Tag Archive: death
“A recently married bride wanted to be photographed one more time in her wedding dress. The photo shoot on Friday wound up killing her.” -The Globe and Mail, Newlywed bride drowns, wanted one last photograph in wedding dress
Trash the Dress shoots after weddings have been popular for the last decade or so (google image search with examples), but one such photo shoot recently ended in the death of the bride. A newly-married bride was standing in a river in Rawdon, Quebec, Canada, when her wedding dress began absorbing water. The weight was too much and she slipped on rocks in the water. The photographer and two police officers tried to save the woman, but she disappeared in a stagnant section of the water downstream. Police later explained that though the current was not very strong nor the water very deep, the soaked dress became too much for the woman and dragged her underwater.
Worth a look again: Paula Lerner’s “Behind the Veil: An Intimate Into the Lives of Kandahar’s Women”Mar 13, 2012 by M. Scott Brauer 1 Comment »
Paula Lerner‘s death last week came as a shock. At 52, Lerner succumbed to breast cancer, leaving behind a legacy of strong photojournalism and long-reaching influence throughout the photojournalism community. Working with the photography business advocacy group Editorial Photographers, Lerner helped negotiate magazine contracts that paved the way toward fair pay and copyright protections for freelancers. With the non-profit Bpeace, she helped startups in conflict areas provide local jobs as a means toward reaching peace. I never met Lerner, but knew many who did. She was a strong force in photojournalism–we’ve all benefited from her efforts to guide the business of photography–and she will be missed.
One of her most significant achievements is Behind the Veil: An Intimate Into the Lives of Kandahar’s Women, a look at the lives of women in Afghanistan. The work earned Lerner and the rest of the reporting team at the Globe and Mail an Emmy. Vital and in-depth, it addresses an issue that’s frustratingly under-reported and treats its subjects with dignity and humanity. We need more photojournalism like this. Spend a few minutes watching (or re-watching) Behind the Veil.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has released their annual report on journalists killed due to their jobs. In 2010, 44 journalists were killed in situations confirmed to be directly related to their job, what CPJ terms “motive confirmed.” Another 4 media workers (people in roles supporting journalists, such as translators, guards, or administrative workers) were killed in 2010, and 29 journalists were killed in ways that may or may not have been related to their jobs. Of the 44 motive-confirmed deaths, 3 were photographers. Other interesting numbers: 89% of motive-confirmed deaths were local reporters, as opposed to foreign correspondents; 61% were considered murders, compared to 14% being combat-related deaths; 96% of the murders had complete impunity, while only 4% received partial justice. Interestingly, while online journalists have been jailed more frequently than print journalists in recent years, 41% of the deaths in 2010 were print journalists, compared with only 14% of the deaths involved internet journalists.
For comparison, here’s the 2009 report.
WTJ pointed me toward the beautiful and moving site Days With My Father produced by Phillip Toledano. He documented, with touching pictures and words, the last years of his father’s life. This past week his father Edward passed away at the age of 99.
A lot of people have documented their families, even in end times, and I think it is hard to get that balance of producing something that matters to the family and photographer as well as has worth to the outside world. Some photographers that come to mind are Eugene Richards, who photographed his parents (included in the book The Fat Baby) and his first wife’s passing (in Exploding into Life), Sally Mann on another plane, and Larry Towell’s book The World from My Front Porch documenting his family’s life on their farm in Canada.
These are just projects that have stuck in my mind, I know I’ve seen many others. Some of which are great, others that should just be kept in family photo albums. The ones I linked to are beautiful and important in their own right, but Toledano’s work has jumped out on a different level for me. What about for you all? Are there other projects you have seen, in this vein, that have affected you?
It is comforting to hear that the Toledanos reached this end on their terms: “I feel lucky to have had these last three years. To have left nothing unsaid.” That’s tremendous. I lost my father at the age of 10 to cancer, and we did have a time to say goodbye. I wish we could have known enough about that moment to say more, to know more, about what he meant to me and how he would influence my life. Not being able to share that, and not being able to capture those feelings in pictures – one of my most important ways of understanding the world – is a regret that I can do nothing about. It wasn’t time yet. I don’t think I even took a picture of my dad. Maybe that is why this project hits me so hard; it is a project I wish I could have done in a very real way. So thank you to Phillip for taking these pictures, recording these words and then sharing it so eloquently on this website. It means a lot.
