A two-day photojournalism seminar in Thessaloniki, Greece, “was an event that went beyond the borders of this country, of the caliber that does not often happen in this city, a first of its kind in the field of photojournalism in the region,” said Arian Kotsi, director of international programs at American College of Thessaloniki (ACT).
The seminar was brought to Greece by the Alexia Foundation and was held at American College. It attracted 90 people to hear discussions of the importance of documentary photography and of the ethics and business of photojournalism.
Peter and Aphrodite Tsairis, creators of the Alexia Foundation, welcomed the audience with special warmth since parents of both of them were from Greece and Peter’s mother had lived in Thessaloniki. Also welcoming the audience, and the speakers, was ACT President Hans Giesecke.
Seminar speakers were Dimitri Messinis, Associated Press Director of Photography for SE Europe; Peggy Peattie, Alexia Foundation professional winner in 1997 and staff photographer for the San Diego Union-Tribune in California; Greek photojournalist Katrina Mavrona; Vincent Alabiso, president of the Alexia Foundation; and David Sutherland, Alexia Chair for Documentary Photography at Syracuse University.
Topics of discussion were daily documentary photography in Greece and in the U.S., photojournalism of political events and leaders of Greece, multimedia production in the U.S. by professionals and students, and photojournalism ethics and business. But what got the most rousing interest on both days were the times when the audience energetically asked questions of the panel of speakers, and when members of the audience offered answers to the questions sometimes as often as the speakers did.
Of particular interest was the topic of police/press relations, which Dimitri Messinis gave a short presentation about on the second day. David Sutherland said, “The question and answer times were riveting and stimulating. The questions from the audience were really poignant and the audience members eagerness to fully join in the discussion made this the most interesting part of the seminar.”
“The questions from the audience were really poignant and the audience members eagerness to fully join in the discussion made this the most interesting part of the seminar.”
The seminar was organized by James Dooley, Alexia Foundation executive administrator, and by Arian Kotsi, of ACT. Dooley said, “This seminar brought together photographic experts who had not previously spoken together and for me that was extremely interesting and rewarding. The audience was composed of not only photographers, but students and residents from Thessaloniki who were genuinely interested in photography and photojournalism.”
Kotsi said after the event, “Professionals who attended as well as students felt it was a special event for our city. They were particularly pleased to have had the chance to discuss issues that are of primary interest in the field such as the ethics involved in the trade, the laws that govern a photojournalists work, as well as for the chance given to the audience to add and share to the pool of professional experience with the speakers.”
One photographer who attended, Craig Wherlock, said “I, and all my friends who attended were impressed both by the speakers and the organization. It was a great experience and one which taught me a lot.”
Accompanying the seminar was The Alexia Foundation’s photojournalism exhibition “Eyes on the World” which opened on March 13 at the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki. It displayed at the museum March 12-21, and is now at American College of Thessaloniki until May 31, 2010. (See http://tdf.filmfestival.gr/default.aspx?lang=en-US&loc=8&page=865&EventID=49)
The show was part of the 12th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival which is a leading European Documentary Festival. It focuses on filmmakers renowned for their contribution to the documentary genre. The festival’s side events host exhibitions, masterclasses, round table discussions, and publications.
The Photojournalism Seminar was sponsored by the Alexia Foundation, American College of Thessaloniki, and the Homer and Mary Demetriou family of Thessaloniki.