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Robert Nickelsberg

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Original author: 
Mikko Takkunen

Features and Essays

Rena Effendi / INSTITUTE  for National Geographic

Rena Effendi / National Geographic

Rena Effendi: Transylvania Hay Country (National Geographic)  The old art of making hay on the grass-growing meadows of Transylvania | from the July issue of National Geographic magazine | Effendi’s agency

Ami Vitale: Montana Ranch (Photo Booth)  A testament to a disappearing way of life and an ode to its endurance.

Rena Effendi: Spirit Lake (Institute) Located in an isolated and economically languishing area of North Dakota, Spirit Lake is a Sioux Indian reservation home to some 6,200 inhabitants

Raphaela Rosella: Teen Mothers in Australia (Feature Shoot)

Giorgos Moutafis

Giorgos Moutafis

Giorgos Moutafis: Istanbul’s Taksim Square (Photo Booth) Moutafis’s website

Guy Martin: Turmoil in Istanbul: Turkey’s Gezi Park Protests (LightBox) Full edit on Panos Pictures here

Guillaume Herbaut: Unrest in Turkey (Institute)

LouLou d’Aki: Occupy Istanbul: Portraits of Turkey’s Protest Kids (NY magazine)

Enri Canaj

Enri Canaj

Enri Canaj: City of Shadows (Foto8) Athens, Greece

Yannis Behrakis: Homelessness in Greece (Guardian) Related on Reuters photoblog here

Lauren Greenfield: The Fast and The Fashionable (ESPN) In Monaco during F1 Grand Prix

Giovanni Cocco: The Life Of A Sibling With Disability (NPR Picture Show)

Riverboom: Giro d’Italia (Institute)

Robert Nickelsberg: Surviving Cold War (World Policy) Forces from Norway, Britain, and the Netherlands in training in the planet’s harshest climate in the Arctic Circle

Diana Markosian

Diana Markosian

Diana Markosian: My Father, The Stranger (NYT) Markosian writes about her father here | Related on the NYT Lens blog here

Ian Willms: Following in the Mennonites’ Footsteps (LightBox)

Tomasz Lazar: In Kosovo, Bridging an Ethnic Divide (NYT)

Cathal McNaughton: Yarnbombers (Guardian) Photographer Cathal McNaughton has caught up with the Yarnbombers, the guerrilla knitters who plan to target the G8 using knitting or crochet rather than graffiti

Sebastian Liste / Reportage by Getty Images for TIME

Sebastian Liste / Reportage by Getty Images for TIME

Sebastian Liste: On the Inside: Venezuela’s Most Dangerous Prison (LightBox)

Pietro Paolini: Ecuador: Balance on the Zero (Terra Project)

Elizabeth Griffin and Amelia Coffaro: Capturing Life With Cancer At Age 28 (NPR Picture Show)

Lars Tunbjörk: Cremation: The New American Way of Death (LightBox)

Lucas Jackson: Tornado survivors of Moore (Reuters photo blog) multimedia

Andy Levin: Coney Island (NYT Lens)

Daniel Love: 200 Hours (Guardian)

Robert Herman: New York: A View of Inner Turmoil (NYT Lens)

Reed Young: The Ground Zero of Immigration: El Paso (LightBox)

Sara Lewkowicz: An unflinching look at domestic abuse (CNN photo blog)

Tony Fouhse: The Simple View of Ottawa (NYT Lens)

Justin Jin for the New York Times

Justin Jin for the New York Times

Justin Jin: A Chinese Push for Urbanization (NYT)

Sean Gallagher: Climate change on the Tibetan plateau (Guardian) audio slideshow

Nic Dunlop: On the frontlines of a ‘Brave New Burma’ (CNN photo blog)

Zohra Bensemra: Pakistan’s female Top Gun (Reuters)

Paolo Marchetti: The Stains of Kerala (LightBox)

Behrouz Mehri / AFP / Getty Images

Behrouz Mehri / AFP / Getty Images

Behrouz Mehri: Life in Tehran, glimpsed through the rear window (AFP Correspondent)

Tyler Hicks: A New Strategy on One Syrian Front (NYT)

Laurent Van der Stockt: On The Damascus Front Lines (Le Monde)

Jason Larkin: Suez – Egypt’s Lifeline (Panos Pictures)

Nyani Quarmyne: Bridging Approaches to Mental Illness in Sierra Leone (NYT Lens)

Jake Naughton: Education of Girls in Kibera (Feature Shoot)

David Guttenfelder: Last Song for Migrating Birds (NGM) Across the Mediterranean, millions are killed for food, profit, and cruel amusement.

