Peter Stanley: Blog en-us (C) Peter Stanley [email protected] (Peter Stanley) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:44:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:44:00 GMT Peter Stanley: Blog 80 120 The ReThink Project: Part III And here it is, the final project titled: A Letter To Kai

Initially I found the Rethink experience extremely frustrating because I had so many ideas and the project was completely open to interpretation. I explored several ideas including a surf film, educational presentation for expecting fathers and recreating my website/presentation of my projects. All of these are projects I will pursue, but in the end I decided to 'rethink' how to capture and present the pregnancy of my wife and the birth of our child.

After viewing Lens, the New York Times blog and attending a workshop with DuckRabbit I was inspired to try a multimedia piece that incorporated a spoken voice over images and video. While my interest grew in this area, I continued to shoot mostly stills and the Rethink Project was the perfect opportunity to try something new. 

The goal of the Rethink Project was to step out of our comfort zone. This was definitely the case for me as I incorporated a GoPro for film clips, a D800 for the stills, an iPhone to record sounds, Garageband to create music for the video, and iMovie to edit the video. Another new aspect for me  was the idea of my voice speaking over the images. I am more comfortable with images and music that enhance the mood and was initially unsure how my voice would add to, or distract from the message. 

Nearly one year ago I started with a rough idea for this project. Initially the goal was to create a time-lapse of the stages of pregnancy and let the project evolve from there. For a while I pursued the idea of telling the story from a father-to-be perspective. One idea was to simply present a series of questions that I had throughout the stages of pregnancy and birth and let the images give a general ‘answer’ to the questions. The goal of this would be to share ideas, experiences and tips with other new fathers, because there is not very much information for us to work with. However, as I kept shooting it became clear that this type of a story would be too clinical for such an organic experience. 

Two weeks before my son, Kai, was born, I decided to try and capture the most significant days of the  experience with the goal of presenting it to him when he was older. Changing the goal and the target audience enabled me to put this together in a much more personal way which I felt was needed for such a personal experience.  

When I had all of the images and video laid down in the general order, I built in the sound files. I recorded several versions of the text which was a very challenging process because I felt I was walking a fine line between clinical and cheesy. I ended up deleting 70% of the text I had written for this video because I always feel that images should speak for themselves as much as possible. I made the first song in the video using the application Garageband. The second song was written and recorded by my brother Jeff. My intention was to keep every aspect of this production as close to Kai as possible. 

Having completed the project, there are several ideas that I would like to pursue regarding multimedia pieces.  

  • Simplify the process and just shoot black and white with sound much like the Lens blog presentations. 
  • Complicate the process and shoot proper video with my D800 as well as incorporate D800 time-lapse footage to show time passing. Also learn and incorporate more professional filming techniques like steady pans and continuity. 
  • Get to know my Tascam sound recorder so I don’t have to revert back to the iPhone voice recorder. Include more dynamic sounds that establish the scenes. Good examples of this can be found with Duckrabbit productions and NPR programs.

The iMovie layout can be seen below showing all media sources used (video, photos, voice, music). 

[email protected] (Peter Stanley) 2015 Father LCC Peter Stanley UAL birth child documentary family infant mother newborn pregnancy project son Wed, 08 Apr 2015 05:56:00 GMT
The ReThink Project: part II Not the camera, the website!

Dar es SalaamDar es SalaamThe cross harbor ferry arrives in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's largest city. For years there has been talk of a bridge joining the short stretch but as the project lingers and city population grows the ferry becomes more and more crowded.

After trying to rethink my approach to photography, I came up with a few ideas that were... just OK. I was initially thinking about revisiting portraiture since it's an area that I find very challenging. But I haven't been inspired to really dive into this so my camera sat idle for some time.

A new direction I am thinking about is to give my website an overhaul. The problem I keep running into is the fact that my current website is so diverse (wildlife to landscape to journalism - ???). I'm a firm believer of "less is more" but this has gotten away from me and my site is feeling cluttered.

