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.
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.
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.
It’s been a challenging, intense and thought provoking week and thoroughly worthwhile. If I ever doubted the effectiveness of photography workshops that skepticism has certainly been laid to rest. My tutor, Magnum photographer Bruno Barbey, managed in 5 days to make me completely reconsider how I shoot, edit and sequence photo stories in a very subtle way. It was an education watching him edit everyones work, showing us how just changing a few images, making each image lead and flow into each other can really make a story.
Having the opportunity to sit down and have an indepth discussion with Bruno about my portfolio was invaluable and I would have been happy if that was all I learnt from the week..!!
Would I attend another workshop..absolutely..with the right tutors. Everyone agreed it was a unique opportunity to really indulge and focus on your work, to shoot stories very different to what your used to shooting and completely absorb yourself in all things photography.
My original story idea was to report on newly arrived refugees in Perth and whilst all the agencies involved (ASeTTS, MMRC & FMCWA) were very supportive there just wasn’t enough time to arrange meetings with people and cover it in as much depth as I’d like to. I did manage to meet a number of people who were both keen to have their story heard and be photographed so this will now turn into a long term project. To keep shooting, I then decided to try out street photography and play with the amazing light. I’ve never really done this sort of work before but it was great fun and the light really is incredible in Perth.
In addition to the workshop, the main festival FotoFreo 2010 and the Fringe exhibitions were opened on Friday night so with over 100 shows to see it’s going to be another busy week. There have also been some insightful seminars about blogging, book publishing and the photojournalism/art debate. I also had a very constructive portfolio review on Monday and have made some great contacts so it’s been a very productive time. I would highly recommend visiting FotoFreo when it returns in 2012.
Below are some of the images taken during the 5 days:-
Only a week to go before I start hanging the Mongolia-Surviving the Winter exhibition as part of the FotoFreo Fringe Festival. What with the Magnum Workshop starting tomorrow and then a week of lectures, floor talks and documentaries it should be a busy but informative and very exciting few weeks. For full information about timings for the talks etc please check see the FotoFreo Programme.
Below are the flyers I’ve prepared for the exhibition and the gallery location.
HQ Gallery YMCA, 60a Frame Court, Leederville, Perth, WA Mon-Fri 9-5
Entry is free so if your in town and have time please drop by and see how these two incredible boys manage to survive.
This assignment was quite unexpected and arranged at fairly short notice which made it all the more exciting. It was also my first assignment travelling from Australia so quite unusual to be checking in at Perth airport and flying to Bangkok then Kigali rather than just going back to London and Jersey..!!
The aim of the trip was to give photographic coverage to 3 of the UK’s largest regional newspapers, the Manchester Evening News, the Liverpool Echo and the Yorkshire Post. Each had a journalist on the trip with the intention of reporting on CAFOD funded projects in Rwanda in time for fund raising events during Lent.
I’d been to Rwanda once before but only very briefly stopping overnight on the way to the Congo so it was a great opportunity to go back and have a closer look. These days, virtually everyone knows Rwanda due to the genocide back in 1994 and it was the ongoing repercussions of this horrific event our reporting was to be based on. As a bit of background, over one million ethnic Tutsi and moderate Hutus were tortured and murdered during a 100 day rampage by the Hutu dominant government and its supporters. Neighbors, friends and even family members turned on each other. Children lost their families, women were beaten, raped and saw their families cut down in front of them.
During our days there we interviewed a number of woman and orphans and they all spoke of the isolation they felt once the killing was over. With no one to turn to and no one to share their experiences with, the words, “I felt there was nothing to live for”, “I wanted to die” were repeated time and time again. With CAFOD’s support, local NGO, Avega East encouraged those with similar stories and living near each other to join together in associations. As well as providing trauma counseling on an individual and group basis, the charity provides small loans so the survivors can take control of their lives once again.
Below are a few of the pictures taken during the trip. I’ll also be posting links to the articles written by the journalists. For further information about this and the rest of CAFOD’s work please click here.
I’ve just heard some great news..!
