Peter Turnley is by any measure one of the most accomplished photographers of his generation. My interest in his work—and hence what you've read about him here on TOP—has centered around his personal work, in books such as Parisians and McClellan Street. The latter is a lyrical study of a hometown neighborhood he did with his twin brother David when they were teenagers, which proved to be their entry ticket into the world of big-time international photojournalism. These two sets of work, however, describe only a small part of the trajectory of Peter's involvement in photography. Things like his forty NEWSWEEK covers and a full profile on "60 Minutes" will have to stand in for the rest of his long resumé for now.
Recently, I got wind of the fact that Peter is now teaching photo workshops in various locations around the world—workshops that people like you and I can attend—and that reports from participants have been, in a word, glowing. So I approached Peter (through my friend Steve Rosenblum, who has collected some of Peter's work) and asked him about an interview.
Peter responded with grace, generosity, and energy. Over the course of several conversations and emails, we developed the idea of a sort of "visual interview," and Peter spent all of New Year's Day putting together a portfolio and a written statement just for you. Naturally, photojournalists and documentary photographers work—and think—in terms of sets of pictures that describe larger realities; the portfolio you're about to look at doesn't do any one story justice. It's not a "greatest hits," either. Rather, it's a linked sequence meant to sketch the broad range and reach of Peter's work and concerns over many years.
So get yourself a cup of coffee on this first Monday in 2010, and click past the break. You are in for a treat.
All images in this post are copyright 2009 by Peter Turnley / Corbis. All rights reserved.- - -
A Kosovo, Albanian man, Mustafa Xaja, from the town of Mitrovica in Kosovo shows pictures of his two children he fears to have been killed by Serbs during the war in Kosovo, 1999. He had just been released as a prisoner of the Serbs and forced to cross the border becoming a refugee into Albania. He later discovered on returning to Kosovo after the war that his family was all safe and alive. Kosovo-Albanian border, Albania, 1999.- -
A family grieves for the victim of an earthquake during a funeral near Spitak, Armenia. More than 35,000 people were killed during this earthquake-the first time that the former Soviet Union allowed foreign journalists to access a natural disaster of this magnitude. Spitak, Armenia, 1988.- - - -
A young man named Mohammed, a victim of the Somali famine crisis of 1992. This image was made at a time when more than one hundred people were dying every day of starvation in this town of Somalia. Baidoa, Somalia, 1992.- - - - - - - - -
A US Military graves detail buries the bodies of dead Iraqi soldiers killed along the "Mile of Death", on the road between Kuwait City and Basra, north of Kuwait City, in 1991. A more extensive portfolio and text can be found at The Digital Journalist.- - -
A Chinese student pleads with a PLA officer to not crack down on the student demonstrators in Tiananmen Square, in May, 1989, two weeks before the June 4th Tiananmen Square massacre. Beijing, China, 1989.- -
During Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, evacuees arrive by helicopter to the New Orleans airport after being evacuated from the city, before being flown out to other U.S. cities for shelters, in 2005.- - - - -
Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, visits Prague in 1987. His new policies of openness contributed greatly to unleashing winds of change that spread throughout Eastern Europe, leading to the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989. Prague, Czechoslovakia,1987.-
Four-year-old ballerinas that have been dropped off by their parents for late afternoon ballet class at the Grand Theatre in old Havana, in Cuba. They arrive with their parents dressed in civilian clothes, and at the doorway to the school, change into their tights, and line up to follow the teacher up the steps to the class room to begin their class, January, 2005.----
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We'll return in a couple of days to have a few words with Peter about his work. My thanks to Peter for putting this portfolio together for TOP.
Peter Turnley's workshops
Peter Turnley's website
MikeFeatured Comment by Jim Sandman: "Just an awesome display, but it's like when we look at the ocean and say, 'look at all that water,' and someone else says, 'yes, but that's just the top.' Well, this is just a small sample of Peter's work. I've had the privilege of attending several of his workshops and have seen much more than 'just the top.' His work is outstanding as is his commitment to his profession. Moreover, his energy and ability to motivate is simply gripping; I only wish that I would win the lottery (not even a big one...) so that I could attend more of his workshops!"