Archives

March 2012

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Mar 30

There’s a blog post by German photography magazine Photonews that I’ve meant to link to and talk about for a few weeks now. Unfortunately, there only appears to be a German language version. Photonews spoke with photobook publishers and artists about whether and/or how to make, and especially to finance a photobook. (more)
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Mar 30

I’m a bit over the idea of the road trip. You’re driving around, taking photographs. I get it. Not that there’s anything with a road trip per se. But to think you do a road trip to do a photo project - that’s just, let’s face it, cliche. Having said that, this doesn’t mean you can’t get something interesting out of a road trip. A good example is provided by Roberto Schena’s SP 67. It’s an unusual road trip: 13km of road, less than ten miles - how can you get something, well anything out of that? (more)
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Mar 29

Every year, I try to get interested in baseball, only to realize around June or July that I can’t do it (and people say chess is boring!). I had the same problem when I lived in Germany, and I thought I should try to get excited about football (soccer for those who think football involves a non-spherical object). I tried… I can get behind María Bleda and José María Rosa’s Campos de Fútbol, though: Football reduced to just those few traces left in the landscape.
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Mar 28

Italian photographers Raffaele Capasso and Francesco Claudio Cipolletta collaborate as Dead Porcupine. Their project Shiftless centers on the environs of a disused nuclear power plant in Italy.
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Mar 27

“This series of portraits of girls all dressed up for their Matric Dance was photographed on the Cape Flats, a vast area outlying Cape Town. […] For most matriculants and their families, the matric dance is a seminal moment: for some, it is a celebration of being the first member of their family ever to finish school, previous generations having been disadvantaged by the apartheid era education system and economic conditions; for others it is a night that formally marks the leaving behind of childhood and transition into adulthood; for the majority […] it may primarily be a night of fantasy escapism” - Araminta de Clermont about Before Life
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Mar 26

About his project United We Were Strong Pierre Terdjman writes: “Traveling from Lod to Be’er-Sheva, going through Dimona, I discovered one of the hidden parts of the country [Israel], the part of the promised land forgotten and forsaken by everyone, the land of promises never kept, a land of cities ruined by poverty and unemployment, leaving nothing but a few hovels as squats for drug dealers, and with prostitutes hoping for as many customers as possible so that they could spend their earnings a few hours later shooting up heroine. The people living there, whether Russian, Ethiopian or Arab, have all become ‘sabras’ or humble workers. In another life, some of them were doctors or engineers, but now they do housework, making a few shekels an hour. How did the Israel of kibbutzes with its founding fathers defending socialist Zionist ideals come to forget these men and women who, when united, were strong?” You can now support this project here.
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Mar 26

This is a portrait from Kensington Blues by Jeffrey Stockbridge, a project focusing on a hot spot for drugs and prostitution in North Philadelphia. Make sure to listen to some of the audio!
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Mar 25

Here’s (in part) why portrait photography is so hard: “research by psychologists at the Universities of California and Harvard finds that the same people are rated as more attractive in videos than in static images taken from those videos.”
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Mar 24

The other day, I went to New York City to, among other things, see the Cindy Sherman exhibition at MoMA. I’m a fan. I do realize that one is not to use the word “fan” in an art context. But since I want to spend a few thoughts on exactly that, context, I’ll happily use it regardless. (more)
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Mar 22

Sanctuary of Exile by Ilan Godfrey portrays refugees from Zimbabwe a church in South Africa is providing a safe haven for.
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Mar 21

I wrote an article on the role design plays for five recent photobooks for the British Journal of Photography, which can now be read online. Check it out!
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Mar 21

Familiar by Alex Cretey Systermans portrays daily life in a gentle, endearing way, without ever becoming too self-absorbed. (via LPV Magazine)
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Mar 21

Anouk Kruithof is one of the recipients of this year’s ICP Infinity Awards. Over the past few years, she has produced a string of cutting-edge books, many of them self-published. So there were many reasons why I wanted to talk to her about her work. Find the conversation here.
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Mar 20

I’m often surprised about how few photographers are willing to work on the presentation of their images online. Thankfully, over-designed Flash sites seem on their way out. But it seems their places are now being filled by template-derived ones. Make no mistake, if you’re not a programmer, it’s nice to be able to work with a template. But seeing the same simple template used on so many websites is offputting. Tom Kavanagh’s websites shows that it doesn’t take much to create a much more interesting experience with actually very simple means. The user has to scroll through the image sets her/himself, and I expect to see more websites like this one once tablet computers are more widely used.
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Mar 19

