Jodi Bieber’s 10 tips for photographers and writers

By Sarah Rose de Villiers

Jodi Bieber’s photographs are silent stories, dressed in colour and captured light. Her years of experiencing and photographing a beautifully complex and twisted world have led to incredible images, international exhibitions and valuable advice.

On Monday, 14 September, she gave a presentation about her photography and biography to a room of aspiring photographers and writers.

  1. Jodi Bieber's Soweto series explored the sprawling township in all its life and colour.

    Jodi Bieber’s Soweto series explored the township in all its life and colour.

    “Never go see a sangoma at the beginning of a project. I saw a sangoma who told me I was going to die in a car – and that was at the start of my 7 000 km journey.”

  1. “It takes luck – meaning hard work. If I was not travelling up and down the streets, I would never had got to these images.”
  1. “Conceptualise. Think about what you want to create and how you are going to create it.”
  1. “It’s not just content. It’s aesthetic. Both are equally important.”
  1. Bieber photographed birthday parties, dancers and elderly couples during her Sowetan project.

    Bieber found parties, people and places to photograph for her Soweto series.

    “Layer your work. It’s not just ‘what you see is what you get’. You are allowed to interpret and not just create. Your background and your foreground are both very important. What’s happening in the background is telling you as much as what’s happening in the foreground.”

  1. “Collaboration is also very important. The more you collaborate with who you’re photographing or writing about, the more acceptance you get. The more permission you gain (even if it’s in difficult circumstances), the more you come out with.”
  1. “Your work should come out of who you are and you should choose something that means something to you.”

    Bieber's shot of Bibi Aisha won the 2010 World Press Photo award, and changed Aisha's life.

    Bieber’s shot of Bibi Aisha won the 2010 World Press Photo award, and changed Aisha’s life.

  1. “No one tells you when you’re dealing with these real life situations, what the psychological impact is on yourself. After loosing my colleagues and witnessing so many deaths, my mind was a little bit dark.”
  1. “Never ever promise anyone you photograph or interview that you can change their lives. It’s only happened twice that my photograph has changed somebody’s life, and some people never take a photograph that changes anyone’s life.”
  1. “There is no real truth. There’s part of the truth, but the media have agendas.”
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One thought on “Jodi Bieber’s 10 tips for photographers and writers

  1. Pingback: Revue de presse #30 – Septembre 2015 | FOTOTA

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