I want to take the last roll with me and somehow make every frame count just as a way to honor the memory and always be able to look back with fond memories at how it capped and ended my shooting Kodachrome.
Archive for June, 2009
I had photographed AIDS patients before, but this assignment was different. It offered me the chance to see the positive results of the new AIDS treatments. The plan was that I was to meet the people who, thanks to outside funding, were being given free treatment that would keep them alive. The majority of people who get treatment, I was told, can return to normal lives. So I began the assignment thinking I’d start with people who were very sick but who would then have some dramatic turnaround. It didn’t turn out that way.
Luong was a young woman who had just married at 19, had a small child, and expected to live a typical farmer’s life in the countryside. Out of the blue, she learned that her husband was dying from AIDS – and that she too had been infected with the virus. Knowing free treatment was available was the one thing that gave her a little bit of breathing room.
Luoc said he and his brother had shared a needle to inject vitamins, but his brother was infected with AIDS at the time. Why hadn’t he known better? It’s hard to know whether he had ever received information about the ways that HIV is spread, or if he just hoped it wouldn’t happen to him.
The third person I photographed was Tiep. She had a breakfast stall in the market that was her family’s main source of income. But once people learned that her husband, Khanh, had AIDS, many of them stopped buying food from her. Yet Khanh represents the positive side of the AIDS story; he’s now recovering and knows it wouldn’t have turned out this way had he not received free treatment.
Many of us are in a position to help others, but few of us are aware of that we can do – or what a difference our contribution can make. I hope my photographs help people become more informed and find a way to contribute.
My pictures and the pictures of the other Magnum photographers who participated in this project for The Global Fund are on tour and will be at the Stenersen Museum in Oslo from June 20 – August 9.
I’m leaving tonight for a series of events including an international photography event called Month of Photography Asia. I have an exhibition in the Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore which will feature a lot of my pictures that haven’t been seen before. The title of the exhibition is “The Unguarded Moment” which is also the title of my new book which just came out last week. I will be visiting with university students, high school students, journalists, business leaders, and other groups.
I will also be teaching a Master Class on June 21st. It will be an interactive session which will include an on-site photo shoot practice component. Your photos will then be printed on Epson’s latest photo printers and then we will discuss your work.
It will be great to be back in Southeast Asia. For the last few years I have spent time during the holidays in Singapore, and always look forward to my time in that part of the world. I look forward to seeing many friends during this trip, and hope to make new ones as well.
People often ask about why I shoot primarily in color.
Most of the time I’m not looking for color pictures. I am looking for something interesting, for a vignette that tells a story, something that reveals an element of humanity. Color is secondary.
Often you need just two or three colors. I think there’s a balance between having something completely monochromatic and having over-the-top color that is just too much or has too many different colors.
A red bucket in the background can spoil a color picture. A red bucket in a black and white photograph is a gray object. You have to edit yourself as you shoot. In some ways shooting black and white is easier because you don’t have that extra problem of color to solve.
There must be a flow and a balance not only of color but also of composition. Then there comes a point at which things make sense and come to rest.
It was great to be back in Kabul recently for an exhibition of my pictures at Bagh-e-Babur Queen’s Palace and to give a workshop for Afghan photographers. The exhibition was the first of its kind since the fall of the Taliban, and I wanted to show the beauty of the country and its culture to the people who have had to endure decades of war and privation. Afghanistan has had a special place in my heart since my first visit in 1979. I have had the opportunity and privilege to get to know many Afghans over the years and it is a place that I will always consider very special. Afghans are well known for their hospitality, and every time I visit, I feel like I’ve never left.
Thanks to generous donations, we were able to host students from 37 schools, orphanages, and universities. Soon the exhibition will be traveling to Herat in the western part of the country, and I hope to open the exhibit and give workshops for journalists, photographers, and university students there. There are few things as satisfying and enjoyable as spending time with people of such great courage and perseverance.