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Monday, 04 January 2010


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Thanks Mike, very much for this post!!


Peter's work never ceases to move my heart, instill awareness and motivate me toward making strides.

this is the stuff that makes this place so cool --- great lead off for a wonderful 2010


Yikes! Thats some real talent. There's a little envy in all of us and Peter Turnley's work brings it out in me the fastest.

Thank you very much for this interesting collection of photos.

Just a bit of nitpicking. One photo has the caption "Fighting outside the Russian White House during an unsuccessful coup d’état against Gorbachev, Moscow, 1993. Moscow, 1993."

Should that perhaps be Boris Yeltsin and not Gorbachev?

I never yearned to be a photojournalist. But I admired those who did it well. Peter Turnley is certainly a name I recognize from some excellent images captured by a fellow who did it well...very well. Thank you for presenting them here, Peter.

Fighting outside the Russian White House during an unsuccessful coup d’état against Gorbachev, Moscow, 1993. Moscow, 1993.
Gorbachev stepped down from presidency two years earlier, in 1991. The photo illustrates Yeltsin attack on the Russian parliament in October 1993.

THIS is how it's supposed to be done.

Wonderful. Thank you, Peter, and thank you, Mike.

There is brilliant work still being done by people like the Turnley brothers or Eugene Richards. But seeing such work these days makes me very sad, because there is simply no realistic outlet for them to reach the kind of mass market that Life or Look once reached. Time and Newsweek are slender ghosts of what they once were; both have brutally downsized their photography efforts. Life and Look are long gone, and there is no general interest publication filling their role today.

DoubleTruck is simply fantastic, but it serves a tiny little niche. The Internet is of course a great resource, but each website is a tiny drop in a vast ocean, with commensurately limited reach. There is no way for a photographer like Pete Turnley, no matter how brilliant, to have the kind of impact W. Eugene Smith had.

There are some things that we as citizens really need to see, if we are to be responsible participants in a democracy. Stalinist regimes ruthlessly repressed such photographs; ours instead drowns them beneath a colossal deluge of advertising and celebrity imagery.

Amazing, wonderful work. And what a range of people and places, and viewpoints! Peter Turnley is definitely one of the best there is.

BTW, Kalli (above) is partially correct: the 1993 photo should have mentioned Yeltsin, not Gorbachev, but it wasn't really a coup d'etat. It was the "Constitional Crisis" (which you can read about here, on Wikipedia).

...that is, unless it really was the coup d'etat attempt against Gorbachev; in which case the year should be 1991, not 1993. :-)

To be present at so many great events, to have the time to know so many people, great and otherwise, must create a perspective that cannot be captured in photos alone. I look forward to the interview.

Kalli, Igor, and Ed,
Right you are. I spoke to Peter, and it's been fixed now. Thanks.


OMG - when I grow up I want to take photos like these!

joan s.

Wow, that's an amazing swathe of history to be captured by one photographer. Quite humbling.

That Peter is a highly skilled photographer goes without saying.

But I would suggest that the power of this diverse grouping of images derives largely from his thoughtful and insightful sequencing. Though it works on so many other levels, just following hand gestures alone is enlightening.

Thank you Peter.

I am a former student of Peter's and will be one again. In a most informed and gentle way, he changed how I look at and practice photography. Thanks, Mike, for bringing his work to the attention of your readers.

To my eye, most of the photographs of people shown here share a certain quality. It's something along the lines of faces appearing both familiar and "ordinary", in the sense that these people could be the people who live next door, or that I see every day on the street or the bus; even--or maybe especially--those in extraordinary circumstances or positions. Not sure whether photographer or editor should get more credit for that. I think it's a good quality, maybe in somes sense the point of photojournalism, but it seldom jumps out at me like this.

Moving and inspirational, images that make you think. Thanks for brightening up my day!

Every photoghraph tells a story. Once again, Peter Turnley demonstraqtes why he is one of the best in the business. I have known Peter for several years and I highly recommend his workshops!

Thank you for posting this....what a wonderful set of photographs.

It was interesting, although shocking, to see pictures of the 'mile of death' - the remains of the Iraqi army which was bombed retreating from Kuwait city in 1991. I have just read about this in Robert Fisk's book 'The Great War for Civilisation - The Conquest of the Middle East' in which he describes the same scene that Turnley has photographed. If ever there was an antidote to the clinical way this war was presented by the media it is the scenes depicted at 'Mutla Ridge', or 'The Mile of Death'. To quote Fisk, 'It is a road of horror, destruction and shame; horror because of the thousands of mutilated corpses lining its route, destruction because of the thousands of Iraqi tanks and armoured vehicles that lie there, shame because in retreat Saddam's soldiers piled their armour with loot. Shame, too, because we punished them with indiscriminate unnecessary death.'
In the Digital Journalist Turnley comments 'Most of the photographs I made of this scene have never been published anywhere and this has always troubled me'. In his book, Fisk believes the blame lies more with his own profession: 'When journalists wished to film the war, they chafed at the restrictions placed on them; but when the war was officially over and the restrictions lifted and they could film anything they wanted, they did not, after all, want to show what the conflict was like...Thus did we help to make war acceptable.' I think we can safely say Turnley isn't one of those journalists.

