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Stanley Greene Photojournalist Dies at 68 May 20, 2017

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A Tribute to Stanley Greene, Teller of UncomfortableTruths

By James Estrin  

Stanley Greene, who started as a music and fashion photographer and later became one of the leading international conflict photographers, died Friday in Paris at age 68. A founding member of the photographer-owned agency Noor Images, he had been ill with liver cancer for several years, associates said.

Mr. Greene, one of the few African-American photographers who worked internationally, was known for his visceral and brutally honest photographs of wars, including conflicts in Chechnya, Georgia, Afghanistan and Iraq, that at times were too raw for many publications.

“You want to sit there comfortably with your newspaper and blueberry muffin, and you don’t want to see pictures that are going to upset your morning,” Mr. Greene said in a 2010 interview with Lens. “That is the job of a journalist, to upset your morning.”

Mr. Greene’s commitment to telling the unvarnished truth extended to his candid assessments of the ethical questions facing photojournalism. At times he seemed like an Old Testament prophet, willing to speak unsettling truths no matter the consequences. He railed against the use of Photoshop to alter the scenes of news images, a practice that he said turned photos into “cartoons.” And he scorned photographers who staged images in an attempt to recreate a missed moment after arriving late to a news scene.

“The public has lost trust in the media,” he told Lens in 2015. “We have to be ambassadors of the truth, we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard because the public no longer trusts the media. We are considered merchants of misery and therefore get a bad rap.”

Mr. Greene had once aspired to be a painter like Matisse or a musician like Jimi Hendrix, but he discovered his true instrument the first time he picked up a camera, he told Michael Kamber in the 2010 Lens interview. Mr. Kamber, a former conflict photographer himself and the author of “Photojournalists on War: The Untold Stories from Iraq,” this week compared Mr. Greene to a jazz musician.

“Stanley is like the Charles Mingus of photography,” said Mr. Kamber, the founder of the Bronx Documentary Center. “Stanley is about his heart, his emotions and his feelings. His photos are very impressionistic, like a stream of consciousness. Stanley was living on the front edge; all out, all the time. He wasn’t holding anything back for the future.”

Mr. Greene received numerous honors including the Eugene Smith Grant in 2004, the Lifetime Achievement Visa d’or Award in 2016 and five World Press Photo awards. His books include the autobiographical “Black Passport” and “Open Wound: Chechnya 1994-2003.” Anne Tucker, the former curator of photography for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, featured Mr. Greene in “War/Photography,” a comprehensive exhibit and book.

“You have to acknowledge the strength of his eye, his capacity to encompass issues in a picture frame — to understand a story and put it into visual terms — as well as his courage and tenacity,” Ms. Tucker said. “He was one of those journalists who went towards the bullet because that’s where the story was.”

What he was not, she said, was a good self-promoter. “He cared about the story, he cared about the issues, he cared about getting it right,” she explained.

Stanley Greene was born in Brooklyn on Valentine’s Day in 1949 and grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y. His father, also Stanley, was an actor, producer, filmmaker and director; while his mother, Javotee Sutton Greene, was an actress. His father, also an activist devoted to black culture, was blacklisted as a Communist in the 1950s and reduced to taking anonymous bit parts. Still, he had hoped his son would become an actor.

He had a “somewhat privileged yet traumatic childhood,” said his longtime friend Jules Allen. “There was a loneliness there that was insatiable, but he was blessed enough to at least partially deal with his pain through photography.”

As a teenager, he joined the Black Panthers and was active in the antiwar movement. His dreams of becoming a painter gave way to photography, and he was encouraged in that pursuit by the renowned photojournalist W. Eugene Smith.

In the 1970s, Mr. Allen and Mr. Greene shared a darkroom and a studio in San Francisco while Mr. Greene studied photography at the San Francisco Art Institute and photographed the local music scene. Among his early work was “The Western Front,” which chronicled the city’s punk scene in the 1970s and ’80s.

He cut as striking a figure as some of the acts he photographed. “Stanley was a punk rocker who drove a Mustang,” Mr. Allen said. “He wore a black leather motorcycle jacket, a black beret, two scarves, three watches and four bracelets as well as two great cameras and a bandolier of film strapped across his chest.”

