Interview: Véronique Sutra – Eyes In Progress

Véronique Sutra - Eyes In Progress

Véronique Sutra - Eyes In Progress

Véronique Sutra, ex Manager of Multimedia at Magnum Photos, just created Eyes In Progress, which is a program of workshops and masterclasses provided by Masters of photography such as Patrick Zachmann (documentary), Jane Evelyn Atwood (storytelling), Joan Fontcuberta (contemporary) and other great names. Sutra says, “With Eyes in Progress, I wanted to create a program that responded to traditional needs of quality apprenticeship for professional photographers on one hand, but I also wanted to integrate this experience into the contemporary landscape of new modes of social communication on the web; including exchanges with recognized experts in the art and journalism world.”

Sutra explains further her former career at Magnum:When I worked at Magnum Photos I could see that as soon as one of the agency’s photographer was leading a workshop, people would come from all over the place to attend. Learning from a master is a special and precious experience, indeed you do not learn specific techniques or ‘how to dos’, you learn on inspiration, on how to look at your pictures and pick the one that is ‘right’ for you, you learn what is your own style in photography and that’s what most of the participants are so delighted about. They feel inspired! I love being around the group, making sure all is ok, helping people to edit the pictures they will then show to the master, I get to see great photography, the progress the participants are making, it is just a marvelous experience for me and for my eyes!”

Name: Véronique Sutra
Age: 32 years
Place of residence: Paris and Barcelona
Profession: Founder and CEO at Eyes in Progress
Food: Foie gras and roasted chicken
Transportation: My feet and eventually sometimes the Parisian buses (much better than the metro)

How and why did you start or develop the idea of Eyes in Progress?
It took me one year of reflexion and of studying what is going on in the world as far as photography workshops are concerned. Before going to work at Magnum Photos, I would spend an hour at home wandering around the internet and learning. That is how Eyes In Progress was born, I wanted to do something different than all the rest with more focus on the participants works and their experience after the workshop.

Which problems did you face until you got everything rolling?
At one point I had to choose between staying at Magnum Photos or taking the risk of developing my own project. Tough choice.

How would you describe the key strengths of Eyes in Progress?
Top photographers lead the workshops. The website put a focus on the workshops participants works and their experience. Ideally, I would like to create a real community around those events, people sharing portfolios online throughout their social media or others. In short: create enthusiasm around photography!

Patrick Zachmann

A prostitute in the red-light district of Sao Paulo, Brazil photographed by Patrick Zachmann.

Can you tell me more details about the masterclasses and workshops?
4 days is short, but it takes all in you, after the 4 days you feel full and empty at the same time, it is an intense experience but full of learning. Then you go out and you don’t look at your photography the same way. I was careful to choose masters in photography who had already successfully lead workshops, because there can be wonderful and famous photographers, and not knowing or wanting to share, explain, teach or lead the way.

The program is designed for professional photographers or serious amateurs who wish to improve or experiment with a new genre. What benefits do I have as a photographer from your courses? What experience do you want to create for photographers?
One of the participants explained it the perfectly to me: “If you are a professional photographer, be ready to open yourself to a new perspective on your work, it can be radical sometimes. You can have a solid idea on what is your style, your genre etc. and going out of the workshop and having everything upside down.”

If you are a serious amateur, be ready to work very hard, this is the chance for you to discover what could be your signature, where you could successfully head into.

Jane Evelyn Altwood

Visiting rights for couples who are incarcerated, male and female, in two sections. Photo by Jane Evelyn Altwood.

Are there plans to expand the concept to other cities?
I would love to. However for the moment, I want to focus on Paris and Barcelona, but yes, Madrid, New York, Berlin and London would be cities I’d like to organize workshops in.

What is your opinion or vision on current photography?
Lots is going on in photography those days, there is a real thing happening around vintage prints photography and this market in general. It is becoming a big thing in the collectors world. Which is good, because interest is growing and each year more people visit Paris Photo, Rencontre d’Arles etc. and it has of course an impact on contemporary photography. Each time there are more festivals and events showing the new talents. It is good to have them because there is such an amount of photography on the internet those days. Fortunately, you can tell straight on when seeing a photograph, if the photographer just wanted to SHOW something or to SAY something.

Mark Power

Building the Airbus A380 in Toulouse, France. Photo by Mark Power.

Is there a big difference between European, Asian and American perspective on photography?
I honestly do not make such a difference when I see the work of a photographer, where he comes from is of course interesting, but I do not categorize them like that. I believe this is something a real critic would do, not me, I am a simple “lucky” viewer.

Which photo festival do you think a professional photographer should attend once in his life?
Paris Photo, Rencontres d’Arles, Visa pour l’Image, PhotoEspana, Look3 (never went to but wish I could), Festival International de la Photo de Mode (Fashion Photo festival in south of France in Cannes), PhotoQuai. Then there are plenty of specialized festival, it’ll depend on where your interest lies. ❚

Joan Fontcuberta

Photo by Joan Fontcuberta.