Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – 5 November 2021

This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – award-winning photojournalist Brian Cassey’s A Photographer’s Life – Part Two.

Plus this year I had the pleasure of being part of the selection committee for the 2021 Head On Photo Festival which opens on the 19th November. This past Wednesday Head On Spotlight featured a panel discussion with myself and other selection committee members – Simon Harsent, Elizabeth Reidy, Garry Trinh and festival director Moshe Rosenzveig.

We had a lively discussion about how and why we chose certain bodies of work and what photographers need to think about when submitting for the festival. I had the opportunity to talk about two exhibitions which I love – Angus Mordant’s The Mourning Undertaker and David Wallin’s I was Too Late. Both deal with the difficult subject of death to present complex, yet accessible visual narratives that I find incredibly moving. Mordant’s is a story about a New York City undertaker during Covid-19, who while burying the loved ones of many of his fellow New Yorkers, also lost his father to the virus. Wallin’s is an intimate story about his own father’s death, estrangement and (re)discovery.

Here are a couple of images from each. Look out for next week’s Head On 2021 preview.

In a rare moment of time set aside for himself Omar Rodriguez, 41, looks towards the Hudson River from a park near his apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Throughout the pandemic Omar regularly worked 23 hour days helping with funeral arrangements for some of the thousands of New Yorkers who succumbed to Covid-19. The following day he would prepare his own father for burial. Friday, May 8 2020. Photo by Angus Mordant
Funeral Director, Omar Rodriguez, 41, inventories a room full of cremation boxes mostly containing the bodies of deceased Covid-19 patients. Due to the extreme number of daily deaths in New York the funeral home was forced to truck bodies interstate for cremation, a process which required meticulous care and record keeping. “We have handled 300 bodies over the last 7 weeks” said Omar “Thats what we usually handle in a year!” Wednesday, April 29, 2020. Photo by Angus Mordant

(C) David Wallin
(C) David Wallin

Exhibition & Book:

Brian Cassey – A Photographer’s Life Part Two

Mumbai © Brian Cassey

Brian Cassey is a long time photojournalist formerly from the UK, and now basking in sunny Cairns, Australia, where he once was a newspaper publisher. Today Cassey continues to freelance for various newspapers, and to pick up industry awards, the most recent of which was the 2021 Nikon Portrait Prize which featured on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up a couple of weeks ago.

In recent years he has also found time to mine his extensive archive. This pursuit resulted in his 2017 exhibition A Photographer’s Life – Part One, a retrospective of selected works, some “long forgotten (hidden in) boxes and numerous disk drives,” and most representative of his photojournalistic career.

“Prostitution in Papua New Guinea is illegal. However, the sex industry – the ‘oldest profession’ – is flourishing in Australia’s nearest neighbour and the trade is said to be responsible for the massive HIV-AIDS infection figures in PNG. For over a decade muted proposals to regulate the sex industry in an attempt to control the HIV-AIDS epidemic have been ignored. Prostitution is still the major player in spreading the disease – and it is still illegal … AIDS numbers continue to increase … In the photo a sex worker – a ‘pamuk meri’ (literally ‘loose woman’) – meets a client in a room in a ‘hotel’ in Port Moresby. The room can be booked for half an hour at a time. Image made 10/06/2014” © Brian Cassey

While Part One was a nostalgic look back at a time when Cassey was constantly on the job shooting for the press, A Photographer’s Life – Part Two, which opened this week in Cairns, features work Cassey has created since 2016. Most of this work has been largely self funded and is reflective of the stories that have engaged this seasoned snapper. There are 37 images in this new exhibition including those pictures featured in today’s blog.

© Brian Cassey
© Brian Cassey
Tears for George Floyd, Cairns © Brian Cassey

Cassey is also launching his book A Photographer’s Life Part One & Part Two.  You can view the exhibition and the book at The Cairns Courthouse until December 2021.

From A Photographer’s Life Part One & Part Two © Brian Cassey
From A Photographer’s Life Part One & Two © Brian Cassey

Take note please of this message from Cassey: “ALL photographs and images are  copyright © Brian Cassey – Photographer – 2021 and may not be used in any way without the prior written permission of Brian Cassey and are protected by Australian and international copyright laws. No images are within Public Domain and may not be reproduced, copied, stored, or manipulated in any way. The use of any image as the basis for another photographic concept or illustration is a violation of copyright.” So please don’t cut, paste or appropriate.

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