Tag Archives: Different Perspective

Grant Gill interviews Sarah Moore

Introducing editorial assistant Grant Gil as he shares a recent interview he conducted with Sarah Moore….

For the past few months I have been very grateful not only for being able to help out with LENSCRATCH but also getting to know Aline as a colleague and friend.  This spring, I will be finishing my last semester at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design with a focus on photography.  This opportunity has been a great educational tool in submersing myself in the variety of different works posted everyday, and also has let me view the art making world from a different perspective.
I was first introduced to Sarah Moore’s work after she had been featured in Fraction Magazine, and since then we have constantly crossed paths without actually formally meeting.  I then begun following her journey across country, from Philadelphia to Santa Fe, able to watch her work change and adapt based on location. I find myself transfixed on her beautiful landscapes that make me yearn for travel, but even more so I am fascinated with her raw interactions with nature that translate emotional isolation and loneliness.  Because of her young age, emerging status, and her stamina to continuously work I am constantly inspired to do more, work harder.  Today I am showing images from two of her series: expanse and Scape.

Sarah Moore was born and raised in South Dakota, where she still finds much of her inspiration for her work. She received her BFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2009 and has since lived and traveled throughout the country. Much of Sarah’s work deals with the ideas of loneliness, escaping, and the ways landscapes inform and shape us. Her work has been shown throughout the country and online. She is currently living and working in Santa Fe, NM, where she is trying to understand the harsh light and delve into the book-making world.

expanse:
Throughout the years I have become increasingly interested in my home of South Dakota and how the people and place shaped me and continue to influence me. Even though I appreciate many aspects of the Midwest and still long for its landscape, it represents the pinnacle of loneliness in my life.

My photography is a depiction of this loneliness. The landscapes of the Midwest are beautiful but empty, simple but overwhelming. My relationship to my home is based on love, but also thwarted by distance. Since moving from South Dakota, I continue to find solace but also conflict in the land around me. I now see many moments in my life as a way to document or construct a personal narrative of isolation, both representative of my past and indicative of my present.

Expanses can be comforting but also stifling. Distances can fuel love but also misunderstanding. The vast space of the land is something I can’t quite embrace, break free from, or understand, but it provides infinite inspiration for me.

