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James Nachtwey

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Agencies and Collectives

It’s not even December yet, but some Best of 2012s are out already….

VII: Best of 2012: Highlights of a Year in Pictures | ‘VII photographers present their best images, shot or released in 2012′

Best Pictures of the Year from Agence France Presse (Whittier Daily News)

European Pressphoto Agency: The Year in Images (EPA)

Reuters’ best pictures of the year is pretty cool as it includes comments by the photographers and even technical info…

Photo © Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

Photo © Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

Reuters: Best Photos of The Year 2012 (Reuters)

VII Newsletter November 2012

TerraProject Newsletter November 2012

Prime Collective: Newsletter November 2012

NOOR: Evelien Kunst becomes NOOR’s new Managing Director | news on BJP

Magnum event at Frontline Club in London : Magnum Revolution: 65 Years of Fighting for Freedom : Thursday December 13, 2012 7:00 PM

Pioneer photo agency Sipa Press files for bankruptcy protection (BJP)

Katie Orlinsky joins Reportage by Getty Images as a Featured Photographer

Tommaso Protti joins Emerging Talent at Reportage by Getty Images

Firecracker November 2012

Photographers

Trailer to the upcoming McCulling documentary…Very much looking forward to seeing the film at some point…In the mean time I’ll be reading his autobiography Unreasonable Behaviour.

Trailer to the documentary ‘McCullin’ (Guardian) ‘Watch the world exclusive trailer for David and Jacqui Morris’s documentary on British photographer Don McCullin, whose acclaimed work for the Observer and the Sunday Times in Vietnam, Biafra, Cyprus and Lebanon produced some of the defining images of war. McCullin describes the ‘moral sense of purpose and duty’ behind his work. McCullin is released in the UK on 1 January 2013′

Somewhere to Disappear with Alec Soth

Looks like Contrasto has pushed the publication of James Nachtwey’s Pietas forward until September 2013… Was supposed to come out late October… Shame. Was on my wish list for Santa…

James Nachtwey: Pietas 

Reckoning at the Frontier by Eros Hoagland (Kickstarter crowdfunding) ‘Reckoning at the Frontier is an upcoming photography book that explores the drug war in northern Mexico.’

Workshop : Photographic storytelling with Sebastian Meyer and Anastasia Taylor-Lind : 7 December, London(Guardian) ‘Two eminent, widely published and very different photojournalists give a Guardian Masterclass in telling stories with images.’

Photo © Maysun

Maysun

Jordi Ruiz Cicera

David Vintiner

Matilde Gattoni

Hiroyuki Ito

Nicola Lo Calzo

Howard Schatz

Andrew Lichtenstein

Matthew Niederhauser

Lindsay Mackenzie

Andrea Frazzetta

Narciso Contreras

Georgina Cranston

Mark Seager

Matt Carr

Michal Solarski

Laura Pannack new website

Duncan Nicol Robertson

Mark Hartman

Mark Hartman on Verve

Paul Taggart on Verve

Pavel Prokopchik on Verve

Philipp Spalek  on Verve

Daniel Hartley-Allen on Verve

Linda Dorigo on Verve

Pascal Maitre

Matteo di Giovanni

Sebastiano Tomada Piccolomini

Greta Pratt

Toufic Beyhum

Emine Ziyatdinova

Artur Conka

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The very day after the 2011 LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph ended, this year’s guest curators—National Geographic photographer Vincent Musi and Washington Post visuals editor David Griffin—started to put together the slate of artists who will appear this coming weekend. The annual for-photographers-by-photographers event in Charlottesville, Va. runs June 7-9. But, says Musi, the weekend will include the work of more than one year: professional relationships and the curators’ senses of balance, both developed over many years, were key in the decision process.

The three artists chosen by Musi and Griffin to be this year’s INSight Artists—the featured photographers who, Griffin says, must be people who have made a significant body of work and can inspire other photographers—are Stanley Greene, Donna Ferrato and Alex Webb. Masters talks will be given by Ernesto Bazan, Hank Willis Thomas, Lynsey Addario, Bruce Gilden, Robin Schwartz and Camille Seaman; David Doubilet is this year’s TREES Artist, whose work will be hung in trees along Charlottesville’s downtown pedestrian mall.

