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Consternation Over Winning Photograph in the Olive Cotton Award in Australia.

In Photography News on July 26, 2017 at 3:58 AM

Consternation Over Winning Photograph in the Olive Cotton Award in Australia.

This is a provocative image. I surmise in amongst multiple reasons it was chosen to be the winner was to – provoke. Creativeness, diversity, innovation, and vision in photography should be without boundaries – this is without question. This photograph goes some way to pushing the creative boundaries of photography. You know ‘Space the last frontier,’ go where no man (should be woman as well) has been before stuff boundaries!

                                          © Photograph by Artist Justine Varga

Winner of the Tweed Gallery’s $20,000 Olive Cotton Prize for photographic portraiture was a controversial choice by judge Shaune Lakin [Senior Curator of Photography at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra]. The photograph (above) is titled ‘Maternal Line’ and is by Justine Varga.

At this point, it is useful to ask a couple of questions; the first being, does this specific photograph succeed in doing that – being stellar? The second and more pragmatic for many here is the stinging question is, is this a portrait photograph? The answer to the first question lies with the individual viewer given the inbuilt subjectivity of photography itself. There is no x+y=z answer. The second question is also difficult to answer. It is though one needs first to ask what a portrait is? A portrait is defined as a painting, drawing, photograph, or engraving of a person, especially one depicting only the face or head and shoulders. No face, head or shoulders here? Though, more broadly a portrait is a representation or impression of someone or something in language or on film or television or in this case – photography. The latter is where we enter the twilight zone. It is plausible that this photograph ‘Maternal Line’ can loosely be defined as a portrait. I think especially because as I understand it, photographer Justine Varga lovingly collaborated with her grandmother in making it. It is a ‘representation’ of her grandmother, and representation can qualify as a portrait. In a very human way, I am touched by Varga’s collaboration with her grandmother in making ‘Maternal Line .’ Saying that I wonder if the final work is as compelling as the collaboration and methodology that produced it in the first place?
As mentioned earlier within the context of those ‘go where no man (or woman of course) has been before frontiers’ of photography; curators, judges, picture editors et al. at times could be more balanced in avoiding choosing photographs that are biased towards methodology and philosophical underpinnings. Yes, the methodology and philosophical underpinnings of a photograph are paramount but not at the expense of dumbing down the aesthetic, and emotion of a photograph. Equity of both methodology and aesthetic produces the most potent and powerful photographs. Any University first-year art photography student can write a three thousand word piece on why the close-up photograph of the wine stained piece of shag pile carpet s/he has photographed is ‘art’ with intellectual and philosophical justification and authority. This is basic 101 University art photography stuff. But the important question that needs to be asked is, is it an accomplishment as an aesthetically evolved and emotionally charged photograph? Does it question us and inform us, delight us and disturb us, make us laugh or cry, extend our understanding of what it is to be human and be part of humanity? Further, still, does it emotionally wound us and remind us what it is to be alive? I wonder? Perhaps in some way it does in a ‘quite’ way or is it that ‘the story’ of the methodology is more compelling in this case?
Could it be that the aesthetic of the ‘Maternal Line’ doesn’t equal the intellectual and philosophical maturity that went into making it? Perhaps this is at the core of the consternation concerning ‘Marternal Line’ winning the Olive Cotton award?
Provocative? Clearly so but at what cost? Generally put provocation at the cost of devolving an evolved aesthetic and emotion is narrow in vision and counterintuitive. Personally, am I provoked by the actual photograph? I I am emotionally moved when considering the intamacy and emotion surrounding the story of making the photograph. But and again, provoked by the actual photograph itself? No, a flat line. I don’t ‘feel’ anything, and that is a problem.

