John White was a mentor and inspiration to many, including the New York Times staff photographer Michelle Agins. She visited him not long after he and the rest of the Chicago Sun-Times photo staff were laid off.
The time to enter the 25th annual National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest is running short -- entries will be accepted for another few days, until June 30, 2013. The first prize winner will receive a 10-day Galapagos expedition for two. National Geographic was once more kind enough to allow me to share some of the later entries with you here, gathered from four categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place, and Spontaneous Moments. Photos and captions by the photographers. Also, be sure to see Part 1, earlier on In Focus. [46 photos]
From the 'Sense of Place' category, a couple paddle out for a sunset surf in the coastal surfing town of Byron Bay, Australia. (© Ming Nomchong/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
They keep things out or enclose them within. They're symbols of power, and a means of control. They're canvases for art, backdrops for street theater, and placards for political messages. They're just waiting for when nobody's looking to receive graffiti. Walls of all kinds demarcate our lives. -- Lane Turner (41 photos total).
Note: You can now follow @bigpicture on the social network App.net, where you own your own data. If you'd like to try it out, we've also got some free invites for our readers.
Workers clean the curtain wall of the 40-story National Bank of Economic Social Development in Rio de Janeiro on December 12, 2012. (Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images)
Cast and crew rehearsed for the 67th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York, N.Y., airing live this Sunday. Bryan Derballa, on assignment for WSJ, captured these behind the scenes images of Thursday's rehearsal.
The artistic collaboration between Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin has spanned over two decades since their beginnings working as photographers for Tibor Kalman’s Colors magazine in the early 1990s. Using a wide variety of means, their practice, which has often concerned itself with how history and current events are perceived through images, reevaluates and challenges the classic ideas of photography as a tool for documenting the social condition. Broomberg and Chanarin have authored ten books including Trust (2000), Ghetto (2003), Chicago (2006) and People in Trouble Laughing Pushed to the Ground (2011). Their latest book project Holy Bible is being released this month by MACK.
Jeffrey Ladd: Can you talk a bit about this current book project Holy Bible? Had it evolved from your recent work War Primer 2 which is a modern reinterpretation of Bertolt Brecht’s Kriegsfibel (War Primer) from 1955?
Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin: When we were researching Brecht’s work in Berlin we stumbled across his personal copy of the Holy Bible. It caught our attention because it has a photograph of a racing car glued to the cover. It’s a remarkable thing, and in retrospect, seeing and handling this object definitely planted the seed for this book. Just like the War Primer, our illustrated bible is broadly about photography and it’s preoccupation with catastrophe. Brecht was deeply concern about the use of photographs in newspapers. He was so suspicious of press images that he referred to them as hieroglyphics in need of deciphering or decoding. We share this concern. Images of conflict that are distributed in the mainstream media are even less able to affect any real political action now then they ever were.
An essay by Adi Ophir called Divine Violence is reproduced in an epilogue to Holy Bible. How did you come to this particular essay?
Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin—Courtesy MACK
Holy Bible, 2013
If you read the Old Testament from cover to cover, you notice very quickly that God reveals himself through acts of catastrophe, through violence. Awful things keep happening: a flood that just about wipes out most of his creation, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra – we constantly witness death on an epic scale and the victims hardly ever know what they have done to deserve such retribution. Adi reflects on this theme of catastrophe in a really interesting way that connects with our modern lives. He concludes:
“States that tend to imitate God benefit from disasters… even when they cannot claim to be their authors, because any such disaster may serve as a pretext for declaring a state of emergency, thus reclaiming and reproducing the state’s total authority. And when earthly powers imagine that they can take His place in the divine economy of violence, faith may provide resistance but no shelter. It is not God’s response to human sins but sheer human hubris that might bring the world to its end.”