Although the festival does not have an explicit theme, Musi says that a documentary slant is strong in all of the featured work. “We also have this crossover because advertising and the fine-art world are really stepping up and doing a lot of what journalism used to do,” he says. And it goes both ways: he cites Hank Willis Thomas as someone who is using journalistic forms outside of the world of journalism. “The common thread,” Musi says. “is that everyone is very excited to have a foot in each world, but the work is very documentary in nature.”

Griffin echoes that sentiment, citing the aesthetic vision evident in Alex Webb’s work as an example of great journalism that “hits that beautiful spot” that touches the art world. He says that this year’s LOOK3 will place a heavier emphasis on individual shows for the speakers’ work, so that guests who attend the talks will be able to see the pictures discussed. There will be more than a dozen hours of onstage programming and a dozen print shows hung, which is more than in previous years.

Both curators agree, though, that the artists who present are not necessarily the highlights of the festival. “This is building a community and sustaining it, so that people go from one side of the stage to the other and back again,” says Musi. That community is made up of artists who attend as viewers, give talks a later year and then maybe teach a workshop some other time.

And artists who just hang out: “There’s a coffee house and it’s right outside of one of the hotels, and I just remember walking out each morning and David Alan Harvey would always be sitting out there having a cup of coffee,” Griffin says of past festivals, “and there’d be Martin Parr sitting with him or Jim Nachtwey, and you’d just walk up and sit down and start talking with a person. That’s one of the really cool things about the festival.”

More information about this year’s LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph, which will take place in Charlottesville, Va., from June 7-9, is available here.

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Clichés are tricky things. They convey a kind of truth — but can ring hollow. They can sound profound — but once uttered, they’re utterly forgettable. And while often employed to pay tribute to an individual, or to describe a specific profession, some clichés can be applied to a litany of vocations.

When other people run away from danger, they run toward it. They go into battle armed with nothing but courage. Like everyone else, they experience fear — but unlike everyone else, they keep going.

Ultimately, though, there’s one especially odd, defining characteristic about clichés: they endure for a reason. And while some of the assertions above — about running toward danger or experiencing fear — could easily pertain to any number of pursuits, from firefighting to mountain climbing, very few occupations in the world can make those platitudes sound new and meaningful again quite like the job of war photographer.

Ralph Morse—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Here, in a short film by Will Wedig, Jonah Weintraub and Bill Shapiro — made to honor recipients of Time Inc’s prestigious Briton Hadden Lifetime Achievement Award — the profession and the passion of war photography, as practiced across decades by acknowledged masters, get their due.

One of the honorees, LIFE’s Ralph Morse, was sent to the Pacific in World War II as the youngest war correspondent working in that theater. All he managed to accomplish during the conflict was to survive the sinking of a cruiser off of Guadalcanal; make dozens of the most celebrated (and shocking) pictures to come out of the global conflagration; chronicle the liberation of Paris in 1944; and record the German surrender to Eisenhower in 1945. (Morse went on to so devotedly and inventively cover the early days of the Mercury Seven and the Space Race that John Glenn dubbed him the “eighth astronaut,” while LIFE’s long-time managing editor George Hunt once declared that “if LIFE could afford only one photographer, it would have to be Ralph Morse.”)

Larry Burrows—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

The late, British-born Larry Burrows distinguished himself covering Southeast Asia from 1962 until his death in 1971. His work, from the searing single image, “Reaching Out” (featuring a wounded Marine desperately trying to comfort a stricken comrade after a fierce 1966 firefight in a landscape that might have given Hieronymus Bosch nightmares) to his great photo essay, “One Ride With Yankee Papa 13,” not only captured the war in Vietnam. For millions of people around the world, Burrows’ pictures encompassed and defined the long, divisive catastrophe.

He and three fellow photojournalists died when their helicopter was shot down during operations in Laos. Larry Burrows was 44.

James Nachtwey for TIME

Finally, there’s James Nachtwey, who has covered civil strife, natural disasters and armed conflicts around the globe for more than three decades. He has seen fellow photographers and friends injured and killed while doing their jobs. He has been wounded himself (in Iraq in 2003, when an insurgent tossed a grenade into a Humvee that he and TIME’s Michael Weisskopf were riding in). He was the subject of the 2001 Oscar-nominated documentary, War Photographer, and is widely regarded as the greatest living photojournalist.

“To see life,” Henry Luce wrote in his now-famous 1936 mission statement for LIFE magazine, delineating what he envisioned as his new venture’s workmanlike method and its lofty aims. “To see the world; to eyewitness great events … to see strange things — machines, armies, multitudes … to see and be amazed; to see and be instructed.”

