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The CatchLight Visual Storytelling Summit

  • McEvoy Foundation For the Arts 1150 25th Street San Francisco, CA, 94107 United States (map)

The Power of Visuals: Inspire. Convene. Create Dialogue.

CatchLight presents an immersive day of conversation, inspiration and community featuring some of the leading voices in visual storytelling.

The event begins with CatchLight’s inaugural portfolio review, produced in partnership with United Photo Industries, in which photographers can share their work with some of the nation’s foremost photo editors from media and tech organizations, museum curators and gallery owners.

Doors open at noon and a food truck will be onsite with lunch available for purchase. Starting at 1:30pm, join us for a series of conversations with some of the leading voices in visual storytelling, including Aida Muluneh, Ethiopian photographer, contemporary artist and founder of Addis Foto Fest, Andrea Bruce, National Geographic photographer; a discussion on academia and filmmaking with Guggenheim fellow and filmmaker Carlos Javier Ortiz; and a conversation on the future of visual storytelling with Anna Dickson, the visual lead at Google Image Search, Joel Flory, the CEO of VSCO and Benjamin Petit, Co-Director of #Dystrub.

Bangladeshi photographer and one of Time’s Persons of the Year Shahidul Alam, who was formerly imprisoned for denouncing government corruption, will deliver the keynote.

The day ends with a lively happy hour for ongoing conversations and sharing.


9:00 AM-12:00 PM: The CatchLight Portfolio Review by application
Selected photographers will be notified by March 15th.

12:00 PM: Summit Doors Open & Food Truck Lunch
Food trucks will be onsite — come early, grab a bite and mingle before the program begins.

1:30 PM: Welcome Remarks

1:40 PM: Raising Photography Voices: Aida Muluneh on upending the foreign gaze and mentoring the next generation of photographers from Africa
Speaker: CatchLight Fellow Aida Muluneh

2:50 PM: The Ferguson Effect? Considering police-community relations in Sacramento through documentary filmmaking, investigative journalism and scholarship
Speakers: CatchLight Fellow Carlos Javier Ortiz & Dr. Cid Martinez
Moderator: Robert J. Rosenthal

3:45 PM: Offline & Online: The future of visual storytelling in the digital age
Speakers: Anna Dickson, Visual Lead at Google Image Search, Joel Flory, Co-Founder & CEO of VSCO & Benjamin Petit, Photographer and Co-Director of #Dysturb
Moderator: Elodie Mailliet Storm

4:40 PM: Our Democracy: Andrea Bruce combines photography, education and community engagement following Alexis de Tocqueville’s mid-1800s route in communities across the United States, asking the question, "What does democracy look like today?"
Speaker: CatchLight Fellow Andrea Bruce

5:20 PM: Keynote Speech: Formerly imprisoned Bangladeshi photographer and Time’s Person of the Year, Shahidul Alam, recounts his path from photographer to human rights activist and freedom of the press leader.
Speaker: Shahidul Alam

6:00 PM: Happy Hour & Conversation


Shahidul Alam
Shahidul Alam is a Bangladeshi photojournalist, teacher and social activist. Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry before taking up photography, concentrating on issues of social justice. He set up the Drik and Majority World agencies, Pathshala South Asian Media Institute and the Chobi Mela festival. On August 5, 2018, Alam was arrested and detained shortly after giving an interview to Al Jazeera and posting live videos on Facebook that criticized the government's violent response to the 2018 Bangladesh road safety protests. Many international humanitarian organisations and news media called for his release without charge. He was granted bail on November 20, 2018.

Aida Muluneh
Born in Ethiopia in 1974, Aida Muluneh left the country at a young age and spent an itinerant childhood between Yemen and England. Aida is the founder and director of the Addis Foto Fest (AFF), the first international photography festival in East Africa hosted since 2010 in the city of Addis Ababa. Also as an exhibiting artist, Aida’s work has been shown in South Africa, Mali, Senegal, Egypt, Canada, United States of America, France, Germany, England, China, to name a few countries. A collection of her images can be found in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, Hood Museum and the Museum of Biblical Art in the United States.

