Posts Tagged ‘architecture’
Recently, a full-time photojournalism position opened at a local daily. I considered applying. For years, that was the kind of job I really wanted. It was the only job I wanted. And then it struck me that I don’t want that job any more. Or at least, I don’t want the job that I would be asked to do. Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about where, when and why my own view of what photojournalism should be diverged from what photojournalism is. Some of it has to do with technology, but there are other and more important things, too.
The imaging technology has changed dramatically and I am bored to death with it. I am bored with new digital cameras. I am bored with megapixels and neverending upgrade cycles. I am bored with HD video. I am particularly bored with videos that start out out of focus and then slowly bring into focus some mundane and usually irrelevant object or a generic street scene. I am bored by partially desaturated images. Entire newspapers filled with portraits bore me to tears. I am not bored, but offended by HDR – it’s just kitsch of the worst kind. I am also offended by selective colouring. I know, it was done in the 1920s as well as today. It was bad then and it’s bad now. Please let it die and please, please don’t publish it in daily newspapers. I am bored with journalists who are trying to be cool on twitter and I am bored with the publications that are forcing their writers and photographers to become celebrities. I am embarrassed to read tweets by local, national and international reporters passing themselves off as some sort of experts on one thing or another.
It’s never a good thing when a journalist becomes a story. The details are usually either sordid or horrifying and almost always a result of an unchecked ego better suited to some other professions. It’s cool to see your name in print, but a byline or a photo credit is where it should end. Just look at the two latest controversies in the world of photojournalism: the Paolo Pellegrin photo from an ill-conceived Magnum Rochester project (here, here, here) and the debate over this year’s World Press Photo winner Paul Hansen’s post-processing of the winning photograph (here and here). None of this did any good to anybody. It’s important to discuss and draw attention to, but it does no good. Somehow photojournalism stopped being about stories.
Local daily is a great example of that. At least once a week, the front page features a photo of some poor bastard dragged into or out of a courtroom. For the rest of the week we have people staring at us from the front page. I can’t figure out what that contributes to the readers’ understanding of the news the journalists and the editors obviously thought important enough to cover and print that day. It’s easy to criticize daily photojournalists. The pressures to produce something out of thin air is huge and the job is becoming more stressful than ever. Deep down, I never was a daily photographer anyway. My heart had always been, even before I knew that, in long-form story telling both visual and narrative.
Over the last few weeks, my wife dug out a set of 6×4 prints I gave her years ago. We always thought we should work on some sort of a collaborative project, but between kids, grad studies, moves and jobs there was no time for that. She pulled them out now and it is fascinating to watch these photographs come alive as poetry, essays, mini-plays and short stories. Then last Friday, I had one of those moments that reminded me what is that I love so much about photography. That story started almost two years ago.
My MA thesis supervisor invited me and the family to come with her and her husband to a small reunion held on Fair Island, a resettled island community off the east coast of the main island of Newfoundland. Her husband’s family were Fair Islanders. It was August, but the weather was miserable. Nonetheless, we went and we had great time. I made some photographs and posted one of them here. The photograph I liked the most was the one at the top of this post. Context is important here. The photograph (in my mind anyway) is called “A pipefitter and a gaming executive make fish in a resettled community.” What you see here are not two fishermen, although I suspect both of them would be happier if they were fishermen. What you see is two people with roots deep in a community that does not exist any more engaged in an activity that is crucial to their identity, but it is meaningless economically. For me, this is in many ways a quintessential Newfoundland small island photograph. Except, this past Friday I found out that this is not the most interesting or the most important photograph I made that day.
Sometime last year, I got a call from the Research Centre for Music, Media and Place at the university I work at asking if I would allow them to use the Fair Island photo they found on my blog. A few folks working at the centre were taking a beginners documentary film making class and they were producing a short doc on Stan Pickett, an accordion player originally from Fair Island. You can hear and see Stan play in the video bellow.
I said sure and told them that I had a few more photos and that they are free to chose any of them. They picked three. Last Friday, the class got together and screened the three shorts they made to a very small audience of their classmates and a few other people who in some way helped with their projects. I was invited as a courtesy and came out of curiosity. Stan Picket was in the audience, too.
