Cigarettes are considered the most marketed consumer product in history. And yet, beyond the normalised images of tobacco – the glamorous Hollywood starlet yielding a cigarette holder, or the health warnings that coat cigarette packets – little is shown of its production. Rocco Rorandelli’s project Bitter Leaves goes behind the scenes, tracing the tobacco industry from provinces in China, where its leaves are farmed, to the ‘cigarette girls’ selling the product at parties and theme parks. The project, which comprises a photo story and research into the devastation caused at every stage of production, is now being published by GOST Books. Among the images are a photograph of a patient seated in a greying hospital room, juxtaposed with a portrait of a malnourished child seated on a bale of drying tobacco leaves, sacks of them stretching out into the warehouse behind him. A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to fund the publication of the book. “I wanted to understand what was hiding behind the cigarette,” says Rorandelli. “Most anti-smoking campaigns are based on the detrimental …
Our pick of the key stories from the past week, including Q&As with image-makers like Mathilde Vaveau and Karol Palka, Paul Senn’s documentation of a mass migration from Spain in 1939, and the programme for the 50th Les Rencontres d’Arles.
The Arctic circle is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for the past five years Arctic air temperatures have exceeded all records since 1900. If temperatures continue to rise, scientists expect that the North Pole will be ice-free in summer by 2040.
Ice reflects sunlight while water absorbs it, so less ice means even higher temperatures. But the consequences of disappearing sea ice in the Arctic are more complicated than the obvious impact it has on our global climate. Less ice provides new routes for maritime shipping, and opens up new areas for the exploitation of fossil fuels, transforming the region into a strategic battleground for countries with vested interests – not to mention indigenous villages whose livelihoods are threatened by rising sea levels.
Photojournalists Yuri Kozyrev and Kadir van Lohuizen, who are both represented by NOOR, travelled through the Arctic circle, documenting the startling, and often complicated, effects of Arctic climate change. Arctic: New Frontier is the product of the ninth edition of the Carmignac Photojournalism Award, which each year funds a new investigative photo reportage on a humanitarian and geopolitical issue. An exhibition of over 50 photographs and six videos will be displayed at London’s Saatchi Gallery from 15 March until 05 May.
In 1939, Spanish refugees started to flee the country’s bitter civil war, in a movement that’s become known as the Retirada [the ‘withdrawal’]. More than 450,000 men, women, and children crossed the border into France in February 1939 alone, following the fall of the Second Spanish Republic and the victory of General Franco. France, anticipating the mass migration, had started to make provisions for the refugees, but underestimated the sheer numbers. Many ended up on the beaches in makeshift accommodation, and by 1940, some 50,000 had ended up in a series of camps. Diseases such as dysentery were rife, and the mortality rate high.
One of the camps was Camp de Rivesaltes, also known as Camp Maréchal Joffre. Built in 1938, near Perpignan and just 40km from the Spanish border, it had originally been intended as a military base but, following the Retirada, the French government decided to use it as an internment camp. By January 1941 was housing more than 6500 refugees though, as by then World War Two had broken out, half the camp was Spanish – the other half Jews who had fled various counties and French gypsies. In just under two years, the camp housed some 17,500 people, just over half from Spain, 40% Jewish, and 7% French gypsies.
Born in Athens in 1960, Yannis Behrakis was inspired to take up photography after chancing across a Time-Life photobook as a young man. Going on to study photography in Athens and at Middlesex University in the UK, he starting work for Reuters in 1987, and by 1989 had been sent on his first foreign assignment – Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, where he quickly made his name.
“He quickly displayed a knack for being in the right place at the right time,” reports Reuters’ site The Wider Image. “When Gaddafi visited a hotel where journalists had been cooped up for several days, a scrum of reporters crowded around the Libyan leader to get pictures and soundbites.
‘I somehow managed to sneak next to him and get some wide-angle shots,’ Behrakis wrote. ‘The next day my picture was all over the front pages of papers around the world.’”
Dawoud Bey, Jess T. Dugan, Rosalind Fox Solomon, Shahidul Alam, and Zadie Smith have been announced as the honourees of this year’s Infinity Awards, organised by The International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York.
