2017 Torbjörn Andersson award results

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Left image: Pi Frisk, Clément Morin and Magnus Laupa, the three jury members of this year. Right image: March 8th – International Women’s day. A well celebrated day in Donetsk. This restaurant is fully booked for the evening. Photo: Hampus Andersson.

 

We are proud to announce the results of the first edition of the Torbjörn Andersson Award!

This year the jury consisted of Magnus Laupa (managing director of Kontinent), Clément Morin (picture editor) and Pi Frisk (member photographer). All three jury members were pleasantly surprised by the quality of every single entry submitted by the participants for this first edition of the award.

The Torbjörn Andersson Award being an award dedicated to mentorship and development, the jury focused on finding the work of a photographer whose images already showed a distinct style and dedication, but who could also benefit the most from the feedback and experience of the Kontinent photographers who could help them develop their skills.

This year, the jury unanimously decided to award a photographer whose work showed sensibility, an eye for the moment with a sense of humor and most importantly respect for the subjects in his photographs.

The winner of the 2017 Torbjörn Andersson Award is Hampus Andersson.

We would like to thanks all the participants for their fantastic work and express our warm congratulations to Hampus!

Kontinent and NOOR celebrate a new partnership!

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Kontinent and NOOR photojournalism agencies celebrate a cultural partnership agreement to promote exhibitions, professional photojournalism workshops and seminars.

The Swedish photojournalism agency Kontinent, and its Dutch counterpart, NOOR, have agreed a partnership focused on building the cultural and educational elements of their organisations: (including, but are not limited to) exhibitions, workshops and seminars.

For both Kontinent, Sweden’s foremost photojournalism agency, and NOOR one of the world’s most established international agencies, it is an agreement that will enable them to reach a wider public audience.

“NOOR embody ideals very close to our own. We wish to bring important stories to a larger audience and inspire positive change. This partnership will help us both at a time when honest photojournalism is needed more than ever. We will be able, not only to reach more people, but also to work on important new projects.” says Magnus Laupa, Kontinent’s founder and CEO.

Partnership conversations began last year as photojournalists from around the world gathered in the French town of Perpignan for the annual photojournalism festival Visa pour L’image (The International Photojournalism Festival of Perpignan).

“Kontinent is an independent photo agency, run by its photographers, standing by its founding principle of giving voice to the voiceless. We are happy to share the same values. NOOR started 10 years ago because together NOOR photographers were able to “make changes” through photography, making stories that would impact humanity. NOOR is a family, a place where photographers can unite their individual visions and reflections and have full control of their professional lives and projects. Clément Saccomani, Managing Director NOOR

Now, having agreed their partnership, both agencies look forward to working alongside each other during what is a sensitive yet never more vital time for photojournalism and freedom of press.

 

For more information, please contact:

Malin Riley Cultural / Exhibition Manager KONTINENT

malin@kontinent.se / 00 46 722 629 614

Clément Saccomani / Managing Director NOOR

clement@noorimages.com / 00 31 20 6060 780

 

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2016 by Kontinent

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2016 has been rich in projects for our photographers. They have covered stories from all over the world, ranging from the war in Afghanistan, the king’s death in Thailand, large waves of refugees coming to Sweden, or the election of 45th American president. Reporting about breaking news in one thing, but to shed light on the lives of the ordinary people who have to face the consequences of these world-shifting events is where the true challenge is. And this is where the Kontinent photographers have been fantastic this year again: finding, working hard, and bringing back the underreported stories.

In March 2016, Anders Hansson was awarded Photographer of the Year in Sweden, and we are very proud to count 3 Kontinent photographers among the nominees in the Picture of the Year 2017 competition: Anna Tärnhuvud, Anders Hansson, and Niclas Hammarström.

In our collective exhibition “Transforming our World”, Kontinent photographers have come together to illustrate the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and show in our way the consequences of our continued inaction as well as the hopes for a better future.

Here the photographers bring you their best of 2016 in pictures.

Jesper Klemedsson

Jesper Klemedsson

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Kontinent Agency is happy to introduce a new member, Jesper Klemedsson. As a documentary photographer Jesper works primarily in South and Central America, where he prefers to work on long term projects in order to contextualise the issue he is examining.

We caught up with Jesper to talk about his recent project which focuses on the silent epidemic of chronic malnutrition among the children of Guatemala.

Text: Malin Sjöberg
Photos: Jesper Klemedsson

Edilia Varrera Teletor (7), stands on a dried out corn field in Aldea Las Rosas, QuichŽ, Guatemala. She is malnourished and so is her two-year old sister. The family lacks access to land so they have to buy everything they eat at the local market. They usually eat tortillas, salt and beans. Photo: Jesper Klemedsson / Kontinent
Edilia Varrera Teletor (7), stands on a dried out corn field in Aldea Las Rosas, QuichŽ, Guatemala. She is malnourished and so is her two-year old sister. The family lacks access to land so they have to buy everything they eat at the local market. They usually eat tortillas, salt and beans.
Photo: Jesper Klemedsson / Kontinent

– Could you please tell us more about yourself and how you came to photography?

I started to take pictures because I’m interested in the world and important issues related to it. In 2008, I graduated with a Masters in Photojournalism. At first I didn’t really have any focus or direction. I was happy to be able to pay my bills and work on interesting issues around the world.

Things changed in 2011 when I first went to Peru. Since then, I’ve focused my work on Central and South America.

– Why did you decide to become a photographer?

Visual storytelling is, in my opinion, by far the most effective and powerful way to reach the widest audience.

– How would you describe yourself and your way of working?

Tod Papageorge* once said: “If your pictures are not good enough, you aren’t reading enough.” These words define my view on the profession.

I believe that context is everything. Images without a context are just beautiful photographs on a piece of paper, on a screen or on a wall.

At a time when the epic image no longer belongs to the professionals, but to amateurs with mobile phones, where is our place as photojournalists? It has to be in the in-depth, long-term stories. These photographic stories will more likely show the aftermath of an event, rather than the event itself.

*Tod Papageorge is an influential American photographer and a recipient of two Guggenheim fellowships. He was the director of Photography at the influential Yale University School of the Arts between 1979-2013.  

– You have worked extensively in Latin America and feel strongly about questions related to the indigenous peoples. Please tell us more about this.

I am most concerned with issues related to poverty, malnutrition and inequality. Two years ago (2014), the richest 10 percent in Latin America had 71 percent of the nation’s wealth. The indigenous movements are on the front line fighting against this concentration of private capital.

Celso Israel (6) is from a family of eight. He, and all his siblings are chronically malnourished. Photo: Jesper Klemedsson / Kontinent
Celso Israel (6) is from a family of eight. He, and all his siblings are chronically malnourished.
Photo: Jesper Klemedsson / Kontinent

– You’ve recently returned from Guatemala where you covered issues surrounding landownership and malnutrition. Please tell us more about the children you portrayed and why you chose to pursue this project? What are your plans with this series?

So often stories about Central America focus on its position as one of the most violent parts of the world. But there is another silent and much less dramatic tragedy lying in the shadows of this violence. Around half of all children in Guatemala suffer from chronic malnutrition

Bizarelly enough, as Guatemala is witnessing economic growth, malnutrition continues to rise. Among the indigenous population (the majority of Guatemala) 70 percent of all children are malnourished. In some areas, 80-90 percent of children are affected. It’s hard to grasp the magnitude of the problem.

– You work primarily with a medium format camera and traditional film. How has the choice of using analogue photography on longer projects influenced your way of working?

I feel it’s necessary to make a distinction between my everyday assignments and my longer projects. The use of analogue photography is a way to create this separation and it enables me to work at another pace, to slow down and focus on the very issue I’m covering.

– Please tell us about two of your photographs that are particularly meaningful to you?

Both of these two pictures are from the Aldea Las Rosas community, in the Quiché region (situated in the central part of Guatemala). Quiché is an area in which roughly 80 percent of all children are malnourished.

