Writer’s Block Philippines: Photojournalism 101

In the age of multimedia, it is no longer enough for writers to know how to write. More and more, journalists, creative writers, and corporate communicators alike are being required to take photos to accompany their stories. Photojournalism is no longer just a “nice-to-have” skill, but an essential tool for more effective communication. Having this complementary skill in one’s arsenal will also make writers more marketable to editors, clients, and readers alike. In these days, everyone loves a multi-tasker.

“You’ll be sent off on assignments or will go on some really great trips without a crew. It’ll just be you,” says Ana Santos, a journalist who covers sexual health rights and women’s issues, and one of the co-founders of Writer’s Block Philippines. “It’ll be all up to you to write out the story and capture its essence in photos.”

Cost-cutting, the proliferation of inexpensive digital imaging photography, and the high quality of digitally produced images have made it easier for writers to take on the roles of both storyteller and photographer.

This becomes a problem for some journalists and writers whose training and experience have focused mostly on the written word.

“Photography and video blogging become necessary skills to make yourself marketable as a writer. It’s more efficient for the publication and, at the same time, it also helps make you a better and more effective writer to be able to think and develop your story in terms of photos and not just in terms of words,” says Nikka Sarthou, a travel and lifestyle journalist who is also one of the co-founders of Writer’s Block Philippines.

It is in recognition of this need for writers to build on existing skills set that Writer’s Block Philippines, an organization dedicated to professionalize the freelance writing industry by offering skills enhancement workshops for aspiring and novice writers, will hold Photojournalim 101, a one-day, comprehensive workshop on the basic principles of Photojournalism.

Writer’s Block Philippines is comprised of three prolific freelance writers who have almost 20 years of collective experience in freelance writing.

“Those years have taught us a thing or two about making a living as a freelance writer. One of the things that we have joyfully discovered is that you can make money from writing, but you must work doubly extra hard and constantly improve your craft by adding new skills,” says Niña Terol-Zialcita, Writer’s Block co-founder whose work has focused on advocacy and changemaking, as well as travel and culture.

Joining the Writer’s Block Philippines trio for Photojournalism 101 are award-winning photojournalists, Jason Gutierrez and Veejay Villafranca. Jason Gutierrez was the former president of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) and was awarded top prize at the Human Rights Press Award in 2006.

Veejay Villafranca is a freelance photojournalist whose work on the lives of former gang members in one of Manila’s dangerous slums, BASECO compound, garnered the 2008 Ian Parry Scholarship grant in London. His work has been shown in London, Lithuania, Hongkong, Phnom Pehn, France, Turkey and Manila.

Writer’s Block Philippines sees this partnership with top-caliber photojournalists like Jason and Veejay as a way of introducing a new set of skills to complement writing, but the workshop is most certainly not going to be limited to just writers.

“The principles of photography remain to be the same whether you will be shooting in the middle of a conflict zone or a travel scene or a fashion show,” says Gutierrez, who was one of the few journalists allowed to embed with US Marines in their final assault on Marjah, the last stronghold of the Taliban in southern Afghanistan.

Villafranca, who is represented by Getty Global Images in London, agrees, “You try to capture that decisive moment in a photo and those decisive moments are present in each one of life’s scenes that we try to freeze in time with a photo.”

Writer’s Block Philippines is now accepting registration to Photojournalism 101, a one-day workshop that will cover principles/basic elements of photography, photos that tell a story/photo captioning, income opportunities in photojournalism, and ethics.

The hand-on workshop will be on Saturday, April 2, 2011 at the North Syquia Apartments, M.H. del Pilar, Malate, 830AM – 530PM.

Slots are limited and registration is a must. Course fee is P5,500.

Participants need not be advanced photographers, but must have working knowledge of your camera and its basic operations.

For more information, please contact Writer’s Block Philippines at

Mobile: 0927.850.8280

Email: writersblock.ph@gmail.com

Online enrollments also accepted at http://www.writersblockphilippines.com

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