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Feature Interview: Ron Haviv, Photojournalist

Ron Haviv

Ron Haviv

(By D.Tyhacz)

Ron Haviv is a world-renowned and award winning photojournalist, who’s iconic images have illustrated conflicts and human-rights issues for over 20 years.

Recently, he and several other photographers from the VII agency in New York, NY, traveled around the world to produce a series called Starved For Attention, which sheds light on the underlying causes of the global malnutrition crisis. More information can be seen here about the galleries here which launches today in New York City.

We asked Ron some questions about his background, and what we can expect to see at the gallery…

How and when did you first get into photography?

I was a journalism student at University and during my last year decided I would rather tell stories with images. I took an introductory photography course and taught myself the rest.

One of your first foreign photo-assignments involved covering the Panama elections back in 1989, and you ended up capturing a very disturbing image of the bloodied & beaten Vice Presidential candidate shortly thereafter. This photo made the cover of Time, Newsweek, and was published all over the country. Did you realize the initial impact your photograph would have? It was only shortly after that the US decided to finally intervene and over-throw Noriega.

When the photograph was published, I had no true understanding of the role that photojournalism could play in the world of communication. It was only when months later that the President of the US spoke about the images as one of the reasons that the US invaded Panama did the impact truly mean something beyond myself.

Ron Haviv's legendary photo of VP candidate Guillermo Ford in 1989, as seen on the cover of Time Magazine that same year. (photo by Ron Haviv)

You covered some disturbing war images in Bosnia & Croatia, which resulted in a photobook you published called “Blood and Honey”. How did you first become immersed in this conflict, and how did this book come about?

I went to Slovenia, the first republic to secede, after reading a small piece in the newspaper about nationalism and a possible war. I spent more then 5 years between 1991 and 2001 covering the dissolution of the country with its various wars. Sometime during the Bosnian war it was apparent to me that I was going to see it through, and that my thoughts on the conflict would best be shown in a book and multimedia piece.

The upcoming Starved For Attention exhibit in New York (in June) will cover your recent work from Bangladesh. Can you describe your time in the country & what you saw there?

Bangladesh is a country of extreme beauty and hardship. From a feeling of immense overcrowding in the capital to the island of Bhola I witnessed a country struggling to do best for itself while fighting against nature and endemic poverty.

On the island of Bhola I spent time documenting a new approach to fighting health issues, especially malnutrition. By incorporating local level intervention with education, it is hoped that malnutrition, which is thought of us as normal, can be severely reduced.

With the constant bombardment of imagery and information on the web, is photojournalism losing it’s impact or is it gaining a wider audience?

I think that the responsibility is upon us as the audience to appreciate and understand the images that we are being shown. With the advent of the internet information is easily accessible by many more people. If we look to trusted sources we can all become better educated global citizens.

Does the general public under-estimate the power of photography in your opinion?

I think that the underestimation of the power of photography often comes from the heads of media rather then the public. When imagery touches people they respond.

What is your next assignment/project you’re currently working on?

VII is currently working on a project with the United Nations.

Thanks Ron for answering our questions!

Ron’s photography will be shown as part of the Starved For Attention Gallery this month in New York City.
Here’s the details:

Launch & Panel Discussion
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
The TimesCenter
242 West 41st Street, New York
Exhibit Opening & Reception 6 pm – 9 pm
Panel Discussion 7:00 pm

Also in Brooklyn, NY:

Gallery Exhibition
June 4 – July 2, 2010
VII Gallery
Daily from 10 – 6
28 Jay Street, DUMBO – Brooklyn
(2 blocks north of York Street station on F train)

For more upcoming Starved For Attention exhibitions around the world, see more info at:
and help spread the word about this groundbreaking project!

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