istanbul masterclass

Yesterday, the 2014 NOOR-Nikon Masterclass in Documentary Photography kicked off in Istanbul. For five days, 14 photographers originating from 10 different countries in the region get together with NOOR photographers Andrea Bruce, Benedicte Kurzen, Jon Lowenstein, and Stanley Greene; and NOOR’s managing director Evelien Kunst.

Situated in the headquarters of a 19th-century Imperial Ottoman Bank, SALT explores critical and timely issues in visual and material culture, and cultivates innovative programs for research and experimental thinking. “We could not think of a better venue to organize the NOOR-Nikon Masterclass in Documentary Photography”, said Serdar Darendeliler, co-founder of Genis Aci Project Office, who hosts the event this year.


The participants want to improve their editing skills, learn more about the market, grant writing, planning, preparation, how to organize and present themselves to editors, and other practical things. They are also very interested in ethic debates and general discussions on how to stay motivated and find new collaborations. “I want to learn how to transform an idea into a visual story,” said Yasaman Dehmiyani from Iran. Meanwhile, Ozge Sebzeci from Turkey is interested in finding out more about how to approach long-term projects and decide when they are done.


During one-on-one portfolio reviews, the photographers got to know each other and their work better. The first day concluded with a presentation by Andrea Bruce, in which she showed work from various personal projects and assignments she did for the New York Times over the past year, including her powerful work from Damascus

“For me, the most important thing to do in news stories is to humanize them," said Andrea. "To show that people are living a day-to-day normal life, even in conflict situations. I see it as my role to educate the people that read the newspaper at the other end of the world.” On the question of whether she ever felt threatened or if people got angry with her, she answered, "I believe in the power of respect. You have to respect people and then you will gain their trust."

There are many different topics to discuss and more to explore in the coming days, and we are already off to a great start!

Images by Frank Zuidweg.