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Posts Tagged ‘Learn’

A Small Selection Of Testimonials

In Ethics, Photography, Photography News, Workshop News on August 14, 2018 at 5:29 PM

Caption: Photoshop is “OK” but undeniable magic is experienced when a confluence of moment, aesthetic, light and emotion is delivered to the photographer in the form of a poetic photograph by the universe.

Join us in Havana for our upcoming photography workshop this November. Click here for further details.

 

Below is a small selection of testimonials from former participants who have attended Reportage Photography Workshops.

“For me, the Kathmandu workshop has been an unforgettable and very inspiring event in my life. Now after one week, looking back, I have only one word to summarize this experience: … wowww!!! It was a pleasure and honour to participate. Apart from the very professional instructions and guidance on photography from Jack and Stephen, it was amazing to discover that it is not only a great photo that counts but also the passion, vision, social/cultural involvement and messages of a great person behind all the work that was shared with us”.

Merci beaucoup!

Steven Van der Kruit

“Would I advise friends to do this workshop? YES

Would I do it again?

YES overseas to live a different experience and see a new place

Did I get out of the class what I expected?

YES, a lot more than what I expected.”

Andrea Francolini

“I had a very enjoyable time at the workshop and feel that I accomplished what I set out for – that is to hone my skills, learn new skills and become better able to take pictures of life here.  It was a wonderful experience and I think I took some of the best pictures that I have ever taken, so I’m completely chuffed”.

Luke Stephens

“Just wanted to say a big thank you to Jack for saying and insisting, “what’s your narrative about – tell me – I want to know”. To David for pushing me to explore things and persisting when I had a mini-crisis about it. To Steve for your artistic sensibility, sharing of your work and for questioning the suitcase shot. To Ed for your patience, encouragement and contemporary eyes for things. I was lucky to be part of it.”

Cim Sears

I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop experience. All four mentors offered sensitivity, encouragement and insight and were able to see the possibility of my work and push me to my strengths. Even though the critiques were casual the comments were direct and informed. After each critique, the bar was set that bit higher, as a consequence I was pushed into unfamiliar territory and subsequently into getting more interesting shots. The mantras “1 in 15” and “you don’t know until you go” keep me shooting and persisting. As a result, I built my confidence, resilience and stoked my photographic fire.

Skye

 “I have to say that I really enjoyed the week (even though it was hard work!) and felt that my photographic eye and technique improved significantly…I benefited greatly from the session with Jack and Steve in putting together my final selection for the showing on the final day – and the group praise from the panel afterwards was reassuring.”

Kieron Crawley

 ‘’I think what the Workshop is doing great is to give a different perspective to those pictures we “usually see without seeing”… and this is great and very refreshing! And also the Workshop has 100% fulfilled its expectations for me in terms of “inspiring people”! Great job!

I learnt a lot from the workshop, a totally new experience and can’t wait to go in the street taking pictures again.’’

Cecile Ducreux

 “Don’t miss the opportunity of learning photography with Jack Picone. He is a unique combination of professional photographer, local guide, and best friend. Work at your own pace. Have Jack review your images on a daily basis, discuss your shots in-depth, or shoot eight hours a day. He will let you know what to look for in a scene and be able to gain access into intimate situations. Jack is a photojournalist on a Magnum and National Geographic level with a passion for teaching. Take your photography to the next level and enjoy a memorable travel experience too.”

Jeffrey Jue

“Without a doubt the most inspiring six days I’ve ever experienced. I was inspired to develop my own style and to follow what I believe to be true to me, and more importantly, to go out and have fun! Thanks again for a fantastic six days. I went out to Kings Cross and I’m confident I’ve taken some of my best shots for my project immediately following the workshop… oh! and I’m shooting in film now. That’s how influential Jack, Stephen was, to the point of experimenting with a different medium”.

Ian Flanders

“The Reportage Photography Workshop” was an extremely valuable experience. It was an immense help to me to hear Jack and Steve both talk about their work, the changing world of photojournalism, and what it takes to be a photographer in this day and age. Not only that but their expert advice in relation to photographic techniques, equipment and critique was immensely beneficial. It was also a great opportunity to meet other talented photographers during the workshop. I highly recommend this workshop to anyone with the desire to extend their documentary/photojournalism photography. It was a very inspiring few days.”

