CHILKAT INLET, ALASKAView gallery »
Dropped from a helicopter high above the inlet, Jeremy Jones
turns wind-ruffled crust into a fine white mist. This was about 8am: just warming up
McKenzie, 41, is an English commercial photographer who had come to disagree with Dr Johnson’s contention that when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life. He was seeking something inexact, something wild and remote, a human story set against a landscape. He had wanted to visit Ladakh since his first trip to India as a 19-year-old. When he arrived in its capital, Leh, after “an epic journey” across the Himalayan ranges, “it was dusk, a redness like Mars”. The next morning, he found “clarity and luminosity everywhere”.
If McKenzie had seen the light, so too, in quite another way, had Ladakh, now home to one of the world’s largest renewable-energy projects. In areas too removed for the national grid, but blessed with over 300 days of sunshine a year, communities were being exposed for the first time to continuous electricity. One evening, as power came and went in a hotel room in Leh, an engineer from a Delhi-based consultancy (“lying in his bed in his pale-blue socks”) told McKenzie about Shayok. It was a beautiful village, a pilot for the solar project, and about to be introduced to satellite television.
Pictured: A porter walks along the trail to the Lingshed monastery in the Zanskar region, “the ultimate remoteness”. McKenzie found the harsh daytime light could suit the mesmerising patterns and shadows of the landscape. He would shoot with flat settings for maximum detail, and then restore the contrast to the way his eye remembered itView gallery »
Those who make it here must practise radical self-reliance by bringing along all the food, water and shelter that they need to survive in the desert. Everything must be shipped in and out along winding two-lane roads across an Indian reservation outside Reno, or into a temporary airport. Thousands of burners go far beyond the basics of survival by bringing art installations, bars, workshops, sound systems or food to feed their neighbours, creating a gift economy where nothing can be bought or sold bar the American staples of ice and coffee.
Pictured: “The Transformoney Tree” by Dadara from Amsterdam, one of the few political pieces at Burning Man. Participants brought a dollar bill and defaced it to glue on the tree, negating the monetary value but creating artistic valueView gallery »
Fernando Moleres, best known for his work on social issues such as sweated labour and children in prison, is a self-confessed "total atheist". So why did he spend more than three years travelling the world to capture images of men and women of faith?
"I was looking for spirituality, which isn't the same thing as religion," he says. "And it was a moment in my personal life when I needed space and time to reflect." So off he went to places where faith still burns like a candle in the night of what he sees as an increasingly consumerist and ego-obsessed society.
Pictured: Khorramabad, IranView gallery »
On the Day of Ashura, men cover themselves in mud in a ritual known as Kharrah Mali. Shia Muslims all over the world mourn the slaying of Imam Hussain, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, during Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar
Show Mitch Dobrowner a sprawling city and he will find a way of dwarfing it, by placing it in its natural context. In this photo essay, he captures Los Angeles. Text by Simon Willis
One day in 1982, Mitch Dobrowner was driving his green Toyota Corolla—“an awesome car”—north along the 405 freeway in Los Angeles. He’d been living out of the car for the previous four years, driving around photographing the grand landscapes of Arizona, New Mexico and California, and had recently settled in the city. Driving over the crest of a hill, he saw the sight which was the inspiration for the photographs on these pages—the San Fernando Valley spread out below him, surrounded by the San Gabriel Mountains. Then, while he ran an industrial-design business and raised three children, he stopped taking photographs for more than 20 years.
Pictured: “What I see in the photographs are these beautiful landscapes,” says Dobrowner, who shot this Los Angeles cloudscape in 2010. “And I see what mankind has built over them—these rolling buildings. I see the gulf between the landscapes and what we’ve done to them”View gallery »
Tim Flach, the photographer celebrated for his horses and dogs, is now making portraits of creatures ranging from a panda to a millipede. Simon Willis asks him what they are saying...
It’s the panther’s eyes you notice first, fixing their object with a hint of malevolence. He may be grooming himself in a pose familiar from the domestic cat, but “the drills of his eyes”, as Ted Hughes wrote about a jaguar, have a powerful self-possession. Then the tongue, which you don’t so much see as feel on your skin—the rasp of those spines, arrayed in aggressive rows like sharks’ teeth.
But you mustn’t be intimidated. “If someone’s meek, it’s dangerous,” says Tim Flach, who took these photographs. “But if you’re puffed up, you can be a challenge to an animal that wants dominance. I try to be as neutral as possible so I can be observational rather than challenging, or prey.”
