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Alexandros Demetriades March 30, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Cyprus.
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Morfou, Northern Cyprus 2010

Alexandros Demetriades (b. 1967, Cyprus) studied Economics and Financial Investments at the George Washington University were he later received an MBA. After a short stint in the financial world he made the decision to leave and create a multi-disciplinary design firm in 1994. He served as the Creative Director of the company designing across a wide range of disciplines, including animations, exhibition design, interactive content and game design winning various awards along the way. As a self-taught photographer Alexandros is pursuing his photographic aspirations since 2010. Alexandros is currently shooting in the Balkans and the Middle East.

About the Photograph:

“I shot this photo while traveling in occupied North Cyprus, in the district of Morfou. I ended in a deserted coffee shop by the sea under a strong menacing wind. At first glance from some distance away the place looked abandoned. On coming closer I noticed some figures playing cards so I proceeded to walk inside and came across the man in the foreground in the picture. When I saw this man sitting at the cafe, his stasis had an almost frightening intensity which immediately captivated me. The interesting thing is that I know that he knew I was shooting him. I was so close but he never flinched, never posed. The peacefulness that exuded from him made me feel insignificant. Lost in his inner world behind this half open door, he sat withdrawn not with fear but with indifference, observing the vagaries of the outside world. His face expressed a bitter reverie. Perhaps he was steeped in a fatalism peculiar to the Balkan region whose turbulent history resulted in a complex and fragile cultural and religious mosaic. Here, no truth overcomes another, and he seemed to know it.”

Scott Strazzante March 28, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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From the “Common Ground” Project. Lockport, Illinois 2000/2009

Scott Strazzante (b.1964, USA) was born and raised in the shadows of the steel mills on the far southeast corner of Chicago. The son of a tire dealer, Scott first became interested in photography when he started taking his dad’s Canon AE-1 to Chicago White Sox games. After graduating from Ripon College, he began, what has now been, a 24-year career at Chicago-area newspapers.  In 2000, while employed at The Herald News in Joliet, Scott was named National Newspaper Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association and the Missouri School of Journalism. In 2007, he won 2nd place in POYi’s Newspaper Photographer of the Year competition. A seven time Illinois Photographer of the Year, Scott spent the last nine years at the Chicago Tribune where he works as a general assignment photographer.

About the Photograph:

“In 1994, I told, in images, a simple tale of two senior citizen cattle farmers who lived and worked on a 118-acre tract of land in Lockport, Illinois, thirty-five miles southwest of Chicago. After publication, I continued to document the daily lives of those farmers, Harlow and Jean Cagwin, on my own time as a personal project and that work eventually evolved into a study of aging, the disappearing family farm and suburban sprawl.  In 2007, the story turned into something totally different, when I started photographing the Grabenhofer family, who live at the end of a Willow Walk subdivision cul de sac, on the very land that the Cagwins once toiled. The study of the two seemingly disparate ways of life is told in diptychs, comparing and contrasting the lives of the Cagwins and the Grabenhofers.” (more…)

Ben Roberts March 26, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in France.
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Rock Climber, Fontainebleau, France, 2009

Editor’s Note: It’s been busy here at Verve Photo, and I forgot to mention that last week was the third anniversary of the site. So far over 500 photographers from around the world have been featured. Your work is a testimony to how the medium has evolved, and this growing community of incredible photographers is what makes it so exciting. Here’s to another year!

Ben Roberts (b. 1979, United Kingdom) is an independent photographer based in the UK. He studied photography at the Arts University College, Bournemouth. Ben has photographed projects as diverse as youth culture in Scotland, Australian gold mining and Spain’s economic crisis. He’s now working on a new body of work exploring the periphery of London. Ben is represented by Picturetank in Paris, and has had his work published in Le Monde, Regards, The Fader and Newsweek. In 2009 Ben was the recipient of the British Journal of Photography’s Project Assistance Award for his series ‘The Gathering Clouds’ – a contemplative look at the effects of the economic crisis on Spain’s social and physical landscape. In 2010, Ben was named as one of PDN’s 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch.

About the Photograph:

“In April 2009 I took a trip to Paris to visit my agency Picturetank. On a day off from meetings, I took a trip out to the forest at Fontainebleau with a friend. Fontainebleau is a mecca for practitioners of bouldering – a form of rock climbing performed at low level without ropes. I spotted Enzo from a vantage point up high on a cliff. It took me another 20 minutes of wandering amongst the labyrinth of boulders to find him again. I watched him climb with some friends for a while, and then asked if I could take his portrait. I had already found the location where I wanted to make the photograph, a couple of minutes walk from where he had been climbing, and in a quieter part of the woodland. The image is staged to a certain extent. I asked Enzo to remove his shoes and glasses so that the portrait became more elemental. The white on his hands is chalk dust which helps his grip when climbing. For me this small detail is what holds the portrait together and places it in context.” (more…)

Ivor Prickett March 24, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Georgia.
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Gali, Abkhazia’s frontier with Georgia 2010

Ivor Prickett (b.1983, Ireland) completed a degree in Documentary Photography at the University of Wales, Newport. With a particular interest in post war situations Ivor has worked on a number projects throughout the Balkans and more in recently in the Caucasus. He is currently based in the Middle East from where he works for leading publications. Ivor’s work has been recognized through a number of major photography awards including The Ian Parry Scholarship, the BJP/Nikon Endframe Award and the National Portrait Gallery Photography Prize Godfrey Argent Award. His photographs have been published in The Sunday Times magazine, The Guardian Weekend magazine, Geo Germany, Stern Geographical, Fader, Exit  and among other publications.