~ JP

External Link: ABC NEWS

External Link: Sydney Morning Herald

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Sebastiao Salgado “The World Through His Eyes,” Exhibition In Bangkok

In Photography News on February 26, 2017 at 5:16 AM

If you happen to be in Bangkok at the moment, the venerable Brazilian documentary photographer Sebastiao Salgado has an exhibition at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre. It opened Feb. 9, 2017. Salgado is probably one of the most ethical and environmentally conscious contemporary photographers practicing in the world today.
The exhibition is titled “Sebastiao Salgado: The World Through His Eyes,” The expansive exhibition of 120 black-and-white images by Salgado at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre is Salgado’s first major exhibition in Thailand and will open to the public until March 8.
In parts, the work is both deeply moving and inspirational.
Paradoxically, No Photographs are allowed in the actual gallery space itself?

~Jack Picone

jackpicone_salgado_exhibition-lr-1A security guard enforces, “No Photo” dictate at  Salgado exhibition. © Photograph by Jack Picone

Poetry and Photography

In Photography News on October 1, 2016 at 3:04 AM

Recently, I have been collaborating creatively with the poet, Kit Kelen. I have been posting photographs and Kit has been writing poems to accompany my photographs. Seeing poetry and photography collectively, as opposed to singularly is a  journey into a new creative landscape.

Over coming days I will post a small random selection of Kit’s poems. You can also visit this link and below to view Kit’s blog for this project titled 365+1. You’ll find a plethora of great poetry and art from other contributors.  

Kit Kelen – Series with Jack Picone’s Photographs – #14 – the fire at dawn, the waiting 

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the fire at dawn, the waiting

is it the bones show through?

is it the where-they-are waking?

so sombre silent still

as if the sky were nothing

as if they were earth already

they compose themselves

for eternity’s frame

have they fallen from great heights to here?

are they stones sprung up in flesh?

I ask because

I just don’t know

what any of this means

                      © Photograph by Jack Picone

Young PNG Highlanders at the crack of dawn. Mt. Hagen, PNG.

In-Print | A Small Selection Of Magazine Tear Sheets

In Photography News on April 4, 2016 at 3:29 AM

The interaction between photographer and designer is an often fractious one. Competing agendas can ensue. Some designers view photographs as creative visual building blocks that are merely part of an end design.
Most photographers view their authored images as sacrosanct. They strongly object to their photographs being altered – in any way – to fit a preordained design.
Sparks can fly!
Below are several examples of where a confluence of design and photography have found a creative and aesthetic balance.

 

JackPicone_LE'Xpress_Mag_Web-0                                                                    • L’Express Magazine, France.

 

 
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                                • L’Express Magazine, France.

 

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                               • Dynasty Magazine, China.

JackPicone_GOODWEEKEND--MAG-SPREAD_-21                          • Good Weekend Magazine, Australia.

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                        • (Above and below) The Financial Review Magazine, Australia.

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                                       • The Financial Review Magazine, Australia.

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                        • Above (2x) Foreign Policy Magazine, USA.

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                       • The Saturday Independent Magazine, UK.

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                                       • (Above 3x) Mare Magazine, Germany.

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                       • Marie Claire Magazine, Australia.

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                                       • The Independent On Sunday Magazine, UK.

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                                               • (Above 3x) TIME Magazine.

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                                                              TIME Magazine.

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                                       • (Above 2x) ‘COLORS’ Magazine

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                        • L’Express Magazine, France.

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                                         • Kultur Magazine, Germany.

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                                        • The Observer Magazine, UK.

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                                        • (Above 2x) TEMPO Magazine, Germany.

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                                       • Al Jazeera Magazine, Qatar.

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                       • HQ Magazine, Australia.

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                                       • Al Jazeera Magazine, Qatar.

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                                                                                        • TIME Magazine.

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                                                                                        • Worldview Magazine, USA.

THE GIRL ON THE POSTCARD

In Photography News on October 9, 2015 at 1:04 PM

The Girl On The Postcard – Al Jazeera Magazine.

Words and Photographs by Jack Picone.

 

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JackPicone_Kayan-LR-7                 © Photograph by Jack Picone. Portrait of Ma Da. Nai Soi. Thai – Burma Border.

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JackPicone_Kayan_LR-9               Portrait of Ma Da. Nai Soi. Thai – Burma Border. © Photograph by Jack Picone.

