Freelance photographer Anas Kamal was selected to participate in this year’s prestigious Canon Student Developing Program. The opportunity came after he attended a DEDI sponsored Masterclass on Photojournalism in Cairo.
By Martha Flyvholm Tode
Exclusive webinars with industry leaders, portfolio reviews by international picture editors, and open access to Visa Pour l’Image’s digital platform. These are just some of the advantages that this year’s prestigious Canon Student Developing Program offers. The three days online educational workshop is designed for photography students from all around Europe, the Middle East and Africa, who are at the doorstep to build a professional career as photographers. This year, 25-years-old freelance photographer Anas Kamal from al-Menoufia, Egypt, was one of the selected 204 participants.
“The Canon program offered some very important, and insightful lectures,” Anas Kamal explains. “Some of the lectures were presented by great photographers who talked about their journey as photographers and how they work on their stories step by step. Other lectures were presented by photo editors who explained how they select stories for publication. They also advised us on we as young photographers can present our work in the best way possible.”
Telling a story
Anas Kamal’s journey to become an established photographer started three years ago. While studying electrical engineering at Menoufia University, he was spending his free time taking photos of the surrounding landscapes as well as portraits of his friends and family. Today, he works as a freelance photographer specialized in documentary and daily life photography.
“I learned photography by myself, and I actually won an important international press photo contest in Moscow on the basis of that,” he says. “But then, after I came back from an assignment to Ghana, and started to edit my story, I felt that the story wasn’t like I wanted it to be, and I didn’t know how to make it better. I asked my friends if they knew any good courses to take, and a friend of mine suggested to apply for the DMJX course in photo journalism. From the moment I read the course content, I knew that it was exactly what I was looking for.”
Anas Kamal applied for the Canon Student Development Program on the basis the course: “DMJX on photojournalism” that he attended last year in Cairo. The course aims to educate young Egyptian photographers on the different aspects of photojournalism like journalistic portraits, written journalism, research and project proposal writing. It is designed and carried out by the internationally renowned Danish School of Media and Journalism (DMJX) in co-operation with Photopia, and sponsored by DEDI. Last year’s edition was taught by Danish photojournalists Søren Pagter, Mads Greve and Gitte Luk.
“The most important thing I learned was how to prepare my story. I learned what to photograph to make a good story, and how to edit my photos to make a good narrative,” Anas Kamal explains.
He then adds: “As my teacher Søren Pagter said: ‘we are non-fiction photographers, we don’t create a tale or a story, we tell stories that exist’. This is why I see myself as a photojournalist.”
Giving voice to the unknown
In his work, Anas indeed focuses on different humanitarian issues. Looking through his portfolio, one will immediately notice that most of his work centers around the daily life and living conditions in marginalized communities. Through his photos, he tells the stories of the people he is photographing, just accompanied by a short introduction. His project The White Mountain for example, brings attention to the dangerous working conditions of young men working in white brick quarries in Upper Egypt. Through breathtaking, dramatic, smoky-white pictures, he shows the workers in action, as they are extracting white bricks from the mountains using dangerous machinery and being covered by a cloud of dust hanging in the air.
“I have always been inspired by people’s lives, their traditions, and the difficulties they face, especially by the lives in the small communities that we don’t know much about,” he says. “With my photos I hope to give voice to the unknown, and marginalized communities. I have always considered photography as powerful tool to make people see, understand, and remember the things they don’t come across in their own lives.”
Currently, Anas Kamal is working on his final project for the DMJX-course, in which he focuses on Sudanese refugees in Egypt. He hopes to one day obtain a scholarship to study photojournalism and documentary photography — maybe at DMJX in Denmark.
See more about Anas Kamal’s work on his website
The project was managed by DEDI’s Project Officer, Marwa Seoudi