February 10, 2017

Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up - 10 February, 2016

This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up Steve Schapiro's new book Misericordia, the winner of the inaugural Mongolian Photography Scholarship is announced in Melbourne and a selection of images from Donna Ferrato's Why They Marched photo essay.

Book Review:
Misericordia: Together We Celebrate - Steve Schapiro

In the 1960s American photojournalist Steve Schapiro traversed the country photographing for LIFE and other news magazines, covering the major political and cultural happenings of the time including the Civil Rights Movement. He photographed Martin Luther King at Selma in 1963 and later covered King’s assassination. He spent months with Robert Kennedy, travelling with him throughout the US and to South America. For Sports Illustrated he hung out with Muhammed Ali shooting the boxer over five days in Ali’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

In the 1970s Schapiro turned his camera on Hollywood establishing himself as a movie stills photographer. He created what is considered the iconic series for the Godfather Trilogy as well as shooting on Taxi Driver, Midnight Cowboy, Rambo and Risky Business amongst others.

Over a career that has spanned more than five decades Schapiro has photographed countless celebrities, tripped the light fantastic with pop culture icons including Andy Warhol, published numerous books, held exhibitions of his work around the globe and starred in the documentary film ‘Steve Schapiro: An Eye on American Icons’.

It’s a stellar legacy, but Schapiro isn’t finished. Now in his eighties he is still making new work and his latest book, Misericordia: Together We Celebrate is a portrait of a unique community and one of Schapiro’s finest, and most celebratory collections to date. 

Misericordia, which means heart of mercy in Latin, is home to more than 600 children and adults with developmental disabilities. Everyday the residents of Misericordia, which spans a 31-acre campus in Chicago, go to work, take education classes, exercise, create artworks and enjoy the warmth of a loving and supportive environment.

In talking about Misericordia, Schapiro’s voice rings with genuine pleasure. “There is a flowering of personalities and they have a great sense of humour and everyone is filled with joy,” he tells me. “You walk into a room and someone holds out their hand and wants to know your name and then they want to tell you their name and it’s just a joyous place”.

Schapiro says he is now more focused on doing documentary projects and telling stories he’s interested in like Misericordia, which is beacon of hope and love in one of America’s largest cities. Schapiro, who lives in Chicago, spent months working with the staff and residents at Misericordia to create this intimate portrait of an exceptional facility where many spend their entire lives.

Within the pages of this beautifully produced book published by powerHouse New York, Schapiro takes the reader on a visual journey into the daily lives of this diverse community. Here we are introduced to residents, their carers and family members, at work and play. “When I’m taking a portrait, I want to capture the spirit of a person,” he explains. That objective is very clearly met in the portraits in this book, which radiate with optimism, love and sincerity.

“I love Misericordia. It is always fun to be with old friends and meet new friends. 
There are always new things I can do here, I never feel bored. 
I like everything about Misericordia and I love saying good morning to all the staff on my way to work. 
Misericordia helps me to always feel good about myself!” Anna D., a resident. 

This quote is just one example of the sentiments expressed by those who live at Misericordia. In the book there are comments from residents as well as staff. The book is sectioned into 11 parts including Work Opportunities, Creativity Art, Technology, Children, Water Therapy and Athletics, Music and Dance, and Parties.

Misericordia provides a full continuum of care and services for those suffering mild to profound disabilities across diverse racial, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. Founded in 1976 by Sister Rosemary Connelly, who is the Executive Director of the Center, Misericordia not only supports its residents, but also operates an outreach service that helps more than 150 families in the community with children living at home.

Schapiro says, “Being a good photographer comes from that unique point of view that we all have and trying to do things with that sense of yourself and also of doing things you really care about”. Misericordia is that philosophy in action. It’s a wonderful, uplifting book. Its arrival comes at a time when some would try and shake our belief in humanity to the core. But Schapiro reminds us of the joy to be found in the smile of a child, the power of a hand extended in friendship and hope, and the significance of a place where everyone is welcome.

Misericordia: Together We Celebrate
Steve Schapiro
Published by powerHouse New York
186 pages

Inaugural Mongolian Photography Scholarship

Last year Melbourne’s Magnet Galleries hosted the exhibition Mongolian Lens 1 curated by Melbourne photographer and RMIT lecturer Jerry Galea. A feature of the exhibition was a ‘silent’ auction of 30 individual prints to raise funds for a scholarship to be awarded to a Mongolian photographer.

I’m pleased to report that the inaugural Mongolian Photography Scholarship goes to Mr. Delgerjargal Davaanyam, a young freelance documentary photographer from Mongolia's capital, Ulaanbaatar. A member of the Batzorig Foundation of Documentary Photography, Davaanyam teaches photography at the Radio TV Institute, one of the few places where photography is taught in Mongolia. The scholarship allows Davaanyam to spend four weeks in Melbourne, mentored by Magnet and RMIT.

(C) All images Delgerjargal Davaanyam

Photo Essay:
Donna Ferrato - Why They Marched

On the day Trump was elected I was due to interview Donna Ferrato. Of course the outcome was so insane that contemplating doing an interview was the furthest thing from Donna's mind. I'd waited two years for Donna to commit to that interview - yes I'm tenacious - so waiting another day was no big deal. And it was worth the wait! We canvassed a whole lot of subjects and I'll share the interview in full with Photojournalism Now readers in the not too distant future. 

One of the things I asked Donna about was what she saw as her next big challenge in photography?
Here's what she told me - "I think my next big challenge in photography is going to be taking off to create a body of work on Trump’s America, not alone I want to do it with other photographers. We have to go where the people think that they are really going to benefit from Trump’s Administration. I want to see what’s working, what's happening, without any judgement, but I think we really have to follow it, watch it, document it. This could be the biggest thing that’s happened here since 9/11. We have to get out there and see what’s going on."

On January 21 Donna was out there, at the Women's March in Washington. Here are some of her images taken for Macleans.  

(C) All images Donna Ferrato
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