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Don't miss Boing Boing's video interview with Dr. Donna J. Nelson, science advisor to the television series "Breaking Bad." The show's final episode airs this coming Sunday night on AMC. PBS science correspondent Miles O'Brien and I interviewed her in 2012, when she and the Breaking Bad cast and creator Vince Gilligan were at Comic-Con in San Diego.

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[Video Link] PBS science correspondent Miles O'Brien and I interview Dr. Donna J. Nelson, science advisor to the television series "Breaking Bad." The show's final episode airs this coming Sunday night on AMC.

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(author unknown)

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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Original author: 
Ken Lyons

A tornado touches down near El Reno, Okla., Friday, May 31, 2013, causing damage to structures and injuring travelers on Interstate 40. Another series of deadly tornados swept across Oklahoma injuring hundreds and causing multiple fatalities including a team of storm chasers. Smoke rises from the International Red Cross building after a gun battle between [...]

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Original author: 
Mikko Takkunen

Features and Essays

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Lucas Jackson: Haunting Night Scenes of Oklahoma’s Devastation (ABC News) Reuters photographer Lucas Jackson traveled to Moore and used the twilight night sky to illuminate some haunting landscapes the tornado left behind.

Katie Hayes Luke: Faces And Places The Tornado Left Behind (NPR Picture Show)

Ashley Gilbertson: Intricate Rituals for Fallen American Troops (NYT)

Steve Ruark: Honoring the Fallen (LightBox) One Photographer’s Witness to 490 Dignified Transfers

Luke Sharrett: Sacrifices Set in Adorned Stone (NYT Lens) Gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Sergey Ponomarev: A Supporting Role (NYT) In Afghan Transition, U.S. Forces Take a Step Back

Andrew Burton: Afghanistan (CNN Photo blog) Photographing ‘my generation’ at war

Eugene Richards: Inside Guantanamo (LightBox)

Ilona Szwarc

Ilona Szwarc

Ilona Szwarc: The Little Cowgirls (Telegraph) Deep in the heart of Texas, young girls are bucking the trend and breaking into the traditionally macho world of rodeo. The photographer Ilona Szwarc has corralled some of these junior ropers and riders into a compelling visual essay | Related article here

Aaron Huey: Pine Ridge (LightBox) Aaron Huey has photographed the Oglala Lakota for seven years on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Ilona Szwarc: American Girls (Photo Booth)

Andrew Moore: Stuck in the Shadow of Affluence (NYT Magazine) How the epidemic of empty, foreclosed homes in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods ignited a new form of guerrilla activism.

Justin Maxon: Gunland (LightBox) Chicago’s South Side

Billie Mandle: Reconciliation (Wired Raw File photo blog) American confessionals and reconciliation rooms

Christopher Anderson: Skin on Parade in Central Park (NY Magazine) New York Magazine sent photographer Christopher Anderson to meander around Central Park on a 79-degree day

Charles Ommanney: Heavy Metal Cruise (Reportage by Getty Images)

Anderson Scott: Civil War Lovers Can’t Leave the Past Behind at Awkward Reenactments (Wires Raw File)

Arne Svenson: The Neighbors (Photo Booth)

Martin Parr: Life’s a Beach / USA Color (Slate Behold)

Joshua Yospyn: America’s Quirky Coincidences (NYT Lens)

Saul Robbins: Behind Closed Doors at New York Shrink Offices (Slate Behold)

Ruth Prieto: Safe Heaven (burn magazine)  The second chapter of a documentary project about Mexican immigrant women in New York.

Lynsey Addario / VII for TIME

Lynsey Addario / VII for TIME

Lynsey Addario: Rich Nation, Poor People (LightBox) With its vast oil wealth, Saudi Arabia has one of the highest concentrations of super rich households in the world. But an estimated 20 percent of the population, if not more, lives in crippling poverty.  

Kiana Hayeri: Young Iranian Immigrants (NYT Lens) Leaving Tehran and Restraints Behind

Carolyn Drake: Two Rivers: A Journey Through Central Asia (Photo Booth) A photographic record of the area in Central Asia that follows the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, the region’s major rivers.

Linda Forsell: Refugee Crisis (zReportage) Syria | Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp is home to 170,000 people from Syria who have fled the fighting.

