Book Reviews

NEW - 2017
Laura El-Tantawy - Beyond Here is Nothing
Judith Crispin - The Lumen Seed
Steve Schapiro - Misericordia

The Light Collective Kati Thanda - Lake Eyre
Steve Schapiro - Bowie
Daniella Zalcman - Signs of Your Identity
Ryann Ford - The Last Stop Vanishing Rest Stops of the American Roadside
Paula Bronstein - Afghanistan Between Hope and Fear
Sandro Miller - The Malkovich Sessions
Stephen Dupont - Generation AK The Afghanistan Wars 1993-2012
Ingetje Tadros - This is My Country

Andrew Chapman - Political Vision
David Hlynsky - Window-Shopping Through the Iron Curtain
Jiang Jiehong - An Era Without Memories: Chinese Contemporary Photography on Urban Transformation
Anait Hayrapetyan - Princess to Slave
David Shields - War is Beautiful
Daniel Schumann - Purple Brown Grey White Black: Life in Death
Sam Harris - The Middle of Somewhere
Konrad Winkler - Moments of My Life
Stephen Shore - Uncommon Places The Complete Works
Feodor Pitcairn with Ari Trausti Guðmundsson - Primordial Landscapes: Iceland Revealed
Darren Almond - Fullmoon
Mary Warner Marien - Photography Visionaries
Ash Thayer - Kill City
Ken Schles - Invisible City & Night Walk
(see Feature Articles for story)

Vlad Sokhin - Crying Meri
(November 2014)
Majid Saeedi - Life in War
(October 2014)
Photography Today
(August 2014)
Michael Ast - Trying to Find the Ocean
(August 2014)
Under the Influence: John Deakin, Photography and the Lure of Soho
(August 2014)
Henri Cartier-Bresson - Here and Now
(July 2014)
Nathan Miller - Somewhere in Jaffa
(July 2014)
Stephen Shore - From Galilee to the Negev
(June 2014)
Danny Lyon - The Seventh Dog
(June 2014)
Paul Blackmore - At Water's Edge
(May 2014)
Joel Meyerowicz by Colin Westerbeck
(May 2014)
Chris Hondros - Testament
(April 2014)
Max Pam - Supertourist
(March 2014)
Ormond Gigli - The Girls in the Windows and Other Stories
(March 2014)
Nathan Benn - Kodachrome Memory: American Pictures 1972-1990
(February 2014)
James Whitlow Delano - Black Tsunami
(February 2014)

Jeannette Montgomery Barron - SCENE
Carla Coulson and Lisa Clifford – Naples: A Way of Love
Simon Menner - Top Secret
Peter Turnley - French Kiss

Beyond Here is Nothing - Laura El-Tantawy

Looking for home, for the place where she belongs has come to define the visual language of photographer Laura El-Tantawy. Born in the UK to Egyptian parents, Laura El-Tantawy has spent much of her life between cultures, living in England, and America and holidaying in Egypt. This yo-yoing between such diverse cultures has left her questioning the idea of home and where she may fit, a question that follows her no matter where she rests her head.

This is the subject matter of her latest book Beyond Here is Nothing, an exploration of the idea of home, this intangible concept that we attach to things – to a town, a city, a country, to a house or a flat. Yet the label ‘home’ is also used as a nomenclature for emotions that extend far beyond the idea of where we reside, the physical place where we keep our things. Home can be a person or people, it can be memories or emotions and as such it is an ethereal, almost obscure concept that eludes definition.

El-Tantawy says that living between cultures has, to a certain degree, made her feel “foreign and alien” regardless of which country she is in. “There’s a sense of loneliness that really grows out of that and I think the book has a lot to do with the idea of loneliness. A lot of the images I was taking were through that prism, where I felt completely stuck in that feeling. Many images are taken through windows, some in mirrors, others are reflections, really quiet moments”.

Beyond Here is Nothing follows El-Tantawy’s enormously successful book In The Shadow of the Pyramids another self-published title and a body of work that has been exhibited extensively. Shot in Egypt, Shadows also dealt with concepts of identity, belonging and the defining of home, but with the backdrop of the Arab Spring the visual narrative also reflected the collective hopes and fears of a country.

“With the revolution there was always something to photograph in Egypt,” says El-Tantawy. “But with this new work I really felt like I was photographing the un-photographable…at a moment where I felt like I had something very strong to say and photography was my only mechanism to communicate it.”

Beyond Here is Nothing is a meditative musing that offers an introspective view of El-Tantawy’s psyche and as such it is a very brave, and also inspirational, body of work that presents a compelling, if somewhat abstract narrative.

“Building this body of work was a way for me to cope with all these questions that I had. In that way it is very meditative. Making the work became doing something about that feeling of being stuck…the title has a double meaning too, it’s about reaching a place of perfection where you are completely satisfied or it is about darkness and feeling like you are completely stuck in this one place, that you don’t really know where to go.”

Even the design of the book itself seeks to convey the complexities of trying to define the notion of home by moving the viewer through layers of emotions. Superbly crafted as a three-spine book, it folds open to the left, right and above, so the reader views four images at once. In this format the reader’s first experience of the book is from El-Tantawy’s viewpoint. And that’s what’s so clever about the design. Once she has led you through her emotional journey, which involves pictures and text “which act as punctuation marks,” the viewer has the opportunity to rearrange the pages, to fold the book in a new way, to put the images in a new order, and create a different perspective to experiencing the work.

El-Tantawy explains the thinking behind the design saying, “It’s a book about searching for something that I personally can’t find and I think it’s the same for the viewer. You are peeling through these layers of emotions and you get confused, and lost and you fall in love in some moments, you dream in others and then you reach the end of the book and you think, okay what do I do now? That’s kind of been my state of mind in the last few years and that’s what the book is about, it is trying to reflect on that.”

She concedes that loneliness is not something that “is particularly unique to me,” acknowledging that many feel lonely, but are perhaps uncomfortable speaking about it. “There is a kind of shame in admitting you are lonely, but it’s not a psychoanalytical book in anyway, it is an artistic mediation. I always work from a place of honesty and I think this is going to resonate with people”.

Many of these images were originally posted on El-Tantawy’s Instagram account, but she says the transient nature of online viewing made them feel less real, whereas print has given them life, so to speak. “When I look at an image online usually it is very easily forgettable, and maybe it is because of the number of images I see. They come into my view and then disappear. Having them as a print or in a book gives them staying power, the image confronts you whereas once it disappears on your timeline on Instagram it’s gone, you don’t see it anymore unless you make a conscious effort to find it. What I really love about seeing these images in a book form also is that it brings for me a sense of closure with the work”.

While the subject matter may on the surface sound somewhat grim and depressing, El-Tantawy assures that it is a story about possibilities. “It is uplifting at the end,” she laughs. “But you have to go through the experience, the journey, to arrive at the light”.  Beyond Here is Nothing

The Lumen Seed: Records of a search in the Australian desert - Judith Crispin

In recent years there have been a number of photographic publications that focus on Australia’s indigenous culture. Most hone in on the tragic circumstances of our First People, who often live in the most atrocious conditions, victims of consecutive governments that claim a desire to liberate when in fact they oppress.

These are important stories to tell, visual narratives that shed light on issues that as a society Australia needs to recognise and make a genuine commitment to change. But these stories also tend to pigeonhole an entire people and are not the only tales worth telling. Our Indigenous people have lived in harmony with nature and this wild continent for more than 40,000 years. And still many live the way their ancestors did, passing down knowledge, traditions, Law and language. It is here that we find The Lumen Seed, a deeply emotional, yet accessible book about one woman’s descent into darkness and her walk to the light.

Judith Crispin is many things; a poet, photographer and scholar, as well as a mother, friend and daughter. She is also a cancer survivor. Just as these labels don’t define her, neither do the photographs and stories in her book define those who feature. Rather, Judith gives us a glimpse into moments that when combined provide a picture that is far more expansive in its storytelling than one image, one poem, one narrative can ever be.

The book begins with Judith sharing the moment she was told she had cancer. A survivor, she doesn't dwell on the illness, but rather what it gave her, a sense of urgency: time is precious. “Don’t wait” she says, a lesson learned from another friend who had succumbed to the disease, but a lesson she didn't recognise until she faced her own mortality.

Judith says she felt an overwhelming urge to flee. Her inner voice told her to return to the land of the Warlpiri people at Lajamanu, in the Northern Territory, where she had visited several times before. The desert was literally calling her, but what it wanted to tell her was yet to be revealed. 

Judith says her book, The Lumen Seed, which features photographs and poetry, is a book of “magic that describes the world hidden inside this world, a world seen only by Aboriginal elders and by the dying”. The Lumen Seed is more like a personal diary, an artist’s journal, a rambling story that is not linear, that leaps from one story to another. But how could it be linear when our thoughts and feelings rarely pour forth in a logical progression, especially when we are in search of ourselves.

The book unfolds as thoughts moving from one idea to another in an unhurried fashion. There are the political moments with references to Maralinga the site of atomic bomb tests back in 1953, the ramifications of which are still felt today; the irreverent moments like the photograph and story of the UFO-themed van park at Wycliffe Well in the Northern Territory; and the spiritual moments that assuage the mind.

In The Lumen Seed Judith shares stories of her own experiences, and those of the Warlpiri people. The voice of Elder Jerry Jangala is ever present, which makes the experience even richer. As the book unfolds the words of the Elders shape a story about belonging and identity that is encapsulated in this quote: “without the connection between the land and the person, the individual is lost, empty inside, not connected to anyone or anything or the land”.

The poem The Lumen Seed is long and requires time to read and digest, but this verse in many ways sums up the book:

What would it mean to wake in the desert’s arms? 
To wake and see sparks climb 
from the dark line of night, cigar shaped 
and silver, igniting spinifex. 

The Lumen Seed: Records of a search in the Australian desert

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 a 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.

Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre
Interpretations from the Air
The Light Collective 

In their first book, Australia’s The Light Collective, a group of five landscape photographers claim their objective is “to explore modern interpretations of Australia’s immense and unique landscapes to invite deeper reflection on the immeasurable value of our wild places.” In Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre, this intention is fully realised in the ethereal beauty of these images.

Lake Eyre is an important part of the Aboriginal Dreamtime of the Arabana people. Located 700 kilometres north of Adelaide in the South Australian Desert, Lake Eyre is the world’s 13th largest, and Australia’s biggest, salt lake. On average floodwaters cover the Lake every eight years, and it has only filled three times in the last 160 years. When there is water the Lake becomes a breeding site for waterbirds, and when it is dry it presents a vast, seemingly endless expanse of white that stretches as far as the eye can see.

(C) Above images Adam Williams

I’ve seen numerous photographs of Lake Eyre shot from the ground, but these images from the air are striking in their rich texture and complexity and the fact that there is no reference point – no horizon, no sky – enhances the abstract imagery. Here Lake Eyre is at once a palette of pastels, an artist’s canvas dripping with vibrant hues, an etching seemingly carved from the earth. Deep rivets run through the landscape, shorelines become the sweep of the painter’s brush, waterways spread like capillaries across skin, algal blooms are marked by iridescent blues and greens and shifting colours in the salt, soil and rocks create almost otherworldly vistas. 

(C) Above images Ignacio Palacios

I am drawn to the power of nature that is so evident in these images. There is something about seeing the Lake from above that sparks one’s imagination for it is a view that few of us have the opportunity to see first hand. In some images the landscape presents as giant jellyfish floating across a vast sea, in others abstract shapes take form, evoking ideas of birth and renewal. 

(C) Above images Luke Austin

When you shoot in a remote location like this there are often wonderful anecdotes like the bidding war the photographers found themselves in with two pilots in one of the small towns bordering the Lake. As the prices for a two-hour flight soared, the photographers took their business further down the road finding a couple of pilots that wouldn’t break the bank. And pilots who were also happy to remove the doors from the light planes, and to fly at varying altitudes, to accommodate the photographers’ needs.

(C) Above images Paul Hoelen

Each of the photographers in this volume – Adam Williams, Luke Austin, Ignacio Palacios and Paul Hoelen – present different perspectives on the way they see the Lake. They also share their personal thoughts on Lake Eyre in text, adding to the experience of seeing this remote and foreign land through their eyes. Yet the images by their abstract nature are open to interpretation making the viewing experience enormously satisfying. It’s a wonderful debut and the works will be on show in Sydney 10-29 January at Black Eye Gallery.

Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre
The Light Collective
Available from
128 pp

Steve Schapiro - Bowie

David Bowie was the soundtrack to my teenage years. He was a huge influence on my musical education. When I was in my teens The Jean Genie inspired me to pick up an acoustic guitar and even now when I hear that opening riff it transports me back to that time when I was squirreled away in my bedroom in typical angsty teenage fashion trying to pick out the notes. As an adult Bowie continued to impact me, not only through his music, but also his incredible erudition. He was one of the great intellects of my generation. A creative soul who knew no bounds.

American photographer Steve Schapiro knows firsthand the creative depth of Bowie. In 1975 he conducted a marathon shoot with the singer that went on for more than 12 hours. During that time Bowie donned various outfits, created art by drawing on walls, floors and his clothing and connected with Schapiro in a way that is just not possible when you only have a few fleeting moments to capture a portrait.

By the time Schapiro came to photograph Bowie he was already well established as one of the preeminent “journalistic photographers” of his time, having cut his teeth on the Civil Rights movement in the sixties and gone on to photograph politicians who became friends, such as Robert Kennedy, as well as countless celebrities. Later he would also carve a reputation as a noted film stills photographer and his work on The Godfather series is legendary.

Schapiro is old school photojournalism. He started his career at a time that is often referred to as the Golden Age of Photojournalism, an era when pictorial magazines such as LIFE and LOOK were at the height of their popularity and using hundreds of pictures each week.

As a teenager Schapiro was fascinated with photography and in particular the magic of the darkroom, but it was Henri Cartier Bresson’s ‘The Decisive Moment’ that inspired him to take up photography as a career. “Cartier Bresson said there were three elements that made up a good photo; emotion, design and information,” he explains.

This philosophy had an enormous impact on the young New Yorker and it has subsequently underpinned his life’s work. Later Schapiro went on to study with legendary photojournalist W. Eugene Smith to learn the technical aspects of photography and the art of storytelling. “In documentary, you are trying to record a moment. You are not just trying to get close enough to get a portrait, you are trying to get a sense of the time period and the place,” he says.

“I had decided I wanted to become a journalistic photographer and the most you could aspire to at that point was to work for LIFE magazine, so I went out and did my own assignments. I did this story on migrant workers and it ran in a magazine called Jubilee, which would give you six to eight pages to really showcase your pictures.” The New York Times ran one of these photographs on the cover of the magazine and he was off and running.

“The sixties was an incredible time to be a photojournalist because there was more of an emotional flow—an ability to do more emotional pictures that captured the spirit of a person,” says Schapiro who documented the seismic cultural and political changes of that decade. “I worked a lot for LIFE magazine and with the person you were photographing you were like best friends while you were doing pictures. You might never see that person again in your lifetime but in that period of time you became very close. You didn’t have all the security, you didn’t have public relations people sitting around and saying’ no, no, no you can’t say that or you’ve got to fix your hair’. It was a different relationship. In that era we were working in so many different spheres.”

But from his vast career, one of the most memorable experiences is the 1975 shoot with David Bowie, who is the subject of Schapiro’s latest book simply titled ‘Bowie’. Schapiro says it was “amazing” to work with someone as creative and spontaneous as Bowie. When he got the call from Bowie’s manager Michael Lippman asking if he’d do the shoot, “I said yes before Michael had finished the question,” he laughs.

“I really didn’t know what to expect in the sense that I was aware of Ziggy Stardust and all the flamboyant costumes David wore throughout his early career. David arrived and was extremely calm, and almost over intelligent, and very quiet in a way. It was a surprise. He immediately borrowed a shirt from one of my assistants and went into the dressing room. We didn’t know what to expect, didn’t know what he was going to come out with, what kind of costumes he would wear or what he would appear as.”

Bowie emerged from the dressing room in an outfit, which included the borrowed shirt. He had painted white stripes on the clothing and painted his toes white too. Schapiro tells that Bowie proceeded to make big circles on the background paper, a sketch that turned out to be the Kabala tree of life. “It was a very spiritual moment when he came out of the dressing room in this outfit and began to draw. Obviously he had spirituality on his mind in a very strong way that day”.

Schapiro says shooting Bowie was similar to Buster Keaton, who Bowie named as one of his influences. “Often when I’m photographing actors as themselves, and not as a character, I have to give suggestions about what will work best for them as they become bewildered and don’t know what image to project. David had a very strong sense of what the shoot was about, and he wanted to experiment who he could be next, what his persona would be. He reminded me of Buster Keaton in that respect and I always enjoyed working with Buster”.

“The way I saw David is that he would build a character and once he was satisfied he’d done what he wanted to with that character he’d move onto something else. He always seemed to me to have this sense of personal growth, which I very much respected. He never stood still and that’s part of his brilliance.”

Schapiro says as a photographer he is “anxious to keep the shoot going as long as we can because I want to get as many images as possible. That day we became immersed in what we were doing and never thought about the time. David would come out with a fantastic outfit and I’d pick up my camera to photograph it and he would say ‘oh wait a minute I just want to fix something’ and he’d come back 20 minutes later in something totally different!”

