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Posted: March 28th, 2013

My bowl of Rice Crispies has  just enough snap crackle and pop to get me to wordpress,  this week to update my blog.

It was smashing to be invited on to the Guardian Master Class to talk about photographic story telling with Sebastian Myer.  The class seemed to work (we  got nice feedback at least)– perhaps because of  a combination of our different approaches to story telling: Seb is a classic photojournalists use to working on the front line, I tend to approach story telling from a completely different perspective.  Seb talked about techniques in traditional photojournalism, while I looked at how I use portraiture to tell national even global stories- Looking at work done in Libya , Kosovo, Afghanistan and also my  recent story, Desk Job.

This  links me nicely to its selection for Format Festival in Derby which was another highpoint this month. It was  a treat to visit Derby, not just to catch up with old friends , make some new ones perhaps , but also to look at new work like Brian Griffins excellent commission at the Museum or  to enjoy work by friends like Oliver Woods.

Other exciting news includes the publication of the same work in Wired blog , Raw File ( last week, apparently stats are good and it should get  a quarter of a million hits)  and also on the 20/3 in Fotoredactie Vrij Nederlandand.

Also ,  I’m off to  teach a workshop to 17 Azerbaijani photojournalists  In Baku on the  02/04  (The theme, once more, is Story telling  in photojournalism)  with Guy Martin . 

Finally, while i’m here , just time to mention the  fascinating commission for Marie Claire magazine that started this week. Looking  forward to updating the blog with news on these fronts soon, Thank you for reading,

Libya, Remembered – Bhenghazi, 17/02/2012.

Posted: February 15th, 2013

In June last year, I went to Libya to discover for myself Gadaffi’s legacy and its impact on post revolutionary Libya.The anniversary approaches on 17/02/2012 for the beginning of the revolution in Benghazi; and   it seems like a good time to shown the work again – to remember the courage and loss of the Libyan people.

Here  are the pictures , a link to the full body of work, and an explanation of the motivation behind the work:

http://www.louisquail.com/PDF/Talking_About_a_Revolution_final.pdf

Out of all the countries in the Arab spring Libya for me seemed the most interesting.  There was something inspiring and clean cut about the way the people removed such a brutal dictator whilst  introducing democracy and keeping control of the revolution ; side stepping the drift into insurgency ( as has happened in Syria).

In Libya the whole country it seems is behind the process of democracy. After the recent, and highly regrettable, killing of the American ambassador , 30 000 people came on to the streets to remove the militias allied to Islamic extremism deemed responsible. This truly is a popular Revolution.

However, although we have heard much about the Islamic extremists how many people know  about this huge  popular response to extremism  days later.

The nature of the news machine is to report the most dramatic, the most inflammatory stories if you like. My personal response to this is, and has always been to think  ‘there has to be a more complex and honest way to report on and understand a situation’.

I reported in my introduction:

“Our perceptions of Libya are constricted by a news industry that focuses on the most dramatic events – the fighting and global strategy. However, it’s only by talking to the individuals intimately involved with the revolution, that we can truly see the big picture and understand the legacy of Muammar Gaddafi.

So driven partly by my fascination with Libya and partly by the urge to tell stories in a less sensational manner I felt compelled to visit Libya.

I was first inspired to work like this in Kosovo and have since been to Afghanistan and Haiti, (www.louisquail.com) working in a similar way.

Of course there are many difficulties still in Libya as it recovers not just from revolution but 42 years of a brutal dictatorship.  While I was in Libya there was a gun battle outside my hotel, and the airport hijacked by a disgruntled militia (more of this on my earlier blogs).  Shocking as this is, it was in no way indicative of my lasting impression of Libya.

I met some truly amazing people, such as the lawyer, turned soldier, turned lawyer Ghelaio who fought to protect his family and is now fighting for a truly free Libya or the 15 female revolutionaries in Tajoura who risked their, lives fighting for freedom.

When every house hold has a gun, and easy access to grenades its not surprising that trouble happens, but what I was always amazed by was how little trouble there was. This is a country with problems but also of moderation.  For the most part the Libyans were friendly, and optimistic that there would be a better life for them and their country men.

I shot on film, taking my time, and interviewed people, sometimes at length. I felt it was also important to document and pay tribute to the ordinary people involved in extraordinary events and to report on their tragedy, courage and stoicism not to mention other unexpected qualities such as  moderation and tolerance.

Often for the most part people seemed grateful that they could at last speak openly, and people were always friendly.

My one regret was I didn’t get to see the fabulous Roman city outside Tripoli. I’m betting if I return to Libya in a few years or so it will be along with thousands of tourists enjoying a peaceful country with an amazing history.

 

‘Desk Job’ to be Published in The Sunday Times Tomorrow.

Posted: December 15th, 2012

So after many years trailing around offices across the world in a perverse kind of anti-tourism (travel somewhere exotic and spend your time inside an office that reminds you of a business park in Croydon) I am finally releasing the Desk Job series out into the world, to make its own way .

I haven’t counted up all the countries I have been to: Cambodia, United Arab emirates, Germany, USA Russia, South Africa to name a few; but I have been to enough, certainly,  to be a bit of an expert on office life around the world. In the USA they love their cubicles, in Germany its offices off corridors, in Santo Domingo they have modeled their offices on Croydon business parks. Pot plants and Dell computers are ubiquitous wherever you are in the world. You get my drift…

There was method in my madness, a concept (I’m printing a summary of my synopsis below) but I hope there’s humour in these pictures, too and a sense of not being alone. Next time you’re slaving away in your office cubicle with your pot noodle at 8pm, maybe you should have a look at these pictures, laugh or cry, but at least take comfort from the fact that you are truly not alone. A selection of the pictures are to be exhibited in the Sunday Times supplement, Spectrum and the work is to be exhibited at the Format Festival In Derby in March and April. http://www.formatfestival.com/ A taster is below :

Part 1:

Desk Job

Desk Job

Internal Auditor,.Mega Asset management, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Sales assistant, Real Estate Office,.Chaoyang District, Beijing

Director Licensing Department,Department of Tourism and Marketing.Dubai, UAE.

Marketing Executive, Department of Tourism and Marketing.Dubai, UAE.

Part 2:

Desk Job

Desk Job

Plastic model of a temple.

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Desk Job

Desk Job

And the project as  a pdf :

www.louisquail.com/downloads/deskjobshort_final2.pdf

Desk job Synopsis summarized :

Why was I inspired to photograph office workers?  Perhaps I felt such a universal occupation merited interest; or I found office life beguiling: the furniture, rituals, dress code – mundane but fascinating – if one knew where to look.

What this project is really about, I soon realized, however, is globalization.  Wherever we are, office life is office life: we share the same computers (Dell, IBM) and software (Microsoft); we even work for the same companies.

The technology and information revolutions have continued the processes started in the industrial revolution; unifying and simplifying human procedure. Work in the office, like factory work, is reduced to a series of simple interactions.

Desk Job crosses continents and nations but the treatment shrinks the world by documenting a similar daily struggle. The brash use of flash accentuates the idea that their environment overwhelms these subjects. The repetition of motifs – phones, pot plants, in trays – reinforces uniformity. The employee is defined by the few cubic meters around them.

The Homogeneity enforced by corporate life is concerning. However, we also see resistance: Companies strive for uncluttered office spaces, whereas individuals have an urge to colonise. There is humour inherent in this conflict.

Although this project was started before the recession, it is particularly relevant today. Seeing the worker, oblivious to the machinations of the CEO, heroically navigating their way through the day’s tasks, will hopefully inspire empathy and a recognition of our commonality across culture, continent and corporation.