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Kevin WY Lee October 2, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in India.
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Maha Kumbh Mela, in Allahabad, India 2013

Kevin WY Lee (b. 1973, Fiji) is a photographer and creative director based in Singapore. He has have as a creative professional in Australia and Singapore for over 15 years. In 2010, he founded Invisible Photographer Asia (IPA), an organisation which has since grown to become a leading, influential platform for Photography & Visual Arts in Asia. His work has been featured in CNN, Straits Times, Discovery Magazine, GE11 Book and the Twentyfifteen Project. Aside from his own practice, Kevin is also active in producing, curation and jury duties for various awards and programs. Kevin is a Design graduate of the College Of Fine Arts, University Of New South Wales, Australia.

About the Photograph:

“This photograph was made in the wee hours before the dawn of 10th February 2013, the holiest day of the Maha Kumbh Mela, in Allahabad, India. Maha Kumbh Mela is a pilgrimage to the River Ganges that happens once every 144 years. That day saw the largest human gathering on a single day. Over 30 million devotees and holy men had gathered to take a holy bath at the Sangam banks. These marching band members and many other common folks I encountered in Allahabad looked like they had waited an eternity for this day of reckoning. After I made this picture and more, I waded through an endless sea of humanity back to camp. It was an experience never to be forgotten. The day after, I celebrated my mid-life birthday.”

Eduardo Leal September 29, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Portugal.
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Procession of St. Bartolomeu. São Bartolomeu do Mar, Portugal. 2011

Eduardo Leal (b, 1980, Portugal) graduated in Journalism at Escola Superior de Jornalismo and has an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from the London College of Communication. He worked as a consultant to The Arpad A. Busson Foundation on the Cuban in Revolution and The Struggle During the Apartheid photography collections, where he was an assistant curator for exhibitions at ICP in New York, 2010, and at the Garage CCC in Moscow, 2011. His work has been published in: TIME,  Dagens Nyheter, Sydsvenskan, Al Jazeera, Wired, Publico, Fotografia Magazine and the British Journal of Photography. In 2013, he was selected as Coup de Coeur by l’Association Nationale des Iconographes at the Visa pour l’Image in Perpignan and in 2014 he was shortlisted for the Kuala Lumpur Photo awards. Eduardo is based between London and Caracas.

About the Photograph:

“I’m glad you choose a photo from this project. People tend to focus in other works I’ve done, but I really like this story, maybe because it has some personal connection. The image was during the St. Bartholomeo festivities in Portugal. This project is part of my rediscovery of Portugal. After living for so many years abroad, I started to document traditions in my own country. It was a way to not only discover and understand where I came from and also myself and St. Bartolomeu was my first project in this identity search. My mother was born on a city close by and during summers we used to pass there and see the celebrations. So it made sense for me to start from a place I knew.”

“While photographing the celebrations, I thought it was strange, even bizarre that there were so many people in their swimwear enjoying a day on the beach and pretending as nothing was happening. Well some of them look, went to see the statues of the saints and took photos, but they were there more to enjoy the day on the beach than to participate in the ceremony. I loved the contrast of the people dressed up accordingly to procession and the other just enjoying the day. I specially love the hairy man walking to the procession, something that a few decades ago would be consider a sin, and the children playing with the sand as if nothing was going on. I think it shows what is happening in Portugal in terms of religious beliefs. Portugal is a deeply Catholic country, but more and more people, especially the young generations are not interested in. Its just something that people almost erased from their lives.

Taylor Weidman September 25, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Brazil.
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Confrontation at Belo Monte Dam. Altamira, Brazil 2013

Taylor Weidman (b. 1983, USA) graduated with a degree in Photojournalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. His work has been published by TIME, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, BBC, The Guardian, GEO, Der Spiegel, and others. After working as a contract photographer for the C.S. Monitor, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to photograph the Loba people of Upper Mustang, leading to the publication of Mustang: Lives and Landscapes of the Lost Tibetan Kingdom, with a foreword written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Taylor has produced long-term projects in Mongolia and the Brazilian Amazon and currently lives in Chiang Mai working shooting news and feature assignments throughout Asia. Taylor is a co-founder of the Vanishing Cultures Project, an initiative which partners with indigenous groups worldwide to safeguard cultural values and practices.”

