Worth a look again: Paula Lerner’s “Behind the Veil: An Intimate Into the Lives of Kandahar’s Women”

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.

Perfesser Kev covers the canon of photojournalism

Jacob Riis - Cloth cutters on Ludlow Street - 1905

[T]his is a start on a “canon” to which you may contribute a suggestion. I’m looking not just for a list of the “great photographers” nor the most famous or successful. I’m looking for photographers who:

-Produced documentary work reflecting the important standards and ethics of the profession,
-Stood the test of time by repeatedly producing notable work, and
-Innovated in the art or profession by being first to adopt an important style or approach, break a barrier or rise above the limits of the day.

Kevin Moloney, photojournalist and professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has just finished a series of posts on the canon of photojournalism. It’s a great look through the history of the medium, including many photographers whose names aren’t as readily recognizable to most as Cartier-Bresson or the like. The whole series, linked below, is worth a read.

  • The Photojournalist’s Canon: Part One — The First 50 Years
  • The Photojournalist’s Canon: Part Two — Early 20th Century
  • The Photojournalist’s Canon: Part Three — From Then to Now
  • The posts ask for contributions to the canon, so if there’s a photographer that you feel should be listed, send in a contribution. I could see, for instance, the addition of Richards, Rodchenko, and Goldin.

    Online event: BagNewsSalon – March 20 – Assignment Egypt

    BagNewsSalon - Assignment Egypt

    BagNews is one of my favorite places online for thoughtful (sometimes snarky) analysis of news photography as it is used. They’ve been growing over the years, producing original photography and award-winning videos and generally being a can’t-miss stop if you’re interested in contemporary visual journalism. A periodic feature of the site is BagNewsSalon, online roundtable discussions about photography with photographers, editors, professors, and anyone who wants to watch, listen, and ask questions. On March 20, there’ll be another such event, Assignment Egypt, in which key images of recent coverage of Egypt will be discussed, dissected, and deconstructed, by photographers who were there and thoughtful members of the larger photographic community. Put this one on your calendars.