Thank you for posting this Mike! What a great way to start the year. When looking at these pictures I am also reminded of what photogs like Peter Turnley go through to get their pictures, personal safety being at times an afterthought.....

I have attended one of Peter's workshops and he is one of the most inspirational teachers i have ever encountered. I haven't put my camera down since!

I think one could take the Obama photo and use it for a day's discussion on a photograph....content, structure, organization, focus and depth of field, etc, etc.

No caption necessary. From left to right...the "giver," the "recipient," the action and the place.

And, that's just one of his images. Oh my.

Peter is also a fantastic guy. His work had always been one of my inspirations, and in September 2003 I took the very first workshop he gave in Paris. I made friends during that workshop with whom I'm still very much in touch, and Peter is one of them. This is my work for that week:


I always view Peter's work in awe. Just to listen to the many interesting stories and view these images makes me appreciate there are great photographers still out there. If you can attend one of his workshops you will be very glad you did. Thank you Peter.

If you are going to critique others websites via this site, perhaps it would be best to lead by example... providing thumbnails, that when clicked, hijack my browser and resize windows, is the worst kind of click thru... thoroughly annoying and and an exceptionally poor presentation of a masters work.

TOP need to learn how to present slideshows in the new year, the images for this post deserve far better.

Add me to the list of folks who have had the good fortune to get to know Peter through attending his workshops AND through having his photographs hanging on my walls. He is not only a wonderful photographer, but a wonderful person as well. Mike, I know you have already gushed about McClellan Street, but everyone should sit down with this book sometime and marvel over what Peter (and David) did here.

Peter is an amazing photographer
and a very inspiring (and patient teacher.
I have attended one of his workshops.
It definitely helped me take my photography to a new level.

Thank you for this gift.

T.O.P. is tops. A must see blog.

Stunning. And this is just the tip of the iceberg?

I'm not ashamed so say, that I was greatly moved by the sense of despair captured in the shot of the Kosovo, Albanian man, holding the photos of his two children. Then reading on to a happy ending to his story - well that just finished me off.

Thank you.

Does he really wear a khaki field jacket all old-school like?

Not to hijack the thread, but for what it's worth, when I viewed this post my browser was not "hijacked" nor was my browser window resized (beyond being able to view larger pop-up versions of the excellent photos, which was most welcome).

In light of the huge variety of sources from which photos are reproduced here, and in light of the huge variety of screens on which this site is viewed (from tiny mobile devices to 30" monitors), I for one am more than satisfied with the presentation, especially given the limitations of the blog software used (limitations which are not insignificant).

That picture is from the '90s.


It is good to see that the tradition of the great humanist photographers (Ronis, Doisneau, Brassai etc)is still alive and well.
Outstanding work!

I have seen Peter's work through normal photojournalistic outlets (magazines, papers, etc.) for a number of years and have often wondered what could he possibly do with his life after being in the most troubled spots of the world for so many years. His work is outstanding and I am glad to see he is alive and well and teaching courses around the world.


I attended Peter's Paris Street Photography workshop a few years ago and his teachings were truly inspirational. He's an amazing photographer and a brave soul that has captured some amazing historical event and figures.

I have McClellan Street and a couple of Peter's other books on order.

One very important thing about reportage to me is that the things that get captured are ephemeral. Maybe I'll learn more about this when the book arrives, but out of curiosity I looked at McClellan Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana on Google Street view. The entire district looks like it has been razed. That makes what Peter and David Turnley did to document it even more important.


In a time when every cellphone has a camera built in, and nothing happens without some kind of visual record, it's important to remember that what really counts is not the technolog,y but the eye behind the camera. Peter has a truly exceptional gift. Just spending a few minutes appreciating the photographs that have been posted here is like taking a trip around the world and back in time, from the comfort of one's own laptop.

Thanks for this treat, Peter and Mike!

Powerful examples of images when framed by an excellent and sensitive visual storyteller.

Peter's images are so powerful and moving. I'm also a former student who had the privilege of learning and being inspired by Peter's experiences and photography.

Thanks Peter and Mike!

Amazing photos from the amazing photographer.

Thank you

Peter Turnley is the greatest and most powerful photojournalist of all time. His photographs will move you, touch you. His talent, passion, power and tenacity will captivate one, there is no one else like him.

Michelle A. Zaffino

Thanks Mike for this and "A Gift on Every Corner," and thank you Peter. I too participated in his Streets of Paris workshop, a rich ten days of street photography in which Peter immerses you in photography and the Paris photographic community; film shooters are welcome.


Peter's gift is that since a young age, he was 'present' to the images around him. Some he may have sought but others were in his own backyard whether in Paris or Fort Wayne. I appreciate the breadth of subjects (if not continents) he can cover and communicate to the rest of us which makes mere mortals, as we are, secretly wail just a bit and perhaps privately that our own gifts just don't measure up. I am moved by all of them but I have a favorite category -- Cuba. Within each of his images, I feel an almost palpable current of electricity as though each person's sigh while possibly thinking, "And still we wait..." is mine too. We all wait for Cuba, the Cuba we may still get to know in our lifetimes. I treasure Peter's art, his sincerity, and his commitment to being present wherever his lens takes him. I'm surely glad to have known him and his powerful work.

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