Parents Again Brian Fitzgerald
Walking Tokyo Chris Steele-Perkins
Heart of the Matter Colin Jacobson
Desert Angels Horst Friedlichs
Cape Town Fringe David Lurie
Birdmen Zak Waters
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There are a number of great advantages to being a quarterly magazine, not least the degree of hindsight it affords an editor. When we began laying out this issue in March, the world’s gaze was firmly fixed on events in Iraq. At the time it seemed that having to wait two months for our new edition would put us at a disadvantage: how could we stay relevant to the overriding topic of the day when the story and our understanding of it were changing so rapidly? Instead the quarterly timeline of this magazine grants us the opportunity to explore our purpose carefully and subsequently to publish an issue that I feel presents stories by photographers who have a clear intent and the vision to realise it.
By contrast the “War on Iraq” turned out not to be a war. Rather, as people around the world have argued (both on the streets and in diplomatic circles), it became a spectacle of two armies marauding across 300 miles of desert to Baghdad to lay claim to an illusive moral victory – freedom over tyranny. Much, but not all, of the imagery produced in Iraq over the past months has served little more than to project a narrow view of a deadly desert trek. We have been shown what it is like to be a soldier with an unrivalled array of firepower at your finger tips, but have these photographs actually informed us about the conflict and its wider consequences? It seems that the role of the front-line photographer has been mostly co-opted by the military and government to create images designed to make the public gasp in admiration at awful and shocking displays of strength.
This issue of ei8ht not only tells new and previously unseen stories but also shows the power and relevancy of photojournalism as a tool for sincere and profound communication. There is no doubt that making a story on drugs and gang violence in Cape Town is every bit as dangerous or heroic as photographing war, yet it is the intimacy of the images we show here that allows us to see beyond the story’s mere physical logistics and instead to reflect upon, and gain an understanding of, the lives depicted. Similarly Birdmen, Parents Again and the other stories in this issue show us how individuals have employed photography as an effective tool for telling their story and not as the end in itself. It is one thing to have Baghdad as your goal, but quite another to have an idea of what to do, or what it means, when you get there.