Tag Archives: Photo Essay

TIME’s Best Portraits of 2011

“I sometimes think that being photographed by a clicking still camera is infinitely more satisfying to me than shifting about for a whirring moving one,” wrote Tilda Swinton for LightBox in early December. The Academy Award winner was describing her experience being photographed by Peter Hapak in September for TIME, a shoot that yielded images both delicate and intense — not unlike the actor herself.

Finding essence in a single image is a challenge, yet somehow our photographers manage to do it again and again. This year was no exception, as portraits of celebrities, political powerhouses and survivors filled our pages. While each shot displayed the talent of our skilled photographers, TIME’s photo department narrowed the field to select our favorite portraits of the year. From the poised conviction of Aung San Suu Kyi (captured by Platon) to the grief and defiance of Cindy Sheehan, an antiwar activist and the mother of deceased Iraq soldier Casey Sheehan (captured by Marco Grob), to the delighted exuberance of 15-year-old Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld (captured by Hapak), 2011’s best shots spoke volumes about their subjects in the way only portraits can.

After all, as Tilda noted when recounting her luminous shoot, “Still portraits operate their own code.”
—Megan Gibson

TIME’s Best Photojournalism of 2011

Sometimes words just aren’t enough. We realize that’s a bold statement for a news magazine to make. After all, words are our currency. Yet we know that there are times when, to fully tell the stories that need to be shared, we need more than words.

This year it was as evident as ever. From the tsunami in Japan, to the war in Afghanistan, to the Arab Spring, our reporters, columnists and correspondents worked tirelessly to bring you the stories that matter. But beyond the words and interviews that filled our pages, our photojournalists sought out the pictures that told a deeper story. Whether they were behind the political scene like Diana Walker as she photographed Hillary Clinton aboard a military plane or risking life and limb like Yuri Kozyrev as he captured the conflict of Libya’s revolution, TIME’s dedicated photographers brought the stories to life.

In March, acclaimed TIME contract photographer James Nachtwey traveled to Japan to capture images in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami. A veteran photojournalist, even he found himself at a loss for words when trying to describe the country’s devastation. Yet in his hauntingly bleak images of ravaged towns and wounded families, we glimpsed what language failed to convey — and it was heart breaking.

TIME‘s words offer the important facts, clear-eyed insights and sharp analysis needed to understand the story. Our photojournalism offers the chance to not only see, but also feel the story. —Megan Gibson

Yuri Kozyrev: My Year On Revolution Road

In 2011, Yuri Kozyrev traveled to seven countries covering protests and uprisings for TIME, including Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Russia, Greece and Tunisia. Here, he writes about the remarkable experience and what all the revolutions had in common.

It’s unique that I’ve been able to cover all these uprisings and revolutions during the year. I’m lucky—it’s incredibly complicated to understand where you need to go when you’re on the ground, and I was lucky to have a lot of help. The protests were well under way when I got to Tahrir Square in late January, and their size and scope took my breath away: in two decades of covering the Middle East, I had never encountered anything like this. There was huge fighting between the pro-government supports and revolutionaries. Some of the journalists were beaten. Some of them lost their cameras. They kicked me out, but I managed to get back in the next morning. I saw a lot of families—not just young men or revolutionaries—and everyone was helping each other, praying together. It was a great time. Everybody was waiting for Mubarak to make the right decision, and suddenly it happened. And it was so emotional: people crying, shouting, screaming…it was incredible. The next morning, it was over. The army was kicking everyone out. They weren’t friendly—there was a feeling of ‘You got what you wanted. Now, get out.’ Of all the revolutions I covered, Egypt was the most special.

The mood at the Pearl Roundabout in Bahrain was very different from Tahrir Square. In the first days, I saw men in white robes approach police with flowers, offerings of peace: the response was tear-gas and live rounds. There was a huge difference between this army and the Egyptian army. People from Bahrain—there was no way they could even talk to the army who had arrived from Saudi Arabia. There was no way for me to get to Pearl Square, so a few journalists and I watched what was happening from the hotel. There was one hospital where all the protesters were gathered together. And then the doctors did something incredible. Not all of them supported the protesters, but they gave them shelter at the hospital and saved a lot of lives. I had a chance to go back to Bahrain after they demolished Pearl Square, and again a few weeks ago, and I saw young people who’d lost one eye to rubber bullets. It was just so sad, and I just saw some of them. I know there were many more.

