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Thomas Lekfeldt December 18, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Denmark.
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Vibe and her  father, Copenhagen 2008

Thomas Lekfeldt (b. 1977, Denmark) is a freelance photojournalist based in Copenhagen, Denmark. He works for the Danish and international press, primarily the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet. Thomas has a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism from the Danish School of Journalism in Aarhus, Denmark. He has received awards from the Danish Picture of the Year, Best of Photojournalism, EISA Maestro Photo Contest and New York Photo Awards. His work was also recently exhibited at Visa Pour l’Image in  Perpignan, France and the Noorderlicht Photo festival in the Netherlands.

About the Photograph:

“I followed Vibe, a little girl with a brain tumor, during the last year of her life. I documented the sorrows and the moments of joy at home, in school, on vacation and in hospital. The story was at the same time an assignment for the newspaper Ekstra Bladet and a very personal project for me. At the time that I took this picture Vibe had been hospitalized for a few days to have a chemotherapy treatment. She was in the hospital with her mother, and her father and twin sister often came to visit her. In the picture Vibe is kissing her father, and above them are some paper cuts that Vibe and her mother had made. To me they look like stars, and they keep reminding me of what Vibe’s father used to tell Vibe; that he would catch the stars in the sky for her if she asked him to. Now he tells Vibe’s twin sister Laerke that Vibe herself has become one of the stars in the sky.”

Editors Note: Verve Photo will resume updates on January 4th. Wishing all the viewers both near and far a happy and healthy new year.

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Ikuru Kuwajima December 16, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Japan.
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Draft horse racing, Hokkaido, Japan 2007

Ikuru Kuwajima (b.1984, Japan) studied journalism at the University of Missouri, Columbia from 2003 to 2007 and interned at a several newspapers. In 2007, he moved to Bucharest, Romania to work as a freelance photojournalist. He worked as a contributor with a news agency Media Fax, ZUMA Press and Grazia Neri. His coverage included Kosovo’s independence. He also published a story about the Danube Delta’s fishermen in the National Geographic Romania and Japan. In 2008, he moved to Ukraine to work on long-term projects. He is currently based in the Central Ukraine. Kuwajima is a native Japanese speaker and English-Japanese translator and is proficient in Russian and Romanian. He also contributed as a researcher for an upcoming book about Tokyo’s underground culture.

About the Photograph:

“The picture came was made in Obihiro, Hokkaido in Japan in 2007. Draft horse racing, called Banei Keiba in Japanese, only exists on this northern island of Japan. Draft horses are twice as big as thoroughbreds and drag 1,100-pound sleighs along a 218-yard dirt course. This unique form of racing started about a hundred years ago while the horses were used primarily for farming, but over the years the draft horses have been developed exclusively for racing. When I worked on the project draft-horse racing was almost closed, but large opposition from dedicated fans saved it. It continues in Obihiro and still takes place three times a week.”

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Ed Thompson December 14, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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From the Texas Hill Country Series, 2007

Ed Thompson (b. 1980, Wales) graduated from the London College of Communication with a Masters Degree in Photojournalism & Documentary Photography in 2007. He has photographed earthquakes,  evangelical cowboys and miniature railways. He tried to sabotage his own career by appearing on a reality TV photography show, but failed. His photographs have been published in the British Journal of Photography, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph magazine and L’espresso. His work has been exhibited at a number of international galleries and photo-festivals. He lives in East London with and is represented by Eyevine Photo Agency.

About the Photograph:

“While photographing the Texas Hill Country Series (2006-07) I spent some time at a Cowboy Church. The American psyche is filled with archetypical hero cowboys, from John Wayne to John McLane, the lone voices in the wilderness struggling for truth, justice and the American way. It was an endearing experience, and like many documentary photographers, I always come down with Stockholm syndrome. Although anti-American sentiment has been rife globally these past eight years, there has been a day of political change, a metamorphosis of America in the form of Barack Obama, the black sheriff. Maybe it’s time to give the new sheriff and his America another chance. You’d do it for Randolph Scott.”

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Luke Wolagiewicz December 11, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in South Africa.
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Ponte City Johannesburg, South Africa

Luke Wolagiewicz (b. 1979, Poland) studied photography (BA) at the Institute of Creative Photography, Silesian University in Opava, Czech Republic. His work has been published in Newsweek, The Times, USA Today, The New York Times, The Financial Times, Le Figaro Magazine, The Economist, LA Times, Stern, Der Spiegel, Mare and Eight magazine, among others. Wolagiewicz has worked across Africa, Middle East, Asia and Europe, focusing his attention on contemporary political and social issues. He is currently based in London.

About the Photograph:

“Ponte City in Johannesburg is one of southern hemisphere’s tallest residential buildings. Located in the heart of Hillbrow (today a notorious crime-ridden part of downtown Central Business District), Ponte was developed as a high-class living location but its fortunes changed drastically over time. During the 1980s and 90s, a time of the Apartheid collapse, and the subsequent demise of the Central Business District, both Ponte and its surrounding areas became exceptionally dangerous places, run by hardened criminals and ruthless drug dealers. This photo was taken in the ground floor cafeteria. The new building management team has started to improve security and services, but most public access areas and recreation facilities still remain scarce and neglected.”

