Photographer Graham MacIndoe and writer Susan Stellin discuss what they’ve learned collaborating with each other—as well as participants—on projects and exhibitions addressing complex topics and stigmatized groups.
Speakers: Graham MacIndoe & Susan Stellin
Our Online Sessions are proudly supported by our partners PhotoWings.
Who gets to tell stories? How has access to storytelling opportunities changed? What ethical guidelines should be followed when photographing and interviewing people who may experience negative consequences from being featured in news stories, art projects, and advocacy campaigns? In this talk, photographer Graham MacIndoe and writer Susan Stellin discuss their 2021 Photoville exhibition as well as other personal and professional work. They delve into what they’ve learned collaborating with each other—as well as participants—on projects addressing complex topics and stigmatized groups. They’ll also share how their creative and professional approach changed after telling their own story about Graham’s addiction, incarceration, and deportation fight. In an era where stories and photos live online forever—and can be easily found and amplified through social networks—what is common practice, what is legal, and what is ethical deserves more conversation and debate.
Graham MacIndoe is a photographer and Susan Stellin is a writer and researcher who earned a master’s in public health from Columbia University in 2019. They have collaborated on many projects combining interviews and photography—including exhibitions, events, and a memoir, Chancers, about MacIndoe’s addiction, incarceration, and recovery. Their 2021 Photoville exhibition, Preventing Overdose Deaths: How to Save and Uplift Lives, features photos and quotes from staff, volunteers, and participants at community-based health and social justice organizations—sharing their ideas about how to reduce overdose deaths and improve the lives of people who have been harmed by punitive drug policies, discrimination, and poverty.
MacIndoe and Stellin specialize in collaborative storytelling, working with participants to challenge stereotypes and broaden understandings about complex issues and stigmatized groups. In 2019, they co-curated the exhibition Beyond Addiction: Reframing Recovery at the Aronson Galleries in New York City, which then traveled to RIT’s City Art Space in Rochester, New York in 2020—including new work by local artists and participants in a workshop MacIndoe and Stellin. Their series, American Exile, documenting the stories of families divided by deportation, debuted at Photoville in 2015 and was selected for the Head On photography festival in Sydney, Australia in 2016.
Born in Scotland, MacIndoe earned an MFA from the Royal College of Art in London, moved to New York City, and has worked as a photographer since 1999—publishing and exhibiting his work widely, including solo exhibitions at the National Arts Club in New York City, the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery—which exhibited images from his series “Coming Clean”. He teaches photography at Parsons School of Design and recently published Light Years, a book of photographs of the Grammy award-winning band The National.
Stellin earned a B.A. in political science from Stanford University, moved to New York City in 1998, and was a regular contributor to The New York Times for more than 15 years. Her articles and essays have also appeared in New York Magazine, the Guardian, the Atlantic, and many other publications. Stellin teaches courses on media ethics and collaborative storytelling. As a research and communications consultant, she has worked on projects about ways to reduce overdose deaths, reform criminal justice practices, and decrease stigma that can be a barrier to seeking help. MacIndoe and Stellin live together in Brooklyn.
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