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Sweet Water-Climate Change in Bangladesh

Below is a short documentary film shot in January in Bangladesh for Caritas Australia. For me, it’s a bit of a milestone as it’s my first documentary film that has been produced and used in a widespread campaign which I’m very happy about. It was all shot on a Canon 5D Mk11 and separate audio taken on a Tascam DR-2D. The Caritas editing team have done a great job putting it all together.

As always there is room for improvement and I’ll describe how I’d approach it differently next time. First of all is the time issue. I had two excellent field staff helping me as interpreters and guides but the filming, stills and audio were all done by myself. I also had to collect stories and case studies from a number of different projects so the workload was very high.

Originally this was just going to be a photo assignment so the mind set was on photography and filming came second. What I realise is the importance of b-roll to help in the editing process and the flow of the story. Filming is very time consuming so I’d make sure to build in extra time to get much more b-roll.

Everything considered however I’m very happy with the outcome. Like most people filming with DSLR it’s a fairly new process which takes time to master but I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to take it to the next level. Please have a look and any comments would be much appreciated. Thanks.

For more information please click here. A Just Climate.

Sweet Water

Sweet Water explores the impact of climate change on communities living in the coastal regions of South-West Bangladesh. The short documentary exposes the rapid rise of sea water, the destruction of vital soils through increased salinity and the increased frequency and ferocity of cyclones in Bangladesh.

The impacts of climate change will be of significant detriment to the health, food security and livelihoods of some of the poorest communities in the world, exacerbating existing development challenges in these vulnerable regions. Ironically, it is often the poorest communities who have contributed the least to global warming who are the most vulnerable to its impacts. Sweet Water illustrates how the vulnerable coastal communities in South-West Bangladesh are responding to the impacts of climate change in their region.

Thanks and credits to: Caritas Bangladesh and the communities of Satkhira District, Richard Wainwright, Lisa-Anne Morris and Cam MacKellar.

Bangkok-Conflict Resolution Course

I thought I’d post a quick update as to what I’m doing at the moment. I’m currently one month into a three month study course in Bangkok at Chulalongkorn University studying on the Rotary Peace and Conflict Resolution program. It’s been intense but stimulating with lots of new ideas and concepts, many I’ve never considered before or been exposed to.

Our class of 17 consists of a colourful mix of nations from Brazil to Malaysia, USA to India, Zimbabwe to Italy with backgrounds as varied including aid workers in Sudan, policemen in Mumbai and Philadelphia, a researcher in Java, social worker in Rio and land issues consultant in Argentina. All in all an amazing mix of very professional people which creates some pretty lively discussions..normally over a few beers..!

So far we have been taught how to analyse conflicts by looking for structural causes, connectors and dividers and actors. How to negotiate, mediate and facilitate discussions and situations. Looked at the concepts of Do No Harm and Human Security and the role media plays in conflict.

If your interested in keeping up to date with how the course is going I’m writing a separate blog here:

http://conflictres.wordpress.com

I made a conscious decision before setting off on this course not to bring all my equipment so I only have one camera and one lens. That may sound strange for a photographer but I realised that this was an academic study course, not a photo assignment. It’s been a bit frustrating at times because I’ve missed making some nice pictures but a trip to northern Thailand made me realise I had made the right decision. When I’m taking pictures, I get into this ‘zone’ where nothing else matters but the image. To make the most of the course you have to write copious amounts of notes and listen to all the lectures and concentrate on what is being said…something you can’t do when taking pictures..!

However, when we visited a Buddhist Monastery right on the border of Burma I couldn’t help myself because it was just screaming out to be photographed..! Whilst I think I made some nice pictures, I wasn’t ‘present’ for those 20 minutes..! I was also using a fellow students Nikon..!!..not something I’d normally admit to being a Canon man but my mirror detached from my 5D. However, I finally got to use the CPS Gold service back in Bangkok who fixed, cleaned and tested the camera in under an hour for $16….you can’t complain at that…!!

Novice monks and students at Wat Fa Wiang from Shan State in burma line up for their lunch at 12pm. The won't eat again until the next morning. Many Shan people fled Burma and took refuge in the monastery after heavy fighting in this area in 2002 between the Shan State Army and the Burmese Government.

Many Shan people fled Burma and took refuge in the monastery after heavy fighting in this area in 2002 between the Shan State Army and the Burmese Government.

Novice monks and students at Wat Fa Wiang

Novice monks and students at Wat Fa Wiang.

Novice monks and students at the Sangha Metta Project.

Novice monks and students at the Sangha Metta Project. They are also taught how to grow rice and be self sufficient.