When I took these pictures I had already interviewed their families earlier in the day. The children, together with their mothers, met up with me later in the afternoon to make the photographs. The kids were all dressed up in the nicest clothes that they had.

This was my first visit to Quiché since I started the project in 2013. The root cause is always the same; the families lack access to land. But Quiché is also part of what is called the Dry Corridor. The Dry Corridor is an area that is heavily affected by droughts and lack of rain. So even if some families may have a small piece of land, they can’t provide enough food for their children. Due to climate change, the rain is absent for months. The crops die quickly and food is nowhere to be seen. This also makes food prices increase, which makes it impossible for most families to buy the extra food they need.

Interns at Kontinent

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Kontinent Agency has been fortunate to have had two great interns, Alice Garrett-Jones (Cambridge, UK) and Jakob Roseen (Stockholm, Sweden), working alongside us during the month of June. While with us, Jakob and Alice have not only assisted photographers at various shoots but also assisted us in organising and putting together the new cultural/ exhibition department of Kontinent, which we look forward to launching soon.

While interning at Kontinent, Jakob and Alice collaborated on a beautiful photographic/ multimedia project, following a group of refugees learning to ride a bicycle for the first time.
Frihet på Cykel / Freedom on a Bike is a recently founded program, organised by Cykelfrämjandet, which teaches refugees living in Sweden how to ride a bicycle. The preliminary course, consisting of six lessons, ran for the first time ever in June 2016 in Stockholm, Sweden. The majority of the students that attended were aged between 16-18 and had never ridden a bike before. As well as learning how to ride a bike, the students were also taught about road safety and the Swedish traffic system.

It must have been very special to spend time and document the refugee teenagers as they learnt to ride a bike for the first time?

Alice:
“It was great fun to watch their progress week by week and to share with them their happiness when they managed to cycle by themselves for the first time, since I came to consider the students and the volunteers running the program as friends.”

Jakob:
“You could say that it’s not only for learning how to ride but also a fun way to integrate with Swedish society. Often these kids are around 15 – 18 and have fled war and poverty. This is an important way of including these kids in society. To make them feel that they are welcome here and to help them achieve self-esteem and also to have fun.”

Please tell us about your time at Kontinent?

Jakob:
“During my time at Kontinent, I have learnt a lot about the photojournalist industry and how I should approach it. I have assisted photographers at various shoots. It has been challenging but also extremely rewarding. I have also been involved in Kontinent’s new cultural section. This work includes producing material for the website, researching possible exhibition venues, selecting and editing photographs. I have had an amazing time while interning here.”

Alice:
“My experience working at Kontinent couldn’t have been more enjoyable. We all hear so many horror stories of other people’s internships, which seem to be worst of all in the creative industries. For that reason I was apprehensive coming to Sweden for my first ‘internship’, a word which in England is often assimilated with never eating, never sleeping and only ever making cups of tea. However, the work I did during this month could not have been more valuable to me as an aspiring photojournalist. As well as working with Malin on the organisation of exhibitions, I had the pleasure of assisting some of Kontinent’s photographers. I tagged along on shoots, for example, in the Riksdag and at a Swedish school’s end of year ceremony. This allowed me access to see another side of Stockholm than I would as a tourist, but more importantly gave me the opportunity to learn from some of Sweden’s best photographers. Everybody at Kontinent was so welcoming and friendly that it didn’t feel like working at all, just pure fun. I am very grateful to Magnus and everybody at Kontinent for making this experience the best it could be and I will be sad to go home to the UK no longer as an EU citizen because who knows if I will ever get another experience like this.”

Linda Forsell wins Documentary Photo Award

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Congratulations to Kontinent photographer Linda Forsell on winning the prestigious Documentary Photo Award by Sweden’s Arbetets museum (Museum of work) for her two projects Cause of Death: Woman” and Children Having Children”.  These sensitive, powerful projects highlight the poignant stories of women and children in a position of social vulnerability.

Press release in Swedish.

Alongside Linda, Christoffer Hjalmarsson, Helga Härenstam and Eva Dahlman are also awarded.

Africa à la mode

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Kontinent is pleased to announce its’ new member, award-winning photographer Per-Anders Pettersson, based in Cape Town, South Africa. He has exhibited widely, and in 2013 published ‘Rainbow Transit’, a portrait of South Africa in democracy. In his new book ‘African Catwalk’, Per-Anders Pettersson portrays a previously unseen side of the African continent, that of the burgeoning fashion industry. The book published by Kehrer in May 2016, chronicles an industry spanning 15 countries and celebrates a new, vibrant, and unexpected view of the continent.

Text: Malin Sjöberg
Photos: Per-Anders Pettersson

Models wait backstage before a show at Joburg Fashion Week on March 30, 2012, in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by: Per-Anders Pettersson)
Models wait backstage before a show at Joburg Fashion Week on March 30, 2012, in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by: Per-Anders Pettersson)


Why do you think the rising fashion industry in Africa has gone unnoticed for so long in the western media?
The media usually looks at other kinds of stories. They rarely look outside the ‘traditional African stories’.
As a photojournalist, I feel a responsibility to tell the new and original stories about Africa, in order to give a multifaceted view of this diverse continent.

In this body of work you turn your journalistic eye on the creative talents and the rise of the African fashion industry. Please tell us more about it; your intention when you first started, your working methods and your process in general?
I had been photographing in South Africa for years when I was approached by Stern Magazine in 2009 to do an assignment on the South African fashion week and its popularity with the growing middle-class and youth culture in Johannesburg.
I became fascinated by the the shows, the beauty of the clothes and the models. I found the theater of the backstage truly inspiring, which is why I continued covering fashion shows across the continent from South-Africa to the Democratic Republic of Congo, from Tanzania to Nigeria.  In total, I have covered about 40 fashion weeks, in 16 countries.

For over 20 years your work was largely dominated by what you’ve called “the traditional African stories” — the ones we’re all to often familiar with, from the horrors of ethnic violence to unremitting natural disasters.
However, you departed from this several years ago to cover another side of the African continent.  What led you to this?
In general, I was tired of these stories and how the editors and magazines were doing them. After finishing ‘Rainbow Transit’ in 2012, I felt that I needed to focus on uplifting stories.
It’s a process and I think after living and traveling in Africa for so many years, one changes and the way you look at the continent changes.

Having covered civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the HIV / AIDS epidemic in Botswana and South Africa, how does this recent body of work resonate with you emotionally?
‘African Catwalk’ makes me happy. It makes me smile. Can you believe this is happening in Africa? And not only in South Africa, its happening all over the continent.

Another African ‘fashion’ story you’ve covered is about the ‘Sapeurs’, a Congo subculture of exuberant flamboyance and dandyism in the midst of poverty.  Please tell us more about it?
That’s a very exciting project yet a different thing.  A unique subculture in Congo, in both Congo’s, where the Sapeurs are only interested in international brands, mainly European and Japanese. These guys are like role models, and they are really popular in the streets.  Most of these men and women are poor but they have a dream of Europe. They dream of the fancy lifestyle – the good life.

Now that you have finished your work on ‘African Catwalk’, to what extent do you think photojournalism plays role in initiating change or challenging stereotypes?
I think it’s still an important way of informing and instigating change. It just has to be done correctly and it has to be given time.

After working on the rising African fashion industry for six years, you recently had the inaugural exhibition of ‘African Catwalk’ at one of the most influential and exciting  galleries in Milan. It must have been wonderful to finally see the work come together at Galleria Carla Sozzani/ 10 Corso Como in Milan.
Thank you, it is an honor to have a solo-show there as it’s the place in Milan/Italy for fashion. The exhibition was curated by Alessia Glaviano (Senior Photo Editor of Vogue Italia). The gallery also has a boutique hotel, an incredible bookshop, a restaurant and a bar. All this ensures that it draws a truly cosmopolitan, international crowd.
It’s important to me that this work is seen and judged by people who work in, and know the fashion industry as I want the story and the African fashion industry to be taken seriously.   The gallery is owned by Carla Sozzani, the sister of Franca Sozzani, the editor in chief of Italian Vogue and it has showcased the best in international photography throughout the years.  It’s great to have my work there.

