Category Archive: diversity

Photojournalist Camille Lepage Killed in Central African Republic

Camille Lepage, a 26-year old French photojournalist, has died in Central African Republic. The Guardian reports that French President Hollande has said “all necessary means will be deployed to shine light on the circumstances of this assassination and find the killers of our compatriot.”

Camille Lepage leaving a fishing village on the Nile River near Terekeka, South Sudan in September 2012. Photo by Matt Lutton.

I don’t have much to say right now. So read Nicholas Kulish piece on the New York Times’ Lens Blog: “Bearing Witness, Losing Her Life”. He describes how he came to meet Lepage in Juba, South Sudan. I had a very similar experience, and we were both left impressed by this young journalist.

We at dvafoto have known Camille for a couple of years and have been following her work and career closely. We published an interview with her in March 2013, “Notes from the Field: Camille Lepage in South Sudan”. We talked about her decision to move to South Sudan straight from journalism school in England and her motivation to cover seemingly unknown conflicts and the struggles of trying to get those stories published. I urge you to have a look at this interview to learn more about Lepage and see a gallery of her work.

Camille was a hardworking and ambitious young journalist already producing quality stories that hadn’t yet found a wide audience. She was working to bring these stories to more people’s attention. Her future was very bright, and we at dvafoto are extremely saddened by this news.

We will update this story as more information becomes available.

SEE New Perspectives Masterclass

In 2010, fifteen young South-East European photographers and three masters met in Berlin for the SEE New Perspectives masterclass, organized by World Press Photo and Robert Bosch Stiftung. After the first meeting in Berlin all of the photographers were given a grant to photograph a story within the region but outside of their home country.

The resulting projects are now being exhibited in Belgrade, Serbia (on display until December 14 at the ARTGET gallery on Trg Republike) after debuting in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in October. The show will soon move to Zagreb, Croatia and Berlin, Germany. The exhibition features an interesting concept of displaying oversized “magazines” each devoted to one photographer’s project, with only one image from each project along with the photographer’s name on the wall.

You can see all of the stories produced in the masterclass on the SEE New Perspectives website as well as more information about the organization of the project.

The photographers are:
Andrei Pungovschi, Romania
Armend Nimani, Kosovo
Bevis Fusha, Albania
Dženat Dreković, Serbia
Eugenia Maximova, Bulgaria
Ferdi Limani, Kosovo
Jasmin Brutus, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Jetmir Idrizi, Kosovo
Marko Risović, Serbia
Nemanja Pančić, Serbia
Octav Ganea, Romania
Petrut Calinescu, Romania
Sanja Jovanović (née Knežević), Serbia
Tomislav Georgiev, Macedonia
Vesselina Nikolaeva, Bulgaria

And the Tutors are:
Regina Anzenberger, Austria, artist, curator, photographer’s agent, gallerist
Silvia Omedes, Spain, president at Photographic Social Vision Foundation
Donald Weber, Canada, photographer VII Agency

I asked my old friend Jasmin Brutus, a Bosnian photographer who was part of the masterclass, to paraphrase the statement he gave at the Sarajevo opening which expresses his feelings about the years-long masterclass project: “We [the participating photographers] all returned with nice small toolbox which our employers will never know how to utilize. So, I think experience in the masterclass is very useful for my personal projects and for my job is almost useless. I gained new skills and my old skills got enhanced. But, for me the most important thing is that I met a group of really great people and great photographers.”

Congratulations to my friends from around the region who were able to take part in this interesting project and many of whom were able to produce terrific photo stories that may otherwise never have seen light or been published. I encourage you to explore the work published on the SEE New Perspectives site or peruse the photographers’ own websites linked above.

The video below features interviews with all of the photographers about their work and experience in the masterclass:

SEE New Perspectives from Balkan Photographers from World Press Photo on Vimeo.

Dirty Season: a group project by new Serbian photojournalism collective Kamerades

Kamerades is a new collective of photojournalists based in Belgrade who have come together to help develop independent photography in Serbia and to work on group projects documenting contemporary stories. They are currently working together to photograph the Serbian presidential and parliamentary elections, which will take place on Sunday May 6, 2012. These six photographers are contributing their own hard-edged and sardonic vision of the Serbian electoral process and how it reflects Serbian society. They call the project “Dirty Season”.

