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VICE Loves Magnum: An Interview with Christopher Anderson

Magnum is probably the most famous photo agency in the world. Even if you haven’t heard of it, chances are you’re familiar with its images, be they Robert Capa’s coverage of the Spanish Civil War, Steve McCurry’sAfghan Girl or Martin Parr’s very British holiday-scapes. Unlike most agencies, Magnum’s members are selected by the other photographers in the agency, which, given they’re the greatest photo agency in the world, means that becoming a member is a pretty grueling process. As part of an ongoing partnership with Magnum, we will be profiling some of their photographers over the coming weeks.

First up is Christopher Anderson, who became a Magnum nominee in 2005 and was a full member by 2010. His early work on Haitian immigrants’ illegal journey to America—during which he and they sank in the Caribbean Sea in a handmade wooden boat named Believe in God—won him the Robert Capa Gold Medal. And last year, we produced an episode of Picture Perfect about him.

His subsequent book projects include Son, a series of photos capturing his wife and young child as his own father grew ill with cancer, and Capitolio, which documents unrest in Caracas during the time of Chavez.

I had a chat with him about how he sees himself and how that’s changed over his career.


Joe Biden descends from Air Force Two in Virginia, shot for New York Magazine.

VICE: You’ve vocally distanced yourself from photojournalism in the past. Why is that?
Christopher Anderson: 
There are photojournalists in Magnum, but I don’t see it as a photojournalist agency. It’s more founded in documentary photography. If I were to use a term for myself, I feel I’d fit more closely in the bracket of documentary photography than photojournalism. The term photojournalist tends to be loaded with meaning: specifically that one reports the news. I don’t see that as my function. Even when I was photographing things that were news topics, like conflicts, my function was not that of a news reporter, my function was to comment on what I saw happen that day and to offer a subjective point of view. In my role, I was commenting on what was happening, but also trying to communicate what it felt like to be there when it was happening.

So you wanted to capture images that were more emotional and personal?
Exactly. But I would go further and say that I not just wanted to do that, that is in fact what I did do. I had no pretence of objectivity. I was photographing, giving my opinion, and I wanted you to know that I was giving my opinion.

Did your unconventional approach make it initially more difficult to sell your photos, or was it beneficial from the start?
Well, I don’t think I was going ‘round articulating that to editors, saying, “No, I won’t work for you unless you understand that what I do is subjective.” With the agency I was with before, it didn’t make a difference, as I was already sort of working for “journalistic magazines,” and I worked a lot for the New York Times Magazine. The kind of stories that I would do, even ones from conflict zones, would be longer and more in depth in their approach to what was happening there, trying to put what was happening in a more human, intimate context rather than the headlines of the day. But to be honest, the marketable advantage never crossed my mind at the time. I was just intent on trying to do what I did in the way I wanted to with as much integrity as possible.

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

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

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

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

Kira Pollack, Director of Photography

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In Spring 2010, four undocumented students trekked 1,500 miles from Miami to Washington to press passage of the Dream Act, a bill that would offer a path to permanent residency for immigrants who came to the country as minors and achieved certain educational accomplishments. Moved by their courage, Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist who was part of the Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize winning team for their coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting, revealed that he, too, was an undocumented immigrant in an essay published by the New York Times Magazine last June.

A year later, Vargas finds that immigration in America has seen little progress, as he writes in this week’s TIME cover story. On the cover, photographed by Gian Paul Lozza, Vargas stands before 35 other undocumented immigrants living across the country. “They’re living in America—but only in the shadows,” Lozza says. “They’re very much in the dark.”

It was important for TIME’s photo editors to show just how many cultures are represented by America’s undocumented immigrants. ”They come from so many different countries, religions and backgrounds,” Lozza says. “We wanted to bring that diversity to the light. This is not just a problem for Latinos, as we hear about often, but for every culture from around the world.”

It was a poignant topic for Swiss-born Lozza. “For me it was fun to see how motivated the kids were, and how much they wanted to learn,” he says. “They have dreams of being teachers, doctors, lawyers—it was fascinating that they all want to do something for other people.”

Read more on Jose Antonio Vargas in this week’s issue of TIME.

Gian Paul Lozza is a photographer based in Zurich. See more of his work here.

