This image from Sudan (used here with the photographer’s permission), which portrays a soldier of the northern regime’s army, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), dead, immersed in oil next to a leaking petroleum facility in Heglig, was taken by Magnum Photos member Dominic Nahr for TIME. The magazine ran it double truck end of April to open Alex Perry’s article titled Sudan’s Spiral Back to War. When Mikko and I saw it, we agreed it was one of the most visually and contextually striking images we’d seen in weeks – and so, it made sense for us to select it to kickstart our new monthly showcase.
Writing for TIME, Dominic explained how he came to photograph this dead soldier. “In Heglig, days before it was retaken by the northern army, I wandered over to the nearby oil installations hoping to capture photos of the destruction. There were bodies of dead northern soldiers all over the place. As I got closer to the pipeline I saw a corpse lying in a thick slick of oil, glistening in the sun. The soldier’s head was resting on his arms and I couldn’t see any injuries: it looked like he was sleeping.” Read more about it on the TIME Lightbox website.
We’ve asked Dominic to share with Photojournalism Links his personal feelings about the image. He had this to say: “When I see civilians that have been killed, my body aches, knowing that something horrible has happened. With soldiers it is slightly different. I had been photographing more than a dozen bodies that day, most of which were torn to pieces. You go into work mode, I remember I was photographing this body that almost didn’t look real, I framed it in a very direct way. When I got back to look at it I was shocked to see that I thought that would be an ok picture to have published or shown. It was very far from being useable. When I saw the body in the oil, i really thought the soldier looked like he was sleeping, so in a way it was a lot more calming than the other situations I had documented that day. It felt like for the moment I was there, time stopped.”
As part of Photojournalism Links’s relaunch, we’re introducing new and regular columns, with the goal of exploring further the inner-workings of the photojournalism community. One such column is dedicated to Photo Editors. Far from being a Hall of Fame-type of chronicle, it’s a way for us to introduce photo editors that are using photography in intelligent and creative ways. We’re also mindful that a lot of our readers are students and emerging photographers, who might not always know how photo editors work and how, and when, they can be approached. Hopefully, this column will help them, while informing others about the work of particular photo editors.
This month, we’re starting with Emma Bowkett, the photo editor for the Financial Times Weekend Magazine.
Photojournalism Links: How did you get started in photography? How did you end up being a photo editor for Financial Times?
Emma Bowkett: Graduating from Goldsmiths College in 2005 with an MA in Image and Communication, I took an internship at the Victoria & Albert Museum, archiving prints for their Word and Image department. Then I worked for two years as first assistant to an advertising photographer, before teaching on the degree course at Goldsmiths. This was a term-time position, so I started freelance picture editing at the Financial Times. I developed a good working relationship with the art director on the FT Weekend Magazine. She kept asking me back.
Photojournalism Links: How do you use photography for the FT Weekend Magazine?
Emma Bowkett: We re-launched the magazine in 2010 with greater emphasis on photography. Most of the photography in the magazine is commissioned. We are a weekly publication with a short lead-time. Stories are often timed to events and news stories, so we are able to commission photographers to work on assignments, as well as publishing photo essays, previews of photo exhibitions and books. I work closely with the AD’s, photographers and agents to produce concepts. Ideas are pitched to my editor, and usually run over six or eight pages. We are encouraged to be ambitious with both images and design.
Photojournalism Links: What are you looking for in the photographers that you use? What attracts you to a certain photographer over another?
Emma Bowkett: I’m looking for photographers with a sense of authorship to their work. I see a lot of folios, sometimes there’s just a special something that attracts me.
Photojournalism Links: Do you mostly use to local photographers for international assignments? Are there cases, when you would send someone abroad?
Emma Bowkett: Much of the photography I commission is international. I usually work with photographers on the ground. That said, there are circumstances where we fly someone in, if we are looking for a specific style [we’ll] use a specific photographer.
Photojournalism Links: How do you discover new photographers?
Emma Bowkett: Galleries, social media sites, magazines, blogs, agents, recommendations. I try to see two photographers’ books a week because I like talking to photographers about their personal projects face to face when I can. Attending private views, talks, and events are a good way to meet new photographers and build relationships.
Photojournalism Links: Are there one or several photographers that have impressed you in the past year? And why?
