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Kira Pollack

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The best photographs don’t always make the best covers. It takes a smart concept, a meticulously executed image, smoothly integrated typography and the combination of all those factors to create an immediate and lasting impact. Our top ten photographic covers of 2012 show exquisite use of photography.

The most notable is New York Magazine’s magnificent cover by photographer Iwan Baan of a half blacked-out Manhattan during Hurricane Sandy. It’s instantly iconic and will become one of the greatest covers of all time. In the mix is also W‘s stunning fashion cover image of Marion Cotillard, ESPN‘s high-concept “Fantasy Football” cover, depicting an NFL player in a magical forest with a unicorn, and a photojournalistic cover, the Economist’s powerful image documenting the personal toll of the conflict in Gaza.

We also decided to include two covers in the mix that were striking photo-based illustrations. An aged Obama on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek as well as a thoughtful commission by the New York Times Magazine for the visual artist Idris Kahn to reinterpret an iconic landmark on their London-themed cover.

A great cover is always a collaborative effort. To caption each of our selected covers, we spoke to a mix of editors, photo directors, art directors and photographers who took part during different stages of the creative process. In our selection, we refrained from choosing any TIME covers, though if we were to choose one, it would be Martin Schoeller’s arresting image of a mother breast-feeding her 4-year-old son, “Are You Mom Enough?”

Kira Pollack, Director of Photography

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Ten percent of all of the photographs made in the entire history of photography were made last year — an astounding figure. More than ever before, thanks in part to cell phone technology, the world is engaged with photography and communicating through pictures.

Nonetheless, a great photograph will rise above all the others. The ten photographs we present here are the pictures that moved us most in 2012. They all deliver a strong emotional impact — whether they show a child mourning his father who was killed by a sniper in Syria (slide #3); a heartbreaking scene in a Gaza City morgue (slide #1); a haunting landscape of New Jersey coastline after Hurricane Sandy, a rollercoaster submerged under the tide (slide #2); or a rare glimpse of President Obama moments before he goes out on stage during a campaign rally (slide #9). We spoke to each of the photographers about their images, and their words provide the captions here.

Over the past several days, we’ve unveiled TIME’s Best Photojournalism and Best Portraits of the Year galleries on LightBox. And in the next three weeks, we will be rolling out even more end-of-year features: the Most Surprising Pictures of the Year; the Best Photo Books of the Year; the Top 10 Photographic Magazine Covers of the Year and other compelling galleries. We will also recognize TIME’s choice for the Best Wire Photographer of the Year. Senior photo editor Phil Bicker is curating many of these galleries with help from the photo team at TIME. His discerning eye has been responsible for the curation of TIME’s Pictures of the Week throughout the year, galleries that regularly present the best of the week’s images, with surprising and sometimes offbeat takes on the news.  We will round off the year on December 31 with our second-annual “365: Year in Pictures,” a comprehensive look at the strongest picture of every day of 2012.

Kira Pollack, Director of Photography

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The Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund has made an exclusive announcement to LightBox disclosing the winners of its 2012 grants. The fund, which began in 2009, awards the annual prize to photographers from around the world who use their cameras to shed light on underserved issues and communities.

This year’s winners are:

Evgenia Arbugaeva for
Tiksi, the Far North
Rena Effendi for
Capturing Coptic Life: Egypt’s Sectarian Struggle
Eric Gottesman for
Baalu Girma
Sebastian Liste for
The Brazilian Far West
Benjamin Lowy for
iLibya: Libya’s Growing Pains
Justin Maxon for
Murder That Goes Unsolved and Unheard
Donald Weber for
War is Good*
Paolo Woods for
Poor Rich

The eight grantees were selected from a field of nearly 100 photographers nominated by ten professionals (including, in the past, TIME’s own director of photography, Kira Pollack). The winners will receive, along with funding, editorial guidance and research support to continue their work, which explores such diverse topics as peasant works in China and violence in the Pennsylvania projects.

The Emergency Fund, which was founded to counteract the shrinking of opportunities for long-form, socially-conscious photographic storytellers, is now in its third year of granting prizes. The program continues to grow, says Emma Raynes, the Emergency Fund’s program director. “We’ve been able to put more energy into helping photographers put depth into their work,” she says. Increased integration of social media has also made a difference; the Emergency Fund had already used Kickstarter to add to its power to help photographers, but the organization has expanded its presence on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

Raynes says that this year’s winners tended to step away from traditional documentary and photojournalism styles and put a new emphasis on creative visual language. Benjamin Lowy, for example, made use of the Hipstamatic iPhone app in his photographs of Libya. “We wanted to invest in projects that were incredibly ambitious,” says Raynes.

In addition to funding the work of established photojournalists, the Magnum Emergency Fund awards scholarships to emerging photographers from nonwestern countries, for them to attend a 5-week summer program about documenting human-rights issues.

