“Wherever I am, I need to work photographically,” Michael Wolf told BJP back on 04 March, 2011. And wherever he was could be all over the world, from Hong Kong to France, and from the United States to China, usually in the big cities in these countries. Wolf’s life was international from the get-go, starting out in 1954 in Munich then growing up in the US and Canada, before returning to Germany to study visual communication at the Folkwang School in Essen with Otto Steinert, graduating in 1976. In 1994 he moved to Hong Kong to start work as a photojournalist, spending the next eight years taking photographs for German magazine Stern. “Michael Wolf’s photography is that of an outsider,” states his website. “Born in Germany raised in the US and Canada, returning to Germany to study photography before spending the vast majority of his career in Asia, his work defied categorisation.” In 2003 Wolf decided to expand his work beyond photojournalism; his breakthrough project – The Real Toy Story – was a radical extension …
“My tropical adventure was started by a friend, the photographer Mary Ellen Mark, who in 1988, enthused to me about Miami Beach, ‘You are made for each other!’” says Barry Lewis. “That summer I went with my family for a brief holiday, and fell in love with this exotic time warp. I met up with several photographers and by the end of the trip had a share in a fading Art Deco apartment on the beach.”
So began an ongoing love affair for Lewis, who ended up documenting South Beach for the next seven years, using Miami as a base for his US work and a venue for family winter escapes. It was, as he points out, a city on the up, just starting to revive after a couple of decades in the doldrums.
In 2010, US photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero set up a camera to take a self-portrait in Times Square, NYC. When she got the film developed, she noticed one of the images had captured a passerby, looking at her with what looked like a sneer. Believing it to be body-shaming, caught in the flesh, she set out to capture more, hoping to illustrate the social condemnation that polices body size in America (and beyond). Her resulting book, The Watchers, was published in 2015 to acclaim, and the images went on to be widely exhibited, and shown online.
As soon as the images went public, however, Morris-Cafiero encountered another wave of social control – negative images posted online or emailed to her, with vicious comments on her body and what was apparently read as her audacity in highlighting peoples’ responses to it. “The major problem is she’s disgusting,” read one such reaction. “Normal people are never going to want to fuck you, regardless of how much you complain,” read another.
Again, rather than being hurt, Morris-Cafiero was amused – and inspired. Immediately deciding she’d use the comments to make a project, she experimented for two years with her response.
Born in New York in 1893, Florence Henri left the city when she was two years old after the death of her mother. She was thrown into a peripatetic life, travelling between her mother’s relatives in Silesia (then part of Germany), a convent school in Paris, and family homes in London and the Isle of Wight, and as an adult continued her travels, studying music in Rome, relocating to Berlin in World War One, acquiring Swiss citizenship through a hasty marriage, and moving to Paris in 1925, where she studied painting under Fernand Leger.
In 1927, when she was 34, Henri enrolled as a non-matriculating student at the Bauhaus in Dessau, where she studied photography with László Moholy-Nagy and struck up a close friendship with Lucia Moholy. Between 1928 and the late 1930s she created the photography she’s now best-known for, using prisms and reflections to complicate her images and experimenting with techniques such as photomontage, multiple exposures and photograms.
Federico Borella has been named Photographer of the Year at the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards, winning the $25,000 prize for his series Five Degrees – a look at male suicide in the farming community of Tamil Nadu, Southern India, which is facing its worst drought in 140 years. The Italian photographer’s work takes its lead from a Berkeley University study, which found a correlation between climate change and increased suicide rates among Indian farmers, and explores the impact of both via images of the farming landscape, mementoes of the farmers, and portraits of their survivors.
“As global warming changes the face of life ever more rapidly – particularly in developing and underdeveloped nations – the work of artists such as Borella becomes ever more needed,” commented Mike Trow, chair of the professional jury. He added that this year’s submissions “provoked a lot of debate and interest amongst the jury” with works “pushing the boundaries of photography and challenging the perceptions and expectations the audience”.
The shortlists are out for the Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards and the result for the photobook prize is striking: this year, all three shortlisted books are by women, with Laia Abril’s On Abortion (Dewi Lewis Publishing), Deana Lawson: An Aperture Monograph, and Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness by Zanele Muholi (Aperture) all making the grade.
