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Zoriah's Haiti workshops

Hi, i’ve been out of touch and am coming to the zoriah debate late in the game. i simply want to say that i know the guy well. in my experience he’s a committed photojournalist and as non-commercial as they come. i can tell you for certain he’s tackled tough issues over the years, traveled on a shoestring and slept on the ground as much as anyone out there—all in an effort to get the story out. long after many big-name photogs had given up on iraq, he continued to come and he was essentially barred by the US Mil from working in iraq after publishing hard-hitting photos of US war dead. that being said, he was obviously tone-deaf in not thinking through the appearance of a workshop based on the suffering of haitians. i think the problem is the appearance of profiteering, which knowing him, was not his goal. mike kamber

by [a former member] at 2010-02-22 01:06:57 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→

“in an effort to get the story out”? out to where? he proclaims everywhere he can that he has no intetion of getting published, doesn’t want to have anything to do with “commercial photography”, doesn’t want to deal with editors and publishers etc…

by [former member] | 22 Feb 2010 07:02 | Bangkok, Thailand | | Report spam→
You may be a great photographer but your analytical skills are clearly lacking. At the same time that you were posting this message about how Zoriah is as non-commercial as they come, he was writing on his blog about how commercial he is and how he wants to be more commercial.


“I have been widely criticized for commercializing photojournalism and war photography since I appeared in the Warner Brothers television show “In Harms Way.” Since then I have been working hard on ways of making my work even more commercial."

I understand that you gave him a big break by putting him in the NY Times and may feel that you have to defend him but this Haiti workshop is a horrible idea. My feeling is that Zoriah is much more of a war tourist than a war photographer so for him, a workshop like this didn’t seem like an issue.

It’s also very sad how he has an unhealthy obsession with James Nachtwey, repeating Nachtwey quotes from War Photographer and even starting up a webpage called warphotographer.org. I like many of the photos but they look just like Nachtwey’s. It’s bizarre.

Michael, my only question for you is this: Do you believe that all the work listed on Zoriah’s webpage is real or do you think he made up a lot of it and never really worked for those magazines he listed?

by Dan Sturges | 25 Feb 2010 07:02 | Bangkok, Thailand | | Report spam→
Zoriah is not only copying Nachtwey, he copies whoever is convenient. In this case he copied me, as I had already in place a Haiti workshop and after the quake actually have already done two here, the problem was that not only did he essentially he triple my fee and provide no services as far as transportation goes initially, then deciding to donate half (why necessary if a client can just donate themselves?)

Over the past three weeks I have seen one other journalist, who was actually scheduled to be part of my initial Carnival project. Two of the three major networks have withdrawn….yet there are still huge issues that are not being covered by the media in enough detail.

That citizen journalists are interested in spending there time and money to report on this is fantastic…..and for the folks I have had here are working on a comparable level to either journalists or NGO workers, and in many cases really going beyond both.

I am going to return to Haiti next month for a week (leaving Sunday for New Orleans) I will be able to bring a 3-4 folks with me, subject to screening, including interview and portfolio review…..you can reach me at levin.pix@gmail.com

by [former member] | 25 Feb 2010 11:02 | | Report spam→
Jesus are you people really still drumming on about this ? I

by James Rhodes | 25 Feb 2010 21:02 | Seattle, United States | | Report spam→
I haven’t said anything on this mess but someone sent me this link:

I think it speaks for itself…

by [former member] | 26 Feb 2010 04:02 | Brooklyn, NY, United States | | Report spam→
I have not chimed in to any of these posts, however, I have had a very brief discussion with Andy about this on Facebook, and after a discussion about this whole thread with a documentary film maker last night, I feel a little motivated to say just a few words. I find his whole blog and website to be slightly off, and what seems to be over exaggerating everything; his experience, his resume, his clientele, his publications, etc. On his blog he also has a section asking people donate to his cause so he can continue to capture the stories, but what is the point going to all these places and not really being published, I don’t get it? Here is the link to his donate page:


I am not sure if you saw on You Tube, “In Harm’s Way,” with him and I think it was Allissa Everette. Not only is the film horrible, but it really seems to be a marketing piece for the two photographers, and the film maker; it’s in that same genre of television of Anderson Cooper, Dr. Phil, Fox News, CNN, and Oprah. There are so many problems to this trend and on so many different levels, but let’s face it, this is journalism to come, and it is only going to get worse. The real reporting days are gone since less and less people are going to school to study journalism, and instead they just buy all this digital crap, and go off into a war zone or take a workshop to gain some experience; it is appalling and ridiculous. Well, good night and good luck.

by Thomas Lindahl Robinson | 27 Feb 2010 06:02 | Caribbean, Cuba | | Report spam→
Thomas…..as far as Zoriah, I have no idea what he had planned for Haiti. I just got through with my final group of three committed women who were interested in making images for non-profits that are working in Haiti….first of all, they were among the most self-less photographers I have met, not only would they photograph, but the reached out to the Haitians in a basic human way, of friendliness, that really would put most “journalists” to shame, and they made images that were almost always positive, so much so that I think we batted heads a bit.

Of the two I did, neither were what one would expect from a typical “workshop” at all—I tried to give each photographer as much room, and feedback, as they wanted. Neither group experienced any graphic violence of any form…..in fact after the 10th day from the quake, most of the hard core images that many outside of Haiti was experiencing vicariously….the body shots, etc. was completely over, and hard to believe it but there was actually an almost surreal normalcy in places, or as normal as Haiti ever is.

Thomas, Haiti can be a difficult place even under the best circumstances. Eric Beecroft thought I was mad to do a project in Haiti, and that was before the earthquake…. but things did go smoothly for the most part and a lot of very, very good work done, including my own, which is really part of the concept, in that basically we go by my own instincts, and we all get our take on the story, which could work for a newspaper, magazine, etc.

In this case I think it works because this was a Haiti workshop, not really a disaster workshop…..and the projects will continue in Haiti, not as disaster workshops but as a way of looking at the many forces that will decide the future of Haiti, aspects of the environment, sustainability. But in no way will any of the projects deal with hard news situations where there is any indication that violence might occur….for example, for me Haitian elections are outside the scope of a group project with students….so to the immediate aftermath of a hurricane, close proximity to a war (although I do think that photographers need to be trained in war work, its not my thing) etc.

by [former member] | 01 Mar 2010 14:03 | | Report spam→
I had a look at “In Harm’s Way” episode featuring Zoriah photographing a demonstration in Gaza. I cannot imagine anything more staged than that. You can actually hear the fixer telling him what is just about to happen, because it happens regularly every week.

by Massimiliano Clausi | 02 Mar 2010 09:03 | Genoa, Italy | | Report spam→
i really need to stress that i have not followed this affair closely, i simply don’t have the time to do all the research on who said what and when. i agree that overly self-congratulatory plugs on one’s own website are annoying and probably counter-productive. (the best war photogs out there—nachtwey, silva, delay are self-effacing and generous). and as i said before, appearing to profit off of the misery of haitians is a bad idea. it opens us all up to criticism at a time when the craft of photojournalism has more than enough challenges. there’s less and less work and good people are leaving the business. and from what i’m hearing, zoriah did not handle the initial barrage of criticism well. some humility, a good explanation and a mea culpa might have gone a long way.

that being said, i do think part of the criticism towards zoriah is based on the fact that he operates outside our circles. he looks on us insiders with a bit of suspicion and i think we do the same towards him. “what’s so bad about the mainstream press that he doesn’t want to be part of it?” is the attitude. his rejection of mainstream media carries with it an implicit criticism of what we do, who we are.

obviously, i’m still a believer in the mainstream press and i think it’s quite sad that many americans believe that photos submitted by unknown readers are as worthy as a photo taken by a professional photojournalist steeped in journalistic ethics, and with years of training and a proven track record. i’ve been doing interviews with iraqi photogs here in baghdad and some of their colleagues have literally given their lives to bring home the truth.—the iraqi wire photogs talk about the truth all the time. the reuters operation here had four staff killed and four wounded in the war. that’s real sacrifice and it makes me furious that many of our citizens have a low opinion of what we do, and that they feel a blog or a photo of unknown provenance—by someone who never spent a day in the field, or may have god-knows-what motivations—is as relevant as good journalism. it’s not and it never will be.

