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Juneteenth: Commemorating the end of slavery in America

Juneteenth is the oldest American festival celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. Here are some films produced for the ICP Infinity Awards to help push the dialog forward.

The 1619 Project of the New York Times Magazine

Origin stories are important. They give us a sense of identity, purpose, and history. They help us understand who we are. But origin stories are notoriously incomplete; favoring certain historical details over others. The United States has such a story; a story written by men who celebrated universal rights while subjecting, demeaning and enslaving whole nations and communities of people. That horrific contradiction and its implications have rippled throughout American history.

Nikole Hannah-Jones, a domestic correspondent for The New York Times, has been thinking about that contradiction since high school when she learned of the date 1619; the first recorded date of forcibly enslaved peoples arriving in the colony of Virginia. Hannah-Jones wondered what it meant to be a country that was actually based on slavery? What would it mean for us if we considered 1619 our true origin and not 1776?

And that was the conceit of The 1619 Project; a massive effort by The New York Times Magazine, which was spearheaded and conceived of by Hannah-Jones to detail the history of slavery, it’s lasting effects within our culture, and to celebrate the often-suppressed role of formerly enslaved peoples in making American democracy manifest.

Critical Writing and Research: Race Stories by Maurice Berger

Maurice Berger–cultural historian, and columnist for the New York Times’ Race Stories–has spent his career studying and teaching racial literacy through visual literacy.
His intimate understanding of how visual culture impacts our notions of race has led him to create Race Stories, a monthly column for the New York Times that explores the ways that photography reflects the racial attitudes of our time. In his work, he hopes to provoke his readers to consider their own assumptions and prejudices, and to celebrate the contributions of photographers of color to our culture.
In this film, we explore how Maurice’s personal journey growing up as a white kid in a predominantly black and Latino neighborhood brought him to a unique understanding of the “value of white skin”; and how that in turn led him to become an ally and champion to some of the greatest black photographers of our time.

Applied: Alexandra Bell

How would the news look if editors saw the world as you do?
Alexandra Bell, a journalist with a keen eye for detail, exposes how language and imagery are used to perpetuate racist narratives in the mainstream media. A queer black woman who describes herself as a person at the margins, she offers a perspective that often confront the mainstream media’s racial attitudes. Her work takes the form of meticulous re-imaginings of New York Times pages. Her Counternarrative series shows how language, images and layout affect meaning.

Art: Dawoud Bey

For Dawoud Bey, a successful portrait reveals a person’s interiority. Perhaps this is why his work has been called a “civic act of seeing”. In a career spanning forty years, he has used photographs to serve as a counternarrative to the pathologized portrayals of people on the margins. From series as diverse as “Harlem U.S.A.” to “Class Pictures”, Bey allows subjects to engage directly with the viewer, developing intimacy between the two. Bey’s recent work pays homage to black trauma and history. “The Birmingham Project”, which gained him a MacArthur Genius Grant, aims to evoke what was lost during the 16th St. Baptist Church Bombing in 1963 and its aftermath. “The Underground Railroad” and “Night Coming Tenderly, Black” take space and location as its subjects to explore how enslaved people moved under the cover of night to escape towards freedom. Dawoud says that his work–whether it is the black subject, marginalized histories, or teenagers–is all about giving subjects their due value.

Critical Writing and Research: Zadie Smith

Writer Zadie Smith pays homage to photographer Deana Lawson in the artist’s first Monograph for Aperture. In this essay, Smith describes how Deana Lawson’s work uniquely places individuals from the African Diaspora in a “kingdom of restored glory”. Despite the circumstances her subjects might find themselves in–poverty, overcriminalization, systemic racism–in a Lawson portrait, they radiate royalty. Smith describes Lawson’s subjects as queens; men and women who are celebrated in ways they so rarely are by our visual culture. “Deana Lawson’s Kingdom of Restored Glory” is a tribute to a photographer who captures her subjects as they hope to be seen “beautiful, imperious, unfallen, unbroken”.

Publication: LaToya Ruby Frazier

As a child, LaToya Ruby Frazier could sense the steel industry’s hold on her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania. Her body of work “The Notion of Family” examines the impact of the steel industry and the health care system on the community and her family. Collaborating with her mother and grandmother, she uses her family as a lens to view the past, present and future of the town.

Critical Writing and Research: Vision & Justice by Sarah Lewis and Michael Famighetti

Aperture Magazine’s landmark issue “Vision & Justice” explores how photography has been weaponized to both denigrate and celebrate African American life. Inspired by the words and actions of Frederick Douglass, this publication weaves together the works of poets, photographers, filmmakers and other artists who have used their art to combat the image war waged against people of color, particularly African Americans, in this country. They honor the work of African American photographers, like Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, Jamel Shabazz, and Deborah Willis, who turned the lens to African American families at a time when the media was filled instead, with African American caricatures. This film pays homage to a seminal work in the history of American photography, one that recognizes ‘photography as a project of American citizenship’.