This extract from his book, Two Essays on God and Disaster, became a philosophical and political map for the whole project. We felt lucky that he permitted us to publish it, as it’s previously only appeared in Hebrew. We’re going to badly paraphrase his argument, but Ophir suggests that the Old Testament is essentially a parable for the growth of modern governance (God eventually chooses his people, issues them with a set of commandments and punishes them when those are broken). At the same time, he points out that when his laws are broken, he meters out the most radical, unimaginably violent punishments. So this reading of the Bible suggests a contract we are all silently and forcibly bound into with the modern state and our naïve acceptance of the harsh punishments the state meters out; prison, the death sentence, a war on drugs, on terror… The camera has always been drawn to these themes, to sites of human suffering. Since it’s inception it has been used to record and also participate in catastrophic events. Catastrophe and crisis are the daily bread of news.
Is it possible any longer in your opinion to provide images directly with a camera from war or natural catastrophes that are not in some way undermined by this?
We both believe that events still need to be witnessed and documented. But what happens when those images of suffering are turned into currency, into entertainment/ Recently we were asked to give a presentation of our book, War Primer 2, which contains some of the infamous Abu Ghraib torture images. We had a moment of concern regarding the copyright of these images and did some research into the reproduction rights. It shocked us to discover that most of these well-known torture images are syndicated by the Associated Press. When we approached AP before we gave a public lecture showing the material, they requested that we pay £100 per image per presentation. How is it possible that those images have become currency? We must owe them hundreds of thousands of dollars by now.
Photographs are essentially mute in telling the “who, what, why, when, where of journalism without a caption and where simple gestures are read, properly or not, as a kind of photographic “shorthand” – what responsibilities do you feel a contemporary journalist with a camera has in bringing images to the public?
Is there still such a thing as a contemporary journalist with a camera? Anybody with a telephone could pass for one. And the world, particularly war zones, are littered with cameras. Soldiers, insurgents, civilians, even weapons — all have cameras attached to them. The so-called professional journalist must contend with all these other forms of witness. We have engaged with so-called war zones and skirted around the parameters of violence. But we’re cowards and have always kept back from any real prolonged danger. The Tim Hetherington’s and Chris Hondros’s of this world are a different breed. Our role, is to instead think about how images produced in the theater of human suffering are consumed; the individual response to such images. We only went to conflict zones to explore these ideas, never to responsibly document any specific war.
How did you come to decide to use the Archive of Modern Conflict for gathering images as opposed to using many sources? Was there a method you applied to sifting through AMC since it contains vast amounts of material? How did you approach such a task?
The Archive of Modern Conflict is a weird place — a lot of that comes through in our book. Officially it’s an archive that spans the history of the medium and concentrates on images of conflict. Looking through the thousands of images at the AMC, the narrative that unfolds is not at all a straightforward account of war. It’s an extremely personal and very idiosyncratic one; an unofficial version of the history of war.
One shelf contains hundreds of personal albums of Nazi soldiers. We see moments of intimacy between men — we see them kissing their wives goodbye, hugging their children and then fooling around with their friends. These images run counter to the narrative we can morally cope with. We’re not used to seeing Nazi’s displaying human traits; showing tenderness, emotion, desire. Our days at the archive sifting through all this material was difficult. So many dead people. It’s depressing. But somehow we discovered a lot of humor, too. In particular, a large collection of photographs of magic tricks became a running motif through the book. We always pair these delightful images with the phrase, “And it came to pass,” which appears again and again like a form of punctuation throughout the text.
Words as image (I am thinking of work on the Egyptian surrealists), or texts integrated into the images, have played a part in your practice. In this work had the underlined fragments found on the bible pages come first and then the images paired?
Our only intervention is to underline phrases on each page to add an image. Pick up any old Bible and you might see similar notations. There is a long history of this. But we wanted to avoid a purely illustrative relationship between words and images, so at times the connection is quite oblique. Anybody reading through will be able to make their own connections.
The scope of your practice has extended beyond making images in fairly traditional ways (working as creative directors at Colors magazine) to including appropriated images from archives and exploring different narrative styles. How has this shaped (and evidently challenged) your notions of photography?
