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© Kenneth Libbrecht.

As heavy as the snow is falling here in Seattle, I dump these stories that I’ve noticed recently. All worth reading/seeing.

1) – The 2010 Lennart Nilsson Award (Recognizing Extraordinary Image Makers in Science) has gone to CalTach Physicist Kenneth Libbrecht. (Found via Jim)

2) – Rob Hornstra visited Abkhazia’s only prison.

3) – Moscow’s Butyrka remand prison is to install sunbeds for inmates.

4) – MIT has developed a camera that uses echos of light to see around corners. No doubt an attractive tool for SWAT teams, riot police and extraction teams in hostage situations and maybe prisons. I say this having written about ‘Through the Wall Surveillance’ before.

5) – French photographer, Olivier Laban-Mattei won the 2010 Grand Prix Paris Match for his coverage of Haiti. He was one of the many photographers who documented the death of Fabienne Cherisma. (Found via The Travel Photographer)

Edelgard Clavey, 67. First portrait: December 5 2003 / Second portrait: January 4 2004. © Walter Schels

6) – Walter Schels‘ photo project “Life Before Death”, includes 24 sets of before-and-after portraits ranging from a 17-month-old baby to a man of 83. Now on show at the Wellcome Collection, London. (More in this interview at LensCulture)

7) – More excellent opinion from John Edwin Mason, this time about the differences between the photo-op at Kenny Kunene’s lavish 40th birthday party and the responsible photography of Oupa Nkosi documenting the wealth and work of Black South Africans.

“No surprise, then, that Kunene has become the poster boy for shamelessly conspicuous consumption in county where, as the Guardian points out, 1.6% of the… population earns a quarter of all personal income.  Only 41% have a job and just 58% have attended secondary school; 9% don’t have access to water, 23% don’t have toilets and 24% don’t have electricity.  Average life expectancy is 52, the lowest since 1970. Zwelinzima Vavi, the South Africa’s most important labor leader, pointed to Kunene’s party when warning of elites who “scavenge on the carcass of our people” like hyenas.”

8 ) – Simon Sticker‘s 100 + 1 tips for the iconic Africa picture is the latest rant about stereotypes in conversation/photography on Africa.

National Photographers Association of Canada (NPAC) blog

9) – During the summer, I recommended the NPAC blog. Often working photographers will take over the posts for five posts in a week. Between the 8th and 12th November, Jen Osborne took the helm.

© Jen Osborne. Bounce is a very popular music movement originating in New Orleans, USA.  It came from the streets and is a mix between Rap, Jazz, and Electronic music.  It is popular amongst young adults due to its hard, fast and sexual nature, which inspires eccentric fashion trends.  It also appeals to the gay community because Bounce music now contains various gay entertainers.

Jen’s five days of blogging:

Day 1 – The Importance of Learning – Working on the fly with ‘Bounce’ dancers in New Orleans.
Day 2 – Bad associations can sabotage good work! – On access to Talavera Bruce prison, Rio de Janiero. Sketchy fixers, smuggled prison cellphones and released female prisoners.
Day 3 – Thinking Locally – Drug addiction, mental illness and homelessness in her home city Vancouver.
Day 4 – Vicarious Trauma – Vicarious trauma, a newly defined term applies to “wide range of people working with clients or subjects suffering from traumatic experiences; doctors, journalists, social workers, lawyers …”
Day 5 – Doing It Because You Want To – “It is important to have your own projects to work on – projects that make you as the photographer gratified. I think it is important to do meaningful work because it will always be there for you, even when the jobs aren’t.”

Great stuff.

10) – Ed Ou, reflecting on the Joop Swart Masterclass makes all young photojournalists smile with his stirring optimism:

“It is exciting to spend time with photographers from around the world and never mention the “death” of our industry. While there may be smaller budgets and fewer outlets, there will always be room for good photography. The only way to brave the bad times is to just keep shooting.”

© Ed Ou. Nurse Larissa Soboleva holds two-year-old Adil Zhilyaer in an orphanage in Serney, Kazakhstan. Adil was born blind and afflicted Infantile Cerebral Paralysis (ICP) and hydrocephalia as a result of his mother’s exposure to radiation during years of Soviet weapons testing during the Cold War. He was abandoned by his parents and is now cared for in an orphanage.


On the 3rd February, Adjustment Layer posted an account by photographer Edward Linsmier. It is the fullest eye-witness account by a photographer of events surrounding Fabienne’s death that I have read.

The account doesn’t name the girl as Fabienne. Her name has been available from different sources for some time.

Also worth noting, Linsmier talks of Nathan Weber, another photographer present. I was not aware Weber was at the scene.

Fabienne Cherisma lies dead after being shot in the head by police. January 19th, 2010. © Edward Linsmier


Read the full account on Adjustment Layer.

