PhotoWings + Ashoka U Webinar: Inspiration


Inspiration comes in many forms — visual, verbal, virtual, tactile, sensory, through dreams, words shared, stories told — these have become embedded in our memories and resonate with our senses individually or in combination. They can come from a few words of wisdom to profound experiences. From wherever they originated, they can be life changing.

We want to introduce our community to the voices of interesting people who you may not know and share some stories you may be less familiar with. They have lived full and interesting lives with a lot of wisdom and thought provoking ideas to share — ones that can act as idea generators to pursue. I learned a lot in school. However, I learned much more by watching and listening in the world, particularly to thought leaders and those who have had direct experiences or differing perspectives.

We are tremendously moved by the sincerity, passion, and generosity of the people we’ve interviewed. We know everyone is busy, but we suggest grabbing a cup of coffee and watching/listening to this content. It’s fascinating.

We are hoping that you will watch or listen to our inspirational content, think deeply about it and be inspired to ferret out new wisdom you can find from your own resources. We encourage you to look through old photos and other possible influences to help open meaningful conversations deep conversations with those close to you. You might even share some of these stories to start conversations, and you may be surprised at what you learn.


Session Contents

This week we'll be hearing from:

  • Camille Seaman
  • Inspirational Words from Leading Curators:
    • Anne Tucker
    • Malcolm Daniel
    • Sandra Phillips
  • TED - Ideas Worth Spreading:
    • Doug Menuez
    • Phil Zimbardo
  • Foundry Photojournalism Workshop:
    • Michael Robinson Chavez
    • Andrea Bruce
    • Maggie Steber
    • Ron Haviv
  • Sara Terry - The Aftermath Project

Cover of The Creation

Haas, Ernst. The Creation. (New York: Viking Press, 1983)

Lanting, Frans. Life: A Journey Through Time (New York: Taschen, 2006)


Cover of "The art of the Snowflake

Libbrecht, Kenneth. The Art of the Snowflake. (St. Paul, MN: Voyageur Press, 2007)

Check out a video of Kenneth Libbrecht at work here.


Cover of Ruth Bernhard: Between Art and Life

Mitchell, Margaretta K. Ruth Bernhard: Between Art and Life. (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000)

(Optional) Click on the audio player below to hear Ruth Burnhard's memorial service:


Drop files to upload

Camille Seaman
Inspiration Through Accepting Who You Are

Camille Seaman is not only an extraordinary and insightful photographer, she’s also one of the most passionate and eloquent speakers we know. She takes on issues that are not only deeply personal to her, but these issues also resonate universally. Camille’s incredibly inspiring and thought provoking.

Why it’s important:

Camille speaks from the heart about accepting who you are. It’s an important message.

How you can use this information

Her message can be life-changing if it’s something you aren’t already doing. It’s also a message to share with those in need.

Click here for Biographical information on Camille Seaman

Inspiration and Eloquent Thoughts From Leading Photo Curators

Photography curators have an exceptional way of speaking about photography, which is a difficult thing to do well. They have a keen eye and bring photography to life through their work. As Sandy Phillips says, “[photo curators] think of the larger overview of photography, its role, its history and all of that — and where these pieces fit into the puzzle.”

Anne Wilkes Tucker - Museum of Fine Arts, Houston 

Anne Tucker (left) and Martine Franck in Paris, 2006. © Suzie Katz

Anne Wilkes Tucker, photography curator at the  Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, was named as “America’s Best Curator” by TIME Magazine. She is a “curator’s curator” and has been at the forefront of doing ambitious in-depth exhibitions.

As one of most respected thinkers about photography today, Anne Tucker cultivated the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's photography collection from almost nothing to over 28,000 works. Anne Tucker's latest exhibition, WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath, was eight years in the making, and features 280 different photographers working over the course of 166 years.

Trusting Your Instincts
[Clip length - 1:24]

Why this is important:

As most curators do, Anne has a succinct and passionate way of describing issues related to photography. In these audio clips, the topics she speaks to also resonate into thought provoking issues beyond photography.

How you can use this information:

Anne discusses topics related to trusting your instinct, something that is inherent but can also be honed over time. She also discusses how to do it.

The Power of Passion
[Clip length - 1:38]

Why this is important: 

In this clip, Anne discusses the power of passion.

How you can use this information:

You can have the most incredible project in the world but it’ll just sit there if you can’t sell it.  She discusses ways to build up your skills and identify mentors.

Protecting Your Talent
[Clip length - 1:31]

Why this is important: 

People sometimes become successful in careers they don’t really have a passion for and spend a lifetime wishing they were doing something they had more passion for. Sometimes people want to move on to a new passion but get stuck. She addresses these issues in this video.

How you can use this information: 

Anne discusses how people get stuck and how to move beyond.

Malcolm Daniel - Metropolitan Museum of Art

Senior Curator of the Photography Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Malcolm Daniel, is a respected and acclaimed curator and scholar of photography. He has been an integral part of  building the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection for over 16 years. Daniel is presently devoting himself to an in-depth exploration of 19th and early 20th century photography in order to better tell the history of early photography.

Click here to read the full PhotoWings feature on Malcolm Daniel

Why this is important:

We have pulled out this part of his interview that helps to describe why we care so much about photographs in a deep and visceral way. We are always inspired at the eloquence of photography curators’ way with words.

How you can use this information:

It’s a way to think about and describe to others the power of old photographs, and why it’s important to value and protect them.

Malcolm Daniel

The Value of Memories
[Clip length - 1:23]

Sandra Phillips - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

As the Senior Curator of Photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Sandra Phillips oversees on of the world’s most-respected photography collections and exhibitions. Under her direction, SFMOMA has presented a broad range of exhibitions.