Zoe Morley

 I attended the Sydney Workshop even though I don’t necessarily want to specialise in photojournalism. I found that the learning was applicable across all photographic disciplines. I came away with more knowledge and confidence about framing, composition and storytelling – what makes a great shot. But possibly the greatest thing I took away from the workshops was inspiration. To hear the stories and see the pictures made by world-class photographers like Jack Picone and Stephen Dupont renewed my energy to shoot and my passion for photography. The range of other presentations from legends of the industry like Tim Page and others only value-added and widened the appeal and scope for me. I found Picone and Dupont to be frank and honest in their critique of my work and yet sufficiently gentle in their suggestions and friendly nature not to crush my spirit.  I’ve found it very difficult to get honest and considered feedback on my photography over the years – but I found it at the workshops. I would encourage anyone who was thinking about attending one of their workshops to do so.  The more you put into it, the more you’ll get back.”

Tim Anger

 “This was an excellent workshop, with some outstanding international photographers coming in to show us their work, and to tell us their story. It was very inspiring. For me the best part was absolutely the critique of the images being taken, as it is very hard to get good honest critique, and to have the photos that you have just taken really given a working over was a very good experience and offered good insight into what other people are looking at and experiencing with the photos. The theme of photographing ‘Hope’ was also very interesting, as this was the first time I had been given such an assignment, and it was very helpful to see the thought processes that I went through.

“At 21 I was probably the youngest person in the workshop, possibly with the least experience, but this was no barrier; everyone was equal, everyone has constructive criticism, everyone had a story to tell, it was really lovely being in such a group. Given the opportunity, I would not hesitate to recommend this on to others, or to participate in the workshop again.”

Mitchell Mathieson

“The workshop was a chance to get up close and personal with two (Picone and Dupont) outstanding members of the professional photographic community as well as the guest presenters who were all amazing in their own right. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to meet, discuss and interact with the other students in an open forum. I will be using my experience as a foundation for my photographic style which will no doubt benefit from the valuable guidance I received”.

David Gross

 “I shot a lot of photos and I gained enormous insight into the editing process in regard to how to tell various stories from the one body of work. I also greatly appreciated the guidance in refining my shooting techniques. The relaxed environment was surprisingly conducive to learning and the opportunity to listen in on critique sessions of other participants was particularly insightful”.

Trish Macris

“For me, the Sydney workshop was really valuable, not only in the obvious ways but also in the quiet moments of conversation, discussions and image reviews.  Spending time with photographers actually successful in their vocation was something that made it all very tangible. It was truly valuable to see portfolios of work by high quality, significant photographers and their personal commentary as they presented their own work…  Stephen’s work on PNG and increasing focus on the anthropological aspect of his art,  Jack’s work on the Thai-Burma border and pearls of wisdom throughout the week, Tim Page’s extraordinary body of work during the Vietnam war, and documenting the impact of agent orange since then.  I found the reviews of my own work and the work of my colleagues really helpful. Tim Page’s brutally frank reviews were really helpful and an eye-opener.  Jack’s thoughtful insight into what makes a good and interesting photograph resonated deeply.  Stephen’s eye and holistic view when it came to image selection, editing and presentation were excellent.  I came away with a great appreciation and respect for the photographers we spent time with and more clarity for my own path ahead.”

Kate Baker

‘I learned a lot. The shooting assignment was a brilliant idea… scary, but brilliant. Not only did it provide a platform to be critiqued by Jack and Steve, but I personally felt really encouraged to push myself. I found Jack and Steve’s passion for photography, encouragement and aiming for excellence very contagious. Having additional visiting photographers share their stories as well as just being really inspired by the creative energy of the other participants in the workshop all around made for a great week. I think I was on a high all week… I thoroughly recommend it!!’

“A”

 ~ ends

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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

Kathmandu September 3rd-7th, 2017

In Workshop News on March 9, 2017 at 2:26 AM

KATHMANDU

September 3rd-7th 

2017

                                                                                                      © Photograph by Jack Picone

Reportage Photography Workshops will hold its second roving workshop in Kathmandu. Kathmandu is one of the world’s most atmospheric cities. Even as urban chaos encroaches, this “city at the top of the world” retains its unique aura of magic, mysticism, and tradition. Over the last decade its roughly one million inhabitants, who are squeezed tightly into the Kathmandu Valley, have also been experiencing a period of major social and political turmoil – from a fierce Maoist insurgency, government curfews, and censorship to mass demonstrations against royal rule and killings of protesters. Democracy was restored in 2006 amid jubilation, and the Maoists have since joined an interim government. Today, many Nepalis believe their country has entered a new era of hope and peace.

