Alternative Task: From Shahidul Alam

Photographer and founder of the Pathshala Institute in Bangladesh, Shahidul Alam sets an alternative task for #phonar this week, one that turned into a life’s work for him.

You have 7 days. Go.

Use images to identify an inequality within your own space (could be your geographic or your social space – your street or your family album for example), having done so work out a mechanism through which you can transform it.


You can hear Shahidul’s original talk below:



#phonar Session 6

Its another full one so lets go to work –

We are in conversation this week with Photographer Sara Davidmann and Photographer, Educator and Entrepreneur Shahidul Alam of the Pathshala Institute, Bangladesh. Two very different practitioners but both continuing to build on our discussions around the gravity of the role of storyteller and picking up on themes brought up by Fred Ritchin and David Campbell.

Usual drill – as you listen please tweet your notes and comments using the #phonar hashtag and don’t forget to storify the global set of notes/tweets afterwards.


Sarah Davidmann

Images discussed here are at Sara’s website

Shahidul Alam

Links for images and projects mentioned:


Participating in our own representation

I love doing the Phonar class. This Summer I had to talk about “Why?”, why I teach , why I think Phonar is important. The talk is here but in a nutshell Phonar , PhonarNation and other projects that I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with like World Press Reporting Change are about enabling people to participate in their own representation. They’re about taking people who otherwise might feel anonymised by the vastness of the web and using it to empower them. They’re practical and applied workshops in Visual Literacy and Digital Fluency.

And they’re a means, not an ends. Phonar is a photography class but we don’t fawn over photographs. We use Photography as a means to do other things, to speak clearly with images and by making our classes open and connected we increase the likelihood of our speakers being heard. We think about the role of the storyteller, we reflect on how heavy the responsibility of telling other people’s stories would be and halfway through the course we all share a previously untold story (off record) with the group. It can be whimsical or heartfelt, but we do it to feel the vulnerability of the subject. . . . → Read More: Participating in our own representation

A Post-Photographic Portrait

“A Post-Photographic Portrait”

The culmination of this module will be the production of a “post-photographic portrait” of Jill Jarman‘s piece for Cello performed by Laura Ritchie, any problems with the embed below please go directly to Your decisions throughout this process should build upon and further develop the work we’ve begun in creative workshop and throughout the lecture series. This process should be evidenced explicitly and succinctly on your blog as well ( a 500 word reflective summary would do the trick).

Boom ! Easy-peasy.


Julián Péter @JuloPeter @Jonathan_Worth Hi! Bit confused on the latest task. Do we create a “new” post-photographic portrait, or do we transform our previous work?

JW >> Here’s a slightly longer answer than the 140 characters twitter allows: Perhaps see the task as a license (should one be needed) to “break out of the frame”. To break out of stills, to use sound, explore multi-point perspective and grapple with non-linear narratives. It’s the chance to make a bigger and more ambitious project than the weekly tasks and now that you’ve established a weekly turnaround of work you should find it easier to build something substantial. Revisit the lectures and interviews, look over your . . . → Read More: A Post-Photographic Portrait

Phonar collaborators Pete Brook and Stephen Mayes in conversation for Wired.

Hopefully some of the themes in Pete’s article will sound familiar to us over here on #phonar. This is one not to be missed and brought to you by the ex-Director of VII Agency no less

Photographs Are No Longer Things, They’re Experiences

[Stephen Mayes] argues that the rise of digital changed the very nature of photography by moving it from a fixed image to a fluid one. The swift pace at which we create images is only matched by the pace at which we discard them and yet, paradoxically, we’ve never been more engaged with images. Photography is less about document or evidence and more about community and experience … and that’s not a bad thing.

“The way we relate to imagery is changing,” says Mayes, who thinks the pace of change is astonishing. Fortune magazine reported in September 2012 that “10% of all photos ever taken were shot in 2011.” That same month, Mark Zuckerberg said Instagram, just shy of two-years in existence, passed the 100 million users. Instagram users, who are signing up a rate of one per second, have taken over one billion images with the app. Such frenzied activity will account for some but not . . . → Read More: Phonar collaborators Pete Brook and Stephen Mayes in conversation for Wired.

