Tag Archives: Documentary Photography

Reflections in a Pashtun Cinema

Photographer Omar Mullick has spent the last decade passing through the countries of Central Asia on assignment. Here, he reflects on his photographs of a Pashtun cinema in Karachi, a space he found defied the preconceived images of the region.

These photographs were created, if I am brutally honest, from a loss of faith. Not in my religion or way of life, but from my understanding in how the eye of documentary photography portrays the Muslim world.

I didn’t buy it: the blurred melancholy and humorless conviction with which we documented native, usually Muslim peoples. It did not resonate—not even slightly, and even if I registered good intention in the work, it never mitigated my feeling that there were a thousand ways of looking at people in the West and only one way of looking at other people on the brunt of war. They were often confined to one visual language, or, to extend the metaphor, one set of visual phrases: suffering, victimhood, violence and trauma. And in the effort to prompt outrage and underline how bad war was, their subjects were often confined to the ‘other’. More specifically, people never surfaced in photographs—only symbols of war. What resulted was the worst absence possible in a photograph of another person: empathy.

The resulting photographs were shot, I realize now, as a response to that.

They were taken in Karachi at a Pashtun cinema before I was scheduled for an embed in Afghanistan. Working on a project called Basetrack and a documentary film about a Pashtun runaway boy, the photos were snapped on my days off. This place was my retreat, just as it was the retreat for the subjects in my photographs. My work, I hoped, was a portrait of people as they collectively exhaled. And in that I also hoped they kept, modestly enough, the company of photographers that emphasized sympathy over a desire to continue the string of visual metaphor: Kuwayama’s doves at Mazar E Sharif, Balazs Gardi’s tender Afghan father holding his son or Ladefoged’s The Albanians.

Pashtuns are known by legend and myth as warmongers, kohl-eyed and unforgiving, even unconquerable patriarchs to the last man—the blood and muscle of the Taliban. Here, displaced and withdrawn from their beloved mountains and heaped en masse in Karachi’s urban sprawl, they came to this movie theater—feared by outsiders—to see films and hear songs in their native tongue. And I—with my personal stories of bloodlines running all the way to Kandahar and Waziristan—schoolboyishly wanted to lose myself in their fold.

Men huddled and laughed in the aisles, smoking hash in advance of the film, people who saved their pennies for stale popcorn or samosas to be had in the intermission. Also men who, left alone, sat in the front aisles waiting in anticipation for a Pashto song to come on and then rushed the screen to dance against the projection to the song, cheered on by all. Runaway boys, who had made their way from Afghanistan or Waziristan to Karachi to pick trash by day, now chose the afternoon after Friday prayers to see a film. They preferred the sound of cinema to the buzzing drones that soundtracked their nightmares. Then there were the drug dealers, the boys looking to pick up johns by the bathrooms and the bulk of men who swore to kill any pedophiles they found taking advantage of children. But mostly it was of people at rest, disarmed. They were having fun.

These were men and young boys at ease enjoying themselves. In that they mirrored the loose pop flash photos I took of friends back home. I photographed the cinema barely looking through the viewfinder, the camera lofted above the fray and through ongoing laughs and phrases in Pashto, asking them what Waziristan looked like and who had been to Kandahar. And then I would shoot more, telling stories about my grandmother and her pride at being Pashtun and my mother’s own deep reservoirs of will and piety—markers they would surely recognize. In this recognition I found the most personal visual language I could muster.

Shoot them like you would your friends at home, I told myself: free of abstraction, their dignity intact. Shoot a portrait they might recognize of themselves, something they might love, something that may make them smile. At least once, let’s do that.

Shoot them as if your loss of faith in photography were redeemable, as if an image might actually be a chalice for humanity and you were all going to pass around the cup.

Shoot them as if your faith were already back.


Omar Mullick is a photographer and filmmaker based in New York City. He was an embedded photographer in the Basetrack project out of Afghanistan in 2011. His work on Muslims in America titled Can’t Take It With You received a solo show in 2009 at Gallery FCB in Chelsea, N.Y., and his recent film These Birds Walk was selected for 25 new faces of Independent Cinema in 2012.



