Tuesday, 29 April 2008

The commitment

Photojournalist John D McHugh grimaces in pain as a medic examines and dresses his gunshot wound at Kamu Outpost in Nuristan, in north-east Afghanistan, 14 May 2007. The photographer was shot through the stomach during a firefight between the US and Afghan National Army (ANA), who he was embedded with, and insurgents. 17 ANA died, one is still recorded as "missing in action", and 4 more were wounded. 7 US soldiers were also wounded in the fight. Photo: John D McHugh

I've talked a bit about war photography here before and when it comes to photojournalism it is seen as the ultimate assignment, mainly because you put your own life at risk simply to report on a story, so I always find it both alluring but also completely frightening - why work in a situation that can kill you at any moment? The money is more or less the same, the risks are extreme and you dont see your loved ones for long periods.

Irish photographer John D McHugh was on assignment in Afghanistan for AFP last year when he had his stomach blown out in a scary firefight with insurgents. I think that for most people, just surviving would have been enough to stay away from those kind of missions in the future.

Not so for our John. After surgery and rehabilitation he resigned from his agency and went back to Afghanistan as a freelancer - i.e. without any employer backing him - as soon as he could. Of the few war correspondents that I've met, they all seem to have this streak in them, to get back up in the saddle ASAP.

His commitment has finally brought him an employer willing to pay for his great desire to report from this extremely dangerous situation; check out his new regular page on The Guardian's website here, but most of all, read his extraordinary account of the day he got shot here. Makes you think twice before romanticizing war photography.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Two years later

Fallujah - Iraqi insurgents fire a mortar and small arms during the U.S.-led offensive against insurgents in the city.
Photo: Bilal Hussein/AP

On 16 April, 2008, AP photographer Bilal Hussein was finally told by his American captors that he would be set free, after being held for two years without charge.

The Pulitzer prize winning photographer faced unsubstantiated accusations from the U.S. military that he collaborated with Iraqi insurgents. I know that not many of us photographers even get the chance to go to Iraq, but once there you would have thought that the insurgents would be your main threat, right? Basically the US military can remove any journalist in the field that they see as undesirable and keep them locked up without ever saying why. So much for delivering democracy, eh?

The U.S. military agreed to release the journalist after determining that he “no longer presents an imperative threat to security.”

Read more here, here and here.

Friday, 18 April 2008


A little test with some animated jpeg's, here's my lovely girlfriend doing something which she is very good at - talking on the phone.

Friday, 11 April 2008

World exclusive

As mentioned in the last post, Elks were in action again last weekend and I was indeed feeling jolly. I took some 300 images on my compact party camera during their show. I had an idea in mind, and it has now been realised. Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby give you a world exclusive - the first video from Elks.

Picture: today I was photographing Zerthun, a model from Deptford who has made it to the UK final of the Miss Universe competition (as run by Donald Trump), and if she wins she will be reppin' for the whole of the UK in the US of A later this year.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Mood change

Yesterday I was working until 22:00 but today is Friday and for no particular reason, it might just be a good weekend. Tonight I will go and check out Elks live at the Dogstar in Brixton. Its free. Do come if you can.

Picture: the very happy Gerhard, founder of delicatessen chain Konditor & Cook, photographed a week ago outside his first shop in Waterloo.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Gone but not forgotten

I'm sad. The great Philip Jones Griffiths is dead. Long live free-seeing people.

He was a momentous man in the scope of mankind's imagery, whether you like it or not.

If you were an American in the 60's or early 70's, chances are that you changed your whole perspective on the Vietnam war because of his images, let alone if you lived outside America.

He chose to report sideways - i.e. side step the issue of the day and move away from front line news in order to report on a broader scale, giving a highly critical account of a war which was still going on, critical in terms of contradicting the American propaganda machine at the time, something which had never been done before. From 1966 to 1971 he devoted his life to this, and in the in the meantime established what photojournalism is all about. The result was Vietnam Inc.

I had the rare luxury of meeting the man in the flesh last year, and seeing him in full flow at a Q&A at the Frontline Club. He laid down the foundations of photojournalism.

Admittedly, we are forever moving into an era where everything - sound and vision - becomes more and more easily recordable and accessible. Anyone can report.

But to do it with the integrity of Philip Jones Griffiths, to report against the might of the American military machine, takes one hell of a man.


Picture ( July 2007): Lucy (left) and her friends lived on the same estate in Peckham as the now deceased Stanley Rymkivic. When he passed away last month, aged 80, they took it upon themselves to arrange his funeral as he had no immediate family anymore. If it wasnt for this group of teenagers, no one would have attended his funeral.