Our festival magazine was originally intended to be the catalog for the Focus on the Story International Photo Festival. We were going to kick off the month-long festival at the end of May with our annual Visual Storytelling Summit, three-days of wall-to-wall speakers and panels. The rest of the month would feature exhibits, photowalks, talks, workshops and more.
Then the pandemic happened and we made the difficult (at the time) decision in March to cancel the in-person summit. That also meant canceling our opening night party at the Swedish Embassy, the wonderful exhibit of Maria Daniel Balcazar’s work at Lost Origins Gallery and all the in-person workshops we had planned.
The festival, however, went on, virtually. From April 1 through the end of June, we hosted 17 webinars. We brought some of our original programming to an appreciative, world-wide audience. We pivoted quickly to add a panel discussion that addressed the national reckoning on racial justice that occurred after the killing of George Floyd in late May.
And in the early days of the pandemic, we responded to the hopelessness, despair and isolation that many of us were feeling by teaming up with the Iris Photo Collective to launch a new project, “Imagine: Visions of Hope.”
Despite moving our summit and festival entirely online, we felt it was important to create something tangible to remind us of the year where everything seemed to go off the rails. In this magazine, you’ll see essays from Reuben Radding and Angela Douglas Ramsey, two photographers who participated in our first show, “Finding Your Creativity in a Time of Isolation.”
You’ll also get a chance to see some of the images from Balcazar’s “Kilombo” exhibit that would have opened our festival. While you can check out the magazine online, a limited number of collector edition copies are available for purchase. (Copies will be sent out this month to people who ordered them as part of their summit registration).
When we tell the story of 2020, we will remember the despair and heartbreak but we’ll also remember the hope and resilience.
While we’re still trying to decide what our festival will look like in 2021, the one thing we do know is that we’ll be back — whether it’s in person, online, or a combination of both — presenting visual storytellers who are making a difference in the world.