Interviews and Talks | November 2012

Photojournalism_Links

Video of Steve McCurry shooting the Pirelli calendar…

Steve McCurry  : Pirelli Calendar 2013 behing the scenes video (Telegraph) ‘The world’s most beautiful women, including Karlie Kloss, Petra Nemcova and a heavily pregnant Adriana Lima, cover up for photojournalist Steve McCurry’s Pirelli Calendar.’

Steve McCurry’s Iconic Photographs #1 (Phaidon)

Steve McCurry’s Iconic Photographs #2 (Phaidon)

Steve McCurry (Art Space)

Steve McCurry  (YouTube) ‘Steve McCurry shares his expertise and opinions on shooting documentary photography’

Tyler Hicks on working in Gaza.

Photo © Tyler Hicks

Tyler Hicks : Working in Gaza (NYT Lens) ‘A Responsibility to Photograph, and Remember’

Bernat Armangué : The war in Gaza: photographing the conflict (Guardian) ‘Associated Press photographer Bernat Armangué tells the story behind some of his images that have featured on front pages around the world in the last week’

Don McCullin trying out Canon gear in this 27 minute video on the CPN site.

Don McCullin (CPN)  “The love affair I’ve had with photography has been total commitment and I’ve not taken any short cuts to do it.”

Don McCullin : The Art of Seeing (Guardian) ‘For the veteran war photographer, emotional awareness is the most important aspect of photography’

Don McCullin Reflects on a Career of Chasing Haunting Images (PetaPixel)

Barbara Davidson (PhotoShelter Vimeo) Luminance 2012

Photographers and NGOs : When Interest Creates a Conflict (NYT Lens) ‘Ethical Questions Raised by Photographing for NGOs’

Sebastiano Tomada Piccolomini (Al Jazeera) ‘Scenes from a Syrian city under siege : An audio slideshow from Aleppo by a photographer who spent two harrowing weeks dodging bullets to cover the conflict.’

Crosses mark a field where the bodies of murdered women were dumped in Ciudad Juarez during the 1990s. (Eros Hoagland)

Conflict Photographer Eros Hoagland on His Dangerous Craft (Daily Beast)

Michael Christopher Brown (New Yorker Photo Booth) HBOs Witness: Libya

Photographers Amid Chaos (NYT) On HBOs Witness series

Miguel Medina : Up close and personal with the Syrian rebels (AFP Correspondent blog)

Massoud Hossaini (scmp.com) ‘What’s behind a Pulitzer Prize winning photo?’

Tomas van Houtryve (Oslo Freedom Forum)

Ashley Gilbertson and Ed Kashi (smdlr)

Robin Hammond on his Zimbabwe work.

Photo © Robin Hammond

Robin Hammond (RFI English)

Robin Hammond (Arte TV) NB in French

Old John G Morris interview on C-Span.

John G Morris (C-Span)

I don’t have an iPad, so haven’t experienced using Reuters’ The Wider Image app, but it does look very nice..

Reuters’ Jassim Ahmad on ‘The Wider Image’ photography app (CPN)

Lisa Wiltse (PDN) ‘Breakout Photo Essay of the Year: Lisa Wiltse’s Charcoal Kids of Ulingan’

Scout Tufankjian on the photo of the Obamas hugging which went viral after the Obama campaign tweeted on the election night…

Photo © Scout Tufankjian for Obama for America

Scout Tufankjian, the photographer of the ‘Most-Liked Photograph of All Time’ (Slate)

Laura Olin :  The Photo the Obama Campaign Almost Used for Its Victory Tweet (Slate) ‘How did the Obama campaign decide to use that photo of Barack and Michelle Obama hugging to accompany its victory tweet? The photo that became the most-retweeted, most liked photo in social media history? Campaign social media honcho Laura Olin filled Slate in by email on the gametime decision—and showed us the photo that almost made the cut.’

