1. What motivated you to take a workshop and why did you pick Momenta?
I try to attend one photo workshop per year in order to continue to hone my skills as a photographer and to get feedback on my work from my peers. Normally this consists of a workshop with a highly regarded photographer who waxes poetic about his or her work and who then proceeds to offer advice and critiques of one’s own work.
I stumbled across Momenta on the web and discovered an alternate approach to this typical scenario…namely, a workshop where you actually worked with a non-profit to assist them in conveying their goals and achievements. In other words, Momenta offers a way to give back one’s photographic skills in an effort to promote a worthwhile organization.
Add to this mix, the excellent feedback of professional documentary photographers and you have a superb opportunity to advance your skills while helping others.
2. What surprised you most about the location you visited or the experience of working with a nonprofit?
I was fortunate in establishing contact with my non-profit, Los Centros Sor Isolina Ferré, six weeks in advance of my arrival in Puerto Rico. My counterpart was highly organized and we discussed and decided upon mutual goals for my visit well in advance. I received a detailed daily schedule a week prior to my arrival that was most unusual but very fortunate as it mitigated potential problems.
I was most surprised by the diversity of the programs offered by the organization and the diversity of images I was able to capture. This variety included diverse educational projects for all ages, vocational training projects, post-hurricane community development projects and special education efforts.
3. What was the best lesson you took away from your workshop?
Light bulbs went off for me when Jamie Rose provided feedback during my initial edit. She made me realize catching a decisive moment takes time and patience which I had neglected to demonstrate sufficiently on my first day on-site. I began to slow down and watch what was unfolding from a more nuanced perspective. In so doing, I actually began to capture more interesting images.
4. What was your favorite photograph from this workshop & why?
I was given the opportunity to visit the homes of two families who had suffered terrible damage to their dwellings as a result of Hurricane Maria the year before. Both families still were living in dire conditions one year after the storm but their outlooks were decidedly different. The first family bemoaned their fate after having been victimized by an unethical roofing contractor. The second family was more optimistic and rebuilding their home slowly but steadily with the help of family and friends. So I have opted for two favorite photographs, one that depicts the despair of the first family and the second that depicts the hope and resilience of the second family.
5. What would you tell a potential student to help them prepare for their experience with Momenta?
Create the opportunity to frankly discuss your assignment with your non-profit in advance of your arrival and try to agree upon a tentative outline of goals and objectives for all parties involved. I would further suggest you embrace the edits that you will receive from a most competent Momenta staff. Listen to their reactions and comments and make sure not to amputate any legs or arms in your images (an occasional ear is okay, however)!
Michael Honegger’s Biography:
Photography is a first love and second career for me. I spent my first career traveling the globe working on international development projects for the Peace Corps and other international organizations. Having worked on long-term assignments abroad, I
developed a keen eye for the cultures and peoples where I worked. My second career as a photographer began with intensive studies of black and white and alternative photographic processes. I am a practicing photographer living in Nice, France and I have expanded my photographic repertoire to include fine art and documentary photography with a new found passion for working with non-profits.