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Sergio Larrain

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Original author: 
Richard Conway

For a man who worked professionally for barely more than ten years, Sergio Larrain, who died in 2012, had a disproportionately large impact on photography. The author of four books, he is widely considered Chile’s finest lensman, though he became something of a recluse later in life.

Born in Santiago into a well-to-do family, he ditched a possible career in forestry for a life behind the camera, and saved up for his first Leica by working in a cafe. The son of an architect father, his love of photography grew when he later traveled the Middle East and Europe, lens in tow. His real break came in 1958, though, when he bagged a British Council bursary that allowed him photograph cities throughout the U.K.

The images that emerged – chiefly of London – were captivating shots of the everyday, and caught the eye of Henri Cartier-Bresson. The Frenchman later invited Larrian to Paris and the Chilean soon joined Cartier-Bresson’s Magnum agency as an associate in 1959 (and became a full member in 1961).

MAGNUM

MAGNUM

Sergio Larrain

His was a career filled with disparate subject matters, tied together with his famous compassion for those he photographed. Larrain’s style is immediately recognizable: he made use of vertical frames, was a fan of low angle shots and was wholly unafraid of experimentation. Much of his work was concerned with street children, and his some of his earliest pictures – those from a 1957 series in Chile, for example – are certainly his most powerful. Though he was no stranger to architectural photography, having shot fellow countryman and diplomat Pablo Neruda’s house.

Indeed, his portraiture is as humanistic as it is environmental. One of his most captivating images, taken as part of the later Valparaiso series in the port city of Valparaiso, Chile, perfectly combines both. The piece shows two young girls going down a staircase, their delicate frames contrasting with the solid, modernist-seeming gray concrete surrounding them. It is a picture as much about its subjects as it is about the context in which see them; and with their backs turned to us, is as much about what we see as what we don’t.

“He is very different, very intense,” says Agnès Sire, director of the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation, and curator of an upcoming retrospective of Larrain’s work at Les Rencontres d’Arles, “for me, he is [often] interested in what you don’t see.”

Larrain stopped taking pictures professionally in the 1970s and retreated to the Chilean countryside for a life of calm meditation (though he continued to take some pieces in the 1980s, they were photographs of objects, usually in his house, which he would send to friends in the mail). It is said that he withdrew because he, ever the humanitarian, became disillusioned with the often harsh world he was photographing, and felt powerless to help.

“He stopped his career. It was not bringing him what he [thought] it would bring to him,” explains Sire. “[He felt] the fact he photographed those kids will not change the fact that there will always be kids abandoned. Photography will not help save the planet.”

Sire adds that Larrain even rejected the idea of retrospectives for most of his later life, because they might force him out of his self-imposed retreat, and that his career was meteoric for a reason: he was a man who would only, and could only, follow his instincts. “He was unique,” she says, “he was really a free man.”

A retrospective of Sergio Larrain’s work forms part of Les Rencontres d’Arles 2013, which runs from July 1 through Sept. 22, 2013.

Richard Conway is a member of TIME.com’s photo staff. He’s previously written for LightBox on Erwin Olaf, Gary Winogrand, Ezra Stoller and Pete Hujar.

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Original author: 
Lily Rothman

When the Swedish photographer David Magnusson created the pictures for his series Purity — now on view at the Malmö Museer as part of his first solo show — he followed the same procedure every time. One hour with a large-format camera. Sixteen pictures taken; one used. In front of the lens, a father and his daughter(s).

“I want to see your relationship as a father and a daughter,” Magnusson says he would tell his subjects, “in light of the decisions you have made.”

Those decisions were very particular ones. The subjects of Magnusson’s series are participants in Purity Balls, an American phenomenon in which girls promise to remain virgins until marriage and their fathers pledge to help them do so. The photographer spent three years—and four trips to the U.S. for a total of five months—capturing these images. Magnusson first heard about Purity Balls when he stumbled across a short magazine story about them, and was fascinated: although Sweden is a Christian country, he says the culture is generally very secular and the idea of religion so affecting one’s life seemed unusual.

But, by spending time with Purity Ball participants, he learned that maybe they weren’t so different from him after all. Each person in front of the camera was his or her own person with his or her own reasons, but the core motivation was something Magnusson could understand, even though he has no children of his own.

“I found out that the fathers participated out of the best intentions. They had been taught this is the best thing for their children, and a lot of the young girls had themselves taken the initiative to attend the purity balls,” he says. “I got the idea that maybe the difference between us wasn’t more than the culture of how we grew up.”

And though the movement is controversial, he strives to present the images without commentary. His aesthetic goal was to make the portraits beautiful and his subjects proud, while still allowing people coming from other perspectives to reach their own interpretations.

“I’ve done a lot of photojournalism in the past and I was at a point with my photography where I felt that I presented a lot of answers. My pictures were being read quickly – you could see, oh, this is sad, then you move on – and I was a bit fed up,” he says. “I had wanted to do something with the goal of passing along a lot of questions and information, letting the viewer make up their own mind.”

And sometimes that information was beyond his control. Though he did give each of his subjects the same instructions, the details each brought — the pose of their hands, how close they stood to each other — were impossible for him to predict. “That,” he says, speaking of the father-daughter relationship, “can’t be directed.”

David Magnusson is a Stockholm-based photographer. His series Purity is on view at Malmö Museer in Malmö, Sweden, through Sept. 8, after which it will tour. The work will be published in book format by Max Ström this winter.

Lily Rothman is a reporter for TIME.com.

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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)

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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)

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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 Time.com 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

Interviews

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)

Articles

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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

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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 Emphas.is 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)

multiMedia 

new issue…. 7.7 : Documentary Photography Digital Magazine

Exhibitions

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 (Emphas.is)

Faded Tulips by William Daniels (Emphas.is) featured on Telephoto

Trading to Extinction by Patrick Brown (Emphas.is) Related on NYT Lens

Workshops

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.

Jobs

Bloomberg: Staff Photo Editor – London

Photographers

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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