What is you personal statement as
an artist, or how exactly would you describe the work you make?
Most of my work comes from a very personal and emotional
place.  I photograph mostly
landscapes and self-portraits.  I
started doing both in 2007, when I went back home to South Dakota to
shoot.  Focusing on landscapes has
always allowed me to break free from the personal connections I have with
people.  Still though, I love
portraiture and what a person can show in a photograph, so self-portraiture is
a way for me to still use a person in my photography, while still keeping the
work mainly about me.
Is this personal place derived from
a specific event, or just a general emotional state?
It’s a little of both. 
My parents divorced when I was four because my dad is gay.  This is something I’ve more than come
to terms with now, but it was tough to deal with while growing up in the
conservative Midwest.  I think the
divorce and the subsequent silence my family kept about it instilled a sense of
“me versus the world.”  I grew up thinking it was best to keep quiet about big issues,
especially emotional ones.  Then I
eventually thought it was just best to keep quiet in general.  So I spent my years in South Dakota
sort of closing myself off from everyone, not knowing how or if I should share
the important parts of myself.
After leaving South Dakota, I learned that even if I have
some trust issues and some issues with the way my problems were handled, I can
still try to share a part of myself through my photography.  If loneliness was going to be such a
big part of my life then I wanted to at least make it part of my work.
I read so much visual poetry in to
your work, from the breath taking sights to the self-portraits that begin to
blend in with the surroundings.  I
see this action of back and forth between the photographs and the
photographer.  I wonder why you
choose to turn the camera inwards?
Photographing myself started about six years ago, when I
first went back to South Dakota.  I
wanted to put a person in the overwhelming landscape, and I was the most
accessible.  Throughout the years,
I’ve learned that one of the best ways to portray what a landscape and a moment
mean to me is to photograph myself. 
I think my self-portraiture is definitely part
narcissism.  But then again, isn’t
most photography rather narcissistic? 
As photographers, we capture what or whom we want to be seen and how we
want them seen.  It can be a very
selfish medium.  Yet by showing
others what or who we see, maybe we can also affect or help others. 
Another part of turning the camera towards myself deals with
my own issues of insecurity and loneliness.  I don’t like images of myself, and in real life, I’m not often
apt to open up to people.  I have
too many walls built up.  I guess
through photography I allow myself, my body, my face, and my emotions to take
center stage.  I get to act a
bit.  I get to be important.  And I hopefully get to communicate with
others through my images.
Do you have any specific
philosophies when it comes to humans and their interactions with nature?  What books, or even other work, do you look
to when making the images you do?
I’m still trying to figure out what and how I feel about the
human interaction with nature.  I
know my own relationship to nature is pretty complicated.  Though I grew up in a rural place, with
large expanses of land all around me, I still never felt really in tune with
nature.  And after living in cities
for seven years, I felt even more detached from nature.  Yet, I long for the land.  I think many people do.  I think there’s something in us that
wants to be closer to nature, but we’re not sure how to do that in this
increasingly electronic and cement culture.
People go camping or gazing at national parks, feeling for a
moment that they’re immersed in their primitive roots.  That’s about as close to nature as many
live.  People like to be able to
feel close to the land while at the same time in control of it.  I’m the same way, I admit.  I bring my camera to the land with me,
perhaps trying to harness my own little bit of control over the wild vastness.
Years ago, when I was starting my photography project in
South Dakota, I looked a lot at Todd Hido and Larry Sultan’s work.  I read a lot of theories about
photography and families at that time too.  For the past few years, I’ve been reading way too much David
Foster Wallace.  His work doesn’t
deal with nature explicitly, but it does talk about human society and our
alienation from each other, the landscape, and ourselves.  I think I’m more interested in reading
about the human psyche and weird outbursts in society than I am about humans
versus nature. 
Do you ever feel you are having a
visual conversation with other landscape and travel photographers, both
historically and in the contemporary?
It’s hard not to feel that way, honestly.  There are a lot of landscape and travel
photographers out there.  Sometimes
I’m constantly comparing my work to others’, but I try to maintain my own
vision and keep a peace with myself. 
I get overwhelmed really easily and intimidated even more easily.  It’s definitely important to be aware
of your peers, both contemporary and historically, but it’s also important to
forge ahead on your own.  I think
part of the reason I was in a rut while living in Philly was that I was just
too scared to make images.  I
thought everyone saw better places, had better ideas, and executed their ideas
better.  So I just stopped
creating. Obviously that’s not a good answer, so now I try to keep in tune with
other work (especially landscape and self-portraiture), but I also just try to
create for myself.
There is a lot of reference to time
passing and travel within all of your work.  In Scape there is this feeling that nothing is
constant, like you are drifting from place to place.
I’ve never been good at photographing in my own backyard, so
to speak.  For one reason or
