J.M. Giordano: The summer of 2013, I gave up fashion and advertising to commit fully to Photojournalism. I started a series about the homicide rate in B’more called Summer of The Gun. During the course of the three month project on Baltimore streets, I met a woman whose nephew, Davon “Lil’ Daddy” Ockimey, was gunned down near his home in the Park Heights neighborhood on the city’s Westside. As she was talking to me, she burst out in tears but didn’t stop me from taking photos. At one point she sobbed, “When will it end” and I snapped the photo. I’ve hundreds of photos since then, but the shot of her expression of sheer exhaustion at the death of her nephew and the shootings throughout the city as a whole summed up the whole project. It’s very difficult to sum up a series with one photo. It made the cover of the City Paper that year and was nominated for several awards, was featured on Al-Jazeera America, and landed me a staff position with the paper where the series ran. I keep a copy of the cover pinned to my wall at my desk to remind me the importance of photojournalism.
Corinna Kern: At this point in time, I would not be able to class one particular photograph as a most important one. Nevertheless, the most important body of work I produced is probably my project Mama Africa, documenting the life of transgender women in South Africa’s townships and rural areas. Due to the strong social stigma that is attached to transgender people in African culture, it is a topic that is highly relevant and in need of awareness in order to provoke social change. Despite the harsh realities that transgender women in South Africa face, my project Mama Africa resulted in a colourful and celebratory series. It documents four African transgender women in their confident endeavors to integrate themselves into a hetero-patriarchal society, while experiencing a surprisingly high level of acceptance. By conveying the ambiguity and fluidity of gender, my project challenges the stereotypical notions on African gender identity. Mama Africa was selected as one of the five finalists for the Alexia Foundation Professional Grant. Even though it did not win, it is a strong affirmation for me that this story is of high interest and needs to be told. I am still planning to continue my project with a stronger focus on the issues surrounding individuals’ lives. So I think my most important photo is still to come.