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Chris Anderson


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The word ‘capitolio’ refers to the domed building that houses a government. Here, the city of Caracas, Venezuela, is itself a metaphorical capitolio building. The decaying Modernist architecture, with a jungle growing through the cracks, becomes the walls of this building and the violent streets become the corridors where the human drama plays itself out in what President Hugo Chavez called a ‘revolution.’

Originally published as a traditional book in 2010 by RM, “Capitolio” is an intimate journey through a time of revolution in Hugo Chavez’ Caracas, Venezuela. This series was photographed between 2004 and 2008.

“Capitolio” is the first authored monograph photography book for the iPhone and iPad.


DAH – Chris Anderson Interview

This is an excerpt of a recent skype conversation with Chris Anderson, talking about how the iPad application of his most recent book, Capitolio, came to be. This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.


David Alan Harvey: …tell me in your own words a little bit about where you got the idea [to make an iPad monograph out of Capitolio] and what you did.

Chris Anderson: Basically, the book was starting to sell out, and I started thinking, only a certain number of people can actually get this book, and the ultimate expression of what I did in Venezuela really comes together in a book. You know, a slideshow on the web doesn’t really capture the whole thing, seeing a print doesn’t really capture it, it’s in this book form, and the way I put the pictures together, and the way the pictures come one after another, the relationship between the other one…this final book form that we think of, that’s what this book was. Not just a collection of pictures. And, I sorta think, well, there’s only 3000 copies of this book printed, so there’s only a certain select people who are actually going to experience that book, and because it’s an expensive book, only a certain number of people with the money to buy the thing. So, I started thinking, you know, it was kind of the confluence of a lot of things. Thinking about the finite audience of a printed book at the same time that I’m sitting here holding this new technology in my hand, an iPad and an iPhone, and thinking,

“a ha!”

Maybe this is a way to have an in-finite audience. And, that really I could, even though my first love is the printed book, I could still kinda get this experience and get across what I was trying to say to a much larger audience than I ever could with the printed book. And the applications of that in terms of reaching audience and what does that mean, even in an academic setting with students, you know? Think about a university classroom that’s teaching photojournalism, or that’s teaching book making, or even in the case of this book, you know, political science or something. And being able to have that book, which you could never have in a college curriculum, you could never have everyone in the class buy the printed book, but here’s a way that in an academic setting…

DAH: Everyone could be sitting there with their iPads looking at it.

CA: Exactly.

DAH: The quality, you know, it looks amazing. The quality is kind of better there than…I mean, in terms of there’s a certain texture or quality to it that you see on the iPad that kind of beats everything, don’t you think?

CA: Yeah, oh yeah. And actually, I just saw it recently on the iPhone for the first time, and that’s actually where I really liked it.

…I think it has something to do with being able to have something to say. You know, nice pictures photographers want to look at or people who like pictures want to look at, but to reach that other audience, you have to have something to say to them…We as photographers, we’re going to have to find a way to then become a writer and also a filmmaker, and also a radio producer and everything like that…maybe that’s one path to it. But it’s also just about having something to say about the world, even purely through pictures…somehow that voice of whatever you want to call it, authorship or whatever, is really important.

You know, I think about Paul Fusco’s Chernobyl Magnum in Motion, which is something I show my students a lot, it’s really, it’s pretty simple, there’s not really any whistles and bells. It’s him talking and showing his pictures. But it’s so powerful because he really has something to say, you know what I mean? And, it’s not about having fancy music as the background track, it’s not about slick jump cuts, it’s really about having something to say. I have a feeling that in the future, you know, I imagine…this app that I did is pretty basic in the end. There’s a pdf, a digital version of the book pdf style, to look through, theres some extra pictures, there’s a video interview, pretty basic. There’s not too many bells and whistles. I can imagine though that in the future, people are going to do things that will really be amazing in terms of how to use this medium, how to use this technology to tell stories, or to offer the public things that a printed book can never do.

DAH: Oh yeah, you can imagine that if you had 10 or 15 or 30 or 50K to spend on building the app, yeah, you could imagine…you’ve got directors cut, you’ve got the video component, you’ve got the about, you’ve got those kinds of things, but you could go even further, right? You could even go back there and have a 5 minute movie on there, or on some other topic….but you can imagine having an incredible thing. Are you guys gonna have that for Postcards [From America]?

CA: Well, we don’t have an app version yet, but we want to try and incorporate as much as we can in terms of like…

DAH: You don’t have anybody shooting video or anything though?

CA: I’m going to try and shoot a lot of video.

DAH: Yeah, I was gonna say, that would be, that would always be an interesting component for any app. How long is your interview in your app?

CA: It’s ten minutes.

DAH: ..You’ve already reached I don’t know how many people with it, but we’ll just, we want to just promote the app, but in the best possible way. And to get it on some Facebook pages, like people who are interested in political science in Venezuela, and see what happens, outside of your fan club. You know, your fanclub is gonna buy the app. But, you’re right, you want to see if you can sell it to other people as well.

CA: Yeah, that’s the real test, if you can find a way to break out of that.