another, escaping has become increasingly important or my photography.  That has meant escaping back to where I
grew up, escaping all over the country, and escaping to large city parks outside
of the city.
My first large travel experience, photographically, was in
the fall of 2011, when I made my work in Scape.  I mostly went on that trip because it had been about two
years since I really photographed. Living in Philadelphia after college put me
in some sort of photographic and emotional rut, so the only way I thought to
get out of it was to travel and see again.  That trip was literally about escaping and reinventing.
I love traveling and seeing new places, especially
landscapes.  That will probably
never go away in me.  Yet, I also
really need to travel to be alone sometimes.  As I’ve mentioned, loneliness (or my illusion of it) is
partially ingrained in me, and I’ve found that traveling to different
landscapes helps me cope with my loneliness. 
I am aware that you just moved out
to Santa Fe, NM.  It seems like you
have lived in some very different places in America’s geography.  Does shifting
home this much affect your work?
Yes, it definitely does.  Each place I’ve lived has a different geography and
different social climate.  Even
though I’m not great at photographing where I live, I’m trying to get better at
that.  When I lived in Ohio, I had
a realization that I was going to be in this strange place for about a year, so
I had to make the most of it with my photography.  That’s when I started photographing the large parks in and
around Columbus.  I tried in some
way to make the Ohio land a part of me.
I’m still trying to grasp the New Mexico landscape and how
this is home for me now.  It seems
that once I get used to a place, especially geographically, I move.  It takes time for me to acclimate to a
landscape, and the New Mexico one is especially difficult.  I’m not used to intense sun or
mountains, not to mention adobe architecture and small pueblos.  It’s more of a “wild” land
than most places I’ve lived, which is hard for me to grasp photographically,
strangely enough.
Overall, shifting my homes helps reopen my eyes to the
constants and changes in my art and myself.  I’m starting to learn which terrains I appreciate and which
light I want to follow.  I also
really enjoy the challenge of trying to make a place my own, especially through
my photography.
Why exactly do you think it is so
hard photographing your direct surroundings?  Does the familiar become too mundane?
I think in some ways, I feel too close to my immediate
surroundings.  It’s not that I find
the familiar mundane–in fact, I’m constantly inspired by what I see.  I actually tend to post photos on Instagram
of every mundane moment I have or see. 
Yet, when it comes to my other photography–the work I think about more
and use my “real” cameras for–I always seem to need to go away to
make that work.
I try to delve into some part of my emotional past and
present when photographing portraits and landscapes.  And I think in order for me to do that, at least right now,
I need to go outside of my comfort zone, outside of my immediate space.  Unfamiliar landscapes–even if they’re
within mere miles of where I work, eat, and sleep–help me disconnect from my
everyday life and find a part of myself that I want to explore more.
Nothing is really mundane to me.  I just find different types of inspiration in different
places.
Because nature is quite vast, and
easily accessible, are there specific images that you strive for, that you go
out to shoot, or is there spontaneity to your photographs?
When photographing in South Dakota, I usually have specific
shots that I strive for.  I know
that landscape pretty well, and I know that it’s largely the same view
everywhere you look.  So I know
that I need to look for a certain type of field or certain color palette when
I’m there.  I try to use the
repetition of that landscape to my advantage, which sometimes takes a lot of
pre-visualization and some sketches.
When I’m traveling to different landscapes in shorter
periods of time, I tend to shoot more and shoot very spontaneously.  Unfamiliar landscapes force me to be
more spontaneous, and spontaneity forces me to try more things and make more
images.
I like both methods of shooting, if they’re methods at
all.  I love the slowness of my
South Dakota photography, and how it allows me to think about that one specific
landscape over the years.  Of
course, I also love seeing a wide variety of terrains within a short period of
time. The diversity of the land allows me to think about how to connect all
those terrains into my life.
You deal with many over arching
themes, so how do you declare a body of work finished?  Does it necessarily finish when you
move, such as when you left Ohio, or is there potential for it to continue?
I think there’s always some potential for most of my
projects to continue, especially my work in South Dakota.  I’d love to continue to photograph in
Ohio as well, and since my dad lives there, that will probably happen in the
future.  On some level, I do
declare a body of work finished once I move, since it’s easy to wrap up
projects at that point.  Yet, since
I go back to both South Dakota and Ohio so often, I’d like to keep both of
those projects open for a while.
My work in Scape is definitely finished though; at least I’m
finished making the images.  That
project, though I didn’t know it at the time, was about a specific journey at a
specific time in my life.  It
chronicles a road trip around the country during a time when I needed it
most.  Though I definitely plan on
going on more road trips in the future, they won’t fit into what Scape became, because
I’m not in the same personal space as I was then.
I also see many of my separate projects as part of a general
whole body of work.  All of my
photography deals with escapism, alienation, self-searching, and the land.  I don’t see an “end” to that whole
project anytime soon.  So for now,
everything is sort of left open.

