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Bruce Gilden’s photo series about foreclosed homes, which will be presented this weekend by the Magnum Foundation as part of the Photoville 2012 festival, is a departure from the photographer’s usual working style—and not just because this exhibition is going to be held in a shipping container.

“It’s the only piece I’ve ever done that could be considered photojournalistic, because I work generally like a poet,” Gilden says, meaning that he went into the project with a point of view rather than just looking for people or things that caught his eye. “I take pictures of what I feel, but this is a direct thing: I’m going to photograph houses that are foreclosed.”

Gilden got started on the topic in 2008, as part of a Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund effort to revisit a 1960s project; the idea was that President Obama might present a parallel to President Kennedy, and that it was a good time to look at the state of the country. Gilden intended to go to Florida and photograph the people of Miami Beach, but his wife suggested that foreclosures might be a more appropriate subject. “I didn’t even know really what foreclosure was,” he remembers. “But I went down and did foreclosures, and as I started to do it I started to get annoyed, because I saw it’s like legalized thievery.”He subsequently began to study up on the topic—he says he has now read 20 books on the topic, throws around words like “tranche” and can cite foreclosure rates by state—and the annoyance turned to anger. That anger became the message of the photographs. “I’m not on the one-percent side,” he says.

Video about the project from Gilden’s Kickstarter page

Some people do take advantage of the mortgage crisis as a scam, he says, but mostly it’s the bankers who he sees benefitting. “This just showed me how people in our country get used and abused,” he says. He cites one woman he met in Las Vegas, who earned $40,000 a year and received a $360,000 mortgage; “I mean, you must be kidding me,” he says. He admits that it’s not smart to take such an offer, but in a scenario where banks can get rid of bad mortgages rather than suffering from them, he sees incentive for those in power to convince individuals to take loans they can’t handle.

In the time since Gilden began photographing foreclosed houses, he says the problem has gotten worse. The original photographs of Florida have expanded to include several other states, including Nevada, which he recently visited on a Kickstarter-funded trip. The people he’s met along the way, people who feel taken advantage of, are eager to tell their stories in the interviews he conducts along with his photography. But he says he doesn’t plan to work on this series indefinitely. Next, he’d like to capture the step that sometimes follows foreclosure, life as a long-term resident of a motel. And he doesn’t see improvement coming any time soon: if the people capable of changing the situation benefit from the status quo, he says, why would they ever make those changes?

So even though this recent work is a departure from Gilden’s typical style and process, his interest is consistent when it comes to what he calls the dark side of life. “It’s great to wake up every morning because the world is great,” he says, “but it’s not a wonderful place for everyone.”

More information about Bruce Gilden’s No Place Like Home is available here, through the Magnum Foundation. The Photoville exhibition will be shown June 22 – July 1 in Brooklyn, New York; more information about the festival is available here.

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World Water Day is observed on March 22 every year. The day to recognize the importance of earth's most precious natural resource was proposed 20 years ago at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. While we often take water for granted, many cannot. And water plays a role in almost everything we do. We drink it, wash in it, play in it, generate power with it, irrigate crops with it, travel and transport goods on it, fight fires with it, and worship with it. Gathered here are images of water from the last year in all its uses, in scarcity and in abundance. -- Lane Turner (48 photos total)
A child bathes from a public tap in his neighborhood in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on March 6, 2012. A UNICEF report says unhygienic conditions cause an estimated 1. 2 million child deaths before the age of five from diarrhea worldwide every year. The report says in urban areas access to improved water and sanitation is not keeping pace with population growth. (Eranga Jayawardena/Associated Press)

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Last month LightBox featured the work of Lee Jeffries, a self-taught photographer who is crusading to bring attention to the plight of the homeless. Most recently, he traveled to Florida from the end of January through early February to continue the series he began in London four years ago.

It was a poignant time for Jeffries to be in Miami. The Sunshine State held its Republican primary on Jan. 31., and the following day, contest winner and GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney said in an interview that he was “not concerned about the very poor” because “we have a safety net there.” In Miami, the photographer documented some of the city’s most impoverished—many of whom have fallen through the “safety net” Romney described and find themselves homeless, living on the streets. As he does on every trip, Jeffries met and spent time with people on an individual basis—listening to their life stories, taking their portraits and trying to help them in any way he could.

