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Matt Black March 31, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Migrant workers. Fresno, California

Matt Black (b. 1970, United States) is a documentary photographer whose work explores the themes of migration, agriculture and rural poverty.  His multi-year exploration of rural California has been widely honored, receiving grants and awards from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Alexia Foundation for World Peace, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial.  His photographs have also been honored by Pictures of the Year International and by World Press Photo. His work has been published in The Nation, Camera Arts, Newsweek, Black and White Magazine, the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine and Photo District News, among others. He lives in Lemon Cove, a small town in Central California.

About the Photograph:

“This photo was taken at about 4:30 in the morning in Fresno, California.  The workers, most of them undocumented Oaxacan immigrants, are being transported on a farm labor bus to pick raisin grapes, one of the most grueling of all farm labor jobs.  The bus journey through town took almost two hours:  some tried to continue sleeping, but they would be awakened each time a new group of workers boarded.  The man driving is their boss, a farm labor contractor.  He paid them 21 cents per bucket and then deducted six dollars a day for the bus ride and another six dollars for lunch.  Some workers would return home with less than 20 dollars after working a twelve hour day.”

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Mark J. Davis March 29, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Rural Mississippi, 2009

Mark J. Davis (b. 1982, USA) studied documentary and fine-art photography at IDEP Escuela de la Imagen in Barcelona, Spain and in 2008 worked as an assistant to photographer Aaron Huey. His documentary work includes projects on rural Mississippi, street musicians, and the depletion of the world’s fishing stocks. His work has appeared in a number of international publications, including a recent piece in Vision Magazine (China). Mark is currently based in Seattle.

About the Photograph:

“I recently drove my van cross-country to rural Mississippi where I began work on a project entitled “Left Behind but Not Forgotten.” With over twenty percent  of its population living below the poverty line, Mississippi has the distinction of being the poorest state in America. What’s more it has been ranked last in overall health as well as overall academic achievement. The project, a work in progress, explores the symbolic connection between those left behind after the Great Migrations and Mississippi being left behind as a state. This particular image was taken inside of an old warehouse where locals gather for a shot, a smoke, a game and a dance.”

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Verena Brandt March 26, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Germany.
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Civil War Weekend. Brandenburg, Germany 2009

Verena Brandt (b. 1978, Germany) studied communication design with a focus on photography at the University of Applied Sciences Hamburg. She is currently working as a freelance documentary and portrait photographer for magazines, commercial clients and on personal long term projects. Since 2007 she has been a member of the German agency Visum Photo. Her work has been shown at the Lumix Festival for International Photojournalism 2008 and was awarded with prizes and scholarships. In 2007 she received a VG Bildkunst scholarship for “Villa Germania”, a series about German retirees in Thailand, and a Gruner+Jahr Photo Award in 2008.

About the Photograph:

“This photo shows two German re en-actors in Yankee uniforms while fencing on a meadow, dunghills in the background. On a yearly meeting called ‘Civil War Weekend’, the so-called living history fans from all over Germany come together to imitate ‘famous’ battlefield situations in a Western town one hour from Berlin. The rules are very strict, traditional outfits and camp life without modern comforts are obligatory. The picture is part of an ongoing project about the rural area surrounding Berlin. In contrast to the international atmosphere of the German capital, the province ‘Brandenburg’ mainly consists of vast empty landscapes and depopulated villages, which is rather uncommon compared to other European capital regions, where the urban fringe is often widely spoiled.”

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Massimo Berruti March 24, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Pakistan.
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Supporters of the “Pakistan Muslim League”. Rawalpindi, Pakistan 2008

Massimo Berruti (b.1979, Italy) completed a short course in photography in 2003. and has since been freelancing in Eastern Europe and Italy where he worked on stories about immigration, suburbs and the Industry crisis. In 2007 he began traveling in central Asia, particularly Pakistan and Afghanistan doing projects on social and political issues. His photographs have been published in l’Espresso, Internazionale, D la Repubblica delle Donne, Le Monde 2 and The Independent. Massimo received the second prize for his reportage on contemporary issues at the World Press Photo 2007, and  also received the Jury Special Mention at the Scoop International Festival of Angers in 2008. The same year he was selected for the 15th Joop Swart Master Class and received the International Photography Award. In 2009, he won the Perpignan Young Reporter’s Award.

About the Photograph:

“I made this photo of supporters of PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz) in Rawalpindi during the speech of one of their main local leaders. It was my first time in Pakistan. I went there to cover the presidential elections that were taking place just a couple of months after the Benazir Bhutto Assassination. People was still deeply shocked by that event and the fear, rage, hope and happiness were all melted together in a highly confused atmosphere. In this melted emotions I recognized mine. What drew me to take this photograph was the man in the middle. He appeared so calm surrounded by the others, all shouting and singing in a kind of state of ecstasy.”

