All posts by Inge Morath Estate

Newsha Tavakolian: Iran, Girl Power!

Newsha Tavakolian (Iran): Iran, Girl Power!
Inge Morath Award Finalist, 2007

Gallery offline – updating soon

Bio:
Photojournalist. A self-taught photographer, Newsha began working as professional photographer in Iranian press at age 16. She started with the women’s daily newspaper Zan, and she later worked with nine reformist dailies, all since banned. She began working internationally, covering Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, Yemen, Azerbaijan , India. Her works have been published in Time Magazine, Newsweek, Stern, Le Figaro, Colors, New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Der Speigel, Le Monde 2, and NRC Handelsblad and many others. Her photo essays include, The Day I Became a Woman, Mothers of Martyrs, War Pilgrims, Girl Power, and the Pakistani earthquake, as well as other work in Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia Yemen, Lebanon. She is particularly known for her attention to women’s issues. Represented by Polaris Images photo agency, New York. She was founding member of EVE (Evephotographers) with five other women photojournalists.

Gemma Padley: Lost and Found

Lost and Found: Inge Morath First Color

By Gemma Padley. Published in Amateur Photographer, January 27, 2010.

When you think of photojournalism from long ago, do you immediately think in colour or black & white? Perhaps Robert Capa’s heroic war images or W Eugene Smith’s photo essays spring to mind. Yet while photojournalists of the 1950s and ’60s were capturing events in black & white, they were also documenting life in colour.

Inge Morath photographed in both black & white and colour from the beginning of her career. She produced a phenomenal number of photographs, but much of her colour work lay undiscovered for many years. Most published collections of her work featured predominantly black & white images, with very little of her colour work being shown during her lifetime.

Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding Inge’s displaced colour photography, John Jacob, curator at the Inge Morath Foundation, set out to track down her ‘lost’ colour images in 2007. The result is the recently published book First Color, featuring a selection of Inge’s colour work. While not intended to be a complete record of her colour work – an almost impossible task, says John – the book sheds light on Inge’s working methods and provides a fascinating historical look at colour photojournalism.

Mammoth task

Recovering the images was a mammoth task that involved searching through thousands of colour slides from the Magnum archives. At Magnum, colour transparencies were stored in a different way to black & white negatives. While the black & white negs were carefully marked with the photographer’s name and photo story to preserve the integrity of the photographer, the colour slides were simply filed under ‘themes’ and fell into stock. Some 15,000 of Inge’s colour images were separated from their original picture stories and ‘lost’ in the system in this way.

‘When we started this project, there was no means of accessing the colour images to get this material back,’ says John. ‘No index system existed. To identify all Inge’s images stored by Magnum would require staff to remember what had been filed where and these people have moved on. We may never know the full scope of the colour archive.’

Faced with such a daunting task, John and his team limited themselves to searching only the 1950s and ’60s archives. Realising the way the colour images had been stored would make it difficult to locate and piece together the photo stories in their entirety, their aim was to retrieve as many images as they could and retrace – as far as possible – Inge’s movements as a colour photographer during this period.

‘We had to find a way to put the images together that would reflect the way Inge worked,’ says John, ‘so we decided to order the images chronologically and use the places she’d visited as the basis for the book.’

Inge’s background

Before joining Magnum in the early 1950s, Inge worked with Ernst Haas as a researcher and editor on picture stories for magazines such as Life. She assisted Henri Cartier-Bresson and travelled all over the world photographing the people and places she encountered. After the 1960s, Inge pursued more personal projects with her husband, the playwright Arthur Miller, continuing to shoot in both black & white and colour.

‘During the 1950s and ’60s, Inge was sent on many assignments’ says John. ‘One of her first assignments was in Spain, a country she returned to several times. She travelled there with Cartier-Bresson in 1953 to photograph Picasso for Holiday magazine and formed a close friendship with him. Inge did a lot of research before each trip, but looking at her work there is no agenda. She would enter the culture of a place and into the lives of the people – her subject was people.’

Jinx Rodger, widow of founding Magnum member George Rodger, knew Inge well and worked with her in Paris in the early 1950s. ‘Inge was a busy lady and travelled a lot,’ she says. ‘She was very bubbly and enthusiastic. People warmed to her. When she was an assistant, I remember her saying how she wanted to do something on her own, away from other photographers.’

Scepticism and distrust

For many photographers of that period, the advent of colour film was met with scepticism and even distrust. ‘There was a wider cultural prejudice towards colour,’ says John. ‘Colour film was new and people didn’t trust it – many photographers felt they didn’t know the film the way they knew black & white. There was a lack of confidence – not in their abilities, but in the actual film as a medium.’

