“I want a picture of me with a fat baby,” she said. “I don’t want you to go home only representing us with a dying baby.”
May 17, 2006 8:33 AM   Subscribe

He's so penetrating that even I sometimes can't look, because it's so painful. He brings tremendous pain into his vision, and he makes you very aware of what you're looking at.
Don McCullin thinks that Eugene Richards is "possibly the best walking, living photographer in the world". Richards, who has recently been working on the War Is Personal project for The Nation Institute, has just joined Alexandra Boulat, Ron Haviv, Gary Knight, Antonin Kratochvil, Christopher Morris, James Nachtwey, John Stanmeyer, Lauren Greenfield and Joachim Ladefoged (their portraits are here) in the VII collective. More inside.
posted by matteo (18 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
The low, harsh light of late day played unmercifully on the withered body of an old woman, reflecting on the face of the beautiful baby she carried on her back. Eugene Richards saw the tall, angular 80-year-old woman, a rare sight in a drought-ridden land where people die long before their time.

“I was conscious of using my camera,” Richards says. “I knew this was a women’s community. There was little water and no longer any work for men. I asked if I could photograph the baby but expressed my concern to the woman that she was partially uncovered.”

“At my age it doesn’t matter,” she said as she dropped the cloth from her shoulder. “Here I am.”

“And I made the photograph.”

“If there’s any philosophy that I have that I could put into words—and it’s not particularly new or deep—it’s that when you say you’re a photojournalist, you attempt to tell the truth.”


Not Far From Forsaken


"Blue Snow": Richards' Pietà
posted by matteo at 8:40 AM on May 17, 2006

Great photos, thanks matteo. He really sees things that we would normally would pass over.
posted by carter at 9:10 AM on May 17, 2006

Impressive, but it does make you wonder who the best NON-walking, living photographer in the world is.
posted by jonson at 9:14 AM on May 17, 2006

Amazing stuff. The photo essay on dying is especially moving.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:24 AM on May 17, 2006

what an impressive post. thank you.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:29 AM on May 17, 2006

Excellent post. I'm impressed with his ability to get in close with his subjects -- from cops to mothers giving birth. Thanks, matteo.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:12 AM on May 17, 2006

Outstanding post, thankyou.
posted by fullerine at 10:15 AM on May 17, 2006

'He's so penetrating that even I sometimes can't look, because it's so painful.'

I was thinking to read some cool story about Rocco Siffredi, bummer.
posted by Zombie Dreams at 11:27 AM on May 17, 2006

Am I the only one who feels cheated by photo journalists who use black and white?
posted by afu at 11:54 AM on May 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what "horror" means. Horror.
Horror has a face

Great post. Thank you, sir.
posted by sluglicker at 1:37 PM on May 17, 2006

Groovy post, thanks.
posted by dejah420 at 2:14 PM on May 17, 2006

What is so great about that shot? Looks like any random picture off flickr to me.

I mean obviously there are a lot of bland photographs out there but at a certain point they all start to look pretty good and 'indistinguishable'

I wonder how many people could actually distinguish pictures from 'great' photographers and those photos featured on the flickr interesting page.
posted by delmoi at 2:31 PM on May 17, 2006

Maybe I'm just hopelessly cynical, but what are the odds of the "looking at" one not being staged?
posted by juv3nal at 2:54 PM on May 17, 2006

Doesn't matter if it's staged. Who is the woman? Who made the painting? What's the relationship of the woman to the man in the portrait? Why the otherwise empty walls? Why the forlorn, resigned expression? The posture appears temporary, like she stopped herself in mid-sentence, overcome by a memory.
posted by tomharpel at 7:10 PM on May 17, 2006

"Looking At" is most definitely staged, it's a photo of author Joan Didion. The man in the painting is her late husband. She wrote The Year of Magical Thinking about her grief after he died and I specifically remember this photo being used in a NYT article with an excerpt of the book.

It's still an amazing photo.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:18 PM on May 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

it is indeed a portrait of Didion. and, in absentia, of John Gregory Dunne. "staged" is a very misleading and, in this case, incorrect word. this is not street photography, or a reportage. it's a portrait, and you don't take a portrait simply following people around their aprtment. whether Richards asked her to stop beneath that portrait -- perfectly legitimate behavior in the context of a portraiture session -- or Didion simply stopped there without being told to do so, well, it's a hell of a portrait. see the rest of Richards' Didion images here

What is so great about that shot?

well, it's one of Richards' most famous post 9/11 images, included in City of Ashes -- the empty billboards, after people simply abandoned all hoper of finding their missing loved ones still alive. one could talk about Richards' use of negative space, or simply consider that photo a masterpiece. one is also free, of course, to call it a random flickr shot.
posted by matteo at 6:42 AM on May 18, 2006

Fantastic post, thank you so much.
posted by Skorgu at 9:31 AM on May 18, 2006

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