July 26, 2013

Friday Round Up - 26 July

This week on Friday Round Up an inspirational photo essay from David Butow "Seeing Buddha," an interview with photographer, filmmaker and publisher John Ogden about his bestselling series Saltwater People and Cuban master Raul Cañibano Ercilla's Retrospective on show in Sydney.

And on a personal note, today I received my University grading on my Honours Masters Thesis "Has the Critical Mirror Shattered - What is the future for professional photojournalism in the digital news age?" - a First Class Honours-High Distinction! I am deeply grateful to all the photojournalists, editors and industry professionals around the world who gave their time to answer my questions. What is the future? You'll have to wait for next year when the book comes out! Have a great weekend wherever you are.

Photo Essay:
David Butow - Seeing Buddha
This insightful, deeply moving photo essay from photojournalist David Butow documents the various Buddhist practices taking us from Bodhgaya in India where Buddha found enlightenment, to Japan, the US and Cambodia amongst other countries. These photographs evoke the sentiments of Buddhism – compassion, love and happiness in all living things. To see more of David’s work please visit his website here

(C) David Butow

Raul Cañibano Ercilla - Retrospective

(C) Raul Cañibano Ercilla

Cuban master of photography Raul Cañibano Ercilla’s retrospective is on exhibition at 10x8 Gallery in Surry Hills Sydney from 31st July. A self-taught photographer, Cañibano has extensively documented his country, Cuba, with particular emphasis on the regional areas and communities in which he grew up. His tribute to Cuban farmers, “Tierra Guajira,” features black-and-white images that encapsulate the intricacies of national identity, and images from this series feature in the retrospective.

10x8 Gallery
31 July - 31 August
Level 5 / 56 - 60 Foster St Surry Hills

Saltwater People - John Ogden
Author and Publisher John Ogden

John Ogden’s second instalment in the Saltwater series, "Saltwater People of the Fatal Shore," is “a coffee table book with a sting,” says Ogden, or Oggy as he is known, as are all the books published under his imprint, Cyclops Press. The ‘sting’ in this instance comes in the historical commentary that was a feature of the first book and is expanded in the new edition. 

The waterways in Sydney are as much a social divide, as they are a physical divide. While the Northern Beaches are generally where the more affluent people settled, the shoreline that is traversed in "Saltwater People of the Fatal Shore" - from South Head to the Royal National Park – has a much more colourful history partly influenced by the fact that in the middle of this tract is Botany Bay.

“This book is a cracker,” says Oggy. “It is a fuller story than the one on this side (the Northern Beaches). There are more personalities with Botany Bay smack bang in the middle and all the stories that go with that”. For this edition Oggy unearthed thousands of photos, drawings and archival records. The book features his own photography as well as that of other professionals and he’s had tremendous fortune to uncover photographs that span generations.

As with "Saltwater People of the Broken Bays" the new book promotes reconciliation without being didactic. “That’s one of the main drivers for the book, to acknowledge the First People,” says Oggy who has a long history working with indigenous communities. In June last year he was the recipient of the Pauline McLeod Award for Reconciliation, presented by the Eastern Region Local Government Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Forum (NSW). The Award is in recognition of the books he has published - "Australienation, Portraits from a Land Without People," which raised significant funds for Indigenous health, and now the Saltwater set.

In "Saltwater People of the Fatal Shore" there is also an environmental thread to the story that is woven throughout and starts with the pristine waters of Botany Bay that were quickly turned to festering pools by the English. “The First People lived here for tens of thousands of years in a sustainable manner. The Europeans were rapacious. They didn’t only take what they needed, they went on a frenzy, and what was a Garden of Eden became a toxic waste area. When I look at it in the microcosm of 200 years of our history, you can see how much we have changed the land and it hasn’t always been for the good”. 

In the book he reveals a number of stories that if once known, are perhaps now forgotten. “The Aborigines in these parts were a canoe culture. They travelled as much by canoe as they did by foot using the rivers as highways. When their land was taken, to survive some worked on whaling and sealing boats. Even on the Third Fleet the majority of ships that brought convicts were whalers that had been converted. Later they were reconverted and crewed by Indigenous people from here and Africa and other parts of the world”.