Scape
These photographs document a journey through America. They are images of wonder and excitement,pain and loneliness, and my personal ideas of self. Additionally, they are portraits of America’s land.

I often can’t relate to America as it’s depicted through the media’s eyes. I find it difficult live up to cultural standards and societal expectations. I have trouble getting close to those closest to me. Yet, when I see America—the America of such diverse, beautiful, and nuanced terrain—I find that even if I can’t understand what America has become, what people around me have become, or what I’ve become, I can feel comfort in the landscapes.

This collection is vast. Not every photo is perfect. Immense meaning won’t be found at every turn. Rather, the photos are a way for me to both explore and escape where I live and who I am.
































Diffusion Magazine

A number of years ago, my work was featured on the Plates to Pixels online blog. It was and is, a site that looks  at photography from a different perspective and celebrates a broad range of imagery.  It was there that I was introduced to the curator, Blue Mitchell and over time, I have witnessed the evolution of Blue’s wonderful annual print magazine, Diffusion, that has evolved into a publication that is stellar…

From the first issue to Volume 4, (which was just issued this week), I have seen an amazing explosion of photographers working outside of the digital realm, using historical techniques, new ways to consider the photograph, and new approaches to the medium.  And Mr. Mitchell has been at the forefront of showcasing that explosion celebrating it all in print. To order your copy, go here.

Diffusion comes out once a year–Volume 4 is 95 pages packed with articles, exhibitions, and exposure.  I am thrilled to be a contributing writer in this issue, offering up an interview with the amazing John Chervinsky.  Articles include: Exploring the Muse: Susan Kae Grant, Ken Rosenthal and Polly Chandler by Susan Burnstine,Transient Reflections and Fixed Impressions: Thoughts on the Physical Photograph in a Digital Age by Jeffrey Baker, Abstract Photography by Ryan Nabulsi.

In addition, this issue of Diffusion has featured artists profiled by photographers, a Hand-Crafted Invitational, and a Muse Juried Group Showcase. Indeed a wonderful collection of images and writing that is so worth the annual wait.

As Blue states, “Diffusion took well over a year of contemplation, conversations, considerations, and finally creation. It’s an honor to present a fresh and dynamic look at what I feel represents the current state of unconventional photography. Diffusion is an independent reader and contributor supported annual photography publication. Diffusion strives to spotlight artists pushing the boundaries of traditional photographic processes as well as introducing new and innovative voices through articles, interviews, and image galleries. This volume’s content came about as organically as any other, but I feel we’ve really pushed the boundaries of what we were—and are becoming something entirely new.”

 By design, we’ve moved more into the realm of book-making rather than the traditional magazine periodical format. There are several reasons for this, but most importantly is the nature of what Diffusion is intended to be: a limited edition annual.

The Muse group showcase theme pushed the entire feel and content of this volume. On a personal level, I have been captivated by the concept of the muse ever since my first art history class in college. I have ventured into exploring it in my own work and have found that the illusive muse truly does exist.

 After exploring this theme in our group showcase we discovered not only does it exist for other artists too, but that the muse’s energy is embodied in some very diverse entities.

The other overarching theme that transpire in these pages is that of science: photography as science, and the exploration of physics, chemistry, and cognitive science. This is balanced with a good dose of photo history peppered within the articles PLUS a new section: The Artist’s Hand. I’m excited to include this brand new feature that is focused on photo-based art where the photographer has left some kind of thumbprint behind on the work itself. This section is a balance between the history and description of a process with some exceptional examples of the process being implemented by contemporary photographers.

I truly believe that the work in Volume IV was conceived by alchemists—my hope is that you will find inspiration amongst their creations and perhaps even find the creative echo of your own muse as you explore and adsorb the enchantment hidden within the pages.

