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VICE Loves Magnum: An Interview with Christopher Anderson

Magnum is probably the most famous photo agency in the world. Even if you haven’t heard of it, chances are you’re familiar with its images, be they Robert Capa’s coverage of the Spanish Civil War, Steve McCurry’sAfghan Girl or Martin Parr’s very British holiday-scapes. Unlike most agencies, Magnum’s members are selected by the other photographers in the agency, which, given they’re the greatest photo agency in the world, means that becoming a member is a pretty grueling process. As part of an ongoing partnership with Magnum, we will be profiling some of their photographers over the coming weeks.

First up is Christopher Anderson, who became a Magnum nominee in 2005 and was a full member by 2010. His early work on Haitian immigrants’ illegal journey to America—during which he and they sank in the Caribbean Sea in a handmade wooden boat named Believe in God—won him the Robert Capa Gold Medal. And last year, we produced an episode of Picture Perfect about him.

His subsequent book projects include Son, a series of photos capturing his wife and young child as his own father grew ill with cancer, and Capitolio, which documents unrest in Caracas during the time of Chavez.

I had a chat with him about how he sees himself and how that’s changed over his career.


Joe Biden descends from Air Force Two in Virginia, shot for New York Magazine.

VICE: You’ve vocally distanced yourself from photojournalism in the past. Why is that?
Christopher Anderson: 
There are photojournalists in Magnum, but I don’t see it as a photojournalist agency. It’s more founded in documentary photography. If I were to use a term for myself, I feel I’d fit more closely in the bracket of documentary photography than photojournalism. The term photojournalist tends to be loaded with meaning: specifically that one reports the news. I don’t see that as my function. Even when I was photographing things that were news topics, like conflicts, my function was not that of a news reporter, my function was to comment on what I saw happen that day and to offer a subjective point of view. In my role, I was commenting on what was happening, but also trying to communicate what it felt like to be there when it was happening.

So you wanted to capture images that were more emotional and personal?
Exactly. But I would go further and say that I not just wanted to do that, that is in fact what I did do. I had no pretence of objectivity. I was photographing, giving my opinion, and I wanted you to know that I was giving my opinion.

Did your unconventional approach make it initially more difficult to sell your photos, or was it beneficial from the start?
Well, I don’t think I was going ‘round articulating that to editors, saying, “No, I won’t work for you unless you understand that what I do is subjective.” With the agency I was with before, it didn’t make a difference, as I was already sort of working for “journalistic magazines,” and I worked a lot for the New York Times Magazine. The kind of stories that I would do, even ones from conflict zones, would be longer and more in depth in their approach to what was happening there, trying to put what was happening in a more human, intimate context rather than the headlines of the day. But to be honest, the marketable advantage never crossed my mind at the time. I was just intent on trying to do what I did in the way I wanted to with as much integrity as possible.

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Listimage

Sometimes very little needs to be said about the work we post; images can truly speak a thousand words. With this in mind, allow me to merely act as the waiter serving up a chef’s Michelin Star of photography. Steve McCurry’s Blue City photographic series was taken on the edge of the Thar Desert, India, in a place that was once the capital of a princely state – the mystical Jodhpur. Delve into this magical world and these stunning images. We cannot recommend visiting Steve’s website enough – incredible barely does justice to his vast gallery of images!

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Features and Essays

Tenth anniversary of the 9/11 is now passed us, but let’s start with some of the features related to it…Lot of good coverage on the New York Times’ web pages, obviously…First, Eugene Richards’ multimedia of his Stepping Through Ashes…

Eugene Richards: Stepping Through Ashes (NYT Lens: September 2011)

NYT Magazine slideshow ‘Images from a Post 9/11 World’..includes various photographers’ work… Benjamin Lowy, Lynsey Addario,Peter van Agtmael, Ashley Gilbertson, and others… also links to the articles, which their images originally illustrated…

After 9/11, National Guard and police patrols had become part of the commute at Grand Central Terminal. Security was increased further after the Madrid bombings. Related article: “Lesser Evils.”  photo: Antonin Kratochvil/VII

New York Times Magazine: Ten Years’ Time: Images from a Post 9/11 World (NYT Magazine: September 2011)

Ashley Gilbertson has some new work on the New York Times site also…

Ashley Gilbertson: Remembering Lost Loved Ones (NYT: September 2011)

Todd Heisler: The Moment Before, and After (NYT: September 2011) 9/11

Fred. R. Conrad: The Faces of a Towering Project (NYT Lens: September 2011)

