Tag Archives: Berenice Abbott

Julia Dean: Forty Years Behind the Camera

A dozen years ago, photographer Julia Dean changed my life by asking me to teach at her photography school, The Julia Dean Photo Workshops in Los Angeles. Over the past thirteen years, Julia has taught hundreds of classes, thousands of students, and exposed the Los Angeles community to photographic luminaries and educators such as Keith Carter, Duane Michals, Mary Ellen Mark and many others too numerous to count.  Her school has created a photographic community in Los Angeles, a place to share portolios over a glass of wine, a place to hear lectures, experience wonderful exhibitions, and take a broad array of classes (160 offered each year). Julia’s desire to open our eyes, to see one world, and to bring attention to those who have no voice has been remarkable.  Her generous and enthusiastic spirit is infectious and I feel so lucky to be her friend.  So today I celebrate a woman who has spent a lifetime engaged, enthused, and involved in photography.


Julia has spent the last year revisiting negatives and spending month upon month in the darkroom creating beautiful silver prints in preparation for a 40 year retrospective of her work that opens at the Julia Dean Gallery in Los Angeles tomorrow night, December 15th.  I am featuring work from her General Stores project today — she recently rediscovered the negatives and printed the images for the first time for the exhibition.  Julia is also offering photographs from the exhibition for sale online at a special anniversary price on her site.


Forty Years Behind the Camera: A Retrospective

When I worked as an apprentice to Berenice Abbott’s in 1978, I was 23 years old. Berenice was 80. 


She taught me how to print, among many other photographic skills. She taught me about life in Paris in the 20s, about working with Man Ray, about meeting and photographing people like Eugene Atget, James Joyce, and Jean Cocteau. She even taught me how to do the Charleston. 


I remember using an 8×10 camera with 8×10 film and an 8×10 enlarger. The film had to be processed in complete darkness, one sheet at a time, in 8×10 trays that you lined up just right so you knew what to do in the dark. 


images from General Stores

I learned how to bend light with my hands under an enlarger, how to add light, how to subtract light, how to make a print look just like our eyes saw the subject when the picture was taken. I learned that photography renders 10 tones compared to the hundreds of tones that our eyes can differentiate. I learned that it can take hours to get one good print.

I also learned how to flatten the prints, how to retouch the dust spots, and the patience it takes to produce one beautiful black & white fiber base print.

 I was asked recently what the difference is between the traditional role of film and the digital era. It is very simple. It is much easier to be a photographer today than it was in the past. (Photographers before me would say the same thing!) Though today’s cameras are much heavier than my Leica M6 and have more buttons, once you learn your tools, digital photography makes life quicker and easier.

I don’t look down on those who didn’t learn the hard way. I wouldn’t have minded an easier path myself. But I am grateful for knowing what I know about photography that digital shooters will never know: the craft of the black & white print. 

To me, there is no more beautiful craft in photography than the black & white print from a black & white negative. I learned from a master and for that I am eternally grateful. Printing is a dying art that I hope I never give up, even if I, too, have embraced digital. This retrospective exhibit is in honor of the beautiful black & white print.

Medium Festival: Marjorie Salvaterra

Featuring photographers seen at the Medium Festival in San Diego….

I admit that I am already a fan and friend of Los Angeles photographer, Marjorie Salvaterra, but I have no hesitancy in sharing the new body of work (still in progress) she brought to the Medium Festival. Marjorie is a diminutive and determined photographer, creating large scale and compelling visual gestures that don’t reflect her stature. Her new project, HER, is influenced by Italian cinema, with a European sensibility and an out- of-the-box approach to image making that reflects the world of women–the land mines of life, motherhood, friendships, relationships that we all navigate through on a daily basis.

Marjorie has exhibited widely including the Rencontres d’Arles, Arles, France,  Clark-Oshin Gallery, Los Angeles,  Robert Berman Gallery, Los Angeles, Rayko Photo Center, San Francisco, and The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado. Her work was included in the George Eastman House Museum auction at Sotheby’s, New York and she was runner-up for the 2009 and 2010 Berenice Abbott Prize for Emerging Photographers and a current finalist for Critical Mass 2012.

 HER 
I am a decent woman. 
 A pretty good wife — with a great therapist, otherwise I would’ve screwed this one up way too many times. 
 A mother – I think this one I do best except between the hours of 6:15 and 7:30pm and certain whole days at a time. 
 A daughter – I was a pretty terrible daughter growing up. I’m starting to get the hang of it now that I’m a parent. 
 A good sister. 
 And lastly a friend. To some, the best and to others, impossibly guarded. 

I’m forty three years-old and I’m trying to grow as a person but so is my skin. I’m not that interested in holding onto my youth. My life is far greater now. But letting go isn’t as easy as it sounds. Some days I don’t recognize this person who looks back at me in the mirror. She is older, has responsibilities. She has had to learn that sometimes God has a bigger plan for her life than she does. Not everything goes the way she wants it to go. Things happen. Money comes and goes. So do jobs. As well as friends.

People sometimes get sick and her kids will inevitably get lice and share it with her, which is still preferable to pin worms that their friends get. She will cry over losses and and weep when she sees her child standing in a line of other children. Not because everything is wrong. But because everything is right. On the outside, she strives for peace but inside there is a turbulence of holding on too tightly to all these things that have finally brought that peace and true joy. 

With HER, she turns away from the mirror and turns the camera on her own life — examining the psychology of her age and her gender in black and white, through surreal interpretations and exaggerated gestures, reminiscent of Italian cinema, creating photographs that reflect the universal idea of womanhood and assure HER that she is not on this path alone.

Summer Re-Runs: Arlene Gottfried

Summer Re-Runs…this post first ran in October 2009…

After photographing the denizens of New York for the last 40 years, Arlene Gottfried must feel like she’s seen everything NYC has to offer. She travels from Harlem to Coney Island, not just as an observer, but as a participant and champion. For her series and book, The Eternal Light, Arlene discovered the Eternal Light Community Singers in an abandoned gas Station on the Lower East side. Eventually, she joined the choir and became an intregal part of the Jerriese Johnson East Village Choir. For her series, Midnight, Arlene documented a nightclub dancer through his journey of schizophenia, and remained his friend and confidant for 20 years. The most recent book, Sometimes Overwhelming, was published in 2007, with images from the 70’s and 80’s, and showcases New York at it’s most outrageous, during the disco era–from the beaches of Coney Island to the West Village on Halloween.

Born in Brooklyn, Arlene graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology and then began freelancing as a photographer for The New York Times Magazine, Fortune, Life, and The Independent in London. Eventually her personal work found it’s way into a myriad of museum collections and exhibitions. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Berenice Abbott International Competition of Women’s Documentary Photography.

Images by ©Arlene Gottfriend

New York, Cocteau and a Parabolic Mirror: ‘Berenice Abbott: Photographs’

Though she went to Paris in 1921 to study sculpture, Berenice Abbott would transition to photography when she became Man Ray’s assistant in 1923. Three years later, she set up her own studio, photographing the French capital’s bohemians, artists and intellectuals—and famous friends such as writers James Joyce and Jean Cocteau—before moving back to the States in 1929.

For the next two decades, Abbott focused her lens on Depression-Era New York, producing a number of moving, black-and-white images that would become part of her book Changing New York. This series, along with nearly 120 other images, is being featured in a new exhibition at Toronto’s Ryerson Image Center called Berenice Abbott: Photographs.

“She was an underestimated photographer during her life and even today,” says Gaelle Morel, the exhibition’s curator and author of the accompanying book, Berenice Abbott. “But Berenice has this capacity of mixing different aesthetics, depending on the subject, which was really extraordinary. She can do a more modern, New Vision style when it came to photographing New York buildings, or take a more documentary approach for her portraits.”

Keystone-France / Getty Images

Berenice Abbot standing for a portrait, behind a view-camera, circa early 1900s

Abbott gained acclaim for her own comprehensive career, which would later involve photographic work on physics, commissioned by Boston’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But she also became famous for her staunch support of French photographer Eugène Atget, whom she met in 1925 while living in Paris. Atget died two years later, and it was Abbott who would photo-edit a book of his work and help stage an exhibition of his work in New York. She sold her Atget collection to the Museum of Modern Art in 1968.

“Berenice always said she had two careers—one of her own, and one championing Atget,” Morel says. “She wanted to be recognized as the Atget of New York, not necessarily his aesthetic, but his intellect.”

Berenice Abbott: Photographs, co-organized by The Ryerson Image Centre in Toronto and the Jeu de Paume in Paris, is on view through Aug. 19 at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario. The accompanying book is published by Editions Hazan and Yale University Press.

Shane Lavalette

The name Shane Lavalette first entered my consciousness when he created the innovative and stellar magazine, Lay Flat.  While still a student, Shane excited the photo world with his new approach to publishing. His mastery of all things visual continues to be evident with his new body of work, Picturing the South.  Born in Vermont, Shane received his BFA from Tufts University in partnership with the School of the Museum of Art, Boston. He has exhibited and published widely, and is the Associate Director of Light Work.