I think it is an important step for this group and Serbian photography in general to work on such collective projects, with financial support, and to have a community of like-minded photographers working together to get photographs published in their own voice. It is not easy, especially not here, but I admire their energy and efforts. With this in mind I had a few questions for the Kamerades crew about their formation and backgrounds. Given the timeliness of their new project with the elections this week, I chose not to show a portfolio of their work but this current electoral group project which I am so excited about. It is an incredible portrait of Serbia during this election cycle.

Kamerades is Saša Čolić, Nemanja Jovanović, Milovan Milenković, Nemanja Pančić, Marko Risović and Marko Rupena. As a group they regularly post to the Kamerades Blog including updates to the Election story, which they present without captions or credits.

So how did this group of photographers come together? Where did you meet?

Jovanovic: Marko Risovic, Milovan Milenkovic and I participated in a photography lecture supported by World Press Photo back in 2009. That was the first time that we showed some of our work to a group of people larger than three. I was swept by Marko [Risovic]’s Legionnaire story for example and one thing led to another. Milovan suggested that we meet and talk about doing “something” for Serbian photography, even if it means taking only baby steps. After two years of meeting in various pubs and places that would be too generous to call restaurants, speaking and inviting over 20 people to join us, this is what came out of it.

Pancic: Milovan Milenkovic and Nemanja Jovanovic initiated the idea that after our work when we have free time, we can meet at the pub and discuss our work. At first point it brought together a large number of photographers, but over the time there were six of us remained and those were the most persistent ones. During this period, which lasted some two years, we have become a collective. It’s started to affect in a positive way to all of us as photographers, but we also became close friends. In the end we decided to launch a website that allowed us to show our work to the public.

What backgrounds as photographers do you have? Freelance, agencies, newspapers?

Jovanovic: Probably every possible background you can think of! In Serbia, you don’t get a paycheck doing and specializing in only one kind of photography.

Risovic: All of the guys in Kamerades collective were working for Media outlets at some point. At the moment few of us are trying to freelance. In Serbia. Can you imagine?

Pancic: Some of us are working in the agencies, some try to be freelancers, and some in the press.

Was there a moment when this group came together and decided that it was time to work collectively? What was it? What gave you guys the idea to work together?

Jovanovic: Yes. The idea was not so clear in the beginning, but it was there all along. From start we were determined to “push each other forward” and to try to do what we like for no other reason. No money, no awards, fame or glory were important, only escaping our everyday routine which included participating in the inevitable decline of journalism, photojournalism and photography in Serbia. The collective came as a logical solution.

Risovic: Being colleagues, working next to each other for years, we were silent witnesses of degradation of photojournalism in Serbia. We realized that sitting and despairing doesn’t lead us anywhere. So, we decided to pursue some action, and besides hanging around, talking and drinking in the pubs, we tried to be constructive. As Nemanja said before, it was a process, but it was clear from the very beginning that we all have common goal.

How did the website come together? What are you hoping to accomplish with the website (that is, to sell work? to share pictures? promoting yourselves, promoting Serbia, just looking bad-ass, etc.)? Where did the design and logo come from?

Jovanovic: It took some time. We are not experienced in that kind of stuff, so we were learning the basics, step by step. We were lucky enough to be 6 people with completely different interests, knowledge, personalities, approach in photography, but we somehow clicked perfectly together, and it resulted in the fact everybody got their part of job. Mostly Sasha who whipped and pissed off rest of us (or, took the piss out of the rest of us), and Milovan who did logo and design details after approximately nine million e-mails and discussions about the same issue. Also, we had a lot of help from friends, like our colleague Darko Stanimirovic who did the website. A lot of people gave different advices, Matt Lutton among them [ed: happy to help guys!], Donald Weber from VII agency and our friends photographers, designers and editors from Serbia and abroad.

