Tag Archives: Landscapes

The Last Road North: Ben Huff’s Alaska

When you run out of West, head North. The hunger to see the edges of America drew photographer Ben Huff to the Dalton highway, a storied stretch of road along the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline. Over the course of five years, Huff fueled up his truck at home in Fairbanks and drove north to photograph the path to the most remote reaches of the U.S. – and confront the clash between breathtaking wilderness and industrial ambition. “Everything that I was struggling with or trying to find was encapsulated in this one 500 mile stretch of road,” Huff said.

The Dalton Highway was first known as simply The Haul Road, a groove worn into the tundra by fleets of tankers on their way up and back from the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field. It was eventually named the Dalton Highway after an oil engineer in the 1980s, and about a decade later, it was opened to public traffic.

Huff became enchanted with the road on a day trip to the Arctic Circle with his wife when they first moved to Fairbanks. Though an impressive gateway to the earth’s frozen north, the Circle is only one-quarter of the way up to the end of the road. The question remained, “What else is up there?”

The answer is both “not much” and “everything,” depending on how you look at it. When pushing past latitudes where sunrise and sunset defy the conventions of time, with no cell phone service or basic amenities for hundreds of miles, reference points for regular life skitter away. “Nothing can kind of prepare you for seeing sunsets on the North Slope,” Huff said. “The alpenglow and the space and the quiet. The quiet is just unnerving.”

Huff encountered not only the truckers (now simultaneously mythologized and de-mystified by shows like Ice Road Truckers) but a fascinating parade of drivers and dreamers who were on a similar quest. “Everyone’s tired, everyone’s seeing this heartbreakingly beautiful landscape. No one’s showered, everyone’s eating out of a cooler or freeze-dried stuff. We’re just dirty and on the same path,” he said. “There was a point where the portraits started to feel a little bit like self portraits, in a way.”

Huff’s photographs took shape not by a need to encapsulate the enormity of his surroundings, but by the curious experience of seeing it through a windshield. The frames are narrow, and the landscapes, however ecstatic, are almost always defined by a slice of road. “I struggled with the space for so long and finally I kind of resigned myself to the fact that I was trying to do the impossible,” he said. “I  was never going to really ever going to communicate the space that is up there.”

After five years of driving through all seasons and all states of mind, Huff said he left the project with more questions than answers. “It would be easy to go on the road and make a sort of political stance against oil, against the pipeline, against a road through that environment,” he said. “But I was fortunate to spend five years running that road. I put countless gallons of gas in my car to do it. I saw things I’m incredibly grateful for.”

In a place where Wal-Marts and McDonald’s are now as ubiquitous as sourdoughs and homesteaders once were, the highway embodies the confounding nature of the 49th State. “Even though it’s a beautiful landscape, and it’s beautiful light, and it’s Alaska, and it’s the arctic,” Huff said. “You’re still standing in the middle of a road.”


Ben Huff is an Alaska-based photographer. His work will be exhibited in February at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau, his current home. The photographs are also collected in a new book, The Last Road North.

Valerie Lapinski is a video producer at TIME.

Displaced History and the Art of Collective Memory

Somewhere in Switzerland there’s a municipal archive, the collective memory of a town, with negatives and newspapers and postcards and photographs that tell the story of the area from 1880–1940. It’s the collective paper memory of the place, including a picture of four children who might not have grown into respected elders, a picture of a priest who may have performed important rituals in the town, a picture of a young woman whose face you might recognize—if the town’s memories are your own.

On the other hand, for photographer Nicolas Dhervillers, who spent only six months residing in Sion, the people in those images were more like characters in a play he would write. Acting the parts to which the photographer assigned them, they appear throughout a series called My Sentimental Archives which will be exhibited at Galérie Bacqueville in Lille, France through Nov. 20. In a meditation on appropriation, each photograph is a two-in-one. Dhervillers’ landscape photography from the area was subjected to a digital process adapted from the cinematic “day for night” technique, lending an eerie look to pictures taken in broad daylight; the archival figures are placed within those landscapes and washed with the unnatural digital light.

“It was very important to find a technique that gives an impression of being ‘outside time,’” Dhervillers told TIME in an email. “Thus, it’s not about a simple photograph but rather a photograph that mixes different mediums that I particularly like: theater for the positions and attitudes of the characters, movies for the light, photography for the idea of controlling the framework, painting for the final rendering.”