He profiles several Aborigines who were amongst these early fishermen and tells of one man who was dropped off on an island with his team to kill seals. “This was a sub-Antarctic island and the ship was meant to come back for them, but they were forgotten. Two years later they were picked up by another ship. And people complain about work now,” he laughs. “You think you had a hard day? What about the day I had?” 

Saltwater People of the Fatal Shore is published by Cyclops Press.

July 19, 2013

Friday Round Up - 19 July

This week on Friday Round Up a retrospective celebrates the work of French photographer Raymond Cauchetier, a snapshot of the workshop programme for this year's Ballarat International Foto Biennale, and a feature article on environmental photographer Darren Jew who shows us the beauty of the underwater world. The article "Into the Deep Blue" is a timely reminder for those of us in Australia where there are moves afoot to mine in the area of the Great Barrier Reef, creating an environmental disaster for an ecosystem that is unique.

Raymond Cauchetier 

1967 Cambodia

This year’s Salon de la Photo in Paris in November will feature a major retrospective of the work of French photographer Raymond Cauchetier. Born in 1920, Cauchetier spent his early career in Indochina, and can be considered one of the early street photographers. His work gained critical acclaim and in the 1950s he exhibited in Japan and the United States where his collection "Faces of Vietnam" became a popular touring exhibition.

Returning to his homeland in the late 1950s Cauchetier spent the next decade immersed in the world of cinema working in an era known as Nouvelle Vague. He shot for leading directors including Jean-Luc Goddard and was on the set of films such as Breathless (the photograph below of Jean Seberg and Jean Paul Belmondo is considered one of his most well known). But his love for Asia continued to draw him back to that part of the world throughout his career.

1954 Pierre Schoendorffer à Dien Bien Phu

A free spirit, Cauchetier was self taught and chose to shoot across a wide range of subjects depending on his interest at the time. Now in his nineties, this retrospective "Raymond Cauchetier: Flashback" is a fitting tribute to this French master. 

Jean Seberg and Jean Paul Belmondo
On the Champs Elysées 1959

The Salon de la Photo is one of the major photography events held in Paris in the month of November.

7-11 November
Porte de Versailles in Paris
All images (C) Raymond Cauchetier

Ballarat International Foto Biennale 

At this year’s Ballarat International Foto Biennale (BIFB), an hour out of Melbourne, there is a host of workshops in which to hone your visual storytelling skills. Whether your interest lies in gritty documentary photography, streetscapes, architecture, landscape or fine art photography there's something to entice both amateurs and more advanced photographers. Here's a taste of what's in store.

Ballarat Exposed
Andrew Chapman and Noel Butcher (Australia)
18 August 

(C) Andrew Chapman

Travel Light, Learn to Write:
The secrets of modern photojournalism in the digital era
Roger Garwood (Australia)
17-18 August and 24-25 August

(C) Roger Garwood
Archery and the Art of Photography
Christine Rose Divito (Belgium)
19-23 August and 9-13 September 

(C) Christine Rose Divito

Architectural Photography Master Class with John Gollings (Australia)
7 September 

(C) John Gollings

Finding the Ethereal Within
Master Class intensive with Elizabeth Opalenik [USA]
4-7 September 

(C) Elizabeth Opalenik 

For more details visit the BIFB website.

Feature Interview:
Into the Deep Blue
with Australian Darren Jew

On the day I interview multi-award winning photographer Darren Jew he is preparing for a six-week trip to Tonga where he will photograph the migration of the humpback whales. He makes this pilgrimage every year, taking photographs for his own collection, and also hosting small groups of enthusiasts who get to swim with these majestic creatures, some of which, says Darren, are the size of a bus. 

Growing up in Queensland Darren has spent much of his life in the water, and with a camera in hand. His earliest memories of photography are around his father who was a radio technician on one of the Antarctic bases in the late 1960s. Darren recalls going through his father’s Kodachrome slides and being intrigued by “nature. I think that’s where my interest in the world and things other than in my own backyard, came from”.

