Online workshop "The relationship between emotion and document as a current photographic key", by Jana Leo

El PHotoESPAÑA Master in Photography, In collaboration with the Alcobendas City Council, it launches the online workshop “The relationship between emotion and document as a current photographic key”, given by Jana Leo.



The search for a position between the intensity of emotions and documentary objectivity is a central theme for many current photographers. Jana Leo has experienced a difficult balance in her work in which both aspects remain unusually active, as layers of meaning that naturally overlap in her photographs and writings. Known for her self-portraits, and her autobiographical works that she has practiced from 1990 to 2021, in the last ten years, she has expanded her practice of photography as a mirror in which to reflect the stories of the emotions of others. The basis is public intimacy: the essay analysis of reality and introspection that investigates its emotional effects.



This workshop deals with that space of confrontation between two natural tendencies in the creation of the photographic image: the one that leads to emotional expressiveness and the one that puts documentary objectivity first as a photographic essence. Jana leo will present how she has approached this issue in her own projects, which start from the facts. From which he investigates, leading to the creation of a documentary work, which only corresponds to the starting point for the final creation. This is followed by an exercise in transcription from "factual" language to "mental" language, or in other words, from themes to concepts. The result is what she calls “Fotoidea”. During the workshop he will also talk about his references and review the work of the attending students.








A joint view of the work method, the expected results and its phases will be presented. It is a macro vision, a map of the whole process. So that the theory is not so abstract, we start by thinking that we are working on a common project that affects us all, (for example, the emotional state in times of COVID-19) and the steps will be seen, having that theme in the background. Each participant can apply it to their own work.





From the previous theory, examples of: RomaPost, Portraits of the ideology "Relationship of trust between the individual and the state" (2019-20). Here a second important concept in photographic-artistic work will be introduced: the project. Many photographers work on projects; a project is a way of framing the work (I am not going to photograph everything). The project helps to focus on something and frames the interest. We will explore the difference between understanding a project as something structural and as something thematic.





Here, the creation process will be reviewed but in a specific case, (not the creation of a photographic project) but the creation of a photograph. Look carefully at the moment of information conversion, from the factual to the affective and emotional. The task of creating an affective image of something will be carried out.


In this session another concept will be introduced: mental reality. We all want photos that are exciting, but how do you take them? It's about documenting mental reality. For this, real life is captured but, unlike what documentary photography does, the work does not end after going to the facts, but the photographs of reality are only the starting point for creation. It is about creating images that reveal mental reality: ideas and emotions.





The big question, when taking a photo, is whether we build something new or just record the existing (document). With the widespread use of the smart phone, the popularization of photography comes and we all capture reality (in a better or worse way) but few of us create it. Most of the images in the world, from photographers but also from users, is capturing something that exists in reality. This topic makes us wonder what the function of photography is: to capture a reality or to create a reality. Perhaps this issue, reality, is the most pressing in the tradition of photography.


Is the photographer's function to create reality or is it to take it? In this session I introduce a third concept of photographic-artistic work, that of takes it photographic. This session focuses on how to create an imaginary and does so using the images of the work Thou shalt not rape (2018)






This session deals with the fundamental theme of the workshop once its components have been analyzed. I am referring to the space of confrontation between two natural tendencies in the creation of the photographic image: the one that leads to emotional expressiveness and the one that puts documentary objectivity as a photographic essence.


That space could not be defined without redefining these concepts: the methodology, the process, the project / theme, the reality, the imaginary, the photographic taking. This last session would be a philosophical journey through these concepts illustrated with his own images.





All sessions will have a theoretical part and a practical part. The duration of each part will vary according to the program of each day. In general, a presentation will be made in the first hour. In the second, more interactive hour, quick exercises will be done to help assimilate the theoretical content.


There is a final exercise that will be put on the first day and the last one will be reviewed. The participant who wants to continue working on their project, Jana Leo will commit to review it one month later individually.


Many of the concepts are collected in Jana Leo's book: The Journey Without Distance (Cendeac) 2006, second edition 2015 Murcia. In the section: FICTIONAL, MENTAL AND VIRTUAL, chapter 7: Photography, presence and fiction. Part of Jana Leo's work can be found on the website




JANA LEO (Madrid 1965) lives and works in New York, United States. Doctor in Philosophy and Letters, Master in Art Theory and Aesthetics from UAM, Madrid and Master in Architecture from SOA, Princeton. She was a professor at the Cooper Union School of Architecture in New York for seven years. He has exhibited, among others, at the ICP (International Center of Photography) in New York, at ARCO and at the MNCARS (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía) in Madrid and has received prestigious scholarships, including the Spanish scholarship in Rome. She is the author of "Rape New York", 2011 and previously of "The journey without distance" 2004, a part of this last work is the essay "Photography, presence and fiction". His essay “Dry skin. Photography, reality, the body, love and death ”can be read in David Pérez's book The Vulnerable Certainty, Barcelona, ​​GG 2006.




Date: from Monday 15 to Friday 19 March 2021.
Hours: from 17:00 p.m. to 19:00 p.m. (Spanish time)

Modality: online
Price: EUR 120

Online registration here!






Image: Jana Leo

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