Damon Winter on photographing Obama in 2008 and 2012 (NYT) ‘A Face More Careworn, a Crowd Less Joyful’

Fascinating video of Stephen Wilkes talking about his Day to Night project…

Coney Island. Photograph © Stephen Wilkes

Stephen Wilkes and his Day to Night project (CBS video on PetaPixel)

Jim Urquhart : Portraying polygamy (Reuters Photographers blog)

Brian Finke  (LA Times Framework blog) ‘reFramed: In conversation with Brian Finke’

David Alan Harvey on the Vogue Italy site.

David Alan Harvey (Vogue Italy)

Elliott Erwitt (Art Space)

Peter Marlow on photographing English cathedrals (Magnum)

Magnum Photographers Ian Berry, Stuart Franklin and Peter Marlow describe their work featured in Magnum Revolution, 65 Years of Fighting for Freedom. (YouTube)

High and Low: Jim Goldberg’s Works in Process (Lightbox)

Harry Gruyaert’s best photograph – waiting for a Belgian parade (Guardian)

Photo © Samuel Aranda

Samuel Aranda’s best photograph: a woman protects her son (Guardian)

Gideon Mendel (BBC)

Pieter Hugo (YouTube)

Photo © Joel Meyerowitz

Joel Meyerowitz  (NYT) ‘A Restless Lifetime of Paying Attention’

Joel Meyerowitz : A Question of Color — Answered (NYT Lens)

Taking His Time: A Look Back at 50 Years of Joel Meyerowitz’s Photographs (Lightbox)

Joel Meyerowitz : ‘brilliant mistakes … amazing accidents’  (Guardian) | The photographer, best known for his 9/11 pictures, talks about his new book, which celebrates his 50 years of finding the ‘wow’ factor in everyday places

Joel Meyerowitz interview by Olivia Bee : ‘The Young Gun Meets the Living Legend’ (Vice)

Fred R. Conrad on photographing Meyerowitz (NYT Lens)

Lauren Greenfield on the Bait and Switch of “The Queen of Versailles” and the Importance of Good Cinematography (Documentary Channel blog)

Paul Moakley (rereveal.com)

Larissa Leclair : The Indie Photobook Library (Lightbox)

Isa Leshko (PDN) ‘Sustaining a Long-Term Photo Project’

Photographer Daniel Beltrá on his Greenpeace mission to the Arctic (Guardian) audio slideshow

Two part Ben Lowy interview on A Photo Editor.

Photo © Ben Lowy

Ben Lowy – Part 1 Part 2 (A Photo Editor)

In conversation with the writer Pete Brook of Prison Photography and WIRED. (Phonar)

Crossing Paths with Niall McDiarmid (BBC)

Sony World Photography awards Student Focus winner Asef Ali Mohammad shares his hopes and fears as he starts his career in photography  (Guardian) ‘What is life like for emerging student photographers?’

How Iwan Baan got his amazing NYC/Hurricane Sandy cover for the New York Magazine.

Cover photo © Iwan Baan

Architecture photographer Iwan Baan explains how he got that New York magazine cover shot (Poynter)

New York Magazine director of photography Jody Quon on Baan’s cover (Time Lightbox Tumblr)

Great Reuters TV video of their photographers describing documenting Sandy and its aftermath

Screen Shot 2012-11-30 at 15.14.32

Reuters photographers show images of the devastation caused by hurricane Sandy  (Reuters TV) ‘A witness to Sandy’s wrath’

Andrew Burton : photographing Sandy (ABC News)

Levon Biss on photographing Mario Balotelli (Lightbox)

Melissa Golden (Digital Photo Pro)

John Delaney on Hoboken, New Jersey (BJP)

In My Bag – by Daniel Berman (Photo Brigade)

In My Bag – by David Welker (PB)

Guest Blogger 2 – Landscape Photography tips and advice with Toby Smith and Robert Leslie on the World Photography Organisation Blog

© Robert Leslie, Leroux Wash Arizona 2011, Stormbelt. “The most pristine water a man can take, they are drilling it out of the ground. So now the old folks are saying, “What happened to all the deer? What happened to all the birds?” All because of some greedy people lighting up the whole city of New York & LA” Navajo Nation Member

For my second post on the World Photo Organisation Blog, Landscape Photography – Getting it Right, I get some tips and advice and touch upon the question of the acceptable levels of post-production in landscape photography. This is a topic I will return to on Hotshoe Blog later.

