Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – 22 January 2021

Happy New Year to all my readers!

Welcome to the first edition of Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up for 2021. This week we look back at the year that was with a selection of stories and pictures that featured on the blog in 2020.

In the coming months Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up will continue its mission, to showcase photo essays, profile photographers, review photographic books and exhibitions, and share news on international festivals including Melbourne’s own PHOTO2021 which kicks off in February.

It is only January, and already I’m excited by the breadth of new work being produced, the reimagining of visual storytelling, and the energy of this wonderful global photographic community that I get to write about each week. A community that sustained me through the long days of lockdown in Melbourne in 2020 (112 days, but who’s counting!).

And if you missed the Photojournalism Now: In Conversation video series from 2020, it’s not too late to check out interviews with: Robin Hammond (UK), Renée C. Byer (US), Sean Gallagher (China), Lisette Poole (Mexico), Anastasia Taylor-Lind (UK) and James Whitlow Delano (Japan)

2020 in the rear view mirror

2020 began with much of Australia literally on fire. The most ferocious bushfire season in Australia’s history gripped the nation and seasoned photojournalists such as Nick Moir brought the terror into our homes. In January in response to the fires, the photographic community came together to launch FotoAID, which made its debut in February.

(C) Nick Moir

Presenting at FotoAID in Brisbane in February turned out to be the last trip I made before my home town of Melbourne was locked down. As coronavirus entered the vernacular, the bushfires receded from the front pages as a new horror took over. 

L-R: Alison Stieven-Taylor, Elise Searson, Irena Prikryl, Lachie, Damian Caniglia and Darren Jew at FotoAID in Brisbane.

In February Magnet Galleries in Melbourne hosted what would be one of its last in-gallery exhibitions for the year with Memento: A Retrospective – 10th Annual Women Photographers’ Exhibition for International Women’s Day. Magnet quickly adapted to the new paradigm creating online exhibitions. While the local photography community missed out on live events, a whole world opened up for galleries and visitors alike as shows became virtual.

(C) Pam Davison

That month I got to hang out with my dear friend Bangladeshi photographer, activist and scholar Shahidul Alam while he was in Melbourne and to write about his exhibition at the Rubin Center in New York, ‘Truth to Power’.

Smriti Azad used to attend political rallies with her sister when she was a child. As a singer and a performer, she was involved with the women’s movement, the committee demanding the trial of war criminals and the cultural group Charon Shangshkritik Kenro, which led to her joining the cultural group Shommilito Shangshkritik Jote. As part of that group she was active in the movement to bring down general Ershad. Here, Smriti was protesting at a rally at Shahid Minar. Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1994. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

In March images of pandemic life began to emerge such as Yunghi Kim’s New York Subway and Roger Kisby’s Panic at the Costco.

March 13, 2020. Corona Virus NYC . A discarded surgical glove at the 34th subway station. The city was emptier than usual as many stayed away from the city. Photo by Yunghi Kim/ Contact Press Images.
Shoppers stocking up on ramen and supplies leave Costco Warehouse in Burbank on March 13, 2020 in Burbank , CA. Today President Trump declared a National Emergency to free up federal resources to combat the coronavirus pandemic (C) Roger Kisby.

That month Antonio Faccilongo won the 2020 FotoEvidence Book Award with World Press Photo for his work HABIBI. In Arabic, habibi means “I love you.” This body of work is, at its heart, a love story set in one of the longest and most complicated contemporary conflicts, the Israeli-Palestinian war. Palestinian prisoners’ wives have turned to smuggling sperm in order to conceive children with their husbands who are serving long-term sentences in Israeli jails.

Kobar (Palestine), 17/08/2015. Iman Al Barghouti’s home. In her bedroom hangs her husband’s suit. Nael Al Barghouti has spent 38 years in prison. Nael was arrested on April 4, 1978 after carrying out a commando operation in which one Israeli was killed. Released during Shalit’s agreement between Hamas and Israel in 2011, he was arrested again and sentenced to life imprisonment (C) Antonio Faccilongo

In April some of the most harrowing photographs from the pandemic were published. Taken by Italian photojournalist Alberto Giuliani from Pesaro in Italy, these pictures conveyed the sheer exhaustion of frontline workers in the fight against the coronavirus.

(C) Alberto Giuliani.

In May Dysturb launched its international urban poster campaign in response to Covid-19 with this picture by New York-based, Australian photographer Ashley Gilbertson.

A view of downtown Manhattan and Chinatown on a foggy, wet day during the Coronavirus lock down in New York, N.Y. on March 29, 2020. Over 600,000 people have been infected by Covid-19, with 30,000 dead worldwide. In New York, an epicenter of the virus, City, State and National emergency emergencies have been declared. New Yorkers must stay indoors unless exercising or buying supplies. Gatherings of 10 or more have been banned. Restaurants and bars must only serve take out, and companies have closed their offices, sending workers to work from home. Economic reverberations from the virus will be felt for far longer than the virus itself, with the market already having fallen to historic lows since the beginning of the outbreak. Fears of recession are reverberating throughout governments and banks, some of whom have put economy ahead of public health. (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo)

That month Australia’s premier photo festival Head On went online for the first time, and it proved a resounding success with people participating from around the world viewing online exhibitions, artist talks, seminars and panel discussions like the one I moderated on Australian Photojournalism.