Magazines may have wanted colour images, but colour was not seen as an art form, as Jinx remembers. ‘The idea of photography being “art” is a much more recent concept,’ she says. ‘The purpose of photography was to document, to show the world what the world was about. It was expensive to make a good colour print and while Inge loved using colour, like other photographers of the period she wasn’t overly concerned about making colour prints’.

Capa encouraged Magnum photographers to shoot in colour to meet the demand from magazines, but there was a sense, both within and outside of Magnum, that colour was inferior or less important than black & white. ‘It’s often the case that what’s popular is what’s scorned,’ says John. ‘But whatever prejudices may have existed, the photographers didn’t pay any less attention to colour – they were professional. They didn’t suddenly become any less competent because they were working in colour.’

Henri Cartier-Bresson

One photographer who was reluctant to embrace colour film was Henri Cartier-Bresson. As Inge knew him well, did the fact that she was working closely with him influence her opinion of colour?

‘Inge and Henri must have spoken about photography, but I don’t think they would have discussed colour film specifically,’ says John. ‘Henri’s opinions on colour photography had an impact on all the photographers at Magnum. He had a passion for surrealism, and both he and Inge were interested in the world and how art and photography fitted into it. That is most likely how they influenced each other.’

Jinx’s views echo those of John. ‘Henri didn’t like to take colour images, so I doubt they would have spoken about colour photography,’ she says. ‘He preferred working in black & white – that was his medium. Some photographers see the world in black & white and some see in colour. Occasionally, photographers see in both, but usually they feel more comfortable working with one or the other.’

Colour or black & white?

After initially using a single Leica camera, Inge switched to two cameras – one for colour and the other for black & white. ‘Like most photojournalists, she wanted to work quickly,’ says John. ‘It wasn’t practical to keep switching films every time she saw something she wanted to shoot in colour.’

Inge, also an avid writer, contemplated the two different ways of working. ‘If I had to do colour and black & white simultaneously,’ she wrote, ‘I would finish one and then do the other trying not to think of both at the same time. The thinking is so different!’

Jinx echoes these sentiments. ‘Certainly, photographers approach shooting in colour differently to black & white,’ she says. ‘But Inge had an extremely open mind towards photography. The medium she chose depended on how she saw the scene at the time. She looked at the subject and decided which would be the best way to show it.

‘Inge worked hard technically and really studied the properties of colour. If you have that sort of eye and imagination, you know whether a scene demands colour or black & white.’

John doesn’t believe Inge preferred one medium to the other. ‘The people I spoke with who knew her – for example, Jimmy Fox, who was picture editor at Magnum’s Paris office for many years – said she was just as active and enthusiastic about colour as she was about black & white,’ he says. ‘Inge was committed to photography in all its capacities.’

Great storyteller

‘When I look at her work, I see a great storyteller,’ says John. ‘Inge wrote about everything she photographed and I see a strong narrative impulse in her. I think she had a great sense of humour – she saw things in the world that were unusual, funny or contradictory, which could be pulled out and framed by photography.’

Inge may never have set out to create abstract images, but there are slight elements of surrealism in some of her work. In the image ‘Reno, Nevada, USA, 1960’ (see page 25), a woman is pictured driving, framed by another car in the foreground. This ‘frame within the frame’ technique gives the photograph a graphic appearance and causes the viewer to feel as though they are present in the scene, looking through the window as the photographer presses the shutter. Ernst Haas, with whom Inge worked closely, was known for his abstract compositions. Could he have influenced her in some way?

‘Inge was, to some extent, influenced by Ernst and his experiments in colour, but she didn’t work in an abstract way like he did,’ says Jinx. ‘I think she felt if you photographed in colour you could faithfully show how the scene looked at the time. She worked hard to make sure the colours were genuine.’

Colour and composition

Founding Magnum photographer Robert Capa is reported to have said that the first rule was ‘lots of colour where colour is’ and Inge herself believed ‘colour has to be there’ to photograph it. ‘Inge used colour very skilfully,’ says John. ‘In her early images she sought out colourful subjects in the urban landscape. By the later images – those taken on her trips to Iran, for example – colour became an intrinsic part of the scene, integrated into her entire photographic process.’

One especially striking image is ‘Market, Mexico, 1959’. In the background, brightly coloured scarves cascade over one another while silhouetted figures shuffle inconspicuously past in the foreground. These shadowy figures cut such a dramatic shape against the colourful backdrop that it is impossible not to question whether the composition would have had the same impact if it had been taken in black & white. ‘To me this picture is entirely about the colour,’ says John. ‘Many of Inge’s other pictures use colour to relay a narrative, but this picture is based so heavily on form and colour it becomes the story in itself.’

Where next?