About the Photograph:

“Last year, I spent a few months in Altamira, a small outpost town in the middle of the Brazilian Amazon. Altamira is the site of the Belo Monte Dam, Brazil’s largest ever construction project and the world’s third largest dam. Belo Monte is the first of a series of dams planned throughout the Amazon and is facing fierce resistance from local fishermen, indigenous groups, and international environmentalists. During my stay, a group of indigenous Munduruku traveled from the Tapajos River where several dams are being planned, to protest construction of the Belo Monte. They occupied the construction site and halted all work at the main turbine site, demanding an audience with the Brazilian government to voice their complaints. As I photographed the occupation, a group of heavily-armed military and federal police were dispatched to confront the Munduruku men. The Munduruku refused to leave and eventually were granted a meeting with the government in Brasilia.”

Sam Harris September 22, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Australia.
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Uma and Cheepy. Balingup, Western Australia 2013

Sam Harris (b. 1967, England) taught himself photography as a teenager, turning his London bedroom into a makeshift darkroom. Throughout the nineties Sam photographed portraits and sleeve art for numerous recording artists. He also worked as an editorial portrait & features photographer for  The Sunday Times Magazine, Esquire, Telegraph Magazine and Dazed & Confused. The over commercialization of the music industry during the late 1990’s was the catalyst for a big change in direction, both photographic and personal. Sam abandoned his London career in favour of quality family time, slowing down and turning his camera inwards. After several nomadic years with his family between India and Australia, Sam settled in the forests of Western Australia where he now photographs his on-going family diary and runs photography workshops. Sam’s  self-published photo book Postcards from Home received several awards including the Australian publishing industry’s Galley Club ‘Australian Book of the Year’ 2012.

About the Photograph:

“I’ve been photographing my daughters for some time now, but with more dedication since 2008 when I started the series Postcards from Home. I photograph spontaneously, as and when the moment, or the light hits me. When I took this photo all the attention was on Cheepy, Uma’s budgie. So when Uma raised her necklace to play with Cheepy I seized the opportunity to grab a couple of frames. Otherwise I doubt she would have allowed me to get quite so close with my camera. And so it goes photographing my daughters growing up. My book The Middle of Somewhere will be published by Ceiba Foto, spring 2015.”

Guillem Valle September 18, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Syria.
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Kurds from Srekaniye Syria. 2013

Guillem Valle’s (b.1983, Spain) first interest in documentary photography began when, he traveled to Sarajevo at the age of 14 on an Exchange Student program. He has been based in Bangkok since 2010 covering Southeast Asia for The New York Times, The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal among others. In 2011 he covered the Arab Spring including the civil war in Libya and the Kurdish struggle in Northern Syria. His work has been recognized by World Press Photo and  Best of Photojournalism.

About the Photograph:

“In July, shortly after rebels struck in the Syrian capital with unprecedented attacks and a bomb blast that killed four of President Bashar Assad’s top security aides, Syrian security forces began pulling back from several towns and villages across the border area, ceding de facto control to armed Kurdish fighters (YPG) who have since set up checkpoints, hoisted Kurdish flags, and began exercising a degree of autonomy unheard of before. As they start developing their own agenda and unstoppably walking towards their independence, they often battle other rebels groups, specially the Islamic factions.”

