All posts tagged: Afghanistan

Sean Hemmerle’s portraits from Afghanistan and Iraq

“These pictures were originally intended as a sort of ‘Fuck you’ to the Bush administration,” says Sean Hemmerle. “I never thought after he was gone we would eventually end up with someone that made him look good. They’re a ‘Fuck you’ to someone else now.” On the morning of September 11 2001, former sergeant turned photographer Sean Hemmerle was travelling past the World Trade Centre, on his way to The New Yorker to drop off a portfolio of pictures. “Then some massive calamity interrupted my morning,” he says, wryly. “I photographed the towers as they fell, the people at the sight, ground zero. Somehow I got in there. I guess some of those pictures ended up becoming sort of ‘iconic’, and from them I made what, to me, at that time was a tonne of money.” The success of those photographs brought internal conflict and a sense of moral duty, says Hemmerle, as he struggled with the idea that he was profiting from the “smouldering hole in the centre of my community”. He decided that …

2017-12-05T10:49:36+00:00

Photojournalist Paula Bronstein on the Afghanistan stories that don’t go away

“Let me try to explain you something,” says renowned American photojournalist Paula Bronstein. “Afghans are strong, they’re resilient. They can deal with a lot. Anybody who I know who is a fixer, translator, photographer – everyone has lost friends or relatives. Children walk around in the middle of winter in these cheap, Chinese plastic shoes without socks, when there’s snow on the ground. It’s how they grow up. They’re strong because they have to be, not because they want to be.” Born in Boston, Paula Bronstein specialised in photojournalism at the Rochester Institute of Technology before developing her career working for various newspapers in the States. She moved to Thailand in 1998, and in 2001, she was sent on her first assignment to Afghanistan. Over the years she has come to play a pivotal role in capturing some of the most striking images and stories of impoverished communities from the war-torn region. “I was captivated by the place,” she says. “It became kind of my beat, so to speak.” Some 15 years later, Bronstein has …

2016-08-18T11:03:02+00:00

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 every 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 …

2015-08-21T13:25:48+00:00

Jessica Fulford-Dobson – Skate Girls of Kabul

BJP

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 …

2015-04-17T15:55:12+00:00

BJP Staff