Projects: Documentary Photography Projects
CLASS OF 2018
Jan Møller Hansen
Photographer - Denmark
Exam project: Living with scars
Jan Møller Hansen is a self-taught, awarded Danish photographer. He asked for new ways to develop, plan and undertake his own longer-term photography project. And found them.
Read here how his skills and mindset were challenged and improved on the international diploma course ‘Documentary Photography Project’
Also check out his powerful final project about ‘acid violence in Bangladesh’.
What in particular caught your attention and interest about this course?
This visual storytelling and documentary photography course caught my attention for two reasons. Firstly, it was reputed and well-known organisations, which are running the course. Secondly, it is a very concrete and hands-on course where you learn to develop, plan and undertake your own longer-term photography project under guidance and mentoring by some experienced photographers. It is a professional and ambitious course that would challenge me as a photographer.
Which new skills and ideas/mindset did you take away from the course?
I learned more about being structured and focused on preparing, presenting, and executing a proposal. I am used to developing photography projects on my own without much involvement of others. But during this course I became accountable to my mentor and to the other students, and that was a good learning experience. My work was also well critiqued, which I appreciated. It was challenging to formulate the project and to present it to others and then face the criticicism. But criticism is very important in photography. I stayed true to myself and used my best capabilities but at the same time tried to learn from the teachers and the other students. During the course, I was reminded of how tough, but also constructive, it is to be challenged on your work. This is the spirit of explorative documentary photography that I appreciate. I got new ideas when it comes to upstream planning and preparatory work as well as the final presentation of a project. For the execution, I very much used my experience and passion for photography.
Which new opportunities do you see after the course – business wise or innovative potential?
I am a self-taught photographer, and photography is not my full-time profession. But photography has become an important part of my life and work. Sometimes international media, organisations or individuals, who want to use my images and stories, contact me. I always appreciate when others want to use my photography work, and the course has also been a good leverage in this respect. I have won one international photo competition based on the project, and some international media might want to publish the story. My project is traditional in the way it has been executed, but that does not make it less interesting or less important. That is how I work with photography. But I was very inspired by some of the other students, who were experimenting more than myself. I think that I learned some new and innovative ways of how to develop and approach a potentially interesting story.
What is your final project about? Why did you choose that topic/story? And how did you use your new tools to make the project?
I choose to work on a story about acid violence in Bangladesh. I have lived five years in Bangladesh, and I wanted to go back to continue some of the photography work that I did in the country some years ago. I wanted to meet some of the people who have survived these horrendous attacks and give them a voice. I want to show respect to the people who are struggling with violence, injustice and corruption, and to learn how it is to fight stigmatisation and isolation in society. Photography gives me hope and respect for people. That is why I did this project. The story behind the image(s) is the most important thing for me. When undertaking the project, I basically worked in the same manner as I have done during other personal projects. But I was inspired by how to change certain aspects of a photography project. My mentor also had to push me a bit, and I did the project. That was great.
How would you recommend the course to colleagues?
If I assess that they have the right attitude and the skills needed, then I will definitely recommend the course. I am convinced that many experienced and less experienced photographers will be able to benefit from the course.
Photo by Sebastian Liste / NOOR