In Yemen, it was very different. There was no Facebook. Change Square was still packed, but the feeling of revolution was more religious, more conservative. There was an invisible border for protesters to stay behind, and the army would shoot anyone who tried to cross this line. I saw so many young people were ready to cross the line, marching to die. And around Change Square, there were hundreds of pictures of people who’d died. In Egypt, I saw protest signs and other things, but in Yemen, it was just pictures of young faces. Whether or not President Saleh will relinquish power, the political crisis in Yemen will likely remain acute, not only because of its tribal culture and topography, but also because of its deep poverty, high illiteracy and birth rates, and deeply entrenched government corruption.

Libya was different because it was more of a civil war than a revolution. It was here that I took one of my favorite pictures of the year. It was taken on the front lines near Ras Lanuf, Libya. It was near an oil refinery factory that was important for both sides—both the rebels and government. I took this picture on March 11, when Gaddafi’s military could still fly, and they were flying around, dropping bombs on the rebels. It was really scary for everybody on the front lines—suddenly, you could hear the plane coming and the bombs hitting their targets. These men were the shabab, young people who weren’t professional fighters and didn’t have weapons or training. They’re not rebels, but eager to be on the front lines. They’re jumping because they heard the planes coming, so they’re running around trying to find any place to hide, which is hard because everything is flat and exposed. You can see from the picture that none of them have any weapons—they were scared—and it was just an incredible experience to be there.

Beyond these main four revolutions, I also traveled to cover the protests in Moscow, Greece and Tunis. I came to the conclusion that each revolution must be assessed in its own context, because each had a distinctive impact. The drama of each revolution unfolded separately. Each had its own heroes, its own crises. Each, therefore, demands its own narrative. In the end, the differences between them may turn out to be more important than their similarities, however. And the common thing about all these protests is the number of young people who really want to bring changes to their country. That’s what’s most incredible. We have a new generation of people who are sick and tired of what’s going on. Call it the Jasmine Revolution, the Arab Spring or the Facebook Revolution, there’s a powerful Sirocco blowing across the world, and young people realize there’s another life and they want to live differently.

Yuri Kozyrev is a contract photographer for TIME who has covered the Arab Spring since January. 

MORE: See the entire 2011 Person of the Year package here

The Protester: A Portfolio by Peter Hapak

Ahmed Harara is a dentist. While protesting during the Egyptian revolution in January, he was struck in the eye by a rubber bullet. Blinded in that eye, he continued to protest. Then, during the November protests in Tahrir Square, Ahmed was shot in his other eye by a rubber bullet. Now he is completely blind.

But he kept protesting.

Harara is one of more than a hundred protesters around the world photographed by TIME contract photographer Peter Hapak. From Oakland, Calif., to New York City, across Europe and through the Middle East, Hapak and I traveled nearly 25,000 miles photographing protesters and activists from eight countries.

We photographed protesters representing Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Oakland, Occupy the Hood, Los Indignados of Spain, protesters in Greece, revolutionaries in Tunisia and Egypt, activists from Syria fleeing persecution, a crusader fighting corruption in India, Tea Party activists from New York, a renowned poet turned protester from Mexico and a protester from Wisconsin who carries a shovel, topped by a flag.

We set up makeshift studios in hotel rooms, apartments and people’s homes, inside a temple in rural India and an anarchist headquarters in Athens — even in the courtyard of the home of Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi. Tear gas wafted into our studio in a hotel room overlooking Tahrir Square — the same room where Yuri Kozyrev made a now iconic photograph of the crowd.

