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Noriko Hayashi February 10, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Kyrgyzstan.
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Bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan. 2013

Noriko Hayashi (b.1983, Japan) began taking pictures for a small local newspaper in Gambia, West Africa, when she was still a university student in International Relations. Working in a small place like Gambia, which is rarely the focus of international news but is full of interesting stories, taught Noriko the value of covering the overlooked realities of every strand of society. She won the first prize in 2012 DAYS International Photojournalism Awards and was awarded three Kiyosato’s Young Portfolio Acquisitions Awards (2010, 2011, 2012). Noriko was also finalist for the Alexia foundation professional grant. In 2013, she won The Visa D’or feature awards at Visa Pour l’Image festival in France. Her work has been published in the International Herald Tribune, National Geographic Japan, Newsweek, Der Spiegel and Le Monde among others. Noriko is currently based in Tokyo.

About the Photograph:

I spent five months visiting villages throughout Kyrgyzstan and sometimes I was able to witness the practice. According to local NGO’s, as many as 40% of ethnic Kyrgyz women are married by the process of ala kachuu (‘grab and run’) or bride kidnapping. Though illegal since 1994, the authorities largely turn a blind eye to the practice. Most commonly, the putative groom will gather a group of young men and charter a car to go and look for the woman he wants to marry. Unsuspecting women are then often dragged off the street and bundled into the car which takes them straight to the man’s house where frequently the family will have already started to make preparations for the wedding.”

“Once girls are taken inside the kidnapper’s home, female elders play a pivotal role in persuading her to accept the marriage. They try to cover the girl’s head with a white scarf, symbolizing that she is ready to marry her kidnapper. After several hours of struggle, around 84% of kidnapped women end up agreeing to the marriage. Their parents often also pressure the girls, as once she has entered her kidnappers home she is considered no longer pure, making it shameful for her to return home. To avoid scandal and disgrace they tend to remain with their kidnappers. 

Prior to the Soviet period when the people were living a nomadic life, the majority of the marriages were arranged by parents. Although non-consensual bride-kidnapping occurred rarely, it was not common and was not socially accepted. Marriages resulting from bride kidnapping are also thought to result in significantly higher rates of domestic abuse and divorce and numerous cases of suicide amongst women who were kidnapped have been recorded.”

Javad Parsa February 6, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Iran, Turkey.
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Iranian refugees in Turkey, Ankara 2010

Javad Parsa (b. 1985, Iran) grew up in Iran, but had to flee in 2009 due to an arrest-order by the Iranian government after his images of the Iranian uprising that year were published abroad. He has since lived in Turkey and in 2010 has been living in Oslo and currently freelances for VG, one of Norway’s largest newspapers. In 2013 he was selected as a participant of the Joop Swart Masterclass organized by World Press Photo. His work has been published in numerous national and international publications including TIME magazine, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Le Figaro, Paris Match, The Guardian, 6Mois and Amnesty International.

About the Photograph:

“Every year large numbers of Iranians travel to Turkey. Of this group crossing the border there are people, who have  political, social, and religious views in conflict with Iran’s government policy. Many feel it necessary to apply to the UN for refugee status. Danika is nine years old and has been living in Turkey for the past two years. Davood and his wife and their two daughters have been living in Turkey as refugees for the last two years. Davood’s wife is from Philippines. They met in Japan and married in the Philippines. Davood was introduced to Christianity through his wife and converted from Islam to Christianity in Iran. His brother informed the authorities that Davood had changed his faith. He had to flee Iran for fear of being prosecuted. In this photo, Davood is getting ready for church where Iranian Christians get together once a week.”

Magda Rakita February 3, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Liberia.
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Boxing club in Monrovia 2013

Magda Rakita (b. 1976, Poland) became interested in photography and storytelling as a way of sharing her experiences as passionate traveler. She now works on documentary projects focusing on issues of health, social problems and development. Magda mostly works with NGOs and aid agencies, including: Save the Children UK, Seeds of Peace UK, TASO Uganda, Survival International, More Than Me, and THINK Liberia. In 2013 she graduated from the MA in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism at London College of Communication. Her MA project “God Made Woman Than He Jerked” was highly commended in the 2013 Ian Parry Scholarship Award. She is based in London.