I’m no landscape photographer so I asked two well-travelled photographers Toby Smith (TS) and Robert Leslie (RL) for some advice. One tip that is oft repeated is ‘being in the right place at the right time’. Apart from this, you also need patience, determination and a good eye.”

Read more over at the WPO blog.

Photo © Toby Smith/Reportage by Getty Images
BAOTAO, CHINA – DECEMBER 20, 2010: Coal trucks grind down-hill from an open-cast coal mine to the main-highway. Congestion at the highway, weighing points and intersections often sees the vehicles jammed for days as China attempts to redistribute its coal.

Filed under: Documentary photography, Photographers, Photographers blogs, Photojournalism Tagged: Edmund Clarke, HotShoe magazine, Landscape photography Tips, Low-light photography, Miranda Gavin, Post-production, Processing RAW, Robert Leslie, Toby Smith, World Photo Organisation Blog

Photo News – Shortlist announced for Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013 and new Hotshoe iPad App out now

© Chris Killip, nominee for Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013

A newsy post today as The Photographers’ Gallery announces the shortlist for the annual Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013 with an interesting mix of the old and the new, or rather, the more traditional and the contemporary. It’s great to see Chris Kilip in the mix as he surely represents a different generation of photographers from the remaining three nominees who were all born in the 1970s. In fact, I’d hazard a guess that he’s the only one who would refer to himself as a photographer rather than artist/visual artist using photography, or other such label.

© Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, nominee for Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013

The shortlist is based on “a specific body of work in an exhibition or publication format, which has significantly contributed to photography in Europe between 1 October 2011 and 30 September 2012″. Mmmmm. That’s a tall order as how can one tell whether a body of work “has significantly contributed to photography in Europe between 1 October 2011 and 30 September 2012″?

How is this measured and what are the criteria?

And why these cut off dates?

Doesn’t the significance of the publication, or show, need some distance in time to show what its contribution is? What if a show is “ahead of its time” and only gets recognized years later?

I’m happy to see these nominees (two, in particular), however, as I guess happens every year, I can think of one artist/show at the Imperial War Museum in London by Ori Gersht that I would have liked to have seen nominated. I wonder why it wasn’t in the running, or maybe it was?

DEUTSCHE BORSE PHOTOGRAPHY PRIZE 2013 SHORTLIST
“This year’s jury selected four artists whose work represents four distinct and significant positions within contemporary photography – Chris Killip for his singular and timeless vision reinterpreting the possibilities of documentary practice; Broomberg & Chanarin for their surgical examination of images of conflict using Brecht’s War Primer as their source; Mishka Henner for appropriating the archive of Google Street View photographs to examine the landscape of today’s sex workers and Cristina De Middel’s ‘mockumentary’ on the Zambian space programme which confidently blurs the boundaries of fact and fiction in a highly original way.”
Brett Rogers, Director of The Photographers’ Gallery and Chair of the Jury.

The four artists shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013 are Mishka Henner, Chris Killip, Cristina De Middel and the artist duo Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin.

© Mishka Henner, nominee for Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013

The annual award of £30,000 rewards a living photographer, of any nationality, for a specific body of work in an exhibition or publication format, which has significantly contributed to photography in Europe between 1 October 2011 and 30 September 2012. The winner will be announced at a special ceremony at The Photographers’ Gallery in May 2013. The Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013is presented by The Photographers’ Gallery, London.

© Cristina de Middel, nominee for Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013

I was going to post a multimedia video by Cristina de Middel from the recent SlideLuck London show in Brighton, see previous post, so I thought I’d add it here as she’s one of the nominees (though not for this work).

Cristina de Middel – Made in from elciclopemecanico on Vimeo.

For information on each of the nominees, read more…

HOTSHOE NEW iPAD ISSUE OUT NOW


Look out for the new issue of the Hotshoe iPad app which is out with a lead feature by a previous Deutsche Börse nominee Pieter Hugo.

