Tag Archive: russia
I’m very excited to announce that I will be participating in the first Young Media Professionals Exchange Program organized by the International Center for Journalists and Moscow Union of Journalists as part of a 2-year initiative between Russia and the US. The program is funded by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Twelve journalists from Russia will come to the US to work for a variety of news organizations here, and I will be one of 12 from the US who will live in Moscow from Nov. 26 to Dec. 21 working for a variety of Russian news organizations. I’ll be working for the ITAR-TASS Photo Agency, a Russian photo news service dating to 1926 when it was known as Photochronica TASS.
As such, I won’t be available for assignment work in the US until the end of December, but get in touch if you have any needs in Russia. I’ll primarily be in Moscow. You can leave a voicemail or SMS at (917) 512-3473 or contact me by email. I’ve already been in touch with a few of our readers in Russia to get together, but if you’re in Moscow, get in touch and I’d love to meet you.
It’s been nearly 10 years since I’ve been to Russia, though one of my university degrees is in Russian Language, Literature, and Culture. I wasn’t much of a photographer when I was there last, but you can see a few images from Vorkuta, Komi, Russia, in the gallery above. In addition to the work I’m doing there, I’ll be posting pictures during the trip to instagram and tumblr.
“In the streets I try not to make any rational decisions about what to photograph and what not. I do not have any rules. I take pictures of everything on my way: a tree, a building, a shadow, a person. Sometimes it takes me two hours to get down a street, because there are so many things to photograph and people to meet.” -Jacob Aue Sobol, Arrivals and Departures with Jacob Aue Sobol: Episode 5 – Beijing
Photography can be a solitary act; there’s the photographer and subjects and not much else. That’s why I relish it when I get the chance to see good photographers at work. I love seeing how they get into the situations that result in pictures, how they walk the streets, how they handle subjects. Videos like the ones above make me want to go out and make pictures in the same way that seeing a great band makes me want to learn to play the guitar.
Now, via the Leica blog, we have a couple videos of Jacob Aue Sobol (Magnum portfolio) at work in Russia, Mongolia, and China. He’s long been a favorite, so I’m especially excited about this. The videos are a quick glimpse, but interesting nonetheless to see what precipitates his raw and intimate imagery. The two videos are embedded above, named Part 2 and Part 6. The other parts are text and picture blog posts on the Leica blog: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.
In recent weeks a few interesting and worthy fundraising campaigns have come across our radar that I wanted to share.
Grozny – Nine Cities is an ongoing project by Russian photographers Olga Kravets, Maria Morina and Oksana Yushko.
Grozny, the capital of war-torn Chechnya, is a melting pot for changing Caucasus society that is trying to overcome a trauma of two recent wars and find its own way of life in between traditional Chechen values, Muslim traditions, and globalization. Our project is inspired by Thornton Wilder’s book Theophilus North. It centers on the idea of nine cities being hidden in one. We applied this concept to Grozny as nine “levels of existence” hidden within the city.
More information can be found on their website, Grozny: Nine Cities.
Notable rewards for help in supporting the project: Postcards and signed prints. As of publishing there are 39 days left to sponsor the project via Emphas.is.
Newsmotion is a new concept of journalistic website put together by a very talented team of independent writers, journalists and producers, including Julian Rubinstein, Todd Gitlin and their photo editor Alan Chin, in partnership with the People’s Production House. A pre-launch of the site is now online at Newsmotion.org and includes a preview of a story I worked on with Gitlin and Serbian activist Srdja Popovic about Non-Violent Resistance while both were in Belgrade last May. Visit the Kickstarter campaign.
Newsmotion is an innovative platform for civic media, public art, and original documentary reportage. We are harnessing the power of independent voices, technology, and collaborative storytelling to help the critical issues of our time engage new audiences and find new solutions
Recent events—including the uprisings in the Middle East and the Occupy movement—have shown that individuals and communities with access to technology are able to get their voices heard. A collective vision for the future of civic media is already being realized in revolutionary ways—Newsmotion is our contribution to this movement.
Notable rewards: Books written by contributors, limited editions of “The Occupied Wall Street Journal” and the Yes Men’s special edition of The New York Times, an invitation to the famous Winter Gumbo party on December 27 in New York City (be sure to check the details and offers on this, it has been a hit in the past). Deadline: there are only 10 days to go, finishing on December 29, 2011.
