Sudharak Olwe in Los Angeles while shooting with the students.
Engaged Student Observers is a collaborative project undertaken by the Education Department of the J. Paul Getty Museum and selected photography students at four Southern California colleges: College of the Canyons, East Los Angeles College, Pierce College, and Santa Monica College. The students spent a semester studying the exhibition Engaged Observers: Documentary Photography since the Sixties.

During the semester the students participated in a master class taught by photojournalist Sudharak Olwe, who is based in Mumbai, India. Together with his frequent collaborator Helena Schäetzle, Olwe spent two weeks with the students. He presented his own work and that of other Asian photographers, led photography exercises around Los Angeles, and critiqued student portfolios. In the end, the participating students produced their own engaged observations, photographic essays addressing pressing social and personal issues in their own lives. Each of the colleges selected a theme to focus their work: Conflict (College of the Canyons), identity (East L.A. College), labor (Pierce College), and environment (Santa Monica College) This presentation shows a sample of their accomplishments.

Faculty members from the participating colleges invested a great deal of time to prepare this program and guide their students well beyond the classroom hours. We gratefully acknowledge their dedication:

College of the Canyons—Wendy Brill-Wynkoop
East Los Angeles College—Mei Valenzuela
Pierce College—Jill Connelly and Gerard Burkhart
Santa Monica College—Gerard Burkhart and Ford Lowcock

Slideshow: View the students' photographs.

In Search of Dignity and Justice—The Untold Story of the Conservancy Workers</em> / Olwe
About Sudharak Olwe
Over the past 20 years Sudharak Olwe has contributed photographic essays to India's leading publications while also working for the Times of India in Mumbai during much of this time. He has exhibited work on various social issues in India, Bangladesh, Sweden, Portugal, Holland, the United States, and Japan. In 1999–2000 he was the recipient of the Media Fellowship from the National Foundation for India. The following year, Olwe was the only Indian photographer included in World Press Photo Exhibition in Amsterdam, where his stories on gender and the environment were shown. In 2005 he received the All Roads Photographers Award from National Geographic, which featured an exhibition of his work about the street workers of Mumbai.