Matthew Niederhauser September 15, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in China.
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Ai Weiwei poses in front of his studio with one of his cats. Beijing 2012

Matthew Niederhauser’s (b.1982, USA) interest in Asia and photography emerged in high school with Mandarin courses and late nights in the darkroom. His  photography covering youth culture and urban development in China has appeared in The New Yorker, National Geographic, Wired, Stern, Guardian, The New York Times Magazine, Le Monde, Foreign Policy, and TIME His first monograph Sound Kapital delved into Beijing’s underground music scene through portraiture and concert photography. Otherwise he continues to concentrate on two projects entitled Kapital Creation and Counterfeit Paradises that explore harmonious cities and emerging consumer trends across China. Matthew earned his MFA in Art Practice through the School of Visual Arts which allowed him to continue his studies while remaining in the Middle Kingdom.

About the Photograph:

“I was very familiar with Ai Weiwei’s oeuvre before taking his portrait. A number of my friends work in his studio, and as an avid China watcher, I stay on top of his new creations and tangles with the Chinese Communist Party. He is always popping up in the news. This definitely put a little pressure on me before the shoot. I really admire how he holds himself and wanted to capture something that would stand out from his other portraits. Plus, I generally work in the moment, so I had to suss everything out in the hour allotted to me at his studio. Working with him ended up being a breeze, though. I spent about twenty minutes scouting the grounds before positioning him in various locations. I let him assume his own poses and offered suggestions occasionally. The only oddity was that Ai Weiwei enjoys taking photographs of photographers as they take his portrait. A number of my shots are of him with his iPhone trained on me. It became a bit of a game of cat and mouse as we took pictures of each other. This portrait was one of the last ones I took that morning. I wanted to capture him with one of the many cats that hang around his studio. I choose an orange kitten since it set off the teal of Ai Weiwei’s front gate so well. There was a tense moment when I didn’t think the kitten was going to cooperate, but it finally glanced back allowing me to get a few frames with everything melding together.”

Sam Owens September 11, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Ohio University, United States.
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Belpre Christian Academy. Ohio 2013

Sam Owens (b. 1992, United States) is a graduate of Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication, where she studied Photojournalism and Anthropology. Growing up in a blended family made her inherently interested in the relationships blossoming and wilting around her. Photography is a tool that has allowed her the opportunity to be more than a curious observer. She seeks to document her interactions with others or their bonds with the world around them, while using whatever device is at hand to record moments of connectedness. She has worked for the Evansville Courier & Press in Evansville, Indiana, for the Roanoke Times in Roanoke, Virginia, and as a full-time assistant for freelance photographer Matt Eich in Norfolk, Virginia. She currently resides in Tampa, Florida, while working as photography intern for the Tampa Bay Times.

About the Photograph:

“This photo was taken during my last semester at Ohio University in September 2013. At the beginning of the school year, I was driving to the Washington County Fair in Marietta, Ohio, when I noticed a small grey and blue building on the side of the road as I was driving though the small town of Belpre, Ohio, along U.S. Route 50. That building happened to be Belpre Christian Academy, a private K-12 Christian school that has a religious curriculum that runs similar to a homeschooling program. I affectionately liked to think of it as a modern one-room school house. The school registers as a non-profit, and survives off of money made through donations, fundraising and student tuition prices.”

“I was initially drawn to photographing in the school because the school experience these kids were getting was completely different than my own. My mother has been a public school teacher all of my life, so naturally I went to public school. I did not grow up with a heavy religious background and the high school I went to housed over 2,600 students, which led to my graduating class being well over 650 people. This past 2013-2014 school year there were 34 students at BCA, from first to twelve grade, enrolled in the school; no kindergarteners were enrolled and only one graduating senior.”

In this particular picture, the faculty and students were participating in a daily morning prayer, which happens right after the bell rings and school is officially in session. The faculty members strived to create a calm and quiet nature at the beginning of each school day with morning prayers. I wanted to capture the mood of the quiet morning routines, which usually got pushed aside for much more active moods and activities once lunch time rolled around.”