When I look at other professional sites there is usually just a handful of named projects on the front page. I will have to do more research to see what works best for the viewer (and the organization doing the hiring).

So rather than rethink my shooting, I'm going to rethink my presentation. 

And again... I head back to the drawing board... to be continued... 

[email protected] (Peter Stanley) 2.1 LCC Peter Stanley UAL blog photography project rethink unit Thu, 25 Dec 2014 15:26:26 GMT
The ReThink Project: part I What a year this is going to be. I'm going to be a father in February and then we are moving to Bucharest in June where I'll start a new job. To add to this I'm about to start back into my MA program.  Take a breath and buckle up because here we go! 


The first project we are diving into is called the "Rethink Project". It sounds like the goal is to step outside of our comfort zone and try a project that is completely new. I have to be honest, it is such a massive shift from the first term that I'm feeling totally lost and frustrated. 

To step out of my comfort zone.... I do this every time I take the camera out for a walk in Tanzania. Everyone gives me shit and I always have to talk my way through it. Is it never easy to shoot street photography here? Never! In a sense the whole first term was moving my photography from landscape and wildlife to people and street photography. That was a fun shift to go through. And now I need to try and rethink, this next approach. I'm (re)thinking. 

One interesting idea that was given was to sit in an area you want to photograph for 20 minutes with your eyes closed. Wait and think about the way you want to capture the area. Then shoot. 

I tried this yesterday and lasted 2.5 minutes. I'm not one to sit and wait. This is going to be a challenge, but I'll give it a try and keep this blog going to report on my "progress".


[email protected] (Peter Stanley) Thu, 20 Nov 2014 15:01:19 GMT
Mandazi Road Photo Project As part of my MA program, we were asked to write a piece about our current project. The following shares a little background to the area that I'm photographing and I reveal some of the struggles I'm having as well. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the project, but the damn rain just won't stop and it's become impossible to show a progression which was my initial plan. Therefor I've focused more on the people within the community which has been very rewarding because this kind of photography was always a challenge that I wanted to take on. By diving in, I've been able to make better connections and get more honest photographs. Here is the story so far... 

Mandazi Road is a bustling 850 meter path through a low income community in northern Dar es Salaam. This mostly pedestrian road has been identified by Tanzanian National Roads Agency (TANROADS) on their list of roads to pave, with the intention of alleviating a growing traffic problem. Mandazi Road connects two middle class neighborhoods in the northern part of this coastal city and the 'short cut' can save commuters up to two hours of sitting in traffic.

With telephone poles and water lines in place, there was talk of pavement coming soon yet the rainy season set in and caused severe flooding. All plans by TANROADS around the city were put on hold leaving flooded homes and streets filled with mud.

The goal of this project is to share the potentially dramatic changes coming to this community. It is an important story because this road project, dividing the community symbolizes the economic boom taking place in many African countries where resources (oil, natural gas, minerals) are attracting wealthy donor countries. 

While there is an obvious correlation between a country's resources and donor support for infrastruction there is often a problem with how the money is spent. Projects are often reactionary rather than well planned. In the case of Dar es Salaam, the BBC listed the city as one of the fastest growing in the world (Boyle, 2012) yet the government had little planning in place for the growing middle class who started buying cars. The result has been a rapidly growing traffic nightmare for commuters and the city is struggling to build through ways to alleviate the congestion on the main roads. This has also inspired the city to build a rapid transit system, however, this is not scheduled for completion until 2017 and until then small fixes like paving Mandazi road will have to suffice

This road project will temporarily solve a problem for commuters yet what will it mean for the local inhabitants and shop owners? 

After speaking with many people on Mandazi road, I was surprised to find that there is a fairly even balance of those for the change and those against it. Many look forward to the influx of buyers for their shops and the promise of improved side streets, a drainage system and electricity. Others fear traffic, increased cost of living, evictions for higher paying renters, demolition of illegally built houses. Either way a major change is coming.  