Mr. Greene worked as a fashion photographer in the 1980s and moved to Paris where he later joined the Vu photo agency. He traveled constantly, working extensively in Africa and the former Soviet Union. He was the only Western photographer in Russia’s White House during an attempted coup against the president, Boris Yeltsin. Trapped inside, amid shelling and gunfire, Mr. Greene continued to photograph throughout the building, capturing two images that received World Press Photo Awards.

“The fact that I thought I was going to die gave me courage,” he told Lens in 2010. “Courage is control of fear. I think that this incident is the one that steeled me. I’m no hero, but it made me so that once I commit to a story, I have to see it through.”

A 1992 Moscow encounter with Kadir van Lohuizen, a fellow member of Vu, marked the beginning of a close friendship that would continue at Noor. “He was always my big brother,” Mr. van Lohuizen said in an interview on Thursday. “Stanley is my big brother, and Noor is his family”

The agency was born from a conversation between the two, who often worked together.

“Stanley and I wanted to be independent at the time of transition from analog to digital and from small agencies to a few large ones,” Mr. van Lohuizen said. “We believed that visual storytelling was the essence more than ever and that we should stake the ship and steer it in our own direction.”

In “Black Passport,” Mr. Greene talked candidly about how he felt while covering stories of violence or catastrophe in Rwanda, Chechnya, Haiti and New Orleans. He spoke just as openly about his personal life, including his marriages and numerous love affairs. His Noor colleague Nina Berman described him as “a hopeless romantic, forever falling madly in love — and being pained and hurt.”

He was a “gracious and generous mentor” and teacher to young photographers, she added, and one of “too few” black American photographers working internationally.

Not surprisingly, given the emotional and personal toll of his approach to life and work, along with the physical dangers, he discouraged others from following in his footsteps.

“Though I’m bombarded by young photographers who ask me how to become a conflict photographer, I tell them, ‘Get a life,’ ” he said in 2010. “If they persist, I tell them about the consequences. I tell them there is no glory.”

Even as his health was failing, Mr. Greene continued to work, returning last month from a road trip through northern Russia where he and Maria Turchenkova began a project on the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.

At the end of “Black Passport,” Mr. Greene reflected on the centrality of storytelling to the human experience. Wars are fought, he said, because people have different views of the same story.

“Photography is my language and it gives me the power to tell what otherwise is not told,” he said. “Eugene Smith told me vision is a gift, and you have to give something back. He haunts me like that. It’s not the bang-bang that compels me. It never was. At the end of the day it is not about death, it is about life. The quest is to try to understand why human beings behave the way they do. The question is, how does this happen? And sometimes, the only way to find out is to go to where it is happening. One day the neighbors are talking to each other over the fence, and the next they are shooting at each other. Why is it that we don’t consider life precious, and instead, we literally let it drip through our fingers?”





Heather Angel Capturing Pollination April 26, 2017

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Spend just a few minutes in a garden this time of year, and you will likely see a pollinator buzzing or fluttering from flower to flower. While most of us are aware of this vitally important ecosystem service, the act itself — the transfer of pollen from stamen to stigma via tiny feet, wings, antennas or mouthparts — is largely unseen.

In “Pollination Power,” Heather Angel, a photographer based in Surrey, England, exposes the process in macrophotography, which stands out not only for its range and aesthetics, but also for its scientific exactness: She was determined to show not just creatures in flowers, but the instant release of pollen itself.


Australian Photojournalist Daniel Berehulak wins Second Pulitzer April 14, 2017

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Heavy rain pours on the body of Romeo Torres Fontanilla, 37, who was killed by two unidentified gunmen riding motorcycles. Oct. 11, 2016, in Manila, the Philippines. Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Australian freelance Photojournalist Daniel Berehulak was awarded the Pulitzer Prize – his second – for breaking news photography for his coverage in the New York Times of the brutal antidrug campaign by President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines. E. Jason Wambsgans of the Chicago Tribune received the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography for a story that chronicled the recovery of a 10-year old boy who was the victim of a shooting.

Police investigators gather evidence in the killing of Frederick Mafe, 48, and Arjay Lumbago, 23, as their bodies lay sprawled in the middle of a street. Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Over a span of 35 days, Mr. Berehulak photographed 57 homicides at 41 crime scenes where drug users and dealers had been murdered by vigilantes emboldened by President Duterte’s mandate: “kill them all.” He worked closely with Rica Concepcion, a veteran local journalist and fixer, to interview bystanders and the relatives of victims, go to jails and rehabilitation centers and to accompany police officers in different neighborhoods. The resulting interactive piece, “They Are Slaughtering Us Like Animals,” featured both his images and the vivid text accompanying it.


