Tag Archives: Friendships

Love The One You’re With

image by Aline Smithson

I’ve been on the road since September, visiting photo festivals across the country and I’ve been thinking a lot about the experiences and the photographers I have met and wanted to share some thoughts. I have to say, it’s an amazing community, filled with good will, curiosity, passion, and really, really good people.  I think there is something special about those who use a visual language, who are reinterpreting the world close-up and far away.  I left each event filled up with friendships, with images, with experiences that make this journey a richer one.

I have always told my students that it is equally important to meet fellow photographers at these events, and not to solely focus on meeting with people that they think might change one’s career. Sometimes at photo events, photographers can be a bit myopic and self-focused, trying to tug on the sleeve of important reviewers. They don’t realize that those who don’t make it all about themselves, benefit the most–and often times, it will be a peer that makes something happen in their career. More has come to me, and to my career, from my relationships with other photographers than from anywhere else–the evidence of this statement seems profoundly evident after my recent travels–just looking at this fall, almost every invitation came from a relationship with a photographer.

I truly marvel at how many photographers are changing the photographic landscape by giving their time and energies to promote work that is not their own. Photographer Scott B. Davis created the Medium  Festival of Photography in San Diego this September, photographer Sarah Hadley created the Filter Photo Festival in Chicago, I went to the SW Regional SPE conference, all run by photographers.  I attended Fotoweek DC started by Theo Adamstein (a photographer) and was invited to teach at the event by photographer E. Brady Robinson who I had traveled with in China.  Photographers Jennifer Shaw, Millie Fuller, and Lori Waselchuk, privotal players at PhotoNola, not only invited me to teach a workshop and review, but Jen helped me secure a gallery in New Orleans.

As I sat in the portfolio reviewing room at Photo Nola, I looked over at Blue Mitchell, a fellow photographer who started Diffusion Magazine, a publication that features historical and non-traditional ways of approaching photography, then I looked at photographer Gordon Stettinius who has not only become a publisher, but opened Candela Gallery and is working on creating a significant collection of photographs for gallery.  I looked at photographer Bryan Formhals who  champions the online community (especially Flickr) and has celebrated many image makers in his terrific LPV Magazine.

At the Medium Festival photographer Susan Burnstine found work to celebrate in her articles for Black and White Magazine (UK), photographer David Bram reviewed as editor of Fraction Magazine and in Chicago, photographer Kevin Miyazaki looked for new work for his amazing Collect.Give program and photographer Christy Karpinski reviewed for her long time publication, F Stop Magazine. Photographer Russell Joslin also reviewed for his labor of love, SHOTS Magazine which he has edited for years, photographer Bill Schwab shared his sage insights from years behind the lens and as a workshop educator and photographer Kyohei Abe reviewed for the Detroit Center of Photography where he is now the director. And there are more that I am sure I am forgetting.

I am not diminishing all the amazing curators, editors, and gallerists that make up our photography community, but I wanted to recognize the tremendous support that photographers lend to each other, often without recognition or financial compensation of any sort.

So next time you are at a photo or review event, remember that the person sitting next to you clutching their portfolio box, just might change your life one day.

W.M. “Bill” Hunt and Friends

As we’ve been warning, tomorrow night at 7:00 pm, collector, curator, consultant, writer, teacher, and fundraiser W.M. “Bill” Hunt, known for his wit and larger-than-life personality, comes to Aperture to present his “wry, uproarious” multimedia performance piece, “The Unseen Eye: A Life in Photographs and Other Digressions…” He uses slides, sound and video to reflect on his many years as a collector seeking out photographs in which the subjects’ eyes are somehow obscured.

In the clip above, Hunt (at Aperture Gallery, December 19, 2011) invites photographers from his collection and book The Unseen Eye: Photographs From the Unconscious (Aperture 2011) to share hilarious and charming anecdotes about their “spectacular friendships.” Featuring: Elinor Carucci, Michael Flomen, Phyllis Galembo, Luis Mallo, Gary Schneider, Gerald Slota, Frank Yamrus, and Fred Weber.