David Campbell in conversation with Carole Naggar on Magnum Founder George Rodger


I sat in on this conversation between David Campbell and writer Carole Naggar; they discuss her biography on Magnum co-founder George Rodger. From his early years as a struggling photographer, to the establishment of Magnum and about his photographic legacy following assignments such as Bergen-Belsen. Tweet your notes with the #phonar hashtag.

– Kate Green ( @KateGreen28 )

George Rodger © All Rights Reserved


Creative Task: Re-framing the Past #BTF

Session 4 Alternative #BTF task – Re-framing The Past

This is the first of our alternative tasks which have be set by Professor and Author of Bending The Frame, Fred Ritchin. If you missed Fred’s talks then you’ll want to go back to the lectures from the start of the class – they’re well worth it. This iteration of Phonar has been re-written to draw on Fred’s Bending the Frame so if you do these tasks then please use both of the #phonar and #BTF hashtags.

Alt task: “Reframing the Past” Tell the story of an historical news event. Use all of the available and appropriate “with hindsight” perspectives to make a version of the story which you feel is more accurate. Use sources that include witnesses from that moment in time.

Development: Make alternative versions of differing publications/ broadcast channels, which reflect nationally and or culturally diverse perspectives.

Professor David Campbell on Narrative, Power and Responsibilty


This week’s Guest lecture is by Professor David Campbell, was recorded in 2010 and has become one of our touchstones. If you’re not already following David’s blog then it can be found here : and he’s on Twitter at :

Please tweet and hashtag your notes/comments/questions (whenever it is that you get round to listening to this) #phonar and we’ll aggregate them into our global set of notes to be shared on Storify.






[View the story “#Phonar Power Narrative and Responsibility” on Storify]

Creative Task : “Spoken narrative”

Record a personal story to share with the group.

You should speak your story in person and it’s telling should last approx. 2 minutes (if you prefer to record and publish in advance, that’s fine, otherwise it’s delivered live in session and stays within the closed group).

You should especially consider your choice of story/subject, your audience and your verbal delivery – in terms of your script, language, pace and intonation. No accompanying soundscape.

No pictures. Just a story.

In preparation for this week’s task which which will involve preparing to tell your own story, we have embedded a talk below from Lisa Potts. Lisa was awarded the George Medal after confronting paranoid schizophrenic Horrett Campbell who wielded a machete in a brutal attack on children under Potts’ care at a nursery in Wolverhampton, 1996.

Here, Pott’s talks off the attack as well as her treatment by the media since the attack. Lisa Potts Talk #phonar by mjohnstonmedia

If you choose to, your audio should be uploaded to Soundcloud, YouTube or (depending on how you like your Terms of Service) and tagged#phonar

Other links:

(10.49) Embedded Video at

. . . → Read More: Creative Task : “Spoken narrative”

Guest Lecture: Benjamin Chesterton

This lecture by documentary producer and prominent blogger Benjamin Chesterton of ‘Duckrabbit Productions’ was from 2011 but well worth a re-visit. A great deal of what he had to say is relevant to our class especially when he talks about the power audio can bring to an image, as well as issues of misinterpretation, responsibility and bias. All key subject for #phonar students

Quoted from the original session..

We were honoured to have Benjamin Chesterton join us today for a lecture, Q+A and an ‘Off The Record’ session with students. The audio from the talk is available to listen to below, as well as a link to the Robert Gumpert image and audio discussed in the first part of the lecture and embedded belowis ‘Open Eye: Lebanon’s Missing’ – the documentary Benjamin produced, working with photographer Dalia Khamissy to tell the story of the thousands of people kidnapped during the Lebanese civil war.

Listen to the lecture below Q+A at 32:25

. . . → Read More: Guest Lecture: Benjamin Chesterton


Phonar - [fo-'när] is a free and open undergraduate photography class run by Jonathan Worth

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