the GrandMa point of view … that is, what is always seen in front of you at the same height of the eyes, right? So, for my essay of that photojournalism workshop I decided to shoot whatever it was that caught my attention on the ground, from the top to the bottom or just at the height of a child's eye ... which brings a perspective and composition very different and very interesting.

But now comes the best part! The gear I used for this Photo Essay in Mexico City: my phone!

LOL … yes, that was it. All the photos published in this article were taken with an Apple iPhone 7 plus. No cameras, no lenses, no filter, no Adobe Lightroom post production … But wait, of course I used something else to shoot my photos, sorry I forgot to mention it: my Ear Pods! :-)

—Dennis Berti, Foundry Photojournalism Workshop

TIP: In case you did not know, you can use the volume buttons on the built-in remote as a trigger.

It's amazing, you can shoot without being noticed. And this gives me a big advantage: once you adjust the composition and exposure, instead of touching the large white shutter button on the Iphone camera, you can press the volume buttons to shoot a photograph. This gives you much more control and freedom in your hands, I love it!

The first photograph of this post, is the picture of my essay gear :-) The only difference is that my screen was not broken then, LOL

I walked many miles around Mexico City to shoot some genuine street photography, or Iphoneography or iPhone photography or whatever is called :-) Paying attention to details, searching for similarities, juxtapositions, repetitions or surreal things. The overall Foundry experience was great, apart from some details that I did not like (especially in the organization), I think it was worth trying and I learned a lot.

I really think that shooting Street Photography can train your eye to see the world in a better way

It’s fun and I really recommend everyone to try it out. It’s not difficult to start. You can just use any camera or smartphone, go out there and shoot. You can start with random photos and see what catch your attention, or just working on a clever idea.

Good luck my dear Street Photographer,

Cheers!

D.

—Foundry Photojournalism Workshop, Michael's group!

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