The Unseen Eye: A Life in Photographs and Other Digressions…
A Multimedia Performance Piece with W. M. Hunt
Tuesday, March 27, 7:00 pm
FREE

Aperture Gallery and Bookstore
547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor
New York, New York
(212) 505-5555

Behind the Cover: Animal Friendships

To shoot this week’s TIME cover story about animal friendships — which you can read here — photographer Catherine Ledner called on years of experience of hanging out with cute critters, including her work on two books of animal photography, Animal House and Glamour Dogs. But this shoot offered something new, even for the animal pro. Most of Ledner’s work involves pictures of singular animals, while TIME’s portfolio features animal pairs. “I had to make sure that the dogs that were coming were actually friends,” she says.

With that criterion in place, Ledner found that shooting pairs of animals was no more difficult than shooting them one at a time. Like human models, the animals brought their own personalities to the set and Ledner was able to capture the interplay of those forces. Also like human models, the animals brought entourages (a.k.a. trainers) who kept the stars focused on the task at hand—and who conveniently stepped aside when Ledner wanted to let her subjects off the leash, so to speak.

But unlike human models, the animal managed to make the group shots look effortless. “If you’re shooting a group of people, you have an agenda of who you want looking in the lens and who you don’t,” Ledner says. “To get everyone to look good at one time is harder than it is, I think, when you have a bunch of animals.”

Which is not to say that the photographer’s sessions with her animal models were all fun and games. Ledner—who owns three dogs, two cats and four rabbits, but does not frequently photograph her own pets—says that animal photography requires putting cuddliness aside. While people may get relaxed and happy with background music and a festive mood, quiet is important to help a dog (or a bird or a rabbit, as the case may be) maintain his concentration. Luckily, almost all of the animals that participated in TIME’s cover shoot were seasoned professionals. One dog named Billy had sat for Ledner twice in the past. The only non-professional at the session was the rabbit, who was, in fact, a real friend of Billy’s. “The rabbit was so docile. It would let the dog put its head smack dab on top of it. There was just total trust between these animals,” says Ledner. And the photographer was hardly upset about shooting an amateur model: “The bunny’s only six weeks old—and how can you be a pro bunny?”

Catherine Ledner is an American photographer based in California and author of two books: Animal House and Glamour Dogs. See more here.

Read more in the magazine: The Science of Animal Friendships.

Critical Mass: Sebastian Liste

Looking at portfolios from Critical Mass 2011…

Sebastian Liste was born in Spain, raised in Barcelona and is now based in Brazil. He received a Bachelors degree in Sociology at the UNED, and a Masters in the Arts in Photojournalism at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. In 2010, Sebastian won the Ian Parry Scholarship for his long term project “Urban Quilombo” about the extreme living conditions that dozens of families face who have set up home in an abandoned chocolate factory in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. At the same time he was given a place on the Emerging Talent page of the Reportage by Getty Images, and since then became a Featured Contributor in Reportage by Getty Images in October 2011.

Urban Quilombo: This project is a testimony of a place that no longer exists.

Eight years ago sixty families occupied the “Galpao da Araujo Barreto”, an abandoned chocolate factory in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. Prior to establishing in this place, these families lived throughout the dangerous streets of the city. They came together to seize this deserted factory, which lay in ruins, and they transformed it into a home.

Since 2009, I have been documenting Barreto. This vast sub culture within the greater city became one extended family. They created a microcosm in which the problems of drugs, prostitution and violence tackled with the support of the community. Barreto was a place where the exchange of ideas, goods and services created a bond of identity that allowed the survival of its members in a society that marginalizes them. Thus, community life is a form of struggle and resistance. Resistance to a society that considered they as a dysfunctional organ. I came to Barreto to explore how communities formed within fragmented societies as a mechanism of survival. During the years, I have witnessed almost everything that one can live: love, despair, betrayal, lust, passion, unity, friendships, empathy, conflicts, forgiveness and a sense of family.

In March 2011 the government evicted these families from the factory, as one of the many attempts to clean up the visible poverty of the center of Brazilian cities. This is mainly due to the upcoming international events to be held in Brazil in the next years, like the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. By the time, these families relocated, there were around 130 families living in Barreto, an area approximately the size of a football field.

This community was a metaphor for a place where the tragic decomposition of human life combines perfectly with the magic realism of Latin America.