Tag Archives: documentary photography

A Day in the World…

In that wonderful way that the internet has of making and re-making connections, I recently linked up with the Swedish photographer, Rolf Adlercreutz. I knew Rolf when we worked together on Fleet Street in the late 60s.Last week he contacted me to ask whether I would consider becoming a “connector” in a project he is involved in called, “A Day in the World”. Ever the enthusiast for projects that link people through photography, I was delighted to become a part of the project.

So what is Day in the World? As the website explains:

Capture daily life on May 15th 2012

On this one single day we ask you to pick up your camera and help us photograph daily life. What is close to you? What matters to you? We will connect your images to those of millions of others around the world, creating a unique online experience where photographs will be shared, compared and explored. Your view on life will be preserved to inspire generations to come.

But why?

Our mission is to use the power of photography to create, share and inspire perspectives on daily life – today and tomorrow.

And who are you?

This project is initiated by the Swedish non-profit foundation Expressions of Humankind and supported by a highly respected global advisory council and a special scientific council.

Who can join?

Professionals, amateurs, school children, farmers, social media fans, astronauts, office workers and you. Cell phone camera, Hasselblad, home made or borrowed. We are looking for the perspective of everyone who enjoys photography.

What will happen to the photos?

All images will be displayed online for you and everyone to explore. Some of them will be selected for a book, A Day In the World, to be published in November 2012, others shown in digital exhibitions. Every single one will be saved for future research and inspiration. The photos will never be used for commercial purposes. They will always be treated with care and respect. Should your photo be selected to feature in a book, we will try to contact you beforehand.

Why should I join?

Because you love photography. Because you have something to say. Because your life matters. Because the idea of doing something together with millions of others is thrilling. Because you like the thought of saving a little something of yourself for generations to come. Because your take on daily life is part of a much bigger picture.

To find out more about this exciting project, go here: www.aday.org

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Filed under art, documentary photography, News, Photographer, Photography, Photojournalism

Is this the new wave of photojournalism?

This morning, I came across Michael Yon’s online magazine with his reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan. Spent a mesmerising hour reading his reports from the frontline and trying to analyse whether this fascinating combination of self-published, online words and pictures is the way photojournalism has to go in order to survive. His work is supported by reader donation.

Apart from the independent entrepreneurial approach, I think the most fascinating aspect of his work is that it puts a human face to these conflicts and tries to get beneath the surface of the shooting war with the kind of honesty that would be impossible for an embedded photojournalist working for a major publication.

Of his motivation, Yon says, “I was in the Army some years ago and maintained close contact with many friends who made a career of military service. Naturally, I had an interest in what was happening in Iraq–I had friends in harm’s way. But what spurred me to drop what I was doing, get on a plane and fly halfway around the world, to a war zone, was a growing sense that what I was seeing reported on television, as well as in newspapers and magazines, was inconsistent with the reality my friends were describing. I wanted to see the truth, first hand, for myself.”

Take a look. And if at all possible support modern independent photojournalism…



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Filed under Autobiography, documentary photography, News, Photographer, Photography, Photojournalism

Australian government publishes up-skirt photos…

Through regulation, restriction, misguided legislation and baseless fear, the documentary photographer’s world is shrinking apace. Corporations and government instrumentalities have commodified our landscape in ways that make spontaneous photography in many precincts illegal.

National parks, beaches, shopping centres, rock concerts, railway stations, airports and schools are all off-limits for a variety of reasons, some of which I have touched on elsewhere (Uluru and photography restrictions…). Throw in an ill-informed public, uneducated security guards and police misquoting half understood laws and no photographer today raises his or her camera without a sense of unease.

Which makes the publication of these photos in 1991 by Australia Post, as part of an issue of five stamps, to celebrate 150 years of photography, all the more ironic.

Bondi Beach, 1939 photo by Max Dupain

Bondi Beach, 1939 photo by Max Dupain

The beach photograph by Max Dupain epitomises the Australian beach lifestyle. It rightly occupies a place of honour in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria. But can you imagine shooting something like this today without being pounced on by over-zealous beach inspectors or the police being called?

In 2006 Max’s son Rex was detained and threatened with arrest for shooting pictures on Bondi Beach. http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,20895457-2,00.html

The Wheel of Youth, 1929 by Harold Cazneaux

The Wheel of Youth, 1929 by Harold Cazneaux

Crouching down low to capture the curving energetic sweep of The Wheel of Youth, as he did in 1929 at Dee Why, would almost guarantee Harold Cazneaux’s arrest if he was making that picture today. After all there are children in the frame. The pedophile alarm bells would be ringing loudly.

The reality is, that no photographer in 2009 could expect to make pictures like this and not be challenged. But were times so very different? I’d be interested in your thoughts…

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Filed under art, Australian, Opinion, Photographer, Photographers' rights, Photography, Photojournalism, Rob Walls

Walking the fine line…the photography of Roger Ballen

I don’t think I’ve ever had a more difficult time trying to define where a photographer falls in the spectrum of photography than I have in viewing the work of Roger Ballen. His photos from Plattelands his 1994 book on the poverty stricken townships that surround Johannesburg, seem at first glance to fall firmly into the photojournalism camp, but one can’t help making comparisons with Diane Arbus here. While there is a continuity, his later work enters the realm of the surreal. It’s a fine line between documentation and art, but Ballen handles this delicate balancing act with unbelievable agility.

Of photography, he says, “The problem with photography is the mechnics are too easy. Everybody can buy a camera, everybody can take a photo. In fact, photography is a difficult art form to achieve anything with, because there are trillions or billions of images floating a round and you have to create a vision that separates itself from that, and that’s a big job. I tell you it’s not easy.”

If you’ve got an hour to spare, I recommend you take a journey through the pictures of Roger Ballen here. They are absolutely compelling .

Birdwoman from Shadow Chamber, 2003

Birdwoman from Shadow Chamber, 2003

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Filed under art, Photographer, Photography, portraits

The salvage of flight 1549 by Stephen Mallon

An absolutely fascinating series of pictures by Stephen Mallon of the salvage of Flight 1549 from the Hudson River. The kind of industrial shoot that many photographers would give their eye-teeth to do. 

I find there’s something strangely archeological about the pictures, even though the plane went down only a few months ago. Stephen’s documentation is wonderfully comprehensive, from portraits of the workers through to the fuselage being transported through the city. The juxtaposition of a a large, relatively intact, passenger aircraft body in an urban setting is unreal. To see Stephen’s pictures go here.

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Filed under Photographer, Photography, Photojournalism