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A souvenir stall at Nai Soi village. The diagram shows how the collar bone and rib cage are pushed down by the rings to create the illusion of a long neck.A souvenir stall at Nai Soi village. The diagram shows how the collar bone and rib cage are pushed down by the rings to create the illusion of a long neck.  © Photograph by Jack Picone.

JP-PhD_KAYAN-LR-13This Spanish tourist took the brass ring from a Kayan woman and put it over his head. He thought it was funny and so did his friends. Few tourists who visit the village of Nai Soi really understand that it is in fact a refugee camp they are visiting and that the Kayan people they are photographing, videoing and gawking at are effectively imprisoned. Mae Hong Son, province Thai-Burma border. © Photograph by Jack Picone.

JackPicone_Kayan_Women-LR-1A Kayan woman baths wearing her brass coil. The coil is made of heavy brass weighing around 10lbs it takes significant effort for her to support her neck as she bathes. Nai Soi, Mae Hong Son, Thailand. Mae Hong Son, province Thai-Burma border. © Photograph by Jack Picone.

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Reflection of Kayan woman. The small triangular mirror is used by the Kayan woman as they groom themselves. Mae Hong Son, province Thai-Burma border. © Photograph by Jack Picone.Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 6.07.10 PM

Ends.

Postscript: For accuracy sake please be aware that Ma Da, the young female subject in my earlier photographs, died in the Nai Soi camp at the age of 22 from a stomach illness caused by the insanitary conditions at the camp. Mae Hong Son, province Thai-Burma border.

HOPE | A PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION by PATRICK BROWN in BANGKOK

In Photography News on September 28, 2015 at 2:45 AM

The American Photographer Lee Friedlander {b. 1934} once said he was mostly interested in photographing ‘people and things’, but it could be suggested that he expressed those interests in the depiction of places. A photograph can transport the viewer to the street corner of the town they live in, to the next city or the edge of the earth.

A photograph is created by a photographer standing in a particular place at a specific time. Amongst the many reasons for a photographer initially making the photograph one that is paramount is that the photographer wishes to ‘take the viewer there’.

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Patrick Brown’s polaroid landscapes of Australia’s ‘Never Never’ (As Indigenous Australians sometimes refer to the Outback) exhibition titled, HOPE and on show at The Jam Factory in Bangkok Sept. 17 – Oct. 17th succeeds eminently in ‘taking the viewer there’.

Brown’s dark and brooding polaroids not only ‘take the viewer there’ they also act as a kind of emotional trigger. On viewing the polaroids a yearning to travel to where Brown painstakingly made his photographs follows. The want to explore the places and understand the secret of their beauty beckons.

As with Brown’s polaroids, compelling photographs always ask more questions than they ever answer. Questions similar to, what is my relation to these vast ‘forever’ spaces? Where do I or not fit in?

What is unique about this exhibition is that Brown has answered some of the questions photographs like these often ask. He has been successful in reading the visual signifiers’ and messages thrown at him by the natural (and at times the manmade world) which is busy in an endless cycle of creation and destruction. He has given their indicators shape and context. He puts the viewer and by extension — man the protagonist — squarely ‘there’. It becomes evident that man is not just standing on the edge of these landscapes. Man is center stage. He has ideologically, historically, economically, agriculturally, spiritually interacted and finally appropriated these vast spaces. Harmony, discord, fruitfulness, barrenness, utopia and destruction amongst a myriad of others have followed. Man’s interaction is burnt into landscapes not unlike the burnt landscapes themselves documented here. Perhaps the most important question these photographs solicit from the viewer is; will man protect these spaces for future generations or exploit and destroy them as he has done since time immemorial?

Each photograph in HOPE responds to the viewer in the form of a contemplative experience and potently compels the viewer to – question everything. ~ JP

Last Call for Cuba

In Photography News, Street Photography, Workshop News on September 4, 2015 at 12:03 PM

Havana, Cuba Workshop: Dec 6th – 11th, 2015

Last chance, to register for our Havana, Cuba Workshop!

