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Sanne De Wilde Photography on the Micronesian Island of Pingelap October 9, 2017

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : British Journal of Photography, Metaphor Online , comments closed

On the Micronesian island of Pingelap, more than 5% of the population cannot see colour; shooting their world, Sanne De Wilde used photography to question our visual perception

Congenital achromatopsia is a hereditary condition in which the eye cannot detect colour – the cones in the retina do not function, leaving the vision to the rods alone, which only detect shades of grey. In most places the disease is rare, occuring in less than one in 30,000 people. But on the Micronesian island of Pingelap it’s much more common, present in more than 5% of the population.

The islanders have many theories as to why. According to one, the disease came from Dokas  wife of the 19th century ruler Nahnmwarki Okonomwaun, who had two achromatopic children said to have been fathered by the god Isoahpahu. Another myth references an angry missionary, who cursed Nahnmwarki Mwahuele; yet another warns pregnant women off walking on the beach at noon, lest the blazing sun partially blind their unborn children.

Whatever the cause it’s an extraordinary phenomenon – and one that immediately gripped Belgian photographer Sanne De Wilde when she heard about it back in 2015. “I was invited onto a radio show to talk about my project Samoa Kekea, about albinism on the Polynesian islands of Upolu and Savai’i,” she says. “Afterwards I was contacted by Roel van Gils, a Belgian man who has achromatopsia, who said ‘I have a story for you’. I met him and was immediately very interested. I felt I had to do it.”

“Sometimes an idea sparks your mind and lingers, glowing in the dark in the back of your head, like a shiny thought-sparkle,” she writes in the afterword of her new book, The Island of the Colorblind. “That is how Pingelap came to me. I was told the island-tale and instantly felt I had to pluck this shooting star out of the sky, hold on to it, care for it and let it guide me.”

She is one of  three emerging image-makers with an edgy take on documentary photography to join the prestigious agency NOOR as nominees.

NOOR, the prestigious photo agency and foundation, has signed up three new nominees – Sanne de Wilde, Arko Datto and Leonard Pongo. Hailing from Belgium, India and Belgium/DR Congo respectively, all three are known for their cutting-edge work, rooted in documentary but pushing the aesthetic boundaries of image-making.

Sanne de Wilde graduated from Ghent’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts in June 2012 but is already known for several outstanding projects – Snow White, a study of albinism shot in distinctive bleached-out colours; The Dwarf Empire, a study of small people and voyeurism; and, mostly recently, The Island of the Colorblind, an investigation of achromatopsia that was published as a book this summer, presented at the Voies Off in Arles by the Festival Circulation(s), and given a cover feature in BJP.

Frederik Buyckx Photographer of the Year 2017 Sony World Photography Awards May 3, 2017

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : British Journal of Photography, Metaphor Online, Sony World Photography Awards , comments closed

Frederik Buyckx has scooped Photographer of the Year at the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

Frederik Buyckx has scooped Photographer of the Year at this year’s Sony World Photography Awards, with a series called Whiteout that explores how nature is transformed by winter.  “I have chosen a series of landscapes so that we may return to the essence of looking at photography,” comments Zelda Cheatle, chair of judges at Sony’s World Photography Organisation.

“Landscape is often overlooked but it is central to our existence. I hope this award will inspire many more photographers to take pictures that do not simply encompass the terrible aspects of life in these troubled times but also capture some of the joys and loveliness in each and every environment,” she continues.

Buyckx’s work, which was picked out from 227,00 entries by photographers from 183 countries, was shot in remote areas of the Balkans, Scandinavia and Central Asia, where people often live in isolation and in close contact with nature. “There is a peculiar transformation of nature when winter comes, when snow and ice start to dominate the landscape and when humans and animals have to deal with the extreme weather,” explains the Belgian photographer, who freelances for De Standaard. “The series investigates this struggle against disappearance.”



The Story Institute: Alessandro Grassi May 31, 2016

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : British Journal of Photography, The Story Institute , comments closed

Alessandro Grassi’s story on Haiti published in the British Journal of Photography Online has come from a new medium for story telling called The Story Institute. www.thestoryinstitute.com . Well worth photographers looking at this site for help with the publishing of their stories.

When it comes to climate change, Haiti is one of the world’s most endangered places in the world. The ongoing humanitarian crisis of the once bucolic Caribbean island is starkly shown in Last Illusion, a new photography series by Alessandro Grassani.

