Our Instructors

Ed Kashi

Ed Kashi is a photojournalist dedicated to documenting the social and political issues that define our times. A sensitive eye and an intimate relationship to his subjects are signatures of his work. As a member of the prestigious photo agency VII, Kashi has been recognized for his complex imagery and its compelling rendering of the human condition. In addition to editorial assignments, filmmaking and personal projects, Kashi is an educator who instructs and mentors students of photography, participates in forums and lectures on photojournalism, documentary photography and multimedia storytelling. Along with numerous awards, including a Prix Pictet 2010 Commission and honors from Pictures of the Year International, World Press Foundation, Communication Arts and American Photography, Kashi’s images have been published and exhibited worldwide, and his editorial assignments and personal projects have generated six books.

Your favorite Photo Camp learning moment

In Rajasthan in 2009, I watched a young girl from the rural tribal belt the first day trying to figure out how to hold a camera and she couldn’t grasp how to put her one eye to the viewfinder. She was reduced to tears. By the third day, she was making some of the most wonderful images of the group, laughing, coming out of her shell and clearly knew how to hold a camera.

When you were a kid, what did you hope to be when you grew up?

A baseball player and then a storyteller.

Kirsten Elstner

VisionWorkshop’s Executive Director, Kirsten Elstner, has been a photographer and teacher since completing her Master of Arts in Photography at Ohio University in 1990. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Life, and Fortune magazines, as well as others. Kirsten worked in Bangladesh for the International Red Cross, and as a photographer for Brazil’s largest newspaper, O Globo, in Rio de Janeiro.

Kirsten has taught photography at the college level at the International Center of Photography in New York, The Corcoran College of Art and Design, Goucher College, The Art Institute of Boston, and The Massachusetts College of Art. Through VisionWorkshops, Kirsten mentors young people in her community, as well as nationally and internationally as Director of the National Geographic Photo Camp workshops.

Kirsten lives in Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two sons on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

A particular student/camp story that affected you

I watched a young girl’s progress through a workshop in Oaxaca Mexico.  She came to us with so many odds stacked against her, yet she showed me around her village with such grace and pride, and put intense focus and effort into everything she did.  She inspired me.

Who is your hero?

My mom is my hero. She’s strong, smart, creative and knows how to laugh.

Amy Toensing

Amy Toensing began her career in photojournalism in 1994, covering the community she grew up in for her hometown paper, The Valley News in New Hampshire. She then went on to work for The New York Times in Washington DC covering Capitol Hill and the White House during the Clinton administration. In 1998 Amy went back to school to earn her masters degree in visual communication at Ohio University. In 1999 she was awarded the National Geographic Magazine Photo Internship and embarked on her first story for the magazine on the remote island of Monhegan, 12 miles off the Maine coast. Since then she has been a regular contributor to National Geographic Magazine as well as numerous other national and international publications, taking her around the globe to Asia, the South Pacific, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Toensing is currently working on her thirteenth story for National Geographic Magazine. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Time Magazine and National Geographic Traveler. Amy lives in the Hudson Valley of New York with her husband Matt Moyer who is also a National Geographic Contributing Photographer.  Together, in 2011, they founded On Assignment Workshops – please visit them for more information on their upcoming photography workshops.

Why are you involved with us?

I’m involved with NG Photo Camp because the students inspire me and never fail to remind me how powerful and special photography is.

When you were a kid, what did you hope to be when you grew up?

I always knew I wanted to be an artist from a very young age, but I went through a brief astronaut phase as well – I guess there’s still time!

Favorite game to play as a kid?

My favorite was playing kick-the-can with all the kids on our block in the summer.

Lynn Johnson

Photojournalist Lynn Johnson is known for her intense and sensitive work. Dividing her time between assignments for National
Geographic, Sports Illustrated, and various foundations, Johnson has traveled from Siberia to Zambia and photographed celebrities including Tiger Woods, Mikhail Barishnikov, Stevie Wonder, Tony Hawk, Mister Rogers and the entire Supreme Court. In her physically demanding shooting style, Johnson uses the technical skills acquired during a decade as an EMT in hazardous rescue work. With her Leicas, she has climbed the radio antenna atop Chicago’s Hancock Tower and dangled from helicopters in Antarctica. Yet her favorite assignments have been emotionally demanding stories about ordinary people.

Her vision is subtle. At 5’1″ she strives to become virtually invisible, allowing her subjects to reveal themselves to the camera. The photographs, based on fairness and compassion are an attempt to honor and share the stories of others. After 30 years of practicing photography, she sees her personal work moving from that of observer to advocate.

Who is your hero?

My parents – my father is a man of integrity and my mom has the most wonderful warm heart.

Favorite game as a child?

You know I just remember that booioioioinnnggggg sound of that red rubber kick ball in the school yard but my mom tells me I spent many hours on the swing behind our home – alone – in thought – 10 year old thoughts – hmmmm

Favorite place you’ve never been?

Italy.  Can you believe it?  I have been to all the dusty, dank places – maybe its time for a little light and grace, though I find those things everywhere I travel regardless of place. that’s what makes this life so rich, its the people on the other side of the camera, they carry grace with them.

Matt Moyer

Photojournalist Matt Moyer has worked on assignment for publications such as National Geographic magazine and The New York Times as well as prominent non-profit organizations like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Moyer began his career at The Citizen, a small newspaper in Auburn, New York where he spent two years documenting daily life in the tight-knit farm communities and small towns of upstate New York. It was here that Moyer became dedicated to the community based photojournalism that he still practices today whether documenting the life of a Shiite family in Iraq, a group of hired guns in Afghanistan, or wolf hunters in the American West.  In 2011, him and his wife and photographer Amy Toensing founded On Assignment Workshops – please visit them for more information on their upcoming photography workshops.