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Couple of weeks again since last updates..Been busy with some assignments and with a move from East London to Turnpike Lane which has left me wireless at home until mid-March which in turn means updating the blog is a bit of a hassle until then….Lots to share… So much going on during the last three weeks…World Press Photo…POYi, and of course the tragedies in Syria…

Features and Essays

From NatGeoMag March issue… Ed Kashi from Marseille, France….

Ed Kashi: Marseille’s Melting Pot (NGM) Edit on VII Photo. Surprised to see it there already. I would imagine there’s an embargo since NGM is still on the newsstands.

Brent Stirton’s World Press Photo winning Rhino Wars…

Brent Stirton: Rhino Wars (NGM)

Lynn Johnson: The Apostles (NGM)

Had just been thinking that hadn’t seen Dominic Nahr’s work in Time recently, and then two latest issues had work… from Egypt and Senegal…

Dominic Nahr: Revolution Lost (Lightbox) Egypt

Dominic Nahr: Senegal Spring (Lightbox)

Paolo Marchetti: Gangs of Port-au-Prince (Newsweek)

Andrea Bruce: Refugee Camps in Afghanistan (NYT Lens)

New York Times Magazine has a special photo issue on London coming up this Sunday…A lot of the work can be seen online…Would love to get my hands on the hard copy… Know a newsagent in Soho that usually get Sunday’s NYT on Tuesday…Costs £10 though….

Mark Neville: Here is London (NYT Mag)

Really enjoyed these portraits…

Gareth McConnell: Migratory Models (NYT Mag)

Lightbox has updated its Syria gallery by Romenzi…

Alessio Romenzi: Syrian Civil War (Lightbox)

Jehad Nga: Tripoli (NYT) Libya

Davide Monteleone: Libya’s Teachers, Schools, and Children After Gaddafi (Newsweek)

David Degner: Bahrain’s Stillborn Revolution (Photographer’s website)

Jorge Uzon: A Personal Landscape in Patagonia (NYT Lens)

Andrew Cutrano: Michigan Primary (Lightbox)

Matt Slaby: Being Latino in Arizona (TIME)

Marco Grob: Faces of the Latino Vote (Lightbox)

Stephen Crowley: Politics Photos (NYT Lens)

Mitch Epstein: Trees in the Urban Jungle (NYT Mag)

Damon Winter: Stella McCartney at Work (NYT Magazine)

Two really strong series by Panos photographer Mads Nissen…

Mads Nissen: Giving Life, Risking Life (Panos)

Mads Nissen: Ouma’s Wedding (Panos)

Adam Dean: Me N Ma Girls (Panos)

Ton Koene: Afghan Police Recruits (zReportage)

Robert Frank: Unseen New York Photos (NYT Lens)

Larry Towell: Faces of the Taliban (CNN)

Ernesto Bazan: Cuba (Lightbox)

Rob Hornstra: Sochi Singers (Lightbox)

Donald Weber: A Gun to Your Head: Inside Post-Soviet Interrogation Rooms (Lightbox)

Have to be honest, if these photos had not been taken by Parr, probably wouldn’t have paid any attention to them…

Martin Parr: Frozen Face of Minnesota (Start Tribune) Related

Gerd Ludwig: Long Shadow of Chernobyl (Boston Globe)

Eirini Vourloumis: Greek Austerity (NPR)

Peter Dench: A Decade of England Uncensored (CNN)

Kristoffer Tripplaar : Post Offices (NYT Lens)

Stefano De Luigi: Homeland (VII)

Sim Chi Yin: China’s Petitioners (VII Mentor)

Damir Sagolj: Myanmar’s War on Opium (The Atlantic)

Always an inspiration…Look at Paolo Pellegrin’s retrospective…

Paolo Pellegrin: Retrospective (Magnum)

Zhang Xiao: China’s Changing Coastlines (Lightbox)

Kate Nolan: The Young Women of Kaliningrad (Foto8)

Anoek Steketee: Amusement Parks in Rwanda (Lightbox)

Lucas Jackson: American Embassy in Baghdad (NYT)

JB Russell: Reconstructing Iraq (Panos)

Jason Andrew: On the Road with the Tea Party Express (New Yorker)

Tina Remiz: The Place Where I Am Not (Firecracker)