One thing is clear: if the Foundation is to continue to piece together Inge’s photographic legacy, there is more work to be done. ‘We have only scratched the surface,’ says John. ‘There must be thousands more images we have yet to uncover. The ultimate aim is to reintegrate Inge’s colour images with the black & white to piece together how she worked on a single story using both black & white and colour film.’

John would like to see more research carried out into colour photojournalism during this period as a whole. ‘The book, I hope, takes us closer to understanding this important period of photographic history,’ he says. ‘I feel we have opened the floodgates to this discussion.’

Inge Morath, First Color

Inge Morath: First Color

Afterword by John P. Jacob, Inge Morath Foundation.
From Inge Morath: First Color, Göttingen: Steidl, 2009.
Please also see the slideshow.

Inge Morath’s achievements, during the early years of her career as a photographer, were significant. After an apprenticeship in London with Simon Guttman, founder of the legendary Dephot Agency, followed by two years as a researcher and assistant to Henri Cartier-Bresson, in 1955 Morath was the first woman to become a full member of Magnum Photos. ((Morath came to Mangum in 1949, as a researcher and editor. She relocated to London in ‘51, and began her apprenticeship with Guttman around that time. Morath was likely introduced to Guttman by Robert Capa, who had learned photography from him in the early 1930s. It was certainly Capa who suggested that Morath train with Cartier-Bresson during her first years as a Magnum photographer. Eve Arnold was the first woman to become associated with Magnum as a photographer, in 1951, but she did not join as a full member until 1957.)) Like many of her Magnum colleagues, Morath was motivated by a fundamental humanism, shaped as much by the experience of war as by its lingering shadow over post-war Europe. This motivation grew, in Morath’s mature work, into a motif, as she documented the endurance of the human spirit under situations of duress and transformation. If a thread can be said to run through her work from beginning to end, it is the marvel of human creativity, which Morath both recorded and exemplified in her photography. Throughout her career, publishing was the primary means by which Inge Morath sought to reach her audience. In all, Morath published more than thirty monographs, as well as numerous anthologies and, in keeping with her work as a photojournalist, stories in a wide variety of picture magazines. From an historical perspective—contrasting whole bodies of pictures with their highly edited, published counterparts—the breadth of Morath’s publishing activity provides key insights into the ways that she thought about her work, both as individual images and as an oeuvre spanning fifty years. An overview of Morath’s publications is particularly revealing in relation to her work in color.

For the purposes of such an overview, Morath’s career may be divided into three periods, each coinciding with significant—and significantly different—publishing activities. Morath’s short, early period, from the mid-1950s until she relocated to the United States in 1962, coincides with the “classic” era of modern photography magazines and books, when the published image took on equal or greater importance in relation to its accompanying text. Her description of this period as “the time of big stories and far-flung trips” ((Morath, Inge, in Berlin Lecture. Undated manuscript, Archives, Inge Morath Foundation, New York, p. 26.)) is reflected in the subjects of her first two monographs, Guerre a la Tristesse (1955) and De la Perse a l’Iran (1958), edited and published by Robert Delpire, himself a pioneer of photographic publishing. ((The English language editions of Morath’s first two books were published as Fiesta in Pamplona (1956) and From Persia to Iran (1958). In 1961, together with photographers André Martin and Marc Riboud, Morath also contributed to Delpire’s anthology Tunisie: De Carthage à demain.)) Morath’s middle period, from the early ‘60s through the mid-1980s, is defined by long-term international projects, notably her three collaborations with her husband, playwright Arthur Miller, In Russia (1969), In the Country (1977), and Chinese Encounters (1979). The second of these is particularly interesting as a document of Morath’s rather cool observations of her adoptive homeland. In this period too, following a lifelong interest in portraiture, Morath published Inge Morath: Portraits (1986) with Aperture Books, and edited the anthology Paris: Magnum Photographs 1935 – 1981 (1981), also for Aperture. In her extraordinarily productive late period, from the mid-1980s until her death in 2002, Morath returned to several of her important early projects. In Donau (1995), for example, she revisited and completed a body of work begun in the late ‘50s, documenting the Danube River from source to end, while in Venezia (2003), she revisited the work done for her book Venice Observed (1956), with writer Mary McCarthy. Russian Journal (1991) greatly expanded upon Morath’s earlier book with Arthur Miller, In Russia, and Saul Steinberg Masquerade (2000), perhaps the best known of Morath’s many books, saw the long-awaited publication of her collaboration with Steinberg during the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. Morath’s late period is also notable for two important publishing partnerships. Working with the Spanish editor and curator Lola Garrido, Morath produced three books of her extensive early work in Spain: Inge Morath: España Años 50 (1994), San Fermin Años 50 (1997), and Camino de Santiago (1998). And, working with two Austrian colleagues, photographer Kurt Kaindl and editor Brigitte Blüml, Morath produced a series of books bringing together old and new work on a variety of subjects, including the aforementioned Donau and Venezia, as well as New York (2002) and Durch Österreich (2005). ((Durch Österreich, roughly translated as in, or through, Austria, was begun before Morath’s death and published posthumously.)) Morath, Kaindl, and Blüml also produced a major retrospective monograph, Inge Morath: Fotografien 1952 – 1992 (1992), and a second book of portraits in 1999. In her final book, Last Journey (2003), Morath, accompanied by the German filmmaker Regina Strassegger, returned the Austrian/Slovenian borderland of her childhood to document its historically and politically contested ground and communities. Of all her publications, Last Journey is the most explicit in its acknowledgment that Morath recognized herself as a participant in the larger historical document comprised by her photography. The project suggests that a further turning point in her career, in which Morath at last brought together her photographs with the extended texts that she so often wrote about her subjects, was cut short by her untimely death. ((Having begun at Magnum as a researcher and caption writer for other photographers, throughout her own career Morath wrote extensive texts about her subjects. From the 1950s and ‘60s these include anecdotal notes—such as her nine typed pages on obtaining an audience with the British royal family in 1954—as well as biographical, geographical, and cultural research. After the 1960s, Morath also wrote extended journals; during her first visit to China, in 1978, she typed over 200 pages. In her later years, Morath wrote a collection of biographical sketches of many of the subjects of her portraits. In an interview with the author (March 27, 1008, in New York), Morath’s friend and neighbor, Tom Cole, noted that towards the end of her career she was especially eager to find a way to successfully bring her words together with her pictures.))