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Maisie Crow December 9, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Ohio University, United States.
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Tom Rose, Athens, Ohio 2008

Maisie Crow (b. 1982, USA ) is a graduate student in the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University. In 2009, she won The Ian Parry Scholarship and The Pierre and Alexandra Boulat Grant. Maisie was also runner-up College Photographer of the Year in 2009. She is featured in the Emerging Talent section of Reportage by Getty Images. She spent the summer of 2009 as the photography intern at The Boston Globe and is currently interning at MediaStorm. Before attending graduate school, she worked as a photographer at the Patuxent Publishing Company in Columbia, Maryland. Maisie received her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and studied for a semester at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies.

About the Photograph:

“I met Tom Rose by chance and asked if I could make his portrait. I arrived at his house the following day. He told me that a few months earlier he had lost Mary, his wife of sixty years. He was having a hard time dealing with his loss, and we spent a lot of time talking about it.  Over the course of the next eight months I continued to visit him and take pictures. He taught me a great deal about life and gave me the opportunity to share his story. This photo was taken during one of his frequent visits to Mary’s grave in Athens, Ohio, about a month after I met him. This was an important photograph because of the inherent difficulties of representing someone who has died. The grave is the most literal visual reference of his loss.”

Editors Note: Take a look at Maisie’s excellent multimedia piece about Tom Rose in A Life Alone.

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David Bacher December 7, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Sweden.
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Sami villagers, Kiruna, Sweden

David Bacher (b. 1976, USA)  studied at the University of Virginia, where he completed a double major in anthropology and economics, subjects that began to shape his views of the socio-economic issues facing the world today. With the idea of becoming a professional photographer in mind, David moved to Aarhus, Denmark in 2004 to attend a six month international course in photojournalism at the Danish School of Journalism. During his stay he interned at the newspaper Politiken in Copenhagen and at a commercial photography studio. Following these studies, David moved to Paris, France where he interned with the VII Photo agency. Since 2005, David has been working as a freelance photographer for individuals, corporations, and magazines.

About the Photograph:

“Several times a year, reindeer are brought together in corals for various reasons. During the winter, Sami villagers separate their reindeer families from the large herd. The work is intense, often lasting several days in sub-zero temperatures. These photos reflect the dream-like atmosphere that appears around two pm under a mixture of ambient and artificial light. I work with a wide angle lens in order to bring the viewer into the coral and close to the animals. The images are partially blurred intentionally, using a slow shutter speed, to show the frantic movements of the reindeer. The colors are natural, untouched by digital manipulation, presenting the viewer with images that may be seen as paintings.”

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Kris Pannecoucke December 4, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Belgium.
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Priest Jean-Jacques Omba. Ostende, Belgium

Kris Pannecoucke (b. 1969, Kinshasa) is a Belgian freelance photographer who grew up partially in Congo and is now based in Antwerp where he also  previously studied photography. He currently works for editorial and commercial clients including the dutch version of National Geographic Magazine & Unicef. Kris is especially interested in religious themes  and the reasons in which  people search and find faith for what to believe in. He has received Grants to work on stories like ‘Remittances’  (how do people in Africa spend money from family members who are foreign workers in Europe) and ‘self censorship’ on Spain’s centuries old tradition of Moros y Cristianos who caused a stir among the Muslim community.

About the Photograph:

“I made this picture for a story in the Dutch National Geographic about immigration leading to importation of new religions. In some European countries churches are empty. Secularization took place but thanks to immigration ‘God is back’ (title of the story). The essay was a broad look on immigrants of very different origin and how they experience their believe in a country where Santeria, Candomblé or Jainism were unheared of 20 years ago. In the picture Priest Jean-Jacques Omba from Congo is  blessing a new member of his church before she will be baptised in the North-Sea in Ostende, Belgium.”

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Tay Kay Chin December 2, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Singapore.
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Burmese Construction Workers. Singapore 2008

Tay Kay Chin (b.1965, Singapore), spent more than a decade in newspapers in Singapore and USA and held positions from photographer to presentation editor. A photojournalism graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, he has exhibited widely and his photographs are collected by Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European House of Photography in Paris and private collectors. A vocal advocate of photography in Singapore, he co-founded Shooting Home, Southeast Asia’s first photography workshop.  In 2003, Hasselblad named him one of 12 Hasselblad Masters of the world, in recognition of his Panoramic Singapore series. In 2007, Becoming Capa, a short story he wrote in university was adapted and released as a full-length feature film, Becoming Royston; and in 2008, a photographic novella based on that short story was published.

About the Photograph:

“My project, “Foreign Talents: The Hands That Built Our Home” was in many ways forced upon me because of circumstances. For more than a year I was grounded to supervise the building of our little home. The travel ban was frustrating and challenged me to practice what I always advocated – that a good photograph can be taken anywhere. Through photography, I am getting to know a little more about the individuals who are helping to piece our future home together. I am curious, for instance, to know what brings them to Singapore, and who they left behind. Sometimes, I thought I could wait a day or two, only to find out that some of them are not coming back again. Maybe it is just fate, but the spot which I have chosen to make their portraits is where my future studio and home office is sited.  Sometimes, being grounded is not such a bad thing.”

Editors Note: Tay Kay Chin and I met virtually when I interviewed him in the early internet days (circa 1996) for an article in zonezero on some of the innovative ways that photographers use the web. It was an exciting time.  We were still using animated gifs instead of Flash with Netscape 1.0. Who could have imagined all of the changes- the rapid growth and improvements of digital cameras, hi-definition video and iphones. But perhaps, most importantly the global impact and ways that the playing field has changed in such a short period of time.

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