Selling our work is every photographer’s job of course, but with this portfolio we mostly seek attention and hope to sell something in the future, maybe to get some assignments that would suit our style/wishes. And looking cool is one of the goals, of course! We are pretty much terrible musicians and we couldn’t be rock stars, so we took cameras. Chicks love it!

Pancic: As I said before, the website has come as a result of our meetings during the past two years. One idea that keeps us together is that we want to show our work to world around us, we believe that as a collective we have a better chance to get more publicity and through joint actions provide us new projects. Logo design came from a smart push by Milovan Milenkovic, multitalented and good looking guy.

Risovic: Basic thing that bothered us from the beginning was the fact that when you simply google documentary photography and Serbia together, you don’t get any of the serious websites with representative work. There are great documentary photographers and photojournalists in Serbia. Believe us! We hope to change this with our website. And to look badass, it goes well with the fame.
Read on »

On gender and photojournalism: a response to Paul Melcher by Melissa Golden

“It took me too long to figure out that drinking massive amounts of alcohol and putting up with sexual harassment were not tests I had to pass to join the club. I now know it took me so long because I didn’t have a strong, senior female photographer or editor willing to take me in and tell me that ‘there’s another, better way.’” -Melissa Golden

Earlier this week, Paul Melcher, best known to me from the usually level-headed Melcher System blog, posted an article on the Black Star Rising blog, Why Is a Photojournalist’s Gender Relevant to Their Work?, dismissive of exhibitions, collectives, and professional organizations that are focused on women photographers. Thankfully, there was immediate backlash against Melcher’s post. A facebook post from Melissa Golden initially drew me to Melcher’s article, and I asked if she’d be willing to expand her thoughts a bit more. I’m glad she did; I knew from her history that she would have a valuable perspective on the importance of women’s photographer organizations, and I think this perspective can easily apply to other minority-focused organizations and exhibitions. Diversity among the ranks of photographers, editors, and anyone else involved in photography, will only make our craft stronger and more relevant to the public. This is a guest post by Golden, a photojournalist based in Los Angeles. If you don’t already know her work, you need to.

Paul Melcher recently posted a piece on the Black Star Rising blog, raising the question of why a photojournalists’ gender is important to his or her work. It’s not, Paul- except when it is.

On the plus side, I possess a number of advantages over my male counterparts. I can photograph children in a park without adults immediately suspecting I may be a sex offender, I can take pictures of women in cultures where a male photographer would be forbidden, and (I suspect) editors are more likely to hire me to shoot sensitive subjects like victims of sexual violence.. Conversely, I have to put up with some pretty ridiculous things that men do not. I’ve been sexually harassed by colleagues and subjects. I’ve been discriminated against by paternalistic editors who have feared for my safety in the field because of my gender. A fixer I once hired overseas paraded me around his village like a trophy and spent much of our time together propositioning me. I shot nothing useable in that time and I know for a fact this is not an unusual story for women photojournalists working abroad. I know of one colleague whose fixer even arranged to have her arrested after she spurned his advances.

Mr. Melcher misses the mark when he asks what gender has to do with the photojournalistic process. I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that his post is attempting to say that photojournalism transcends gender, and gender should not be relevant. I think he meant that in the best possible way, but saying that is like saying we’ve transcended race in America. I don’t live in a fantasyland where racism doesn’t exist and I certainly don’t live in a society absent of sexism. Sometimes gender has nothing to do with the photojournalistic process, sure, but sometimes it has everything to do with it.

I joined the Women Photojournalists of Washington (WPOW) when I moved to DC in the summer of 2007. I had just begun my freelance career after leaving newspapers and the nascent organization looked like it could provide some good networking opportunities. I wasn’t interested in female camaraderie or girl talk or anything of the sort. I wanted work and I was willing to mask my general disdain for other women to go forth and make nice.
Read on »

Alec and Carmen Soth at the Brighton Biennial

Alex Soth was commissioned to produce work for this fall’s Martin Parr-curated Brighton Photo Biennial but was denied permission to work in the UK by customs officials. The Guardian has the rest of the tale and Soth’s inventive way around the restrictions: curating a show of his seven-year-old daughter’s photographs of Brighton. Cool!

