VII | VII Observations

Cheerleaders, Lexington, KY, 2005

Photo by Joachim Ladefoged / VII. Cheerleaders, Lexington, KY, 2005.

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From the photographer: ”I was in Kinshasa, the capital of Congo shooting for a book project for MSF about the silent death of a nation. VII photographers felt very strongly about the project and wanted to help make a difference for the Congolese people. There were significant security issues and it was not safe to be there. Another thing was that everybody wanted money from me, from the poor people in the projects, to the doctors at the hospitals. That is a question of ethics, if we start pay for pictures we buy people to act for us and that you can not do. I had hard time explaining that to people and I was fully aware about them thinking of me as a white man taking their pictures and making money from them. But what we can do is to tell there stories and make a difference with our images and hope that other people will help MSF helping them. So after a week being frustrated about missing images that I could not take because of security problems and trying to explain people that I was there to help through my images for MSF, I received a call from the The New York Times Magazine asking me to come to the US and shoot a portfolio for them about cheerleaders at the University of Kentucky.

I jumped on a plane and 30 hours later I was in some sort of image heaven compared to Congo. I was met by these young strong athletes that wanted me to take their picture and was really happy about me being there. I know it is a totally different story the first one about life and death and the other one about young beautiful strong privilege kids in the world's richest country. It was the stark contrast that makes a photographers job so crazy and wonderful sometimes. This particular images appeared when I thought I had shot any possible angle of the girls flying in the air, but then it hit me that I haven’t made a picture from above and that I had never seen any picture like that made before. So I found a tall ladder and snapped this for me unusual angle of the girls hanging in the air."

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