Across decades, Morse, Burrows and Nachtwey have seen, and have helped us see, the very best and the absolute worst that humanity can offer.

When other people ran from danger, they ran toward it. They went into battle armed with nothing but courage. They experienced fear — and they kept going. These are war photographers.

Ben Cosgrove is the editor of LIFE.com.

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Shingo Kobayashi remembers what happened on March 11 of last year all too well. “It was the day our center was destroyed,” he says, resting his long fingers on a table at Minori-kai, a facility for the disabled in Natori, Japan. “It’s not there anymore.” He would be happy to talk about it but—he turns his wrist to show the face of his watch—it’s already a minute past 3:00 pm. And that’s when he leaves. Everyday. No matter what.

At Minori-kai, everyone’s day revolves around routine. And until 2:46 pm, March 11 was no exception. This center on Japan’s northeast coast, dedicated to the care of mentally and physically disabled members of the city, was established in 1984 as a support group for parents, but quickly evolved into the only option to help families care for adults with severe disabilities. Last March, four of Minori-kai’s five facilities, which serve 120 individuals, were destroyed, including a state-of-the-art center that the social welfare group had recently scraped together nearly $4 million to build.

At 2:46 pm, the staff and members of Minori-kai were having afternoon tea in the new center when a violent shaking rocked the building.“Everyone panicked,” recalls Akira Kasai, Minori-kai’s director. A staff member was able to check the news on his mobile phone and saw that there was a tsunami alert. As the center was less than a kilometer away from the sea, the staff made the immediate—and lifesaving—decision to pack everyone into the center’s buses and leave. “We threw away people’s wheelchairs and were carrying people to the buses,” recalls Kasai. As their caravan of buses raced inland toward the city hall, the members were quiet. “Nobody knew what was coming,” he says.

What was coming destroyed the huge swath of Natori that is still barren today. The debris of thousands of homes and businesses is heaped in massive piles on the water’s edge; the building where Minori-kai once stood is an empty dirt lot. Five members, including Kobayashi, lost their entire families. “It took a long time to confirm that their families had died,” says Suzuki. “It took even more time for them to understand. They slowly started to grasp that their family was gone.”

Without a live-in group home in Natori, all of the members whose caretakers died have had to leave town for facilities that could take them. Kobayashi was one of them. His mother, who was his sole guardian and who Suzuki says he rushed home to see at 3:00 pm each day, was killed in the tsunami. Suddenly, he was living with strangers for the first time in his life. Suzuki says it was not an easy transition. During a lunch break at an industrial waste recycling plant in Natori where he works during the day, Kobayashi polishes off his bento lunch and sits for a few minutes before going back on the clock. When asked about living at the group home, his eyes get red and he stares out the window over a steaming cup of miso. “Now, I like it,” he says. Tears let loose and track down his cheeks. “Now, I like it.”

Before the tsunami, Minori-kai had appealed to the city of Natori to put more money into welfare services for the disabled citizens like Kobayashi in the city. His mother knew she was getting older, and she and other parents had been increasingly anxious about what would happen to their children in the future. What was lost that day on March 11 was not only Minori-kai’s building. It was also their effort to reform this conservative town’s attitude toward the disabled. “The tsunami revealed the vulnerability of these people,” says Suzuki. “It revealed the necessity to take care of them.”

Rebuilding the facility will be the first step. For now, the day care for Minori-kai’s most disabled members is running out of an old veterinary hospital. On a Monday morning in late February, members arrive in the morning in a bluster, taking off their shoes in the entry hall and charging into the main activity room. Once inside, they visibly relax. Everyone finds their favorite spot—a chair at the table, a spot on the couch with the keyboard playing a bossanova track—and the day begins. It’s working, says Suzuki, but the space is not big enough. There is not enough room for the members to get outside and exercise and do sports, and no beds for them to rest during the day. “It’s a closed space,” she says. “Tension between the members is growing. They are louder and angrier than they were before.”

To rebuild a new facility, Minori-kai not only needs another $4 million—it needs land. But with everybody moving away from the coastal neighborhoods, inland plots are going for a premium that Minori-kai can’t afford. “Until we find the land, the city won’t approve the funding for the project,” says Suzuki. The organization has received some individual donations since the tsunami, and still gets about $85 per day for each patient from the national government. But all of this funding is only going to keeping up daily activities in the temporary facility, not toward building a new place that suits the needs of the members. “One year later, we’ve just started discussing the plan with the city government,” says Kasai. “In reality, these people don’t have any place to go if we aren’t doing this.”