Haiti is almost completely denuded of trees. According to the United Nations, the increasing frequency of drought, cyclones, hurricanes and floods will have an amplified impact in one of the most fragile environments already existent anywhere in the world.

This isn’t just an issue of wildlife, fauna and flora. It’s an issue of humankind as well, for the vulnerability of the country to natural disasters has triggered waves of internal migration from rural to urban areas.

In Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital and largest city, half of the residents were not born there. The city continues to serve as the main destination for thousands of environmental migrants every year.

Last Illusion, a multi-chapter photography project depicting one of the main and overlooked consequences of climate change on human populations has just been launched by Alessandro Grassani, an Italian photojournalist repped by INSTITUTE.

Haiti can be seen as a prosthetic microcosm for the future. Environmental migration is like an unexploded device: in the not too distant future, the entire planet will have to face the economic and social burden of its consequences.

By 2050, one in 45 people will be an environmental migrant—200 million people in total: today there are already 50 millions (source, IOM and UN).

Ninety percent of these 200 million migrants live in developing countries. They will not “land” in the richer nations, but will look for new sources of income in the urban areas of their home countries.

British Journal of Photography IPA Awards Deadline 8 November 2015 November 7, 2015

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : British Journal of Photography, International Photography Awards , comments closed

Last minute opportunity to enter the British Journal of Photography IPA Awards Deadline 8 November 2015

Working photographers in KYIV : British Journal of Photography February 3, 2014

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : British Journal of Photography, Ukraine , comments closed

KIEV, UKRAINE – JANUARY 24: Anti-government protesters clash with police on Hrushevskoho Street near Dynamo stadium on January 24, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After two months of primarily peaceful anti-government protests in the city center, new laws meant to end the protest movement have sparked violent clashes in recent days.

© Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images

“They are the best pictures we’ve seen for a few months now,” says Roger Tooth, the head of photography at The Guardian. “We’ve almost had to meat out the number of images we’ve been using, really, because they have been the best pictures that we’ve seen almost every single day.”

The protests in Ukraine kicked off on 21 November 2013, after the country’s government put an end to free-trade negotiations with the European Union. Since then, opposition forces have taken to the streets across Ukraine in general and in Kiev in particular. While the protests were extensively covered in December and early January, recent images coming out of the country has led the media to take a more visual approach to the events.

“From a visual standpoint it probably couldn’t be scripted any better,” says Brendan Hoffman, a photojournalist with Prime Collective. “Smoke, steam, snow, soft light, and fire. I believe this story will be remembered primarily in pictures.”

For Hugh Pinney, vice-president of editorial at Getty Images, the “very unusual colour combination of fire and ice, which normally applies to volcanos under an ice-sheet, have created this weird kind of Mad Max / punk thing with the protesters and the burnt vehicles and barricades,” he tells BJP. “It’s almost getting ridiculously close to what you see in the movies.”

Back in December, adds Pinney, “it was a very different-looking protest we were seeing, even though they took place in the same place with the same people.” But, he continues, “I don’t think these images have led to increased coverage. I think the protests themselves have achieved that coverage, and you can actually track their progress in the headlines, you can see them bubbling to the surface and quieting down again before bubbling again. The strength of the story and the activity behind the protests are what have driven their predominance in the news.”

The Freelancer’s dilemma

The strength of the story has attracted many photographers. In addition to stringers for news wires such as Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse, freelancers have taken to Kiev’s streets to document a part of Europe’s history. “I haven’t covered the news in two years,” says Corentin Fohlen, a French photographer. “I had decided to take a step back, and when the protests started in Ukraine in early December, I just couldn’t go. Yet, these events still mean a lot to me because the first project I did outside of France was in 2004 when I covered the Orange Revolution, one month after joining the Wostok Press agency.”

Of course, he adds, “the images coming out of these protests were incredibly powerful, thanks in part to this particular winter light. This sort of details might seem trivial, maybe even out of place, but the life of a freelancer is not that of a staff photographer. We always have to look at the pros and cons before embarking on a new project. We have to decide when to go, whether the financial risks we’re taking are worth it and whether we will be able to make a living.”

Fohlen boarded a plane for Kiev last Friday and stayed in the country for four days. “It was a last-minute decision,” he tells BJP in an email conversation. “I felt that things were about to change in Ukraine, that history would be made. I like to live these events, to be part of such radical changes. I’m passionate about these notions of uprising and revolution. I went as a freelancer, as this is always the case when I cover news outside of France. And of course, I had to use my own money to finance this trip, telling newspapers and magazines that I was going and that I would be available for assignments if needed.”

