On Assignment; The Photography Of Kevin Moloney Page 2

"The best part of the project," Moloney says, "was going into a remote area in Southern Chile. My job was to photograph evidence about whether the glaciers were receding. Fortunately at that time, they were not."

Marching up the hilly streets of Ouro Prêto, a young angel watches the passing crowd during the resurrection procession of Easter morning.

Moloney remains a highly respected photographer for The New York Times and I asked him how he dealt with the dark side of that work, such as the Columbine shootings in Colorado.

"It was about the hardest thing I have ever had to photograph," he answered. "I arrived while the shootings were still taking place since The New York Times had called me immediately. I was at my father's house close by at the time and I grabbed his '72 F2 and all of his lenses as well as 20 rolls of my mother's color film and made it over there in half an hour.

"By the time I got there the police had put up their yellow tape so I went to a nearby elementary school where the parents were sent to await news of their children. I photographed the emotional reactions of these parents who at the time didn't know if their children were alive or dead. It was a hard time to be aiming my camera.

"One of the most interesting things I learned while doing that story was how people react to the way a photographer does his work, how different it is from the way they react to the work itself. There was a huge outpouring of sympathy from the whole country and people came from everywhere to leave tokens to show their sorrow. What brought them there was their response to the journalism, the television, the radio, the newspapers, and it was an emotional one, yet people were horrified by our numbers and it is interesting how they could react so strongly to our work but not to how it is made."

Bill Curry, left, talks on the phone with family after getting word by cell phone that his daughter Kendra and niece Kami had barricaded themselves in a closet with over 20 other students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, during the April 20th shootings. At center, mother Lorie Curry (right) and an aunt of both girls Janet Olmstead cry at the word that the girls were still in the gun-shattered school. At far right Jason Curry, brother of Kendra, waits by
their sides.

Moloney believes there are three kinds of photographers in photojournalism and documentary, the first being "the readers' photographer," someone whose primary goal is to inform and please the reader, straight and clear.

The second group is "the editor's photographer" who uses the latest techniques and stays with the certain look that is popular in magazines at the time. "That," he says, "makes good business sense because we need to sell our images.

"The third," he says, "is the photographer's photographer, one who makes complex and intriguing images like a lot of the Magnum photographers do today or like those of Cartier-Bresson and Joseph Kudelka. These may baffle the average person, though.

"Good photographers try to be all three," Moloney says. "When you make images every day as your line of work, it is the straight, clear, and simple ones that are most effective. They are not the ones that intrigue me, however. It is those photographers who are more complex. They are the intriguing ones who keep us doing our work the longest."

Pedestrians and vendors pass political posters in a central square in Mysore, India, shortly before the 1998 elections. Voting in the world's largest democracy resulted in a 17-party coalition government.

Moloney refers to a favorite shot he made in India showing a big, electoral campaign truck. In a circle that covered the speakers on the side of the truck there is a picture of the candidate. A gazebo sitting within a little traffic circle is evident in another part of the frame. A man with some bananas had walked right into the frame and his head landed perfectly in the center of a similar circle to the one containing the candidate. "For me it was a magical moment where everything lined up exactly right. It's complex and visually intriguing."

Moloney's most recent body of work, a feature for The New York Times, is shot in Brazil, an in-depth series taken in Manaus, a bustling area where fish are brought in and sold.

Internationally Moloney is known for his work in publications such as Stern, Paris Match, and a variety of images have been published in Brazilian and other German publications.

Moloney's commitment to his work deals with issues of humanity, illustrated artfully in the situations he photographs and perhaps, most importantly, in the insightful details that create the mood in his images.

To see more of Kevin Moloney's work, visit his website at: www.kevinmoloney.com.