Five Questions with Daniel Breece
Current Occupation: Editor-in-Chief, Outside Magazine (Sweden)
Workshop: Project Sierra Leone
Nonprofit Assignment: West African Medical Missions
Instructors: Chris Anderson & Charlotte Kesl
1. What motivated you to take a workshop and why did you pick Momenta?
I have been shooting for over 20 years, and the last 5 as a a professional. As I am self taught, I thought it was about time I got some serious feedback on what I’m doing (and not doing). Lately, I also feel I have been caught in a “routine” while taking pictures, so I wanted to get some assistance to try to break this.
The choice fell on Momenta because I was more keen to do a workshop in a place more foreign to me than say New York or London. It simply was a great way to get into a new and different country. I also really like the “working for nonprofits” setup. It’s a great and unique way for photographers to give something back.
2. What surprised you most about the country you visited or the experience of working with a nonprofit?
Well I do have to say that Sierra Leone was in worse shape than I thought it was going to be. Given the situation, I was truly impressed by the resilience of the people. When it came to the photography bit, it was quite clear you had to earn your trust as a photographer. Many of the Sierra Leoneans I met didn’t really say neither “yes” or “no” to being photographed, more “maybe, who are you, and why?” On previous assignments, I find people clearly say “no”, or “I don’t really care”. So this change was interested and also posed a special challenge while shooting. Working with a nonprofit was clearly a great way to get access to people and places I otherwise would have a lot harder time to get into, given the timeframe.
3. What was the best lesson you took away from your workshop?
Good (read great) photography takes time, and presence. So for me I think I need to be mere present while shooting. I know I can be and I know when it happens, but I need to pay more attention to make those moments really happen.
Secondly, I need to allow my projects to take longer time; to visit the scene not only once, but several times and in different kinds of light. In general, this is something quite obvious, but for someone like me who usually do quick “in and out” stuff, it’s easy to forget, if you want to make it great, it simply needs more time.
4. What was your favourite photograph from this workshop & why?
Always a hard question, and I have a hard time choosing. I ended up working on several different projects and they all have their own favourites. But the attached one lingers on as a favourite. I really love the colour and the scene and how the water reflects the colour of the super early morning sky. I don’t usually tend to art references, but I really like what I would call the renaissance feel of the picture. It’s also pretty far from what I usually do. So, to me, it symbolizes creativity.
5. What would you tell a potential student to help them prepare for their experience with Momenta?
Momenta wants to make sure you get the best out of your workshop, so calibrate your mind and body for long and intensive days. I would also say its good to be open-minded and creative about what can enfold. Small nonprofits in developing countries might not know what they want or need, so you might have to take some lead. If you want to get sidetracked, the nonprofits can hold keys to people and places that might otherwise be hard to access. Win-win is the key.
Daniel Breece’s Biography:
Daniel Breece, a Swedish journalist, photographer and currently the editor-in-chief of the Swedish edition of Outside magazine. “I would say I have some sort of base in photojournalism but I also shoot quite a fair deal of outdoor sports. As a journalist, I think its important that we try to nuance the picture of the world, there is more to it than war and beaches. In my international work I try to find the space between the conflicts and the glossy world of polished travel stories.”
See Daniel’s work: