Monthly Archive for July, 2011

Paul S Amundsen – A Memoir of a Boy

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Paul S. Amundsen

A Memoir of a Boy – In Search of a Normal Life

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“I was born a boy, but I want to die as a woman”, she says, sitting in a taxi, nervous about the upcoming appointment at a sex change clinic in Bangkok.

It was a true moment of no return. She was nervous, but at the same time ready. “It’s my life and there are no other real options, even though I am sacrificing a lot. But I want a normal life, and people should accept my past, she said.”
Transsexuals, especially from South-East-Asia, are living on the edge. It’s hard to get a normal job. Many are working as prostitutes or in the entertainment industry.

“It is sad to see how people are treating transsexuals as a group, rather than individuals,” she says.
She searched for better opportunities outside her home country and chose to live far away from the Philippines. She moved to Norway in 2008, married a man and began working as a nurse. However, the relationship did not last, and the couple divorced in less than a year.

After the break up, a lot happened in her life in a really short time. She began cross-dressing part time, and a few months later she began injecting hormones. After one year on hormones she got breast implants. The operation triggered her to live as a woman full time. However, after some months she did not like being in between genders and considered sex reassignment surgery. In February 2010 she underwent a sex change operation in Bangkok.

As the journey moved on, from the first pictures were shot in January 2009 until May 2010, something happened with her. An identity, a body and a personality changed and took shape.
After the operation she got her new passport. Her old name was history. Her new name was Aira, and her new life could begin.

However, four months after the sex reassignment surgery she caught pneumonia. Her general health was not so good and her condition took an unexpected turn for the worse. She got critically ill and she died on the 25th of June 2010.

She herself gave the project the title “A Memoir of a Boy”. She wanted me to document her process and her struggles to become a normal girl. I hope this project will give people insight into how everyday life is for persons struggling with their gender identity.
“A Memoir of a Boy” is still the title for the photo essay, but now it is also “A Memoir of a Girl”.


Paul S. Amundsen, born 1976, is a freelance photographer based in Bergen, Norway. He has no formal photographic education, but started photographing very early in his life. He has been producing his own projects for more than ten years and has both an artistic and photo journalistic approach to storytelling. He has been a full time independent photographer since 2004, and his clients include daily newspapers like Bergens Tidende, Dagbladet, Dagens Naeringsliv and The New York Times, among others. He is currently working on several independent long term projects.

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Paul S. Amundsen

Chloe Dewe Mathews – Caspian

Chloe Dewe Mathews


When viewed from space, the Caspian has a distinct outline, like an upside down map of the British Isles, and roughly the same size. But the Caspian is no lake, nor is it an ordinary sea; surrounded by vast tracts of desert, hovering half way between Asia and Europe – though belonging to neither, the Caspian is a sea almost lost in the land. I set out to capture the spirit of the illusive region; picking out unusual, poetic and often humorous aspects of everyday lives.
Over the centuries, nearby Empires have come and gone, each leaving its mark: first the Ottomans, then Persians, Mongols and finally, the Russians.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1993, an oil boom brought fresh prosperity to the area. Ports such as Aktau sprang up on the coast of Kazakhstan, where in the cemetery migrant workers now construct elaborate tombs for a new oil-rich middle class.

Across the water in the semi-desert of Azerbaijan, in a sanatorium town called Naftalan, people bathe in unique, chocolate-brown oil, which is believed to have therapeutic properties. It was startling to see an industrial substance so associated with international politics, power and wealth, being used for health and relaxation.

While the economic relationships between Europe and Asia change and ecological conditions on our planet mutate, so do the fortunes sift of the disparate communities who live around this strange sea. Even today, the lives of these people are tied to the landscape as never before.




My work is a hunt for moments of potency; when the clutter of day-to-day existence falls away to reveal something uncomplicated, something essential.
After a degree in Fine Art at Oxford University, I worked in the feature film industry for four years. Although it was an exciting world to be part of, I found myself questioning its extravagance. I wanted to work on something quieter, more economical, where I had room for spontaneity and intimacy with my subject.