FOLK is a new documentary film by Sara Terry about “singer-songwriters who are working just under the radar of mainstream American music, their lives playing out in a vibrant sub-culture that few people know about.” Visit the Kickstarter campaign.
Part music documentary and part road trip movie, FOLK lets our characters’ lives and their songs do what singer-songwriters have always done: amplify the themes that resonate across our cultural landscape – whether it’s re-defining success in the face of failure, trying to find wholeness in an increasingly fragmented world, or struggling to make sense of the trials and triumphs that make us all so human.
Notable rewards: Special edition DVDs, downloads and CDs from the project, limited edition prints and posters or even songs written about or for you by the musicians in the documentary. There are 15 days left, ending on January 3, 2012.
UPDATE (1/2/12): We’ve very happy to be able to say congratulations to the team behind Newsmotion for reaching and exceeding their Kickstarter goal and funding the next stage of the project. As well, Sara Terry reached beyond her fundraising goal for the documentary FOLK. There is still about a day to contribute if you want to be part of the founder’s community. The Grozny: Nine Cities campaign has 25 days left and could still use your support.
There’s nothing I like more than vintage photos from Russia. We’ve seen color photos from the very early 1900s Russia before, and now a new trove of images from pre-revolutionary Russia have been unveiled. The photos, reports the Moscow Times, were taken during a visit to the country by Union Carbide founder Cornelius Kingsley Garrison Billings. Billings was on tour with his prize-winning racehorses, and he brought along journalist Murray Howe, armed with an early Graflex camera, to produce periodic dispatches for The Horse Review magazine. And while Howe’s charge was nominally to report on horses, his pictures prove to be a valuable historical record of daily life in pre-revolutionary Russia. Of the 400 images captured by Howe, 76 have been posted here on flickr.
Make sure to read the anecdotes that appear alongside some of the photos. The story accompanying this photo of the Moscow Thieves Market, for instance, is just wonderful.
Amsterdam’s Foam Photography Museum announced this week that Alexander Gronsky has won their Paul Huf Award for 2010. I’ve heard his name before but this is the first time that I’ve really seen his work. Its spectacular.
Have a look through all three of his terrific projects from Russia in the ‘artwork’ section of his website. And then have a look at the press release on Foam’s website.
We’ve mentioned photographer Rob Hornstra and his unorthodox and perhaps revolutionary ideas on funding his book projects before. He is currently working on a project about Sochi, Russia and the run-up to the next Winter Olympics, funding the trips via crowd-sourced donations (see link for more info). He discusses his ideas and methods about funding his own project on the New York Photo Festival’s website, and its a nice thing to hear. Inspiring.
There is also a small slideshow of posters he put up around Rome during an exhibition there, which is a cool thing to see and harkens to my old post Bringing Photos Back to the Street.
“A Photo Student” James Pomerantz sits down with perennial Dvafoto favorite and inspiration Jason Eskenazi. Probably the best overview of his career and life I have come across outside of conversations with the man himself. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Thanks Jason and James for putting this out there!
Copies of his book Wonderland are still for sale direct from Eskenazi. Must have.
Reason to rejoice: Jason Eskenazi‘s (previously) excellent book, Wonderland, is back in print, thanks to Red Hook Editions. 2008 POYi Best Photo Book, Wonderland explores Russia and the history of the Soviet Union as a fairytale, and is filled with many, many classic images. From the book summary:
For many, the Soviet Union existed, like their childhood, as a fairy tale where many of the realities of life were hidden from plain view. When the Berlin Wall finally fell so too did the illusion of that utopia. But time changes memory. The ex-Soviets confused the memory of their innocent youth for their nation’s utopian vision, unable to confront its history and thus creating nostalgia for tragedy. This book tries to seek and portray the socialist dream, the nightmare of the USSR beneath the veneer and the reality that emerged after the fall. And like all fairy tales try to teach us: the hard lessons of self-reliance. -Wonderland
update by Scott: Just bought myself a copy. Excited to see it when I’m back in Montana sometime in the next year.
Thanks to Habitus Magazine for pointing us to their interview with Jason Eskenazi, whose book “Wonderland” (1 used at Amazon for $656.00!) you should know. In the video, Eskenazi discusses the narrative structure of Wonderland, the nature of being a photographer, finding pictures in Grozny, and collaborating with Valerii Nistratov for the portraits in “Title Nation.” The video was produced as part of Habitus‘ Moscow issue.
