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Graduation season is well underway, with kindergartners, high schoolers, college seniors and graduate students alike donning caps and gowns to celebrate their achievement. With their diplomas, graduates also get words of wisdom from a commencement speakers and a good excuse to celebrate. -- Lloyd Young ( 31 photos total)
US Naval Academy graduates throw their hats at the conclusion of their commencement and commission ceremony, attended by President Barack Obama at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on May 24 in Annapolis, Md. (Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency)     

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Eric Johnson

Oculus VR's Palmer Luckey, left, and Nate Mitchell, right. At center, AllThingsD's Lauren Goode tries out the Oculus Rift at CES 2013.

Oculus VR’s Palmer Luckey, left, and Nate Mitchell, right. At center, AllThingsD’s Lauren Goode tries out the Oculus Rift at CES 2013.

This is the second part of our two-part Q&A with Palmer Luckey and Nate Mitchell, the co-founders of virtual-reality gaming company Oculus VR. In Part One, Luckey and Mitchell discussed controlling expectations, what they want from developers, and the challenges of trying to make games do something radically different.

AllThingsD: What do you guys think about Google Glass? They’ve got their dev kits out right now, too, and –

Palmer Luckey: — What’s Google Glass? [laughs]

No, seriously, they’re doing something sort of similar with getting this wearable computing device to developers. Does the early buzz about Glass worry you?

Luckey: No. They’re not a gaming device, and they’re not a VR device, and they’re not an immersive device, and they’re five times more expensive than us.

Nate Mitchell: It’s just a completely different product. Wearable computing is super-interesting, and we’d love to see more wearable computing projects in the market. At Oculus, especially, we’re excited about the possibilities of Google Glass. We’ve seen it, we’ve checked it out, it’s very cool. But if you bring them together –

Luckey: Our image size is like 15 times larger than theirs. It’s like the difference between looking at a watch screen and a 60-inch monitor. It’s just an enormous difference.

snlglass

Mitchell: With the Rift, you’re in there. You’re totally immersed in the world. I think one of the things people keep bringing up (with Glass) is the awkward, the social aspect. For the Rift, you strap into this thing, and you’re gone.

Luckey: It’s about being inside the virtual world, not caring about the real one.

Mitchell: You could put your Glass on in the virtual space.

Luckey: We could do that! We could simulate Glass. … It’s not that hard. You just have a tiny heads-up display floating there. A really tiny one.

Mitchell: I like it.

“Okay, Rift, take a picture. Okay, Rift, record a video …”

Luckey: There’s actually Second Life mods like that. People sell heads-up displays that you can buy.

Mitchell: Really?

Luckey: And they put information in there like distance to waypoints and stuff.

Mitchell: Oh, that’s cool!

Luckey: Yeah, they overlay it on the screen when your character’s wearing it.

I never really “got” Second Life. Minecraft, I can wrap my head around quickly. But Second Life …

Luckey: It’s very difficult to get into. There’s a steep learning curve. The last time I went into Second Life was to buy bitcoins from a crazy guy who was selling them below market value, but you had to go into Second Life to meet with him.

Mitchell: The underbelly of the Internet.

Luckey: They’re actually working on Oculus Rift support, though. The kind of people who make games like Second Life definitely see the potential for virtual reality — being able to step into your virtual life.

And if you’re completely immersed in the game, I guess that wherever you’re playing, you need to trust whoever’s around you.

Mitchell: Absolutely. There’s already some sneaking up on people happening in the office. Someone’s developing, they’re testing the latest integration, and then Palmer comes up and puts his hands on their shoulders: “Heyyyy, Andrew! What’s going on?” There’s a trust factor.

Luckey: Have you seen the Guillotine Simulator? (video below) Some people are showing that without even telling the person what it is: “Here, check this out!” “Whoa, what’s going on?” And then — [guillotine sound effect]

Mitchell: One thing that that does lead into is, we’re exploring ways to just improve the usability of the device. When you put on the Rift, especially with the dev kit, you’re shut off from the outside world. What we’re looking at doing is how can we make it easy to pull it off. Right now, you have to slip it over your head like ski goggles. The dev kit was designed to be this functional tool, not the perfect play-for-10-hours device. With the consumer version, we’re going for that polished user experience.

What about motion sickness? Is it possible to overcome the current need for people to only play for a short period of time on their first go?

Luckey: The better we make the hardware, the easier it’ll be for people to just pick up and play. Right now, the hardware isn’t perfect. That’s one of the innate problems of VR: You’re trying to make something that tricks your brain into thinking it’s real. Your brain is very sensitive at telling you things are wrong. The better you can make it, the more realistic you can make it, the more easily your brain’s gonna accept the illusion and not be throwing warning bells.

You mentioned in one of your recent speeches that the Scout in Team Fortress 2 –

Luckey: — he’s running at like 40 miles per hour. But it’s not just, “Oh, I’m running fast.” It’s the physics of the whole thing. In real life, if you are driving at 40mph, you can’t instantly start moving backward. You can’t instantly start strafing sideways. You have inertia. And that’s something that, right now, games are not designed to have. You’re reacting in these impossible ways.

Mitchell: In that same vein, just as Palmer’s saying the hardware’s not perfect yet, a huge part of it is the content.

Luckey: You could make perfect hardware. Pretend we have the Matrix. Now you take someone and put them in a fighter jet and have them spinning in circles. That’s going to make someone sick no matter how good it is, because that actually does make people sick. If you make perfect hardware, and then you do things that make people sick in real life, you’re gonna make them sick in VR, too. Right now, there’s lots of things going on in games that don’t make people sick only because they’re looking at them on a screen. Or, in so many games, they’ll have cutscenes where they take control of the camera and shake it around. You don’t want to do that in VR because you’re not actually shaking around in real life.

You’re changing the experience that you have previously established within VR.

Mitchell: It breaks the immersion.

Luckey: And that’s why it’s so hard to instantly transfer. In the original version of Half Life 2, when you’d go into a new space for the first time, the whole game would just freeze for a second while it loads. It’s just a short freeze, but players were running along or driving along and all of a sudden, jjt! Now it looks like the whole world’s dragging along with you, and a lot of people feel very queasy when that happens.

Mitchell: It comes back to content. My talk at GDC was very specifically about how developing for VR is different from a 2-D monitor. All those things like cutscenes, storytelling, scale of the world — if the player is at four feet on the 2-D monitor and you put them in there, they immediately notice. They look down and they have the stereo cues: “I’m a midget!” So you make them taller, and now they don’t fit through doors. We really do believe that, at first, you’re going to see these ports of existing games, but the best “killer app” experiences are going to come from those made-for-VR games.

