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I was 12 years old and paging through a photo album; my memories of the days seemed to fade in the photo’s recreation. In some pictures, I am a mud brown, in others I’m a blue black.
Some of the pictures were taken within moments of one another. “You look like charcoal,” someone said, and giggled. I felt insulted, but I didn’t have the words for that yet. I just knew that I didn’t want to be seen as a quality of a dark black that would invite hatred on my skin.
A year later, it was 1988 and the overhead kitchen light burned the dullest yellow as my mother placed four proofs on the table from an Olan Mills photo session. Each wallet-sized print contained various permutations of my little sister, my mother, father, and me. She wanted to know what we thought.
I considered each of the images. I couldn’t see my face.
“Why do I look so dark?”
“Maybe it’s just dark in here.”
She flipped the curtains upward and wound them around the curtain rod to let the dull winter light in. It didn’t help. The clothes were OK — the bright blue vest over a striped blue shirt underneath. The updo wasn’t the camera’s fault. But my eyes looked like sunken holes in a small brown face, and my pupils were invisible.
“I don’t even look like me.”
The photos were horrible. Mom was kind of blown out on one side; my father’s hair, a scalped crop fro, disappears into a faux marbled background. He’s half brown and tan, teeth capturing the strobes’ glare. My mom had saved up quite a bit of money to try to create a pastoral scene of domesticity of our rough and ragged family to give to loved ones.
I just couldn’t understand how the camera could get us so wrong.
Photography is balancing an equation between light and documentary. Beauty and storytelling. Honesty and fantasy. The frame says how the photographer sees you. I couldn’t help but feel that what that photographer saw was so wildly different from how I saw myself.
Is that how you see me? Could you not see blackness? Its varying tones and textures? And do you see all of us that way?
Photo Essay: Stranded in Sweden by Matilde Gattoni and Matteo Fagotto
Once they were respected and successful, they had money and power. Now they’re broke, roaming like ghosts in a foreign land.
These are the stories of 12 young Syrian men who used to be rich businessmen, global professionals and members of prominent families. They sacrificed everything to escape war and reach Sweden, the only country granting them permanent residence.
Far from discovering the paradise they dreamed about, some now lead an invisible life in bleak suburbs and remote villages, isolated and unable to find work. Cut off from their loved ones, they are stuck in a limbo between a comfortable life they cannot forget and a tough, new reality. Some of the people asked to keep their faces out of the photos, to protect their families still in Syria.
Shadowed by Secret Servicemen President Barack Obama arrives at Schiphol Airport to attend the Nuclear Security Summit in the Hague earlier this week. The crisis over the Crimean peninsula has cast a shadow of its own over Obama’s agenda. He planned to discuss further sanctions against Russia with European leaders; but Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and other economic considerations will complicate the conversation. And while international events have demanded the president’s attention lately, a key part of his domestic agenda is in the news as March 31 approaches—that’s the deadline by which uninsured Americans have to sign up for health care coverage.
Photo credit: Peter Dejong/AP
Anti-coup students stage protests at Alexandria University in Egypt, March 19, 2014. Egyptian security interferes students with tear gas and pump-rifle.
Photo credit: Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty
A Chicago Transit Authority train car rests on an escalator at the O’Hare Airport station after it derailed early Monday, March 24, 2014, in Chicago. More than 30 people were injured after the train “climbed over the last stop, jumped up on the sidewalk and then went up the stairs and escalator,” according to Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago.
Photo credit: Kenneth Webster/NBC Chicago/AP
For Japanese, the disaster of the Tohoku great earthquake is a nightmare that never goes away. Three years ago the 9.0 magnitude quake struck the Sendai region on March 11, 2011.
In Tokyo, the word “Jishin,” meaning earthquake, is a big part of daily life and culture. Signboards on the streets indicate the nearest emergency shelters and an earthquake forecast alert app, made by the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA), is on everyone’s smartphones. The people try to stay alert for the next big disaster.
Becoming an adult is a complex and sometimes painful process. Terrified by this transition, some people stay in a halfway stage before youth’s tranquility and carelessness vanish forever. I decided to tell the story of this suspended state through several communities of young graffiti writers that I followed for two years in Europe and Argentina, who have found the perfect tool to evade adulthood. Graffiti lets them linger in a limbo of myths, legends and heroic deeds.
They are drawn to the appeal of being an outlaw, the obstacles, and the theatricality of their targets. This is the story of their escape and to a certain extent also about mine.
An anti-government protester uses a Venezuelan flag to protect himself from tear gas in San Cristobal, Venezuela, Feb. 23, 2014. The capital of Tachira State, bordering Colombia, is the site of the some of the fiercest protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
(Photo credit: Meridith Kohut/The New York Times/Redux)
The cruise liner Costa Concordia is seen outside Giglio harbour February 26, 2014. Captain Francesco Schettino returns to Giglio island for the first time since the shipwreck of his cruise liner in 2012 in which 32 people died. The captain is expected to tour the wreck on Thursday as part of his ongoing trial.
(Photo credit: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters)