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 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.