2000 — student award of excellence
Born in Italy, Elena Fava Emerson attended the State University of Milan, and she gravitated first to a career in fashion photography.
After moving to the USA, she reinvented herself, studying journalism and photojournalism at San Francisco State University in California, documenting life through a camera lens and working for some newspapers. She photographed and interviewed Native Americans on reservations on the reservations for her thesis and is a co-founder of the online magazine After5media.
She studied in London after winning the Alexia Award for Peace and participated in the United Nations exhibit in New York.
I started to work on my personal project, in progress, about American Indian life. This is the project I decided to develop as my Master’s thesis. The purpose of my projects is to understand what is the real aspect and the meaning of native American people, beyond what books have analyzed and described.
My stories will record moments in their daily life, that will capture the essence of their environment, their culture, their isolation, their choices and the aspect that we are not able to see and know through books.
I am deeply involved with these photostories because they summarize and fulfill my idea of photojournalism. Above all, I prefer black and white photos, because they emphasize moments, feelings, and they capture the reader s attention through the emotions that the photographs exuded.
In black and white photos, lighting is more relevant than in color photos because it allows the visual understanding of the mood without the distraction of the bright hues.
The theme of my photostories will be focusing on the strength of native American women in a variety of settings including senior women, young mothers, artists and entrepreneurs struggling to maintain a sense of their ancient culture and possible activists campaigning against oppression in their community.
One community I would like to focus on is the Navajo community struggling to live on their reservation with a better quality of life. Because of harsh conditions, many Navajos have been moved into local towns where they struggle to pass their culture on to their young.
Many Navajos struggle to maintain a sense of the ancient culture, though they have incorporated many of our “modern” ideas, both positive and negative. In a positive light, the Navajos have created a non-profit organization with the purpose of serving the needs of the elderly within their community.
A major part of my project will be a series of candid talks with women about their current lives and what they hope for in the future. These talks will be tape recorded, transcribed and distilled for clarity. In combination with historic research, I will show the evolution of Native American women, the main protagonists of my photostories.