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Brandon Thibodeaux

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Gareth Phillips | Out takes from 'Hiraeth' research shoot
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Brandon Thibodeaux | California
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Matthew Craig | Berlin
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Ying Ang | Paris, France
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Mustafah Abdulaziz | Konso Region, Ethiopia
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In 2003, Ian Welch was on his first combat tour in Iraq. As his battalion waited to storm the Diyala Bridge and seize Baghdad, an artillery shell struck the vehicle behind him, killing two soldiers and knocking Mr. Welch unconscious. When he came to, he was disoriented. His vision was blurred. Blood dripped from his ears. He helped gather the remains of the dead before heading out to take the bridge. He returned to Iraq twice more on combat tours.

Mr. Welch was later diagnosed with chronic PTSD and traumatic brain injury. He now lives in Dallas, Texas, with his girlfriend and government-paid caregiver, Katie Brickman. Every day, he faces the long-term effects of PTSD: bouts of amnesia, insomnia, anxiety, dizziness and vomiting.

Photographer Brandon Thibodeaux spent two months chronicling Mr. Welch’s struggles and with Wall Street Journal photo editors Matthew Craig (Executive Producer) and Kate Lord (Associate Producer), created the video below. This is Mr. Thibodeaux’s account. To read the story and see the complete interactive, click here.

* * * * *

I’ve come to think of Ian’s way of dealing with PTSD as a protective moat–a barrier he crosses only for doctor’s appointments, haircuts and other necessary outings.

When I was first assigned the story, I was planning on still photographs. But in the end we decided that the complexity of the story required much more, and I needed a different approach. I quickly learned that I needed ample time, as well as video and audio equipment to best tell Ian’s story.

Ian is someone who rarely steps outside of his structured life, so it was essential to gain his trust. In the end, Katie, his girlfriend, was key. She acts as his protector, making sure to blunt potential triggers to his PTSD. Katie studied photography and knew of the work of Tim Hetherington and other war photographers. She convinced Ian The Wall Street Journal project could be therapeutic.

Before I was assigned the story, I knew of PTSD as a combat disorder. After spending days with Ian and Katie, I learned of its long and tenacious grip on everyday life.

I felt it only fair to reveal my own vulnerabilities since Ian exposed so many of his. As a teenager, I underwent chemotherapy for a rare case of lymphoma cancer. While I didn’t face enemy fire or lose friends in a battle, it gave us a patch of common ground. I faced attacks from my own body. And when he described his anxiety and mood swings, it stoked memories of friends I had met at the hospital. I often wondered why I was allowed to survive and they were not. Even Katie’s role with Ian was reminiscent of how my parents must have managed, juggling appointments and providing support.

Once he allowed me access to his home, Ian, Katie, and I spent a lot of time together. It was important to become a part of his routine. Many days were quiet with little to photograph. Since Ian and Katie stayed up late, it made sense for me to stay overnight sometimes.

To understand his deeper, more personal thoughts, I asked Ian to read his journals, and to describe what he recalled from the injury on April 7, 2003. I felt horrible asking to hear such difficult memories. One night, as we finally felt comfortable enough to go over his combat experience, I had to help him walk back into the house. Katie didn’t know how to react when she saw how weak he was. It was a powerful reminder of how difficult it was for him to revisit the most painful parts of his past.

When the project was over, Ian was inundated by phone calls from loved ones. Katie couldn’t thank us enough for spending so much time with Ian and for capturing such an honest portrayal. Ian also talked about the project a lot and was more open to discussing his PTSD. I hope his story and video helps him hear those inner thoughts with better perspective. And I hope his story reaches and comforts others like him.

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Features and Essays

Syrians in our minds…

Tomas Munita has done great work for the New York Times from over there… I can hardly imagine how difficult the conditions…

Tomas Munita: Fighting Intensifies in Syria (NYT) See also

Tomas Munita: A Day With the Arab League Monitors in Syria (NYT)


Update Wednesday 8 February 2012:

Time Lightbox posted a slideshow this morning by Italian photographer Alessio Romenzi, on assignment for Time in Homs.  Rather than wait until next week, want to share the link to the work here…

Alessio Romenzi: Syria Under Siege (Lightbox)


Antonio Bolfo’s NYPD: Impact on NYT Lens…Always loved this work… Saw it exhibited in Perpignan 2010…Definitely worth another look..