but i’ve also had editors for mainstream magazines tell me point blank—and at a time that the iraq war was raging—that their advertisers and readers were tired of seeing the war and so they weren’t giving assignments. as i never tire of reminding people, major US newspapers serving millions of readers pulled their photogs out of iraq a year after the invasion and never came back. zoriah found a number of ways to circumvent this and get to iraq and to other places he wanted to go and do the work he feels important. he ain’t mainstream but he’s a real photojournalist and we’re going to have more like him in the future as the press continues to downsize. hopefully the others will be more diplomatic and not run any misery workshops, but i suspect he’s learned his lesson as well.

by [former member] | 02 Mar 2010 10:03 | Baghdad, Iraq | | Report spam→

I don’t see Zoriah as operating outside “our” (i’ll assume you mean “mainstream media”) circles. He’s failing to operate in them, if anything, despite trying to pretend (through what appears to be an unusually interpretative CV) he’s functioning within them. He seems to have built a career of misrepresenting himself to extort the gullible, and now that he’s been called out by the press guys, he seems to think he’ll be better off in the art world, where he can keep on misrepresenting himself – as you know, there’s relatively little overlap between the art spheres and the press spheres, and a generally rather dismal knowledge of the photojournalism subgenre on the art side. It’s the exact contrary to him “learning his lesson”, and it strongly reinforces my perception of him as a fraud and a crook : the only lesson he’s learnt is run so they won’t catch you. So now, he’s going to insult all of us by showing work that is so anachronistic it is laughable to cultural institutions, and pretending he is a credible voice outside of his own head…

by [former member] | 03 Mar 2010 10:03 | | Report spam→
Sorry to bother, but here we are still looking for actual tearsheets from Zoriah. Anybody had the pleasure of finding any online at all?

by [former member] | 03 Mar 2010 11:03 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Mike as professionals we all deal with issues of misery and suffering. In fact it has been my intention to try for 30 years to raise awareness of human suffering and issues related to inequality. I have been paid many times to photograph people who were disregarded, suffered from prejudice, were plagued by disease, and I felt that I was honored to be able to both do this and make a very modest living. Wanting to teach others to deal with these subjects, and offering these services in the field, is just an extension of my photography, and allows me to continue what I am doing, with the help of the students. It is so essential to go beyond the hard news fly in mentality that hits the streets when their are bodies and leaves— which is what totally happened in Haiti, and to do this for some, who maybe are in the beginning of the curve, it is much better to come after the emergency and learn in a more controlled atmosphere, the responsibilities of a professional journalist or advocate for an NGO, for example. Matt’s work in Somalia comes from a knowledge of the situation there….that is why he can get work published, and why editors look to him. Many who flew into Haiti in the first few days had no idea of what they were even looking at— all they saw was bodies, and quite frankly, that was OK…..the first week or so that was all they really needed to know.

But now we are in a different time, and you are quite right, it is essential that “professional” journalists are able to operate in Haiti. But right now young photographers have no way to develop skills as all of the assignments are gone. So essentially what I try and do is create an “assignment” atmosphere, that we all share and go about trying to tell a story. And rather than characterize this is making money from misery, its about making money from teaching people to communicate the inequalities in the world, and I am not ashamed to say that I ask for financial support to do this. In fact I thank my students for supporting my own work, and I shoot beside them, and teach them how to compete, which is absolutely the best way to learn…..bar none.

by [former member] | 03 Mar 2010 13:03 | | Report spam→
andy, i’m all for workshops in the field. i think they’re a great idea. i just think that when they’re still pulling bodies from the rubble, it’s too soon to take new photogs down there. it raises the specter of suffering haitians being used as objects upon which young photographers can “practice.” i know that’s not what you do and i’m not accusing you of it. just saying that we need to avoid the appearance of voyeurism or objectification—something that is hard to do when people are in real bad shape.

by [former member] | 03 Mar 2010 14:03 | Baghdad, Iraq | | Report spam→

among other points, that is the most cognent one i also tried to make to zoriah and on all those zoriah posts….and like Matthias, i dont see Z as an outsider at all, far from it, but actually the quintessential insider…having tried for a while now stretching the legs across both worlds (the art world and the world of documentary photography), i can tell u that both camps, unfortunately, know little about the other and oftn (to my dismay) disdain the other…sad, really, when in truth we’re all trying to do the same thing: arrest stories from the dark as a way to inform and to share and to reach out….i rarely ‘judge’ another’s lifestyle or way of thinking, but i found both the tactics and the reasoning AND his own words behind both the workshop and the lashing out pretty depressing….and shit, i’ll go a long country mile to support almost any photographer….