Luckey: And that’s not even to say it has to be new franchises. It doesn’t have to be a new type of game. But you want the content to be designed specifically for the hardware.

Mitchell: It’s just like the iPhone. The best games come from developers pairing hardware and software.

 Dive Into Media.

Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe testing out the Rift at D: Dive Into Media.

And that’s the 10,000-foot view: Does VR change game design in a fundamental way?

Mitchell: Yes. Fundamentally. Absolutely. I think, right now, there’s this great renaissance in the indie community. Indie developers are doing awesome things. If you look at games like The Walking Dead, you’ve got the mainstream genres here. You’re going to have a lot of these indie games start to feel more natural in virtual reality, because that’s almost, like, the intended experience.

Luckey: And not to invent a whole new genre on the fly, but you don’t see many first-person card games or something. There’s a lot of card game videogames, but there’s not many that are first-person because it wouldn’t make any sense to do.

Like a poker game where you could look around the table and read people’s reactions?

Mitchell: Exactly.

Luckey: And you could have all kinds of things integrated into it. I guess that would fit into the first-person-shooter genre, but not really, because you’re not moving and you’re not shooting. You’re just playing cards.

Mitchell: And if you look at the research that’s been done on virtual characters, it’s the type of thing where, if you smile at me in VR, even if you’re an NPC (non-playable character), I’m much more likely to smile back. Your brain is tricked into believing you’re there.

Luckey: There’s also fascinating research on confidence levels in VR, even tiny things. There was a study where a bunch of people performed tasks in real life, in a control group, and then performed them in VR. And the only difference is that one group in VR was about six inches taller than the other group. So, one was shorter than the NPC they were interacting with, one was taller. Universally, all of the “taller” people exhibited better negotiation with the NPCs. Then, they took them out (of the VR simulation) and they redid the (real-world) study, putting everyone back in another trial with a physical person. The people who’d been tall in VR and negotiated as a taller person did better when they went back into the real negotiation as well. It’s ridiculous.

Mitchell: That’s the sort of thing we’re super-excited about. That’s the dream.

And do you have a timeline for when –

Mitchell: When the dream comes to fruition?

Luckey: It’s a dream, man! Come on! [laughs]

Not when it comes to fruition. Are there milestones for specific accomplishments along the way?

Luckey: Sure, we have them, internally. [laughs]

Mitchell: We have a road map, but like we keep saying, a huge part of this is content. Without the content, it’s just a pair of ski goggles.

Luckey: And we don’t even know, necessarily, what a road map needs to look like. We’re getting this feedback, and if a lot of people need a certain feature — well, that means it’s going to take a little longer.

Mitchell: But we have a rough road map planned, and a lot of exciting stuff planned that I think you’ll see over the course of the next year.

And is there a timeline for when the first consumer version comes out?

Mitchell: It’s TBD. But what we can say is, Microsoft and Sony release their dev kits years in advance before they get up onstage and say, “The Xbox One is coming.” We went for the same strategy, just open and publicly.

Luckey: And we don’t want to wait many years before doing it.

Mitchell: Right. So, right now, we’re giving developers the chance to build content, but they’re also co-developing the consumer version of the Rift with us. Once everyone’s really happy with it, that’s when you’ll see us come to market.

Luckey: And not sooner. We don’t want to announce something and then push for that date, even though we know we can make it better.

IMG_4929

And what about the company, Oculus VR? Is this dream you’re talking about something you have to realize on your own? Do you want to someday get acquired?

Luckey: Our No. 1 goal is doing it on our own. We’re not looking to get acquired, we’re not looking to flip the company or anything. I mean, partnering with someone? Sure, we’re totally open to discussions. We’re not, like, we want to do this with no help.

But you wouldn’t want to be absorbed into a bigger company that’s doing more than just VR.

Mitchell: The goal has been to build great consumer VR, specifically for gaming. We all believe VR is going to be one of the most important technologies of –

Luckey: — ever!

Mitchell: Basically.

Not to be too hyperbolic or anything.

Luckey: It’s hard not to be. It’s like every other technological advance could practically be moot if you could do all of it in the virtual world. Why would you even need to advance those things in the real world?

Mitchell: Sooo …

Luckey: [laughs]

Mitchell: With that in mind, we have to figure out how we get there. But right now, we’re doing it on our own.

Luckey: And we think we can deliver a good consumer VR experience without having to partner with anyone. We’re open to partnering, but we don’t think we have to. We’re not banking on it.

And how does being based in southern California compare to being closer to a more conventional tech hub like Silicon Valley?

Mitchell: Recruiting is a little harder for us. But overall, we’ve been able to attract incredible talent.

Luckey: And if you’re in Silicon Valley, it’s probably one of the easiest places to start a company in terms of hiring people. But VR is such a tiny field, it’s not like all of a sudden we’re going to go to Silicon Valley and there’s, like, thousands of VR experts. Now, if I’m a Web company or a mobile company –

Mitchell: — that’s where I’d want to be.

Luckey: But in this case, these people aren’t necessarily all up in Silicon Valley. We’ve hired a bunch of people from Texas and Virginia and all these other places. It’s a niche industry. We actually have the biggest concentration of people working in consumer VR right now. And a lot of the top talent we get, they don’t care where we are, as long as it’s not, like, Alaska. They just really want to work on virtual reality, and there’s no one else doing it like we are.

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Fred Ritchin

What do we want from our media revolution? Not just where is it bringing us—but where do we want to go? When the pixels settle, where do we think we should be in relationship to media—as producers, subjects, viewers? Since all media inevitably change us, how do we want to be changed?

There used to be a time when one could show people a photograph and the image would have the weight of evidence—the “camera never lies.” Certainly photography always lied, but as a quotation from appearances it was something viewers counted on to reveal certain truths. The photographer’s role was pivotal, but constricted: for decades the mechanics of the photographic process were generally considered a guarantee of credibility more reliable than the photographer’s own authorship.

But this is no longer the case. The excessive use of photographs to “brand” an image (whether of oneself online, of celebrities, of products, of major companies, or of governments), and to illustrate preconceptions rather than to uncover what is there (presidents are made to look presidential, and poor people are generally depicted as victimized), as well as the extraordinary malleability of the photograph due to software such as Photoshop, make photography more of a rhetorical strategy, like words, rather than an automatic proof of anything. Photographs must now persuade, often in concert with other media, rather than rely on a routine perception that they inevitably record the way things are.