A Burmese soldier looks across the border into Wat Fa Wiang from what used to be a dormitory for a number of novice monks. The monastery lost this part of the building after heavy fighting in this area in 2002 between the Shan Sate Army and the Burmese Government. Many Shan people fled Burma and took refuge in the monastery.

View from Thailand over the Golden Triangle with Burma on the left and Laos on the right. Northern Thailand and the borderlands between Burma and Laos are home to a number of stateless hill tribes and is renown for drug smuggling and human trafficking.

A Thai military check point in Piang Luang. They are mostly looking for drugs and arms but also illegal immigrants and human trafficking.

A women looks out of a bus at a Thai military check point in Piang Luang. They are mostly looking for drugs and arms but also illegal immigrants and human trafficking

Foto8 Summershow Finalist

An image from an assignment to Bangladesh earlier this year for Caritas Australia has been selected as a finalist in the Foto8 Summershow 2011 in London. An exhibition at the HOST gallery from 8th July will display the images.

‘The Foto8 Summershow has become a unique opportunity for photographers from all backgrounds and disciplines to participate in the creation of a new aesthetic. An aesthetic that is becoming less formal and harder to define as photographers explore new approaches to their subjects and themes allowing their work to stand out.’

The Caritas campaign about how climate change is affecting this area in the south west of Bangladesh will be launched shortly so I’ll hopefully be able to put some more images and a multimedia presentation they completed here soon..watch this space…!

Students from Darussunmat Daichil Madrasa in Gabura, south West Bangladesh exercise on the playing field next to the cyclone shelter that doubles as their school. Gabura, which is one of the most climate change affected zones in the world was badly damaged by Cyclone Aila that struck on May 25th 2009. Villagers were washed away by a tidal surge leaving many people homeless and their fields saline. The shelter is a lifeline for many of the residents each cyclone season.© Richard Wainwright/Caritas Australia

Legacy of the Lord’s Resistance Army

Once again it has been almost 4 months since my last post..!! It’s not that I’ve haven’t been busy, quite the opposite in fact, things haven’t stopped since Christmas which now seems like a very long time ago..!

So what’s been happening..? Well, in January I was in Bangladesh completing a project for an Australian NGO on the impact of climate change in the Sundarbans region which was an eye opener. It was my first time in Bangladesh and I really liked the place, Dhaka is crazy whilst the coastal regions are beautiful but facing some very real issues due to climate change compounded with the ever increasing devastating cyclones. I’ll hopefully be putting something on this blog very soon after the stories have been used in their campaigns.

Then I had a commission from The Sunday Times Magazine in London in outback Australia, which again is embargoed until it’s published, hopefully soon, so will be writing something up after that.

Then a few weeks ago I returned to northern Uganda to complete a story about how the north is recovering now that the Lord’s Resistance Army have moved their murderous ways into DRC, south Sudan and the Central African Republic. For me, this was a story close to my heart. I first went and reported on the LRA nearly 10 years ago as a very green photographer but the stories and images I saw there had a huge impact on me and knew I’d like to follow it up in the future. It’s taken some time but I jumped at the chance to go back to what is now thankfully, a peaceful if traumatised region in a beautiful country. This was my fourth visit to Uganda having completed a story on HIV, the LRA and proposing to my wife whilst gorilla trekking so it remains one of my favourite countries..!!

My original story can be found here LRA and I have used a number of these images to introduce the context of the latest story. It was a very short trip, so a real challenge to put a story together but we were well prepared and knew what was needed. The main aim was to produce images for two newspaper journalists to highlight the situation and what the NGO is doing to help there. On top of that, I was asked to produce a multimedia piece so time was the biggest factor. Making sure I had the images needed in the bag, I’d then focus on getting as much video and audio as possible. It was a huge learning curve once again as every assignment is different but next time I’ll make sure I’ll:-

A:- Shoot much, much more B-Roll as this makes editing far more interesting/easier.

B:-Audio, audio and more audio..!..I know audio is the key to a successful project and I need to spend more time learning how to juggle recording ambient, the person being interviewed and the person translating all at the same time.  The sound on the 5D even with a Rode stereo mike is just not usable when compared to recording on a separate recorder, a Tascam in my case. In this case I recorded the translator on the Tascam which sounds good and I hoped to record the sound of the people being interviewed on a Rode mic attached to the camera but the his and weak sound means it is almost impossible to match the two together to get decent audio. The ideal situation would be to record the interview properly then do the translation separately if time wasn’t an issue.