Magnum: 9/11 and Aftermath (Magnum in Motion: September 2011)

Susan Meiselas: Ground Zero Artifacts and Construction (Magnum: September 2011)

Scott Goldsmith: Flight 93 and Shanksville, PA: The Forgotten Part of 9/11 (TIME LB: September 2011)

To other features…

Sanjit Das: East Africa Crisis (Panos: September 2011)

New work by last year’s Canon AFJ winner Bacigalupo, whose exhibition ‘My Name is Filda Adoch’ impressed a lot of people at Visa…

Martina Bacigalupo: Mogadishu, Somalia (Agence Vu: September 2011)

Patrick Brown: Bengal’s Burden (Panos: September 2011)

Espen Rasmussen’s In Transit project has now a dedicated website…

Espen Rasmussen: Transit (Project website: 2011)

Afghanistan…

Hipstas by Zalmai on Lens blog…

Zalmai: In Afghanistan, ‘Unbelievable Force of Life’ (NYT Lens: September 2011)

Norfolk on New Yorker Photo Booth…

Simon Norfolk: Postcard from Afghanistan : Echoes of Wars Past (New Yorker: September 2011)

Alixandra Fazzina: Pakistan: Preparing for disaster in south Punjab (Guardian: September 2011)

Mitch Dobrowner: The Storms (TIME Lightbox: September 2011)

Have another look at Medecins Sans Frontieres’ and VII Photo’s Starved for Attention campaign online… There’s a travelling exhibit going around the States this autumn…

photo: Marcus Bleasdale

MSF and VII Photo: Starved for Attention 

Andrea Bruce: Conservative Muslims in Russia (Washington Post: September 2011)

Christian Als: The Disappeared Generation (Panos: September 2011)

Moises Saman: Detained Sub-Saharan Africans in Libya (Magnum: September 2011)

Foreign Policy  have a three-part series online featuring Kate Brooks‘ work from Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, and Libya…The photos are taken from her new book

Kate Brooks: What War Looks Like (Foreign Policy: September 2011)

Kate Brooks: Those Who Face Death (Foreign Policy: September 2011)

Kate Brooks: From Revolution to War (FP: September 2011)

Johannes Eisele: The Casualties of War: Afghanistan’s Medevac Missions, Up Close (TIME LB: September 2011)

Stanley Greene: A Drop of Blood between Turkey and Syria (NOOR: 2011)

Kozyrev’s Tripoli photos now also on the NOOR site…

Yuri Kozyrev: The Battle for Tripoli (NOOR: September 2011)

Ruben Reyes: Foreign Laborers in Dubai (NYT Lens: September 2011) Reys’ website

Japan…

William Daniels and Espen Rasmussen: Six Months On (Panos: September 2011) Japan

Jake Price: Japan six months after tsunami (BBC: September 2011)

Ed Kashi: Eye Contact (VII Magazine: September 2011)

Laura El-Tantawy: The Veil (TIME LB: August 2011)

Edward Keating: Blue Highway (TIME LB: September 2011)

Anthony Suau: The 99ers (TIME: September 2011) Long-term unemployed in America

Mauricio Lima: Few Treatment Options for Afghans as Drug Use Rises (NYT: August 2011)

Jean Gaumy: Climate challenge : The Indonesian case (Magnum: September 2011)

David Trattles: Girl Boxers of Calcutta (Foto8: September 2011) Trattles’ website

Jessica Earnshaw: At a Bronx Hospital, a Teenage Milestone (NYT Lens: September 2011) Earnshaw’s website

Interviews

First some 9/11 anniversary related interviews…

Robert Clark : 9/11 (burn magazine: September 2011)

Lynsey Addario : 9/11 Ten Years Later (New Yorker: September 2011)

Samantha Appleton : 9/11 Ten Years Later (New Yorker: September 2011)

Joel Meyerowitz : 9/11 Ten Years Later (New Yorker: September 2011)

Meyerowitz interview also on TIME… looks like he’s working with Leica S2 here…

Joel Meyerowitz : Ground Zero, Then and Now (TIME: September 2011)

Eric Hoepker : 9/11 (CNN: September 2011) CNN’s Errol Barnett speak to photographer Thomas Hoepker who took one of the most controversial 9/11 images

Steve McCurry on 9/11…

Steve McCurry :  memories of 9/11 (Phaidon: September 2011)