What the Travel Guides say:

“Draped along the spine of the Himalaya, Nepal is a land of sublime scenery, time-worn temples, and some of the best hiking trails on earth. It’s a poor country, but it is rich in scenic splendor and cultural treasures. The kingdom has long exerted a pull on the Western imagination. Kathmandu is really two cities: a fabled capital of convivial pilgrims and carved rose-brick temples, and a frenetic sprawl of modern towers, mobbed by beggars and monkeys and smothered in diesel fumes. It simultaneously reeks of history and the encroaching wear and tear of the modern world.” – Lonely Planet

Workshop Overview: Award-winning documentary photographer Jack Picone will work in tandem with workshop partner Stephen Dupont, the acclaimed photojournalist, and filmmaker. Both Stephen and Jack will be there to critique and edit participants’ work one-to-one, and also take part in evening projections and discussions.

An introductory get-together will be held on the evening before the workshop’s formal start. Like any working documentary photographer, you will be given an assignment brief to interpret as you wish. (The brief will be announced before 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. Tutors will hold individual and group sessions to supervise and edit the assignments, and dialogue intensively on topics such as photographic composition, portraiture, basic camera techniques, how to research ideas and tell an original story, how to market a body of work, and how to hone your personal style. The workshop is very project based as opposed to technically driven.

The workshop’s schedule will be demanding but highly rewarding. Tutors and field assistants will be on hand constantly to help navigate any areas of difficulty and discuss all your photographic concerns. Interpreters can also be arranged where necessary.

Traditional Photo Essay and Multimedia: During the workshop participants will have an option to produce a completed photo essay within the documentary tradition or in a more contemporary context, a multimedia. In both cases, tutors will be on hand to guide you through the respective process.

Application: The workshop is strictly limited to 12 participants. A $500 deposit will be required at the time of booking to secure a place. This is one of our most popular workshops, so book early to avoid disappointment.

Cost: US$1,950 includes all workshops sessions. Workshop cost does not include travel costs to Kathmandu and accommodation.

To receive further information or to request a registration form, please contact: Jack Picone: jackvpicone@gmail.com or Stephen Dupont: stephendupont1@me.com

 

Links:

Jack Picone

http://www.jackpicone.com

Stephen Dupont

http://www.contactpressimages.com/photographers/dupont/dupont_bio.html

 

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

One to One Tuition 10% discount (between 1st – 31st March, 2017 only)

In Workshop News on December 4, 2016 at 2:21 AM

One to One Tuition

10% discount (between 1st – 31st March 2017).

JP_SandyEdwards-LR_0

One – to – one participant Sandy Edwards during her tuition in Bangkok © Photograph by Jack Picone.     

“Thank you for a wonderful, informative, learning, fun, Buddhist, photography week in Bangkok”.

~ Sandy Edwards

Join Jack Picone for one – to – one photography tuition designed to address your photographic needs! It will be an extraordinary experience!

What I teach you can’t be found on YouTube!

Tuition Costs  $US445 per day & $US335 per half day

What I teach can’t be found on YouTube

With discount: Now $US400.50 and US$301.50

 

*Discounts apply for couples and groups and for sessions five days and longer.

*Concerning cost: Cost is below my day and half day rates that I bill editorial clients as a professional photographer. I have been working in excess of thirty years as a professional photographer for the world’s leading media publications. I have a Masters in Visual Arts and  a Ph.D. in Documentary Photography.  What I impart during one-to-one tutorials cannot be found on a YouTube video. What you take away is; knowledge that you will be able to apply over and over again to your own photography, elevating the aesthetic of your authored images – hyperbolically. 

Reportage Photography Workshops tutor Jack Picone delivers one-on-one tuition to individuals and groups (up to four) in Thailand and neighboring Asian countries. One-to-one tuition is for people who are interested in fast-tracking their photographic skill and vision.

Tuition can be individually structured to accommodate photographers learning requirements.

Jack is a working photojournalist and documentary photographer with extensive experience as a photography educator.

jackpicone-one-to-one-lr-1

(Above and below) One-to-one participants at work in Bangkok’s urban slum area, Khlong Toei.

jackpicone_one-to-one_-2

Includes

On location shooting instruction, intensive post-shooting editing, critiquing, sequencing and basic Photoshop.

When?  

On a rolling basis 2016-2017. Book early to secure your ideal dates.

jackpicone-jeffjue-1

(Above) Jeffrey Jue with local Nepalese photographer Sailendra Kharel, during a one – to – one tutorial in Kathmandu in Nepal.