I’m honoured to be the guest juror of the 2012 Light Work Student Invitational. If you find yourself in Syracuse, NY, make sure to check out the show! The above photo is by Dan Wetmore, my best-of-show pick.
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Mar 19

I had a hard time finding one representative image for Jordan Sullivan, so I eventually picked this one. Many of the photographs seemingly have imperfections, but I think they really work.
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Mar 17

My headline is slight disingenuous: There actually is no simple recipe for photobook making. If you asked ten people about how to make a photobook, you’d probably end up with ten different answers. That said, from what I can tell, most photobook makers seem to agree on quite a few things. So I thought I’d throw my own thoughts into the mix. I hope that some people might find them useful. Find the rest of the piece here.
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Mar 16

Power is an abstract term that is hard to understand outside the world of physics. Why or how do some people have power, whereas others are powerless? And who really has power? When thinking of power, the first thing that comes to mind is the government. But in this day and age, the government appears to have much less power than we think - in part as a consequence of our demands. In contrast, corporations have managed to accumulate more and more power - power that feels even more abstract than our governments’. (more)
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Mar 15

According to this article at LPV Magazine where I found Daisuke Yokota’s photography, the process of getting these images involves “some strange and noteworthy things with flash, Photoshop and re-photography.” Whatever it is, the results are very intriguing (this images is from Backyard).
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Mar 14

Photography obviously is centered on seeing and looking. It’s us - via a photographer’s helping hands and eyes - looking at them - the people in the photographs. For that very reason, I have been quite intrigued by Man peering in window, Knoxville by Mark Steinmetz (from South Central) ever since I first came across it. People love to complain that the subjects in contemporary portraiture do not smile. But strangely, I have never heard (or read) anyone complain about the fact that they don’t look back. It’s not as if they were unable to do that. Just look at Steinmetz’s Man! If you could say one thing about him it is that he clearly is looking back. In fact, it’s almost tempting to tell him to stop looking at us! Find the full piece here.
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Mar 14

Some things first: I have not seen the Cindy Sherman retrospective at MoMA, yet, so I don’t (can’t in fact) have an opinion about it. I have been a fan of Sherman’s work for quite some time. I don’t think every body of work is equally strong, but that just adds to the mix: After all, why do we always expect every artist to produce one “hit” after the other? There’s go to be some risk, and risk always includes the risk of failure. Regardless, I found this article by Adam Lindemann interesting: “I will never cease to be amazed by how much consensus I find among New York’s leading art critics as they all hail and salute the same things, or for that matter, as they all gang up and bash the same things […]. The unanimity bothers me; I wish someone would offer some counterpoint to the prevailing view, bring some fresh air into the dialogue.” (more)
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Mar 13

This is an image from Gert Jochems’s multi-chapter About SX in Flandres (but this is not a good title), which is, as you probably guessed, about sex, but which also has more dimensions than just one. (via Mrs. Deane)
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Mar 12

Oscillating between wanting to know how Brice Bischoff’s Bronson Caves photographs were made and not wanting to know, I ended up looking it up - see this interview; and now the magic is very slightly gone. Which is, of course, entirely my own fault. Photography does that, though, doesn’t it: It teases us to look how it was made. Very strange.
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Mar 12

John Edwin Mason just posted the first part of a series of articles on African stereotypes, paying particular attention to the continent’s photographic portrayal. The article concludes as follows: “I shouldn’t make it sound like the burden rests entirely on photographers. Viewers — that means all of us — have a responsibility to be aware of the visual culture in which we live and to understand how images can reveal truths and still tell lies.”
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Mar 12

In what looks like the first of a new series of posts, Darren Campion wrote a piece on a photograph by Roger Ballen. Well worth the read!
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Mar 12

When making a photobook, editing and sequencing are probably the hardest tasks. How do you go about it? Here are Harvey Benge’s fundamentals. Seeing people talk about doing things on a computer in the comments - I personally advise against that. Or if you must do it on the computer, there’s the stage where you have to print things out, make your physical dummy and see. There’s a world of a difference between seeing images floating on “pages” on a computer screen and actually looking through a physical object. It’s like the difference between writing down a recipe for a cake and actually making one.
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Mar 9

Documenting domestic life has been a staple of contemporary photography for quite some time now. Often, but not always, the artist is related to, if not part, of the social group portrayed. A wonderful new addition to this genre is Eriko Koga’s Asakusa Zenzai. The book follows an elderly couple in their 80s, Hirata Hana and Nakamura Yoshiro, over the course of six years and portrays their daily life, a daily life where nothing much seems to happen. Life, in other words, as most people live it. (more)
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Mar 9