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Verve Photo Celebrates Two Years Online March 22, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Burma.
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Salvador, Bahia Brazil 2002 by Geoffrey Hiller

What do the editors of National Geographic, Time Magazine, Mother Jones, The Wall Street Journal and other publications have in common? Hard to believe it, but I found out they regularly view Verve Photo searching for photographic talent and story ideas. When I started the Verve blog two years ago I had no idea there would be a need for such a showcase.  At that time I was struck by the emerging young photographers who were traveling to countries across the globe to pursue projects that mattered to them, from the political to the personal. And then there were the ones who remained closer to home, uncovering images no less powerful. During the past two years we have featured the work of  close to 400 photographers from almost every country in the world. The definition of ‘new breed’ has since expanded to include striking work that is not bounded by age, but rather by inquisitiveness and passion.

The tidal wave of documentary photography online seems to have only increased the need for an editorial filter. At the same time our viewers have steadily grown in number. Wherever I go it’s amazing to meet so many people who know about Verve, and more, who are excited and who find inspiration from the blog. This may be because Verve Photo is not an ‘aggregator of content’ but is more labor intensive, with a two-month lead time before each posting that involves discussion with each photographer.

I want to thank all of you who have generously shared your work, and helped create what has now become a community that includes regular viewers as well as picture editors, designers and curators. Those of you who appreciate the effort involved in putting this work together here at Verve Photo, please consider making a donation. That way we can all enjoy meeting more great photographers in the future.

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Per-Anders Pettersson March 19, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in DR Congo.
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Child prostitutes prepare for work. Kinshasa, Congo

Per-Anders Pettersson (b.1967, Sweden) began his professional career as a photographer in the late eighties after studying business and working for a local newspaper in his hometown. In 1990, he moved to New York and covered major news and feature stories in over 60 countries most recently in Congo, South Africa, Ethiopia, Uganda, Chad and China. He works on assignment for Stern, GEO, Newsweek, and many other major international newspapers and magazines. In 1995, Pettersson produced a book of work from 1991-1995. His project on the ”Flying Squad’ a South African police unit was exhibited at Visa Pour L’image in Perpignan in September 2001. He participated in the ”A Day in the Life of Africa” book project in the spring of 2002, photographing in Kinshasa, Congo.

About the Photograph:

“Esther Yandakwa, age 9, Francine Nyanda, age 14, and Gladys Lutadila, age 14, Clarisse Bongalo, age 14, have their nails done on April 2006 in Matonge district in central Kinshasa, Congo, DRC. They are homeless and work as prostitutes together. They live outside, next to a polluted river. They have all run away from their parents. They have been living in a homeless shelter for children, but don’t like the rules there. They smoke cigarettes, marijuana, drink whiskey and sometimes take Valium. They charge their clients as little as one dollar. About 15,000 children are estimated to live on the streets of Kinshasa.  After forty years of mismanagement by a corrupt dictator and former president Mobuto Sese Seko the Congo is in ruins. A civil war began there after he fled the country in 1997.”

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Amber Sigman March 17, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Younger’s Creek, Ky., 2004

Amber Sigman (b. 1976, USA) is a freelance photographer based in Louisville, Kentucky. She holds a degree in photojournalism and anthropology with emphasis in culture from Western Kentucky University. Amber has worked as a photojournalism teacher in Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. She has also worked as an independent contractor and photo editor for MSNBC.com. Her awards include first place sports photo with sports shooter.com, second place photo story with the Wyoming Press Association, third place feature in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Press Association, and were featured in the Western Kentucky University- Nat. Press Photographers Assoc. clip contest.

About the Photograph:

“I made this picture while scouting for photo story ideas driving through rural Kentucky. I had had a strong urge to stop in this shop years prior to me being a photographer, but never did until I began feature hunting. This is where I met James Kennedy and his brother Bill Kennedy. The two started an auction shop at the quaint little building where the rifle was displayed for-sale to local patrons like Larry Rust who stood in the doorway. Customers would come into the shop twice a week to buy anything from screws for a dollar, blinking race car clocks, rocking Santa Claus dolls, vacuum cleaners, or perhaps a used rifle. Many customers at the auction shop are the Kennedy’s kinfolk who live in Younger’s Creek and drive down the road to support their family and friends by buying inexpensive treasures.”

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Dorothee Deiss March 15, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Poland.
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Home visit from the series “The Doctor”. Poland, 2006

Dorothee Deiss (b. 1961, Germany) studied medicine and photography and works as photographer and pediatrician in Berlin. She focuses on editorial stories,  photography is her way to communicate, to approach these strangers and their stories. Her work has been published in numerous German and European magazines including the Financial Times, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Welt am Sonntag, Die Zeit, Spiegel, Stern and has been exhibited in Seattle, Vermont, Paris, Warsaw, Lithuania and Berlin.

