Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘photography

Le temps retrouvé. Recovering our lost time.

OLJ / Par Georges BOUSTANY, le 09 janvier 2021

Lorsque Samer est né quelques petites années après cette photo, il était déjà trop tard : ce décor avait déjà été détruit, et toute la vieille ville de Beyrouth avec.

Samer Halwany montrant le négatif rougi par le temps. Collection Samer Halwany

En 2006, il découvre sa première caméra dans un marché du Luxembourg et tombe amoureux de l’esthétique surannée, mais surtout de la mécanique.

Alors que le monde est déjà entré de plain-pied dans l’ère de la photographie numérique, Samer effectue un parcours à l’envers et part à la collecte de ces vieux objets obsolètes qu’il apprend à manier sur YouTube avant de suivre des cours de haut niveau.

En un peu moins de quinze ans, il va récolter 700 objets, et cela va du gigantesque appareil de studio pour plaques de collodion aux petits briquets dissimulant des caméras minuscules utilisées par les espions durant la guerre froide.

L’appartement de Samer est devenu un véritable musée de la photographie : ce n’est pas lui qui a investi cet univers, c’est cet univers qui l’a absorbé corps et biens, et Samer est aujourd’hui un photographe professionnel expérimenté qui forme ses propres étudiants.

Regardez bien cette photographie : elle n’aurait jamais dû exister. Regardez ces personnages saisis sur le vif : n’était la passion d’un jeune collectionneur de caméras vintage nommé Samer Halwany, ils auraient disparu sans laisser de traces, comme tant d’anonymes, balayés par ce qu’on appelle pudiquement les événements.

Le temps retrouvé

Souk el-Nourieh, hiver 1974-75. Collection Samer Halwany

Tout collectionneur a des anecdotes à raconter, et celle-ci vaut le détour :

Un jour, Samer achète une Rolleiflex T, une des meilleures caméras de son époque, réservée à une élite de professionnels et de connaisseurs. Il remarque que le compteur indique 12 poses. Bingo, il y a un film exposé, mais non développé à l’intérieur !

Ce n’est pas la première fois que cela arrive, mais jamais Samer n’a pu récupérer des images exploitables. Cette fois-ci, il obtient un rouleau négatif comportant douze poses. Un miracle ! Samer croit reconnaître Beyrouth, et en effet, une fois annulée la couleur rouge due à la mauvaise conservation, les photos apparaissent très nettes en noir et blanc.

Elles ont été prises à la place des Martyrs et dans les souks environnants. Le ciel est gris, il fait froid, humide, le sol est encore détrempé de pluie. L’odeur traditionnelle des souks, habituellement composée de poussière, de sueur, de vieux bois et d’objets hétéroclites, est ici rendue encore plus prégnante par l’humidité omniprésente, sur les vieilles pierres, les tissus des tentures, des rideaux, des parasols et sur les vêtements mouillés.

C’est cela Beyrouth : ici se retrouve un peuple bigarré venu des quatre coins du pays.

La Rolleiflex dans laquelle le film a été retrouvé. Collection Samer Halwany

Dernier hiver avant le cataclysme

Le photographe inconnu, dont Samer ignore pratiquement tout sinon que la caméra a été vendue par une dame âgée, se tient à une intersection dans les souks.

Nous sommes probablement à Souk el-Nourieh, non loin de la place des Martyrs : ici, l’on vend les traditionnels objets domestiques allant des balais et gants de toilette aux paniers en bambou en passant par les accessoires de cuisine.

Mais aussi du poisson, présenté sur des étals sans échoppe. Les passants sont chaudement habillés, et ces vêtements, on va les retrouver dans les photos des civils sous la mitraille durant la guerre des deux ans (1975-76).

Et pour cause : nous sommes à la veille du cataclysme. Voici, grâce à Samer Halwany, l’ultime hiver du centre-ville de Beyrouth avant quinze ans de guerre : pantalons pattes d’eph, talons hauts pour les hommes, chaussures massives pour les femmes, moustaches latino, favoris interminables, ce sont les derniers moments de normalité avant l’infernal printemps de la bosta qui va, semble-t-il, balayer jusqu’au propriétaire de cette caméra puisque le film ne sera jamais développé.