Christopher Anderson was born in Canada in 1970 and grew up in west Texas. He first gained recognition for his pictures in 1999 when he boarded a handmade, wooden boat with Haitian refugees trying to sail to America. The boat, named the Believe In God, sank in the Caribbean. In 2000 the images from that journey would receive the Robert Capa Gold Medal. They would also mark the emergence of an emotionally charged style that he refers to as “experiential documentary” and has come to characterize his work since. Christopher’s photographs often explore themes of truth and subjectivity, and his subjects range from war to fashion to his own family.

Christopher is a member of Magnum Photos. He is the author of two monographs: Nonfiction, published in 2003 and CAPITOLIO, published in 2009 by RM and named one of the best photography books of 2009/10 at the Kassel Photo Book Festival in Germany.

Related links

Capitolio on iTunes

Chris Anderson

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I’ve had the pleasure to announce some new supporters for my blog during the last two weeks, and very happy to announce yet another one…Photo Raw magazine…check out the right-hand side bar…Photo Raw is a  quarterly magazine dedicated to the best photojournalism and documentary photography out there…published in Finland but printed in English…I think PJ Links and Photo Raw make a great match.  Their new issue will be out first week of June with features by Paolo Pellegrin, Anastasia Taylor-Lind, Natan Dvir et al….

This week’s round-up…

Features and Essays

I forgot to post links last week to these two great essays from National Geographic Magazine’s June issue…

Stephanie Sinclair has continued her project on child brides…

Stephanie Sinclair: Too Young To Wed (NGM: June 2011) The secret world of child brides

Greg Girard: Can China Go Green ? (NGM: June 2011) No other country is investing so heavily in clean energy. But no other country burns as much coal to fuel its economy.

Stephanie Sinclair also has some work in the New York Times Magazine this week… Living on the Europe side of the pond,  I’ve never actually held NYT Mag in my hand, but I saw a place in Soho the other day, where they stock Sunday’s NYT.. Think I’m gonna go and pick up a copy…Always so great photography in there…

Stephanie Sinclair: A Mind of Their Own (NYT Mag: May 2011) Conjoined twins | article

There’s a link to a great Bryan Denton interview later in the post… but since I realised I never posted the link to his last story from Libya… here it is now…

Bryan Denton:  In Misurata, Fallen Qaddafi Soldiers Receive Respect (NYT: May 2011)

Christian Als: Bunkering Down in Benghazi (Panos: May 2011)

Richard Mosse: Congo (Guardian: May 2011)

Edward Keating: A Town Lost in the Wreckage (TIME LB: May 2011) The wreckage left by the Force 5 tornado in Joplin, Mo. | Keating’s website

Laura El-Tantawy: In the Shadow of the Pyramids: Egypt (burn: May 2011)


Elin Høyland: The Brothers (Guardian: May 2011)

Ed Wray: The Masked Monkeys of Indonesia (TIME LB: May 2011)

Nicole Bengiveno: Coming Out (NYT: May 2011)

Benjamin Rusnak:  23º, Far from Paradise (Burn: May 2011)

Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday was on Tueday. Photographer Elliott Landy spoke to TIME Lightbox about the photos he made of his good friend…

Elliott Landy: Bob Dylan at Home (TIME LB: May 2011)

Petrut Calinescu: The Black Sea (Panos Pictures: May 2011)

NYT Lens blog featured Espen Rasmussen’s book In Transit. One of the pictures from the book is the below frame of a Rohingya fisherman in Bangladesh…I remember reading an interview with Rasmussen in BJP last year, when he still had the Rohingya pictures converted in black and white and mentioned he might convert them back to colour…

From BJP… “He shot thousands of digital images, editing them down to a story of just 32 shots, then converting them to black-and-white and adding text and captions.”[ …} Rasmussen often writes his own stories and, although he also enjoys working with journalists, says it’s his favourite approach. After all, he points out, the most important thing is the story, and he’s in a good position to tell it both in images and words. “I let people talk and show their daily struggle through interviews and pictures,” he says. “I don’t search for the obvious drama, I try to describe daily life.” In fact, he’s considering turning the images back into colour, concerned that the sheer beauty of the monochrome versions detracts from the Rohingya’s plight.”.

Looks like he has done…See comparison here.

Espen Rasmussen: In Transit (NYT Lens: May 2011)

Sebastian Liste: The Chocolate Factory (NPR: May 2011)

Rob Rusling: A Street in Clitheroe (Foto8: May 2011) Rusling’s website

Brandon Tauszik: Pray for Mercy (Photographer’s website: 2010)

Anton Hammerl’s final photos from Libya…

Anton Hammerl: Witness to War (Foreign Policy: May 2011)

Apparently this has been published as a 500 page coffee table book…

Venetia Dearden: Mulberry (VII Network: May 2011)

Alec Levac: Israel, With a Knowing Wink (NYT Lens: May 2011)