I’ve been awarded a scholarship to attend a 5 day Magnum Workshop Fremantle which is headlining this years FotoFreo 2010: The City of Fremantle Festival of Photography. This is an incredibly exciting opportunity and really couldn’t have come at a better time in my career having just turned freelance.
I submitted the Mongolia story as part of my application but the written statements took quite some time to prepare. I’ve always been interested to know how other photographers gained grants or scholarships so I’ve copied my entry below. I’m certainly not saying this is a model application by any means but it may give other photographers an indication to what is needed. Every admission guideline and photographers history is different but hopefully this will give you an idea of what could be included in your statement.
What I have had reinforced is that you never stop learning. Moving into a freelance environment brings many new challenges from setting up your own computer system to branding and business knowledge. Then there is marketing and developing your own personal style. Each newspaper has its own house style but when you become freelance you can really start putting your own signature to your work that evolves over the years. The Magnum course will give me the opportunity to concentrate my mind and give me more focus and direction which is invaluable.
I’ll keep you posted with any new updates….
How will this opportunity benefit your career ?
This course starts just at the time of an exciting and major changing point in my photojournalism career. I have recently left my job of 8 years with a UK newspaper and I am about to embark on a freelance career, which I hope will bring greater freedom, creativity and meaning to my work. I am also about to undertake my first long term project. The opportunity this course offers to receive guidance and advice about the dynamics, evolution and creative changes of how a long term project evolves would be invaluable to me.
I thoroughly enjoyed and learnt a great deal working for the Jersey Evening Post, however my true passion is documentary photography and reporting on humanitarian issues. During my time at the paper I used all my holiday time and unpaid leave to go on self assigned and commissioned projects.
Whilst I have had a very positive response to my work and received a number of accolades I feel I have much more potential to fill. My commitment to photojournalism is as strong as the day I started and I believe I would greatly benefit from receiving advice about refining my style, being taught stronger editing skills and having the opportunity to learn new camera and technical skills.
The chance to interact with such established photographers, seeing and learning how they work, operate and conduct themselves would be invaluable as well as being able to discuss and debate contemporary photography practice with other photographers.
This would be my first formal training environment since leaving university and I would relish the intensity and opportunity that this course offers.
Once again, it’s been awhile but believe me, behind the scenes I’ve been very busy..!!
I haven’t actually shot many pictures which is a bit frustrating but as many of you know, a lot of time is spent sorting out computer systems, archives, marketing, research and everything else that goes into creating a new business and organising foreign assignments so thankfully getting out there and doing what you are supposed to and love doing is just around the corner.
Good progress is being made and I’ll hopefully be posting about some very exciting new projects coming up in the near future so watch this space…!!
As for now, I thought I’d let you know that an image from a shoot I did last year for Rotary Jersey has been awarded Nominee status in the 5th Annual black and White Spider Awards. I’m certainly more of a color shooter and this was my first black and white project I’ve shot in quite some time so it was a pleasant surprise for it to be recognised. The picture was part of a series I did at Jaipur Foot in India. You can see the whole series and text here but basically Jaipur Foot is an incredibly inspiring Ngo set up by the highly energetic and dedicated D.R Mehta. Every day, hundred of people from all over India travel to Jaipur to receive artificial limbs and polio survivors are given tricycles or calipers. All of these services are given for free and it’s literally a lifeline for thousands of Indians who from here can start making a life for themselves with their new found mobility. I only had two days there after shooting the polio eradication story but found the atmosphere positively infectious. In a matter of hours you saw peoples lives transformed.
The image below was shot in the fitting centre where people wait for the limbs to be made. The guy on the left lost his leg in a train accident (most amputations are caused by train incidents) and on the right is an army officer with his new artificial limb next to him. What I liked is the fact all limbs and fittings are completed in an open room so patients can see exactly what is happening. You can see on their faces they are apprehensive but by having everything open the whole process is hopefully demystified.