About the Photograph:

“God made woman then he jerked”, reads a mural on the streets of Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia, a country mostly remembered for its fourteen-year civil war in which an estimated 250,000 people lost their lives. As Liberia celebrated its 10th anniversary of peace in summer 2013, and with a woman occupying its highest political office, I was keen to explore the lived experience of a post-war generation of girls growing up among a war-scarred population. I hoped this might help shed light on the difficulties and challenges, but also on the resilience and determination, evident in the lives of these young girls as they fight to improve their prospects for the future.”

“Despite the presence of some high profile female figures in Liberia’s politics, the everyday realities and possibilities are very different for the majority of women. Relatively few girls are able to attend school as they find it difficult to reconcile their obligations towards their families and the demands of schooling. Many struggle to afford the obligatory school uniforms and registration fees despite education being (at least in theory) free. Sexual and gender based violence remain major issues, including in Liberia’s educational system, and it is not uncommon for students to be subject to sexual harassment when it comes to exchanging favors for grades. To me this image represents the struggle of young girls and women in a male dominated society and how isolating it can be for them to stand up for their rights. Hawa was the only girl attending training sessions in a boxing club in central Monrovia during the holiday season in 2013.”

Marion Gambin January 30, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in India, Kashmir.
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Gulmarg
Gulmarg, Kashmir, India 2010

Marion Gambin (b.1985, France) obtained her undergraduate degree (BFA) in the Beaux-Arts of Toulouse and joined the photography section of the ENS Louis-Lumière from which she graduated with a Masters in Photography in June 2011. She has worked on assignment for Libération, Le Monde, Causette and Internazionale. Her personal work is close to the new documentary photography, with a special emphasis on portrait. It has been showed in the Phnom Penh photo festival and the Pluie d’Images festival at Brest, France. Marion currently lives in Paris.

About the Photograph:

“This photograph shows the view of Kongdoori, in Gulmarg at a small ski station in Indian Kashmir. Situated at 8,500 feet, this town claims to have the ‘highest ski lift in the world. This village scene is popular with Western tourists who like winter sports, and with privileged Indians during summer. Like the former British colonials, the Indian vacationers come to enjoy the cool weather and picturesque setting. Generally these Indian tourists come to Gulmarg as if they were going to Disneyland, staying just a few days to ride the lift, touch the snow and go sledding. The young couple in the photograph is here on honeymoon.”

“The area is heavily patrolled by the military, with several checkpoints at the entrance to the town. The region has been in conflict since the partition of India from Pakistan at the end of the colonial era 60 years ago, with both countries still claiming rights to the territory of Kashmir. This trouble explains why the construction of the ski lift took such a long time, more than 15 years, interrupted by violence, including the kidnapping of French engineers. But today Gulmarg seems perfectly peaceful, since the Indian government has made a special effort to ensure the security of the area.”

Alessandro Penso January 27, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Malta.
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Migrants inside Marsa welcome center getting a haircut. Malta 2009

Alessandro Penso (b.1978, Italy) studied clinical psychology at Rome’s La Sapienza University. In 2007, he received a scholarship to study photojournalism at the “Scuola Romana di Fotografia”. Since completing his studies, his work has won several awards, including the PDN Photo Annual Award, Px3, the Project Launch Award in Santa Fe 2011, the Terry O’ Neill TAG Award 2012, and the Sofa Global award 2013. Alessandro’s work has appeared in Stern Magazine, The Guardian, BBC, The New York Times, Businessweek, Time Magazine, the International Herald Tribune, Human Rights Watch, L’Espresso, Internazionale, D di Repubblica, Vanity Fair Italia, El Periodico, Le journal de la photographie and Ekathimerini.

