Ann Brooks Photography

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The many cultural splendors of Oaxaca – part 2

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More happenings during my first week here … immediately before the gallery opening a group marched down Acala protesting for women’s right to make their own decisions regarding abortion. Even in this Catholic country, this might not have been surprising in Mexico City, but here in more conservative Oaxaca, I suspect it is unusual.


Monday night in the Teatro Juarez, we heard a Mozart mass with the Oaxaca Symphony Orchestra and civic chorus.


Tuesday evening on an open air stage next to Santo Domingo Church, we saw ballet folklórico with several different groups performing, the largest of which I had seen here last year, same time (of the year), same place.



And, oh yes, during the earlier part of each week day we have four hours of Spanish language study at Instituto Cultural Oaxaca.

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October 6, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Ganges Bathers in Veranasi, India

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I could stand it no longer! I took this image of bathers at the Ganges in Veranasi, India in 2005. I love it. However, I’ve never printed it before because technically it is a far less than perfect photo. Taken at 6:00 a.m. on a very overcast morning at ISO 1600 from a bobbing boat, it is not sharp and is full of digital noise.


Ritual bathing at the sacred Ganges River in Veranasi, India in 2005.

This week, three and a half years after taking it, I have given it new life. It is now available in my studio as notecards, prints and a canvas.

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April 9, 2009 at 1:51 am

Editing lesson from Kim Komenich, Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist.

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I recently met with Kim Komenich, Pulitzer Prize winner and teacher extraordinaire, for his edit of some of my work. As a late-blooming photojournalist, I always learn a great deal from his comments. He explained that he was editing for a photojournalism story, beginning, middle, end.

Komenich picked this image as a scene setter. It shows the peoples faces, is about who is there, we can see people we can care about. Additionally he singled this one out for it’s “staying power”, as being a powerful image on its own.

I took these images in Oaxaca, Mexico on the 40th anniversary of the 1968 Mexico City massacre. Students, anarchists and others held a protest march keeping the memory of the massacre alive as well as protesting current injustices. Their message was “Ni perdon, ni olvido Mexico 68.” Neither forgive nor forget — the events on October 2, 1968. Here are Kim’s picks for the story with his comments.



Above, though not a fan of showing other people’s signs, Kominech says this one is another way to set the scene, it tells why they are there.

Image right, Komenich points out, “is full of little gifts”. There is a lot of activity, people reacting to the situation in a variety of ways.

He also points out that the image has it’s faults — is tipped and not taken square on, as it sould have been. But hey, it has it’s “gifts.”

abrooks_081002_035 abrooks_081002_055

Image left, he sites for good design.

On the right Komenich begins to drive home the importance of being able to see people’s eyes. The image shows lots of action and reaction.

Below left, he points out, is a young man who isn’t “playing anarchist” as he surmises all the ones with masks are. He is the real thing and isn’t hiding.

I remember working so hard to keep other people with cameras out of my pictures. Kim wisely pointed out that when it’s a “media circus” sometimes you just have to show it for what it is, lower right.


To see the contrast between Komenich’s edit and my original edit of this story click here and check out the slide show. Big lessons here.


Addendum:    This morning, by the bright light of day, I see I missed posting the flag burner (right) that was Kim’s choice. He made a point of the fact that in this one you can see his eyes. Check out the pick in my original edit and compare how much more powerful the image is when you see the young man’s eyes.

Yes, it is indeed very difficult to edit our own work.

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April 9, 2009 at 1:11 am

“Picturing the Recession” in and in Marin County

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The New York Times online asked readers from around the world to send photos showing how the recession was playing out in our communities. In the San Francisco Bay Area’s Marin County, one of the country’s wealthiest, we are not immune. It’s been sad seeing small stores close along San Rafael’s Fourth Street. Here are images I found yesterday, on on main street, one on automobile row. On a personal note, as a long-time Prius driver, I certainly wasn’t sad to see the Hummer dealership close, and I don’t think any of us need expensive boutique clothes in these hard times.


Leaves blow into the empty showroom where one of the country’s top Hummer dealerships is out of business in San Francisco Bay Area’s Marin County, one of the nation’s wealthiest counties.


Marin County in the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the nation’s wealthiest counties but is not immune to the rescission, with many small stores struggling or going out of business on San Rafael’s main street.

You can find both images and many more from around the world posted in the Ecomomy section, one in the Business pile, the other in the Transportation pile.