C:- Invest more time on Lynda.com and other training courses learning Final Cut Pro and Motion to make the project more animated.

Next trip hopefully there will be enough time to do a proper interview with someone who can narrate the history and give context to the story, spend more time shooting b-roll and have a clearer plan how I’m going to collect decent audio..that being a perfect world of course..!

I’ve uploaded the presentation here and also some images in case you don’t have time to watch so any comments please just let me know..genuine feedback is always very welcome..

Legacy of The Lord’s Resistance Army

For over two decades one of Africa’s most violent rebel groups, The Lord’s Resistance Army have been terrorising northern Uganda.

Their initial aim was to defend the rights of the Acholi population but this quickly disappeared as they embarked on a brutal campaign of child abductions, murder, mutilations, rape and looting. Over 30,000 children have been abducted, forced to fight and kill each other and family members which has resulted in over 90% of the population fleeing to live in squalid displaced persons camps.

The LRA finally left Uganda in 2006 heading into Sudan for peace talks leaving an uneasy peace in northern Uganda allowing people to start returning home to their villagers. Lazira is a small village of 350 people in Agago District where people now feel safe enough to return. They fled to Patongo IDP Camp in 2002 at the height of the conflict. Many people were abducted from Lazira village by the LRA and were forced to attack their own people and many other similar villagers all over Uganda. Most have now escaped the LRA and have returned home and are trying to integrate back into the community they once terrorised.

The peace talks however failed and now the LRA are roaming the countryside of the DRC, South Sudan and Central African Republic, continuing their reign of terror on communities there.

Ongom Donsiano (36) who was abducted by the LRA in 1998 from Luziro village in Northern Uganda. He was sent to South Sudan for training and became part of an elite fighting unit. He became a sergeant and then a commander and gave orders for attacks on civilians. He decided to leave the LRA and contacted the Ugandan army giving them information which led them to defeat the LRA in the area surrounding his home village of Luzira. He is now the head of the Luziro Farming Collective.

Odoch David (21) who was abducted in 2000 for 3 years from his home village of Luzira in Northern Uganda. He was taken to Kitgum where he was trained to fight then sent to the frontline and operated in both Uganda and Sudan. He was involved with a large attack on a Ugandan military base in Kitgum. He escaped after being surrounded by government forces and taken to the nearby town of Patongo. He returned home to Luzira where he found out his father was dead and his brother had also been abducted. He now has a wife and 3 children and lives in Luzira village.

Abur Carla (28) who was abducted by the LRA from her home village of Luzira in Northern Uganda in 2001 for 6 years. She was forced to become a fighter, loot and abduct other people. Many abductees were also forced to kill fellow abductees and villagers. She managed to escape in 2007 during a government forces attack and fled to Patongo town. She has now returned to live in Luzira village.

On the road to former Operat IDP camp from Patongo town in a Caritas vehicle during a rain storm.

Patongo IDP Camp on the outskirts of Patongo town which at its height housed over 50,000 people who fled their villages from potential LRA attack. Many people have now resettled back to their original villagers but a number still remain.

Patongo IDP Camp on the outskirts of Patongo town which at its height housed over 50,000 people who fled their villages from potential LRA attack. Many people have now resettled back to their original villagers but a number still remain.

Akidi Mariana (72) in the former Patongo IDP Camp in Northern Uganda where she lived for 5 years having fled her nearby village of Luzira after attacks by the LRA. She lived with six other members of her family in this hut. Pictured with one of her sons Okot Bosco Muleke (27).

Patongo IDP Camp on the outskirts of Patongo town which at its height housed over 50,000 people who fled their villages from potential LRA attack. Many people have now resettled back to their original villagers but a number still remain.

Patongo IDP Camp on the outskirts of Patongo town which at its height housed over 50,000 people who fled their villages from potential LRA attack. Many people have now resettled back to their original villagers but a number still remain.

A mother and child in the village of Luzira in Northern Uganda. The village was abandoned and people fled mostly to Patongo IDP Camp nearby following attacks by the LRA. They stared to resettle back in Luzira from 2007.

Akidi Mariana (72) outside her home in the village of Luzira in Northern Uganda. She resettled back home in 2007 having lived with her family in Patongo IDP Camp for 5 years having fled attacks by the LRA.

Borders and Barriers-The Belfast Peacelines-Multimedia-V2

(This is the latest version of the multimedia with a few image, transition and caption changes)

It’s taken some time but I’ve finally put together a multimedia presentation from my recent assignment to Belfast as part of the Borders and Barriers project.