Kalpesh Lathigra: Passport-Style Portraits of Displaced Syrians Living in the Za’atari Refugee Camp (Feature Shoot)

Guillaume Herbaut: Chinese Weddings (CNN Photo blog)

Peter Pin: Life Beyond The Killing Fields (NPR Picture Show)

Angelos Tzortzinis

Angelos Tzortzinis

Angelos Tzortzinis: Societal Ills Spike in Crisis-Stricken Greece (NYT Lens)

Espen Rasmussen: Mud, Fire and Pain (Panos Pictures) Tough Guy claims to be the world’s most demanding one-day survival ordeal and it has been widely described as ‘the toughest race in the world’

Espen Rasmussen: Pain (Panos Pictures) As part of a longer project looking at masculinity and middle aged men, Espen visits the longest single stage cycle race in the world, from Tronheim to Oslo in Norway.

Kirsten Luce: Matadora (NYT Lens) In the Arena With a Smile — and a Bull

Brett Gundlock: One Small Town’s Fight to Banish a Brutal Mexican Cartel (Wired Raw File)

Yann Gross: A snake story in the Brazilian far west (Institute)

Kate Holt: Somalia surgeons: under the knife in Mogadishu (Guardian) audio slideshow

Siegfried Modola: Ethiopia’s ancient salt trail (Guardian)

Takayuki Maekawa: Wild Animals (CNN Photo blog)

Articles

030-035_FTMAG_0106_FINAL.indd

The Financial Times Magazine, June 1/2 2013

My friend, Robert Capa (FT Magazine) John Morris, former picture editor of Life, talks about the great photographer and his most historic roll of film – of D-Day

The month in photography – audio slideshow (Guardian) Vanessa Winship, Erwin Blumenfeld and Nobuyoshi Araki feature in June’s guide to the best photography around the world.

World Press Photo controversy: Objectivity, manipulation and the search for truth (BJP) Beyond the attacks leveraged against Paul Hansen’s winning World Press Photo, the recent controversy over image toning is symptomatic of the current state of photojournalism and its place in a society that has learned not to trust what it sees. Photojournalists, photography directors and post-producers speak to Olivier Laurent, and ask whether objectivity in photojournalism is actually attainable

Drama, Manipulation and Truth: Keeping Photojournalism Useful (Picture Dept)

chrishondrosfilm.com

chrishondrosfilm.com

Hondros: A Life in Frames – trailer (Chris Hondros film website)

Censored – images of our ugly truths, natural and man-made (Sydney Morning Herald)

A Photographer, A Fixer, the New York Times and Child Servitude in Haiti: A Story Gone Haywire, then Simply Gone (BagNewsNotes)

American beauty: Vanessa Winship’s photos of still, small-town US life (Guardian) Winship used her Henri-Cartier Bresson prize money well: to fund a book, She Dances on Jackson, in which she has captured the silence at the heart of a clamorous nation

Photographing What Endures For Australia’s Aboriginals (NPR Picture Show) Amy Toensing’s project for the National Geographic

Don McCullin guest of honour at 25th Visa pour l’Image (CPN)

A war photographer’s rediscovered images from Vietnam (CBS News)

Andrea Bruce

Andrea Bruce / Noor Images

War Through a Woman’s Eyes (American Photo magazine) Some of today’s top conflict photographers just happen to be women. We spoke with a handful of these photojournalists about their experiences—and how they differ from their male colleagues’

Photojournalists Tell the Untold Stories From Iraq (Slate Behold)

Kathy Ryan: Office Romance: Renzo Piano’s Light (NYT Magazine 6th Floor Blog)

Capturing ‘Out Cold’ Commuters with TIME’s Patrick Witty (Instagram blog)

Martin Parr: All the world’s a beach (FT Magazine) For one photographer, there is no better place than the seaside to observe human eccentricity in all its glory

Finding And Photographing Alaska’s Remote Veterans (NPR Picture Show)

‘Pictures from the Real World’: Derby, England in 1988 (LightBox)

Q&A: Why is Emphas.is now turning to its own platform to survive? (BJP)

Who Will Crowdfund the Crowdfunder? (NYT Lens)

Moving Walls (The Foreign Policy) Looking back on 15 years of human rights photography.

