Tag Archives: Photojournalism

John Ferguson – Black Britannia

30 Jun
Pioneering black Britions 

Black Britannia features striking portraits by John Ferguson, Fleet Streets first black photographer in the 1980’s, of some of the most well known – and less familiar – black men and women who have risen to the top of their chosen fields in the UK.
Under the title Black Britannia, the full exhibition comprises of 55 portraits of inspirational black Britons who inspired personally the artist in the past or who are currently making great strides in public life. Of the 55 black Britons, some well know names such as Sir Trevor McDonald, Lenny Henry, Naomi Campbell, Paul Ince, Lewis Hamilton, and others from various occupations such as head teachers to supermodels, boxers to lawyers – these are people from all walks of life.
John Ferguson has selected his favourites portraits of individuals which were first shown at London’s City Hall, and opened by the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The exhibition aims to highlighting the achievements of these individuals, by promoting a positive image of black Britons and a message to today’s black youth through these high quality aesthetic portraits. Photographer John Ferguson says:

“The aim being, first, to inspire black youth to broaden their horizons away from street life by providing non-stereotypical role models, and second, to show London at large, the incredible achievements of black individuals away from the all too frequent stereotyping of black people.”

“I believe that all too often black people are portrayed in a negative light. I want to challenge this preconception by also raising people conciseness and awareness to the contributions made to UK culture, economy and life by black Britons.”

“I’d hope to find an accessible venue that’s free to everyone, an important consideration given that part of the target audience I’d hope to attract would be disengaged youth.”

“London is a wonderful multicultural city, and many of the capital’s key strengths come from its diversity. This exhibition is a chance for the young people to become inspired by the portraits and stories of these black men and women.”

The exhibition had a very successful extended run in London, where it then moved on to Liverpool’s slavery museum for a six month run. It is currently being exhibited by Oldham Arts council, Greater Manchester.

1. Ms Dynamite R&B rapper singer/songwriter
2. Naomi Campbell supermodel
3. Nicholas Tung- first black Irish Guardsman to guard the Queen of England
4. Johnny Sarpong- Top international fashion stylist
5. Shevelle Dynott Dancer with England National Ballet
6. Billy Ocean International singer
7.Heneretta Brockway -Top international female golfer
8.Estelle- R&B singer
9.Lenny Henry- Actor and comedian
10. High Court Judge Linda Dobbs
11. Jamelia soul singer
12. David Wabso Head engineering for London Underground
13. Samantha Tross- Leading Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon
14. John Coneth Ex- light heavyweight world champion boxer
15. Lewis Hamilton –  World champion F1 racing driver
16. Michael Fuller Chief Constable of Kent, British highest ranking Policeman
17. Sir Trevor McDonald- Britain’s leading Tv News Anchor man
18 Gina Yashere- One of the few leading female comedians in the UK
19.Chris Houghton The UK’s only black soccer manager
20.Courtenay Griffiths QC The UK’s leading black criminal defender Barrister

More about John Ferguson:

  • Location: London, United Kingdom
  • John is an experienced documentary and environmental portrait photographer working out of London and UK. He has travelled extensively working for leading national and international newspapers and magazines as well as NGO’s. From the raise of the Aids/HIV pandemic in Africa and Asia, to feature stories from conflicts zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. John as talent for conceptualisation and delivering strong and innovative ideas and works well in a team environment, taking direction as well as working independently. His work as also covered various celebrity and high end editorial and commercial work. In 2009 John’s first solo exhibition ‘Black Britannia’ was opened by the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown at London City Hall. He is currently finishing a two year personal project which as gained interest from a leading Sunday Supplement in the UK.
  • johnferguson.co.uk
  • Exhibition: Black Britannia – Celebrating black success in the UK
  • Ferguson reveals the stories behind his pictures:

The power of an image

15 May

President Obama’s decision not to release images of Osama bin Laden’s corpse, and the heated debate it has engendered, speaks volumes about the continuing power of the photograph even in a time when we are overwhelmed by digital images of every hue, from the mundane to the ultra-explicit.

Revealingly, Obama chose to frame his decision in both practical and moral terms. “It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence, as a propaganda tool,” he said. “You know, that’s not who we are.”

Others – most notably more hawkish Republicans and their supporters in the US media – argue that the images should be released precisely to show that this is “who we are”: an America that wants the world to know in the most graphic terms what happens to those who attack their country. Photography, for better or worse, possesses this immediate power in a way that words – too reflective – and the moving image – too animated – do not. It is a moment, freeze-framed forever.

History has shown that the intended message of such photographs can backfire. Back in 1967, when Cuban revolutionary leader Che Guevara was captured and executed in Bolivia by troops loyal to military General Barrientos (with the help of the CIA), his corpse was photographed to leave the world in no doubt of his identity. With his unkempt hair and beard, the dead Che resembled the dead Christ in a Renaissance painting. In his biography of the insurgent, Compañero, Jorge G Castañeda wrote: “The Christ-like image prevailed … It’s as if the dead Guevara looks on his killers and forgives them, and upon the world, proclaiming that he who dies for an idea is beyond suffering.”

Could an image of Bin Laden’s bloodied corpse send out the same message to his followers? Almost certainly, and we will no doubt see that power soon enough when the photographs leak out into the media, as they surely will – with or without Obama’s sanctioning.