—Blue Mitchell

Winners: National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 2012

The winners were just announced for the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 2012. Lens Culture is pleased to present a high-resolution slideshow of all winning photographs this year. Below is a preview of some of our favorites:

04_merit_2012_04-25_124735_sense-of-place.jpg

Photo and caption by Ken Thorne/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Near the city of Morondava, on the West coast of Madagascar lies an ancient forest of Baobab trees. Unique to Madagascar, the endemic species is sacred to the Malagasy people, and rightly so. Walking amongst these giants is like nothing else on this planet. Some of the trees here are over a thousand years old. It is a spiritual place, almost magical.

06_merit_2012-05-22_128069_sense-of-place.jpg

Photo and caption by Camila Massu/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

My sister in the south of Chile. We are sitting at home next to the fireplace in our
southern lake house when it suddenly began to pour uncontrollably. Had to rush into the lake to take this snapshot!

08_merit_2012-06-04_130512_outdoor-scenes.jpg

Photo and caption by Fred An/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

This is the great Japanese maple tree in the Portland Japanese Gardens. I tried to bring a different perspective of this frequently photographed tree.

10_merit_2012-07-11_145303_sense-of-place.jpg

Photo and caption by Lucia Griggi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Taken at Cloud Break at an outer reef in Fiji, a surfer duck dives his board to clear the rolling waves of the raw ocean.

11_viewers_choice_2012-04-06_122703_outdoor-scenes.jpg

Photo and caption by Michelle Schantz/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

A lonely cabin is illuminated under the Northern Lights in Finmmark, Norway.

Congratulations to all the winners! For more information about the contest and winners, see the National Geographic website. And don’t forget to appreciate all the winners in Lens Culture’s high-resolution slideshow!

The Singular Approach: Chien-Chi Chang’s Contact Sheet Chronicle

From the birth of the 35mm camera until the advent of digital photography, the contact sheet has been an inextricable, ubiquitous and essential part of the photographic process.

Magnum Contact Sheets, published this month by Thames and Hudson, offers unique insight into the working process of the celebrated agency’s photographers over the past seven decades—their approach to taking and editing their pictures, as well as their idiosyncratic relationships with the contact sheet.

The book details—and in some cases reconstructs—the back-stories behind some of the 20th century’s most iconic images. From those taken in the 1930′s by Henri Cartier-Bresson—who, the book reveals, purged all but the “Decisive Moments” from his archive —and Robert Capa’s celebrated images of the D-Day landings, to the civil rights era work of Bruce Davidson and Gilles Peress’ contact sheets that document the massacre of unarmed protesters on Bloody Sunday.

Chien-Chi Chang—Magnum

A sketch from Chien-Chi Chang’s sketch book showing drawings of his single-frame series.

One of the most recent examples of work featured in the book is Chien-Chi Chang’s Home—a project that uses the contact sheet from a totally different perspective, premise and relationship to time, space and traditional sequence narrative.

In 2006, Chien-Chi Chang—who throughout his career had exclusively shot 35mm format film—embraced a new photographic pursuit, to work with a medium format 6×7 rangefinder and began his ongoing project, Home. For the series, Chang purposefully shoots a single frame of his subject to build 9 frame contact sheets—chronologies that record his personal life as a travelogue and visual diary. Chang describes the series as “a documentation of my life with an effort to make every frame count.”

“Waiting and wanting to take just one frame at a time goes against the traditional practice, where you tend to shoot more and then pick the right moment,” Chang says. “With this project, specifically, I don’t really care about the before and after anymore. I feel that one shot is enough. Sometimes I might feel I’m missing the so called ‘decisive moment,’ but when you accept that you are going to shoot this way, you accept that you will be missing something. If I get it, I get it, If I don’t, I don’t.”

