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Ian Martin July 20, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in South Africa.

Sonskynhoekie Care Centre. Guateng Province, South Africa 2007

Ian Martin (b. 1972, USA) is a photojournalist who predominantly works in black and white. He is a 2008 recipient of a Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography and his work has appeared in publications including Newsweek, The New Yorker and Rolling Stone. He is a former staff photographer for The Virginian-Pilot newspaper. Ian received the Getty Images grant to continue his project “Invisible People: Poor and White in the New South Africa,” a documentary he began in 2007. With the Getty Images funding, he spent over three months photographing in South Africa in the fall of 2008 and 2009. The resulting body of work was recognized as a finalist for the World Understanding Award in the Premiere Division of the 2010 Pictures of the Year International (POYi) competition.

About the Photograph:

“I took this picture at a poverty shelter north of Pretoria. I had just started out on this project a few weeks before and wasn’t aware that South Africa had poor white people. I needed a photo that acknowledged South Africa’s white-supremacist past. (The man on the right told me he believes white people and black people are equal. He says that he got his swastikas, three of them, after seeing a World War II movie in the 1970’s and liked the way they looked.) This photo feeds the stereotype that South Africa’s poor whites are bitter racists. Some certainly are. But as with all groups of human beings, assumptions fall apart under closer examination. After I took this picture, I worked to balance it with other pictures that show poor whites who are open-minded. On my most recent trip, I took a photo of a black woman cradling a white little boy while sitting with a white woman holding a black baby. The women were waiting in line at a soup kitchen.”