Pictures from Afghanistan – An interview with David Pratt

David Pratt insists he has always had a connection with Afghanistan, even before he visited for the first time back in the 1980s and Glasgow Film Festival’s premiere of ‘Pictures From Afghanistan’ gives us the opportunity to look back on what he has experienced over numerous years.

When asked to tell us about the film, Pratt describes it as “a look back over the last 40 years of my relationship with the country and the reporting that I have done there”. He feels that it gives him a great opportunity to tell the story of Afghanistan that hasn’t been heard before.

Despite travelling across the globe, Pratt holds Afghanistan in the highest regard of those places and thinks that in some way or another, any foreign correspondent will have a “special” relationship with a country, whether that be from the people, to the landscape or simply experiences that has happened to them. For him though, it’s a combination of those things and the fact that even before visiting, he was always fascinated by the country.

“Even before I went to Afghanistan in the 1980s it was a place that had fascinated me, I’m fond of wild places and mountaineering when I was younger so that was an attraction.”

 

Pratt describes the natives as “people who are not good to make enemies of but are wonderful to make friends with” and feels that he has a duty to tell their story from an eyewitness perspective.

“There is a distinct dearth of eyewitness reporting these days. It doesn’t get more eyewitness than photo journalism.”

He continues to describe the fact that with modern technology, civilians have the ability to tell different stories. However, he insists that while it is great to see more eyewitness journalism, it doesn’t really help explain what can be happening in that moment.

“What we’re being inundated with is elements of people on their mobile phones. That doesn’t necessarily help explain what is happening.”

That being said, David agrees with the fact that editors are now reluctant to send reporters to war torn areas due to the potential backlash and having witnessed it himself understands with the reasoning behind this.

“Many news organisations are conscious of putting their staff into these situations due to what can happen.”

While it is difficult to put his love of the country into words, Pratt hopes that the film, which launches on Sunday 1st March at 1:15pm, will be able to tell the story. The film will be followed by a Q&A chaired by Allan Little and tickets are available on the GFF website.

 

Young photographers launch renewable energy exhibition

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The photographers: Magnus Kermack, Michaela McStay, Rachel Gilliver and Anna Batey (Credit: Bia Collective)

A group of young photographers, known as Bia collective, are launching a four-part exhibition focusing on the subject of renewable energy.

The four students, based in Edinburgh, have funded the exhibition themselves in order to display their work.

The topic of the exhibition is as current as ever, with recent figures showing that renewable power reached record highs in the UK last year, with renewable power supplying over a quarter of the UK’s electricity.

This week, Scottish Power announced that it will invest £2 billion in green energy. The company have closed or sold all of its coal and gas power pants, instead choosing to focus on renewable energy.

Each photographer has focused on a different area relating to renewable energy to showcase different ways that it is used in today’s society.

The week-long exhibition will be held at UNIONgallery in Edinburgh from March 13 and is free to visitors.

Here are the photographers:

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A piece of Gilliver’s work at Inverary Watchtower (Credit: Rachel Gilliver)

 RACHEL GILLIVER – 20 – COATBRIDGE

“My work focuses on wind power and will contain images from a wind farm, highlighting everything present at one of these parks.

“I chose this because I wanted to analyse the stigma around these large turbines and look into the controversial opinions surrounding them as many people are against wind turbines because they feel they ruin the natural beauty of the countryside, without taking into consideration the positive impact they have on the environment.

“I took my photos at Blacklaw II wind farm in South Lanarkshire, where there are 54 turbines with a capacity of 124 megawatts, making it one of the biggest wind farms in the UK.

“I think the main reason I chose my particular theme about the concerns for the natural beauty of the countryside, was to try and convey that if we completely turn our backs on renewable energy altogether, eventually there might not be a countryside for turbines to ruin.”

 

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A piece of McStay’s work from a documentary project with Narcissus Flowers (Credit: Michaela McStay)

MICHAELA MCSTAY – 21 – BRIDGE OF WEIR

“My project will be looking into the aesthetics of solar panels.

“It is commonly known that Solar panels and wind turbines are considered more of an eye sore than a benefit to the environment.

“With my project I would like to challenge this, by showing the comparison of solar panels and existing aesthetically similar structures in the urban environment.”

 

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Batey took this image for a previous project entitled Females in Agriculture (Credit: Anna Batey)

ANNA BATEY – 20 – CARLISLE

“I am creating a series of images exploring the positive impacts that the installation of anaerobic digester plants has had on several farms in Cumbria, and the benefits this has for the environment and surrounding community.

“I chose this topic as I felt it was quite an unusual form of renewable energy and not something that the majority of people will be familiar with.

“I have spent several weeks travelling to different farms, viewing and photographing a range of different sized anaerobic digester plants, with the hopes of being able to capture a broad spectrum of what they are really about and why so many farmers across the UK have taken the leap to install one.

“I think it is an important topic to cover as it highlights an unusual way of generating renewable energy, specifically in an industry that gets a bad press for their contribution towards a more sustainable future.”

 

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Kermack’s image from exploring different coastal towns in Scotland (Credit: Magnus Kermack)

MAGNUS KERMACK – 22 – ABERDEEN

“Fair Isle, located between Shetland and Orkney, is home to 55 people, but it was only in September that they got access to round the clock power.

“I travelled to Britain’s most remote inhabited island to try to find out the impact this new source of clean energy has had.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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