Why American Corruption Is A Problem of Genetics

The New York Times Lens Blog ran a rather interesting set of images earlier today. Titled An X-Ray Of Russian Corruption it featured that fine work of (presumably) Russian photographer Misha Friedman. It purports to be a study of the various ways in which corruption has contorted the social, civic, political and industrial life of Russia. But just as I was getting ready to parse through an interesting set of images, I was struck by the text, written by one Jesse Newman, which seemed to transform the images from being a photographer’s imaginative exploration of the failures of the Russia state, into something far more insidious. Jesse Newman, the writer, claimed that:

Mishsa Friedman is training his camera on what seems like a common train in his national genetic code. Corruption

And that is how racism becomes normalised. 

Details »

Fabricated Histories, Celebrated Photographers And A New Frontier For The Embedded Photographer

Time Magazine’s Lightbox photography blog had a rather bizarre story earlier today. Titled Real Photographer, Fake War: Jonathan Olley and Zero Dark Thirty, it focused on the film studio photography work of photographer Jonathan Olley who once also happened to have worked as a news photographer in some conflict zones. What seemed to have attracted the Lightbox photo editor’s interest was the easy parallel between the fact that Mr. Olley had once covered real conflict and today covered staged conflicts for Hollywood directors. What however caught my interest was this statement:

The film, from Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow, traces the hunt for Osama bin Laden through the career of one female American intelligence officer, played by Jessica Chastain. While the film has received criticism —from politicians and the military, not to mention historians who challenge the film portrayal of events— the virulence of the critiques may fairly reflect how realistic the movie is presented.

Details »

The False Eye: Photojournalism And Myopia

Let me get right to the point – Photography curators and editors refuse to acknowledge, examine and critically analyse the fundamental and at times definitive influences that the institutions of image production and distribution (newspapers, magazine, galleries, digital news outlets etc.) have on the kinds of war photographs that are made, and the political angles and perspectives that are adopted in them. There seems to be a collusion between these ‘gatekeepers’ of the craft, to never raise questions about the corporate publications the war photographer was on assignment for, the editorial prejudices of that publication, the proclivities and prejudices of the market into which the particular war photographer was aiming her work at, and the broader political and cultural baggage which the photographer carried with her to the work.

Details »

Narcissus’ South Asian Progeny

The Delhi Photo Festival’s, with its inaugural theme of ‘Affinity’, features a number of works that deal with questions of the personal. The festival contains a number of projects that focus on family, friendships, and individuals exploring personal issues with life and love. And much of the work is fascinating, creative and expressive. The personal and private works add an exciting counter point to some of the other exhibitions which reflect a more socially and public engagement. By and large however the festival has kept its feet firmly in the classic concerns of photojournalism even while exhibiting works that are more individual, and experimental. In this regard, the festival has already distinguished itself from many other such photo festivals happening around the world and is off to a wonderful start. Details »

The Facing Change Collective And Why It Is Not Like The Farm Security Administration

A new photographer’s collective takes on America’s social deprivations and economic struggles. Facing Change describes itself as a non-profit collective of dedicated photojournalists and writers coming together to explore America and to build a forum to chart its future.

Details »

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

Details »

Sticking Our Head In The Sand

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 Larry, it has not. Details »

I Was Once In Arkansas And Saw These Amazing Photographs Or Finding Treasures In Backwaters


Copyright disfarmer.com

One word: Disfarmer

Disfarmer was the name adopted by the man originally named Mike Meyers. As explained on a website that now acts as a link to his archives:

…Mike expressed his discontent with his family and farming by changing his name to Disfarmer. In modern German “meier” means dairy farmer, and since he thought of himself as neither a “Meyer” nor a “farmer,” Mike Meyer became “dis”- farmer. Details »

The Transformation Of Pathology Into Pathos Or The Military Does What It Does And It Does It Well

The construction of a narrative that turns our attention to our ‘boys and girls’ and their ‘struggle’ and ‘traumas’ in the field is precisely what the US military’s ’embed’ program was designed to do; transform what is necessarily a violent, bloody and inhumane act of war into a cleansed, carefully managed, ‘precision-guided’, bloodless conflict. To that end, the US military exercised, and continues to exercise, any and all control necessary to help control the narrative of the conflict. A practice first instituted in the Falkland war, where only two correspondents were allowed access to the battlefield, we Americans have since perfected it. And our media has since wilfully and gladly accepted it. Those who opposed the practice, those who attempted to go against the strictures of the US military paid a heavy price – were threatened, isolated and some other killed. One only has to look at the experience of Al-Jazeera reporters covering the war from ‘the wrong side’. The ‘unilaterals’ became targets for a military machine bent on controlling how the invasion of Iraq would be spoken about, and they continue to do so.

Details »

The Spotlight Of Humanity Or How We Are Told To Look Only Where They Tell Us To Look


It is probably one of the most blatant uses of photography as propaganda that I have seen in a long time. And I am glad for it because it reveals explicitly how easily images can be put to the service of an agenda of power and entrenched interests. And how easily photographs can mislead if not ‘read’ carefully.’What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan’ the cover screams. The answer is made obvious. The shocking photograph closes the mind, numbs thought, distracts insight and silences protest.

If it were only so simple. If we were only so easily fooled. Details »