Photo at work

the steel maker

this morning we started at 3.00h. from the moment we first met, they made it clear, the work as a steel maker is something very special. they said, here in that steel factory everyone has to love steel making. all are starting in the middle of the night to cook the steel at 1500° C just to be ready at the next morning to caste the steel into the new forms

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once upon a time – the long way #1

we were neighbors in Cologne. he and his friends just lived next door. and we drove him home when he wanted to go back. It was a long journey before we arrived at his place near Pazarcik, somewhere in southeastern Turkey. but we did not know it was the starting point for us, for a much longer trip to discover Kurdistan in Turkey. in 1984

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ethiopia – the craftsmen

for sure I know these sounds. since my youth they sound so familiar to me. wherever I go I  follow these sounds.  again and again I end up in the places of the craftsmen’s work. here I  learned to understand the spirit and the fascination of their craft. Giovannis print house in Addis Ababa is still one of this places I like to remembers

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Angola – Idalina makes it!

Jorge and me drove together to Idalinas house in the center of Viana. we  just wanted to do some promotion pictures for vocational training. Idalina was already preparing food and  During the day, we started together with Jorge to develope another idea…., later on, back in theGlobo hotel my neighbors in room 112, the Globo boys Louis Pedro, Edson and their friends  contributed the tunes. the first of our photo novels was created


egypt – the wind

in the middle of the desert I had to ask the kids. I was searching for the wind. I followed the lines as the kids told me. first I believed I found a mirage. then I was sure. I found the place where I could see the wind. we climbed up on top. and I saw the wind


angola days – future talks part II

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photography mets vocational training.

Ok, we did it again. this time Edson and me went to Pavillion 12. photography mets vocational training. in the vocational school in Viana we wanted to show the Addis Ababa exhibition. there was lot of preparation and repair to do. finally we opened the exhibition. the students wanted to photographed with a typical pose of teached professions.then the big rain came and we missed the welder


giving a face to work

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is a phrase often heard during any discussion about photography. And it is a phrase we were also happy to quote at the end of the 1990s when sitting in the office of Fekadu, our Ethiopian associate, in the Ministry of Education, Addis Ababa; Ethiopia, at an altitude of 2300 metres. In many education-centred societies parents do their utmost to send their children to university. Indeed, the economy needs well-qualified skilled workers too. Yet vocational education is usually the second or third choice career path in many countries.

 

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The basic idea was to bring vocational education out of the shade and make it attractive. Numerous drafts were drawn up and then rejected. A never-ending supply of fresh Ethiopian coffee was brought to the office. We gave our ideas and imagination free rein, the aim being to inspire enthusiasm for vocational training. We wanted some good pictures of young apprentices and teachers involved in practical vocational training. Our role model was the great German photographer August Sander. We wanted to build on his idea of social documentary photography and use pictures to give young people a closer understanding of vocational education. At the start of the 20th century August Sander created “People in Germany”, a work in which people proudly presented the positive aspects of their occupation and their social status on camera. We worked on implementing our idea of having vocational students present a photographic display of their jobs and the skills and aptitudes involved. We found plenty of success stories: graduates of vocational colleges who now have well-paid jobs or who even run their own businesses and provide a good standard of living for their families in the process. Photographs were taken and conversations were held – a few failures were even slotted in – but we learned a lot and found that we appeal to young people, their parents and teachers with these shots. And, above all, that we manage to arouse keen interest in practical vocational training. The pictures convey an impression of a “dream job” together with a routine working day and they illustrate career prospects.

 

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Now, some years later, we are sitting alongside our Vietnamese colleague Trang in the Ninh Thuan Vocational College in Vietnam. A photography exhibition on vocational training is due to open here in the college today. Two weeks have been spent working with teachers and students to transform the college into a gigantic photography studio. All the walls were painted and cleaned up to start with, then the equipment was moved into the right light and set up in compliance with safety requirements. The final step was to set up our photography lights. Cheered on by their fellows and trainers, the trainees presented their jobs in front of the camera. There was also a small element of critique when the students asked their teacher to pose for the picture of the model of a “perfect teacher” – and then gave him tips on camera as to how he could become a better teacher.

We are sitting in the schoolyard and observing pupils from local secondary schools, parents and industry representatives as they view the exhibition. The college’s training workshops have been turned into a gallery.

