Tag Archives: War In Iraq

Tearsheet of The Day | Yuri Kozyrev photo of Saddam’s ‘rat hole’ in FT Weekend

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, unveiled their survey of war photography, WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath, on Armistice Day yesterday. The FT Weekend magazine featured some of the work from the exhibition in their latest issue. You can view the FT article and slideshow here.  You can also read about the show over at Photo District News, which interviewed the exhibition’s curators.

Below war in Iraq photograph from 2003 by Yuri Kozyrev, which FT Weekend ran as a double truck.

p. 20-21. FT Weekend Magazine. November 10/11 2012 issue.
Photo © Yuri Kozyrev.
“A journalist climbs out of the hole where toppled dictator Saddam Hussein was captured in Ad Dawr. Iraq’s defeated leader raised his arms out of his ‘rat hole’ and said he was Saddam Hussein and that he wanted to negotiate. “ Iraq. December 15, 2003. Inkjet print.

Yuri Kozyrev (Russian, b. 1963) is a member of Noor Images and a contract photographer with Time magazine.

Pete Souza’s Portrait of a Presidency

The long view of history tends to be the judge of a presidency. As we approach what President Obama hopes will be the midpoint of his tenure in the Oval Office, it is too early to draw conclusions on his legacy as Commander in Chief. What we do know is that Obama’s first term has been a historic one: the first African American to hold the county’s highest office, Obama and his Administration have battled a recession, passed health care reform and legislation to end the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, formally ended the war in Iraq and brought Osama bin Laden to justice.

Through adversity and triumph, public victories and private setbacks, chief official White House photographer Pete Souza and his team of photographers have relentlessly documented the actions of the President, the First Lady and the Vice President since Obama took office in early 2009.

As the President runs for a second term, LightBox asked Souza to reflect on his time photographing Obama and share an edit of his favorite images that he and his staff made during the President’s first term; the photographs offer a fascinatingly candid insight into the life of the President while painting a portrait of Barack Obama the man, husband and father.

“I tried to, in putting together this edit, not only to show some of the high points or low points of his presidency thus far, but pictures that help people understand what he’s like, not only as a President but as a human being,” Souza tells TIME. “And how he relates to other people, how he relates to his family.”

Souza’s process is aided by his long-standing working relationship with Obama — one that precedes the presidency. They met on Jan. 3, 2005, Obama’s first day in the Senate. For Souza, then a staff photographer at the Chicago Tribune‘s Washington bureau, it was the first day of a yearlong assignment to document the new Senator’s time in office.

As the assignment evolved, Souza — who had worked as a White House staff photographer during President Reagan’s second term — began recognizing something special about the Senator. An inkling of things to come, or potential for the future. He began looking for moments that would prove valuable in the course of history, photographs that would define Obama’s early years to those who only knew his legacy.

“I was looking for things that I knew that if he ever became President you would never see again,” he says. “[Obama was] walking down a sidewalk in Moscow in 2005 and no one recognized him. I realized that if he ever became President, you would never, ever see a photograph like that. The odds of becoming President are obviously pretty slim, but I knew he had the potential. And you can’t say that about too many people.”

Souza continued to photograph Senator Obama, who quickly became presidential-candidate Obama and then Democratic-nominee Obama. With Obama’s 2008 election victory, Souza returned to the White House as chief official White House photographer and director of the White House Photography Office.

The photographs that Souza has taken extend the lineage of White House photography that began in the 1960s, first in a somewhat scattered way during John F. Kennedy’s Administration and then more officially with Yoichi Okamoto, Lyndon B. Johnson’s photographer. Okamoto is considered the first photographer to capture the presidency with an eye for history. Souza is quick to acknowledge and praise his work and that of others who have followed, including David Kennerly (Ford), Bob McNeely (Clinton) and Eric Draper (George W. Bush).

An all-digital workflow is one thing that differentiates Souza’s work from the majority of his predecessors. Although he wasn’t the one to move the process to digital — Draper, Bush’s photographer, made the switch from film to digital — Souza made the first official portrait of an incoming President with a digital camera. The Obama Administration has understood the insatiable appetite for imagery that the digital age has wrought and embraces Flickr as a means of disseminating presidential photography.