We’ve always been more interested in the ecosystem in which photography functions rather then in the species itself; more intrigued by the economic, political, cultural and moral currency an image has then in the medium. We’re fascinated by how images are made but also how they are disseminated, and how that effects the way they are eventually read. Photographs are the most capricious objects — way less faithful then words. They can’t be trusted. So we need to be on guard just looking at them, never mind making them. We still take photographs, however. It’s just that we don’t radically discriminate between images we take and those that we find. We’re equally mistrusting of both.
As collaborators, you have worked both in books and exhibitions in a certain degree of success where many of your projects work well in both forms. You have also started your own small imprint Chopped Liver Press. I was wondering if you have a preference for the intimacy of books over the public exhibitions?
The definition of ‘book’ is undergoing a radical transformation. Far from becoming obsolete, the book — particularly the photo book — is experiencing a new lease of life. They speak to us. They turn their own pages. They update themselves. They have been de-materialized. Chopped Liver Press emerged as a response to this. We make handmade books in our studio. Very limited runs. When they are gone, that’s it. For War Primer 2, however, we produced two versions, a handmade edition of just 100 copies that was instantly sold out, and an e-book version that was freely available and continues to be downloaded. The code that powers these digital books is limited. But there’s great potential for intimacy.
I understand you are both artists and your role is bringing thoughtful art and ideas to the table and where it leads after is not really your business. But, is there any frustration in the thought that these ideas or philosophies get trapped by the “art world” in which they are presented and the world of philosophy (another comparatively small arena)?
We are more interested in the world than the art world, which is exactly why we are so honored to have this conversation with you.
Holy Bible is being published by MACK in June 2013.
Jeffrey Ladd is a photographer, writer, editor and founder of Errata Editions.
Features and Essays
Lucas Jackson / Reuters
Lucas Jackson: Haunting Night Scenes of Oklahoma’s Devastation (ABC News) Reuters photographer Lucas Jackson traveled to Moore and used the twilight night sky to illuminate some haunting landscapes the tornado left behind.
Katie Hayes Luke: Faces And Places The Tornado Left Behind (NPR Picture Show)
Ashley Gilbertson: Intricate Rituals for Fallen American Troops (NYT)
Steve Ruark: Honoring the Fallen (LightBox) One Photographer’s Witness to 490 Dignified Transfers
Luke Sharrett: Sacrifices Set in Adorned Stone (NYT Lens) Gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Sergey Ponomarev: A Supporting Role (NYT) In Afghan Transition, U.S. Forces Take a Step Back
Andrew Burton: Afghanistan (CNN Photo blog) Photographing ‘my generation’ at war
Eugene Richards: Inside Guantanamo (LightBox)
Ilona Szwarc: The Little Cowgirls (Telegraph) Deep in the heart of Texas, young girls are bucking the trend and breaking into the traditionally macho world of rodeo. The photographer Ilona Szwarc has corralled some of these junior ropers and riders into a compelling visual essay | Related article here
Aaron Huey: Pine Ridge (LightBox) Aaron Huey has photographed the Oglala Lakota for seven years on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Ilona Szwarc: American Girls (Photo Booth)
Andrew Moore: Stuck in the Shadow of Affluence (NYT Magazine) How the epidemic of empty, foreclosed homes in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods ignited a new form of guerrilla activism.
Justin Maxon: Gunland (LightBox) Chicago’s South Side
Billie Mandle: Reconciliation (Wired Raw File photo blog) American confessionals and reconciliation rooms
Christopher Anderson: Skin on Parade in Central Park (NY Magazine) New York Magazine sent photographer Christopher Anderson to meander around Central Park on a 79-degree day
Charles Ommanney: Heavy Metal Cruise (Reportage by Getty Images)
Anderson Scott: Civil War Lovers Can’t Leave the Past Behind at Awkward Reenactments (Wires Raw File)
Arne Svenson: The Neighbors (Photo Booth)
Martin Parr: Life’s a Beach / USA Color (Slate Behold)
Joshua Yospyn: America’s Quirky Coincidences (NYT Lens)
Saul Robbins: Behind Closed Doors at New York Shrink Offices (Slate Behold)
Ruth Prieto: Safe Heaven (burn magazine) The second chapter of a documentary project about Mexican immigrant women in New York.
Lynsey Addario / VII for TIME
Lynsey Addario: Rich Nation, Poor People (LightBox) With its vast oil wealth, Saudi Arabia has one of the highest concentrations of super rich households in the world. But an estimated 20 percent of the population, if not more, lives in crippling poverty.
Kiana Hayeri: Young Iranian Immigrants (NYT Lens) Leaving Tehran and Restraints Behind
Carolyn Drake: Two Rivers: A Journey Through Central Asia (Photo Booth) A photographic record of the area in Central Asia that follows the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, the region’s major rivers.
Linda Forsell: Refugee Crisis (zReportage) Syria | Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp is home to 170,000 people from Syria who have fled the fighting.
Kalpesh Lathigra: Passport-Style Portraits of Displaced Syrians Living in the Za’atari Refugee Camp (Feature Shoot)
Guillaume Herbaut: Chinese Weddings (CNN Photo blog)
Peter Pin: Life Beyond The Killing Fields (NPR Picture Show)
Angelos Tzortzinis: Societal Ills Spike in Crisis-Stricken Greece (NYT Lens)
Espen Rasmussen: Mud, Fire and Pain (Panos Pictures) Tough Guy claims to be the world’s most demanding one-day survival ordeal and it has been widely described as ‘the toughest race in the world’
Espen Rasmussen: Pain (Panos Pictures) As part of a longer project looking at masculinity and middle aged men, Espen visits the longest single stage cycle race in the world, from Tronheim to Oslo in Norway.
Kirsten Luce: Matadora (NYT Lens) In the Arena With a Smile — and a Bull
Brett Gundlock: One Small Town’s Fight to Banish a Brutal Mexican Cartel (Wired Raw File)
Yann Gross: A snake story in the Brazilian far west (Institute)
Kate Holt: Somalia surgeons: under the knife in Mogadishu (Guardian) audio slideshow
Siegfried Modola: Ethiopia’s ancient salt trail (Guardian)
Takayuki Maekawa: Wild Animals (CNN Photo blog)
The Financial Times Magazine, June 1/2 2013
My friend, Robert Capa (FT Magazine) John Morris, former picture editor of Life, talks about the great photographer and his most historic roll of film – of D-Day
The month in photography – audio slideshow (Guardian) Vanessa Winship, Erwin Blumenfeld and Nobuyoshi Araki feature in June’s guide to the best photography around the world.
World Press Photo controversy: Objectivity, manipulation and the search for truth (BJP) Beyond the attacks leveraged against Paul Hansen’s winning World Press Photo, the recent controversy over image toning is symptomatic of the current state of photojournalism and its place in a society that has learned not to trust what it sees. Photojournalists, photography directors and post-producers speak to Olivier Laurent, and ask whether objectivity in photojournalism is actually attainable
Hondros: A Life in Frames – trailer (Chris Hondros film website)
Censored – images of our ugly truths, natural and man-made (Sydney Morning Herald)
American beauty: Vanessa Winship’s photos of still, small-town US life (Guardian) Winship used her Henri-Cartier Bresson prize money well: to fund a book, She Dances on Jackson, in which she has captured the silence at the heart of a clamorous nation
Photographing What Endures For Australia’s Aboriginals (NPR Picture Show) Amy Toensing’s project for the National Geographic
Andrea Bruce / Noor Images
War Through a Woman’s Eyes (American Photo magazine) Some of today’s top conflict photographers just happen to be women. We spoke with a handful of these photojournalists about their experiences—and how they differ from their male colleagues’
Photojournalists Tell the Untold Stories From Iraq (Slate Behold)
Kathy Ryan: Office Romance: Renzo Piano’s Light (NYT Magazine 6th Floor Blog)
Capturing ‘Out Cold’ Commuters with TIME’s Patrick Witty (Instagram blog)
Martin Parr: All the world’s a beach (FT Magazine) For one photographer, there is no better place than the seaside to observe human eccentricity in all its glory
Finding And Photographing Alaska’s Remote Veterans (NPR Picture Show)
Who Will Crowdfund the Crowdfunder? (NYT Lens)
Moving Walls (The Foreign Policy) Looking back on 15 years of human rights photography.
Through the Lens of Eggleston (WSJ) The selection of William Eggleston’s photographs, “At War with the Obvious,” currently on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, reminds us why he an American master. For the June issue of WSJ. Magazine, the legendary photographer agreed to shoot part of his extensive collection of Leica and Canon cameras | Related
Garry Winogrand and the Art of the Opening (The Paris Review)
Wayne Miller obituary (Guardian) Magnum photographer celebrated for his images of the second world war and Chicago’s South Side
In Memoriam: Wayne Miller (1918 – 2013) (LightBox)
Featured photographer: Tim Richmond (Verve Photo)
Featured photographer: Albertina d’Urso (Verve Photo)
Featured photographer: Katharine MacDaid (Verve Photo)
Featured photographer: Joel van Houdt (Verve Photo)
The little girl in the photo, all grown up (AFP Correspondent blog) AFP photographer Jean-Philippe Ksiazek hears from a girl he photographed in Pristina at the end of the war in Kosovo
When Photography Imitates Voyeurism (NYT Magazine 6th Floor blog)
Joseph Eid / AFP / Getty Images
War and Representation: Showing the Limits of Comprehension (No Caption Needed)
Digital and the the desire for long form journalism (David Campbell blog)
Chicago Sun-Times lays off its photo staff (Chicago Tribune)
Alex Garcia: The Idiocy of Eliminating a Photo Staff (Chicago Tribune Assignment Chicago photo blog)
How the Internet Killed Photojournalism (PetaPixel)
Spitting on the Grave (Jim Colton website) On Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s comment ‘there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore’
Defining “News photographer” for the future (Reuters photo blog)
Anton Corbijn to shoot James Dean biopic, Life (Guardian) Control director to explore real-life friendship between 50s icon and Life magazine photographer in new film
Harlequin Without His Mask (Francis Hodgson blog) On Rankin
Ponte City: An Apartheid-Era High Rise Mired in Myth (LightBox) In 2008, South African photographer Mikhael Subotzky, in collaboration with British artist Patrick Waterhouse, set out to create a visual document of the building as monumental as the structure itself, exploring a long, complex history mired in myth.
Interviews and Talks
Anastasia Taylor-Lind / VII
Anastasia Taylor-Lind (Nat Geo Live) Mothers, Models, and Fighters | A rising star on the photography scene, Anastasia Taylor-Lind documents the lives of women who live isolated from male society, including in schools for Siberian supermodels and military training camps for Cossack women | video
John H. White (CNN) Howard Kurtz talks to Pulitzer prize-winning photographer John H. White about what the layoffs mean for the news industry after Chicago Sun-Times drops photographers
Jonas Bendiksen (Vice) Bendiksen Takes Photos in Countries That Don’t Exist
Winners from the 2013 World Press Photo Contest (WPP) Nineteen prizewinners discuss their award-winning work.
Alec Soth (A Photo Editor)
Richard Mosse, The Enclave, 2013. Six screen film installation, color infrared film transferred to HD video. Filmed in Eastern Congo. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging inc.
Richard Mosse (Frieze Vimeo) The Impossible Image | Artist and photographer Richard Mosse reveals the stories behind the making of his latest film, ‘The Enclave’ (2013), in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which will be shown in the Irish Pavilion at this year’s 55th Venice Biennale.