Through the Lens of Eggleston (WSJ) The selection of William Eggleston’s photographs, “At War with the Obvious,” currently on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, reminds us why he an American master. For the June issue of WSJ. Magazine,  the legendary photographer agreed to shoot part of his extensive collection of Leica and Canon cameras | Related

Garry Winogrand and the Art of the Opening (The Paris Review)

Wayne Miller obituary (Guardian) Magnum photographer celebrated for his images of the second world war and Chicago’s South Side

In Memoriam: Wayne Miller (1918 – 2013) (LightBox)

Stephanie Sinclair’s best photograph: child brides in Yemen (Guardian)

Featured photographer: Tim Richmond (Verve Photo)

Featured photographer: Albertina d’Urso (Verve Photo)

Featured photographer: Katharine MacDaid (Verve Photo)

Featured photographer: Joel van Houdt (Verve Photo)

The little girl in the photo, all grown up (AFP Correspondent blog) AFP photographer Jean-Philippe Ksiazek hears from a girl he photographed in Pristina at the end of the war in Kosovo

When Photography Imitates Voyeurism (NYT Magazine 6th Floor blog)

Joseph Eid / AFP / Getty Images

Joseph Eid / AFP / Getty Images

War and Representation: Showing the Limits of Comprehension (No Caption Needed)

Digital and the the desire for long form journalism (David Campbell blog)

What a Photograph Can Accomplish: Bending the Frame by Fred Ritchin (LightBox)

Chicago Sun-Times lays off its photo staff (Chicago Tribune)

Chicago Sun-Times will train reporters on ‘iPhone photography basics’ (Poynter.)

Alex Garcia: The Idiocy of Eliminating a Photo Staff (Chicago Tribune Assignment Chicago photo blog)

Do Newspapers Need Photographers? (NYT)

How the Internet Killed Photojournalism (PetaPixel)

Spitting on the Grave (Jim Colton website) On Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s comment ‘there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore’

Defining “News photographer” for the future (Reuters photo blog)

Anton Corbijn to shoot James Dean biopic, Life (Guardian) Control director to explore real-life friendship between 50s icon and Life magazine photographer in new film

Harlequin Without His Mask (Francis Hodgson blog) On Rankin

NY Times Public Editor Questions T Magazine Photoshopping Policy (PDN)

NYC Tribeca Residents Enraged Over Photos They Claim Violate Their Privacy (ABC News)

‘Control Order House’ by Edmund Clark – Photographing our response to terrorism (The Independent)

Ponte City: An Apartheid-Era High Rise Mired in Myth (LightBox) In 2008, South African photographer Mikhael Subotzky, in collaboration with British artist Patrick Waterhouse, set out to create a visual document of the building as monumental as the structure itself, exploring a long, complex history mired in myth.

Interviews and Talks

Anastasia Taylor-Lind / VII

Anastasia Taylor-Lind / VII

Anastasia Taylor-Lind (Nat Geo Live) Mothers, Models, and Fighters | A rising star on the photography scene, Anastasia Taylor-Lind documents the lives of women who live isolated from male society, including in schools for Siberian supermodels and military training camps for Cossack women | video

John H. White (CNN) Howard Kurtz talks to Pulitzer prize-winning photographer John H. White about what the layoffs mean for the news industry after Chicago Sun-Times drops photographers

Jonas Bendiksen (Vice) Bendiksen Takes Photos in Countries That Don’t Exist

Winners from the 2013 World Press Photo Contest (WPP) Nineteen prizewinners discuss their award-winning work.

Alec Soth (A Photo Editor)

 Tom Powel Imaging inc.

Richard Mosse, The Enclave, 2013. Six screen film installation, color infrared film transferred to HD video. Filmed in Eastern Congo. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging inc.

Richard Mosse (Frieze Vimeo) The Impossible Image | Artist and photographer Richard Mosse reveals the stories behind the making of his latest film, ‘The Enclave’ (2013), in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which will be shown in the Irish Pavilion at this year’s 55th Venice Biennale.