But says chair of the Kraszna-Krausz, Brian Pomeroy, that fact shouldn’t stand out as remarkable. “We’ve had female winners before,” he says. “It just shows talent is equally distributed, and you wouldn’t expect anything else. There have been very strong female photographers since the beginning of photography, I don’t think it’s something new.”
Liz Jobey, associate editor of the FT Weekend Magazine and a member of the photobook jury along with Chrystel Lebas, photographer and Kraszna-Krausz Book Award Winner 2018, and Anne McNeill, director of the Impressions Gallery, agrees, adding that the jury wasn’t deliberately looking out for books by women. But, she says, it’s an interesting time in which photography – and society and culture more generally – is opening up to other perspectives, and that was naturally reflected in this year’s shortlist.
“Ideally a [World Press Photo] Picture of the Year would be surprising, unique, relevant, memorable,” says Whitney C. Johnson, vice president, Visuals and Immersive Experiences, at National Geographic, and jury chair for World Press Photo’s 2019 contest.
This year John Moore has won that top spot, with an image showing Honduran toddler Yanela Sanchez crying as she and her mother, Sandra Sanchez, were taken into custody by US border officials in McAllen, Texas, USA, on 12 June 2018.
This year World Press Photo also added a Story of the Year to its awards, and that prize has also been won by a project on immigration, which was shot by Sweden-based, Dutch photographer Pieter Ten Hoppen. His series shows people travelling with the largest migrant caravan in recent history, which left San Pedro Sula, Honduras on 12 October and gathered as many as 7000 people on its way to the USA, according to UN agencies – including at least 2300 children. Shot in soft colours, it focuses in on individuals in the caravan, and moments of beauty in their lives.
“Working in Yemen is extremely difficult,” says Lorenzo Tugnoli, talking to BJP by phone from Kabul. “It’s a country where you have to navigate through various factions, and there are bureaucratic obstacles on both sides. As an example, it took us months just to get a visa.
“And even when you get access, you are not allowed to have much time. For example, after long negotiation we were allowed to go to Hodeidah, but they only let us stay for a few days. I look at my pictures in the port: I was there just for half an hour.”
Even so, Tugnoli has managed to make two extended trips to Yemen – the first for three weeks in May 2018, and the second for five weeks in November and December 2018. During those trips he travelled extensively throughout the country, crossing over the frontline and into territories held by opposing forces. Showing both the conflict and its disastrous humanitarian impact, his images have been published in a series of essays by The Washington Post, and a story pulled out of those images by Tugnoli and the director of Contrasto, Giulia Tornari, has now been nominated for the very first World Press Photo Story of the Year.
“It was a really tough story to cover, because the subject wasn’t there,” says Chris McGrath. “There was so much press there, and everyone was having the same problem – I was talking with other photographers and the Getty Images office about how to tell the story. It became every day going to the same place, standing, trying to get a picture that said something.”
The story was the disappearance of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi and the problem was exactly that – a Saudi Arabian journalist, author, and editor, who wrote for The Washington Post, Khashoggi had gone to the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on 02 October 2018 and vanished. Lurid reports that he’d been killed and dismembered soon circulated, but his body has still not been found and initially, the Saudi Arabian government denied his death. There was, as McGrath says, very little to photograph.
Then on 15 October, Saudi and Turkish officials were allowed in to inspect the building, and McGrath, along with many other journalists and photographers, went along to photograph the development. “We didn’t know when the inspectors would arrive, but everyone was there,” says McGrath. “All the press was trying to get something, and this guy was holding us back.”
Back in 2011, Mohammed Badra was studying architecture at Damascus University, a 20-minute drive from his native Douma. Then war broke out in Syria and he was forced to abandon his studies, initially becoming a first-responder for the Syrian Red Crescent, and then starting to take photographs of the conflict. “Taking a picture is documenting history,” he says simply. “I am an architecture student, I was pushed into photography.”
In 2015 Badra joined EPA [European Pressphoto Agency], working under Oliver Weiken and starting to focus in on images of children. Children are “the biggest losers in this war” he says, and there are many caught up in the crossfire, with the UN estimating that some 500,000 are currently living in 16 besieged areas in Syria.
And it’s the child that’s the really shocking factor in Badra’s photograph from Eastern Ghouta, which has been nominated for the World Press Photo of the Year. Showing victims of a suspected gas attack in hospital on 25 February 2018, the image includes a small boy hooked up to breathing apparatus.