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Verve Photo Continues on September 5th August 22, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Burma, United States.
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Waiting for a ferry on a pedestrian bridge over the Yangon River. Burma 2011

Editor’s Note: I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off and resume posting on Sept 5th. During the past four and a half years Verve Photo has showcased the work of close to 700 photographers. It’s an amazing archive and resource for our online community as well as the photo editors and creative directors looking for talent. A number of photographers have received assignments or sold work as a result of being featured here. I just glanced at some of the past years posts and was bowled over by the quality and freshness of the images.

Besides my work here as editor of Verve Photo, I am on the road photographing for part of the year. Last winter I was teaching in Cambodia and then went back to Burma to cover the dramatic changes taking place there. With all that, I plan to expand Verve Photo in the coming months. Stay tuned.

Amy Helene Johansson August 17, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Bangladesh, Multimedia.
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Editor’s Note: When the Bombay Flying Club teamed up with Amy Helene Johansson to produce a video about the Garment Workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh I knew that it would be worth seeing. They consistently produce outstanding work, and so included here is an overview from Poul Madsen about their collaborative process. It is effective the way the video opens in the shopping district of Stockholm and then cuts to the girls walking along the railroad tracks on their way to work in the sewing factories. A Lost Revolution? is an excellent example of the power of multimedia storytelling.

Amy Helene Johansson (b. 1973, Sweden) studied film and theater theory before earning a BA in fashion design.  In 2006 she moved to Bangladesh to work for a multinational fashion company, and her interest for photography grew rapidly.  Amy’s work has been published in leading broadsheets and magazines in the UK and Sweden, including the Sunday Times UK, Dagens Nyheter and Sydsvenska Dagbladet. Her work has been awarded Asian Geographic Magazine ‘Faces of Asia Award’, the Foundry Emerging Photojournalist Award and the Swedish Picture Of the Year ‘Multimedia Category’ and been shortlisted for ELLE commission award and a National Geographic award. Her work has been displayed in solo and collaborative exhibitions in Bangladesh, the Czech Republic, Sweden and the UAE, as well as the National Portrait Gallery in London, UK. Amy is currently based in Sweden.

About the Project:

“For this project I had the opportunity to spend three months in the slums of Dhaka where the garment workers live, together with a researcher from the Swedish organization Swedwatch. Two women Shapla and Mahfuza bravely agreed  to share their stories for the film. After four years in the fashion industry in Bangladesh I thought I had a good picture of the situation, I saw factories improving day by day, and felt the situation was getting better. I did not realize just how far behind the situation was for these women when they leave the factory. The media and companies have been focusing on the factories but the real life of the workers has not been highlighted. I was appalled to see the situation.

“Filming in these areas in monsoon rain was among the most challenging work I have done, and I will never forget the women I met and who still are there. I particularly remember a woman, Popy, telling me she has to lock her son in a room during the days while she works and her fear that if a fire would break out he could get burned alive.”

Comments from Poul Madsen, producer at Bombay Flying Club on the process of making “A Lost Revolution?”

“Amy approached us in early spring 2011 about her project in Bangladesh and we decided to collaborate with her on the story. We knew Amy beforehand as she had been one of our workshop participants at the Danish School of Media and Journalism in the Fall of of 2010. For about three months we Skyped and corresponded about her project. Amy would call me up when she had found new possible characters or when she had visited the various slums of Dhaka. Basically I tried to coach her during the entire process and I also provide technical advice along the way. We were looking for characters who would have strong personal stories and who would fit some of the criteria s and keywords that had been setup for the project. Themes and concepts such access to sanitation, domestic violence, family and children.

“In August 2011 we met for a week in Denmark. The idea was basically to storyboard the story, come up with a script and do a rough edit. She brought us complete interview transcripts from the two characters she had selected along with a storyboard idea and a hard drive containing all her raw material. We spent a whole day going through the interviews, sorting quotes out and editing the storyboard. We used a scissor, some tape and a whiteboard for this. Then we started to throw stuff down on the timeline. Gradually the story took shape. After a week we had a complete rough and Amy brought it back to the Swedwatch headquarters in Stockholm. After a few months they decided to re-edit a few things and to use another speaker for the story. Our job was basically to coach Amy, help her set up a storyboard and cut a complete rough edit.”

Arnhel de Serra August 15, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in England.
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Lubavitch Family on the Night Before Passover. London 2006

Arnhel de Serra (b. 1964, England) studied photography under David Hurn at Gwent College, Newport, South Wales. Initially starting out as a portrait photographer his focus soon changed to a reportage based approach. His clients include: The Sunday Times, Stern Magazine, The Independent Magazine, Saatchi and Saatchi, BP, and The National Trust among others. Arnhel’s work was shown at the London Festival of Photography in 2012 as part of the exhibition The Great British Public. He is represented by Blunt Management and resides in London.