Color photography, while not entirely missing from Inge Morath’s publications, appears only in a handful (eight of the twenty listed here), and then, with the notable exception of De la Perse a l’Iran, sparingly. ((The titles listed here which contain color images, and the proportion of color pages in relation to the total pages in each, are: Guerre a la Tristesse (17/148), De la Perse a l’Iran (35/69), In Russia (14/240), In the Country (8/192), Chinese Encounters (15/255), Russian Journal (21/132), Donau (30/143), and New York (19/181). This is highly unscientific, as the figures for total pages include blank, text, and picture pages, while color pages include many single-image two-page bleeds. Nevertheless, it offers a good overview of the relatively small space allotted to color in Morath’s books. De la Perse a l’Iran is the exception. One reason for this, recently discovered, is that a light leak in Morath’s camera caused significant damage to many of her black and white negatives in Iran. Also, as historian Inge Bondi has written in a letter to the author (August 3, 2009), “I dare say Delpire needed color in his books.”)) This may be partly explained by the higher cost of color printing, especially in the case of her older books. But the absence of color is even more notable in Morath’s later books than it is in the earlier. There are, for example, no color photographs in Morath’s later books of photographs of Spain with Lola Garrido, as there had been in her first with Delpire. More significantly, color is absent from Morath’s three retrospective catalogs. ((These include Inge Morath: Fotografien 1952 – 1992. Salzburg: Otto Mueller Verlag, 1992; Inge Morath: Life as a Photographer. Munich: Kehayoff Books, 1999; and Inge Morath. Pamplona: Universidad Publica de Navarra, 1998.)) Certainly this was the result of choice, whether editorial or personal, and not only of financial considerations. The relative absence of color from Morath’s key publications contradicts her practice as a photographer. Despite an apparent preference for black and white, the evidence for the importance of her color work to Morath herself is supported by both the high concentration of color images that she selected for inclusion in the preserved in her personal archive. Recognizing this contradiction as one of several conundrums complicating the study of Morath’s contribution to photography, an investigation of her color work was made a priority by the Inge Morath Foundation, which holds and cares for her estate. That investigation began in earnest in 2007, when the Inge Morath Foundation was awarded a grant by the Judith Rothschild Foundation to study, digitize, and conserve its color holdings. At the outset, these consisted of 68 binders and two standing file cabinets of largely unknown, mostly unsorted 35mm transparencies. In 2008, under the supervision of archivist Emma Winter, an additional 7,000 undocumented color originals from the 1950s and ‘60s were recovered from storage by Magnum Photos in New York and Paris. The Foundation’s investigation was greatly accelerated by the invitation of Valérie Fougeirol, director of the Magnum Photos Gallery, to exhibit a selection of the recovered work in Paris in 2009. As yet not fully inventoried, the Foundation’s current color holdings include approximately 55,000 (mostly Kodachrome) slides, and a much smaller number of 4 x 5 inch positives. It is estimated that a further 5,000 – 8,000 slides, from Morath’s later years, remain undocumented and in storage. The archival task of first recovering and then re-integrating Morath’s color with her black and white work, in order to re-construct whole stories as she shot them, has been as daunting as it was revealing. Most importantly, the investigation confirmed that Inge Morath worked with color from the very outset until the end of her career. For example, her color photographs of London, from 1953, were made during Morath’s first solo assignment as a Magnum photographer, for Holiday magazine. ((In Morath’s “story list,” the chronology of all her assignments and personal projects, “Soho and Mayfair” is listed as number three for 1953. In fact, story number one, on the worker priests of Paris, was completed before Morath joined Magnum (it was on the strength of this story that Robert Capa invited her to join as a photographer), and story two documented a road-trip across Europe with Henri Cartier-Bresson. Story three, she later noted, was of no interest to Magnum’s “big boys,” and so was assigned to her. Morath’s transparencies from her first assignment in London were recovered in the 1990s by Jimmy Fox, picture editor for Magnum’s Paris office. According to Fox, “Unlike [Ernst] Haas, who experimented with colour, many of the other [Magnum] photographers did it because it was required by the emerging markets, and Holiday and others like Look and Ladies Home Journal were gradually moving away from black and white reportage. Undoubtedly, Inge preferred to work in black and white, but she also realised that the 1950s was a period for colour. [She] was not ashamed of shooting in colour, [and] she could discuss it in detail.” Letter to the author, July 31, 2009.)) This work is unique among Morath’s pictures for its adoption of the characteristics of street photography. Unrestrained by the requirements of her assignment, these very early photographs are also unusual in the extent to which they show Morath seeking out colorful subjects in the urban landscape. Later, she would be more inclined to photograph in color only when her subject was colorful; “color has to be there” in the first place, she stated. ((Carlisle, Olga. Undated manuscript for Grosse Photographen unserer Zeit: Inge Morath (Luzern: Verlag C.J. Bucher, 1975); Archives, Inge Morath Foundation, New York, p. 18.))