Featuring: David Chancellor’s documentary project, Hunters, exploring Africa through the eyes of the tourist trophy hunter; Photojournalist Christopher Anderson comes in from the cold to create his emotive series, Son; Pieter Hugo’s haunting portraits from There’s a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends; Cyrus Shahrad’s hilarious essay in response to Matthieu Lavanchy’s Mr Schulmann or the Man in the High Castle; Laura Noel’s Withdrawn library books and in the Hot Seat, Prestel Director, Andrew Hansen, talks about keeping the faith.

Plus reviews of Sophie Calle’s book Rachel, Monique…., WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, curated by Anne Tucker, the Canon EOS 5D, as well as A.D. Coleman’s Letter from New York: Return of the Supressed (3), a round up of the latest photo books, exhibition listings, news and more.

Exclusive App Content: Michael Jang’s Summer Weather and Roman Drits Auftakt, with added multimedia content from Andrew Hansen, plus enriched portfolios, clickable exhibition listings and much, much more.

Download the app for free and then subscribe for one year for just £9.99, and get the latest issue of Hotshoe directly to your iPad every other month.

DEUTSCHE BORSE PHOTOGRAPHY PRIZE 2013 SHORTLIST Cont…
The four shortlisted artists have been nominated for the following projects:

Adam Broomberg (b. 1970, South Africa) & Oliver Chanarin (b. 1971, UK) are nominated for their publication War Primer 2 (2012, MACK). The limited edition book physically inhabits the pages of Bertolt Brecht’s publication War Primer (1955). In the original, Brecht matched WWII newspaper clippings with short poems that sought to demystify press images, which he referred to as hieroglyphics. In War Primer 2 Broomberg & Chanarin choose to focus on the ‘War on Terror’; sifting through the internet for low resolution screen-grabs and mobile phone images, the artists then combined them to resonate with Brecht’s poems. Through this layering of photographic history, Broomberg & Chanarin offer a critique of photographs of contemporary conflict and their dissemination—a theme that has been at the centre of their practice for fifteen years.

Mishka Henner (b. 1976, UK) is nominated for his exhibition No Man’s Land at Fotografia Festival Internazionale di Roma, Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome, Italy (20 September – 28 October 2012). In No Man’s Land Henner explores the margins of European urban and rural environments with images produced using Google Street View. Identifying geographic locations from online forums where men share information on the whereabouts of sex workers, Henner visits and records these sites using the mechanical gaze of car-mounted cameras. Henner’s work poses complex questions about the blurring of boundaries between voyeurism, online information gathering and privacy rights.

Chris Killip (b. 1946, UK) is nominated for his exhibition What Happened Great Britain 1970 – 1990 at Le Bal, Paris (11 May – 19 August 2012). In this series of stark black and white images Killip chronicles the disintegration of industrial Britain in working class communities in the north of England. Immersing himself in the lives of the people he documented, Killip tells personal stories of men at work set against a backdrop of socio-political upheaval.

Cristina De Middel(b. 1975, Spain) is nominated for her publication The Afronauts (2011, self-published). In 1964, after gaining independence, Zambia started a space programme led by Edward Makuka Nkoloso, sole member of the unheard of National Academy of Science, Space Research and Philosophy. The programme, whose aim was to send the first African astronauts to Mars, was soon cancelled, becoming no more than an amusing anecdote in the country’s history. In The Afronauts De Middel creates a subjective version of the story engaging with myths and truths. The book is comprised of a series of constructed colour photographs, sequenced alongside drawings and reproductions of letters, resulting in a fictional portrait of a national dream.

The members of the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013 jury are: Joan Fontcuberta, artist; Andrea Holzherr, Exhibition Manager, Magnum; Karol Hordziej, Artistic Director, Krakow Photomonth; and Anne-Marie Beckmann, Curator, Art Collection Deutsche Börse, Germany. Brett Rogers, Director of The Photographers’ Gallery, is the non-voting Chair.