I’ve just found out the Mongolia project has been chosen as a finalist in the Luis Valtuena Fotografia Humanitaria competition in Spain which is great news as the subject will again receive wider awareness. The winning images are to be exhibited in Spain and around Europe. The aim of the competition is stated below and one of the main reasons for me entering:
“In these thirteen editions, the award has become a reference for humanitarian photography and its role in bringing a reality, sometimes hopeful, sometimes frightening, but to which one can not remain indifferent.”
The selected final images are, as always, of a very high standard. It is interesting to note maybe that the vast majority of images are either black and white or desaturated images..maybe this is what the majority of entrants submitted or it reflects the preference of the judges or maybe an indication of what Spanish photojournalism prefers..?
The winning images can be viewed here www.medicosdelmundo.org/luisvaltuena
It’s been just over two months since I last blogged..seems like 5 minutes but much has happened inbetween. Terese and I finally made it to Australia after a hectic last month in Jersey preparing to leave . Thankfully all my computer equipment, hard drives, books and everything else a photographer needs to work with turned up intact in Perth just after we arrived which was a great relief..! The only problem I had was my body armour has been seized by Australian customs who have become all excited over it. Still negotiating this a month later so any suggestions welcome..!!
This will be a short post as I’m currently in Koh Chang, Thailand on a supposed very late honeymoon (1 year late actually..!) We’ve spent the last 5 weeks travelling through Laos, Cambodia and Thailand which has been great fun and just what we needed to relax after the last year. I only brought my 5D with a 24mm lense which I’ve hardly used so most of the pics below are shot on an old Canon G9 which is still a great little snappy camera..(will buy the G11 if I ever start work again..!) They are just snappy pics but Laos is such an amazing country you don’t have to work to hard to get nice pics…
Will update some more a bit later but this really is downtime so don’t expect much..what can you shoot on a beautiful Thai beach anyway..!!
It’s been a while since the last post but a lot has been happening….
By far the most important and certainly the most exciting is I took voluntary redundancy from the Jersey Evening Post and I’ll be emigrating to Perth in Western Australia in about 5 weeks..!!
It was a tough decision leaving a fantastic full time newspaper job (during a recession..!!) but the time was right and my wife Terese was keen to return home. It’s going to be a steep learning curve setting up a new photography business and all the hassles of being freelance but it will be a great challenge and hopefully rewarding.
The plan is to concentrate on my foreign assignments and humanitarian work over the next few years and also make contact with the various newspapers over there..I’m still very much a newspaper photographer at heart..!
The last 8 years at the JEP have been amazing. I was incredibly fortunate to be offered the job in the first place. There is very little movement in the department so when a position comes up it is always hotly contested. I had little experience then but bags of energy and enthusiasm which sometimes counts for a lot. I’ve leant an enormous amount and the opportunity to work on foreign assignments as well as the day to day work was great.
I’ll miss the crack with the other guys who are a great bunch and it has been a real privilege to be part of that. The last few weeks where typically busy and varied so below are some of jobs I did…
I’ll keep you updated with any more news but for now it will be the occasional freelance job and lots of packing..!!..
There was an awards night in London last night which unfortunetly I couldn’t go to because I was on shift but it would have been great to be there.
If you look at the Mongolia link on this blog you can see how the image came about earlier this January and below is an extract from the AOP’s press release:-
“The judges were fascinated by the story behind Richard’s image and commented:
“For me, this ticks all the boxes – emotive subject, great composition and a strong image. It really leaves an impression.”
Deborah Brown (Picture Director) – Grazia Magazine
“Like an urban, nature shot that replaces animals with people – they look like human moles coming up for air. I love what appears to be the spontaneity of this image. And for me, it completely sums up the competition.”
Olivia Howitt (Picture Desk) – Radio Times”
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.”
This was a very personal project for me so I’m happy that it’s been recognised by a wider audience and hopefully through this competition more people will have an understanding of what many children are experiencing in Mongolia.
If you are interested in this subject, please have a look at this aid agency in Ulaan Baatar who I met and who are doing a great job trying to help people just like Munkhbat and Altangeret. The Christina Noble Children’s Foundation.