Antonio Bolfo: NYPD: Impact (NYT Lens)

Andrea Bruce from Kabul

Andrea Bruce: Children in Kabul (NYT)

Here’s Lauren Lancaster from Kabul too…Completely new photographer to me… See later in this post for Lancaster’s photos from GOP primary in Florida…posted on New Yorker’s Photo Booth

Lauren Lancaster: Youth in Kabul (Le Monde M Magazine)

GOP Primaries

Ricardo Cases from Florida on assignment for Time…Lightbox slideshow…

Plenty got printed in the magazine too…

Ricardo Cases: A Sunshine State of Mind for the Florida Primary (Lightbox)

Charles Ommanney: Newt Gingrich on the Florida Campaign Trail (Newsweek)

Charles Ommanney: US Presidential Campaign 2012 (Reportage by Getty Images)

Peter van Agtmael: On the Campaign Trail with Newt Gingrich (Lightbox)

Lauren Lancaster: Running in Florida (Photo Booth)

Massive Florida Primary gallery on NYT with photos by Heisler,Crowley,Yam,Litherland, Thayer, and Henry…

NYT (various photographers): The Florida Primary

To other issues… Here’s a link to Scottish photographer David Gillanders’  multimedia The Neglected…Finished sometime last year, but only discovered this last week…

David Gillanders: The Neglected : Street Children in Ukraine (Vimeo)

Pete Pin: The Cambodian Diaspora (Lightbox)

Sally Ryan: Black Jews of Chicago (zReportage)

Marvi Lacar: A ‘visual diary’ of depression (CNN photo blog)

Bruno Barbey: Istanbul (Magnum)

photo: Steve Liss

New Yorker (various photographers): American Poverty (Photo Booth)

Evgenia Arbugaeva: Siberian Memories (NYT Lens)

photo: Jason Andrew

Financial Times (Photos by Jason Andrew and Brandon Thibodeaux): Atheism in America (FT)

After reading Toni Greaves’ interview about her Radical Love series last week on BJP, I visited her website and ended taking a look also at the multimedia version of the project, which was posted on while back… Really enjoyed… Very good audio…

Toni Greaves: Radical Love: The Sisters of Summit, NJ (TIME)

Maija Tammi: Small Sizes and Great Love (Polka) multimedia

Lise Sarfati: She (Guardian)

Stephanie Sinclair: A Day with Warren Buffett (WSJ)

Denis Sinyakov: Moscow’s Migrant Workforce (Msnbc)

Veronique de Viguerie: With Libyan Arms, Mali Fighting Is Revived (NYT)

Adam Ferguson: Karen Rebels Remain Defiant (NYT) Myanmar

Brandon Thibodeaux: War Torn: An Iraq War Veteran’s Story (WSJ channel on Youtube) video

Andre Bruce: Leaving Iraq (NOOR)

Ayman Oghanna: Iraq (Polka)

Luis Carlos Barreto: Tropical Light (NYT Lens)

Lot of new features on Panos Pictures site….

Ivan Kashinsky: Guaranda Carnival (Panos)

Karla Gachet and Ivan Kashinsky: Dance of the Devils (Panos) Gachet and Kashinsky are both represented by Panos, but they also have a common website at Runa Photos. See later in this post for their brand new iPad App…

Xavier Cervera: Revolucion o Muerte (Panos)

Stuart Freedman: The Englishman’s Eel (Panos)

Jason Larkin: Power to the People (Panos)

Sergey Maximishin: The Institute (Panos)

Dean Chapman: Fading Memories (Panos)

Mark Henley: The Vaults (The Atlantic)

Alvaro Ybarra Zavala: Tahrir, 1 Year On (Reportage by Getty Images)

Nadia Shira Cohen: Egyptians (NYT Lens)

Ed Ou: Egyptian Youth (Reportage by Getty Images)

Alessandro Gandolfi: The Catacombs of Las Vegas (Parallelo Zero)

Brenda Ann Kenneally: The Last Nights at the Western Hotel (Lightbox)

Kadir van Lohuizen: Money, God, and Criminals (NOOR)

Liu Tao: Blood, Sweat, and Tears (zReportage)

Maciek Nabrdalik: Faith : Polish Catholicism (VII)

Adrian Fisk: Dilli Purani Dilli Naye (Foto8)

Reed Young: Brownsville (Lightbox)

Phil Moore: DRC Elections (Photographer’s website)

Peter Turnley: Cuba : A Grace of Spirit (Photgrapher’s website)

Michael Carlebach: South Florida (NYT Lens)

Jean-Marie Simon: Guatemala’s War Years (NYT Lens)

Bharat Choudhary: Young Muslims (NYT Lens)

Jordi Ruiz Cirera: The Mennonites of Bolivia (Foto8)

Olga Kravets, Maria Morina and Oksana Yushko: Grozny: Nine Cities  (PDN Photo of the Day)

David Dawson: Working with Lucian Freud (Lightbox)

Michael Tsegaye: Fighting Forgotten Tropical Diseases (BBC)

Thomas Hulton: The Lam Family of Ludlow Street (NYT Lens)

Espen Rasmussen: Transit (The Atlantic)

New Yorker (photos by Sylvia Plachy and Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao): Battle of Panoramas