Father and daughter strolled around the town for a few hours each day. “For the first couple of days, I didn’t say much, I just watched her point at this and that,” says Soth. Carmen photographed rubbish on the beach, other pedestrians, postcards on racks and the ground, often with her own sparkly red shoes in shot. But after a while, she ran out of steam. So she and Soth decided on certain subjects to look for, among them pushchairs and balloons, and the project started to take shape.

“I liked photographing dogs best of all,” says Carmen. “I preferred garbage to people, but Dad said I should photograph them. Sometimes it was hard as they were walking quite fast.”

(c) Alec and Carmen Soth

(c) Alec and Carmen Soth

IM Magazine launches, featuring young and emerging female photographers

IM Magazine - featuring young and emerging female photographers

IM Magazine - featuring young and emerging female photographers

IM Magazine is being created in order to extend Inge Morath’s legacy of encouragement to more of the many talented young photographers who apply each year for the Inge Morath Award. Beginning in fall 2010, IM Magazine will present monthly, web-based presentations of notable projects by Inge Morath Award winners and finalists, as well as by invited applicants for the Award.

The Inge Morath Foundation has just unveiled IM Magazine, an online publication that will feature new work by young and emerging female photographers. The schedule of work to be published on the site is promising. This is a great step towards a more diverse photographic community.

Introducing Belgrade Raw

A couple of months ago my friend Darko Stanimirović in Belgrade mentioned that he was hoping to organize some of his friends in town to create a Serbian street photography collective of sorts. Over the following weeks the groundwork for Belgrade Raw was developed through memorable nights full of Montenegrin wine and impassioned debates. I’m proud to present my friends’ efforts here and invite you to see some awesome work by six Belgrade photographers. I invited Darko to answer a few questions about the project:

From Andrej Filev's 'Stolen Portraits'

From Andrej Filev's 'Stolen Portraits'

What is Raw all about, who is involved, how do you know each other?
Well, one day I realized there are a couple of really good freelance street photographers in Belgrade. I especially admired how they capture those ordinary-extraordinary moments of Belgrade life. And they didn’t really care about using old films or front flash. I liked that rawness, it was way more honest and interesting than any boring touristic picture we can see all around. Not just in tourist guides, but basically everywhere – night-life/news magazines, websites, photo galleries etc. We’re all either Belgrade-born or we’ve been living here for long enough to know it shows nothing about Belgrade, but it’s all anyone can really get. So we’re here to try to change it, to show all those small & big things no one wants to publish, but things that really make this city.

We know each other mostly over some Internet forums and Flickr pools. One night in a park, drinking cheap but fine wine, I proposed this idea of a website that would showcase portfolios of some interesting Belgrade-based street photographers to Luka-Strika, one of our photographers. Over next few nights I designed simple layout and coded it in WordPress. In some three weeks the whole crew was gathered and voila! It’s cool how everything was brought to life really quickly.
From Zeljko Naic's 'Fotobus'

From Zeljko Naic's 'Fotobus'

Why does the city and photo community need this group?
It’s not just that we as photographers “see” other side of our city. There is a whole community of people who’d love to see something really different and “honest”, without that ugly touristic taste in it. And I’m talking about both people living in Belgrade/Serbia and foreigners. You can learn much more about a city by looking at works of it’s street photographers, than looking at tourist guides or surfing the promo websites. And for the photographers themselves, Belgrade Raw is important because it gives them a context in which to work. It’s always easier to “fill-in” when you have that framework.

What is it about Belgrade that you are focusing on?
It’s hard to tell exactly what we focus on. In a joke, we usually say “that’s something for newspapers, not for Belgrade Raw.” That means we also publish photos which probably wouldn’t be published in traditional sensationalistic media. We like normal, ordinary people, personal stories and interpretations. Someone would think the city is too small for such a “focused” project, but it’s not. In fact, it’s incredible how many big and little stories are still waiting to be covered, while there are so many local newspapers, magazines, TV stations, websites…
Luka Knezevic-Strika's 'Migrations'

Luka Knezevic-Strika's 'Migrations'

Why street photography? Why this manner of photographing Belgrade?
Street photography is a concept that perfectly matches our idea of showing our own, honest view of Belgrade, because it involves photographers who “wander” all around, by day or night, covering everything that seems interesting or important. It’s the opposite of “beautiful sunny day panorama of Belgrade, commissioned by…” Also, street photographers are often freelancers, so you kinda get that true personal view. Speaking of Raw, we don’t care if a photograph was created using a cellphone camera, compact, film or digital. Prime or plastic lens. All we care about is strong personal storytelling. And if you look at the whole “industry” of documentary photography, that’s more or less the direction it takes.

