Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – 13 May 2022

This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – an interview with Claire Martin about the resurrection of FotoFreo, plus some sobering insights from the latest State of Photography report. Also, congratulations to Paula Bronstein, the winner of this year’s Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award. And Head On invites entries for this year’s awards.

If you are in Victoria, a weekend of photography is on offer at the Benalla Art Gallery in celebration of Oculi’s ACTS I-VII, “a visual meditation on…seven universal experiences that lie at the heart of our existence: love and fear, trauma and grief, freedom and oppression, control and uncertainty, belonging and exclusion, science and spirit, life and death.” From 13th May.

Abigail Varney Ocean Purge 2020

FotoFreo is back in 2022

Yolanda, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1969 & 2010 © Irina Werning / Back to the Future

This week I caught up with Claire Martin, a documentary photographer based in Perth. I met Martin more than a decade ago at Foto Freo in 2010, which was one of the best documentary and photojournalism festivals I had been to, anywhere. I was excited to learn how she, along with a small team of volunteers, has resurrected this festival which folded in 2013 after its co-founder and director Bob Hewitt retired. 

Martin tells that she has long held the desire to see Foto Freo return, the festival playing an important role in her early development as a documentary photographer and as the location of her first exhibition, Slab City, in 2010.

But family and documentary projects got in the way. Enter the pandemic and suddenly life slowed a little. “I had time on my hands as I couldn’t travel for work,” says Martin. “I decided I wanted the excitement to come to me.” 

Martin threw herself into the project. “I wondered about the appetite for the festival as there are so many now, but everyone was super excited.” Within months a much-loved festival was reborn. 

It is baby steps for the 2022 iteration but the ambition is to present a more developed festival offering in 2024. “As soon as this year’s festival ends, we will be onto the next,” says Martin who hopes to attract funding that allows the festival to expand.   

Foto Freo 2022 is not a replica of the original which showcased traditional documentary and photojournalism work from local and international practitioners. Rather the new look Foto Freo features work that is more fluid as Martin explains. 

“In the world of documentary and photojournalism there is a lot more room for conceptualisation and fictional realities. I want visual arts to carry a strong message about society, but those boundaries have loosened in how literal the execution of that needs to be and that’s happening broadly.”

The limited program is curated to convey “inclusivity and diversity,” which Martin says is a departure from the original festival’s mandate. What is reminiscent of the old Foto Freo is the decision to keep the festival hyper local and confined to Fremantle. This was one of the appeals of the early festivals and demonstrative of Foto Freo returning to its local roots. 

2022 Program

“Her wing caught on a barbed wire fence, night becoming day and the bone pierced. Ruth slips off her owl body, exploding into the sky over Lake Burley Griffin, to become a sun.” Lumachrome Glass Print, Cliche-Verre, Chemigram and drawing. Trapped deceased Eastern Barn Owl, seeds, feather-top grass, turmeric, coffee, liquid paper, sulphuric acid and silver chlorides, exposed 40 hours with electric current, in a geodesic dome. © Judith Nangala Crispin

Works featured this year include international and local artists: Judith Nangala Crispin, Daniella Zalcman, Claire Martin, Duncan Wright, Lyle Branson, Billy Reeves and Jesse Pretorius. These artists are exhibiting at the Moores Building Contemporary Art Gallery.

SIGNS OF YOUR IDENTITY Wanda Garnier Holy Rosary Mission 1958-1963 “For years afterwards I’d wake up in a cold sweat, always from the same nightmare. The nuns were coming to take me back. Mother Edeltrude was standing over me and telling me we had to stay there the rest of our lives. … Those women treated us like we were savages who had to be civilized. I thought we were pretty civilized, but I guess not in their books.” (C) Daniella Zalcman

Irina Werning’s award-winning global photographic project Back to the Future is at Walyalup Civic Centre.

I Have Questions is a group show presented by Common Folks, a grassroots community of emerging, mid-career and established multidisciplined creatives. The exhibition features: Alex Cohen, Emanuel Rudnicki, Floss Watson, Hannah Jones, James Simmons, Jenna Mason, Jillian McHugh, Melissa Mills, Melle Branson, Natasja Kremers, Ricky Gestro and Tyler Brown. On show at PS Space Walyalup. 

(Portrait with green background) © Natasha Kremers from the exhibition “I Have Questions”

J.J. Dwyer’s Photographic Fragments is on show at W.A. Shipwreck Museum

The Maritime Museum hosts the panel discussion Intersectional Representation with Judith Nangala Crispin, Daniella Zalcman, Claire Martin and Irina Werning on May 28 from 10am-1pm. 

To find out more visit the festival website.

State of Photography Report 2022

The 2022 report by Tara Pixley, Martin Smith-Rodden, David Campbell and Adrian Hadland is a departure from previous reports that have considered the experience of photojournalists. This year’s report specifically looks at “image-makers from historically marginalized communities.” 

1,325 participates from 87 countries were surveyed with more than half identifying as female (in previous studies males dominated).

Financial insecurity and loss of income were key issues along with gender and race pay gaps. The report also addressed the financial impact of the pandemic, which was significant.

Notably, “only half the respondents work full time as photographers” the remainder making up the income shortfall with other work not necessarily related to photography. 

“The top five roles and responsibilities photographers identified as integral to their work were: 

• Be accurate and truthful in visual storytelling – 29%

• Tell compelling and impactful stories – 18% 

• Consider how particular images or telling certain stories visually might negatively impact those photographed – 17% 

• Illuminate social problems to a broad audience – 14% 

• Advocate for human or civil rights and effect change – 8%”

You can view the full report here.

Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award 

Opytne, Eastern Ukraine: Mariya Gorpynych, age 76, lives alone. She holds new chicks delivered by ICRC as part of a humanitarian aid service for elderly that live alone. It also allows them to raise chickens for some income. She speaks with tears in her eyes when talking about the death of her son. Victor,48 was killed due to the war in 2016, he was fatally injured by shelling that hit the home. He died in her hands. Her husband, died in the same year from a heart attack from extreme stress of living too close to the front line. Mariya refuses to leave her village because her family are buried there.”I have nowhere to flee, my whole family is buried here.” “I got used to the continued shelling.” Opytne is a war torn village on the contact line where only 43 people are left due to the dangers (C) Paula Bronstein

Created in 2014, the Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award honours the life and work of Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press photographer and International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award winner Anja Niedringhaus (1965-2014). This year the winner is veteran freelance photojournalist Paula Bronstein who will receive $20,000 and have her work exhibited in a virtual showcase. Honorable mentions go to Farzana Wahidy (Afghanistan) and Carol Guzy (U.S.).

Bronstein is currently in Ukraine, where she has worked previously documenting the plight of the elderly (see the image above). She is also known for her work in Afghanistan which spans 20 years and features in the book “Afghanistan: Between Hope and Fear.” This award is another accolade in a long and impressive career that has affirmed Bronstein as one of the most tenacious and hardworking photojournalists.

Head On Photo Awards

Last year’s Landscape Winner Aletheia Casey

This year the Head On Awards prize pool is worth $30,000 in cash. Winners will also feature in an exhibition at the new Head On Photo Village at Bondi Beach and at the Paddington Reservoir Gardens during the festival which is on in Sydney from 5-20 November. 

Entries for the portrait, landscape and student categories are now being accepted. Enter here.

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