The billion or so people with camera-equipped cellphones, meanwhile, make photography, like all social media, an easily distributed exchange of information and opinions with few effective filters to help determine which are the most relevant and accurate. The professional photojournalist and documentarian, now a tiny minority of those regularly photographing, often are unsure not only how to reach audiences through the media haze, but also how to get their viewers to engage with the often extraordinarily important situations they witness and chronicle.

This moment of enormous transition forces a rethinking of what photography can do, and what we want it to accomplish. For example, if a young person wanted to become a war photographer, we have hundreds of books showing how others have photographed war. But what if a young person wanted, instead, to become a photographer of peace? The genre, unfortunately, does not yet exist.

Perhaps, then, we might want to begin focusing less on the spectacle of war and more on those impacted by the consequences of war—as Monica Haller has done, along with many others. The all-type cover of her book, Riley and His Story, disputes any conventional reading: “This is not a book. This is an invitation, a container for unstable images, a model for further action…. Riley was a friend in college and later served as a nurse at Abu Ghraib prison. This is a container for Riley’s digital pictures and fleeting traumatic memories. Images he could not fully secure or expel and entrusted to me…. This is not a book. It is an object of deployment.”

The collaboration is intended to help Riley Sharbonno resurrect buried memories and deal with some of what he went through in a war that destabilized his life. There are pictures that he does not remember taking of events that he does not remember witnessing. Photographs, once rediscovered, sometimes assuage his guilt, providing a reason for what has happened. Some of the grand half-truths about war are diluted. But there is anger, too: “I want you to see what this war did to Riley.”

Similarly, Jennifer Karady revisits the enduring trauma of violent conflict in her collaborations with soldiers, working for about a month with each one to re-stage calamitous situations in civilian life that they had experienced in war. Finding a discarded tire on the side of the road in Virginia evokes memories of a possible IED, for instance, or looking out of a window in upstate New York while protected by sandbags recalls a vulnerability to attack—each of these pictures is made with family members participating. Karady views the procedure as potentially therapeutic for those involved, while helping to make the legacy of war somewhat more comprehensible to family and friends stateside. And unlike the imagery from so many war photographers, her pictures are not at all glamorous.

Some are also using their photographs to make sure that the violence is not forgotten by the broader society. In her project “Reframing History,” Susan Meiselas returned to Nicaragua in 2004 with nineteen murals created from her own photographs made during that country’s Sandinista Revolution twenty-five years earlier. She placed the murals at the sites where the imagery was originally made, collaborating with local communities in visualizing their own collective memories and also helping to better acquaint Nicaraguan youth with their own past. (Imagine then if it were possible to place photographs from Robert Frank’s landmark book, The Americans, made in the 1950s, on billboards around this country where the photos were made—given the critical nature of many of his photographs, it would be an extraordinary way to gauge societal change, or the lack of it.)

And some are trying to share the vagaries of war as they occur in a sort of real-time family album. Basetrack, created by Teru Kuwayama and Balazs Gardi, was an experimental social-media project that consisted of a small team of embedded photographers primarily using iPhones, which focused upon about a thousand Marines in the 1st Battalion, Eighth Marines, during their deployment to southern Afghanistan in 2010–11. They curated a news feed alongside their own efforts, employed Google Maps as an interface, wrote posts in addition to photographing, all with a view “to connect[ing] a broader public to the longest war in U.S. history,” intent on involving their audience, many of them family members, in the discussion. Trying to establish transparency, they created an editing tool for the military to censor photographs and texts that might put soldiers in danger, and asked the military to supply reasons for the censorship, which were then made visible when a viewer placed the cursor over the blacked-out section.

It was a relatively effective system, until in 2011, when the Facebook discussion became too difficult for the military to handle and the photographers were “uninvited” a month before the troops’ deployment ended. Apparently a good deal of the content that military officials found problematic was about relatively minor matters, such as parents complaining that their sons and daughters had to wear brown and not white socks on patrol. Now only the Facebook page is still active, with curated news and continuing audience discussions. One mother’s response to the project: “It has truly saved me from a devastating depression and uncontrollable anxiety after my son deployed. Having this common ground with other moms helped me so much and gives me encouragement each day.”

And then there are others who, rather than wait for the apocalypse, are attempting to see what can be done to help prevent it. In James Balog’s long-term photography project, “Extreme Ice Survey,” cameras are positioned in remote arctic and alpine areas, automatically photographing the melting of the ice to help more precisely calculate the impact of global warming, and to create a visual record of a planet in crisis. According to the EIS website: “currently, 28 cameras are deployed at 13 glaciers in Greenland, Iceland, the Nepalese Himalaya, Alaska and the Rocky Mountains of the U.S. These cameras record changes in the glaciers every half hour, year-round during daylight, yielding approximately 8,000 frames per camera per year.”

Or, if we want to make sure that the opinions of the subjects photographed are better understood, why not at times show them their image on the back of the digital camera, and ask what they think of the ways in which they are depicted, and record their voices?  An even more collaborative exchange of perceptions is that between Swedish photographer Kent Klich and Beth R., a former prostitute and drug addict living in Copenhagen whom he began photographing in the 1980s. In the 2007 book Picture Imperfect, his photographs, along with case histories and images from Beth’s family album as a child, are paired with an enclosed DVD of Beth’s daily life for which she herself was the primary filmmaker.

Finally, when making pictures, maybe they can serve another, more practical function. For French artist JR’s 2008–2009 project, “28 Millimeters, Women Are Heroes,” photographs were not only used to document the faces of women living in modest dwellings in various countries, but in Kenya he began to make the oversize prints water-resistant so that when used as roof coverings the pictures themselves would help to protect the women’s fragile houses in the rainy season

Countless innovators, often working far from the spotlight, are today creating visual media that can be useful in a variety of ways. Rather than simply attempting to replicate previous photographic icons and strategies, these newer efforts are essential to revitalizing a medium that has lost much of its power to engage society on larger issues.

And then what is needed are people who can figure out effective and timely ways to curate the enormous numbers of images online from all sources—amateur and professional alike—so this imagery too can play a larger role. As badly as we need a reinvention of photography, we also will require an assertive metaphotography that contextualizes, authenticates, and makes sense of the riches within this highly visible but largely unexplored online archive.

Fred Ritchin is a professor at NYU and co-director of the Photography & Human Rights program at the Tisch School of the Arts. His newest book, Bending the Frame: Photojournalism, Documentary, and the Citizenwas published by Aperture in 2013.