Darko Stanimirovic's 'Luna'

Darko Stanimirovic's 'Luna'

What is next?
We’ve only just begun, but we do have plenty of ideas. Right now, it’s important for us to continue photographing our city, there’s so much more to show. But in the same time, we make plans for print too. We would also love to make some kind of cooperation with other photo-collectives, especially with those in the neighboring countries. There are also plans for guest photographers, so we’re not being limited to “Belgrade-born” or “Serbian” or such. (ed: check out the recap of a workshop with Donald Weber in Belgrade that members of Raw attended, and helped support, for an example of where this project might continue to grow).
Milovan Milenković's 'Biden meets Belgrade'

Milovan Milenković's 'Biden meets Belgrade'

And how does this reflect Belgrade/Serbia/Serbs?
For starters, we’re avoiding traditional cliches. But not the other extreme either (“we’re all beautiful, peaceful, awesome people”), so we’re trying to find the right balance. No, we’re not trying actually. We don’t even think about it much, I guess it just comes naturally. But about some other, deeper sync with Serbia/Serbs in general, we’ll have to wait.

'Wind' by Nemanja Knezevic

'Wind' by Nemanja Knezevic

The site is still developing and new projects are uploaded every week. One of my personal favorite series, and which sums up the Raw project so well, is “Wind” by Nemanja Knežević. A fresh, personal view of the city that is completely honest, and confounding to much of Serbia’s reputation. Great to see photographers, under their own motivation, creating their own work under their own voice, and finding ways to get it seen on their terms. I’m looking forward to spending more time with this crew when I’m back in Belgrade and maybe producing my own street work from town.
You can, and should, also follow these guys via Belgrade Raw’s Blog, their Flickr Feed, Twitter or become the 521st fan of theirs on Facebook.

Joseph Rodriguez: Social Worker with a Camera

The New York Times Lens Blog posted a short video/slideshow/interview with the photographer Joseph Rodriguez a couple of days ago, and it is a must see. Scott and I worked with Rodriguez’s pictures as interns at Black Star and we were colleagues at the short-lived Anarchy Images agency, and seeing his archive and way of working up close left an impact on me. Rodriguez is a true in-the-trenches photographer, working hard on his own ideas and not seeking exposure for himself, just the people he photographs. He is not flashy, he is the opposite of who Christopher Anderson called out in his (controversial) recent remarks. This piece holds several revelations about who Rodriguez is and how and why he photographs.
The article mentions the final installment of a three-part book series, along with the tomes “East Side Stories” about gangs in East L.A. and “Juvenile” a profile about youth in prisons: “Reentry” (see ‘recent work’ on his website), is about the men and women returning to society after time in prison. Important work that no one is doing, or doing as well.

He is also photographing the current economic crises in the United States and I cannot wait to see more of it. He is a perfect photographer for this story.

Update: conversation on race, diversity, and photography

There have been two prevailing attitudes toward the proposed conference/symposium dealing with issues of race and diversity in photography:

a) That it is absolutely necessary & b) It is a terrifying prospect.

The first point speaks for itself, and the second point becomes clear when one considers the kerfuffles, misunderstanding and (dare I say it) vitriol that has accompanied much online discussion.” -Prison Photography

Following up on earlier talk of a conference on race and photography, Pete Brook has spearheaded the effort to create an online symposium covering the subject, and the momentum is building. A great mix of potential contributors have already responded positively to the idea, and the work behind the scenes is moving quickly. Read about what we have up our sleeves over at Prison Photography. And get involved!