Deadline for registration is Monday, Sept. 14th.unnamed               © Photograph by Stephen Dupont

 

Don’t miss this special opportunity to join us in Havana before it all changes. This is the last opportunity to document and experience Cuba before it transitions into modernity.

Secure a place with a  US$500 deposit.

We will fast track your photography authorship to a higher aesthetic.

Documentary photographer Jack Picone will work in tandem with workshop partner Stephen Dupont, acclaimed photojournalist and artist. Both Stephen and Jack will critique and edit participants’ work one-on-one, and also take part in evening projections and discussions.

An introductory get-together will be held on the evening prior to the workshop’s formal start in Havana. Like any working documentary photographer, you will be given an assignment brief to interpret as you wish. (The brief will be announced prior to the workshop to give you time to research possible subjects before you arrive.) The aim is to produce a documentary photo essay with a striking visual narrative, to be shown on the final evening of the workshop.

Cost: US$2,650. Includes all workshop sessions. Workshop cost does not include travel costs to Cuba and accommodation. A US$500 (non-refundable secures a place on the workshop) with the balance to be paid no less then one month before the workshop starting date.

Application: Our workshops are strictly limited to 15 participants. Havana is a very popular workshop destination, so please do book early to avoid disappointment.

To receive further information about Havana or to request a registration form, please contact: jack@jackpicone.com and/or stephendupont@bigpond.com

Links:

Jack Picone

http://www.jackpicone.com/

Stephen Dupont

http://www.stephendupont.com/

Please Note: We advise that all participants take out medical/travel insurance for the Cuba workshop. Also, due to unforeseen circumstances workshop dates can be subject to change. However, this is rare.

 

Exclusive book signing at Ballarat International Foto Biennale, August 22.

In Photography News on August 11, 2015 at 5:30 AM

Stephen Dupont will be signing copies of his new book published by Steidl titled Generation AK: The Afghanistan Wars 1993 – 2012. This will be a first time signing of the book. Go along to the Art Gallery of Ballarat on Saturday August 22nd between 2pm and 3pm to purchase books. Stephen will also have some of the last limited edition copies of Piksa Niugini available and more of his books. 1510687_117759638564598_746103430785015757_nAlso Stephen and myself are taking bookings for our next workshop event in Havana, Cuba Dec 6th – 11th. Click here  for further details.  All enquires to jack@jackpicone.com and stephendupont@bigpond.com

 

Vintage Prints

In Photography News on October 29, 2014 at 5:50 AM
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“Exit”. Vanessa, Oxford St, Sydney. 2000

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“Monks and Garlic”. Cambodia, 2006.

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“Taxi Boat”, Lamu, Kenya. 1998.

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“Sun Bathers”, Coogee, Sydney. 1984.

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“Wylies Pool”. Coogee, Sydney. 1984

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“End Of Shift”. Shearer, outback NSW. 1995

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The Shearers’ Cook and The Cooks Husband. Outback NSW, Australia. 1995

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“Trees and Pregnant”. Southern NSW, Australia. 1999

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“The Back Of Beyond”. Outback NSW, Australia. 1995

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“Month Five”. Bondi, Sydney. 1999

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“Month Nine”. Bondi, Sydney. 1999

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“Town Tower”. Broken Hill, NSW. 1999

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“Broken Hill”. Broken Hill, NSW. 1999

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“Sign Language”. Broken Hill, NSW. 1999

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“Letting The Clients Know”. Kalgoolie, Western Australia. 2001

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“Barmaid”. Kalgoolie, Western Australia. 2001

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“Sex Workers”. Kalgoolie, Western Australia. 2001

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“Circus in Town”. Orange, NSW, Australia 1983.

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“Levitation”. Orange, NSW, Australia 1983.

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“The Big Top”. Orange, NSW, Australia 1983.

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“Club 181”. Sex Worker, Kalgoolie, Western Australia. 2001

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“Voyeur”. Kalgoolie, Western Australia. 2001

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“Back Stage”. Drag queens warm up. Oxford St, Sydney. 1999

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” Hair Spray”. Drag queen performance. Oxford St, Sydney. 1999

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“Vanessa”. Drag queen, Sydney. 1999

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“Andrew Is Dispatched”. Sydney, 1999.