Nick Cobbing: Follow the Creatures (Photographer’s website) Antarctica

Nelli Palomäki: Portraits of Children (LightBox)

Articles

AP Explore

AP Explore

The Burning Monk 50th anniversary (AP) Malcolm Wilde Browne was 30 years old when he arrived in Saigon on Nov. 7, 1961, as AP’s first permanent correspondent there. From the start, Browne was filing the kind of big stories that would win him the Pulitzer Prize for reporting in 1964. But today, he is primarily remembered for a photograph taken 50 years ago on June 11, 1963, depicting the dignified yet horrific death by fiery suicide of Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc.

Malcolm Browne: The Story Behind The Burning Monk (LightBox)

Love struck: Photographs of JFK’s visit to Berlin 50 years ago reveal a nation instantly smitten (The Independent) Photographer Ulrich Mack accompanied Kennedy on the entire trip. The results, published this month as Kennedy in Berlin, have mostly never been seen before

Osman Orsal / Reuters

Osman Orsal / Reuters

Images of Protest in Istanbul: The Woman in Red (No Caption Needed)

Turkey’s “Lady in Red” and the Importance of Professional Photographers (NPPA)

The photo that encapsulates Turkey’s protests and the severe police crackdown (Washington Post)

‘Woman in red’ sprayed with teargas becomes symbol of Turkey protests (Guardian)

Photographer documents Istanbul ‘war zone’ in his own backyard on Facebook (NBC News photo blog)

Photographic Mood, on the Eve of Destruction (No Caption Needed)

Photographer Injured in Istanbul Protests (PDN)

Pixelating the reality? (Al Jazeera: Listening Post) Photography is a subjective medium, and how it is used will always depend on who is using it. | On Paul Hansen’s World Press Photo of the Year and post-processing in photojournalism in general

The Art of War – Ron Haviv (Viewpoint on Vimeo) A documentary from the public television of Greece, year 2013. Language: English | Greek Subtitles

Leading photojournalist captures the beating heart of a brutal world (Sydney Morning Herald) Forty years of covering atrocities has only reinforced James Nachtwey’s faith in humanity

Rita Leistner: Looking for Marshall McLuhan in Afghanistan (BagNewsNotes)

Profile of a Curatorial Master: Yolanda Cuomo (LightBox)

A Glance at the 2013 LOOK3 Photo Festival (LightBox)

Edouard Elias / Getty Images

Edouard Elias / Getty Images

Two journalists, including photographer Edouard Elias, abducted in Syria (BJP) According to Le Monde and BBC News, the two journalists, Didier François and Edouard Elias, were travelling to Aleppo in Syria when they were abducted by four armed men at a checkpoint 

Syrian teacher turned war photographer (CNN) Nour Kelze describes her transition from English teacher in Aleppo to war photographer in the middle of Syria’s conflict.

Frontline Freelance Register created to help freelance war reporters (BJP)

Margaret Bourke-White’s Damaged Negatives From a Classic Assignment (LIFE)

A Paean to Forbearance (the Rough Draft) (NYT) The origins behind James Agee’s 1941 book, “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men,” a literary description of abject poverty in the South, accompanied by Walker Evans photographs.

In pictures: Saul Leiter’s pioneering colour photography (BBC)

Ageing and creative decline in photography: a taboo subject (BJP)

The Woman in a Jim Crow Photo (NYT Lens)

Abigail Heyman, Feminist Photojournalist, Dies at 70 (NYT) Related

Denver photographer Steven Nickerson who shocked, awed, dead at 55 (Denver Post)

Bolivar Arellano’s Photos for El Diario-La Prensa (NYT Lens)

Nelson Mandela: a life in focus (Guardian) Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Greg Marinovich reflects on a legend of our time

Eman Mohammed in the Gaza Strip (Denver Post Plog)

Robert Capa’s vintage prints on show (BBC) To mark what would have been the 100th birthday of photographer Robert Capa, the Atlas gallery in London is holding an exhibition of his work. It comprises a wide range of prints from his time in Spain during the Civil War through World War II, and ending with the Indo China conflict where he lost his life.

