Brooks Grad Puts Focus on Human Condition: Wins Scholarship for AIDS Coverage, Documents Refugees for PBS Film

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Bryan Meltz, a recent grad of Brooks Institute of Photography, has been awarded a prestigious scholarship for her dramatic photography work focusing on HIV/AIDS.

Documentary photographer Bryan Meltz, a 26-year-old graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography, has been awarded the prestigious 2005 Yarka Vendrinska Memorial Scholarship. Meltz, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Journalism from Brooks in 2003, was awarded the scholarship for a portfolio of work that is largely focused on the AIDS crisis, including coverage of victims in Cuba and the Southeast United States.

The scholarship is awarded to only one candidate each year. It contributes $2000 for the recipient to attend the Maine Photographic Workshops, recognized in the photography community for providing some of the best programs and forums of their kind by some of the world’s most eminent photography professionals. Meltz will begin her workshop in June, taking Photographing for World Relief Organization presented by Stephen Shames.

Meltz has concentrated her work on combating the growing apathy and stigma faced by those living with HIV/AIDS. As a child, traveling periodically to Georgia, she became familiar with Absolute Wellness, a nonprofit AIDS organization based in Atlanta. She worked with the group for a number of years, but her passion for documentary photojournalism began when she was 19-years-old.

“While working with the organization, I met a man named Brandon Abernathy, a leading AIDS activist, who had been HIV positive for over 15 years,” she explains. “Brandon invited me into his world and encouraged me to photograph all aspects of his life to expose the reality of a long-term survivor of AIDS.” The resulting images formed her first picture story and began her journey “of giving voice to the many people who are living their lives infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.”

In 2004, Meltz signed on to be the still photographer and production coordinator for an independent documentary called Refugee Dreams by Emmy-award winning filmmaker Anne Makepeace. The film follows the migration of a Somali Bantu family from their refugee camp in Kenya to the United States. It will air in 2006 on PBS.

Says Meltz, “I believe that photography has the power to challenge what we believe, raise awareness...and break down barriers that keep us apart." She is committed to making a difference and, even at this early stage in her career, Bryan Meltz is fulfilling her goal.

Brooks Institute of Photography was founded in 1945 and is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary of providing visionary education. Part of the Career Education Corporation (CEC) network of schools, Brooks Institute offers a Master of Science degree program in Photography; Bachelor of Arts degree programs in Professional Photography, Film & Video Production, Visual Communication and Visual Journalism; an Associate of Arts degree program in Visual Journalism, and diploma programs in Professional Photography and Film & Video Production.

Graduates from Brooks have gone on to work for distinguished organizations including National Geographic, Smithsonian, the Los Angeles Times and other national media outlets, Hallmark Publishing, Cousteau Society, HBO, Kodak and literally scores of other leaders in visual media fields. For more information about Brooks Institute of Photography, go to or call the school at 888-304-3456.

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Jim White

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