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.

Woman in Aranda’s World Press Photo-winning image comes forward


“It was after an attack against demonstrators on Al-Zubairy Street. I went to the field hospital and did not see my son among the dead or wounded protesters. I checked the place again and saw my son lying on the ground suffocated with tear gas, so I embraced him and [Aranda] must have taken the photo at that moment.” -Fatima Al-Qaws, speaking to Yemen Times

According to Yemen Times, someone has come forward saying she is the veiled woman in Samuel Aranda’s World Press Photo 2012-winning image. Fatima Al-Qaws says she was comforting her son as he recovered from a tear gas attack. The man in the picture, her son Zayed Al-Qawas, told the publication, “I did not expect this photo to win among thousands of pictures and it is a real support to the revolution. It demonstrates that Yemenis are not extremists.”

Reactions to the image continue online. There’s an active discussion at the Facebook Flak Photo Network (where I first saw this story linked) and Paul Melcher has written a piece called “Emotionless.”

Worth a look: 30Under30 Women Photographers

30Under30 Women Photographers

“Look at any advertisement for a new camera, you will usually see the kit beheld by a male hand, with the image of a young woman visible through the lens or emblazoned onto the glass itself, as though the camera were always meant to be a male eye, gazing out onto a world of female subjects….What is it like, then, to be a female photographer, to be a woman who has seized hold of an instrument of which she traditionally remains in front, and to use her eye to view the world, rather than use it to throw back a soft, muted glance into the receiving end of a male gaze?” -Natalie Dybisz / Miss Aniela – intro to 30Under30 Women Photographers

There’s a lot of good work at the recently published 30Under30 Women Photographers online exhibition. The site showcases the diverse work of 30 young female photographers. It’s a great step in toward equality in the traditionally male-dominated field of photography.