Inmates watch as drug suspects are processed inside a police station. Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

The Importance of History: An amazing Investigation into Black Lives on Brooklyn Street January 28, 2017

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This amazing story from Annie Correal who finds an abandoned photo album on a street in Brooklyn and tracks down the family

who put it together highlights the importance of personal and local history to record what is lost on a daily basis.

Personal history is ephemeral, like people’s lives and can easily finish up on the trash heap.

Annie Correal’s personal adventure and perseverance has given us an eloquent insight into black lives

and a wonderful history lesson.


Love and Black Lives,
in Pictures Found
on a Brooklyn Street

A discarded photo album reveals a rich history of black lives, from the
segregated South to Harlem dance halls to a pretty block in Crown Heights.



One night six years ago, on a quiet side street in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, I came across a photo album that had been put out with the trash. I lived around the corner, and I was walking home when I saw it sitting beneath a streetlamp on Lincoln Place.

It looked handmade, with a wooden cover bound with a shoelace. But it had been tied up with twine, like a bunch of old newspapers, and left atop a pile of recycling.

Whitney Richardson New York Times: African Stories January 11, 2017

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The news is ethnocentric and parochial. Unless it has an international impact on business or economics or a countries vested interests it remains off the Western radar.  Whitney Richardson pushes an agenda for the use of local photographers and journalists to increase exposure to stories that are important internationally. When I covered the Orange Revolution as a freelancer in Ukraine in 2004 most of the working photographers for Western publications were from Western Countries. The wire agencies were not organised enough to be a threat to freelancers. That changed subsequently. As in Iraq and Afghanistan and now Syria local photographers are extensively used. Local contact and local knowledge are more than useful for quality journalism. Bohdan Warchomij Metaphor Online

Whitney Richardson NEW YORK TIMES

Akintunde Akinleye was at home one December morning in 2006 when a friend called him with urgent news. Hours earlier, a petroleum pipeline had exploded in a town outside Lagos, Nigeria, his home city, leaving more than 200 people dead. Hopping on his motorbike with his camera, Mr. Akinleye, a Reuters staff photographer based in Nigeria, swerved through miles of thick traffic and arrived on site in less than 30 minutes.

Pacing through flaming rubble, he spotted an older adult man carrying a bright blue bucket of water. Mr. Akinleye lifted his camera and took several shots of him rinsing his face as dark smoke stained the sky. His final frame was circulated to news media globally, and even made the front page of The New York Times. It also earned him a World Press Photo award for spot news single in 2007, making him the first Nigerian to receive the prestigious award.

Mr. Akinleye’s sudden thrust into news media prominence is rare for even the most experienced photojournalists, but it’s an even rarer occurrence for an African one. Of the most covered news events in sub-Saharan Africa over the past several years — including antigovernment protests in South Africa and Ethiopia, the Boko Haram kidnapping in northern Nigeria and West Africa’s Ebola crisis — only a handful of stories were assigned to African photographers by major international publications.

The absence of local coverage in international markets has also been reflected in the top awards. According to World Press Photo’s State of Photography 2015 report, only 2 percent of their contest submissions annually come from African photographers.

Since World Press Photo released its initial report in 2015, Lars Boering, the organization’s managing director, said accessing data about their contest applicants as well as surveying the photojournalism industry were critical first steps in closing this gap. The organization recently held its first Joop Swart Master Class in Kenya, working with photographers across East Africa, and plans to host another one, in Accra, Ghana, this March. Other organizations, including the Magnum Foundation and the Prince Claus fund, have also invested in supporting photojournalists on the continent.

“We needed to flip it open. It will make us vulnerable, but it was important to start talking about it,” said Mr. Boering, who is based in Amsterdam. “There are a billion people living in Africa. We should make sure the visuals we get reflect our worldview.”

