By Whitney Johnson, Director of Visual and Immersive Experiences
Parts of the world are still bracing for the deadly virus that has ripped through China, Europe, and North America. Nairobi-based photographer Nichole Sobecki is providing an important snapshot of what’s happening on the ground, particularly in a city that potentially faces a very difficult time ahead.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has issued strictly enforced dawn-to-dusk curfew. I'm struck by the eerie images of typically bustling streets and highways, neighborhoods and train depots.
But the daylight hours highlight the disparity of a society in which social distancing is not a reality for many. As Nichole reports, wealthy neighborhoods are "silent—their streets deserted, their occupants invisible inside lush compounds, their houses well stocked with food and other necessities. A few miles southwest of downtown is Kibera, home to a quarter of a million people surviving together beneath tin roofs."
While reporting, she spoke with many residents who are using their own work to inform and help others, from the fashion designer David Avido, who has sewn and distributed thousands of masks, to Daniel Owino (pictured above), a musician who hopes his latest ballad "Have You Sanitized?" will inform his fellow Kenyans.
“It's my duty to make sure that everyone knows what's happening and are doing what they can to try and stay safe,” he says. “We have to be our own solution.”
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Today in a minute
He escaped white mobs: At 33, photographer Theodore Gaffney risked his life to travel to the South with the Freedom Riders. "I was afraid I might not come back," he said in an interview for the PBS documentary Freedom Riders. Gaffney survived terror in 1961 Birmingham, Alabama, and had a long career. But on Sunday, he succumbed to the coronavirus, the Washington Post reported. He was 92.
Larger than life: That’s how colleagues describe veteran New York sports photographer Anthony Causi, who died Sunday from COVID-19. Causi, 48, was also described as soft-spoken, funny, dedicated, and kind. The New York Post photographer had been on assignment in Florida for two months covering baseball spring training and was diagnosed on his return to New York. He is survived by his wife, Romina, and their children John, 5, and Mia, 2.
Award season: Nat Geo contributors Esther Horvath and Luca Locatelli were among those taking first place awards in the World Press Photo Contest, and Yasuyoshi Chiba of Agence France-Presse won Photo of the Year for his image from a pro-democracy protest in Khartoum. See the winners here. ... Ten other photographers took prizes in the Sony World Photography Awards and will compete for the World Photography Organization’s photographer of the year, CNN reports. Those winning topics included a dead fish caught in a plastic bag, a protester being detained by police in Medellin, an iceberg in northeast Greenland, an intimate moment between two cheetahs, and a mile-long train carrying iron ore through Mauritania.
Capturing photographers, with Polaroids: It may be a camera that has seen ’better days, but Ken Yu’s One600 Classic Instant Camera has spit out thousands of Polaroids, many of them portraits of photographers worldwide. Yu’s scope and unpretentious approach set him apart, Nicole York writes for Fstoppers. “If you’re lucky enough to meet Yu and have your image added to his hoard,” York writes, “you might see photographers changing their Facebook profile photo to his Polaroids after he releases the digital versions."
Your Instagram of the day
Catching the last light: A pigeon flies in front of the Duomo, the main cathedral in Milan, Italy, during sunset. “As casual as the photo might seem,” says photographer Chiara Goia, “I waited for the perfect pigeon to fly by for a good half hour.”
Related: From Milan with silence—photographing a city under lockdown
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The big takeaway
Neighborhoods under COVID-19: Here are scenes from our latest collaboration with the legendary Magnum Photos, in which globe-trotting photographers rediscover their own backyards. In South Africa, Lindokuhle Sobekwa observes “children [at] play in the streets, only running back home when the police tell them to stay indoors." In the black-and-white photo above, Sobekwa finds a young man chilling with a dog. Other photographers, such as Carolyn Drake, capture fleeting, almost whimsical glimpses of her friends.
A certain style: In Paris, Richard Kalvar captures the twin concepts of social and distancing in the kind of Paris your curator only imagines. Here, neighbors share a drink in the alleyway, trying to maintain a safe distance. Catch the entire gallery—it’s terrific—right here.
From the vault
BOOM! A Martin Matador guided missile is test fired on a base in Libya, before this audience of two. Sara Manco, our senior photo archivist, found this photo from the March 1957 issue of National Geographic. The article was about the now-disbanded Military Air Transport Service, which transported troops and supplies, including missiles, smaller planes, and humanitarian aid relief. Though Nat Geo is not generally known for its military coverage, several articles featured such topics during and after World War II.
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Just one more
Happy 107th birthday! Here’s a break from the rough news: An inspiration to award-winning photographer Lynsey Addario, her spirited grandmother, Louise Bonito, already is getting cards ahead of her birthday on April 26. Lynsey’s Nonnie (shown in the kitchen yesterday) is the star of her Instagram feed. Nonnie remembers World War I and suffrage and became an Internet meme when she blew out her teeth with her candles on her 102th birthday. “Your grandma is one of my favorite things on the internet!” writes PBS Newshour’s Jane Ferguson to Addario. Nonnie hopes to see a parade of cars wishing her well as they pass her Connecticut home on her birthday. Want to send a card? Here are the details. To life!