In his youth he toyed with the idea of a career in science, but “scientists tend to specialise in one thing and I thought I would be bored, so I turned my attention to photography. I was partly influenced by Jacques Cousteau documentaries and figured that with photography I could still connect with nature and science on a cursory level and with greater variety”.

He undertook a two-year trade certificate in photography at Queensland College of Art and “graduated at the ripe age of 17 with a pretty good education in photography. I was highly employable (read: cheap) and my first job was in a film-processing lab”. It would take a few more years before he landed the dream job – working for the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service photographing the natural assets of that state.

“Luckily Queensland has some pretty cool underwater scenery with the Barrier Reef,” he laughs. “That was the first time I was really shooting underwater for work. If I went on a field trip and it included a place where I could go snorkeling or diving, I’d do that too.” After eight years of documenting the state, and honing his skills as an underwater photographer, Darren went out on his own in the mid-1990s.

“In the last decade I have been doing a lot of underwater work. My career has evolved from me being a nature photographer who took pictures of anything to do with nature, to an underwater photographer who also shoots nature. I shoot a percentage of tourism and advertising work also, but that is more a product of capacity rather than interest and desire, it’s part of the way I earn a living. As a photographer these days to do reasonably well you have to be a specialist. And specialising in underwater photography has become a niche for me as it offers me a bit of variety in terms of where my clients can come from”.

Darren says it is a tough market, even for someone who is established, and the imperative to stay at the top of your game is even greater given the number of people who are taking photos today in all genres.
“There are millions of average photographers out there. Prior to the digital boom there was a group of the professional photographers that got away by just being competent photographers because they had the technical capacity or a good work ethic and photographs were not being taken in the volume they are today. Really good photographers have always floated to the top, but now you need to be at the top of your game all the time, because the minute you drop the ball you are gone”. 

"Photography is always evolving and I’ve been lucky enough to see a really exciting time with the advent of digital. Now digital cameras are producing images that are way beyond what we could ever do on film, and that has presented new and exciting opportunities. I shoot pictures now underwater in very low light situations with great results, shots that I could never have contemplated even five years ago”.

Shooting underwater carries with it a whole raft of considerations that are unique to the watery environment. Outside of the gear you have to invest in, there are other barriers such as trying to photograph animals that may fancy taking a bite out of you, like Great White sharks. 

While Darren may love nature, he isn’t foolhardy. “I’ve never done any of this crazy free swimming with Great Whites,” says Darren who shoots from a shark cage. “Certainly all of the work I’ve done with Great Whites is probably the most exciting, adrenalin charged nature photography I have done. They are really big and very efficient and scary”. He shows me a photo of a toothy grin from a Great White. “This one bit my sync cable in half and left a big scratch on my dome port. I’ve had sharks grab the cage before and shake it and I’ve had a shark bite through the communication line on a deep dive”.

A deep cage dive is around 25-30m, but Darren also does cage work on the surface, and mid-water. “The time when the communication cable got severed and we lost contact with the surface, that’s probably the most interesting time that I’ve been in a cage. There are emergency procedures to get a lift bag to get you back to the surface, but to deploy that you have to get out of the cage, and if you have a cranky Great White shark swimming around who has just bitten through the cable and shaken the hell out of the cage, getting out of the cage is the last option. On this dive routines and procedures for loss of communication were followed well and everything was fine, but it is pretty interesting some of the things that go through your mind at that point,” he laughs.

“I do a lot of stuff mid-water where we drop the cage and get into the blueness and away from the surface and from what I see as the visually confusing bottom. But shooting mid-water is a waiting game, as often it seems the sharks are on the bottom or on the surface and to get them in mid-water you have to be patient.”

Patience is a must with the work that Darren does. Not only do the animals not perform on cue, there are other considerations including getting to the location and the weather. “I have been on trips where we’ve been out for four days and haven’t seen a shark until 3pm on the last afternoon. Other times the water will be too murky to shoot in or we’ll arrive in the middle of a jellyfish-spawning event. It is opportunistic work where you are at the mercy of nature. So when I am out shooting for a client, I also shoot for my own collections to make the most of the time and expense of getting there”.

