BJP, Documentary, Editions, Uncategorized

Editor’s Introduction: The Migration Issue (BJP #7851)

Cover image © Sam Ivin

In our latest issue, meet the photographers putting a human face to the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time

This issue of BJP focuses on the European migrant crisis which, over the last couple of years, has seen a surge of people entering the continent. Many are refugees fleeing conflict, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees stating that in 2015 49% of those arriving from the Mediterranean came from Syria, 21% came from Afghanistan, and 8% from Iraq. Even so, attitudes in Europe have hardened, and photography has played a sometimes dubious role in fostering that colder climate.

Upon Googling ‘refugee children’, Patrick Willocq found hundreds of pictures that looked the same, he tells BJP – “people on beaches, children crying, very little humanity.” His response, created for Save the Children, was to collaborate with young refugees and reflect their mental state instead, and the same sense of humanity runs through the other projects we’ve featured. “It’s no longer about making people aware of the migrants’ movements. They know,” says Alessandro Penso. “It’s now something else, something more personal, something about empathy.”

In taking this approach, these photographers open themselves up to the criticism that they are not objective – that unlike the traditional journalist, dispassionately recording events, they are actively intervening. It seems that they’re happy to do so, and that they might reject the notion of the objective journalist in the face of media coverage so weighted against these migrants. “This book attempts to capture individual stories and to use photography as a peaceful and empowering tool, rather than one of judgement,” says Daniel Castro Garcia of his publication, Foreigner. “When journalism and public discourse move into the sphere of inflammatory language and misinformation, so often the real victims are forgotten.”

– Diane Smyth, executive editor

The Migration issue is available to buy from the BJP Shop and the App Store now.



David Molina Gadea started taking pictures at a Belgian refugee centre for teens when he was on a year- long placement. It became a project, The Long Way Home, when he saw how debilitating the mundanity of being in limbo can be for young asylum seekers.

© David Molina Gadea

© David Molina Gadea


More than a million Syrians displaced by civil war are living as refugees in nearby Lebanon. Using empty chairs as a symbol for family members lost or killed along the way, Dario Mitidieri’s campaign for CAFOD tells their story.

© S0

© Dario Mitidieri


When Save the Children wanted to run an awareness campaign about child refugees, they turned to Patrick Willocq. His images, made in collaboration with children in Lebanon and Tanzania, tell of their hopes and fears.

© Patrick Willocq

© Patrick Willocq


Influenced by his own personal experiences of migration, Seba Kurtis uses mixed media to offer a contemporary take on the dehumanisation of displaced refugees

© Seba Kurtis

© Seba Kurtis


Sam Ivin’s defaced portraits reflect the sense of abandonment of migrants seeking refuge in the UK

© Sam Ivin

© Sam Ivin


Daniel Castro Garcia counters sensationalist media images of migration by focusing on the humanity of the victims

© Daniel Castro Garcia

© Daniel Castro Garcia


Alessandro Penso takes his perspective on the migrant crisis on the road, hoping viewers will see it with renewed understanding

© Alessandro Penso

© Alessandro Penso



SFMOMA stages a long- overdue retrospective of LA street photographer Anthony Hernandez

Any Answers: Alberto García-Alix

Visa pour l’Image prepares for its 28th edition

Unseen Photo Festival returns


Dean Mullings reimagines the black experience using collage to represent the complex nature of identity

Lua Ribeira’s depictions of dancehall offer a ‘folkloric’ interpretation tied to love, death and birth

Jonathan Fisher takes a sculptural approach to documentingthelandscape


Exodus: a documentary project revealing the plight of refugees – from the perspective of the very people seeking asylum

Magnum Photos takes a broad view of the migrant experience with an acclaimed group project of 24 stories, and counting…

Creative Brief: Carmen Brunner, director of photography at Berlin-based Dummy and Fluter magazines, on commissioning images surrounding migration issues


In the 24 September 1992 issue of BJP, Steven Mayes raised uncomfortable questions about ‘reportage’ covering famine in Somalia

The Migration Issue – available in the BJP Shop, in stores and in the App Store now.

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