Oct 42020
 archive : 2020

Photography and Social Justice: Sharing Works in Progress

We’re sharing some inside looks into the processes and experiences of our 2020 Photography and Social Justice Fellows as their projects near completion.

Presenters: Aishwarya Arumbakkam Asef Ali Mohammad Farzana Hossen Gabriella N. Báez Reyes Jon Santiago Nolan Trowe Oscar B. Castillo Shaima Al-Tamimi Uma Bista

Moderators: Mengwen Cao

Location: Online

Presented by:

  • Magnum Foundation

Supported by:

  • PhotoWings
  • Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation

Photoville 2020 Talks On-demand recordings are made possible in partnership with PhotoWings with additional support by the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation.

How do we, as photographers, open our lives for exploration and journey towards our inner selves in our most difficult moments as we so often ask of others? And how do we do it with the intention of making things better? Many questions and difficult answers. Social justice is not only a utopian goal of equality, it is also how we embrace the process and how we approach our stories. I hope to be getting closer and closer with care, respect, solidarity, understanding, mutual support, honesty, and compassion.” –Oscar Castillo

We’re sharing some inside looks into the processes and experiences of our 2020 Photography and Social Justice Fellows as their projects near completion. From the persistent undercurrents of trauma in Puerto Rico post-Hurricane María, to the challenges facing formerly incarcerated youth upon re-entry in Venezuela, and from personal explorations of masculinity, family, and identity, and how they intersect with disability, to challenging harmful practices and stigmas around menstruation in Nepal, this diverse, international group of visual storytellers is exploring new approaches to socially engaged documentary practice.

Moderated by Mengwen Cao, this panel discussion will feature:

Aishwarya Arumbakkam (India), Asef Mohammad (Pakistan), Farzana Hossen (Bangladesh), Gabriella Báez Reyes (Puerto Rico), Jon Santiago (U.S.), Nolan Ryan Trowe (U.S.), Oscar Castillo (Venezuela), Shaima Al-Tamimi (Yemen/Qatar), and Uma Bista (Nepal).

Presenter Bios

  • Aishwarya Arumbakkam

    Aishwarya Arumbakkam

    Aishwarya Arumbakkam is a photographer and filmmaker from Chennai, India and currently based in Austin, Texas. She is interested in mythology, cultural narratives, and conservation.

  • Asef Ali Mohammad

    Asef Ali Mohammad

    Asef Ali Mohammad belongs to the Hazara minority of Afghan/Pakistan region. His work revolves around the on-going targeted killings of his persecuted community.

  • Farzana Hossen

    Farzana Hossen

    Farzana Hossen is a photographer based in Bangladesh. Her work centers women in cultural contexts that often leave them in the margins.

  • Gabriella N. Báez Reyes

    Gabriella N. Báez Reyes

    Gabriella N. Báez Reyes is a documentary photographer based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She focuses on documenting intimate subjects: her father’s suicide post-Hurricane María, the archives of her exiled Cuban family, and the relationship between sexuality and depression.

  • Jon Santiago

    Jon Santiago

    Jon Santiago is a photographer based in the Bronx, New York. His work focuses on long term projects that explore questions surrounding environment, power dynamics, and community.

  • Nolan Trowe

    Nolan Trowe

    Nolan Trowe is interested in exploring the mystery of what it means to be a human being, more than any other thing.

    Trowe was born in Maryland in 1993 and raised in California. He is an American author whose work has focused on stories around disability. On June 21, 2016, he suffered a spinal cord injury at the L-1 level and was diagnosed with incomplete paraplegia.

    In 2019, he received an M.A. in Experimental Humanities and Social Engagement from New York University, where he focused on human rights, writing, and photography. In 2015, he received a B.A in Creative Writing from California State University, Long Beach.

    Trowe is a Magnum Foundation Fellow in the Photography and Social Justice program. He was a VII Photo Mentor Program photographer from 2019-2021. He has spoken about his work on NY1, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the University of Texas. In 2019, he was awarded first prize in the Getty Images Creative Bursary.

    He has published stories with New Mobilitythe New York Times Lens Blog, and the New York Times Exposures, as well as with various other international outlets and clients.

    Trowe is currently based in Long Beach, California. He teaches photography at Los Angeles City College in East Hollywood.

  • Oscar B. Castillo

    Oscar B. Castillo

    Oscar B. Castillo is a Venezuelan documentary photographer and multimedia artist whose work focuses on social subjects that explore ideas of identity, the cycles of violence and political rupture and the initiatives for improvement generated by the affected communities, at the time that questions the structures of power and the photographic industry and the role we and our images can play in a deeper, more complex and more effective dialogue.


    He has followed and developed personal projects, fellowships and assignments in many different parts of the world and have been exhibited widely. His work has been published by Le Monde, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Days Japan, The New Yorker, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and TIME Magazine. His work was recognized by Picture of the Year Latin America in 2015 and with an Eugene Smith Fellowship in 2016. He is the recipient of three Magnum Foundation grants and was awarded the Tim Hetherington Special Award at the Eddie Adams Workshop. His Photobook “Esos Que Saben” is a finalist for the Aperture / Paris Photo Book Award and was selected by TIME Magazine in the Top 20 Photobooks of 2022.


    Parallel to his photographic work he has developed a passion for teaching, being photography as well an important tool for education, inclusion and social improvement. As instructor and teacher he has taken part in participatory photographic workshops and formal educational programs in Colombia, Argentina, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, India and Venezuela amongst other places.

  • Shaima Al-Tamimi

    Shaima Al-Tamimi

    Shaima Al-Tamimi is a Yemeni-Kenyan visual storyteller based in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Through photography, film, and writing, she explores themes relating to the patterns and impact of migration, identity, and culture.

  • Uma Bista

    Uma Bista

    Uma Bista is a photographer from Kathmandu, Nepal. She works on visual narratives on issues of gender inequality, often drawing from her own experiences.

Moderator Bios

  • Mengwen Cao

    Mengwen Cao

    Mengwen Cao (they/them) is a photographer, artist, and educator. Born and raised in China, they are currently based in New York.

    As a queer immigrant, they use care and tenderness to explore spaces between race, gender, and cultural identity. As a board member of Authority Collective, they are championing diverse narratives and perspectives in the media industry.

    Their projects have been featured in publications like Aperture, the New York Times, NPR, Mashable, BUST, Foreign Policy, the Guardian, Sina, and Tencent. They have participated in international exhibitions like Photoville, Jimei x Arles, and Lianzhou Foto Festival.

    Cao graduated from the New Media Narratives and Documentary Practice program at the International Center of Photography. They received NLGJA’s Excellence in Photojournalism Award in 2019. They were recognized by The Lit List in 2018, PDN 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch in 2019, and World Press Photo 6×6 Asia Talent in 2020.


  • Magnum Foundation

    Magnum Foundation

    Magnum Foundation expands creativity and diversity in visual storytelling, activating new audiences and ideas through the innovative use of images. Through grant making, mentorship, and creative collaborations, we partner with socially-engaged imagemakers exploring new models for storytelling.

    This program was produced with the support of Magnum Foundation’s Counter Histories initiative supporting projects that creatively reframe the past to engage with urgent questions of the present and future.

This website was made possible thanks to the generous support and partnership of Photowings