He continues. “If we are shooting blue water animals like whales, or dolphins or turtles swimming around in various places within the water column, down deep or up near the surface or whatever, it’s quite difficult to do that on scuba. With scuba diving the ideal profile is to go down to the deepest point of your dive and then work your way back up to the surface over the course of the dive. Whereas a turtle might be on the surface now and then go deep and then go to the surface again. If you were to follow that animal with scuba gear you’d be risking your health and safety quite considerably. And with scuba you are limited to only two or three dives a day. So the blue water shots are often done on breath hold. All my whale work and the turtles, dolphins and sea lions, are all shot while holding my breath”. It’s a game of willpower and often Darren’s determination to get the shot impacts how long he can hold his breath.

But it is the complexities of the underwater shoot that keep him engaged. “It’s a difficult place to take pictures because to see these things under the water you have to be fairly close to them. Even in the clearest waters in the tropics you need to be within a few metres. That’s the thing I like most about it, it keeps your brain active, you have to think about a lot of things. It’s a challenge and I like a challenge”.

Darren hopes his photography will also help to spread a message for conservation, a subject that is close to his heart. “I want to communicate to people who don’t know about the ocean. I want them to see how amazing it is. I know that’s a broad brush statement, but for some people the ocean is a scary place. I’d like to think that they can look at my pictures and even if they are not an ocean fan, they can see some intrigue, and interest and marvel at some of the amazing things that live there,” he concludes.

Article by Alison Stieven-Taylor
All photos (C) Darren Jew

July 12, 2013

Friday Round Up - 12 July

This week Friday Round Up features news on the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, new exhibitions from Robert Ashton and Youngho Kang, Stephanie Sinclair's Too Young To Wed and more including an interesting article from a frontline journalist in Syria. Importantly there is a message also from Issa Touma in Aleppo, Syria where the blockade on food and medical supplies has plunged residents into a new living hell. If you can help please act now.

Ballarat International Foto Biennale (BIFB)

Photography, wine and fine food. Is there a better way to spend a winter’s Sunday afternoon in Melbourne? This Sunday 14th July, Eleven 40 Gallery in Malvern (a short drive from Melbourne's CBD) is hosting a fundraising event for the fifth instalment of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale (BIFB). All 125 photographs in the RED DOT “lucky dip” are on show at the Gallery. Festival Director Jeff Moorfoot will be on hand, along with a number of local photographers who are involved in the Festival. Entry is by RED DOT or ticket only.

There are still some RED DOTs available for this worthy fundraising event. The RED DOT allows you to go into the lucky draw for one of the 125 photographs in this promotion. If you'd like to help the Festival raise much needed funds, please visit the link here.

BIFB Sneak Peak:
Youngho Kang – 99 VARIATIONS 

This photographic artist literally bleeds for his work! Today I interviewed South Korean photographer Youngho Kang about his exhibition "99 Variations", which is included in the core programme of this year’s Ballarat International Foto Biennale. My interview will run in the coming weeks, but I wanted to share a taste with you, as this work is extraordinary and demonstrates Kang’s unique visual signature. Inspired by ancient Chinese philosophy, Kang has created mythological characters that are of his “other” selves. In each photograph the camera is evident, an extension of his person, a “third eye” that observes and reflects. Shot on large format digital in front of a mirror, each image took hours to compose. The photograph where Kang is encased in a tangled web (above) took ten hours to complete. His interpreter Won said, “See that blood? It’s real”. This exhibition is a truly unique take on the self-portrait.

Youngho Kang will also hold a workshop during BIFB. Details to come. All images (C) Youngho Kang.

Robert Ashton – Interior Exterior

Australian photographer Robert Ashton’s exhibition "Interior Exterior" opens at Edmund Pearce Gallery in Melbourne on 24 July. Comprising a series of interior and exterior landscapes presented as triptychs, Ashton captures the natural beauty of the western coastline of Victoria.

