‘EVERYTHING IS BLACK’ CNN

Real cost of the Indian CoalMore than a century of coal mining has transformed the landscape of the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, wiping out forests to make room for huge, open-cut mines. In some areas, fumes rise from the ground as subterranean coal seams burn below. People gather huge lumps of coal in baskets, carrying them on their heads. In the view of photographer Erik Messori, the output of the mines has come at a tremendous cost. He spent three months in the region, chronicling the human and environmental toll that Jharkhand’s coal industry has exacted. “Everything is black — from sky to ground, from air to water,” he said. Coal has made some people in Jharkhand rich; for others, it is the only way to earn enough money to survive. The industry has turned many residents away from farming the land to mining it. Messori’s photos show life in and around the mines that blot the landscape. In one picture, two youths play cricket next to the mine where their parents work. Behind them, plumes of noxious gas rise into the air. Local people can develop severe respiratory problems, including lung cancer, Messori says. Jharkhand is among the lowest ranked Indian states in human development indicators, according to the United Nations Development Programme. One of his images shows a miner with a lung problem being treated with oxygen. But many local people are unaware of the health risks until it’s too late, Messori said.Meanwhile, the state’s environment is suffering badly from the large amounts of carbon monoxide produced by the mining and the rampant deforestation that clears the way for the open-cut mines. Messori said he thinks the heavy changes the industry has wrought on Jharkhand “will affect not only the Indian workers’ health, but India as (a) nation, as well as the rest of the world.” He set out to document the situation there in order to bring attention to “the inhuman living and health conditions of people in the area” and “the critical condition of the environment.” Other dangers are more immediate, like the ground underneath your feet. Messori said he remembers one particularly alarming incident during the time he spent photographing Jharkhand in 2010 and 2011. During a visit to a coal mine, the ground where his translator was walking suddenly gave way, swallowing the man’s legs up to his knees. As Messori ran to help the translator, one of his legs sank into the ground, too. With one leg still on a firm footing, he was eventually able to free himself and the translator. But the burning heat from underground had destroyed their shoes and trousers. There are other risks, too. Maoist rebels have been active in Jharkhand for decades, and the state’s politics is plagued by corruption scandals and instability. “For an independent photographer, it was difficult to stay there for many reasons,” Messori said, noting the possibilities of kidnapping, robbery and violence. As one of the few Westerners there, he stood out. But he said his biggest concern, with all the fumes from the mines, was his health.

“I would like to thank Julie-Anne Miranda Brobeck and Dinesh Dubey it would have been impossible without their help” Messori said

Jethro Mullen, CNN

BOOK YOUR CONSULTANCY AND PORTFOLIO REVIEW

Swatch Skiers Cup 2012I am pleased to announce that a new Consultancy and Portfolio Review season is available. Photographers at entry level and the mid-career level can register for one-on-one photography consultancy and portfolio review via Skype; each review session lasts for 60 minutes. It’s a great way to network. Numerous photographers have walked away with opportunities to exhibit, publish and sell their work after attending the Portfolio Reviews. Now you can book your session! For more information, including queries about cost, send an email to: info@erikmessori.com

ENVIRONMENTAL VISION AWARD

poyiPictures of the Year International is a competition that began in 1944 at the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, Mo. Each year since, the best examples of photography from around the world are submitted for judging by a select panel of editors, scholars and fellow photographers. The original intent was to “to pay tribute to those press photographers and newspapers which, despite tremendous war-time difficulties, are doing a splendid job; to provide an opportunity for photographers of the nation to meet in open competition; and to compile and preserve…a collection of the best in current, home-front press pictures,” according to the university. The collection of results that is posted at the end of February is one of the finest examples of photojournalism in the world. Some of the pictures that win the contest have not graced the front pages of papers and website home pages, but others are well known. Below is a sample of the 2014 winners. For the complete list of winners, please visit http://www.poyi.org

“ROMAGNIA MIA” – NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

liscioToday on National Geographic Magazine (web edition) you can explore one of the most enduring traditions that has become the phenomenon of Ballroom dancing (Ballo Liscio). Passion, dedication and emulation are the keys of this art that are handed down from generation to generation for the few truly passionate fans. A popular culture that was born in the private courtyards as a recreational pastime at informal gatherings it has now become a great spectacle of piazza, a media circus and an economical phenomenon.