Each time, we asked subjects to bring with them mementos of protest. Rami Jarrah, a Syrian activist who fled to Cairo, brought his battered iPhone. He showed me some of the most intense protest footage I’ve ever seen. A Spanish protester named Stephane Grueso brought his iPhone too, referring to it as a “weapon.” Young Egyptian protesters brought rubber pellets that had been fired at them by security forces. Another brought a spent tear-gas canister. Subjects carried signs, flags and gas masks (some industrial ones, some homemade, like the one belonging to Egyptian graffiti artist El Teneen — his was made from a Pepsi can). A trio of Greek protesters brought Maalox. (Mixed with water, it was sprayed on their eyes to counter the harsh effects of tear gas.) Molly Katchpole, the young woman from Washington, D.C., who took on Bank of America — and won — brought her chopped-up debit card. Sayda al-Manahe brought a framed photograph of her son Hilme, a young Tunisian killed by police during the revolution. El Général, the Tunisian revolutionary rapper, brought nothing but his voice — he rapped a cappella for us (we have video). Lina Ben Mhenni, a blogger from Tunisia and a Nobel Peace Prize contender, brought her laptop. She spoke Arabic, yet we understood the words Facebook and Twitter.

Each subject was photographed in front of a white or black background — eliminating their environments but elevating their commonality to that of “Protester,” a fitting setup for a group of people united by a common desire for change.

“They were all unhappy. They wanted change, and they wanted a better life,” Hapak said. “Everybody is out there to unite their power for one common cause, one common expression: to get a better life.”

Witty is the international picture editor at TIME.

Hapak is a contract photographer for TIME, who most recently photographed Tilda Swinton for the Dec. 19, 2011, issue.

MORE: See the entire 2011 Person of the Year package here

Oil and new national identities on the Caspian Sea

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Twenty years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Caspian Sea borders are still unresolved and the sea has no legal status. This is a beach in Lenkaran, close to the border with Iran. Azerbaijan, 2011. Mila Teshaieva

Twenty years ago, the boundaries of three new sovereign states were mapped along the shores of the Caspian Sea. solar systems training . Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan emerged from the wreckage of the Soviet Union with immense oil and gas reserves and the enormous challenge of defining themselves as independent nation-states.

The rapid oil-fueled transformation of these societies and the newfound quest for national identity has left many of the citizens isolated, unable to locate themselves in the midst of these changes.

Hope, ambition, greed and uncertainty have been defining factors for various groups of people as these new littoral states attempt to integrate themselves into the world political economy. Read more, and see more, in this photo-essay, Promising Waters, by Mila Teshaieva.

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A wedding couple sits on the throne in the Palace of Happiness in Baku. nike air max . Both bride and groom belong to the powerful family clans of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan, 2010.

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A family sits outside their plywood house in a refugee settlement at a construction factory where people from Karabakh have been living for the past 20 years. They have never received any aid from officials or NGOs but managed to build a new home and life here. Azerbaijan, 2010.

Egypt’s “Second” Revolution: Photographs by Yuri Kozyrev

On November 19, thousands of Egyptians took to Tahrir Square once
again in what many called a “second” revolution—or even the “real”
revolution. Within a week, the protest had spread to cities across
Egypt, and the iconic square in downtown Cairo had again become a
space of war and protest, as protesters this time called for the end
of military rule, and a final toppling of the junta that ousted
President Hosni Mubarak left behind. Days of clashes between
protesters and Egyptian central security forces left more than 40
people dead and nearly 2,000 wounded, and let activists and analysts
to draw comparisons to Tahrir’s earlier days of fame, when thousands
of Egyptians occupied the square last winter to demand the end of
Mubarak’s rule.

This latest unraveling came as authorities tried to clear the square
in downtown Cairo following a mass protest on Friday. Islamists and
young liberals had gathered to protest a proposed set of
“supraconstitutional” principles that would place the military largely
outside the realm of judicial and parliamentary supervision, as well
as giving the institution wide veto power over the development of the
next government and constitution. But the ensuing clashes only drove
more protesters into the square.

Just days ahead of parliamentary elections on Nov. 28, the occupation of the
square became a lynchpin of debate between Egyptian politicians,
generals, activists and regular citizens on the best way forward for
a nation in turmoil. Ultimately, the junta succeeded in holding the
election—a boost to their credibility as interim rulers—even as some
continued to protest.

Voter turnout far surpassed that of previous sham elections, held
under Mubarak, and lines at polling stations snaked around city blocks
as men and women from across the political and economic spectrum
waited to cast their votes.

