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Trading to Extinction | Photojournalist: Patrick Brown

Trading to Extinction | Photojournalist: Patrick Brown | BLACK AND WHITE | Scoop.it

Most people hear the term “poaching,” and they think of hunters gunning down endangered species like elephants and rhinos on the plains of Africa. But in many ways the heart of the illegal wildlife trade is not in Africa, but in Asia. It’s in rising countries like China, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia where the demand for illegal wildlife products is strongest, driving the hunting and the trafficking. And it’s in Asia where poaching is still going on in the forests of countries like Burma and Laos, in the last scraps of wilderness in one of the most densely populated parts of the world. Every year it’s estimated that up to 30,000 primates, 5 million birds, 10 million reptile skins and 500 million tropical fish are bought and sold in Asia.

 

That bloody trade is revealed by Patrick Brown’s stark black-and-white photographs, published in his new book, Trading to Extinction. The Bangkok-based Brown spent more than 10 years documenting the underbelly of the illegal wildlife trade in Asia, from ill-equipped rangers patrolling the forests of Thailand to markets in southern China, jam-packed with threatened species. He shows the shadowy smuggling routes that take wildlife products across poorly guarded borders, and shines a spotlight on the sheer inhumanity of man’s treatment of majestic animals like the endangered Indochinese tiger. Brown prowls the markets of Bangkok, where massive ivory elephant tusks—almost surely taken by a poacher—sit in a store window, mute symbols of a murderous trade. Another photograph shows a pile of tiger and snow leopard skins—worth three-quarters ofa million dollars—seized in Thailand’s Chitwan National Park.

 

Money is what drives the illegal wildlife trade, which is now worth as much as $10 billion globally. Brown notes that a poacher who kills a rhino and removes its horn in India gets $350, but that same horn will sell for $1,000 in a nearby market town, and as much as $370,000 once it reaches dealers in Hong Kong, Beijing or the Middle East. It’s little wonder that international criminal syndicates have gotten into the wildlife trade, which is now estimated to be the fifth most lucrative illegal enterprise in the world. Some of that money flows to international terrorists as well, making wildlife trafficking a security threat, as well as a conservation one.

 

The good news is that the world is beginning to get serious about wildlife trafficking. On Feb. 11 the U.S. announced a new national strategy for combating poaching, as well as a ban on commercial imports and exports of ivory. Last week British Prime Minister David Cameron hosted the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, the highest-level summit ever on wildlife trafficking. Bringing a halt to poaching will require a commitment from developed nations like the U.S. and England. But as Patrick Brown’s moving photographs show, the battle will be fought in Asia.

Photo report's insight:

Patrick Brown is a multi award-winning English photographer based in Thailand. His work focuses on critical issues across the Asia region. Trading to Extinction is available through publisher Dewi Lewis.


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The Jangs | Photographer: Michael Jang

The Jangs | Photographer: Michael Jang | BLACK AND WHITE | Scoop.it

This time, I see intimate and hilarious shots of Michael's own extended family, taken in California in the 1970s while he was a student at Cal Arts. These pictures are far from your average family snapshots; in fact, they were just purchased by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. 

Photo report's insight:

Michael Jang is an established photographer who has always had an eye for recognizing and capturing the defining moments of his generation. Well known for his commercial photography and portraiture of notable figures from the 70s and 80s, such as William Burroughs, Alice Walker, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Sinatra, and many others, Jang’s work is now being looked at in a new light. These photos can be found in Jang's book, Summer Weather, which was released last May from Owl & Tiger Books.

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Maiko & Geiko | Photographer: Arif Iqball

Maiko & Geiko | Photographer: Arif Iqball | BLACK AND WHITE | Scoop.it

Outside Japan there is often a misunderstanding about the role of the Geisha and that misunderstanding comes from different literary and movie interpretations/fictionalization by non-Japanese at different points in history. The difficulty also comes from the inability to recognize/accept that female entertainers can exist in cultures without engaging in any form of sexual entertainment.

 

The historical city of Kyoto, Japan is the true center of this floating world and home to five Kagai (literally flower towns, but specifically, performance districts) where you can see Geishas today. The oldest Kagai dates back to the fifteenth century and the tradition of the Geisha continues in Kyoto in the true manner and spirit as it has historically, where the women take pride in being “women of the mind” versus “women of the body”. By all local/Japanese definitions, these women are living art as well as the pinnacle of Japanese eloquence, good manners, style and elegance and are highly respected in Japanese society as artists. Some of their teachers have been labeled as “Living National Treasures” by the Japanese Government. The “Gei” of the Geisha itself means Art and “sha” means a person. Historically both men and women have been labeled Geisha although that word is seldom used and Geiko and Maiko (Apprentice Geiko) are the more appropriate forms of address.

 

There has been very little work done to photograph the artistic side of the Geiko and Maiko and my work is an effort to see them as living art and to be able to portray them in both formal and informal settings. Behind the painted face is really a teenager/young woman working very hard through song, dance, music, and witty conversation to make the customers of the tea houses escape from their world of stress to a world of art/humour/relaxation and laughter.

Most of this work was done in Medium Format to enable the viewer to eventually see and feel the larger photograph itself as art and I hope that this broader work can shed a new light to the understanding of the Maiko and Geiko and bring respect to them as artists from the non-Japanese viewer.

