Tag Archives: Peripatetic

Marco Longari: TIME Picks 2012′s Best Photographer on the Wires

Of the millions of pictures moving through the news services, or “the wires,” in 2012, an astonishing number have already proven unforgettable. Distinctive images of daily life in Pakistan from Muhammad Muheisen, an Islamabad-based chief photographer for the Associated Press; unexpected visual stories from Jerusalem-based AP staffer Oded Balilty; uniformly strong work from Reuters’ peripatetic Goran Tomasevic (who in the past 12 months shot in Congo, Afghanistan, Syria, Kenya, Somalia and Egypt); Spanish-born Manu Brabo’s searing photos from Syria — over and over again, the wires provided signature photos from unyielding conflicts, rebellions and upheavals the world over.

But even in this celebrated company, the work of Agence-France Presse photographer Marco Longari stood markedly apart. The Italian-born Longari’s pictures from across the Middle East in 2012, from Egypt and the West Bank to Gaza and Syria, were at-once unflinching and authoritative. The unspeakable anguish in the face of a Palestinian mother holding her lifeless daughter, killed in an Israeli air strike; the passion evinced by thousands of Egyptian Christians praying for their ancient homeland; a Syrian man engaged in the most quotidian of tasks — carrying groceries — and yet hunched against a sniper’s bullet that might, at any second, take his life; the deceptively idyllic scene of a boy tending to his horse in Gaza City: in quiet moments and in terrifying, violent environments, Longari made picture after picture this year that mattered.

The Jerusalem-based chief photographer for AFP in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Longari is a graduate of the Istituto Superiore di Fotografia in Rome. In the late 1990s he covered the unrest in Kosovo before moving to Africa, where he served in Nairobi, coordinating the agency’s East African coverage. He chronicled the seemingly endless crisis in Darfur and shot the 2008 Russo-Georgian war. But it was in the Middle East in 2012 that his work transitioned from powerful to indispensable. There is, simply, no way to envision the upheaval across the region in the past year without his work. It is that central to how the world sees (and will remember) this deeply unsettling year.

The 47-year-old Longari recently told TIME that, from his perspective behind the camera, 2012 was “another year of revolutions, protests, violent acts and sheer madness. [It seems] like humanity has lost its bearings, yet again.”

He spent most of his time in Cairo, arriving early in the year, on the first anniversary of the start of the 2011 revolution. There, he was greeted by street violence and chaos.

“It was a sad scene,” he told TIME. “All the energy and the expectations of the young people with whom I shared long days and nights in Tahrir Square the year before, all was being hijacked and taken away, lost in political games. It has been difficult to find images that made sense … that were not simple repetitions of what was done a year before.”

The Egyptian presidential election in May was again, he says, a time of some optimism, with Egyptians voting in large numbers — some of them for the first time in their lives — in a country finally, tentatively experiencing what a real multiparty election can be.

“The shift in the visual landscape,” he notes, “was important, a chance to tell a positive story, whatever the outcome. Fire is still burning under the ashes,” he adds. “People on the streets are still ready and willing to settle scores.”

The West Bank and Gaza, meanwhile, is a story Longari been covering for almost six years. “Crossing the border” into that part of the world, he says, “is shifting into another gear — a different tension, but still a real tension. It’s a landscape I’ve looked at for quite a long time now. I have tools to understand it.”

Incredibly, from a year of countless telling moments, Longari recalls a specific, revelatory instance of professional camaraderie in Gaza that stays with him.

“I was waiting for casualties to arrive at the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City after an air raid,” he told TIME. “Phone lines with Jerusalem [where his wife and two children live] went dead. It took me some time to compose myself and get back to the routine of doing what I do. But in the faces of the colleagues around me, I recognized what my face must look like every time a bomb or a rocket falls near their families. Photography is compassion — and that scene in Gaza was the most humbling lesson in compassion I’ve experienced in my career.”


TIME’s previous wire photographers of the year:

2010: Pete Muller of the Associated Press
2009: Mauricio Lima of Agence-France Press



Captain Scott and Captain Shackleton: A 100 Year Old Expedition

If there is a land above the seas that remains a last frontier for mankind, it’s Antarctica. A recent GPS mapping conducted by the British Antarctic Survey provided a reminder of how uncharted and unknown the vast white continent still is. When Antarctica’s hulking glacial landmass—icy and inhospitable—was spotted by 18th century British Captain James Cook, he remarked: “I make bold to declare that the world will derive no benefit from it.”

That proclamation did not ward away future journeys, though. An exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery in London’s Buckingham Palace marks the centennial of one of the last great episodes of the age of exploration. “The Heart of the Great White Alone” exhibits images taken from two separate expeditions: the ill-fated attempt by Robert Falcon Scott to reach the South Pole in 1911 and the slightly less calamitous (but no less dramatic) expedition undertaken in 1915 by Ernest Shackleton, whose ship foundered in Antarctic ice and whose crew escaped a frosty end only after one daring act of courage.

Accompanying Scott was Herbert Ponting, the early 20th century version of a footloose freelance photojournalist. The Briton’s peripatetic career had taken him from California to the naval battlefields of the 1905 Russo-Japanese war to treks across stretches of Asia. His photos retain a distinctly Victorian sensibility for landscape; Scott’s ship, Terra Nova, and members of his crew are dwarfed or eclipsed by the magnitude of the silent, icy world around them. Ponting was also captivated by Antarctica’s fauna and almost died in the maws of a pod of killer whales, which burst through sheets of ice near where the intrepid photographer had set up for a closer look. An entry in Scott’s diary records the moment: “It was possible to see the whales’ tawny head markings, their small glistening eyes and their terrible array of teeth — by far the largest and the most terrifying in the world.”

Ponting stayed behind with the main contingent of the expedition while Scott and a team of volunteers left their base camp in November 1911 to press toward the South Pole. Scott would never return, consumed by his quest to be the first to reach the Pole; he was beaten to the site by the Norwegian Roald Amundsen, who unlike Scott, lived to tell the tale.

Ernest Shackleton’s grandiosely named Imperial Trans-Antarctica Expedition was remembered for the lives saved, not lost. Accompanied by the photographer Frank Hurley aboard the ship Endurance, Shackleton’s voyage hit the skids early in 1915, its main vessel unable to endure the deadly ice drifts of the Weddell Sea. The crew escaped on lifeboats to barren Elephant Island but Shackleton knew no rescue would come to them at the edge of Antarctica’s glacial waste. So, with four others, he set off in the James Caird — an open wooden boat with oars and a sail — across nearly 1,000 miles of terrifying sea, thick with ice and buffeted by storms, to whaling stations on the island of South Georgia. Improbably, Shackleton’s crew made it and within three months he returned to Elephant Island aboard a Chilean steamboat to rescue the remainder of his crew, including Hurley. Not one man who journeyed with Shackleton aboard the Endurance was lost. Not surprisingly, Hurley’s pictures capture scenes of comradeship — of men huddled together by a fire, of indomitable dogs perched in the snow. It’s friendship and trust — not simply the heroism of captain explorers — that can withstand life in the heart of the great alone.

Ishaan Tharoor is a writer-reporter for TIME and editor of Global Spin. You can find him on Twitter at ishaantharoor