About the Photograph:

“This photograph is part of a reportage project entitled Big Prison. In 2009, I traveled to the island of Malta to start a long-term project on immigration in the Mediterranean, which I have now been working on for four years. Malta is not just a small Mediterranean island, but a member state of the European Union. For this reason, it is at the center of routes for migrants, most of whom come from Africa. Many people aren’t aware that Malta does not actually represent a stopping point, but is mainly a place that travelers trying to reach Italy just end up stuck in.”

“As soon as I arrived in Malta, the tragic reality that migrants are forced to endure became clear to me. Newly arrived migrants are transferred to a detention center where, as well as being recorded, they undergo interrogations and medical checks for up to 18 months. After this, those considered suitable are moved to the so-called welcome centers. Here, migrants are checked by the authorities and access is only allowed with a permit. Life is monotonous. It is very difficult to create any alternatives on a small island like Malta, where there is no real integration program. Further, according to European legislation such as Dublin II, these young people cannot leave the island, so they find themselves stuck in what seems, in the end, like a big prison.”

Sebastian Meyer January 23, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Iraq, Kurdistan.
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Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers carry the coffin of an unknown Kurd who had been exhumed
from a mass grave. Erbil, Iraq 2008

Sebastian Meyer (b. 1980, United States) started working as a photographer in his home town of New York in 2004. Later that year, he moved to the UK and worked in Manchester and London till 2009 when he relocated to Northern Iraq where he helped set up Metrography, the first Iraqi photo agency. Sebastian’s work has been published by Time Magazine, Sunday Times Magazine, FT Magazine, Monocle, and other international publications. He’s also made films for National Geographic, Channel 4 News, The Guardian, and PBS. His awards include 1st Place at the Exposure Awards as well as being included in the Magenta Emerging Photographer Flash Forward Exhibition.

About the Photograph:

“I first went to Iraqi Kurdistan in 2008 on assignment for a British film company that was making a series of documentaries about the 1988 Anfal campaign during which Saddam Hussein killed thousands of Iraqi Kurds. My job was to take stills that would eventually be cut into the films and later would be used in a Kurdish history and culture museum which the Kurdish government was building in the capital, Erbil. For six weeks I traveled around the region visiting different villages and meeting and photographing survivors of Anfal.”

“I took this photograph at the Erbil airport during a “repatriation” ceremony. About 50 bodies had been exhumed from a mass grave in southern Iraq and taken back up north for reburial. On that rainy day, each of the 50 bodies had been placed in separate coffins which were then individually wrapped in Kurdish flags. One by one, four Peshmerga (Kurdish soldiers) carried the coffins onto the tarmac and laid them out in rows. In the background, the president (in the grey coat and red turban) and prime minister (tall with a blue mackintosh and mustache) stood shoulder to shoulder with families of the missing. A year later I moved to Iraqi Kurdistan where I’ve been living on and off ever since. Easily the most fascinating aspect of the region is its impassioned historical drive to create its unique identity of Kurdistan. But what makes up that identity is extremely complex. Part of it is geography. Part of it is artistic culture such as music, dancing, and poetry. But part of it is also victimhood. This photograph is part of project that looks at the creation of a modern Iraqi Kurdish identity where wealth, independence, and youth clash with poverty, victimhood, and tradition.”

Linda Forsell January 20, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Rockaway, New York 2012

Linda Forsell (b.1982, Sweden) is based in New York. Her project Cause of Death (with Kerstin Weig and Karin Alfredsson) documenting violence against women was awarded special recognition in the Swedish Picture of the Year. Life’s a blast, from Israel and Palestine, became a book in 2012, at the same time as it was exhibited in Stockholm, Sweden. The series was one of the finalists of Magnum Expression Award in 2010 and was shown at the Noorderlicht photo festival in 2009. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, la Repubblica and most major Scandinavian publications. Linda has received recognition from the Swedish Arts Foundation, the Lead Awards, Flash Magenta Award and a nomination in Magnum Emergency Fund. She is a member of Kontinent and IBL photo agencies.