About the Photograph:

“This image is taken from a commissioned series entitled “Identities”, shot for The Jewish Museum in London in 2006 to mark the 350th anniversary of Jewish Life in Britain. It was taken on the evening before the Jewish holiday of Pesach or Passover, at the Kesticher’s, a Lubavitch family living in Stamford Hill. Hametz, or leavening, is made from one of five types of grain added to water and left to stand for more than eighteen minutes. During Pesach it is forbidden to consume or to have any leavened products in one’s home, and in many traditional households a search is made the night before following days of meticulous cleaning.”

It is customary to conduct the search by candlelight using a feather and a spoon; by candlelight to illuminate the corners without casting a shadow; the feather dusts crumbs out of any corners and the wooden spoon is used to collect crumbs which are burned with the Hametz the following day. The Kesticher’s went as far as cleaning the inside of the taps on the kitchen sink with a blow torch. Mr. Kesticher is searching in one of his son’s room for the ten pieces of Hametz that his children have hidden throughout the house. His younger son can be seen holding the feather and the spoon, and the Hametz is hidden in the small pack of kitchen foil attached to the top of the symbol. As for Tony Blair, well who knows?”

Andy Richter August 13, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Brazil.
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The Oro Win. Amazonas, Brazil 2010

Andy Richter (b. 1977, USA) is a photographer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His clients include Time, National Geographic Traveler, UNICEF, Outside, AARP and The Times of India, among others. His work is represented by Aurora Photos. Created in the Amazon Basin, his photographs with the Oro Win tribe, led to a solo exhibition organized by the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as well as a feature in Ode Magazine. At home, he spent countless hours with his grandmother, who recently passed away at the age of 93. This time together resulted in a personal project called “Louise and I” about their wonderful friendship in the last years of her life. Andy looked at the topics of health, self-worth, personal transformation, and body image in his project about Childhood Obesity that went on to be published in Time Magazine.

About the Photograph:

“Living deep in the Amazon Basin of Brazil, the Oro Win are an indigenous tribe on the cusp of change. Six native speakers of their traditional language remain while the next generation speaks only Portuguese. As the words of their ancestors fade away, so does much of the culture and knowledge embodied in them. The tribe consists of 16 or so households, perhaps 70 people, spread around São Luís Indian Post on the bank of the Pacaas Novos River. Josh Birchall, a linguist and Fulbright scholar who studies the Oro Win language hopes to record and document as much as possible before it’s too late.” (more…)

Fabio Bucciarelli August 10, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Libya.
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Sirte, Libya 2011

Fabio Bucciarelli (b.1980, Italy) received a MS in Engineering in 2006 from the Politecnico of Turin. He also attended the Universidad Politecnica of Valencia, where he specialized in digital imaging. From 2009 he devoted himself entirely to photography and started working as staff photographer for the agency La Presse/AP. Fabio has won several international awards and his work has been published in Stern, The Times, The Telegraph, Vanity Fair, Internazionale, La Repubblica, Le Monde, L’Espresso among others. He recently wrote the book ‘The Smell of the War’ about the Libyan conflict. He feels an urgency to tell the story of people who are rendered powerless and to provide unbiased information focused on human rights. Fabio is represented by LUZ photo Agency.

About the Photograph:

“In 2011, I spent three months in Libya covering the war. From the beginning, before the NATO actions, passing from the fall of Tripoli, until its end, when Gaddafi was captured and killed in Sirte. During the final siege of Sirte, a few days after covering the fighting, I came back from the front line and was searching for something to photograph that would help explain the spirit of the Libyan conflict. An image that was different from the thousands of others depicting the cruelty and inhumanity of war. A few hundred meters from the fire I saw a revolutionary soldier wearing a military hat similar to those worn by Gaddafi’s military looking at the horizon while sitting on a rocket mounted on a pickup in the desert near Sirte. The pride in his expression was iconic, telling of the weariness of war and the deep hope for a change. A freedom denied for so many years.”

Sofie Amalie Klougart August 8, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Kenya.
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Bamburi Beach, Mombasa Kenya 2010

Sofie Amalie Klougart (b. 1987, Denmark) works as a freelance photographer in Copenhagen. In 2010 she went to Kenya working for a humanitarian organization and the Danish paper Dagbladet Information covering child prostitution and female sex tourism. In 2011 she won the first prize at the Danish POY for best domestic reportage about The Danish Peoples Party, a group who proposed stopping all non-western emigration to Denmark. In 2012 she was chosen to participate in the Joop Swart Masterclass organized by World Press Photo. Sofie is currently studying at the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Århus.

