2020 Joop Swart Masterclass

Discover the 2020 Joop Swart Masterclass projects 

The Joop Swart Masterclass, World Press Photo Foundation’s educational program, has been supporting and educating emerging talent in documentary photography, visual journalism, and storytelling for over 26 years. Every year, the masterclass gathers 12 participants and five mentors in the World Press Photo offices in Amsterdam for an intensive week of learning and exchange. 2020 has been a year like no other, and has challenged us to rethink and redesign the masterclass. The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way we work at the World Press Photo Foundation and how we realize our mission of connecting the world to the stories that matter.

Bringing photographers and mentors from all around the world to Amsterdam was simply not a possibility this year. Moving the program online brought about some challenges but also many opportunities for change and reflection. After discussions amongst the selection committee on the need and possibility to make the program more inclusive this year, 24 participants and eight mentors from all over the world were invited. The online environment provided us the chance to closely follow the creative process from the beginning and to watch the participants and their projects grow over a period of four months. It was a learning opportunity for the participants, but also for the mentors and for World Press Photo. Although physically distanced, the connection between everyone involved was stronger than ever, and we can see the positive impact of these profound connections in the final outcome of the masterclass.

From July to October 2020, each of the participants worked on a project with the theme ‘Reset’ as a starting point. Their reflections on the theme are ongoing and projects will continue beyond the masterclass. Today, the World Press Photo Foundation is proud to present the stories from the 2020 Joop Swart Masterclass.

Alejandra Aragón, Mexico

Alejandra Aragón is a visual artist and documentary photographer based in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. In 'La Grieta ('The Crack') at the Edge of the World,’ Alejandra Aragón approaches the theme ‘Reset’ in relation to the decolonization of border dynamics, in this case in her hometown, the city of Juarez, on the border between Mexico and the United States. Learn more about the project. Learn more 

Cécile Smetana Baudier, France/Denmark

Cécile Smetana Baudier is a French/Danish photographer based in Copenhagen, Denmark. In her 2020 Joop Swart Masterclass project, Great Expectations, she explores the relationship of two sisters, Anna and Thea, and their transition into adolescence and adulthood. Learn more

Elias Williams, United States

Elias Williams is a documentary and portrait photographer born, raised and working in New York City, United States. Black Before 1975 sheds light on the shortcomings of forward mobility for Black Americans in Addisleigh Park, a small enclave in his hometown St. Albans, United States. Learn more

Felipe Romero Beltrán, Colombia

Felipe Romero Beltrán is a Colombian visual artist based in Madrid, Spain. In his 2020 Joop Swart Masterclass project, Dialect, he studies identity-building and self-representation of a community of young undocumented migrants in Seville, Spain. The project delves into concepts of the body, language, and control. Learn more

Fethi Sahraoui, Algeria

Fethi Sahraoui is an Algerian photographer whose work focuses on the social landscape. The Wind that Shakes Dreams explores the lives and the surroundings of the people residing in Kahwet El Rih, a village in the southwest of Algiers, Algeria. An unusually high number of the inhabitants suffer from severe eyesight problems, causing varying levels of blindness for many. Learn more

Gulshan Khan, South Africa

Gulshan Khan is an independent South African photographer based in Johannesburg. In her 2020 Joop Swart Masterclass project, Patterns in the Archive, she focuses on the power of memory and the archive to understand the present and reflect on the future. Learn more

Isadora Romero, Ecuador

Isadora Romero is a visual storyteller based in Quito, Ecuador. Muyu Lab documents the efforts for the conservation of agrobiodiversity in Ecuador from two points of view: the scientific and the ancestral, as a proposal for dialogue between the two. Learn more

Johanna Alarcón, Ecuador

Johanna Alarcón is an Ecuadorian freelance photographer and educator focusing on socio-cultural and gender issues, primarily in Latin America. I Am, Still explores a new generation of Ecuadorian indigenous people that grew up without fear of colonialism. Learn more

Lindokuhle Sobekwa, South Africa

Lindokuhle Sobekwa is a South African visual storyteller born and based in Thokoza. Ezilalini (The Country) follows the photographer’s journey from South Africa’s Eastern Cape to Johannesburg in search of opportunities. Learn more