It was my first time shooting video, using a lavalier mic and making pictures which was hard work but very enjoyable. Juggling all three is a real challenge and you need time and space to achieve that. I was fairly realistic about what I could produce in 10 days and am quite happy with the outcome and now I’m more experienced with the technical side I’m looking forward to the next assignment.

Much more time consuming however was learning Final Cut Pro 7 when I returned..!! It’s a monster of a program but worth every minute of training on Lynda.com. I’ve only scratched the surface on its use but wanted to put together a small presentation to see how it worked and looked. There are some changes I know I’d like to make already but this is a work in progress and needs a return trip to Belfast to complete but any comments or suggestions on any aspect of the film would be appreciated.

Do you think it needs subtitles, is the music too loud, cuts to quick, pictures up for long enough and more importantly, was it engaging and informative…? Any comments like this would be really helpful for the future. Hope you enjoy it and speak to you soon….

Thanks…

The Belfast Peacelines-V2 from Richard Wainwright on Vimeo.

Reportage Photo Festival 2010-Sydney

Reportage Photo Festival in Sydney, one of the best documentary photography festivals in the southern hemisphere is almost upon us with the opening night on November 11th. The official program has just been published which shows a very strong selection of extended photo essays over two Projection Nights at The National Arts School in East Sydney. There are also talks and exhibitions including Reportage’s Retrospective and Stephen Dupont’s images from Afghanistan which will be excellent.

This is one of the few forums that extended photo essays can be viewed and there are some great stories being told over the nights. I’m very happy that my images from Mongolia will be shown on Projection Night 2, November 13. This is the first opportunity I’ve had to show not only images about the two boys who live underground but also images that surround this issue. I’ve combined the two picture stories which can be found on my website so if your interested have a quick look there.

I’m going to be in town for most of the weekend so will hopefully catch up with lots of people there for a few beers..!!

Munkhbat and Altangeret (both 15) have lived in this manhole together for over three years under the streets of Ulaanbaatar, the coldest capital city in the world. They were forced into this situation by divorced and deceased parents but they still hope and strive for a better future.

Borders and Barriers-The Belfast Peace Lines

I’ve finally recovered from jet lag and have started working on a few images from my recent trip to Belfast in Northern Ireland. This forms the third part of my long term project on borders and barriers around the world.

Although a very short trip I still managed to get around most of Belfast thanks to the many community groups who helped out. I met some fascinating people who have dedicated large parts of their lives to help understand and report on the consequences of these peacelines or peace walls and the overall situation in Northern Ireland. I also met and interviewed participants of ‘The Troubles’, many of whom spent years in prison and were released as part of the peace process and now work in community relation groups.

Belfast is quite possibly one of the friendliest places I’ve worked in but spending time in the interface areas (places where Catholic and Protestant communities live next to each other), away from the now buzzing city centre, an air of uncertainty, distrust, anxiety and underdevelopment is still very much evident. On either side of the walls, life continues as normal and many people are happy to drive from one area to another but most said there are areas they would not feel safe to walk in. In many cases, people who live just meters apart, divided by a 20 ft high multi layered barrier have never met or even have the desire to meet each other. Segregation permeates all areas of life both physically and psychologically, from housing where over 95% of social housing is either Catholic or Protestant to education where only around 5% of children attend integrated schools. Whilst most of the violence of the 90’s has stopped, rioting in flashpoints still does occur and virtually all residents who live next to the peacelines and interface areas do not want the walls to come down. At night, gates are closed to both traffic and pedestrians, effectively cutting off Protestant from Catholic areas. They feel safer, at least physiologically, with these physical barriers intact which they say they now hardly even notice.

The first peacelines where erected back at the start of ‘The Troubles’ in the late 60’s and were supposed to be temporary structures separating the Loyalist Protestant from the Republican Catholic communities. Ironically, since the peace agreement over 10 years ago, many more barriers have been built. In 1994 there were approximately 24 walls, there are now an estimated 90 structures in place throughout Belfast from obvious 20 foot high walls to thinly disguised disused houses, waste land and community gates with the latest wall being built little over 24 months ago.

I’ll be making a return trip there next year to continue this story so below are some images taken during my time there. I’m also working on editing audio and video I shot. I really enjoyed shooting video for the first time and think the audio interviews I took really add to the sense of the place. Multimedia is fast becoming the most exciting and informative way to show stories so once I’ve got the basics of FCP, I’ll post an update here.