Hoffman, usually a freelancer, covered the protests as a stringer for Getty Images. “I moved to Moscow six months ago, so Ukraine is now in my backyard,” says the American photographer who used to be based in Washington DC. “I feel a responsibility to pay attention, but beyond that, there are a variety of reasons I sought to go. The story is interesting, and getting more so every day. Russia has been involved quite centrally in a number of globally important stories recently, from Edward Snowden to Syrian chemical weapons, but this is one of the few that can be told visually. It plays to my strengths as a photographer, so I felt there was a place for me to contribute to the visual history and understanding of this story.”

On a personal level, Hoffman had also just returned from a very frustrating trip for another project, and was in “a bit of a funk mentally”. Covering a pure news story was, for Hoffman, a way to “restore a bit of confidence and enjoy the challenges and rewards of photography. This was back in early December, before things got so violent. Also, I needed the money.”

Hoffman has been on the grounds three times since early December, staying for five or six days each time. “Everything happened very quickly,” he says. “It was a matter of hours between returning home from one trip, getting confirmation of this assignment, and being back at the airport.” And contrary to other news-related events in recent months, covering the Ukrainian protests has been relatively easy. “Everything is within walking distance,” Hoffman explains. “And the journalists on the ground are good about sharing what they know [about the situation].”

“We always stand together,” adds Fohlen. “I always listen to what my colleagues know about what’s going on. Luck also plays a big part: sometimes you’ll find someone who speaks French or English and helps you translate, but in an event like this one, you don’t need all of that. Everything happens in a small perimeter.”

Maidan Square

This small perimeter is Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kiev’s central square where protesters have built-up barricades and faced-off police forces for the past few weeks. “I try to stay as long as possible in Maidan,” says Maxim Dondyuk, a freelance photographer from Ukraine. “It’s hard to cover everything and, as a freelancer, I couldn’t afford to live in a hotel in the centre of Kiev, so that why I often stay there for the night, getting warm with coffee.” And while the protests seem easy to cover, the situation in Maidan can quickly take a turn for the worse. “Last week, my helmet stopped a bullet, and a few days ago, a flash grenade detonated just next to me, wounding me in the leg,” says Dondyuk. “It still hurts but I continue to photograph.”

A lot of journalists have been injured and, Hoffman tells BJP, “many feel, deliberately targeted. This seems mostly to apply to local journalists, who during the most recent violence were pretty much the only ones there. Some even staged their own protest over it.” Hoffman, himself, hasn’t felt directly threatened, “but depending on whether there’s active confrontation happening, the police could be tossing sound grenades, rocks, firing rubber bullets, shooting tear gas, or spraying water from fire hoses. Protesters are shooting fireworks or throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails, or launching them from extremely inaccurate slingshots. It’s obviously up to the photographer to stay out of the way of both sides. Plus this is all taking place on what is basically a rock-studded skating rink. I think everyone I know has fallen at some point. That can be as big a danger as anything at times.

Despite the violence, photographers have so far been able to work unhindered. “The areas of action are pretty well defined, so it’s easy to dip in and out,” says Hoffman. “And there’s actually a press centre with English-speaking representatives. They’re even issuing daily press passes. The hardest part is to be there when the action is happening. It’s really cold out, so one has to take breaks to warm up and eat.”

Fohlen was surprised by the leeway he was afforded while covering the protest. “I had total freedom, which, today, is a rare occurrence when controlling the message has become a main stake in any conflict.”

This freedom might explain why more photographers are now converging on Kiev – “in the last days I was there, I saw a lot of freelancers arriving,” says Fohlen “I guess when such an event takes place three hours away from Europe’s main capital cities, in a country that doesn’t require a visa, you’re bound to see a lot of photographers and journalists, especially those who want to get a taste of the field.”

Harsh Realm

But that doesn’t mean they will find success in selling their images, especially since the protests remain a secondary story, explains Tooth of The Guardian, with Syria dominating the news agenda. Fohlen, for example, was lucky enough to receive a commission from the Nouvel Obs newsweekly, while other magazines have just expressed an interest. “But I’m not a good salesman,” says Fohlen. “In this job, you have to be a salesman, accountant, negotiator, archivist, journalist… and the remaining five percent of your time you can be a photographer. So, it’s not always easy to get results. Competition is harsh, particularly when you have a lot of talented colleagues.”

