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October 20th, 2014

Obituary: South African Photographer Thabiso Sekgala, 33

memorial-serviceThabiso Sekgala, whose images of the restricted homelands established under South Africa’s apartheid regime have been exhibited internationally, died October 15. Market Photo Workshop, the Johannesburg school where Sekgala studied, announced his death on October 17. The cause of death appears to be suicide, but a police investigation into his death is still being conducted, according to Lekgetho Makola, Market Photo Workshop’s manager of programs and projects.

Born in Johannesburg, Sekgala studied at the Market Photo Workshop. In 2013 he was artist-in-residence at both the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, and HIWAR/Durant Al Funun, Jordan. His show “Homeland,” a series of portraits and landscapes made in the restricted areas where black South Africans were segregated under apartheid, was exhibited at Recyclart & The vieuwer, a gallery in Brussels. Earlier this year, Goodman Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa, showed “Running,” made up of images Sekgala shot in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; Amman, Jordan; and Berlin, Germany. His work was also shown at international photo festivals including Photoquai in Paris and Rencontres d’Arles (see PDN Photo of the Day for a selection of images shown in “Transitions” at the Rencontres d’Arles). Images from “Homeland” were included in “The Rise and Fall of Apartheid” exhibition, which was shown at the International Center of Photography in New York City, Haus der Kunst in Munich and Museum Africa in Johannesburg.

Sekgala is survived by his mother, his two brothers, and his daughter. A memorial service, being organized by Market Photo Workshop, Goodman Gallery and the Goethe Institut, will be held October 23 at Market Photo Workshop. Details are available on the Market Photo Workshop website.

Related articles:

PDN Photo of the Day: A Period of Transition in South Africa

Another Africa: In Conversation with Artist Thabiso Sekgala (August 2014)

September 3rd, 2014

Russian Photojournalist Missing in Eastern Ukraine Confirmed Dead

Andrei Stenin, 33, a photographer with the Russian state agency RIA Novosti, who had been reported missing in the eastern Ukraine August 5, has been found dead, his agency confirmed today. In a statement, Dmitry Kiselev, the head of RIA Novosti, said Stenin had been traveling in a convoy of vehicles carrying civilians fleeing the fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops.  “His car was hit by shots and it had been burnt on the road close to Donetsk,” a stronghold of pro-Russian rebels where Stenin had been reporting before he disappeared. An autopsy confirmed a body found in the car was Stenin’s.

After his disappearance, RIA Novosti published a report, based on an anonymous source, that Stenin was being held by the Ukrainian security service (SBU). Though SBU denied the allegation, RIA Novosti, Russian media organizations and international press freedom groups around the world had advocated for his release. Kisolev told press today, “It turns out he was not a prisoner, he has been dead a month.”

The Russian foreign ministry called on Ukraine’s government to conduct a “thorough and unbiased investigation into the murder of Andrei Stenin and severely punish those responsible.”

Related article
Photographer Reported Missing in Eastern Ukraine

 

July 31st, 2014

Photographer Killed in Israeli Airstrike in Gaza (Update)

Rami Rayan, a photographer with the Palestine Network for Press and Media, was killed July 30 in an air strike by the Israeli Defense Forces in the Shuja’iya neighborhood of Gaza, Reporters Without Borders reports.

Rayan’s network manager told Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that the photographer was covering civilians shopping during what they thought was a four-hour “humanitarian window” ceasefire declared by Israel, but the Israeli military had noted it would not protect Shuja’iya and certain other areas of the city.

According to news reports, the air strike killed at least 16 people and wounded more than 200 others. At the time of the attack, Rayan was wearing a flak jacket and helmet marked “press” according to Reporters without Borders.

Rayan is the third * media worker killed since Israel began its military offensive in Gaza on July 8. Khalid Hamad, a cameraman for The Continue was killed July 20 during shelling in Shuja’iya. Hamdi Shihab, a driver for the Media 24 news agency, was killed July 9 when shells struck his vehicle which was marked “TV.”