Lauren Greenfield (Rookie magazine) Money Changes Everything: An Interview With Lauren Greenfield
Donna Ferrato (Vogue Italy) “I really believe in the power of photography to change the world. I think without it we would be like cavemen”
Fabio Bucciarelli (Photographic Museum of Humanity)
John G. Morris (Vogue Italy)
Tim Page (Radio Australia) Page on history, photography and the Vietnam War
Thomas Dworzak (Roads and Kingdoms) Dworzak’s Instagram Chapbooks
Saul Leiter (In-Public)
Photojournalists on Covering the War in Iraq (The Leonard Lopate Show / WNYC) audio | Michael Kamber interviewed photojournalists from many leading news organizations to create a comprehensive collection of eyewitness accounts of the Iraq War—Photojournalists on War. He’s joined by photographers Alan Chin and Ashley Gilbertson, who discuss trying to cover the war in Iraq and examine the role of the media and issues of censorship
New booktells ‘untold stories’ from Iraq (MSNBC) Photojournalist Michael Kamber joins MSNBC’s Craig Melvin and fellow photojournalists Carolyn Cole and Ed Kashi to talk about his new book, “The Untold Stories From Iraq: Photojournalists on War”.
Doug Richard (ABC Arts) A New American Picture: Doug Rickard’s Google Street View road-trip
David Guttenfelder (The World) Inside the Hermit Kingdom: David Guttenfelder on Photographing North Korea
Mads Nissen (Panos Social) The Making of Amazonas
Ben Lowy (ABC Arts)
Ben Lowy (MSN Australia) Covering warzones with an iPhone
Kai Löffelbein (Leica blog) A Hidden World in Hong Kong
Tomas van Houtryve (The Story)
Michal Chelbin (The Voice of Russia)
Sue Ogrocki (LightBox) Moments of Hope in Oklahoma: One Photographer’s Story
Paul Hellstern (CNN) Photographer captures snapshots of courage after tornado levels OKC school
Ed Jones (LightBox Tumblr)
Stacy Pearsall (Peach Pit) In the Trenches with Combat Photographer
Katrin Koenning (No Borders Magazine) A sense of belonging
Alonzo J. Adams (LightBox Tumblr)
Laura Pannack (Photo Whoa) Speaking Through Your Photographs & Connecting with Your Viewer
Mikko Takkunen is an associate photo editor at TIME.com
In February, Justin Maxon, a photographer and Northern California native, spent several days and nights on Chicago’s South Side for TIME, trying to make fresh images that convey the sadly familiar fact of gun violence in the great but troubled city.
There is a fire, an intensity, to Maxon’s work that may partly be the end result of a journalist in his 20s seeing a story with fresh eyes. But even more, it is a measure of his honest desire to go past the surface of a picture to the complicated humanity that lies at the core of all conflict. These are real people, and left behind are real survivors wrestling with grief, guilt, and anger.
“What I witnessed and gathered from the stories of people living in the South Side is that their community is about survival,” Maxon tells TIME. “With that dynamic comes fight. Violence is built into the structure of survival.”
Maxon questioned how to best represent the complex issues facing the community, revealing just how critical it is to show the nuances when covering an environment saddled by intense transformation. Too often, reports of urban violence begin and end with data: name, age, street address — and how many murders does that make for this year? Maxon’s pictures are the opposite, pulling viewers from the grim facts toward the search for meaning.
“These are communities of strength and hope,” Maxon says. “Where people come together to grieve but to also encourage and inspire. I obviously had to illustrate the story of violence, but I was most interested in searching for how the community was trying to critically engage with the issue in an adaptive and positive way.”
Click here to read editor-at-large David Von Drehle’s full magazine story on Chicago and Mayor Rahm Emanuel available exclusively for TIME subscribers.
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Justin Maxon is a Northern California native whose recent work When the Spirit Moves (featured on LightBox June 10, 2011) documents Chester, Pennsylvania—a community facing upwards of 300 unsolved murder cases since the mid-nineties.
David Von Drehle is an editor-at-large for TIME, where he has covered politics, breaking news and the Supreme Court since 2007. He is the author of four books, including Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year, published in 2012, and Triangle: The Fire That Changed America
Photographic technology was born in Europe, but the art of photography as we know it, was invented in the USA during the 1950s and 60s, sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. John Szarkowski, MoMA’s powerful Director of Photography, declared that great British photographers belonged to a “documentary tradition” that included Bill Brandt (whose press pictures of Britain in the 1930s were exhibited at MoMA in 1969). David Moore’s work from 1987-88, which was first published in Creative Camera in 1988, and now published as a book, Pictures from the Real World, conforms to the expectation that British photographers should, like Brandt, be primarily social observers.