Why this is important:
Sandy discusses different reasons people might care about old photos and how they might be used and learned beyond art. Phillips identifies everyday, personal photography as vernacular photography. She is eloquent as she describes what can be learned from old photographs, even ones whose origins aren’t known — the ones you find in bins at flea markets, antique stores and the like.

How you can use this information:
There’s a lot to be learned from looking deeply at photographs and thinking about new ways to utilize them.

Picture courtesy of Sandra Phillips

Vernacular Photos
[Clip length - 3:49]

TED Talks - "Ideas Worth Spreading"

About the TED Conference:

The TED Conference is an international phenomenon featuring “ideas worth spreading” from some of the world’s brightest thought leaders and has just past the milestone of one billion views.

We’ve included the wisdom from two TED speakers: One is psychologist Phil Zimbardo, whose talks have had four million views on the TED stage. The other is photographer Doug Menuez, speaker at TEDxSF. (Camille Seaman is also a senior TED Fellow.)


Doug Menuez

Doug Menuez is a well respected photographer who has had a long and varied career. His career spans documentary work, war photography, as well as advertising and fine art. Doug has done a number of books and is currently acclaimed for his work on the inception of Silicon Valley called Fearless Genius: How Silicon Valley Innovation Transformed the World. See him present a TEDxSF Talk about Fearless Genius (above).

Doug on Inspiration
[Clip length - 2:38]

Why this is important:

In this clip from an interview we conducted with Doug, he discusses the powerful responsibility he feels to capture the right moment as a photographer, describing his role as a messenger.

How you can use this:

These are words to keep in your heart and mind as you work.

Doug Menuez on stage at TEDx SF. ©Suzie Katz

Click here: Inspiration from TED Speakers

 Phil Zimbardo

Phil Zimbardo, who has had over four million TED Talk views, speaks here on the TED stage about the reverse side of his other talks, which were about why good people do bad things.

Why this is important: 

Here he discusses why some people become heroes and discusses his Heroic Imagination Project. People can do choose to go different things given certain circumstances, and he discusses why.

How you can use this information: 

In Phil’s Heroic Imagination Project, he provides concrete information you can utilize.

Foundry Photojournalism Workshop
Wisdom From Photographers Teaching Worldwide

For the past two years, PhotoWings has been a supporter and funder of the international project, Foundry Photojournalism Workshop, taught by some of the world’s most respected leading photographers. Each year the workshop convenes in a new location, meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2011 and Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2012. Participants convene from all over the world to work intimately with these acclaimed photographers, receiving feedback and discussing techniques to better their abilities.


Andrea Bruce

Andrea Bruce is a passionate, beautiful, charismatic and insightful photographer and speaker. Andrea has also received awards from the White House News Photographers Association (where she has been named Photographer of the Year four times), the International Pictures of the Year contest, and the prestigious John Faber award from the Overseas Press Club in New York.

Click here for biographical information on Andrea Bruce

Why this is important:

In these videos, Andrea discusses her interesting evolution into her photographic work and why it’s important.

How you can use this:

She gives a way of thinking and discusses the tools she and other photographs use to succeed. It’s also a way of thinking. Andrea is a generous and gifted teacher as well — you can take workshops from her.

In the second video Andrea discusses how photographers are able to do their work by deep listening, researching and almost becoming invisible in the societies they enter. It’s fascinating.

Click here: Voices from Foundry Workshop

Michael Robinson Chávez

Click here for biographical information on Michael Robinson Chávez 

Maggie Steber

Maggie Steber has had a long career in photography as a National Geographic photographer, photography editor and teacher, and she is one of our most respected and loved members. She is a “photographer’s photographer.” She has covered many subjects over the years, including long projects on Haiti and her mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Why this is important:

In this video Maggie discusses her personal thoughts about what photography means and its place in the world.

How you can use this:

It’s a way of thinking and discussing the power of photography, both in the world and your own life. It’s about legacy as well.

Ron Haviv

Ron Haviv is one of our most respected photojournalists and leading voices in photography. He is also a co-founder of a top-tier photography agency, VII Photo. Ron is also a sought after, generous, and gifted teacher.  It’s possible to take workshops from him

Why it’s important:

Ron has had a long and storied career as a photojournalist.  He’s seen and done a lot.  He cares about his subject matter and the future of photojournalism. In this video, he discusses his own career evolution, the power of photography, and how one of his own photographs made history.

How you can use this information:

You can think about his words, how someone like him evolves, and the power any given photograph can have on the world.


Sara Terry - The Aftermath Project founder, photographer, educator and visionary

Sara Terry is not only a gifted photographer, but she’s also an educator, facilitator and visionary. After covering conflict as a journalist, she found that many people weren’t focused on the effects of war as much as the action itself.

To address that lack of coverage, she founded the Aftermath Project. The Aftermath Project supports photographers who document in the wake of conflict. Their slogan, “War is Only Half the Story,” speaks neatly to their mission to educate the public about the real cost of war and the true price of peace. Through lectures, exhibitions and mini-residencies with Aftermath photographers engage in a dialogue that promotes a greater understanding of post-conflict societies and the efforts needed to rebuild them; deepens visual literacy; and sharpens critical thinking in defining what issues need our most urgent attention, in the media and in public policy debates. PhotoWings is an enthusiastic supporter of the Aftermath Project.

Why this is important

Sara is passionate about photographers and photography. In this video she discusses her career evolution and being surprised and motivated by being told early on that she was “on a white horse” to leave our world a better place. She also discusses how she lives life and who inspires her. And she’s inspiring.

How you can use this information

We’re providing this passionate and thought-provoking video to help you think about what you do and why. It’s a way to think about life in general — who you are and what your legacy might be.