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The National Geographic Traveler Magazine photo contest, now in its 25th year, has begun. There is still plenty of time to enter. The entry deadline is Sunday, June 30, at 11:59 p.m. Entrants may submit their photographs in any or all of the four categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place and Spontaneous Moments. The magazine's photo editors showcase their favorite entries each week in galleries. You can also vote for your favorites. "The pictures increasingly reflect a more sophisticated way of seeing and interpreting the world, making the judging process more difficult," says Keith Bellows, magazine editor in chief. (The captions are written by the entrants, some slightly edited for readability.) As always, you can take a look at some of last year's entries and winners.. -- Paula Nelson ( 40 photos total)
OUTDOOR SCENES - Portrait of an Eastern Screech Owl - Masters of disguise. The Eastern Screech Owl is seen here doing what they do best. You better have a sharp eye to spot these little birds of prey. Okeefenokee Swamp, Georgia, USA. (Photo and caption by Graham McGeorge/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)     

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Simple and efficient, rail travel nonetheless inspires a sense of romance. By train, subway, and a seemingly endless variety of trams, trolleys, and coal shaft cars, we've moved on rails for hundreds of years. Industry too relies on the billions of tons of freight moved annually by rolling stock. Gathered here are images of rails in our lives, the third post in an occasional series on transport, following Automobiles and Pedal power. -- Lane Turner (47 photos total)
An employee adjusts a CRH380B high-speed Harmony bullet train as it stops for an examination during a test run at a bullet train exam and repair center in Shenyang, China on October 23, 2012. (Stringer/Reuters)     

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david alan harvey

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ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT

 

Conversation with Joe McNally

 

David Alan Harvey: You and I met because we were in an educational environment, and here we are twenty-five years later in Dubai for a workshop,  and still in an educational environment  and yet earning our living as photographers. Gulf Photo Plus has brought us together again.

Well Joe, I know some things about you. I know you are great at lighting. I know you like to stand up on top of tall buildings!!I know you are a great guy.

But I want to ask you a couple of questions that I don’t know. I don’t know exactly how you got started in photography or exactly where you got started in photography.

Joe McNally: It was accidental, as these things happen. I knew I wanted to be a journalist and so when I was in school I was literally forced to take a photography class in addition to my writing classes. I borrowed my dad’s old range finder camera. It was called a Beauty Light 3 and I did a couple of classes, and it worked for me.

DAH: In conjunction with your writing? Was it going to be supplemental to your writing?

JMcN: At that point I really decided I wanted to be a photographer, which as you know, back in the day, photographers weren’t really allowed to write anything for anybody (newspapers and what not) generally speaking. So, I stayed in school and I did a master’s in photojournalism.

DAH: Where was that?

JMcN: At Syracuse University. And then I came straight to New York City and my first very grand job in journalism was being a copy boy at the New York Daily News in 1976.

DAH: Oh, that would be an education!

JMcN: I ran Breslin’s copy when he was writing letters to the “Son of Sam”. You know, Pete Hamill was writing at the time.

DAH: Oh really? The classic.

JMcN: I used to take the one star, which came around about seven or eight o’clock at night. Tomorrow’s newspaper..tonight.. and I would go to the third floor press room. I would take fifty papers, put them on my shoulder…

I would not go back to the newsroom…I would continue down the stairs and go across to Louis East and then I would just start putting the papers out on the bar because all the editors were in Louie’s and they had phones, so they would phone in their corrections for the two star from the bar.

DAH: That was back when journalism was journalism.

JMcN: Yeah, it was pretty gritty back then.

DAH: Well okay, did you work for a newspaper? Did you shoot pictures for a newspaper after that?

JMcN: Well, I got fired by the Daily News three years in. I was a studio apprentice. I had made it to being what they called a “boy” in the studio. I was running Versamats and processing film for the photographers, captioning, etc. And I learned a lot about the business.

There was a great New York press photographer name Danny Farrell who took me under his wing. He said “Kid, you have any eye…I don’t think you’re going to make it here, but let me show you a few things”. Danny is a great man. He is 82 now…I just did his portrait.

You know, the Daily News kicked me out the door and I ended up stringing for the AP, UPI and the New York Times. That became kind of a full time gig for about two years.

DAH: How old are you are that point?

JMcN: Lets see, that would be late ’70s, so I am kind of in my late twenties at that point. I was born in ’52. And then, all of a sudden, I got this offer of the strangest job you can imagine. I became a staff photographer at ABC television in New York.

DAH: Really?

JMcN: And that was what introduced me to the world of color and light, because I had been a straight up black and white street shooter prior to that, and my boss at ABC looked at me and said:”We shoot Kodachrome. And we light a lot of stuff”. I was thinking at the time ‘I don’t even know how to plug in a set of lights!’. So thankfully, it was a job that routinely expected failure, and I routinely delivered.

As a still photographer for a television network you’re always the caboose of the operation, the last consideration…they are always doing TV first and foremost and you have to try to squeeze your way in to a set, like a television-movie set or maybe on a news set, shooting the anchors. Or shooting Monday night football. And the interesting part about the job, the things that kind of made me think about technique and be a little bit faster on my feet than I had been before is that I had to shoot everything in color and black & white.

DAH: You had to do both. Now these pictures are going as publicity pictures?

JMcN: Publicity pictures, releases to magazines, covers of television magazines, you name it. On the average week I would shoot sports…I would go down to Washington and shoot Frank Reynolds at the Washington Bureau, and then I would come back up and shoot Susan Lucci on “All My Children”. So it was fast paced, and it really got my feet under me in terms of color.

DAH: So you had two cameras… a black & white and a color camera.

JMcN: Yeah.

DAH: Sounds like my worst nightmare.

JMcN: Yeah, sometimes I would have four cameras at a political convention…I did the Reagan campaign, I did the political conventions and such because they would send me out. I would have four cameras and sometimes I would be juggling three ISO’s or what we used to call ASA.

DAH: So when I see you working now and I was listening to you yesterday talking to your students, and I see you working with your assistants…I mean you’ve got a lot of stuff on your mind. But I guess obviously you are used to it. You grew up multitasking.

JMcN: Yeah, kind of. For whatever strange reason I always allude to the fact that I got raised Irish-Catholic, and editors found out about that and so they knew I was intensely conversant about the whole idea of suffering. Being raised the way I was…if a day passes without some largely undeserved measure of suffering, it’s not a day worth living.

DAH: No good deed goes unpunished.