Shaka relaxes in front of his radio shop on Mandazi road. He is thrilled with the promise of a new road and welcomes the idea of traffic as an opportunity to sell more of his products. My photography project started out smoothly with several walks through the area as I shyly kept my camera stashed in my bag. Initially, I would take the camera out, make a few pictures and move on. With each photo, people would jeer me and make comments like, “you need to pay me for taking a picture of this road” and, “who are you working for?” 

With a good understanding of Swahili and a sense of humor, I am usually able to explain what a white guy is walking around with a DSLR in this part of town. It took a while to get comfortable with walking around with my hefty Nikon but with time I actually found it easier to keep the camera out, in my hand, as I walked. This resulted in many more questions and jeers which resulted in many more discussions and ultimately lead to more personal and unrushed photos. 

Without any changes in the road, I take a short tangent and play with some neighborhood kids who always like to see a good selfie.

The project was going smoothly and it looked like I would be able to time it perfectly with my assignment deadline for this course... And then the rains came. This year has been the worst rainy season in 10 years with severe flooding in most coastal regions of Tanzania including many deaths in Dar es Salaam (Mwakyusa, 2014). The flooding has forced TANROADS to halt all work until further notice. Many say they will need to wait at least one month after the rainy season ends in order to let the water fully absorb and run off. 

A man transports tomatoes through the flooded Mandazi road as the water slowly recedes.

What does this mean for my photography project? While it is a challenge to show any physical change to the area, I will continue to work on developing the human side of the story by capturing individuals who will be affected. After all the personal story is the core of this project, which is simply an analogy for the larger picture of development. 

During the time of writing, the National Weather Service puts out an extreme weather warning (Chikoma, 2014) for the weekend so it is unlikely that any work will be done anytime soon. 


Boyle, J. (2012). Dar es Salaam: Africa's next megacity?. Available: Last accessed 21st May 2014.

Mwakyusa, A. (2012). Tanzania: More Than 40 Feared Dead After Dar Floods. Available: Last accessed 21st May 2014.

Chikoma, F. [email protected]. Warning of strong winds and large waves along the entire coast, from 19 to 21 May 2014. 20 May 2014.

[email protected] (Peter Stanley) Africa Dar_es_Salaam LCC Tanzania black_and_white essay mandazi photo_essay photography project road street street_photography travel Thu, 22 May 2014 09:37:48 GMT
Flooding in Dar Dar es Salaam is experiencing one of the most intense rainy seasons to date. Many deaths have been reported and major parts of the city have just been reconnected after bridges failed and roadways flooded. Below is a recent photo I took while walking through the waist deep water was published on BBC.

Due to all the rain, major construction projects have stopped until the dry season sets in. One of the projects I am working on is to document the transition of Mandazi road from a quiet path into a large paved road. This road will likely be a major shortcut for the northern part of the city and I predict major changes coming to this community. However, with the rains, the project has temporarily stopped as has my ability to show any progression. Therefor, I'm using this opportunity to try and build my library of images of life on Mandazi road while working on my portraiture skills. Here's a shot that I'm pretty happy with and I would like to get more of these type of images to put a face to the community. 

Shaka shows me the rubble pile outside of his shop with the flooded road in the background. The rainy season has temporarily halted the road building project. Even with the piles of rubble and flooded street in front of his shop, he remains optimistic for the changes that are coming.

The more time I spend in this community the more I'm hoping people will not be bothered by my presence. So far so good with only a few moments where people gave me a hard time. But as always, the fact that I can reply in Swahili always has a positive effect. I've also started walking with my camera in my hand, fully visible, rather than tucked in my bag. This has had the effect of people questioning me rather than me needing to always start the conversation if I want to make a picture. Everyone is curious why this white guy is taking pictures and hopefully with time I won't be seen as too much of a stranger or a threat. In fact, yesterday I was invited into someones shop to photograph them without any instigation from me. Kids on the street are also warming up to me and slowly but surely I'm hoping to be able to tell the story of Manzani Road's transformation.

Without any changes in the road, I take a short tangent and play with some neighborhood kids who always like to see a good selfie.