Emma Bowkett: I am continually impressed by photography. There are several photographers I could mention; many are regular contributors to the magazine. I’d like to mention Stan Douglas, who I recently discovered, and is this year’s recipient of ICP’s Infinity Award for Art. He recently exhibited in London and in New York. We ran his series, Midcentury Studio, in the magazine. I was lucky enough to see both shows. I’m interested in his concept of taking on the identity of a photojournalist, constructing scenes and narratives, challenging fact and fiction. I really love his work.
Photojournalism Links: What is the last photo book that you’ve bought?
Emma Bowkett: I have just bought WassinkLundgren’s Empty Bottles and Carleton Watkins: The Complete Mammoth Photographs.
Photojournalism Links: If you could hire any photographer, who would it be?
Emma Bowkett: I was just in contact with Sølve Sundsbø’s agent about a possible cover shoot. It didn’t work out, but I’d still like to work with him. I have a wish list of photographers. The best thing about my job is working with photographers I admire.
Photojournalism Links: What are your hobbies outside of photography?
Emma Bowkett: I go to the movies as much as I can. I cycle and go the gym.
Photojournalism Links: How can photographers reach you?
Emma Bowkett: Email, Twitter or Facebook. The same way I find them.
Ed Ou on the front page of the International Herald Tribune (Europe edition) today with a photo from the village of Tannourine in Lebanon for an article about Iran trying to increase its influence over the country. Iran has for instance offered to build a dam in Tannourine, an idea that hasn’t pleased everybody in the solidly Christian village. You can read the article here. Obvious symbolism with the cross on the foreground, but I think it really works, making a photo of an otherwise seemingly unremarkable scene interesting. Certainly caught and pleased my eyes.
Caption in the newspaper: Tannourine, Lebanon, site of a proposed dam to be built with Iranian money. Many residents of the mainly Christian area are wary of Tehran’s effort to widen its influence in the country.
Received National Geographic Magazine’s June issue in the mail this morning. Includes David Alan Harvey’s brilliant series ‘OBX’ on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, that I was admiring already in last week’s Features and Essays. Great to see this in print. The online series is available on NGM Feature Hub here, but do check out the print copy. Always better.
Caption in the magazine: “Do you need a fish that bad?” I shouted at this boy as he repeatedly cast a line into the heaving sea. “Do you need a photo that bad?” he shouted back. We ended up agreeing that we were both a little crazy for being out on the Nags Head during a nor ‘easter.
In celebration of the Egypt’s first free presidential elections, today’s tearsheet is a Moises Saman double spread from Cairo in the latest Newsweek Int’l dated 28 May 2012. The photo opens Dan Ephron’s article ‘The Irresistible Islamist’.
Caption in the magazine: Egyptians go to the polls this week.
You can see the photo also in a slideshow on Newsweek here.
Moises Saman is currently covering the presidential elections for The New York Times. A slideshow, ‘Egypt’s Choice’, was posted on NYT website two days ago.
His November 2011 series ‘Cairo Undone’ on the New York Times, narrated by the late Anthony Shadid is really worth having a look if you haven’t seen it before.
Marco Grob has the Time cover and a double spread inside with photos of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The cover itself is rather uninspiring black and white head shot (you can see it here), but I really liked Grob’s double spread photo opening the Richard Stengel piece, ‘Bibi’s Choice’, showing Netanyahu on the backseat of a black limo only lit by some of Grob’s strobes, in a scene that – to me – portrays him, even with that expressionless face, as a somewhat shady character or some kind of a dark force (of Middle East politics). I might of course be reading some of my own not-so-positive views on the prime minister into the photograph. I wonder what Michael Shaw would think? Anyway, you’ll have to make up your own mind. But I’m sure you’ll agree… It’s a terrific image.
Marco Grob (b.1965, Switzerland) is a well-known portrait photographer. He is a regular contributor to Time as one of the magazine’s seven contract photographers. One of Grob’s recent notable series for the magazine was the Beyond 9/11: Portraits for Resilience project.
Mikko writing here. Was browsing through Saturday’s Telegraph Magazine at a coffee shop this afternoon. Found this Lorenzo Meloni photograph of militiamen patrolling streets in Benghazi, arresting. Opens ‘Tug of War’, an article by Peter Oborne and Richard Cookson on parts of Libya being at the mercy of rival militias.
Caption in the magazine: Militiamen patrolling the streets of Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city. In March, tribal leaders unilaterally declared the formation of a new state in the oil-rich east of the country with its own parliament, police, and courts. Benghazi would be its capital.
Meloni’s name didn’t ring a bell, but having look at his work now, I do remember seeing The Streets of Yemen At Night feature that was posted on Lightbox last year.