Each figure from the archives—small, dusty, black and white people—has been carefully restored by Dhervillers. And, in the process of restoration, the photographer says he felt that the images raised a spiritual question: can we create a present, a now, out of the scraps of the past? “The appropriation of the collective memory, of photographic memory, overlaps with the desire to question a picture in a larger sense,” he said. “This series takes us into a fictional space outside of time, through the photographic processing.”

Dhervillers has worked with appropriated figures before; his series Tourists uses images taken from the internet. But in this case, in the end, his questions about photographic appropriation took on another dimension: the archives from which Dhervillers took the figures did, in a way, become “his.” Even if he didn’t share the town’s history, he felt he knew its inhabitants well. “I spent a lot of time with these little characters,” he said. “I raised them, I colorized them, I gave them life.”

This interview has been translated from French.


Nicolas Dhervillers is a Paris-based photographer represented by School Gallery/Olivier Castaing in Paris.

Andrew Newson, Seaford

Andrew Newson, Seaford

Andrew Newson

Seaford,
East Sussex, United Kingdom, 2010
From the Portraits series
Website – AndrewNewson.com

Andrew Newson spent some years as a commercial photographer before starting a photography training business in 2008. Developing interesting ways to inspire others and develop their craft is at the core of what he does. Andrew's personal projects range from exploring local landscapes over prolonged periods of time to give a further understanding of the land and our place within it. Andrew also works in more spontaneous ways creating images in everyday situations than ask questions of the viewer.

Latin America Week: Alejandro Medina

This week, Argentinian photographer Eleonora Ronconi is taking over as guest curator, featuring work created by Latin American photographers…
Les presento a Alejandro Medina, fotógrafo Guatemalteco, que es mi cuarta selección. 
When I saw Alejandro’s Oceanus for the first time, in this year’s Critical Mass Top 200, I was amazed at how mature it was, considering that he is only 17 years old. I loved its stillness and quiet beauty. Alejandro was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala. His first show was in the summer of 2010, at GuateFoto, making him one of the youngest artists ever to exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in Guatemala. His photographs have been curated into Photoville in New York and several shows in his native country. Alejandro has been published in Prensa Libre, El Periódico, Siglo 21 and Le Journal de la Photographie, among others. 
Image from Oceanus
What
does your Latin heritage bring to your work?

I
think that my Latin heritage has had a profound influence on my work.
It is not only visible in the way I perceive the world, which is
directly reflected on my images, but also on what I decide to
photograph.

I
have a tendency to include landscapes of where I live in my photos,
either as the main subject or in a more subtle way. This adds a very
strong cultural feeling to my projects.


Do
you see a difference between work created in Latin America and work
created in the States?

There
are several geographical and cultural differences. But I think that
many of the subjects photographers capture in both regions are
similar. There are certain themes that are popular in photographers
of my generation, which are documented throughout the continent. What
is interesting to me is that even though some projects share the same
subject, the essence and origin of the photographers always come out
in the work made.


What
is the state of photography in your country–is it well supported,
are galleries selling, do you have any venues where to show work?

The
problem with several Latin American countries is that there is a lack
of appreciation for the art. This makes it extremely difficult for
artists to find their place in society, where their work can be
appreciated. I am not saying our people do not value art, because
many do, but the problem is that this enjoyment is something
individuals can acquire on their own, and not as a part of the
general culture. However, in the last few years I have seen a growth
in the art industry here in Guatemala. There is an art presence that
is slowly manifesting itself and expanding, and therefore, accepted
by the people. It used to be impossible for a Latin artist to gain
international exposure, but it has become easier as there are more
platforms where emerging artists can be launched into the world. This
has been facilitated by a new center for contemporary photography, La
Fototeca, which has promoted photography in the area and it has
motivated many artists to continue with their work. There are also
several galleries that are opening their doors, and more importantly,
some well established galleries that have started displaying
contemporary photography. 

Oceanus

Amongst the fondest memories of my childhood, lies the ocean. Every time I was able to experience it, I was enthralled with its beauty. In this project I try to convey this beauty and mysteriousness to the best of my abilities by photographing objects found at the shore. 

Also using these photographs to parallel how I have experienced changes in my life. Like the ocean currents have transformed these objects into what we see them now, experiences in our lives also change us into the individuals that we become. The title of the project, Oceanus, comes from the latin word for “World’s Ocean” which attempts to describe all of the world’s bodies of water as one. In a similar attempt, I try to depict a characteristic shared by all individuals in this project, the fact that everybody is molded by his or her experiences.