Minori-kai is located at Miyagi prefecture, Natori City, Masuda. The organization accepts PayPal donations to la-minorikai@io.ocn.ne.jp and can be contacted by mail at Minori-kai / Miyagi-prefecture, Natori City , Masuda 5-3-12 / Japan 981-1224 / Attn: Mrs. H. Suzuki.

James Nachtwey is a TIME contract photographer. Follow him on Facebook here.

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It’s not unusual for photojournalists to travel to places that have been scarred by genocide, accident and natural disaster. But photographer Ambroise Tézenas has spent the last few years turning that norm on its head to capture what happens to those sites after the journalists leave, when they become tourist destinations.

In 2008, Tézenas was looking for his next photographic project when he read that a train, swept into the Sri Lankan jungle by a tsunami, was still there four years after the fact. Tézenas happened to have been in Sri Lanka at the time of the storm—on a vacation that became a job—and was fascinated to learn that the train had become a place of pilgrimage.

“Some tourists were coming to have their pictures taken there,” the photographer says. “I thought about what the victims and the survivors would think.”

That question became the seed of a long-term project, Dark Tourism, now on view at Galerie Mélanie Rio in Nantes, France. Tézenas immersed himself in the tourist experience: he always traveled with a tour group, always paid for the experience and only took pictures of things any tourist could see. Sometimes that ethos meant his pictures were restrained—he only had the time allotted by the tourism groups, so he was unable to wait for ideal light—but it also allowed the photographer to comment on more than the scenery.

“It wasn’t just to find new places nobody had seen,” says Tézenas, “but to link these places and to have a portrait of a new tendency of tourism.”

Not that so-called “dark tourism” is new. Professor John Lennon of Glasgow Caledonian University, who coined the term in 1996 and whose work influenced Tézenas’ project, says that the urge to turn the tourist’s gaze on horror—what Lennon calls the “pull factor” of the macabre—dates back to the spectators at the Battle of Waterloo, and further than that, to the first people who watched crucifixions as spectacle.

“It’s a human fascination with our ability to do evil, a human fascination with death,” he explains. “It’s so unimaginably terrible but it exerts this fascination.” Survey data has shown him that the impulse comes from a cross between genuine interest in history, voyeurism and, especially in recent years, commoditization, the kind of pre-packaged deals of which Tézenas availed himself. That ease of access is, according to Lennon, the new factor in the equation.

Tézenas saw that commercialization in action at a Latvian jail where tourists could pay to play prisoner and be terrorized by guards in the middle of the night, on a guided visit to Chernobyl and on a “genocide tour” of Rwanda. Lennon points out that “visiting sites of genocide doesn’t prevent genocide from happening again” and that certain gift shops can make visitors queasy, but tourism can benefit economies that are still recovering from disaster.

And, for Tézenas, it was a subject that was ripe for exploration. “In our time, we are so close to death through news and cinema and video games, but at the same time death is so removed from our contemporary society,” he says, explaining that he hoped to use photography to get to the root of the sociological phenomenon. “I want to raise the point, very humbly, because there are so many questions.”

Dark Tourism will be on view at Galerie Mélanie Rio in Nantes, France, through May 12. Ambroise Tézenas is a French photographer. See more of his work here.

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From glitter-bombs to meetings inside the White House Situation Room, politicians are prone to becoming Internet memes in this digital age. Hillary Clinton became the latest example last week, when a black-and-white image of the Secretary of State, in stylish shades, looking at her phone went viral through a Tumblr page called Texts From Hillary. Elsewhere, we found companies like Bravo who posted a version of the image on its Facebook page, with  language promoting their reality series, The Real Housewives of D.C. The images are being shared on countless Facebook pages and social media outlets everywhere.

The buzzed-about image was actually taken by Diana Walker on assignment for TIME back in October 2011. In fact, Walker, who worked as TIME’s White House photographer for 20 years under Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, was recently awarded the Luce Lifetime Achievement Award for her remarkable contributions to political photography, of which the Clinton picture is just one example. Taken during a weeklong trip with the Secretary of State for a TIME cover story, Walker’s image shows Clinton reading her mobile phone upon departure in a military plane bound for Tripoli, Libya on Oct. 18, 2011. A similar image by Kevin Lamarque of Reuters, who was also on the trip, is being also being used on the Tumblr.

