Visual Storytelling – Foundry Photojournalism Workshop


At the 2015 Foundry Photojournalism Workshop, eight renowned instructors spoke with PhotoWings about the art and importance of visual storytelling. With a wealth of experience between them, they discuss what it means to them, how they do it, and what they are able to accomplish with it.

As we feature a small sliver of this work throughout the video, we encourage you to explore the accompanying image gallery to learn more about these journalists, their images and the stories they represent.



Kael Alford, Thorne Anderson, Andrea Bruce, James Whitlow Delano, Edward Echwalu, Tewfic El-Sawy, Ron Haviv, Henrik Kastenskov, and John Stanmeyer


Tewfic: Storytelling is such an important element in, uh, visual arts now and people are hungry for stories. People have been hungry for stories since cavemen.

Ron: If you're able to craft a good story that can resonate with an audience and make your audience think, that's such a powerful, powerful tool. And I think that when it's done well, and people see it across the world and they start to think a little bit differently or learn a little bit about the world. This is the beauty of photography. It's the beauty of visual storytelling. It's the beauty of imagery where people will remember photographs and remember these moments and take them with them.

Kael: Strong storytelling gives your viewers a little package they can take away with them. The pictures have to be unique enough. There has to be enough life and activity or love or emotion in them.

James: It's about creating empathy. Connect people who wouldn't consider the fate and the destiny of other people or another place. That to me is the Holy Grail.

Henrik: In a time where this disaster fatigue we're fed up with living with all of these tragedies all over. The ability to tell strong and compelling stories is also the ability to get an audience.

Thorne: What does a story look like? How many images is a story? What kinds of pictures do you see in a story? You can tell a story through a single character. You can choose one person who is a representative of a larger idea and immerse yourself intimately in that person's life. In the process of doing so you're going to learn thing about the larger subject matter. You can choose a place or an event and document everything that happens in that place - or everything that happens through an event. Then you can leverage the power of sequencing to tell more complex stories than you can tell with any individual picture.

Kael: Try to come up with a working title. The title can change but if you come up with a title it's like a concept to hang your photography on. It helps give you focus. You know, it's overwhelming when you're in a new place. You photograph here and there and this over there draws your attention and you're trying to follow the light. But it helps for me to keep like a mantra in my mind like this story is about . . .

John: Curiosity is essential to a story. Listening is essential to a story. Actually I'm interested in silence, and understanding silence in order to understand all the noise to tell the story.

Andrea: You spend time to find the pictures that don't automatically creep into your mind when you think of something. When you think of a family eating dinner you can automatically visualize a scene but when I go to a situation or when I have a student go to a situation I want them to shoot something completely different than the thing that they already visualized.

Thorne: Striving for intimacy is one of the greatest things that you can do as a photographer. So when I say to extract the extraordinary from the ordinary all I'm really talking about is looking inside of another person's life and finding one simple moment that means something larger than itself.

John: It's expression. It's not just the expression of the world around us; it's the expression of how we see it. Every individual lives this life and experiences life in their own expression and in their own being and purpose.

Thorne: The reactions of the people around your character are as important as the character's expressions themselves and this is what we do as photojournalists. We examine people and how they interact with each other and interaction is where you get storytelling.

Edward: I try to use my emotions to inject them into my project. It can be totally biased which is also fine as well. Sometimes extremely biased emotions help you dig deeper into the story, help you tell it with conviction.

John: So what's the essential of storytelling? Well to not look at it as just a box. It's not a box; it's a whole story. It's a universe. The most important thing is everything and maybe nothing at all other than curiosity.

Maggie: Spend the time and have the patience and don't be in such a rush because every day is a day lived and if you want an experience and the picture is evidence of it, if you want a rich life and the picture is evidence of it, if you want to learn lessons from people who are wiser than you, the picture is evidence of it.