Andrew Burton: Best of 2011 (Photographer’s website)

iPad Apps

Gerd Ludwig’s The Long Shadow of Chernobyl

Short Stories: From Ecuador to Tierra del Fuego by Karla Gachet and Ivan Kashinsky

Polka Magazine iPad App


Gina #12 Oakland, CA 2009, courtesy Brancolini Grimald  by Lise Sarfati

Lise Sarfati (Telephoto)

Lise Sarfati (Guardian) related: exhibition review

Steve Pyke on reviewing over 8,000 images for the World Press Award (PicBod)

Steve Pyke from the World Press Photo Award on fifteen hour days (PicBod)

World Press Photo:  Members of the jury share their perspectives on the winners and the judging process.

Ed Kashi (Bangkok Post)

Anthony Shadid (Mother Jones)

Doug Mills (NYT Lens)

Barton Silverman (NYT Lens)

James Whitlow Delano (Asiasociety)

Harry Hardie on Lynsey Addario & Tim Hetherington’s ‘In Afghanistan’ exhibition

Ed Ou (Wired Rawfile blog)

Venetia Dearden (e-photoreview)

Kael Alford (Vimeo)

Yunghi Kim (Tiffinbox)

Leo Maguire (BJP)

Guy Martin (Ideas Tap)

JB Russell (shootlove)

Elinor Carucci (PicBod)

Brett Ziegler (NYT Lens)



Update 8 Wednesday 2012:

Just as I had finished the post yesterday, we got news that Magnum photographer Sergio Larrain has passed away.

Sergio Larrain (1931-2012)

photo: Rene Burri

Here’s a Slate slideshow celebrating Larrain’s work…

LONDON—Baker Street Station, 1959.

Slate: Sergio Larrain 1931-2012


PDN: Swedish Journalists Endure Inhumane Conditions in Ethiopian Jail

Slate: Can Five Great Photographers Really Collaborate? | Postcards from America: A Magnum Collaboration

Lightbox: Postcards From America: The Box Set

photo: Nick Waplington

FT: Ways of Seeing

The Sacramento Bee: To our Readers: The Sacramento Bee fired longtime photographer Bryan Patrick

UNHCR: Nansen Award winner turns her lens on the Flowers of Afghanistan

BJP: The Photographers’ Gallery will reopen its London premises on 19 May with an exhibition of Edward Burtynsky’s Oil

Phaidon: Getting to know the face behind the photograph

BJP: Crowdfunding platform launches publishing arm

BJP: National Media Museum is set to start work on its London-based gallery

BJP: Firecracker Grant

BJP: Photographer wins copyright infringement case

NYT Mag 6th Floor blog: The Auckland Project

PDN: US Falls To #47 On Press Freedom Index, Thanks to Occupy Crackdowns

TIME Lightbox Tumblr: Joachim Ladefoged had only 8 minutes to photograph Messi

Allen Murabayash: Why I love Photography (PhotoShelter blog)

Guardian: Featured photojournalist: Lucy Nicholson | Related on Reuters photo blog

Dallas Morning News Photo blog: Big Miracle the movie – The story behind the real photo | How a photo from an almost botched Arctic assignment inspired a Drew Barrymore film

FT: Photographer Lise Sarfati studies the lives of teenagers and young women in America

Firecracker: February 2012 newsletter

The National Press Club: Attorney details backlash against photojournalists

Verve: Sam Phelps

Verve: Anne-Stine Johnsbåten

Verve: Rafael Fabrés

LA Times Framework blog: Six Photography Game Changers

PDN: Greenfield Wins Sundance Director Prize

BJP: Keeping the tabs: The best account management applications for photographers

New Yorker: Close Inspection: Magnum Contact Sheets (Photo Booth)

Mike David: Where’s the line on toning photos, especially for contests? (Mike Davis blog)


new issue…. 7.7 : Documentary Photography Digital Magazine


Labyrinth Photographic Printing : ‘A Year in Development’ Exhibition’ – 17th February – 1st March 2012 : London

Behind the Scenes of Steve McCurry’s Rome exhibition (Phaidon) video

Awards, Grants, and Competitions

photo: Justin Maxon

Magnum Emergency Fund Announces 2012 Grantees (Lightbox)

Aperture 2011 Portfolio Prize Finalists

Sony World Photography Awards 2012 Shortlist Announced | on BJP

PDN Annual

FotoEvidence : Book Award

Foam Talent call 2012 now open

Getty Images relaunches creative grants programme

Gordon Parks Photo Contest Deadline July 2

Agencies and Collectives

Magnum Photos : February 2012 newsletter

NOOR newsletter February 2012

Reportage by Getty Images: Peter Dench joins Reportage

Reportage by Getty Images: Introducing John D McHugh as a featured contributor

TerraProject Newsletter

Crowd funding

UK Uncensored by Peter Dench (

Faded Tulips by William Daniels ( featured on Telephoto

Trading to Extinction by Patrick Brown ( Related on NYT Lens


Visual Storytelling in an Open Society: workshop for Egyptian photographers : Deadline for applications is Sunday FEBRUARY 12, 2012 [link to info on Lightstalkers]

2012 Noor – Nikon Masterclass : South Africa | on BJP

MediaStorm multimedia storytelling workshop in London at the Frontline Club on February 20.


