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TIME: Best Photographer on the Wires

TIME has given an AP freelancer, Pete Muller, a prestigious best photographer award for his work documenting the creation of a new country in Africa: Southern Sudan

The U.S.-born photographer moved to Sudan in 2009 knowing that the country was at a critical point in its history. Sudan had been devastated by decades of brutal civil war between the Arab-Islamic north and largely Christian south and was on the cusp of formal division. This July, southern Sudan became the world’s 193rd country, and Muller knew that very few journalists were in the region covering the story. “I thought that spending a few years documenting southern Sudan’s transition to independence would be of value to the historical record and might shed light on an underreported but geopolitically significant story,” he says.


“I hope that, when appropriately paired with words, it contributes to the record of South Sudan at its long-awaited birth,” the photographer says of his work. “In an intellectual sense, I hope that it underscores the challenges of national identity and nation-states that exists in countless countries across the world and has, for centuries, been the source of immense bloodshed.”

TIME says his works stands out from all the other photographs on the wire as more intimate; he posts an insider’s view. As you can see below he spent enough time in the area building trust to capture the essence of his subjects — creates close, compassionate and individual portraits. Apparently this intimacy gave him the edge over other photographers and earned him a TIME award.

Pete Muller Photo: Southern SudanPhotograph by Pete Muller

Although, given their explanation of what they like in photos, I have to say it is odd to see how completely different his portrait photographs are from what TIME seems to say are their best of the year. The images they selected for their showcase of their best portraits, none of which have a foreign or remote story, all seem cold and detached like from a lab. There is no environment, no prop like the gun and the drum you see above, as if the viewer needs no references. Here’s an example from their Best Portraits of 2011, a photo of Dick Cheney:

TIME Portrait of Dick Cheney
Photograph by Marco Grob

Where’s his gun?

Posted in Security.

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