Interesting thing I noticed the other day looking at some of McCurry’s 9/11 photos on his blog was that he has a frame almost exactly like one of Nachtwey’s… The two men must have stood pretty much side-by-side…The colours are different, but I presume it’s because Nachtwey was shooting C-41 and McCurry E-6…It’s fascinating how similarly the two photographers framed the scene…

Marco Grob : on the Making of Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience (TIME LB: September 2011)

Steve McCurry (Leica blog: September 2011)

Steve McCurry : Revealed – the true story behind the ‘Afghan Mona Lisa’ (Phaidon: September 2011)

Olivier Laurent’s excellent Yuri Kozyrev interview in British Journal of Photography…

Must read. Yuri Kozyrev : on covering revolutions in the Middle East (BJP: September 2011)

Kozyrev interview also on Lighbox…this about one of his Iraq War photos, one the most memorable and powerful images of the entire conflict by anyone I’d say…Couldn’t help but notice the file has been re-processed…

Yuri Kozyrev The Aftermath of 9/11: Ali Abbas (TIME LB: September 2011)

Fred Ritchin : Ritchin letter regarding the Q&A (Wired Raw File: September 2011)

Broomberg and Chanarin (ph-research.co.uk: 2011)

Kadir van Lohuizen : Via Panam part 2 (Nikon blog: September 2011)

David Chancellor talks about ‘Hunters” (Polka: 2011)

Donovan Wylie : Outposts (National Media Museum Vimeo: 2011)

Donovan Wylie : Ways of Looking (National Media Museum: Vimeo 2011)

Martin Parr : Parrworld (Phaidon: 2011)

Nadav Kander (Conscientious: 2011)

Mario Tama : 9/11 (Dallas News: September 2011)

Jodi Bieber : Capturing Aisha (Montreal Mirror: September 2011)

Catalina Martin-Chico (BJP: August 2011)

Tyler Hicks : Gaddafi Family Album (NYT Lens: August 2011)

JR (The Atlantic: 2011)

Jared Soares (NYT Lens: September 2011)

Pete Brook (thoughtsonphotography: September 2011)

Articles

9/11 related articles… I particularly enjoyed reading and looking at this one from TIME Lightbox…

photo: Jonathan Torgovnik

TIME Lightbox: 9/11: The Photographs That Moved Them Most (TIME LB: September 2011)

How magazines picked their 9/11 anniversary covers…

NYT: Magazine Covers on a Topic Known All Too Well (NYT: September 2011) 9/11

NPR: Sept. 11 Through The Eyes Of VII, Magnum And Life (NPR: September 2011)

Guardian: 9/11 anniversary: photographers recall day of horror (Guardian: September 2011)

New York Times: The Reckoning: America and the World a Decade After 9/11 (NYT: September 2011

Thomas Hoepker: I Took That 9/11 Photo (Slate: 2006) Photographer Thomas Hoepker on Frank Rich’s column, and why he thought his picture was too “confusing” to publish in 2001.

David Campbell: September 11, 2001: Imaging the real, struggling for meaning (DC blog: September 2011)

Alan Chin: Pushpins on a calendar (BagNewsNotes: September 2011)

Chris Floyd: The 9/11 Patriotic American Road Trip (Photographer’s Blog: September 2011)

Peta Pixel: How Photographers’ Rights Have Eroded Since September 11th (Peta Pixel: 2011)

Other articles…

photo: David Alan Harvey

Ideas Tap: Magnum: Advice for young photographers – part 2 (Ideas Tap: September 2011)

UK Photographer’s Rights (Amateur Photographer: September 2011)

The Observer New Review’s monthly guide to the 20 best photographic exhibitions and books…includes a shout-out to Luc Delahaye at Tate Modern..only three prints on show though (installation shot I took with my phone when I visited the show in August)…I enjoyed them…

Jenin Refugee Camp, 2001. Luc Delahaye.  From the exhibition New Documentary Forms at Tate Modern, London…worth a visit also for Mitch Epstein’s American Power…not so keen on the other three…

The Observer: The Month in Photography September 2011

NY Daily News: To honor slain photojournalist Tim Hetherington, fellow photog opens docu-film gallery in Bronx (NY Daily News: September 2011)

Reportage by Getty Images: Tom Stoddart shoots the ICRC  ’Health Care in Danger’ campaign

Photo Stories: Webdoc Favourites (photo-stories-org: 2011)

BJP: Photographers’ Gallery delays reopening until 2012

BJP: Photojournalism award launched in tribute to fallen photographer Lucas Dolega

BJP: Guillaume Herbaut and Bruno Masi win the Web Documentary Award at Visa Pour l’Image