The book ‘African Catwalk’, published by Kehrer, will be launched at Galleri Kontrast,  Stockholm, on June 2nd, 2016, at 6 – 8 pm.
The artist will make a short presentation including a slideshow and a book signing.
The exhibition ‘African Catwalk’ will be at Galleria Carla Sozzani, Milan, until June 5th, 2016.

Check out Per-Anders profile and more of his work here.

More Nuance and Context less Shock and Awe

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Often returning to his subjects to observe the effect of time on a story, Ola Torkelsson is first and foremost a photojournalist, but also writer, videographer and sound man. He likes to work independently. From the intrigues of US politics to some of the darkest elements of the war on terror, from protesters in Cairo to refugees in Europe, he covers a diverse range of subjects. Kontinent caught up with Ola as he prepares once again to return to the US to continue his work on the election.

Text: Malin Sjöberg
All images © Ola Torkelsson / Kontinent 2016

On the fourth of November 2008 , Barack Obama was elected President of the United States with over 67 million votes. In Harlem, New York, it was a day full of emotions, pride and joy. People gathered out on the streets to celebrate. Photo: Ola Torkelsson / Kontinent
On the fourth of November 2008 , Barack Obama was elected President of the United States with over 67 million votes. In Harlem, New York, it was a day full of emotions, pride and joy. People gathered out on the streets to celebrate.
Photo: Ola Torkelsson / Kontinent

You’ve recently come back from the United States where you are documenting the 2016 election and the general atmosphere among the American voters.  This will be the third American election that you’re covering.  Please tell us how it all started?
Originally it all started because I have a great interest in politics and the US is a fascinating country. 2008 was the first time I went because I wanted to experience a US election. I was in New Hampshire, the second state in the primary elections, covering Barack Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’ campaign. During this time I also traveled around 17 states and did a project portraying over 65 Americans and their thoughts on politics at that time. It was published in the Swedish newspapers SvD and Sydsvenskan. MSBNC, USA, picked up on it and bought it for their site. They thought it was a different and interesting angle. Then I covered the election in 2012, and now it’s time for a new election and I ‘m going back to meet people from all over the country. Perhaps I’ll meet some of the people I met in 2008 and see how life has changed for them.

Photo from behind the scenes while portraying American Voers 2016. Photo by Ola Torkelsson © Copyright Ola Torkelsson
Photo from behind the scenes while portraying American Voters 2016.
Photo: Ola Torkelsson / Kontinent

Where does your interest in American politics come from?
I find politics very interesting. I’m interested in the game, the way things are achieved and the way in which they aren’t. We are very influenced by the US in Sweden, yet, unlike here, American elections are very emotional, and then of course everything in US is on a massive scale.  It’s a very diverse society in many ways, this can, of course, be both good and bad, which I find fascinating. 

Tell us a little about the atmosphere in New York when Barack Obama won in 2008.
People probably thought that he could walk on water. I was in Harlem on election night and people were completely enthralled, overjoyed, and so proud. It was of great significance for African-Americans/ progressive Americans.

Initially, there was a quiet, solemn mood. There were long queues, people stood waiting, no-one was in a hurry. Then in the evening when the news came, people cheered and many cried. At that time in Harlem there were no cars, people were in the streets.

Now, in 2016, it’s election time again and there’s a lot of criticism of Obama.  This generally comes from the white middle-class and the workers, who feel forgotten and left behind.  When Obama ran for president he promised that he would do a lot for the average American, for the black community and for the workers. However, much of Trump’s success is as a result of many people feeling, especially among the white middle class and the workers, that no one speaks for them.  

On the fourth of November 2008 , Barack Obama was elected President of the United States with over 67 million votes. In Harlem, New York, it was a day full of emotions, pride and joy. People gathered out on the streets to celebrate. Photo: Ola Torkelsson / Kontinent
On the fourth of November 2008 , Barack Obama was elected President of the United States with over 67 million votes. In Harlem, New York, it was a day full of emotions, pride and joy. People gathered out on the streets to celebrate.
Photo: Ola Torkelsson / Kontinent
On the fourth of November 2008 , Barack Obama was elected President of the United States with over 67 million votes. In Harlem, New York, it was a day full of emotions, pride and joy. People gathered out on the streets to celebrate. Photo: Ola Torkelsson / Kontinent
On the fourth of November 2008 , Barack Obama was elected President of the United States with over 67 million votes. In Harlem, New York, it was a day full of emotions, pride and joy. People gathered out on the streets to celebrate.
Photo: Ola Torkelsson / Kontinent

You have been to and photographed at Guantánamo, Cuba, on two occasions, (2008 & 2013).  How was it working there?
I have traveled and worked in a lot of places around the world as a photojournalist and Guantánamo is the most surreal place I’ve ever been to.  When you first arrive there, you’re given a special tour of the military base.  At first glance, it’s like any ordinary American military base with a McDonald’s and all the things you might associate with such a place. Then you go two kilometers with a jeep to a prison where people are held 100 meters from the sea, yet most of them have not seen the sea for ten years. The prisoners are not accused of anything. Many will probably not be released, and those who refuse to eat are forced-fed with a tube through the nose.

One of the promises that Obama gave in 2008 was that he would close Guantánamo as soon as he got into office. Why do you think that Obama has not managed to do this?
Throughout his time in office, Obama focused very much on the Affordable Care Act, or, as it is known colloquially, ObamaCare. Now, however, it seems that he is doing a final push, this year for example, it’s been Cuba and Iran. He has nothing to lose right now. On the whole, it has been difficult for him in Congress, he has not been able to do much.

Regarding foreign policy, you’ve also been and done ‘Drones USAF’. Can you tell us more about it?
Former president, George Bush Jr. was heavily criticized for using (armed) drones when it came to potential terrorists and suspects in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But it is actually Obama who has used this to the greatest extent. Obama has extended this program. 

A few years ago, in 2013, I visited the primary training-center in the U.S.A for drone operators and pilots. The operators/ pilots walk around in their flight suits, they enter into these small containers where they sit down, just like a pilot in an airplane, and operate the drones. It was an interesting experience. We’ll certainly be seeing more of these drones being used in many different ways. 

Holloman Air Force Base, Almagordo, New Mexico, USA june 2013. Holloman Air Force Base is the U.S. Air Forceís primary training center for drone operators. The pilots spend their days in sand-colored trailers learning how to operate the different kinds of drones or UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle). The crew typically consists of a pilot and a "sensor operator". Picture: Pilot and sensor operator infront of a MQ-9 Predator. Photo by Ola Torkelsson Copyright Ola Torkelsson © 2013
Holloman Air Force Base, Almagordo, New Mexico, USA june 2013.
Holloman Air Force Base is the U.S. Air Forceís primary training center for drone operators. The pilots spend their days in sand-colored trailers learning how to operate the different kinds of drones or UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle). The crew typically consists of a pilot and a “sensor operator”.
Photo by Ola Torkelsson / Kontinent

 

Holloman Air Force Base, Almagordo, New Mexico, USA june 2013. Holloman Air Force Base is the U.S. Air Forceís primary training center for drone operators. The pilots spend their days in sand-colored trailers learning how to operate the different kinds of drones or UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle). The crew typically consists of a pilot and a "sensor operator". Picture: The display shown to the sensor operator. In this case a computer generated picture of a soldier looked from a high altitude. Photo by Ola Torkelsson Copyright Ola Torkelsson © 2013
Holloman Air Force Base, Almagordo, New Mexico, USA june 2013.
The display shown to the sensor operator. In this case a computer generated picture of a soldier looked from a high altitude.
Photo by Ola Torkelsson / Kontinent

 

How is it to work as a photojournalist in the US?
Generally, it is pretty good. The Americans are fascinated that Swedes are so interested and are so well informed about the US elections.  When I tell them that the election is featured every day in our newspapers, they often say “I can imagine that you Swedes generally know more about the US elections than the average American.”

What do you hope to achieve in the next couple of months?
Eight years ago, before the 2008 elections, I met many different American voters in different parts of the country and heard about their lives, hopes and dreams.

I plan to reconnect and meet some of the same people that I met in 2008.  It will be exciting to see now, eight years later, how their lives have changed during the Obama years. 

During your career, you have done many interesting stories – ‘Drones USAF’, Guantanamo, the US elections and also some projects in the Middle East. Where do you find your stories and how do you proceed?
The foundation for me is to try to read as much as I can, I always try to keep up with what’s happening.  I read lots of books and different newspapers from across the world.
Regarding my own work, although it may sound trite, I very much believe in the old Swedish expression “to mirror the small in the big and the big in the small.”
The work  on the American electorate is very much in this style, it ‘reflects the election in one person’s life’. It asks ‘how have these eight years been for you?’.

Please define your view on the role of the photojournalist / documentary photographer in today’s society? What does photography mean to you?
It is easy that the work becomes polarized these days because things move fast in the media, but nuance is important.
Photojournalism for me has a lot to do with nuance. It is important to emphasize things and contribute to a nuanced discussion in order to show that the world, society and humanity is complex.  

Ola Torkelsson on Instagram: olatorkelsson

Children in War – Krigsbarn

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We decided to catch up with Kontinent photographer Niclas Hammarström to talk about his latest exhibition Krigsbarn, which opened on World Press Freedom Day (May 3rd) at Söderhallarna, Stockholm.  This exhibition, which runs until May 17th 2016, reflects the terrifying spectrum of physical and psychological suffering faced by millions of children living in war and conflict zones throughout the world today.

Text: Malin Sjöberg

Children are the most vulnerable members of society, and therefore the greatest victims of war.  Here you and the journalist Magnus Falkehed, through images and testimonies, have given them a voice. How was it for you to work so closely with them?

Yes children are the most vulnerable yet we rarely hear their accounts of war. Both Magnus and I felt this. When we were thinking about this job we thought to ourselves, what is the most important issue in the world right now? What are we going to to tell people about? It’s these kids. It was the children’s stories we wanted to tell.

What initiated the project War Child?

Once we had come up with the idea of what we wanted to do, we also realised that we needed to make an extensive documentary project, to tell the stories of children who grow up in, or who  are born into war.  Magnus had met someone from Postkodlotteriet and through them he had found out about Postkodlotteriet’s Cultural Foundation that funds social and cultural projects that transcend global barriers.  As the organisation War child was about to start in Sweden we contacted them and asked whether they might be a collaborative partner.

Panshir, Afghanistan The brothers Ahmed Agha, 12 years old, and Nazir Agha, 7 years old, are hunting birds before school starts. e eld they hunt in is full of old Russian tanks. Photo: Niclas Hammarstršm / Kontinent
Panshir, Afghanistan.
The brothers Ahmed Agha, 12 years old, and Nazir Agha, 7 years old, are hunting birds before school starts. The field they hunt in is full of old Russian tanks.
Photo: Niclas Hammarstršöm / Kontinent
You have worked in war zones extensively around the world.  What can we expect to see in this exhibition? 

The exhibition depicts the situation of 1/8 of the world’s children today as one in eight children is born into a conflict zone.  In order to reflect the scope of this suffering, Magnus and I, decided to cover five different conflicts on five continents over six months.  The exhibition consists of stories from Iraq, Afghanistan, Honduras, the Ukraine and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Please tell us about one of the images that you feel close to and let us know a little more about it.

One picture from Honduras, which depicts a traumatized young girl by the name of Alicia who had just witnessed the brutal killing of her father. The body had hardly been removed by the police before the rest of the family had to flee into the mountains for fear of the gang’s return. There is no time to mourn in a country ravaged by gang violence.

When considering the child fighters of the Congo, one is struck not only by the brutal nature of their situation, but also by their loss of innocence.  What was it like to spend time with them?

We were with some young soldiers in the rebel group Raia Mutomboki , a group of lost souls seeking community and belonging. These guys didn’t seem to have any political agenda . Many of them have were abducted as children, brainwashed, forced to witness atrocious acts and brought up as soldiers.  The group’s leader had hidden the youngest children when Magnus and I came to the jungle village and rebel stronghold.  The kids we met, were 15 years and older. Many of these guys are high on drugs and they wear amulets on their arms, which they believe makes them immortal. They were taught as children that as a result of raping women they would gain extra strength. Magnus and I were supposed to be embedded with these guys for a week but the neighboring village became so jealous that we hadn’t come to cover them first that we had to leave after two days. Tensions were running high and a war nearly broke out.

Please tell us more about the image of the boy in bandages?

This is Artem, seven years old, and we’re visiting him in a hospital in Donetsk, Ukraine.  Artem and his nine year old cousin, Xanita, were playing close to a tank which exploded. Xanita was killed and Artem was left with third degree burns covering sixty percent of his body. Artem’s father has not yet told his son about Xanita’s’s death.

Ukraina Artem, 7 years old, lays in a hospital in Donetsk. He has third-degree burns covering 60 percent of the body a er a tank exploded near him and his cousin. His cousin Xantia, nine years old, died instantly. Artem’s father watches over his son. Photo: Niclas Hammarström / Kontinent
Donetsk, Ukraine.
Artem, 7 years old, lays in a hospital in Donetsk. He has third-degree burns covering 60 percent of the body after a tank exploded near him and his cousin. His cousin Xantia, nine years old, died instantly. Artem’s father watches over his son.
Photo: Niclas Hammarström / Kontinent
I am interested in the duality of the visual language in War Child. It goes between straight photojournalism and a more quiet, contemplative language.  Have you specifically chosen to contrast your images like this?

I wanted to have a varied visual expression throughout the project.  I wanted to find a different way to reflect the situation of the children in the Congo to that of those in Afghanistan and the other countries we worked in.  The stories we heard in Iraq were very powerful.  We became close to the people in Iraq, who very much wanted us to tell their stories.  I think the images reflect that.

Photojournalism plays a role in recording history, raising awareness and public debate.  To what extent do you think documentary photography has a role in conflict resolution?

I think it plays a large role, and now more than ever.  Especially when considering the recent pictures from Greece of the refugee crisis, in particular the image of the dead three year old Syrian boy, washed up on a Turkish beach. A single image reflecting the tragedy of the Syrian conflict and the extreme lengths that families were willing to go to in order to reach safety in Europe.  That powerful photograph, along with several others, initiated a change in the refugee debate across Europe. So yes, the image plays a very important role today in raising public debate.

San Pedro Sula, Honduras Milton Pineda and Jorge Gomez were brutally executed in their home. Several men stormed into their house and pulled them out onto the lawn. e men were shot multiple times and the whole family witnessed the event. Yobany Pineda, 13 years old, stands and looks at the place where his uncle was executed. Photo: Niclas Hammarström / Kontinent
San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
Milton Pineda and Jorge Gomez were brutally executed in their home. Several men stormed into their house and pulled them out onto the lawn. The men were shot multiple times and the whole family witnessed the event. Yobany Pineda, 13 years old, stands and looks at the place where his uncle was executed.
Photo: Niclas Hammarström / Kontinent
I have always been struck by James Nachtwey’s statement “I have been a witness, and these pictures are my testimony. The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated.” You have also bourne witness to many atrocities, yet despite the work of yourself and others, such as Nachtwey, the events repeat. Where do you find the strength to continue?