Ron: Once we let our work go, once it interacts with the audience, we as photographers have no idea what the impact can be. And I can tell you having done this for so many years that there is impact. The work doesn't just disappear; it touches people. That's one of the reasons why I'm still a photographer, why I'm still a visual storyteller. What an amazing privilege to be able to see the world, tell the world this is how I see things. This is what I've discovered. You can learn from this. Expand your horizon and hopefully make the world a better place by what you've learned here with this work.

Image Gallery


Tewfic El-Sawy

Tewfic El-Sawy is based in New York City. He is a freelance photographer who specializes in documenting endangered cultures and traditional ways of life in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Tewfic’s images, articles and photo features were published in various magazines, and his travel photographs were featured by some of the largest adventure travel companies in the United States and Great Britain, as well as in multinational corporations’ art collections. Known as “The Travel Photographer,” Tewfic plans, organizes and leads photo expeditions-workshops for other photographers, with emphasis on travel photography, multimedia storytelling and documentary photography, a hybrid style akin to “a photojournalist photographing travel.” Tewfic has been on Foundry Photojournalism Workshop faculty since its inception.


Ron Haviv

Award-winning photojournalist Ron Haviv has produced some of the most important images of conflict and other humanitarian crises that have made headlines from around the world since the end of the Cold War. A co-founder of the VII photo agency, Ron’s work is published by top magazines worldwide, including: FortuneThe NY Times MagazineTimeVanity FairParis Match and Stern. He has published two critically acclaimed collections of his photography — Blood and Honey: A Balkan War Journal, and Afghanistan: On the Road to Kabul – and has contributed his wide-ranging body of work to several other books. His often-searing photographs have earned Haviv some of the highest accolades in photography, including awards from World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year, Overseas Press Club, and the Leica Medal of Excellence. He regularly lectures at universities and seminars, and numerous museums and galleries have featured his work, including the United Nations, The Louvre and The Council on Foreign Relations.

Watch more: Ron Haviv PhotoWings Videos


Andrea Bruce

Through documentary photography, Andrea Bruce brings attention to people living in the aftermath of war. She is a co-owner and member of the photo agency NOOR. For eight years she has chronicled the world’s most troubled areas as a staff photographer for The Washington Post. She focused on Iraq from 2003 to the present, following the intricacies and obstacles of the conflict experienced by Iraqis and the US military. She also wrote a weekly column for The Post called “Unseen Iraq.” Her awards include top honors from the White House News Photographers Association (where she has been named Photographer of the Year four times), several awards from the International Pictures of the Year contest, and the prestigious John Faber award from the Overseas Press Club in New York. She has also been a finalist for The Aftermath Project grant and a 2011 recipient of the Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship. In 2010 she received the WHNPA grant for her work in Ingushetia. In 2012, she was the recipient of the first Chris Hondros Fund Award for the “commitment, willingness and sacrifice shown in her work.” Andrea currently splits her time between Afghanistan the United States and is available for photography and multimedia assignments.

Watch more: Andrea Bruce PhotoWings Videos


Kael Alford

Kael has worked extensively covering culture, politics and conflict in the Balkans and the Middle East for many US and European magazines and newspapers including Time, Newsweek, US News and World Report, The New York Times, Times (London), The Guardian, The San Fransisco Chronicle, NRC Handelsbad (Netherlands), Vanity Fair, and others. She was based in the Balkans from 1996-2003. Kael covered the US invasion of Iraq and worked there until 2004. That work was included in the book and exhibition “Unembedded: Four Independent Journalists on the War in Iraq” (Chelsea Green, 2005). She is currently working on a multimedia project documenting coastal erosion in southeast Louisiana and the impact of environmental degradation on the communities there. The photography is commissioned by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. She has taught writing and photojournalism at the American University in Bulgaria and documentary photography at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. Kael has a degree in English Literature from Boston University and a MA in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Watch more: Kael Alford PhotoWings Videos