La luminosité est au diapason de cette ambiance crépusculaire : le ciel est délavé, les ampoules illuminées percent une pénombre sinistre, les regards paraissent inquiets, l’ombre du drame à venir semble déjà s’étendre sur la scène.

Une partie de la collection de Samer Halwany. Collection Samer Halwany

Qu’a voulu montrer le photographe ?

Une ambiance exotique, peut-être, mais le sujet principal de la photo est probablement le tarbouche.

En 1975, il en restait quelques-uns et celui-ci est curieusement porté par un homme relativement jeune ; le reste de sa mise indiquant une origine rurale. Une dame avec un fichu passe à l’arrière : c’est la seule.

Le reste des acteurs de cette scène d’outre-tombe ne sont que des hommes : ici, le marchand de poissons arrange la présentation de sa marchandise, là se négocie la pêche du jour. Et puis quelque chose a attiré l’attention de quelques-uns, quelque événement se produit à la gauche de la scène, mais nous ne saurons jamais de quoi il s’agit. Peut-être une altercation, ou plus simplement une belle qui passe ?

Dans la même rubrique La filature aux quarante roues

Le reste du décor est un spicilège de décrépitude : les murs sont, au mieux, détériorés, branlants au pire. Les toitures sont faites de la même tôle ondulée que les bidonvilles de banlieue, tout est pauvre, vieillot et décati.

L’on comprend aisément que le projet était de déménager ce souk dans un local moderne sous la place des Martyrs, et pourquoi les combats vont finalement ne faire qu’une bouchée de ce boyau.

Lorsque je lui demande ce qu’elle lui inspire, Samer observe la photo dans un silence réservé. Puis les adjectifs viennent ; ce sont d’abord quelques gouttes et puis une ondée de grêle :

« C’est une ville que je n’ai pas connue. Une ville qui avait une culture et des traditions que nous aurions pu préserver ; il y avait de la vie, il y avait un style de vie, un mélange des peuples. Aujourd’hui, Beyrouth semble aller en marche arrière, tout est désert, tout est devenu superficiel. »

Qu’un jeune homme qui n’a jamais connu cette époque-là en conçoive de la nostalgie, que ce soit lui qui sauve, préserve et diffuse cette photo vouée à disparaître, cela suscite tout de même un certain espoir.

Comme dans les grandes familles déchues, il reste chez nos enfants une petite lumière qu’ils transportent où qu’ils aillent, et qui leur permettra un jour de construire le pays dont nous avons rêvé.

Whispers of a fall day: Mimo Khair Photography

The seasons have a magical way of easing us into the inescapable reality that time passes and waits for no one. Before the grey starkness of winter, we are flooded by a gush of warm color to keep us hopeful for the coming of spring.

Nature is the best artist.

Whispers of a fall day~

by ~mimo~

 
Steve McCurry, a photographer who has reached iconic status following the publication of his Afghan Girl portrait in National Geographic in 1985, has found himself at the center of a controversy over image manipulation.
The Magnum member is accused of photoshopping elements out of his photographs – a “mistake” McCurry has blamed on bad procedures at his studio.

Peter van Agtmael, also a Magnum photographer and one of McCurry’s colleagues, reacts to the industry’s outrage in the following opinion piece. His views, he says, do not represent those of Magnum, “a place that often seems to have far more opinions than it does photographers.” He adds: “Although Steve and I are both Magnum photographers, we have only met in passing several times.”

If my Facebook feed is any judge, there are a whole lot of people in the photojournalism community who are upset with Steve McCurry.

When I saw the alterations, my first reaction was confusion. If he wanted to manipulate the images, why would he have approved such incredibly shoddy work?

His explanation that someone in his studio acted unilaterally seems plausible enough. I don’t know the answer, nor do I care much (for me, the content wasn’t meaningfully altered, nor were the prints being made for a context that demanded absolute adherence to a precisely captured moment), and really this most recent scandal is a springboard to discuss some parallel issues.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

“Photography is an incredibly subjective craft.