The films were quite good. In fact, given that they were made in 14 weeks by people who never made a film before, they were great. After the screening, I was introduced to Stan and we got chatting. I pulled out my laptop and showed him a couple of other photos from Fair Island. His eyes glanced over the fish-making photo, but the little pond, the pillars of the old church and the photo of stages and stores at the end of a wharf caught his attention. He became animated and happy, in fact so happy that his excitement was contagious.
It turns out that the little pond known as ‘the rink’ sitting in ‘the meesh’ (marsh) was not just a place to play a game of hockey, but also a major social space. There were bonfires on the neighbouring hills and games and midnight runs with torches between the hills. Stan could just spin one story after another and I kept wishing I had a recorder rolling. The photo below brought the memories of “old-year-out-new-year-in-day” and downhill races in an old wooden punt that would end at the bottom of the gulch and, sometimes, in the ocean. And the church pillars? Well it was his dad who started the church and… It was magical.
And that’s what photographs should do. They should tell stories, make us tell stories, and make us imagine stories. Today’s newspaper photography fails at all of it most of the time and I am not naïve enough to think that I could somehow change that even if I could get that job in what is bound to be an insanely intense competition. So, I’ll keep doing it my way and, thanks to Stan, I have a great idea for a project.
EDITED FOR TYPOS AND CLARITY.
I just applied to graduate today. Now I really need to finish writing the thesis
The photo was made on Fair island, Newfoundland.
“You have to be careful with the island. There is a trap here. If you prevent a young person from leaving, the island turns into a curse. They must go and get to know the world and it has to be their own decision to return and to love the island. If you tell them: “Don’t go there. That’s not for you,” then there is going to be resentment. It’s our job to push them out into the world. We have to give them the love for the island, we have to teach them about life here, but it has to be their decision. If you don’t do that, than they have no reason to come back. It’s only love that works… That is what happened to me. I had a grandma who passed that love on to me and I left to see the world, but I also felt that I can affirm myself the best here, that here, I am myself and that here I can make the greatest contribution. But if I didn’t learn that love, if I did not have that contact with the island, I would have left and would be contented somewhere else and I would not feel that I belong to this island. It’s all about where you belong.”
That is a quote from one of my interviews on Vis island, Croatia.
Also in the news today is the inclusion of a particular style of a cappella singing on Croatian coast into the list of the world’s intangible cultural heritage. The song bellow is performed by Klapa Otok (Island) and it’s called “Islanders’ Ballad.”
My not so great translation is below:
We live off sea, by nets and lines,
We count the blisters from oars, picks.
Red are our eyes from sleepless nights and tears,
Our blistered hands are hard as rocks.
And we are lashed by storms and rains,
And every day we are bent over a bit more,
And yet, more than anything and more than all other beauties
Our entire lives we love sea
Our blue sea, you know all our desires
You are strength, fortune – our life
We count the sails and white ships,
The days are passing with nor’easters and sou’westers.
Miserly land gives all it can,
Life on an island is a joy and sorrow.
Between work, family, finishing off my MA thesis and other assorted academic obligations I barely have time to breathe. The tearsheets are from the latest Newfoundland Quarterly magazine. This is a tiny, little bit of my thesis in a magazine opinion piece form. You can read the whole thing here.
Some time ago I posted a bunch of links on various photo collections here and here. It’s time to add another collection to it. Phil Kneen’s The Old Leather Chair Project is not just a collection but also an exemplary instance of true dedication to his craft. Phil lags his leather chair all over the Isle of Man in the back of his van.
The photograph is of a gas stop (I really can’t call it a station) along a street in Floriana, Malta.
I need to get to an island and make some photographs… It’s becoming a mental health issue…
Lerwick, Shetland Mainland.
I am cleaning my blog folder which is bursting with photographs mostly because I’ve been neglecting blogging for some time. I am, obviously, back in the swing of things!
A forgotten roll in the back of the fridge yielded these from last February…
Hmmm… this project I have in mind may not actually be a 6×7 project or just a holga project but an infrared film holga project…
That idea is thoroughly inspired by remarkable work of Wolfgang Moersch.