Thorne Anderson

Thorne Anderson has covered culture, politics, and conflict in the Balkans and the Middle East for The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, and the German Die Zeit and Stern magazine among others.  He is co-author/photographer of the 2005 book, Unembedded: Four Independent Photojournalists on the War in Iraq (Chelsea Green Publishing). He believes it is important for visual journalists to challenge themselves and their audiences, to immerse themselves in the lives of their subjects, to see beyond the obvious, to extract the extraordinary from the mundane, and to reveal the sacred in the profane. Thorne received an M.A. from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He is a dedicated mentor and has taught at the the University of Missouri and the American University in Bulgaria. He is currently Assistant Professor in photojournalism and multimedia storytelling at the University of North Texas, Mayborn School of Journalism.  He is founder, co-director, and principal instructor of the bilingual Heart of Mexico narrative multimedia project.


John Stanmeyer

John Stanmeyer is a photojournalist dedicated to social and political issues that define our times. Over the last decade, John has worked nearly exclusively with National Geographic magazine, producing over 12 stories for the magazine and resulting in 10 covers. Between 1998 and 2008, John was a contract photographer for Time magazine, during which time he photographed the war in Afghanistan, the fight for independence in East Timor, the fall of Suharto in Indonesia, and other significant world news events. His years with Time resulted in 18 covers of the magazine. In 2001, he cofound the VII Photo agency with six of the world’s leading photojournalists. He is the recipient of numerous honors, and in 2008 his National Geographic cover story on global malaria received the National Magazine Award. In 2012 was nominated for an Emmy with the VII documentary film series, “Starved for Attention” and in 2014 was the recipient of the World Press Photo award for his photograph from Djibouti titled, “Signal.” John has published a number of books including Island of the Spirits, a journalistic/anthropologic look at Balinese culture documented during the five years he lived on the island. His latest book, a VII Photo Agency collaboration titled Questions Without Answers (Phaidon), was released in 2012, chronicling the last 30 years of social conflict and change around the world.

Watch more: John Stanmeyer PhotoWings Videos


James Whitlow Delano

James Whitlow Delano has lived in Asia for over 20 years. His work has been awarded internationally: the Alfred Eisenstadt Award (from Columbia University and Life Magazine), Leica’s Oskar Barnack, Picture of the Year International, NPPA Best of Photojournalism, PDN and others for work from China, Japan, Afghanistan and Burma, etc. His first monograph book, Empire: Impressions from China was the first ever one-person show of photography at La Triennale di Milano Museum of Art. The Mercy Project / Inochi his charity photo book for hospice received the PX3 Gold Award and the Award of Excellence from Communication Arts. His work has appeared in magazines and photo festivals on five continents. His latest award-winning monograph book, Black Tsunami: Japan 2011 (FotoEvidence) explored the aftermath of Great East Japan Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear disaster. He’s a grantee for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, for work documenting the destruction of equatorial rainforests and human rights violations of indigenous inhabitants there. In 2015, Delano founded the EverydayClimateChange Instagram feed, where photographers from 6 continents document global climate change on 7 continents.

Watch more: James Whitlow Delano PhotoWings Videos


Henrik Kastenskov

Henrik Kastenskov works as documentary photographer and lecturer of web documentary in an effort to redefine storytelling for online platforms: “The internet is a battleground where everybody is fighting for attention. It seemed logical to change the focus from an exhibition style approach in photography towards an approach where you would focus on the story as the main carrier of the message.” Henrik co-founded Bombay Flying Club in 2006 and after a stint as staff photographer he turned towards web documentary full time in 2008 focusing on developing methods and approaches that would catch the attention of the inherently impatient online audience. Apart from a body of documentary work that spans from teenage suicides over climate change through Afghanistan vets and the conflict in South Sudan amongst other topics, this has been turned into a series of lectures and workshops taught around the globe as well as taking on the role as producer for other photographers.

Watch more: Henrik Kastenskov PhotoWings Videos