(*Update: On July 31, Committee to Protect Journalists reported that Sameh al-Aryan , a camera operator for the al-Aqsa TV channel, run by Hamas, was killed in the same air strike in which Rayan died.)

“Israel is showing little evidence to back its claim that it tries to avoid civilian casualties, including those of journalists, in its assault on Gaza,” Sherif Mansour, Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator for CPJ, said in a statement.

July 14th, 2014

Chicago Photographer Murdered In Apparent Case of Mistaken Identity

Wil Lewis, a 28-year-old photographer, was shot and killed in broad daylight on Saturday afternoon as he waited for a bus in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, according to reports from the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune.

Police have arrested a man in the shooting, charging him with first degree murder.

Lewis’s father told the Tribune that police believe Lewis was mistaken for someone else. “Somebody basically shot him dead. They felt it was a case of mistaken identity. Wil was not in the wrong,” he told the paper.

Born in Guatemala, Lewis was adopted at age 7 and grew up in California and Wisconsin. Lewis, a graduate of Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, had worked as a photo assistant and digital tech for Kohl’s, Sears, Blackbox Visual and other clients. He opened his own studio, Wil Photography, in 2009. A friend told the Sun-Times that Lewis was due to begin a new job as a photographer at an online men’s clothing retailer this week. He and his wife, an art director at ad agency Leo Burnett, were expected to celebrate their second wedding anniversary next month.

 

June 9th, 2014

Obituary: Roger Mayne, Documentarian of London’s Post-War Working Class

"Southam Street, 1956" © Roger Mayne/Courtesy Quaritch

“Southam Street, 1956″ © Roger Mayne/Courtesy Quaritch

Roger Mayne, whose images of working class neighborhoods in London in the late 1950s established his reputation as an important post-war British photographer, died June 7th at the age of 85, according to a statement from Gitterman Gallery. The cause of death was a heart attack, the gallery says.

Mayne began photographing working class youth and neighborhoods of West London in 1956, two years after moving to the city to become a photographer. “For Mayne, even the empty streets and dilapidated buildings had ‘a kind of decaying splendor,’” says Gitterman. Mayne spent five years on the project, and his work captured the spirit of an era before London’s run-down neighborhoods were razed and modernized, destroying many of the working class communities in the process.

He was particularly interested in the lively youth culture–”teddy boys, jiving girl, and kids playing in the streets,” according to his Gitterman. “By 1959 Mayne’s images were so indicative of this period that Vogue used them to illustrate teenage styles.”

His work was recognized early by various photographic societies and institutions. In 1956, he had solo exhibitions at the George Eastman House in Rochester, and at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. During the late 1950s, his work appeared in a number of group shows. The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago also acquired prints of his work.

Mayne went on to a successful career as a freelance photographer, working for various magazines and newspapers. A solo exhibition at The Victoria and Albert Museum in 1986 renewed interest in his work, according to Gitterman. His work has since appeared in several exhibitions, including shows at the Tate Britain in 2004 and 2007. He had a solo last year in Bath, England at Victoria Gallery.

Mayne is survived by his wife, Ann Jellicoe, as well as by a daughter, a son, and their families.

December 30th, 2013

Obituary: John Dominis, Prolific LIFE Photographer, 92

© John Dominis/Time Inc/Courtesy of the Monroe Gallery

© John Dominis/Time Inc/Courtesy of the Monroe Gallery

John Dominis, who photographed sports, politics, celebrities and culture as a staff photographer at LIFE from the 1950s to the 1970s, died December 30 at his home in New York City,  Life.time.com reports. He had recently undergone heart surgery, according to a website set up by his companion, Evelyn Floret.

In his time at LIFE, Dominis covered  five Olympic Games, capturing the iconic photo of medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos making the Black Power salute on the medal stand at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, as well as President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 speech in Berlin, the Woodstock Festival in 1968 and President Richard Nixon’s trip to China in 1972. Dominis said, “The great thing about working with LIFE was that I was given all the support and money and time, whatever was required, to do almost any kind of work I wanted to do, anywhere in the world. It was like having a grant, a Guggenheim grant, but permanently.”