Lauren Greenfield (Rookie magazine) Money Changes Everything: An Interview With Lauren Greenfield

Donna Ferrato (Vogue Italy) “I really believe in the power of photography to change the world. I think without it we would be like cavemen”

Fabio Bucciarelli (Photographic Museum of Humanity)

James Nachtwey (National Geographic magazine) Longer version on Stephen Alvarez’s Facebook page here

Maggie Steber  Part 1 | Part 2 (Leica blog)

John G. Morris (Vogue Italy)

Tim Page (Radio Australia) Page on history, photography and the Vietnam War

Thomas Dworzak (Roads and Kingdoms) Dworzak’s Instagram Chapbooks

Saul Leiter (In-Public)

Alan Chin

Alan Chin

Photojournalists on Covering the War in Iraq (The Leonard Lopate Show / WNYC) audio | Michael Kamber interviewed photojournalists from many leading news organizations to create a comprehensive collection of eyewitness accounts of the Iraq War—Photojournalists on War. He’s joined by photographers Alan Chin and Ashley Gilbertson, who discuss trying to cover the war in Iraq and examine the role of the media and issues of censorship

New booktells ‘untold stories’ from Iraq (MSNBC) Photojournalist Michael Kamber joins MSNBC’s Craig Melvin and fellow photojournalists Carolyn Cole and Ed Kashi to talk about his new book, “The Untold Stories From Iraq: Photojournalists on War”.

Doug Richard (ABC Arts) A New American Picture: Doug Rickard’s Google Street View road-trip

David Guttenfelder (The World) Inside the Hermit Kingdom: David Guttenfelder on Photographing North Korea

Mads Nissen

Mads Nissen

Mads Nissen (Panos Social) The Making of Amazonas

Ben Lowy (ABC Arts)

Ben Lowy (MSN Australia) Covering warzones with an iPhone

Kai Löffelbein (Leica blog) A Hidden World in Hong Kong

Tomas van Houtryve (The Story)

Michal Chelbin (The Voice of Russia)

Sue Ogrocki (LightBox) Moments of Hope in Oklahoma: One Photographer’s Story

Paul Hellstern (CNN) Photographer captures snapshots of courage after tornado levels OKC school

Ed Jones (LightBox Tumblr)

Stacy Pearsall (Peach Pit) In the Trenches with Combat Photographer

Katrin Koenning (No Borders Magazine) A sense of belonging

Alonzo J. Adams (LightBox Tumblr)

Laura Pannack (Photo Whoa) Speaking Through Your Photographs & Connecting with Your Viewer

Mikko Takkunen is an associate photo editor at TIME.com

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Eugene Richards

On assignment documenting Guantánamo Bay for this week’s issue of TIME, photographer Eugene Richards spent several days at the infamous detention facility. Here, Richards writes for LightBox about how he approached the assignment and the distinct challenges he faced working under the tight restrictions imposed on the media by the U.S. military. 

When TIME asked me to go to Guantánamo, I immediately thought back to 9/11 — to the smoke and ruin of that fatal day, to Bush’s declaration of the war on terror, then to the first images from the prison: of men in orange jumpsuits shackled, blindfolded, handcuffed, sensory-deprived. These men, often viewed in silhouette and on their knees in prayer, were often picked up on the battlefield in Afghanistan by military units, although some were captured after bounties of as much as $5000 per head were paid. My first thoughts were to 9/11, of interrogations, secrecy, torture and military might.

And then there was the series of military-issued disclaimers I would have to agree to. I wouldn’t be permitted to photograph, or even see, the detainees. I couldn’t show the guards’ faces, and I would only be able to photograph the pre-ordained locations within the camp. And finally, I had to agree to having my work edited — to turn over my cards so that images could be deleted or cropped as per the opinion of the public information staff accompanying me the entire assignment. ‘Can you make pictures out of nothing?’ I asked myself, then prepared for the trip.

It took two plane flights to get down to Guantánamo and a ferry ride across to the prison camp proper. I made photographs on the boat, but because they were of soldiers, they would become the first pictures deleted by the military. Once off the ferry, Guantánamo became small town America, replete with miles of brand-new looking green-lawned suburban houses. There was a McDonald’s along the road, a Subway sandwich shop, bar-and-grills and a dry landscape of thorny bushes and cactus. Iguanas, looking absurdly out of place, lay often in pairs at the edges of roadways running to and from the prison, munching on the low vegetation. Because they are a protected species, all traffic would come to a stop as they took their time swish-swashing from place to place.