JMcN: Exactly. And then, if you know how to use lights even a little bit, editors sometimes will zero in on you and say “Okay, that guy is lights”. So, I ended up doing a lot of big production work for whatever weird reason. I did these big gigs for Life …They threw something at me once, a hundred and forty seven jazz musicians all at once. Largest group of jazz musicians ever assembled. It was a riff on Art Kane’s photo, “A Great Day in Harlem”.

DAH: Yeah, I remember that.

JMcN: And my boss at Life was a big jazz fan. And so he engineered this massively expensive thing where all these jazz guys came in to New York to recreate that photograph. We even found the kid who was sitting on the stoop in the original Kane photo, and was probably ten or eleven years old at that time. We found him as an adult and had him into the picture as well.

And one of the great honors of my career during that assignment was that they brought in G0rdon Parks to shoot the original scene on the street, and I got to assist Gordon.

DAH: Wow! Were you with Gordon up at Eddie Adams when he was there?

JMcN: Yeah..

DAH: Yeah, because we were all with Gordon there at one point because he came up there for two or three years at one point.

JMcN: Well, that was the great thing about the early days of Eddie’s, because Carl Mydans would come up and Eisie was there. Eisie would go the podium and lecture, remembering f/stops of pictures he had shot about forty or fifty years ago. The guy was just extraordinary. And that I think is why we still remain educators, because we grew up being mentored.

DAH: We grew up being mentored and then I think we started also teaching at the same time we were being mentored. I mean, both things were happening simultaneously I think.

Okay, it would be great to talk about the good ole days. They weren’t all that great, there were some negative things about the good ole days, but we both picked up the sense of an extended family that we have with each other. It’s amazing. I am seeing Heisler and you and Burnett here for example. And plus meeting a lot of new people, but neither one of us seems to be the type to dwell on the good-ole-days. I mean we are in the new days, and you’ve got young photographers, and people who want to move forward in the business, and here you are as the mentor. How do you account for that? What is that? What is that about for you, personally?

JMcN: For me it is a way to give back, to kind of return that educational base that I sprang from. That is certainly it. It is also part of the mix as a photographer. I always tell photographers now, if they ask, you have to have a lot of lines on the water if you’re going to survive. You shoot for sure, but we also teach, we lecture, publish books, do a blog, the whole social media thing…you have to be as broad based as you possibly can.

For example, I’ve got a couple of young assistants in my studio, and I say look, you’re future is very vibrant…a lot of people are saying doomsday stuff right now, but I think the future is vibrant, it’s just going to be very different from mine. Talk about multitasking! They have to be good on the web, they are going to have to know video, audio, all that stuff. They’ll have to be kind of their own multifaceted entertainment-information package. They are going to have to bring lots of skills to the party. We learned how to do one thing well, and that was how to tell a good story with a camera in our hands.

DAH: Right. Yeah, I never worried too much about the technology changes because I could see always that technological change took people out of every business. Look at radio. Television came along and a whole bunch of radio people just immediately died. And then others, like Jack Benny segued right into it. I never worried about it because I figured there was always some new way to tell the story.

JMcN: Exactly. Heisler was here and Greg being as smart as he is said something to me a couple years ago. He very wisely said:”Joe, this was going to happen whether we liked it or not. This whole digital revolution. So either adapt with it and change with it, or we sit at home and get angry”.

DAH: Well that’s right, and besides that you can still shoot film if you want to for yourself and the stories that you want to tell and the ways that you are going to work are the same. And, you’ve been benefited with a lot of things by the digital ages as well. I mean you’re not running Polaroids just now when you’re taking my picture. I mean those good-ole-days weren’t that great.

JMcN: No, there was a lot of hard work! And auto focus came in at about the right time for me and my eyes, you know. Things change and you have to change with it. I look now at the digital technology and the way its expanded and what you can do imaginatively, and I embrace it. I think it’s a beautiful thing.

DAH: Well, everybody is into still photography right now. Everybody is a photographer. It’s a common language, which means you’ve got a lot of people to mentor. You’ve got to be a huge influence. You’ve got an entire audience for your blog, there is a whole Joe McNally fan base out there and picking up all the time because people are really, really interested, and I think lighting is the big mystery.

They can take pictures with their iPhone, they can take pictures with whatever camera right out of the box, but the one thing they can’t do is light stuff. Tell me a little bit about how you look at lighting in the first place.

JMcN: Well, one of the first things I say if I am teaching is you’ve got to think about light as language. Right from the ancient descriptions photography…photo-graphos — the original Greek term — to write with light. Some people are a little surprised by this.

I say “Look, light has every quality you associate with the written word or the verbal expression of speech. It can be angry, it can be soft, it can be harsh, slanting. I mean all those things…it has emotion and quality and character. And you have to look for it”.

One of the things about if you work technically with light, for instance if you experiment with flash, one thing that also develops at the same time is your overall awareness of light in general. Just your sense of light keeps going forward. So the more you experiment, the better you are going to get, and the better you’re going to get with you means your confidence level raises. And if you are more confident you can approach your subject and your subject matter more confidently.

DAH: It’s not just technical because you are telling a story ultimately. You are saying something about somebody by the way that you light them.

JMcN: Exactly. I always say that when you’re lighting something, what you are doing is you are giving your viewer — who you are never going to meet, that person is looking at the Geographic or some web image a million miles away, and is never going to meet you — so you’re speaking directly do that person.

You are giving them a psychological roadmap to your photograph in the way you use light. You’re saying this is important, this is not so much…this is just context, look here, don’t look there. You are not there with your picture. The picture, all on its own, has to speak to them.

DAH: Great. Now that we’ve had this conversation I need to figure out how I am going to light you. I think I am going to use available light.

Well, I think people don’t think about me so much in terms of light, but I always appreciate it because when I was in high school I worked at a studio, so I learned basic studio lighting, and then of course with the studio closed down for the day, I’d make friends with these guys and say “Hey, can I play with the lights after work?”.

JMcN: But your stuff has such a beautiful quality of light. You have feet in all these worlds, you really do.

DAH: Well, I think it is because I learned at an early age at least how to use lights, and I think that helps me with available light because I do look at it the same way you look at light, I just tend to do it with a smaller kit. I am the emergency medical team, you’ve got the whole crew, you’ve got the hospital.

I am the EMS truck out there trying to save a life on the highway. You know, patch it together. You know, put a band aid over the flash, shoot through a beer bottle, do all these things. But it’s still the same thing.

JMcN: Sure. Jimmy Colton, who used to be at Newsweek, which always had a smaller budget than Time but would compete with Time intensively, he would always say that Time was a hospital and Newsweek was a MASH unit.