Right now I feel empty after having met and heard the testimonies of children in war. But I do find immense strength in telling the stories, that few people will cover. It was important to be able to meet these children who want people to hear about what they have gone through and to be able to communicate that to the rest of the world. I strongly believe in the power of the image in raising global awareness.
See more of Niclas Hammarströms work here.
wc1

The exhibition ‘Children in War’, in association with humanitarian organisation War Child, runs from May 3rd to May 17th in Stockholm and will then travel other cities across Sweden.
War Child is an international NGO that provides assistance to children living in war and conflict zones. To learn more about them, please visit: http://www.warchild.se/sv

Honest Al’s Barbershop

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Kontinent welcomes interns a couple of times a year to come and experience the ins and outs of running a photo agency while having the opportunity to assist a few of our photographers. Our agency is a place where photographers believe strongly in sharing ideas and helping others evolve in their work.  Interns are encouraged to show and share their work for feedback. We are really pleased to have had Oscar Eriksson work alongside us recently. During his internship Oscar began a beautiful series on an iconic place in Södermalm: ‘Honest Al’s Barbershop’.  We decided to catch up with Oscar to hear more about his time with us.   

Please tell us a little about yourself?

I was born and raised in the small town of Härnösand. During secondary school I discovered my interest in photography and chose to study media focusing on photography. Gradually I began to freelance a little for some local newspapers.  My personal photography has always been strongly combined with my interest in nature. Currently I am studying the second term of the photojournalism program at Mittuniversitetet.

When did you first discover your love of, and interest, in photography?

While at secondary school I had started to become more and more interested in the environment that surrounds us. I realised that photography would be a good way for me to explore it. I love having the ability to tell stories in a visual and creative way.

Do you have any heroes— dead or alive?

I don’t have any specific heroes, but I do follow Paolo Pellegrins work.

We love the photo series you made of the old school barbershop. What made you choose Honest Al’s as your subject?

Kontinent’s founder, Magnus Laupa, gave me some great advice and we arranged when I could go by and talk with some people at Honest Al’s. I was really drawn to the original decor and the way in which they worked. I photographed everyone at work for a few days and then returned to see customers come and go.

There is a lovely subtle sense of humor in the series. Is that common to your work?

No, I don’t think so. The pictures are probably quite coloured by the general atmosphere at Honest Al’s. Humour is as much a part of the place as cutting hair is.

Why did you choose to work with Kontinent? What was the highlight of your time at Kontinent?

I was curious about the day to day life of a photojournalist. There are many Kontinent photographers who work with the kind of projects that I’d like to do in the future.

The highlight of working with Kontinent was the nice atmosphere in the meeting room. There was a feeling that everyone helped each other even though most of them were working on their individual projects.

What are your future plans?

I hope to work as a freelance photographer / filmmaker. Preferably on longer documentary projects.

Chernobyl Summer Camp Exhibition

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The exhibition by Pi Frisk opens on 28th April at the Södertörn University in Stockholm.

30 years ago today, on 26th April 1986, reactor 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded. The Nuclear legacies project group at Centre for Baltic and East European studies at Södertörn University (CBEES) proposes to reflect on this month over the legacy of the Chernobyl disaster today – 30 years later.

The Chernobyl legacy will be adressed at the University Library with presentations of prominent authors, researchers and at the exhibition “Chernobyl summer camp” by photographer Pi Frisk (from 28th April to 13th May).

Pi Frisk was awarded third prize in the Swedish Picture of the Year for a portrait from the series. See the full story here. Read a previous interview with Pi Frisk here.

Read more about the actual event here.

 

 

Hundred Times the Difference

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Kontinent photographer Moa Karlberg’s widely published series ‘Hundred Times the Difference’ will be exhibited at the Gallery Espace Arlaud in Lausanne, Switzerland, between 1st of May and July 3rd, 2016.  This powerful body of work was carried out with support from the International Women’s Media Foundation. It was first published by ‘The New Yorker’ in September 2015 after which it received a lot of attention in the international media.  We met up with Moa for a chat about her upcoming exhibition.

Could you please tell us a little more about this project?

A few years ago, I started photographing Swedish women in labor. I was fascinated by the intense emotions surrounding this life event and how this expresses itself across the women’s faces. Witnessing a delivery is an intimate and authentic situation, which is particularly suited to documentary work. As the parents-to-be are so focused on what they’re doing, the photographer becomes a ‘fly on the wall’.   As a photographer I love to work in these situations. 

After having documented several births I was impressed not only by the resources available at Swedish Maternity Wards but also the skill-set of the midwifes.  I realized how fortunate Swedish women are to give birth in this country.  

As I started looking into maternal mortality rates around the world, my eyes were opened to the global injustice in this field.  Research shows that the majority of the fifty most dangerous countries to give birth in are all located in Sub-Saharan Africa.  ‘Hundred Times the Difference’ came about due to the fact that I wanted to visualize this global injustice by depicting similarities while emphasizing the differences.  I was then offered the opportunity to go to Tanzania where the maternal mortality rate is a hundred times higher than in Sweden.  

This series is exclusively made up of black and white portraits without any further surrounding context. What made you decide on that particular visual language?

I wanted the photos to show similarities rather than differences. Regardless of the practical circumstances, all women go through the same physical phases during labor. The images were taken in different light conditions and with different colors present; in Sweden everybody uses the same white gowns and sheets, whereas in Tanzania the fabrics are covered with colorful patterns. So I chose to remove all colors.

My focus was on the women’s facial expressions and their emotions.  The photos show similarities between the women (a shared humanity), and the accompanying text focuses more on the differences in maternal healthcare between the two countries. 

The women you featured in this work were in Sweden and Tanzania. Did you have to approach the subject differently in each country? 

For practical reasons, yes. I was able to work at a slower pace in Sweden, where I could contact mothers-to-be in advance and be on stand-by around their due date.  In Tanzania, however, time was limited, it was more about getting in touch with the right authorities.  I had to get access to clinics where I would ask women on the spot if they would participate.

‘Hundred times the Difference’ has been published internationally in the news media. What do you think has been its main appeal?

Although many people are aware of the disparities and inequalities in global maternal healthcare, few react emotionally when presented with the statistical data in a traditional way.  This is why I started thinking how to explore and present research in a innovative way that appeals to people’s emotions.  In the series ‘Hundred Times the Difference’, repetition plays a big role visually.  The photographs need each other, I never present them as single photos.

Before I did this project, I didn’t really know what women in labor would look like, what their facial expressions would be. I suppose most people haven’t seen that before. I mean, everybody has seen some kind of birth photos, but not visualized this way.

It strikes me when looking at your different bodies of work that a lot of thought, research and time goes into them. Do you consider yourself more of a documentary photographer than photojournalist?

I try to do what feels important and what stays in my mind. Every now and then I have ideas that just won’t leave my head unless I realize them. Sometimes it takes a long time to carry out a project and sometimes it goes faster. My projects are not always journalistic, however, they are always documentary in nature. I don’t think one should limit oneself to labels.  

You have a varied body of work covering a number of issues from around the world. What do you consider to be the common thread running through it? 

I’m obsessed with the authenticity of people’s expressions, so I guess that’s the overall thread. In retrospect, I see that many of my projects have been linked to social inequalities and women living lives different from my own.

Are you working on anything new at the moment?

I just started a project together with one of the Swedish women from ‘Hundred Times the Difference’. She has an interesting personality and is about to give birth to her 9th child. I will help her produce her video blog about her daily life in order for her to connect with mothers of many children. In 2015 I was awarded an education grant from the Swedish Journalist Union, which enabled me to pursue a documentary film workshop at Escuela Internacional de Cine y Television in Cuba.  This new project is a great opportunity for me explore the documentary format in a different medium. Stay tuned!

