This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – the 10th annual Women’s show at Magnet Galleries, Melbourne, plus a review of Dr. Lauren Walsh’s exceptional book, Conversation…
For those of us who work in journalism the myth of the cavalier photojournalist who rushes toward conflict with zeal is well established. Robert Capa’s famous comment about photographers needing to get close to the action in order to capture the best picture is part of industry folklore. Don McCullin has spoken about the adrenalin rush of going to war, likening it to drug addiction. Tim Page’s antics during the Vietnam War have been immortalised in pop culture, Dennis Hopper’s character in the movie Apocalypse Now modelled on the British photographer. Yet while there are those who are lauded as celebrities, the vast majority of conflict photojournalists work in the background, committing themselves to covering some of the world’s darkest moments, to bearing witness to history, largely invisible to the outside world. Glory and money do not motivate them. In fact, these days it is more difficult to make ends meet than ever before. So what drives an individual to the frontline or to document the depths of human misery?
Spencer Platt had never covered the Tour de France before. But he brought plenty of experience to the assignment, Merrill D. Oliver reports.
Tyler Farrar, an American cyclist and a top-level sprinter, was screaming nonstop. He had just crashed badly in the second stage of the 21-stage Tour de France when Spencer Platt found him on the road, clutching his elbow, his uniform in tatters.
The scene reminded Mr. Platt of how he felt when he came across the wounded in Afghanistan. He wanted to help, but was unable to intervene medically. So he waited with Mr. Farrar until first aid arrived and did what he does best. He took pictures.
CAR (Central African Republic): – The Digital Journalist
by Spencer Platt:
I first heard of the misery enveloping the Central African Republic last year when CAR was chosen by numerous organizations as one of the world’s most underreported and neglected stories. While Darfur and the Congo seemed to generate ample media attention, the situation in CAR was unknown to all but a few. Located in the center of Africa and sharing borders with Chad, Sudan, the D.R. Congo and Cameroon, CAR is nearly the size of Texas with a population just over 4 million people. Since gaining independence from France in 1960 the poverty-stricken nation has experienced a succession of coups and attempted coups. In the last decade alone it has experienced almost constant rebellion, leading to a state of anarchy in most of the north of the country. CAR is one of the world’s poorest nations with an average life expectancy of only 39 years. With no electricity outside of the capital and virtually no paved roads, it is a land abandoned.
Photographers Face Danger, Limited Mobility in Lebanon
Getty Images photographer Spencer Platt says photographers in Beirut have been scrambling to the scene of explosions whenever they hear them, but doing so isn’t easy because Hezbollah is keeping photographers at arms length. “They’re very suspicious of our motives,” he says, explaining that they suspect there are Israeli spies among the Western journalists. Moreover, Platt says, Israeli aircraft are targeting cars in some places, so if you go on certain roads, “There’s a high probability that you’ll be attacked.”