Works by the shortlisted photographers will be shown in an exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery followed by presentations at the Deutsche Börse headquarters in Frankfurt/Eschborn and at C/O Berlin, Forum for Visual Dialogues.

Filed under: Documentary photography, Photographers, Photography Awards & Competitions Tagged: Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Chris Killip, Cristina De Middel, Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013, Hotshoe iPad app, Mishka Henner, Ori Gersht, photo competitions, The Photographers’ Gallery

Slideluck Potshow London: Two highlights – Japan, I wish I knew your name by Pierfrancesco Celada and Mute: The Silence of Dogs by Martin Usborne

Slideluck Potshow London, organized by Mariateresa Salvati and invited to Brighton by the Miniclicks Photo Talks crew, held its first event in Brighton on Sunday to screen a selection of photos from past editions. 24 works were chosen by New Statesman photo editor, Rebecca McClelland, and artistic director and curator of QUAD and coFounder and director of FORMAT Festival, Louise Clements. As with Pecha Kucha, there is a particular formula for the events which take place in cities around the world. The event is free and is organised on a voluntary basis.

What is Slideshow Potluck?
“It is a NYC-based arts non-profit, operating in many cities globally, that aims to bring people together around food and art, and to give people an interesting, engaging, and fun platform for sharing art with their community.” From the website.

PIERFRANCESCO CELADA – JAPAN, I WISH I KNEW YOUR NAME

Japan, I wish I knew your name from pierfrancesco celada on Vimeo.

Pierfrancesco Celada is one to watch and his multimedia piece, Japan, I wish I knew your name, with its artful interplay of still photography, moving image and sound, was, for me, one of the highlights of the Slideshow. Why? Because the whole concept works really well as a multimedia work; it is well-conceived, wonderfully executed and is elevated by its aesthetic considerations, sequencing, use of camera shots and the ambient soundscapes. I was utterly transported for all 3mins 51 secs.

The work was produced at Magnum in Motion, New York, courtesy of Ideastap Photographic Award and received an Honourable Mention, Lensculture International Exposure Awards, 2011.

Celada writes: “During a brief visit to Japan in 2009 I was soon fascinated by the isolation and loneliness I was feeling in the streets. It started as a personal journey, a foreigner traveling in an alien environment. Language and cultural differences were only augmenting this distance between the locals and me. However, while observing people, it was clear that even indigenous were not able to interact successfully. I have then decided to come back in 2010 and better visualize these concepts.

“The Tokyo-Nagoya-Osaka Megalopolis, also called Taiheiyō Belt is a unique example of urban agglomeration with an estimated population of over 80 million people. Despite this incredibly high number of chances to interact, it seems that society is moving in the opposite direction. The purpose of this investigation is to create awareness and highlight the problems that modernization and the rapid changes in the environment create in our lives. Is it still important to be, or feel, part of a group? Do we feel part of the environment? Are we alone in the crowd?” From the website.

MARTIN USBORNE – MUTE – THE SILENCE OF DOGS IN CARS


© Martin Osborne, The Silence of Dogs in Cars, 2012
I love Martin’s body of work, The Silence of Dogs in Cars, which was featured in Hotshoe magazine. So it was fantastic to see the collection of images as a slideshow and the immersion in the backroom of the Green Door in Brighton seemed to echo that of the dogs in the cars, especially as photographers were dotted round the room taking photos as we watched the show. (Note to organizers: I find that it disturbs my concentration when I’m watching a slideshow or film and I know that people are taking photos. What about after the show, rather than during?)

I really feel for these dogs and Martin does too. In fact, he cares so much that he’s set up A year to help blog where you can follow his progress as he attempts “to save all animals everywhere” in a year. I should put him in touch with my mum, who wants some of her ashes scattered in the Coliseum or Torre Argentina where the Gatti di Roma (Cats of Rome) have special status.

I love the text on his website too: “Martin lives in East London where he has his photographic studio. He is interested in the ever-curious and often disturbing relationship between humans and other animals.” However, if he reads this, there is the letter n missing from the first ‘and’ in the text on his site, I’ve added it here. Call me pedantic, but I’d rather mention it so that it can be rectified, than ignore it.