Monday’s parliamentary election — the first relatively free,
democratic race in Egypt’s history, and perhaps the biggest bellwether
of a long and turbulent Arab Spring — rang in harsh truths for some, a
tide of satisfaction and new hopes for others. For the majority of
Egyptians, eager to elect a new government that they hope will lift
the country out of post-revolution turmoil, the vote was a tremendous
success. For the liberals, youth, and others who had hoped to usher in
bigger changes through Tahrir Square, the vote signaled that a second
revolution is yet to come.

Abigail Hauslohner is TIME’s Cairo correspondent. Find her on Twitter @ahauslohner.

Yuri Kozyrev is a contract photographer for TIME who has covered the Arab Spring since January.

Insha’Allah: Morocco’s Changing Culture

We reached a vast field just beyond Casablanca’s limit. Dusty trails wandered toward the center, where they crisscrossed then extended further outward toward mosques, half made tenement blocks and shanty towns. The sun felt metallic hot. Opaque echos of a single prayer call grazed us with the coming breeze. More began to rise, until the many voices braided the air around us. I watched and froze the sprawling urban panorama that vibrated behind heat waves, until the voices faded away.

This past June I spent five weeks in North Africa participating in an art-research project called Beyond Digital: Morocco. As a collaborative, experimental project, each of the seven multi-disciplined participants interpreted a core research theme centered around contemporary Moroccan music and the culture it emerges from. I used this evocative aspect of the culture as a guide to explore the country’s current landscape, both environmental and social.

Morocco is a landscape at the precipice. At the far western edge of the Muslim world, it is both a world unto itself and a historic doorway between Europe, the Middle East and Africa. These varied influences have woven themselves into a unique cultural fabric, marked with sharp contrasts. Today, Western cultural trends, international investment projects and sprawling urban development jostle together with the country’s Muslim and ancient Berber cultures. To this is added the pressing undertone of Morocco’s ambivalent position within the developing Arab Spring.

My goal was to make a series of images which would capture the concurrent dynamics of this contemporary Moroccan landscape. As a foreign artist, I wanted to seek the edges of the landscape that fell away from the ways Morocco is generally represented, allowing the landscape to recount its story through the image-making process. This photographic contribution was one of several media involved in the larger project, from documentary video shorts to software design, each offering its own artistic interpretation, thus creating a multi-faceted experiment in how art and cultural research can work in tandem.

John Francis Peters is a New York based photographer and photo editor.

Ruth Van Beek’s Hibernators

In the early 20th century, around the time cars filled our streets, planes found their way into our skies and cameras began to capture our daily life, we started to see space being cut up and transformed in art works. Inextricably linked to this rise of modern technology, collage art took on a new role. While once strictly fantastical, now collage could be utilized to visually pull together reality-based images of day-to-day life. In keeping with the fast pace of 20th-century life, multiple ideas could now exist within one frame.

This new way of creating photo collages took many forms in the past hundred years—seen most distinctly in the works of the Surrealists in the 1920s and the pop artists in the 1960s. Today’s generation of photo collage artists use everything from found images on the Internet and historical reportage to references appropriated from mass global media. Dutch artist Ruth van Beek’s newest book and installment of photo collages, Hibernators, represents this new direction of collage art.

Van Beek uses found photographs, amateur family photographs, newspaper clippings and magazine tears in her work, in which she tries to create something that never existed before. “I try to make the animals come to life again by cutting and folding the paper,” she says. “I restrain them in a new shape. This way I turn them into creatures that are silent like stones, but are also showing a tension.”

Van Beek’s work represents a more controlled, more intimate breed of collage work. Hibernators cuts and folds common domestic pets and animals into creatures that exist somewhere between photography and collage. Through van Beek’s handy work, the facial features of the animals are often removed—further abstracting them from a sense of space. With the loss of distinguishing features, the altered animals begin to take on new identities.

The Hibernators was published this month by RVB books.

Ruth van Beek graduated from the renowned Gerrit Rietveld Academie in 2002. She has shown her collage work both in her native Netherlands, as well as throughout Europe and North America.