Linsmier opens with the excess necessary to hook the reader, “We heard gunshots and knew we needed to be closer. We processed the thought for a split second and we took off running with our fixer not far behind.” and, “Emboldened by the electricity of the chaos, we advanced further and saw people laying on the ground with police yelling and waving guns in the air and shouting commands.”

Linsmier goes on, “We retreated several steps and waited behind a truck for several seconds until the police were distracted. I saw another photographer up the road and decided that we needed to make a move closer to him so we could make some pictures.”

(One presumes this other photographer is Weber?)

“We followed … onto a downed roof top that led to the exposed insides of several shops filled with the scavenging and excited crowd. We were making pictures.”

“The fixer motioned for me to come because the police had caught a man and had him down on the ground. I, in turn, motioned for my friend and fellow photographer, Nathan Weber, who was still on the slanting concrete rooftop to follow me to the commotion down the road. I yelled his name and he looked at me with a blank stare. Nathan is someone who is on point in a situation such as this. He communicates quickly, clearly and with authority when needed. He is no stranger to photographing in similar situations but something of this magnitude was new to both of us. I knew he heard me and figured he would be right behind me as I headed down to the commotion.”

Linsmier returns to see Fabienne’s body, “[I] climbed back up on the roof to see Nathan in almost the exact same spot where I last saw him, except he was looking at a girl who was lying face down on the slanting concrete roof. As best as I can recall, Nathan spoke in short sentences, “I saw her fall. I thought she tripped and knocked herself out. She’s dead. Fuck. She got shot. I was right here.”

“The decision to continue making photographs was instinctual. More photographers showed up and we were all making pictures, composing the dead girl in the foreground as the looters continued to walk past her, almost over her, carrying whatever they could. Several men stopped to turn her over, seemingly to identify the body. They gently took her arms and almost had to twist her just a little to face her upward. They looked at her with little emotion and left.”

This record of events is interesting because it doesn’t report the bypassers going through Fabienne’s pockets as the Guardian did here.

“She had been shot in the head. From what I could tell, the bullet entered her cheek and exited from the back of her head. The blood had been pooling in some picture frames she was carrying when she fell. After the men moved her, the blood began to run down the slanting concrete roof towards us. We all were still making pictures. To anybody else, it must have looked sick, a crowd of photographers vying for the best position to tell the story of the death of a girl.”

“Just about the time that I figured the pictures were over and we should leave, a frantic man and several others emerged from the crowd. It was the family of the girl. The father hoisted her onto his shoulders and began the journey of bringing his daughter home. The photographers followed. Ordinarily, this would be a scene that hardly anyone could bare to photograph. They were experiencing probably some of the most painful moments of their lives but they knew why we were there. Not once did anyone give a mean look; not once did I hear anyone question why all the photographers were following this family’s grief so intently and so closely. It was part of the story.”


The underlining above is mine. It highlights the photographers’ conscious activities. I make no judgments here. Linsmier is aware of the sensitivity of the situation. Like, Mullady, yesterday, Linsmier’s candour should be appreciated.

Photographs are deceiving. I should know that by now. When I began my inquiry into Fabienne’s death, I assumed there was a scarcity of images. I presumed only Grarup and Garcia Rawlins had witnessed and recorded the incident.

It is clear, now, that there was more photography and activity. On the scene, at various points, were six photographers – Jan Grarup, Olivier Laban-Mattei, Edward Linsmier, Michael Mullady, Carlos Garcia Rawlins and Nathan Weber.

I’d like to state that I have no agenda here, I am simply interested in constructing the scene in a wider context. Photographers don’t work in a vacuum and we must demand to turn their images inside out to understand the context in which the images were created.

Mining the conditions of production is a position I have held consistently throughout my writing on Prison Photography. I am a great admirer of Errol Morris’ writings that demystify photography; it is in that spirit I am pursuing this inquiry.

Thanks to Melissa Lyttle for the note on Edward’s interview.

– – –


Part One: Fabienne Cherisma (Initial inquiries, Jan Grarup, Olivier Laban Mattei)
Part Two: More on Fabienne Cherisma (Carlos Garcia Rawlins)
Part Three: Furthermore on Fabienne Cherisma (Michael Mullady)

Part Five: Interview with Edward Linsmier
Part Six: Interview with Jan Grarup
Part Seven: Interview with Paul Hansen
Part Eight: Interview with Michael Winiarski
Part Nine: Interview with Nathan Weber
Part Ten: Interview with James Oatway
Part Eleven: Interview with Nick Kozak
Part Twelve: Two Months On (Winiarski/Hansen)
Reporter Rory Carroll Clarifies Some Details
Part Fourteen: Interview with Alon Skuy
Part Fifteen: Conclusions


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