Uzbek migrant workers in Kazakhstan

Chloe Dewe Mathews

Chloe Dewe Mathews’s best photograph – Uzbek migrant workers (Guardian)

Featured photographer: Scout Tufankjian (Verve Photo)

Featured photographer: Carlo Gianferro (Verve Photo)

Featured photographer: Antonia Zennaro (Verve Photo)

Deutsche Börse photography prize 2013 won by Broomberg and Chanarin (Guardian)

American Girls: Photographs Offer Vision into American Girlhood (Daily Beast) Polish photographer Ilona Szwarc’s new exhibit captures 100 kids with their cult-classic toy, the American Girl doll.

Northern Ireland: 30 Years of Photography by Colin Graham – review (Guardian) This catalogue of recent Northern Irish photography shows a determination to leave the documentary style of the Troubles behind

After Lowry (FT magazine) Landscape photographer John Davies takes a series of pictures in the northwest of England inspired by the work of LS Lowry

Eric Maierson: This is what editing feels like (MediaStorm blog)

Yunghi Kim: Protecting Our Images (NPPA)

I Spy: Photographer who secretly snapped neighbors goes to court (Yahoo)

Beyonce Photoshopped Into Starvation for Latest Ad Campaign (PetaPixel)

Interviews and Talks

C-SPAN

C-SPAN

Rodrigo Abd and Javier Manzano (C-Span)

Carolyn Drake (cestandard) An interview with Carolyn Drake, author of Two Rivers

Paul Conroy (Amanpour) The deadliest country on earth for journalists | Conroy on Marie Colvin’s last assignment

Alex Webb (LA Times Framed)

Christopher Anderson (GUP magazine)

Stuart Franklin (Vice) There’s More to Stuart Franklin Than the Most Famous Photo of the 20th Century

Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

Paula Bronstein (ABC Radio National Australia) Internationally acclaimed US photo journalist Paula Bronstein talks about bearing witness to human suffering through her photo essays.

John H. White (NPR Picture Show) Photo Staff Firings Won’t Shake Pulitzer Winner’s Focus

Joe McNally (NYT Lens) Photographing on Top of the World

David Guttenfelder (NGM) Photographer David Guttenfelder reflects upon why taking pictures of the slaughter of songbirds is like covering a war.

Alexandra Avakian / Contact Press Images

Alexandra Avakian / Contact Press Images

Jean-François Leroy (BJP) Visa pour l’Image organizer on the festival’s editorial line and the cost of covering war

Jean-François Leroy (BJP) Visa pour l’Image organizer on social media, the future of photojournalism and the need for greater cooperation

Marco Di Lauro (Image Deconstructed)

Evgenia Arbugaeva (Leica blog) Leica Oskar Barnack Award Winner 2013

Jenn Ackerman (PBS NewsHours) One Photographer’s Experience Documenting Mentally Ill Inmates

Richard Misrach (PDN Pulse) Misrach on Documentary vs. Art, the Complications of Portraiture, and Digital Photography

Daniel Etter / Redux

Daniel Etter / Redux

Daniel Etter (LightBox Tumblr)

Espen Rasmussen (Panos Social)

Michael Christopher Brown (Window magazine)

Terry O’Neill (WSJ) The photographer on starlets, the Stones and Sinatra

Ewen Spencer (Vice) The Soul of UK Garage, As Photographed by Ewen Spencer

Mikko Takkunen is an associate photo editor at TIME.com. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

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Afghanistan is a hard place to enter and even harder to leave. Everything in Afghanistan, the geography, the weather, the tribesmen, all conspire to keep out unwanted visitors. And once you’re inside this labyrinth of stone, it’s nearly impossible to find your way out. Dust storms besiege Kabul’s airport, blizzards close the mountain passes and bandits or Taliban fighters (it’s hard to tell them apart) ambush the roads.