Photograph by Diana Walker for TIME

The original photo that started the meme was taken on October 18, 2011 by Diana Walker at the start of a week long trip through the middle east. In the photo Hillary Clinton checks her PDA, in her sunglasses, upon departure in a military plane from Malta, bound for Tripoli.

Today businesses everywhere benefit from social media’s incredible power to drive traffic to their own web sites, and it’s a vital if not necessary means of distributing information, advertising and entertainment on the web. Diana Walker’s photo is by no means the first image to be used in this way, but it again raises many questions about the ease of appropriation on the Internet. In the case of Texts from Hillary, is Walker’s photograph fair game for political satire? When do you actually cross the line from satire to sharing… to stealing?

On TIME photo’s website and TIME branded social media, we always aim to credit photographers, promote their work and link back to the original source, but today there are no clear rules to follow. (Case in point: we don’t know where all the photos from Texts from Hillary, used in this gallery, originated.) At TIME we established our own standards to treat photographers fairly, but should clearer laws be made? We’d like to hear what you think about this issue in the current age of new social media. Please add your comments below.

Text by Feifei Sun, Associate Editor and Paul Moakley, Deputy Photo Editor, TIME.

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In its first year, TIME’s photography blog, LightBox, has published well over 500 posts—an average of ten a week. We hope that the strength of LightBox has not only been evident in the quality of the work but also in the variety of photography showcased.

The site’s intent was established from the first post, a multimedia piece about Eugene Richards’ eloquent and moving War is Personal. Original essays by TIME’s contract photographers, most notably James Nachtwey in Japan and Yuri Kozyrev in Libya, set the bar for LightBox in its first weeks—and for photojournalism in general—in an unprecedented year of extraordinary consequence.

Alongside the work of art world luminaries including Rineke Dijkstra and Cindy Sherman was an essay on poverty by Joakim Eskildsen, which continued the tradition of publishing original work, commissioned for TIME, on the site. The eclectic mix of photography published on LightBox has ranged from rediscovered buried treasures (like the work of Joseph Szabo and Stephane Sednaoui) to stories supporting the work of young photographers, through pieces on the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund and profiles of photographers like Justin Maxon and Krisanne Johnson, as well the Next Generation photo contest. Alongside the work of professionals both young and old, there was work by amateur practitioners—an astronaut photographer, an accountant photographer of the homeless and the wonderful photographic memories of 1960s pre-Gaddafi Libya by Jehad Nga’s father. There have been the crowd-pleasing, unpublished photos of Johnny Cash and creative galleries edited from the wires, including Two Takes and Surprising Photos. And, of course, there was the daunting undertaking of 365: A Year in Photographs.

In the gallery above, some of TIME’s photo editors reflect on a year of tremendous images and recommend posts that are worth a second look. We’ll also be highlighting selections from more of the staff behind LightBox throughout the day on our Tumblr blog. We welcome suggestions from our readers as well, either in the comments below or on Twitter.

From all of us at LightBox, thanks for being a part of our beginning—and here’s to another year of great photography!

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LightBox has just learned that William Daniels, who was on assignment in Syria for TIME, safely crossed the border with wounded Le Figaro journalist Edith Bouvier into Lebanon Thursday. Daniels was present in the war-torn city of Homs during a bombardment by Syrian forces that killed journalists Rémi Ochlik and Marie Colvin on Feb. 22, just one day after Daniels had arrived in the country. He was unharmed but Bouvier suffered serious fractures to her leg; the two appeared together in an online video the following day, pleading for safe transport so that Bouvier could receive medical attention. Today, more than a week later, they have finally made it out of danger. French President Nicholas Sarkozy announced publicly that the two, who are French, would be escorted to their embassy in Beirut—and TIME received a more personal confirmation of the good news: Patrick Witty, TIME’s International Picture Editor, got a text message from Daniels. “We are out,” he wrote, “and Edith is safe!”

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Conversation with Michael “Nick” Nichols

play this essay

 

David Alan Harvey: Now the thing is that you were a photographer first. When I met you, you were a Magnum photographer. Now you   are Editor at Large at National Geographic. Pretty obvious though, this doesn’t seem to be an office job.

Michael “Nick” Nichols: I’m only a photographer.

DAH: You’re only a photographer. Well no you’re more than that. You do other things.

MN: But it all comes from photography.

