Five Questions with Joseph Smooke
Current Occupation: Co-Founder of [people.power.media.]
Workshop: Project India
Nonprofit Assignment: ADOPT
Instructors: Jamie Rose & Barbara L. Salisbury
What motivated you to take a Momenta Workshop?
I had wanted to go to India for many years. When I travel, I don’t like to take a tour bus around and see the sites– I much prefer to meet people and get engaged in communities. Of course going somewhere so far away where I have no personal or professional contacts means that I also had no starting point for figuring out how to do what I love– take photos and use those photos for positive change. When I found the Momenta workshop, it was the perfect opportunity to go to India and make a difference with my camera!
What surprised you most about the location you visited or the experience of working with a nonprofit?
I learned so much! What surprised me the most was many of the management and funding challenges for nonprofits in India are very similar to the challenges we have here in the US.
What was the best lesson you took away from your workshop?
I learned so many things as a photographer from organizing and editing my images to the way I approached my shooting. I will never forget when Jamie told me to stop moving around– that I should stay in one place and really study the scene from that one spot for a while– at least until the people start to ignore me because they’re bored of me. My photography has improved vastly from just this one adjustment. I also learned so much about Indian culture, religion, and nonprofit strategies– and how photography can make a difference in this environment.
What was your favorite photograph from this workshop and why?
This was a nonprofit called ADOPT that brought advanced medical services out to the rural areas. They particularly focused on the needs of children. This young boy was suffering from epilepsy and during his seizures he kept falling and re-opening a wound under his chin. In this photo his Mom was gently stroking him with a protective and caring hand while his Father stood by also looking concerned. The young boy looks somewhat frightened as people typically look after they’ve had a seizure.
What would you tell a potential student to help them prepare for their experience with Momenta?
I read a ton of books before I went which was super helpful. I would tell any potential student to do the same thing. I would also tell them to volunteer at a nonprofit in their home town before going. Do some shooting for them.
Practice. Be ready. Have at least some base level of understanding about what nonprofits do and have some experience shooting for one. You will learn a lot more as a volunteer and as a photographer if you do.
Joseph Smooke’s Biography:
Joseph has international experience as a photojournalist and videographer, editor of a community newspaper in San Francisco and as a Program and Executive Director for the non-profit organization Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center (BHNC). Joseph is based out San Francisco, CA and has worked in nonprofits in the city and Bay Area since 1993. Joseph has been a Legislative Aide to two of the members of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors and is a professional member of the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA).
See Joseph’s Work:
Website: peoplepowermedia.net & josephsmooke.com