For our full obituary, including information on Dominis’s photo editing work and where his images are on view now, see  PDNOnline.com.

*Photo: “Mickey Mantle Having a Bad Day at Yankee Stadium, New York,” 1956.  © John Dominis/Time Inc/Courtesy of the Monroe Gallery

December 23rd, 2013

Freelance Photographer Killed in Syria

Molhem Barakat ©Reuters

Molhem Barakat ©Reuters

A Syrian freelance photographer was killed in Aleppo December 20 while covering a battle between rebels and government forces for control of a hospital, according to a report from Reuters.

Molhem Barakat had contributed “dozens of photographs” of the conflict to Reuters since last May, according to the report, which provided few other details about the photographer.

The fighting between rebels and government forces for control of Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, has been intense in recent days. The government has launched air strikes on the city for the past week, according to news reports.

Twenty-two other journalists have died while covering the civil war in Syria during 2013, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. More than 50 have been killed since the fighting there began in 2011.

December 5th, 2013

The Pleasure—and Challenges—of Photographing Nelson Mandela

©Jillian Edelstein

Nelson Mandela in 1997. © Jillian Edelstein

Nelson Mandela, the legendary African National Congress leader and former South African president, was a symbol of hope, justice and human rights to people around the world. South African photographers who saw him up close over the years—both before his international fame and afterwards—recall a man who was every bit as charismatic, gracious, and good humored as his public image suggested. Despite all the access Mandela gave them—or perhaps because of it—photographers found it challenging to get a unique portrait of him.

“He was unendingly charming,” says South African photographer Louise Gubb, who covered Mandela as a freelance photographer, and shot several portraits of him for various publications in the 1990s.

Gubb recounts one of Mandela’s ceremonial walks around the presidential compound in Cape Town. Mandela was surrounded by a phalanx of photographers when a photojournalist working for a local Afrikaans newspaper suddenly fell backwards into a fish pond.

“And Mandela—he was so sweet—he went and tried to help him out” of the water, Gubb says. After that, whenever Mandela saw that photographer at official events, “He would say, ‘Now you all watch your step today. I don’t want you swimming in my fish pond again.’”

The last time Gubb saw Mandela, four or five years ago at a press conference, he greeted her, “Hello, Louise. I thought you would be on pension by now,” she recalls.

“He always told jokes. He would have been a good comedian,” says Jürgen Schadeberg, who first photographed Mandela in 1951 at an African National Congress meeting, and took his portrait in 1952 in his law office. Schadeberg and Mandela met many times in the coming years, when the photographer was freelancing for Drum, the groundbreaking magazine that covered black life in South Africa.  Says Schadeberg, “He was what we call in German a mensch.” Mandela always held the press in high regard for the role it played in freeing him, and moving South Africa beyond apartheid. He didn’t play favorites, and never seemed to tire of the media attention (or the long parade of politicians, activists, and celebrities who trekked to South Africa just for an audience with him).

South African-born photographer Jillian Edelstein photographed Mandela for The New York Times Magazine in 1997. Meeting him at Tuynhuys, South Africa’s presidential office in Cape Town, Edelstein says she was awestruck.

“I started smiling and I thought my face would crack. It was like meeting a saint,” she says. “It was something I’d never experienced before or since.”

“I suppose for me, he emerged from what had been the bastion of the government oppressors.”  Seeing the first freely elected president, she says, symbolized “the oppressor supplanted,” Edelstein continues.

Since Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 (he ascended to the presidency of South Africa four years later, in an historic election), photographers have shot thousands upon thousands of images of him at public events. He was almost always smiling, as if he was truly delighted to be there, and he was often seen interacting with children or the downtrodden, giving them his full attention.

“He [would] always break ranks to say hello to the person in the wheelchair, or some little child,” says Gubb, noting that Mandela particularly loved being around kids.  “So if you knew that, you could [anticipate] and get great pictures … If there were children there who were going to sing, he would go over there and dance, and sometimes sing back to them.”

