Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – 21 August 2020

This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – the 32nd edition of the world’s leading photojournalism festival, Visa pour l’Image gets ready to open in Perpignan on 29 August. While Covid-19 might impact the number of professionals who can travel this year, Visa continues to celebrate the diversity of stories being told, although disappointingly there is no work on show from Australia or New Zealand. This year Visa will have both physical exhibitions and online content that will open the festival to a whole new audience.

Also, if you missed last week’s post, check out our latest Photojournalism Now: In Conversation video interview with Beijing-based, award-winning photographer and filmmaker Sean Gallagher.

Special Feature:

A message from Festival Director Jean-François Leroy:

“Visa pour l’Image will take place…It would be naive to think that this edition will be like the previous ones. The sanitary measures that are rightly imposed on us and the travel restrictions will de facto hamper the conduct and atmosphere of the festival. We must therefore adapt. The opportunity for us to think about new ways of fulfilling our objective. The opportunity to rethink this mission that has lived in us every year for more than 30 years: to show you the best of photojournalistic production. The opportunity, therefore, to disrupt the “routine” of Visa pour l’Image formats. Nothing will replace the intimate and warm relationship that a frame, a marie-louise and a beautiful print produced by talented craftsmen can weave with the public – even in the crowded and scorching ambulatory of the Couvent des Minimes…

Exhibitions, screenings and conferences will be virtual – and free of charge….In these tumultuous times where the border between opinion and fact is blurring more and more every day, where unverified information animates debates from social networks to television sets, we believe that Visa pour l’Image can bring…background, nuance and perspective. Again, and always, the essence of photojournalism.”

The Visa team has again put together a large collection of work that will be shown in exhibition spaces around Perpignan and also in the nightly projections, which are also available online. I’ve been fortunate to travel to Perpignan a couple of times and immerse myself in the unique experience that Visa offers. I’m equally excited this year to be able to view the Festival online, and to access the conferences too. While it won’t be the same as viewing work in the ancient spaces or meeting up with photographers from around the world, it’s close!

This week I want to showcase the work in the programme that draws focus on the environment, leading with James Whitlow Delano’s A Planet Drowned in Plastic. This year the world’s press has been consumed with news on the pandemic, and rightly so, but as a consequence climate change and environmental vandalism has slipped from the news agenda. Whitlow Delano’s work along with Elena Chernyshova’s Sacrifice, Sarah Caron’s The last of the Mohana, Victor Moriyama’s Amazon Deforestation and Ian Willms’ As Long as the Sun Shines reminds us that there is no Planet B and we must work much, much harder to embrace a new way of living that does not put at risk all life on Earth.

James Whitlow Delano – A Planet Drowned in Plastic


A miner returning home along a precipice littered with single-use plastic trash. La Rinconada, Peru. © James Whitlow Delano

Two stray dogs in contaminated water seeping from a landfill dump laced with plastic bags, textiles and sheeting, mingled with and resembling fabric. An estimated 56% of fibers in clothes in India are synthetic, i.e. plastic. Chennai, India.
© James Whitlow Delano

Plastic, water hyacinths and garbage covering the surface of the water of the Estero de Vitas River will be dumped in the Manila Bay, a few kilometers away, and then into the South China Sea. Tondo, Manila, Philippines.© James Whitlow Delano

“Today, after decades of excessive consumption of non-reusable plastic, the planet is drowning in all the plastic we have thrown away. In 2017, the world produced 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic, or more than one tonne per inhabitant of the planet. Most of it, 6.3 billion tonnes, ends up in landfills, but 8 million tonnes of plastic per year ends up in our oceans, as around 2 billion people live within 30 miles of the coast. There is plastic in every corner of the planet. In 2019, researchers found microplastics in the Arctic sea ice at higher concentrations than in the surrounding waters of the Arctic Ocean. In the same year, explorers discovered plastic in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, the deepest point of the globe,” James Whitlow Delano.

Elena Chernyshova – Sacrifice


One-third of Italy’s lemons are grown in the province of Syracuse, with many orchards in the municipalities of Augusta, Melilli and Priolo Gargallo. Since 2015, lemon production in the region has increased by a factor of six. The main buyers include Ferrero (Kinder CereAlé agrumi) and the gelato company Grom. © Elena Chernyshova / Panos Pictures

“Augusta-Priolo, “the economic lungs of Italy”is none of the most important petrochemical centers in Europe, stretching over 20kms of Sicilian. It alone provides 34% of petroleum products in Italy. Development of this industrial site began in 1949. A deep bay, abundant water resources, a favorable geopolitical situation in the heart of the Mediterranean and cheap labor have encouraged the construction over several years of a network of interconnected factories: refineries, power stations, factories producing asbestos, cement, chemical compounds (fertilizers, polyethylene) line the Sicilian coast,” Elena Chernyshova.


With the geopolitical advantages of Augusta Bay, industry developed in the region. Over decades, the ENI plant illegally dumped approximately 500 metric tons of mercury into the bay, and it is estimated that there is now a total of 18 million cubic meters of toxic sludge on the sea floor, posing a major threat to both health and the environment. © Elena Chernyshova / Panos Pictures

Sarah Caron – The last of the Mohana


The women are very cautious when cooking on an open fire on deck. If the boat were destroyed, the family would have to live on shore. A new boat would cost one million rupees (US$6,000 dollars).© Sarah Caron for Le Figaro Magazine

“Nicknamed the Bird People or the Lords of the Sea, the Mohana are the descendants of the first peoples of the Indus Valley whose remains are found at Mohenjo Daro, an archaeological site on the banks of the Indus River. Today, only a handful of them live in the last floating village on Lake Manchar, in the Sindh region, in southern Pakistan. The paradise of these fishermen is today threatened by the industrial waste which poisons the waters of this gigantic lake that looks like an inland sea,” Sarah Caron.


The Mohana people have a unique relationship with birds, communicating with different species, taming them, and training them to help catch fish © Sarah Caron for Le Figaro Magazine

Victor Moriyama – Amazon Deforestation


Soybean farmers have burned forestland to expand their acreage. Near Porto Velho, state of Rondônia. © Victor Moriyama for The New York Times

In Brazil in 2019, 9,762 square km of Amazon rainforest, or the area of Lebanon, was destroyed by humans

Soldiers provide security for firefighters. During fires, henchmen acting on orders from farmers attempt to intimidate firefighters and rangers © Victor Moriyama for The New York Times

Ian Willms – As Long as the Sun Shines


Clearing the surface of vegetation before building Fort Hills, a Suncor oil sands mine.© Ian Willms / Panos Pictures

As Long as the Sun Shines is “an exploration at the intersection of climate change and the legacy of the colonial regime that founded Canada. Generally seen as an event that took place several centuries ago, the colonization of the Indigenous peoples of Canada is mistakenly considered to belong to a past that no longer has an impact on our future. In fact, Canada’s “slow cultural genocide” still exists, taking the form of environmental racism today,” Ian Willms.


After the 2016 wildfire, in the suburb of Timberlea, Fort McMurray.
© Ian Willms / Panos Pictures

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