In 2010 I traveled overland from China to Britain, hitchhiking and camping, in an attempt to experience and capture the cultural shift that takes place as one moves from Asia to Europe. During that time I shot projects on the Uighur minority in Western China, the returning waters of the Aral Sea, and the Caspian.
My work has been published in the Sunday Times Magazine, the Independent, Foto8, Vision China and Dazed and Confused magazine, and exhibited in London, Birmingham, Buenos Aires and Berlin.


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Chloe Dewe Mathews


Ana Galan – Viv(r)e La Vie!

Ana Galan

Viv(r)e La Vie!

Viv(r)e la vie! is a photography series in process, consisting of photographs of couples in profile with a landscape of a countryside in the background, snapshots which evoke the Diptych of the Duchess and Duke of Urbino by Piero Della Francesca.

The concept depicts the two contrary principles, masculine and feminine, which are found in an embrace as a symbol of the partnership, the unit and belonging, the union of two planets which find themselves in the same line of gravitation. In this movement, we discover the meaning of life. As well in its coniferous landscapes, the series recreates the representation of the power of vital force, of immortality.

Viv(r)e la vie! consists of 15 photographs, of 15 couples which meet in order to dance every Sunday in a community center. This series pays homage to those people who continue to live in the moment.

I began the series Viv(r)e la Vie! in Guadalajara, Spain, with the idea of putting together a set of series of 15 couples in different cities around the world, between 1 and 5 series in each continent and subcontinent. Couples of a certain age, people barely seen socially, but who have not stopped living life fully and whose close relation is photographed in the Sunday outing dances of the community centers of their area.

The photographs give visibility to people which, for a certain time, have lacked such visibility. This series, at the same time, documents the cultural diversity that exists between different cities and countries. All of this is seen through the behaviors and gestures of the dancing couples, in the relationships between man and woman and in the roles assumed by each of them, they also narrate each selected territory.

The second series of Viv(r)e la Vie! was developed in the American city of Philadelphia from June 7 to 27, 2011 thanks to an artist residency I have been granted by the Philadelphia Arts Hotel.


Ana Galán was born in Madrid in 1969. After receiving her degree in Economics, she completed an International MBA, which entailed studying in three different cities: Oxford, Madrid and Paris. In the last two courses, she wrote a thesis addressing “Speculation in Plastic Art”.

Since 1993 she has combined her passion for photography with her profession, attending various courses and workshops in Paris and Madrid, such as EFTI’s Master of Fine Arts in Photography, and since then has participated in several collective exhibits and photography projects.

She works as the marketing director for a magazine in Madrid, and lives between Guadalajara and Paris.


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Ana Galan


Mikel Bastida – War theatre

Mikel Bastida

War Theatre

During the last two years I have traveled across Western and Eastern Europe recreating the figure of a World War II photographer. I’ve covered several historical recreations where groups of re-enactors have performed different war episodes in both historical scenarios and fictitious battlefields.

This photographic series is a search for those fields that history has turned into literary landscapes. Scenarios made out of different representations of WWII – from films to vintage photographs – which turn into huge sets where recreation and simulation leaves exposed a collective imaginary.

The Photographic Naturalism, the definition of reality from behind the camera, does not allow fictitious characters but imaginary. Real figures transformed into the main character of a false epic representation. Archetypes of a story that has permeated our popular culture to the point of making reality interesting only when it is mystified by its representation.


Born in Bilbao in 1982, he first became interested in photography at the age of 19 while studying at the School of Film of Andoain. After this period he started working as a TV camera for the leading Spanish news agency EFE. He then enrolled in the School of Communication and Visual arts, while embarking on personal photographic projects abroad. In 2009 he was granted an award for a project developed during the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.
In 2010 he moves to China to work on a personal project. This trip is a major breaking point in his career and the resulting project is awarded with the prestigious Roberto Villagraz scholarship.
He currently lives in Madrid, where he studies a Masters in photography at EFTI School of Image and Arts.