Every time after he shoots a frame, Chang makes a quick sketch so that he has a visual reference of each frame. Initially Chang tried to construct shapes, connections and juxtapositions —using the sketches to build the relationships between the frames of each roll of film. Now the photographer has a much more relaxed approach. He says he is less obsessive and “just lets things happen.” He still makes the sketches, but more for practical purposes as a record of date and location. He notes what he finds most interesting is to compare the drawings to the final contact — our eyes are very selective Chang says, “but the lens isn’t.”

Chien-Chi Chang—Magnum

A stand alone frame selected by Chang from the body of the contact project.
An hours long exposure taken at Vienna Airport of light trails from the planes as Chang waited for his flight. Nov. 19, 2010.

Chang shoots 60 to 70 rolls of film a year for the project. But he has been disciplined, selective, restrained and purposeful in his approach. Sometimes a roll can be shot in three or five cities and can span for two weeks. But other times, it can be shot in a few days. There are motifs that appear across multiple contact sheets from the project—hotel beds that Chang has slept in and airports are two reoccurring themes. Over the six years of the project’s development Chang’s process has been almost always to restrict himself to making only one frame at a time. However on rare occasions, a whole roll is dedicated to a single subject— the Dalai Lama in Sao Paulo, another time, Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon. In these exceptional cases Chang only shot the 9 frames recorded and documented on the one contact sheet. It is not a contact sheet culled from many; these are the only shots.

In the age of digital photography, the traditional contact sheet is no longer the inextricable standard in terms of working process. Chang’s work offers alternative ways of using contacts as part of a more conceptual practice.

Chien-Chi Chang is a member of Magnum Photos. He was awarded the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund for Humanistic Photography and Visa d’Or, Visa Pour L’Image in 1999. He lives in  New York and Vienna.

Magnum Contacts was published this month by Thames and Hudson.

Photography, publishing and the internet

The words “photography” and “publishing” are natural bedfellows, intertwined for as long as anyone can remember. Historically speaking, the printed page was the ultimate venue for viewing a photographer’s work but in recent years the internet has profoundly changed the way we look at and think about photography. So who’s hogging the duvet now?

In a recent interview, Lesley Martin, publisher of the Aperture Foundation’s book programme, ventured the following: “The mystery for me is that the photobook audience has become more educated, more interested, more connected to the idea of the photobook – yet for the most part, sales are not shooting through the roof to a corresponding degree.”

Printing photobooks can be very expensive, meaning that print runs are usually small. Publishing online on the other hand is fast, fluid and flexible, costs a fraction of the price but offers an audience infinitely larger choice to boot. Yes, I understand the arguments; Photobooks are collectable. Photobooks offer an intimate and tactile viewing experience. Photobooks are the perfect “lap medium” as the great John Gossage famously said. And yes I am also fully aware that there is a certain stigma attached to the broad access to photography online from some fraternities of the photo world, although thankfully this is gradually fading. Image overload, viewing images on screen and the many things that can ping or pop up at you at once are just some of the common gripes from the digital naysayers. But I’m not arguing for one over the other. Frankly, I’m tired of the analogue versus digital debate. It is as inevitable as it tedious. I prefer to think that we are constantly moving, and that photographic debates and wider creative concerns provide opportunities for us to think on lateral terms, in other words, how can we arrive at a certain point from a different perspective.

What is true is that the sheer volume of images we digest on a daily basis not just on the internet but in the world around us is staggering, something that will only increase at exponential speeds in tandem with developments in technology. Camera phones, social media platforms and the Flickr ecosystem have in effect created a vast sprawling suburb of mediocrity.

So what to make of this slew of imagery? Now, more than ever, when instead of maybe going to galleries and museums we are finding ourselves more frequently viewing websites of photographers as way of discovering new work, there exists a very strong need to expose the meaningful images, promote, curate, share, and, most crucially, review and critique them intelligently.