At the time, Morath owned only a single camera, a second-hand Leica. “If for some reason I had to do color and black and white simultaneously,” she later wrote, “I would finish one [and] then do [the other], trying not to think of both at the same time; the thinking is so different!” ((Ibid, p. 22.)) This, presumably, was the way that Morath approached her first job where color was critical, also in 1953, on the set of John Huston’s Moulin Rouge, an assignment that she shared with Robert Capa. She wrote of the experience, “I had never been to a film studio before. An assistant gave me some advice: not to cast a shadow, not to stand on cables or get in the eye-line of the actors. Not to press the shutter when the sound is running. John Huston, who noticed my bewilderment, decided to be of some help, especially after I had confessed, to his vast amusement, that I absolutely had to bring back some good stuff but only had one roll of film. Huston promptly got me three more rolls, and occasionally waved to me when he thought I should get in there and take pictures.” ((Morath, Inge, in Berlin Lecture. Op. cit, p. 22. Morath’s friendship with Huston appears to have pre-dated her work on Moulin Rouge; it was the first of several of his films that she photographed. Her later recollection that Capa gave the Moulin Rouge assignment to her because he was unable to do it is inaccurate. A comparison of their photographs suggests that they were more likely on the film set at different times. Morath also attempted to capture the mise-en-scène of the film, photographing the set, actors preparing for their parts, and dancers relaxing between musical numbers.)) Within a few years, as she began to travel greater distances for her assignments, Morath acquired separate camera bodies for color and black and white film. ((Documents required for her working papers in Iran, in 1956, show Morath carrying three Leica M3s, a Polaroid Land Camera, and nine lenses of varying lengths and capabilities.)) Not surprisingly, Morath’s first very large bodies of color work, comprising hundreds of images, were made during extended journeys to Spain (1953 through ‘58), Iran (1956), Romania (1958), Mexico (1959 and ‘60), and Tunisia (1959 and ‘60), on assignment for various picture magazines. Morath first traveled to Spain with Cartier-Bresson in 1953, on assignment to photograph Picasso for Holiday. She returned for several further assignments; in ‘54 to photograph Lola de Vilato, Picasso’s sister, and the famed matador Antonio Ordóñez, and again in ‘55 to photograph Mercedes Formica, an attorney and activist for women’s rights. On assigning her to work there for Magnum’s Generation Women project, in 1955, Robert Capa advised Morath to “spend some time there; [Spain] will be a good country for you to work in.” ((Carlisle, Olga. Op. cit, p. 14.)) Capa was right. Spanning nearly a decade, Morath’s documentation of Spanish life and culture is an exceedingly rich body of images, and presages the intensive, long-term approach that she would adopt for her later work in Russia and China.