Mr. Akinleye, who has spent the past decade covering West Africa for Reuters, said as digital cameras have become more accessible, he has seen a surge in the number of local photographers in the field. But better equipment hasn’t necessarily equated to more opportunities for aspiring photojournalists, he said. With the absence of formal photojournalism programs at universities, young photographers are not learning the fundamentals of storytelling and editing, Mr. Akinleye said. Independent newspapers in his country have also struggled to navigate hostile relations with government leaders known for threatening the local news media, he said.

“Young people are asking, how do we get work,” said Mr. Akinleye, who noted that the majority of working photographers he knew in Africa were stringers for wire services.

“I have told them to look for opportunities abroad to gain exposure and to learn the ethical standards of the industry,” he said. “If I wasn’t working with Reuters, I probably would just be part of the crowd.”

International news agencies, including The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse, have long been entry points for local photojournalists, especially during times of extreme conflict. During the United States-led war in Iraq, news organizations heavily depended on local news photographers, out of concern for safety and financial pressures, to document the scene. Within months of training alongside other wire photographers, Iraqi photojournalists began dominating international coverage of the war — producing award-winning images of the political transformation in their home country.

“We had taxi drivers and former studio photographers and we gave them cameras,” said two-time Pulitzer prize winning photojournalist, Muhammed Muheisen, who is currently the chief photographer for the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan for the AP. “The region was getting a lot of attention, so it became a place where Iraqi photographers could develop and show their talent.”

Khalid Mohammed, AP’s chief photographer in Iraq, was one of those emerging talents. Mr. Mohammed, who worked for an Iraqi newspaper before the war, gained the reputation of beating foreign photojournalists to deadly scenes and was one of six Iraqis on the AP team that won the Pulitzer Prize for photography in 2005. Many of his most striking images, including one showing the charred bodies of U.S. contractors hanging from a bridge in Fallujah in 2004, appeared in publications around the world.

“I choose to cover the war to expose the crimes and violations against my people,” Mr. Mohammed, who is currently in Mosul, wrote in an email interview. “You had to be ready to accept the sacrifice and know that this picture may be the last image,” he said.


Daniel Berehulak in the Philippines for the New York Times December 12, 2016

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Photo Daniel Berehulak for the New York Times

New York Times photographer Daniel Berehulak photographed 41 murder scenes — and 57 bodies — in 35 days in Manila.

This amazing story elevates investment in journalism and Daniel Berehulak, Pulitzer Prize winner for his coverage of the ebola crisis in Africa, is the right photographer to analyse what is happening to the country.

When  Rodrigo Duterte became President of the Philippines  he said he would be happy to kill millions of people to rid his country of drugs. Already, President Duterte’s war has claimed thousands of lives, including nearly 2,000 reportedly killed by Philippine police.


Photo Daniel Berehulak for the New York Times

Photo Daniel Berehulak for the New York Times

Photo Daniel Berehulak for the New York Times

Photo Daniel Berehulak for the New York Times

Photo Daniel Berehulak for the New York Times

The Savagery of Isis: Retaking Falluja; Photos and Text by Bryan Denton for the New York Times August 4, 2016

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Bryan Denton

I accompanied Iraq’s elite counterterrorism force and other units from the Iraqi military and the federal police into Falluja at the end of June, during the final days of their long battle to wrest back control of the city from the Islamic State.

Falluja was the first Iraqi city to fall to the Islamic State, more than two years ago, and the militant group had all that time to learn the city, sowing traps everywhere. It was only after a long siege that the Iraqi forces moved to take the center.

In the last stages of the battle, members of the counterterrorism force, in coordination with other Iraqi units, fought their way into the neighborhood of Al Jolan in Falluja, where Islamic State fighters were making their last stand. As we moved through the bombed-out streets, gun battles raged, and the insurgents’ improvised mortars exploded among the narrow alleyways and rubble in a last-ditch effort to halt the advance of Iraq’s security forces.

What, exactly, the Islamic State fighters were holding out for was lost on me. The city had been surrounded for months. Nearly all the civilians were gone, either driven out by their rulers’ brutality in the early days, or escaping during breaks in the fighting as the Iraqi forces approached.

The Iraqi Army, special forces and the federal police relied on heavy artillery, close air support from United States aircraft and a patient advance through the city.

Bryan Denton

The remaining Islamic State fighters were forced to be opportunistic. During one visit with the Iraqi special forces, I saw a soldier who had been shot through his right calf, either by a sniper’s round or random gunfire.