Any questions or comments you have please get in contact……

The main peace wall that runs for over 5km dividing the predominantly Protestant Shankill Road Area from the Catholic Falls Road in West Belfast. Seen from the Catholic area of St Galls Avenue just off the Falls Road, many of the houses in this area have been rebuilt since the troubles in the 1990's

A resident of Bombay Street with the peace wall backing onto his property in West Belfast. This street became the epicenter of violence during the early days of the troubles and most of the original houses were burnt down.

Gates in peace walls all over Belfast are locked at night separating the Catholic areas from Protestant areas. Looking through the Workman Avenue gate into the Protestant Woodvale estate in West Belfast.

A resident walking past housing next to the peace wall in Protestant Woodvale area in West Belfast.

Joseph Hasett a Catholic resident on the Springfield road who lives opposite the peace wall separating them from the protestant Woodvale estate in West Belfast.

A tourist bus passes a peace wall on the Protestant Cupar Way Road in West Belfast. So called Terror Tours have become a familiar sight in West Belfast.

Caoileann Meehan (16) from the Catholic area of Springfield Road. He days he doesn't mix much with the Protestant teeanagers on the other side of the wall and believes that violence would dramatically increase if the walls came down.

Caoileann Meehan (16) from the Catholic area of Springfield Road. He says he doesn't mix with the Protestant teenagers on the other side of the wall and never goes over there. He believes that violence would dramatically increase if the walls came down.

A young Protestant family go through the Workman Avenue gate in the peace wall in West Belfast. At night the gates are closed.

Catholic houses on the Springfield Road opposite Workman Avenue, a notorious flashpoint during the marching season. The houses are bricked inbetween to stop rioters entering further into the residential area and the front windows removed.

The Shankill Road complete with British flags reflecting their allegiance to Britain. Many Protestant areas are adorned with flags as a means of identity.

Segregation is common in Northern Ireland's education system with only 3-5% of children attending mixed schools. Pupils studying at Springfield Primary School in West Belfast, a segregated Protestant School in a mostly Catholic area.

A man walks along the interface area and peace wall in Bryson Street dividing the Short Strand area of East Belfast, a Catholic enclave of about 3,500 people in a predominantly Protestant area.

Cluan Place, a Protestant area surrounding the Catholic enclave of Short Strand in East Belfast.

An old and rusty peace wall shields new housing in the Catholic New Lodge community from the Tigers Bay Protestant area on the other side in North Belfast.

L-R Padraig Smyth (18), Brian McCartney (19) and Gerard Morgin (20) on Springfield road next to the peace wall in West Belfast. They say they don't ever go over to the Protestant side of the wall. They have no bad feelings towards the Protestants but don't want the wall to come down.

A peace wall in Townsend Street looking from the Catholic side towards the Shankill Protestant area. This gate is closed at 5.30pm and opened at 7am.

he peace wall and interface in Protestant Glenbryn Park with Catholic Alliance Avenue on other side.

A peace wall and interface area in Protestant Glenbryn Park with Catholic Alliance Avenue on other side.

Exhibitions in Sydney and Perth

Another month has just flashed by since the last post but as always a lot has been happening behind the scenes. I’ve been updating my portfolio books, the website which will hopefully be re-launched in a week or so and arranging two upcoming exhibitions, details of which are posted here. I’ve also been researching my next assignment to Belfast and trying to understand the complex current and historical situation there. It should be an interesting trip which starts in a months time.

As for now, the first exhibition to open is in Perth at the excellent Moore’s Contemporary Gallery in Fremantle this Friday. Curated by Amnesty International in Australia, Journey Towards Hope looks at the reality of life for refugees and asylum seekers, a hot topic of debate over here which became a major campaign issue during the recent election. I’ll be showing my work from the Sudanese refugee camps in Eastern Chad and giving a talk about the situation there. The Fringe Shutter Collective will also be displaying images as well as images from students with refugee backgrounds from the Edmund Rice Centre. It should be a great evening with lots to see so please feel free to come along this Friday 27th from 7pm if your in the area.

The exhibition runs until 5 September.

On the same theme, Amnesty International in Sydney will also be hosting an exhibition called Journey to Freedom at Carriageworks in Redfern, Sydney opening Wednesday 1st September so again, if your in the area please pop by. The Chad story will be shown alongside three other great photographers. The exhibition showcases photos of Iraqi refugees in Iran by Ed Giles and East Timorese refugees in Australia by Alanta Colley along with images from Africa by Hamish Gregory.

The aim of the exhibition is to humanise the plight of the refugees as well as displaying positive images of settled refugee families. I’ll be there on the opening night on Wednesday 1st along with Ed so if your around it would be great to meet up. This will be my first time in Sydney which I’m really looking forward to so if you know any cool bars and fancy a beer please let me know..!!

