Teru Kuwayama – Meet the Emphas.is Reviewers
As Emphas.is opens up its admissions process, we will be relying on our talented, passionate board of reviewers to help us maintain a high level of quality photographic projects on the site. To help you get to know the people looking at project proposals (and what they’re looking for), we are posting interviews will several reviewers. This week, meet photographer, Knight Fellow, and TEDGlobal fellow Teru Kuwayama.
Please tell us a bit about what your history with photography and what you do now day-today.
I started off photographing punk rock bands and Tibetan monks. I lived as a traveler in South Asia, and then crossed into Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kashmir about a decade ago. Since then, my attention has been focused on this region and on the spectrum of intertwined military operations and humanitarian crises sometimes referred to as “complex emergency.” In the process I’ve become increasingly interested in communities, systems, and networks.
How did you get involved with Emphas.is and why did you decided to join the Emphas.is board of reviewers?
Karim asked me to participate. He’s a difficult person to say no to, and I do what I can do to help other people do what they can do.
What qualities and elements are you looking for when you review a potential project for Emphas.is?
I have no preconceptions, but a general suggestion that extends beyond Emphas.is proposals is to articulate your interests, intentions, and goals as clearly, simply, and specifically as possible – skip the poetry. Even ambitious projects are best served by concise, detailed, down-to-earth proposals. Explain the value of the project, not just the subject. There’s no shortage of photographs in the world, so what’s different about yours, or your use of them? What happens to the photographs? What’s the plan to make an impact?
Do you have any advice for photographers who want to crowdfund a project, or are simply working on a long-term and looking for alternative funding?
To quote Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Reach beyond photojournalism, or whatever species you belong to.
That doesn’t mean you should just add audio and video and wait for the old world to come back. It isn’t coming back, nor should it.
This generation of photographers operates in a much more complex ecosystem than its predecessors. Making photographs is now a part of what we do — the workspace has expanded to encompass financing, publishing, distribution, branding, marketing, strategic and tactical communications, and ever more. It’s a pain in the ass, but like it or not, here we are – and in crisis, there is opportunity.
Where it was once your assignment to make images for an organization – it is now your mission to imagine and organize. Go for it.