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“Andrew And Family”.Minto, Sydney, 1999.

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“Housewives”. Broken Hill, NSW. 1999

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“By A Nose”. Races, Kalgoolie. 2001

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“Rites Of Passage”. Ballinsloe, Southern Ireland. 2002.

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“Dichotomy”. Beijing, China. 2005.

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“The Winner”. Bethnal Green, London. 1996

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“Revolving Door”. Businessman, Beijing, China. 2005.

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“Insurance”. Phonsavan Airport, Laos. 2007

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“Repose”. Phonsovane, Laos. 2007

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“Cruising”. Main road Phonsavan, Laos. 2006

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“House of God”. Mando, Sulawesi. 2002

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“Freedom Fighter”. Thai-Burma Border. 2007

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“Raining Rice”. Rice Harvest, Thai-Burma Border. 2007

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“Between Two Worlds”. Thai-Burma Border. 2008

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“Landmine Victim”. Thai-Burma Border. 2006

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“Before The Frontline”. Thai-Burma Border. 2007

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“Bathing”. Thai-Burma Border. 2005

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“Horse Monks”. Thai-Burma Border. 2007

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“Cocoon”. Cremation Ritual, Thai-Burma Border. 2007

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“Island Hopping”. Lamau, Kenya. 1999

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“At Sea”. East Coast, Kenya. 1999

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“Mooring”. Lamau, Kenya. 1999

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” Riding The Wind”. Lamau, Kenya. 1999

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” Homeward Bound” . Lamau, Kenya. 1999

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“The Captains Daughter”. Lamau, Kenya. 1999

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“Bringing In The Dhow”. Lamau, Kenya. 1999

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“In between War”. Liberia 1995.

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“Genocide”. Rwanda. 1994

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“Trade Routes”. Luang Prabang, Laos. 2007

Al Jazeera Magazine | War Veterans | August 2014

In Photography News on August 3, 2014 at 5:17 AM

Reflections of a war photographer.

© Words and photos by Jack Picone
jack@jackpicone.com

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I have never felt more intensely alive than I did in the moments before I was certain I was about to die.

This is how war can make you feel.

War. Even the word is ominous.

People sometimes assume that photographers go to war zones because they are adrenaline junkies. This was not the case for me. Obviously, war zones can be adrenaline-charged places, and by helping you to think clearly when faced with danger, that adrenaline can keep you alive. But my motivation for documenting war has been more layered and nuanced than a need to feed some adrenalin craving or an inclination towards voyeurism – another accusation sometimes directed at war photographers.

In my experience, people rarely do extreme things for a singular reason. And willingly entering a war zone is an extreme thing to do. My grandfather had fought in Papua New Guinea during the Second World War and I’d read extensively on the topic; all of which had helped to form the nagging question in my own mind of whether I had the resourcefulness and courage to document such events. At the time I was a staff photographer on a major daily Australian newspaper; a job I found repetitive and unchallenging. So, when the picture editor of that paper asked its 20 staff photographers whether any would be interested in covering the first Iraq War, my response was immediate. I was the only one to say ‘yes’.

But my first war proved anticlimactic as my time in Baghdad was short-lived. I was arrested by Iraqi secret police for transmitting photographs of Iraqi troops crossing the border into Kuwait, put on an empty plane and deported to Jordan.

My first ‘real’ war experience came some after, and it couldn’t have been more different. The Nagorno-Karabakh War had been raging in Armenia since the mid-1980s. I arrived in 1992, aged around 30 and ready to answer the question I’d carried around with me for years: could I keep my head, literally and metaphorically, as I documented an exchange of gunfire between warring soldiers?