But it wasn’t all about characters and crazy outfits and Schapiro says the last two pictures in the book really give a sense of who Bowie was as a person, rather than an artist. “These pictures are important to me because he is giving himself to the camera, rather than just doing things to create pictures that are going to be in magazines. He was really showing himself, it seems to me, he was making a direct contact with the camera as David. To me these pictures are more David than Bowie”.

In addition to photographs from that marathon shoot, Schapiro’s book also features photographs he took of Bowie on the set of the film The Man Who Fell to Earth. “A lot of those photos aren’t about the film,” he says. “We were just at odd ends and David was relaxing on set and killing time”.

Schapiro’s relationship with Bowie continued into the 1980s and a number of his pictures have appeared on Bowie’s albums. In 1987 Schapiro and his family were literally 15 minutes away from leaving the house for a holiday in Europe, when he got a call from Bowie asking him to come on tour. “I was honoured that he asked me, but I had to say no. We hadn’t had a vacation for a long time”.

While Schapiro didn’t work with Bowie again, clearly that 1975 shoot left an impression on both men. “The fact that in his final video Lazarus, Bowie came back to the outfit he had created in my studio, the outfit he’d painted and only worn on that day, was a strong emotional moment for me,” he concludes.

Bowie by Steve Schapiro

Signs of Your Identity
Daniella Zalcman

The winner of this year’s FotoEvidence Book Award was American photographer Daniella Zalcman’s Signs of Your Identity. As one of the jury members I am thrilled to showcase the book on Photojournalism Now, as I believe it is a wonderful example of a new approach in visual storytelling, in both the crafting of the images and in their presentation in the book.

Signs of Your Identity 
tells a complex story of the legacy of colonialisation and its impact on the First Nations people of Canada. In 2014 Daniella spent a month driving across Canada – British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario. “Very quickly I realised that every single person I interviewed who were First Nations and HIV positive had gone to something called Residential School. I’d never heard of that before,” she said. “Indian Boarding schools are what they are called in the United States and they still exist today. It occurred to me that the public health crises and the substance abuse and the destructive behaviour that is so often touted as an endemic problem in native communities was to me a symptom of this much bigger legacy”. 

A year later she returned to interview those who went to Residential School focusing her investigation on Saskatchewan, a plains province in the middle of Canada where the last residential school operated until 1996. Saskatchewan is also known for some of the most famously terrible Residential Schools. On this visit Daniella interviewed and photographed 45 people, and this is the work featured in Signs of Your Identity.

Wanting to portray the story in a way that didn't further marginalise or stigmatise those pictured, Daniella has created double exposures, where she combines the primary portrait with a secondary layer that depicts elements that are relevant to each person’s story. In some there is a photograph of the actual school or its site, in others there are geographic markers or items that evoke particular memories or sentiments. 

The book is small in format, but beautifully produced and one of the features I like the most is the use of transparent paper for the classic portraits. These pages precede the double exposure images and when overlaid give a lovely depth to the images and an engaging textural feel to the book. It also gives a multidimensional view of the person as you can see the portrait in reverse on the transparent paper. Most of the portraits come with a quote from the person featured. Intermittently there are small photographs of locations or ambient imagery that halts the pace of the book and gives time for reflection. 

It’s a really wonderful production from FotoEvidence that does justice to the work of this extremely talented young photographer whose unique vision and approach makes her one of the most exciting documentary photographers working today.

Signs of Your Identity
Daniella Zalcman
Available from: FotoEvidence

The Last Stop
Vanishing Rest Stops of the American Roadside
Ryann Ford

The great American road trip is the stuff of legends, and numerous novels, poems and songs have been penned about the thrill of being on the road. Part of the romance of travelling by road has been stopping at roadside rest stops, many of which feature unique characteristics that celebrate the state or city in which they reside.

Over a period of three years American photographer Ryann Ford made around twenty road trips to capture the roadside rest stops, which feature in her debut book The Last Stop: Vanishing Rest Stops of the American Roadside.

Ryann says the concept started as a personal project that gave her a visual respite from her work as a commercial photographer in Austin, Texas. “It was really interesting how it evolved, it was almost a selfish project. I wasn't worried that anyone else would like it, I was just pleasing my eye,” she said.

But as the project progressed Ryann saw a trend emerging as many of the rest stops were closed, earmarked for closure or in the process of being demolished. A narrative of lost cultural icons began to surface and Ryann started to think about photographing these sites for posterity, acutely aware that they were on the way to being extinct. 


In The Last Stop: Vanishing Rest Stops of the American Roadside Ryaan showcases 19 of the 22 states she visited. She predominantly focused on rest stops in the southwest although there are a few concessions to the east coast. But Ryann says the aesthetic of the southwest with its stark, isolated landscapes is what really intrigued her.

“The remote stops really convey the loneliness and I really loved shooting those stops that were the most remote and the most forgotten. The ones that had been closed off were my favourite, fascinating and completely forgotten and closed and rundown.”

The images are classic Americana with many of the rest stops featuring quirky designs that are indicative of each state’s history be it military, as is the case with the rest stop that features a giant missile or those that draw on Native American themes. At the Bonneville Salt Flats in northwestern Utah, which is known as the site for land speed records, the rest stop sports an impressive concrete structure funded by Goodyear Tires. Many of the rest stops were built between 1950 and 1970 and make a real cultural statement about the period of time in which they were constructed.

Flower Mound, Texas

Ryann says her favourite is the White Sands rest stop, which she shot on her first trip after a summer thunderstorm had swept through and cleared the crowds and the air. “I had seen photos of White Sands and it was just beautiful. It looks like snow and the tables are iconic and for me – we (Ryaan and her mom who accompanied her on most of the trips) had a picnic after making the picture and that is one of my favourite from the book”.

White Sands

As the attrition of rest stops continues in the US, The Last Stop: Vanishing Rest Stops of the American Roadside has become an important historical record, a fact that is not lost on Ryann.

“It’s crazy that something that started out as a personal project has come to represent a lost era in American road travel. I’m thrilled I got to do this project and that other people have found it interesting too.”

The Last Stop: Vanishing Rest Stops of the American Roadside
Ryann Ford
powerHouse Books New York

Afghanistan Between Hope and Fear
Paula Bronstein

How can you tell a story of Afghanistan that hasn’t been told? We’ve seen so much over the past decades on the conflict, on the victories and defeats, on the devastation of a people.

Award-winning photojournalist Paula Bronstein has been travelling to Afghanistan since December 2001 at the height of the push to oust the Taliban. While she has covered the conflict on assignment, Paula has spent more time photographing the Afghan people, getting to know them and the way the live, and also die. For the past 14 years she’s travelled frequently to Afghanistan, a country she admits has gotten under her skin.

When I met Paula a few years ago she was talking about doing a book on Afghanistan and thinking about how she would approach the story. Paula doesn’t do anything half-baked. She spent time figuring out what she wanted to say and how she wanted to say it. In 2015 she raised money on Kickstarter and in September 2016 I took receipt of my copy of the book, which quite frankly blew me away.

Afghanistan Between Hope and Fear
 takes you on a tumultuous emotional journey that is punctuated with vivid colours and visceral moments. The book is sectioned into three chapters – The Situation, The Casualties and The Reality.

In The Situation Paula gives an insight to the journey towards independence where photographs capture the training of the Afghan soldiers, the aftermath of suicide bombs, women voters and the election of President Karzai.

The second chapter The Casualties slams you into the ground with the horror of the impact of war on civilians. There are photos here that make you wince. Others make you recoil. They are gruesome, but you dare not look away because these people have lived this moment. The least we can do is look and acknowledge their pain. And acknowledge Paula’s courage in staying the course and taking these photographs. As she said in interview, “It’s important to show this. This is reality”. And Paula is not interested in telling the story any other way.

Paula doesn’t just take photos and walk away. She has often followed the stories of those she has photographed. She once told me that as journalists we have to help, and “while we can’t give money, we can still assist those in need. If you document something, you have a responsibility to help”.

While there are also confronting images in the final chapter, The Reality, such as those of heroin users shooting up, Paula also shares images that could be considered hopeful. In The Reality, which takes up half the book, the images soften and Paula shows us what has fascinated and sustained her interest in Afghanistan for so long: everyday life – kids skateboarding, a couple preparing for their wedding, schoolgirls playing at recess, a mother tending her baby, farmers harvesting wheat. And then there are quirky moments like the swan-shaped paddleboats that line the shore of a lake in Band-e-Amir National Park, which attracts tourists from around the country. These moments give the reader respite from the trauma of war, something the Afghan people are not yet able to claim.

The reproduction of the images is superb and Paula’s use of colour brings new dimensions to the imagery associated with the Afghan landscape. There is a foreword from journalist Kim Baker who worked with Paula and covered Afghanistan for The Chicago Tribune for five years. British journalist Christina Lamb, who has been writing about Afghanistan for 30 years, penned the introduction. It is a powerful combination to see Paula’s images and read the words from these accomplished journalists. A design feature worth noting is that captions appear with the photographs, which immediately gives context.

Afghanistan Between Hope and Fear may have been 14 years in the making, but it was worth the wait.

Afghanistan Between Hope and Fear
Paula Bronstein
University of Texas Press
228 pp

The Malkovich Sessions
Sandro Miller

American photographer and filmmaker Sandro Miller is a perfectionist, so it’s no surprise that this book from New York publisher Glitterati is more an artwork than it is a book. From the clear dust jacket on which words are printed in white on the inside flaps, to the gold pages that signify each new chapter and the double gatefolds within, this The Malkovich Sessions is a sumptuous production.

The book begins with the chapter Portraits, which features many of the first photographs Sandro took of actor John Malkovich. In 1999 Sandro met the actor when he was performing with the Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago. The pair connected creatively in an instant and since then they have collaborated on some of the most ambitious and stunning projects that have involved still and motion photography.

Chapter 2 Homage begins with an interview with Sandro and Jon Siskel, in which he talks about his working relationship with Malkovich and how he came to create the series Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich: Homage to Photographic Masters. I know this story well as I interviewed Sandro last year when he was in Sydney for Head On Photo Festival where his Homage was one of the main features. It’s an inspiring tale of two creative geniuses coming together to bring off a project that would have daunted lesser men.

Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich: Homage to Photographic Masters came while Sandro was in treatment for cancer. At the time he asked himself if he only had one project left, what would that be? He settled on the idea of paying homage to the great masters who had influenced his career including Irving Penn, Dorothea Lange, Robert Mapplethorpe, Annie Liebovitz and Richard Avedon. Sandro’s intention was to recreate these masters’ iconic images and to have John Malkovich appear as Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, Che Guevara, Mick Jagger, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol and other celebrated cultural identities.

In creating Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich Sandro spent 18 months painstakingly researching each image and learning the different styles of lighting for each era. One of the biggest misconceptions is that he just photographed Malkovich’s face and dropped it into the existing photograph, but Sandro and his team meticulously staged each photograph.

“People think it’s all done with the computer,” he told me. “I’m old school, I’ve been doing this for forty years. I use a computer like a darkroom. For the most part it’s all in camera and we’re very, very, very proud that’s how we did it. I had a rock star crew. Everyone brought their A-game including John.”

In the final chapter, Film, Sandro talks about the natural progression of his work with Malkovich and the three short films he’s directed – Butterflies, Ecstasy and Allegory of a Cave (now doing the rounds of the film festivals as Hell). There is also a fourth film released in October – Psychogenic Fugue.

Sandro describes Butterflies as “a disturbing film about a journey taken by many men, who, when they turn fifty years old, are released from their employment and replaced by a twenty something. Feelings of worthlessness enter their lives and they resort to the demons of our society; pornography, drinking, drugs, divorce and suicide”. Watch here.



The second Ecstasy, “is a crazy film about an underclass Italian man preparing himself in a nightclub bathroom for another night of raunchiness!” Watch here.

EcstasyAllegory of a Cave, which is now titled Hell, sees Malkovich kitted out in US military garb complete with rifle and aviator sunglasses, as he recites Plato’s essay.

This is a remarkable body of work by one of the most innovative, passionate and hardworking photographers working today.

John Malkovich & Sandro Miller

The Malkovich Sessions 
Sandro Miller
Available at Amazon
268 pages

Stephen Dupont 
Generation AK The Afghanistan Wars 1993-2012

I would that my photographs might be, not the coverage of a news event, but an indictment of war - the brutal corrupting viciousness of its doing to the minds and bodies of men; and, that my photographs might be a powerful emotional catalyst to the reasoning which would help this vile and criminal stupidity from beginning again. W. Eugene Smith.

This quote from W. Eugene Smith appears at the beginning of Stephen Dupont's opus on Afghanistan, which is a heavy tome in every sense of the word. But don't let that deter you as this is a story that needs to be told, needs to be looked at. What we know of Afghanistan is largely influenced by what we see on the nightly news and in newspapers and magazines. But these snapshots can't give an insight into the country and its people the way Dupont's 20 year study does.

Generation AK is sectioned into chapters each of which begin with diary entries from Dupont. Words and pictures need each other and Dupont's reminiscing helps to draw the reader into the photographer's world, albeit if only in our imagination because if you haven't done it, you cannot really imagine what it must be like to submerge yourself in a war zone. To do so voluntarily is another story altogether. But without photographers like Dupont these stories would never be told.

Dupont has an engaging storytelling manner, and his words sweep you along in the drama. As you move through the first chapter, The Civil War 1993-2001, the sounds of rockets exploding and bullets screaming overhead become an inner soundtrack to the anxiety riddled faces of the people who came under Dupont's gaze.

In the chapter on the guerrilla leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, Dupont tells how when he was travelling to meet Massoud he shared a helicopter ride with a dead Afghan General, the aircraft filled with the smell of "rotting flesh, formaldehyde and diesel fumes." My nose twitches with the suggestion, but the thought is quickly replaced by the force of the images, which capture Massoud with his followers as well as in quiet, reflective moments that make you wonder what this man who was idolised by his followers was really like.

Dupont's series Stoned in Kabul, where he followed two heroin addicted brothers Reza and Hussein, is also featured in Generation AK. I've seen this work in exhibition and it's truly startling, raw and unnerving, reflecting the savagery and desperate nature of life on the streets of Kabul.

The series Axe Me Biggie (explained as "a crude Anglo phonetic rendering of the Dari for Mister, take my picture") also features. Dupont shot these pictures in a three hour window on the streets of Kabul. The series comprises 18 portraits of Afghans photographed in front of a piece of black fabric rigged up to create a makeshift studio. These portraits say 'take my picture, let people see me, let people know that I am not defeated, let me look you in the eye and tell you my story'.

I first interviewed Dupont in 2008 not long after he had returned from Afghanistan where he'd narrowly missed being blown to pieces in a suicide bombing. He'd been travelling with a poppy eradication unit. In the book Dupont gives an account of that day and how he was operating on auto-pilot as he shot and filmed the scene, in which fellow Australian journalist Paul Raffaele was seriously injured. The pictures leave the viewer with little doubt that Dupont was lucky to have escaped this tour with his life.

Generation AK is a book that requires time to look at otherwise it become too overwhelming and the story gets lost in the horror of war. Dupont is a master storyteller. He knows how to build the pace, to combine images that convey a narrative that is complex yet accessible.

It always feels odd to talk about aesthetics when the subject matter is so grim, but this is a beautiful book and the reproduction of images in both black & white and colour is superb, which is what you would expect from Steidl. The book features a foreword written by Jacques Menasche.

When I look at Dupont's work the overriding emotion I feel is respect. Respect for this photographer who is driven to tell these amazing stories often at great personal risk and cost. And respect for the human spirit and the will to survive even in the face of untold horrors.

This is important work. Don't look away.

To buy the book visit Steidl 
To see more of Stephen Dupont's work visit his website

This is My Country - Ingetje Tadros

It’s 7am in a trailer park in Clinton, Missouri. Photographer Ingetje Tadros stands amidst the detritus of broken televisions, discarded furniture and rusting cars that are features of the park’s unkempt landscape. Dogs are barking hysterically. Suddenly a trailer door swings open spilling light into the gloom silhouetting a man in his early twenties. “Shut the fuck up!” he screams. Tadros catches his eye. “Who are you?” he snarls. “Who are you?” she replies boldly in English that is heavily laced with her native Dutch accent. She steps forward and introduces herself.

This was how Tadros started her first day at the 63rd Missouri Photo Workshop in 2011, which is renowned for its high standards and tough love. But there is little that unnerves Tadros, particularly when she is focused on getting the story, which is just as well as much of her documentary work centres on confronting subjects that involve minority groups and social injustice.

Since her teen years Dutch-born Tadros has taken photographs. In the early days she travelled extensively, and her particular interest was tribal communities in Africa. But she didn’t confine herself to that continent, and over the decades she’s travelled to more than 55 countries. It has only been in the last few years that she’s turned her focus to photojournalism throwing herself in the deep end and her trajectory has been nothing short of stellar.