About the Photograph:

“This picture is from my project Gali: Abkhazia’s frontier with Georgia. It takes a look at daily life for the Mingrelian Georgians who still live in the breakaway republic. I made two trips there over the past year and this photo was from my second in August and September during a visit to the only functioning church left in Gali, the province where almost all of the 40,000 Georgian returnees are concentrated in Abkhazia. It is a tiny, very sparsely decorated church set just off the main road that leads into Abkhazia from the border with Georgia. The day we went was a very important day in the orthodox calendar and people had come from all over the region to attend the service. Although the scenes inside were very beautiful, taking picture was especially hard because there was little space to maneuver and limited available light. When I saw the young girl reach up to light the candle I knew it was a nice scene and quickly got myself in position to take the picture. I managed to shoot maybe four frames and afterword’s I was relived to see that I had guessed the right exposure! I think this could easily have been a rather clichéd image but for me the man with his head in his hands gives it a more poignant and balanced feel.”

Carlos Alvarez Montero March 21, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Mexico.
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From the Project “Scars” Mexico City 2010

Carlos Alvarez Montero (b.1974, Mexico) is a native from Mexico city. His work focuses on the relationship between appearance and the creation of identity. After 12 years of working in Mexico City for editorial clients, ad agencies and record labels he decided to take his photography to higher levels by moving to New York to complete a two year MFA program in photography, video and related media at the School of Visual Arts (SVA). During a two year absence from the Mexican photography scene he roamed the streets of New York capturing the diversity of it’s inhabitants. This led him to several projects like Harlem Shuffle, Covers (Adopt & Adapt) and Super heroes.  Carlos lives and works between New York and Mexico City.

About the Photograph:

“These two portraits of Amra & Ana Paula are from my series Scars. Ana Paula plays in a band called La Maria Antonieta and Amra is a tattoo and visual artist. I photographed 20 residents of Mexico city that have decided to engrave ink marks on their neck/face (body parts that cannot be hidden) as a statement of their life experiences ‘good or bad’ in one of the largest cities in the world. At the same time this allows them to step out of the crowd, define themselves as unique, and by no means look back. Since my work focuses on the way people create their identity through their appearance I always let my subjects decide how to show themselves. With this portrait series I intend to create a projection of the city through human maps composed of scars and facial expressions. The life marks of itʼs inhabitants.”

Miti Ruangkritya March 17, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Cambodia.
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Siem Reap, Cambodia 2009

Miti Ruangkritya (b. 1981, Thailand) is a freelance documentary/editorial photographer currently based in Bangkok.  He graduated with an MA in Photojournalism from The University of Westminster. He has participated in the Angkor photography workshop for young Asian Photographers. He has shot for Thai and Asian travel publications and is represented by Millennium Images. His ongoing project, ‘Amulet World’, is a study of Buddhism and its interaction with the rise of the consumerist culture, focusing on the duality between spirituality and commercialism that characterizes the amulet trade in Thailand.

About the Photograph:

This image is from the On the Edge, a project shot on the outskirts of Siem Reap, one of Cambodia’s fastest growing cities. Along this empty highway there is no sign of the tourist commerce and shopping districts that have been fueling the city’s growth. The unkempt open grasslands that surround the city carry an atmosphere of anachronistic indifference, which attracted me to the area. Traveling along the highway one felt time slow down and the noise of the city dissolve. Though it seems an unlikely area to have a picnic, the couple seemed at ease by the lake amongst the dry grass and litter, and ambivalent towards being photographed. The place was hard to define, for some it was a retreat; for others merely a transient stop-off point along a journey; and for me it was a reminder of region that seems unsure of where it was heading. The rural landscape clashing with the inexorable growth of the city.”

Max Whittaker March 14, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Kids Playing in Trailer Park, Olivehurst, California 2004

Max Whittaker (b. 1976, USA) is a freelance photojournalist based in Sacramento, Calif. He studied history at the University of California, Davis, and became interested in photojournalism while on a climbing trip in South America. Max worked at newspapers in Iowa and California before going freelance in 2004. He’s covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, presidential campaigns, and social issues in California. He’s a regular contributor to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Getty Images, and is a founding member of the Prime collective.