Here is part two of the list of things I’ve been reading the last
few days week or more that I found interesting enough to share. This edition with more analysis!
First, this should be required reading daily: Foreign Policy’s Morning Brief post every morning on the Passport Blog. Yes, we get most of this from international newspaper front pages but here it is all together, and always has interesting and important updates to world stories that you just don’t see often anywhere else. More news breaks for me here than anywhere else..
There was a minor controversy this last week in Washington, for two reasons I guess. Washingtonian Magazine ran a cover that reused a wire (paparazzi?) image of Obama walking shirtless in Hawaii. So, I guess controversy for putting a shirtless President on the cover of a features magazine (with a tagline of “Reason #2: Our New Neighbor is Hot”, referring to the cover story of ’26 reasons to love living living here’), but they also photoshopped his swimsuit to red (from black). The Huffington Post wrote about this in a post called Media Literacy 101: The Ethics of Photoshopping a Shirtless Obama and then PDN picked it up with Washingtonian’s Shirtless Obama Cover: You Call This a Scandal? which gives a complete rundown and argument. I agree that this isn’t something on the level of the Time OJ Simpson cover, and mostly just want to say that this all is very weird. Having a “hot President” is a new concept for me, and maybe this is an adjustment we’ll need to get used to. I am reminded of the deservedly-lauded New York Magazine cover of McCain and Obama on the beach, which is great. Finally last word: BagnewsNotes has the analysis on this cover-controversy along with December 08 analysis of the original photo when it came out.
And a little interlude/soundtrack for this post. My favorite Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy with a new song from his new album Beware… “I Am Goodbye”.
There is not that much more I can say more than I am impressed over and over again by the Burnetts’ amazing blog We’re Just Sayin’ which blends family, photography and general useful knowledge about living. Cheers to them.
Over at Burn Magazine there is an interesting and difficult essay playing by Jukka Onnela titled “A Kind of Error”. As Bob Black, who apparently curated this essay, says in the comments, “there are knods to Clarke and Richards and Moriyama and Peterson for sure, d’agata looms large too..” (sic)
One thing appears to be going right for photojournalism: Livebooks (which powers my site) announces a hosting plan for photojournalists (PDN story with the scoop) that is significantly cheaper than their normal sites. Direct link to Livebooks Photojournalism, which costs $44/mo all inclusive. A good plan for them I think, since their normal plans really aren’t priced for most budget minded photojournalists (in fact I know of at least one who dropped the service because of cost). Luckily I’m on the EDU plan..
In keeping with the breaking news, here is Andrew Sullivan’s ‘picture of the day’ for 4/26:
Along the same lines, the Serbian Government issued a press release on their English language website that announces that:
The statement adds that in order to establish existing capabilities and assess the necessary resources for a timely diagnosis of this disease in pigs, the Veterinary Directorate carried out a control of veterinary laboratories on April 25.
The Veterinary Directorate formed special teams for rooting out infectious diseases in animals, trained and equipped to dispose of diseased animals if the need arises.
Apart from a ban on the import of pigs and stricter veterinary inspection on borders, the Veterinary Directorate will examine the heath condition of pigs and poultry farmed in Serbia.
I appreciate the action Serbia, especially since I’m living here and will benefit from your preventative measures but I’m afraid you don’t quite understand that the issue is that the disease is infecting humans at present and is killing some of them.
Here is an interview on the Design Notes by Michael Surtees blog with the designer/creator of iPhone photography applications. I’ve only read part but it could be of interest. It also deals with the ‘nature’ of toy photography, and why Takayuki Fukatsu wanted to add this ‘ability’ to an expensive gadget like the iphone.
Daryl Lang at PDN takes a stand with his post Coverage of Dignified Transfers at Dover Dwindles when he says “doesn’t this seem cold? The lack of coverage at Dover ought to cause some soul-searching among assignment editors and, especially, TV producers.” While I’m very sympathetic to the power and importance of photographing events like this I do not see this as an issue. These transfers are being documented by the AP, with at least (for now) a photographer and a writer present. And frankly this ‘photo op’ (harsh) is not anywhere close to the real story and issue. That would be the combat death and the impact on families (ignoring for a moment the larger issue of the wars and their much larger ‘footprints’ overseas). Frankly I think it is odd to suggest that a full press retinue is as necessary for proper respect of a person, their death or the story of their death as an honor guard.