Witho Worms’ Cette Montagne C’est Moi is centered on carbon, in more ways than one. Photographing slag/coal heaps in various European countries, the photographer took actual material from each heap. He then converted what he took into his photographic materials to print the heap’s image on: “For this project I developed a variation on the carbon printing process, a photographic printing technique from the 19th century. I took a bit of coal from every mountain I photographed. I then ground this coal into a pigment that I used to make photographic paper. I used this paper to make a print of a mountain with the coal originating from that mountain. In other words, the object of the photo, the mountain, has become one with the subject of the photo, the print itself.” (quoted from the technical note of the book). How do you turn such photography into a book? (more)
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Mar 9

New photobook presentation from the past weeks: Asakusa Zenzai by Eriko Koga, The Table of Power 2 by Jacqueline Hassink, and The Book of Destruction by Kai Wiedenhöfer. If you want to watch them right when they appear simply subscribe to my YouTube channel.
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Mar 8

There are still photographer who are hard to find online. Ulrike Kolb is one of them. I really like Göran Gnaudschun’s introduction of her and her work (unfortunately in German only, but have a peek to see the photographs).
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Mar 7

Crowd Theory by Simon Terrill is a series of photographic performance events exploring ideas of community and the nature of crowds.
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Mar 7

Find an interesting conversation between Andreas Schmidt and Elisabeth Tonnard here. If you’re curious about the Joseph Selle Collection mentioned in the piece, it has a website.
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Mar 7

It’s such a sad old feeling the fields are soft and green it’s memories that I’m stealing but you’re innocent when you dream when you dream you’re innocent when you dream (from Tom Waits’ Innocent When You Dream) The first time I saw Tim Hetherington’s Sleeping Soldiers - I think it was actually a video presentation - I immediately had to think of that Tom Waits song. And then I thought what a marvelous piece of propaganda I was looking at. Find the full piece here.
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Mar 6

“Weimar-West, the city quarter built in the 80’s and isolated from the rest of the idyllic cultural city of Weimar, faces challenges like a high level of unemployment, an aging population, conflicts between foreigners and neo-Nazis and a poor image. […] There is not much for the kids to do here. But, between the high-rises, the shopping center and the sparsely planted landscaping known as ‘Paradise’, they have found nooks and crannies where they can hang out together.” - Nathalie Mohadjer about Weimar Paradies
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Mar 6

A while ago, there was general hand-wringing about photojournalists using the Hipstamatic app, now there’s a debate about Instagram. I personally couldn’t care less about any of that stuff, because it omits all kinds of more important problems the news media have to struggle with these days. That said, most people would probably vehemently oppose manipulation of news images. So how then does that not apply when we’re talking about Hipstamatic or Instagram images? To give just one example, you can’t make a big fuss about how photographers are not allowed to manipulate their images (“Images in our pages, in the paper or on the Web, that purport to depict reality must be genuine in every way.” - my emphasis) and then happily use Hipstamatic images as if there was no problem. The same applies for Instagram images. You either allow image manipulation, or you don’t. You can’t have it both ways. Of course, this all points to the underlying problem here, which I’ve addressed ad nauseam before: Instead of talking about what images look like, in a news context we should really be talking about how images are used and what they say (and don’t say).
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Mar 5

I think that you want to look at Laura Noel’s Smoke Break first and foremost as good portraiture and second as a body of work about smoking. It’s funny, smoking has always had all kinds of things attached to it - the idea of being cool, and now the social stigma (in a society where all kinds of almost equally unhealthy habits are widely accepted). (via)
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Mar 2

“Working alongside John [Gossage] was stressful, but it was also life changing. After learning so much from this master of the medium (and friend), I began the process of dismantling my career.” write Alec Soth about his contribution to The Auckland Project. The book, or rather set of books, was “a trip of departures. Gossage has been working in black and white for over 40 years, and this trip yielded one of the first bodies of work he had ever produced in color.” (quoted from the press blurb) Soth, in turn, left behind his 8x10 camera, to bring a digital one. Since I have been ignoring discussions of cameras on this blog for years now, I’ll continue doing that for this review. Instead, I want to talk about the two photographers’ approach to photography - I do believe the books offer an opportunity to do that. (more)
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Mar 1

“It is time to remove this myth [“compassion fatigue” - JMC] as an obstacle to understanding how photographs of extreme situations can and do work.” - David Campbell
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Mar 1

“The work is based on my childhood experience of perceiving priests as having two different identities, one before and one during mass itself.” - Alberto Maserin about Et nunc.
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