About the Photograph:

“This picture is part of a project I shot over six months on the dissolution of the Andina Village Trailer Park in Olivehurst, California – near Sacramento. The park had been taken over by the county for unpaid taxes, and sold to a developer. The residents were evicted, but had a hard time finding new housing that’s as cheap as the trailer park. The park was terribly rundown, dangerous, but I marveled at the way the kids seemed to ignore all of it. They played on the decaying trailers and molding furniture, seeming to have much more fun than other kids their age who had fancy toys or video games. At one point, they were goofing around and seven-year-old Quentin Lay innocently balanced some coins on his eyes as a friend crept up behind to scare him. Eventually, the park was bulldozed. The residents moved away, often out of state to find cheaper living expenses. The developer has yet to build on the lot and it’s now a vacant lot choked with weeds.”

Daro Sulakauri March 10, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Georgia.
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Chechen Refugee Settlement. Pankisi Gorge, Georgia 2008

Daro Sulakauri (b.1985, Georgia) obtained a degree from the Department of Cinematography at the Tbilisi State University. Soon after, she moved to New York to study photojournalism at ICP. Before graduating in 2006 she was awarded the John and Mary Phillips Scholarship as well as recognized by the ICP Director’s Fund. Upon finishing, she returned to the Pankisi Gorge in her native Caucasus nation of Georgia and continued Photojournalism. She won second place in the Magnum Foundation’s Young Photographer Caucasus award in 2009 and the  SCI (Civil Society Institute) award for the Best of Photojournalism. She was also featured in the American Photography 25 book: Social Documentary’s best of 2008, and received honorable mentions in the PX3 and B&W Awards.

About the Photograph:

“This  photo is from series “Terror Incognita” a personal project I started in Pankisi Gorge, a region in Republic of Georgia. The Story documents one of the Chechen conflict’s hidden narratives in an outpost of refugees who crossed to Georgia from Chechnya and have remained in relative isolation ever since. Chechens have a reputation for rugged individualism, even among the peoples of the Caucasus who – by any standards – are accustomed to rugged conditions and nurture a fierce sense of national pride and independence in light the imperialist tendencies of surrounding nations. These people live an ordinary life today, although they are largely destroyed psychologically. Without a clear future and struggling with the past, they still have hope to return home one day. (more…)

Jérôme Sessini March 7, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Cuba.
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Santiago, Cuba 2009

Jérôme Sessini (b.1968, France) began to work for the GAMMA agency following the Kosovo war in 1999. Since then he has covered international events, the second intifada, the conflict in Iraq –where his has regularly returned since 2003, the Haitian crisis of 2004, the capture of Mogadishu by the Islamic courts in 2006 and the Lebanon War, which he covered in depth. At the same time he has been working long term on the violence in post civil war Central American countries. His work on the southern Mexican border “Mexico, the end of the American Dream” was nominated for a Visa d’or in the magazine category. His work is regularly published in the French and international press including: Paris-Match, le Monde 2, Elle, Figaro Magazine, L’espresso, Stern, Newsweek, Time and others. He was awarded the Grand Prize Calderon at the festival “Scoop” in Angers 2005.

About the Photograph:

“It was my second trip to Cuba. In January 1959 Fidel Castro was greeted by the Cubans as their liberator. Fifty years later, the Cuban people don’t have any more desire to celebrate anything. Cuban’s are tired and depressed by such hard daily life conditions. The average monthly salary is about 13 euros. Every day is a  fight to provide for basics needs. For the 50th anniversary revolution day, the people were invited by the government to remain at home and watch Raul Castro speak on TV-  a speech austere and widely turned toward the past, without  future prospect and  hope. I made this photograph while many young tourists from Argentina, wearing tee-shirts of Che were screaming slogans such as “Viva el Ché!! Viva Fidel! Viva la revolucion. They celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution while the Cubans themselves was sad, indifferent and suffering for this regime.”

Wenjie Yang March 3, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Joann, Brooklyn, NY, 2010

Wenjie Yang (b. 1978, China) is a freelance photographer currently based in New York City. She graduated from the International Center of Photography’s Documentary Photography and Photojournalism Program  in 2010. Wenjie earned a BFA from the Beijing Film Academy and comes to photography with a background in advertising production and production of movie crews. Her work have been published in National Geographic, The New York Times, Travel + Leisure, Marie Claire, Elle Décor, Oggi, Burn Magazine, Lens, and Voyage. Past exhibitions include: Low City at 456 Gallery, New York (2010), Of Bodies And Other Things at ICP, New York (2010), Xiaobing Xu National Photography Museum, Tongxiang, China (2010).

About the Photograph:

“Joann is from an immigrant Korean family. At the age of 26, she is already working as a curator and director of a gallery specializing in Asian arts located at in the Chelsea art district in New York. When I saw her for the first time she was taking a cigarette break outside her gallery, waist-touching long straight hair, looking seductive and free. She gladly accepted my invitation for a portrait session after a brief conversation. I went to her apartment in Brooklyn and I was warmly welcomed by her. One of Joann’s first questions was ‘what do you want me to do?’ My answer was simply just be yourself, as if I am not here.” (more…)

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