Shafkat Anowar, an undergraduate student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, won the Reid Blackburn Scholarship.
Living in Hawai‘i for the past four years, I have spent countless hours documenting and storytelling. Some were worth mentioning, while others are not. However, this story will always remain as one of my major accomplishments in my short career. In the beginning of the year, I told the story of a man named Francis. He lives with his seven dogs on the street by my house. Reaching out to him, I learned his reason for being homeless. Because most homeless shelters would not accept a person with so many dogs, he chose to remain on the streets with them. What I thought would be a simple YouTube video for a journalism class became a story that reconnected Francis to people of his past. Overnight, his family and friends began emailing me in an attempt to reconnect with Francis after they lost contact with him due to his struggle with drugs and alcohol It was a defining moment for me; it was the first time I witnessed the power of journalism. Humbled by these experiences, my motive for being a photojournalist is driven by my empathy for others. Journalists have the power to be the world’s storytellers. I hope to do this, whether it be documenting stories myself or encouraging others to do the same. Apart from this, I was chosen as a finalist for the Associated Press and Minnesota Public Radio News photo intern for Summer 2020. Unfortunately, they got canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. I won my first college photographer of the year award of excellence in the COVID-19 and spot news category. My other achievements include College Media Association Pinnacle Awards for breaking news and photo package, Associated College Press photo of the year award for general news and singles category, first place in student video news at Society of Professional Journalists Hawaii Chapter Excellence in Journalism Award.
Upon graduation, I want to leave my comfort zone and to find new places, people, stories and work for the wire service. For my last year at college, I am preparing myself to apply for a photojournalism internship. With my commitment to journalism I want to venture outside of my island lifestyle and to see what the vast mainland United States has to offer, but more than that I want to dive deeper into news and politic. Most of my work has been in news, but instead of just showing up at a scene and snapping away, I want to really get to know the people so that I can go beneath the surface and really get at the human element.
On the suburb of the Wai’anae Boat Harbor is the home to several kinds including children working families and elders. This village is based on shared love and bond that exists among the resident as well as known for its strict discipline and rules honored by the members. The community consists of eight sections and each section has its own captain.
"Mauna a Wakea. It is a Kupuna. It is an ancestor." The construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea is due to the place’s visibility of the clear sky. As of 2019, three of the thirteen telescopes on Mauna Kea are determined to be decommissioned before constructing the Thirty Meter Telescope.
Native Hawaiians have a sacred connection with their ‘Āina i.e land. A cultural significance is known as "aloha ʻāina," which translates to "love of the land." They believe it is the land that nourishes and feed them. However, for centuries of colonization and unwanted settlement different foreign entrepreneurs have led to the displacement of many natives. To this day, some Native Hawaiians are still out in the field, battling against the opposition to raise awareness about these injustices while seeking to gain back control of their land.
This skepticism isn't just a matter of the past. Some Native Hawaiians perceive that Western values are still occupying their sacred spaces, which is preventing them from speaking out. For over a decade, Native Hawaiian activists have been protesting against the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, assumed to be the world's largest telescope atop Mauna Kea on Hawaii's Big Island. Mauna Kea's summit, where other telescopes are already built, is considered sacred ground to Native Hawaiians. It is also a habitat for native and endangered plants and wildlife. Following that came the protest against the Kahuku Wind Farm Project where since October more than 100 people were arrested protesting about the wind farm project on the island of O'ahu. Similar to Mauna Kea, the island of O'ahu also faced such an issue where a private company from the continental US-initiated to construct wind turbines in the hope of producing renewable energy. Due to this landscape of Oahu's North Shore is going through many ups and downs. For a long time, protestors have been out on the streets protesting about getting back their rights to live where they deserve to be.
What interested me in pursuing this story for the Eddie Adams Workshop is their firstborn. Just like others, coronavirus pandemic has stopped their lives. However, their baby boy remained at the core of their activities during the state-wide stay-at-home order. I mostly photographed in their one-bedroom apartment, portraying their lifestyle as a Muslim immigrant family during a lockdown. After the husband became jobless, they could share more time, bringing them closer as a family. Although my first angle with the story was to show cultural differences, it took a turn when everything in the apartment started revolving around the baby.