Shane was commissioned by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta to create new photographs about the South, along with Martin Parr and Kael Alford, for an exhibition that opens at the museum on June 9th and runs through September 2, 2012. The exhibition features a companion exhibition, Picturing New York, with 150 historical works by Lewis Hine, Berenice Abbott, Walker Evans, Harry Callahan, and Diane Arbus.
In order to generate funds to publish a book of this work, Shane has created a Kickstarter campaign with some wonderful bonus items including prints, books, and music.


In 2010 I was commissioned by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta to create a new body of photographs for their “Picturing the South” series, which includes past artists Sally Mann, Emmet Gowin, Richard Misrach, Dawoud Bey, Alex Webb and Alec Soth. I’m honored to be amongst these artists, and look forward to exhibiting new work with photographers Martin Parr and Kael Alford in June of 2012.
Images from Picturing the South
Having grown up in the Northeast, it was primarily through traditional music—old time, blues, gospel, etc.—that I had formed a relationship with the South. With that in mind, the region’s rich musical history became the natural entry point for my work. I was not interested in making a documentary about Southern music today, but desired to explore the relationship between traditional music and the contemporary landscape through a more poetic lens. Moved by the themes and stories past down in songs, I let the music itself carry the pictures. 
Two years later, with the project now complete, I have begun working on a mock-up of a book which I believe is the ideal venue for this body of work. From the beginning I imagined this project in book form. With your help, I hope to make this book physical in the coming months.

If you are interested in helping bring Shane’s book to fruition, check out his Kickstarter campaign!

Shane Lavelette

The name Shane Lavalette first entered my consciousness when he created the innovative and stellar magazine, Lay Flat.  While still a student, Shane excited the photo world with his new approach to publishing. His mastery of all things visual continues to be evident with his new body of work, Picturing the South.  Born in Vermont, Shane received his BFA from Tufts University in partnership with the School of the Museum of Art, Boston. He has exhibited and published widely, and is the Associate Director of Light Work.

Shane was commissioned by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta to create new photographs about the South, along with Martin Parr and Kael Alford, for an exhibition that opens at the museum on June 9th and runs through September 2, 2012. The exhibition features a companion exhibition, Picturing New York, with 150 historical works by Lewis Hine, Berenice Abbott, Walker Evans, Harry Callahan, and Diane Arbus.
In order to generate funds to publish a book of this work, Shane has created a Kickstarter campaign with some wonderful bonus items including prints, books, and music.



In
2010 I was commissioned by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta to create a
new body of photographs for their “Picturing the South” series, which
includes past artists Sally Mann, Emmet Gowin, Richard Misrach, Dawoud
Bey, Alex Webb and Alec Soth. I’m honored to be amongst these artists,
and look forward to exhibiting new work with photographers Martin Parr
and Kael Alford in June of 2012.

Images from Picturing the South
Having grown up in the Northeast, it was primarily through traditional
music—old time, blues, gospel, etc.—that I had formed a relationship
with the South. With that in mind, the region’s rich musical history
became the natural entry point for my work. I was not interested in
making a documentary about Southern music today, but desired to explore
the relationship between traditional music and the contemporary
landscape through a more poetic lens. Moved by the themes and stories
past down in songs, I let the music itself carry the pictures. 

Two years later, with the project now complete, I have begun working on a
mock-up of a book which I believe is the ideal venue for this body of
work. From the beginning I imagined this project in book form. With your
help, I hope to make this book physical in the coming months.

Kate Orne

I first became aware of Kate Orne’s photographs when she won the Berenice Abbott Prize for her work with sex trade workers in Pakistan. The series, Brothels and Fundamentalism, captured poignant and powerful images of women trapped in a lifestyle of abuse and fear was deeply felt and appreciated.

Kate is a unique voice in the photography world. She is an editorial and fashion photographer (see image below), a documentary photographer, a fine art photographer, and a humanitarian. In 2002, she created MyFarAwayFamily.com, an organization providing Afghan refugee children with education and their widowed mothers with micro loans and guidance to start their own businesses. Provided food distributions in Kabul and Peshawar among refugees. And she’s one hell of a nice person.

Kate was born in Sweden, and now lives in New York City. One of her first jobs was as an editor for Interview Magazine, but by the mid 1990’s Kate was busy working in all areas of the photo landscape. And within that landscape, she has created a new body of fine art work that is just about that: landscape, but landscape as meditation and inspiration.

The Landscape With: As far back as I can remember, I have been drawn to the wide-open landscape: a canvas of land, water or sky where I feel expansion within and around me. In that setting, my mind is free.