In 2015 Tadros went to Visa Pour L’Image to promote ‘This is My Country’ her in-depth documentation of Kennedy Hill, an Aboriginal community in Broome, Western Australia. She came away with a book deal with FotoEvidence, as well as interest from magazines such as Stern, which recently ran a major spread. In 2015 she won the Nikon-Walkley Feature/Photographic Essay Award for the same body of work, which was on show at this year’s Head On Photo Festival in Sydney. At Visa Pour L’Image this year she took out the ANI Award and ‘This is My Country’ is also part of the projections at Angkor Photo Festival in Cambodia in December.

But this isn’t a story just about good fortune or being in the right place at the right time. It is a story about one woman’s dogged determination to be the best photographer she can be and the lengths she has gone to do that.

For the past four years Tadros, who lives in Broome with her husband where they run a restaurant, has focused on documenting the lives of the indigenous community at Kennedy Hill. But before she got to the point of turning her camera on her own backyard, Tadros attended numerous workshops around the world honing her skills including the aforementioned Missouri workshop.

“That was really tough,” says Tadros of her week in Clinton, Missouri. “In two days you have to come up with three stories, your main one and two back ups. And you can’t start on your story until the lecturer approves it. There’s a population of 10,000 and there’s 64 photographers running around trying to get stories so you can imagine it was crazy!”

Not to be outdone, Tadros decided to go to the “worst part of town” and that’s how she ended up in the trailer park. When she saw the man open the door of the trailer and yell at the dogs she thought, “that’s my boy! I told him what I was doing and said, honestly I can’t say why but I feel you are an interesting subject. So we started talking and he was the same age as my son and somehow we connected.” Tadros discovered he lived in the trailer with his wife and baby. She asked him to run the idea by his partner and said she’d be back.

By the time classes started that morning Tadros had her three stories lined up. When she pitched the trailer park story as her primary choice the lecturer said it was too hard. “He told me I needed permission from the wife also, so I went back. She was really nice and young. You know I’m a mother so I can relate to that age. I told them I had to stalk them for four days and wasn’t allowed to direct them. I was just going to document their lives, so if they sat around doing nothing that’s what I was going to photograph. And they agreed. So I went back and the lecturer said, no we can’t give you permission, it is going to be too hard for you. I got really shitty with them, I didn’t know debating the idea was part of the lesson,” she laughs at the memory. “They let me talk for about ten minutes, and I was arguing with them about why this was a good subject, what I could see happening with the story, and then they said okay you can do it. So it was like a test!”

Since that time Tadros has created numerous self-funded projects that focus on confronting, humanist themes including mental health in Bali, where she shot a photo essay on caged humans during her second Momenta workshop, a story that was picked up by the media, published widely and also exhibited in Asia.

While she isn’t driven by the need to make a living out of her photojournalism Tadros does work as a stringer for various agencies and newspapers mostly working on local stories. In recent years there’s been plenty happening in Broome and Tadros has been busy, but she says, “I don’t want to do it for the money, I really want to do it for pleasure, to learn and to also raise awareness. I know I am very privileged”.

It is this desire to raise awareness around stories that are seldom told, and rarely get mainstream media coverage, that led Tadros to look at her own backyard and the indigenous community at Kennedy Hill. “Have you ever walked into a really dysfunctional Aboriginal community? “ she asks. “It’s really, really full on, but I’m a strong woman. I walked in and asked them who was the boss. I talked to them about what I’d been doing and what I wanted to do and slowly I built up a rapport and relationship. I had to learn the body language and how to deal with the women who are very strong and also with the men. You have to be aware of your environment and take it slowly”. There have only been a couple of times when she’s felt the vibe was too heavy for her to stay.

“You know in the community there’s binge drinking and it’s full on and often the music is very loud. I speak really rough with them, but I always stay on the same level or go lower and sit in the shit, I don’t care. I asked them one time ‘how come you always let me in?’ They said, ‘last week there was this guy with a big lens at the fence and he was making photos over the fence and we chased him all the way back to his car. We don’t chase you because you always sit with us and you always ask to make photos.”

As the months became years Tadros built an amazing library of images that captured life at Kennedy Hill, the good and the bad. The more she integrated, the greater the access and community members began to allow her to photograph many personal moments. “I don’t use all the photos in my work, it is important to give back and they don’t have nice photos of their families and kids, so it’s wonderful to help in that way. I always give them prints”.

In the past year her work has become even more political as the Western Australian government has earmarked Kennedy Hill for closure as federal funding has been withdrawn. A few of the houses have already been condemned and fenced off and Tadros says what’s happening at Kennedy Hill is indicative of what is happening with tribal people all over the world.

“By closing communities, ancient knowledge that has been passed down through generations will get lost and people will be lost because of this disconnection (to the land) that nurtures them physically, emotionally and spiritually,” says Tadros. “That’s my drive, to draw attention to what’s happening. I’ve always wanted to do something with tribal people and the Aboriginals are tribal. I live in their backyard.”

The Kennedy Hill work is shot in black and white, which Tadros says was a conscious choice as the beauty of the landscape around Broome can be distracting and she wants the audience to focus on the people in her pictures. And every picture tells a unique story made possible through the access that Tadros has, access that comes through an extraordinary investment in time and the building of trust with each member of the community.

Even though she has a solid body of work now on Kennedy Hill, the story isn’t over for Tadros who still visits the community almost everyday when she’s in Broome. Her most recent photographs are of squatters from the bush who have come into town from desert communities that are dry or from cattle stations. “They told me come and we’ll cook damper for you. Come at 4am! So I got up early, brought flour and eggs with me and took some beautiful images of them making damper”.

This is My Country available from FotoEvidence

Political Vision – Andrew Chapman

‘Those who were there will be reminded in an instant, not only of the men but of an era, and of a drama whose last act had yet to be played out. Those who weren’t there, but who want to know what it was like, will find in those photographs a fertile place to start.’ – Don Watson

More than four decades of Australian politics can be found between the covers of Andrew “Scoop” Chapman’s latest book, Political Vision, which documents many of our nation’s leaders on the political trail dating back to the early 1970s. Author, screenwriter and speaker Don Watson, who was Paul Keating’s speechwriter and adviser during the 1990s, has written the foreword.

Beyond the world of photojournalism, Chapman is known for his best selling book Woolsheds, which has been reprinted numerous times. He agrees that shearers and politicians are two disparate subjects, but he’s been attracted to both throughout his career. “Photographers are collectors,” he says by way of explanation.

A student of the now infamous Prahran College, which in the 1970s turned out a number of Australia’s most renowned documentary photographers, Chapman came to photography as a teenager during a period of radical transformation in Australian politics. He was in the thick of it, an enthusiastic amateur with his camera at the ready, attending rallies in his lunch break and capturing the temperature of the nation.

In 1976 he photographed Gough Whitlam, “my first politician”. Next was Bob Hawke then the leader of the ACTU. After an appearance at Prahran College Hawke joined students at a local pub. Chapman was there to document the moment. “I took a photo of him having a beer, a rare photograph I reckon. In those days it was much more relaxed and you could get access to these people”.

After college Chapman worked on various suburban newspapers, where he says he learned the art of having a chat, and making people feel at ease with the camera. During this time he sold the odd political photo, but his big break came when he was asked to photograph Bob Hawke for the cover of Time. After that he became one of the political photographers for Time as well as The Bulletin amongst other magazines. 

Political Vision is as much a who’s who of Australian politics as it is a documentary on cultural shifts and each image carries within it a number of cues that point to what was going on politically and socially. Being the history buff I am that’s where the real interest lies for me in seeing how things were in front of the cameras and what went on behind the scenes, or as Chapman calls it, “looking between the cracks of the process”. As historical documents these photographs depict the trends of the times - clothing, hairdos, make up, architecture, automobiles, cityscapes - making them even more fascinating.

Of those he photographed Chapman says Keating was more difficult to deal with than others, as he was intensely private especially when it came to his family. Kim Beasley was affable and genuinely loved people. John Howard was incredibly polite. So who was his favourite? “I had a lot of time for Whitlam and he changed the landscape, but Keating I saw as a big picture man. People either loved him or hated him, but I always admired him. He was a very polarising character. But he had an idea for Australia and where we were going”. Oh for a political leader today who has half an idea of what this country needs! But I digress.

Sorting through forty years of photographs sounds like a daunting experience, but Chapman says going through his archives wasn’t the onerous task one might imagine and he knew what photographs were going to make the cut almost from the outset. “A hell of a lot of bad photographs go with getting a good one when you are shooting on the fly,” he says. “The good ones stand out and you go back through your files and occasionally you’ll find something that is historically important, but stylistically you know the ones that work. I knew what I had and knew the important ones”.

“Photographically one of my favourite pictures is the Howard family singing – looking between the cracks, Howard is putting this nationalism thing forward, and united conservative family values…that’s my favourite Liberal photo. My favourite labour photo is the one of Keating at an elderly citizen centre. It’s the synchronicity of having everyone in the right place and balanced – Keating, the media having a giggle in the background, the local member trying to get in the photo.”

Chapman is no longer on the payroll of the news magazines, or what’s left of them, but he holds a keen interest in politics. “These days I still get emails from the Liberals. I’ll be having breakfast and there’s an email saying the leaders are in Mitcham or wherever, and I’ll drop everything and go. That’s how you get those shots. I don’t do anything with them anymore as no one is buying them, it's just for my own interest”.

But don’t be fooled that Chapman is in retirement. He’s working on more of his own books with two more due out in 2016, as well as collaborating with others such as friend Adam McNicol with whom he’s recently released ‘Just Like Family’ the History of Rural Finance Bank of Australia, a story about putting farmers out on land.

As we wrap up our interview Chapman says, “For me photography started as a personal project, I worked in the middle and it’s finishing as a personal project”.

Political Vision

Window-Shopping Through the Iron Curtain – David Hlynsky

Between 1986 and 1990 photographer David Hlynsky took around 8,000 photographs in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, East Germany and Moscow with the aim of capturing the cultural differences between east and west using shop windows as the portal.

Certainly my own experience of visiting Eastern Bloc countries is borne out in Hlynsky’s photographs that depict the lack of signage, the outdated fashions, and the often sparse displays – three loaves of bread in a bakery window, a single pair of shoes, a beauty salon displaying a woman’s photograph next to a bottle of dishwashing liquid, and many stores with photographs or illustrations of the goods they sell rather than the goods themselves.

“In the dying days of the Cold War I saw these windows as a vast ad hoc museum of a great failing utopia,” writes Hlynsky in the introduction. “In 1989 this museum began to close abruptly, without prior notice or fanfare. Borders opened; a new circus came to town.”

This is a quirky collection of around 100 images that captures a now bygone era although in cities like Prague, Budapest, St Petersburg and Moscow you will still find shops that that speak to the days of Communist rule and carry the same idiosyncratic elements of those featured in Window-Shopping Through the Iron Curtain. For those who have not had the experience first hand, this books gives a unique insight into retailing in the Eastern Bloc.

Thames & Hudson

An Era Without Memories: Chinese Contemporary Photography on Urban Transformation – Jiang Jiehong

This book is so much more than a collection of images that document the rapid urbanisation of China’s cities over the past three decades. It is a social and artistic dissertation on the cultural impact of China’s urban progress often at the expense of its people, told through the eyes of various artists as they respond to the changes in their cities. 

CHEN Qiulin, I Am An Angel

CHI Peng, Sprinting Forward

The most significant revelation in An Era Without Memories is that over the past thirty years there has been mass destruction of historical buildings in favour of new constructions, the Maoist maxim ‘no construction without destruction’ still at the forefront of urban development. Those areas that have not been destroyed are shadowed by new constructions that have risen to shut them in. In many cities people have been moved on to make room for new developments for the nouveau rich, with the original residents relocated as areas become gentrified. 

MU Chen, Landscape as A Will

The book is divided into four thematic chapters: Ephemeral Cities features work by artists who have witnessed the transformation of their cities; The Otherness of the Real focuses on the reinterpretation of the real; An Alienated Home explores how rapid transformation changes perceptions of home; and Memories Invented reimagines scenes from a lost past. 

WANG Chuan, Day Dreams, Windy

YANG Yi, A Sunken Homeland, Nanjiao Residential Building

ZHUANG Hui, Longitude 109.88-¦ Latitude 31.09-¦
An Era Without Memories features 132 illustrations as well as essays by Jiang Jiehong with an Introduction by Stephan Feuchtwang. While the writing is at times overtly academic and somewhat convoluted, this book presents a curious collection of images that when viewed in context present a unique inside view to the sprawl of affluence and the urbanisation of China.  

Thames & Hudson

Princess to Slave - Anahit Hayrapetyan 

This book tells a little known story of what life is like for many Armenian women, who as children are treated like princesses and as adults like slaves. It is a brave story for it is the first time a female photographer has raised her voice against domestic violence in a country where women's rights are virtually non-existent. 

In Princess to Slave Anahit Hayrapetyan reveals the harrowing stories of five women who have suffered violence at the hands of their husbands and in-laws - often the mother-in-law will viscously beat her son's wife with planks of wood, rolling pins, metal and burn her. Verbal abuse is constant and these women live in abject fear and poverty.

In the introduction to the book Hayrapetyan says "I heard a number of stories about family restrictions and violence against women even when I was a child. There was a girl in our neighbourhood whose father had killed her mother, but we didn't ask her questions about it. It was a forbidden topic. As I grew, the number of stories of control and violence I heard grew as well. I started seeing them in a new light as my peers and close female friends were confronted with the problem."

She says the catalyst was learning that one of her female relatives had suffered a miscarriage because she'd been forced by her father-in-law to do hard physical work even though she was pregnant and carrying twins. At the same time Hayrapetyan heard this story, a sensational trial came to pass in Armenia - that of 20 year old Zaruhi Petrosyan who had been brutally beaten to death by her husband and mother-in-law.

This trial became a benchmark and galvanised NGOs in the field to form the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women. While there are few support services for abused women and there is still no standalone law declaring domestic violence a crime in Armenia, slowly women are beginning to speak out. 

In Princess to Slave Hayrapetyan shares her experiences of meeting women who have been abused in personal anecdotes that make the book even more compelling.


I read about Mariam in the online newspaper ‘Hetq.’ I called the editor and he gave me the name of her village. At the time I was pregnant with my first child. All night I wriggled around in bed thinking about what I would tell them when they opened the door at my knock. I set off early in the morning. In the village no one knew what had happened to Mariam. I asked around and found her house. I knocked on the door and she opened it. I don’t even re member what I said. I only remember entering the house. We talked together and I told her stories of other women. I told her about the Women’s Resource Center and about the possibility of finding support.

Mariam’s husband had taken her to St. Petersburg, where he and his mother badly abused her. They tortured her physically, beating and burning her, and psychologically, hiding calls from her family and telling her she was abandoned even though her father was searching for her. She escaped after ten months. Mariam’s father was working and had the money to hire an attorney. Mariam was the first to speak out about what had happened to her and to seek justice. Her case caused a public outcry, with competing demonstrations outside the courthouse. She was extremely brave and succeeded with the help of many supporters. Now, she works in a shelter. We see each other from time to time."

The book features text in both English and Armenian with a foreword by Lara Aharonyan, Director of Women's Resource Centre of Armenia. The design is sympathetic to the subject matter and some stories of abused women are told in verse juxtaposed against photographs of young girls "princesses" and the abused women.

It is Hayrapetyan's hope that her book will aid in bringing this draconian treatment of women out of the shadows and help to bring light to the darkness. Princess to Slave is a remarkable and important book.


David Shields - War is Beautiful 

In War is Beautiful: The New York Times Pictorial Guide to the Glamor of Armed Conflict American writer David Shields contends that the New York Times (NYT), one of the most august newspapers in the world, has been complicit in promoting war through the conflict images it publishes on its front page.

Shields frames his argument through analysing 1000 photographs from the Iraq and Afghanistan incursions that have appeared on the front page of the NYT since October 1997 when the paper first began publishing colour images on page one. In War is Beautiful he codifies these images into ten chapters - Nature, Playground, Father, God, Pietà, Painting, Movie, Beauty, Love and Death – claiming images easily slot into each of these categories.

In the same way an image needs a caption to be fully understood, it’s necessary to look at the definition of each of the chapters as outlined in the book to grasp Shields motivation. Only then does the proposition become clear.

“Nature: military action becomes a habitat, the preserve of masculine desire for war. 

Playground: war is the playground that authorizes the male psyche to exercise its passions. It’s also the dangerous arena into which the Times sends its employees to win awards and promote its brands.

Father: Within another culture the American warrior is presented as protection and relief from chaos. 

God: The military commands the globe.

Pietà: War death = Christ’s death on the cross. The process of removing the body from the cross and battlefield is sacred. Mourning is always muted and respectful. Hysterical grief is banned. 

Painting: War stuns the senses to the point that its portrait needs to be painted over and over. 

Movie: The positing of action heroes, video games and special effects in cinematic stills…Technology and art erase the body’s grotesque disfigurement and death. 

Beauty: Portraits of the other: the occupied and displaced, mostly women and children, beauties seeking salvation. Male sacrifice is consecrated in these faces. 

Love: Proximity to death, which marks the separation between military and civilian life is unmistakably erotic. Like sex, war is a force that gives us meaning.

Death: The machine rolls on; the war dead incarnate the immortal epic.”