About the Photograph:

“The  region of the German-Polish border was politically divided in the wake of the Second World War, but its cultural memory has proven sturdier than any division. Who ever lives in the borderland is at home on both sides of the border. But what are things really like in this region? Where do the new borders run, the borders between hope and resignation? A contradictory picture of the borderland between Germany and Poland thus emerges at the time of the EU enlargement. To learn more about our neighbors on the other side of the border I traveled endless times with my old VW camper  through Poland. By accident I met an general practitioner who lived in the small city Krosno Odrzanskie.  I took this picture during the home visit by the doctor.  The old woman represents the uncertainty and fear, the hope and confidence after the recent reunification.”

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Stefen Chow March 12, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in China.
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Tiananmen Gate, Beijing, China

Stefen Chow (b. 1980, Malaysia) is a photographer based in Beijing and Singapore. Stefen is currently represented by Aurora Select, attended the Eddie Adams Workshop in 2008 and nominated for the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass twice in 2009 and 2010. Stefen has worked with publications and organizations including Geo, Time Magazine, Associated Press, Cartier, Nikon and Shell. His works have been exhibited in  Los Angeles, Paris, Singapore and Beijing. His versatility has garnered  awards in cross genres including documentary, corporate and fine art. An accomplished adventurer, Stefen has summited Mount Everest in 2005, becoming one of the rare individuals to climb and photograph the mountain.

About the Photograph:

“I have been trying to sum up my feelings about Beijing after being based there for the last 18 months. On this particular day, Beijing had one of the biggest snow falls, and I knew the picture I was going to get. I made my way to the Tiananmen Gate, and there were Chinese soldiers standing in front of the iconic giant Mao portrait. I stood there in the snow for more than an hour waiting for an expression that humanizes the whole situation. In the end, the instant captured spoke to me about bureaucracy, hardship, respect, beauty and humanity.”

Kathryn Obermaier March 10, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in India.
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Ashray School. Varanasi, India 2009

Kathryn Obermaier (b. 1978, USA) is a freelance photojournalist currently based in New York. She is a graduate from The International Center of Photography’s program in Documentary and Photojournalism, and has a Bachelors in Fine Art from The University of New Mexico.  Kathryn attended the Eddie Adams Workshop in 2007, and was chosen for the Associated Press award for her project on Cheerleaders. During her time at ICP she interned for both Suzanne Opton and Lori Grinker.  Before moving to New York she worked at the Santa Fe Photographic workshops, working with a variety of photographers, such as Sam Abell, Steve McCurry, and Dennis Keeley.  Kathryn is currently working with an NGO in India documenting the lives of the students at the Ashray School in Varanasi, as well continuing her personal project documenting various athletes throughout the world.

About the Photograph:

“This portrait is part of a series of class portraits taken at the Ashray School in Nagwa, a small village near Varanasi, India. Nagwa is home to migrants and “caste-less” families, a place where poverty was the only option. The Ashray School was created to give these families the opportunity for an education. Part of going to school in the United States was the yearly act of getting individual portraits, documenting that time in a young child’s life, the photographs were usually contrived and cheesy, but they were a record of that child, at that moment in time. I choose to focus mainly on their faces eliminating distraction, or clues to their surroundings, leaving only the details of their faces to tell their stories. Through portraiture and documentary work I focus not only on individual stories, but also the stories of this village as a changing community witnessing the lives of these young children change with the simple act of receiving an education.”

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Francesca Cao March 8, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Gospel Tabernacle Pentecostal Church, Brooklyn NY. 2008

Francesca Cao (b.1981, England) completed her university degree in philosophy in 2005. She worked as an assistant with the photo reporter Mauro Galligani for two years until 2006, when she left her hometown Milan, to attend the photojournalism course at the International Center of photography in New York, where she lived for two years. In 2008 Francesca won the Tierney fellowship for her project about the oil business in Kazakhstan, which was exhibited in the ‘09 New York Photo Festival,  the same year she was selected in the “Discoveries” section of Photo Espana. Her clients include The New York Times, Zoom magazine, The Guardian Weekend, D magazine and Il Corriere della Sera. Her work has been exhibited in Milan, Madrid, Valencia and New York. Francesca is based in Milan.

