Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long. -- Walker Evans

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

PhotoVisura Grants

The photo-sharing network PhotoVisura funds a grant to support personal photography projects. A Look through some of the finalists' work reveals a very high standard of (mostly documentary) photography.

The judges had an almost impossible task in choosing a winner, as all of the finalists' work that I've looked at is of very even merit. The winning essay, entitled The Homecoming Project, looked at the welfare of a new generation of US war veterans returning from Afghanistan. I wasn't surprised to see that the judges were almost all American, for they understandably have a degree of empathy with their troops which we in the rest of the world lack. 

For myself, however, the more affecting essays were those concerning populations which do not often appear in our daily news. Most of world is under-reported and photojournalists like these who submitted work for this grant are to be applauded for their efforts in trying to redress this imbalance.

To do justice to the work this grant has attracted means setting aside a few hours to read the artists' statements and ponder over the photos.

One essay, entitled I'll Die for You by Laura El-Tantawy, concerns an epidemic of suicides among Indian farmers.

From her statement: Over the past 15 years, more than 250,000 farmers have committed suicide in rural India. This has been especially common among cotton farmers in the state of Maharashtra in southwestern India. 

Many had borrowed money through government lending schemes or private lenders to plant more efficient crops, but could not pay off their debts. Because of the extremely fast transition India has undergone - from a rural to an industrial, urban economy with an open market - farmers have been confronted by immense social and economic problems. [Read more...]

Well, that was news to me. This sort of work, which is of immense value, gets scant exposure in the mass media. But I'm glad there is someone doing it.

[The Finalists' Essays]

Photo: Farmer uses traditional farming methods © Laura El Tantawy

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