The photograph is from Split, Croatia.
In 2007, I did two documentaries for CBC’s Dispatches. One was on Croatian elections at the time and the other on the aftermath of the conflict in the Croatian city of Vukovar, which was completely destroyed in the war during the early 1990s. That documentary, with a selection of photographs that were never really meant to be published, is below.
Today, due to recent government cuts, CBC has cancelled Dispatches. This was, without exaggeration, one of the top current international affairs programs in English language anywhere. What made it great was the team that put it together. I learned more about journalism and radio from Alan Guettel, Alison Masemann and Naheed Mustafa during our brief conversations while putting those documentaries together than in four years of university. And that is the real loss to Canadians. CBC and its flagship programs, like Dispatches, don’t just provide news and entertainment programming, but also provide mentoring and teaching opportunities for journalists, especially freelancers. I will miss the voice of Rick MacInnes-Rae and I will always be grateful to Alan, Alison and Naheed.
The last show will air in June. After that, in this increasingly interconnected world, we are going to be slightly poorer, slightly more parochial, slightly more ignorant, and slightly less Canadian- not by much in the grand scheme of things, but I am afraid that it is starting to add up.
In the photo is a door on a stage in a resettled community of Fair Island.
Some photo links I have discovered lately.
George Georgiou on the Time in Turkey project;
An interview with Joel Meyerowitz.
The photograph was made recently on Water Street in St. John’s.
Prije otprilike godinu dana, prijatelj me je pitao što ja mislim o Europskoj uniji i eventualnom hrvatskom članstvu u toj uniji. Rekao je kako već dugo živim vani, ali sam dovoljno često u Hrvatskoj i pratim što se događa pa bi ga znimalo kakvo je moje viđenje stvari iz neke kanadsko-hrvatske, novinarsko-akademske perspektive.
Nisam mu tada uopće odgovorio. Nisam odgovorio uglavnom iz istih razloga iz kojih nikada nisam glasao na hrvatskim predsjedničkim ili parlamentarnim izborima od kada sam se odselio izvan granica Republike Hrvatske. Kao državljanin Republike Hrvatske čija obitelj i prijatelji još uvijek tamo žive mene zanima što se u Hrvatskoj događa, ali mislim da nemam pravo odlučivati na hrvatskim izborima o tome tko će voditi državu u kojoj ja ne plaćam poreze i u koju dolazim samo kao rijetki turist.
Imao sam priliku studirati u Kanadi na poziv moje obitelji koja je tamo živjela više od dvadeset godina. I oni i moji roditelji su se zadužili i puno toga odrekli da bih ja završio faks. Nisam imao namjeru ostati, no zaljubio sam se, oženio i danas živim na otoku Newfoundland u kanadskoj najistočnijoj i relativno siromašnoj provinciji. Radim na sveučilištu u centru za regionalnu politiku i razvoj i spremam magisterij uz rad. Studiram zemljopis i moj se znanstveno-istrazivački rad bavi problematikom malih otoka u Hrvatskoj i Kanadi. Imam plaću nešto veću od kanadskog prosjeka pa se mogu smatrati srednjim slojem. Supruga mi sprema doktorat i primanja joj ovise o stipendijama i slabo plaćenim istraživačkim projekatima. Klinke idu u školu i vrtić. Podstanari smo i nemamo auto. Da smo u Hrvatskoj u sličnoj situaciji, vjerojatno nam život ne bi bio bitno drugačiji. Da budemo iskren, životni standard, ako ga ne mjerimo samo u materijalnim dobrima, bi nam gotovo sigurno bio i bolji.
Zašto vam sve ovo govorim? Prije svega zato što mi je još uvijek neugodno soliti pamet ljudima u Hrvatskoj, a onda i zato što hoću da znate da ovo piše običan čovjek bez nekih skrivenih namjera.
Dakle, kad bih ja 22. siječnja morao odgovoriti na pitanje “Jeste li za članstvo Republike Hrvatske u Europskoj uniji?” što bih ja zaokružio, ZA ili PROTIV?
Da budem iskren ja još uvijek nisam odlučio i da moram 22. siječnja izaći na referendum ovo što slijedi je vjerojatno ono što bi mi prolazilo kroz glavu.