The 2012 Human Rights Fellows are:

Poulomi Basu, 29, of India
Arthur Bondar, 28, of Ukraine
Liu Jie, 30, of China
Pooyan Tabatabaei, 28, of Iran

And for all its support of photographers, the Emergency Fund aims to do more than help them do their work. The Foundation wants “to reach beyond the photography community into communities that are concerned about the issues,” says Raynes. “The main goal of our program is to get the work seen.”

Read more about the Emergency Fund on LightBox here.

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Left: Mikhael Subotzky & Patrick Waterhouse, Right: Andrea Gjestvang

Last weekend I spent three days at the New York Photo Festival, roaming around DUMBO looking at photographs, bumping into photography people and attending lectures. I’d attended the year before but only for the afternoon. This time I was determined to immerse myself in the full experience.

Thursday, May 12th

On Thursday evening I arrived and picked up my ticket. I did’t think about it but I probably could have obtained a press pass. Next time I suppose. While there I was able to have a nice chat with Larissa Leclair and browse through a few books from the Indie Photo Library. It’s an impressive collection and she’s only getting started.

The main event of the night was ‘Under the Bridge: Projections of a Revolution.’ Photographs from the recent revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya were projected under the Manhattan Bridge Archway. The presentation was interesting, and at times intense with the Middle Eastern music thumping in the background.

However, it dragged on, and on, and on. It became too much. It would have been much better with a tighter edit and better sequencing. Near the end they did show some of Chris Hondros last photographs which was a nice collective moment. Afterward there was a cocktail party in one of the main Exhibition spots.

I spent some time browsing around with the highlight being the Japanese work from ONAEBA. While strolling around I bumped into Romke Hoogwaerts the brain behind MOSSLESS Magazine. We had a nice chat about photography and the internet. He’s full of ideas so I’m looking forward to what he does in the future.

A few moments later I introduced myself to David Walter Banks of LUCEO. I’m a great admirer of the work they’ve done so it was nice to chat with him for a few moments before he ran into a few more people. One of those people happened to be Tim Gruber, a fellow Minnesotan and someone I’d chatted with on Twitter a few times. It was good to spend sometime talking with him about his projects and transition back to Minnesota.

After the crowd started to thin out I got on the train and headed back to Greenpoint.


©A Yin

Friday, May 13th

I met up with my gallery hoping partner Gabriela Herman around noon. We headed straight for the main exhibitions, ‘Subjective/Objective’ curated by Elizabeth Biondi and ‘Hope: Between Dream and Reality’ by Enrico Bossan. The focus of the festival was on documentary photography, “how its practice has evolved in the digital era, and how its message is now more important than ever.

Work from 22 photographs was represented and ranged from Alejandro Chaskielberg‘s large format work to Benjamin Lowy’s iPhone Hipstamatic photos. The subject matter ran the gamut too. As you can expect, some of it I liked, some of it didn’t resonate with me. It was nice to see Carolyn Drake’s work printed large and hanging on the wall and I thought A Yin’s ‘Mongolia Transformed’ series was interesting. It made Gabi and I ask a few questions.

As we walked out I commented that the main issue that I had was that most the work wasn’t really ‘wall’ work and probably resonated more in books. It’s tough when you see about 5-7 photographs from a complicated issue or subject and then move onto the next complicated issue. The NYTimes review commented about the lack of text adding context but I didn’t really find that to be the problem. The text was fine, I just felt that this type of photography was difficult to present in a few select photographs.

Also, it’s hard to have that many challenging issues thrown at you in one exhibition. It’s almost too much to process in such a short amount of time. But overall, I enjoyed looking at the work simply from an esthetic perspective. There were lots of different approaches which I thought was nice.

We hit up a few more of the side exhibitions, including Nevada Rose by Marc McAndrews at umbradge. The book documents the legal brothels in Nevada and was my favorite body of work from the whole weekend. The work was presented as a series of “small sized prints in a single line along the gallery walls” which worked really well. The book was great too. Overall it was a very well executed project and worth checking out if you’re in Dumbo.

We ended the day by meeting a contingency of photography people at a local bar for drinks and discussion.


©Marc McAndrews

Saturday, May 14th

This day was all about the lectures. First up was Photo 2.0 by Andy Adams of Flak Photo. The night before we’d chatted for a few minutes at the bar and started talking about the internet but the night was nearing an end so we didn’t solve any of the internets problems.

He put on a good presentation. For me, it was great to hear him talk about what he’s doing and gain a glimpse into his thought process. He’s most certainly the leading advocate for publishing and promoting photography on the internet that I’ve encountered. We were able to chat later in the afternoon about some of our ideas about where things maybe going. I promised him an article about it so I guess that means I have to finally write it. That’s another day though.