If you’d like further information about either of the exhibitions just send me an email or leave a comment on this blog. Thanks.

Yasser Arafat’s Funeral-2004

The great thing about updating your website and portfolio is that it’s a great excuse to look back over all your old images and sometimes discover new ones. It’s also a great excuse for a bit of reminiscing and covering Yasser Arafat’s funeral in Ramallah in 2004 is without doubt one of my favourite assignments. When I started at my newspaper I actually said to my then picture editor that I had no holidays booked but should Arafat die I will going to the funeral no matter what.

A few years later he was good to his word and after a phone call at 8.30am informing me Arafat had died I was on the next plane out of Jersey at 10am. First stop was London, Zurich then onto Tel Aviv arriving at 5.30am the next morning and straight down to the Israeli GPO where the whose who of photojournalism where all looking equally tired and anxious to get to Ramallah. Nobody knew exactly what was happening but the latest rumour was the funeral was to be held later that afternoon. I teamed up with other photographers who I’d met on the plane and had worked with in Afghanistan just a few weeks before. Hiring a Palestinian taxi at an exorbitant rate we wound our way around the back roads, trying to avoid the many Israeli roadblocks. What should have been a straight 15 drive turned into a 90 minute circus. Eventually reaching the Qalandiya checkpoint then a long walk into Ramallah and the Muqata, Arafat’s home for years where he had been held under siege before he fell ill and left for Paris.

The atmosphere was actually quite festive and more of a celebration of life than a state in mourning. As we got closer and the arrival time getting nearer the tension in the air was palpable and increasing by the minute. Thousands of Palestinians from all over the West Bank wanted to get as close as possible and started scaling the walls of the compound and clinging onto any object with a view. When the two Egyptian Air Force helicopters finally appeared, almost at once everyone started whistling and cheering. With dust being blown everywhere from the downwash and the pushing and shoving in the heat it became electric. There where hundreds of armed men from all the militias and PA who started firing pistols, Ak47’s and all sorts of weaponry into the air adding to the deafening noise. Bullet casing flew and burnt people as they dropped down their shirts. A number of people fell off the top of high buildings and died as the crowds shoved forward for their first view of Arafat’s coffin.

If things were crazy before, the moment the coffin was brought out all hell let loose. Soldiers lost control of the crowd despite firing into the air and what was to be a dignified occasion attended by the great and the good of Palestine ended up being a funeral for the people as thousands of men and woman surged forward to the coffin. You couldn’t walk in the crush, you more like swam with the crowd, trying to get pictures but finding it difficult to even raise your arms.

As the coffin eventually found is way to the final resting place the generally good natured crowd turned into a bit of an embarrassing scrum around the grave. Mourners and photographers jostled for position trying to see into the grave which some people very nearly fell into. Not journalism’s most dignified moment but everyone, photogs and mourners just wanted that picture of Arafat’s final resting place.

As the sun started to set the crowd started slowing dispersing and we made our way back to Jerusalem to file and get some well deserved beers in. All in all a crazy but amazing day and one of the many days why I love being a photojournalist. Looking at the news that night on TV it looked even more chaotic than actually being there which is generally the case anyway but it was a real privilege to witness a great moment in Middle Eastern history.

Anyway, enough waffling on, below are some of the images I took that day. I decided to show them in mono as the light was very harsh and I just think it suits this story anyway….

Nominee in the International Color Awards

The 4th Annual Masters of Color Photography Awards were announced just over a week ago and I’m very happy that one of my images has been nominated again in the Professional Photojournalism section. Last year a picture from Afghanistan was nominated and this year an image from the Mongolia story has been recognised.

Munkhbat and Altangeret (both 15) have lived in this manhole together for over three years under the streets of Ulaanbaatar, the coldest capital city in the world. Spending time with them I witnessed what a tough, lonely and violent existence they have to endure in temperatures reaching -40c. They were forced into this situation by divorced and deceased parents but they still hope and strive for a better future. For me this image encapsulates the extremely difficult conditions these boys live in whilst life continues around them, oblivious and indifferent to their plight.”

Borders & Barriers-Cyprus-The Buffer Zone

Finally back in Perth after a very busy 6 weeks away working on 3 assignments in Palestine, Cyprus and Liberia which was exhausting but amazing. My project in Cyprus was cut short by a week after Cafod asked me to go to Liberia for a job at the last minute so I hope to return soon to complete this.  I’ll be posting some images from Liberia in the next few days.

