Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up 22 February 2019

This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – the MiamiPhotoFest opens next week with 16 exhibitions including works by Kerry Payne Stailey and Maggie Steber. Plus the 2019 winner of the FotoEvidence World Press Photo Book Award Patrick Brown.

MiamiPhotoFest 2019

Sixteen exhibitions, talks and events make up this year’s MiamiPhotoFest. Featured artists include Antoine d’Agata – Bruce Gilden – Ralph Gibson – Andy Summers – Maggie Steber – Kerry Payne Stailey – Iris PhotoCollective – Elliott Erwitt – Roger Ballen – Maria Daniel Balcazar – Fomento+Fomento – Aristotle Roufanis – Renée Jacobs – Ole Marius and Mathieu Bitton. What a stellar lineup!

This week I want to highlight the work of two women photographers who I greatly admire, Kerry Payne Stailey and Maggie Steber, both amazing women who use photography to tell stories that are complex, rich in human emotion and deeply evocative.

Kerry Payne Stailey – More Beautiful Broken

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In this exhibition which features stills and multimedia installations created from several intimate bodies of work  – Left Behind, My Father’s Daughter, The Children (I Never Had), Sonar Madre and Instant Love Story – Payne Stailey shares personal stories of love, death, trauma, and rebirth.

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An Australian photographer who lives in the US, her photographic journey began as a catharsis, a way to beginning to deal with the demons that haunted her after her father’s suicide.

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This brave, raw and ultimately enlightening exploration is possible only because Payne Stailey was courageous enough to ask some incredibly hard questions of herself, of her father, to face emotions that left to fester could have poisoned her heart. Instead she found a way to open herself to the pain. In these photographs you can feel her anguish, heartache, doubts and terrors. You can also see how she let in the light and found a way through the darkness. Spending time with the pictures in More Beautiful Broken is a profound experience.

(C) All photos Kerry Payne Stailey

 

Maggie Steber – The Story of a Face

When I met Maggie Steber in Sydney a couple of years ago she told me about a long term project she was working on, about a young woman, Katie Stubblefield, who had suffered terrible disfigurement at her own hand, and was waiting for a face transplant. While Steber was in Sydney she got news that Katie was about to undergo surgery. This is the first time these images have been exhibited.

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Dozing in the sunlight. Katie and her parents relaxing on the first sunny day of spring in a park in Cleveland, Ohio where they live. 
Katie had just gotten out of the hospital after a month following surgery to insert the device you see on her face.  It had screws that 
were literally turned every day in order to align her eyes.                   (C) Maggie Steber/National Geographic

The pictures, which are part of a bigger story Steber created for National Geographic over two years, show Katie with her new face. There are so many complexities to this story, but one of the things I think about when I see these images is what must go through Katie’s mind when she looks in the mirror and sees another’s face. It is intense to witness someone’s trauma, but Steber tells this story in such a nuanced and heartfelt way that compels you to look and not avert your gaze.

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Katie sits on her hospital bed a few weeks after receiving a full face transplant. The face was donated by a grandmother whose granddaughter overdosed on drugs and fell into a coma from which doctors said she would not recover.                                                            (C) Maggie Steber/National Geographic
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Warriors for their daughter throughout this ordeal, Robb and Alesia Stubblefield cuddle Katie, now with her new face. Katie will continue to have further surgeries to refine the face, move her eyes closer together and forward to improve vision, and to move her tongue forward to improve speech. There is still a long road ahead.(C) Maggie Steber/National Geographic
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Katie meets Sandra Bennington for the first time, the grandmother of her donor Adrea. Sandra was approached by a donor organization who told her about Katie. In this photo Sandra puts her hand to Katie’s chin and tells her she is beautiful. (C) Maggie Steber/National Geographic
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Before the surgery. Portrait of Katie by the window with the face that was constructed by doctors after her suicide attempt. ”I called it a piece meal face and Katie called it her Shrek face,” says Steber. (C) Maggie Steber/National Geographic

Those lucky enough to be in Miami can hear Payne Stailey and Steber talk about their work in the event from Tragedy to Redemption. This talk focuses on “the role that personal photography has played in their careers, the unexpected gifts it has revealed, and its power as a means for self discovery and advocacy.” 7pm, 1st March. Click here for more details 

MiamiPhotoFest runs from 27 February to 3 March.

Award:

Patrick Brown wins 2019 FotoEvidence Book Award with World Press Photo

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Based in Thailand for nearly 20 years, Australian Patrick Brown was one of the first photojournalists on the ground in Bangladesh in 2017 when hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees sought safety from the campaign of genocide in the northern Rakhine State of Myanmar. No Place on Earth is the resulting body of work and this year’s winner of the FotoEvidence with World Press Photo Book Award.

Brown said that covering the Rohingya exodus was one of the most harrowing experiences for this seasoned photojournalist.

“Although I’ve worked in tough environments before, nothing could have prepared me for the raw misery I saw and heard over the following months: orphan children carrying their younger siblings through flooded paddy fields; wounded men and women who had walked for 10 days with nothing more than their shirts on their backs. Soon the hundreds of desperate people became thousands, and then tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands. Amid the crush of humanity and gathering monsoon rains, they tried to make shelters – using their bare hands, bamboo, scraps of tarpaulins – anything that could give them some cover.”

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In an interview with FotoEvidence publisher Svetlana Bachevanova, Brown told her, “This is not just a photographic book, but an attempt to contribute to the awareness and recognition of the mass atrocities committed against the Rohingya people. The emphasis on the personal narratives, their lives in the refugee camps and the interviews of the some of the survivors of the Tula Toli massacre, hopefully will contribute to a deeper understanding of the urgency of political intervention and immediate aid needed.”

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No Place on Earth, which features pictures as well as testimony from the victims, will be released in April at the World Press Photo festival in Amsterdam. (C) All photos Patrick Brown.

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