On Sept. 1, 2004, 1,200 students were taken hostage during a back-to-school event in Beslan, North Ossetia, a Russian republic. Two days later, about 330 hostages were dead, more than half of them children. Reportage photographer Diana Markosian visited Beslan in advance of the anniversary and her resulting photographs - of survivors, the school and the graves of the dead - were published in Time Lightbox over the weekend, accompanied by an essay by Katya Cengel.
“Beslan is considered one of the conflict’s greatest travesties against the innocent,” writes Cengel. “But a decade later the world has moved on. Residents of this little North Caucasus town have not, partly because important questions remain unanswered: How many terrorists escaped? What caused the explosion that lead to the storming of the school?”
From Ukraine to the US-Mexico border, Time Magazine and Instagram looked for images that tell stories of the year’s major events. We’re pleased to see they included images from Reportage photographers Daniel Berehulak and Charles Ommanney, and Getty Images News photographer Brendan Hoffman. See the full gallery on Time Lightbox.
Captions, from top:
Photo by Charles Ommanney (@charlesommanney) | McAllen, Texas. A group of women and two unaccompanied children are detained on a levee. Exhausted and hungry the group appeared relieved to be found. It turned out they had travelled from Guatemala and Honduras together.
Photo by Brendan Hoffman (@hoffmanbrendan) | One of a group of local coal miners searches a field of sunflowers near #Grabovo #ukraine for #mh17 airplane debris and human remains. #україни
For more than four decades, Camilo José Vergara has photographed the poorest and most segregated communities in urban America. Both a sociologist and a photographer, Vergara is probably best known for his photos of urban blight in 1970s New York. But for over twenty five years he has also pointed his lens at Detroit, to document not just the city’s decline but the quiet resilience of its people and its urban landscape.
Last September marked the 10th anniversary of the Beslan school siege, which was the subject of a photoessay by Reportage photographer Diana Markosian. Time Lightbox has highlighted this work in its look at trends in contemporary photojournalism.
“Whether through digital channels, print or on exhibit, the impact, influence and reach of the still image has never been greater,” writes Phil Bicker, a photo editor at Time. “But with so many images fighting for our attention, how do photographers make work that most effectively stands out and connects with an audience?”
In this project, Diana tried to answer that question with a poignant mix of reportage, portrait, still life archival images and drawings by victims of the massacre. The result is a multifaceted examination of the legacy of the attack and the trauma inflicted on both the individual students and the community at large.
Visit Time Lightbox to see more examples of inventive photoessays from 2014.
Jan. 20, 2013. People throw turnips at the Jarramplas as he makes his way through the streets beating his drum during the Jarramplas Festival in Piornal, Spain. (Photo: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez—Getty Images)
Time LightBox showcases moving photos, by Reportage photographer Brent Stirton, of blind sisters having their sight restored:
Anita and Sonia Singh were born into darkness. Like millions of people around the world, the two girls came into the world with congenital cataracts, robbing them of all but the faintest awareness of light and dark. In a congenital cataract, the lens of the eye is clouded from the moment of birth, leaving the pupil a milky white or gray. A person with the condition—if left untreated—will be blind for life.
Brent is a senior staff photographer for Reportage by Getty Images, based in Los Angeles, Calif. Brent’s work has been published by National Geographic Magazine, TIME, GEO and many other respected international titles, and he has been a long-time photographer for Human Rights Watch and The World Wide Fund for Nature. He has been honored several times by World Press Photo and Pictures of the Year International, among other major photography awards. He remains committed to issues relating to global health, diminishing cultures, sustainability and the environment.
the photographer ends her/his description of the events with the following statement:
“As a human being I would never have wished to see what I saw. But as a journalist I have a camera and a responsibility. I have a responsibility to share what I saw that day. That’s why I am making this statement and that’s why I took the photographs.”
to bear witness.
or. as beautifully described by André Liohn on Facebook this evening:
“The moments when the tradition of war photography proves to be the only possible link between this world and the real hell of human darkness we so much fear, but must not ignore.”
*it’s unclear weather this is the same photographer as the above image from Paris Match.
But the most important question for this “family album” will be to what extent we can enlarge our notion of family. If viewed as happening to the “other,” then much of this imagery—whether joyous or painful—will be ignored by those not directly affected. If, on the other hand, we see ourselves as mutually dependent, both happy for each other’s successes and attentive to each other’s welfare, then even the harshest imagery created by communities of their own distress can serve a purpose.
He discusses the growing practice of and potential for communities to portray themselves through photography, be it professionals having access to a larger audience through the web, or amateurs using their mobile phones to capture events.
Instagram, for example, allows professionals and amateurs alike to immediately upload images; during Hurricane Sandy last year, ten photos tagged to the storm were uploaded every second; 800,000 pictures were uploaded in all. In contrast, the monumental, multi-year Farm Security Administration program created during the New Deal that focused on American rural poverty with photographers such as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, Gordon Parks, Arthur Rothstein and Ben Shahn, produced roughly 250,000 images total.
While Instagram as a photographic and journalistic medium has its critics, one of its positive features is the fact that users can see only one photo at a time on their phone, which, Ritchin points out, provides the viewer a type of respite from the visual chaos of the web. At a time when increasing numbers of citizens around the world are documenting everything from war to human rights atrocities to their daily lives, a coherent way to filter this imagery is missing. Not all disasters are the same, he writes:
Whereas Hurricane Sandy was a catastrophe that those in the Northeastern United States suffered through together, sharing each other’s vulnerability, other circumstances may be more problematic. What might have been the result if those trapped inside the World Trade Towers on September 11 had possessed cellphone cameras? Would it have been enlightening for others on the outside if they were able to distribute images of their terrible predicament, or would large amounts of such first-person imagery have provoked an ugly voyeurism amounting to re-victimization? Would these images have further increased the trauma for a horrified, largely powerless public to even more intolerable levels, and with it the calls for vengeance?
Our task is two-fold: 1) “to develop practical applications for this abundance of imagery” and 2) to find ways to make this “family album” that stretches the world over accessible to us, in our media consumption cycles as something other than an overload of imagery lest it cause “an even greater distancing from events” due to our inability to process the abundance.
All that in mind, view the photo essay “Hurricane Sandy, One Year Later: Self-Portraits of Communities in Distress”here.
As the death toll rises in the war between Israel and Hamas, TIME LightBox profiles two photographers who have spent weeks covering the opposing sides: Oliver Weiken of European Pressphoto Agency and Getty Images’ Andrew Burton.