Prije svega, bio bih ljut kao pas. Bio bih ljut na one koji su pljačkali državu 20 godina. Gledali su samo svoj osobni interes i natjerali nas na ponižavajuće pregovore koji su trajali duže nego s bilo kojom drugom državom članicom EU. Sram me je da su nam kojekakvi europski birokrati morali objašnjavati da su ljudska prava, pravo na povratak izbjeglica, prava nacionalnih manjina, osuda ratnih zločina, pravna država, poštenje i tolerancija neke osnovne civilizacijske stečevine koje moramo barem nominalno prepoznati kad već nemamo dovoljno dostojanstva da ih ustvari poštujemo. Bio bih ljut kao pas na ljude, prijatelje, susjede, pa čak i obitelj, za koje znam da su glasali za i podržavali lopove na vlasti koji su na očigled pljačkali državu i grad u kojem sam odrastao. Činili su to zato da bi se pokazali većim ‘Hrvatima’ od svojih prijatelja i susjeda i zato što su bili uvjereni da će im članstvo u jednoj političkoj stranci kleptomanske kulture donjeti osobnu dobit, posao ili povoljni kredit. Ono zbog čega sam doista bijesan je da su ti isti prijatelji i susjedi digli ruke od svega i u najboljoj hrvatskoj maniri jamrali kako im je teško, ali im nikad nije palo na pamet da izađu na izbore i glasaju za nekog drugog ili se, pazi sad, angažiraju u političkom i društvenom životu vlastite zajednice. Krivi su za te ponižavajuće pregovore baš kao i oni koji danas sjede u Remetincu i oni koji još tamo ne sjede, a trebali bi. Bio bih ljut na vlade koje su dozvolile da se ‘pregovori’ svode na naše klimanje glavom jer kako drugačije objasniti pristupni ugovor kao što je onaj kojeg možete pročitati na stranicama Vlade RH ako se samo udostojite kliknuti na ovaj link: http://goo.gl/lz6OK. Na mom putu prema glasačkom mjestu bio bih ljut i zbog toga što su me natjerali da se izjašnjavam o ugovoru kojeg su već potpisali u moje ime. Možemo zahvalit samo toj Europskoj uniji da NJIHOVA pravila ne dozvoljavaju takvo ponižavanje i omalovažavanje građana pa ipak imamo priliku glasati na referendumu. A bio bih ljut i na sadašnju vladu koja nije u stanju angažirati građane i stvoriti ozračje u kojem se rasprava o pristupu Europskoj uniji može voditi argumentima a ne deranjem i prijetnjama. Trenutna ministrica vanjskih poslova koja je ovaj referendum svela na običnu ucjenu jer o rezultatu ovog referenduma, kao, ovisi hrvatski kreditni rejting i umirovljeničke penzije bi se trebala ispričati građanima i barem ponuditi ostavku. Kao što bi rekli moji kanadski prijatelji, “I won’t hold my breath.”
Ljut ili ne, to sada više nema smisla jer na kraju ja ipak moram zaokružiti ZA ili PROTIV. LJUT jednostavno nije opcija.
Koji su argumenti PROTIV? Na žalost, ima ih puno. I, što je još žalosnije, u Hrvatskoj ne postoje euroskeptici koji bi o tome mogli govoriti na nekakv racionalan i pristojan način. Razlika između euroskeptika i eurofoba, ali i eurofila, je upravo racionalno razmišljanje. Euroskeptika možete uvjeriti argumentima i ustupcima. S eurofobom se ne može razgovarati jer je po definiciji njegov strah iracionalan baš kao što je eurofilovo zatvaranje očiju pred nepravednim i štetnim pristupnim ugovorm također iracionalno.