The Administration encourages sharing behind-the-scenes photos now, he says. “[It wanted] to establish a way to become more transparent than any other Administration, so every month, we upload a new batch of behind-the-scenes photos. The response has been overwhelming.”

But alongside the ease brought by the digital era came one difficulty: the Presidential Records Act prohibits Souza and his team from deleting any photographs. ”One of our bigger challenges is just the storage of all these images,” he says, noting the immense difficulty the team will experience moving millions of digital files to the National Archives at the end of Obama’s tenure.

Souza’s work with the President follows in the golden age of photojournalism’s best traditions, when photographers working for magazines like LIFE established relationships and spent inordinate amounts of time shooting beautifully crafted images of public figures.

“I spend a lot of time with [the President], around him, on vacations, sometimes on weekends, depending on what’s going on. He’s used to me being around,” Souza says. As his friend P.F. Bentley described it, “When the President is on, I’m on. And when the President’s off, I’m still on.”

Souza recalls one meeting that he missed because it had been rescheduled unbeknownst to him. “I was a little upset with the President’s secretary for not telling me that they had moved the meeting up, and [the President] heard us talking and he said, ‘What are you talking about? You were in that meeting.’ He’s so used to me being there that he thought that I had been in the meeting that I wasn’t even in. So I took that as a compliment.”

His access to Obama’s inner circle and day-to-day routine stems from the trust he built during their relationship prior to the presidency. “I’m there to seriously document his presidency. I’m not looking for cheap shots, and I think that’s the kind of relationship any White House photographer should have with the President they’re covering,” he says. “That they have a level of access and trust that will lead to important photographs for history.”

Souza is aware of the significance of the photographs he and his team are taking, but he’s also focused on capturing the small and incidental moments that make the Obama Administration unique. “There are days that you certainly think about the importance of what’s taking place — you’re serving an important role in visually documenting this period of time for history,” he says. “But at the same time, a lot of the pictures that tell you a lot about a President are not [made] during those times. They’re when he’s having a private moment with one of his daughters, or when something unexpected happens that may not be, you know, important in terms of history’s sake.”

“I think that’s what keeps you on your toes. You never know when those moments are gonna occur, because they don’t always occur when big things are happening,” he says. The image of Obama playing in the snow with Sasha and Malia is a testament to Souza’s approach. The photograph is not simply of the President but of a moment shared between a father and his daughters.

These personal images round out Souza’s portrait of the President and give it greater depth. While preparing this edit for LightBox, he acknowledged that it was hard to present what a presidency is about in just a handful of pictures. “I don’t gravitate toward any singular image right now,” he says. “I try to look at a body of work, and so I’m proud of this edit that I submitted. To me, it’s all these photographs together which tell you something about this man, this President, and I guess to a certain extent, about me and what I think is important.”

Although Souza’s edit comprises more than 100 images, it is by no means a comprehensive record of Obama’s time in office. “I’m sure that I left out some important moments,” he says. “I don’t think I included anything from the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, and that’s historic in itself — he won the Nobel Peace Prize. But it just didn’t fit in with the series of pictures that I wanted to present.”

Says Souza of the President: “He has certainly created history just by being the first African-American President. Hopefully in future generations, we’ll soon have a woman President or a Hispanic President, and it won’t matter that much. But I think that if you’d ask him, he wants to be remembered for the things that he’s done.”

For Souza, it’s difficult at this point to reflect on the last four years and the photographs he and his team have made. “One of the difficult things, doing this every day, is having a chance to really sit back and take it all in. Putting these photos together helped that a little bit,” he says. “You’re a little bit overwhelmed about everything that happened in four years, because a lot of stuff has happened. I hope there will come a time where, when I’m not doing this job any longer, I’ll be able to sit back and reflect on everything that he’s been through and everything that I’ve been through.”

An exhibition of Souza’s work, The Obama White House — Photographs by Pete Souza, is on view at the Leica Gallery in New York City from Oct. 5 to Nov. 10, 2012.

Questions Without Answers Launch @ VII Gallery

Image courtesy of VII

Join Phaidon at VII Gallery on Thursday, May 3rd during the exhibition of Questions Without Answers to celebrate the launch of the long-awaited book of the same name, published in conjunction with the 10th Anniversary of the founding of VII agency.