Over the years, I have frequently returned to the landscape, on assignment and for personal work. I’m rarely shooting in a place where there are people – I don’t want them interrupting the pull of natural elements. As I look through the viewfinder, I wait. A shadow, a shape, or some interplay or tension between forms, sparks my curiosity, calling for attention. This is a starting point.

To me art is a form of meditation. In the time when we create, we travel inward. When I photograph, I want to include as much of what is there as possible—both what I can see and feel. My intuition guides the process – a secret language within me, which I regard as the most valuable measurement of honesty. This is what my heart sees.

The feelings that I experience are powerful and the image afterwards brings me back to them. It’s often during the edit, when I look closely at a photograph, that I see what in the landscape captured my attention.

I want it to be the same for the viewers, for them to feel free and have their minds and hearts expand when they rest their eyes on an image. This is why I prefer my work printed on a larger scale, creating a space that invites the viewer inside.

Christopher Capozziello

Looking at few of the portfolios that received Honorable Mentions for the Santa Fe Prize offered by Center and jurored by Maggie Blanchard of Twin Palms Publishing….

I had the great pleasure of getting to know Christopher Capozziello when he attended his opening at the Julia Dean Photo Workshops in Los Angeles last year. He had won the Berenice Abbott Prize for his series, For God, Race, and Country. From our conversation, and from exploring his many meaningful and compelling projects, it is obvious that Christopher is a very special person and photographer. He is founding member of AEVUM, a collective that looks at photography as a privilege, and seeks to give voice to others. Christopher’s work is well celebrated and for good reason. His philosophy is this:

“His work focuses on documenting both life around him, and stories that are outside of his own experiences. He believes that there is a redemptive quality to photography; that it can take the unpleasant or repulsive and make it beautiful, not by misleading anyone, but by allowing the viewer to stop and take a deeper look at the subject. As a photojournalist, his method of making pictures is not something new or incredibly deep – it is, simply, to tell the truth.”

The project that garnered Christopher the Honorable Mention for the Santa Fe Prize, The Distance Between Us, is a deeply personal series about his twin brother who navigates the world with Cerebral Palsy. His compassionate lens takes us on a life journey full of struggle and suffering, but ultimately is life affirming. Chris writes a monthly column on AEVUM about this project. There is also a terrific interview with Chris in Daylight Magazine.

The Distance Between Us from Christopher Capozziello on Vimeo.

The Distance Between Us: Over the last ten years I have been making pictures of someone very close to me, but it wasn’t until recently that I disclosed the photographs I have been making of the young man with cerebral palsy are of my twin brother Nick. By sharing who he is, I have seen first hand what suffering can do. It unites people in ways that other aspects of life cannot. When I meet someone who has a sibling that is sick or down on their luck, a friend or close relative who is ill, I hear the ache in their voice as they tell me their stories and express the guilt they feel as they watch the ones they love suffer. Then, almost always, they ask how Nick is doing. Sharing stories of suffering creates solidarity, and it makes us care more deeply for others.

Nick’s brain surgery was completed in early 2010 and for the first time our family holds out hope that things might change for him. We now wait to see how his condition changes as the doctors continue to treat him over the coming year.

©All images by Christopher Capozziello

My brother Nick, sitting on a fire hydrant in New York City, trying to relax from a cramp.


Nick has been getting bad cramps again. Earlier tonight he came out of his bedroom with his knee turned in, barely able to walk. It was hard to look because it appeared broken at the knee. Mom and Dad helped him into bed, straightened his leg against the end of his bed, and gave him medicine to relax his muscles.


After 30 years of struggling through life, the doctors decide to allow Nick to undergo Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery. They hope that the surgery will help curb the muscle spasms from the CP. Should this work, Nick’s life will change in a drastic and beautiful way. He may be able to get a job and function better in society.


During the first surgery Nick stopped breathing, and the doctors had to pull him quickly out of the anesthesia before they were finished. They told him that he didn’t have to go back for the other half of the surgery, but I pulled for him to do it. “Why only fix half the problem,” I questioned. He was afraid of having the metal frame screwed into his head again. They did that while he was awake and he was only given topical Novocain. But, two months later, we were back in the hospital, and it was finally over. Now we wait to see what the surgery will do for him.


Nick smokes. He has been unable to hold down a job because of the muscle spasms, and when he is around other smokers, it’s a way for him to connect with them. But, Nick is diabetic and at tremendous risk of stroke and heart disease. He has tried quitting.


When I visit home, I can almost always find Nick in his room on the computer, playing Farmville or listening to music.


When I photographed Nick at the Ale House, a woman asked if I was making fun of him. I told her I was his twin brother. She yelled over Nick’s singing, ” ‘Cause if you’re making fun of him, there are a lot of guys here who wouldn’t like that!”