Ashton said the interior images “are a metaphor for the intricate tangles within all of us”. These complex, somewhat chaotic images are juxtaposed with “the peace and serenity” of the sweeping seascapes. All images (C) Robert Ashton

24 July – 17 August 
Edmund Pearce Gallery
Level 2, Nicholas Building
37 Swanston Street (corner Flinders Lane)

Stephanie Sinclair - Too Young to Wed

If you are in Washington DC this month, VII Photo’s Stephanie Sinclair’s exhibition "Too Young To Wed" is showing for three days. I wrote about this exhibition last year on the inaugural International Day of the Girl Child 11 October 2012. In more than 50 countries millions of girls as young as six years old are still forced into marriage with adult men. These girls face a life of abuse and torment. Uneducated, marginalized and persecuted by the families into which they are married, child brides lose their chance to be children free to play and explore, they lose the opportunity to better themselves and are denied basic human rights. Sinclair has produced a powerful body of work that allows these innocent young girls to have a voice.

Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC
23-25 July
Too Young To Wed will tour throughout 2013 and 2014. Visit the website here for updates.

Aleppo – A Cry for Help
Food and medicine supplies have been cut off and the citizens of Aleppo now find themselves trapped in a humanitarian crisis on which the governments of the world have turned their backs. Issa Touma, who many know from his work as a photography festival director, now calls for help. If you know anyone in your circle of contacts that may be able to help, please ask the question. Let not only our hearts go out to the people of Aleppo….

A Message From Issa Touma (above)

“To all my Western Friend who enjoy Aleppo Nights
last 2 years I saw how you act on your page’s ( Face books ) , Today we need urgently your half energy you give it to changed the System in Syria , maybe can convince the Oppositions to enter foods and milks and Medicines to more then 1,5 Millions Civilians have nothing at all to eat , do not say you can not do any thing , I know you each one personally , and I know you are in Contact with them , and most of you have good contact with the media also …
Now Aleppians who welcome you in there home for years , when you was working and leaving in Syria , many of them Die and travel out , and rest of them will Die Hungry … if you stile part from Humanity so ?? show that now , and if you do not like what I say you are very welcome to removed your self from my friends , I do not care any more .
I will followed your reactions , we need it for History of Humanity .
PS : I do not mean diplomats in this post , because they was have limited movement in the society , I mean people who had full freedom to move and work and stay in Syria for years ,Also I do not mean Tourist who come for short time”

Worth reading:
Woman’s Work by Francesca Borri

Photo: Alessio Romenzi

Francesca Borri gives a frank account of her experiences as a freelance journalist on the frontline in Syria. Published in the Columbia Journalism Review. Here is an extract.

“People have this romantic image of the freelancer as a journalist who’s exchanged the certainty of a regular salary for the freedom to cover the stories she is most fascinated by. But we aren’t free at all; it’s just the opposite. The truth is that the only job opportunity I have today is staying in Syria, where nobody else wants to stay. And it’s not even Aleppo, to be precise; it’s the frontline. Because the editors back in Italy only ask us for the blood, the bang-bang. I write about the Islamists and their network of social services, the roots of their power—a piece that is definitely more complex to build than a frontline piece. I strive to explain, not just to move, to touch, and I am answered with: “What’s this? Six thousand words and nobody died?”….” to readmore please click here

Wherever you are in the world this weekend stay safe.

July 05, 2013

Friday Round Up - 5 July

This week on Friday Round Up the first solo exhibition by Australian photomedia artist, Niobe Syme, opens in Sydney, another masterful photo essay by GMB Akash that again proves the power of photojournalism as a voice for those marginalised and a fundraising event for the Ballarat International Foto Biennale.