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April 3, 2009 at 10:24 am

Scout Tufankjian’s book signing: YES WE CAN: Obama’s History-Making Campaign

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Originally posted 3/16/2009

Well, I’m not usually an easy mark, but a PBS interview inspired me to run out and buy a book.  
Scout Tufankjian with Yes We Can  
Just after inauguration in January, Charlie Rose interviewed photographer Scout Tufankjian. She recounted how, in December 2006, her agent asked her to cover an event in New Hampshire. She had been looking forward to a date that night and didn’t want to drive five hours to cover a book signing for some junior senator from Illinois. She did go. It was life changing.

Scout Tufankjian's slide show from her book on Obama's campaign

That night Scout saw people’s reaction to Obama. He hadn’t yet declared his candidacy, but Tufankjian saw what was possible and made the decision to follow Obama through his campaign. The result was the book YES WE CAN: Barack Obama’s History-Making Presidential Campaign.

Unify Us Obama

Yesterday Scout had a book signing for YES WE CAN at Book Passage in Corte Madera. She and her book did not disappoint. Scout’s images of the Obama campaign cover a span from intimate to grand. She is a Yale political science graduate, bright, articulate. Her text sets the stage at the beginning of each of ten sections in the book. Her photos add a unique view of Obama campaigning, and what you haven’t seen so much in the press, she shows the emotions of the people who came to watch Obama.

Scout Tufankjian chats with Marin photographer Carol Santos at B Scout Tufankjian sign's Yes We Can for Obama admirer.
Scout Tufankjian visits with Marin photographer, Carol Santos and then goes on to sign a pile of her books for Book Passage in Corte Madera.

Barack Obama's December 2006 New Hampshire book signing. Scout Tufankjian signing Yes We Can
Scout Tufankjian’s image of Barack Obama signing a copy of The Audacity of Hope in December 2006 and my image of Scout signing Yes We Can at Book Passage in March 2009.

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March 17, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Scout Tufankjian’s advice to aspiring photojournalists

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Originally posted 3/16/2009

During Q & A at Scout Tufankjian’Book Passage book signing for her book YES WE CAN, which contains compelling photos from Barack Obama’s campaign, she was asked what advice she had for aspiring young photojournalists. She agreed, yes it’s tough out there now but …     

  • Be pushy!
  • Make cold calls at newspapers. As a freelancer, they have nothing to loose with you. 
  • Make them give you a freelance assignment. Just don’t screw it up.
  • Shoot. Shoot. Shoot.

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March 17, 2009 at 11:09 am

Scout Tufankjian’s favorite Nikon lenses

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Originally posted 3/16/2009

Scout Tufankjian - Go Obama, Yes We Can!

At the book signing for her book YES WE CAN at Book Passage yesterday Scout Tufankjian, was asked about her choice of lenses. She uses only prime lenses. Her favorite is Nikon’s 85 1.4. A great portrait lens, she says. She recently got their 50 1.4. “I love it. It’sgorgeous. It’s sharp as heck.”

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March 17, 2009 at 10:55 am

S.J. State journalism students’ Civil Rights path to Inauguration

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Originally posted on 3/13/2009

Paradise and Reality

For years my picture making was a visual effort to make my world right, to make “pretty pictures”. Don’t get me wrong, we all have some need to create our own visions of paradise. However, nearly three years ago, I began to have an urge to photograph a more active, vital world through photojournalism.    
Photonite at Exposure Gallery in San Francisco

San Francisco Press Photographers Association’s monthly Photonite at Exposure Gallery gives PJ students, young, and (in my case) older, a chance to meet and see the work of some titans in the field. At one of the first Photonites I attended, newly minted Pulitzer Prize winner, Renée Byer, Sacramento Bee photographer, shared her photos and experiences making the heart rending documentary of a young boy dying of cancer.

Professor Cheers takes San Jose State journalism students on an assignment of a lifetime

Last night at Photonite, Professor Michael Cheers and three of his photojournalism students from San Jose State’s Journalism Department treated us to work from their project, “44 Years to the 44th President: Connecting Our Past to America’s Historic Future.” Dr. Cheers and ten of his students made a 10-day journey through the Civil Rights South documenting seminal people and places involved in the movement. CNN aired some of the stories they produced. The Inauguration of Barack Obama in Washington D.C. was the high point for the students which I think is exemplified by the intimacy of the work of Derek Sijder, staff photographer for San Jose State’s Spartan Daily newspaper.


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March 17, 2009 at 2:42 am