For details of Moa Karlberg’s forthcoming exhibition, please visit:

www.musees.vd.ch/espace-arlaud/accueil/

Interview by Malin Sjöberg

View more of Moa‘s work here:

 

Brandy 2004 – 2014

Watching you watch me

Children having children by Linda Forsell

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Linda Forsell is an award-winning photojournalist who, for the past five years, has worked extensively with women’s issues all over the world. During 2014, Linda travelled to Guatemala to document the harsh realities faced by young girls having children. In a country with strict abortion laws, 5100 girls between the ages of 10-14, gave birth as a result of rape in 2013. ‘Children Having Children’ is an important body of work based on the unerring belief in the necessity to tell the stories of these girls. 

Congratulations on the recent diploma you received from the Norwegian International Reporter organization for your story Children having Children. This is such a powerful series. How did it come about?

I had been working on issues concerning violence against women for two years in a previous project when I found out about this story through a colleague. At that time I was feeling slightly frustrated by the fact that violence against women is often difficult to depict. It is almost impossible to be there at the time of the event and there are rarely visible scars that echo the extent of the abuse. When I heard about the situation of the young girls in Guatemala I felt that this was a story that would make it possible to visualise violence against women. It would also touch the root of gender inequality at the same time as highlighting the girls’ specific situation. So I decided to attempt to pursue it.

While working on Children having Children did you adapt your way of working in any way?

I wanted to work in a slower manner while still retaining some flexibility, so I decided to work with a a digital medium format camera. Also, I wanted to allow the story to flow freely within a certain framework, which is why I didn’t commit to a particular visual language until after my second trip to Guatemala.

This is a intimate documentary subject. How difficult was it for you to gain access?

It was difficult and it would have been impossible without the help of several local organisations that have put their heart and soul into women’s rights. They shared their knowledge about the culture and society as well as their trust with these girls. This let me in through the door. But since many of these girls are scarred on the inside as much as on the outside, the truly difficult part was to get past the mental wall that they have built to defend themselves. Many of them are very closed off and it is difficult for them to let anyone in. Some are also very poor and feel a strong distrust towards all sorts of authorities and initially believed me to have some hidden agenda. In the end time was key, to spend longer periods of time with them.

A lot of people would say this is a difficult issue, how did you deal with it emotionally?

This is a very difficult and strenuous subject to work with and the solution for me has been to attempt to counter the bad with equal amounts of good. I don’t mind working with atrocious subjects as they give me strength and it feels meaningful. I do try to fill my life with other things as well, positive experiences that balance the scale. When I’ve failed to do that, I’ve felt pretty down.

We often ask photojournalists what drives them. What drives you?

Curiosity and an eagerness to understand people and societies is one reason. It is important to tell visual stories and narratives that interest me. I also hope to plant a seed in the minds of the people who see my photos and to awaken a line of thought that they previously didn’t have.

How much power do you believe photojournalists have when it comes to making change happen?

I believe photojournalism is significant as it documents what is going on in the world. It serves a purpose purely as a way of recording history, in raising current important issues and in uniting public opinion. But I also think that photojournalism plays no greater role than many other things. Occasionally it can make an instant change, but most of the time it is one piece of a very big puzzle that can contribute to make a positive change.

The organisation OSAR (Observatorio en Salud Sexual y Reproductiva) helped you to realise this project. Last year they were instrumental in changing the law in Guatemala on the age of marriage. This goes some way in protecting young girls from abuse at the hands of older men. What are the next steps to be taken in your view?

To protect the vulnerable against sexual abuse, some big steps need to be taken to enforce laws that are already in place. This will be difficult as it requires challenging deeply rooted cultural values. One important factor to make this happen is to have mandatory sexual education in school and to teach children that women have equal value as men.

You have a varied body of work, what do you consider to be the common thread running through it?

This is a difficult question but I have always wanted to try to take the viewer as close to the person in the photo as possible. In other words, to make you feel “that could be me” and not as though it’s someone very far away. As a documentary photographer I have always felt more strongly about structural issues rather than instant events. With regards to visual language, I think someone else is probably better suited to try and figure out the common thread. All I know is that I try to choose a visual language that I think is right for the story.

You’ve just embarked on a five year medical degree, focusing on reproductive health. Can we expect to see any more documentary work in the future?

I have far from decided my specialty yet, but reproductive health is definitely high on my list. And yes, I definitely plan to continue with photography. Maybe not at the same rate as at the moment and possibly with a slightly different approach. I feel more inspired than ever now to work on photographic projects.

 

View more of Linda‘s work here:

Children who have children

Amish moment in the present time

And the website of her previous long project: “Cause of Death: Woman

From Finja to Asbury Park, NJ.

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Today, April 8, is International Romani Day. Jörgen Johansson has documented the lives of the Roma in Sweden since in 2013. Photo: Jörgen Johansson / Kontinent 

 

Photojournalist Jörgen Johansson´s portfolio of work gives a voice to the silenced and a stage to the disenfranchised. When he removes the camera strap from around his neck, it is quickly replaced by a guitar. This connection to music affords him the insider status to capture musicians from a very unique perspective.

You have quite a lot of different bodies of work. Could you please tell us about the reportage on Carlos?

Hamburg is part of my childhood as I spent the first year of my life there. Hamburg Hauptbahnhof has always been a place that has made me stand still for a moment. I’ve always returned here throughout the years as though I was looking for something. Then I met Carlos about a two years ago.  He was born to a prostitute mother. He grew up in Connecticut, USA but has returned to Hamburg. It’s a story about a man who lives on the edge, a man with a serious heart condition, a man who calls himself a ‘survivor’. It is very important to do reportages like this, i.e. reflect people like Carlos’ personal everyday stories. In fact, for me it is just as important as documenting the situation of the Roma or the plight of the refugees from Syria.

 

Where do you get your driving force from? How did you get started in photography?

It is difficult to remember, it was so long ago. I started off as a music reporter. Then I bought myself camera, and someone on the editorial desk asked me whether I didn’t want to become a photographer. So I guess it went from there.

About your music career, you played with Bruce Springsteen. Can you describe what it was like?

In 2012, I played with Bruce on stage in his hometown, Asbury Park, New Jersey, and it was amazing, a memory for life. I’ve known Bruce for a few years and I’ve visited his hometown before. Then in 2012, I was invited to play at Ashbury Park music festival. I ended up playing five nights in a row.

 

 

I’m really intrigued about your Feet Project. Please tell us more about it?

It started out as a fun, accidental thing and has now grown into a proper project. I’m really excited about it and it’s just been decided that the series will be shown at Hovdala Slott in May 2017. The plan now is to travel around Skåne and show the land in a different way. The idea is to convey the beauty of it and that we, humankind, need to take care of it.

Could you explain a little about your reportage on Fabian? How did that come about?

It was purely by chance. I was covering an open water swimming event at a little lake outside of Hästveda, Skåne. I remember it being really windy that day and I was photographing the general event.  As the competition was about to start, we noticed a very determined young man, Fabian, struggling to get into the water with the help of his family. (Fabian, 14 years old, was born with spina bifida and is therefore wheelchair bound.) I was drawn to the story of not just Fabian, but his entire family, being there helping him. I asked his mother if I might tell his story and they agreed.

 

 

How do you find your reportage ideas?

A lot of people get in touch with me asking if I’d be interested in their story. They might have seen my previous documentary work and they appreciate my approach, curiosity and the way I depict a personal story. In the case of Fabian, I approached his mother asking if I could document their story.

After years of working as a photojournalist internationally and working as picture editor at Skånska Dagbladet, I no longer feel the need to travel widely to do stories. I have so much here in Hässleholm and I’m interested in local personal stories.

Is there a connection between your stories, a common thread running through them all?

Yes, I believe so. I’m drawn to personal everyday stories. In the case of Fabian, I was interested in documenting the life, journey, struggles and joys of the whole family.
I started out as a reporter but my dream has always been to do documentary photography as it allows me to do these vital personal everyday stories.

What are you working on right now?

Tomorrow I’m going to Brussels for a photo job. Right now I’m driving to do a story on the first local female football team in Röke.

