Posts tagged with photography
The Creators of Chicago: Artist Luke Pelletier
Graphic designer Lucy Hewett was 27 when she quit her job at a marketing agency and taught herself to take photos, experimenting on friends to hone her portraiture skills. Going freelance was a struggle (stylized portraits don’t pay quite like ad campaigns for McDonald’s) but Hewett credits her success, in part, to the support of her local creative network. This would have been the first in a series of ten profiles, but life had other plans. Enjoy this first and last installment anyway, and thanks for reading with us.
Everyday Africa: Stories Between the Headlines
In March 2012, two photojournalists — Peter DiCampo and Austin Merrill — decided in the middle of a project in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, to begin a new, raw media outlet, which portrayed the mundane and casual life of everyday Africans on iPhones and Instagram. A year on, Everyday Africa curates photography from journalists across the continent, and they’re looking to involve locals, too. We spoke to Peter DiCampo to see why he think these images have captured our attention.
What made you decide to start Everyday Africa?
Austin Merrill and I were in Ivory Coast, and we were working on a very specific story on the aftermath of crisis and conflict there. He and I were both Peace Corps volunteers in west Africa, so we spent two years of our lives living in villages. We noticed all of these in-between, daily life, mundane moments, and we realized that, working as journalists, you don’t even shoot these moments. You edit them out ahead of time because they don’t fit into the story you’re trying to tell, which is kind of one of the funny parts about journalism: In some cases, it’s kind of preconceived. In order for a story to make sense, you have to look for certain things.
So we wanted to capture all these other things we were seeing as we went along, which is basically the stream of daily life. Of course “stream” is the key word, because the perfect way to shoot it and the perfect medium to share it is on places like Tumblr, and shooting it on a phone, casually. I think casual and mundane are the key words for this project.
At Gowanus Canal, Turning Toxic Waste Into Art
New York’s Gowanus Canal is notoriously toxic — full of dangerous chemicals, industrial waste, and yes, poop. It reeks in the summer and lives in the popular imagination as the perfect dumping ground for dead bodies. No plant or animal life can survive in it for long. This tends to inspire two kinds of images: gritty photos of the filth and pollution, and scenic landscapes that try not to dwell too long on the former.
Sevens Clash on Street Life in Jamaica
Last August, photographer Alexander Richter and writer Sean Stewart set out for Kingston, Jamaica, with a singular vision in mind. The duo planned to document the city’s cultural scene for a new online magazine they founded with friend and graphic designer Anthony Harrison. The publication, dubbed Sevens Clash in homage to the reggae song “Two Sevens Clash” by the band Culture, was conceived as a vehicle to tell the lesser-known stories of Kingston from a street-level point of view. To provide readers with unfiltered access to the city’s art, music, sports, and street life, however, the pair would have to do so in a compressed, one-week time frame — the duration of their self-financed trip.
Stewart, who grew up in Jamaica, had arranged for he and Richter to stay at his father’s home in Kingston. And in order to gain access to a number of sources and subjects in a short amount of time, he enlisted the help of an old friend. “My longtime homie James Porteous, aka JP DA Manager, was our fixer,” Stewart says. “He was instrumental in getting shit together.” The resulting reports and photographs offer a colorful and revealing document of day-to-day life in Kingston — from profiles of dancehall artist Tommy Lee and the aptly named Tattoo Phillip (who is, after all, a tattooist), to record shopping at Rockers on “Beat Street” and late-night encounters on Ripon Road, to name only a few.
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.