Tiny Vices, an online gallery and image archive founded in 2005 by one time photo editor at Vice-cum-independent curator and photographer, Tim Barber, was probably the first to do its level best to respond to this challenge, and consequently helped to firmly establish the internet as a legitimate platform for disseminating photography. Offering an eclectic dip into hundreds of portfolios from artists such as Ryan McGinley and Dash Snow to Gus Powell and Craig Mammano, the website quickly become a wildly popular and accessible showcase with its well defined sensibility and thoughtful selection of work. Hundreds of new images were sent in for consideration every month in response to a continuous open call for submissions. By virtue of being web-based, Tiny Vices removed hurdles and facilitated genuine global dialogue and exchange of ideas for people who would never normally have the opportunity to interact in such a way. It fostered a great community. Such was its influence and reach that Barber was invited by Spencer Brownstone Gallery, New York to put on a physical exhibition during March, 2006. Reflecting the DIY, punk ethic of the website, it comprised a complex installation of photographs, drawings, and paintings by over sixty of the artists, well known and hitherto unknown, that had been featured online. Tiny Vices is a shining example of how two complimentary modes of production can be incorporated in an interesting and innovative way, whilst at the same time ushering in a radical rethinking of what constitutes a curator. Much could be said, much doubtless will be said about whether bloggers are the curators of the 21st Century.

Another website worthwhile bookmarking or better still saving as your home page is Jason Evans’ visual diary, The Daily Nice. Presenting one image per day, his lo-fi website which first went live in 2004 consists of just one page, with just one picture on it. Familiar and spontaneous yet strangely compelling, the images taken by Evans are snapshots of commonplace situations, people, animals, objects, landscapes and the urban environment that convey a fragile, transient beauty. Evans has himself described The Daily Nice as “a retreat – a sheltered harbour, where you can rest for a minute.”

Since June 2008 I have been publishing and editing 1000 Words, an independent, opinionated online magazine dedicated to contemporary photography. Released quarterly, each “issue” is loosely based on a theme, and features exhibition and photo book reviews, interviews, essays and multimedia. 1000 Words believes in merit and strives to feature works that represent creative skill, emotion, intelligence and that certain something that cannot be pinned down by words.

Whether we like it or not we are moving in an age where we will always be connected to the internet, and where the smart phone will become someone’s digital identity. We are living in a time of accelerated consumption and shortened attention spans. In this information era we are allowed to – and even encouraged to – know very little but there has to be more to it than just an internet sugar rush. 1000 Words abides by the philosophy of the “slow web movement” and therefore requires you to take your time and savour what you consume.

The next issue of 1000 Words – Hidden – will hit the digital shelves 13 May.

This article was originally published by Raconteur Media and appeared in The Times, Saturday 23 April, 2011.

Photography, publishing and the internet

The words “photography” and “publishing” are natural bedfellows, intertwined for as long as anyone can remember. Historically speaking, the printed page was the ultimate venue for viewing a photographer’s work but in recent years the internet has profoundly changed the way we look at and think about photography. So who’s hogging the duvet now?

In a recent interview, Lesley Martin, publisher of the Aperture Foundation’s book programme, ventured the following: “The mystery for me is that the photobook audience has become more educated, more interested, more connected to the idea of the photobook – yet for the most part, sales are not shooting through the roof to a corresponding degree.”

Printing photobooks can be very expensive, meaning that print runs are usually small. Publishing online on the other hand is fast, fluid and flexible, costs a fraction of the price but offers an audience infinitely larger choice to boot. Yes, I understand the arguments; Photobooks are collectable. Photobooks offer an intimate and tactile viewing experience. Photobooks are the perfect “lap medium” as the great John Gossage famously said. And yes I am also fully aware that there is a certain stigma attached to the broad access to photography online from some fraternities of the photo world, although thankfully this is gradually fading. Image overload, viewing images on screen and the many things that can ping or pop up at you at once are just some of the common gripes from the digital naysayers. But I’m not arguing for one over the other. Frankly, I’m tired of the analogue versus digital debate. It is as inevitable as it tedious. I prefer to think that we are constantly moving, and that photographic debates and wider creative concerns provide opportunities for us to think on lateral terms, in other words, how can we arrive at a certain point from a different perspective.