Contact

To receive further information about one – to – one tuition or to request a registration form, please contact: jack@jackpicone.com 

Links:

Jack Picone

http://www.jackpicone.com/

Please Note: We advise that all participants take out medical/travel insurance for travel to Asia.

 

A Near Perfect Encapsulation For What a ‘Good Picture’ Should Do.

In Ethics on November 5, 2016 at 12:19 PM

“If it makes you laugh, if it makes you cry, if it rips out your heart, that’s a good picture” ~ Eddie Adams

news_podcast_pulitzer_1969-e1431460840302

Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan (above), chief of the South Vietnamese national police, firing his pistol into the head of a Vietcong prisoner, Nguyen Van Lem, on a Saigon street during the Tet offensive on Feb. 1, 1968. (Eddie Adams/Associated Press)

PHOTOGRAPHER, ASSOCIATED PRESS

A combat photographer since the Korean War, Eddie Adams joined the Associated Press team in Vietnam in 1965. He became famous for his 1968 photograph of Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan, chief of South Vietnam’s national police, shooting a Viet Cong prisoner in the head. Adams later regretted the picture’s notoriety, preferring to be remembered for his images of Vietnamese refugees after the war.

Adams’s time covering the war and the searing photograph above marks fifty years since the start of America’s first televised war and is symbolic of how dramatic stories authored by photojournalists and journalists brought news about the war to the rest of the world.

Fujifilm x/100s

In Street Photography on August 13, 2016 at 7:14 AM

Even though a reasonable amount of time has eclipsed since Fujifilm launched [2013] the x/100I still find myself imbued with it. It is intuitive to use, produces technically superb files and is discreet. Here is a link to a short video of me using it while in Burma or now as it is known Myanmar.

 

JackPicone_Burma_-Fuji-X100s-002

A mother cares for her son during a ferry crossing on the Irrawaddy River Yangon, Burma.                                                                                                                           

        Photograph by © Jack Picone

 

Cuba 2018 Workshop

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

Havana, Cuba Workshop: Nov. 18th – 22nd, 2018

Register for our Havana, Cuba Workshop!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 to modernity.

Secure a place with a US$500 deposit.

We will fast track your photography authorship to a higher aesthetic. This workshop is open to all regardless of your level of photography practice.

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: A special price of US$1,850 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.

Final deadline for registration is Thursday, Oct. 18th.

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.

 

Bangkok Weekend Photography Masterclass | Nov. 28th – 30th | 2014

In Workshop News on November 20, 2014 at 7:02 AM

General Overview of Bangkok Masterclass

by Nic Dunlop and Jack Picone

JackPicone-BKK_Masterclass-0Street photograph on Silom Road, Bangkok © by Jack Picone 

Documentary photographer Jack Picone will work in tandem with masterclass guest tutor Nic Dunlop , acclaimed photojournalist and filmmaker. Both Nic and Jack will work closely with participants critiquing and editing their authored work.

An introductory get-together and projection will be held on the evening of the 28th (Friday) at, The Jam Factory. Also, on the first evening and just like any working photographer, you will be given an assignment. In this case, the assignment will be a ‘Word’ to interpret as you wish.

The aim is to produce a short photo essay with a striking visual narrative, to be shown on the final evening of the masterclass.

Nic and Jack will be on hand constantly to help navigate any areas of difficulty and discuss all your photographic concerns, hold individual and group sessions to supervise and edit the assignments, and dialogue intensively on topics such as photographic composition, portraiture, basic camera techniques, how to research ideas and tell an original story and how to hone your personal style. The masterclass is very project based as opposed to technically driven and open to all regardless of level of photography. We explore art, travel and traditional social documentary genres.

The masterclass schedule will be challenging, fun and highly rewarding.

Date: November 28th – 30th (Friday evening to Sunday)

Location: The Jam Factory, Bangkok.

Address: 41/1-5 เจริญนคร Khlong San, Bangkok 10600

Phone: 02 861 0950

To Bring: A laptop computer. A digital camera (size and format not important). If you would like to use a cell phone camera – it is okay.

Skill Level: Open to all.

Registration: The Masterclass is strictly limited to 10 participants. Places will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Cost: $US495.00 Includes all Masterclass sessions. Masterclass cost does not include travel costs to Bangkok and accommodation or travel insurance.

This Masterclass will be particularly popular and will fill fast, so please don’t leave making your full payment to the last minute to avoid disappointment.

For further details and/or to request a registration form please mail Jack Picone: jack@jackpicone.com and Nic Dunlop: nic@nicdunlop.com

 

 

 

 

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

image002

 

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.