In explaining these categories Shields says, “It is almost as if the Times has a very limited repertoire in which they say ‘okay you guys we need a photo today of war as movie’. I must have found 70 photos which comported to war as outtakes from glorious war movies and I could have done the whole book as war is cinematic, war as movie”.

“In my analysis very few, if any, front page A1 pictures since October of 1997 have conveyed anything of the horror, the cost, the consequence of war. To me as many as 700 of those photographs I analysed can be read as beautified and sanctified, glamourised and glorified war.”

The exercise has clearly been painful for Shields who for decades was an avid supporter of the paper. He says he feels like the NYT has let him down and that he has been duped. On the one hand the paper has conveyed scepticism about the war through its editorials, and on the other it is has used photography to actively support war. “For over 20 years I’d get up every morning and read the paper, but I began to realise I was consuming war porn. Basically these images were hiding in plain sight, ostensibly covering war, but they were actively promoting it and that seemed to me extremely insidious”.

Shields acknowledges that photography has been used as a tool of propaganda for more than a century. “Yes of course media and government have been in complicated conversation, but there is a famous American phrase which is ‘journalism is supposed to afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted’. I think the Times pretends to subscribe to journalism as the Fourth Estate, and in American fantasy there’s this idea of journalism being a crucial antagonist against the government”.

Had the images in question been published in a right-wing paper there would be no argument to mount says Shields. “I found myself truly baffled wondering what these pictures are doing on the front page of the Times when they seem to me to belong on the front page of the New York Post or USA Today or some other Murdoch megaphone”.

He continues. “It’s almost as if all of these images, all of these photographers and photo editors have become comfortable with a stylised gesture toward war, but never a real grappling with the war. Real journalism is supposed to upset readers, but these photographs are pure wallpaper, they’re almost screensavers in which people just glance and go ‘oh yeah that’s someone’s tank and it’s a sunset, and there’s a fireball and it’s kind of pretty. Okay now let’s move onto the rest of the website or the paper’. I say it is almost like the New York Times is selling this idea of war not being hell, but war being heck, or not even heck, war is heaven. I haven’t ever served in war or been in a theatre of war, but this is a complete fiction that obviously the Times is selling for economic, cultural and political reasons”.

When images are taken out of context, as is often the situation with front-page photographs, the narrative can be lost. This is a source of frustration for photojournalists who having taken multiple images of an event, know that a publication will choose only one to run on the front page. Often this photograph is the most sensational or aesthetically pleasing depending on the message to be conveyed.

In years gone by the NYT led the world in its brazen coverage of conflicts such as the Vietnam War. When the Eddie Adams photograph of South Vietnamese General Nguyen Ngoc Loan, chief of the national police, shooting Vietcong officer Nguyen Van Lem, came down the wire on 1st February 1968 John G. Morris was the paper’s picture editor. He made the decision to run the image on the front page of the paper, a move that was echoed by other newspapers around the world. This image is now considered one of that war’s most iconic, but Shields contends the NYT of today would never allow a photograph of such brutality to appear on its front page.

This is the crux of Shields argument. That the NYT has rescinded its role as the Fourth Estate and is in league with those it is meant to keep honest. Although the publication of the Adams photograph also had political connotations and one could argue that is the case with every iconic image, Shields’ concerns raise interesting questions in relation to future readings of history and the role of the visual news archive.

Shields acknowledges, and praises, the sacrifices that many photojournalists make, but he says the aesthetic of many of these images make them “immediately forgettable. They are so beautifully composed and so strikingly absent of any human viscera that the net affect is that you immediately process it as beautiful, you process it as war and process it as essentially harmless. I’d go even farther and say these pictures make us almost worship war, these pictures amount to a kind of, to me, military recruitment poster. At the very least they make war seem glorious I think”.

In the Introduction to the book Shields quotes President Lyndon B. Johnson who said about the Vietnam War, “I can’t fight this war without the support of the New York Times”. Shields follows LBJ’s quote with his own: “A Times war photograph is worth a thousand mirrors.” Expanding on this he says, “I was trying to make the point that these pictures carry an immense amount of refraction and reverberation. I don’t think readers of the Times can say if you don’t like the pictures too bad. I think these pictures set the political and cultural agenda for America, for the English speaking world, for journalism, for participatory democracy”.

He continues. “There was a famous case during the Reagan Administration when the TV show 60 Minutes ran a supposedly revelatory documentary piece on the Reagan Administration’s manipulation of visuals. 60 minutes compared the reality of things to the Reagan visuals. Later the Reagan Administration called 60 minutes and said thank you for the 15-minute commercial because no one pays attention to the actual words, all people pay attention to are the images. I thought that was such a cautionary parable. The Times might run statistics for the American soldiers who died that particular day, but what really enters peoples reptilian brain are these incredible sanctifying, glorifying, glamorising, beautifying and desensitising images”.

Images can be beautifully composed and lit and still convey an important message, but the homogenisation of imagery is also a concern. Due to its popularity photography is being mooted as the new world language, but the proliferation of images being uploaded and shared conceals the trend that puts forward a narrower view of the world. We may believe there are more images than ever circulating in cyberspace, but many of the mainstream news services run the same, or similar images, which are then repurposed and shared on social media platforms. While Shields does not address the idea of homogenisation specifically, the images in his book point to a common aesthetic emerging in conflict photography.

In conclusion Shields says, “I do think it’s a crucial part of being an assertive citizen in western capitalist democracy to read against the proliferation of images. I think it is unlikely that any of us is going to turn off the flood of images that are on the web or whatever, but if you could be an aggressively intelligent and deconstructionist viewer you are half way toward an educated public”.

“It’s not so much that the Times let us down, but that we all let ourselves down. I should have been more sceptical early on, it took me an unconscionably long time to realise how war was being sold to me under the guise of journalism. These pictures gain immense cultural traction and people might agree with the book or disagree, but the ripple affects of these pictures is gigantic.”

All photos: From War is Beautiful by David Shields, published by powerHouse Books.

Purple Brown Grey White Black: Life in Death – Daniel Schumann 

This is a beautiful book and an equally beautiful story. German photographer Daniel Schumann spent a year photographing nine residents at a hospice, documenting their journey and drawing focus on how we as human beings deal with the inevitable; death.

In Germany young people have to do Civil Service instead of Military Service. Schumann chose to undertake something he knew little about and had never had exposure to; working in a hospice. “I wanted to work with people. I am really thankful that I had this opportunity to work at the hospice – without the civil service I would never have had an idea to work there. It has influenced my ideas about life and my photography”.

Following this compulsory year of civil service in 2002, Schumann studied photography returning to the hospice four years later to being his first long-term project. Schumann sought permission from all those he photographed ensuring he asked only those who were able to make a considered decision about participating in the project. As the project unfolded family members were also involved in various capacities – a son held a reflector to provide Schumann with a softer light in which to photograph his mother. A wife called to let him know her husband had passed away and to ask Schumann to photograph him. 



“I followed each of them as long as possible – some I photographed only a few times and others over a whole year. With this project I am trying to show that every age of these people is very individual and that everybody deals with their situation very differently. Some are very peaceful and relaxed and have a feeling they have done everything in their life they wanted to do and are supported by family. Others are really struggling and are afraid of dying”.

I met Schumann in Sydney earlier this year where he was exhibiting this work for Head On Photo Festival. I asked him what it was like to photograph these people knowing that the end of his story with them would be their death?

“Civil service prepared me so I knew what would happen, but of course every time you get to know somebody it will be a loss when that person dies. It will be sad to lose this person. Photographing these people after death was a way for me to say goodbye and through this project I have found photography is a very good way for me to deal with and understand the world around me.” 



Throughout the book Schumann uses photographs of the forest in its four seasons to break the story. He says his intention here is to give the reader the opportunity to pause and think about what they’ve just seen and to also remind us that in nature there is birth and death with the changing of the seasons. “That’s absolutely normal for us to see every year. I want to propose the idea of trying to see our own decline in a similar way, as a natural process, to not have the feeling about death being something completely abstract and terrible. It happens to everybody of course…although I have no idea how I will view death when I get old”.

There are many things to like about this book. In particular the fact that Schumann chose only a few people to follow and has photographed them frequently throughout their journey, delivers an intimacy as well as clarity on the evolution of each individual’s experience.

Schumann, who also designed the book, says he chose to feature portraits in chronological order “so you meet people again and again. It was important for me not to focus on the decline of the person, so not to show their portraits all in a row where you focus on how they look. It was more about focusing on the personality of these people by not being able to compare them directly. To show more too of the cycle of life and how people are coming and others are going and how each of these situations are very individual”.

In Purple Brown Grey White Black he follows one woman, Ulrike, over the year and her portraits are interspersed throughout the book. He tells that she was an artist and knew what photography could do in expressing how she felt. “She had ALS so she couldn’t talk very well, but she told me she was using my photographs to communicate to her children what she was feeling“. 


Schumann has treated each person with dignity and it is uplifting to see that he has captured their personalities rather than just their illnesses or their isolation – so many who go into a hospice are shut out from the world, their dignity stripped with the failing of their bodies and minds, their individuality forgotten in the pace of hospice routine and modern medicine.

“When you go into a hospice you are drawn out of society. Nobody is going there if they don’t have to. I think especially for this reason people said yes I want to be photographed because I was saying I am interested in you, I care about the situation you are in, you are still important.” That’s a fabulous, and important message.

Visit Daniel Schumann's website 

The Middle of Somewhere – Sam Harris 

The “moment between moments” – that is what photographer Sam Harris says he was looking for in his quest to photograph family life. In his second book The Middle of Somewhere, it is this undefinable element, that unspoken something that makes this work so engaging, taking it from a collection of personal moments to a universally understood story.

The Middle of Somewhere, which won book of the year at the Lucie Awards this year, follows on from Harris’ first book, Postcards from Home, which documented life with his two young daughters.

In this new book, published by Ceiba, Harris extends the story to allow an insight into the family’s journey that saw them leave London, travel through India where their second daughter was born, and finally arrive in rural Western Australia where the now live in harmony with their surrounds. 

This story doesn’t follow a chronological order, which is part of its appeal. Interspersed with the photographs of his daughters at various ages and engaged in everyday pursuits, are snippets of writing inserted on paper that is reminiscent of a diary - post it notes stuck on a page, an excerpt from his wife Yael’s journal. A pictorial travelogue also features, again reproduced to evoke the idea that we are looking at a personal notebook. These design elements become conduits to a deeper narrative drawing the reader into an immersive experience as Harris and his family’s life unravels before us. 

The Middle of Somewhere is brilliantly edited and beautifully designed. It’s concise without losing its richness, the texture and weight of the paper and the luminous colour of the photographs allow the story to lift from the pages and for the images to take on a life of their own. It is a wonderful next step in Harris’ evolution as a photographic artist.


Moments of My Life – Konrad Winkler 

Another book based on personal experience is Moments of My Life - Konrad Winkler from M.33. Melbourne photographer Konrad Winkler has been taking photographs since the 1960s. In this book each photograph is paired with text that serves to explain the image through personal anecdote. It is written in a voice that suggest the author is having a chat with you over a beer or a coffee and that gives the book an idiosyncratic edge that really appeals to me.

As with other M.33 publications Moments of My Life is a quality production and its clean design by Jason McQuoid allows both the images and texts to receive the attention they deserve.  
In 2013 Winkler spoke of this body of work saying, “This is a (book) about photos; about why we take them and what they mean to us. It is about the photographs that we use to confirm and validate our existence; that help us remember both the significant as well as the insignificant events of our lives. We often remember things, not because they are important, but because we have a photo that we like and that makes us happy. What these images will mean to us in the long run, time will decide and many will be discarded. The text explores this connection, and is as important as the image, even when it slightly misrepresents it”. Moments of My Life really resonated with me and is highly engaging.


Stephen Shore - Uncommon Places
The Complete Works

‘His work is Nabokovian for me: exposing so much, and yet leaving so much room for your imagination to roam and do what it will’ - Tennessee Williams

Stephen Shore is a master at photographing the ordinary in such a way as to make it extraordinary, capturing moments that are invisible to many until illuminated through Shore’s eyes. His love for the vernacular and his ability to frame seemingly banal scenes and tease out their idiosyncrasies has made him one of the most lauded American photographic artists living today.

In Uncommon Places Shore takes us along for a ride across America, a trip he made several times in the 1970s on what he calls “journeys of exploration: exploring the changing culture of America and exploring how a photograph renders the segment of time and space in its scope. I chose a view camera because it describes the world with unparalleled precision; because the necessarily slow, deliberate working method it requires leads to conscious decision making; and because it’s the photographic means of communicating what the world looks like in a state of heightened awareness”.

Originally released in 1982 by Aperture, that edition featured 49 plates. A reissue in 2004 published by Thames & Hudson resulted in a book comprising 156 images. In the 2015 edition Shore has added another 20 photographs, many of which have not been published previously. This is a body of work that comprises hundreds and hundreds photographs that continue to draw Shore’s interest and he’s returned to the series numerous times to mine the collection. 

This edition also features entries from the journals Shore kept on the early trips that documented everything from what he ate, to motel receipts and shoot lists. If there’s any criticism to be made, it’s that there aren’t more of this entries, which add flavour and give an even greater insight into Shore’s thinking at the time.

The ‘In Conversation’ with Lynne Tillman is also illuminating. One of my favourite quotes from this lengthy interview is from Shore: “I’ve felt often like an explorer, and I’m interested in not just bringing my set of values and ideas to the rest of the country, but I’m also interested in seeing what’s there. When I got into the car to make one of those trips, part of it was the pleasure I would find in driving for days on end, driving down a road. I saw many roads that stretched onto the horizon. I found that it put me in a particular state of mind just seeing this landscape passing by the windshield for hours and hours. I would sometimes get bored listening to the radio and would amuse myself by reciting Shakespeare”.

Shore’s own journey is as eclectic and idiosyncratic as his images. At the age of 14 Shore, who was born in 1947, had his work bought by Edward Steichen for the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA). As a teenager he spent time at Andy Warhol’s The Factory, where over a five-year period from 1965 to 1969 he photographed the happenings in Warhol’s legendary artist space, and also watched Warhol at work. Shore says The Factory was his ‘art college’ and the experience “had an incredible effect on me.” At the age of 21 Shore became the first living photographer since Alfred Stieglitz to be given a solo show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Since that time he’s had numerous exhibitions around the world, and is the recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Grant. Today Shore is the director of photography at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. 

Uncommon Places
The Complete Works
Stephen Shore
Thames & Hudson
 Primordial Landscapes: Iceland Revealed
Feodor Pitcairn with Ari Trausti Guðmundsson

Those who ford the shallow river


enter the land,

far and deep.

Anyone who pats the rough crags

will not stay the same.

No one knows why.
(Ari Trausti Guðmundsson)

Few have the opportunity to experience firsthand the breathtaking vistas of Iceland where glacial melt water carves intricate patterns into the earth’s surface creating fantastical landscapes that trip the imagination.

In Primordial Landscapes Iceland Revealed photographer and naturalist Feodor Pitcairn captures the majesty of these natural wonders in a series of photographs shot from various perspectives including aerial views. Each image is accompanied by a short poem written by Icelandic poet, author and geophysicist Ari Trausti Guðmundsson.

Pitcairn began his photographic career as an underwater photographer and later cinematographer. His production company, which bears his name, is the winner of numerous awards for the series Ocean Wilds, shot over ten years. 

In recent times Pitcairn, who is 80 years old, has given up diving, and turned his attention to terrestrial landscapes. He’s embarked on several expeditions to Iceland to capture the natural beauty of one of the most romanticised places on the planet shooting on a Hasselblad, which he believes delivers superior colour, detail, and clarity.

In Primordial Landscapes Iceland Revealed Pitcairn reveals “a land of fire, ice, hardy life, and natural beauty. (The book captures) the remote beauty of Iceland, a land sculpted by the elements and forged by active geologic activity". A map and index provide intriguing geological and cultural information about the content of the photographs.

This is an exquisite production that does justice to the labours of the photographer and the beauty of the landscape he has captured.

powerHouse books

Darren Almond

The moon has long held the fascination of humans and in this series of exquisite, almost surreal painterly photographs, British artist Darren Almond gives us a unique opportunity to connect with the celestial world.

Shot over the past 15 years using exposures of half an hour, Almond captures a sublime view of some of the world's historic routes, traversing the globe to capture the landscape as the light of the full moon reveals it.

“Almond has followed the full moon through the Antarctic in the footsteps of Robert Scott (2002); at the Arctic Circle near Arkhangelsk Oblast, where Russian poet Joseph Brodsky was sent to exile (2003); to Provence, where Renaissance seer Nostradamus wrote his predictions in four lines mirrored in the four images of Almond’s Quatrain (2005); and to Yosemite Valley, where Scottish geologist and environmental activist John Muir long dwelled before succeeding as an early advocate of the preservation of the wilderness to establish it as a national park (2005).”

“Beguiled by the essential nature of light and its intense, symbiotic relationship with time,” Almond’s images depict not only the physical landscape, but evoke a sense of the impermanence of existence.