If you’re going to Paris Photo, Martin will be doing a book signing of Mute – The Silence of Dogs in Cars tomorrow at 4pm at the Kehrer Publishing stand, EE3. And if you miss this, you can catch the show in London next year from 19 March  – 27 April 2013 when it will be exhibited at The Little Black Gallery.

Filed under: Documentary photography, Photographers, Photographers blogs, Photography Shows, short films Tagged: brighton, HotShoe, Japan I wish I knew your name, Kehrer Publishing, Louise Clements, Mariateresa Salvati, Paris Photo, Pierfrancesco Celada, Rebecca McClelland, Slideluck Potshow Brighton, The Little Black Gallery, The Silence of Dogs

Portfolio Reviews – Photomonth at the Museum of Childhood with Citizen Skwith, Daniel Alexander and Dougie Wallace


Photos above © Citizen Skwith, Petting Zoo

The same day as the Tri-pod show PV took place at the Phoenix Brighton, I did a day of portfolio reviews at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green for Photomonth. It’s the fourth year that I’ve done this and I’m always happy to be invited back.

I never know what to expect from the people I see and there are always some surprises, such as Citizen Skwith‘s clever signs and wonderful sense of humour (see photos above). Plus, reviewers get paid which is not always the case.

I’m posting a few iPhone photos from Photomonth’s recent portfolio reviews of some of the work that I came across, although I didn’t record all of it. If you were there and want to let people know about your work, post a comment with a link to your website/work.

So, in no particular order, here are a few projects that I saw. More from the reviews to come in another post later next week.

DANIEL ALEXANDER
Daniel Alexander says of 1day6cities project. “Today it is exactly a year on from  11.11.11 when the films were all shot. The project is also being exhibited at Oxford House until the end of this month.” This gives you all time to see it before it comes down.

1DAY6CITIES from 1day6cities on Vimeo.

“1DAY6CITIES is a global photography project that took place on the 11th November 2011 – 11.11.11, in London, Dubai, Shanghai, Auckland, San Francisco and São Paulo. Using word of mouth, email and social networks we put together an international team of photographers to create a unique twenty-four hour snapshot of this day across six very different cities around the globe. At exactly 00.00 Coordinated Universal Time (world time/GMT) photographers in each of these cities captured their first image in an event that saw photographs being taken every 30 seconds for the following 24 hours.

“The brief was for the photographers to shoot the most interesting thing happening in their city, at the time they had chosen to shoot. The cities were chosen because they are roughly an equal time difference apart meaning the films show the sun travelling around the earth through the course of the day.” The edited film is shown above and the edited stills can be seen on the 1day6cities website. There is a full list of the contributors on the website.

DOUGIE WALLACE
Dougie Wallace arrives wearing a pale blue/grey and black ensemble and carrying his colour coordinated portfolio. He smells of fish. Well, his breath does, on account of the fish pie he ate for lunch. He shows me his work, see Mumbai Rickshaw drivers shot and the Stags, Hens and Bunnies (working title) project, which is near to completion, and documents the day and night antics of hen nights and stag parties in the north.

There’s more than a hint of the Carry On about the subjects of some of these shots – all of which are well observed and captured with a wry sense of the absurd. Referring to himself as ‘The Martin Parr of the Facebook’ generation, take a look for yourself…

CITIZEN SKWITH
Citizen Skwith uses photography to document the signs that he makes and places in public places. Subverting and playing with the language of warning signs, Citizen Skwith’s works are a clever form of street art made available for everyone to enjoy. His website features all of his work and is well worth a look. I’ve already ordered the time traveller Blue Plaque for my hallway.

