Ten Children, March 1937, by Dorothea Lange,
for the RA (courtesy of OMCA)
Text and Words by Bruce Berman
The meteorologists call this a “High Pressure system being pushed out by a Low Pressure system.”
Photographers will admit “every once in a while things come together and you get a lucky.”
What do I call it? What does one get for being out there, every evening and every day, always with your “axe (camera)at the ready, often coming home with nothing but the pleasure of having been out there trying?”
The funny thing is, as usual, I was in a part for town I’d never been in before (there are few left). It is a very unusual ‘hood for El Paso. In another city one would call it the “ghetto.” Here, no one thinks there is a ghetto. Being a predominantly latino city (82%), if you have a neighborhood that is lower income, the natural thing is to call it a barrio. This neighborhood was definitely “low income,” and of the three people I conversed with, two had been drinking alcohol to the point of inebriation. It is a mostly Black neighborhood, unusual in El Paso that is only 4% African-American.
Editor’s note: Susan Meiselas, Magnum Photographer and long time great documentarian, discusses documentary photography, motivations, uses, intentions and hopes for the work’s impact on subjects and society.
This project, funded by the Open Society Foundations (Meiselas Co-Curated the project’s exhibition), shows the work of some of the world’s best contemporary photographers working in this discipline.
Watch this lovely video. Be inspired. A true original.
Was he the finest wine of the great era?
Why was he not mentioned in the same breath as Avedon and Penn? Could it be he was too original, too pure, too soulful?
Article edited and written by Bruce Berman
Carl Mydans began his photographic career with the Farm Security Administration in 1935, and was quickly hired away by Life magazine in 1936. Mydans photographed national stories until 1939, when Life sent Carl and his wife Shelley Smith Mydans to cover the war in Europe as the first husband and wife photo-journalist team.
From Europe, the couple was re-assigned to the Pacific theater. In 1941 they were captured by Japanese forces in the Philippines and held as prisoners of war until 1943. Mydans returned to the war alone in 1944 to cover the Italian front, while his wife and partner remained behind in the United States.
Carl Mydans was born in Boston on May 20, 1907. The family moved to Medford, Massachusetts, on the Mystic River where Carl went to high school and worked in the local boatyards after school and on weekends. He later became interested in journalism and worked as a free-lance reporter for several local newspapers. In 1930 he graduated from the Boston University School of Journalism.
Mydans then moved to New York and, while working as a reporter for the “American Banker,” began to study photography at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. In July 1935 his skill with the new 35mm “miniature” camera landed him a job with the Department of the Interior’s Resettlement Administration, which soon merged into the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Mydans joined Walker Evans and Arthur Rothstein as the core of the remarkable team of photographers assembled by Roy Stryker to document rural America.
While travelling through the southern states photographing everything that had to do with cotton, Mydans developed the shooting style he would use throughout his career. He concentrated on people, and he photographed them in a respectful and straightforward manner. As he had been taught to do as a reporter, he kept careful notes on every shot.
When Mydans joined the staff of Life in 1936 he joined a group of photojournalists who were changing the way press photography was done. Photojournalists had traditionally used 4×5 Speed Graphic cameras with flashguns and reflector pans, and their pictures of people tended to look much the same: overlit foregrounds fell off to dark backdrops that had no detail. But Mydans and his colleagues at Life relied on 35mm cameras that allowed them to work with available light, capturing a new kind of excitement and activity in their photographs. Their success with the small camera revolutionized the practice of photojournalism.
Altaf Qadri, 35, is an award winning photographer.
Qadri, 35, won a World Press Photo award this year for his poignant photograph of relatives mourning over the body of a man killed in a shooting by Indian police in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
photography Altaf Qadri
Qadri, an Indian citizen, is a native of the Kashmiri city of Srinagar. He studied science at Kashmir University and worked as a computer engineer before taking a job as a staff photographer at a local Kashmiri newspaper in 2001.
In 2003, he joined the European Press Photo Agency and covered the conflict in Kashmir. In 2008, he began working for The Associated Press in the Indian city of Amritsar. His work has appeared in magazines and newspapers around the world and has been exhibited in the United States, China, France and India.
André Cypriano takes us into the forbidden hills of Caracas Venezuela. He takes us into a strange land of oddly shaped houses, winding streets carved out of the hills, into a land so odd and so foreign that it must be myth but can only be reality. He notices, as all greart documnentarey phtography does, that ordinary reality, in some cases, is always more intense and mind-boggling than any fiction can be,
Cypriano takes us to Rochinha.
How he got there, who gave him access and what he encounters is worth serious viewing time. In the New York times Lens Blog post, below, wander with André.
He will take you on a journey you well not forget.
For more from André Cypriano, see:
Hungary Baths by Amy Vitale©2011
From Ami Vitale’s website (http://www.amivitale.com):
Ami Vitale’s journey as a photojournalist has taken her to more than 75 countries. She has witnessed civil unrest, poverty, destruction of life, and unspeakable violence. But she has also experienced surreal beauty and the enduring power of the human spirit, and she is committed to highlighting the surprising and subtle similarities between cultures. Her photographs have been
exhibited around the world in museums and galleries and published in international magazines including National Geographic, Adventure, Geo, Newsweek, Time, Smithsonian. Her work has garnered multiple awards from prestigious organizations including World Press Photos, the Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Journalism, Lucie awards, the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Reporting, and the Magazine Photographer of the Year award, among many others.
Now based in Montana, Vitale is a contract photographer with National Geographic magazine and frequently gives workshops throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. She is also making a documentary film on migration in Bangladesh and writing a book about the stories behind the images.