Marcos Zegers, Chile

Marcos Zegers is a documentary photographer from Chile. Region is an immersion into understanding a territory as a newcomer from the city to the countryside. The zone is a rural area in Araucanía, Chile, a territory marked by a historical Indigenous Mapuche conflict for the recovery of territories, tourism, and a thriving city-nature exodus. Learn more

Mary Gelman, Russia

Mary Gelman is a photojournalist based in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. M+T is an intimate look at the love story of Minya and Tatyana, a couple with Down syndrome living in Svetlana, Russia, a village built in 1994 to create opportunities for people with special needs to develop their social and professional skills. Learn more

Mien-Thuy Tran, Vietnam

Mien-Thuy Tran is a self-taught photographer based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. River of Ten Thousand Springs is an inquiry into Vietnamese national identity and its paradoxicality: what makes Vietnamese people Vietnamese, apart from social interactions and collective belief which is vulnerable? Are we able to know who we are, while our origin is built from unverifiable myths and oral history? Learn more

Miti Ruangkrity, Thailand

Miti Ruangkritya is a Thai photographer whose work revolves around the city. Room and Sunset on Unnamed Lanes is an ongoing project focusing on Khlong Toey, the largest, most densely populated district located in the centre of Bangkok, Thailand. Learn more

Muhammad Salah, Sudan

Muhammad Salah is a Sudanese photographer based in Berlin. He looks at reset from a spiritual perspective. /ˈsɪnθɪsɪs/ is a personal exploration of the relationship between the self and the other, and the self and the surrounding space. Learn more

Nanna Heitmann, Russia

Nanna Heitmann is a documentary photographer with German and Russian roots, currently based in Moscow, Russia. Utrish is an ode to the beauty of the Russian Nature Reserve on a half island located in the Black Sea, its inhabitants and subculture. Learn more

Pat Kane, Canada

Pat Kane is a documentary photographer living in Yellowknife, Canada. Here is Where We Shall Stay focuses on how Indigenous people in the Northwest Territories are moving towards meaningful self-determination by resetting the past. Learn more

Rohit Saha, India

Rohit Saha is a visual artist from Calcutta, India. 100 Seconds. is a personal and intimate look at the photographer’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the juxtaposition of archival footage of world news and photographs of microscopic landscapes, Rohit Saha seeks to capture the “chaos of our time”.

Sagar Chhetri, Nepal

Sagar Chhetri is a Nepali photographer living and working in Kathmandu. (Sorry for that!) revisits the visual history of Nepal’s various political agreements in an attempt to understand and reflect on the disenchantment of Nepali people towards the establishment. Learn more

Salma Abedin Prithi, Bangladesh

Salma Abedin Prithi is a Bangladeshi photographer interested in rituals and women’s iconography. Torn explores the mental issues arising during the COVID-19 pandemic. The photographer herself was hospitalized with COVID-19, as well as her family members. Learn more

September Dawn Bottoms, United States

September Dawn Bottoms is a self-taught photographer from Oklahoma, United States. In Neither One Of Us Is As Saved As We’d Like To Be, September Dawn Bottoms adopts a multimedia approach to take a very intimate look at herself, her brother, and her mother, and address the cyclical nature of their own sexual trauma and mental illness. Learn more

Shwe Wutt Hmon, Myanmar

Shwe Wutt Hmon is a documentary photographer based in Myanmar. In Circle, Wutt Hmon reflects on her sister’s struggle with schizophrenia and how she herself deals with her sister’s mental illness. The project is her immediate response to a difficult situation in which she feels “suffocated.” Learn more

Sinead Kennedy, Australia

Sinead Kennedy is an Australian artist of Korean and Irish descent currently living on the Mid North Coast of Australia. In No Such Thing As Neutral Space, Sinead Kennedy questions how the dominant national narrative and self-image of ‘Australia’ is perpetuated through exclusionary practices. Learn more

Yufan Lu, China

Yufan Lu is a photographer based in China. Grandma: is a personal project and an homage to the photographer’s grandmother, who passed away in August 2020. Learn more

The Joop Swart Masterclass is part of the World Press Photo Foundation’s Develop programs, encouraging diverse accounts of the world that present stories with different perspectives. We showcase those stories to a worldwide audience, educate the profession and the public on their making, and encourage debate on their meaning. 

See all 2020 Joop Swart Masterclass stories and learn more about the program