In the criticisms of McCurry, there were a lot of loaded words like ‘truth’ and ‘objectivity’ being thrown around. I don’t really believe in these words.

I’ve never met two people with the same truth, nor seen true objectivity ever demonstrably applied to anything. They are nice words, but remain aspirational and cloud a more nuanced interpretation of reality and history.

We shouldn’t mistake something factual for something truthful, and we should always question which facts are employed, and how.”

Peter van Agtmael addresses the controversy behind Steve McCurry’s manipulated photos
time.com

There is one very important qualifier I’d add. Any photographer working predominantly in a photojournalistic context needs to be rigidly transparent about digital manipulation (and Fred Ritchin’s “Four Corners” proposal, which transparently embeds each photographer’s code of ethics into their images while including the necessary context, could help if adopted by the industry).

I don’t take issue with most forms of manipulation, but deception isn’t acceptable.

The refugee crisis was doubtless one of the most documented events in human history. But if you look at the images that dominated the mainstream media and were validated by contests, they usually showed misery and fear, mostly in the form of rafts of refugees arriving in Lesbos.

Are those pictures a potent symbol of the crisis? Absolutely.

Is it accurate or balanced that they almost entirely control the visual narrative? Absolutely not.

Arabs (and many other groups) have been objectified and dehumanized in the media for decades. The same tropes constantly repeat themselves, mostly highlighting violence, victimization and exoticism.

After ten years working in the region, this certainly isn’t my truth, nor does it even hint at anything that could be called objectivity.

Yet these kinds of hyper-dramatic but ultimately repetitive and narrow images repeat themselves year after year, usually devoid of context.

The very nature of what is photographed and how is heavily affected by the influence of admired photographers with distinct personal visions, patterns of success in contests and the traditions and expectations of the commissioning body. Style, lens choice, position, what to show and what to exclude in the framing, editing, equipment choice, toning, sequence are all manipulative and subjective.

The result is a collection of facts that tends to be sanctimoniously declared as representing ‘truth.’ At best, these facts are a coherent personal truth.

At worst, they are a distorted and overly dramatized look at complex issues in often marginalized, objectified communities. Often, they are something in between.

To capture something happening in a pinprick of time is inherently a limited means of understanding.

Factor in history of representation, complex racial and identity politics, and the demographic breakdown of many World Press winners (white, western males, or those working for organizations dominated by them), and you end up with a very imperfect rendering of the world.

Policeman in Beirut: Photography is “illegal” in Hamra?

Are the latest car explosions and threats to “leaders” launching the security forces into a period of tight control over whatever might be considered as intelligence gathering by the various factions (internally and externally:?

posted in The Beirut Report this January 30, 2014

A few minutes ago I was taking this picture when a policeman shouted at me.Cop: “Hey, stop, stop! What are you doing? Don’t you know photography is forbidden?”Me: [Pointing to intersection] “Photography is forbidden here?”

Cop: [Looking exasperated] “Of course. It is illegal to take photos, not just here, anywhere in Hamra! Even anywhere in Beirut!”

Me: Are you serious? What does it matter if I take a picture?Cop: Yes of course I am serious! Don’t you know about the terrorism? I can call this in and they will come here and pick you up and take you away. There is a jail sentence!Me: Is this a new law, what law is it?

Cop: Yes. It’s a law, I don’t know what it is called! I didn’t say anything after the first or second photo, but then you took two or three! But you seemed like a nice guy so I will let it slide. Just don’t take any more, okay?

Me: Do you know what you are saying? Do you know how many people you need to arrest to enforce this law? Do you know how many buses you need to arrest everyone taking photos today in Hamra or the rest of Beirut?”

Suddenly our conversation is interrupted by a loud police siren.