Online Platform & New Media: For Freedoms – Hank Willis Thomas & Eric Gottesman

For Freedoms is the first artist-run Super PAC. The PAC was founded during the 2016 U.S. presidential election by photographers and artists to engage in the political process and offer more complex messages than those seen in the mainstream media.
By using traditional political advertising tools, like highway and lawn signs, For Freedoms moved art beyond the museum walls to reach a much larger audience.

New Media: Question Bridge

There is perhaps no group more misunderstood or feared in America than black men. Question Bridge: Black Men sets out to change these preconceptions. According to Chris Johnson, one of the project’s creators, “It allows black male consciousness to become visible through the questions and answers that these black men have of each other.”
Created over a four-year period, Question Bridge: Black Men offers a stunningly simple but profound vantage point: the ability to listen in as black men talk to each other.
“Any monolithic idea we have of who black men are is immediately defeated when you see the amazing range of different values and lifestyles and attitudes and opinions that these men have.”
Since 1985, the International Center of Photography has recognized outstanding achievements in photography with its prestigious Infinity Awards. The awards ceremony is also ICP’s primary fundraising benefit, with its revenues assisting the center’s various programs.
Harbers Studios commissioned MediaStorm, on behalf of ICP, to create a short film about each of the recipients to screen at the awards ceremony and to display online. The films pay tribute to the contributions of each artist to the craft and field of photography and demonstrate ICP’s commitment to them.

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2020 Hearst Journalism Awards: Multimedia Films

For the past three years I have had the honor of serving as a judge for the Hearst Journalism Awards in the multimedia category. The other judges during my tenure included Kenny Irby, Mark Morris, Danese Kenon and Jarrad Henderson.

This year the multimedia finalists were:

  • Jiakai Lou, University of Montana
  • Mackenzie Behm, University of Florida
  • Colin Davy, Syracuse University
  • Lucas Pruitt, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Neda Karimi, Stony Brook University

The films they created blew me away.

The assignment was given to them on Friday, May 29th and they delivered the films below in only one week. The results are both personal and important historical documents. I hope you will take some time to watch them.


About the Hearst Journalism Awards

The Hearst Championships are the culmination of the 2019 – 2020 Journalism Awards Program, which were held in 104 member universities of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication with accredited undergraduate journalism programs.  From May 29 – June 4, 2020, 29 finalists – winners from the 14 monthly competitions – participated in the 60th annual Hearst Championships.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the in-person Championship planned for Houston, Texas was replaced by a virtual event.  Finalists met their judges and received their assignments over video-conference meetings, and then produced and submitted their pieces from home.

Often called “The Pulitzers of college journalism,” the Hearst program holds year-long competitions in writing, photojournalism, radio, television and multimedia for journalism undergraduates.

The William Randolph Hearst Foundation was established by its namesake in 1948 under California non-profit laws, exclusively for educational and charitable purposes.  Since then, the Hearst Foundations have contributed over 1 billion dollars to numerous educational programs, health and medical care, human services and the arts in every state.

The Hearst Journalism Awards Program was founded in 1960 to support, encourage and give assistance to journalism education through scholarships for outstanding college students.  Since its inception, the program has distributed more than $14 million in scholarships and grants for the exceptional work by student journalists who participate in the program.

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2020 ICP Infinity Award Films by MediaStorm

Since 2013, MediaStorm has been honored to partner with the International Center of Photography and Harbers Studios to produce films that pay homage to the winners of the annual Infinity Awards for their contributions to the field of photography and visual arts.

This year marks the first-ever virtual ICP Infinity Awards honoring:

Lifetime Achievement
Don McCullin

Online Platform and New Media
The 1619 Project of the New York Times Magazine

Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism
Hannah Reyes Morales

Nadine Ijewere

Each year, the ICP recognizes these outstanding artists at a fundraiser that supports a full range of programs, including exhibitions, collections, community outreach, scholarships, and the ICP School. MediaStorm’s films have been highlighted as the signature moment of the event. Since the first presentation of the films at the 2013 gala, ICP has skyrocketed its fundraising goals and achievements. MediaStorm is proud to have played a role in catalyzing that effort. Our work with the International Center of Photography and Harbers Studios affirms that storytelling moves people to action.

For MediaStorm, these films are a tribute to our roots in photography and our aspiration for the field, that it continue to be a force for change.

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MediaStorm Master Classes Now A Virtual Classroom

In these challenging and uncertain times, MediaStorm is committed to continuing our educational efforts in a safe and responsible manner. For the foreseeable future, we will be holding all master classes via Zoom video conference. Zoom is an excellent (and free) platform for connecting and collaborating, and we hope that by using it, we can continue to provide you the support you need to keep creating.