Filed under: Photographers, Photography Festivals, street art, Visual Artists Tagged: 1day6cities, Citizen Skwith, Daniel Alexander, documentary photography, Dougie Wallace, Hens and Bunnies, london, Museum of Childhood, Petting Zoo, photomonth, portfolio reviews, Stags, stop motion, street art

Peter van Agtmael Receives the 2012 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography

On Wednesday night, Magnum photographer Peter van Agtmael received the $30,000 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, joining a legion of photojournalists that includes James Nachtwey, Paolo Pellegrin and Brenda Ann Kenneally. Established in 1978, the W. Eugene Smith Grant is one of the most esteemed in the industry, named after the legendary photographer whose harrowing pictures of World War II gave an unparalleled and poignant view of the human toll of the conflict. In a fitting tribute, the annual grant aims to recognize a photographerwho has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to documenting the human condition in the spirit of Smiths concerned photography and dedicated compassion.

Van Agtmael has done that with his long-term project, Disco Night September 11, which focuses on the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and their consequences within the United States. But it was his existing work along with his proposalto show the side of the ongoing wars through Iraqi and Afghan perspectivesthat earned him this years honor. An additional $5,000 fellowship was awarded to photographer Massimo Berruti for The Dusty Path, a combination of works examining victims of drone strikes, missing persons and the fight against militancy in Pakistani classrooms.

At 24the same age as many of the soldiers he would go on to documentvan Agtmael began the project during an embed with Americantroops engaged in heavy fighting around Mosul, Iraq.As an American of the generation shouldering these wars, I feel a strong responsibility to document their cost,” says the photographer, whose lens captured everythingfrom violent firefights and days-long foot patrols to the rehabilitation of those maimed by war.”Over the course of my lifetime, I intend to keep returning to [these conflicts] to create a comprehensive document.

To that end, van Agtmael, now 31, plans to use his grant to capture the other side of the conflictto give face to our ‘enemies’ in the fight. “Im ready to shift my focus to the other side of the war,” he says. “The Iraqis and Afghans that have been most affected remain depersonalized and shadowy in our collective consciousness. We live in a self-absorbed cultureone largely unburdened by memory.

Van Agtmael plans to return to Iraq and Afghanistan to follow these stories, but will also travel to the Middle East and Europe in hopes of documenting their diaspora. He’s timed the conclusion of his project to the American withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014another reminder of the human sacrifice and cost of the war. Heplans to use photographs, video, audio and text to share the entire range of what hes witnessed over the last seven years; still, van Agtmael maintains it’s a small shred of the whole. “Most stories will remain forever anonymous, and I’m very grateful to the W. Eugene Smith Grant for the opportunity to document the stories that would otherwise go unseen,” he says. Ive seen a nasty and primal side of mankind, but its been balanced by enough displays of extraordinary humanity to give me hope.”

The $30,000W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography is given once per year along with an additional$5000fellowship to a second recipient. blog comment . LightBox previously featured the work of 2011 Smith Grant Award winner Krisanne Johnson.

The Street Gangs of Caracas

“There has never been a shortage of bereaved mothers in the sprawling, violent Caracas barrio known as Catia,” writes correspondent Tim Padgett in last week’s issue of TIME International. Caracas, he notes, usually suffers some 50 homicides a week, making it one of the world’s deadliest capitals. As many as a third of them occur in Catia, where gunmen even use hillside garbage chutes to more efficiently dispose of corpses. Few of the killers are ever prosecuted.

The black-and-white photographs of Oscar B. Castillo, a Caracas-based photojournalist, accompany Padgett’s bleak dispatch. Documenting the violence of the barrio put Castillo at immense risk—from both gang members and the police.

“I felt safer when I was with the gangs than when I hung around the city by myself,” he told TIME. Although never far from the shadow of gratuitous violence, Castillo acknowledges that codes of respect and solidarity run deeply through the community.

“The people took care of me and protected me in risky situations,” he said. “When I told one of the guys involved in gang violence about the story, he told me to talk about their bad situation…to tell the kids that inside gang life, there’s no life at all.”

Castillo began photographing the street gangs of Caracas almost three years ago. Since then, he’s endeavored to use his photography as a way to explain to outsiders the complex layers of life in Catia.

“I would like to share a more complete and sincere vision of this moment in Venezuelan history. I am focused on this because it is my hometown, my country, my family—it is my people that are wounding and killing each other.”

Oscar B. Castillo is a member of the Fractures Photo Collective. View more of his work on FracturesPhoto.com.