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Street photography | Photographer: Matt Stuart

Street photography | Photographer: Matt Stuart | BLACK AND WHITE | Scoop.it
I am not sure which came first, my being nosey or an interest in 'street photography', but a fascination with people and the way they live their lives is why I enjoy the business so much.

 

There is something special and unique about photographer Matt Stuart's 'Street Photography', these photographs are honest pictures that display beauty and significance of the everyday life which otherwise would have gone unnoticed by the rest of us. And what makes them more interesting is the fact that these are entirely spontaneous. And this makes it necessary for Stuart to be in the right place at the right time. He is always ready with his small Leica camera, lots of optimism and patience to make an image and move on.

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The July War | Photojournalist: Timothy Fadek

The July War | Photojournalist: Timothy Fadek | BLACK AND WHITE | Scoop.it

With the firestorm coming from the Rathergate crowd, and doubts now spreading from the left wingabout images from Lebanon, it can start to feel like all reason is being subsumed by political hysteria.  At the same time, war photojournalism seems at risk of being tarred with one brush.

I spent about a half-hour on the phone this evening with photojournalist and contributer Tim Fadek, who has been in Lebanon for about three weeks covering the war.

 

Having been present following the Qana air strike, Tim emphasized that there was no parading or manipulation of bodies, and that the scene was not staged in any way.  That said, Tim took pains to explain how this kind of situation carries with it certain cultural practices and emotional responses that don’t transfer well to the West.  This seems especially true right now, in the super-heated and intensely polarized political environment in the U.S.

"When there is senseless death in this part of the world," Tim explains, "it is completely normal to display the bodies.  Whether in plastic or on blankets, it’s done whether there are photographers there or not.  The idea is to ready the public for what has happened, and also say, look what our enemies have done to us."

 

Regarding the images cited as evidence of manipulation, Fadek said: "a finer distinction is being lost in the West.  In Qana, rescue workers did not hold up a baby to set up a shot.  They were not displaying them to the media, per se.  Yes, it was not lost on these men that the cameras presented a window to the world.  But these people were doing wrenching rescue work and they are human beings.  These instances [of holding up babies] were mostly spontaneous and momentary expressions of anger."

Tim also explained the circumstances surrounding his own images.  Although he felt the photo above was more powerful shown this way, he explained that a rescue worker did set down the body, briefly uncovering it for photographers to document.

For those inclined to consider the depictions as manipulated, Fadek also offers the following image, along with the circumstances involved.


Once removed from the collapsed building, these bodies were set on the ground to be taken down a hill.   From this spot to the waiting ambulances was at least a four minute walk.  In this case, the two children were placed on this blanket where photographers had 1 1/2 to to 2 seconds to document them.  Given the distance and the available manpower, the two bodies were placed on the same blanket to save effort.

In each case, Tim’s understanding was that the rescuers were acting in a manner reflecting a normal attitude toward the dead.  "It’s not a manipulation, it’s a cultural distinction," said Fadek.  "It’s the same as at a martyrs funeral, where faces are exposed, and the bodies marched through the streets.  It’s been done for years, media or otherwise."

Photo report's insight:

The July War : Timothy Fadek is an american photographer whose assignment work has been published in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, Stern, Le Monde, National Geographic and scores of other publications.

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What We Conjure | Photographer: Scott Alario

What We Conjure | Photographer: Scott Alario | BLACK AND WHITE | Scoop.it

"We are on a search for the spiritually significant, the magic in every day. What will we find that’s worth passing down? What will we conjure?"—Scott Alario

Photo report's insight:

Photographer Scott Alario is based in Providence, Rhode Island. His seriesWhat We Conjure was made with an 8×10 view camera, and adds to the great lineage of photographers like Emmet Gowin and Nicholas Nixon who have documented those most dear to them. Alario explores his role as a father by making these pictures, occasionally appearing in them himself.

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Target Unknown | Photographer: Stacy Kranitz

Target Unknown | Photographer: Stacy Kranitz | BLACK AND WHITE | Scoop.it

"Once a year in Pennsylvania, 500 people come together to reenact the Battle of the Bulge. During the reenactment, I portray Leni Riefenstahl and behave with soldiers, as she would have. Rather than seek out a simple role model who fit a classic heroine profile, I became intrigued by the complex story of a woman I could both love and hate. In Riefenstahl, I found a multidimensional character with a focused vision and a murky set of morals. These grey areas spoke to my desire to understand people beyond the constraints of good versus evil. This experience allows me to reflect upon atrocity, delve into my own relationship with my Jewish heritage, and contemplate the camera's ability to re-imagine history. "

 

"I have inserted myself into the Nazi reenactor photographs in an effort to subvert the viewer’s instinct to dismiss these people as different from themselves. I believe that the grey areas between ethical imperatives may offer new potential to understand and relate to a subject.
Much of our conception of history is based on images. The reenactors base the authenticity of their looks on images and, in particular, on Riefenstahl’s film Triumph of the Will. Historical images have been filtered through media and propaganda. These images become history as generations pass, memories fade. Photographs and film become the dominant forces that shape the public imagination. My newly created images of the reenactment are part of the deconstruction process by which images first represent and then replace history."

(Stacy Kranitz : http://stacykranitzprojects.com/targetunknown)

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