[email protected] (Peter Stanley) Africa Dar_es_Salaam LCC Peter Stanley Tanzania black_and_white blog bw change community construction mandazi_road people photography photojournalism photojournalist project travel Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:03:33 GMT
Bahati takes on the Alps When Bahati Mgunda, a Tanzanian teaching assistant with the International School of Tanganyika, was asked to chaperone a ski trip to Saas Fee, Switzerland, he jumped at the opportunity. He had seen snow once before, yet he never thought he would get the chance to put on a pair of skis. 

On his way back up the rope tow, Bahati glances over to joke about his last fall and he also gave a warning about the speed he would carry on his next run.

The trip ran from March 15-22 and Bahati set a goal for himself that by the end of the week he would be able to join the other three chaperones for a ski from the top of the mountain to the bottom.

After the first day of skiing, he returned to the hotel with a limp, several bruises and a massive smile. During the second day, he was trying small jumps. On the fourth day he joined the other chaperones and skied in a powerful snowplow from 3000m all the way into the valley below.

Bahati Mgunda, from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania came to Saas Fee to learn how to ski and left many people inspired by his sheer determination and absolute joy of taking on the unknown. On our last day in Saas Fee Bahati said, "Now that I have skied this mountain I want to come back next year and try snowboarding."

In his hometown of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Bahati is a popular figure having played sports at the professional level and recently heading up the coaching staff for the Tanzanian national basketball team. Once the word got out the he was learning how to ski in Switzerland, he was contacted by Tanzanian radio stations as well as TV producers who scheduled interviews upon his return.  Bahati Mgunda, a teaching assistant at the International School of Tanganyika (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) volunteered as one of four chaperones for the annual student ski trip. He has never skied before and stops to take in the view of Saas Fee ski area in Switzerland.

After only one week of skiing, Bahati achieved his goal of skiing in the Swiss Alps. He is now talking about trying to repeat this challenge next year with a snowboard.

Click here to see the 9 photos of Bahati's ski experience.  


[email protected] (Peter Stanley) Africa LCC Peter Stanley Saas Grund Saas fee Switzerland Tanzania UAL blog first time mountain photography photopoa ski skiing snow Wed, 26 Mar 2014 16:01:33 GMT
Portraits: Stepping out of my comfort zone again Vera den Otter, 2014

What exactly is a portrait? 

Sounds easy enough until you put the camera up to your eye. Do you pose them, do you go au-natural, do you look for the serious look or dig for emotion?

A comment from my critique was, "Try to really find out who that person is"... "get deeper than the surface."  This was a tough assignment for me because it's not the style of photography I'm used to. I've spent years trying to be a bit candid and subtle. Yet this style puts you right out there and your subject looks for you to make it happen. Very different than say 'street photography' where you really need to chill out and wait for the moments to come to you. 

So in summary, after these three shoots, I felt just ok about them. Vera is beautiful and was easy to work with but I don't think I did a good job going deeper than the surface. During Matt's shoot I found some really cool light and should have worked with that a lot more. If I could do his over again, I would have asked him to pose about 5 times throughout the process for straight on shots. And finally Kwadwo's shoot. My critique said this was more about a person at work rather than a portrait shoot. Agreed. And this takes me back to the beginning, what is a portrait? I'm feeling a lot better about this question now and would like to keep trying this out. 

[email protected] (Peter Stanley) LCC Peter Stanley UAL blog lighting model natural light photography photopoa portrait tanzania Sat, 08 Mar 2014 14:17:29 GMT
Relationships: The Teacher, The New Family, The Multicultural Band The Assignment: Photograph 3 separate "relationships" and edit down to about 30 images. For the first set, I met with Mama Banda, a very popular teacher at the International School of Tanganyika, and she invited me into her class to photograph her relationship with very small group of Swahili students. While the pictures from this shoot don't really jump off the page, they really do reflect her relationship with her students who describe her as ..."a mother figure"..."tough"... "disciplinarian"... "a teacher that will never let us slack off but will also never let us fail". 

