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  • [CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKING]

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • I love photography.

  • But I'm not really interested in a picture.

  • There's a difference between pictures of something and

  • pictures about something.

  • And I wanted to make pictures about something.

  • Because I really am interested in this idea of science being

  • our Achilles' heel.

  • [SPEAKING JAPANESE]

  • [HELICOPTER WHIRRING]

  • A friend of mine sent me an email.

  • And it was a really dark email.

  • And I was kind of in a dark place then, a few weeks ago.

  • Things were not good.

  • I picked up my phone.

  • And it said, it looks like our terrible world

  • is revealing itself.

  • And then I started reading it.

  • And I'm like, holy shit.

  • This is hugely significant.

  • So there was definitely a compelling urge to do this.

  • And I thought, if I do not go do this, I should just leave

  • photography now.

  • When I was about 14 years old, my dad bought me a camera.

  • It was a Yashica.

  • I'm not sure why he got me the camera, maybe as a birthday

  • present or something.

  • I don't really remember.

  • But I do remember that I loved it when I first

  • grabbed that camera.

  • At the same time, I think magazines were probably in

  • their peak.

  • I mean, everybody talks about a golden age of magazines.

  • But for me, it was really the late '80s, early '90s.

  • And as a kid, my family, they subscribed to "Time,"

  • "Newsweek," all the usual news weeklies.

  • And I remember opening up, and these big huge photographs.

  • And that was the first time where it

  • started connecting events.

  • This idea of history being created or made, and then the

  • idea that somebody actually has to go out there and

  • discuss what this history is.

  • I started working.

  • I got a summer job at a tabloid, the "Toronto Sun." I

  • worked there for four months.

  • All my friends were kind of turning their noses, oh, how

  • could you work "The Sun?" You know, it's a tabloid.

  • But it was the best-- one of the greatest

  • experiences of my life.

  • It was four months.

  • I had never, ever, ever, made any money

  • of photography before.

  • And this idea of getting paid for it was really

  • exhilarating.

  • And then I kind of had this brainstorm that, wow, there

  • are other newspapers and magazines in the world.

  • And I ended up working a lot for "The New York Times," and

  • for some German publications, which was great.

  • So at first, when I started at "The Globe," it was Toronto

  • and sort of area.

  • And then as I got more experience and more clients,

  • it was all across the country.

  • My interest in Russia begins, I guess--

  • yeah, I was 12 years old.

  • Because I had pneumonia.

  • I was bed-ridden for three, four months.

  • The only thing I could do was listen to the radio.

  • And I remember early May of '86 lying in my bed.

  • And there was a news report that came on about this place

  • called Chernobyl and a massive nuclear accident.

  • So since then, I got kind of fascinated, I guess.

  • And I had met some police officers in a small town.

  • And I had met, like--

  • I don't want to them Mafia guys--

  • ex-mobsters, but still criminals.

  • This was a very focused project.

  • I went out with the cops.

  • And they were doing their raids.

  • And I would hang out with the criminals and such.

  • And at that time, then the work kind of split off into

  • two tangents.

  • One was this idea of power and the acquisition of power.

  • But then also, out of my, again, trying to save my

  • childhood curiosity, was Chernobyl.

  • Everybody thinks Chernobyl is three-headed babies, and

  • monsters, and mutant catfish, and such like that.

  • And when I got up there, I was really pleasantly surprised

  • that it had completely smashed any expectation that I had.

  • And that's when I knew, that OK, I've got to come back and

  • photograph Chernobyl.

  • There was a man I met named Nikolai who said, oh, come

  • into my home, and we drink vodka.

  • And it was one of my first sort of experiences in a

  • traditional Ukrainian village.

  • And the whole custom of meeting somebody and being

  • invited to the house.

  • And his friend Victor came over, Victor Popovichenko, who

  • I ended up photographing a few months later.

  • And that photograph I guess was my key moment where things

  • changed for me.

  • I had one of--

  • well, press for that, he's falling over, trying to catch

  • his vodka and stuff.

  • And that was when the seed was planted.

  • OK, I'm going to Chernobyl.

  • But I wanted to Chernobyl in winter, so I waited about

  • eight, nine months.

  • And I went back for three months in the winter of 2006.

  • And I had lived up in Chernobyl, close to the zone.

  • And I just spent all my time up there

  • photographing that project.

  • Since then, I just have kept going back.

  • Well I've been into the zone probably 15, 20 times, but

  • I've probably been to the Chernobyl region itself, I

  • don't know, 30 times or something like that.

  • It's just something that I kind of love now.

  • I always tell my friends I want to get a second home.

  • And it's going to be in Chernobyl.

  • It's quite beautiful, actually.

  • This is one of my first projects where I started

  • questioning the way I work, and what I'm working on, and

  • why I'm working on it.

  • What kind of photography do I want to do?

  • And that's what Russia kind of allowed me to do.

  • I'm trying to explore different ways

  • to talk about this--

  • an atomic world that we've decided to live in.

  • So when Japan happened, and Fukushima especially, I

  • thought, I have to go.

  • Because it's almost mirroring what's

  • happened with Chernobyl.

  • That is why I'm sitting here in Japan now.

  • Which is a place that I kind of wanted to come to.

  • But I never really thought I would end up here so quickly.

  • But obviously, with what's been happening in the last

  • three weeks with Fukushima and the nuclear reactor, I just

  • felt that OK, I need to go.

  • And I see Tokyo now as the city of the archetypal,

  • apocalyptic city.

  • It's the perfect place for the world to end.

  • The first thing I did notice was about the

  • lights, that it is dark.

  • And this idea of the electricity.

  • And then, of course, the reason the electricity is at,

  • I think, what did they say, 60% capacity, is because of

  • what's happening with Fukushima, which is the main

  • power source for Tokyo.

  • So Tokyo relies upon what's happening in Fukushima.

  • And what's happening Fukushima is not helping the

  • situation in Tokyo.

  • When I told people and said, I'm going to Japan and I'm

  • going to do a story about the exclusion zone and what's

  • happening there, I just knew.

  • I knew what I was going to find because I had had that

  • experience in Chernobyl and Zholtye Vody.

  • And I kind of know about these

  • wastelands which are forgotten.

  • And it actually did meet every expectation.

  • But it also completely spooked me.

  • You start seeing the actual destruction of the earthquake

  • and the tsunami.

  • I mean, that's the really interesting thing about

  • Fukushima, I think, is it wasn't just an earthquake.

  • It wasn't just a tsunami.

  • But now on top it, on a third layer, they've got this

  • nuclear catastrophe.

  • That was the other weird thing is that there was no police,

  • no Japanese defense forces.

  • In Minamisoma, they had the city hall building.

  • There was people there testing for radiation.

  • And the only military that was there was the

  • guy parking the cars.

  • It was actually a pretty normal city.

  • I was writing an email to my friend.