I was put up in a condo of sorts, then had dinner with my minder, Sgt. Brian Godette. The next morning, he asked me what I wanted to see. My assignment from TIME was just to see what I could see, so Brian, out of sympathy, brought me out to the one place that I could visit at will: the now infamous Camp X-Ray.

This is the place, he explained, where the first detainees were brought in 2002 — close to 300 of them, he said. So I followed this young, affable soldier through the gate and up a dirt road, to aisles upon aisles of what could only be regarded as animal cages — six-foot-by-eight-foot concrete-floored cells enclosed on all sides and on top with chain link. They were all glaring light and shadows at this time of the morning, offering no protection from the sun so broiling hot, even though this was only springtime. Vines wound up through the see-through ceilings, grass cracked the concrete and the wind was blowing. Plump hutias, also known as banana rats, nested along the metal supports. Still, it wasn’t hard to imagine the place at night, when the air would be filled with mosquitoes, when the rain would blow in unobstructed. I was also shown the summer-camp-cabin looking interrogation building where, according to some reports, torture took place. Camp X-Ray, Brian went on to tell me, was closed later that year, the detainees transferred to other areas in the military prison.

The first “editing session” happened later that day, when the previous day’s images from the ferry were deleted by Brian. What I remember next was the 4 a.m. wake-up.

Along with a two-man TV crew, I was led in the near dark through four or five electronic doors onto the hallway of Camp V for pre-dawn prayers. No prisoners could be seen. No faces, no hands. All there was to see were the openings in steel doors as the guards wearing protective face shields (since detainees, we were told, spit and throw waste at them) walked up and down the block. As if in cadence, they stopped occasionally at individual cells to peer in, to whisper, to hand over medicines to inmates said to be fasting. After twenty minutes, the prayers finally seemed to drift away and the food carts were ushered in, then ushered out. Because there were few, if any, takers, we were led out of the prison.

At one point earlier in the day, the faces of detainees did appear in the elongated windows above an entryway. Dark-skinned, long-bearded men looked down at us. A TV cameraman pointed his camera in that direction, only to be cautioned that his footage would later be erased.

I returned at 5 a.m. the following morning and was ushered through the gates onto a different cell block, all too aware that some of the photographs I’d taken the previous morning had been deleted. I also wanted to hear the prayers again.

And so I went on what could only be called a media tour. The most surreal moment came during our exposure to the force-feeding apparatus. After all, that’s why the media was here — the hunger strike that had been going on since February loomed large in the debate about the camp. Surrounded by three or four media personnel and an equal number of medical personnel, we were ushered past the crash beds in the detainee hospital into a large, empty room. Dead center, beneath a single fluorescent panel, was the restraining chair. A display of the force-feeding apparatus included a bottle of the liquid nutrient Ensure and two sizes of tubing that could be put up the noses of detainees who refused to eat. As the TV camera rolled, medical personnel explained, without a hint of doubt, that the force-feeding process is not at all unpleasant (olive oil, you see, is employed as a lubricant as the tube is snaked up through the detainee’s nose and down his throat) and that, despite what others in the medical field might say, the long-term consumption of Ensure does no lasting damage.

And just like that, when I was feeling that my week was just beginning, it was over. I was upset that it was over. Before boarding the flight back to the U.S., there was one more pre-planned stop on the tour: the visit to a Gitmo gift shop, for t-shirts and figurines of Fidel Castro. But then even after the lift-off, I couldn’t rid myself of the feeling — and still can’t get rid of it now — that even though I put some time in, and that I now have some pictures that say I’ve been to Gitmo, the truth is that I have never really been there.

Eugene Richards is an award-winning American photographer.

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Original author: 
David Von Drehle

In February, Justin Maxon, a photographer and Northern California native, spent several days and nights on Chicago’s South Side for TIME, trying to make fresh images that convey the sadly familiar fact of gun violence in the great but troubled city.

There is a fire, an intensity, to Maxon’s work that may partly be the end result of a journalist in his 20s seeing a story with fresh eyes. But even more, it is a measure of his honest desire to go past the surface of a picture to the complicated humanity that lies at the core of all conflict. These are real people, and left behind are real survivors wrestling with grief, guilt, and anger.

“What I witnessed and gathered from the stories of people living in the South Side is that their community is about survival,” Maxon tells TIME. “With that dynamic comes fight. Violence is built into the structure of survival.”