DAH: I know it all comes from photography, but what I want to talk about, in today’s world, and you evolved your photography and also into the…well you created the Look3 festival for one thing which is for other photographers beside yourself. So, you do a lot of stuff outside, you teach workshops.

MN: And that’s since you and I are so joined at the hip because we both for some reason feel it is important to give it back to the next generation.

DAH: Why did we ever think that was a good idea?

MN: The reason it happened to me was because Charles Moore, my start came from somebody else saying, oh I’m going to help out this kid.

DAH: Right.

MN: And I like that, so I’ve always felt that it’s important. And history is important to me, so building on something and not leaving it behind…if I meet a young photographer that doesn’t know Alex Webb’s work, or your’s or Eugenes, I’m like, well what are you doing? You’ve got to build on stuff.

DAH: That’s right. So Charles Moore helped you and then when he did that you felt like payback some day when you made it.

MN: Yeah.

DAH: Yeah, same for me. I felt that way when I was at my first Missouri workshop. These Life magazine and National Geographic photographers were looking at my contact sheets and I thought well, that’s just the coolest thing…If I make it, I’m paying back too. So we’re similar that way.

MN: And just in full disclosure, I love you dearly, your one of my best friends, I never get to see you, I’ve followed Burn from the beginning although I’m not part of Burn. You know, I’m fully supportive of everything you do even if I’m not there.

DAH: You are part of Burn.

MN: You know this is my first appearance in Burn…this interview. But I’ve been with Burn from the beginning because I believe in what your doing. Always. And I know that you’re with me when I’m with the lions. Somewhere there.

DAH: Oh, always with you when your with the lions.

MN: Were going to some day sit on the porch and do what we say were gonna do.

DAH: Yeah, the only problem we’ve got is that for some reason we’re like work-aholics or something. We can’t get to that porch. You’ve got a nice porch to sit on. We’ve done some of that during Look3 and previous visits to your house. And you’ve come down and visited my family at the beach and I got an extra bedroom for you at my house, so you’re welcome.

MN: And that’s the other thing…my family feels like your part of our family.

DAH: Well we feel that way about each other, yes.

MN: And your kids treat me as if I’m part of the family. So I want everybody to know that we’re not just casual acquaintances.

DAH: Well that’s right, that’s right.

MN: Yeah.

DAH: I mean and we have a lot of fun together. Somehow we always manage to have a lot of fun together. And a lot of laughs, but you’re way different from me in one respect because, and Bryan has even told me this, Bryan who went to the Ndoki with you and made his first film on you on the Ndoki, told me…basically told me that well, Nick works way harder than you do Dad. And I think there’s no doubt about that. When I look at the films, when I look at the stuff, the logistics, the things that you have to deal with to get those pictures, you have to go through a whole lot of logistical stuff before you can even begin to take…

MN: Easily by the time I get to an assignment I’m completely exhausted because of the money I had to raise, all the gear I had to put together, all the…this last one’s 50 boxes going to Tanzania, two years of fundraising, you know, literally almost 10 years of talking about lions, and then you, of course, your pictures have to start to live up to all the hype that you’ve…not hype…whatever you’ve done to…and if I had to say who my favorite photographer on earth was, it would be a battle between Alex and Eugene because I love that complexity. And to do that in natural history is incredibly difficult. So, you know, I’m not satisfied with a telephoto lens but sometimes that’s where you are. So, it’s incredibly difficult technically, but I don’t want anybody to see the technical when they see the picture. You know, when they look at that tree, if they’re thinking about how we put it together, than I missed them. I didn’t do it right. It’s supposed to be spiritual. And so I’m trying to get back to the simplicity that David Alan Harvey uses in his photography. But the level of work that takes…but you know the part about working so hard is I am incredibly driven. You know, I drive myself to collapse, and the only other person I can compare that to is Jim, on the fact that we’ll work ourself till we die, but I don’t know any other way. I don’t know half. I don’t know thirty percent. That’s why I’m gonna quit, because I can’t figure out how to slow down.

DAH: But you’ve been saying “i quit” for a long time.

MN: Yeah but I’m serious. When I said last waltz, what I mean literally is that, like they did, they didn’t quit playing music, or I’m not going to be a National Geographic’s guy after this project and I’m not going to move on to the next project. I’ll extend this one as long as I can, but then I want to go back and say, can I be David? Can I be simple? Because there’s too much volume in what I do. There’s too much noise.