Magnum Portrait


A one minute movie by Chien-Chi Chang

summer job…

Dasha wants to see California. Los Angeles specifically. She knows L.A. from the movies. New York  police car chases a la television shows she wants to see as well. In the meantime, she and a few hundred other Ukrainians are biding their time on the Carolina coast filling in all sorts of jobs. Dasha and her friend Katya work at a miniature golf course. Galaxy Golf. A golf course where you might immediately look around to see if Martin Parr is indeed doing a book on it. Has crossed my mind too. Classic kitsch.

I have spent the last three days photographing the Ukrainian community that paradoxically lives here side by side  in the land of rednecks and tourists and fishermen and construction workers and surfers. Most return to the Ukraine after a three month summer stint, but some have married and raised families with the local crowd. However, Dasha and Katya see themselves raising their families in Kiev.

The Carolina shore and L.A. and New York are simply passing fancies. A growing up adventure and a first time, maybe last time, flirtation with America. My best pictures of these women and men mixing in the local environment must be saved for my upcoming essay on this coast for NatGeo and book following, yet I can never resist simple portraiture just because, well, I just like to do it.

Summer jobs. The best of times, and maybe the worst of times. How about you…Ever now fantasize your best summer job?

Bill Frakes – Agony, Ecstasy

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Bill Frakes

Agony, Ecstasy

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I am a photojournalist, a storyteller–the world’s greatest vicarious adolescent profession.

The crux of my exploration of athletic competition is the intersection of motion and emotion, the sometimes chance but more often calculated inclusion of art, commerce and athleticism into sport which so heavily influences the functioning of society through participation and observation. Capturing the penultimate moment which will hopefully enlighten and engage the viewer in a way that defines the game.

That said I really just want to make people smile.


Bill Frakes is a Sports Illustrated Staff Photographer based in Florida who has worked in more than 130 countries for a wide variety of editorial and advertising clients.
His advertising clients include Apple, Nike, Manfrotto, CocaCola, Champion, Isleworth, Stryker, IBM, Nikon, Canon, Kodak, and Reebok. He directs music videos and television ads.
Editorially his work has appeared in virtually every major general interest publication in the world. His still photographs and short documentary films have been featured on hundreds of Web sites as well as on most major television networks.
He won the coveted Newspaper Photographer of the Year award in the prestigious Pictures of the Year competition. He was a member of the Miami Herald staff that won the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of Hurricane Andrew. He was awarded the Gold Medal by World Press Photo. He has also been honored by the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards for reporting on the disadvantaged and by the Overseas Press club for distinguished foreign reporting. He has received hundreds of national and international awards for his work.
He has taught at the University of Miami, the University of Florida and the University of Kansas as an adjunct professor and lecturer. During the last five years he has lectured at more than 100 universities discussing multimedia and photojournalism.
In 2010 he served on the jury of World Press Photo.

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William Daniels – Faded Tulips

William Daniels

Faded Tulips


I remember seeing images of Kyrgyzstan for the first time on television, in March 2005. There were scenes of excited Asian-looking men rushing toward an imposing Soviet style administration building. They entered the building, vandalizing, even pillaging, all they found. Then, on the roof, a scene of men proudly brandishing a flag. This event was called the “Tulip Revolution”. One could read in the press that the Kyrgyz people, motivated by social injustice, had just overthrown the authoritarian and corrupt regime of President Askar Akayev and had replaced him with Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

It was a few years later, when the little country, no longer in the limelight, had been completely forgotten, that I visited Kyrgyzstan for the first time. Aided by a grant, I set out to discover what the Tulip “Revolution”, which was supposed to lead to a democratic transition in the country, had really accomplished. This so-called revolution seemed to have been no more than a power grab. The elections were rigged; the media censured, perhaps even more than previously; political opponents were arrested. Kyrgyzstan was considered one of the 15 most corrupt countries in the world. Even today 40% of the population live below the poverty line, and at least as many look back with nostalgia to the Soviet era. Today one speaks of the Tulip Revolution as a coup d’état disguised as a popular revolution.