In seeking to understand the absence of color from her published work, it is important to acknowledge that what is true for Morath is equally true for the field of photojournalism, both within and beyond Magnum Photos. Color is the skeleton in the closet of many photojournalists of the post-war period. As Mary Panzer notes in her essay for this book, Inge Morath was one of many photographers whose early careers were shaped by the print media’s insatiable demand for images; increasingly for color images. Like many of her Magnum colleagues, Morath used her frequent magazine assignments as springboards for what she referred to as her “personal work.” After working in Spain on assignment for Holiday in 1954, for example, she published a greatly expanded selection of her Spanish photographs in Guerre a la Tristesse. Similarly, a 1956 assignment from Holiday to work in the Middle East resulted in the publication, two years later, of De la Perse a l’Iran. It is in the distinction between work for hire and personal work—and between her early career as a magazine photographer and her late career as a celebrated artist—that we may look for clues to Morath’s seemingly contradictory relationship to color photography. For, while the audience for magazine photography was vast, it was also disinterested, more concerned with a picture’s subject than with its maker. Along with this large but fickle audience, the practical limitations of magazine publishing—of control, of size, and of quality—were regarded by many ambitious photographers as obstacles to be overcome within more appropriate venues for picture viewing. Books and exhibitions, offering a greater degree of artistic control and audience commitment, were the ultimate objectives of serious photographers like Morath and her peers. And, as Panzer concludes, they were willing to conform to the prejudices of the museum and publishing communities in order to establish themselves and their work as proper subjects. Among those prejudices, a faith in the artlessness of color photography and distaste for all forms of mass production were fundamental. While cultural prejudice alone may provide a more than adequate explanation for the absence of color photojournalism from the larger history of photography, its influence on Inge Morath was complicated by a more practical, or material, problem. In both Morath’s and Magnum’s archives, black and white and color work were separately housed and differently catalogued. Black and white negatives, cut and stored as filmstrips, retain their unique numerical frame markings. These markings are used by Magnum photographers in a simple but very precise, story-based cataloging scheme: year + story number + film roll + frame number (the picture-ID “MOI-1959-01-103/36,” for example, refers to the 36th frame of 103rd film roll for the first story made in 1959 by Inge Morath). The integrity of a photographer’s black and white stories was maintained through this cataloging system, and by housing together a photographer’s negatives, contact sheets, and captions.

Color transparencies, by contrast, are cut down to individual images after processing and then enclosed in cardboard casings, which obscure the numerical markings on the film. Deprived of film’s inherent numerical sequencing, color images were catalogued by Magnum by subject rather than by story, and stored separately from a photographer’s black and white work. Catalogued differently and stored separately from their black and white counterparts, it was not at all unusual for color images to become irrevocably separated from their original stories. Color images that were separated from their stories were lost in several senses. First, as a sequence of images, showing how a photographer approached her or his subject, and second, as a body of images that, because undocumented, cannot be recalled. For, whereas the sequence of a story shot in black and white was preserved using contact sheets, no comparable method of preservation was available for transparencies. In most cases, no documentation existed that would facilitate either the restoration of a color sequence or the return of color images to a story from which they had been removed. Ultimately, Magnum’s different treatment of color and black and white pictures had the unintended effect of marginalizing the color; the black and white work retained its specificity in relation to both photographer and story, while the color was relegated to stock, the lowest echelon of the archive.