About the Photograph:

“In Mombasa, Kenya, there is a market for female sex tourism. Along the beach frontier, Kenyan men offer themselves to passing women. The meetings between local men and foreign women often spawn romantic feelings for the women that go beyond the act of sex. This phenomenon is known as romance tourism. I met Frank at Bamburi Beach where he was walking by the shore. He is 35 years old and lived from selling shoes and from the money he got from staying with western women. His English was poor but his message was clear. Frank was quite aware of his looks, so when I asked to photograph him he posed without giving it a second thought. As I walked away he went back into the water waiting for other women to pass. I had come to Kenya to portray the women, but I kept returning to this photograph because it crystallizes what the women fall for: sun, sand and sex. A  simpler life I suppose”

Trevor Snapp August 6, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Mexico.
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Sante Muerte Celebration. Mexico City 2009

Trevor Snapp (b.1980, United States) is committed to long term projects and experimentation in his work. He has been photographing in East Africa, focusing on South Sudan since 2009. His photographs have been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, Time, National Geographic Traveler, BBC, and Stern. With a degree in Anthropology and African Studies his photo stories strive to explain and explore the deeper issues behind the headlines. He has devoted much of the last three years covering the birth of South Sudan and the regional repercussions. Along with the journalist Alan Boswell, he is partnering with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting to produce an iPad book called Milk and Blood: The Making of South Sudan. His photos were exhibited at the Lumix Young Photojournalism festival in Germany in June 2012. Trevor is represented by Corbis

About the Photograph:

“This photo is from an ongoing story about a monthly gathering in Tipito that attracts devotees from across the city. Tipito is an infamously violent market neighborhood in the center of Mexico city. During the celebration of Santa Muerte the streets are peaceful as people gather to bless each others statues. They trade trinkets and candy, cigar smoke and perfumes sprays before returning home to their daily lives. Sante Muerte is a rapidly growing cult in Mexico. Devotees worship statues of Sante Muerte (translated as Holy Death or Saint Death). The Saint is a religious figure combining traditional Mexican day of the dead celebrations with Catholic saints and pop culture ideas of death, particularly horror films.”

“Once only criminals and prostitutes worshiped the saint, but it is expanding among the disenfranchised poor of Mexico. The rampant drug violence has only fueled the growth as people turn to Santa Muerte for love, protection and luck. Many people pray to this figure for miracles. Santa Muerte is especially popular among young people who don’t feel connected to the traditions of the church, but continue to desire a spiritual life. Santa Muerta is also an important Saint for the violent narco culture. The rapid growth of the cult is challenging the Catholic powers that have long ruled this country. What is so interesting about the event is that it changes every month as the devotees literally make up a religion. One month everyone is giving each other apples, the next month, people will gather to serenade Saint Death with a Mariachi band. I plan to continue following this story for several years documenting this uniquely organic religion that captures many of the largest issues that Mexico is dealing with toda.”

Mathieu Asselin August 3, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Venezuela.
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La Puerta de Caracas, Venezuela 2009

Mathieu Asselin (b.1973, France) began working with the acknowledged film director Alfredo Anzola at the age of 16 in Venezuela. Five years later he moved to Europe and joined the French photo agency L’ Oeil du Sud. In 2005, Mathieu relocated to New York City and established himself as a commercial photographer. His pictures have been published in various international corporate and editorial magazines, as well as in advertising campaigns. His publication credits include: The New Yorker , GEO Germany, Paris Match, Le Monde among others. His exhibitions and awards include: Grand Prize One Life Photography Award, Hacienda la Trinidad Gallery, Caracas, Venezuela and the Sony World Photography Awards.

About the Photograph:

“Thanks to my fixer, I was at the right place and had complete freedom to explore the area. I was looking forward to a long day of shooting in this poor neighborhood but couldn’t find the picture I had in mind. I felt like I was missing an opportunity. This photo happened at the last moment. I was about to leave feeling  discouraged, thinking to myself that I had missed my chance. Suddenly this guy appeared on a horse. Everything immediately made sense: the clash of a modern city and the rural area mixed at the same place. I believe this picture explains the history of these Favelas- the poor from the countryside migrating and adapting to the modern city. It reminds me the paintings of the Venezuelan independence battles in the schoolbooks I grew up with. To me it almost feels like a biblical image, transforming into an icon the everyday Venezuelan.”

Jed Conklin August 1, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Iraq.
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Camp Mittica, Nasiriyah, Iraq 2008

Jed Conklin (b.1977, United States) began pursuing photography while studying at Western Kentucky University where he received a bachelor degree in both photojournalism and print journalism. His first photography job landed him in Pinedale, Wyoming where he was an intern at the Pinedale Roundup. He later interned at the Concord Monitor, the Jackson Hole News and Guide and would be hired full time at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington. In 2007 Jed  started freelancing. He has since worked on projects in Mexico, Morocco, Paris, Italy, Monaco, China, Iraq, Canada and the United States.

About the Photograph:

“Mahdi Fadil kisses his son Husain Mahdi, six, after the child underwent a cleft lip surgery by an Italian team with Smile Train at Camp Mittica near Nasiriyah, Iraq. The blast-wall-surrounded camp near the city of Nasiriyah in Dhi Qar Province once served as an Italian military base. Now, it houses a mobile hospital and a series of trailers with hospital beds, laboratories, meeting rooms, and classrooms. The visit by Smile Train was the group’s second time at Camp Mittica. On its first visit six months before Iraqis were apprehensive and no girls were brought in for medical care, says Francesca Pacelli, clinical coordinator for the nonprofit group. This time, some 300 girls and boys from across southern Iraq showed up.”

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