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Five powerful stories from this year’s Visa Pour L’Image: International Festival of Photojournalism

Five powerful stories from this year’s Visa Pour L’Image: International Festival of Photojournalism

By Bill Dobbins
http://www.billdobbinsphotography.com

Even in this age of the Internet, billions of Instagram and other social network services, smart phone videos and YouTube, nonetheless the photojournalism still image continues to be influential, significantly and important.

The International Festival of Photojournaism gathers together and celebrates the best of these from around the world.  If you look at these photos carefully the stories they tell are so revealing and compelling that it is clear they are far from the casual snapshots that flood the Web.

Ever since the days of Life Magazine and other photojournalistic publication, the world has looked to this kind of image to deliver information and understanding on what is going on of significance around the planet.  This collection of journalistic photos is very much in that tradition.

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In Sight
Photo Editor

September 6

This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.

Mamma Sessay, who died from a massive hemorrhage after giving birth to twins at Magburaka Government Hospital, awaits burial in her village in Sierra Leone in May 2010. (Lynsey Addario/National Geographic/Getty Images)

Indian families rest in a ward reserved for women recovering from Caesarean sections at Tezpur Civil Hospital. Assam has the highest rate of maternal mortality in India. Many public medical facilities are overcrowded and unhygienic, suffer from a chronic shortage of doctors, and often have patients sprawled on floors and in hallways. (Lynsey Addario/National Geographic/Getty Images)
Casey Otto Haubelt greets the world in June 2018 after being delivered by Caesarean section at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women in Houston. His mother, Loren Denise Haubelt, 30, had an emergency hysterectomy because the placenta was attached to the uterine muscle (placenta accreta). (Lynsey Addario/National Geographic/Getty Images)

For 31 years, photo enthusiasts, including photographers and editors from some of the top news organizations around the world, have gathered at the Visa Pour L’image photo festival to celebrate the world’s best photojournalism.

The event takes place in the French city of Perpignan, and over the course of several days, event goers are treated to exhibitions and nightly screenings of work. The exhibitions highlight the work of some of the top photographers from around the globe while the screenings focus on current affairs. This year, that includes events ranging from happenings in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and the U.S.-Mexico border.

There are 25 exhibits this year. In Sight is taking a look at five notable exhibitions from photographers Lynsey Addario, Adriana Loureiro Fernandez, Kirsten Luce, Laura Morton and Kasia Strek.

Addario’s exhibition examines maternal mortality around the globe. After witnessing a woman named Mamma Sessay lose her life after giving birth in Sierra Leone, Addario said she “could scarcely believe that something so basic as childbirth could kill hundreds and thousands of women every year,” and so she vowed to spend time documenting maternal death around the world. For the past decade, Addario has traveled to Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, India, Haiti, the Philippines, Somaliland and the United States compiling a powerful record, shedding light on this sad but true aspect of life.

Fernandez’s work puts the crisis in Venezuela in the spotlight. Fernandez began her project, “Paradise Lost,” in 2012, focusing on the turmoil created by rising violence in her country. Of her work, Fernandez says: “Here are everyday encounters with violence and the many shapes it can take, including the emergence of state violence. Here is ongoing political turmoil and a natural beauty that will never surrender to decadence. Together, these stories show an untenable situation set against the background of the promised dream that has now turned into a nightmare. Here, between beauty and horror, is Paradise Lost. Here is an inside view showing how it feels to watch our country die.”

Luce’s exhibition takes us into the dark underbelly of wildlife tourism. Luce’s work began in 2018 on a trip to the Amazon, where tour companies encourage locals to keep wildlife so that tourists can take selfies with them. Designed to raise awareness so that people will stop and think before supporting operations that cause harm to animals, her heartbreaking images also take us to Thailand, where elephants are kept in captivity to perform for tourists and declawed tigers are kept in zoos where tourists can pose with them. Luce’s work is as eye-opening as it is devastating to look at.

Morton’s work, “University Avenue,” takes a close look at daily life in two communities in California’s Bay Area: Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, focusing on one street that traverses both areas. The work takes a look at the stark economic disparity, linked to the tech world, between the two places. As Morton explains, “This is a story of daily life in two communities living side by side in California’s Bay Area: Palo Alto and East Palo Alto. On one side, Palo Alto has the massive fortunes created by Silicon Valley’s technology industry, while in East Palo Alto, mostly on the other side of Highway 101, the community has been squeezed out, away from these fortunes … a documentary record of residents of both communities who are, in their own way, working and going about their daily lives while living in the shadow of the technology giants.”

Finally, Strek’s project, “The Price of Choice,” takes a hard look at women’s right to choose around the world. For this series of images, Strek traveled to Poland, the Philippines, Egypt, El Salvador and Ireland. Of her project, Strek says: “Today, a century after women in some countries were first granted the right to vote, there are still threats to women’s rights, even in developed countries such as Poland, Italy and the United States of America, to name only three, where laws thought to be well-established are proving to be fragile. I undertook this work not just to tell the stories, but also as a reminder that change is not fully and permanently accomplished until it is accessible to all and understood and accepted by the majority.”

You can find out more information about all the activities happening at this year’s festival on its website, here.


A man walks past a stand on a street selling second-hand clothes in Caracas, Venezuela, last February. (Adriana Loureiro Fernandez)

In El Valle, Venezuela, Zuleima Perez, 34, stands with her baby girl beside a broken-down refrigerator in November 2017. (Adriana Loureiro Fernandez)

A demonstrator at a barricade at the entrance of Los Andes University in San Cristobal, Venezuela, on Feb. 28, 2015. (Adriana Loureiro Fernandez)

A macaque gives one of many daily performances in Thailand. When the monkeys are not performing, they are kept in tiny individual cages. Signs state that they are transferred to a more comfortable area for the night after the school closes, but it is not true. (Kirsten Luce/National Geographic)

Gluay Hom, a 4-year-old male Asian elephant, has a broken leg and open sores on his face. He is housed beneath the stadium where elephants perform at Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo, on the outskirts of Bangkok. His was the worst case of neglect that we witnessed in the course of the month spent covering the elephant tourism industry in Thailand. Our fixer returned six months later — in December 2018 — and found him still languishing there in the same condition. (Kirsten Luce/National Geographic)

A polar bear with trainer Yulia Denisenko. The Polar Bear Circus in Kazan, Russia is thought to be the only circus in the world with performing polar bears. The entire show is on ice, and the bears are muzzled. (Kirsten Luce/National Geographic)

Gregory Smith wanted to have his own business and went to barber school at age 49. He then opened Gregory’s Enterprise & Barber Shop in East Palo Alto, Calif. (Laura Morton)

In the 1200 block of University Avenue in Palo Alto, Calif., the median home value is $2,932,700. (Laura Morton)

In the 2200 block of University Avenue in East Palo Alto, Calif., the median home value is $960,500. (Laura Morton)

Wala, 39, never wanted to have kids, and she panicked when she found out she was pregnant in December 2018. Although she comes from a wealthy, educated family and has lived abroad, she could never tell them. Her mother would insist on her keeping the baby, since, in Egypt, a child brings good luck, and abortion could cause the anger of Allah to strike the family. (Kasia Strek/Item)

Two days before the referendum on abortion in Ireland, a feminist group named Rosa organized an artistic performance in the center of Dublin. About 40 women dressed as characters from “The Handmaid’s Tale” marched through the streets and by the River Liffey in May 2018 to raise awareness on reproductive rights. (Kasia Strek/Item)

 

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