Here LightBox presents an exclusive first look at Jeffries’ latest images of his powerful and moving portrait series on the homeless population—a series that has previously taken him from his native Manchester, England, to Rome, Los Angeles, New York and Las Vegas. Jeffries says first few days of each trip are always tentative. He tends to make small steps into the areas he has researched prior to his visit. This time around, Jeffries focused on Miami Beach, Downtown Miami, Fifth Street and Overtown, which has achieved a certain notoriety for being one of the tougher areas of town.

As this trip progressed Jeffries found that each area of Miami had its own distinct characteristics. Miami Beach, which includes South Beach, had a homeless population that tended to drift in from the downtown areas during the course of the week, perhaps for safety or the relative ease of panhandling from the richer tourists. Seeing downtown Miami’s sidewalks literally lined with homeless people surrounded by bags or trolleys of their entire worldly possessions immediately took Jeffries’ mind back to the hundreds of homeless people he had encountered lining Fifth St. and St. Julian, the address of Los Angeles’ Skid Row neighborhood.

In Overtown, located just above downtown, Jeffries found a mix of homeless people and housed families. Originally called Colored Town during the city’s segregated past, it is a major center of the African-American population and Jeffries says he found the community a little daunting to enter at first. But that didn’t last long. “I soon met some people who touched my heart so deeply I will never forget them,” he says, noting that only chance stood between their situation and that of anyone else.

One such person was Latoria, a 29-year-old who has lived in Overtown for just over a year and whose genuine sadness made a particularly deep impression on the photographer. “I spent time with her every day of my trip since our first meeting,” says Jeffries. “Her uncompromising addiction to crack cocaine was both obvious and tragic and I often watched helplessly as she fed that addiction. Perhaps the most moving aspect for me was witnessing her almost child-like vulnerability. There was just something about her that just screamed the tragedy of a wasted life.”

Then there was Terri, also living in Overtown, who has been on the streets on and off since she was 13;  ”Flowers,” a cool Jamaican property owner; “Cooper,” a homeless man Jeffries met in a cemetery;  and “Calvin” from Overtown, who was shot in the eye 1981 during a gang war.

“They are all part of the community,” Jeffries says, “and that is exactly what places like Overtown and Downtown Miami are: communities of people who shouldn’t be feared but respected and embraced and helped wherever possible. I have the utmost respect for every person I met there, and I hope I left with theirs.”

See Jeffries’ earlier work on LightBox here.

Lee Jeffries is a photographer based in Manchester, England. See more of his work here. Jeffries asks that readers interested in helping the homeless population of Miami visit Caring for Miami.

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Lucia Herrero

Tribes

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‘Tribes’ is a social analysis, a raw portrait of occidental society.

Groups of families and friends set themselves up by the sea equipped to spend a day in the sun. All this, harmoniously juxtaposed, seems like a poem of customs that reveal with humor, color and tenderness, the profundity of a whole society.

This series represents the human condition in a moment of peaceful holiday, pride, honesty and vulnerability. The objectively limited surrounding offers a complete extract of the essential. The photos are inspired by the studio portraits of ancient tribes who proudly posed in traditional costumes next to their prized possessions. The sky and the sea become the painted backdrop of the studio and the sand seems as if it were sprinkled on the studio floor. The lighting and the theatricality of the groups add an element of fantasy to the portraits of real people in their natural surroundings.

The photos were taken along the Spanish coast and people were asked to participate on the spot: ten minutes for a flashing set up, balancing color, shapes and hierarchies. All that gets dissolved afterwards leaving as the only witness a group portrait, a poetic painting, a human allegory.

Bio

Lucia Herrero (Madrid, 1976) studied Architecture at Polytechnic University Madrid, Photography CEV (Madrid), FOTOGRAM (Amsterdam), IEFC (Barcelona), and Physical Theatre -Jacques Lecoq Tech.

In 2010 Lucia’s work was successful in various photographic competitions: winner at the SFR-Jeunes-Talents which led to exhibit at Rencontres d’Arles; Group ‘Discoveries PhotoEspana ’10′ and among 10 best portfolios in Barcelona Photomeeting and Month of Photography in Bratislava. She has been  finalist in Magnum Expression Awards, Scoop Photo Festival and Honourable Mention at Viewbook. Her work has been exhibited in the Photography Festival of Pingyao (China), SCAN Festival in Tarragona, Lille 3000. In 2011 she’ll exhibit in Fotoseptiembre (MexicoDF), Belfast Photofestival, Montpellier and Toulouse and hall “Manege”, St.Petersburg.

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Lucia Herrero

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