but i’ve said way more than enough already on the Z-Haiti story….

now, go watch "come and see’ :)))


by [former member] | 03 Mar 2010 15:03 | Toronto, Canada | | Report spam→
Besides a workshop being held in a disaster zone, which we all agree that it is not ethical or moral, the real disturbing trend with photographers, who are starting out, inflate their careers beyond the actual time spent in the field doing the work.

Additionally, with the technological advances of self-promotion, “you are your own media or PR representation of yourself.” One is able to project a career beyond what the actual work or accolades are telling us, and without this self-promotion or technological pipeline, if these bodies of work were being produced 10-20 years ago, chances are they would not even get past the secretary to the main editor.

Unlike many other professions (doctors, nurses, teachers, structural engineers, skilled technicians, etc), there are no checks and balances for photojournalism or photojournalist, not to say that there should be one, but the facts were more verifiable in the film age than the digital age or self-gratification age.

The other trend stemming from the self-gratification age are a few photographers who are unrelentingly narcissistic, spoiled, demanding, expecting to get their and what ever happened to the truth, humility, being humble, grateful, and most importantly the concern for the individual being photographed who may not want their photograph to be taken?

It’s worth reminding the community that “we” as photographers should be human first, and put our own selfish desires, wants, needs, contests, awards, aside for personal integrity. And for what? Ideals or a piece of paper, a slap on the back of congratulatory rhetoric, to boost your already inflamed ego?

First of all, I am a photographer who has been photographing for more than 20 years, focusing on the stories of the people that I document, and they have always come first, not the contests or awards, or the slaps on the back, and I return, in and out of their lives, returning, in some cases, year after year, to document as a continuing story of their life, and on my own dime, not asking for monthly donations, or holding questionable, overpriced workshops.

Finally, on lighter note, wtf is up with the “new photojournalism uniforms?”

Did anyone not get this memo that if you are a photojournalist that you now are required to wear khaki pants, black t-shirts, head scarfs, and black gloves? Did you notice that the two photographers featured in, “In Harm’s Way,” Zoriah Miller and the other photographer are wearing exactly the same thing? I mean, come on, did they plane this?

“And that’s the way it is . . . "

by Thomas Lindahl Robinson | 05 Mar 2010 02:03 | Caribbean, Cuba | | Report spam→
As far as Miller goes, Its a rip-off…..in fact, has was taking individuals to Haiti for $5,000 a shot before the disaster, requiring them to pay their own transportation, hotel, airfare, everything…..and then taken them around to shoot using tap-taps as transportation, with no translator or fixer.

Even worse the person I talked to was taken to the wrong location to photograph the story they chose to do, as a simple Google might have shown. So for $7,500 they get something that can’t even go into a portfolio.

Tap-taps? Sure, every photojournalist rides in one. No fixer, no problem, who needs one of those?

The caveat is let the buyer beware, but posing as one thing and delivering another— as Miller seems pretty good at, is kind of unbelievable, and there are gullible people who buy into his hype and end up out $7.500 for a week. The individual I talked to seemed embarrassed about it….and should be, because they were taken for a very expensive and foolish ride.

by [former member] | 05 Mar 2010 03:03 (ed. Mar 6 2010) | | Report spam→
Time to let it go Andy

by Imants | 05 Mar 2010 05:03 | The Boneyard 017º,, Australia | | Report spam→
“Can you please pose with your guns pointing at my face?” Wow, I didn’t want to chime in on this rip off discussion, but this really looks like a bad War Photgrapher rip off same setting, same camera – only the photos are mostly really boring, he lets people pose for him in and what he says is mundane at best and. (Basically he repeats that this is really, really dangerous… followed by other people saying that this is really, really dangerous … followed by the other photographer saying that this is really, really dangerous …followed by the host …)

by Daniel Etter | 06 Mar 2010 09:03 | Cologne, Germany | | Report spam→
Do I hear his focus confirmation beeping? maybe done in post…but still….

by Andrew Brinkhorst | 09 Mar 2010 00:03 | New Haven, CT, United States | | Report spam→
“As far as Miller goes, Its a rip-off…..in fact, has was taking individuals to Haiti for $5,000 a shot before the disaster, requiring them to pay their own transportation, hotel, airfare, everything…..and then taken them around to shoot using tap-taps as transportation, with no translator or fixer.