DAH: There’s a lot of moving parts to what you do.

MN: Yeah, and the stress level and the fact that I’ve got this incredible woman in my life, who has been there for the whole trip, and you know you can fuck that up, and I survived all the chances to fuck it up. And so the fact that she’s still with me and we’re tighter now than we’ve ever been.

DAH: Well I see that, I see that, it’s amazing. Well Reba is an amazing woman and you’ve been gone, you’ve been out in the jungle, you’ve been in the top of a tree for months at a time, and she’s still there when you get back. Part of it probably is that she’s an artist herself.

MN: She was attracted to me because I was an artist and I was attracted to her because she was an artist. So we support the obsession of being an artist. And I, you know, people can cut and slice any way they want, I was gone while the kids were growing and I didn’t get penalized for that. You can get penalized for that. But now that they’ve grown, I’m sitting there with them. I’m with them.

DAH: No I see that, I see that. Well let me just go back just for a second here because when I met you, I mean now you’re a senior editor, what is your exact title? Editor at large?

MN: I’m Editor at Large.

DAH: Ahhh busted, you had to stop and think about your title Nick. Size does matter.

MN: Laughing..Well no, because I work so hard to get that word staff photographer off my title. I hate that word. It’s venom to me. You know, because it means ownership. I’m not owned by anybody. I assure you that. I’m milking this place like nobody in the history of photography.

DAH: No, no, don’t  worry  this is an honest conversation…. it is too late for either of us to get fired.

MN: Well, I’ve given them more than I got.

DAH: Well of course you have and they know that. That goes without saying. They know that.

MN: But I like the tone of editor at large because what that means is not in the office. It means out there. So I fought really hard for that title.

DAH: And you’re keeping readers for them too. You’re good business.

MN: Some of my colleagues think that I’m old. I’m not old.

DAH: David Alan Harvey doesn’t think you’ve ever been old. When I met you, you gotta remember, you were a Magnum photographer when I met you and you shifted from Magnum to National Geographic, from an institutional standpoint, spiritually you are a Magnum photographer. Funny how we literally “traded places”..But you needed the capital resourcing. Period.

MN: Yeah exactly, Magnum is in my DNA.

DAH: But the thing is, I can go out and do my thing for ten dollars and where I need ten dollars you need a hundred thousand dollars, therefore you needed the National Geographic behind you. NatGeo has been good to you…and to me.

MN: And I can’t justify what I do if I’m not reaching the planet. I gotta have a huge audience because my work is about saving the planet, you know. Its not about me, its about tigers and elephants and stuff like that. So if I didn’t have this microphone, I’d just be pissing into the wind. This is the only place on earth that I can do what I do.

DAH: That’s right. Ok Chris (Johns) in his article was talking about being driven. I feel driven, and sometimes I feel like it’s a burden almost to be driven because you can’t get off of it. When you were a kid, I saw a picture of you in the 4th or 5th grade in Alabama. That’s where you’re from.

MN: Yeah

DAH: That’s where Reba is from.

MN: Yeah, that’s why I’m called Nick. My best friend’s growing up we’re Bubba, Fuzzy, and Stevie Wonder.

DAH: My nickname was Heavenly.  I know your mother. Partied with your mother and you and the gang. I photographed you and your mother together for my family project. Where’s that drive coming from? What’s the nut of that thing? Where’s that fire coming from? Where’s that work ethic coming from?

MN: Fear, first off.

DAH: Fear works.

MN: Fear of failure. I’d love for people to understand that no matter where you get it, if your not afraid, something’s wrong with you. Every time you go out, you should be afraid. But then the work ethic of being poor…my mom raised us, my dad left when I was a kid, she’s had no education, and my dad was in the picture but he always thought, your just a lazy hippy. You know, I’m obsessive, I’m obsessive compulsive and photography gives me a….

DAH: a kind of  hippy.

MN: I’m definitely a hippy.

DAH: And yet you’ve got a work ethic.

MN: I’ve got a pop side to me. My stories are very popular. I can tell you that the readers love them.

DAH: Oh yeah, I love them too.

MN: But the work thing is…I don’t know anything else. That’s the problem. I don’t know how to turn it down. Once that train left the station, and I got on it, I haven’t figured out how to ever get off.

 

Photo taken by Kyle George

View Nicks personal website at www.michaelnicknichols.com or go directly to his iPad app here.

Related Links

LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph

 

 

 

 

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