About the Photograph:

“This picture is from the story “In God We Trust” and was shot in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn NY. In God we trust, is the sentence printed on all the one-dollar bills as a reminder of the importance that religion has in the development of this culture.  Especially in the black American community, where, for a very long time, prayer was the only moment to ask God for something better, keeping alive the belief of a future with no slavery. When I lived in this neighborhood I had been attracted by the enormous number of churches. I couldn’t avoid going into these charismatic places to investigate what catalyzes the attention of the congregation. What from the outside just looks like a room is in fact a special place where you can escape the problems of everyday life finding hope and faith. Religion is a very strong adhesive that keeps this community together. It’s provides a space for a better life.”

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Céline Clanet March 5, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Norway.
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Ellen watching through the window, Máze,  Norway 2005

Céline Clanet (b. 1977, France) lives in Paris. A graduate from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie of Arles in 1999, she works today as a freelance photographer and graphic designer. Her photographs have been exhibited internationally  at the Blue Sky Gallery, USA (2009/2010), at the Northern Photographic Center in Finland, at Centre Pasquart in Switzerland, Philips de Pury in London and the Fotohuset in Norway. Céline’s photographs have been published in The Independent (UK), Vision Magazine (China), Libération (France) and others. Her series “Un mince vernis de réalité” has been published as a book by Filigranes Editions (France) in 2005, and her book “Máze” will be released in 2010. The “Máze” series won the 1st “People-Culture” award at the “International Photography Awards” (2009, USA), the “Critical Mass Book Award” (2009, USA), and was a finalist for the Photo forum Prize (2009, Switzerland) and ITS photo contest (2008, Italy).

About the Photograph:

“Ellen is one of my favorite people in Máze, a small Sami village located in Lapland, Norway. She was born and has lived there all her life. She comes from a reindeer herding and farming family. She agreed to pose for me inside her house. She was wearing her usual home clothes, but for the picture, she added Sami traditional silver jewelry to her outfit. Very chic. She actually dresses with traditional Sami clothes everyday when she goes outside. Very few Sami people do that today in Lapland, but in Máze, the indigenous culture is still very vivid. She is the mother of seven sons and when she goes outside, she is surrounded by the silent Máze tundra. When I think about her, I think of loneliness, a serene one. She is not sad in this photo. She is contemplative, thoughtful and meditative. Just like many of the people in Máze. I think that the wide, harsh and desert like landscape of the Arctic has shaped their humble character.”

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Mikko Takkunen March 3, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Lebanon.
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Shatila refugee camp children in a Beirut amusement park. 2008

Mikko Takkunen (b.1979, Finland) is a Finnish freelance photographer currenly based in Swansea, Wales. Before taking-up photography in the mid-twenties, Mikko studied politics and international relations at Aberdeen University in Scotland. In 2006 Mikko moved to Wales to do a BA Photojournalism degree at Swansea Metropolitan University, finishing in July 2009. So far he has worked on projects in the United States, Sierra Leone, Mexico, Lebanon, as well in the UK besides his native Finland.  During 2009, Mikko was awarded the Runner-Up Prize in the Guardian Student Photographer of the Year and he was also shortlisted in the student series of PDN Annual and New York Photo Awards, as well as the Sir Leslie Joseph Young Artist Award given to a young artist resident in Wales.  Mikko also maintains the Photo Journalism Links website.

About the Photograph:

“According to the UN, there are over 400,000 registered Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, most of whom reside in the twelve refugee camps across the country. In August-September 2008, I spent a month in Lebanon documenting the work a Palestinian-run NGO Beit Atfal Assomoud, which has aid projects in all of the dozen refugee camps in the country. One of their Shatila camp projects is an annually organised summer school, meant for children who are about to enter first grade in one of the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) primary schools. The majority of Palestinians live separate from the rest of Lebanese society, and the children do not get many opportunities to go outside the refugee camps. The photograph above shows the Shatila summer school children and their teacher during an excursion to an amusement park near the refugee camp.”

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Freya Najade March 1, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Thelma and Dennis. Palm Springs, California

Freya Najade (b. 1977, Germany) completed her Masters Degree December 2009 with distinction in documentary photography at the University of the Arts London (London College of Communication). She was a finalist for the 29th Annual Spring Photography Contest of the Photographer’s Forum Magazine, the AOP Student Award 2009 and the International Photography Awards (2008 and 2009). Publications of her work include BJP (British Journal of Photojournalism), Spam Magazine and Testcard. She currently lives and works in London

About the Photograph:

“Thelma and Dennis are both protagonists of my project ‘If you are lucky, you get old’. In this series I try to  show that old age is much more complex than commonly thought of. I got to know Thelma while at a dance in one of the senior centers in Palm Springs. She agreed to let me photograph her inside her home. In it she wears one of her favorite dresses for her children to remember her as a nice old lady. She truly taught me something about old age and love. Dennis who is in the other picture shows me his flight costume that he uses to fly kites. I particularly like this picture because Dennis looks so strong, excited but in the same time also vulnerable. All characteristics I associate with old age.”

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