As Libya’s government succumbed to the Arab Spring, the streets of Tripoli were filled with equal parts wonder, chaos and horror.
Libyans celebrate in the newly renamed Martyrs’ Square (formerly known as Green Square) in central Tripoli, shortly after rebel fighters took the capital city from Gadhafi loyalists.
The fall of Tripoli happened much faster than I thought it would. I was in Egypt for Tahrir Square, but due to other commitments, I couldn’t move on directly to cover Libya as some of my colleagues did. I was following the story as closely as I could from wherever I was on assignment, monitoring the news, talking to my friends, following tweets from Libyan protestors, trying to figure out the optimal time to go. From the way things were moving, it looked like if a battle for Tripoli was going to happen, it would probably be sometime toward the fall.
I woke up in New York on August 20 to news that the rebels were just a few towns away from Tripoli. It was on, and I was caught flat-footed. I immediately started scrambling to work out the logistics to get myself there. Within 48 hours I was on a plane to Istanbul with Ben Lowy from Reportage.
From Istanbul we flew to Tunis, then from Tunis to Djerba, the closest airport to the Libyan border. There we met up with Heidi Levine, a Sipa photographer. On arrival, we found that one of Ben’s bags didn’t make it, the one with his flak jacket in it. We had a dilemma: Either wait and see if it turned up (and possibly miss the story) or press ahead with compromised protection. Ben’s a dad, so he wants to make sure he’s OK; at the same time, everything coming out of Libya said things were accelerating. We decided to split up the removable plates from my jacket between the two of us and press ahead. If we’d waited, we’d still be there. His bag hasn’t shown up to this day.
We found a driver in Djerba who said he’d take us into Libya, close to Tripoli. After a 10-hour drive, we still seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. Then we passed a temporary rebel office and he told us this was as far as he could go. We offered him more money to take us closer, but he was adamant. Bear in mind, there was fighting up the road, and this guy was from Tunisia and still had a 10-hour drive ahead of him, so it wasn’t entirely unjustified. But it didn’t leave us in a great spot.
Photographs by Marcus Bleasdale/VII for Human Rights Watch
Since 2012 ongoing, widespread, acute lead poisoning in Nigeria’s Zamfara state has killed at least 400 children. It is considered the worst outbreak of lead poisoning in modern history, with more than 3,500 children requiring urgent, life-saving treatment. Fewer than half are receiving it. Among affected adults, there are high rates of infertility and miscarriage.
Zamfara is a mineral-rich state, with significant deposits of gold. The acute lead poisoning in Zamfara is a result of artisanal gold mining: small scale mining done with rudimentary tools. Miners crush and grind ore to extract gold, and in the process release dust that is highly contaminated with lead. Children in affected areas are exposed to this dust when they are laboring in the processing site, when their relatives return home covered with dust on their clothes and hands, and when the processing occurs in their home. Children are also exposed to this highly toxic lead in contaminated water and food sources.
Delving into the life of the visually impaired around the world.
For the photographer Stefano De Luigi, blanco or white, defines the idea of blindness as a constant vision of white. Just as Seurat filled his painter’s canvas, De Luigi fills his photographic canvas with infinite colours which combine as white, reflecting a complex understanding of the world of the blind. Taking this concept as his starting point, De Luigi began a four-year journey delving into the life of the visually impaired around the world. Like much art, it can be hard to contemplate. It can also illuminate our understanding of what it is to be blind.
Photography: Stefano De Luigi and VII Photo Agency
2nd prize in the Wold Press Photo Multimedia Contest
Anastasia Taylor-Lind travels to Siberia where international model scouts scour the lengths of the trans-Siberian railway every year in search of the next new face to grace the pages of glossy magazines and couture runways at London, Paris, New York and Milan fashion weeks.
The supermodels who grace the pages of glossy magazines and couture runways at London, Paris, New York and Milan fashion weeks are arguably the most photographed women in the world. The most seen, the most recognizable, the most familiar women represented through still imagery. Yet we seldom know anything of the everyday lives behind the faces that pout and pose at us from glamorous magazine and billboard advertisements.
Who are the real people behind the sculpted, styled, perfected, objectified, idolized depiction of women? Where do they come from and what drives them to leave their families and their homes to travel the world as models? These questions led me to Siberia, one of the most remote corners of the earth, to discover the modelling agencies that cultivate these supermodels. Supermodels, who in reality are young children aspiring to become somebody else.
The Occupy Wall Street movement started out as a kind of headless dragon, with no apparent leadership or distinct goals; and the Australian photographer Ashley Gilbertson, commissioned to photograph the scene last week for Mattathias Schwartz’s piece in this week’s issue, felt similarly about his own work early on. “Photographing Occupy Wall Street was one of the most difficult stories, visually speaking, that I’ve had to cover in years,” he told me. “My photographs looked as disparate as the motivations of the hundred or so people who lived full time in the park.”
Gilbertson’s earlier projects in the financial district had been more straightforward. “In 2008 and 2009, I examined the mood of the bankers and traders,” he explained of his “Down on Wall Street” project, “and in 2010, I worked on a series, ‘After the Fall,’ about how New York City had been affected by the ensuing chaos. I was missing a similar approach, or statement, in my Occupy work.” In mid-October, Gilbertson showed what he had to his editor at VII the Magazine, Scott Thode. “He was brutal,” Gilberston recalled of the meeting. “‘Seen it before,’ he’d say, before cutting it.” But the small handful of pictures that Thode left on the table became the seeds of an essay that gave the viewer a sense of being in the park, involved in the conversation, among the occupiers.
From that point on, as the Occupy Wall Street gained momentum, so, too, it seemed, did Gilbertson’s project. “I began to respond less to people’s individual reasons to demonstrate, and more to the overriding sense of anger at the financial system,” he said. “It appeared to be what tied the occupiers of Zuccotti to the frustrations of tens of millions of Americans. For the first time since I emigrated here eight years ago, I was getting a sense of what the American Dream meant to the country’s citizens. Above all, the so-called ‘99%’ were committed to creating change whereby they might one day be able to invest in the dream they today felt robbed of.” Gilbertson showed a more recent edit of this work to Thode. “You’re getting somewhere now,” Thode said. “It’s a good start.”
In this very personal story Adam Ferguson gives us an unedited account of what it is like to be a combat photographer. He openly discusses what his feelings are about the troops, war photography, Afghanistan, and combat in general.
Search an ye shall find
Firefly Photofilms produce multimedia projects that address sociopolitical issues. They work with charities and NGO's assisting them with their media requirements, documenting the difference they are making to communities and individuals using photography, video and audio.
By using these mediums to promote themselves charities and NGO's, no matter what size they are or what issue they represent, are able to create a larger awareness of their work. The work we've done has helped charities secure more funding from grants, awards and the general public.