A passion for continuing education

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Rony Zakaria is one freelance photographer who values continuing education to improve his craft and prepare for a future career in teaching.

“ I’d like to do lots of photography and teaching as well,” he said.

A graduate of mathematics and computer science from the Bina Nusantara University in Jakarta, Indonesia, the 22-year old Indonesian began to show interest in photography in 2005.

Thanks to his mother who gifted him with a digital pocket camera then. She believed that her son needed this tool in his teaching assistantship and web designing tasks while enrolled at the university.

With his new camera, the amateur photographer began to take photos of his friends and family members. His interest grew and decided to turn professional in 2006. He enrolled in a one-year photojournalism course at the Galeri Foto Journalistik Antara in Jakarta, which he completed in 2007.

As a major course requirement, his group mounted a photo exhibition that opened up opportunities to expand his network of documentary photographers and receive commissions to cover various issues in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. His clients included FAO, Asian Development Bank, Asian Geographic, World Bank, Time Asia and the Wall Street Journal Asia, among others.

Rony’s first overseas trip was in Cambodia where he visited the Angkor Photo Festival and participated in a workshop for Asian emerging photographers.  There he met many more new photojournalists and continued to take photos.

In 2008 and 2009, he received two photographic grants from the Food and Agriculture Organization and Mochtar Lubis Award to pursue his personal interest in Indonesia.

During the same period, he decided to upgrade his skills and competence by enrolling at ACFJ for the Diploma in Photojournalism program. He was one of seven working photographers and journalists from Asia who completed the course in 2010.

A year later, his desire for continuing education brought him to ACFJ again. He enrolled in its MA in Journalism program. “I want to know more about the industry and prepare myself for my future career in teaching at the university,” he said.

“ I like doing documentaries, not on poverty issues as so many have ventured into this area, but on people and places that I believe are important, not necessarily what the people want,” he said.

His current project is a series of photos on the people living around volcanoes in Indonesia. Having lived in the city for a long time, Rony wants to find more about mountain living, particularly people’s lives around volcanoes, their rituals and relationships with the environment.

Though hardly providing substantial monetary reward, photography has suited his temperament. “ I want to express myself and what I feel through good photos. When I feel good about a certain scene, I snap a picture even though this may not be to the liking of some. As an artist, I am sensitive to my surroundings,” he said.

Since turning professional as a photographer, Rony has received several international awards, notably his 2nd place win in the Non-Traditional Photojournalism Publishing Category at the NPPA Best of Photojournalism, USA in 2010. This year, he placed third in the same category with his entry on the people living along the volcanoes in Indonesia.

With his experience and experience as well international awards, Rony has been invited to undertake  short training courses in photography in Jakarta. He believes this is not enough to become an effective educator.

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