April 22nd, 2013

Boston Bombings Focus Attention on Caucasus, And Photo Projects on the Region

© Davide Monteleone/VII. From Red Thistle (published by Dewi Lewis)

© Davide Monteleone/VII. From Red Thistle (published by Dewi Lewis)

As investigations into the alleged Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev focus on their connection to Chechnya and to the region of Dagestan, where Tamerlan spent time in January 2012, we’re once again looking at photographic studies of the North Caucusus. This volatile and troubled region may be little known to many Americans, but it’s been the subject of in-depth examination by photographers including Stanley Greene, Thomas Dworzak and Davide Monteleone. They have explored not only the violence in the region, but its culture, rituals and legacy of ethnic and political tensions.

Talking about his 2012 book Red Thistle, which explores life in the Northern Caucusus, David Monteleone told PDN in  2012 that he wanted to learn more about the people in the region than he could learn from media reports about terrorist attacks and human rights abuses. The book is a collection of images he took over several years in the republics around Chechnya, including Dagestan, Abkhazia (the Georgian Republic), Ingushetia, Karachay–Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia and the disputed territory of South Ossetia.

“For every work that I do, I want to show the daily life of people,” Monteleone told PDN. “Then of course I try to get a little bit deeper and try to find my own vision, but it’s my curiosity first of all.”

People he met in the region who were hospitable and welcoming, he says, but “the authorities were not.” Many of his images were shot indoors, conveying the constraints he experienced. “You have this wild, big [landscape], and at the same time the people are sort of afraid of moving, they cannot reach some places. A lot of areas are closed because of antiterrorist operations, you cannot go to the mountains because it’s forbidden because of military operations … [The people] are restricted in a way, in the mind and physically.”

You can read Monteleone’s full interview in “Disputed Territories: Exploring Life in the Northern Caucuses” on PDNOnline.

* Photo, above: A woman in the Dagestan village of Gimri during the sacrifice of a bull. © Davide Monteleone/VII
Related articles
Disputed Territories: Exploring Life in the Northern Caucusus
Photo Gallery: More Images from Red Thistle

April 19th, 2013

Photographer Finally Takes Down Pictures of Bombing Suspect to Stop Theft

Hirn's photo story about one of the Boston bombing suspects appeared in a Boston University magazine back in 2010.

Hirn’s photo story about one of the Boston bombing suspects appeared in a Boston University student magazine in 2010.

Johannes Hirn, the former Boston University journalism student who shot a photo essay about one of the Boston bombing suspects, has removed the images from a PhotoShelter website and is referring licensing requests to Barcroft Media.

The images, comprising a 2010 photo essay called “Will Box for Passport,” feature the so-called “black hat” Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The story is about Tsarnaev’s bid to become an Olympic boxer, and shows him training in a mixed martial arts gym in Boston.

The story was published in 2010 in a graduate student magazine of Boston University’s College of Communication, where Hirn was a student. Hirn shot the story as a final assignment for a photojournalism course he took while at BU, according to an NPPA report.

Tsarnaev was killed last night in a shoot-out with police. After he was identified, news outlets found Hirn’s photo essay. Reporters used Hirn’s photo captions to profile Tsarnaev.  A number of media outlets have also copied and distributed Hirn’s photos without permission before he removed them from the Photoshelter site.

“We have seen multiple outlets lift screenshots of the images, but the hi res images are not accessible through PhotoShelter without direct permission from the photographer,” Andrew Fingerman of Photoshelter told PDN just before Hirn took the pictures off the site.

Hirn announced that Barcroft Media–a UK-based licenser of editorial content–is the exclusive distributor of the images. He also announced,  “I am not available for interview or comment.”

Hirn earned a PhD in particle physics before attending BU, where he earned a degree in science journalism, according to the NPPA report. He  now works in communications for an astrophysics lab at the University of Toronto.