Posts tagged: documentary photography

Intimacy and Youth Captured Beautifully in the Blue Ridge Mountains



Alec Castillo began making photographs here – nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, the peaks often appearing in his grainy, black and white photographs. This was a time that Castillo termed as a ‘weird transitional phase’ of making new friends and rummaging about for an identity that fit. This is when he looked through the viewfinder to reflect, and inherently construct an identity. He introduces us to individuals – new friends among old ones – in a manner that moves beyond portraiture, traversing personal identity in the larger context of social groups.

A Rare Glimpse Inside Cuba’s Tenement Houses



New York-based Italian photographer Carolina Sandretto first travelled to Cuba in 2011; the country fascinated Carolina, as did the “time bubble which entraps it” and the strangely familiar culture she encountered there. The photographer started shooting Vivir Con in 2013, a project which stemmed from a personal exigency to describe what it means to live in Cuba, both in cultural and geographical terms. Due to a lack of means and permits to build new homes, the majority of the Cuban population live in “solars”: a solar is a building that was originally designed to be lived in by only one family, but has been transformed into a multi-family “coop” due to the increase in population and lack of space. Carolina elaborates: “One family often resides in one small room where all family members eat and sleep, from the grandparents to the nephews”. Vivir Con gives us a glimpse into what family life is like in a small space in a tropical country, while examining the tensions between neighboring families who are forced to co-exist.

‘Where the Children Sleep’: The Story of the World’s Most Vulnerable Refugees

Farah, 2

Farah, 2, Azraq, Jordan. Farah, who fled Syria, loves soccer. Her dad tries to make soccer balls for her using anything he can find, but they don’t last long. Every night, he puts Farah and her big sister Tisam, 9, to bed hoping that tomorrow will bring them a proper soccer ball to play with. All other dreams seem to be beyond his reach, but he is not giving up on this one. © Magnus Wennman

Ahmed, 6

Ahmed, 6, Horgos, Serbia. It is after midnight when Ahmed falls asleep in the grass. The adults are still awake, formulating plans for how they will continue their journey through Hungary. Ahmed is six years old, and he carries his own bag over the long stretches that his family walks by foot. “He is brave and only cries sometimes in the evenings,” says his uncle, who has taken care of Ahmed since his father was killed in their hometown of Deir ez-Zor in northern Syria. © Magnus Wennman

It was the children who led Stockholm-based photojournalist Magnus Wennman to the places where they slept each night. They confided in him, shared their memories from home and the fears that come with having lost their families, their friends, their houses, their toys. Wennman touched down in seven countries— Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Hungary, and his native Sweden—to meet the youngest of the Syrian refugees, some of the estimated two and a half million minors forced from safety by civil war.

Behold the Palm Wine Collectors of Namibia


Having spent months on a portrait project in the Kunene region in Namibia, Kyle Weeks returned to visit the subjects of his photos. During his return visit, he was introduced to the tapping process of the palm trees that lined the river. A familiar face led him through the brush to demonstrate the process of climbing the trunk to tap for palm wine. “As he artfully ascended the palm, I recognised he took great pride in showing me this cultural technique.”

An Intimate Look at the Life of a ‘Crusty Kid’ in San Francisco

Saydee and Udie, San Francisco, California, 2016

Saydee cooking heroin in the Tenderloin next to her dog, Udie

Saydee and Kenzie, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, 2016

Saydee and Kenzie, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, 2016

Saydee is 26 years old. She describes herself as a “free spirt,” and her best friend is her dog. She’s a traveler, a part of a subculture called the Dirty Kids, who move throughout he country by train, settling around San Francisco. Saydee is one of the group who allowed photographer Matt Mimiaga and journalists Lauren Smiley and Amy Standen into the fold, trusting them to tell their stories honestly.

The Thin Line Between Reality and Fiction in TV News


Los Angeles, United States


Cannes, France

TV reporters seem to always be in the right place at the right time, ready to tell the world about what’s happening directly from the middle of the unfolding events. Live news is often arresting, giving the audience the impression that the camera is simply bearing witness to reality as it is. But often these live reports are a performance and the feeling of being on top of the events is carefully curated. In his subtly absurd photo series TV Anchors, Slovakian photographer Martin Kollar captures what happens before the camera is turned on and the staged feel of the reality behind the reality seen on television.

