Momenta welcomes featured guestagrammer,
Current job: Independent Photographer & Writer
Current location: Boston, Massachusetts
Connection to Momenta: I learned about Momenta many years ago when I met Jamie Rose at the Northern Short Course in Photojournalism. I was a student at that time and already knew that I wanted to collaborate with non-profits. As someone who didn’t study photojournalism in college and jumped right into the freelance world, opportunities like Momenta Workshops feels like my own version of grad school with a twist.
Tell us about your journey as an image-maker and how you got to where you are today.
I took my first photography class during my freshman year of high school. Soon after completing that elective, I committed to an independent study in photography. For most of the school day, I could be found either in the darkroom or the newsroom.
When I went to college, I decided not to pursue photojournalism, unsure of whether it would make sense for a career path, and instead studied other forms of communication (I jumped around a bit). It didn’t take long for me to realize that I wasn’t quite cut out for the typical four-year college experience and after taking a semester off, I enrolled in The Rothberg International School at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Once in Israel, I walked into Flash90 Photo Agency and asked them for an internship. They agreed and I haven’t stopped making pictures since.
What stories or issues are you most passionate about covering?
I am fascinated by cultural identity and more specifically, the concept of home. I document where people live and what influences shape their perspective and their experiences..
I am currently working on a long-term project about my grandmother’s displacement as a result of the Holocaust. From 2014-2015, I spent a year traveling in Central Europe, Scandinavia, and across the United States to retrace 13-years of her statelessness after fleeing Czechoslovakia as a 14-year old girl. Covering such an extensive amount of history and following the same story across international borders has fostered a deep curiosity about how culture is shaped by migration.
Where do you look for inspiration for your work: books, movies, authors, photographers, art, certain people?
My biggest inspiration comes from reading books (ones that I can flip the pages of). I love to read non-fiction narratives, memoirs, and travel writing. Being able to immerse myself into the journey of someone who has a completely different viewpoint than I do helps me better understand and also form questions about the stories I want to tell.
Also, I don’t think I could survive in this field without having close friends who work hard and produce beautiful work. Being witness to what other’s are passionate about provides me with a lot of motivation.
What social media or news feeds do you follow regularly?
For social media, I mostly stick to Instagram and Facebook. I also love podcasts, especially when I have a lot of computer time in front of me. On Instagram, I really enjoy the @everyday… series; they help me stay connected to a lot of the places I have visited and may be writing about at the time. I also am a big fan of @echosight and love seeing their collaborative mash-ups. I follow The Image, Deconstructed and also listen to The Photo Brigade podcast; both help me stay centered with trying to navigate the world of freelance photography. Another feed that I follow, which is also an awesome app, is ViewFind. There are some really great stories being published there.
What is one passion you have outside of photography that might come as a surprise to our readers?
I love being on a farm. As someone who grew up as a staunch city girl in Boston, this is a passion that has caught me completely off guard. I spent a month living on a farm in Denmark in 2014 while working on my project, Follow My Footprints. It completely altered the way I think about settling down. Now, my husband and I regularly daydream about homesteading – growing our own vegetables, having a few animals and learning how to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
What can we expect to see from your “guestagramming” on our Momenta Instagram account?
I attended Project New Orleans back in April and had the chance to work with Liberty’s Kitchen, a non-profit that helps young people access futures that are healthy and sustainable.
The program uses the cafe’s food service-based business to teach and provide experiential learning to trainees while addressing the issues of health care, mental health, housing, GED completion, parenting issues and financial literacy.
I spent four days working with Liberty’s Kitchen. Some of that time was spent photographing at their cafe, but most of what I did was visited various restaurants around the city where their graduates are now working.
I knew coming into the workshop that I wanted to document a personal narrative which Liberty’s Kitchen was very open to. They put me in touch with Nadja Sampson, a 20-year Mississippi native who is a recent graduate of Liberty’s Kitchen’s Youth Development Program. Throughout the week, I met Nadja at home, at work (which is her first job), and learned about how she is building a life for herself in New Orleans.
#seizethemomenta, and follow @momentaworkshops on Instagram to see Rachael’s work
About the author…
Jen May Pastores
Jen May Pastores is a research and development team member and content developer at Momenta Workshops. Her expertise is in visual communications and social media.