It is an intriguing dichotomy to see stars streaking across the sky above landscapes that appear to be shot in daylight, but on closer inspection it is obvious that the light that bathes these vistas does not come from the sun. There is coolness in the hues, a dense richness of colour where mist is imbued with a wash of pale mauve; the blue line of a river appears as if drawn in pastel; trees heavy with snow stand still in ghostly light; and wildflowers daubed with colour draw correlation to the artist’s palette. 

The book features more than 260 photographs, as well as an introduction by Sheena Wagstaff, head of the Modern and Contemporary Art Department of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, from whom the above quotes are taken. There's also an in-depth essay by writer and critic Brian Dillon.
This is another exquisite book from master publisher Taschen whose dedication to photographic reproduction makes Fullmoon a worthy addition to any art lover’s bookshelf.  

Photography Visionaries
Mary Warner Marien

“The enemy of photography is convention, the fixed rules of ‘how it’s done’ - László Moholy-Nagy 1895-1946

This is one of the many quotes in this wonderful edition that has fast become one of the most important reference books on my shelf. Beginning with Eugéne Atget and ending with Liu Zheng, Photography Visionaries features 75 of the most influential photographers throughout the medium’s history.

Photography Visionaries is a book of revelations, as one cannot know all the works, even of the masters. That’s what’s so exciting about this book, the fact that you learn something new, even if it is a small detail, like Berenice Abbott took Atget’s portrait in 1927. Or that Imogen Cunningham's pregnant nude, which evokes feminist values was taken in 1946. Or that Margaret Bourke-White’s photographs of the Louisville Flood of 1937 speak of racial issues as much as economic and environmental. The book encompasses the breadth of photographic genres from documentary, street photography, and photojournalism to fine art.

Ernest Cole

Frances Benjamin Johnston

Geraldine Krull

Gordon Parks

European and American photographers dominate, but there is also representation from Japan, China, India, Russia, Latin America and Mexico as well as South Africa. Each chapter features an individual photographer, with a short overview, career timeline and a handful of pictures. My only wish is that there could have been more photographs from each, but then the book would have taken on encyclopaedic proportions.

The production values of the publication are first class and photographs in both colour and black and white have been exquisitely reproduced. The design layout makes it easy to navigate. There is also a valuable ‘further reading’ section at the rear. 

Graciela Iturbide

Josef Koudelka

Mario Giacomelli

Peter Magubane

Standouts include Alexander Rodchenko (Russia), Lisette Model (Austria), Walker Evans (US), Nacho López (Mexico), Mario Giacomelli (Italy), Daidõ Moriyama (Japan), Frances Benjamin Johnston (US), Carrie Mae Weems (US), Santu Mofokeng, Ernest Cole (South Africa) and Lui Zheng (China). But in all honesty every photographer included has produced some truly brilliant work and getting to know a little of their story is enlightening.

“All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.” Richard Avedon (1923-2004)

Photography Visionaries
Laurence King Publishing

Kill City: Lower East Side Squatters 1992-2000
Ash Thayer

In the early 1990s, unable to pay the rent on her apartment in Brooklyn, photographer Ash Thayer, then a struggling art student in New York City (NYC), found a home with the squatters who populated the derelict buildings on the Lower East Side.

Left to rot, these tenements had been abandoned during the financial crisis that had brought NYC to the brink of bankruptcy 15 years earlier. With the city’s infrastructure in tatters, the wait for low-income housing was interminable. These buildings became illegal havens for those who otherwise would have been living on the streets of what was one of the city’s most nefarious neighbourhoods.

Squatters have a bad rep. Labels like freeloader and troublemaker, dog their steps. But Thayer’s experience and her documentation of the years she lived as a squatter tell a different story. Certainly many were radicals, anarchists, and free spirits, but the squatters were also a community that looked after each other and worked together to create liveable habitats.

Growing up in Memphis, Thayer, who was ostracised by the popular kids at school, naturally gravitated towards the fringe crowd. By the age of 17 she was living in an all-girl punk household. Her early experiences laid the groundwork and when she found herself with nowhere to live in NYC, and with an invitation to join the See Skwat, she didn’t hesitate.

Carrying her camera everywhere, Thayer began to photograph her new surrounds. She wasn’t a blow in, she was part of the community, and as such gained access that outsiders were denied. She lived rough - many of the buildings she squatted in had little electricity and no running water. She foraged for food in dumpsters finding the refuse of an overfed, wasteful city surprisingly edible. She gained building skills, helped her fellow squatters create homes out of the rubble, and learned about the politics of city housing, inequality and the callousness of eviction.

Her experiences during the eight years she lived in squats, come together in the book ‘Kill City,’ which is nothing short of extraordinary. Published by powerHouse ‘Kill City’ takes the reader on a journey into a world that few have experienced, and even fewer understand. Thayer’s photographs are so intimate that in many ways ‘Kill City’ is like a family album, albeit with an edge that firmly positions it in a time and place that is like no other. 

It is the personal that moves Thayer’s images from purely documentary, to a deeper level weaving a story that unfolds with the turning of each page. While there is no dressing up the reality – this is living hard – the photographs are not without hope. In fact as the book progresses the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the squatters becomes evident as we see the homes they have created in spaces that ordinarily would be bereft of warmth and life. By the time we reach the photographs of the street demonstrations it is clear that the squatters are not a disparate bunch, but a community fighting for its rights. Here the story reaches beyond the news headlines propelled by Thayer’s deeply personal narrative to deliver rare insights.

Thayer skilfully melds images of a city’s decrepitude with street scenes and intimate portraiture creating a rich visual archive. Thayer and her fellow squatters worked and partied hard. Some became parents, others fought for justice, but all contributed to the building of their community. While she lived in the squats Thayer managed to finish art school gaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts and much of the work she shot during this time is represented in ‘Kill City’.

Thankfully, despite the hardships she faced, Thayer kept taking photographs or this chapter in New York City’s history would not have been told with such honesty and perspicacity.

Kill City: Lower East Side Squatters 1992-2000
Ash Thayer
powerHouse Books
ISBN: 978-1-57687-734-0
(C) All images Ash Thayer


In the Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG) the rates of violence against women are inconceivable; more than two thirds of women suffer horrific abuse at the hands of their men and many are left disfigured after being attacked with knives and axes. Fifty percent of women in PNG have been sexually assaulted, although this figure climbs alarmingly in the more remote provinces, where in some areas 100 percent of women surveyed have been violated. Rape is also endemic, a right of passage for the Raskol gangs that prowl the streets of the capital, Port Moresby.

Yet statistics can mean very little when the numbers cited are so loaded with emotion they become incomprehensible; it is all well and good to talk about epidemic proportions, or to claim as the United Nations (UN) does that PNG women face among the highest levels of violence in the world. But what does that figure, that 50, or 90 or 100 per cent look like?

Open the cover of documentary photographer Vlad Sokhin’s new book “Crying Meri: Violence Against Women in Papua New Guinea” and very quickly these statistics become human beings, women whose lives have been shattered along with their bones. Their bodies are indelibly scarred and their eyes silently scream of the terror of numerous beatings and assaults, many at the hands of family members. To look away, is to deny them a voice, one that Sokhin has worked tirelessly to give them.

Sokhin, who is of Russian/Portuguese descent, began working on this story in 2011 while he was living in Australia. After three years and multiple trips to PNG Sokhin feels that his work has now come to a natural close with the release of  “Crying Meri” which was funded through Kickstarter and published under the FotoEvidence imprint. This week (24 November, 2014) Sokhin was denied entry to PNG for the book's official launch in that country. Despite the Prime Minister's support for the book, Sokhin was detained at the airport and sent back to Australia on the next flight. He will be in Canberra on 2nd December for the Crying Meri launch at Parliament House hosted by ChildFund Australia.

Through “Crying Meri” Sokhin has shed light on a story that few outside PNG had any understanding and his work has also undoubtedly contributed to altering the perception of domestic violence in that country. His photographs have been used widely by agencies advocating for a shift in the law and images from Crying Meri have appeared on placards carried in the streets by protestors calling for an end to violence against women. In 2013 the PNG Government abolished the Sorcery Act that protected those accused of sorcery-related violence, including murder, and also instituted the first Bill to criminalise domestic violence. Steps in the right direction, but there is a long way to go before these reforms resonate at a deep cultural level.

In “Crying Meri” the terror the PNG women face is told in three chapters - Danger on the Streets; Danger in the Home; and Danger in Superstition. Sokhin’s book provides indisputable evidence of the atrocities and has become a vital document in the fight for reforms and cultural change.

Some of the most moving moments in this book are found in Sokhin’s diary entries that are accompanied by Polaroids. Next to a photograph of a woman named Julie (below), Sokhin writes: “Julie’s prosthetic leg - Julie’s father chopped off her leg when she was nine months old. “I don’t remember it myself, but people say that my father had a fight with my mother and he chopped off my leg during the fight,” said Julie. “Mum brought me to the hospital and never came back. When I was 17, I went to Lae hospital to make a new false leg. Raskols attacked me on the street and raped me. I got pregnant then. I love my son. He is everything I have”.

In conclusion Sokhin says that while he hopes his photographs may contribute to cultural change, “what is more important for me is to see an individual helped. I know of a few women whose lives changed because someone saw my photographs and assisted them. That’s an achievement I’m very proud of”.

Crying Meri
Vlad Sokhin
Published by FotoEvidence
97 colour images/127 pages


I met Iranian photojournalist Majid Saeedi at Visa pour l’Image last year when his exhibition, Life in War, was featured in the core program. Since then Saeedi has gone on to win the 2014 FotoEvidence Book Award for the same work, with the official launch of his book, Life in War, in New York earlier this month.

Saeedi has covered the Afghanistan conflict for more than a decade. But his interest in that country and its people extends beyond the news headlines and since 2009 he has lived amongst that country’s inhabitants and focused on telling the story of daily life in a war zone.

When we spoke at Visa he told me his motivation for looking beyond the death and destruction of war to the individual, is influenced by a desire to know the people that he comes into contact with, beyond a superficial understanding.

“A lot of us sit at home and don’t even know our neighbors. I wanted to get closer to the normal people of Afghanistan, to live with them, eat with them and talk to them. To tell their stories, which have become part of my life also.”

He continues. “And as a photographer I believe it is my responsibility to show how other people live their lives”.

Saeedi is a multi-award winner and has been named Photographer of the Year in Iran eight times. While these awards acknowledge his professional achievements, it is seeing the reaction from the general population to his work that is the greater reward.

“For me the most important thing is to show the daily life of Afghanistan. Last year I won a World Press Photo award, but I wasn’t as happy then as I was when I saw my exhibition and how the audience is affected by my images. The reactions of their faces…that made me the happiest.”

Saeedi says being able to show his work in an extended format, such as a book, enables him to communicate a more complete story to the viewer as opposed to one or two photographs in a news context. “The images we see in the news are part of a bigger story. I hope through this collection of photographs that people gain some understanding of the reality of life in Afghanistan”.

In Life in War, Saeedi has drawn focus on those living with the constant threat of violence, where explosions and gunfire are part of everyday existence, and where landmines that litter the countryside can rip human flesh to shreds in seconds. Yet amongst the devastation and constant threat of danger, life goes on; babies are born, couples wed, children play and people do their best to make a living.

When you consider Afghanistan has been at war for 35 years, there is a generation who has known no other life, a terrifying statistic that is born out in the faces of those in Saeedi’s book.

“People don’t expect to return home every time they go out,” says Saeedi. “War is death. It is all around them but they go on living. Life in war. They are living in a paradox.”

Shot in black and white, Saeedi’s images capture those everyday moments that make up a life – baking bread, making clothes, shopping at the bazaar, families eating, and children flying kites amongst rubble. Juxtaposed with these fleeting views of normality, are the images that reveal the deeper scars of war; the women who have set themselves alight in protest of harsh laws that confine them; the adults and children who have lost their limbs to landmines; the numerous families who have buried their loved ones too soon; the shattered buildings and the decimation of infrastructure. Saeedi’s photographs in Life in War leave the viewer with little doubt that in Afghanistan war is omnipresent, as is the human spirit to survive.

Yet Saeedi wants us to see what he has, to look closer at the person behind the face that has been etched by war, to the individual. “We have seen countless images of Afghanistan, particularly images of soldiers and aid workers throughout the country, but these images don’t portray the real Afghanistan. War is not the only thing going on in Afghanistan,” he says.

“In my work in Afghanistan, I have focused on everyday life. The good that people live even during war. The most important thing for a photographer, I think, is to live with the people as they live. To experience life as the people experience it. I reached that in Afghanistan.”

Life in War
Majid Saeedi
85 B&W images
Introduction by Ed Kashi
Personal note from the Afghan Prime Minister Dr. Abdullah
Published by FotoEvidence
All images (C) Majid Saeedi

About FotoEvidence

FotoEvidence was formed to "continue the tradition of using photography to draw attention to human rights violations, injustice, oppression and assaults on sovereignty or human dignity wherever they may occur". Instituted in 2011, the annual FotoEvidence Book Award recognises a photographic project "documenting evidence of a violation of human rights".


 In the week that photography celebrates its 175th anniversary it seems appropriate to post my review on a new book from Phaidon, “Photography Today,” which looks at the genre from the 1960s to now. 

Putting together a book of this nature is an ambitious project. There will always be contention around who is included and excluded, but there are obvious omissions in this book that are concerning. Two prime examples - Don McCullin is missing and there’s no mention of Eugene Smith whose groundbreaking work on Minamata was published in the book’s timeframe. Both of these photographers would have fitted in either the ‘History: Witnessing Atrocity’ or ‘Documentary: Engagement and Exploitation’ chapters.

While the work of the likes of Joel Meyerowicz and Susan Meiselas is without question in being essential to any history of photography, the inclusion of these photographers, and others, in more than one chapter implies the breadth of research is not as comprehensive as it should be. The final chapter, Photography Tomorrow, is a paltry 14 pages long, and reads as an afterthought.

(C) Joel Meyerowicz

Geographically the reach is also disappointing with the focus Eurocentric, and American. Of the 163 photographers, 75 percent, or more than 120, are from Europe or the USA, almost an even split. While there is a smattering of artists from Asia, South America, Africa, Japan and Russia, their inclusion feels tokenistic. It is frustrating to also see that Tracey Moffatt is the only Australian included in the book. Bill Henson is an obvious omission, and it is disappointing to see that his groundbreaking portraiture work, which is held in collections around the world, has been overlooked.  

(C) Prince

(C) Struth

(C) Wearing

(C) Sternfeld
(C) Larry Burrows

 (C) Bourdin

(C) Holdt

Having said that, there are some fine photographers included in the names that UK-based Durden has selected. The book also features more than 500 images and this alone makes it worthwhile for anyone interested in the history of photography. Split into 11 thematic chapters, Photography Today canvasses conceptual photography through to more traditional forms of portraiture and landscape as well as street photography and the aforementioned documentary categories.

Even though photography is one of the newest art forms, because of its accessibility there are many more practitioners than in more traditional visual art spaces. I would have preferred to see a different title for this book rather than the grandiose sweep that ‘Photography Today’ implies. It would be erroneous for anyone to buy this book and presume they are getting the full picture, but read in conjunction with other historical publications a more complete understanding of the genre emerges. However, for those who already have an understanding of the history of photography I am not convinced Photography Today adds anything new to the conversation.

The first thing I noticed about American photographer Michael Ast’s debut book is how these images carry the tempo of a city, in this case Baltimore, Maryland. It is almost as if Ast’s camera is a barometer for the mood of this town seen in its human and animal inhabitants, its concrete structures, cracked roads, dilapidated buildings and steaming vents.

In “Trying to Find the Ocean” Ast creates a seamless narrative that gains momentum as the pages unfold and there is definitely a sense that as you move through this book you are part of a journey that is both physical and allegorical.

Even though Ast says it wasn’t his intention to document Baltimore per se, he has definitely captured the personality of the city and the welcoming nature of its people shows through in these revelatory pictures, which are underpinned by Ast’s training as a photojournalist. 

It was at College that Ast first discovered the power of photography after a friend showed him a book on war photography. “I’d never taken photography seriously before and I remember seeing those images and realising the heightened sense of alertness and drama that could be captured in a photograph. It was dynamic. That resonated with me and so I got a couple of rolls of black and white Tri-X film and stuck them in some shitty Pentax camera and started taking pictures”. It didn’t take him long to get hooked and he quickly changed his major.

Graduating in 1996 Ast hit the freelance trail photographing for local newspapers in his hometown of Philadelphia, but the life of a freelancer isn’t for everyone and Ast found himself gravitating towards advertising and a permanent paycheck. He landed a job that required him to be on the road, sometimes for weeks at a time, and so Ast began to enjoy the best of both worlds, shooting his personal projects in his free time while he was travelling for work. As time moved on Ast’s photography became his art. He threw in his advertising job, went to work for his family’s fabrication business and devoted his free time to pursuing personal projects, a path that has led him to “Trying to Find the Ocean”.

“I’ve been photographing now for almost 20 years and I feel like I am at the best place ever with it. Photography has taught me that every moment counts, I guess you could call it mindfulness, and I am so thankful for finding that,” he says. “To me everything is beautiful in some way or the other and I’m happy when people tell me that I made them look at things harder and inspired them.”