Lawrence Sumulong September 8, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Philippines.
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Inmates and their family gather for portraits inside Leyte Provincial Jail. Palo, Philippines 2014

Lawrence Sumulong (b.1987, United States) is a Filipino American photographer based in New York City and Manila. He received his B.A. from Grinnell College and studied contemporary American poetry under scholar and writer, Ralph Savarese. Among others, his work has been shown by The New Yorker: Photo Booth, Le Monde’s M Magazine, the Jorge B. Vargas Museum, the Milk Gallery, Chobi Mela VI, and his postcard series for the publication, Abe’s Penny, is in the permanent collection of the MoMA Library. His documentary work explores the idea of alterity within the Filipino culture and diaspora.

About the Photograph:

“I took this photo on an assignment which required me to verify whether families of inmates were continuing to live inside Leyte Provincial Jail in Palo, Philippines. I was collaborating with the journalist, Aya Lowe, who had originally broke the news that inmates and their families were seeking shelter in the jail after the devastation of Typhoon Yolanda. Leading up to my trip, there was word that access was restricted and the families had long since relocated. Since my fixer had went to school with many of the wardens, I was able to gain entrance and spend a few hours inside.”

“To my surprise, all of the families had continued to commingle alongside the inmates and wardens. Allegedly, I was the first Filipino American to ever set foot within the compound. With a water purifying system, electricity, rations, a sick ward, and security, the jail arguably provided more amenities than what one could find outside of the walls of the jail in the post-Yolanda landscape. Even more surprisingly, a woman who was related to one of the inmates even ran a vegetable stand in the middle of the prison, which gave the appearance of a local store that one might find in a small neighborhood or barangay.”

“During the family portrait sessions, the presence of family members made it difficult to ascertain and comprehend the crimes that the inmates had been accused of. I was told that petty crimes such as robbery and drug trafficking were the main culprits. However, upon looking at the makeshift release forms that I had asked each family and inmate to sign, murder and rape were the most prevalent. With the loss of court records due to the typhoon, the judicial process has been completely crippled and the future of all of the inmates and the livelihoods of their families lies lost in limbo.”

Andrei Nacu September 4, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Romania.
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My Father. Iasi, Romania 2011

Andrei Nacu (b. 1984, Romania) recently graduated with an MA in Documentary Photography from the University of Wales, Newport and while studying for his BA at the University of Arts, Iasi he received an Erasmus scholarship to attend the Press and Editorial Photography course at Falmouth University. In 2013 he  was selected by The Photographers’ Gallery for the Fresh Faced+Wild Eyed exhibition and will be part of the Guernsey Photography Festival 2014. In his creative practice he is using family photography and archive photos to create stories which analyze the junction between personal memory and social history. Andrei is based in London.

About the Photograph:

“This picture is of my father in his apartment in Iasi that is part of my project In the Forsaken Garden Time is a Thief. The story is a subtle insight into a couple’s daily life in contemporary Romania. In examining their struggle to absorb and cope with some of the traumatic political and social shifts of the last 50 years, their relationship becomes an analogy for the disillusionment and dissatisfaction that marked these decades. The context, the environment that my parents are in and the history that they have been subjected to is really important and the challenge was to tell that story that is simultaneously personal but also general in relation with the social and political context.”

“Once, my father entered my room and he said: How can I explain this thing… may I sit for a bit? I wanted a little bit of rest… I don’t know how to explain to you the fatigue, I don’t know how you could explain to yourself the fatigue. There is a kind of fatigue that you could never explain, because you didn’t live those pieces of life that I have lived. But this is nothing… good night! I’m going to sleep. I don’t think that you could ever tell me that there is something beautiful as long as everything else is in dark. Not the beauty of the fact of being… May I go to sleep? Thank you very much!”

Jim Lommasson September 1, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Arturo Franco, Willsonville Oregon 2005

Jim Lommasson (b. 1950, USA)  is a freelance photographer and author living in Portland, Oregon. Jim received the Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize from The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University for his American Fight Club series. Lommasson’s first book, Shadow Boxers: Sweat, Sacrifice & The Will To Survive In American Boxing Gyms was published in 2006. He is currently working on a book and traveling exhibition about American Veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, and their lives after their return from war called Exit Wounds: Soldiers’ Stories – Life After iraq and Afghanistan. Exit Wounds will be published in 2015. Lommasson was awarded a Regional Arts and Culture Council Project Grant for What We Carried: Fragment’s from the Cradle of Civilization about Iraqi refugees who have fled to the U. S. since 2003.