Carlos Javier-Ortiz
Carlos Javier-Ortiz’s artistic practice combines film, photography, music and audio to address issues of structural discrimination, violence, poverty, migration, marginalization and human rights. Carlos’ work has always revolved around what he refers to as “the beautiful struggle”: life after death, family stories, human resilience and bridging the spaces between these subjects. Working from a sociological and social justice perspective, he is inspired by imagery, sound, news events, landscapes and contemporary socio-political issues. 

Andrea Bruce
Andrea Bruce is an award winning documentary photographer whose work focuses on people living in the aftermath of war. She concentrates on the social issues that are sometimes ignored and often ignited in war's wake. Andrea started working in Iraq in 2003, bringing a local reporter’s knack for intimacy and community focus to the lives of Iraqis and the US military. For over 15 years she has chronicled the world’s most troubled areas, focusing on Iraq and Afghanistan. For eight years she worked as a staff photographer, where she originated and authored a weekly column called “ Unseen Iraq.” Currently, she is a National Geographic Explorer and a member of the agency NOOR.

Professor Cid Martinez, PhD
Cid Martinez is an assistant professor of Sociology at the University of San Diego, and he is author of the book “The Neighborhood Has Its Own Rules: Latinos and Africans in South Los Angeles”, published by New York University Press. The book focuses on how Latinos and African Americans manage violence in South Los Angeles. His research and teaching focuses on criminology, policing, urban politics, immigration and race relations. His current research explores police-community relations and urban violence in southern and northern California. Dr. Martinez received his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

Robert J. Rosenthal
Robert J. Rosenthal is the former executive director of The Center for Investigative Reporting. An award-winning journalist, Robert has worked for The New York Times, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer and, most recently, the San Francisco Chronicle, where he served as managing editor. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in international reporting, a four time Pulitzer judge, and has taught at Columbia University and Cal Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

Anna Dickson
At Google, Anna Dickson manages a team of image professionals who specialize in imagery at scale. From curation to creation, her team works with products to understand their imagery needs, provide expert guidance, assist with imagery gaps and help to train classifiers to improve image results. In additional to content, she collaborates with infrastructure and machine learning teams on centralization of assets and image understanding. Prior to Google, Dickson led photography teams at The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal and IHeartRadio.

Joel Flory
As the co-founder and CEO of VSCO, Joel leads the company on its mission to help everybody fall in love with their own creativity. Joel and his co-founder Greg Lutze combined their passions for photography and technology to build VSCO in 2011. Prior to founding VSCO, Joel was a successful commercial and wedding photographer. A Bay Area native, Joel is deeply involved in the local Oakland community.

Benjamin Petit
Benjamin Petit is a French documentary photographer and the co-director of #Dysturb, a nonprofit formed by photojournalists wishing to make visual information freely accessible to a wider audience by pasting large images in city streets. Benjamin Petit has led #Dysturb campaigns in various city hubs, teaming up with institutions such as the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Magnum Foundation, Foam Museum and Instagram. Benjamin’s photojournalistic work is focused on social inequality and climate change related issues. He covered the Arab Spring aftermath in Yemen, the refugee crisis in Lebanon and has documented the resettlement of climate refugees in the Dominican Republic. Benjamin Petit is a 2018-2019 John S. Knight Fellow in Journalism Innovation at Stanford University, and a Fulbright scholar.

Elodie Mailliet Storm
Elodie Mailliet Storm is a recognized creative and business leader in the visual storytelling space and currently the CEO of CatchLight. In 2016, Mailliet Storm was named a JSK fellow in media innovation at Stanford University where she researched the monetization of photography in the age of social and search. During her 11 years at Getty Images, she oversaw and helped build Getty Images’ content offering and helped lead its strategic development. Most recently she was Getty Images’ Senior Director of Strategic Development based in the Bay Area focusing on Getty Images’ relationships with platforms such as Google, Instagram, Pinterest and Airbnb.