American photographer Dawoud Bey will be presented with the Art award, Jess T. Dugan with Emerging Photographer, and Zadie Smith with Critical Writing and Research, for her piece in the New Yorker titled Deana Lawson’s Kingdom of Restored Glory. This year’s jury was composed of: Erin Barnett, director of exhibitions and collections, ICP; David Gonzalez, co-editor, Lens Blog; Kristen Joy Watts, editor of @design, Instagram; and Rhea L. Combs, curator of film and photography, National Museum of African American History and Culture.
An interview with Don McCullin is never going to be a dull affair – he is a complex man who has told the story of his life many times before. He is unfailingly polite and gentlemanly, but one detects a slightly weary tone as he goes over the familiar ground. He often pre-empts the questions with clinical self-awareness.
The story of McCullin’s rise from the impoverished backstreets of Finsbury Park in north London is one of fortuitous good luck, but it didn’t start out that way. Born in 1935, he was just 14 when his father died, after which he was brought up by his dominant, and sometimes violent, mother. During National Service with Britain’s Royal Air Force, he was posted to Suez, Kenya, Aden and Cyprus, gaining experience as a darkroom assistant. He bought a Rolleicord camera for £30 in Kenya, but pawned it when he returned home to England, and started to become a bit of a tearaway.
Redemption came when his mother redeemed the camera, and MccCullin started to take photographs of a local gang, The Guvners. One of the hoodlums killed a policeman, and McCullin was persuaded to show a group portrait of the gang to The Observer. It published the photo, and kick-started a burgeoning career as a photographer for the newspaper.
Fabiana Nunes is a Brazilian photographer based in Zurich, Switzerland. Having worked in the fashion industry for years, she frequently jets off to glamorous locations (including Paris, London, and New York) to cover industry parties as well as concerts, festivals and nightlife. Her favourite subject, however, is everyday life. The image that The Guardian editors picked as one of their favourite Portrait of Humanity entries shows a mother and child collecting shells on a Tanzanian beach. Though a daily routine for the subjects, it was an unusual scene for Nunes, who spends most of her days in hectic European cities. This encapsulates Portrait of Humanity’s motto: what’s ordinary to you may be extraordinary to someone else. We spoke to Nunes about the story behind the picture, and what being part of Portrait of Humanity would mean to her. What are your key interests as a photographer? I have always dreamed of visiting the places I’ve seen in pictures. My favourite subject is the diversity that I find while travelling around the globe. For me, photography …
The World Press Photo Foundation has announced the six talents from North and Central America in its ongoing 6×6 Global Talent Program. Aimed at picking out under-recognised visual story-tellers from around the world, the 6×6 programme is now on its fifth region, out of the six identified around the world. This time, the talents picked out were: Dylan Hausthor, USA; Ian Willms, Canada; Mariceu Erthal García, Mexico; Nydia Blas, USA; Tomas Ayuso, Honduras; and Yael Esteban Martínez Velázquez, Mexico.
Each talent has been picked out for two stories: Hausthor, for example, submitting a project called Past The Pond, Setting Fires, about arson in small-town America; and Wood Grain Lick, a documentary and fictional look at life on the edges. Willms’ projects are As long as the sun shines, a story about oil sands extraction in northern Alberta, Canada, and its effect on the local community; and We shall see, about the death of his biker father. Mariceu Erthal García’s projects are Iriana, shot on a holiday in Cuba; and Letters to Gemma, about a young Mexican woman who disappeared seven years ago.
Portrait of Humanity provides photographers with the chance to share portraits of everyday life around the world, with the world. The aim is to explore and celebrate the many faces of humanity. That’s also the aim of Holland-based documentary photographer Leander Varekamp, whose image was selected by The Guardian editors as one of their favourite Portrait of Humanity entries so far, and voted by our followers as their favourite of the picks. The image, a crisp black & white portrait, is part of a series on Burrneshas – Albanian women who have chosen to live their lives as men. With only a few dozen Burrneshas left, the tradition is quickly dying out, and Varekamp is using portraiture to ensure that this little-known phenomenon is not forgotten completely. Since Varekamp discovered a talent for photography at the age of 17, he has used his camera as a means of investigating communities – such as Burrneshas – that intrigue him. As he puts it, ‘the camera opens doors that would otherwise remain closed’. We spoke to Varekamp …