Festival Photos

The previous post inspired me to add some of my own festival shots to this blog. Festivals are often so colourful and reflect much of the hosting city’s interests and flair. Here’s a few from the past few years.

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Feel free to email Jo at admin@visitedplanet.com with your comments/thoughts/photo aspirations.  See and learn more at www.visitedplanet.com

Alice Springs Camel Cup, Northern Territory, Australia

Nadaam horserace, Mongolia

Carnevale, Venice, Italy

Asahan Whitewater festival, Sumatra, Indonesia

Umbria Jazz Festival, Perugia, Italy

Holi Festival (festival of colours), Amhedabad, India

Birdsville races, view from the stands, Queensland, Australia

Festival of the Hungry Ghosts, Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia

Palio horserace, Siena, Italy

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Best pictures of 2009

I received a link today from one of my photography students of a series of fantastic images and just felt I had to share it with the rest of you. The gallery contains 29 of AAP’s best shots of 2009. It was posted on Yahoo! news. This picture below is just one of them.

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Feel free to email Jo at admin@visitedplanet.com with your comments/thoughts/photo aspirations.  See and learn more at www.visitedplanet.com

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Folk festivals and canoeing

I’ve just returned to the office after a week-long break. It was pretty mad actually but good to get away. I went up to Noosa for a few days and wandered across to Woodford for the annual folk festival, a great way to recharge the batteries even though you don’t get a lot of sleep. The ideas and energy pumping around the festival were just fantastic. I then headed down to the Clarence River in northern NSW to paddle a few rapids with friends.

Here are some pics for you to enjoy and just a note that all these were taken on my tiny Panasonic Lumix, which is really a glorified point and shoot digital. However I have actually sold some images of this camera and I do find it incredibly convenient to shove in a bag as it’s small and light and I don’t worry about it getting stolen or coming to grief on the river. Particularly because I have to shove it into a dry bag and then often take shots on the go in the canoe.

I actually use this camera a lot also when I want to be less obtrusive – it was great at Woodford as people seem to be less relaxed if you’re just bobbing around with an amateurish camera. I wonder how many other photographers use smaller options to their SLR from time to time? Any comments?

I think the shots on this camera are actually pretty reasonable – you be the judge.

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Feel free to email Jo at admin@visitedplanet.com with your comments/thoughts/photo aspirations.  See and learn more at www.visitedplanet.com

Nano Stern, Woodford Folk Festival

Sunset stage, Woodford Folk Festival

Juggler by the Woodford sign, Woodford Folk Festival

Dancing at sunset, Woodford Folk Festival

Jamming, Woodford Folk Festival

Clarence River action, NSW

Clarence River action, NSW

Canoes by the Clarence River, NSW

Gorgeous path by the Clarence River, NSW

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Highest number of journalists killed ever

I heard a terrible report on ABC Radio this morning about the number of journalist casualties around the world this year. Apparently there have been 68 so far, the highest ever and up from 42 last year. Even worse is that most of the journalists killed are usually locals, covering their own country’s events.

Many of these journalists actually risk their lives every day by just stepping out onto the street in their home towns. While some are caught up in the crossfire, others are actually targeted by groups who want to control the messages being sent to the outside world – or in this case eliminating them I guess.

The Committee to Protect Journalists reported 31 were killed in the Philippines, nine in Somalia, four in Iraq, four in Pakistan and three in Russia. Only two journalists were not locally based reporters. Nine were freelancers and most were murdered while 11 died covering combat and seven covering other disturbances.

I’m well aware journalists don’t always accurately portray events and have received my own share of abuse, even from friends. But we still need journos out there reporting the news, it’s one way to keep governments and military honest and let us know something about what is going on. I think many of us don’t realize exactly what journalists go through to get their stories. I’ve been a journalist for 12 years but I haven’t covered conflicts. I’ve been in disaster zones, I’ve had guns pointed at me but more for security checks than anything else and I’ve been searched by armed forces. But none of it has been too bad.

I don’t have any desire to cover conflicts but I have interviewed people that have. I did a story on famed British photojournalist Tim Page a few years ago for Capture, a photographic magazine in Australia. I asked Page if he had even been armed with more than a camera in any of the conflicts he’s covered. He’s been in Kosovo, Iraq, Vietnam, Cambodia, Somalia and other places (I heard recently he’s been in Afghanistan). Here’s what he said to me:

“At times you had to pick up a weapon and use it. I mean what do you do when a camp is being overrun, there’s no more mines, there’s no more barbed wire out there, there’s Charlie hurling grenades at you. You don’t say ‘excuse me old boy here’s my passport and my press card’. You’ve got the mother on rock and roll with you, so you drill him. It’s you or me and you’re mad enough to kill me although you don’t know who I am. I’ve got an automatic weapon, excuse me you’re going to be a hamburger.”

He said he had also accompanied small commando groups who insisted no one could look after him, so he had to pack a weapon.

The other terrible thing about war affected places is that the journalists living there, covering the events, often do not have the ability to leave. Foreign correspondents can jump on the next plane out of there if they have been traumatized by an event or been targeted by radical groups. Local journalists simply can’t leave and have no respite from the horrors they see. And it must be far worse seeing atrocities affecting your own family, friends and community.

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Feel free to email Jo at admin@visitedplanet.com with your comments/thoughts/photo aspirations.  See and learn more at www.visitedplanet.com

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Photographing People

One of the most common questions I am asked is how to approach people for a photograph, particularly in developing countries.

I probably take more portrait photographs than anything else as you can see from my website. Portraits are probably amongst the trickiest photos to get because while it’s easy to get photos of a person it may be less easy to get photos about them. But I think the real question people are asking, is how I approach complete strangers for a photo, perhaps in developing countries where you may feel you are exploiting them.

Of course all of this is easier said than done as we often have to work hard to overcome our shyness or their’s. I usually follow some of the following techniques:

1. Engage the person first. The more time you spend with people they are more likely to allow you to photograph. In aboriginal communities in Australia this is often the case. I’ve spent a bit of time in some Queensland communities where the children are asking you to take photos of them by the end of the week. However there are cultures in which photography maybe taboo or be regarded suspiciously. The important thing is to be sensitive to people and the reactions they have to you and your camera.

Aboriginal kids

2. I keep my camera out in the open and let them have a good look at it. I don’t hide behind bushes or do anything covertly, everything is very upfront so people have the chance to refuse the photography.

3. I warm them up towards a portrait by first photographing them doing something instead of looking directly at the camera. For example I might photograph the hands of a woman sewing or take a wider shot before I move in to photograph her face, like this image of the old grandmother below in Vietnam. The first photo is not great but as she got used to me I moved in closer until I finally took this great portrait.

Sapa, Vietnam

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Visited Planet's documentary and lifestyle photographic projects are designed to aid, equip, empower and educate people around the world.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter - Martin Luther King Jr.