Ask the British how hard it is to leave Afghanistan. During their infamous retreat from Kabul in 1842, only one survivor out of 17,500 soldiers and camp followers staggered out of the Kabul Gorge alive. Ask the Soviets, who fared nearly as badly. And if history is any judge, the Americans won’t face an easy departure, either.

Photojournalist Robert Nickelsberg has also found it impossible to leave. Since he first trekked into Afghanistan with the mujahedin in 1988, Nickelsberg keeps going back. He does so out of curiosity, duty and obsession. He was there for the Soviets’ withdrawal—flowers for tank gunners until the Red Army rumbled into the hairpins of the Hindu Kush and fell prey to ambush. He was there for the vicious civil war that broke out when the Soviet-backed regime fell apart in 1992 and Afghanistan’s ethnic groups, the Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks turned snarling on each other. (And may do so again, after NATO forces depart.)

Nickelsberg was there for the Taliban’s conquest of Afghanistan, their swift fall after the U.S.-led invasion and the Taliban’s rise again. “The Americans didn’t grasp how complex this is,” Nickelsberg says, “The soldiers come and go so fast they barely have time to figure out where the sun rises and sets.”

His photos bear witness to that complexity, to the savage beauty of Afghanistan and its people. His photos are spare, intense. Every image is stripped down to the essential drama, and in doing so Nickelsberg illuminates the pivotal moments in Afghanistan’s chronology of  war and the brief, quiet moments in between, when Afghans catch their breath.

When I first ventured into Afghanistan in 1990, I sought out Nickelsberg, thinking, unwisely, that he would keep me from getting shot at. It was quite the reverse. Nickelsberg reacts to gunfire like a bird dog to the rustle of quail. He led me straight into the Kabul Gorge, where in my imagination, ghosts from the British massacre flitted in the ravine’s bottomless shadows and menace was ever-present. Nickelsberg was looking for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of Afghanistan’s more sadistic, and enduring, warlords. Luckily, we didn’t find Hekmatyar’s cutthroats that day, though a year later they would murder my Afghan translator. Following Nickelsberg into dangerous situations, mortar barrages, gun-battles, sieges and ambushes, became a pattern for the next 16 years of my life while I covered Afghanistan. He would get us into jams but he would always know how to get us out. Nickelsberg has longer legs than I do but, in retreat, I always out-ran him.

Many journalists love to dress up like Afghans, with the long tunic, the baggy pantaloons and the flat woolen caps known as pakools. They’re like giddy children going off to a costume party. Not Nickelsberg. He dresses for war as if going for a brisk walk in the Vermont hills, his hair as clipped as a military officer’s, perfectly parted. In the midst of Afghanistan’s chaos, Nickelsberg always kept his composure, his flinty style. And this reflects in his photography: there is a sharpness to his composition, a rigorous clarity.

Most photographers are captivated by swift light, motion and color, which Afghanistan has aplenty. But Nickelsberg stuck around. He bothered to learn about the people he portrays so keenly, the reasons why they laugh and cry—and kill. His photos aren’t just war and gore—though, undeniably, that’s part of Afghan history—but also the quotidian. Two shots in particular, young men dancing at a picnic in Babur’s gardens and warrior Ahmed Shah Masood sitting with his companions, have the delicacy of Mogul miniatures.

Nicklesberg’s hard-won knowledge of Afghanistan gives a rare depth to his photos. He wasn’t just snapping a pretty picture. He knew he was capturing Afghanistan’s history, and ours.

Robert Nickelsberg was a TIME magazine contract photographer for 25 years and was based in New Delhi from 1988 to 2000.  During that time, he documented conflicts in Kashmir, Iraq, Sri Lanka, India and Afghanistan. Currently represented by Getty Images, he is working on publishing a book of his photographs from Afghanistan.

Tim McGirk, a former TIME bureau chief, has been covering Afghanistan on and off since 1990, when he first ventured in with photojournalist Robert Nickelsberg. McGirk is currently managing editor of the University of California at Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Program.

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