DAH: I hadn’t heard that, but that’s an exact analogy.

So, I am looking at your assistants who seem to be about thirty years old, and you’ve got one who is moving into your first assistant position, and Drew is moving out on his own…so what do you tell Drew? And what do you tell the readers of Burn Magazine? What is the main thing they need to be thinking about? I know they’ve got to multitask. You have mentioned that already. What is the main thing they need to have going in their head?

JMcN: I think as they take a step into this market place, if you want to call it that, I tell Drew just concentrate on that which he loves, and work will eventually grow to you.

First of all, make it accessible. Too many young photographers think they have to go to Afghanistan to make their mark. I don’t think you have to do that. I think the best pictures live right around you, and are things you grew up with, and are things that you love. And for instance, Drew grew up with rock & roll, and he was a drummer in a band. They actually toured and what not, so he grew up in the world of music and he is absolutely passionate about that. So I said go for it! Do it. No matter the people who tell you, you can’t make a living being a rock & roll photographer…I think you can, because he is already working it in a way that is unique to him, and he is making strides, he is getting success.

The main thing to remember as a young photographer out there is that there is always naysayers, and there is a lot of them out there now, but when you and I broke in there were naysayers as well.

DAH: There have always been naysayers!

JMcN: There are always folks saying, “This ain’t what it used to be!”

DAH: With every move I ever made in my life, even my closest friends would say, “Harvey you’ve really fucked it up this time”. And then, a few months later they would say, “Harvey you’re the luckiest son of a bitch. How do you luck out like that?”. You know, they flip on it. And that is the same thing I tell photographers too. Do what you love, and then let it happen. Somehow it will happen. Listen mostly  to yourself. Even (maybe especially) your closest friends do not really want you to change.

JMcN: It will. And you’ll have to do stuff along the way. To me there is always food for the table and food for the soul. And sometimes, some jobs you’re going to have to do are food for the table.

DAH: Just do it.

JMcN: You’ve got to do it, swallow hard, go make yourself some money, keep yourself alive, so then you can feed your soul. It’s not all like roses out there, that’s for sure, it’s like a patchwork quilt, but you can make it.

DAH: Yeah, well you have and thanks for this conversation. It has been great to see you again.

 

Related links

Joe McNally

Joe McNally: The Estimable Mr. Harvey

 

joemcnally

Joe McNally, in front of the Burj Khalifa, Dubai, tallest building in the world, which he climbed the same day this picture was taken.

 

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Features and Essays

Robin Hammond

Robin Hammond / Panos Pictures / National Geographic

Robin Hammond: Zimbabwe: Breaking the Silence (The National Geographic Magazine) Oppression, Fear, and Courage in Zimbabwe | From the National Geographic magazine May issue.

Pete Muller: Questioning Zimbabwe’s Underdogs (NYT)

Sebastião Salgado: Genesis (NYT)

Michael Yamashita: China’s Ancient Lifeline (NGM) The 1,400-year-old Grand Canal is a monumental project that bound north and south China together. It’s still in use today.

FrancoPagetti / VII

Franco Pagetti / VII

Franco Pagetti: The Veils of Aleppo (LightBox)

Stanley Greene: The Dead and The Alive (NOOR) Syria

Giles Duley: Syrian Refugees (Guardian)

Nish L. Nalbandian: Portraits of Syrian Rebels (LA Times Framework blog)

Yusuf Sayman: Rebel Fighters Inside Aleppo (The Daily Beast)

Louie Palu

Louie Palu / Zuma Press / The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

Louie Palu: Documenting Murder in Mexico (Mother Jones) The brutality of the drug war, on both sides of the border.

Dominic Bracco II: A Salvation Army of One (NYT Magazine) The Rev. Robert Coogan working in Saltillo, Mexico.

Shiho Fukada / Panos Pictures

Shiho Fukada / Panos Pictures / The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

Shiho Fukada: Japan’s Rootless and Restless Workers (NYT Lens)

Jenn Ackerman: Minnesota, Frozen in Place and Time (NYT Lens)

Aaron Vincent Elkaim: The Last Great Race on Earth (Photo Booth) Iditarod, a thousand-and-forty-nine-mile race across Alaska

Fritz Hoffmann: On Beyond 100 (NGM) Photographer Fritz Hoffmann introduces us to people who have mastered the secret of long life.

Ami Vitale: Back at the Ranch (Panos Pictures)

David Guttenfelder / AP

David Guttenfelder / AP

David Guttenfelder: North Korea (Denver Post) While threats of a missile launch have renewed tensions with North Korea, photojournalist David Guttenfelder has returned to continue documenting life there.

Yuri Kozyrev: Pull Out From Afghanistan (NOOR)

Phil Moore: Mogadishu Boosts Security (Al Jazeera) Safety improves in Somalia’s once war-torn capital despite recent attack and ongoing threats of violence.

Zed Nelson: The Family (Institute) Zed Nelson’s project started in the summer of 1991, just turned 21

Gabriele Galimberti: My Couch Is Your Couch (Institute) Couchsurfers around the world

Steeve Iuncker / Agence VU

Steeve Iuncker / Agence VU

Steeve Iuncker: Yakutsk (LightBox) The Coldest City on Earth

James Whitlow Delano: Buried in Japan (TIME) Japan’s Aomori Prefecture might be at the same latitude as New York, but its climate can seem a lot more harsh.

Maja Daniels: In the mists of Älvdalen, Sweden (Financial Times Magazine) A world away from cosmopolitan Stockholm lies a strange forested land with an ancient language and a singular sense of quiet desolation

Antonio Olmos: Murder Most Ordinary (Guardian) Photographer Antonio Olmos spent two years visiting the site of every murder that took place within the M25 in London.

Ben Roberts: Higher Lands (Document Scotland) Growing up in the Scottish Highlands

Marco Kessler: Belarus: An Uncertain Winter (Vimeo) Belarus, once an integral frontier of the USSR, remains steeped in the Communist legacy, which ruled the daily lives of the nation for over 70 years.

Alexis Lambrou: Teaching for Life (NYT Lens) Young Brooklyn high school teacher, whose life revolves around her students and colleagues at a Brooklyn public high school.

