Posts tagged with documentary
Ruddy Roye: Photography as Voice for the Voiceless
Radcliffe Roye (Ruddy to his friends) is inspired by, as he puts it, “the raw and gritty lives of grassroots people.” And so, as a self-taught photographer, his images — whether shot in his native Jamaica, where he spends two months each year, or adopted home of Brooklyn — document communities on the margins of society. Over the last decade, Roye has published rich, colorful photo essays on the Sapeur fashionistas of the Congo, Jamaican nightlife culture, single moms, and the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He’s also begun shooting daily with his iPhone, including a series of gritty, black and white images documenting the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy that were featured by the New Yorker. We spoke with Roye, 43, about his craft.
Tell us what it was like documenting Hurricane Sandy.
Very hard. I was the only black photographer among a group of four white photographers. They had to save me twice. Both times the people in the neighborhood looked at me and asked why I was there, because there were incidents of looting. And they didn’t know why I would be interested in photographing their neighborhood. How can anybody think like this? I try to answer these social questions in my work.
Do you think being a photographer of color gives you a different perspective?
I take pictures not because I am a photographer of color, but I also understand the importance of telling the colored story from a colored perspective. I am however honored that people see my work as important and that alone inspires and motivates me to take photos.
It seems like photography fulfills a social need for you.
All that I photograph comes under the umbrella of focusing on something that we sometimes might overlook. It’s something that I’m trying to put into focus, so it is not ignored.
You were a writer before you took photos. What drew you to photography in the first place?
When I was growing up, there was this oral tradition that’s always been a part of Jamaican culture. For me, photography came out of that need to tell stories. I returned to Jamaica when I was 28, as a writer for a newspaper. I was working with newspaper photographers. I would be telling them what pictures to take, and I started thinking, why don’t I photograph myself? For me, it was at the nexus of two things that I liked: writing and visually telling stories.
Tell us about documenting Jamaican dancehall culture.
In 2002, Vogue sent me to Jamaica to photograph the dancehall fashion look. I was on assignment, so I had to look differently at the subject. I started to see its colors, the pageantry, and the theater. All my senses were open for the first time to this culture that I grew up with. I came from working-class poor, and the subject of dancehall spoke to that level of society on downwards, to people who have been left, whose lives aren’t recognized. Dancehall allows me to get the people’s image.
You covered Hurricane Katrina as part of a collective. What did you take away from that trip?
Hurricane Katrina was heartbreaking. I had no idea that so much social and racial divide still existing in the South. Poverty was insanely high, not to mention the percentage of black men who were once incarcerated. As a result, I believe that the folks who were affected by the hurricane were discriminated against because they were black but also because they were poor, hardworking folks.
You often snap shots of your children. Do they ever come along with you on photo shoots?
Yes. I did a cover for Jet magazine with Whoopi Goldberg at The View where my son Mosi fired the shutter while I focused the camera. The boys like photography and understand its role in capturing memories and telling stories.
In El Salvador, Gang Truce Can’t Stop the Violence
This story was produced in partnership with Mother Jones.
It began with a trip back home, to a small town in the country’s western valley, to visit his dying grandmother. More than a decade after El Salvador’s bloody civil war had ended, Juan Carlos, a 38-year-old photojournalist, wanted to see how life had changed. Was his country, one of the most violent in the Western Hemisphere, better off after 12 years of war? Sure, there were shiny new roads and malls, but was the country any safer?
Juan Carlos began by documenting infrastructure and families; education and health systems, traveling for long stretches between El Salvador, where he was born, and San Francisco, where he now lives. But it didn’t take long for a new focus to emerge: the gang culture, and accompanying terror, that had seeped into the fabric of everyday Salvadoran life. With an estimated 64,000 identified gang members, El Salvador’s street gangs — or maras, as they’re known to locals — operate like armies. They control traffic stops and neighborhoods. They hold press conferences. They are incestuously intertwined with the police. In other words, they call the shots — as well as fire them. In its peak, in 2009, the gangs were responsible for a homicide rate that reached 14 deaths per day.
Director Andrew Bujalski Talks ‘Computer Chess’
Ten years ago, filmmaker Andrew Bujalski wrote and directed 2002’s Funny Ha Ha, arguably the cinematic origin of the genre known as “mumblecore.” He’s spread out into other things since then, and nowhere is his inclination for experimentation more apparent in his new feature film Computer Chess, chosen to screen at both Sundance and SXSW this year.
A stickler for the good ol’ days of moviemaking, Bujalski shot his previous films on 16mm film and made post-production magic with scissors and tape. He went digital for Computer Chess, appropriately enough; but equally apropos, the equipment used to produce a movie set “thirty-some years ago” was chronologically correct, as Bujalski and crew dug up ancient video cameras from the depths of eBay. And it’s just too perfect that the movie immediately spawned a host of animated GIFs, since the form was invented in the same era.On the face of it, Computer Chess concerns a mechanical chess tournament, but the under- and overcurrents are much more involved and delightfully perverse. Bujalski chats with us about the ubiquity of nerd culture, how to find the perfect actor, and the surprisingly sexual undercurrents that pervade his film.
Life Post Sandy: Scenes from Union Beach, NJ
Over the next week, photographer Ben Lowy will be documenting the destruction — and recovery efforts — in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in and around New York City, using nothing but an iPhone camera. Lowy spent yesterday in Union Beach, NJ. Stay tuned for more from Lowy from Tumblr Storyboard, or follow our instagram feed, where he’ll be guest posting throughout the week.
Left to right from top:
* An evacuated beachhouse.
* John Sochacki III stands in the remains of his bathroom. “We survived, but our community did not,” he said.
* Construction crews were at work trying to fix electrical and gas infrastructure.
* “I’ve never been this far north, but in the [North Carolina] outer banks, we know hurricanes.” said one resident.
* A torn American flag still flies on the union beach pier facing NYC.
On the Jersey Shore, Cries of ‘Where is the Government?’
The Jersey Shore has fared its share of bad weather. As the Los Angeles Times points out this morning (in a piece well worth the read), there was the winter storm of 1846 that wrecked nine ships (still known as the Day of Terror). There was the 1962 nor’easter, which washed a Navy destroyer ashore. And, of course, there was Irene, the first time on record a hurricane had hit the region.
But Sandy remains unlike anything residents here have seen. It sent a roller coaster into the ocean in Seaside Heights. It wrecked part of the famed boardwalk in Atlantic City. And in the Barrier Islands, some residents now face a forced evacuation that could last eight months. Gas and sewer lines remain unrepaired.
Tripoli, Libya | July 19, 2012
Libyans peruse the wares at a market in the Medina of Tripoli’s Old City. The Libyan economy has not made a complete recovery since last year’s Arab Spring uprising and many Libyans remain without money or jobs. (Photo by Benjamin Lowy/Getty Reportage)
For the next week, conflict photographerBen Lowy, on a grant from theMagnum Foundation’s Emergency Fund, will be shooting from Libya on the first-ever photojournalism inspired Hipstamatic lens — and posting exclusively to Tumblr. Check out Lowy’s Tumblr and Storyboard for more.