Open Vote – The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development puts staff photo competition images to online vote

JUDGE FOR YOURSELF
If you fancy yourself as a judge and want to make a vote, follow the link to 50 photographs submitted to an annual competition arranged for staff working for the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

This is the fourth year of the internal competition and I had the pleasure to help judge the winners with photographer, author and publisher Anthony Osmond-Evans who recently published Spirit of London a coffee-table book documenting “the changing seasons, personalities and cultures” making up today’s London. The standard of entries was high and both Anthony and I found it difficult at times to choose between images.

Over 800 single images were submitted in five categories to the competition. To cast your vote, follow the link to the Facebook EBRD Peoples’ Choice page. “Photos taken by our staff capture people, landscapes and events from our region and beyond. ‘Like’ the images that impress you the most and help us select the very best of 2012″ from 50 photos.

Filed under: Photographers, Photography Awards & Competitions, Photography Books, Photography Shows Tagged: Anthony Osmond-Evans, European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, Miranda Gavin, photo competition, Spirit of London, staff photo competition

Chloe Borkett

All images © Chloe Borkett

Chloe Borkett’s vision is sensitive to the melancholia of the world. Her project Stories East of the River is a delicate yet direct document on the lives of the younger generation in small republic of Transdniester in the region of Moldova. Portraits, punctuated with lyrical details and brooding landscapes, capture a sense of an uncertain future for a generation whose identity and solid basis for growth is riddled with doubt. Sitters stare into space or look directly back at the viewer as if searching for something positive with bold yet concerned expressions.

Says Borkett: “The young are deeply proud to be Russian but are starting to question the tiny Republic’s success and the implications on their futures. International trade is restricted; jobs and opportunities are limited and on-going difficulties with obtaining expensive visas, limits economic migration.”

Borkett’s strength is in her beautiful use of colour to convey a sense of the story without either artistic indulgence or hard, objective, journalistic tactics.

Born in 1978, she graduated with a degree in documentary photography from the University of Wales, Newport and is now based in London. She has been involved in various exhibitions including the Ian Parry exhibition in 2011. She continues to pursue projects concerning social issues with a focus on human rights. To view more work from this series click here.

Chloe Borkett

All images © Chloe Borkett

Chloe Borkett’s vision is sensitive to the melancholia of the world. Her project Stories East of the River is a delicate yet direct document on the lives of the younger generation in small republic of Transdniester in the region of Moldova. Portraits, punctuated with lyrical details and brooding landscapes, capture a sense of an uncertain future for a generation whose identity and solid basis for growth is riddled with doubt. Sitters stare into space or look directly back at the viewer as if searching for something positive with bold yet concerned expressions.

Says Borkett: “The young are deeply proud to be Russian but are starting to question the tiny Republic’s success and the implications on their futures. International trade is restricted; jobs and opportunities are limited and on-going difficulties with obtaining expensive visas, limits economic migration.”

Borkett’s strength is in her beautiful use of colour to convey a sense of the story without either artistic indulgence or hard, objective, journalistic tactics.

Born in 1978, she graduated with a degree in documentary photography from the University of Wales, Newport and is now based in London. She has been involved in various exhibitions including the Ian Parry exhibition in 2011. She continues to pursue projects concerning social issues with a focus on human rights. To view more work from this series click here.

Alessandra Tecla Gerevini

Some photographers create ways of making work outside of the typical arenas, ways of keeping them motivated and stimulated.  Milanese photographer Alessandra Tecla Gerevini has created a lovely project titled 365 Mattine (mornings), simply taking a look at where life starts for her at the beginning of each day, and the result is a wonderful visual diary.

Even if I’m a photographer, I spend a lot of time thinking what to shoot, why, to say what, to show who.



One
year ago I’ve decided to DO something lasting and continuous, something
to think about everyday, even when I wasn’t in the mood for taking
pictures. 

I decided to shoot in the morning because I think it’s the best part of the day, when you wake up, the light is amazing, it plays with shadows creating new landscapes, and you have all the day ahead:
it’s the time of good projects, positive thoughts, smiles and changing.
I love mornings.

This year is gone now, my project (called “365 mattine” that means “365 mornings”, even if there were 366 days this year, so I’ve taken a “hidden track picture” for the 2nd of August) is finished. I‘ve pointed my camera at the little things of everyday life, my loved ones, myself, my inner self, trying to create a map of my emotions, trying to show them and make them universal. Sometimes just trying to be at home.

It has been tough, every time it has been introspective, a way to remember  a whole year of events and feelings and places and friends. Unfortunately also moments I’d like to forget. But that’s it, that’s the meaning and the purpose.