About the Photograph:

“This photo is from the small community Roxbury on the Rockaway Peninsula just one day after hurricane Sandy hit. The area was one of the worst hit regions and every single house had water flooding their basements and reaching above the first floor. Many were hit even worse, their homes being swept away by the water that rose and crossed over the entire peninsula from the Atlantic side to the bay side. The rare few who defied the evacuation order during the storm tell stories of swimming or surfing from their homes to the nearest safe spot.

Ted Feimer is part of the heart of Roxbury. On this day, he returned for the first time to see the devastation after the hurricane with his own eyes. There was a pressing air of sadness and uncertainty about the future lying like a blanket over the entire neighborhood. Ted did his best to turn his sadness into energy and was determined to fight for the reconstruction of his home. He walked around trying to begin by consoling his friends. In this picture he met one of his neighbors wandering across the beach trying to grasp the magnitude of what happened and without saying a word they just hugged.”

Jonathan Browning January 16, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in China.
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Tiananmen Square, Beijing 2013

Jonathan Browning (b.1983, England) earned a degree in Photojournalism from the University of South Wales in 2005. Two years later Jonathan went to China on an adventure and he has remained there ever since. He freelances for several clients including: Der Spiegel, Foreign Policy Magazine, The Australian, Financial Times and Harvard University. His work has been exhibited at the Host Gallery FOTO8 Summer show, London, Artisty Gallery, Shanghai and the AM Gallery, Brighton. Jonathan is based in Shanghai and  travels frequently throughout China documenting the massive social changes and economic growth the country has experienced during the last ten years.

About the Photograph:

“This image was shot for a story about pollution in China for Der Spiegel. It  was for the opener and I had been tasked with getting something a bit more original than just traffic jams and smog on Beijing’s ring roads. This was my second visit to the square at dawn, the previous day not resulting in a stand-out scene. For me, the daily flag raising ceremony is one of the must see’s in Beijing. It’s held at Tiananmen Square at daybreak and coupled with thick smog and the flood of red light from the large LED screens it makes for a dark and authoritarian space. I was lucky that all of the children and adults in the image wearing face masks. The assignment was in early 2013 when China suffered from particularly bad air pollution, especially in the capital where the levels of PM 2.5 were between 400 – 800. According to the World Health Organization, anything above 300 is considered hazardous.”

Erin Brethauer January 13, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Ginny and Claxton, from the series Autism Camp. Black Mountain, North Carolina 2012

Erin Brethauer (b. 1983, United States) is a staff photographer turned multimedia editor at the Asheville Citizen-Times, a daily newspaper in North Carolina where she has been working since 2007. Originally from Milwaukee, WI, she graduated in 2005 with an English degree from Marquette University and photography minor from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.  Since then she has interned with the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram (WI), The Morning News (SC), the Milwaukee Art Museum and has worked with the Associated Press. She was the president of the North Carolina Press Photographers Association from 2011 until February of 2013. Her personal project about Camp Lakey Gap, a camp for people with autism, has been awarded by the Magenta Foundation, FotoVisura, the North Carolina Press Photographers Association and the Asheville Area Arts Council.

About the Photograph:

“Camp Lakey Gap is a residential summer camp for people with autism located in Western North Carolina. I first went there for a newspaper assignment in 2008 and have returned nearly every summer to document the people and try to visualize the different ways these people communicate. When I learned that the Autism Society of North Carolina estimates that 1 out of 88 children born today have some form of Autism Spectrum Disorder, I thought the story was especially relevant. In North Carolina they think the average is more like 1 out of 70 children.”

“This is an image of Ginny sharing a moment with her camper Claxton. She’s trying to coax him out of the pool at the end of the day. I think this picture helps challenge the perception that people with autism don’t make emotional connections with people. Ginny had a great fondness for Claxton and was very perceptive to the ways he communicated with her through facial and body language. They grew very close over their week together, forming a deep bond that was mostly nonverbal. It’s often the fleeting moments like this that the counselors cherish. Here they’re looking into each others eyes which, for Claxton, was a sign of trust.”

