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Photographer of war Philip Blenkinsop picks Cornwall for UK showcase

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 02, 2013

Philip Blenkinsop, above and top left, on an international assignment. Bottom left, Falintil guerrilla Frederico Alves Cabrol, in East Timor, July 1998

Philip Blenkinsop, above and top left, on an international assignment. Bottom left, Falintil guerrilla Frederico Alves Cabrol, in East Timor, July 1998

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A multi award-winning photojournalist who has worked in some of the world's most dangerous trouble spots has chosen Cornwall as the venue for his first UK exhibition.

Philip Blenkinsop's unique style of reporting has taken him to conflicts across the world, capturing the plight of human rights protesters in Tibet, guerrillas in East Timor and Hmong veterans in the Laos jungle.

In January he will be the guest of The Poly in Falmouth, for his debut British exhibition.

Last September, the photographer accepted an honorary fellowship from Falmouth University, which offers photography degree courses regarded as among the best in the UK.

Blenkinsop will speak to students about his early work as a staff photographer with The Australian newspaper and the day in 1989 when he quit his job, sold his sports car, bought a Leica camera and some lenses and headed to the conflicts of South East Asia.

Since then his name has become synonymous with forgotten conflicts and he has become one of only two photographers to win three Visa d'Or awards. He also won the 2004 Amnesty International's photojournalism prize for excellence in human rights journalism.

As one of the world's top war and conflict photographers, he is regularly commissioned by newspapers and magazines and speaks at conferences on behalf of people fighting in forgotten wars and ignored by much of the world.

Employing simple, old-fashioned techniques and technology – insisting on black and white stills, film rather than digital, and no zoom lenses – many of Blenkinsop's images are stark and brutal.

"The modern approach to conflict photography relies on long lenses and distance from the action," he said. "But we need to see the real world we live in. Without getting close it's hard to show what people are really experiencing, all the emotions at play in tense and dangerous situations."

Known in the business as a "concerned" photographer, Blenkinsop has recently been highlighting global environmental issues and his reports from the banks of the Yellow River won the 2008 Visa d'Or news award.

Highly critical of many aspects of modern media techniques, he has repeatedly said the emphasis on "instant news" is killing quality journalism.

"The news industry in general has a lot to answer for," he said. "People are intelligent and have the capacity of understanding things – but much of the media treats them like idiots. I never feel any pressure to take a quick picture. You have to keep your integrity. You see it and you leave it because you know the shallow nature of those images."

Philip Blenkinsop's Jungle Diary exhibition can be seen at The Poly in Church Street, Falmouth, from January 7 to 12. Admission is free.

The Department of Media at Falmouth University is holding an evening with Philip Blenkinsop on January 10. It starts with an exhibition preview at 6.30pm and continues with an "in conversation" and Q&A session with the photographer at 7.30pm. Tickets are £10.

For more information visit www.thepoly.org.

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