Editor’s Note: This is an amazing project. In the era when people worry about the demise and/or future of journalism, when academics question the effectiveness of journalism in a 24/7 news cycle world, there is JR, who is producing and promoting another form of photojournalism and not only bringing his subjects into the communication process, he is bringing the work done on the subjects back to their environments. Check it out:
INSIDE OUT is a large-?scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work. Everyone is challenged to use black and white photographic portraits to discover, reveal and share the untold stories and images of people around the world.
Ingushetia by Andrea Bruce
Andrea Bruce is a passionate, stylish, skilled documentary photography who’s images -in the best traditions of still photography- sear your soul and drive their point through your heart, restoring it instead of terminating it. She is the new breed of documentary photographer that blends all the skills of good journalism with all the skills of great graphic image-making and produces a coctail that is nothing less than photo alchemy.
Take a look: http://www.andreabruce.com
Contact Sheet of Ashley Gilbertson’s Conflict Photography
“He has a very good news sense and for me that’s really essential,”
says Cecilia Bohan, foreign picture editor for The New York Times.
“I need them [her photographers] to be my eyes and ears on the ground.”
Ashley Gilbertson is a VII photographer and one of the strongest Conflict Photographers working today. His recent work, done far from the battlefield but in the bedrooms of fallen soldiers, is one of the strongest testaments to the outright sadness about Loss that War induces, that this editor has ever seen.
For a sample of Mr. Gilbertson’s work:
- For a personal website:SEE: http://www.ashleygilbertson.com/index.php
- A piece from 2004 in Photo District News, SEE: http://www.ashleygilbertson.com/index.php
- For The Shrine Down The Hall, SEE: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/03/21/magazine/20100321-soliders-bedrooms-slideshow.html?hp
These are not the view of Japan that we normally see. Shiho Fukada shows us how some elderly people in Japan fare. It is not a story unique to Japan.
Lost Boys of Afghanistan by Moises Saman
See this stirring slideshow by Moises Saman shot for The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2009/08/27/world/20090827AFGHANMINORS_index.html
“My name is Dechen.”
Watch this touching video done by Dhiraj Singh.
He did an interesting thing: A Video Biograph.
In a way, all Visual Journalists who do stories on people, are doing “biography,” but with the addition of audio, where the subject can speak for themselves (edited, of course), where the image-maker can animate the images and drive the viewer’s emotions, the subject of the story becomes more “alive,” the depth is ratcheted up, and, potentially, the medium is beginning to resolve the age old struggle of photojournalism: Who’s viewpoint is this about? The subject’s or the photographer’s?
From “Six Feet Under,” ©2009Dhiraj Singh
For more work by Dhiraj Singh, SEE: http://www.dhirajsingh.com/01.htm
Dhiraj Singh is a Photojournalist who lives in Mumbai, India. His work has been published in numerous international magazines and online journals, including Newsweek, Vanity Fair, msnbc.com, The Wall Street Journal, L’Expresso, and, many others. He has won numerous awards (see his “bio,” on his site, above) and participated in many exhibitions. His pictures of the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 were part of the prestigious group exhibition titled, ‘Bearing Witness’ held in Mumbai in 2009.
Documentaryshooters is honored to have permission to publish Mr. Singh’s work. We feel he has the insights and skills to show India as it is, depicting its greatness and its struggles, its deep and ancient soul as well as its modern and energetic heart. He, as no other photographer has, since, the great Raghu Rai’s seminal work of the 1970’s, ’80’s and 90’s, not only shows India and the sub continent, he makes us feel it.
This is a rock band video based on a magazine article about kidnap victims in Kashmir and those who wait for their return. This is one of India’s most revered bands and was one of India’s all time most popular rock songs.
“Vote,” Selma Voting Rights March, 1965
Sometimes we forget that the “Big Work,” the work that one becomes known for making isn’t all there is.
Bruce Davidson went south, from Chicago, on instinct.
The world was shaking and he felt the vibe.
The time was now: Civil Rights.
Without assignment or specific destination he “nailed it,” and was able to work on the edges of the news, tell the story from a personal and deeply intimate viewpoint.
This image, for me, is one his best. Beautiful composition. Beatiful moment. Beautiful storyline. Iconic and packed with all the elements that make it a novel unto itself, if this was the only photography that existed from the era it was shot in, it would, I think, be enough to tell the story of the struggle.
One word and one image: sometimes it’s enough: Vote.
For More on Bruce Davidson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Davidson_(photographer)
Magnum Photographers Fly The Kite
It can’t all be angst and drum!
Every once in awhile a good shooter has got to have some fun, or, at least, see others having fun.
That’s worth a document, right?
People still having fun?
Displacement. A world wide problem. When the Grid comes you got to move no matter that there is no good place to go to from the bad place you have become accustomed to. It looks the same in Azerbaijan, Mexico DF, Lomas del Poleo, Chicago…wherever.
Rena Effendi takes us into the rarely seen inner Azerbajian, to the mahalla neighborhood in the capitol city of Baku.
This is a photo essay on the lives of the undocumented as they navigate between their homes and their country chosen for work.
In some ways the “landscape,” of this document has changed since it was photographed in the 1990’s. The immigration interdiction efforts by the United States has reduced the number of migrants and, more recently, the lack of jobs in the U.S. due to the faltering economy has reduced it even further. The personal plight for migrants in the U.S. has changed for the worse, making any return to the mother country impossible due to the danger of the return journey.
This document, however, is still quite valid. The existential delemna of home and heart weighed against stomach and uprootedness is ongoing, worldwide and, as this work shows, problematic.
This is one way to approach Documentary. Severely remove all elements of the subject except the subject itself.
Notice that without a background the photographer absolutely controls the statement.