Michael Tsegaye January 9, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Ethiopia.
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Farmland outside of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 2011

Michael Tsegaye (b. 1975, Ethiopia) graduated from the School of Fine Arts and Design in Addis Ababa, and subsequently found his passion in photography. He has worked with international publications such as Der Spiegel, Jeune Afrique, and enorm; as well as the press agencies Bloomberg and  Reuters. Michael has exhibited in various galleries in New York, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Morocco, Canada, Amsterdam, Mali, Miami, and Sao Paulo. His work can be found in a number of international magazines and various including Snap Judgments: New Directions in African Photography, edited by Okwui Enwezor, and published by the International Center for Photography in New York City in 2007.

About the Photograph:

“This photo was taken from a low-flying plane just outside Addis Ababa—I was on my way to the eastern border of Ethiopia for an assignment. The backbone of the Ethiopian economy is agriculture, and for centuries this has meant the rural landscape is made up of small farms of one or two hectares, planted with a diversity of crops at any given point of the year. In recent years, the Ethiopian government has aggressively introduced programs to transform Ethiopian agriculture into large-scale commercial farming enterprises. These small farms are going to disappear soon.”

Olaf Schuelke January 6, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in North Korea.
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Commuters in Pyongyang Metro. North Korea 2012

Olaf Schuelke (b.1968, Germany) graduated from The University of Stuttgart with a Master’s degree in Architecture and Urban Design and worked as an architect in Germany and Ireland before completely turning to photography in 2011. Olaf has traveled extensively over the past 20 years and focuses on self-driven documentary projects and street photography around Asia. His work has been published in Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Der Tagesspiegel, Berliner Zeitung, Stern, Discovery Channel Magazine, La Vanguardia Magazine and CNN. His images are currently distributed by Sueddeutsche Zeitung Photo. He is currently based in Singapore.

About the Photograph:

This photo is from my project about daily life in North Korea. It’s of local North Korean commuters inside a Pyongyang Metro on an early weekday morning. The subway trains were purchased from Berlin in the late nineties and now run on the two lines that make up the Pyongyang metro system 100 meters below the city. Inside each compartment small frames holding the images of the former two North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are displayed. Western visitors are only allowed to ride the metro for a short number of stops at the most impressive stations. Despite the increasing number of foreigners that now come to visit the last Stalinist regime of North Korea one cannot move around freely and are always accompanied by minders. They constantly keep an eye on the visitors and any contact with local North Koreans is impossible. New destinations inside the isolated country are slowly emerging and more places that were previously off limits are now accessible. Public transport outside of Pyongyang does not exist apart from a very limited number of buses in other cities. The people shown in this image are privileged residents of Pyongyang. They live a much better life than the rest of the North Korean population.”

Marika Dee January 2, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Turkey.
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From the project “Deadly Jeans”. Istanbul 2012

Marika Dee (b.1972, Belgium) is a documentary photographer based in Brussels. She graduated with a law degree from the University of Leuven in Belgium. After years of working as a jurist specialized in international law, Marika recently started working as a freelance documentary photographer. Since then she has photographed in Kosovo, Romania, Turkey, Belgium and Italy. Her images have been published in De Volkskrant, dS Weekblad, LeVif/L’express and Arbetaren among others. Her work has received recognition from UNICEF POY and International Photography Awards.

About the Photograph:

“The photograph is part of the series called “Deadly Jeans” on the human cost of sandblasting in the jeans industry in Turkey, one of the world’s biggest exporters of jeans. Before being diagnosed with silicosis, an incurable and often deadly pulmonary disease, Mehmet sandblasted jeans in workshops in Istanbul. He ives with his extended family in the working class neighborhood of Gaziosmanpaşa in Istanbul. Like many who ended up working in the sandblasting industry in Istanbul, the family came from a poor region in eastern Turkey looking for work. Mehmet spends most of his days in bed, often in the company of his nephew Faruk. He suffers from a severe shortness of breath and oxygen therapy facilitates his breathing. Since being diagnosed with silicosis seven years ago, Mehmet’s medical condition has steadily deteriorated.”

