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From Ukraine to Webster City

International photojournalist Brendan Hoffman begins residency at DFJ

— Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Anne Blankenship
International photojournalist Brendan Hoffman will begin a nearly two-month residency with the Daily Freeman-Journal today. Hoffman will serve as a staff photographer and said he looks forward to meeting members of the community. He invited those who would like to share stories to reach out to him at the DFJ.

He’s traveled the world photographing many of the major events of our time. He’s lived in Ukraine for several years, often working on the front-lines of the war. He’s traveled to India, Pakistan, Tibet and China recently on assignment.

Now Brendan Hoffman is on assignment here in Webster City.

For the next two months, Hoffman will be serving on the staff of the Daily Freeman-Journal as a photographer-in-residency. He’ll be documenting the stories of Webster City and Hamilton County residents through photos and he’ll share them in the DFJ.

Hoffman’s residency is made possible through a series of grants and funding he’s received including the Magnum Foundation, the non-profit arm of the Magnum photo agency, which in turn received funding for his specific proposal from the non-profit Economic Hardships Reporting Project. Funds were also received a Yunghi grant and a Facebook Journalism Project/Lenfast Institute grant.

This isn’t his first time visiting Webster City. Hoffman first visited in 2011, covering the caucuses. He spent about a month traveling and following candidates and it was on a stop with candidate Tim Pawlenty in Webster City that he heard about the closing of Electrolux.

“I just started visiting with people,” he said. He starting taking pictures to document the aftermath of the closure of Electrolux. He kept coming back for a week or two each year until he moved overseas in 2013.

“And even then I managed to come back a few times,” he said. This photo piece was published by the New York Times in January 2016. He’s returned a few times since then, and even led a downtown photography walk in 2017 through Legacy Learning Boone River Valley.

Hoffman grew up in the suburbs of Albany, New York, and attended William and Mary in Virginia. After graduation, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he lived for 10 years and first got into photography as a career. He moved overseas in 2013 and has worked in more than 20 countries.

Hoffman was named a Fulbright Scholar in 2018-2019 in Ukraine. He’s held solo exhibitions at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago as well as half-dozen cities across Ukraine.­

“The Daily Freeman-Journal is thrilled Brendan will be spending time in Webster City and surrounding communities,” said Terry Christensen, publisher of the Daily Freeman Journal and the Fort Dodge Messenger. “Our goal is for Brendan to spend as much time as possible with the people in our region on Daily Freeman-Journal projects.”

Hoffman is eager to get started in Central Iowa.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting people and photographing them,” he said. “And I can’t think of a better way to reach those people than here at the Freeman-Journal.”

He said encouraged area residents to stop and say hello if they see him at an event or to reach out to him at the DFJ, 832-4350.

Capping off his time in Iowa, Hoffman will be speaking at the Iowa Newspaper Association’s annual convention in early February.

Photo workshops

In addition to his work with the Daily Freeman-Journal, Hoffman will be offering a Language of Photography Workshop through Legacy Learning Boone River Valley.

The six week sessions will be held Saturdays at 1 p.m. on Dec. 7, 14 and 21, Jan. 4, 11 and 25. There is no charge for Hamilton County residents to attend. For those living outside Hamilton County, the cost is just $25 for the six-week workshop.

Participants of all levels of experience are welcome to attend, using digital cameras or cellphones. Hoffman will cover the basics of using the camera before delving into exercises that explore the use of light, color, composition, body language and more. In January, participants will work on shooting a story. The class will also explore the role of photography in today’s society, in everything from newspapers to Instagram, while developing a short photo essay on a topic of their choosing.

To register for the class, visit www.legacylearningbrv.org.

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