Must read Bryan Denton interview on Lens blog…

“To me, having training and gear is a responsibility we have to our families and friends who worry about us, our colleagues who work beside us and can benefit from our know-how if they’re wounded, and to the readers who are informed by the images we take and will cease to be if we get taken out of the game. There’s never any guarantee that that stuff will save you, but we owe it to those who love us, support our work and each other to take every precaution we can.” – Bryan Denton

Bryan Denton (NYT Lens: May 2011)

50 years ago, a young Bruce Davidson set out to document a bus ride down south – The Freedom Riders on LightBox…

Bruce Davidson (TIME LB: May 2011)

Richard Mosse (Conscientious: May 2011)

Guy Martin (Daily Telegraph: May 2011)

David LaChapelle (NYT: May 2011)

Ben Lowy (e-Photoreview: May 2011)

Anna Skladmann (BJP: May 2011)

Laura El-Tantawy (BJP: May 2011)

Brian Ulrich (Featureshoot: 2008)

Raymond Depardon (ASX)


PDN: Hetherington Memorialized by Family, Colleagues and Subjects (PDN: May 2011)

Vanity Fair: Remembering Tim Hetherington (VF: May 2011)

Excellent article on the Lens blog by NYT staff photographer Stephen Crowley…

photo: Pete Souza

Stephen Crowley: Whose Eye? What Beholder? (NYT Lens: May 2011) The problem of D.C. photo coverage goes well beyond restagings


Alex Garcia: When Photojournalists Become Visual Stenographers (Chicago Tribune Assignment Chicago blog: May 2011)

BJP: Donald Weber is funding his new book, Interrogations, with limited edition prints and books (BJP: May 2011)

BJP: Convergence between still and moving images? We speak to 6 photographers who made the jump (BJP: May 2011)

Guardian: Featured photojournalist: Mario Tama (Guardian: May 2011)

PDN: Time to quit using Twitpic?  (PDN: May 2011)

PDN: Celeb photo agency in Twipic deal has no relationship with (or obligation to) owners of the images it will license (PDN: May 2011)

BJP has taken a look at what this year’s Les Rencontres d’Arles is going to be like…

Festivals – BJP: Arles 2011 (BJP: May 2011)

Festivals – PDN: LOOK3 Preview : Goldin, Kratochvil, Vitali headline festival curated by Kathy Ryan and Scott Thode (PDN: May 2011)

Workshops - Eddie Adams Workshop deadline extended to June 3

Last call…

Awards - Canon Female Photojournalist Award : Deadline 31 May 2011

Get your work in front of Charlotte Cotton or Monica Allende in BJP’s International Photography Award…

Competitions –  BJP Photography Award

Grants - Reminders Phoject Asian Photographer’s Grant

Slideshows – Slideluck Potshow London III deadline is on Monday 30 May

Competitions – Foto8 Summershow deadline is Tuesday 31 May

HonoursAmerican Photography 27

Grants – BJP: Massimo Berruti wins Carmignac Gestion Prize of Photojournalism. He will receive a €50,000 grant (BJP: May 2011)

Spend 9,99$ and you end up in the Gulags of Carl De Keyzer’s Zona on your iPad (via @vinkjohn)

Apps – Carl De Keyzer: Zona (iTunes Store) Zona for iPad

ExhibitionsIan Teh’s new series Traces open at Flowers Kingsland Road

To finish off…geeky Photoshop fridge magnets for photographers or retouchers…(via @LucasJackson RTR)

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Articles - LA Times : When it paid to photograph hard truth (LA Times: June 2010) The 10 photographers in ‘Engaged Observers,’ opening June 29 at the Getty Museum, are bound by a personal perspective and an endangered profession. | Another Engaged Observers exhibition article on LA Times

Articles - burn: Carl De Keyzer profile (burn: June 2010)

More of these great NGM features from the past year, that I’ve never linked to…

Features and Essays – Edward Burtynsky: California’s Pipe Dream (NGM: 2010) A heroic system of dams, pumps, and canals can’t stave off a water crisis.

Features and Essays - Carolyn Drake: The Other Tibet (NGM: 2009) The Uygurs, Muslim people of China’s resource-rich far west, are becoming strangers in their own land as Han Chinese pour in. Like the Tibetans, who face similar pressures, some Uygurs see a chance for a better life, but others protest the disintegration of their culture, even at the risk of death.

Features and Essays – Ed Kashi: Syria (NGM: 2009)

Features and Essays – Pascal Maitre: Shattered Somalia (NGM: 2009)

Features and Essays – Travis Dove: Called to the Holy Mountain (NGM: 2009) High on their holy cliffs, monks are defiant, zealous, prayerful. Meanwhile, the outside world creeps closer.

Features and Essays – Jehad Nga: A Blooming Democracy in the Desert (NYT: June 2010)

Features and Essays – Matteo Bastianelli: Scarred Recollection (Foto8: June 2010) Bosnia

Photographers – Matteo Bastianelli : website

Blogs - Kosuke Okahara : blog now in English

Books / Articles – Foto8: Toppled by Florian Gottke (Foto8: June 2010)

Photographers – Tony Fouhse : website

Features and Essays – Tammy David: Crown and Country (Bite Magazine: June 2010)

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