Ako pročitate pristupni ugovor i sami ćete vidjeti da ima puno toga što ne valja. U principu, bilo koja vlada koja želi napraviti pravu razvojnu politiku morat će to učiniti s jednom rukom zavezanom iza leđa. Na primjer, odredbe o zabrani sadnje novih vinograda i ukidanju malog ribarstva su u principu protuustavne jer vladi onemogućuju ispunjavanje 52. članka Ustava koji zahtjeva posebnu skrb o hrvatskim otocima. Pristupom EU podliježemo strogim proizvodnim i izvoznim kvotama i moramo ukinuti većinu poljoprivrednih i industrijskih subvencija. Da stvari budu gore, pristupni ugovor također kaže da ulaskom u EU mi istupamo iz svih regionalnih i bilateralnih ugovora o slobodnoj trgovini što znači da smo upravo pristali na to da si ograničimo pristup jedinom tržištu na kojem trenutno jesmo konkuretni kao što je to tržište jugoistočne Europe i zemalja bivše Jugoslavije.
Kad bih ja bio radnik, poljoprivrednik, ribar, ili kad bih radio u prehrambenoj industriji ili brodogradnji i glasao samo iz vlastitog interesa, morao bih glasati PROTIV. Pristupni ugovor nije morao biti takav kakv je, a na tome što je takav kakav je možete zahvalit gospodinu u kućnom pritvoru i gospođi s velikom crvenom torbom kao i svim ostalim zastupnicima i pregovaračima koji nisu znali i nisu htjeli ispregovarati pristupni ugovor koji bi bio pravedan i koristan za Hrvatsku.
Naravno postoje izvrsni argumenti ZA pristup Europskoj uniji. Pristupni fondovi, ako se pametno iskoriste, mogu pokrenuti hrvatsko gospodarstvo u novom i dobrom pravcu. Pravna stečevina i pristup europskim sudovima dodatna su garancija ljudskih i radničkih prava i zakona o zaštiti okoliša. Europski fondovi za znanost, kulturu i regionalnu suradnju bit će od izuzetne pomoći našim znanstvenicima, umjetnicima i raznim nevladinim udrugama koje se bave svime od kazališta i folklora do zaštite okoliša i ljudskih prava. Kad bih bio znanstvenik, umjetnik, profesor ili kao netko tko je zaposlen u bilo kojoj nevladinoj udruzi ili u tzv. kreativnim zanimanjima i gledao samo vlastiti interes, glasao bih ZA bez razmišljanja.
Sva ostala natlapanja kako ćemo sada moći studirati u Europi, kako ćemo moći otvarati tvrtke u Češkoj i putovati bez ikakvih problema po EU i kupovati nekretnine na Malti su obične gluposti – sve to možemo i sada. Mi i sada možemo napravit pametnu razvojnu politiku, i sada možemo reformirati školstvo i zdravstvo, i sada možemo kreirati progresivnu i humanu politiku prema manjinama, imigrantima, okolišu i bilo čemu drugom. Prema pravilima Europske Unije, sve odluke se ionako moraju donositi na najnižoj mogućoj instanci tako kao što sada moramo sami izorganizirati vlastitu budućnost, morat ćemo to isto napraviti i unutar Unije, ali u okviru ograničenog suvereniteta.
Dakle kad ja pogledam razloge ZA i PROTIV, da budem iskren, PROTIV je možda racionalno bolji izbor za većinu hrvatskih građana. Pristupni ugovor je loš i Hrvatska se ne bi smjela zadovoljit s mrvicama.