This major work presents a remarkable sequence of photo-stories from pioneering photo agency VII, documenting world history as we have experienced it since the end of the Cold War. The 11 extraordinarily talented photographers who are part of this agency work at the cutting edge of digital photojournalism, committed to recording social and cultural change as it happens around the world. Each brings an individual vision to the agency – some choosing to tackle dramatic events head-on, others pursuing more idiosyncratic, personal projects – but all share a commitment to their individual subjects and to their belief that the act of communication provides hope even in the most extreme situations.

Questions Without Answers is an ambitious book featuring a strikingly broad selection of photo stories. Photos documenting Barack Obama giving a speech on Afghanistan to American troops sit alongside a collection of portraits featuring famous cultural figures such as David Bowie and Bernardo Bertolucci. We move from an exploration of the spread and impact of AIDS in Asia to dispatches from the current economic crisis and its effect on those working in finance. The crucial work done by VII in documenting conflict – environmental, social and political, both violent and non-violent – is also represented, including stories from the war in Iraq, the crisis in Darfur and the terrible events of 9/11.

With an introduction by the eminent David Friend, the former director of photography at Life magazine, this book is an important, moving and compelling record of the world we live in.

The book includes work by Stephanie Sinclair, and Lynsey Addario, both of whom have been featured in Aperture Magazine and The New York Times Magazine Photographs (Aperture 2011).

Questions Without Answers
Book Launch and Reception

Thursday, May 3, 2012, 7-9pm

VII Gallery
Brooklyn, New York

›› Buy The New York Times Magazine Photographs for 30% off.

Power of the ruling pen. David Gentleman’s graphic poster campaign for Stop the War

Placards have always been a powerful visual medium for demonstration and protest. A team from Goldsmiths, University of London, asked anti-cuts demonstrators at the recent London march to donate theirs for preservation in the Museum of London’s collections (see the group’s Facebook page for images and more information)

For Eye 78’s Reputations article, editor John L. Walters interviewed designer-illustrator David Gentleman. His graphic work for the ‘Stop the War’ campaign is possibly his most widely known work from recent years – and, as Gentleman told Eye in conversation, ‘it was also a surprise for people who associated me with rather staid spheres!’

Top: Placards and posters from various marches. The lower one was flyposted to announce the first march in Feb 2003. ‘It would have been the final placard,’ says Gentleman, ‘but for technical reasons the printer would have had to leave a white border round it, so it was changed to black type on white and made in upright format in case it rained – the horizontal one would have flopped about.’

Below: The ‘Bliar’ anagram was Gentleman’s idea. ‘It took me a while to dare to use it,’ he says, ‘because Blair was still prime minister at the time, and I thought: “is this really a good career move?”’

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The job came about through his book A Special Relationship, made around 25 years ago. His wife Sue Gentleman remembers the controversy that work caused: ‘The Evening Standard or someone published a headline “No longer a gentleman”!’ As Gentleman explains, the Iraq war reawakened his political drive:

‘I’d inherited my Dad’s automatic leftiness but I’ve never committed like the people I’ve met in Stop the War, whose lives seem wholly dedicated to the cause. At the back of A Special Relationship there are people carrying “NO” placards. When it began to look as if the war in Iraq was imminent, I made a simple “NO” and stuck it over press photos of people on a march, so that it looked very legible.’

‘I sent it to CND a week before the march saying would you like to use this? Not surprisingly, I never heard anything back! After another march, six months later, I saw Tony Benn and asked him who should I send such an idea to, and he told me about the Stop the War Coalition. They got the designs printed fantastically quickly. They used East End Offset, which had been Private Eye’s printer. Phil Whaite, an excellent freelance typographer / designer, helped me with the computer side.’

Below: Posters and banners for Stop the War Coalition, 2003-present. ‘The blood splat was made with red watercolour dripped from a ruling pen held at shoulder height on to good, hand-made watercolour paper,’ says Gentleman.

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See full text of Reputations interview with David Gentleman in Eye 78.

See also ‘Fixed compass’, about Gentleman’s identity for British Steel on the Eye blog.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop. For a taste of no. 78, see Eye before you buy on Issuu. Eye 79, Spring 2011, is out now.