This is a first for so many of us. We’re recreating how to be in community and how to learn together at a time when physical distancing is the new norm. Our learning community has always been a source of support and inspiration, and we think we need each other now more than ever. Join us and the hundreds of people who have sat in our classrooms, online and in-person, to take the next step in your storytelling journey.  Here’s what people say about our master classes: 

“MediaStorm’s class broke down storytelling theory in a way that challenged me to think about my past projects and better prepared me for those that I am currently working on. Brian is a charismatic instructor who loves sharing the knowledge he has gathered with anyone willing to learn. His anecdotes and projects serve as his syllabus and he teaches with an authenticity that cannot be faked.”   McArdle Hankin, Co-Founder Back Pocket

“As a longtime reporter and editor looking to start a new media venture, I found Brian’s one-day master class both practical and inspirational. In an age of click-bait “journalism,” Brian’s unwavering commitment to quality storytelling resonated with me deeply, and has motivated me to keep pursuing my entrepreneurial journey.” Julie Makinen, JSK Stanford Fellow

“My week at the Methodology Workshop with Brian Storm and his team has been life changing. All of my questions about MediaStorm’s quality documentary filmmaking were answered as we went deeper than I expected into the storytelling secrets that make them who they are. Now the blanks are filled in, and I’m looking forward to increasing the quality of my own multimedia projects with renewed passion. Clearly compassion rules the way MediaStorm tells people’s stories, but they also make sure to get the stories in front of people who can benefit from them the most. Thank you Brian and all the team at MediaStorm for your inspiring generosity. I will make it count.” Carla Adelmann

Join us for Our One Day Master Class

  • Friday, March 27th
  • Monday, April 6th
  • Wednesday, May 6th
  • Monday, June 1st

All classes are 9-5pm PST with a one-hour lunch break at 1pm. 

Sign up at https://mediastorm.com/train/workshop/one-day-workshop

Our next Methodology Workshop will be from 9-5pm PST, April 15-18. 

Sign up at  https://mediastorm.com/train/workshop/methodology


Let’s get through this together.

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Special Offer on MediaStorm’s Online Training

We’re living in unprecedented times. Our virtual community is more important than ever, so we’re sending out this note to give you some assurance that we’re here and we’re thinking of ways to support you.  

We know that many of the educators in our community are taking the smart step of moving classes to a remote environment, and we’re here to help you make that transition.

We’re offering MediaStorm’s acclaimed training, regularly priced at $199 for only $45.

Sign up now.

Our online training can make all the difference for students who are struggling to adapt to a virtual classroom. 

For the past fifteen years, we’ve partnered with universities from across the world to offer our online training program in filmmaking, editing, and production. Our work is sought out by educators from around the world.

“I started using MediaStorm’s Online Training videos as a part of a flipped classroom, so that students could learn the “how-to” outside of class, allowing for a more hands-on learning and discussion during class sessions. It’s been an invaluable set of tools that reach and engage students with varying skills. The support and service from MediaStorm is excellent, which encourages me to continue to be a loyal client.”

 -Mikki K. Harris, Assistant Professor, Journalism and Sports Program at Morehouse College

“I have been using MediaStorm’s Online Training videos for 6 years now as part of my class curriculum in beginning multimedia classes. They are a great addition to my lectures and help prepare the students for our work outside of the classroom. Brian and his staff have done an excellent job explaining the technical concepts of multimedia storytelling in both an entertaining and easy to understand format that keeps my students engaged while watching the videos.”

-Laura L. Camden, Associate Professor of Photojournalism and Documentary Studies at Northern Arizona University- School of Communication

Our comprehensive training package complements most filmmaking courses, and can spark creativity in students who are struggling to find inspiration in these challenging times. 


  • Divided into six modules, and led by our team of producers, editors, and cinematographers, these videos provide essential techniques and useful tips and tools to successfully create powerful stories.
  • The training modules can be incorporated into your program syllabus just like a textbook and can be accessed by students at any time during the semester.
  • Apart from the Reporting and Post-production tracks, which teach specific theory and skills used by MediaStorm, the Making Of modules offer a behind-the-scenes look at this methodology being put into practice, by dissecting the many decisions in the making of four different films.
  • Our newest series, MediaStorm Post Production Workflow: A Technical Guide to Being Creative is a ‘start to finish’ guide that details the technical, organizational and creative techniques we find crucial to the storytelling process, and it’s something we use on every film we produce. This workflow has been continually updated for over a decade, and now your students will get the chance to learn from that experience.

We’d love to add your institution to the roster of universities using the MediaStorm training guide to prepare the next generation of filmmakers. 

As we turn towards a socially distant way of life, we want to remind you that creativity often sparks brightest when we’re alone, undistracted. So we hope you take the opportunity to work on that passion project, pull up those archived files, and see what you can bring to your work anew. And if you’re looking for ways to light that spark in your students during these challenging times, we hope that our training can help. 

For more information, please contact Brian Storm, brian@mediastorm.com

Stay safe out there.

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