Kenneth O’Halloran: Ireland’s Ghost Estates (NYT Mag)

Daniel Cuthbert: First On Scene: Paramedics in South Africa (Photographer’s website) multimedia

Bruce Gilden: Foreclosures, Las Vegas & Reno (Magnum in Motion)

Pavel Prokopchik: Apashka: The Last dervish of Kazakhstan (Foto8)

Tomasz Szustek: Ireland in the Time of Recession (Uspecto)

Lauren Fleishman: Love Ever After (Lightbox)

Misha Friedman: Tuberculosis (NYT Lens)

Victor Blue: Disappeared in Guatemala (CNN)

Oded Balilty: Ultra Orthodox Jewish wedding in Israel

Jean Gaumy: One year after the Fukushima disaster (Magnum)

Interviews

Canon USA has done more interviews with VII Photo members… John Stanmeyer looking rather mad-professor-y..

Canon: VII Photo interviews

Yuri Kozyrev : At Home on Revolution’s Road (NYT Lens)

Alex Webb : Chicago (Leica blog)

Samuel Aranda : World Press Photo Winner (BJP)

Brent Stirton (BJP)

Aidan Sullivan : WPP (BJP)

Donald Weber (BJP)

New Statesman’s photo editor Rebecca McClelland interviewed Don McCullin….

Don McCullin (New Statesman)

Ragnar Axelsson (Ideas Tap)

Lynsey Addario (Canadian Business)

Lynsey Addario (Women’s Media Center)

Jodi Bieber (A Photo Editor)

Anthony Shadid : Arab Spring (SCPR)

Guy Martin : Arab Spring (MSNBC)

Lise Sarfati (ASX)

Alec Soth (Sartorialist)

Christopher Anderson (ASX)

Peter Dench (PicBod)

Rob Hornstra (BJP)

Tomas van Houtryve (PDN)

Anja Niedringhaus (AP photo blog)

Peter DiCampo (BBC)

Tomasz Lazar : Turning Point (NYT Lens)

Temo Bardzimashvili : Turning Point (NYT Lens)

Articles

R.I.P. Anthony Shadid. Such a great journalist.

photo: Ed Ou

NYT: Anthony Shadid, Reporter in the Middle East, Dies at 43

NYT: Remembering Anthony Shadid

NYT: ‘House of Stone,’ a Memoir by Anthony Shadid

New Yorker: Remembering Anthony Shadid

Rest in Peace. Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik

Marie Colvin. photo: Ivor Prickett

NYT: Two Western Journalists Killed in Syria Shelling

NYT: Parting Glance: Rémi Ochlik

Lightbox: Remi Ochlik Tribute in Images

“I expected to see horrible things. Yes, I was afraid” – Remi Ochlik

Guardian: Remi Ochlik

NYT: Conflict Reporting in the Post-Embed Era

Frontline Club: Freelance News Safety Survey

Robert Fisk: The heroic myth and the uncomfortable truth of war reporting (Independent)

NYT: Two Wars, Seen Many Ways

PDN: Remembering the 13 Syrians who died while rescuing a photojournalist

Kent Kobersteen: What it Takes to be a National Geographic Photographer (The Photo Society)

Kathy Ryan reflects on the New York Times Magazine’s London issue and finding young talent…

“A photographer should try to present something clear, deliberate” – Kathy Ryan

Kathy Ryan: London in Pictures (NYT Mag 6th Floor blog)

Related to an earlier NYT Mag issue…

NYT Mag 6th Floor blog: Fiddling With the Irish Cover

World Press Photo related…

Big congratulations to Samuel Aranda for his World Press Photo of the Year!

NYT: World Press Photo Winner

NYT: Samuel Aranda Meets the Subjects of His Award Winning Photo

WPPY winner Samuel Aranda talked to NYT Lens in December about working in Yemen under cover

“Can We See Through Symbols?” No Caption Needed blog wrote in October about Aranda WPPY’s image

BBC News: The story behind the World Press Photo

David Campbell: This photo is not just what it is: reading the World Press Photo debate

BJP: World Press Photo: Does the winning image reference Michelangelo’s Pietà?

Pietà by Michelangelo and Samuel Aranda’s World Press Photo of the Year next to each other:

BJP: World Press Photo: What was missing from this year’s entries?