I hung around for the next presentation called ‘Photography and Change.’ It was about how photographers use their work to create real social change. One of the photographers on the panel was Peter van Agtmael. During the discussion he delivered what was for me the most moving moment of the entire festival. He started to talk about Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, whose deaths came only a few months after he was beaten up and had his cameras stolen in Egypt.

He admitted that for the first time he was really scared to go back into dangerous situations in order to make photographs. The conflict within him was palpable. The words “I don’t want to die” seemed to slip right out of his sub-conscious. For me, those few moments when he was questioning what he was going to do next were very powerful. He’s an incredible photographer. It was great to hear him speak about his work and offer some thoughts on documentary photography.

The final panel was ‘E-Cite: The Phenomenon of Online Blogs & Magazines.’ It was a panel discussion lead by James Estrin of the LENS Blog and included David Walter Banks of Luceo, Kira Pollack of TimeHolly Stuart Hughes of PDN, and Adriana Teresa Letorney of Visura Magazine. They only had an hour so it didn’t really dive too deeply into any issues but it was good to hear the intent behind each project, with the main theme seemingly to provide photographers with a direct platform where they could speak to their audience.

Holly Stuart Hughes also made some interesting points about how the PDN photo of the day sometimes brings in an audience outside the ‘photo ghetto’ which she thinks might provide new financial opportunities for photographers. For example, showing a publisher the web traffic and potential audience for a project.

And then I went home. It’s tough to really summarize these type of events when there’s so much to cover. But overall, it was a nice few days, especially since it provided me the opportunity to meet a few people that I’ve only known through the internet.

 

Related posts:

  1. Lunasa Photo Series Presents Always New York, Opening September 8th in NYC
  2. October, 2008 Show – Strange Days
  3. Flak Photo + Lay Flat

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[Edit on Saturday 30 April 2011: I have updated the 'In Memoriam | Tim Hetherington 1970-2011 Chris Hondros 1970-2011' post today. Check the bottom of that post for the most recent link additions. Some news about Guy Martin's condition... BJP posted an update on his situation: 'Injured British photographer arrives in Malta'. ]

From Tuesday’s news…..25 years since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster…

Appropriate day to watch Paul Fusco’s Magnum in Motion classic ‘Chernobyl Legacy’ again….

Features and Essays – Paul Fusco: Chernobyl Legacy (Magnum in Motion: April 2011)

Features and Essays – Gary Knight: Chernobyl (VII Magazine: April 2011)

Features and Essays – Diana Markosian: 25 Years After Chernobyl, a Village Persists (NYT Lens: April 2011) Markosian’s website.

Features and Essays –  Alvaro Ybarra Zavala: Egypt’s Christians (Reportage by Getty Images: April 2011)

New Ed Ou portfolios on Reportage site as well…including his Libya work..

So is Jerome Sessini’s Libya work.

Features and Essays – Simon Norfolk: Kabul: A Boomtown of Sorts (NYT Mag: April 2011) Related from NYT Lens ‘Collaboration Across 130 Years’

TIME 100 most influential people list or whatever it is… is out… I don’t put much or any importance to the said list… but they have assigned a lot of great photographers for it… Including Martin Schoeller…

Interviews –  Martin Schoeller : Pheasants, tigers and revolutionaries (TIME LB: April 2011) Martin Schoeller’s TIME 100 Tour

On two minds about whether to post this… Not a Bieber fan… heheh… But Ladefoged fan definitely…

Features and Essays - Joachim Ladefoged:  Under the Influence of Justin Bieber (TIME LB: April 2011)

Features and Essays – Jan Banning: Faceless Officials (Guardian: April 2011)

Articles – Martin Parr: Photographic Cliches (Photographer’s blog: April 2011) via @dcuthbert

InterviewsKira Pollack, Director of Photography of TIME (NYPH: April 2011)

Check this Enrico Bossan interview… Enrico is a great guy… I got to know him in quite a funny way… Sometime last summer I received a Skype contact request from someone called Enrico Bossan, with whose work I was not familiar, but I accepted…Enrico gave me call later on the day..He wanted to get in touch to congratulate me for having some of my work published in L’Espresso… I was gobsmacked..I said I didn’t know I had any work published in the magazine.. Enrico was baffled.. He went back to the newsagents’ and came back with a copy of the magazine… It turned out he had confused Andy Spyra‘s work to mine….Needless to say I was teeny weeny bit disappointed that I hadn’t had work in the mag myself, but I’m glad Enrico made the mistake. Otherwise I might have not got to talk with him…We’ve had a couple of rather long chats online since, and I’ve learned a lot from him, especially regarding editing..