Pictured: Black panther, Panthera pardusView gallery »
This panther is a black variant of a leopard. They have been selectively bred for decades in zoos and for the exotic-pet trade—a fact that Flach plays on with this domesticated pose
Even a relatively young country has its abandoned buildings. A photo essay by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre. Text by Edward Carr
Abandoned buildings are in mourning. They grieve for the lives that their damp and empty rooms have left behind. In their prime, these monumental breakers, lead works and turbine halls presented a public face to the world. They were the arena where men and women toiled and enterprise ended in success or failure. Now they are shut away, left to mourn in silence.
Pictured: Ashley, PennsylvaniaView gallery »
The Huber Coal Breaker, built in 1938. “Other coal breakers have been demolished,” Yves Marchand says. “It really is the last of its kind.” All those windows were there to let in as much natural light as possible. Today they are target practice for stone-throwers
Up on the plateau in northern Ethiopia, life has barely changed in thousands of years. Sebastião Salgado spent two months walking in the mountains to catch the intricacies of the landscape. Text by Simon Willis
In the highlands of northern Ethiopia, the mountains keep insiders in and outsiders out. There is only one main road, and no other access except on foot. For Sebastião Salgado, who took these photographs, this made it a perfect subject. “I wanted to photograph here because it is isolated,” he says.
Pictured: The valley between Lalibela and Makina Lideta MaryanView gallery »
“Before I got there”, says Salgado, “I heard a lot of people who specialise in Ethiopia saying, ‘You’ll find a lot of starvation up there. Most of the starving in Ethiopia come from these highlands.’ That’s a supposition. When I walked through it, I discovered a huge area of traditional agriculture and production, very well done, very well worked out”
Autumn, Keats said, is the season of mists. A photo essay by Steffen Schrägle captures mist from New Zealand to Argentina, while Robert Macfarlane sums it up in words ...
Mist is trickster weather. It steals silently in, turns familiar landscapes strange, dampens sounds, blurs vision—then clears suddenly and without warning. It has fairy-tale properties: to find yourself in mist is to be both enchanted and unsettled. One of the eeriest hours of my life came in the Scottish Highlands. Five of us had climbed up, in thick snow, onto the summit plateau of a mountain called Beinn a’ Bhuird. Five hundred feet short of the plateau we met a fine white mist. The snow and the mist combined to produce the phenomenon known as white-out, in which air and ground seem to melt together and the world becomes depthless.
Pictured: South Island, New Zealand, June 2009 “I was driving around on a location scouting for a job and came upon this lake,” Steffen Schrägle says. “It was amazing to see the red light coming through the mist, as if from a painting. A kind of fairy tale. Nothing moved, there was no wind, it was just magic to see this moment. I still don’t know exactly where it was”View gallery »
When a British photographer moved to Cairo last year, he had no idea what was about to unfold before his eyes. In this photo essay, shot entirely on his iPhone, Steve Double captures a city before and after it made political history. Text by
Cairo is a difficult place. The biggest Arab or African city and one of the biggest mostly Muslim metropolises, it is furiously crowded, grubby and noisy. It is venerable as the home to the sole survivor among the seven wonders of the ancient world. But the pyramids of Giza are often smog-bound today. Their stark triangles no longer perch romantically at the edge of undulating Saharan wastes, but sit instead in a sandpit, rimmed by the highways and apartment blocks of Cairo’s ever-expanding western suburbs. As the nightly Sound and Light show at their feet proclaims, the Sphinx bears witness to 48 centuries of time. But history’s latest efflorescence happens to be a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet whose own impassive sentinel, Colonel Sanders, gazes back at the Sphinx from a hundred yards away.
Pictured: “In a city that must be one of the most polluted in the world,” Steve Double says, “a clear sky is a rare thing and a clear sky with clouds even rarer. So, on the odd occasion that you can see the sunset in more than an orange haze of exhaust fumes, it’s a wonderful moment.” The image of the sun’s rays fanning out across the heavens has a particular relevance here: “It is thought to have inspired the architects of the pyramids”View gallery »
There’s the beach, and then there’s the English seaside. In this photo essay, Sheila Rock views it through American eyes, as “a forgotten England”. Text by Jasper Rees.
The seaside the English do like to be beside looks different depending on who’s doing the looking. “King Lear” conjures up the coast of Albion as a place of epic scale and dizzying perspectives. Vera Lynn made the white cliffs of Dover a wartime symbol of home. There’s another coast that is altogether more domesticated and slipshod: bawdy in Donald McGill’s postcards, seedy in Graham Greene’s “Brighton Rock”, gaudy in the Technicolor snaps of Martin Parr.
