Behind the News

The west and the middle east are driven apart ever since the horrible events that took place at 9/11. What we learn about ‘them’, speaking now from the western point of view, is coming to us through the media. Western media. The news covers every suicide bomber and every attack on a western military base. What we never truly get to see is the people who try to live their normal lives.

Together with journalist Pauline Bakker, photographer Marieke van der Velden traveled to Baghdad Aug/Sept 2011 with a simple question: How are you?  The photographs see took shows us the people behind the news stories. Or behind the cover stories, the truth we never get to really know since a propaganda machine is keeping the humanity out of these conflict zones. A very interesting series called Baghdad Today.

Marieke van der Velden’s website:

Man’s Best Friend?

Pieter Hugo photographed hyenas and their owners. Yes, their owners. In Lagos, Nigeria, men seem to keep an hyena as a pet. Using a chain as a leash, they walk around with their pets like you normally would with your dog. I wonder if this animal is a good and smart substitute for what we normally would call men’s best friend. Does a hyena really looks out for the owners best interests. The muzzles indicates otherwise.

Pieter Hugo found out the true relationship between these men and hyenas. He spent eight days with them. The men are called ‘Gadawan Kura’, roughly translated ‘Hyena handlers/guides’. They are a group of itinerant minstrels, performers who used the animals to entertain crowds and sell traditional medicines. For the complete story please visit Hugo’s website or click here.

Pieter Hugo’s website:

Portraits of Nature

Portrait photography has been a big hit ever since the invention of photography. The subjects photographed evolved along with the evolution of the camera. From dead people, stationary living people, to spontaneous portraits. Exposure times were just a little longer back then, than we are now accustomed to. Often the eyes of the people photographed in the middle of the 1800s looked weird. Due to the long exposure, people were able to stand still, but blinking and moving your eyes seemed a challenge.

Today we are able to portray anything we like. Some photographers seem to take it on them selves to photograph subjects that are not easily controlled. So long live the short exposure times and the ability to control light. Andrew Zuckerman photographed different animals in his series “Creature”. With his studio approach he photographed elephants, giraffes lions, and many other creatures. And he did this on a white background. Just like Richard Avedon did with people in his series “In the American West” (1985). Zuckerman takes the animal out of its natural habitat to show us just the animal and all its beauty.

Website Andrew Zuckerman:

Form Integration

In the series “Habitat” Belgium photographer/artist Xavier Delory looks at prefab houses. House that can be found on the countryside of Belgium. And perhaps even in other western countries. One specific type of houses can be found here, called ‘Clé sur porte’. Or “Turnkey”. From which the definition is” Urban prefab cluster of similar forms implanted in the landscape without any effort of integration.

I look at the photographs and see visually interesting landscapes. Xavier depicts these houses almost as a representation of a social mega-trend. With little adjustments to the houses we see a closed up habitat were we, the individual, live our lives. Perhaps the words “without any effort of integration” says it all. We are all living in a society that builds on individuality by presenting us choices. And in the end the choices made per individual are not so different at all, yet we all feel unique. And all life our close-up lives without really trying to integrate.

Xavier Delory’s website: 

My grandfather died at the age of 87. Luckily I keep the memories and the photos I took of him two years ago.

Sunday Vid – The Genius of Photography

Today a must see for all photography enthusiast out there. A BBC documentary called The Genius of Photography.

I wasn’t able to integrate the clips into this post so please click the following link to watch it at DocumentaryHeaven: The Genius of Photography

Or if you just want to own this documentary, you can purchase it: DVD – The Genius of Photography 

Cozy Commuters

Earlier on PforPHOTO I posted about a series by Michael Wolf  in which he photographed windows and the small cities that exist behind them. A voyeuristic series called Transparent City. His new series, again photographs taken through windows, shows us the commuters of the Tokyo subway system. The many people (2.8 million a day) who rely on this rapid transit system are all packed neatly into small compartments.They all commute cozy together.

The photographs that Michael Wolf has taken gives us a look into the day-to-day lives of Japanese commuters. Damp windows. Emotionless faces. Portraits of people who are compressed together. Portraits of people who pause their lives from the moment they set foot on world’s busiest subway system. All on their way to do what they do. Everyday the same. Everyday together. The series is called Tokyo Compression.

Michael’s website:

Different Shades of Black

Dutch photographer Arjen Zwart, based in Istanbul, Turkey, photographs the back alleys of Istanbul in his series ZIFT. He finds art on the walls of buildings. The walls have been treated with tar to make them waterproof. This practical usage of this black stuff brings about unintended beauty, or pieces of art as he calls it. And it reminds him of the works of great artists like Mark Rothko and Kazimir Malevich. The different shades of black, the structure of the walls and the surroundings make for some beautiful photographs. Arjen makes us look differently at the ordinary structures and buildings surrounding us. And showing us the abstractness and beauty in these ordinary places.

Arjen’s website: | MAY 15 2012 | Bring your camera!


Sunday Vid – Denis Smith (Painting with Light)