BJP: World Press Photo: A judge’s top tips for future entrants

Every World Press Photo winners from 1955-2011

POYi related…

photo: Yuri Kozyrev

NYT Lens: At Home and Away: Pictures of Year

PDN: Yuri Kozyrev Wins POYi’s 2011 Freelance Photographer of the Year Award

New Yorker: Desert Island Books by Peter van Agtmael

How to by PDN….

PDN: How to land environmental portrait assignments

PDN: How I Got That Job: John McDermott’s adidas Assignment

PDN: Anatomy of a Successful Grant Application: Andrew Lichtenstein on the Aftermath Project Grant

PDN: All the New Work That’s Fit to Print

PDN: Ten favorite photo accessories

Dench on Parr: ” Since winning first prize at his camera club, he has never submitted work for a competition or consideration for a festival. Prizes are bestowed; inclusion in festivals requested”

Peter Dench: In Conversation With Martin Parr (Photographer’s blog)

Nowness: Juergen Teller Exposed

Lightbox: The Disappearing Afghan Box Camera

DVA Foto: Jon Stewart slams Time Magazine (and Pellegrin’s cover image)

NYT: ‘Hell and Back Again’ Shows War Stories Don’t End When War Movies Do

Lightbox Tumblr: Paolo Pellegrin shooting Italian PM [video]

NYT Mag 6th Floor blog: Erasing ‘The Americans’

NYT Mag 6th Floor blog: Snapshots of the Famous

photo: Jared Moossy

NYT Lens: Turning Art Into Activism

Mike Davis: What do learn from photojournalism contests

Reuters: Editing the Oscars (Reuters photo blog)

Yossi Milo Gallery: Yossi Milo Gallery Announces Exclusive Representation of The Estate of Tim Hetherington

Guardian: Featured photojournalist: Kieran Doherty

Guardian: Featured photojournalist Susana Vera

Wayne Ford: Year in Development — celebration of photographic printers’ art

Verve: Laura Boushnak

Verve: Olof Jarlbro

Verve: Dörthe Hagenguth

Verve: Philip Gostelow

Verve: Ross McDonnell

Awards, Grants, and Competitions

World Press Photo of the Year

Photo: Samuel Aranda

World Press Photo: 2012 Contest gallery

Pictures of the Year International : Winner 2012 galleries

Congrats to all the photographers chosen for this year’s PDN 30!

photo: Ilvy Njiokiktjien

PDN:’30′ 2012

Lightbox: James Nachtwey receives Dresden International Peace Prize and Wim Wenders presents the award

PDN: Moriyama, Ai Weiwei to Be Honored at ICP Infinity Awards

PDN: AP’s Charles Dharapak wins Photographer of the Year in White House News Photogs Assn. contest

Inge Morath Award 2012

Emerging Photographer Fund 2012

CPN: Editor’s Choice by New Statesman Photo editor Rebecca McClelland

BJP: Photographers Leonora Hamill and Eric Pillot have won this year’s HSBC Photography Prize

Photocrati Fund : April 1

Photo Contests and Grants Calendar

Agencies and Collectives

VII Photo : Newsletter

Magnum Foundation Winter 2012 Newsletter

Prime Collective : Newsletter

Statement Images : New Members

Crowd Funding

Redux Pictures: John Keatley and Arts Aftercare needs your help!

Festivals

Visa Pour l’Image : How to Participate

multiMedia

Polka Magazine

Once Magazine If you wanna pitch stories… go here

Jobs

MSNBC : Picture Editor

MSNBC : Paid Intern Picture Editor

AP Interns

Magnum : Head of Licensing and Content Syndication

Photographers

Alessio Romenzi

Andrew Cutrano

Jorge Uzon

Ton Koene

Pavel Prokopchik

Jan Dago

New Tumblr blog “The Brazilian Far West” by Sebastian Liste….

Sebastian Liste : blog

Andreas Laszlo Konrath

Tom Broadbent

Kate Nolan

Kalle Koponen

Meeri Koutaniemi

To finish off… Don McCullin + iPad = FAIL

and The ultimate analysis on Samuel Aranda’s WPPY

and a great response to a letter asking for money

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