Arthur Nazaryan: Ballet Competitions (NYT Lens) 12-year-old Russian immigrant’s efforts to become a ballerina

Amanda Rivkin: Post-Racial America Road Trip (VII Mentor)

Tommaso Protti: The Youth of Amid (Reportage by Getty Images Emerging Talent) Turkey

Adam Patterson: Another Lost Child (CNN Photo blog)

Patrick van Dam: Dreams of new homes abandoned in Greece (CNN Photo blog)

Articles

Eugene Richards

Eugene Richards

The Hero in the Cowboy Hat: Carlos Arredondo’s Story by Eugene Richards (LightBox)

A Photographer’s View of the Carnage: “When I Look at the Photos, I Cry” (LightBox)

Herald photographer details night Boston will never forget (Boston Herald)

News Media Weigh Use of Photos of Carnage (NYT)

A Blurry Double Standard? A Photo from the Boston Marathon Bombing (PhotoShelter)

Tragedy and the Role of Professional Photojournalists (Chicago Tribune Assignment Chicago blog)

On That Iconic Photo from the Boston Marathon Bombings (BagNewsNotes)

Runner, spectator get photos of marathon suspects (AP Big Story blog)

Photo Essay Of Boston Bomber Was Shot By Former BU Student (NPPA)

Courtesy HBO

Courtesy HBO

Peter van Agtmael: Revisiting Memory and Preserving Legacy: Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros (LightBox)

Tim Hetherington, Indelible on Film (NYT Lens)

A War Photographer Who Was More Than Just an Adrenaline Junkie (Mother Jones)

Killed documentary maker Tim Hetherington remembered in film (BBC) video

Which Way is the Frontline?: a documentary tribute to Tim Hetherington (BJP)

Tim Hetherington’s Photograph’s at the Yossi Milo Gallery (Photo Booth)

Honoring Chris Hondros (Getty Images blog)

Manu Brabo / AP

Manu Brabo / AP

The 2013 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Associated Press Coverage of Syria (LightBox)

The Pulitzer Prizes Winners (Pulitzer)

Photographs of Syria Sweep Pulitzer Prizes (NYT Lens)

Javier Manzano / AFP

Javier Manzano / AFP

A Pulitzer picture first day on the job (AFP Correspondent blog) Photograph taken by Javier Manzano in the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo on October 18, won the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography.

Witness to Newtown’s tragedy (Reuters TV) On December 14, 2012 a gunman opened fire on Sandy Hook Elementary School, leaving 26 dead, including 20 young children. Reuters photographers share their experience covering the story that devastated Newtown, Connecticut and the rest of the country.

David Guttenfelder / AP

David Guttenfelder / AP

Photographer chronicles life in North Korea (NBC)  In spite of the angry rhetoric, life in North Korea goes on as normal – or at least what passes as normal in this isolated state. AP photographer David Guttenfelder has been chronicling life in North Korea for years.

Those photos of young Kim Jong Un performing in ‘Grease’ are probably of his brother (The Washington Post)

I almost died in Syria (Salon)

Olivier Voisin’s last images (Paris Match L’instant)

Taking RISC: Program Trains Reporters How To Save Lives in War Zones (ABC News)

RISC: Training reporters how to save lives (BJP)

French photographer Pierre Borghi escapes four months after kidnapping in Afghanistan (New York Daily News)

John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded Fellowships 2013 (Guggenheim Foundation)

Feisal Omar: “Are you al-Shabaab or soldiers?” (Reuters Photographers blog) Covering Somalia

Featured photojournalist: Christopher Furlong (Guardian)

Anastasia Rudenko (Verve Photo)

Thomas Cristofoletti (Verve Photo)

Challenging an Old Narrative in Latin American Photojournalism (NYT Lens)

Donna De Cesare’s Photo of Violence in El Salvador (NYT Lens)

How the 1962 monsoons inspired Steve McCurry (Phaidon) Forthcoming book, Steve McCurry Untold: The Stories Behind The Photographs, tells how coverage of the Indian rainy season in Life magazine set the Magnum photographer off on a life of photography and far flung travel.

Sebastiao Salgado’s Genesis (BBC)

Sebastião Salgado documents world’s wildernesses in new Genesis exhibition (Guardian)

Sebastião Salgado: Genesis – review (Guardian)

André Kertész: Truth and Distortion, Atlas Gallery, London – review (FT)

Explore Nic Dunlop’s new book Brave New Burma (Panos Pictures blog)

Muhammed Muheisen / AP

Muhammed Muheisen / AP

Wire Photographer Spotlight: Daily Life by Muhammed Muheisen (LightBox)

A Year Later, Instagram Hasn’t Made a Dime. Was it Worth $1 Billion? (TIME)

Making Art With Tom Waits (NYT Magazine)

The National Geographic Trove (Photo Booth)

Genius in colour: Why William Eggleston is the world’s greatest photographer (The Independent)

Bert Stern’s Beautiful Photography and Less-Beautiful Personal Life, on Screen (The Atlantic) A new documentary shows two sides of the man who took some of the most iconic celebrity photographs of the 20th century: creative genius and womanizer.

“Arnold Newman: At Work” explores photographer through his archive (Harry Ransom Center Cultural Compass blog)

Native Americans: Portraits From a Century Ago (The Atlantic)

Meeting Florida’s Seminoles Through Rediscovered Photos (NPR)

Photographer David Moore’s dingy, deteriorating Derby is the real deal (Guardian) Chronicler of 80′s working-class England peers behind closed doors to capture a community indelibly marked by Margaret Thatcher.

Graham Nash’s best photograph (Guardian) Joni Mitchell listening to her new album

Unsung hero of photography Thurston Hopkins turns 100 (Guardian)

This was England: the photographs of Chris Killip (Guardian) Chris Killip’s study of the communities that bore the brunt of industrial decline in the North East have earned him a nomination for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize.

Deutsche Börse Photography prize show: mashups and moon walkers (Guardian)

Deutsche Börse photography prize 2013 (Guardian) video | Sean O’Hagan meets the nominees for the annual Deutsche Börse photography prize. They’re all on show at the Photographers’ Gallery in London until June 30.