A big black suburban with black tinted windows comes careening into the intersection in front of us and hangs a left onto Hamra street. Inside are two college-aged boys. The license plate has only three numbers.Me: Why don’t you arrest those people? They are not police, they are kids and they have a police siren?Cop: [wry smile] Oh no, I can’t touch them. Every number in 600 (i.e. 600-699) belongs to Berri. (Chairman of the Parliament for over 3 decades.)

(The plate actually began with number 1)

I then point to a car with no tail lights, a motorcyclist without a helmet, the traffic lights around us, each one illegally festooned with a flag of a certain Lebanese political party that has claimed this intersection as its territory. See red circles:

Interrupted panorama shot. I couldn’t get a better one because of the new “law” against photography

Me: So all this illegal stuff is going on right in front of you, every minute, and you want to stop me for taking a picture of it?

Cop: Listen. [Pulls out tiny folded up piece of paper from his pocket] You see this? It says here my duty today is “traffic management.” I can’t issue tickets until after this shift is over tonight.

(I didn’t think of it at the time, but why then was he trying to arrest me if technically he had no right?)

Cop: Let me tell you a story. Once I stopped this guy who was harassing a woman. He was Syrian, he had no ID papers. I got a phone call from headquarters. They said release him immediately. You see people have “waasta” (connections), there are people you can’t touch.”

I bid the cop farewell, wishing him more success at his job in the future.

Postscript:

Of course, I have been harassed for taking photos before, but ironically the police once actually tried but failed to help.

I’ve also been physical assaulted for taking photos, not by authorities, but by private developers and political hooligans.
Flags are also routinely hung by all parties in Lebanon as I documented in ZalkaAin El MreiseAin El Remmaneh and elsewhere. But this is the first time I am told there is an actual “law” prohibiting photos on public streets.  

To Save a Child: An impure child? The Omo Valley in Ethiopia

Mingi is the ritualistic killing of infants and children who are mingi because they are considered impure or cursed.
A child can be mingi for many reasons, 
but once they are mingi they are left alone in the desert without food and water or drowned in a river.

The Omo River Valley is located in Southwest Ethiopia, Africa. It has been called “the last frontier” in Africa. 
There are 9 main tribes that occupy the Omo River Valley, with a population of approximately 225,000 tribal peoples. 
The majority of the people living in the Omo River Valley live without clean drinking water and without medical care.

Photographer Steve McCurry joined John Rowe in Ethiopia to photograph the work he is doing with Lale Labuko and his wife Gido in their work to end the practice of mingi (abandoned impure children) and to house
and shelter the mingi children who have already been rescued.

Steve McCurry had posted on October 2, 2012 ““.

I could just insert the link in anyone of my posts on Africa, or just simply copy/paste.

Since I love this post, I decided to work on it a little bit and make it mine…


I met John in Burma a few years ago. He is a photographer and
successful businessman 
who has founded companies which develop software
for digital media and the entertainment industry. 

He has also devoted a tremendous amount of time, energy, and
financial assistance to the work of Omo Child.

John Rowe and friends 

Lale was born into the Kara Tribe in the Omo River Valley.
He was one of the first of his tribe to receive a formal education.
That opportunity led him to realize the critical importance of ending the tribal ritual of Mingi.
Outlawing and stopping this devastating practice of Mingi is his life’s mission.

 

Lale Labuko, founder of OMO Child

 

Once safely in the care of the loving and nurturing care of nannies at the Omo Child shelter,
they are fed, clothed, sheltered and educated.

The hope is that the rescued children will be future leaders in their communities and
will help raise awareness to help advocate the ending of the tribal practice of mingi.

The Omo River Valley is located in Southwest Ethiopia, Africa. It has been called “the last frontier” in Africa. 


http://www.omochild.org

Lale and his wife Gido Labuko

Steve McCurry in the Omo Valley

Help John and Lale rescue and care for these children.
http://www.omochild.org

You can follow any responses to Steve McCurry entry through theRSS 2.0 feed You can LEAVE A RESPONSE, or TRACKBACK from your own site.

 

Follow Steve McCurry’s WordPress.com blogIf you’re not sure where to start, consider these four posts first to sample the stunning work he produces:


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