From Andy Levin’s blog 100eyes I was alerted to Kenneth Jarecke’s blog where he rants about modern photojournalism in a post titled “Lets Be Honest – Part 3″. It is roughly, as I can decipher, about taking ‘style’ too far in photojournalism and what causes photographers to do it. Part 2 makes more sense but I still am inclined to disagree. His main point is that all of this “sizzle” added to images, good or bad images, weakens (cheapens?) them. I just want images to evoke something, say something, in however way the photographer wants to. All of us can and will react to the voice and ‘language’ that they’re using. I think Jarecke is confusing his dislike with a certain picture using a ‘technique’ with a whole swath of other things, ultimately generalizing about the photographer himself and a coming generation. Images can be good or bad, and yes they can be either because of the ‘style’ put in to them. Just disagree with a particular picture or series, and let people experiment. It either works or it doesn’t, and as he says, the essence of photography is “I saw this. I found it interesting. What do you think?” . I do agree that people can be pushed in bad directions (over cooking images in photoshop or even setting up images) by the economics of the photo market (i.e. that is the crap that tends to get published, and sometimes rewarded). I feel it myself, we all do. We see the winners of World Press or what work is getting published and the thought ‘I gotta make work that looks like that’ crosses our minds. But it is each photographers’ choice to make and their decision to present their photographs in the way that they do. So I’ll reserve those judgments for each individual photographer and their work. Or maybe blame the editors.
Stephen Voss just posted some insane and striking images from abandoned schools in Detroit. Have a look.
Scott Strazzante has a touching post about optimism, his friends, mentors and layoffs in American newspapers on his blog Shooting From The Hip.
Speaking of newspapers (and layoffs) The Recovering Journalist has an interesting post about Inventing The Future in Iowa following the innovative exploits of The Gazette newspaper in Eastern Iowa. Interesting write up but frankly, after a few minutes poking around the website, I don’t see what is new or what the fuss is about.
Via The Click I saw this update about the ‘The Polaroid Kidd’ Mike Brodie on the Feature Shoot site. There are many more pictures and images from the 2007 exhibition on this page. I remember when these pictures first hit the ground a year or two ago, I think I saw them first in some sort of photo chain email. I loved them then and still do, very very much. So personal and really genius. Have a look, and remember he did it all with no training no fancy gear and at the age of 18. Kind of devastated me when I first heard that
Ok, one more slightly-wonkish Foreign Policy blog link: How NOT to dismantle the U.N. by Mark Leon Goldberg about issues within UN peacekeeping missions and accountability, and how this intrudes on the effectiveness of missions and local support. Very applicable, in my interest, to Kosovo and Bosnia of course.
Conscientious has one of his more interesting posts for me in a long while while highlighting Anna Shteynshleyger, specifically her intriguing work from Siberia and the sites of Gulags. It is made even better by this really interesting analysis/critique by Pete Brook at Prison Photography (which I hadn’t known till now, but is now rss’d). And here is the crux for me that Colberg teases out, which I’d love to explore later: “It indicates that there are no photographic conventions established, yet, for how to deal with the Gulag – which might reflect that the discussion (or actually amount of discussion) is still very much in flux. In fact, now that Russia has descended into a sort of authoritarian quasi-democracy, the Gulag there seems to be evolving into a non-topic…” . I don’t entirely agree, and neither would many in Russia I’d venture, but I too haven’t seen any photography that comes anywhere close to written accounts. My favorite of which is Ryszard Kapuscinski’s Imperium which I recommend with pleasure and passion.
A friend of mine sent me this very intriguing visual-blog (?) on the New York Times called And the Pursuit of Happiness by Maira Kalman. I’ve only had the pleasure of reading her latest post May It Please The Court so far, but I look forward to reading back. Kalman also has a cool looking book.
I’ve seen everyone posting about the New York Times article about Danny Lyon and his two new books, but I two quotes struck me and bear repeating:
“You put a camera in my hand, I want to get close to people,” he said. “Not just physically close, emotionally close, all of it. It’s part of the process.” And, “It’s a very weird thing being a photographer.” Ooh, I agree.
Oh, and as evidence of my insanity and need to spike a few dozen of my rss feeds … this is what my computer looked like while I was preparing these posts…
Lastly, and I say this reluctantly, I am now on twitter. So join me if you want smaller versions of this kind of post and my musical ramblings.