Bloomberg: Staff Photo Editor – London


Naomi Harris has a new website…

Naomi Harris

New website also by Stuart Freedman

Ricardo Cases

Eric Thayer

Eunice Adorno

Ivan Kashinsky

Ed Ou has added a multimedia section to his website…

Ed Ou : multimedia

Adrian Fisk

Jess Ingram

Jordi Ruiz Cicera

To finish off…. ‘War Photography and Weddings’. Ahem. That really is an interesting business card via @Kiehart

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Shishmaref, Alaska 2006

Brandon Thibodeaux (b. 1981, United States) is a member of the New York based photography collective, MJR. Following his university studies in photojournalism and international development he now resides in Dallas, Texas, where he regularly contributes to the Financial Times Weekend Magazine, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. He is a member of the Getty Reportage 2009-10 Emerging Talent, and the Eddie Adams XIX alumnus.

About the Photograph:

“This image is from my first real project endeavor during my senior year of college.  In August 2006 I traveled 120 miles northwest of Nome, Alaska, landing in the small island village of Shishmaref.  Its roughly 550 Inupiaq residents faced a looming migration due to the severe erosion plaguing the tiny island.  Climate change was keeping protective sea ice from forming around its shoreline leaving its brittle sand and permafrost foundation vulnerable against harsh winter storms. I was taken aback by the elements of pop culture that I found, like 2 Pac posters, and video game consoles, intertwined with the community’s more traditional ways of life.  Shortly after this image was taken we feasted on caribou steaks and Akutaq – otherwise known as Eskimo ice cream made from whipped caribou fat and seal oil, mixed with fresh picked salmon berries.”

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Scientists scoured the bed of the drying Brazos River in west Texas last week to rescue two species of rare minnows threatened by the summer’s scorching heat, drought and wild fires. Record-setting temperatures and lack of rain has eliminated the flow in this portion of the Brazos, endangering the sharpnose and smalleye shiner fish that make up an important part of the river’s ecosystem.

All photographs by Brandon Thibodeaux for The Wall Street Journal.

Kevin Mayes, Aquatic Biologist at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, reads the count of rescued sharpnose and smalleye shiner fish that he and his team have captured near the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River, near Rule, TX, on Thursday, September 15, 2011.

Mayes and Daniel Field check water temperature as they prepare the rescue. The two species had been trapped in the upper portion of the river because reservoirs had been constructed, blocking their path. Now this portion of the Brazos, the only habitat in the world where they exist in healthy numbers, is drying up.

Texas Tech University students Aaron Urbanczyk and Doug Knabe rest on their net during a break.

Urbanczyk rests on his net during a break. This team began the department’s first attempt to harvest threatened species and bring them to holding tanks near Possum Kingdom Lake.

Urbanczyk and Knabe bring up a net that they drug across a shallow as they assist in the rescue. Over the course of the day, the rescue yielded 1,150 of each species, both of which can only be found in the Brazos River.

Urbanczyk, Knabe, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist Clint Robertson and Texas Tech professor Gene Wilde pull sharpnose and smalleye shiner fish from their net to be transported to holding tanks.

The team sorts through one of their hauls, looking for fish among twigs and debris.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist Clint Robertson makes notes in a shallow pool of what used to be a flowing Brazos River.

Members of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department rescue sharpnose and smalleye shiners, a native fish species, near the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River.

Rescued sharpnose and smalleye shiner fish are carried to a fishery truck.

A member of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department holds rescued sharpnose shiner fish in his hand.

Rescued sharpnose and smalleye shiner fish swim in a live well in the back of a hatchery truck. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department brought them to a holding pond at Possum Kingdom fish hatchery.

Corrections & Amplifications
Daniel Field checked water temperatures with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Rule, Texas, on Sept. 15. An earlier version of a photo caption incorrectly gave his first name as Doug. Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist Clint Robertson was rescuing sharpnose and smalleye shiner fish that day with the department; a photo caption incorrectly identified him as technician Kevin Kolodziejcyk. A third photo caption incorrectly identified Mr. Robertson as a technician; he is a biologist with the department. The rescued fish were taken via a fishery truck to holding tanks near Possum Kingdom fish hatchery; captions incorrectly indicated they were taken by hatchery truck to Possum Kingdom Lake. The captions have been corrected.

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