Gruesome markers of the battle dotted the roads leading into Falluja.

A charred body of an Islamic State fighter had been left on the side of a road that the Iraqi forces had bulldozed through a small field south of the city as they began the assault. A metal cable was tied tight around one of the body’s legs, and the head had been lopped off.

A police commander chastised two Shiite militiamen who were taking cellphone pictures of each other stomping on the corpse triumphantly.

Bryan Denton

One officer, who spoke openly only on the condition of anonymity, citing military protocol, told me that the Islamic State was different from the insurgents he was used to fighting. You can negotiate with insurgents, he said in English laced with military jargon he picked up from years of working with United States Special Forces, but the Islamic State fighters seemed to have embraced unbridled and inflexible savagery.

Bryan Denton

Another officer, Lt. Hassan Almosawi, from Iraq’s Emergency Response Brigade, took me to an Islamic State prison his unit had discovered in a once upscale neighborhood in central Falluja.


Tyler Hicks discusses his and the NYT’s fellow photographers Pulitzer Prize for capturing the resolve of refugees on the shore of Lesbos and in Europe May 2, 2016

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Tyler Hicks, a staff photographer for The New York Times, joined “PBS NewsHour” to discuss his recent Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography for capturing the resolve of refugees, the perils of their journeys and the struggle of host countries to take them in:

Photo Tyler Hicks

“This was a really interesting story because there’s a small amount of space for all these refugees arriving along the shores of Lesbos. You had tens of thousands of people flooding into this space that’s just a couple of miles long. … This [photo] was unusual because it was just before dark and there were no other boats coming. This one last boat came in and there was no one there to receive them, no help for them. … I really felt it was important to capture that moment.”

Daniel Berehulak reporting from Nepal for the New York Times May 21, 2015

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Foot Soldiers: Christopher Griffith New York Times May 3, 2015

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Foot Soldiers



Using a wooden box fitted with a lens on one side and a silver-plated sheet of copper on the other, Louis Daguerre set out, in 1838, to capture the image of a Paris street. The technique required a long exposure, too long to catch anything that was moving. So the shoppers and flâneurs who were bustling about that day are lost memories in the now-famous image “Boulevard du Temple.” All that remain are the trees and houses — and two motionless figures in the lower left-hand corner: a shoe shiner and his customer. They are the first two people ever to be photographed, in a strange moment of urban intimacy — one that slows the rush to a halt, suspending time.

In a city now lousy with canvas uppers and flip-flops, the bootblack has lost some of his cachet. But he was once a highly romanticized fixture of urban mythology — in popular imagination, often a street-savvy scamp or a jolly older fellow, laboring to assist and delight. (For example, take the lyrics to Red Foley’s 1950 hit “Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy”: “Have you ever passed the corner of Fourth and Grand?/Where a little ball o’ rhythm has a shoe shine stand/People gather ’round and they clap their hand/He’s a great big bundle o’ joy.”) In reality, the people who shine shoes in New York today are mostly immigrants from Latin America — mainly Ecuador — and they labor for the same prosaic reason we all do.

Jessica Muy shines shoes up to six days a week, 11 hours a day, at the Leather Spa in the lower concourse of Grand Central Terminal. She told The Times that a good day brings $80 or $90 and a slow one brings as little as $40. What extra she has, she sends back home to her young daughter in Ecuador. Alex Valente, who works at the East 55th Street branch of Leather Spa, has had better luck. “I made my dreams come true in shoe shining,” he said. “I raised my son here, put him through college, helped with his wedding, and now I’m retiring and moving back to my farm in Brazil.”

Nearly two centuries after Daguerre immortalized that Parisian bootblack, Christopher Griffith photographed the hands of 52 Manhattan shoe shiners. The images are difficult to place. Flesh bound in cloth: They suggest fashion photography or classical statuary or even religious imagery, shroud-wrapped bodies in deathly repose. Inspired by one of the Irving Penn photographs of Miles Davis’s hand — leathery skin, natural light — Griffith said he tried to use “the texture of the skin, the crevices and the lines” to convey a sense of physical and personal history. The project started with Leonard Johnson, who worked at Drago Shoe Repair at the Port Authority until recently, when he retired after a 50-year career as a shoe shiner. His hands, Griffith said, “have this etching of year to year to year to year doing something physical.”