Posts by: Bianca-Olivia Nita

Portraits Reveal the Many Faces of Bureaucracy

Ram Prabodh Yadav (b. 1970) is sub-inspector (deputy inspector) of police in Maner Block, Patna district, State of Bihar. Monthly salary: 10,000 rupees (131 euro).

Thomas Harris (b. 1949) is chief of police of the city of Rockdale (some 6,000 inhabitants), Milam County, Texas. Monthly salary: $4,250 (3,162 euro).

The word ’bureaucracy’ has a negative connotation. It suggests unnecessary paperwork, inefficiency and unfriendliness. This negative perception is created in time, by people’s repeated experiences, and the degree of resentment towards this system of government differs per country. For his series Bureaucratics, Dutch photographer Jan Banning traveled to eight countries on five continents, and visited hundreds of offices, documenting the culture, symbols and rituals of state civil administrations and its servants.

Civil servants are to an extent the face of the government. Banning’s images are full of details, and the stories describing the civil servant’s task and his salary are illustrative for the relationship between the state, the civil servant’s rank and power.

Banning’s visits were unannounced, and the images reflect what a local citizen would see when coming inside. Each photo is shot from the same height, the height of a standing person. But the photos put these offices in a different perspective than what a visitor actually sees. Most likely, the people that come in are more interested in solving the issue that brought them there, than in paying attention to these places. In a way, these photos make these offices and the people in them truly visible for the first time.

The series Bureaucratics has been published in a book that is available together with Jan Banning’s new book “Red Utopia: Communism 100 years after the Russian Revolution” which was released on the 14th of October.

Remembering the Horrific Exile of Thousands of People

Fatima Uzhakhova, Ingush, was a granddaughter of biggest landlord in the Caucasus. Her family was split: some were repressed as “public enemies” of the Soviets, andothers joined the Bolsheviks. In 1944, the family was exiled to Kazakhstan with thousands of others. In exile, Fatima’s mother was sentenced to five years of jail for breaking a rule: she crossed the frontier of her exile zone. Fatima had to survive on her own since the age of 9.

Chechen elders pose by the ancestry towers, which were ruined by the Soviets, rebuilt, then ruined again by the Russian army, and rebuilt again.

73 years ago today, the lives of nearly half a milion Chechen and Ingush people changed forever when Stalin ordered their deportation to remote parts of the Soviet Union. More than a third never returned, and the lives of the ones who did were already altered irreversibly. Russian photographer Dmitri Beliakov has been working in the North Caucasus since 1994 and came to learn about this dark chapter of history. As the witnesses of the exile were one by one disappearing, Beliakov felt time was slipping away. His project The Ordeal is the last chance to preserve their memory.

The Only Spaces for Intimacy in Romanian Jails

When Romania became part of the European Union in 2007, the country had adjustments to make. Among them was that every jail in the country had to have an ‘intimate room,’ a place for inmates to spend private time with their partners. Over the course of several years, Cosmin Bumbut photographed these newly-created cells in all of the country’s 40 penitentiaries. His photo series, Intimate Room, is a complete documentation of these artificially created spaces for intimacy.

Greetings from Uzbekistan, the Country that Grows Cotton in the Desert



London-based photographer Marco Barbieri has always been interested in countries where politics and religion play a central role in people’s lives. He decided to travel to Uzbekistan after seeing images from the disappearing Aral Sea, but his initial plan became much more than he thought it would. His photo series Water in the Desert places water in the country’s broader context, and reveals how a dictatorship can turn logic upside down and make the absurd an acceptable part of daily life.

The Dreams of Homeless People in San Francisco

Mike was the first person to be in this project. He came from Ohio, but he had to leave because he used to smoke weed and was arrested. He is now rebuilding his life, has a place to stay, and started work, thanks to an organisation from San Francisco.

Honey run away from home because of her violent husband. She slept in her car, but it broke down. The police took it, so she had to sleep in the park. She learned how to play the ukulele by herself. She is called Honey because of her sweet voice. She had her first performance at the hotel where I photographed her.

Few people’s lives turn out exactly as planned. Horia Manolache’s series The Prince and the Pauper portrays homeless people from San Francisco, as they are now and as the people they once dreamed they would become.

When the Priest Comes to Visit in the North of Transilvania


In traditional communities in the North of Transilvania, accompanying the local priest on his visits gives you a privileged kind of access into people’s lives. That’s what Romanian photographer Remus Tiplea discovered during the two years he documented the relationships between two priests and the families in their parish.

Capturing the Buzz of Life in Brasilia’s Central Station



When he moved to Brasilia in 2014, photographer Gustavo Minas couldn’t help but feel alienated. The city felt prone to separate; he didn’t like its open spaces and unwalkable roads, and the way people seemed to always be in their cars made him feel disconnected. The only place where he could feel the buzz of life was Rodoviaria do Plano Piloto – the Central Station of the city. His ongoing series Bus Stop is the result of his need to observe and get closer to others.

A firsthand account of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine

Worker on AKHZ (Avdiivka Coke & Chemical Plant) seen on the roof of the coke battery, Avdiivka, Ukraine, October 22 2015 Photographer: Dmitri Beliakov/ for Der Spiegel

Worker on AKHZ (Avdiivka Coke & Chemical Plant) seen on the roof of the coke battery, Avdiivka, Ukraine, 22nd of October, 2015

On the Ukrainian held territory the railway bridge, blown up by the separatists, blocking the highway from Donetsk to Slovyansk. 60 % of the railways and the roads infrastructure have been destroyed in Donbass, as a result of civil war. Krasny Partizansk, Eastern Ukraine, November 11 2014. Photographer: Dmitry Beliakov/ for Der Spiegel

The railway bridge on Ukrainian held territory, blown up by the separatists, blocking the highway from Donetsk to Slovyansk. 60 % of the railways and the roads infrastructure have been destroyed in Donbass, as a result of civil war. Krasny Partizansk, Eastern Ukraine, 11th of November 2014.

The conflict in Ukraine comes on and off the international media spotlight, but whether there’s news about it or not, the tensions and armed fighting in the Donbas region never really cool off. Russian photographer Dmitri Beliakov’s Ukrainian Chronicles is an extensive documentation of this conflict and of the ongoing struggle that continues even after the cameras are turned off. Beliakov’s images might make you want to avert your eyes, but they are such a necessary account of how a conflict zone is more than just a news narrative, and of how terribly painful and rough war really is.

The Modern-Day Cinderellas of Colombia


Karen lives with her mother, who is a secretary and saved money for more than a year and took out a loan to organize the party. It cost 4 millions pesos (1800 USD) and 85 people were invited. Karen wants to become a doctor.


Laura’s father is a fruit seller, and her mother is unemployed. Laura loves playing football and will join the female youth Colombian football team in 2015. Her parents saved money for six months to organize her quinceañera. 200 people were invited. Laura wants to become a criminologist.

In many parts of South America, a girl’s fifteenth birthday is a moment of great importance. Quinceañera marks the transition from childhood to young womanhood, and its tradition goes beyond social class and background. French photographer Delphine Blast got interested in this celebration and in the way it combines local culture and Western influences. For her photo series Quinceañeras, Blast spent two months in the suburbs of south Bogota, in Colombia, and the result is series of eye-catching portraits of girls dressed in their party dresses, photographed in their usual environments.

The Pixar-Like Insects Living in Your Backyard



When he is not busy with his long-term documentary projects, Romanian photographer Remus Tiplea turns his camera towards a subject close by. These damselflies – real-life versions of Pixar insect cartoons – have been photographed in his backyard in Negresti-Oas, Romania.

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