This Forgotten Hotel in Mozambique Is Home to 1,000 Squatters

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 5.39.21 PM


In the mid-20th century, says The Netherlands-based photographer Ferry Verheij, the Grande Hotel promised to bring wealth and prosperity to Beira, Mozambique, then under Portuguese control. Its doors opened in 1955, catering to the richest of the rich—including Hollywood starlets Kim Novak— with more than 100 decadently furnished rooms, an impressive swimming pool, and fine cuisine. The Grande Hotel, however, was too ambitious, too extravagant, and utterly unsustainable. It closed less than a decade after opening.

Beautiful, Life-Affirming Photos of Elderly Dogs

Chauncey 12yrs - Juneau

Chauncey (middle), 12 years old, daughter Sailor Girl (left) and Ready girl (right), 6 years old, Juneau, Alaska

49_A Meg 16 years old Java 14.5 years old Juneau, Alaska

Meg ,16 years old, Java, 14.5 years old, Juneau, Alaska

In 2006, New York City-based photographer Nancy LeVine said goodbye to her two best friends, dogs Lulu and Maxie. She has devoted more than a decade to honoring their legacy, traveling the United States in search of souls like theirs, elderly canines who are living out their golden years with a dignity and warmth that far exceed the aches and pains of old age.

Photos Capture the Side-by-Side Transitions of a Couple in Love


Relationship, #23 (The Longest Day of the Year), 2011


Relationship, #33, 2008-2013

There’s a photo on Myspace from 2005, picturing a party in Manhattan. In the crowd, two strangers are dancing. Three years later, those anonymous people would meet and fall in love. From 2008 until 2014, Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst took hundreds more photographs of one another, not as part of a noisy group, but together in the privacy of their own home. Over the course of that time, Drucker, a transgender woman, and Ernst, a transgender man, would transition, side-by-side.

Incredible Stories and Photos from Countries on the US Travel Warnings List (Sponsored)

Documentary travel photography from North Korea.

Two children walking along an empty street in Pyongyang © Aaron Joel Santos / Offset

Aaron Joel Santos: There’s something almost upsettingly benign about traveling in North Korea. It feels set up, like a stage in some very elaborate school play. The costumes and actors and lines and directions are all there, laid out for the people you come across. It’s a Ghost World, there through the fog of a window pane. Hidden behind several layers so you can barely make out what it is you’re looking at. It’s mysterious, of course, but it also plays into its own mysteries perfectly.

It’s almost as if, at times, it knows what travelers want out of it, and it obliges. It’s a strange place, and maybe all the more so because we can’t seem to get a grasp on it. It’s a slippery country. At times brutal and frightening and utterly evil, and in other instances, almost hokey and kitsch. But always with a kind of looming terror. Which is why I photographed it the way I did. Lost in that fog. Trying to depict this idea of ghosts haunting a city. A certain myopia and strangeness, something that couldn’t be quite seen or grasped or believed.

The United States government has a list, updated frequently to include all travel warnings to civilians, advising them on precarious situations in locations around the world. Some countries stay on the list for the blink of an eye; others remain for years. While the government cannot of course forbid us from visiting these countries, the list uses no uncertain terms: “We want you to know the risks of traveling to these places and to strongly consider not going to them at all.”

As of this writing, there are thirty-seven places on the Travel Warnings List. Reasons for issuing a warning range from civil war to limited protection by the US government. The Mali warning makes mention of recent terrorist attacks and criminal activity, and some of the remote areas of Algeria are also listed for potential terrorism and kidnappings.

The Iran Travel Warning cites religious tensions, unfair arrests, and “various elements in Iran that remain hostile to the United States.” Americans are warned against visiting parts of Tunisia along the border with Libya due to fear of terrorism. According to the list, North Korea poses a “serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement, which imposes unduly harsh sentences, including for actions that in the United States would not be considered crimes.”

Although the government is quick to point out that “tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Colombia each year for tourism, business, university studies, and volunteer work,” it still makes the list because of crime-related violence. Armed robberies are mentioned in association with Venezuela.

Every one of these countries has a history that goes well beyond a number on the list. We wanted to ask some of our favorite Offset photographers who have spent time in these places to tell us their stories, candid tales about personal experiences. Their memories are their own and no one else’s, and they should by no means be understood to represent something general or universal, but they do illuminate sides of these countries that otherwise would remain invisible.

Yes, some of these stories are scary, but others are breathtakingly beautiful. None are what we expected.

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