Tara Todras-Whitehill // USA + Turkey
@TaraTWPhoto is an Istanbul-based photojournalist who is passionate about telling in-depth stories around the world. She is especially invested in telling women’s stories - trying to portray strong women changing the world around them. In 2013, she co-founded @VignetteInt, an interactive storytelling company with two friends @MattFordVI and @jfmars. Vignette works with media organizations, and NGOs like @UNICEF and @theIRC to help tell their stories. Previously, she worked as a staff photographer for the @AP.images for four years in the Middle East, covering the uprisings, revolutions, and numerous elections in the Arab world. She also has worked for places like @NYTimes@Washingtonpost and @Buzzfeed @world, and in 2016 she won an @WorldPressPhotoaward for her work in Sierra Leone on Ebola survivors. Before becoming a photographer, she got her degrees in Telecommunications Engineering and International Relations from @UofPenn.
We asked Tara about a time she'd taken a leap into the unknown: "I moved to the Middle East in 2005 to pursue a career in photojournalism, knowing less than a handful of people in the region. People back home thought I was crazy, but I took a leap, and jumped off (what felt like) the deep end. I landed in Beirut on February 14th, 2005. A mere eight hours after I got off the plane, the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri was assassinated by a massive car bomb. When the bomb went off, it was literally trial by fire -- should I run towards the big explosion or away? I ran towards it, and quickly understood something new about myself -- I was capable of working in high pressure situations. That started me down the path of working in news photography for the Reuters, AP and the NY Times, which all helped to build my career as a photojournalist. Now, I am finding different ways to work on global issues -- I work on longer projects with my company Vignette Interactive, where we are constantly pushing the boundaries of storytelling."