More problematic for Obama’s moral reasoning is the fact that other graphic images of the aftermath of the attack on Bin Laden’s compound have already been leaked, showing the bloodied corpses of unidentified men. Why is it acceptable to show these bodies but not that of their leader, a figurehead for global terrorism? Indeed, why show such graphic images at all?

In her recent book, The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence, the American academic Susie Linfield argues that, in the internet age, we must regain our ability to distinguish between gratuitous images of violence and hardship – including “the onslaught of images from the Muslim world that celebrate suicide bombings, beheadings and other forms of barbarism” – and more morally defensible images of war and conflict, however explicit.

“If we want to construct a politics of human rights that isn’t merely an abstraction, we need to look at these photographs of suffering, degradation and defeat,” she writes. “We need to think clearly not only about the relationships among these images, how they function and what they communicate in aggregate, but about the specific conditions each one depicts, no matter how disturbing, shaming and bewildering an experience that may be.” One senses that Linfield would support Obama in his decision, especially at a time when many Americans are in no mood for painstaking and self-searching moral debates of this kind.

Interesting, too, is the group photograph of President Obama, Hilary Clinton and their retinue of advisers in the situation room watching Bin Laden die via a camera fixed to a soldier’s helmet. It gives some indication of the horror of the moment, if only in Clinton’s look of shock and disbelief as well as in the president’s stern gaze. Why, though, was this image released? Perhaps because it shows no trace of celebration or gloating – “That’s not who we are” – but instead a grim acknowledgment of the horror of what is happening in all its cruel radiance. It is a fascinating document, for what it doesn’t show us as much as what it does. That is the often-overlooked power of great photography: to suggest rather than to shock.

Source.


-/-


It’s no secret that we are a visual culture. The glow of a turned-on television illuminates every house nearly every night. Photo galleries are regularly the best viewed elements of many media sites. Pictures pack power. And politicians know this. That’s why the debate over whether or not to release what has been described as a “gruesome” photo of Osama bin-Laden’s body is so intriguing.

At the moment, the iconic image of the death of bin-Laden is this one:

Taken by White House official photographer Pete Souza, it shows President Obama and much of his national security team receiving an update on the mission that led to bin Laden’s death.

The image powerfully portrays the tension and seriousness of purpose of the people gathered in the room. And, while the picture wasn’t taken with politics in mind, the message that it conveys — serious people doing a serious thing — is politically powerful, reinforcing the idea of Obama as a strong and sober leader.

Releasing the photo of bin Laden would wipe the above image out of the American consciousness and replace it with one that is significantly more jarring and potentially divisive.

Source.

Also interesting:

Amazon.com ReviewSince the early days of photography, critics have told us that photos of political violence—of torture, mutilation, and death—are exploitative, deceitful, even pornographic. To look at these images is voyeuristic; to turn away is a gesture of respect.With The Cruel Radiance, Susie Linfield attacks those ideas head-on, arguing passionately that viewing such photographs—and learning to see the people in them—is an ethically and politically necessary act that connects us to our modern history of violence and probes our capacity for cruelty. Contending with critics from Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht to Susan Sontag and the postmoderns—and analyzing photographs from such events as the Holocaust, China’s Cultural Revolution, and recent terrorist acts—Linfield explores the complex connection between photojournalism and the rise of human rights ideals. In the book’s concluding section, she examines the indispensable work of Robert Capa, James Nachtwey, and Gilles Peress, and asks how photography has—and should—respond to the increasingly nihilistic trajectory of modern warfare.A bracing and unsettling book, The Cruel Radiance convincingly demonstrates that if we hope to alleviate political violence, we must first truly understand it—and to do that, we must begin to look.

Congrats Alejandro Chaskielberg!

10 May

-The Hunter-

An Argentinian photographer who began his career on local papers last night picked up one of his art form’s leading awards for a portfolio of pictures he took while living with islanders in the Paraná river delta, Argentina.

Alejandro Chaskielberg’s dramatically luminous images of a community going about their daily lives won him photographer of the year – known as L’Iris D’Or – at the Sony World Photography Awards, presented last night at a gala ceremony at the Odeon Leicester Square in London.

Chaskielberg, 34, spent two years with the islanders, immersing himself in their daily lives and taking photographs of precisely staged scenes at night. The chairman of this year’s judges, critic Francis Hodgson, said of Chaskielberg’s High Tide series: “These carefully directed pictures tell solid truths – about toil and community and marginal survival – in a splendidly allusive way.”

Buenos Aires-born Chaskielberg, who took his first job on a local newspaper aged 18, said of the project: “Using photography, I have been able to present another version of the Paraná river delta and its community that has been photographically ignored throughout the years.” (…)

He beat considerable competition, with 105,000 images entered from 162 countries.

Source.

Auf Deutsch y en espanol.

The High Tide Portfolio

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Interview


If you find his work intersting then check the interview at the Brighton Photo Biennial (10.2010):

For those of you who speak spanish, here the complete “Documental mágico” (more than one hour!) by Marcelo Brodsky:

Here Chaskielberg’s Blog and Web.

All the Sony World Photography Awards 2011, winners and categories can be found here.