Ast has used photography also to exorcise personal demons and he says “Trying to Find the Ocean” is a euphemism for that period in his life when he was trying to sort things out. “When I was doing this story I was going through a bit of a dark period, so making the images in the book was very cathartic. I think with any photograph there is a little bit of self-portraiture, it is this introspective and extroverted thing happening simultaneously”.

The friendliness of Baltimore’s citizens also aided Ast in finding his feet with this project. “Baltimore spoke to me immediately, it is an amazing town, and the people are unbelievable. Philadelphia is so close by and they are very similar cities, but socially the people are just worlds apart as far as characters and their personality. It felt like a welcoming town. In Philadelphia people are constantly asking why you are taking a picture, but I never experienced that in Baltimore. Where there was a sense of hostility in Philadelphia that just seemed to lift when I got to Baltimore and I felt completely in my element and free to wander and do my thing”. 

Colour Versus Black and White
Free from the distraction that colour photography can at times induce, Trying to Find the Ocean’s black and white images slow the eye down and Ast says it was a conscious choice to shoot this series in black and white.

“In a chaotic urban environment black and white allows me to listen to my gut and not so much about whether this little piece of cyan is going to throw off this very magenta scene. Colour is really challenging. When I work in colour I work a lot slower. But I’m not a heavy shooter, I need to be engaged in something and I’ll wait for that heightened moment. When I make the photograph I know if it’s a keeper and I store them mentally so the editing process for me is not too difficult because I have things mapped out in my head.”

The superb printing of the book also enhances Ast’s black and white images. “Books are my thing and I can’t get enough,” he says confirming “Trying to Find the Ocean” was printed offset and not digitally. “The smell of ink, it’s a beautiful thing,” he adds laughing.

Ast has self-published and is using social media to promote his book. “Without social media I wouldn’t get the attention I am after,” he says. “Being able to post announcements and with people knowing other people and sharing, it spreads like a nice little wild fire. It is kind of neat to see the book going all over the world and I’ve been sending it pretty much everywhere”.

To purchase Trying to Find the Ocean click here  (C) All image Michael Ast

by Robin Muir

“Being fatally drawn to the human race, what I want to do when I photograph is to make a revelation about it, so my sitters become my victims.” John Deakin

English photographer John Deakin’s reputation as a boorish drunk largely eclipsed his talent during his lifetime and at the time of his death in 1972 at the age of 60 he was virtually destitute and his photographs forgotten.

Yet Deakin was an enigma. An artist whose considerable potential was squandered with drink and self-indulgence, Deakin was reportedly “loved and loathed in equal measure”. At one turn he was described as a “nasty little man” and at another, deeply insightful, with his compassion for his fellow man (sic) evident in his startling portraiture. Deakin’s images still stand today as a marker to what truly great portraiture is all about, but it is not due to his care and diligence that his archive remains. When Deakin died friends found piles of prints and scratched negatives under his bed.

John Deakin in characteristic pose, 1960s, photographed by Daniel Farson

Photography entered Deakin’s life in the 1930s when he was living in Paris. Until that time painting had been his artistic vent, and his passion for this medium carried through to his photography with a number of hand-tinted images produced around this time. But the camera soon replaced his easel and in the style of Eugène Atget, the city’s streets and its underdogs became his muse.

But it wasn’t until the 1950s in London’s bohemian quarter of Soho that Deakin really came into his own. This period was most prolific and while he was still erratic in his work ethic, he managed to shoot for the likes of British Vogue as well as taking intimate portraits of those in his inner circle. But the dark side of Deakin’s nature was never far away and here in the smoky twilight of Soho’s pubs, Deakin and his cronies - Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Dylan Thomas amongst others – frequently drank themselves into stupor.

Deakin’s Soho period is the subject of a new book “Under the Influence: John Deakin Photography and the lure of Soho” written by Vogue’s ex-picture editor Robin Muir and published by Art/Books (UK). The book features photographs Deakin took for Vogue including his iconic portrait of artist Francis Bacon posing with two sides of beef, an “in-the-mood study” of one of Bacon’s recurring themes (below). But in typical Deakin style he missed the deadline and the image never ran as intended. 

Francis Bacon 1952 Vogue

Tony Abbro, newsagent, Old Compton Street, December 1960
Portrait of an unknown girl in a café, 1960s

In “Under the Influence” Muir’s prose reads more like fiction such is the fascinating tale of Deakin’s numerous rises and falls and the pace of the narrative. Fired from Vogue not once, but twice for cumulative transgressions including the loss of his Rolleiflex, which he left in the back of a cab, Muir’s Deakin is at once a rogue and a misguided soul. Yet Muir’s words are without judgment, and he finds balance in sharing stories of Deakin’s sensationally bad behaviour with critical assessment of his work.

While the title suggests the focus is on Soho only, this book offers a much greater insight into Deakin’s oeuvre beginning with his earliest works in Paris in the 1930s. His time as a photographer with the Army, Film and Photography Unit of the British Army in World War II also features. During his service Deakin toured Cairo, Syria and Malta, the latter claimed as a major influence on his subsequent documentary photography.

“Under the Influence” is a beautifully produced book that does justice to Deakin’s extraordinary images in its exquisite reproduction of the black and white images in particular. These photographs leap from the page enhanced by the book’s design – clean and uncluttered, with blank white pages throughout – that allow the images to convey their stories without distraction. Also interspersed throughout are journal entries and proof sheets, which aid in imparting further insights.

Wrapped in a dark aubergine fabric with Deakin’s portrait of author JP Donleavy, resplendent in a fur trimmed coat sitting in a Soho bar, inlaid on the cover, “Under the Influence” holds within its covers the unfurling of a story that once known is not easily forgotten. 

 Jeffrey Bernard, writer, Soho, 1950s

Jackie Ellis, actress, 1960s

   J. P. Donleavy, author and playwright, Soho, 1950s

Under the Influence: John Deakin, Photography and the Lure of Soho by Robin Muir published by Art / Books 2014, £29.99 hardback 


by Clément Chéroux

“Photography is, for me, a spontaneous impulse coming from an ever attentive eye that captures the moment and its eternity.” Henri Cartier-Bresson

This is a weighty tome, in physicality and in content. The kind of book you flick through several times before settling on a chapter with which to spend a few hours, for time passes quickly when you immerse yourself in such an exquisite volume.

Cartier-Bresson was a visual artist, a man who loved to paint and draw, passions that developed at a very early age. But he was also a man who loved to explore new forms of artistic expression. Living in Paris, in what is known as the ‘luminous years,’ Cartier-Bresson fell in with the Surrealists and by the end of the 1920s he’d discovered Eugène Atget and turned his attention to photography. 

Foule attendant devant une banque pour acheter de l’or pendant les derniers jours du Kuomintang, Shanghai, Chine, décembre 1948

Alberto Giacometti, rue d’Alésia, Paris, 
France, 1961

“Here and Now” takes the reader on a chronological journey through Cartier-Bresson’s artistic life and features sketches and paintings as well as his earliest photographs, coming full circle to conclude with Cartier-Bresson’s return to drawing in the early 1970s.

Amongst the many wonderful pictures and stories contained within this beautifully bound book are some true gems that not only point to his evolution as a photographer, but also as a human being. I love the photographs of Cartier-Bresson’s first portfolio featuring pictures he took in Africa in 1930, which he then pasted into a spiral-bound exercise book. Then there are his images of the destitute and impoverished taken in the early to mid-1930s, at a time when Cartier-Bresson’s socio-political fire was lit.

When Cartier-Bresson and his friends - Robert Capa, Chim, George Rodger and William Vandivert – started the photographic collective Magnum in 1947 the five divided the world carving areas each would cover. Cartier-Bresson’s beat was South and South-East Asia and one of his first ‘assignments’ was to photograph Ghandi, whom he met with only hours before Ghandi was assassinated. These photographs were picked up by Life magazine, and Cartier-Bresson went on to cover some of the major historical events of the 20th Century for that publication including the rise of Mao Tse-tung and Russia after Stalin’s death. But while Asia was his beat, Cartier-Bresson continued to photograph his homeland and these works, which are perhaps lesser known, show the depth of his interest in the world around him conveyed in his unique visual signature.

Within the covers of “Here and Now” are 500 images and illustrations that are accompanied by the insightful narration of Chéroux who takes the reader on a jaunt through history. It’s worth taking the time to read each of the sections, to digest the images, and to reside in those moments brought to life in the frames of a master. This is undoubtedly one of my favourite books of the year.

Published by Thames & Hudson


“A town forever kissed by the sea will never be contained. No border can confine her, or restrain her or bar her. No border can suppress her or make her disappear, forgotten by history. She is rebellious and beautiful; yielding but also spirited. She is strong as the sea, sustained by its strength. She has seen so many sunsets, she is no longer afraid of the dark – long and chilling as that may be. She knows the light is stronger and it will find its way back to the sky like waves coming back to the shore. This is my Jaffa.” Asma Agbarieh-Zahalka. 

Israeli photographer Nathan Miller lived in close proximity to the port city of Jaffa for more than 20 years. As a young man in Tel Aviv, Miller rarely gave this ancient city a thought; he was more interested in seeing the world, than exploring his own backyard and spent years traversing the globe photographing cultural histories before ending up in Australia where he now lives.

As is often the case when it comes to creative projects, Miller’s ‘Somewhere in Jaffa’ began completely by chance. On a trip to Israel fate played its hand. Unable to find accommodation in Tel Aviv, Miller bedded down in Jaffa for the first time. “Suddenly a new world opened up to me and I fell in love,” he states.

Jaffa is one of the world’s oldest cities, and perhaps the oldest port city. It is a cultural melting pot with a population of around 46,000 – Jews, Christians and Muslims – all living together, all citizens of Israel. So it is not surprising when Miller says, “Jaffa is a place of contradictions”. 


This town is bristling and bustling with life, but while Miller’s photographs create a lively palette with which to picture the city, they also hint at a political undercurrent in Jaffa. Here the inequitable division in wealth is profound and the cause of community unrest, a subject addressed in the book’s essay by social and political activist Asma Agbarieh-Zahalka. It is her hope that Miller’s book, which she describes as “an honest record of a difficult period in the life of a town struggling to maintain her dignity and her charm” will create greater understanding towards Agbarieh-Zahalka’s hometown of Jaffa.

And Jaffa has many stories to tell. Here polar opposites exist side by side – religion, politics, culture – in an unlikely mix of “ethnicity, tradition, the old and the modern” says Miller who immersed himself in the local scene over multiple visits. Miller found the locals outspoken, but also incredibly hospitable and welcoming. On many occasions a chance meeting in a café would result in Miller being invited back to homes to share meals with families. He says there are few places in the world where this would happen once let alone numerous times.

It is Miller’s easy interaction with his subjects, in private homes and public spaces that make his black and white photographs so engaging. In true street photography style Miller has captured moments as they happen, simple scenes that tell stories rich in history bringing to life the personalities of Jaffa.

“Somewhere in Jaffa” is beautifully designed and printed. Miller’s thoughtful prose and his strong, intuitive compositions allow the reader to walk the streets of this port city and indulge the senses. Here the smell of coffee is interlaced with salty air. Exotic spices waft from street vendors’ food stalls to mingle with the heat of the day, and the grit of sandy dust. In these photographs one can hear the cacophony of animals, people, and vehicles in the coming together of life. Tales both old and new are etched in the city’s ancient walls and stone pathways and into the faces of its residents.

Today Jaffa is part of the sprawling cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv. Yet Miller says “Jaffa has lost none of its own genuine vibrant spirit…it is the place that gives spice and extra flavour to Tel Aviv”.

Somewhere in Jaffa
Nathan Miller
Published by M.33(C) All photos Nathan Miller


“interpretations depend very much on who the interpreter is, who he or she is addressing, what his or her purpose is, at what historical moment the interpretation takes place” Edward W. Said
In Stephen Shore’s epic book ‘From Galilee to the Negev’ there is a distinct sense of Shore’s intent and focus from the first pages on this expansive book, which comes with its own map and designated “sites of interest” and “photographed locations”.

Shore’s capacity to pursue a story that took him 17 years to complete, is one of the hallmarks that have made him a master storyteller. Shore, who took to the road in the seventies with camera in hand and hasn’t looked back, is considered one of the pioneers in documentary colour photography. Cited as an influence by many – Nan Goldin, Andreas Gursky and Wolfgang Tillmans amongst them – Shore was the first living photographer to be given a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1971; prior to Shore the last artist was Alfred Stieglitz in 1931.

Situated within ten dedicated chapters – Ashqelon, Galilee, Tel Hazor, Tel Aviv, Gaza, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Hebron, Negev and Sacred Stones - Shore’s idiosyncratic photographs stitch together the desert landscape, the passing of time, the rise of the modern and portraits of local residents to create a visual tapestry that is unique to Israel, and to Shore. ‘From Galilee to the Negev’ is Shore’s interpretation of this part of the world, and little has slipped past his astute gaze. 

Tel Aviv, March 23, 2011 

Large crater, Negev Desert, September 29, 2009  

In the urban city of Tel Aviv, Shore captures cosmopolitan Israel in the bustling streets, busy cafes and growing number of high rises dotting the skyline. In the Negev the desert’s arid moonscapes and isolation draw the reader’s eye and in Jerusalem his portraits of local residents give context to daily life in this ancient holy city.

Shore says with this book it is his intention to tell a story about Israel that isn’t loaded with the stereotypes of “suffering and heroism, of victims and perpetrators”, labels often associated with this part of the world.

In From Galilee to the Negev each chapter leads with an essay that addresses one particular image. Written by leading artists, writers and academics the essays add another layer to this complex work. In the chapter ‘Galilee’ the New Yorker’s Jane Kramer responds to Shore’s image ‘Sderot’ taken in September, 2009. This photograph comprises a map, a man’s hand pointing and his shadow cast across part of the image. Kramer writes: “The map in Stephen Shore’s photograph is, as maps go, neutral, something a pilot might use to get his bearings, benignly distant from the problems of the ground. Its divisions are faint, vague, even reassuring – thin red lines that in reality, have been drawn and redrawn, in the course of three wars, with the blood of thousands of young Arabs and Israeli soldiers”.

Tel Aviv, June 17, 2010 

Jerusalem, September 23, 2009 

Ramallah, October 3, 2009 

This is a book that takes time, you can’t rush through it if you have any intention of understanding it. Give the essayists their due and read their words, ingest the images, listen to others’ thoughts and allow your imagination to run free. Leave behind the snippets of history that dwell in memory and make you think you know Israel. Take Shore’s journey of discovery, meet the people, walk across the pebbled roadways, wipe the grit of sand from your face, and jostle for position at the local market. These are the joys of photography, allowing your imagination to drop you into a photograph to wonder.

From Galilee to the Negev
Stephen Shore
Phaidon 2014


“The Seventh Dog” is the first retrospective monograph from American documentary photographer Danny Lyon. This book is as much a visual diary as it is a personal recollection, with images and anecdotes interwoven throughout in an intimate portrayal of what Lyon has seen over the last fifty years.

And it’s also a rollicking good read that is moved along by Lyon’s humour and his frankness. Unafraid of controversy, and throwing caution to the wind, Lyon plunged headlong into life using his camera to try and make sense of what was around him. Photography may be a lonely pursuit, as Robert Frank said, but the gems that live within the pages of The Seventh Dog could not have been taken without a single-minded focus.

The appeal of Lyon’s images is in their familiarity. He has the ability to transport you to that very moment and once you are there Lyon opens a door that invites you deeper into the image. It is here in the layers that the most interesting stories are told. 

In The Seventh Dog I am particularly drawn to Lyon’s black and white imagery and the way he’s captured New York over multiple decades. Not the shiny New York of travel brochures, or the glorified drama of the seedier side of New York. Rather Lyon’s images are of a raw New York, not dressed up or down, but just as she is, and he has captured the city’s pulse in the telling of her stories. 

There are also many tales in this volume that remind us of an America now diminished, lost in a flurry of homogenisation, in strip malls and bland suburbs. Much of what Lyon presents in The Seventh Dog no longer exists. The book begins in 2012 and works its way back to 1961, to end firmly rooted in nostalgia. “We are going backwards, into the past. A past I lived in. A time I loved,” says Lyon.

Lyon came to photography in the makeshift darkroom of his childhood home in Queens, New York where his father Ernst, a German immigrant who earned a living as a doctor, shared his true passion with his son; making images.

Danny Lyon grew up in an era where it was normal for him as a twenty-something to be riding a taxi with Robert Frank and debating the merits of combining text and imagery. Frank was apparently completely against the idea while Lyon was adamant photography books with text were the future. Now in his 70’s Lyon toys with the idea that he is now the old master hankering for the good old days and looking back with rose-coloured glasses to a time when there was greater freedom to follow stories that spoke to the heart.

Fighting Against Authority
Subjects around anti-authoritarianism and counterculture movements have been major influencers for Lyon throughout his career. In 1962 he was on the ground in Alabama as the US Civil Rights Movement gained momentum. At the time Lyon was 20 years old and his inner political animal was just stirring. He says the experience in Alabama was his “coming of age”, although it could be argued his membership of the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club a couple of years later was his defining moment and certainly his work from this era is singled out. 