 

become a welderbecome a welderbecome a welderbecome a welderbecome a welderbecome a welderbecome a welderbecome a welder

 

“… become a metalworker”, “… become a welder”, “… become an electrician” say the slogans on the photographs, which display the workplace activities of the skilled workers of the future. With the help of the photographs, vocational college graduates proudly describe their promising careers to the visitors. Final-year students explain their own pictures and occupations, since they actually appear on the photographs in the exhibition. They are the face of vocational training!
All of this, and the enthusiasm with which students and teachers joined in, was once beyond our wildest dreams over cups of Ethiopian coffee. We have also learned a great deal down the years. Photography exhibitions have been used to initiate discussions on the quality of vocational education among teaching staff, school management, policy makers and parents. … We’re now sitting together and drinking lots of green tea…

Vietnamese-German „Programme Reform of TVET in Viet Nam“
RALF BAECKER, Photographer, Berlin
HORST SOMMER, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH, Hanoi
Article firstly published on “internAA”, the staff newspaper of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 2013, page 19.


become a welder

we discussed a lot, before we started together to take the pictures. our idea was to explain the necessary preparation for a welder. Our new friend the teacher had the idea to take the pictures step by step. we did it together. the pictures became a success. he was proud of being the teacher in the pictures

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the worker

 

since the time, when I was young and we were dreaming of of a working class revolution, I have to go into every factory on my way. everywhere on my journeys I have to go into the factory and tell the stories of the workers. nothing has changed since our early dreams 40 years ago

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Giving a face to training – Photography for work

Giving a face to training

Photographs improve the image of vocational training

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is a phrase often heard during any discussion about photography. And it is a phrase we were also happy to quote at the end of the 1990s when sitting in the office of Fekadu, our Ethiopian associate, in the Ministry of Education, Addis Ababa; Ethiopia, at an altitude of 2300 metres. In many education-centred societies parents do their utmost to send their children to university. Indeed, the economy needs well-qualified skilled workers too. Yet vocational education is usually the second or third choice career path in many countries.

The basic idea was to bring vocational education out of the shade and make it attractive. Numerous drafts were drawn up and then rejected. A never-ending supply of fresh Ethiopian coffee was brought to the office. We gave our ideas and imagination free rein, the aim being to inspire enthusiasm for vocational training. We wanted some good pictures of young apprentices and teachers involved in practical vocational training. Our role model was the great German photographer August Sander. We wanted to build on his idea of social documentary photography and use pictures to give young people a closer understanding of vocational education. At the start of the 20th century August Sandler created “People in Germany”, a work in which people proudly presented the positive aspects of their occupation and their social status on camera. We worked on implementing our idea of having vocational students present a photographic display of their jobs and the skills and aptitudes involved. We found plenty of success stories: graduates of vocational colleges who now have well-paid jobs or who even run their own businesses and provide a good standard of living for their families in the process. Photographs were taken and conversations were held – a few failures were even slotted in – but we learned a lot and found that we appeal to young people, their parents and teachers with these shots. And, above all, that we manage to arouse keen interest in practical vocational training. The pictures convey an impression of a “dream job” together with a routine working day and they illustrate career prospects.

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Now, some years later, we are sitting alongside our Vietnamese colleague Trang in the Ninh Thuan Vocational College in Vietnam. A photography exhibition on vocational training is due to open here in the college today. Two weeks have been spent working with teachers and students to transform the college into a gigantic photography studio. All the walls were painted and cleaned up to start with, then the equipment was moved into the right light and set up in compliance with safety requirements. The final step was to set up our photography lights. Cheered on by their fellows and trainers, the trainees presented their jobs in front of the camera. There was also a small element of critique when the students asked their teacher to pose for the picture of the model of a “perfect teacher” – and then gave him tips on camera as to how he could become a better teacher.

We are sitting in the schoolyard and observing pupils from local secondary schools, parents and industry representatives as they view the exhibition. The college’s training workshops have been turned into a gallery.

Proud of their jobs – apprentices look at the photo boards in the exhibitionPhotograph: Ralf Baecker/GIZ, Hanoi

“… become a metalworker”, “… become a welder”, “… become an electrician” say the slogans on the photographs, which display the workplace activities of the skilled workers of the future. With the help of the photographs, vocational college graduates proudly describe their promising careers to the visitors. Final-year students explain their own pictures and occupations, since they actually appear on the photographs in the exhibition. They are the face of vocational training!

All of this, and the enthusiasm with which students and teachers joined in, was once beyond our wildest dreams over cups of Ethiopian coffee. We have also learned a great deal down the years. Photography exhibitions have been used to initiate discussions on the quality of vocational education among teaching staff, school management, policy makers and parents. The Vietnamese government has set itself a major target: to increase the number of skilled workers from 32.2 per cent to 55 per cent by 2020. After all, highly qualified workers are essential if the country is to achieve its ambition of becoming a modern industrialised nation by 2020. Our Vietnamese-German vocational education programme is exploring further culture-specific approaches to attain the requisite improvements in the quality and image of vocational training. We’re now sitting together and drinking lots of green tea…

Vietnamese-German „Programme Reform of TVET in Viet Nam“

RALF BAECKER, Photographer, Berlin

HORST SOMMER, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH, Hanoi

Article firstly published on “internAA”, the staff newspaper of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 2013, page 19.