Estate of Jacques Lowe

Estate of Jacques Lowe

When an Archive is Lost: Jacques Lowe’s Rare (And Recently Restored) Look at JFK’s Camelot (LightBox)

The Heart of a Beast: Charlotte Dumas’ Poignant Animal Photography (LightBox)

Teenage Precinct Shoppers by Nigel Shafran: A Look Back to 1990 (LightBox)

The World’s Oldest Photography Museum Goes Digital (Smithsonian)

Pecha Kucha: The art of speed-talking about photography (BJP)

Martin Parr ‘Life’s A Beach’ Exhibit And Book Capture Fun In The Sun From Brazil To Japan (The Huffington Post)

The unseen Lee Miller: Lost images of the supermodel-turned-war photographer go on show (The Independent)

The Surreal World of Nina Leen (Photo Booth)

Rescuing a Photo Prince Vita Luckus From Obscurity (NYT Lens)

How photographers joined the self-publishing revolution (Guardian)

Elaborate Drive-By Photo Studio Takes Pedestrians by Surprise (Wired)

Interviews and Talks

John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe / Getty Images

John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe / Getty Images

John Tlumacki (LightBox) Tragedy in Boston: One Photographer’s Eyewitness Account | LightBox spoke with Boston Globe photographer John Tlumacki, who photographed the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Tlumacki, who has photographed more than 20 marathons in his 30 years at the Globe, describes the sheer chaos of the scene.

John Tlumacki (Poynter) Globe’s Tlumacki: ‘I am dealing with trauma & trying to keep busy’ following Boston tragedy

Sebastião Salgado (Natural History Museum YouTube) Genesis

Sebastião Salgado (Guardian) A God’s eye view of the planet – interview

Sebastião Salgado (NYT) In Love With My Planet

Sebastião Salgado (Taschen) Two men, one mission: Salgado talks with Benedikt Taschen about the photographic project that changed his life.

Sebastian Junger (Indiewire) On the Value and Cost of War Reporting and Making a Film About His Late ‘Restrepo’ Co-Director Tim Hetherington

Sebastian Junger (NPR) ‘Which Way’ To Turn After Hetherington’s Death

Sebastian Junger (WNYC) The Life and Times of Tim Hetherington

Michelle McNally (Le Journal de la Photographie) The New York Times Director of Photography

James Estrin (Le Journal de la Photographie) NYT photographer and Lens blog editor

Patrick Witty (Zorye Kolektiv)  International Picture Editor at TIME

David Campbell to reveal WPPh multimedia research (Canon Professional Network)

Robin Hammond (NGM) The Moment: Caught in Zimbabwe

Jeff Jacobson (PDN) On Beauty, Ambiguity and Mortality

Yuri Kozyrev (Zorye Kolektiv)

Emilio Morenatti (Zorye Kolektiv)

Anastasia Taylor-Lind (Repor Madrid TV)

Thurston Hopkins (Guardian) On his 100th birthday this week, one of the great photojournalists of the 20th century, Thurston Hopkins, talks about his career as a photographer at Picture Post

Pari Dukovic (Wonderland magazine)

Mike Brodie (LA Times Framework blog)

Danielle Levitt (Dazed Digital) Danielle Levitt’s Favourite Tribes

Mikko Takkunen is an associate photo editor at TIME.com.

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Miguel Ángel Sánchez

Ulu Pamir

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Miguel Ángel Sánchez traveled in 2012 with his studio to Ulu Pamir, Turkey, a far place in the middle of Turkish Kurdistan, hidden between mountains with very hard winters and connected by a tortuous path to Van Lake. 30 years ago, this land was the witness of the arrival of a group of unusual people with unusual features.

These people, originally from Kyrgyzstan, came walking from far away, from Pamir, with the promise of a better and safer life hosted by the Turkish government, avoiding the war with USSR.

30 years later, people from this place fight against the government´s abandonment and harassment of the PKK guerrilla warfare.

Miguel Ángel portrayed the inhabitants from this small village and their will to preserve their roots and traditions despite being far away from their original land.

 

Bio

Miguel Ángel Sánchez (Madrid 1977), Spanish photographer based in Cairo since 2009.

For years he combined his development as an artist with his work in a commercial photography studio, until, in 2009, he decided to completely turn over to his creative side and opened his own photography studio in Cairo (Egypt).

His studio in Cairo is the base where he works and prepares projects developed in Egypt for the last four years, but he is also a study itinerant photographer who takes his workspace to any corner of the world: Asia, Middle East or black Africa. The Gaddafi war in Libya, the Ulu Pamir besieged by the PKK in Turkish Kurdistan, the Gaza Strip after Israel bombing and Lebanon after Hariri are some of the ports reached by Studio Al Asbani.

Miguel Ángel Sánchez also combines his work as a studio photographer with photojournalist and cameraman in conflict zones where he covered the war in Libya, the Egyptian revolution and the Gaza Operation Pillar of defense, among others.

His work has been published by national media such as El País, and international as The New York Times, Le Monde, New Yorker, Photo Raw, La Lettre de la Photographie, etc.

 

Related links

Miguel Ángel Sánchez

 

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Andrei Becheru

The Fountain

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I think you come to grasp a place better when you spend a considerable amount of time there; by seeing and listening to everything around you, you develop a constant connection, you react to it, and then, in the end, you distil everything; in my case, with images.

But, first of all, it needs to be a place where everything is found in abundance. It must be a wild territory. A piece of land with a vast history, a land that still bears the mark of past colonizations. A land battered by the tumultuous feet of several generations who lived, fought and died in this place.

When I started (around 2009), I did not view this material in the form of a project. I was traveling in the South of the country where I live, Romania, I had been exploring photography for two years already when I begun to gradually discover this place called Dobruja.

I had read some material, I had seen some documentaries about the Danube Delta, about the hardships which the people inhabiting this area have become accustomed to, or not. I came to know the story of a mining town built in Romania’s Communist era, hidden behind sedimented hills used for copper extractions.

It is difficult to approach the topic surrounding the prosperity of this mining town in the Socialist era, at this point, but one can track down the drastic consequences brought about by the Post-Communist period, consequences mirrored in the people who remained here, on this land ravaged by the effects of industrialization.

After more than a year of exploring this place and starting from a few “trigger” images which illustrate this scenery, I had the impression that I was beginning to discover and approach different subjects. I thought that these images made up a beginning of something that might subsequently crystallize into individual projects. I continued to photograph the day to day life in this scenery. I was conscious of the diversity of the images gathered, but I could not contain them; I felt the need to spread them out.

 

Bio

I, Andrei Becheru, was born in 1984 in Bucharest, Romania.

From early on I chose drawing and painting as means of expression. I completed my studies in the field of design at the National University of Fine Arts of Bucharest in 2007. Absorbed by a past aspiration, which, in the meantime, had become an inner necessity, I started taking photographs three years ago, first on film, and then adopting the digital medium.

One year into digital photography, I nostalgically returned to images on photographic film that had marked my memory.

Presently, I work as an art director for an online fashion store. In parallel with film photography, I began experimenting with moving pictures using an old video camera.

 

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