These images from Cyprus continue the theme of my long term project about Borders and Barriers around the world that separates communities. The main focus of the story is the divided capital of Nicosia where the so called ‘Green Line’ or ‘Buffer Zone’ was drawn in 1974 during the height of hostilities. In some sections the buffer zone between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots is only a few meters wide. Greek and Turkish troops agreed to pull back from these inflammatory positions in 1989 and the zone is patrolled by UN Peacekeepers who have been in Cyprus since 1964, making it one of their longest running missions.

Nicosia is quite a surreal place. It has a look and feel of any other thriving Mediterranean city and via a number of checkpoints it’s easy for Greeks, Turks and tourist alike to cross over to either side. Running through the centre however is the Buffer Zone, a no mans land where homes and shops have been left abandoned and decaying since 1974. If you approach the dividing line on either side you’re likely to come across armed Greek or Turkish soldiers in bunkers and lookout posts. Dead end streets lined with concrete filled painted oil barrels with signs strictly prohibiting photography mark the border. It has a look and feel of a nation at war but the line has been peaceful for years. Walk just 10 meters back from the line and you can be sipping a beer in a neon clad café just like any other tourist spot in the world.

I was very lucky to get access there as very few people are allowed to enter and even UN troops aren’t permitted to take pictures. This eerie, derelict, bullet ridden strip of former shops and homes is a fascinating place. I hope to return to finish off the project by interviewing people who had to flee either side of the green line during the war.

A UN peacekeeping soldier patrols the narrowest section of the UN controlled Buffer Zone or the Green Line in the divided city of Nicosia on the island of Cyprus. Since 1974, abandoned shop fronts and houses just metres apart have became the front line between the Greek-Cypriot southern region and the Turkish-Cypriot northern region. Soldiers have now pulled back from these positions to help relieve the tension between both sides. Highly restricted and inaccessible to all but UN personnel, the decaying buildings have remained untouched and left to ruin for over three decades.

Cement filled oil barrels block off streets to the buffer zone from the Greek side.

Brick walls with viewing ports mostly form the barrier on the Turkish side.

Sand bags fill windows of a building on the front line on the Greek side of the buffer zone. The bullet holes reveal the intensity of the fighting that took place in this area.

With no one allowed into the buffer zone except UN peacekeepers the building have fallen into disrepair and nature allowed to take over

With no one allowed into the buffer zone except UN peacekeepers the buildings have fallen into disrepair and nature allowed to take over.

Shop front, barbed wire and oil barrels form the barrier between the two sides.

UN installed barriers have to be clearly marked. Any changes to how the buffer zone is demarcated is hotly contested by both sides

Many people living in the area fled during the fighting and have never returned to their homes. Personal possessions still remain in a virtual time warp from 1973.

Many people living in the area fled during the fighting and have never returned to their homes. Personal possessions still remain in a virtual time warp from 1974.

Ageing clothes, bottles, furniture and personal possessions from the 1970's still remain in many of the homes

Access to the buffer zone is strictly prohobitied and overseen by both Greek and Turkish troops. No photography is allowed along the wall and few people walk near the line.

Access to the buffer zone is strictly prohibited. Both Greek and Turkish troops either side of the zone keep watch and UN peacekeepers patrol the centre.

The Buffer Zone from the Greek side marked by painted oil barrels and observation posts.

Whilst industrial businesses operate close to the line few people live within the immediate area. Abandoned and war damaged houses are found all along the Greek side of the zone.

UN watch towers can be seen all along the buffer zone but since a decrease in hostilities not all are manned these days.

A street with shops and apartments suddenly comes to a stop by the buffer zone wall on the Turkish side.

A customer in the northern Turkish part of Cyprus enjoys a beer just meters from the buffer zone with the Ledra Street crossing seen behind. Since 2003 it has been possible for both Greeks and Turks to cross the buffer zone at designated crossing points and visit either side of the Island. Tourists can pass through after showing their passports. Either side of the buffer zone life and commerce continues as normal adding a surreal atmosphere to the place.

The buffer zone extends over 180km across the Island and whilst only a few meters apart in Nicosia it can be a few kilometers wide in other parts. Nicosia International airport was a scene of heavy fighting and was declared a United Nations Protected Area in 1974. It has remained unused since then and is now home to roosts of pigeons.

The departure lounge covered in pigeon droppings. With a thriving tourist industry the airport was modern for its time before closing during fighting in 1974.

Passport control booths remain unused since 1974.

Passport control booths remain unused since 1974.