The reclassification of an image as stock is of special significance because it establishes a further degree of loss; an alienation of the picture from its source, or meaning. In 1954, for example, for one of Morath’s rare fashion assignments titled Beauty and the Beast, she photographed a group of Parisian models with large dogs. Having served their original purpose, the transparencies from the story were then filed as stock under the subject heading “Animals,” a category that has a longer and more lucrative shelf-life than fashion. In this way, in addition to being physically separated, color transparencies were also separated contextually from their stories. In general, Magnum’s system of maintaining the integrity of black and white stories was required in order to support a photographer’s artistic career through print sales, books, and exhibitions, while the relegation of color to stock supported the agency, through licensing. Over the span of her career, an estimated 15,000 of Morath’s transparencies—nearly one third of the color work known to exist—were separated from their stories and lost in this manner. Since transparencies selected for the Magnum archive were usually the best images from a story, those retained by Morath in her own archive were, in many cases, “seconds,” the remainders from a roll of film after Magnum’s and Morath’s first choice of images had been removed. It is safe to assume that, in addition to those lost in storage, many more transparencies were lost irretrievably. Jimmy Fox, who was picture editor at Magnum’s Paris office for many years and is one of the agency’s most valuable historians, has written that “[Magnum] photographers used Kodachrome at the time and, because of duping problems and urgency, in most cases the originals were sent to the clients.” Unfortunately, many of Magnum’s clients were less than reliable in returning prints and transparencies to the agency. During the 1950s and ‘60s, cultural prejudice against color outside of Magnum, and institutional practice that marginalized color within it, converged. By the late 1970s, when color photography began to find acceptance within cultural institutions, editors and curators wishing to present Morath’s color work would have found it inaccessible. Once in storage by Magnum, no finding aid existed that would indicate which photographers’ color works were filed under a particular subject heading. Without such documentation, no Magnum staff member could be expected to recall individual pictures within of such a vast, historical trove of images. ((Institutional memory within Magnum is surprisingly shallow, having been preserved primarily by three of its longest serving staff members, Inge Bondi, Jimmy Fox, and John Morris, all of whom have contributed to this book by sharing their memories of the agency and of Inge Morath’s role within it.)) Indeed, considering the significant number of her transparencies that had disappeared, it is not unreasonable to conclude that Morath herself might have forgotten about them, or—more likely—believed them lost. In the 1980s, Inge Morath entered her late period and, urged on by the editors and curators working with her, began to revisit her early stories. Even for her, it was no longer an easy task to retrieve her missing transparencies from Magnum’s archives in New York and Paris. Moreover, having followed Magnum’s cataloging system in her personal archive, Morath would have found that the task of reintegrating color with black and white—to recreate her early stories story as they had been shot—was, simply, no longer possible. In the end, since the finest color pictures were in most cases the ones gone missing, in her late career revisions and her retrospective catalogs Morath wisely preferred to showcase her best black and white work, rather than merge it with the second-tier color images that she had retained in her archive. In spite of the lopsided historical record that resulted from this preference, for Morath to choose otherwise would have been professionally untenable.

Ultimately, the conundrum of Morath’s color photography is one that cannot be perfectly resolved. Too many images, and too much information relating to them, are still missing to close the investigation of this work. Inge Morath: First Color therefore represents both an initial assessment of Morath’s color photography within a limited timeframe, and an attempt to answer the first questions raised by the recovery of her work from that period. To reiterate, in seeking to understand Morath’s relationship to color it is important to acknowledge that what was true for her individually was also true for photojournalists collectively. As Mary Panzer notes, in recovering Morath’s color and attempting to right the lopsided historical record of her work, we also throw open the door to the restoration of color photojournalism to the larger history of photography, from which it remains conspicuously absent. Here, we may establish beyond question the importance of color within Inge Morath’s career. Her role as a color photographer within the larger field of photojournalism must be assessed in relation to an expanded photographic history—one that includes color and magazine photography—which remains largely unwritten.

Jessica Dimmock: The Ninth Floor

Jessica Dimmock (USA): The Ninth Floor
Inge Morath Award Recipient, 2006

Gallery offline – updating soon

The Ninth Floor documents a group of heroin users that were living in the apartment of a former millionaire turned heroin user, Joe Smith, 63, in the flatiron district of Manhattan. Joe, the lease holder of the apartment, had allowed one of his young tricks to take a spare bedroom in his 3 bedroom apartment several years ago.

By the time that I met them in the fall of 2004, nearly 15 people were living in the apartment at a time – Joe had given up his bedroom and stayed on a dirty sofa in the living room opting to take a teaspoon of methadone, a daily bag of dope, a beer or several cigarettes in exchange for rent. Electrical cords snaked through dark hallways to fill each room with the light of one lone bulb, bookshelves and tables had been stripped of all potentially valuable items to be sold on the street to get money to feed habits, the dead cat found in the bathroom took more than 2 weeks to remove, and the people moved through the halls, past each other, wearing their addictions like chipping armor while their personalities and character remained further and further unearthed and unfed. Continue reading Jessica Dimmock: The Ninth Floor

Dana Romanoff: Wife of the God

Dana Romanoff (USA): Wife of the God
Inge Morath Award Finalist, 2006

Gallery offline – updating soon

“Wife of God” is about a controversial practice of African traditional religion, known as Trokosi, amongst the Ewe people in Ghana, Togo, and Benin. Ewe families suffering misfortunes bring females to shrines to reconcile with a god who is angry because of a crime committed by an ancestor. The females, often young virgins, live at the shrine and “marry” the deity to atone for the crime and appease the angry god. The women and girls are called fiashidi, which in the Ewe language means “wife of god.” Christian based organizations, internationally and in Ghana, say the fiashidi are slaves. Continue reading Dana Romanoff: Wife of the God

Mimi Chakarova: Sex Trafficking in Eastern Europe

Mimi Chakarova (USA): Sex Trafficking in Eastern Europe
Inge Morath Award Recipient, 2005