Because Mandela was photographed so often, and because he had one predominant mood (bright and sunny), it was a challenge to photograph him in any truly distinctive way. Edelstein says that when she photographed Mandela in 1997, his automatic reaction was to make a “thumbs up” sign. Finally she caught a moment when he looked reflective and “somewhat poignant,” she says.

“I think that up until that time the only images I’d seen that were coming out were him dancing or thumbs up or smiling.”

A year after his release from prison, he took a retinue of press back to Robben Island, where he was incarcerated for years. There, Schadeberg took one of the most reproduced photos of Mandela, showing him gazing through the bars of his former cell.  Photographers were given access to Mandela in the cell one at a time, Gubb says. “He was like a piece of putty,” willing to do whatever he was asked to do.

But after he was elected president, media access was much more limited. Still, Mandela hated to say no to photographers who asked for time with him.  “He’d say, ‘I’ll have to talk to my chiefs,’” Gubb says. “He  would hide behind his [handlers] because he didn’t like to refuse.”

A few photographers had privileged access. The late Alfred Kumalo of the Johannesburg Star was a family friend, and had freer range around the presidential grounds than other photographers, according to Gubb. Peter Magubane was Mandela’s official photographer between 1990 and 1994, and followed Mandela everywhere. Magubane, who had shot for Drum magazine and later Time magazine, tells PDN he had been hired as Mandela’s official photographer “because [Mandela] knew my credentials, and knew I wouldn’t sell out.” But Magubane describes their relationships as “strictly business.” By most assessments, no single photographer had the defining take on Mandela’s life, public or private.

Says Gubb, “Photographers, writers, television—everyone was [treated equally]. He took them all in their stride, and nobody was excluded.”

One challenge for photographers was that they couldn’t use flash when photographing Mandela; the rule was strictly enforced by his bodyguards. The reason was because his eyes had been damaged by the bright, reflective light of the sun at the limestone quarry where he was forced to work while a prisoner on Robben Island.

For the past six years, Mandela was largely out of the public eye. Several years ago, he invited Schadenberg and his wife to his home for lunch. “He was sitting in his armchair in his slippers. He said, ‘I’m an old man who isn’t doing much, just sitting around. It’s so kind of you busy people to come see me,’” Schadenberg recounts, adding that Mandela was always saying that he wasn’t anybody special.  “It wasn’t to make an impression.  It was genuine.”

November 28th, 2013

Color Photography Legend Saul Leiter Dies

Artist Saul Leiter, who spent decades working in relative obscurity before his talents as a pioneering color photographer came to light, died Tuesday in New York City. He was 89 years old.

An unassuming man who shunned attention, Leiter photographed on the streets of New York, mostly within a  few blocks of his East Village apartment. Using rich layering and swaths of beautiful color, Leiter induced moments of quietude and reflection amid the bustle and chaos of New York City street life.

(Read the full article at PDNOnline.com)

 

October 25th, 2013

Obituary: Deborah Turbeville, Pioneering Fashion Photographer

© Deborah Turbeville

© Deborah Turbeville

Photographer Deborah Turbeville, whose atmospheric images for Mademoiselle, Harper’s Bazaar, Italian Vogue, L’Uomo Vogue, Cacharel and Valentino were distinctive for their mystery and drama, died in a New York hospital October 24, her agents, Marek and Associates, confirmed. The cause of death was lung cancer.

Throughout her career, Turbeville created fashion, travel and architectural images that were “romantic, feminine, elegant, unconventional, dreamy,” as Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani wrote in the 2011 book Deborah Turbeville: The Fashion Pictures (published by Rizzoli).  “I like to think atmosphere is the main thing about my pictures,” Turbeville wrote.

For  more about Turbeville, read her full obituary, now in the news section on PDNOnline.

** Photo: Ballerina Vera Arbuzov, in an image from Studio St. Petersburg by Deborah Turbeville, published by Bulfinch Press in 1997. Photo © Deborah Turbeville, courtesy of Marek and Associates