The notion of a “documentary tradition” does not stand up to scrutiny, however, because of the many disparities between Brandt’s generation and Moore’s. Unlike his forebears, Moore benefited from a cultural climate that recognized and rewarded his artistry (the state-funded Arts Council supported dedicated galleries and magazines). This made it possible for him to cultivate a personal style that did not yet conform to the demands of the mass media. Commentators of the 80s interpreted the rather shocking use of color photography, by Moore and others, as a rebellion against the old black-and-white school, but in fact color became simply an extension of a “documentary aesthetic” popularized by the American formalist, William Eggleston.
While Moore was at college (he studied with Martin Parr from 1985 to 1988 at the West Surrey College of Art) the first serious challenge arrived to those who championed documentary photography as both an art form and a tool for reform. In the US and Britain, the theories of French thinkers such as Roland Barthes, challenged claims that photographs were objects of artistic expression or transparent reproductions of “reality.” As these ideas took hold two things happened: the supposed truth of documentary photography became discredited, and it was “saved for art.”
There have been many claims for British documentary photography of the 1980s, including the claim that it was a social critique of the Thatcher years in Britain. This has yet to be demonstrated. Arguably, the most radical aspect of these pictures, is Moore’s refusal of the role of “neutral observer” — something he shares with others of his generation. To eyes accustomed to digitally enhanced photography, many of these pictures will seem familiar. This is because they were cleverly manipulated, both formally (using flash mixed with ambient light to invoke a heightened reality), and conceived, not as “records of life” but opinions. Did Moore just happen to pass by and “snap” the conjunction of the baby and the television image, or did he find the image on a video? Looking back, we can see that this “documentary-style” photography (a term coined by the great American photographer Walker Evans) marked an important stage in the unravelling of the sacred bond between photographer/witness and “reality” that forms the basis of the authority of photography in the press and in society. The relatively recent invention of Photoshop has taken the process much farther.
This is a welcome and important book that is part of a current reappraisal of the British photography of the 1970s and 80s.
David Moore is a London based photographer who has exhibited and published internationally. He has been working as a photographer and educator since graduating from West Surrey College of Art and Design, Farnham, in 1988.
David Brittain is a curator, critic, documentary maker, lecturer and was editor of the respected international magazine, Creative Camera, (1991-2001). In 2000, his anthology of writings, Creative Camera: Thirty Years of Writing, was published by Manchester University Press.
To photograph mankind and explain man to man — that was how legendary photographer Wayne Miller described his decades-long drive to document the myriad subjects gracing his work. Miller passed away Wednesday at the age of 94 at his home in California.
Wayne Miller in 2001
Miller began pursuing photography while attending college at the University of Illinois, Urbana, shooting for the school’s yearbook. Following a two-year stint at the Art Center School of Los Angeles, Miller started working as a photographer for the U.S. Navy, serving in the Pacific Theater under Edward Steichen’s Naval Aviation Unit.
“We had Navy orders that allowed us to go any place we wanted to go and, when we got done, to go home,” Miller said in an interview with the American Society of Media Photographers. “It was fantastic.”
Miller’s reportage-style images of life and death aboard U.S. aircraft carriers provide a visual narrative for a field of battle largely unknown to the American public. Miller’s war-time photographs illustrate the tension and tragedy of bloodshed and destruction underneath the beautiful skies and billowing white clouds of the South Pacific.
And after Japan capitulated in September 1945, Miller was one of the first photographers to enter Hiroshima, documenting the unimaginable effects of the 20-kilton atomic bomb detonated over the city the previous month. Miller photographed victims suffering from acute radiation poisoning and severe shock in the ruins of a city reduced to rubble in one great flash.
Miller received two grants from the Guggenheim Foundation to photograph his next major project, a documentary look at the streets of Chicago’s South Side, his hometown. Shooting between 1946 and 1948, his work — a mix of portraits and environmental scenes — broke convictions for its look at the black communities living and working in postwar Chicago.