His book The Bikeriders, photographed during his time with the Outlaws, is considered a seminal work, as are other books from this period including 1969’s The Destruction of Lower Manhattan and 1971’s Conversations with the Dead, for which he photographed inmates of the Texas Department of Corrections. "I spent 14 months talking to these guys. They broke my heart. Prison is one story after another, and every one breaks your heart. I was young enough then to care," he said. 

The Seventh Dog features images from these series as well as lesser-known works, but all are underpinned by the fact that Lyon did care about the stories he shot and his emotional investment is obvious. There is also a collection of more personal works and Lyon shares with the reader his struggle to maintain his familial responsibilities and live a life true to himself. But despite the hurdles that life threw, Lyon remained committed to using photography to explore social issues and the Seventh Dog cleverly weaves these stories into a narrative that builds on itself in a retrograde fashion. 

Over the decades Lyon’s has lost none of his zest for the drama of protest or for the questioning of authority. In 2012 at the age of 70 he shot a series around Occupy Wall Street. At the time he said, "Occupy makes my heart beat”.

The Seventh Dog
Danny Lyon


At the turn of the new millennium Australian photographer Paul Blackmore packed up his life in Sydney and moved to Paris with the intent of furthering his career as a photojournalist.

“Even in 2000 in Australia photojournalism was really just an after thought so going to Paris, where photography is respected, and where there are so many venues for it, was like a wonderland,” he recalls. “The French really respect photojournalists and the public know photographers and their work and support them by buying books and going to galleries. Paris is an incredibly vibrant city for photojournalism and when I was there it was one of the great periods, a really vibrant time when there were a lot of photographers from around the world living there.”

Here in this enclave of creativity and collaboration Blackmore quickly found his feet. Within a short time he was shooting for Agence Rapho and traversing the northern hemisphere creating photo essays for the likes of Time, L’Express, Le Monde and Geo.

In between assignments Blackmore also spent time thinking about the personal projects he’d like to explore. One thought that persisted was the relationship between human beings and water, the essence of all life on earth. He travelled to Russia, the Middle East, South America and Japan and spent time on the sub-continent and island nations as well as his homeland. He photographed religious festivals, urban environments, remote communities, and leisure activities, all the time expanding the concept.

“While I was shooting I was thinking about how in a globalized world water ties us together. We are now so interconnected and that’s one of the elements that I tried to bring into this project,” he explains.

In Bangladesh Blackmore witnessed first hand the endemic pollution that is directly linked to the West’s predilection for outsourcing manufacturing in the name of cheap labour and high profits. As he saw the toll of these practices, both on the health of human beings and the planet, his work began to speak of environmental degradation also.

(C) All images Paul Blackmore

This body of work became “At Water’s Edge” which has toured the globe as an exhibition and is now a book. Shot in black and white, the dramatic contrasts of dark and light undulate across the paper, rippling like water itself, lapping at the edges of thought. Blackmore’s photographs are both lyrical and documentary in their composition. He has shared what he has learned, not only what he has seen, in the thoughtful framing of each scene.

From the vastness of the Pacific Ocean to the toxic black waters of the Buriganga River in Bangladesh; from the voodoo pilgrimage in Haiti, to the holidaymakers bobbing in the Black Sea; from the water pipes that carry fresh water to Mumbai’s elite to the squalid lives of refugees in Ethiopia, “At Water’s Edge” reminds us that no matter our race, gender or the size of our bank account, we all rely on fresh water for our very survival. It is a precious commodity and yet the devastation of our fresh waterways and oceans continues apace. While Blackmore’s photographs are in part celebratory, they also serve as a warning.

“At Water’s Edge”
Paul Blackmore
Published by T&G Publishing Australia
306mm wide x 260mm deep / 12 x 10.4 in.
Hard Cover with Dust Jacket: 132 pages with over 59 duotoned B/W Photographs
To buy the book visit T&G Publishing here
To see more of Paul Blackmore's work visit his website here


“Photographers learn to accept the gifts that come their way because surely life produces moments crazier than we can conceive.” Joel Meyerowitz

In 1962 Joel Meyerowitz was working in New York as an art director when he was given the opportunity to sit in on an advertising photo shoot with Robert Frank. At the time he had no idea who Frank was, but the way the older man worked with his camera seamlessly integrating himself into the scene sparked something in Meyerowitz’s imagination.

From that moment Meyerowitz devoted himself to photography turning his sagacious gaze to the streets, finding irony and humour in everyday moments. His early work was propelled by a frenetic dynamism, but this gave way to a more considered approach as he began to learn more about his craft. Again it was Frank who coached Meyerowitz albeit remotely. Immersing himself in Frank’s iconic The Americans, “this deep, dark poem about America” as Meyerowitz described Frank’s book, launched him on a journey that would occupy him for most of the sixties.

During this period Meyerowitz travelled extensively throughout the US and also Europe using black and white photography “to study my photographs more intimately than one could study a colour slide”. Yet his passion for colour, seen in his breakthrough book ‘Cape Light’ that was first published in 1979, saw him become an innovator in the field. 

1967 Paris  From the book Joel Meyerowitz by Colin Westerbeck, 2014

1975 JFK Airport  From the book Joel Meyerowitz by Colin Westerbeck, 2014

This new publication from Phaidon, “Joel Meyerowitz,” is a pocket-sized book that features some of Meyerowitz’s earliest colour work. There is also a selection of black and white photographs. This collection of images spans nearly five decades with the majority situated in the sixties. It is a mini history of Meyerowitz’s oeuvre, yet despite its size the scope is undoubtedly satisfying and gives a sound insight into one of the masters of the genre.

But what sets this book apart is that each image is accompanied by a comment from Meyerowitz:

New York City, 1962 - “A girl in a red dress in an arcade window tenderly grooms a curl in her boyfriend’s pompadour, perhaps the way she used to curl the hair of her dolls when she was a little girl. In the beginning it took all my courage to raise the camera and look in on a scene of intimacy, but there was a plate glass window between us, and it afforded me the protection I needed to study him and to see the tender beauty of her gesture, before disappearing into the night to look for other moments to photograph.”

Five More Found, New York City, 26 October, 2001: “I saw men running hard over the hill of twisted, knife-edged steel, running in the dark. I ran after them, and as I came to the crest and looked down into the pit of the South Tower I saw this scene. It needed nothing from me but my attention. It played itself out in near classical terms – some viewers even see a resemblance to Rembrandt’s Night Watch – uniformed men massed in the centre around the glowing, golden light. A fireman had just come out of the wreckage into the light and in grave tones said that the bodies of five firemen had been found – the stairwell they were in had flown nearly 100 yards from the North Tower. How to describe the barely visible but deeply felt response to the word? The recoil, the blow to the chest that seemed to crumple their hard-coated bodies, the silence that fell over them. More than anything else, it was the silence I saw”.

These personal anecdotes transform this book from a collection of random images to one that provides true insight not only into Meyerowitz’s capacity as a photographer, but also as a chronicler of his time. His words, which at times are almost poetic, allow a glimpse into the mind behind the eye, confirming the authority street photography can possess when eruditely executed.

Joel Meyerowitz
by Colin Westerbeck
Published by Phaidon Press

by Alison Stieven-Taylor

Within the covers of Testament sit the images of a master storyteller. Even though these photographs depict the horrors of war, through the blood, mayhem and destruction are the voices of those who came under the gaze of the late Chris Hondros, an American photojournalist. Here the wounded child, the frantic medic, the weeping father, the fatigued soldier, the displaced and the forgotten, the conquerors and the conquered are given the opportunity to speak.

In 2010 Hondros wrote: “Always I try to keep my work focused on the people most impacted by these conflicts: The Iraqis and Afghans themselves, caught in the cauldron of post-9/11 geopolitics, and the American servicemen and servicewomen sent into harm’s way in unfamiliar lands”. The pictures and words in Testament are evidence of his intention and command our attention in the raw emotion that his photographs educe.

Caught in heavy mortar fire Hondros was killed in Misurata, Libya in April, 2011 doing the job he loved. He was only 41 years old and had spent much of his adult life covering the world’s hot spots - Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia, Egypt, and Libya amongst others. Yet despite the horrors he was exposed to Hondros never lost his compassion, or his resolve.

A talented and passionate musician, writer and photographer, Hondros’ creative spirit was matched by his sense of justice, erudition and commitment to the work. But he also valued downtime, happy to hang out with his friends when he was at home in New York. The parties that were held in his Brooklyn warehouse apartment are still talked about. In reading the words of his friends and colleagues who have written in Testament, it is obvious that Hondros was much loved and respected.

Hondros was one of the first photojournalists employed by Getty Images in 2000. He was also the first Getty photojournalist killed on assignment. No matter how many precautions are taken, or the experience of the photojournalist, the simple fact that these men and women are working in a war zone carries risks that can’t always be mitigated.

As we have seen over the past few years, the environments in which journalists and photojournalists work are increasingly treacherous. Yet the work these brave souls do is vital if freedom of the press is to exist and if those caught up in conflict are to be freed from silence and oppression. This ethos is at the heart of photojournalism and Hondros was committed to upholding that mandate. Though his life was tragically cut short, he died doing what he did best; making pictures that can lead to change, something he wholeheartedly believed. One only has to flick through the pages of Testament to see his philosophy in action.

“He had a vision beyond the frame of his lens,” writes Régis Le Sommier in the Foreword to the book. Le Sommier is an Associate Editor-in-Chief of Paris Match. He was also a close friend of Hondros. “Chris’ goal was to show that even in the world’s darkest corners, there are enough values, compassion and common ground to forge humanity…Every assignment was an adventure, another key to his understanding of the world.”

In Testament, intermingled with the images, are numerous excerpts from magazine articles and blog posts Hondros wrote over the years. In one missive he talks about joining the US Army in Afghanistan on a mission into Taliban country, dropping into the landing zone from a Black Hawk chopper along with the soldiers. Travelling with the platoon he found himself questioning why he was there and not at home “watching TV or canoodling in bed or having an espresso. But in the end…the satisfaction of photographing our era’s most important issues far outweighs any discomfort or even fear”.

Such was his determination in 2011 when he accepted what was to become his last assignment, but Hondras was “resolute that the story had to be told,” writes Jonathan Klein CEO of Getty Images. “This is the challenge and dilemma at the core of conflict photography”.

Hondros once said, “Great photography requires steadiness of hand and heart. Very often the window to take an important pictures is only open for a fraction of a second. Waver or hesitate, even if the world is crashing down around you, and the moment will pass”. While Hondros’ moment among us has passed, his images live on. Testament bears witness to the conflicts that plague our planet. It is also a tribute to one of the most insightful storytellers of our time.

Getty Images is donating its proceeds from the sale of this book to the Chris Hondros Fund, which supports and advances the work of established and emerging photojournalists. To find out more visit the Fund here.

Photographs and text by Chris Hondros
Edited by Alexandra Ciric, Francisco P. Bernasconi, and Christina Piaia
Introduction by Jonathan Klein
Foreword by Régis Le Sommier
Afterword by Greg Campbell

Published by powerHouse books
11.25 x 9.25 inches
160 pages
ISBN: 978-1-57687-673-2

You can buy the book here

All images and relevant quotes From Testament, photographs by Chris Hondros/Getty Images, text by Chris Hondros, published by powerHouse Books

Interview with Alison Stieven-Taylor

Australian photographer Max Pam’s latest book “Supertourist” took five years and two publishers to come to fruition, but for those who are fans of Max’s work, and there are many particularly in Europe, Supertourist is definitely worth the wait. 

In January Max was off to India to continue his “obsession” with that country – this will be his 19th trip. The weekend before he is set to jet off I put a call into his home in Perth. When I talk to Max I always forget that he is now in his sixties, his voice carries none of the body’s years, he is still that curious, irreverent, creative heart that took off for foreign shores in the 1970s and has been travelling ever since.

Of Supertourist Max says, “I want to continue to tell a story, to explore conventions and turn them on their head. This book is really about what’s interesting, what’s driving me in terms of my field work and my interest from one year to the next…there is a continuum of interest in areas and cultures that really hasn’t changed since I first went travelling 45 years ago. So in the book there is work from 1971 right up to now and in that sense it is an interesting book in the way it kind of compresses 45 years of work”.

With its red and white fabric bound covers Supertourist is a work of art in itself. A slipcase houses the book, which is a limited edition (a total of 500 were initially printed). Each book is numbered and comes with a signed print, which has been hand pasted inside.

Thematically the book is sectioned into four chapters: Collage V Bi-Fold, Old World V New World, Object V Artefact and, Islam V Asia. Max tells that Supertourist initially started off as a book concept about old world, new world. “Then I worked out that a book like Supertourist can handle an awful lot more than just one area of scrutiny. So I looked at those areas that I had been working with, in particular in the last ten years – bi-fold albums, Islamic cultures, Asian cultures – and the binary of old world v new world…I thought that binary also worked well with all the other chapters”. 

He says the concept of “versus” in the chapter headings is derived from the desire to make “every double page contest some kind of idea. For me a book is, in terms of a viewing experience, only as good as each double page makes it. For me that meant that I could really structure the book and bring all of my fieldwork and research and production right up to the moment. The whole concept of this book in itself commissioned new work and it is the first book I’ve ever done where I have actually caught up with what I am currently photographing.”

Max shot black and white exclusively until the turn of this century and he says in Supertourist “there is a different spin on how the newer stuff plays out because colour is so profoundly different to the black and white.” Certainly for me, as a black and white photography fan, the images in Supertourist that are shot on this medium are the most engaging.

But the hand-coloured work is also intriguing and in the chapter Collage V Bi-Fold Max includes a number of photographs that have been treated in this style. “I’ve always been fascinated with hand colouring and that dates back to my early love affair as a kid with National Geographic magazine. I was into really old copies and really got off on those hand-coloured National Geographics from the 1930s so that was something that I had stored in my head for further investigation. I’ve always kind of flirted with it, but never done anything in a really reconciled way about applying it to my work”.

The conversation makes its way back to his impending trip. I ask if he has a plan in terms of what he will shoot or whether his is an organic process? “It’s totally an experiential thing for me. The hook comes later. I don’t think I’m going to Madagascar, for example, to shoot a book. I’m going there to have some experiences and then take those experiences into a continuum of visual language so they make sense”.

He says inevitably books become the vehicle through which to tell his stories. “I always ask myself how can I turn this experience into something meaningful and it’s always a book format that presents itself as the way to translate that experience and that visual language…As the driver of the work I am pushing to have that experience there in the work, palpable. If you crack open a book on Madagascar that I’ve done, you go to my Madagascar and my experience, rather than some generic colour editorial work that is highly competent, but is not representative of anywhere other than it’s colour photography from another country extolling exotica”. 

The inclusion of pages from Max’s journals also progresses the concept that this is very much Max Pam’s view of the world. His personal notes, memorabilia, the odd self-portrait and drawings combine with the photographs to deliver a more complete discovery of the work.

“The writing and drawing in my work increases the layering of the experience because a lot of things you can’t photograph, but you can draw and write about and they are important to me, those other ways of defining experiences.”

I remind Max that the first time I interviewed him he gave me one of the most memorable quotes - that photography is the greatest get out of jail card ever. He laughs and that curious soul who first travelled to Asia in 1971 is on the other end of the phone. “It totally is a beautiful invitation to jump headlong into something unknown and inviting and beautiful”.

In the opening pages of Supertourist is a quote from Susan Sontag – “The photographer is supertourist, an extension of the anthropologist, visiting natives and bringing back news of their exotic doings and strange gear. The photographer is always trying to colonise new experiences or find new ways to look at familiar subjects – to fight against boredom”.

Supertourist by Max Pam
Limited edition of 500 copies numbered
Published by: Éditions Bessard

Girls in the Windows and Other Stories: Ormond Gigli

In a career that spanned more than 40 years American photographer Ormond Gigli shot thousands of images and was widely published in titles such as Life, Paris Match, Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post and Time. But the photograph for which he is remembered is “Girls in the Windows” an extraordinary image that has stood the test of time to become an iconic image of New York in the 1960s.

The large Brownstone building which features in the photograph was opposite Gigli’s home in New York. When he learned that the building was slated for demolition he decided to photograph it before the wrecking balls swept it aside in the name of progress. He was given permission on the proviso that the wife of the demolition supervisor could be in the photograph. He had 24 hours to organize the women and his props and one hour to shoot.

“He envisioned glamorous women filling the windows. The façade would be an elaborate frame, from cornice to curb, for a dazzling array of fashionable ladies. He would add the flourish of a Rolls Royce pulled up onto the sidewalk before the center of the building for an additional note of old-world glamor,” explained Christopher Sweet in the introduction to the book “Girls in the Windows and Other Stories” published by powerHouse books.

Sweet continued. “Girls in the Windows is an image made at a decisive moment in the life of New York City. It is the moment when the waning values of the nineteenth century at last gave way to Modernism and indeed contemporaneity. The conservative, conformist 1950s period is the last gasp before the revolutionary socials changes of the 1960s and beyond…Girls in the Window is an image of that threshold”.

Gigli began his career in 1941 working as a photographic assistant in New York. He was 17 years old. When America entered the Second World War Gigli joined the Navy as a photographer. By the time 1950 rolled around “I was living the life of a starving artist in Paris…and it was a beautiful place to be,” he said. But it wasn’t long before he was shooting for Life magazine and from then his career took off.

