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Credit Emilia Lloret/Native Agency

We will all be the beneficiaries, no doubt:

Nurturing New Storytellers in Africa and Latin America

By David Gonzalez

For some people, the idea of “serious” photography conjures up dramatic scenes of suffering, violence and poverty. This can be especially so in parts of Latin America and Africa, where careers have been made by foreign journalists who go in looking for drama. While no doubt there are pressing issues in these regions, there are also scenes of daily life, or less dramatic situations, that go unnoticed, slanting how a global audience sees people and places.

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A celebration of the Day of the Dead. Oaxaca, Mexico. 2013.Credit Tamara Merino/Native Agency

The prize-winning aesthetic can filter down to local photographers, who imitate what they think will get them noticed, said Laura Beltrán Villamizar, a photo editor and curator originally from Colombia. “Most of the World Press Photo winners, and people in the industry, are male and western, either from Europe or the U.S.,” said Ms. Beltrán Villamizar, who used to work for World Press Photo. “Photographers from Africa and Latin America think the western gaze is how you make it in the industry, that poverty and blood-drenched photos are the ones that are going to sell because it’s the one that is portrayed the most. This is what makes it to the news. This is how western photographers get their stories.”…

This is what she intends to change. She and Colombian photographer Federico Rios Escobar have started Native Agency, which has taken under its wings a dozen photographers from Africa and Latin America mentoring them on everything from developing and researching stories to getting their work published. Working as a collective — and across six time zones — they also share their work with one another online to begin to understand not just their own countries, but what is going on elsewhere.

Among the photographers in the group are Yael Martinez, who has explored in very personal ways the lingering effects of disappearances in Mexico; Alejandro Cegarra, who has looked at the psychic landscape of Venezuela’s crisis; Cynthia R. Matonhodze, a Zimbabwean photographer who is documenting human rights issues in her country; and Miora Rajaonary — Madagascar, a Johannesburg-based photographer whose work explores “social issues and shifting cultures and identities” in Africa…

Read the whole story here.

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