 

 

userpic_34_1400079403.34.277x388.crop

View more of Jörgens work here:

Local Heroes – The Asbury Park
His blog Vardagligen.
The feet project at Footbook.se
And his new Vlogg.

Surgical instruments industry in Pakistan

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The surgical instruments manufacturing in Sialkot, Pakistan, is an industry with a global market value of over £200 millon. Vilhelm Stokstad has made a story about the working conditions in this industry and it is now published by the British Medical Association, see the full story here.

Vilhelm also produced a film for Swedish NGO Swedwatch which you can see here.

Magnus Sundberg – Eyewitness.nu

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The first punishment is to kill the family’s son, the second punishment is to imprison the body. The third is to destroy the family house. Palestinian, father and lawyer Mohammad Elyyan has experienced all three of these punishments. We’re sitting in East Jerusalem and Mohammad’s phone rings constantly during the interview. As a lawyer, he represents 11 families in Jerusalem who await the return of their sons’ bodies. As a father he awaits the return of his own son’s body. – Images featured in Eyewitness.nu. Ed.2. Photo: Magnus Sundberg / Kontinent 

 

Magnus Sundberg worked as a staff photographer at Swedish daily Göteborgs-posten for 25 years. In 2014 he started working as a freelance photographer and in 2015 he founded his own magazine eyewitness.nu. Edition 2 is already available and preparations for the third edition are well underway. 

The new edition of Eyewitness covers Israel/Palestine, why did you choose to document this region?

One often sees dramatic images from the area. It was the lack of images dealing with the everyday that made me feel that this was something important to tell. The conflict itself is escalating, especially when we consider the issue of the ‘wall’ and the aggressive settlement policy – there was plenty to document.

How was it to work there?

As a result of a shooting which claimed four lives a while ago, it was a very tense time. It did not matter if you had a press card or not, the police were present the entire time, it really was very tense. People were generally suspicious of your intentions, it was hard to gain their confidence.

A lot of tea was drank as I got closer to people – ultimately, however, this is how I plan to work with the magazine in general, i.e. to take time to get to know people. I would have two meetings and the third time I was invited to someone’s home where I was told their story.

Why did you start Eyewitness.nu?

I’m truly passionate about documentary photography . I want to do what I am good at. I’ve realized how hard it is to sell this type of reportage to other magazines. So this is a way to show that I can do this and it enables me to tell important stories.

We’re living in a time of great change, which I believe is very necessary to document visually. As photographers we have a responsibility to chronicle what is happening.

I felt that this ‘responsibility’  is one I wished to undertake. It doesn’t generate any income right now but I do take my part of the responsibility to document what will, one day, be read about in history books.

How did the first edition sell?

It is still selling and has sold more than 700 copies!

Considering this was the first edition I’m really pleased about this. Unfortunately the second edition has not done quite so well. But it is important not to adjust to what is commercially sale-able, if I do so, the basic idea of the magazine fails, which is to highlight and emphasize difficult issues and specific subjects. I would like the magazine to support itself eventually and in the future I would like to be able to buy stories from, and to show work by, other photographers. In fact, the next edition does feature two photographers and it will be the best edition so far.

 

Both issues of Eyewitness is available for sale here.

 

Magnus SundbergMagnus is based in Gothenburg, Sweden. As staff photographer for the daily morning paper Göteborgs-Posten 1989-2014, he has covered different conflicts and daily life stories around the world. He has been awarded several times in the Swedish picture of the year and awarded Photographer of the year in Europe. He started working as a freelance photographer in 2014, and in 2015 he founded his own magazine eyewitness.nu. The magazine will cover domestic and international documentary stories.

Johan Persson in Red Cross award

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Kontinent photographer Johan Persson was just nominated for the Swedish Red Cross journalism award for his work in Burundi together with reporter Anna Roxvall. Here is a collection of his best images from his reportages.

You can read more about the nomination here, and a longer article is also available in the first issue of Blank Spot, currently available in press stores in Sweden.

Extrajudicial killings, gunfire and explosions in the capital – many fear that Burundi is dangerously close to a new civil war. The current crisis in Burundi began early 2015. Heavy protests against president Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term rocked Burundi’s capital Bujumbura in April and May. After a failed coup attempt all open opposition was crushed and street protests stopped. That’s when a new phase begun. Now explosions and gunshots can be heard every night in parts of Bujumbura. Dead bodies are found in rivers and on the streets almost daily. Young men from the protest quarters have begun arming themselves and are attacking police. Burundi’s independent radio stations have been closed down. Human right activists have gone underground. “It feels like we were left to fend for ourselves,” says one activist. Over 200 000 people have already fled the country. Meanwhile, the government is becoming increasingly isolated, closing itself to the outside world.

 

  Johan Persson is working as a Photojournalist worldwide. He is based in Stockholm, Sweden.

 

Interview with Anders Hansson

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Kontinent Photographer Anders Hansson was awarded Photographer of the year at the Swedish Picture of the Year award in Jönköping, Sweden, on Saturday.  Kontinent CEO Magnus Laupa called him up for an interview:

ML
Congratulations on your recent success at Picture of the Year Awards Sweden 2016.
Winning four awards including the most prestigious one of them all, ‘Sweden’s Photographer of the Year’, is a real confirmation of just how good your work is.

AH
Thank you, yes, winning ‘Sweden’s Photographer of the Year Award’ came as a great surprise to me. Particularly if you consider the incredible work of Magnus Wennman.
I think it must have been as a result of the fact that this year I covered many of the major news stories. It’s amazing, Swedish Radio just called me and wanted to interview me for P4. It all feels a bit unreal.

ML
Do you think that the recognition that comes as a result of winning this award will affect the way in which you work as a freelance photographer?

AH
No,I don’t think so. It’s probably positive if you are a photographer for an established newspaper such as Dagens Nyheter (DN). However, previously it has actually not necessarily helped freelancers.  In fact, some have lost work as commissioning editors have tended to regard them almost as ‘overqualified’ for assignments that they might ordinarily have given them.

ML
Let’s consider 2015, which was a very busy year for you. You have covered the refugee situation for quite some time. Could you tell us something about your award winning body of work?
Let’s start with an iconic image from 2015, the picture that depicts a young boy sitting atop a man’s shoulders.

AH
In 2015 more than one million refugees fled to Europe.  North Eastern Lesbos is one of the most dangerous landing points for refugees arriving by boat.  That day, in the beginning of November, I went out with some Norwegian volunteers, who’d seized a boat from smugglers which they were going to use to help refugees in distress. We went out in the boat to a risky area where few volunteers work. We’d just come in behind a boat of refugees when boat after boat began to arrive. We carried children ashore, everything was soaked, there was water everywhere.  When they came ashore many lit fires to dry their clothes. That’s the fire in the background– a fire to dry the clothes.

ML
Please tell us about the image of the children wrapped in thermal blankets.

AH
In the days previous to this photograph, few boats had arrived owing to poor weather conditions. But on the 3rd of November, 7 000 people came to Lesbos, Greece.  I photographed one of the last boats to arrive that day. In this picture, you can see the volunteers, wearing headlamps, wrapping the cold, panic-stricken children, in blankets.

ML
When taking pictures in chaotic situations such as these, what do you feel?

AH
Generally one doesn’t have the time to reflect in the moment, you are so focused on the subject and trying to capture it in as intelligible a way as possible. You cannot reflect deeply on the immediate situation at the time. That comes later.

ML
Have you thought much about your work this year? Do memories associated with the images come back to you?

AH
To some extent, not least because I haven’t stopped working with this project [Flykt]. It’s a work in progress and the existing exhibition is constantly updated with new images. I think that over the years I have learned to cope. When I get home to my family, I don’t have time to sit around deep in thought with the kids running about. I’m not particularly brooding by nature. However, memories from photographs do come back.

