“It’s crazy, I can’t believe it,” says Ivor Prickett, of his two nominations for the World Press Photo of the Year award. “Out of a line up of six, to have two images seems insane considering the amount of great work being produced last year. I can’t quite believe it.” He’s on the phone from Iraq where he’s headed back back to Mosul, the city he’s been photographing for well over a year. Iraq’s second biggest city, Mosul was taken by ISIS militants in June 2014; in October 2016 Iraqi troops began a major offensive to regain the city, the largest military operation since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and Prickett joined them right away. Originally from Ireland, he’s been based in the Middle East since 2009 and says that “as a reporter in the region, I couldn’t help but cover it”.
“Normally people don’t get set on fire during the protests, but there were many barricades on fire and the demonstrators use Molotov bombs,” says Ronaldo Schemidt. “I got the photo when a National Guard motorcycle exploded during a clash between demonstrators and government forces. It was lying on the floor, on fire, surrounded by young people. One of the protestors hit the tank, generating an explosion. Then the guy in the photo caught fire. I was standing a few meters away with my back to him, but when I felt the heat of the flames, I got my camera and turned around to start shooting whatever had just happened. It all took just a few seconds, so I didn’t know what I was shooting. I was moved by instinct, it was very quick. I didn’t stop shooting until I realised what was going on. There was somebody on fire running towards me.”
Born in Australia in 1978, Adam Ferguson studied photography at Griffith University. He first won recognition for his work in 2009, when his photographs of the war in Afghanistan won awards from World Press Photo and Photo District News. Since then he has worked all over the world, for clients such as The New York Times, TIME Magazine, National Geographic, The Financial Times Magazine, WaterAid, UNICEF, and Human Rights Watch. Ferguson has been nominated for the World Press Photo of the Year for his shot of Aisha, a 14-year-old girl who was kidnapped by Boko Haram and wired for a suicide bombing, but managed to escape. The image comes from a series of portraits shot on commission for The New York Times, which has been nominated in World Press Photo’s People category. BJP: Your image is very different to a hard-news style shot. Why did you choose to shoot a portrait (and in fact a series of portraits) in this way? How did you do so? Where did you take the shots, and how did you set …
This year, he says, all the images have been thoroughly checked before the shortlists have been announced, let alone the winners. “All the checking is already done – all raw files, where the images were shot, everything,” he tells BJP. “We know how important it is that everything can be trusted, and we keep asking questions until we are satisfied. We wouldn’t announce the shortlists unless we were.”
“If you are asked to think what is the photo of the year, you have to try to have something about the events of that year, and that sends you to a news or documentary photography,” says Magdalena Herrera, director of photography for Geo France and chair of the jury for the 2018 World Press Photo Contest. “But we were looking for a point of view, the photographer’s point of view. We weren’t looking for an opinion, but for images in which someone had been able to take the photographic tool to envisage their part. Even if you are a documentary photographer, you choose the moment when you take the shot. YOU are the one reporting.
It would be an understatement to say that the legacy of Gyula Halász – better known by his pseudonym, Brassaï – has been the object of extensive research and countless curatorial projects. Yet the Fundación Mapfre, the private institution that has shown the highest devotion to photography in Spain, has entrusted Peter Galassi, the former chief curator of photography at Museum of Modern Art, to conduct what will probably be the definitive exhibition about the Hungarian-French photographer at its Barcelona gallery, the Garriga i Nogués exhibition hall (19 February to 13 May). The exhibition could be considered to be Galassi’s biggest curatorial endeavour so far since he retired from MoMA, and the catalogue, published by Fundación Mapfre, can attest to the pertinence of this major survey of Brassaï.
Marrakech is a hub of arts-related activity this February. On the 24th, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair launches its first edition on the continent, and on the same day the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden opens a special exhibition and programme, Africa Is No Island. Curated by Afrique in visu, the latter exhibition is a physical embodiment of everything the photography platform has been working towards since it was started a decade ago online with the mission to develop a professional network for photographers across the continent and the wider diaspora.
“The East End after the war was an imagined territory for me,” writes photographer Chris Dorley-Brown. Familiar with black-and-white shots of the territory by photographers such as Don McCullin, he’d only caught glimpses of it in colour in film and TV footage. “I yearned to find an equivalent mood in a collection of still images but never had.” Never, that is, until he stumbled across David Granick’s extraordinary colour slides in the Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives. Born in 1912, Granick lived in Stepney until his death in 1980; he was a keen photographer and member of the East London History Society, and gave lectures on various local history themes which he illustrated with his own images. Dorley-Brown is a talented photographer in his own right, who has been documenting East London since 1984, and immediately understood the slides’ worth. “I was beyond excited,” he says. “He was our man of the ground, he had it covered.” Impressed, and keen to share the images, Dorley-Brown took on the task of digitising them, and has now …
“When people think of Victorian photography, they sometimes think of stiff, fusty portraits of women in crinoline dresses, and men in bowler hats,” says Phillip Prodger, head of photographs at the National Portrait Gallery. “Victorian Giants is anything but. “Here visitors can see the birth of an idea – raw, edgy, experimental – the Victorian avant-garde, not just in photography, but in art writ large. The works of Cameron, Carroll, Hawarden and Rejlander forever changed thinking about photography and its expressive power. These are pictures that inspire and delight. And this is a show that lays bare the unrivalled creative energy, and optimism, that came with the birth of new ways of seeing.” He’s promoting Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography, a new show at the NPG featuring Lewis Carroll, Julia Margaret Cameron, Oscar Rejoinder, and Clementine Hawarden. The four photographers were from very different backgrounds – Rejlander was a Swedish émigré, Cameron an expatriate from colonial Ceylon, Carroll an Oxford academic, and Hawarden landed gentry – but were united in their passion for the new discipline. …
“The works selected here have all run up against a more or less bitter-sweet reality, and their authors have liberally arranged, glued, assembled, masked and cut out the components of that reality in order to present it to us as something different, eminently subjective, and decidedly moving,” writes Raphaëlle Stopin, artistic advisor for the 2018 Prix HSBC. She’s writing of the 12 photographers shortlisted for two top prizes, which this year have gone Antoine Bruy (France, 1986) and Petros Efstathiadis (Greece, 1980). The other shortlisted photographers are: Olivia Gay (France, 1973), with the series Envisagées; Karin Crona (Sweden 1968), De la possibilité d’une image; Elsa Leydier (France, 1988), Platanos con platino; Sandra Mehl (France, 1980), Ilona et Maddelena; Shinji Nagabe (Brazil, 1975), Espinha; Michele Palazzi (Italy 1984), Finisterrae; Walker Pickering (USA, 1980), Esprit de corps; Marie Quéau (France, 1985), Odds and ends; Brea Souders (USA, 1978), Film electric; and Vladimir Vasilev (Bulgaria, 1977), T(h)races.