The second set in the 'relationship' theme focused on Steve, Crissy and Nelson Loschi. After a year of dealing with paperwork and many highs and lows, the Loschi's finally received their adopted son Nelson. The 'handover' occurred the day Nelson Mandela passed away and in a fitting way, this baby is about the most thoughtful, perceptive and joyful child I've ever seen. This family was meant to be and I felt that the pictures show the warmth that is felt in their house. On a side note, I was there for about an hour with Steve before Crissy arrived from work so there are more pictures of him and Nelson. 

The final set of images is a bit of a stretch but I ran short on time because my most intense photography gig of the year happened this weekend: Sauti za Busara. I was also commissioned to photograph one of the bands and have been editing like crazy to get them the pictures on time. While photographing them on stage and in a boat in the Indian Ocean, it became very clear that this 15 member group from different African countries did not all know each other very well and couldn't speak each others languages which fit our relationship theme in a strange kind of way so I chose to select the images that tells this story. 

[email protected] (Peter Stanley) LCC Peter Stanley UAL assignment people photography photojournalism photopoa relationship tanzania Thu, 20 Feb 2014 07:41:52 GMT
Lesson learned: Patience and persistance Street photography proved to be a real challenge for me but I realized the challenge was more of a personal barrier.  Dar es Salaam street photography I went out  times with my camera and returned a little more frustrated each time... except the last 'walkabout'. Somehow things just worked. Cool people doing interesting things and no one seemed to mind me and my camera being around. I would like to continue this with more focus on a particular style like, Alex Webb. All it all, I was happy to end on a good note and I'm very curious to get some feedback during the practice tutorial tonight. 

[email protected] (Peter Stanley) africa black and white blog bw photojournalist photopoa street street photography tanzania Thu, 06 Feb 2014 17:24:13 GMT
Feeling the pressure. Ok, I'm frustrated.

My current assignment of Street Photography is going slowly. I've done 2 of the 3 shoots, one is ok, the other is crap! Part of my problem is that shooting as an mzungu with a big camera here in Dar es Salaam pulls in a lot of attention and before I usually can get 'the moment' someone is yelling at me or approaching me with some demand. That said, speaking swahili always cools the situation and the aggression always turns to curiosity which turns to a laugh and everyone is friends. However, any kind of 'moment' is long gone at that point. Ahh street photography, you piss me off some times. But I'm here to learn and that's what I hope this process is all about. 

[email protected] (Peter Stanley) behind frustrated overload stress weight Mon, 03 Feb 2014 18:27:59 GMT
Assignment: People At Work A quick summary of our first assignment: "Photograph three people at work, that you don't know." …using 1 camera, 1 lens (35 or 50mm), all manual settings, manual focus, black and white, ISO400, ~100 shots, upload every photo, no edits.

The edits of each (about 7 shots per job) can be viewed HERE. For the full set of images, unedited, look for the highlight below. 

The possibilities are endless for such an assignment here in Dar es Salaam yet, there was one job that I've driven by every day and knew I wanted to learn more and possibly even photograph. This was the work of the women who pound huge rocks in to gravel for construction. 

Zainabu Ally's job is to pound gravel from large stone into usable gravel for construction. Photo by Peter Stanley, 2014.

It is what we equate prisoners doing in most parts of the world, yet there are about 20 women working this job tirelessly on a quiet dirt road not far from my home. I felt very humble asking to these women to photograph them at work yet my decent knowledge of Swahili really helped. It also helped that I agreed to buy several buckets of freshly pounded stones for a "heavily inflated" price (a bucket usually sells for 60 US cents). Zainabu Ally, the gravel maker, let me photograph her, with her youngest of 5 children, working away. I later returned with 4 prints for her which she definitely enjoyed seeing. 

I also photographed a bajaj driver, Niko Simon

Bajaj's drive in opposite directions in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Photo by Peter Stanley, 2014.

This was a challenge because I wanted to make most of the pictures while we were driving around to really show his experience. 

The third person I photographed was Raphael, the shop manager.

Raphael relaxing in the comfort of his small shop in Dar es Salaam. Photo by Peter Stanley, 2014.

