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Photojournalism and Documentary Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Photojournalism

Abruzzo after the earthquake: the line between resignation and reconstruction

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What usually happens after a catastrophe – no matter how big it is – is that when the news become old – and this happens really quickly – and the media stop talking about it, the perception of the people is like that everything almost never happened or just the problem doesn’t exist anymore. Like what happened in the Gulf of Mexico, on the 20th of April 2010, with the explosion of the “Deepwater Horizon” oil platform, or what happened to Japan, on the 11th of March 2011, struck three times by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake (the seventh biggest of all time), a tsunami and at the end by a nuclear disaster after an explosion at a power plant.

Two years have passed since a terrible earthquake (5,8 Richter scale) occurred in Abruzzo. What I found, going there, is destruction. In the earthquake, 308 people died, 1,500 were injured and around 65,000 became homeless. At 3:32 am the earth trembled, destroying the cultural and historical heritage of the region, damaging between 3,000 and 11,000 buildings in the medieval city of L’Aquila, along with the buildings of the surrounding villages, such as Onna, Villa Sant’Angelo and San Pio delle Camere.

The 6th of April was the 2nd anniversary and everything remained the same. Actually, nobody even knows how long things will remains like this, probably forever. The government doesn’t have the money to demolish the damaged houses and probably is more busy, dealing with other issue. What comes out talking to the locals is not only the problem of the physical destruction of the houses. The fracture, created by the quake (which lasted 38 seconds), was created within the same community that inhabits this lands. The slow process of depopulation of these small urban realities, started before the catastrophe, has undergone on a rapid growth and this region is witnessing the departure, over the months, of the inhabitants of these houses. There are no more young people, only elderly, that obviously were born and raised here and they still wanna live here.

However, totally in contrast with this attitude of passive acceptance and resignation to the fate, I found an example of strength and determination. In this context born the village called EVA (Self build eco-village). It refers to a small cluster of houses, made by private individuals by donations and in a complete ecological way. As you read on the website dedicated to the project: “Instead of waiting, we decided to continue to live in our land and our country, and rebuild together for a common future. With the awareness that inhabit a place do not only coincide with being satisfied of any kind of house”. (

The idea, in addition to this need, is also an attempt to repopulate the town of Pescomaggiore, almost totally uninhabited, and to enable more families to remains living in their own lands. There are several questions that this enterprise is bringing to light, far more profound than it may seem on the surface. By the need to think how to rebuilt and return to repopulate the abandoned spaces, the meaning and the issues of living together in a community emerge.

The people who designed the village were forced to learn how to do things that probably they had never thought of doing before. None of them has ever experienced how to build a house, but when for reasons unforeseen – and what is more unpredictable than an earthquake – you get to lose everything (this includes the house, the objects accumulated over a lifetime and unfortunately relatives and people close to you) there are not many choices: you can resign yourself to your destiny, waiting to be helped and accepting any kind of offer, or you can start a new process of reconstruction. Thinking how and where you want to live the rest of life and creating your own future by yourself.

Paola Sarappa

Written by Paola Sarappa

07/06/2011 at 11:38 am

5 Picture Story – A problem called Berlusconi

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One of the more important principle that a journalist should always try to respect is objectivity. Since I started working as journalist I’ve always done my best to be neutral, trying to leave comments and opinions to the reader. Quite easy to say and far less easy to carry out.

The desire to direct the mind of the reader toward your own thought is often overwhelming, especially if you are writing on a topic you really care about, but often also if you have all the goodwill to be nonpartisanship this happens unconsciously.

The beauty to have a blog is that none of this matters. You can write about your real thought, without the fear to be judged as factious. So in this case, I’m not afraid of deploying myself with that part of Italy who never liked his prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, and will never do.

For this assignment I attended the protest against Berlusconi, which took place the 13th of February at Richmond Terrace, in front of Downing Street, in the centre of London. In the same day, in over 200 cities in Italy the people demonstrated against Berlusconi. This small picture story is my contribution, as an Italian offsite, to the protest.

Paola Sarappa

Written by Paola Sarappa

14/03/2011 at 8:43 pm

Sortir du Cadre – Interview: Mark Lubell

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In this fourth video of the “Sortir du Cadre” (Think outside the box) Interview series, Mark Lubell gives an insight of Magnum inMotion its strategy and goes further to explore the state of the photojournalism and its future. Mark Lubell is currently the Managing Director of Magnum. Back in 2004, he launched the Magnum’s digital magazine “inMotion” and since then redevelop Magnum’s brand and strategy on Internet.

Written by Paola Sarappa

28/01/2011 at 1:02 am

How to make a tattoo

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For the first assignment I choose a tattoo shop. I simply love tattoos (even though I only have one yet), and I thought that it could be interesting for other people to see the creation of something that will last forever. Especially for those who never got the chance to see it, I suppose a few nowadays.

I followed all the instructions given to us by the course director: all manual, no zoom, 35mm lens, black & white, 400 ISO. I shoot a bit more that asked, 70 pictures rather than 40, just because it was a very long process, around 4 hours, and there where many things to shoot. So I made a rough selection and I choose the following 21 pictures.

I believe the most difficult part for me was to push myself a little bit at the beginning and struggle with laziness, shyness and shame and ask the tattooist the permission, explaining my purpose. Actually he was really open to do it. I presume that it is just my sense of discretion. Sometimes I convince myself that I can bother other people, but it is something I have to overcome, sooner or later.

Paola Sarappa

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A special thanks to “A True Love Tattoo” studio – Denmark Place, London.

Written by Paola Sarappa

19/01/2011 at 1:27 am

This is my letter to the world. Judge tenderly of me!

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Back in London, again. This time to start this new great adventure: a Master in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at London College of Communication. A dream for me. I wanted to attend this course so much and now that it has begun I’m happy, of course, but scared at the same time.

I do not think it is a simple photography course. For me it is like putting into play what I’ve learned through years of study and sacrifices. It’s like the day of reckoning, whether or not this will be my way in the future. However I’m sure that this course will give me the opportunity to deal with talented photographers and this will allow me to grow faster anyhow.

The idea of photojournalism came out of the need to combine my two greatest passions: photography and journalism. Actually photography came slowly over the years. My real background is painting and history of art (I have a degree in Academy of Fine Art). Then I moved to photography, because I thought it was a more contemporary and faster means of communication, potentially accessible to all, anywhere in the world.

After two years, spent to study and working as photographer, I attended a short course of journalism. At the beginning it was just a game. I never thought that this could have been a job, ever. I never thought I could be able to write anything more than a letter or an email to a friend. Surprisingly this passion increased more and more and now I’m the editor in chief of a newspaper. I work everyday, since more than one year now, and I just cannot stop.

For all this reason I am where I am now. I hope this year will be a great opportunity for me to get many incentives to improve, always, and never stop on what I achieved, but always continue to seek and pursue. I still don’t know what exactly but…we’ll see!

Paola Sarappa

Written by Paola Sarappa

18/01/2011 at 10:43 pm

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