All posts filed under: Documentary

James Nachtwey – The Improviser

James Nachtwey stretches his arms across the sofa and pauses to think. He’s just declined to answer whether he ever has nightmares, and now he’s fielding a question that ever war reporter has faced; has he ever truly feared for his life? He recalls covering the civil war in Sri Lanka. He was embedded with one of five rebel groups, but the Tamil Tigers, the main insurgent group, were taking out their opposition one by one. He was on an island off the Jaffna peninsula, hiding out. The position was being over-run, and the native New Yorker was completely isolated, unable to get out. He found a Catholic monastery, and hid. In a church in outer Sri Lanka, he found a copy of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and he read it. He stayed there for three weeks, trying to focus on Shakespeare, until he found the chance to escape back to the mainland and to safety. “That was the first time I really thought I wasn’t going to make it,” Nachtwey says, his voice even. “Parts of my life I’d thought I’d …

From Rapa Nui – By The Shade Of The Moai © Lorenzo Moscia

Lorenzo Moscia’s Haiti

“It was inconceivable to my father that he would end up with a son who wanted to pursue a career in the arts,” says photographer Lorenzo Moscia. Like many of his father’s generation in Italy, having lost nearly everything to the Second World War, the aftermath thrust him into manhood, and having to provide financial support to his struggling, large family of siblings. By the time his father had become a grown man himself, married, with a child of his own, he had worked tirelessly for many decades. So it’s not surprising that Lorenzo, his only child, would be raised to prize hard graft. Lorenzo’s upbringing in Rome was fairly typical, albeit lonesome – a constant quest for friendships. His parents relocated within Rome when he was 11, and he suddenly found himself starting a new school across town – the local Catholic school – surrounded by nothing but male priests. “It was the longest period of boredom I have ever experienced,” he says. This was alleviated somewhat by his parents’ purchase of a VHS camcorder in …

Remembering Tim Hetherington four years on

The film begins with Tim Hetherington trying to describe why he risks his life to tell stories from some of the world’s most dangerous regions. Eventually, he finds the right words: “I want to connect with real people, to document them in real circumstances, where there aren’t any neat solutions.” We then cut to footage he filmed in Misrata, Libya, on the morning of 20 April 2011. The country is in the midst of civil war, and the city is under siege by troops loyal to Colonel Gaddafi. The Bee Gees’ How Deep is Your Love plays on the radio as we’re driven through the city by a rebel fighter in his early twenties, coolly smoking at the wheel, an AK-47 nestled by the gearstick and a grenade hanging from the dashboard. “Which way is the frontline from here?” Hetherington asks him, and he points straight forward. Hetherington and his photographer colleagues, Guy Martin, Chris Hondros and Guillermo Cervera, laugh at the sight of a high-rise building decimated by mortar fire. Later that afternoon, the group would …

Diana Markosian wins Chris Hondros Fund’s first Emerging Award

Diana Markosian, the Armenian-American photographer best known for her stunning revisitation of the Beslan massacre, has been awarded The Chris Hondros Fund’s first Emerging Award. “This so much more than an award for me. Chris was a friend. He supported me from the first day we met,” Markosian tells BJP.  “I want to up my game and create something even more personal. I owe it to him. ” Markosian met Chris Hondros when she was a graduate student, before the photojournalist was killed alongside Tim Hetherington on 20 April 2011 while on assignment in Libya. She will receive a $5000 grant from the organisation, which will go toward her next project. “My work comes from within,” Markosian says of her developing photography career. “I am constantly searching for a moment of silence between myself and whatever it is I am photographing. It is an emotional process that transcends anything else I’ve experienced. It is ultimately an expression of myself: all of my feelings, revealed in a moment, in an image.” “There is a sensitivity and compassion to the …

© Jessica Fulford-Dobson

Jessica Fulford-Dobson – Skate Girls of Kabul

In 2007, an Australian skateboarder called Oliver Percovich decided to give girls from the most autocratic and repressive societies the opportunity to skateboard. He took Skateistan to Kabul, Afghanistan, using the urban street sport as a tool for empowerment, and a hook to get children aged 5 to 18 from poor and displaced Afghan families into full-time education. It now works with over 400 children per week. Pictures of them are now on display at London’s Saatchi gallery. In a country where girls aren’t allowed to ride bikes, and where only 20 percent of women aged 15 to 24 are literate, Skateistan has made skateboarding the most popular sport for girls. “I think initially when Oliver the founder turned up in Kabul with three skateboards, he was like the pied piper – he’d lend them to children and have to wrestle them back because they were enjoying it so much,” explains Jessica Fulford-Dobson. Since its beginnings, Skateistan has established the two largest sports centres in Afghanistan and opened centres in South Africa and Cambodia. Fulford-Dobson, the celebrated British portrait photographer, heard of Skateistan one lazy …

Lynsey Addario – It’s What I Do

Photojournalist Lynsey Addario has been kidnapped and beaten. She has also borne witness to the defining global conflicts of our time. Having received the MacArthur Genius Grant for her previous work, her new memoir, It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War, explores the role of the conflict reporter in the contemporary world. “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” The famous quote by Robert Capa has been a decree for photojournalists, but Addario prefers to get close in a more compassionate sense. For her first comprehensive photo essay, a series on a community of New York transsexual prostitutes for the Associated Press, Addario spent six months gaining their trust before pressing the shutter. “I was thrilled with the idea of trying to penetrate this seemingly impenetrable sector of society, so it took a long time,” she says when we meet in Soho, London. “Most of the photojournalists I meet out in the field are sensitive, patient and empathetic. I think those are all characteristics you need, because ultimately it’s all about the …

waplington new

VIDEO: Nick Waplington – Working Process

Nick Waplington is racing around, negotiating busy traffic on a rainy east London day. He currently lives in New York, but today he and his assistant are preparing and finalising the prints and framing for his upcoming exhibition, Working Process, behind-the-scenes photographs of the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, which are now on show at Tate Britain. As we drive down Old Street, he points to a building and says: “The first time I met Lee [McQueen] was at a party there in 1995. I was with Phil Poynter, at that time editor of Dazed & Confused, and the stylist Katy England, and we met Lee, Robbie Williams and Kate Moss. “We drank all night and they ended up dressing up Kate with design ideas. Lee and I became good friends, and as a shy man he only really trusted me to photograph him.” Waplington’s exhibition, which is curated by Simon Baker, shows some of the fruits of that friendship. McQueen commissioned Waplington in 2008 to document the preparation for what was to become the Horn of Plenty collection …

High Street Kensington from the series On a Good Day

Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience 1950s-1990s – Review

A young girl, speaking on the telephone, stands in a well-kept living room. She smiles to someone outside the frame, yet her posture suggests this isn’t a casual snapshot. As we learn from photographer Neil Kenlock, she’s pretending to speak to her grandparents in Jamaica — the photograph a token of the family’s prosperous new life in Britain, balancing the quotidian with the achingly intimate. This communication between generations, between the motherland and a new home, gets to the heart of Staying Power, a new exhibition currently on display at the V&A. The exhibition is the culmination of a joint project with the Black Cultural Archives, started in 2008, showcasing photographs that respond and relate to the ‘black British’ experience. With a collection spanning 118 photographs and 17 different photographers, black British life is rendered with a comprehensiveness and variety rarely seen in the cultural landscape. Marta Weiss, curator of photographs at the V&A, says: “We didn’t restrict ourselves or depict particular events or particular types of people, in keeping with the V&A’s collecting remit …

Cubicle, Arts & Features Desk, 12:23pm, 2011

Will Steacy – Blood and Ink

On a warm Friday evening in the newsroom of The Philadelphia Inquirer, national/foreign editor Tom Steacy was asked to leave his desk. He was led to a conference room, where he found the paper’s executive editor waiting. “The realisation began to dawn as I made that walk,” the 66-year-old says in a slow, halting voice from his home in Philadelphia. “Everyone was nervous. We all knew there was a great shining axe hovering in the sky somewhere. There had been for quite a while.” The editor, Stan Wischnowski, told Steacy that after 29 years on staff the paper was letting him go. “I kept shouting to myself: ‘Silence, silence. Gosh, please don’t let me hear what I’m about to hear,’” Steacy says. “Stan gave me his 10-minute spiel about why it was necessary and why I had been chosen. Then I made him repeat the whole thing. I was in so much shock. When it was over, I left the building and went home,” he continues. “I went back to the newsroom once to sign …

Sanne de Wilde – The Dwarf Empire/Snow White

Belgian photographer Sanne de Wilde focuses on people on the visual outskirts of society. Her Snow White pictures, which show extremely blonde children, their pale palette range highlighting the otherworldly appearance of her subjects, gained her plenty of international attention straight from her Master’s degree in fine arts photography in 2012. But it was her next series, The Dwarf Empire, that really caught people’s imaginations. The Dwarf Empire is about a home for “77 little people” – little people who earn their keep by performing a song and dance routine twice a day in a theme park that combines entertainment and social care.  Founded by “a tall, rich man who was determined to do something good for the little people”, The Dwarf Empire is a place that perfectly fits the 21st century spirit of Chinese capitalism. In her surprisingly light images, de Wilde mixes pictures of the park attractions with interiors. She goes into the kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms of The Dwarf Empire and, in this sense, the series also acts as a study of the world of Chinese interiors. In the …