Recounting his first meeting with Life in Paris Gigli said the editor asked him, “If I give you an assignment, will you give me what I ask for? I said yes, as long as I could inject my own thoughts into the picture”. “Girls in the Windows and Other Stories” is proof that Gigli never compromised on his unique visual signature.

“Girls in the Windows and Other Stories” is as much a tribute to Gigli as it is a walk through history. Louis Armstrong, Marlene Dietrich, Jayne Mansfield, Liza Minnelli and Barbra Streisand grace the pages. As does a youthful Sophia Loren in the now famous photograph shot in 1955 where she is pictured in a fountain in Rome, holding oranges. The book also features photographs that, like the image of the title, were shot as personal projects by Gigli. 

Of his most enduring image Gigli said in an interview earlier this year, “I have a big print of it up on my wall. I still smile whenever I look at it, even after all these years”.

“Girls in the Windows and Other Stories”
by Ormond Gigli
Introduction by Christopher Sweet
Afterword by Marla Hamburg Kennedy
Published by powerHouse Books New York
All images:  From Girls in the Windows: And Other Stories by Ormond Gigli, published by powerHouse Books   

Nathan Benn’s Kodachrome Memory: American Pictures 1972-1990
In this recently published book by former National Geographic photographer Nathan Benn, images that were considered pedestrian at the time they were shot, now take on historical significance as they capture an America that has virtually disappeared.

Benn’s appreciation for the role of rich, saturated colour in storytelling is a feature of the book and within the pages of “Kodachrome Memory” we find idiosyncratic America. With chapters arranged geographically - North East, Heartland, Pittsburgh, Florida – Benn presents a unique view of America and its cultural eccentricities many of which have fallen by the wayside, victim to the trend towards cultural homogenisation.

In his foreword to the book Richard Buckley says that in an era of visual overload “there is something to be said for an ‘old school’ approach and the authenticity of the artist” and his observations ring true when you flick through these pages. Kodachrome Memory features more than 100 images mined from Benn’s transparencies archive, which contains more than 300,000 slides. The vast majority of images in the book have never been published allowing the reader the joy of discovery.

Buckley says, “Benn’s discerning eye, as well as his experience and knowledge of photography, makes his work stand out from much of today’s digital noise…Kodachrome Memory celebrates…regional diversity…before the country became one vast strip mall stretching from sea to sea”.

Legendary photographer Elliott Erwitt believes Benn’s images are a welcome walk down “memory lane” and convey “an intimacy now absent in the current binary techniques”.

Benn worked with National Geographic for 20 years and shot exclusively in color throughout this period. Benn is now 63 years of age and hasn’t worked as a professional photographer since the early 1990s, but his legacy lives on in this remarkable collection of images published by powerHouse books in New York.

Kodachrome Memory

Photo credits: Kodachrome Memory: American Pictures 1972–1990 by Nathan Benn, published by powerHouse Books.

Black Tsunami
James Whitlow Delano
Interview with Alison Stieven-Taylor

American photographer James Whitlow Delano was in Rome, Italy the day the tsunami devastated his adopted homeland of Japan on 11 March, 2011. Oblivious to what had transpired, he called his wife to say he was excited about coming home. “Haven’t you heard what’s happened?” she replied. With disbelief he sat in front of a computer screen in an Internet café at Rome’s Termini station and watched as the horror unfolded. 

Delano was fortunate to catch one of the last flights in to Tokyo from Europe. He arrived in the afternoon to learn that the Japanese authorities were grappling with a second potentially even deadlier disaster, the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Within 12 hours of landing Delano was in a van with photographers Jean Chung, Noriko Hayashi and Nobu Takeo heading north into the disaster zone. With highways literally washed away the normal route north was blocked. “So we hatched a plan to go to the far side, to the Sea of Japan and cut back across into Iwate Prefecture, a series of deep inlets almost like fjords, an area where the effects of the tsunami had been intense,” he says.

Delano and his companions arrived in Iwate as it began snowing. Petrol was already in short supply and the lines at gas stations stretched for what seemed like miles. Food stores sat empty and the normal bustle of daily life was absent. They set up base camp in Kitakami, an inland town around 50 kilometres from the coast. Aware they only had enough petrol for one return trip, they hired a taxi fuelled by LPG and began the grim drive towards the coastline uncertain of what they might find. Delano was concerned the police wouldn’t allow them access, but they were not stopped at roadblocks.

“The snow was falling, we saw people shuffling around in mud and then suddenly the devastation stretched before us. Cars were in the most bizarre orientation, clinging to telegraph wires and crushed like soft drink cans as if they were nothing…I was like, stop the taxi I have to get out!”

Delano quickly realised he was not dressed for the conditions. Within minutes his sneakers were soaked and caked in mud. He was wet and freezing like those around him, but while he was cognizant, others stumbled in shock.

“It was intense on a level that you start thinking anything is possible because what we were seeing was mindboggling. I started asking myself how do I portray this to people who can’t possibly understand the scale of the disaster. The devastation was apocalyptic, some of the cities were literally wiped off the face of the earth.”

Delano has covered all manner of natural disasters in his career, but this time it was personal. “I’ve lived in Japan for 20 years, my wife is Japanese, and the people I saw in Iwate reminded me of my family”.

He says the graciousness of the Japanese people allowed him to tell the story at a personal level also. “I was seeing people who a couple of days before were living just like you and me. We are all one very bad day away from being destitute refugees in our own country. So I tried to approach it from that understanding, that point of view. It’s not you or them it’s we. I’m a part of this”.

Black Tsunami proves itself as an important contemporary communication as well as an historical document. Divided into four parts Black Tsunami charts Delano’s coverage of the disaster over what he describes as an “intense 18 months”. After the initial trip to Iwate Prefecture Delano returned to Tokyo. Soon the damage to the Fukushima nuclear plant and its consequences for the country as a whole began to overshadow the devastation of the tsunami. It was at that point the story shifted for Delano from recovery to nuclear disaster.

“Being a child of the Cold War I didn’t want to have anything to do with radiation, I didn’t want to fry my chromosomes,” he says frankly. But as the story unfolded Delano had a change of heart and took an assignment from German magazine Der Spiegel. “We educated ourselves, looked at what radiation really meant and determined that in some locations you could sit out for three weeks and get the same level of exposure that you would get from one x-ray. That was a risk I was willing to take.”

Delano says at that time the government was posting information daily about radiation levels. This allowed Delano to ascertain what he calls “comfortable risk levels”. Although he admits that the information was inconsistent due to shifts in the weather which meant the nuclear “cloud” was not contained to the 20 kilometre no-entry zone.

Despite his early reticence Delano felt strongly that the story needed to be told. He armed himself with a Geiger counter and made his way into the no-entry zone, travelling through the forest on foot to avoid the police. He calculated how long he could stay in each area and remain within the radiation exposure safety range.

“Ironically there were some areas outside the no-entry zone that you were allowed to go, but they were far more eradiated. In those places I didn’t stay very long. I’d drive in, do my business and get out.” In the picturesque village of Tsushima he found a hot spot that set his Geiger counter clicking like crazy. “You could sit in that spot for 24 hours and get a year’s dose of radiation. And you were allowed to go there. It has been closed off now, but it was really crazy.”

He says that what he found in these villages that were now deserted was “the story of people who had survived the earthquake, survived the tsunami and through no fault of their own this cloud came over and destroyed their lives. In a single day the onshore winds blew that cloud over some of the most fertile land in Japan”.

Black Tsunami, which is published by FotoEvidence and the result of Kickstarter funding, features 91 black and white photographs that capture the apocalyptic scenes that were left in the tsunami’s wake including those villages emptied by the nuclear disaster.

But beyond the physical devastation, Black Tsunami tells the story of lives irrevocably changed by the ongoing aftermath. In some of the villages affected by the nuclear cloud “people didn’t even have time to take in their washing. There was this sense of life interrupted midstream,” says Delano. “I wanted people to understand that these people obviously thought, oh we will be back in a day or two. But six weeks after the tsunami, when I first visited these areas, there was no sign of return”.

Six months later Delano returned to find nothing had changed and the clothes he’d seen on the line previously were still there, worn by the weather, once flapping in the breeze and now entangled in weeds. The only change was that brought by the seasons.

Delano’s images make us think about the domino effect of this disaster and how life as we know it can be wrenched from us at any moment. While new disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines consume the media, there is an entire population still living with the aftermath of the events of 11 March 2011. Delano says he is now concerned with how to visually document the inertia he sees within the country as to what will be done with those large tracts of land that are no longer habitable.

“I live here, I am committed to this country. I’m not Japanese but I’ve been here a long time and there are things that I see as a long-term resident that others don’t. I hope that I am listening to people here and that my work will give a continual and informed point of view,” he concludes.

Black Tsunami
Published by FotoEvidence 2013
All photos (C) James Whitlow Delano
Interview/Review Published: 17 January, 2014

Book Review:
SCENE - Jeanette Montgomery Barron

A young Willem Dafoe sneers from the cover of SCENE, bare-chested with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. It is a simple portrait that conveys the seething intensity that has made Dafoe one of the world’s leading actors. Photographer Jeannette Montgomery Barron says, “Despite looking like a tough guy, Willem is very sweet”.

SCENE, published by powerHouse books, features Montgomery Barron’s black and white portraits, a project she began in 1981 when she was living in New York. Immersed in the art scene, and exposed to actors and artists, the young Montgomery Barron says her naivety gave her access to all sorts of people including Andy Warhol whom she telephoned to see if she could shoot his portrait. He gave her five minutes.

Warhol is one of a handful of internationally recognizable celebrities who sat for Montgomery Barron along with the sneering Dafoe and a young Kathryn Bigelow, who was the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Director for The Hurt Locker (2010). Barbara Kruger, who coined the phrase “I shop therefore I am” is also featured, along with Slaves of New York author Tama Janowitz, artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, an elderly William S. Burroughs and fellow photographer Robert Maplethorpe. Of her encounter with Maplethorpe, Montgomery Barron says, “I was nervous about taking a portrait of Robert…(but) he was extremely sweet and hospitable; he offered me a glass of chocolate milk and a joint”. Maplethorpe died of AIDS not long after.

Montgomery Barron’s black and white portraits are visually captivating and the collection in SCENE evokes an intimacy that makes the book feel like you are flicking through a private photo album. For those who are familiar with the New York arts scene in the 1980s the images will no doubt resonate. And for those who are not, the strength of the portraiture may light their imagination to discover more about the stories behind these faces.

Jeanette Montgomery Barron
powerHouse Books
Book Review:
Carla Coulson and Lisa Clifford – Naples: A Way of Love

Australian Carla Coulson took off for Europe in 2000 leaving behind a life in Sydney to set up home in Florence, Italy – a continent change. There she learned photography, met her now husband and carved a reputation as a fashion and travel photographer, her work appearing in leading titles around the globe. But her heart kept drawing her back to Naples, the location of her first photo essay. 

In her fourth book, “Naples, A Way of Love,” Carla shares her intimate knowledge of a city that is either loved or loathed. Gritty, sometimes dangerous, and bustling with the earthiness of old Italy, Carla’s portraits convey a very different side to Naples, giving one of the oldest cities in Italy a human face.

I caught up with Carla in Paris in October. We sat at the back of a noisy café drinking cocktails and catching up on the year that has passed since I was last in Paris. Later she said, “I’ve got something to show you”and pulled out the then yet-to-be released “Naples: A Way of Love”. Immediately I wanted to own the book. I could see it on the shelf with her other books – Italian Joy, Paris Tango and Chasing a Dream, all of which I read cover to cover. There is something so accessible about Carla’s photography and her skill in capturing emotion in the most innocuous settings that make her one of my favourite photographers.

Moving beyond the tourist traps, in “Naples: A Way of Love” Carla and writer Lisa Clifford, an Australian who has lived in Italy for 15 years, meet the people of this notorious city. Beneath the lolly-pink lipstick colours of an overly bright cover are the stories of the pizza makers, for which the city is renowned, as well as its fishermen, bakers and coffee makers. Here Naples comes to life and the book presents a city that is full of contradictions. With words and images the pair has captured both the charm and frustration of Italy.

Naples is considered by many Italians as a “nation within a nation because it has its own language, customs beliefs and codes”. In many ways the modern world has not moved this city from its age-old traditions. Each day you can find bakers delivering bread to their customers who lower baskets to the alley below and hoist their bread up on old ropes to their windows. Washing lines crisscross narrow pathways their loads fluttering in the sea breeze. Children play in water fountains in the streets. Old women and men sit on their doorsteps to chat. Flowers adorn prayer altars and the Madonna is omnipresent.

Juxtaposed with the rustic-ness of this harbor city and its religious overtones, is an enclave of exclusivity where the wealthy play. Here the haute couture tailors sew for an international clientele who pay a premium for their exquisite suits. The city’s reputation for fine tailoring has been somewhat forgotten in the visage of its seedy underbelly, although the two are inextricably linked.

Carla says Naples most fashionable street Via Filangieri or Italy’s Saville Row, backs right onto the Spanish Quarter, one of the city’s most impoverished sectors. Here many live without running water and struggle to put food on the table, while in the adjacent street people come from around the world to buy handmade shirts for thousands of euros each.

Naples has been a magnet for Carla. “It’s real and there are all these incredible characters and they are all doing amazing things. The city is bursting with colour. It’s like Italy on steroids. As a photographer, even though shooting on the street was dangerous it was a double-edge sword. Naples is a giant banquet and when I’m there it’s like, let me at it”.

Naples: A Way of Love
(C) Carla Coulson and Lisa Clifford
Published by Penguin Australia
(C) All photos Carla Coulson
Review Published: 20 December, 2013

Book Review:
Simon Menner - Top Secret

The photographic archives of the East German Secret Police, known as the Stasi, have revealed their secrets to Berlin-based photographic artist Simon Menner who has used these images to explore the notion of surveillance in a new book “Top Secret”.

Within the covers of Top Secret lie the faces behind the surveillance of the East German people by the Stasi. Menner’s research reveals the ridiculous disguises the Stasi employed during their reign of terror. He also presents photographs of spies spying on other spies, confiscated objects, and staged surveillance operations in this bizarre collection.

These photographs could be the stills from a B-Grade spy movie and would be laughable were it not for the fact that they document the sinister acts of those wearing the fake beards, moustaches and wigs. These photographs capture “the repression exerted by the state to subdue its own citizens. For me, the banality of some of these pictures make them even more repulsive,” says Menner who spent more than two years trawling through the archives of the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Archives of the former German Democratic Republic, the body that administers the Archive.

"Top Secret" has been divided into three chapters – Manuals, Operations and Internal Affairs. Each of these sections feature short photo essays with titles as eccentric as the photographs - “From a Seminar on Disguises”, “How to Apply Fake Hair”, “Secret house Searches” and “Shadowing a Subject” amongst others.

Menner’s work in "Top Secret" is designed to examine the question of surveillance in modern society by looking at the “act of surveillance from the perspective of the surveillant”. Menner achieves this objective through his selection of images that present a unique inside view to a world previously hidden.

Top Secret by Simon Menner
Images from the Archives of the Stasi
In German and English
Published by Hatje Cantz

Review published: 20 December 2013

Peter Turnley - French Kiss – A Love Letter to Paris

From 1984 to 2003 acclaimed American photojournalist Peter Turnley focused his camera on world events covering most of the wars on the planet and documenting the historical moments that shaped the geopolitical landscape. From his base in Paris he traversed the globe from Iraq and Afghanistan to Bosnia and Kosovo, documenting the human experience in times of conflict as well as photographing many natural disasters. He’s photographed in more than 90 countries and his pictures have made the covers of the world’s leading news magazines countless times.

Of his career Turnley says, "I came in contact with a tremendous amount of human suffering, of moments when life was much less than what it can be…Paris has offered for me an incredible balance. When I am in Paris I am constantly reminded of how beautiful and wonderful and poetic life can be".

"When I make photographs of people it is very important that I look them in the eye ... there is an amazing connection that can take place through eye contact.” The photographs in “French Kiss – A Love Letter to Paris” are testament to this philosophy. Warm, intimate and ultimately engaging, these exquisite black and white portraits convey the joy of dancing under the Eiffel Tower and of lying in the arms of the one you love on a summer’s day in the Jardin des Tuileries. They inspire and comfort and above all reinforce the joie de vivre that Paris arouses.

(C) Peter Turnley

Turnley says French Kiss “is a tribute to everything this city has brought me over the past 40 years ... when I photograph I try to put my heart and my concentration and my energy and maybe everything that I know about the world at the service of trying to make a photograph that is going to touch other people and say what I would like people to feel that I felt when I observed the moment”.

“French Kiss – A Love Letter to Paris” is simply beautiful. From the moment I opened the FedEx bag I fell in love with this book and its brilliant red linen slipcase, its glossy red cover with the evocative black and white photograph of couples walking in the rain along the Seine. I too love Paris and French Kiss with its images that span almost 40 years is a sumptuous reminder that this is truly the most romantic city in the world.

(C) Peter Turnley
(C) Peter Turnley

Peter Turnley

You can buy your copy directly from Peter by clicking here
Review Published: 13 December, 2013



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