How does a solutions focus change the frame of documentary photography?

Virtual event


January 25, 2022
10:00–11:15AM EST

Join VII Insider
Photo: Celia Talbot Tobin.

Documentary storytelling regularly focuses on the problems around us. While such investigations are both necessary and vital for a democratic culture, they do not, by themselves, offer a comprehensive picture of the world, and need to be supplemented with different perspectives.

Solutions journalism is a new perspective in visual journalism that changes the frame of the story to address the negativity bias in the media. Rather than focusing on problems, solutions journalism looks for where people are already taking action to deal with difficult issues. As such, a solutions story is the product of rigorous reporting on efforts currently underway to respond to a problem.

In this event we will explore what a solutions focus in documentary photography and photojournalism involves, why it is important, and show some recent work that embraced this alternative frame.

Indonesian photographer Michael Eko and American photographer Celia Talbot Tobin will present work they produced for the Solutions Visual Journalism Initiative. They will be joined by Kyser Lough from the University of Georgia, who will discuss his research on visual communication and solutions journalism, with an emphasis on photojournalism.

Michael Eko

Michael Eko is a documentary photographer based between Indonesia and the Philippines. Working with media, civil society groups, and communities, he incorporates photography and visual media into a multidisciplinary approach to create change in society.

Celia Talbot Tobin

Celia Talbot Tobin (b. 1983) is a freelance documentary photographer who splits her time between Mexico and New York. A farm kid from central NY state, her work often explores environmental issues surrounding borders, land rights and usage, and the relationships human build with their environment. Before moving to Mexico City, Celia was based in western Montana while pursuing a master’s in environmental science journalism. She is an alumna of the Eddie Adams Workshop and a member of Women Photograph and The Journal Collectives.

Kyser Lough

Dr. Kyser Lough is Assistant Professor of Journalism at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. He researches visual communication and solutions journalism, both with an emphasis on photojournalism. Prior to pursuing his Ph.D., Dr. Lough spent ten years as a photojournalist, reporter, and public relations practitioner. His work has appeared for the Associated Press and NCAA and in the Austin American-Statesman, Lexington Herald-Leader, Louisville Courier-Journal, Murray Ledger & Times, and American Hunter Magazine among others. He continues to freelance as a photographer in Athens and specializes in concert and sports photography.
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