“The sandblasting technique is used to give jeans a worn look. Workers use compressors to blow under high pressure sand at jeans. In Turkey the practice was widespread until banned in 2009 when doctors diagnosed silicosis in former textile workers. Although the danger of silicosis has been known for a long time, especially in the mining industry, Turkey was the first country where textile workers were diagnosed with the disease. Until now approximately 60 persons have died and about 1200 have been diagnosed with silicosis. But medical experts fear that more than 5,000 persons are affected in Turkey.”

Marco Kesseler December 19, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Albania.
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On the walls of Krujë, Albania 2012

Marco Kesseler (b. 1989, England) is a young documentary photographer with a focus on long term, in depth studies relating to social and political issues most recently in The Balkans and the Middle East. Marco graduated in 2012 with a First Class Honours Degree in (BA) Press & Editorial Photography from Falmouth University . Since completing his degree Marco has been the 2013 recipient of The IdeasTap Photographic Award for work documenting life under the dictatorship in Belarus. In 2012 he exhibited work at The National Portrait Gallery, London, and the New York Photo Festival, which followed his project about the ongoing blood feuds of Albania.

About the Photograph:

“I had been living in Albania for a couple of months working on a story about the traditional laws of blood feuds, which allows the revenge of blood in a like for like manner. Part of the tradition states that people cannot be killed on their own land, I had been living in hiding with a number of families in the mountains and during my stay I watched each day repeat itself – the men could not leave their compound or work so would spend hours at a time sitting and reflecting on their lives. A couple of days before leaving the country I traveled up to the fort town of Krujë, which has been a site of resistance throughout history. This man who stood on part of the walls whilst airing the carpets of a local church. He seemed pensive, looking out across the seemingly peaceful valley stretching below us. I stayed for a few minutes watching, then took a couple of frames. The whole time the man looked out and didn’t say a word.”

Editor’s Note: It’s hard to believe that we are nearing the sixth year anniversary of Verve Photo. Since 2008 I have showcased the work of over 800 photographers. It’s important to emphasize that the images posted here are not isolated photographs. If you click on any of the photographers’ links, I guarantee that you will be inspired by the vision and the variety in each one’s considerable body of work. Marco Kesseler, a young British photographer is proof of that. What a joy to explore the images on his site. In this age of smart phones and non-stop social media activity it’s been my intention to showcase photography that causes the viewer to slow down and reflect for more than a few seconds. Happy Holidays to all. We will resume posting the first week of January 2014.

Julia Cybularz December 16, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Christmas, Philadelphia, 2012

Julia Cybularz (b. 1978, United States) earned her MFA from The School of Visual Arts and holds a B.S. in Photography from Drexel University. Her photography and video work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. In 2007, Julia was the recipient of an Aaron Siskind Memorial grant as well as The School of Visual Arts’ alumni grant. Julia studied under notable photographers Mary Ellen Mark, Andrew Moore and Tina Barney. Her work has been featured in American Photo, on the HBO series “How to Make it in America”, PDN and on Lens Culture. Most recently, she has been selected as a finalist for the Hasselblad Masters, Fotovisura grant, Critical Mass competition and Magenta Flash Forward. She was also presented with the Griffin Award for her series “Breaking the Girl”.

About the Photography:

“This photograph is part of an on-going series titled “The Mathematician” which focuses on my cousin Slawek, a Polish émigré, who is developmentally delayed and has lived with schizophrenia for over twenty years. I made this image of Slawek playing monopoly with his niece during the Christmas holidays. Games, especially children’s games, that involve some form of math, are one of Slawek’s favorite activities and obsessions. The use of photography in this series explores how relationships can be challenged and strengthened through everyday dealings with this sickness. Instead of being singularly explanative, the photographs provide glimpses and fragments, which add up to a collective narrative. One of the focal points of the project is to provide a portrait of Slawek and his relationship to his closely knit family. Children play an important role in Slawek’s life. Children are his playmates and closest confidants. They go on incredible journeys together, sometimes real and other times imagined.”

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