Interviews - Enrico Bossan (NYPH: April 2011)

Features and Essays – Simon Roberts: The English at Play (BBC: April 2011) Brighton-based photographer Simon Roberts travelled the length and breadth of England in a motorhome for his book We English – in which he tries to capture a nation at play, and explore the relationship between people and the places they visit.

Essential Roberts interview on a blog that I just discovered…

Interviews - Simon Roberts (Two Way Lens: April 2011)

I am happy  Goldberg won….The rest of the three nominees didn’t impress me at all…

News - Jim Goldberg wins Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2011 (BJP: April 2011)

InterviewsJim Goldberg (Photonet.org.uk: April 2011)

InterviewsMarcel Mettelsiefen : Photographing War in Misurata (Spiegel: April 2011)

photo: Ivor Prickett

Features and Essays – Foto8: The Islam Issue preview (Foto8: April 2011)

Powerful multimedia on prostitution in Nashville by Stephen Alvarez and the NPR team…below is a still from the online article..

Features and Essays – Stephen Alvarez: Nashville Prostitution (NPR: April 2011)

Features and Essays – Bryan Denton: Battle for Influence in Afghanistan (WSJ: April 2011)

InterviewsBruce Davidson (Guardian: April 2011) Davidson talks about his long career. | Related: Bruce Davidson  seeks British girl he captured on film in 1960 (Guardian: April 2011)

InterviewsAaron Huey (TIME LB: April 2011) Pine Ridge Billboard Project

InterviewsTomas van Houtryve : 130 Editors: Insights from a photographer’s first crowdfunded project (Emphas.is: April 2011)

Initiatives - 3/11 Tsunami Photo Project  / The initiative featured on New Yorker Photo Booth and on BJP

InitiativesA Fixer In Need (TIME LB: April 2011) Photographer Marcus Bleasdale writes about the importance of fixers— a fixer whom he’s worked with is in need of help.  | The Pastor Marrion Fund

Exhibitions - Paul Graham: Smoke and mirrors (Guardian: April 2011) Paul Graham’s exhibition at London’s Whitechapel gallery

Awards – PDN: LA Times, Washington Post Photographers Win Pulitzers for Photos (PDN: April 2011)

ExhibitionsHere and Now Show  : LCC International MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography : HotShoe gallery : London : 11-24 May  : Participating photographers are Yolanda Crisp, Daniel Cuthbert, Ivy Lahon, Greg Laychak, James Morgan, Nektarios Markogiannis, Claudius Schulze, Amelia Shepherd, Alice Smeets and Darrin Zammit Lupi.

Vivian Maier website now launched

Articles – Guardian: Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1950s Moscow (Guardian April 2011)

It has been a very rare occasion for me to write to photographers just to let them know I really like their work… Not a rare occasion because I wouldn’t admire a lot of photographers’ work…of course I do, but because getting in touch just to let people know that has always felt tad awkward, like I’m trying to kiss people’s ass.. Well, I did write somebody once, not too long ago… and that photographer was NYT staffer Damon Winter…and he even took the time to send a short reply despite being on assignment in Afghanistan, which was very thoughtful of him…well, Winter is the latest photographer featured on 500Photographers blog…

Blogs – 500Photographers: #276 Damon Winter (500Photographers: April 2011)

Articles – Newsweek: Photographs from the John G. Morris collection go up for auction (Newsweek: April 2011)

Articles – Guardian: Featured photojournalist: Jon Nazca (Guardian: April 2011)

I’m a huge Patti Smith fan…

Interviews - Patti Smith: Photographer’s Muse (TIME LB: April 2011)

New Statesman Photo editor Rebecca McClelland now on Twitter…

Twitter@rlmcclelland

 GrantsBURN emerging photorapher grant of $15,000 :  Deadline for entry is May 15, 2011

InterviewsPhilip Scott Andrews (NYT Lens: April 2011)

Photographers - Harry Borden

PhotographersNatalie Keyssar

PhotographersTina Remiz

PhotographersPhilip Scott Andrews

InterviewsJohn Stanmeyer (Youtube)

InterviewsTaylor Kitsch on The Bang Bang Club, Honoring Fallen War Photographers (Movieline: April 2011)

Articles - Guardian: Turning Photojournalism Upside Down (Guardian: April 2011)

Tips and Tutorials – Brian Storm: 10 quick tips on editing multimedia (businessjournalism.org: April 2011)

Tips and TutorialsMemory Cards – 15 Essential Tips for Photographers (photofocus.com)

EventsASA collective :  Slideshow on Thursday 5th of May, 2011 :  @ Nomad, Old Street : “This month’s show is totally dedicated to female photographers, with a top class line up that includes:  Andrea Star Reese Ciara Leeming Chloe Dewe Mathews Helen Rimell Laura Hynd Leonie Hampton Marta Moreiras”

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