Poskito: SC Photography, Video Conference captures art of telling stories from their core

Robyn McNeil, Editor-in-Chief

A photograph captures a moment in time and freezes it permanently to be viewed by those who wish to revisit it or remind themselves of how far they have come. A video revives these moments and gives them new life through motion and sound.

For those in the profession of photography and videography, capturing a moment in time is about revealing the heart of a story.

Nineteen distinguished professionals shared how this, the “visual narrative,” is done with the campus and surrounding Florence community when Francis Marion University (FMU) hosted the inaugural Poskito: South Carolina Photography and Video Conference from Thursday, March 6 to Saturday, March 8.

Brian Storm, founder and executive producer of the four-time Emmy award-winning multimedia production studio MediaStorm, was among Poskito’s presenters.

Storm said “the world is starving for storytelling,” and “if it’s a compelling story, people will watch it to the end.”

During his presentation, Storm screened documentaries made by members of his production studio and discussed the art of filmmaking with the audience.

The first documentary shown was “Driftless: Stories from Iowa” by Danny Wilcox Frazier, an Iowa native. The story that Storm shared was that of Harry and Helen Phelps.

Phelps is a farmer who is challenged by unfavorable agricultural practices and a changing economy but finds continued joy in the love of his life until he loses her to Alzheimer’s.

Because everyone has experienced love, loss and change, Storm said Harry and Helen’s story is “non-perishable,” or capable of resonating with viewers no matter how much time passes.

“Intended Consequences” by Jonathan Torgovnik followed “Diftless.” “Intended Consequences” is the testimonies of Tutsi women who were raped or witnessed rape during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The women featured in the documentary discuss the struggle of mending a broken spirit as well as why and how some have found disdain or love for their children who were conceived through violence.

Storm said storytelling is a “trigger,” a “call to action,” and one of its most profound abilities is that it makes people aware of issues they need to know about.

“Intended Consequences” ignited widespread support for Foundation Rwanda which benefits those affected by the genocide.

Photographs by renowned photographers Nina Berman, Bill Frakes and Jim Wallace took attendants on a tour of American history.

The Hyman Fine Arts Center (FAC) gallery reception featured Wallace’s black and white images of the Civil Rights Movement, a photo of President Barack Obama playing basketball by Frakes and Berman’s portraits of soldiers wounded in the Iraq War.

Catrice Ezekiel, senior, photography major, said Wallace’s photography “spoke to her” the most, and as a young photographer, has inspired her to communicate a deeper message through her own work.

“Even though I wasn’t there back in the day when they were going through all this, I feel, just from looking at his photos, I can experience it for myself [and] just have a sense of what they were going through,” Ezekiel said.

Wallace’s photographs will later be hung in Rogers Library.

Beth Bilderback, visual archivist for the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina – Columbia, dug deeper into the state’s history with a presentation that included works by Mary Boykin Chestnut, “the greatest diarist of the Civil War,” and African American photographer Richard Samuel Roberts who captured the lives of African Americans in the 1930s and ‘20s.

Bilderback said through their work, Chestnut and Roberts “captured the essence of the people” and revealed aspects of southern life that may have otherwise gone unseen.

Howard Frye, associate professor of art education, proposed developing the conference in October of 2013 and said although Poskito was a community event, it is FMU students that he hopes were most impacted by the conference.

He added that he wanted Poskito to leave students both entertained and educated.

“It’s for the students that we [the departments of fine arts and mass communication] are doing this,” Frye said.  “I want them to be inspired by the speakers, not only their skill sets, but by their wisdom.”

Other conference events included in Poskito were a Downtown Florence art walk and additional presentations and panel discussions.