Pictured: "I was photographing something else", Sheila Rock says, "and I just chanced upon these children. I happened to be far enough away and on the right lens to get the right dynamic. They were like fairies on the beach." Rock shot only three framesView gallery »
In Bangladesh, ship-breaking turns a stretch of beach into a vision of hell and a parable of globalisation. A photo essay by Saiful Huq Omi. Introduction by The Economist's Asia editor, Simon Long.View gallery »
Surfers don’t just gather in California and Cornwall. A few tough men have made a habit of surfing at Torö, an island off the coast of Sweden. Among them is the photographer Daniel Månsson, who captures some frozen moments. Text by Isabel Lloyd.View gallery »
Pictured: Johan Cargelius, a pioneer of surfing at Torö, wears a 7mm-thick wetsuit in winter. He claims not to suffer from the dual curses of the cold-water surfer: neither “ice-cream headache”—vivid, neuralgic pain at the front of the face—nor surfer’s ear, where bone grows over the eardrum in an attempt to protect it from continual dousing. “But two of my friends have had their ears drilled,” he says, nonchalantly.
In the slum of Kibera, life is lived for the moment. Jehad Nga, an American war photographer, keeps going back to the local boxing club, where it feels as if the men are fighting their own shadows. Here he talks to J.M. Ledgard about the appeal of the place.
Pictured: Harun Ibrahim, 23, shadowboxes during practice. Ibrahim fights in the lightweight category. The limited equipment means most boxers shadowbox during the training sessionsView gallery »
Famous for his extraordinary pictures of horses, TIM FLACH has now turned his lens on dogs. He talks about abstraction, neuroscience and the things we do to pets ...
Introduction by JOHN PARKER, globalisation correspondent of The Economist. His own dog is a Newfoundland.
Pictured: A Puli, a Hungarian sheep-herding dog (name: Andy). The long corded coat is designed to protect the breed from the harsh winters of the Hungarian plain. Traditionally, the dogs were shaved along with the sheep they herded and, like their charges, grew their coats back before winter. The shot, designed to show the dynamic qualities of the coat, was made by getting the dog to run and jump towards its owner, with the camera between the owner’s legs.View gallery »
No sex, no family, no money…but plenty of consolations, including considerable flexibility and a liking for a giggle.
IAN WINSTANLEY photographs the Sadhus of Kathmandu. Introduction by SIMON LONG.View gallery »
Big cities by day can become all too familiar. But on Sunday nights in winter, even sights you know well can turn into something strange and new. A photo essay by PETER KINDERSLEY. Introduction by JOANNA PITMAN.
The Barbican Kindersley shot this panorama by climbing to the cordoned-off space on top of one of the residential towers. "Unusually for me, it was early evening. The light faded rapidly and I wanted to catch the amazing luminescent sky with the glitter of tiny lights below. I felt as if I was in a low-flying airplane."View gallery »
Seldom does a Westerner win the trust of an eastern European ballet company. But, for our photo essay, SIMON CROFTS went backstage with the Lviv ballet—and even into the dancers’ homes. JULIE KAVANAGH, author of "Rudolf Nureyev: The Life" and a contributing editor to Intelligent Life magazine, writes about the ballet company. Pictured: A stampede of swans to the dressing-room. The corps de ballet must return their pachki—their tutus—to the costume department to allow the staff to get home on time.View gallery »
Most photographs that capture Kenya appear in technicolour, zooming in on the country’s vibrant hues and landscapes. Their subjects are usually animals. (Tourism propped up the Kenyan economy until 2007, when the presidential election dragged down the industry.) This collection is quite different. In 2005 and 2007 ALEXANDRA SUICH, now a contributor to The Economist, worked with organisations in Kenya that provide at-home care to people who are HIV-positive. There she met and photographed a number of people, mostly women, who are fighting the disease or caring for people stricken with it.
Pictured: Charlotte Washe, Malindi, KenyaView gallery »
Government hospitals are often oversubscribed, with two to a bed and patients on the floor. The hospital in this photograph is small and private, with only a few beds. Charlotte Washe, a nurse, helps oversee the hospital. In her free time she serves as a community health worker, providing at-home care to people who are HIV-positive and are too poor, too afraid or too sick to travel to hospitals for care.
In 1989 BRIAN HARRIS photographed the fall of the Berlin wall. Twenty years on, he returned to capture today’s Berlin for our photo essay in the Summer 2009 issue of Intelligent Life. Here we show a selection of Harris’s pictures with his commentary, introduced by TIM DE LISLE, editor of Intelligent Life. We are grateful to the Independent for permission to use photos from 1989.
Pictured: The Holocaust memorial, officially known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which opened in 2005 in the old no-man’s-land between East and West."I saw this boy skipping from stone to stone who wouldn’t even have been born in 1989. It reminded me of something the architect, Peter Eisenman, said when it opened: 'People will dance on top of the pillars'."View gallery »