Head On Photo Festival 2020

Later in May the Auckland Festival of Photography also went online. The show I had curated, The Female Eye, which had debuted in 2019 at the Pingyao International Photography Festival, became a virtual installation. We couldn’t fly over the ditch, so I took to Zoom to talk about the exhibition. (Zoom, zoom, zoom – that’s all I did for months on end, but thank goodness for a technology that allowed me to stay connected with people around the world).

82 year-old Akiko Furuta as a younger woman. Akiko, who has dementia, was a rice farmer before she retired. Akiko says, when asked about dementia that: “dementia is something where you forget things. But I don’t have dementia. I don’t forget things.” When asked about the photo she was holding she says “This photograph was taken when I was playing in a theatre. I started acting after I graduated from junior high. I played in many different places. I was the youngest. I liked it.” (C) Robin Hammond

By June it was clear, certainly for those of us in Melbourne who were looking down the barrel of the second wave, that life online was going to be the norm for 2020. That month I launched the first video interview in the new series Photojournalism Now: In Conversation. The idea was to talk with photojournalists around the world to discover how Covid-19 was impacting the way they worked. Each interview started with that question and then segued into a discussion about various bodies of work. A great way to satisfy my journalistic curiosity and showcase some really important stories. As the series progressed my video editing skills improved and I got better at filming myself!

The first video featured award-winning visual journalist and human rights activist Robin Hammond. Excitingly, the French journal L’Oeil de la Photographie (The Eye of Photography) offered to publish this series also.

Jasmine Carey’s winning shot in the 2020 HIPA

That month Queensland underwater photographer Jasmine Carey was awarded first prize in the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (HIPA) worth more than $172,000 Aussie dollars! The prize is funded by the crown prince of Dubai. That was certainly a landmark moment for Jasmine and a bright light for Australian photography.

July was the month of photography awards with the World.Report Award Documenting Humanity 2020, the tenth anniversary exhibition of the Carmignac Photojournalism Award and a new Australian competition, Stories. I was thrilled to be part of the jury for the inaugural Stories competition which celebrates long-form photographic storytelling, along with Matthew Abbott, Tom Goldner and Harriet Tarbuck. The three winners – Rory King, Nick Moir and Ilsa Wynne-Hoelscher Kidd – exemplify the diversity, skill and creativity that is present in Australian photographic storytelling.

Greenland, Kangerlussuaq, July 2018 Meltrivers close to the edge of the ice sheet close to Kangerlussuaq. In front a river of meltwater. Due to climate change the ice sheet slowly melts, not do glaciers retreat at a rapid speed also the ice sheet itself melts, forms melting streams and reservoirs where the meltwater forms underground rivers. Kadir van Lohuizen / NOOR for Carmignac Fondation

That month the second video interview for Photojournalism Now: In Conversation was released on YouTube featuring Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Renée C. Byer who talked about her work covering Covid-19 for The Sacramento Bee in California and her longterm social documentary project, Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor.

For a time it seemed that I could no longer be worldly, It would have been better if there was no family, I want to escape from family life, I am stuck, I want to be free from all family ties.” Chittagong, Bangladesh. 05/20/2020 (C) Mohammad Shahnewaz Khan

In August, Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up featured a special on the 32nd edition of the world’s leading photojournalism festival, Visa pour l’Image. That month Bangladeshi photojournalist Mohammad Shahnewaz Khan, founder of Voice of Humanity and Hope (VOHH) Festival also shared his very personal experience of lockdown, turning the camera on himself and his young family.

A couple on a motorbike pass through the narrowest point of Fongafale island in the Funafuti atoll. On the left side is the Pacific Ocean and on the right side in the lagoon at the centre of the Funafuti atoll. The coral island atoll nation has been identified as one of the world’s most vulnerable islands to climate change. Funafuti, Tuvalu. March, 2019 (C) Sean Gallagher

August also saw the release of the third video interview for Photojournalism Now: In Conversation featuring Beijing-based, award-winning photographer and filmmaker Sean Gallagher who talked about his work on the environment and climate change.

Early Shift, West Hartlepool Steel Works, County Durham
McCullin documented Britons of all classes over his career, from his first published photograph of East London gang The Guv’nors in 1959 to the Beatles, who requested him in 1968. Through the 70s McCullin documented the estates of Bradford and the foundries of County Durham.

September was a month of reflection. Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up featured stories I’d written for various magazines over the years including interviews with Don McCullin, Sebastiao Salgado and Raghu Rai. There was something reaffirming about revisiting my archives, recognition that my life of travel and adventure was not a dream.

09-4-4533. The Anavilhanas, the name given to around 350 forested islands in Brazil’s Rio Negro, form the world’s largest inland archipelago. Covering 1,000 square kilometers of Amazonia, they start 80 kilometers north-west of Manaus and stretch some 400 kilometers up the Rio Negro as far as Barcelos. Their formation dates back to the last Ice Age when changes in the flows of rivers entering the Rio Negro produced accumulations of sediment which, over time, resulted in sandbars and islands. Since water levels change with the seasons by as much as 20 meters, the Anavilhanas are themselves ever-changing, with channels, sandbars and lagoons appearing during the dry season and some small islands vanishing when waters rise. Many of the larger islands, though, are self-contained parcels of rain forest. Brazil. May 2009. (C) Sebastiao Salgado

September also saw the release of the fourth instalment for Photojournalism Now: In Conversation. In this interview I spoke with Cuban-American photojournalist Lisette Poole, who is now based in Mexico City, about her new book La paloma y la ley (The dove and the law).

Poole’s book documents the migration journey of two Cuban women, economic migrants in search of a better life. Poole travelled the perilous path which took the women from Havana, inland through South America, and to the US-Mexico border. Poole spent 51 days documenting the emotional and at times harrowing journey.

October rolled around bringing with it the launch of a new Australian photobook, The Mallee – A journey through north-west Victoria. There is something magical about The Mallee and the exquisite photographs in this book capture the heart and soul of this region, evoking the romanticism of Australia’s rural landscapes, the sweeping vistas, vast sky and rich palette.

That month also featured Glaswegian photojournalist and street photographer Brian Anderson’s new book Eye Belong to Glasgow 1988 to 2018, a collection of pictures taken in his hometown over 30 years. 

(C) Brian Anderson

Burroughs Lamar, an American social documentary photographer who documented his native Harlem from 2008 to 2017, reached out to share a selection from Harlem: Hidden in Plain Sight, an archive of more than 70,000 pictures. “My photographs seek to portray its people as varied, unadorned, and relaxed in this environment for many who may have not seen the qualitative aspects of this community before,” he said.

(C) Burroughs Lamar

October was a busy month indeed, with the release of the fifth video interview for Photojournalism Now: In Conversation this one featuring UK-based photojournalist Anastasia Taylor-Lind who talked about her long-term work in Ukraine.

(C) Anastasia Taylor-Lind

In November I reviewed Peter Mitchell’s book Early Sunday Morning which quickly became a new favourite. The book comprises around 100 photographs of the West Yorkshire city of Leeds in northern England, the majority of which haven’t been published before. Most were taken in the early 1970s when Mitchell was working as a delivery truck driver.

(C) Peter Mitchell

I was also a judge in November for the Australian Photography Awards Documentary Category which was won by Christopher Hopkins for his incredibly emotional photograph “I want to hold her hand.”

22/05/20 11:09 am, Williamstown. Robyn Becker is in the final stages of terminal breast and gastric cancer and was told last week she could only have hours to live. Her sister Jennifer flew from California to Melbourne to be with her but is quarantined for two weeks. She has been given special leave from the hotel to be with her for an hour a time. “Each visit, our time is cut short and it’s devastating” says Robyn. Jennifer understands the necessity of the quarantine but says that there could be some flexibility for those in palliative care, “I want to be with her, I want talk to her, I want to hold her hand, comfort her and hug her” Robyn would sadly pass away on July 10th, seven weeks later. Photograph by Christopher Hopkins for The Age

That month Sydney photographer Emmanuel Angelicas’ exhibition Silent Agreements – Marrickville – 50 – Home finally opened – it was originally planned for May as part of Head On Photo Festival. For 50 years Angelicas has documented his family, neighbours and strangers, capturing images of Marrickville, its humanity and its dark secrets, without censorship.

(C) Emmanuel Angelicas

The next month I was interviewed for a documentary film on Angelicas (below).

Being interviewed in December for the documentary film on Emmanuel Angelicas

And that brings us to December. In the first week, the final video interview for Photojournalism Now: In Conversation 2020 went live featuring award-winning photojournalist James Whitlow Delano.

The following week I reviewed the book: The Alexia 30 Years. For over 30 years the Alexia Grants have supported the work of documentary photographers around the world, both professionals and students who are working for social change and this book celebrates that work.

Alio Balde scrubs his body in front of the touffe, a place where bricks for the huts were originally made which had filled up with water. The end of the rainy season is the richest time of year when time to escape the daily chores is more readily available in the remote village of Dembel Jumpoa in the West African country of Guinea Bissau (C) Ami Vitale.

The last post for the year featured a story I wrote for the Monash University magazine Lens, “View from my window: Sharing pictures in lockdown.”

And so ends this review of Photojournalism Now 2020. While it was a year that many will be happy to forget, looking back reminds me that a great deal was achieved despite the obstacles! A heartfelt thanks to all the photographers who shared their stories and pictures. It’s time now to look forward…

Some of the posts on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up in 2020

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