That’s why many of them choose to increase their chances of being published by covering an ongoing situation, especially in a transformed media landscape that favours breaking news over contextualisation. “With an intense event that lasts several weeks, the result is that it’ll be covered by the media for a prolonged period, creating more opportunities for a freelancer to be published.”

Visit www.brendanhoffman.com, www.corentinfohlen.com and www.maximdondyuk.com.


Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : British Journal of Photography, Liberation , comments closed

To coincide with Paris Photo’s opening, French newspaper Libération  chose to remove all images from its 14 November issue in a bid to show the power and importance of photography at a time when the industry is facing unprecedented challenges, say the newspaper’s editors

“A visual shock. For the first time in its history, Libération is published without photographs. In their place: a series of empty frames that create a form of silence; an uncomfortable one. It’s noticeable, information is missing, as if we had become a mute newspaper. [A newspaper] without sound, without this little internal music that accompanies sight,” writes Brigitte Ollier, a journalist on Libération‘s Culture desk.

Ollier is right, and by choosing to maintain the newspaper’s usual design – with its articles flowing around the spaces where images should have been shown – Libération has succeeded in its attempt to show the power and importance of photography in our understanding of world events.

The French newspaper explains its decision with these opening words, published on its front page: “Libération vows an eternal gratitude to photography, whether produced by photojournalists, fashion photographers, portraitists, or conceptual artists. Our passion for photography has never been questioned – not because it’s used to beautify, shock or illustrate, but because photography takes the pulse of our world. To choose Paris Photo’s opening day to “install’ these white images highlights our commitment to photography. It’s not a wake, we’re not burying the photographic art [...] Instead we give photography the homage it deserves. Yet, no one can ignore the calamitous situation press photographers now find themselves in, especially war photographers who risk their lives while barely making a living. And for those whose work went on show today in the Grand Palais thanks to shrewd gallery owners, we might think that the odds are in their favour, but it’s all smoke and mirrors: the art photography market is currently confused.”

Here are a series of shots of the special issue:




The back page spread lists the photos omitted from the paper’s stories.

On the BJP website there is an interesting post from Rob Tannenbaum:

Was 2013 the year professional photography died?

So, you just purchased that awesome camera with all the bells and whistles? Congratulations and good luck pursuing that career in photography you’ve always dreamed about! But wait a second, did you NOT pay attention to all the signs in 2013 that pointed to the death of professional photography?

– In May of 2013, incoming Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said “There’s no such thing as Flickr Pro today because [with so many people taking photographs] there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore.” (Pssst, Marissa, who created those snazzy portraits of you, upside-down on a backyard lounge chair, that we saw in Vogue in August 2013?)

– Also in May, 2013 the Chicago Sun-Times laid-off its ENTIRE photography staff. Instead, reporters who had never taken pictures before were asked to be photographers and videographers in addition to writing. (Pssst, Sun-Times, who took those “striking, one-of-a-kind photos” in your paper’s archives that you are just now beginning to sell to the public?)

On November 11, 2013 Larry Kramer, President and Publisher, USA TODAY said, “While I used to carry four expensive Nikon cameras with interchangeable lenses when I was a news and sports photographer a long time ago, the world has changed dramatically. Much of what I could accomplish then can now be done with my iPhone.“ (Pssst, Larry, do you think legendary war photographer James Nachtway would rather enter a war zone with an iPhone or a Canon? Or famed sports photographer Walter Ioss rely on a smartphone to capture the peak of action in a baseball game?)

Sadly, there is a growing school of thought that just because nearly all of us carry cameras around (via smartphones) then we are all capable of being professional photographers. The bean counters of the slowly-dying traditional news media are betting that people will climb over each other to give away iphone photos for little-to-no money. Their idea is that the masses will now be the witnesses and documentarians of history. To me it’s nothing more than the Infinite Monkey Theorem: place an infinite number of monkeys in a room with an infinite number of typewriters and in time they will almost surely type the complete texts of Shakespeare.
Monkeys, obviously, don’t take photos and neither do cameras. People decide what moments are worthy of capture. While iphone users tend to capture moments that are important to just them, a professional studies, slaves and sometime puts him or herself in harm’s way to capture “decisive moments” that matter to everyone.

The professional will always be necessary to be our eyes when we cannot bare witness ourself. Unlike the monkey, we must evolve.

Posted by: Rob Tannenbaum