I continued to visit the country in the course of several trips. I was confronted by the growing instability which would lead, eventually, to the bloody riots of April 2010. It was a new revolution, perhaps a bit more authentic this time. The nepotistic Bakyiev was overthrown in his turn and found asylum in Belorussia, as had Akayev five years earlier. There followed a period of great unrest during which Osh, the major city in South, was the scene of anti-Uzbek pogroms.

Some say that the young country has never really recovered from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and that what it is going through today is still the painful apprenticeship of independence.

Faded Tulips is a trip through a young country at the crossroads of different worlds, born out of the break-up of the Soviet Union 20 years ago.
It is an immersion in the daily life of a disenchanted people living amidst the ruins of their past and whose present is undermined by poverty, clannishness, and chronic instability, a explosive mixture.




William’s work revolves around social issues and humanitarian concerns mostly focusing on isolated or weakened communities. He has worked on many global issues such as the 3 main pandemics -Malaria, Aids and Tuberculosis- the Tsunami aftermaths in Asia, Haiti earthquake aftermaths, and he has been working on Kyrgyzstan since late 2007, among others issues. Recently he covered the Libyan conflict on assignment for Polka magazine.

His long-term work on malaria was exhibited in partnership with the Global Fund on the Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris, in London, at the European parliament in Brussels, and he published it in the book Mauvais Air. His images appear regularly in French and international press: Time, Newsweek, Le Monde, The New York Times, Der Spiegel, Polka and he was Awarded once at world press photo, 3 times at Picture of the year and shortlisted in many international awards such as Anthropographia and Sony Awards.

He is represented by Panos Pictures.


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William Daniels


akaky says…

Before I start, I should point out that summer is not usually a particularly silly time here in our happy little burg. It’s true that the kids are all out of school now, save for those who find the modern curriculum of pabulum and political correctness too educationally challenging to qualify for social promotion, and so the kids are out doing the things that all normal, healthy kids do at this time of year like robbing liquor stores, beating up old people, and setting fire to stray cats. While this sort of thing is occasionally unsettling, it does little to upset the calm and orderly progression of life here; the kids take their cues from their parents and in the main parents here in our happy little burg do not act in a radically silly manner. There are always exceptions to the rule, of course, but they are few and far between.

It is summer, after all, a time when few people want to behave in a seriously silly way, except at the beach, where the intense sunlight has the unfortunate effect of making large numbers of people who should never be seen without their clothes on suddenly decide that the one thing in life that would make them happy is to display themselves to a horrified American public in all their avoirdupois magnificence, thereby scarring the psyches of many a small child for life and permanently blinding large numbers of family dogs. The vast majority of people, however, simply want to kick back, mellow out, and enjoy the long sunny days and maybe take in the occasional movie at the drive-in or bring the family to see a ballgame. Even our civic affairs take a back seat to the demands of the season, as our local solons usually decide to not decide anything until after Labor Day. It therefore came as a bit of a surprise to all and sundry when one member of the city council proposed that henceforth all public housing built here shall come equipped with environmentally sound dry toilets instead of the flush toilets that have made American civilization the envy of the modern world.

The economic rationale behind this proposal is simple: the ecofriendly dry toilet will save water and will, as a result, save the city millions in sewage treatment costs. At least, this was the explanation given at the city council meeting; the vast consensus of opinion at Don German’s Hair Cut and Hand Gun Emporium, as well as at most other tonsorial establishments throughout our happy little burg, is that this particular member of the city council is a jerk and a jackass, when he isn’t actually aspiring to the elevated status of complete moron. I do not hold this somewhat low opinion of the councilman, although in the interests of full disclosure I should mention that I did go to high school with him and that when I was a senior his first wife gave the varsity football team a particularly nasty case of the clap, costing the team a place in the semifinals for the county championship that year. I know that the councilman is a serious environmental activist and always has been; even in high school he led clean-up drives and recycling efforts years before it became the thing to do; and I believe that he made this proposal with every intention of making his community and his planet a more environmentally safe place in which to live. I also think he is full of toads’ gonads.