About the Photograph:

“This photo is of former Oregon National Guardsman Arturo Franco in his apartment in Wilsonville, Oregon. Arturo served in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Because of his PTSD and Arturo’s hypervigilance.  Arturo spends his days bunkered in his near-empty apartment playing Xbox video games like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare with other gamer vets who speak to one another on headsets while they fight a virtual enemy.”

“Arturo was very frank about his experience at war. He said, ‘What will haunt me for the rest of my life is when we took prisoners of war. I had so much hatred for them. I didn’t care if they lived or died. I will not go into details for fear of the law, but things still haunt me. I remember pulling guard on an insurgent that was about to be turned over to the local warlords. He was flex-cuffed and shaking so bad. I gave him a smoke and started small talk. At some point I did a little hand gesture to tell him that he was about to get his head cut off, then I took the smoke from him and said some hateful words. Things like that still bother me. I did not like fighting in Iraq. I did not believe in why we were there. I went because I felt like I owed my friends that were killed over there. They had everything to live for: family, wife, kids. I had none of that, so why didn’t God take me?’ As I was interviewing Arturo while he fought virtual battles on the TV screen, the light from the setting sun projected his shadow on the wall of his apartment. I felt that this moment told his story best.”

 

Alice Sassu August 28, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Italy.
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From the project Giambellino 146, Milan Italy

Alice Sassu (b. 1979 Italy) studied Philosophy and Photography at Cfp Bauer in Milan. After obtaining a MA degree in Philosophy, in 2009 she received a European grant to complete photo and video projects in Palestine. in January 2013 she concluded an internship at the Luz photo agency in Milan, Italy. In addition to making documentary videos, Alice has collaborated with several NGOs based in Middle East. Her photographs have been published in Der Spiegel, Foto8, Popoli and Redattore Sociale.

About the Photograph:

“This picture tells the story of Anna, a blind woman who lives with her cat and dolls in a public multi-ethnic social housing residence near  Milan. Giambellino 146, is an example of self-management social housing: to compensate for the lack of public and private investment in social housing. Residents gather together in meetings and make decisions on the management/maintenance of their building. 146 Giambellino is a photographic series part of a larger project on housing issues. Later, with Italy under eviction I worked on a project about several families forcibly evicted to their houses in Milan neighborhoods. Technically, it’s called guilty arrearage: it consists of eviction because of scarce income of inhabitants. The situation worsens with the approval of the House Plan by the Italian government: for which the illegal occupants cannot have the residence, so they become invisible citizens.”

Cory Richards August 25, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Nepal.
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Bon Monastery in Mustang Kingdom, Nepal 2012

Cory Richards (b. 1981, USA) was named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2012. Cory’s camera has taken him to the wild and remote corners of the world, from the unclimbed peaks of Antarctica to the Himalayas of Nepal and Pakistan —all in the attempt to capture not only the soul of adventure and exploration, but also the beauty inherent in our modern society. Cory is a passionate mountain climber on the North Face athletic team, and has carved a niche as one of the world’s leading adventure and expedition photographers. His photography has appeared in National Geographic magazine, Outside, the New York Times; and his film work has won awards at nearly every major adventure film festival including the grand prize at the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

About the Photograph:

“My first assignment for National Geographic took me to a very remote corner of Nepal tucked up against the Tibetan Border. The Kingdom of Mustang was once a thoroughfare of trade from the Tibetan Plateau to the Indian Sub-Continent. We were there trying to piece together the mysteries of thousands of man-made caves that were hewn into the sandstone of the Khali Gandaki basin centuries ago.  The caves themselves are steeped in lore and myth. In order to get a deeper understanding of the culture that once existed there, I spent a lot of time trying to learn about the contemporary culture of the region. While the area is nearly entirely Buddhist, there are pockets of Bon tradition that still exist. In very basic terms, Bon is to Buddhism what Paganism is to Catholicism…much of it is rooted in the older belief system and has adopted the practices to fit the newer belief system. This particular image was taken in a Bon Monastery during a divination ritual. The younger monk was constantly looking at and relating to the older Lama, looking for cues as they worked their way through pages of script and music, calling their deities to give clues to what the coming year had in store for them.”

Brian Shumway August 21, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Dean in Playground. Pleasant Grove, Utah 2009

Brian Shumway (b. 1976, United States) is a Brooklyn-based photographer with a degree in anthropology from the University of Utah. His work covers the seemingly disconnected territory of children, family, identity, suburbia, fashion, and sexuality. Brian has shot portraits and stories for editorial clients like People Magazine, TV Guide, XXL, Wall Street Journal, Men’s Journal, and Reader’s Digest. His photographs have been recognized by American Photography, Communication Arts, PhotoLucida, Santa Fe Center, LensCulture, The Magenta Foundation and New York Center for Photographic Art. Brian’s work has been exhibited at Soho Photo, Alice Austin House, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay & Lesbian Arts, Camera Club NY and the Central Exhibition Hall Manege in St. Petersburg, Russia.

About the Photograph:

“This is a portrait of Dean, my nephew, age 13, just beginning his teenage years. The word “Shit” (a naughty word in the conservative Utah town where he lives) is written on his hand as he wraps his body around a toy at a children’s playground where he sometimes plays, as if clinging to childhood. This moment very much represents the beginning of the loss of innocence. He’s trapped in that murky period of life where he’s no longer a child but not quite grown-up either. The photograph is part of my project called Suburban Splendor that grapples with my suburban heritage and peeks behind the veil of banality surrounding suburban life focusing on my teen and pre-teen nieces, nephews and their friends in Utah as they make their way through contemporary suburban America.”

 

Boryana Katsarova August 18, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Ukraine.
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Lenin Square,  Simferopol, Crimea 2014

Boryana Katsarova (b. 1981, Bulgaria) studied photography between 1998 and 2003 and holds a Bachelors Degree from the Bulgarian National Academy for Theater and Cinema Art /NATFA/. She worked as a photographer for Agence France-Press in Bulgaria between 2007 and 2010, during which time her work appeared in major print magazines and newspapers around the world. In 2010 she decided to became a freelance photographer specializing in documentary, editorial and portrait photography and since 2011 has been represented  the Cosmos Photo Agency in Paris. This image is part of a project : Ukraine: Crimea Under Siege that was funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

About the Photograph:

“The people in the photograph were attending one of the many pro-Russian rallies which were held in Simferopol and across the entire Crimean peninsula in support of the unification of Crimea with Russia ahead of the unique and internationally unrecognized Crimean Referendum that was held on March 16, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin officially recognized  the ‘reunification’ of breakaway Ukrainian region of Crimea with Russia on March 18, 2014.”

“It was really difficult to take this picture. Many people were against being photographed. It was the first time I was working in a crisis zone and the first time I have ever experienced anything like that. Just two days before, masked gunmen ran towards me and  journalist Dimiter Kenarov and pushed him on the ground. They put a gun to his head demanding his smart phone he was taking pictures with. After that they ran to me and took my Nikon D3 camera. We left Ukraine three weeks after I took this picture.”

“Today, more than five months after the Crimean crisis, the unrest in eastern Ukraine is continuing and the climate for press freedom worsens everyday. Many local and international journalists covering the situation are being interrogated, targeted, their equipment seized, and the number of the ones being killed is growing. In my opinion, nowadays bearing witness as photojournalist, cameraman or reporter in crisis and war zones is a duty, that is much harder and much more responsible than ever before.”

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