Fotos-GIZ-Hanoi-2


angola days – the painter

we met on the streets somewhere downtown in Luanda. he painted a wall. we were searching some design material for a teaching book on vacational training. he did it

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egypt – the charcoal

the charburner took me around some corners into their little empire. an empire full of wood, straw, charcoal, fire and smoke. here they teached the old traditional craft of a charcoal burner how to build a charcoal kiln. days later I saw the result nice pieces of charcoal and a good cup of tea. the rest of the good charcoal is exported to Europe for barbecues

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angola days – working class hero

we were hanging out in some downtown bars in Luanda. listening to the beats from the local station. we had to do a music clip to promote the idea of vocational training in Angola. later on we found the kid from the band os k.baila and we did it


Vocational Training in a New Light

An interview

In many countries, manual work and jobs such as electricians, welders, etc.,
have often been looked down on. Vocational training has also been seen as
the poor relative of university education or other kinds of professional training.
An initiative spearheaded by photographer Ralf Bäcker in cooperation with
German aid agency GIZ is having surprising success in changing the image of
vocational training in Vietnam.

Vocational Training in a New LightSGI Quarterly:  How would you describe yourapproach to photographing people in vocationaltraining schools?

Ralf Bäcker: The key is asking students to decidehow to present themselves and their futureprofession. They have responsibility for choosingthe way they appear. It becomes their project andthey are proud of themselves. This style pays tributeto the German school of photography known as“Arbeiterfotografie” or photography of workers, akind of visual sociology founded by photographerAugust Sander who documented ordinary peoplein his hometown of Köln. In his photographs, youmight, for instance, see a carpenter with his toolsstanding in a “typical” pose to present his trade.The photo is a collaboration between thesubject—in this case the vocational school student—the photographer and the surroundings. Otherstudents watching and commenting are also partof the process. This creates a new kind of space.Discussion even opened up between the teachersand students, for instance when we asked them todescribe their ideal teacher. We literally put thestudents at the center of the picture.

SGIQ: So how did this develop in Vietnam?

RB: The initial plan was for a publication tointroduce the vocational schools, but this nevermaterialized. Someone had the idea of creating anexhibition and showing it in the vocational trainingschool itself so that the photographs we had takenwere not wasted. The head of the VocationalTraining Association was the former minister oflabor, and the day before the exhibition opened,she came to see it. Suddenly the project becamevery high profile. We have created exhibitions inthree vocational schools so far, and also held anexhibition showing in Hanoi.

SGIQ: Does this project have an impact on the waythe schools are run?

RB: The taking of the photos opens up opportunitiesfor change. In the photos, we had to show theschools were following international standards.The schools saw they needed to look good and theybegan to follow these standards, at first simply toshow clean workshops in the photos. Later thisaffected the schools as a whole. There was a senseof pride in the place. Students were happy to showthe work they were doing.

SGIQ: Do you make a particular effort to portray women engaged in vocational training?

RB: We began to show pictures of women trainingas metal cutters to give a sense of new possibilities.At other schools, they had only been trained ingarment work. Some of those photos are deliberatelyconstructed, as the students were really from thegarment workshops. We are not necessarily tellingthe truth, but deliberately promoting a constructedimage. The aim is to change the image of vocationaltraining and make it something young womenmight see as an option. Young women are now veryinterested in this kind of training.

SGIQ: How important is promoting vocational skillsin Vietnam now?

RB: People are happy because while many globalcompanies are coming to Vietnam and employingunskilled laborers, the country has a seriousshortage of skilled workers. Unemployment isa big issue. People are trying to find work in theindustrial zones, yet they don’t have the skills. Thevocational training option suddenly seems moreimportant. The graduates qualify as skilled workerswho can now earn more than other workers.

Joan Anderson/ SGIQ

 

 


become a metal worker

I still remember the time, when I received my vocational training in the little workshop. for months I had to train the basics. the first the trainer gave to me was just a drawing and a rusted piece of metal. then I started to file, to saw and to drill for the next six months. every morning I stared at this piece of metal. I measured and filed again and again. day by day my metal became smaller. I still know how to do it until today. later on I even worked on modern CNC machines.

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