Magnum: Steve McCurry Wins First Leica Hall Of Fame Award  (Magnum: 2011)

New Statesman:  The ambiguous art of Taryn Simon (New Statesman: September 2011)

Guardian: Featured Photojournalist: Oded Balilty (Guardian: August 2011)

Verve: Stuart Freedman (Verve Photo: September 2011)

Verve: Pete Marovich (Verve Photo: September 2011)

Pete Kiehart: Once: A New Magazine Model (Photo Brigade: September 2011)

BJP: Fujifilm commits to instant photography (BJP: September 2011)

Agency Access: Agency Access Acquires ADBASE and FoundFolios to Become Most Robust Photo Marketing and Illustrator Marketing Resource

10 Famous Street Photography Quotes You Must Know (Erik Kim Photography blog: September 2011)

Pulitzer-winning photojournalist resigns rather than lay off staff

Awards, Grants, and Competitions

UNICEF Pictures of the Year Award 2011 (link to PDF)

Five finalists for the inaugural Reminders Project Asian Photographers Grant

Tracy Baran Award : $5000 grant for an emerging US female photographer

Congrats to all this year’s Foam Magazine Talents…

photo: Ivor Prickett

Foam Magazine Talents 2011

Royal Photographic Society : Annual Awards 2011

Guardian Student Media Awards shortlisted

Click About It

Books

Kate Brooks: In The Light Of Darkness: A Photographer’s Journey After 9/11

Conversations with Photographers (Conscientious)

Out November 1…

VII: Questions Without Answers 

Ken Jarecke: Husker Game Day – Farewell Big 12 

burn 02

The Family by Jocelyn Bain Hogg

Crowd Funding

Laura El-Tantawy just launched an Emphas.is crowd funding campaign to help her continue her work in Egypt…go and have a look…

Laura El-Tantawy: In the Shadow of the Pyramids (Emphas.is)

Agencies

VII September 2011 newsletter

Shell Shock Pictures

24Productions

Events

British Journal of Photography : ‘From stills to moving images’ at The Social on Monday 26 September, at Barrio Central, Poland Street, London W1F 8PS

Exhibitions

“If I don’t photograph it, it won’t become known.” Anja Niedringhaus

Anja Niedringhaus : At War : Berlin : 10 September – 4 December 2011

Chris Floyd: 140 Characters  : Host Gallery : 3 November – 17 November 2011 : press release

Photographers

Pamela Chen

Robert Nickelsberg

Patrick Smith

Diana Markosian

Conor O’Leary

Magda Rakita

Videos

Danfung Dennis’ film Hell and Back Again opening in US theaters on Oct 5…

Hell and Back Again Trailer

C.J Chivers, Andre Liohn: Lethal Lessons in Misurata (NYT: 2011)

Aperture education Youtube channel

Workshops

Magnum Photos workshop Munich, 10-14 Oct with Pellegrin, Dworzak & Anderson

Jobs

Open Society Institute : Exhibition Coordinator

Senior Lecturer, Nottingham Trent University

To finish off…

I was reading Finnish magazine Kuukausiliite this morning which had an article about Google Street View along with some photos by artist Jon Rafman… Noticed one of the images was similar to one by Mishka Henner…Looks like Henner and Rafman have used the same Google Street View frame for these two…

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Awards - Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2010 Winner is Jens Olof Lasthein (Leica: May 2010)

InterviewsAndy Spyra : Interview with Andy Spyra, Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award 2010 winner (Leica blog: May 2010)

Features and Essays - Richard Mosse: Postcard from Eastern Congo (New Yorker Photo Booth: May 2010)

multiMedia - Slideluck Potshow has a fancy new website : Next London show June 19th

Interviews and Talks - Platon, Martin Schoeller & Jill Greenburg on rules of journalistic portrait photography (NPR: May 2010)

Agencies – Magnum Photos newsletter June 2010

Features and Essays - Jocelyn Bain Hogg: Muse (VII Network: June 2010)

Twitter - Telegraph21

Twitter - Leica Camera

Interviews - Mustafah Abdulaziz (Dazeddigital.com: 2009)

Articles – Steve McCurry: The Art of Editing (Photographer’s blog: May 2010)

Articles - Demotix blog: Photojournalism and the Economics of Free – some thoughts.. (Demotix blog: June 2010)

Features and Essays – Velibor Bozovic: Eastern Europe’s Odd Attractions (NYT Lens: May 2010)

Photographers – Velibor Bozovic : website

Photographers - Anna Kurpaska : website

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