Even worse the person I talked to was taken to the wrong location to photograph the story they chose to do, as a simple Google might have shown. So for $7,500 they get something that can’t even go into a portfolio.

Tap-taps? Sure, every photojournalist rides in one. No fixer, no problem, who needs one of those?

The caveat is let the buyer beware, but posing as one thing and delivering another— as Miller seems pretty good at, is kind of unbelievable, and there are gullible people who buy into his hype and end up out $7.500 for a week. The individual I talked to seemed embarrassed about it….and should be, because they were taken for a very expensive and foolish ride. "- Andy Levin

This is a reply to Andy’s Levin (of 100 Eyes) post which exploited a private conversation I had with him in regards to his post-disaster Haiti workshop. Since Andy Levin took my words out of context I felt it necessary to address this matter of slander. I attended a private and customized workshop of Zoriah’s this past December in Haiti. The price tag of his workshop (or anybody’s including Andy Levin’s) is of irrelevant matter in respect to the education and experience. As a backpacker, the mode of travel was of my preference and a valuable experience since my educational background is in social anthropology. The story line that I chose was meant to focus on the social and environmental impacts of charcoal production in Haiti and therefore the places we traveled to where sourced and cross-referenced directly from the locals. The fixer was my personal choice while we were in Cite Soleil. Ideally, I would like to think that my colleagues would consider the same in a situation that is highly sensitive to outsiders, especially photographers. In essence I am disappointed with the witch hunt tactics of Andy Levins and others in this forum. As a next generation photojournalist I expect more professionalism and patronage from my peers. While I respect Andy’s incorrect belief that I was “ripped off” I do not appreciate being patronized. I hope other beginners in the field do as much research as possible for the workshops they invest in. Too bad for Andy, I could have financially supported him through 5 more workshops if he had held himself together.

by [former member] | 09 Mar 2010 05:03 | | Report spam→
Far from the case really, I didn’t refer to any particular person, or even directly mention the subject etc, so I am happy to respond now that you have chosen to be specific….if you would like to see a story on charcoal production in Haiti I would take a look at Jonathan Auch’s story in La Gonave, which is the area in which charcoal is being mass-produced and the environment currently under the most stress in Haiti. See this. Here we see the social and environmental effects of charcoal, which is hardly a story one needs to outsource from locals….its already out there.

Maybe you can afford to subsidize five of my workshops or whatever, but assuming that you went to Haiti to create a body of work that is publishable, and spent $7,000 or so doing that, as someone who publishes a magazine that recently featured work from Haiti here I can say confidently that you wasted your money.

If you think otherwise that’s fine, its your money, and I am certain that you can afford five of my projects and to float them too…not interested, I am not for sale, but thanks.

by [former member] | 09 Mar 2010 14:03 (ed. Mar 9 2010) | | Report spam→
I would like to say that the best thing to happen to me in weeks was to watch In Harm’s Way. It leaves you with an endless supply of wonderful quotes and a desire to work cut-off finger gloves into your kit. After The Jersey Shore ended I didnt think I would find anything that would help with my depression but now I found you.

by [unverified member] | 10 Mar 2010 06:03 | NBO, Kenya | | Report spam→

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Dan Sturges, Dan Sturges
Bangkok , Thailand
James Rhodes, Photographer James Rhodes
(The VIking)
Port Au Prince , Haiti ( PAP )
Thomas Lindahl Robinson, Photographer Thomas Lindahl Robinson
[undisclosed location].
Massimiliano Clausi, Photojournalist Massimiliano Clausi
Genoa , Italy
Imants, gecko hunter Imants
gecko hunter
" The Boneyard" , Australia
Daniel Etter, Photographer / Writer Daniel Etter
Photographer / Writer
Istanbul , Turkey
Andrew Brinkhorst, photographer Andrew Brinkhorst
Lexington, Ky , United States
Jehad Nga, Jehad Nga
Nbo , Kenya


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