A more dispassionate observer than I, however, might choose to question the motives of the councilman and all his plumbophobic ilk. Why this sudden demand to do away with indoor plumbing, surely one of the hallmarks of a civilized society? Why, in this day and age of incredible scientific advances, should our modern post-industrial information age society turn away from Sir Thomas Crapper’s gift to the world and return to the outhouse? Let us look first at the outhouse, or rather, let us smell the outhouse, since we will be able to smell the place well before the outhouse comes into view.

I know this for a fact, for my family home once came complete with an outhouse. This was long ago, of course, when my family came up to our happy little burg from the great metropolis to the south for the summer, an annual trek we made every year in order to keep my brothers and me off of the streets and out of trouble, and a removal that became permanent when I was eleven, at about the time when my ability to turn the five-fingered discount in bulk was becoming somewhat notorious with the merchants on our block. Although my father plumbed for a living, he hadn’t actually gotten around to putting in a toilet in our house until the summer before we came here permanently, and so every year we marched through the high grass in the back yard (Pop disliked mowing the lawn, and he especially disliked mowing the back yard, his reasoning being why should he expend time and effort on something nobody would ever see) to the outhouse. It would be hard to imagine a filthier, more disgusting, more feculently crapulous and noisome hellhole than that outhouse, the overpowering stench of which made my brothers and me evacuate our bowels with a single-minded determination and alacrity we seldom displayed beforehand and have never displayed since, and get the hell out of there forthwith and in a hurry, too. It is difficult to imagine the sighs of both psychic and physiological relief we expressed when Pop first tested our brand new flush toilet in the summer of 1969, and it was with no end of fraternal glee that all the brothers together pulled down the old outhouse and set it on fire, and then filled in what had to be simultaneously the most loathed and the most fertile spot on the property.

So why, you ask, would anyone possessed of all their wits actually advocate a return to such a primitive method of sewage disposal? To understand the war on the flush toilet, you must first understand the mindset of those who want to ban this paragon of Western inventiveness. The modern environmentalist is, in our current political climate, most often associated with those who believe in the power of the state to correct all of society’s ills. There are many reasons for this, one of which is that environmentalists like to tell people what to do, and the state’s ability to make the populace do things they don’t want to do is even greater than your mother’s, if you can believe such a thing. In order to get you to do what they want, they have to nag and nag and nag, and sometimes they’ll make you fork over a stiff fine for not listening to them, and at other times they’ll send in SWAT teams, but mostly they simply annoy you until you do what they want you to do. But to annoy you, they have to get at you, and they can’t get to you if you’re in the lavatory copping a squat on Sir Thomas’ pride and joy.

This is true, believe it or not. The vast majority of Americans own more than one television, but they don’t keep one in the bathroom, and until the cell phone came along, most people didn’t have a phone in the bathroom either. The bathroom was a place of solace and rest, where the harried citizen could simply sit and read and go about his business without the constant pressure to do one thing or another, simply because they were already doing one thing or another and they had to prioritize. The bathroom was the one place where an American teenager could read without their friends knowing that they were actually looking at a book, because books are gay (actual quote, people, I kid you not) and not at all cool, and social standing, as we all know and remember from high school, is everything to an adolescent. One can only imagine what will happen to the collective American grade point average when students can no longer use the bathroom for any prolonged period because of the room’s intense crapulence, or what will happen to the social life of teenaged girls when they are no longer able to use the bathroom for so long that you wonder what the hell they are doing in there? It seems clear, therefore, that this push for the ecofriendly toilet is little more than an attempt to rid this our Great Republic of the last bastion of personal privacy left to the common citizen.

And for what? To expand the already increasing power of the state to interfere in the ordinary lives of the citizenry, and yes, to serve the interests of those with a vested interest in increasing that power, such as all civil service unions, most Democrats, some accordion manufacturers, and my classmate the councilman. As I said, I am sure that in making this proposal the councilman is doing what he thinks is best for the people of our happy little burg, and indeed, for the nation as a whole. That being said, and again in the interests of full disclosure, I must say that I never liked him or either of his wives, and let me be among the very first to say that he can have my flush toilet when he pries it off my cold dead ass.

Story: AKAKY

Photo: DAH