I have bought things from him for years yet have never spent time talking to him let alone making photographs in and around his shop. I don't know what I was expecting but I was surprised that he was so relaxed and invited me to shoot an hour of him at work. In terms of lighting, this shoot was my favorite for black and white with the hard contrasts. 

In the end, technically speaking I think I could do a lot more with the bajaj and gravel maker im

ages. I would definitely like to keep working with the gravel 'mamas' and build this project. The lighting in the duka/shop was outstanding (for my taste) and I'll be sure to remember that for another day. 

Next time… "Street Photography"

[email protected] (Peter Stanley) africa black and white blog bw mapjd people at work photography photojournalism photopoa street street photography tanzania travel work Thu, 23 Jan 2014 15:17:41 GMT
Self Introduction Legacy Foundation works with woman's project in Lushoto, Tanzania to develop alternative fuel from biomass, known as fuel briquettes. Photography by Peter Stanley, 2012.Richard Stanley, of the Legacy Foundation, designed a second type of press that can be folded down and easily transported to remote areas. Refugee camps and other areas with limited space can definitely benefit from this. Last week we each gave a short self introduction and our photography as well as our purpose for joining this course. Every event is recorded and today I listened to mine again to see what I sounded like... my observation... I talk too much when I'm nervous! 

After I shared my desire to focus on conservation photography, Paul shared a few photographers with me that I had not previously known and I'm very happy to have spent much of the day exploring their work. 

James Morgan: A graduate of LCC. A photographer and film maker focusing on cultural and wildlife conservation. His work blew me away! 

Kate Brooks: A war photographer who produced a movie on poaching called, The Last Animals, after a successful kickstarter bid.

Neil Albridge: A graduate of LCC. A conservation photographer. His final project for LCC was a book recently published and is titled, Underdogs, a story about wild dog conservation.


[email protected] (Peter Stanley) LCC MA Peter Stanley UAL blog conservation conservation photographers photograph* photography photojournalist Mon, 13 Jan 2014 12:10:43 GMT
The MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography begins… AsanteAsante


And it begins… 

Like many photographers out there, I've had a camera by my side since my early teens. It went from hobby, to requirement, to passion to freelance which mixes a bit of everything. I pay for my gear with my photography but it is not where I earn my salary. By trade, I'm an IB Biology teacher at the International School of Tanganyika. Teaching is a career I chose because I've always enjoyed guiding young people through challenges while doing everything I can to help them find success in school and in life. The, "oh, I get it" moments and the students that come back from university to share a laugh and tell their story, these are the some of the most rewarding experiences I could imagine and they keep me in the world of education. 

That said, it is because of my teaching career that my photographic life has been confined to pretty much every bit of free time I have outside of school, including evenings, weekends and holidays. Even on my commute, I often play a photography podcast called "The Candid Frame" by Ibarionex Parello to get inspiration from the pro's. For the past 10 years, photography has consumed me and it's been a brilliant ride and I feel that it is long overdue that I step up my work with more focus and purpose. 

It is with great excitement (and a little insecurity) that I diving into this course in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography through the University of the Arts London. It will be a challenge because I definitely find this field in photography to be extremely challenging yet incredibly powerful when it is done well. Some of my pictures have had success in this area yet I haven't really had the chance to let my images lead the story. Instead the story was there and editors selected my pictures to fit their needs. For example: One of my photograph that I didn't even intend to upload, of children playing at a concert, was used by The Guardian for a story on religious conflict. Another image that criticized the high level of security in American airports was used in a patriotic magazine that argued for more spending on airport security.  After these experiences, I knew that I had a closer connection to the real story behind the image and it made my want to share my vision more directly through full photo essays and documentary pieces.

I'm thrilled to join this course and learn and practice and receive honest feedback. I'm not sure what will come next in my photographic life but I'm very excited for the journey ahead. 


[email protected] (Peter Stanley) LCC MA Peter Stanley UAL blog photography photojournalist photopoa Mon, 30 Dec 2013 15:11:45 GMT