Photo Essay: 
GMB Akash – Yasan Galuh

Photographer GMB Akash has produced another incredibly strong body of work this time highlighting the terrible conditions in which those with mental illness are treated in Indonesia. At the Yasan Galuh Rehabilitation Centre for the Mentally Ill patients are denied the most basic of human rights. Chained and caged, forced to eat and sleep in the most unsanitary conditions, these men and women are subjected to unimaginable hardship. Akash says there are only 500 psychiatrists in Indonesia, a country with a population of more than 240 million, and as a consequence those with mental illnesses are marginalised. Uneducated and fearful of the demons that plague their offspring, families “hand over” the mentally disabled to Yasan Galuh’s “carers” who Akash says see themselves as healers. The images speak loudly for those who are silenced and are a sobering reminder that beneath the glittering lights of our modern cities there are many still living in the dark. 

To read more and view the full photo essay please visit GMB Akash’s blog. This is a courageous work from a very insightful photographer. All images (C) GMB Akash

Niobe Syme - Leaving Jodhpur

Interview Alison Stieven-Taylor 

The cultural melting pot that is India has provided a creative wellspring for photographers for decades. Much of what we see today is what could be considered ‘modern’ India, but the exhibition “Leaving Jodhpur,” by Australian photomedia artist Niobe Syme captures a slower pace, evoking for me a sense of the India of colonial times.

The images in this exhibition were shot during a long train journey one summer across the state of Rajasthan from Jodhpur to Delhi, a trip in which Niobe had time to contemplate, and observe, away from the madding crowds. As the train made its way across Rajasthan Niobe says she was “struck by an underlying sensation of the parallels with Australia in terms of the warmer tones, the dusty feeling. That was a huge surprise to me, and took me back to Western Australia where I am from and images of Hill End and those sorts of mining towns. I wasn’t thinking of colonialism, but yes there is that sense of nostalgia and I think that part of what's happening is that Rajasthan is predominantly rural and time is different there, certainly compared with a big city such as Mumbai”.

She continues. “Actually when I look at the series, it is like a long held breath. The whole series Leaving Jodhpur, and not arriving anywhere, reflects the existential feeling of angst about being a foreigner in this vast place and not having any reference from the world I was from, other than my sense for humanity and ability to channel that through the lens”.

The natural filters the train windows provided - smudges, scratches, haze, dirt, dust and erratic obstructions, intrigued Niobe. “I was curious because everything wasn’t too available to me as a voyeur. The camera and eye sees so easily, but there is so much you can’t know in India. My intention was to try to communicate both the beauty of this place as I was seeing it at the time and to also establish an authorship in an honest way”. 

From this journey Niobe says three strands emerged – landscape, people and buildings. “I didn’t take a whole lot of images, I think it wasn’t more than about 70 (there are 20 in this exhibition). Over time I am tending to take fewer images, which is interesting as with the digital format you can go to town, but becoming attuned to what it is you are feeling and developing a better sense of that kind of feedback, means pressing the trigger is more conscious”.

Niobe has made several trips to India in recent years and she and her family are working with the Sucheta Kriplani Shiksha Niketan (SKSN) School for physically challenged and disadvantaged children in Manaklao. “It is a very beautiful thing to spend time with these people, and the school is doing fantastic work in developing community attitudes about disability,” she says. Niobe contributes through visual and writing projects and says there is a team of Australians involved.

Also a poet, Niobe has written a poem entitled Leaving Jodhpur, which she plans to read at the opening of her exhibition. “I struggle to remember which came first,” she laughs. “The poem and the photographs are in a dialogue which is quite exciting creatively as one levers the other and it challenges me to investigate the subject matter from a slightly different angle. But they inform and inspire each other and overall where I am going with my work is to look at the dialogue between the two”.

Leaving Jodhpur
126 Regent Street, Redfern
6-21 July
Opening 2pm Saturday 6 July
For more details on the exhibition and opening hours visit Arthere website
To view more of Niobe's work click here for the website
All images (C) Niobe Syme

Fundraising Event:
Ballarat International Foto Biennale

On Sunday 14th July, Eleven 40 Gallery in Malvern (a short drive from Melbourne's CBD) will host a fundraising event for the fifth installment of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale (BIFB). To find out how you can secure one of the 125 photographs up for grabs in this BIFB RED DOT promotion, and help the Festival raise much needed funds, please visit the link here

Until next Friday, take care wherever you are.