Međutim, postoji tu još nešto. Možda to zvuči naivno, ali ideja ujedinjene Europe je još uvijek ideal za koji se valja boriti. Usprkos korupciji, malograđanštini i primitivizmu europskih političara i nepoštenom i neokolonijalnom odnosu velikih europski država prema novim i malim članicama, ideja Europe kao zajednice ravnopravnih građana i naroda koji su odlučili zajednički sagraditi budućnost koja se temelji na njihovim različitostima je još uvijek svijetla civilizacijska točka na kontinentu koji je izazvao toliko zla i sukoba. Današnja Europa ima puno problema, od buđenja neo-nacizma i odnosa prema manjinama, posebno Romima, do nehumanog tretmana imigranata koji samo žele bolji zivot kao i svi mi. Usprkos svemu tome, ideja Europe je nešto za što ja osobno želim glasati. Ne želim biti protiv nečega u što duboko vjerujem samo zato što se mi nismo udostojili izabrati kompetentne i poštene ljude da nas vode kroz pristupne pregovore. Hrvatska je oduvijek bila, a i danas je dio europskog kulturnog i političkog prostora. Ja želim i dalje biti dio tog prostora jer mislim da pametnom politikom i regionalnom suradnjom s onim europskim partnerima koji se, kao i mi, moraju boriti protiv samovolje velikih, mi imamo priliku ne samo izgraditi bolju budućnost za sebe već, nadam se, ponuditi nešto i drugima. Da ja mogu glasati 22. siječnja, ja bih duboko udahnuo i glasao ZA. Hrvatska može osigurati budućnost svojim građanim i unutar i izvan Europske unije – to ovisi o nama samima. Na kraju će nam biti onako kako si sami napravimo, no mislim da će nam biti lakše ako imamo prijatelje s kojima možemo podjeliti i uspjehe i neuspjehe. Ugovor je nepravedan, ali je ipak samo to, slovo na papiru koje se može promjeniti i ispregovarati unutar unije. Ideja Europe je puno više od pristupnog ugovora i nešto za što vrijedi glasati.
The photo is from Vienna, Austria.
I need to make some photographs and write something. Don’t need to go anywhere far, but having a few days to work on something photographic would be heaven. Not going to happen for months…
I was going to write a long, whiny, self-pitying post about feeling stretched thin and in desperate need of quiet time; and just how hard it is to be on all the time because this is a really crazy time at work compounded by some needless craziness in my academic life, but, instead, I would just like to ask you to read Caring for Your Introvert by Jonathan Rauch. It explains everything. Just read it – quietly, please.
A fence on Change Islands.
Croatian word of the day: ograda fence
Time to clean up some of the photo links bookmarks. It’s going to be a whirlwind tour of the world.
Check out these photographs from North Korea by AP photographer David Guttenfelder.
The set of Egyptian revolution portraits by Human Rights Watch photographer Platon is interesting, although I intensely dislike the extensive post-processing.
Stay on burn and check out David Alan Harvey having fun with a comic book like photo story.
There are two interesting projects using photographic archives and crowd sourcing that have been in the media lately.
The first one is run by Brooklyn Museum in New York. The museum is digitizing its collection of photographs and is looking to flickr users for help to map the precise location of each photograph on a map of Brooklyn.
The second project is run by Magnum who have an enormous archive tat has been digitized but they are looking for help tagging the photos appropriately so they can actually be retrieved. It should be a fascinating project.
And, for heaven’s sake, don’t forget my own crowdfunding project on island landscapes.
The Battery in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Croatian word of the day: krajolik landscape [krayo lik]
Off on a family road trip. See you all on Tuesday…
Croatian word of the day: cesta road [tz es ta]
The fundraising campaign for my Islands Landscapes exhibit has officially launched two days ago. I announced it on facebook, twitter and Google+ and it took less than 15 minutes for the first donation. That was really amazing. And it was a bit humbling because it came from somebody I don’t personally know beyond the fact that we have common interest in photography and occasionally contribute to the same photography forum. There were also friends who shared the campaign with their contacts and networks as well as sent kind words of encouragement.
On my end of things, I am making final selection of the prints that are going to be on display and trying to make some decisions on sizing and sequencing. I would also like to make the exhibit a bit more interactive and am exploring different possibilities to do so. I am also pleased to confirm a show in New Brunswick in spring 2012. And, again thanks to a Croatian photographer I met on a forum, but not in person, there is a possibility that the exhibit might see more than one location in Croatia.
Finding darkroom facilities remains a challenge. In fact I am surprised that there are no professional darkrooms left in the city that I can find.
One thing at the time, though. For now it would be great to hit $750 which would cover all of the materials necessary to produce the prints.
Below is the pitch video and you can also visit the campaign page:
A doorway on Vis Island, Croatia.
Croatian word of the day: stranica page [stra ni tza]
How did my calendar get booked a week in advance and this is supposed to be the slow time of the year. Sigh… On a happier note, I started writing my thesis.
A boy runs through a fountain in Valletta, Malta.
Croatian word of the day: fontana fountain
A brass orchestra crossing the main square in Zagreb, Croatia.
Croatian word of the day: orkestar orchestra