Gallery offline – updating soon

I had already begun investigating the subject in Eastern Europe, an area I’m familiar with since I grew up in communist Bulgaria and immigrated to the U.S. after its collapse. Nevertheless, the U.S. State Department estimates that each year approximately 800,000 to 900,000 people are trafficked across international borders worldwide and that “no country is immune from trafficking.” The central question of method arose: how to document and interpret a unique manifestation of a widespread phenomenon? My goal in telling these complicated stories in photo reportage is to gather information truthfully, present it in a cohesive manner that would allow a multifaceted public to react in ways that encourage a democratic and international discourse. Continue reading Mimi Chakarova: Sex Trafficking in Eastern Europe

Jessica Dimmock: The Ninth Floor

Jessica Dimmock (USA): The Ninth Floor
Inge Morath Award Recipient, 2005

Gallery offline – updating soon

The Ninth Floor documents a group of heroin users that were living in the apartment of a former millionaire turned heroin user, Joe Smith, 63, in the flatiron district of Manhattan. Joe, the lease holder of the apartment, had allowed one of his young tricks to take a spare bedroom in his 3 bedroom apartment several years ago.

By the time that I met them in the fall of 2004, nearly 15 people were living in the apartment at a time – Joe had given up his bedroom and stayed on a dirty sofa in the living room opting to take a teaspoon of methadone, a daily bag of dope, a beer or several cigarettes in exchange for rent. Electrical cords snaked through dark hallways to fill each room with the light of one lone bulb, bookshelves and tables had been stripped of all potentially valuable items to be sold on the street to get money to feed habits, the dead cat found in the bathroom took more than 2 weeks to remove, and the people moved through the halls, past each other, wearing their addictions like chipping armor while their personalities and character remained further and further unearthed and unfed. Continue reading Jessica Dimmock: The Ninth Floor

Shannon Taggart: The Spiritualists

Shannon Taggart (USA): The Spiritualists
Inge Morath Award Finalist, 2005

Gallery offline – updating soon

I asked these spirit figures if I was seeing them or if I was seeing what was in my own brain. They answered “both.”
-Eileen Garrett, twentieth century medium

Spiritualism is a loosely organized religion based primarily on a belief in the ability to communicate with spirits of the dead. I first became aware of Spiritualism as a teenager after my cousin received a reading from a Spiritualist medium. This woman revealed a strange family secret about my grandfather’s death that proved to be true. Since then I have been deeply curious about how someone could possibly know such a thing. Continue reading Shannon Taggart: The Spiritualists

Yue Ren: Gay Scene in Beijing

Yue Ren (China): Gay Scene in Beijing
Inge Morath Award Finalist, 2005

Gallery offline – updating soon

One of my good friends is a gay, whose emotional life is very complex. There are several times he want to suicide. I don’t know how to help him, but to be more close to him, so I begin to document his life use my camera. I do this work for two years, and the story broadened out. I know many this kind of people, when we become friends; I decide to continue this work as my long-term project.

Although china became more and more open, gay in china still has a difficult life because they are not being understand. Gay are still not accepted in Chinese society, not even in Beijing. Although April 20, 2001, Chinese Psychiatric Association issued the third edition of “standard of classify and diagnose for Chinese psychosis ”, and dropped homosexuality from a list of psychiatric disorders, Public opinion is still prejudiced against gay. So they are afraid of telling their families and friends the truth. Being “in the closet” causes emotional instability, and the gay bars of the Chinese capital are the only place to meet likeminded people. Every weekend, 200 to 300 gays gather in On Off, Beijing’s biggest gay meeting place and the starting point for many one-night stands. The other problem for them is the AIDS. One survey in 2001 shows that there is 5.9% of the gays in china have infected AIDS. Continue reading Yue Ren: Gay Scene in Beijing

Claudia Guadarrama: Before the Limit

Claudia Guadarrama (Mexico): Before the Limit
Inge Morath Award Recipient, 2004

Gallery offline – updating soon

“He who has seen hope, will never forget it. He seeks for it under every sky and among all men. And he dreams that one day he will find it again, He doesn’t know where maybe among his own kin. In each and every human being is the possibility to be or more accurate, to be again another man.” – Octavio Paz

Every day hundred of undocumented migrants mostly from Central American countries try to cross Mexico on a journey fraught with danger, risking their lives to fulfill the dream of a better life as workers in the United States. This journey through Mexico begins in Chiapas at the shared border between Mexico and Guatemala, where migration controls are minimal; being a very rough geographic zone where migrants can easily cross illegally. There are no official records about the number of people crossing the Mexican border illegally everyday; the only official data is the number of migrants detained by Mexican authorities and send back to their original country. This year, 96,013 illegal migrants were caught crossing the Chiapas border, 44.5% of the total amount of detention in the whole of the Mexican territory. Continue reading Claudia Guadarrama: Before the Limit