I was making my way towards Armenian soldiers positioned in trenches by the side of a mountain when I got my answer. The mountain suddenly reverberated with the sound of gunfire and exploding mortar shells. Ink-blot black clouds snaked their way eerily towards the sky. A shallow hole – a perfect ready-made grave – provided my only cover from the incoming bullets and cluster bombs. I remember thinking as I lay there, that while this was too picturesque a place to be the scene of war, it was certainly a beautiful place to die.

Then I looked up and saw an Armenian soldier signal for me to run to him. His trench was only about 80m away, but that short run seemed to go on forever. I took some shrapnel in the lower back and head but I was alive. My heart pounded, adrenaline surged through my body and I felt that kind of affirming, edifying euphoria that comes with escaping death.

On reflection, I can conservatively estimate that I should have been killed at least five times over by now: once at the hands of a mob in Rwanda, another time in southern Sudan, when a Sudanese government soldier put his pistol to my temple and screamed that he was going to pull the trigger. On both occasions, only a chance intervention helped me cheat death.

I have worked in some of the most dangerous places on the planet: Angola, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Gaza Strip, Israel, Soviet Central Asia and the former Yugoslavia. It could be argued that most of these were unconventional wars, where armed groups and rebel factions took each other on and where it was possible for a photographer to cover both – or indeed multiple – sides of the conflict. Far from being embedded with one side or the other, as you might in Iraq or Afghanistan, a photographer in less structured conflicts can cross enemy lines, evading censorship and propaganda. But these wars also pose their own challenges – leaving you open to accusations of spying and making it much easier to ‘disappear’.

During many of the African conflicts I covered, photographers and journalists were killed at roadblocks by bored soldiers, who were often stoned, drunk or both. It’s no mystery why they were targeted. War photographers can carry more money and equipment than a rebel soldier in an underfunded rag-tag army can hope to earn in years.

Having escaped death several times, I gained a new-found confidence that I could document the ‘bang bang’, as seasoned war photographers sometimes refer to it, and stay alive. But with this came the realisation that documenting war really ought to involve more than simply photographing soldiers. What seemed exponentially more important was telling the stories of the innocent people – the children, women and elderly men – caught in its crossfire. I shifted my focus from the frontlines to the ordinary people on the edges of war.

Apart from the inbuilt danger of working in a war zone, photographing war is a philosophical, emotional, ethical and moral minefield (pun intended). On many occasions, I have found myself questioning what I was documenting. But the decision about whether or not to press the shutter has to be made in a micro-second and is fraught with responsibility.

I haven’t always made the right choice. During the famine in Somalia in 1992, I photographed an infant cradled in the arms of an aid worker. “You can stop taking pictures now Jack,” the nurse told me in her thick Irish accent. “The baby just died.” The thought that the last thing that child saw was me photographing it, has haunted me ever since. The fact that the aid agency had asked me to photograph them at work in order to help publicise the desperate plight of the Somali people offered no consolation. I was inconsolable.

A photographer has a role to play in a war zone: to bear witness, to make the invisible visible, the unheard heard and to create a visual history. For me, these tenets have acted as a filter for all but the most horrific situations I have encountered in the theatre of war. But the emotional torment often followed me home. In denial, I told myself, my friends and my family that I was unaffected by what I saw. But then the nightmares began. The emotional hangover from witnessing and documenting violence too dark to describe exacted its toll. I self-medicated with alcohol and drugs, which only worsened my problems. I still haven’t come to terms with what I’ve witnessed, but I have stopped trying to use substances to control my emotions and am instead simply trying to co-exist with the discord.

War is many things, most of them barbaric. But what disturbs me most about it is its repetitiveness: the same play, just with a new cast. That being said, nothing seems more important to me than documenting the plight of those caught up in it. Right at this very moment, human beings are frenetically killing each other in countries across the world. All we can really do is bear witness; to hold up a mirror to man’s inhumanity to man in the scant hope that future generations will succeed where we have so conclusively failed and break the cycle.

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BIO:

Jack Picone is an Australian, Bangkok-based photojournalist and documentary photographer who has been covering war zones since the early 1990s. He has travelled from the Middle East to Eastern Europe and multiple countries on the African continent documenting the fall-out from war.