Maxon questioned how to best represent the complex issues facing the community, revealing just how critical it is to show the nuances when covering an environment saddled by intense transformation. Too often, reports of urban violence begin and end with data: name, age, street address — and how many murders does that make for this year? Maxon’s pictures are the opposite, pulling viewers from the grim facts toward the search for meaning.

“These are communities of strength and hope,” Maxon says. “Where people come together to grieve but to also encourage and inspire. I obviously had to illustrate the story of violence, but I was most interested in searching for how the community was trying to critically engage with the issue in an adaptive and positive way.”

Click here to read editor-at-large David Von Drehle’s full magazine story on Chicago and Mayor Rahm Emanuel available exclusively for TIME subscribers.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now or purchase a digital access pass.

Justin Maxon is a Northern California native whose recent work When the Spirit Moves (featured on LightBox June 10, 2011) documents Chester, Pennsylvania—a community facing upwards of 300 unsolved murder cases since the mid-nineties.

David Von Drehle is an editor-at-large for TIME, where he has covered politics, breaking news and the Supreme Court since 2007. He is the author of four books, including Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year, published in 2012, and Triangle: The Fire That Changed America

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Original author: 
David Brittain

Photographic technology was born in Europe, but the art of photography as we know it, was invented in the USA during the 1950s and 60s, sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. John Szarkowski, MoMA’s powerful Director of Photography, declared that great British photographers belonged to a “documentary tradition” that included Bill Brandt (whose press pictures of Britain in the 1930s were exhibited at MoMA in 1969). David Moore’s work from 1987-88, which was first published in Creative Camera in 1988, and now published as a book, Pictures from the Real World, conforms to the expectation that British photographers should, like Brandt, be primarily social observers.

The notion of a “documentary tradition” does not stand up to scrutiny, however, because of the many disparities between Brandt’s generation and Moore’s. Unlike his forebears, Moore benefited from a cultural climate that recognized and rewarded his artistry (the state-funded Arts Council supported dedicated galleries and magazines). This made it possible for him to cultivate a personal style that did not yet conform to the demands of the mass media. Commentators of the 80s interpreted the rather shocking use of color photography, by Moore and others, as a rebellion against the old black-and-white school, but in fact color became simply an extension of a “documentary aesthetic” popularized by the American formalist, William Eggleston.

While Moore was at college (he studied with Martin Parr from 1985 to 1988 at the West Surrey College of Art) the first serious challenge arrived to those who championed documentary photography as both an art form and a tool for reform. In the US and Britain, the theories of French thinkers such as Roland Barthes, challenged claims that photographs were objects of artistic expression or transparent reproductions of “reality.” As these ideas took hold two things happened: the supposed truth of documentary photography became discredited, and it was “saved for art.”

There have been many claims for British documentary photography of the 1980s, including the claim that it was a social critique of the Thatcher years in Britain. This has yet to be demonstrated. Arguably, the most radical aspect of these pictures, is Moore’s refusal of the role of “neutral observer” — something he shares with others of his generation. To eyes accustomed to digitally enhanced photography, many of these pictures will seem familiar. This is because they were cleverly manipulated, both formally (using flash mixed with ambient light to invoke a heightened reality), and conceived, not as “records of life” but opinions. Did Moore just happen to pass by and “snap” the conjunction of the baby and the television image, or did he find the image on a video? Looking back, we can see that this “documentary-style” photography (a term coined by the great American photographer Walker Evans) marked an important stage in the unravelling of the sacred bond between photographer/witness and “reality” that forms the basis of the authority of photography in the press and in society. The relatively recent invention of Photoshop has taken the process much farther.

This is a welcome and important book that is part of a current reappraisal of the British photography of the 1970s and 80s.

Pictures From The Real World (2013) by David Moore is published by Here Press and Dewi Lewis Publishing.

David Moore is a London based photographer who has exhibited and published internationally. He has been working as a photographer and educator since graduating from West Surrey College of Art and Design, Farnham, in 1988.

David Brittain is a curator, critic, documentary maker, lecturer and was editor of the respected international magazine, Creative Camera, (1991-2001). In 2000, his anthology of writings, Creative Camera: Thirty Years of Writing, was published by Manchester University Press.

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Original author: 
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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