State of the Art has an interesting post about a conference on the last day of the Peripignan festival this year, during which the above photograph was discussed (first brought to my attention via The Click, and then elsewhere). The image depicts a pack of foreign and local media photographing a seriously injured man during xenophobic clashes in Johannesburg. The discussion between the photographer, Kim Ludbrook, EPA editor Maria Mann, Visa pour L’image founder Jean-Francois Leroy, and AP photographer Jerôme Delay, highlights both the queasiness that the image might cause and why such discomfort might be unfounded.
Only a small portion of the dialog is excerpted at State of the Art, but it’s a valuable debate. “I felt that we really were behaving as a pack of war paparazzi,” said Ludbrook, “It’s my country, and I was very upset about seeing what I had seen. This debate started with Jerôme in Johannesburg. As a viewer one would start to ask questions. But I’m saying it’s a good debate to start. That day I was embarrassed to be a photojournalist. In this picture of a wounded man, we’re all standing to one side; we are creating a reality.” And on the surface, that’s what the image portrays: a pack of vultures preying on an injured man to fill news holes and awards mantles. Ludbrook was right to take the picture, and EPA was right to send the picture out on the wire.
Alex Webb’s fantastic pictures from the 1994 US invasion of Haiti, in part, take a similar stance one step back behind the media. Two aspects of war photography make it an ugly endeavour to begin with: the war and the photography. The first concern can easily be addressed: we’d all wish that there wasn’t any war to photograph in the first place. The second concern, that the act of photographing atrocities is somehow suspect, requires a bit more work to untangle.
In Webb’s picture above, an important point is made. Conflict photographers, by necessity, are present just inches removed from indescribable violence and bloodshed. That “indescribable” bit, however, is why the work is so important. Without photojournalists taking pictures of people dying or starving or fleeing from a hurricane, etc., there’s no way to know just how the stories under the headlines happened, what emotions were involved, whose lives are being affected, and so forth. This is the value of photojournalism. A story on xenophobic violence in the outskirts of Johannesburg, with statistics about the number of people injured or how many bullets were fired, may not catch the attention of readers and citizens without a picture of some person, someone’s father or mother or brother or sister, living or dying through the violence. And this is exactly what EPA editor Maria Mann was getting at during the conference:
“We do our job, let’s not kid ourselves about our jobs and how we do it. I didn’t have to decide about this picture, it came in and it was sent out. I said yes, that’s us at work. Anything we saw last night in the projection…I don’t know how you think you can get [those] images [without being there].”
We could not have these pictures without the photographers being right in the middle of the action, and if we presume a value to this sort of news, these photos need to be taken and they need to be published and they need to be seen by as many people as possible. Of course, this is not to say there aren’t concerns about the way this sort of journalism is undertaken.
Take, for instance, Edward Behr’s memoir of life as a foreign correspondent, Anybody Here Been Raped and Speaks English?. The title, overheard by Behr, was a question asked by a BBC crew while covering violence in Congo. Conflict journalism–any journalism, really–requires compassion, empathy, and respect for the subjects. From what Ludbrook says about the situation in the picture at the top, the photographers (Ludbrook included, I’d suppose) did not ask the man if he was okay and did not help him get to a hospital. While there’s a need for objectivity and disconnectedness between journalists and their subjects, there’s also a time to put pencils and cameras down. During the 2006 conflict between Lebanon and Israel, photographers stepped in to carry elderly and injured people to safety (“More than Observers”, originally published by PDN, rather than the spam blog I’ve linked to; can’t find the PDN link…). The group included Timothy Fadek, Christopher Anderson, Paolo Pellegrin, Kevin Sites, Wael Ladki, Lefteris Pitarakis, Kai Wiedenhöfer, and unnamed journalists from Turkey. In Fadek‘s words, “In south Lebanon there is an absolute nonexistence of rescuers. It’s a matter of just being a human being,” Fadek says. “You’re there to help. It’s a no-brainer.”