An alley between overcrowded tenements, with garbage thrown over the railings of the back porches. Most of the area's tenants were transient. Chicago, 1948.
“Up until that time, these [photographs] were considered snapshots by the public and by the commercial world,” he told ASMP. The visual weight of his work didn’t go unnoticed — the hope, worry, excitement, struggle and leisure pictured in ‘The Ways of Life of the Northern Negro’ remains striking even to modern viewers today.
After his Chicago body of work, Miller went on to work as a photographer for LIFE until 1953. He began collaborating with his old boss, Steichen, on a new project called the “Family of Man” — an ambitious look at the commonalities among humans around the world through the work of 273 photographers (including Miller). As an associate curator, Miller helped Steichen produce and organize the show’s exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1955. One of Miller’s photographs even graced the cover of LIFE that February.
Miller held the title of president of the prestigious Magnum photo agency from 1962-1968, leading the cooperative before beginning a career with the National Park Service and later, CBS. In the mid 1970s, Miller put down his camera to follow his passion for the environment, purchasing a small plot of redwood forest in Mendocino County. For the next several years, he worked to combat tax laws that favored clear cutting forests. He continued to push for sustainable practices through retirement.
Miller is survived by his wife Joan, four child, nine grandchildren and one great grandchild.
The film about Miller’s career, embedded above, is ‘The World is Young” by Theo Rigby, a photographer and filmmaker based in San Francisco.
Vaughn Wallace is the producer of LightBox. Follow him on Twitter @vaughnwallace.
Shared human experience.
That was the driving force behind photojournalist Chris Hondros’ work. Moments of humanity, brought into the light and into the consciousness of the greater public. His images — whether made within the baked-clay walls of a compound in Basra, the mold-blanketed alleys of post-Katrina New Orleans or the quiet glades of a snow-covered Central Park — reflected an innate desire to photograph the human world he saw unfolding around him. His work was deeply empathetic, a quality that allowed him to tell stories that lingered in viewers’ minds long after the page was turned. And Hondros’ staff position at Getty Images amplified his reach — his photos sent on the wire to thousands of publications around the world, with the potential to reach literally billions of eyes.
In April 2011, in the very midst of doing the hard, important work that he loved, Hondros’ life was cut short by a mortar round.
The Chris Hondros Fund, established in his name by his fiancée Christina Piaia and close friends, aims to “continue and preserve Hondros’ distinctive abilities to bring shared human experiences into the public eye.” Now in its second year, the Fund offers financial support to photographers who work in the same vein that Hondros did — with empathy, dedication and humility.
“This award recognizes and supports photojournalists who bring the news stories of our time into view,” says Piaia.
Today, the fund, in conjunction with Getty Images, gave Chilean photographer Tomás Munita the $20,000 award, citing his “fierce commitment to photojournalism and endless drive to tell a story.” Munita’s portfolio of work, shot in a wide variety of settings and locales, reflects a strong and nuanced grasp of the human condition. His photographs of refugees in Afghanistan, prisoners in El Salvador and daily life in Cuba all demonstrate just how in touch Munita is with the currents (and undercurrents) of life.
“I would like to express my gratitude,” Munita told TIME. “[This award] is not just a recognition. It is the means to keep working on personal projects, which I am definitely going to do.”
Photographer Bryan Denton was selected as a finalist for the 2013 award; the committee cited Denton’s “rare ability to capture both the complexities and daily life of those living in conflict and its aftermath with an unyielding commitment and intellectual curiosity.”
Libyan residents of Tripoli stormed through the Bab al-Azizia compound in search of weapons as a structure burned in the background. Aug. 23, 2011.
Previously, on the first anniversary of Hondros’ death after he was killed in Libya in 2011, the fund awarded $20,000 to NOOR photographer Andrea Bruce. Emerging photographer Dominic Bracco received a $5000 runner-up award.
For more information on the Chris Hondros Fund, visit ChrisHondrosFund.org.