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TIME Photo Department

“For centuries, Cuba’s greatest resource has been its people,” writes Pico Iyer in an extended essay on the Caribbean nation in this week’s magazine. In the twilight of the Castro era, Cubans are finding that change brings both hope and anxiety.

To pair with Iyer’s tome, TIME called upon Danish photographer Joakim Eskildsen. Eskildsen, who previously photographed a large portfolio for TIME on the state of poverty in America, traveled to Cuba for ten days, photographing urban housing projects in Havana and rural settlements across the countryside. With the help of local journalist Abel Gonzalez Alayon, Eskildsen photographed tobacco plantations, roadside fruit vendors, migrant workers and beachfront resorts — capturing all in the vibrant saturation of medium-format color film.

“I immediately fell in awe with the complexity of this country,” says Eskildsen. “The more you learn about the situation and how people are living, the more difficult it becomes to understand. It was like learning to view the world form a Cuban angle that kept surprising and inspiring me.”

To read Pico Iyer’s extended essay on Cuba, subscribe here. Already a subscriber? Click here.

Joakim Eskildsen is a Danish photographer based in Berlin. LightBox previously featured Eskildsen’s Home Works and Below the Line: Portraits of American Poverty.

Abel Gonzalez Alayon is a journalist based in Cuba. Follow him on Twitter @abelcuba.

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Eugene Reznik

Almost 1500 photographers applied for the Individual Photographer’s Fellowship grants this year presented by the Aaron Siskind Foundation, honoring the legacy of the legendary photographer best known for pioneering lens-based modernist abstraction.

“He was a wonderful teacher, he was always interested in new ideas and in things that challenged us,” says Charles Traub, president of the Aaron Siskind Foundation and Chair of the MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department at the School of Visual Arts. “We’re interested in all aspects of the creative photographic medium and all genres of photograph investigation — as long as the work is new and fresh.”

The eligibility requirements for the $5-10,000 grants are exceptionally democratic. They’re open to any professional, a citizen or resident of the United States, “who’s working on a serious body of work, who is trying to do something imaginative, important, moving the dialogue of our medium forward,” Traub says, and adds: “the term ‘professional’ is of course a loosely defined word.”

“There are no strings attached. It’s not like you have to have five million references, and a complete bio and all this stuff. It’s really just what you present.”

The Foundation selects three new judges each year — one from the editorial field, one artist and one curator — with an effort to avoid being East Coast-centric. This year’s judges were Natalie Matutschovsky, senior photo editor at TIME, photographer Andrew Moore, who recently published a new book on Cuba, and Tim Wride, curator at the Norton Museum of Art, formerly at LACMA.

“[The jury] tends to lean towards younger photographers,” since they are the ones who usually bring forth the newest, yet-to-be-recognized work, but occasionally, Traub says, “there is a better known older photographer who does submit new work that surprises the jury.”

This year, six photographers were each awarded $8,000 grants. “We gave six instead of our usual five this year because we just couldn’t pare it down any further,” Traub says. They are:

Michelle Frankfurter presented her series Destino which portrays the “perilous journey of undocumented Central American migrants along the network of freight trains lurching inexorably across Mexico, towards the hope of finding work in the United States.”

Wayne Lawrence documented the diverse experiences of African-American Orthodox Jews living in New York City.

Joshua Lutz presented a conceptual portrait of his mother’s descent into mental illness as “she slowly slipped away from the aggressive paranoia of my youth to an almost calming sense of delusion,” he writes. The series was published as a book titled Hesitating Beauty by Schilt in 2012.

Justin Maxon documented life in Chester, Pa, where industry has collapsed and the murder rate is among the highest in the nation, “a place where a domino effect of socio-economic issues and a long history of government corruption have revealed the community to be a microcosm of the wounds of racism that stain this country today.”

Jenny Riffle  presented a complex portrait of Riley, a scavenger who as a child read “Mark Twain’s stories of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and decided he wanted to be like those mythical boys. He wanted a life full of treasure and adventure.”

Sasha Rudensky presented her series Brightness which focuses on “an orphan generation of Russians, Ukrainians and Belorussians that came of age in a social vacuum, having disowned their past but lacking any means of orientation within the present.”

“I thought these were all wonderful photographers from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, from different parts of the country,” Traub says. “Largely, the work had a kind of narrative in it, a sort of structure of a story not told in a linear way and not told necessarily in a traditional documentary way. There was a great deal of technical competence and a kind of idiosyncratic look at life.”

Eugene Reznik is a Brooklyn-based photographer and writer. Follow him on Twitter @eugene_reznik.

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Vaughn Wallace

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.”

Bryan Denton

Bryan Denton

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.

Tomás Munita is a freelance photographer based in Santiago, Chile. He previously photographed Church and State: The Role of Religion in Cuba for TIME.

For more information on the Chris Hondros Fund, visit ChrisHondrosFund.org.

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(author unknown)

The National Geographic Traveler Magazine photo contest, now in its 25th year, has begun. There is still plenty of time to enter. The entry deadline is Sunday, June 30, at 11:59 p.m. Entrants may submit their photographs in any or all of the four categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place and Spontaneous Moments. The magazine's photo editors showcase their favorite entries each week in galleries. You can also vote for your favorites. "The pictures increasingly reflect a more sophisticated way of seeing and interpreting the world, making the judging process more difficult," says Keith Bellows, magazine editor in chief. (The captions are written by the entrants, some slightly edited for readability.) As always, you can take a look at some of last year's entries and winners.. -- Paula Nelson ( 40 photos total)
OUTDOOR SCENES - Portrait of an Eastern Screech Owl - Masters of disguise. The Eastern Screech Owl is seen here doing what they do best. You better have a sharp eye to spot these little birds of prey. Okeefenokee Swamp, Georgia, USA. (Photo and caption by Graham McGeorge/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)     

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Original author: 
Nathan Yau

Dangerous travel

As summer rolls around here on this side of the planet, CBC News mapped countries to avoid in your travel plans, based on foreign travel advisories from the Canada Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

Naturally, Canada isn't colored on the map because the map was made for Canadians, but I think it's safe to assume that they'd be colored green too and most, if not all, of the advisories apply to those of us here in the United States. [Thanks, John]

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