Why are you involved with VisionWorkshops?

Vision Workshops has a mission that is close to my heart. I love the idea of using photography to empower young people so that they can have a voice in the world.  I have worked on several photo camps and each time I am inspired by the talent and sensitivity of the students. Each time I learn something new just by being around them. It inspires me to keep doing the work that I do.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a kid I wanted to be a vet for exotic animals. That changed when I discovered photography as a teenager and decided I wanted to photograph wildlife for National Geographic magazine. While in college the human animal became more interesting to me so I became a people photographer. Being able to shoot for National Geographic magazine is a dream come true for me.

Raul Touzon

Raul Touzon is documentary and underwater photographer who specializes in making images that convey what he refers as to The Eternity of a Moment”. Raul has traveled extensively building a collection of dramatic photographs that have been featured in many publications including: Time Magazine, US News and World Report, National Geographic Traveler and the National Geographic Magazine where he has published four feature stories.

For the last 12 years Raul has been a full time educator and instructor producing and teaching workshops around the world. His images are represented by the National Geographic Image Collection and Getty Images. His list of clients includes the US National Park Service, Apple, and the United Nations for which he documented their operations in Sudan.

In recent years Raul developed a passion for landscape and has pioneered the production of large-scale multi-image panoramas capturing the grandeur of nature.

Jay Kinghorn

Founder of Kinghorn Visual Inc., a multi-faceted consultancy that helps businesses strategically communicate on the Web and mobile devices through photography, video, motion graphics and design, Jay has been an Olympus Visionary Photography since 2006. Concurrently, Mr. Kinghorn develops educational content and delivers presentations through the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) to help their members implement new business strategies to take advantage of the unstable, but opportunity-laden business environment.

Why are you involved with VisionWorkshops?

The students. Seeing the way a camera and a supportive group of teachers can give a young individual a new way of expressing their thoughts is one of the most rewarding professional experiences I’ve had in my career. My first workshop. Fourteen girls from the Baltimore Women’s Leadership School were delivered to Smith Island, a radically different environment than their own. Seeing them explore this foreign, yet beautiful place through their photos hooked me on the Photo Camps. I’ve learned a tremendous amount by watching the students and seeing the photographs they create. As an experienced professional, I’m often surprised by the remarkable photographs the students take in poor light or of a subject I didn’t initially find that interesting. It’s a powerful reminder that an open, creative, “beginner’s” mind is more important than knowing all the “rules” when creating art.

Is there a particular student or camp that affected you?

I remember one student from my first workshop-she was tough and you could tell that she’d experienced far more than she should have in her young life. One afternoon, she and several of her classmates waded out in the Chesapeake Bay and began splashing, laughing and playing around. It was a rare opportunity for her to let her guard down and be a child again.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a child, I wanted to be many things, an astronaut, paleontologist, professional football player… I suppose, since I keep reorienting my career around new goals, I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up!

Alison Harbaugh

Alison is an Annapolis-based portrait and wedding photographer, with a background in sports and news shooting for The United States Naval Academy, The Baltimore Ravens, and The Annapolis Capital newspaper.  Her passion for teaching and for documentary photography inspires her involvement with VisionWorkshops.

Favorite Teaching Moment

One moment that I can recall, that made me realize that what we are doing is worth so much, was one of my first workshops in Annapolis. I was working with kids in the Drug Court program, and there was one girl who stood out on the first day. She wanted nothing to do with what we were saying, she kept her head on the desk in her arms and said very little. Then, she and I were paired up for the ice breaker that we usually do on the first day…I learned so much about her in just minutes and she realized that I was not there to judge her, but to teach her some fun photography techniques and help her share her story. She and I worked closely together over the next few weeks. Every week, her enthusiasm increased and her work showed improvement. At the final showing of their work, she gave me a big hug and thanked me and we laughed about what a grump she was the first day. We kept in touch for awhile via email and last time I heard from her, she was still into photography and looking into careers where she could use her new skills. It was such a  learning experience for me, a moment when I realized that the most hardened kid can be turned around and produce something amazing.

My greatest inspiration comes from seeing people that go to work everyday doing something that they love and using their talent for good.

Piper Watson

A film and video editor by trade, Piper began assisting commercial photographers with clients like Nike and Under Armour, 5 years ago. Branching out into her own photography career Piper has developed a well-rounded and unique wedding photography vision while still making time for personal work having been published in O Magazine, Brussels Airlines in-flight magazine, Daily Candy, The Today Show, Edible Brooklyn, and Delicate.  Program Coordinator for VisionWorkshops’ Crossing Borders Program, Piper often coordinates and teaches with National Geographic Photo Camp.

A particular student/camp story that affected you

At a Photo Camp in Chad, one of my female students and I developed a particular bond.  She was a young, single mother, and quite beautiful.  It was apparent to me that she hid a lot behind her pretty face, although what exactly, my poor understanding of rapid French never revealed.  When selecting their self portraits for the final exhibition, I encouraged her to select a portrait that was very close-up where her expression was rather direct, looking straight into the camera.  She shook her head and said that this portrait was “too truthful.”  I said to her that it told me that she was a person of strength, a woman who had seen many things and bore great responsibility early in life.  It also showed that she was beautiful inside and out- why wouldn’t she want people to see that?  She thought for a long time and after class told me that she wanted to be brave and let people see that truth in her, that she would select this portrait.

When you were a kid, what did you hope to be when you grew up?

Indiana Jones…  I think I came close enough!