Jean-Bertrande Aristide Returns

It remains one of the most difficult stories I have attempted to do. In 2005 writer Malcolm Garcia and I traveled to Port Au Prince to document the targeting of pro-Aristide activists and Lavalas supporters in the weeks after Jean Bertrande-Aristide was forcibly removed from power. The collaboration of the French and American governments in the illegal and violent removal of a sitting, democratically elected President of a sovereign nation was blatant and well documented.

mesnal delarge's sister reacts after seeing the body of her brother who was shot and killed while marching in a pro-aristide rally in port au prince. the haitian national police has frequently fired upon peaceful demonstrators, often right in front of MINUSTAH troops copyright asimrafiqui 2006

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The Dissenting Photographer Or How American Photographers Turn To Intelligence In Times Of Intransigence

The image showed little, and yet said so much that it made me laugh. The first time I saw it I did not know who the photographer was, but some quick research revealed it to be no other than Tim Davis. The image, called Nixon Monument was sheer genius:

'Nixon Monument' from the series My Life In Politics by Tim Davis

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The Disowned & The Denied: Saiful Haq Omi’s Magnum Foundation Project On The Rohingya

From Saiful Haq Omi's Rohingyan Project (Copyright Saiful Haq Omi)

From Saiful Huq Omi's Rohingya Project (Copyright Saiful Haq Omi)

Saiful Huq Omi’s work on the Rohingya has become the definitive photographic documentation of this people’s dispossession and dispersion. In the last two years alone it has been a finalist for the Alexia Foundation grant (2009, 2010), a finalist for The Aftermath Project grant (2009), received a Days Japan International Photography Context Special Jury Award in 2009, an Emerging Photographer grant from the Open Society Institute (2010), a Magnum Foundation Emergency grant (2010) and was chosen for the Moving Walls exhibition in 2010. In 2010 Omi was selected to the Joop Swart Masterclass at World Press Photo on the basis of the same project. And I suspect that the work will continue to receive accolades and recognition in the days to come. Details »

Stepping Out Into Their Dreams Or How Two Young Photographers Inspire

She was a sales representative when I first met. Nadia Shira Cohen was introduced to me as the woman who would introduce me to editors in New York and help pass my work off as something worthy of being published. She actually managed to do this, and convince editors to give me work. But it was apparent from the moment we first met that simply helping SIPA Press sell images was not what she really wanted to do. Over the years we developed a friendship, trust and a shared conviction that where she had to be was out in the world, behind the camera, telling stories.

Afghanistan's Burned Brides By Elliott Woods


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I Find Myself Short Of Breath, Gasping For Air Or Fazal Sheikh Redesigns His Website!

From Moksha by Fazal Sheikh

What has always impressed me about Fazal Sheikh is his intelligence and willingness to engage in the complete complexity of the human conditions he documents. There is no attempt to avoid the difficult, or to elide the embarassing. His eye is precise and spectacularly beautiful. His voice is balanced and calm, refusing to use hysteria or sensationalism to distract us. Details »

Lebanon’s Missing: Photographer Dalia Khamissy Reveals What We Largely Don’t Want To Be Bothered About

Dalia Khamissy, in collaboration with Benjamin Chesterton of DuckRabbit, has produced a fine film on the story of the thousands who went missing in Lebanon’s civil war. Details »

Revealing Histories Long Erased And Denigrated: Photographer Aaron Vincent Elkaim’s Attempt To Find Old Truths

Aaron Vincent Elkaim’s project on Morocco’s Jewish heritage immediately caught my attention not because of the photographs, but because of words that underpin the ideas and ideals of the project. These words immediately suggested a photographer of considerable intelligence and courage, and willing to accept and understand histories that today lie buried under propaganda, lies and sheer hypocrisy.

From The Series 'Jewish Morocco' By Aaron Vincent Elkaim

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Sticking Our Head In The Sand Or We Just Liked Afghanistan Better When The Soviet’s Were Raping It

Larry Towell is looking for money for a new project in Afghanistan and has placed his request on Kickstarter. This would all have been fine had it not been for the fact that he is doing the wrong project.

Larry Towell has been an inspiration, one of the first photographers whose works compelled me to come to photography. So it is with great disappointment that I read his description of what he intends to do in Afghanistan.

The opening sentence from his project description, a project called Crisis In Afghanistan, left me stunned:

For 30 years, Afghanistan has known only civil war.

No it has not. Details »

The Singular Experience Or What Photojournalism Can Be As Discovered In A New Pakistan Literary Review Journal

I think…[y]ou can’t write about Pakistan and get to Pakistanis – it has to be the other way around. Pakistan must be approached as Pakistanis, through Pakistanis, through singular experiences, through the stories we tell ourselves. We need these stories, even if they are never written down and exist only in words over coffee or just in our heads. These are the stories that get us through the day, through the “situation,” through the concept.

Hasan Altaf, Lifes Too Short vs. Granta December 2010

My dismay with the state of current photojournalism has been repeatedly expressed here on this blog. In a number of pieces on photographer and photojournalism I have called for photographers to step away from cliches and conventions and look to produce new stories based on a fresh, creative, new set of thoughts and ideas. Details »

W. Eugene Smith’s The Jazz Loft Project

Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath Minamata, 1972 Copyright W. Eugene Smith

Lets face it; when it comes to photojournalism and the photoraphers who most defined its characteristics, attitudes, aspirations, values and language, we would almost always have to begin with W. Eugene Smith. The master photographer, the passionate soul, the determinedly individual and independent, the singularly human, Eugene Smith raised the bar of not only how one worked as a photographer, but also how one ‘drew’ a photograph onto film.

Who can ever forget the beauty of Tomoko Uemura in her bath, and the genius of the photographer who found a way to represent it:

Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath Minamata, 1972 Copyright W. Eugene Smith

I do not exaggerate when I saw that this was the photograph that back in 1986 first made me think about becoming a photographer. It has remained etched in my mind and soul since.

So it was with some excitement and pleasure that I discovered Sam Stephenson,of Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, website for his book The Jazz Loft Project

The Jazz Loft Project

Stephenson describe’s Smith’s production of this work as ‘…an obsessive achievement’, but clearly, by his own definition, Stephenson too was obsessed for he points out that he:

…made 115 trips to New York City over a span of time that can be measured by telephones and storefronts: I called Robert Frank from a cold, indestructible pay phone at the end of Bleecker, near CBGB; Roy Haynes on a Motorola StarTAC from a brownstone on 9th Street, a few doors from Balducci’s; and, a few weeks ago, Mary Frank on my iPhone from Spoon in Chelsea.

You can read Stephenson’s piece in the new issue of The Paris Review blog where in a piece called The Jazz Loft Project he discussed Eugene Smith’s involvement in this project and the characters and lives that he documented.

This is a wonderfully interesting site, and it is a thrill to see the love, care, attention and detail that has been bestowed on the work of W. Eugene Smith. Stephenson’s inquiries into the life and career of this most amazing of photographers continues as he works on a new biography that will also see him:

… embark on a five-week visit to the Pacific Islands, where Smith made combat photographs during World War II, and to Japan, where he photographed Hitachi City in the early sixties and Minamata a decade later. There are some fifty more people I want to interview as well. The detective work is intoxicating, opening up unexpected worlds outside of Smith’s immediate circle.

W. Eugene Smith was frequently derided in his times, ignored by editors and even fired from his positions at major magazines. But he worked past all of this through the strength of his vision, convictions and self-confidence. His work and his legacy has stood the test of time and remains an inspiration to so many still naively determined to produced beautiful works about beautiful and human issues.

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