What is true is that the sheer volume of images we digest on a daily basis not just on the internet but in the world around us is staggering, something that will only increase at exponential speeds in tandem with developments in technology. Camera phones, social media platforms and the Flickr ecosystem have in effect created a vast sprawling suburb of mediocrity.

So what to make of this slew of imagery? Now, more than ever, when instead of maybe going to galleries and museums we are finding ourselves more frequently viewing websites of photographers as way of discovering new work, there exists a very strong need to expose the meaningful images, promote, curate, share, and, most crucially, review and critique them intelligently.

Tiny Vices, an online gallery and image archive founded in 2005 by one time photo editor at Vice-cum-independent curator and photographer, Tim Barber, was probably the first to do its level best to respond to this challenge, and consequently helped to firmly establish the internet as a legitimate platform for disseminating photography. Offering an eclectic dip into hundreds of portfolios from artists such as Ryan McGinley and Dash Snow to Gus Powell and Craig Mammano, the website quickly become a wildly popular and accessible showcase with its well defined sensibility and thoughtful selection of work. Hundreds of new images were sent in for consideration every month in response to a continuous open call for submissions. By virtue of being web-based, Tiny Vices removed hurdles and facilitated genuine global dialogue and exchange of ideas for people who would never normally have the opportunity to interact in such a way. It fostered a great community. Such was its influence and reach that Barber was invited by Spencer Brownstone Gallery, New York to put on a physical exhibition during March, 2006. Reflecting the DIY, punk ethic of the website, it comprised a complex installation of photographs, drawings, and paintings by over sixty of the artists, well known and hitherto unknown, that had been featured online. Tiny Vices is a shining example of how two complimentary modes of production can be incorporated in an interesting and innovative way, whilst at the same time ushering in a radical rethinking of what constitutes a curator. Much could be said, much doubtless will be said about whether bloggers are the curators of the 21st Century.

Another website worthwhile bookmarking or better still saving as your home page is Jason Evans’ visual diary, The Daily Nice. Presenting one image per day, his lo-fi website which first went live in 2004 consists of just one page, with just one picture on it. Familiar and spontaneous yet strangely compelling, the images taken by Evans are snapshots of commonplace situations, people, animals, objects, landscapes and the urban environment that convey a fragile, transient beauty. Evans has himself described The Daily Nice as “a retreat – a sheltered harbour, where you can rest for a minute.”

Since June 2008 I have been publishing and editing 1000 Words, an independent, opinionated online magazine dedicated to contemporary photography. Released quarterly, each “issue” is loosely based on a theme, and features exhibition and photo book reviews, interviews, essays and multimedia. 1000 Words believes in merit and strives to feature works that represent creative skill, emotion, intelligence and that certain something that cannot be pinned down by words.

Whether we like it or not we are moving in an age where we will always be connected to the internet, and where the smart phone will become someone’s digital identity. We are living in a time of accelerated consumption and shortened attention spans. In this information era we are allowed to – and even encouraged to – know very little but there has to be more to it than just an internet sugar rush. 1000 Words abides by the philosophy of the “slow web movement” and therefore requires you to take your time and savour what you consume.

The next issue of 1000 Words – Hidden – will hit the digital shelves 13 May.

This article was originally published by Raconteur Media and appeared in The Times, Saturday 23 April, 2011.

“Out of my window” by Gail Albert Halaban

© Gail Albert Halaban

“Out of my window” is a wonderful series of images by photographer Gail Albert Halaban. These images touch upon the place of humanity living in cities by using views through windows as the frame to connect the intimacy of people”s lifes inside their own homes and the relationship with a city that is both impersonal but define the place and connectivity of each individual person.

The composition of the images is masterful, and I love the different perspective of views from within and outside the home so that provide the link between the intimate and the boundless impersonal city.


© Gail Albert Halaban