UN peacekeepers from Slovakia maintain watch in the southern sector of the buffer zone. Whilst there is no physical barrier in this section entry is strictly prohibited without prior permission.

UN peacekeepers patrol the buffer zone in the southern sector. Farmers are allowed onto the land with prior permission. There are over 10,000 people allowed to live and work within the zone. Many tourists and hunters enter the zone illegally, mostly by mistake.

A UN peacekeeper looks out over the buffer zone towards the northern Turkish side of the Cyprus.

Borders & Barriers-Israeli Separation Barrier

Just arrived back in Jordan from  assignment in Israel and Palestine. This is the first part of a long term project about physical borders and barriers around the world that separate communities due to conflict, illegal immigration or territorial issues.

I’ll be processing and editing when I’m back in Perth so below is just a quick view of what I’ve been working on. I’ll be writing a more comprehensive report and publish a fuller story in a few weeks. I’m off to Cyprus in a few days to continue the story there so will post again when I hopefully start shooting pictures on phase two of the project.

A Palestinian woman walks past a mural of the late Yasser Arafat painted on the separation wall at the Qalandiya checkpoint near the West Bank town of Ramallah.

The separation wall which works its way into the centre of Bethlehem.

After queuing up since 4am Palestinians clamber to get into the checkpoint at Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem to get through to work in Jerusalem.

A schoolboy gets lost in the crowd as people try and push through the checkpoint in Qalandiya. The wall separated many children from their homes and schools and now have to speand hours each day going through the daunting checkpoint procedure to get to school.

A schoolboy gets lost in the crowd as people try and push through the checkpoint in Qalandiya. The wall separated many children from their homes and schools and they now have to spend hours each day going through the daunting checkpoint procedure to get to school.

As the checkpoint is finally opened at 6am, Palestinian workers surge forward, crushing everyone within the cage at Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem.

A Palestinian worker sits exhausted on a bus waiting to take him to work in Jerusalem after queueing up at Rachel's Tomb checkpoint in Bethlehem for over 3 hours from 4am.

The separation wall between Palestine and Israel in Ar Ram near Ramallah looking into the Jerusalem region of Atarot.

A farmer waits for the agricultural gate at Attil to be opened by IDF soldiers.

IDF soldiers open North Gate, an agricultural access gate on the separation barrier in the village of Jayyus. The gate is opened 3 times a day for about 30 minutes each to give farmers access to their land they have been separated from.

IDF soldiers open North Gate, an agricultural access gate on the separation barrier in the village of Jayyus. The gate is opened 3 times a day for about 30 minutes to give farmers access to their land they have been separated from. They are effectively trapped their until the soldiers turn up again to open the gate and let them back to their village.

IDF soldiers close the Attil agricultural gate in the separation barrier near the West bank town of Tulkarm. through the Separation Barrier outside the West Bank town Tulkarm. Many of the farmers have lost the majority of their land to the barrier and have to apply for permits to cross the barrier to work.

IDF soldiers close the Attil agricultural gate in the separation barrier near the West bank town of Tulkarm. Many of the farmers have lost the majority of their land to the barrier and have to apply for permits to cross the barrier to work. Permits are often refused for no reason resulting in wasted crops and income difficulties for the farmers.

Teenagers play by the separation barrier walling off Aida Refugee Camp near Bethlehem.

Protesters make their way to the separation barrier in Nil'in.

Protesters throw stones over the separation wall at Israeli soldiers who reply with volleys of tear gas and live fire during the regular Friday protest in the village of Nil'in to demonstrate against land confiscation and the separation wall running through their land.

Residents and protesters try and escape clouds of tear gas fired by IDF soldiers in the village of Nil'in whilst demonstrating against land confiscation and the separation barrier.

The separation wall between Palestine and Israel in Abu Dis near Jerusalem.

The separation wall winds its way around Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem.

Thousands of workers from the Qalqiliya area arrive before 4am to pass through the checkpoint to go to work in Israel.

An Israeli check point at Qalqiliya. Thousands of workers from the area arrive at the checkpoint before 4am to pass through the checkpoint to go to work in Israel.

An Israeli check point at Qalqiliya. Thousands of workers from the area arrive at the checkpoint before 4am to pass through the checkpoint to go to work in Israel.

Palestinian taxis, buses and cars queue up at Qalandiya checkpoint to get through to Jerusalem to work. This process can take hours with no guarantee they will be allowed through.

The separation wall and Israeli watchtower in a residential area of the West Bank town of Dahiyat near Ramallah.

A protester flies the Palestinian flag at the start of the regular protest n the village of Nil'in to demonstrate against land confiscation and the separation wall.