ML
I understand that Don McCullin is one of your role models.  Given that many believe McCullin withdrew from ‘civilisation’, traumatized after years of reporting from the frontline. Has your view of humankind also changed?

AH
Yes, it has but I don’t feel traumatized that way. McCullin witnessed some of the most harrowing humanitarian disasters of the last century. He worked in the most extreme of situations often in conflict zones. My work is mostly concerning the consequences of conflict. I have seen what humankind is capable of and that our idea of ‘civilization’ ultimately is only “…a thin layer of ice”. Yes, that realization has come.

Somewhere along the way, I became a lot less idealistic because one realizes how damn complex everything is. However, I am still an idealist in some areas. The strength that the vulnerable show gives us hope. Just last week at the border between Greece and Macedonia, I arrived at a refugee tent and they offered me the little they had. It is extraordinary to witness people’s immense strength in the face of such adversity. Evil doesn’t surprise me anymore because it appears everywhere. Every now and then, people’s immense goodness shines through.

Evil doesn’t surprise me anymore because it appears everywhere. Every now and then, people’s immense goodness shines through.

ML
Tell us about the Paris photo that won in the category News Image Abroad 2016.

AH
It was several days after the the November 2015 Paris attacks.

My reporter and I were about to have dinner and thousands were gathering nearby at the Place de la République in a show of solidarity. Suddenly, people began running into the restaurant, shouting “they’re shooting, they’re shooting!”.  This picture is the one clear exposure of three, which I took of a woman panic-stricken huddled on the floor. It truly expresses, I feel, the state of fear and panic which Paris finds itself in. I have never experienced anything like it.

ML
It is interesting; you work within a wide spectrum. Could you tell us a little of your picture of Lars Vilks and how you arrived at this portrait?

AH
The portrait feels very symbolic of Vilks situation and I wanted to capture that.  Vilks is an interesting phenomena as he is completely excluded from participating in Swedish cultural debate. Regardless of what one thinks of him, I think it is odd that we are not more concerned or protective of our freedom of speech.  This image was taken the first time my reporter (Niklas) and I met him, and he was playing football with his childhood friends. Vilks is very well guarded and it is difficult to get access to him.  During the match, he decided that he wanted to go for a swim.  I knew that a picture of Vilks secluded in the ocean would be the portrait that I wanted. So we went with him and fortunately discovered that the beach was more or less deserted.

ML
How was it to cover so many international events when so much was happening in your home town of Malmö?

AH
It was difficult as [in Malmö] so much was happening and I really wanted to document it. But in Sweden so much happens behind closed doors. Permission is needed for everything. On the one hand everyone is worried about protecting the refugees from journalists (and others) and on the other hand we are being told by the refugees that they want their stories to be told. This makes it extremely difficult to go any deeper.

ML
Please tell us about your image that won in the category News Image Sweden 2016.

AH
This photo was taken at the train station the day that Sweden introduced border controls to stop the flow of refugees. It was difficult to do anything that made any sense of the situation. We didn’t want to go onto the trains and take pictures of people’s faces, which we knew would be intimidating. We focused on the police and followed them around.  I finally managed to capture an image, which by its’ multilayered nature, I believe, conveys the confusion felt by the refugees.

 

See the full list of winners at Årets Bild (in Swedish). The winning images are exhibited at Jönköpings Länsmuseum and at Galleri Kontrast in Stockholm (opens saturday the 12th).

 

 

  userpic_3_1365762117.3.277x388.cropAnders Hansson started out as a full time photograper in 1998 after studying Sociology and languages in addition to working as a journalist during the 90’s. Since 2000 he has been covering social issues around the world. From Kongo and Benin in Africa to Svalbard in the Arctic north – always with the common man in focus. 

His work has been published in most key Scandinavian newspapers and magazines, such as Politiken(DK), Berlingske(DK), Aftenposten(NO), Suomen Kuvalehti(FI), Hufvudstadsbladet(FI), DN(SE), SVD(SE), Aftonbladet(SE), Ordfront(SE), ETC(SE), Focus(SE) among others.

5 questions to Pi Frisk

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Kontinent is happy to announce and introduce our new member, Pi Frisk, a freelance photographer based in Stockholm, Sweden. Her main interest lies in documentary photography and humanitarian reportage. Pi does various assignments for daily press and news websites and is regularly featured in Sweden’s major newspapers. We have five questions to the Swedish Picture of the Year 2016 nominee.

When did you first discover your interest in photography?
I started using an analogue camera in my teens and quickly developed a strong interest in visual storytelling. At first, I turned the camera to my own world, to the lives of my friends and I. Then, at University, I studied media and communication and became increasingly drawn to the relationship between photography and social issues.

You were nominated in the Swedish Picture of the Year Award, what do you think the jury was attracted to in your work?
The two bodies of work that I submitted are very important to me. They share a similar visual language, but I don’t dare to guess why they were nominated.

Can you tell us how you usually come up with ideas for your stories and describe the projects you were nominated for?
It’s usually something that I see or hear. Impressions. Then I try to run with it, I want to find out more. I’m fascinated by the interchange of image, social engagement and artistic expression.

When the Västmanland wildfire broke out in the summer of 2014, I had just started working for Svenska Dagbladet (SvD). Another team was covering the story and they had produced powerful images, and then the story died in the media. The following summer the story was no longer being reported on. So I decided to go to the area around Sala where the fire had destroyed vast swathes of the forest. I photographed and met some people who told me about the difficulties their community has been facing.

The other project is about a summer camp for children from Belarus affected by the Chernobyl disaster. I had always known of the camp since I grew up nearby. It has been held every other summer for the past twenty years. For a long time, I thought it was a subject that I should document, so in 2015 I contacted the organizers and asked if I could meet the children, spend time with them and cover their story.  

Why do you think so few women were nominated to the Swedish Picture of the Year Award 2016?
There are many reasons; statistically women are less often chosen by editors to cover certain stories, but also there are few women applying. Hopefully this will change in the future.

So what is next? Are you working on anything right now?
I’m currently working on a project about various forms of incarceration. I have done two parts so far, one is about high-security risk, pregnant women or women who’ve just given birth, and the other for violent male prisoners pursuing yoga and a spiritual path as a way to rehabilitate themselves.

I hope to be able to dedicate more time to long-term projects.

Check out Pi’s profile and the full story about the Chernobyl Summer Camp.

2015 by Kontinent

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2015 tested the world of photojournalism as truly dramatic events dominated the headlines. Many of these events forced us to re-examine the morals which guide us and photography has been at the forefront of this. Images were published across the media which the public and policy makers could not ignore.
As in previous years, Kontinent’s photographers have documented the leading stories, as well as bringing to light causes still in the shadows. We worked, and continue to work on several migration stories from Syria to Sweden and throughout all of Europe.
Kontinent’s photographers also recorded the chaos and horror that resulted from the terrorist attacks in Paris; they used drone footage to provide a unique perspective on the drought in California and were there to witness the heavy rains in Nepal.
Award-winning photographer, Anna Tärnhuvud, covered the 20 year remembrance of Srebrenica as well as the effects of Nicaragua’s strict abortion laws.
Jacob Zocherman has returned to Sweden after having spent around one and a half years documenting the tumultuous situation in South Sudan- see
one of his stories here.
As an agency we’re pleased to announce that we have four photographers whose work has been nominated for the the Swedish Picture of the Year Award 2016. Both the ceremony and the awards will be in March. Until then, here are some of the most compelling Kontinent images of 2015.

Kontinent blog / coming soon

Kontinent blog / coming soon

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Welcome to the Kontinent blog and our new website!

Here on the blog we will post content regarding the agency. Come back here to look for news about exhibitions, books, tear sheets and stories as well as behind the scenes material from individual photographers.

During a full day meeting at the office the new website was presented to the photographers as well as some plans for the future. We have now changed the platform of the site so implementing future upgrades and features will be much easier.