The Magnificent One

If you don’t know who Philip Jones Griffiths is then now is the time to be enlightened. We lost him fairly recently, but thanks to people like Donna Ferrato we have something unique to remember him by. In short, PJG was a Welsh photographer known for his coverage of things like the Vietnam War. His views and experience in Vietnam were brilliantly captured in “Vietnam, Inc.” which was widely viewed as a publication that changed public opinion about the war.

The Magnificent One: Philip Jones Griffiths from donna ferrato on Vimeo.

I think the best way to describe him and his legacy is in this quote from his friend fellow photographer Henri Cartier Bresson.

“Not since Goya has anyone portrayed war like Philip Jones Griffiths.”

This film was created shortly before his death and is both incredibly personal and incredibly informative about the mind of the man who brought us this lasting photographic evidence. On a personal note, I met PJG during a political convention in downtown San Diego in the late 1990’s. I was walking alone along the fringes of the chaos, looked up and there he was. I introduced myself, explained what my goals were and he graciously gave me advice as if we had been friends forever. He stood, glasses on the end of his nose, towering above me with his arms crossed behind his back, and I instantly felt a respect of not only the human but the preciousness of what he was offering me. In my experience with photographers this is a somewhat rare occurrence. I’ve certainly never forgotten it, and I’ve also never forgotten the first time I opened “Vietnam, Inc.” and first glimpsed the legacy he left for all of us.

Books I Love: Return to Mexico

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The latest installment “Books I Love.” The concept is very simple. Find a book in my collection, photograph it, then share it with you. The idea being to share what I love about the book or why I have it. The books will range from traditionally published, POD and handmade. The only stipulation is that I love the book. Most of them have a backstory, which I will also share. Books and photography are forever linked, so why not explore the relationship through my bookshelf. Hope you enjoy.

This episode covers a book titled “Return To Mexico, Journey’s Beyond the Mask” by Magnum photographer Abbas. The book was published by Norton and includes an essay from Carlos Fuentes. The cover was designed by Katy Homans.

Books I Love: “Voyages” by Raymond Depardon

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Hey folks,

My first installment of a new series titled “Books I Love.” The concept is very simple. Find a book in my collection, photograph it, then share it with you. The idea being to share what I love about the book or why I have it. The books will range from traditionally published, POD and handmade. The only stipulation is that I love the book. Most of them have a backstory, which I will also share. Books and photography are forever linked, so why not explore the relationship through my bookshelf. Hope you enjoy. This first installment features photographer Raymond Depardon and his brilliant book “Voyages.”

Book Review: Larry Towell, The World From My Front Porch

Now this is a book. From publisher Chris Boot and photographer Larry Towell, comes one of the best books I’ve seen.

The paper is different, the look is different, the layout is different, the cover, the fonts, etc, My head is spinning.

I’ve picked this book up three times and found three different books, and I’m sure if I go back for a fourth time, I’ll find another.

Towell, for those of you who don’t know him, is a Magnum photographer from, I believe, Canada. I’m sure when I read the book I’ll figure this out, but I think that is where he comes from.

A farmer. Perhaps an unlikely photographer?

His work is stunning, and I don’t use this word lightly. You can literally feel his life in these images. You can feel his roots, his ties to the land, history and place.

There is a powerful simplicity in these images, a closeness, but coupled with a complex point of view, and knowledge of light and printing. Kids, dogs, land, moments, structures, etc, etc, all there.

The back of the book, a catalog of his editorial spreads from El Salvador and other places. Just look at the work on the Mennonites. Just look at that one spread, on it’s own, as it displays before you page after page of best reportage you will ever see. Really, it’s that good.

Occasionally a book comes along that freaks me out and this one fits that mold.

I can’t wait to really sit down with it, but a part of me is little afraid of it. Like Salgado’s Africa. There are many more but I believe Salgado’s was the last book to freak me out.

I highly recommend this book. Here is the link THE WORLD FROM MY FRONT PORCH

Sorry for the scattered, buckshot review, but like I said, it freaked me out.

Chernobyl Legacy: Paul Fusco

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1:34 AM

This Morning.

I awake and suddenly have the need to see this short documentary about Chernobyl. I have no idea why, but the need to see it, again, is overwhelming.

Phone in hand, scrolling to You Tube, typing in F-U-S-C-O…

Up it comes. I’ve seen it, heard it, watched it, many, many times before, but I need to see it again.

The photographs are powerful, as powerful perhaps as any I have ever seen, and the subject matter is horrific. The phone fades to black and I find myself alone, in the dark, wondering why this happened.

2:30 AM Still awake.

3:30 AM Still awake.

There is something bubbling inside of me, and frankly I find it somewhat disturbing. I feel like getting up, getting out, into the world and unleashing this bubbling need. But the problem is I don’t know where, or how, or why.

I think anyone who works as a documentary photographer has an overwhelming need to record the world around them, and I’m no exception. I think all of us want to help, to show, to illustrate, illuminate and also leave OUR personal mark on the world.

For me, Fusco’s piece is so powerful, not just because of the images, but also due to his narrative. His anger, his passion is palpable, and you cannot deny that this project was, “just another story” for him. He has a personal stake in this place and these people.

Recently I was in New York, working on a series of portrait shoots, and ended up a photo event. As I walked through the crowd, which was tight, he walked past me. I’m not sure I even saw him. Suddenly I was in a bubble and I was looking at his photographs in my mind. That is the power of great photography.

Fusco has done many other projects, and if you haven’t seen his work, or his projects you should check them out.

Paul Fusco Link