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Sean Davey May 12, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Papua New Guinea.
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Bride Price ceremony in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea 2010

Sean Davey (b.1979, Australia) studied photography throughout high school, where he developed a keen interest in documentary photography. From 2000-03 Sean worked as a newspaper photographer with Fairfax Media in Sydney, after which he spent a year in Europe and America photographing solely for himself. During this time Sean made the pictures that would become his recently self-published book Dog Food & Oysters (2013). Since 2005 Sean has been working in Papua New Guinea, where he has collaborated on, and taught art education workshops to residents in Port Moresby. Sean’s photographs are centered around his own personal experiences; small stories that co-exist as chapters in his continuing exploration of the medium. In 2011 Sean opened The Photography Room, a gallery that promotes and represents selected contemporary photographers in Australia. Sean balances his time teaching, photographing on commission and pursuing his own practice.

About the Photograph:

“My photography in Papua New Guinea is mostly focused on time spent there with my friends. I have made 15 trips to PNG since 2005 and every time I go, my work gets closer, more representative and more honest to my own personal experiences of being there. This photograph was made in Port Moresby during a Bride Price ceremony. When a couple are to be married in PNG, the groom and his family must make a big celebration for the family of his bride. It is very customary to have a Bride Price ceremony in contemporary Papua New Guinean society, and they are most often held in the family home. Extended family members of the groom dutifully bring gifts that are presented to the bride’s family. They are signs of how much she is valued as a new member of their family. The nature and value of the gifts also show the wealth of the groom’s family, which is assurance that the bride will be well looked after.

In this photo are my friends Jude, Sharon, Fiona and Kelly. We were all at Uncle E.K’s place as it was his daughter Elsie who was to be married. I photographed the party and the ceremonial presentation of gifts to Elsie’s family. There must have been over a hundred people in attendance. Most of the afternoon and evening was spent eating, drinking, dancing, telling stories and listening to music. The party went on well into the night. What I love about visiting PNG and photographing there is that it has really taught me to be patient and aware of what is right in front of me. There was nothing much of note happening when I made this photo. We were all simply hanging out together. Sharon is inspecting Kelly’s hair for lice, a common practice while Fiona looks directly at me. Jude can be seen in the bottom left corner of the photo, in mid conversation with her cousins.

I love that my photography from PNG comes from genuine moments of personal experience, moments that I spend with family and friends who I have very strong relationships with. I have no interest in photographing people in traditional costumes in far flung parts of PNG. Most of my work there centers in and around the capital Port Moresby.  I’m often  asked what parts of PNG I have traveled to, and the reaction is often one of surprise when I mention a few places but then say that I really only visit Port Moresby. I have never traveled anywhere in PNG without an invitation, and at the end of the day it wouldn’t bother me if I didn’t go any further than the capital. I am not out to show Papua New Guinea to anyone in my photos. The act of photographing is purely a personal instinctual one that has become part of who I am and how I experience the world. The biggest compliment I can get for my work is satisfaction from my friends when I give them pictures of themselves and their family on subsequent trips.”

Eric Lafforgue May 13, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Papua New Guinea.
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Singsing Festival, Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea 2007

Eric Lafforgue has always been fascinated by travel. When he was ten years old he spent time in Africa, unknowingly retracing Monfried and Joseph Kesselʼs footsteps in Djibouti, Ethiopia and Yemen. He started taking photographs in 2006 and in 2008, his work on the people of Papua was shown at VISA photojournalism festival in Perpignan. Since then his work has been published in: Time, National Geographic, New York Times, CNN Traveler, Discovery Channel BBC, and the Sunday times among others. Eric is represented by the French photo agency Rapho.

About the Photo:

“Once a year in Mount Hagen, in the highlands of Papua New Guinea tribes from all around the country come to show their culture and rituals. Dancing contests and ceremonial exchanges are the  highlight of these festivities, aimed to honor and renew the relationship with ancestors as well as maintaining each clan’s prestige. When decorating themselves, Papuan’s use everything they find in nature : grass, flowers, natural pigments, animal teeth and pig tusks. The headdress they wear is made by old wise men who keep the feathers like a treasure in old suitcases. Each feather is packed in a page of newspaper, to protect it from insects, and one by one, the man will build the headdress. It takes hours. They start at six in the morning and lasts into the night.”

Marc Dozier June 5, 2008

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Papua New Guinea.
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Fabien and Kapuela Preparing for Celebration. Papua New Guinea

34 year old French photojournalist Marc Dozier has been a photo reporter for ten years with the French travel magazine Grands Reportages. After studying literature in his hometown of Grenoble, Marc continued to study graphic arts in Paris and at an unlikely institution: the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby. Every year since 1996 Marc spends several months renewing friendships with his “Papuan brothers”. In 2003, Marc invited two Papua New Guinean friends Mudeya and Polobi on a grand tour of France. This hilarious account, a photographic journal “Le long-long voyage” was published in April 2007. The previous year, with the support of Bonne Pioche production house, Marc received his Papuan friends for a brand new adventure shot in a 100 minute documentary, called the “The Reverse Exploration” co-written by Jean-Marie Barrère. Marc plans to organize more photography trips to Papua New Guinea and eventually publish a book about that country.

About the Photograph:

“After ten days of being stuck in a small hut, sheltered from tropical storms, the sun finally came back. It was right on time for this special occasion that had me coming to this place. In July – only when harvests have been good – the Trobriand islands’ tribes of Papua New Guinea organize a big festival to celebrate nature and mankind’s fertility. For more than a century, missionaries have had a strong influence on their culture and converted the whole community to Christianity. They have been trying for decades to ban this famous celebration known as “Milamala” where young teenagers, of both sex, gather together with their parent’s approval. The first morning, everybody got very excited in the village Kanobasi. Inside the hut, Fabien Tolosi and Kapuela Botaya started to get their body decoration ready for “Wosi Mwaya”. During this traditional dance, boys try and seduce girls. Sitting next to the dancers, I started to shoot them when I noticed something odd hanging on the hut’s wall: a picture of Pope John-Paul ll (upper-right corner) who looked in disarray. I could not help but smile and think that traditions are still stronger than new religions.”

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