Our mission is to provide resources and support for young photographers of diverse backgrounds to tell the stories of underrepresented people and communities with dignity.

We believe it is imperative that news organizations -- and the journalists who represent them -- are credible, diligent, and reflect our communities accurately and faithfully.

Alex Garcia

As a Chicago commercial photographer and photojournalist, Alex Garcia has been telling stories through some 6,000 assignments to date.  

Along the way, he has had the rare distinction of being part of the highest awards in both advertising and editorial; a Titanium Lion at the Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity and a Pulitzer Prize. 

Whether it be stills, motion or a hybrid shoot, Alex learned to be resourceful, creative and dependable no matter the circumstance or level of production. He enjoys the benefits of being a sole photographer as much as he enjoys working with a team to achieve creative objectives and art direction on a larger production.


His philosophy: Strong communication skills, direction and positivity on set are crucial to rally others to the creative vision on a project.  

Tonika Johnson

Tonika Johnson is a visual artist/photographer from Chicago's South Side Englewood neighborhood.


She was featured in Chicago Magazine as a 2017 Chicagoan of the Year for her photography of Englewood's everyday beauty, countering its pervasive media coverage of poverty and crime.


Her "Everyday Englewood," photography was exhibited at Loyola University's Museum of Art (LUMA) in early 2018. Her current project, Folded Map, visually investigates disparities among Chicago residents while bringing them together to have a conversation, was also exhibited at LUMA in 2018 from July-October.


Visit www.tonikaj.com to see more.

Joshua Lott

Joshua Lott is a freelance photographer based in Chicago and originally from the Rogers Park neighborhood on the North Side. Bouncing around the country over the past 12 years covering politics, social justice issues, urban life and breaking news has sculptured Lott's profession as a visual storyteller. Getty Images, The Washington Post, Reuters, Agence France-Pressse, Bloomberg, Northwestern University, Trust for Public Land, National Audubon Society and The New York Times are some of the clients that help put food on the table and pay the bills.

Raquel Zaldivar

Raquel Zaldivar is a visual journalist at the Chicago Tribune. Her work has been published with NPR, the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post and The Atlantic, among other outlets. She is passionate about photo, audio and video-documentary storytelling, and has reported throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, as well as internationally in Cuba, Germany and South Africa.


Raquel received her Master of Science from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where she focused on video and audio documentary reporting. Before that, she attended the University of Miami School of Communication and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism with concentrations in visual journalism and Spanish.

Michael Zajakowski

Michael Zajakowski is the marketing manager and multimedia producer for the Grant Park Music Festival, and also a freelance photo editor and photographer.


Michael has been a photo editor, director of photography, photojournalist and photography educator for more than 30 years. For 20 years, he was a photo and video editor at the Chicago Tribune.


Michael also taught visual communication in the graduate journalism program at DePaul University and digital storytelling at Columbia College Chicago.


He is a portfolio reviewer at photojournalism workshops and mentors young photojournalists.

Sebastián Hidalgo

Sebastian Hidalgo is an award-winning photojournalist and digital producer who uses photography to engage and explore many social and humanitarian issues affecting communities of color.


He is also an educator and host of a bi-weekly editorial support group for freelance visual journalists. Hidalgo believes in the power of growing in conjunction with the people who are in front of the camera, as a witness, a bridge and, in some cases, as a collaborator.


His work has been seen in publications such as The Washington Post, The New Republic, NBCUniversal, The Better Government Association, City Bureau, and more; and is considered among 12 emerging Photojournalist You Should Know by The New York Times.

Michelle Kanaar

Michelle Kanaar is a Chicago-based documentary photojournalist who focuses on immigration, labor, and education. She is thoroughly committed to social justice issues and is the proud daughter of immigrants.

Kanaar has been teaching photojournalism for the last 8 years and is also the creative director for 90 Days, 90 Voices, a nonprofit news outlet reimagining immigration journalism for a more just and equitable future.

Alyssa Schukar

Alyssa Schukar is a Chicago-based photographer, writer and teacher as well as a frequent contributor to The New York Times. In her personal work, she focuses on how public policies -- especially those related to the environment -- affect communities.

Schukar spent the first five years of her career on staff at a newspaper in the Great Plains where she developed as a documentary and portrait photographer. She also spent two months reporting daily during a military embed in Afghanistan.

9 a.m. Doors Open
Registration, vendor visits & social hour with coffee and breakfast snacks
9:30 Joshua Lott
Seeing an assignment through from start to finish
10:15 Michelle Kanaar & Alyssa Schukar
Contracts, bookkeeping & funding, oh my!
11:00 Break
11:10 Alex Garcia
Career opportunities for photographers
12:15 p.m. Lunch with Raquel Zaldivar
Visual journalism at the Chicago Tribune
1:35 Ben Manlove

A word from major sponsor Sony Images

1:45 Michael Zajakowski
Ethics in the field & in the digital lab
2:30 Tonika Johnson
Seeing Deeply: Getting to know a community
3:15 Break
3:30 Sebastián Hidalgo
What it takes to photograph a personal project
4:15 Ask Me Anything panel
with Joshua Lott, Tonika Johnson, Sebastián Hidalgo & Raquel Zaldivar
1:15 Break

We SO appreciate our sponsors


Stage 2, Columbia College Chicago
618 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL