Tag Archives: Love

Looking For Love in 90′s by Alec Soth

Love makes people do strange things. The history of mankind is rife with love producing illogical and oddball behavior. When it comes to photography, falling in love with the medium is hardly an exception. For example, someone painfully shy might find themselves impulsively photographing strangers without asking for permission. Or, they instinctively photograph something without any ability to later explain why. Alec Soth’s newest book Looking for Love, 1996 is, in its way, about both—the search for love guided by the heart and the search of love guided by the eye.

Soth, a Minnesota native, came to national attention in 2004 after his project Sleeping by the Mississippi was featured at the Whitney museum during its Biennial exhibition and consequently released in book form by the prestigious German publisher Steidl to critical acclaim. Rapidly thrust into the worlds of art and commerce he followed up his debut with equally strong and provocative bookworks: Niagara (2006), Dog Days Bogota (2007) and Broken Manual (2010). Looking for Love, 1996 (Kominek Books, 2012) is a look to the past at his early beginnings as a photographer working with black and white film and a medium format camera.

In his brief introduction to the work Soth describes that time as one of working a miserable job (printing photos at a large commercial lab) and retreating to a bar to be comforted by “the solitude I found among strangers.” He began to concentrate on his own pictures, slyly using the lab to make prints which he smuggled, concealed under his jeans, out to his car. He writes of imagining one day “a stranger would fall in love with me.”

The first photographs of couples we encounter in Looking for Love cling possessively to their partners and leer at Soth’s camera as if to ask, “this is mine, where is yours?” While his journey takes us through the outside landscape and various social gatherings—the aforementioned bar; a convention hall that seems to bridge religion, spirituality and dating under one roof; poker games; singles parties; high school proms—we can sense a young photographer eager to hone his photographic instincts for metaphor and craving the fruits of collaboration between artist, medium and world. A photo of a flirtatious blonde cheerleader sits on the opposite page of a lone, slightly gothic teen outside a music club. The prom king and queen stand proudly before an auditorium empty but for a few hidden background observers and a basketball court scoreboard. An older man sits phone to ear at a ‘Psychic Friends Network’ booth while a quaffed blonde with a #1 ribbon pinned to her lapel passes by paying no mind. Alongside the underlying melancholy of some of these pictures is also the excitement of a photographer discovering their talent and seeing an affirmation of life stilled in photographs.

That affirmation makes the parting photograph all the more important. In it we see Soth himself sitting sprawl-legged in a rental tuxedo as if his own prom has just ended. Perhaps it had. I hope the love he may have found, lasts.

Looking for Love, 1996 is available from Kominek Books.

Jeffrey Ladd is a photographer, writer, editor and founder of Errata Editions.

Re runs: Verner Soler

I’m stepping away from Lenscratch this week to work on a new personal website and prepare for upcoming photo activities…wanted to reintroduce you to some wonderful photographers featured several years ago, today with Verner Soler that was featured in January, 2009.

After growing up in a Swiss village, population 250, Verner Soler, has a unique window into a world we’ve only seen in the movies. Juggling a full plate as an art director, husband, and father, Verner does not get back to the village as often as he would like to. Several years ago, after being struck by how much his parents had aged between his visits, he decided to take definitive portraits of his parents, and more recently, has completed the typology with members of his extended family. It’s a powerful and fascinating series of genetics and love, (and for those of us living in Los Angeles, incredibly refreshing to see real faces). He will also be sharing images from his visits to Switzerland at Review LA.

From Heads (Grandmother, Mother, Father)

From Visits to My Village

Living Legend: Polish Photographer Jerzy Lewczynski

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© Jerzy Lewczynski. Portrait of Zdzislaw Beksinski, 1959.
Photograph from the collection of the Museum in Gliwice.

One of the many delights of attending smartly curated photo festivals, such as the yearly Krakow Photomonth in Poland, is discovering a previously unknown (to me) genius. This year, I was knocked out by a wonderful retrospective of the wildly creative and experimental work of Jerzy Lewczynski, who was born in 1924, and was present and pleasantly talkative at the opening of his exhibition in 2012.

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© Jerzy Lewczynski. From the Negatives cycle, 1975.
Photograph from the collection of the Museum in Gliwice.

The retrospective is accompanied by a limited edition book, as well as a catalog that includes a great interview with the photographer. Lens Culture is honored to be able to share many of the images, as well as the full text of the interview (in Polish, as well as in an English translation).

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© Jerzy Lewczynski. Doors, 1970.
Photograph from the collection of the Museum in Gliwice.

Discovering this lifelong body of work all at once was really stunning. And I walked away with great appreciation for Lewczynski’s visionary sense of humor, respect for history and humanity, and love of the photographic image.

A Shadow Remains

A Shadow Remains

A conversation with Phil Toledano and Debra Klomp Ching

Editor's Note: Flak Photo is proud to feature this conversation in support of Phil Toledano's, A Shadow Remains, a multimedia story that considers the impact that love and loss have on contemporary family life. The film will be availble for online streaming beginning Tuesday, June 12, 2012. For more information, visit MediaStorm.com.


Debra Klomp Ching: It’s hard to imagine, that there is anyone unaware of Days With My Father. Two years ago, 1.2 million people had already seen the work online. How many people have visited the website now?

Phil Toledano: Last time I checked, it was over two million, which is really quite mind boggling.

Debra Klomp Ching: Days With My Father really started out—from your own account—as a way to record and appreciate your relationship with your father. And, poignantly, it was spurred by the sudden death of your mother. Do you feel that you have fulfilled that real need that we all have, to reconnect before it’s too late?

Phil Toledano: Well, the sad thing about life is that sometimes it takes something really miserable, to point out what you've been missing all along. So did I reconnect with my father—well, I never felt disconnected. But what the death of my mum pointed out to me, was the importance of being awake, of seeing what was in front of me, and remembering it. That's what I tried to do with my dad.

Debra Klomp Ching: You’ve said in the past, that the actual upload of Days With My Father to the web, was done without any real objective, except perhaps to unburden. At the time, you didn’t know what you were unburdening, are you able to articulate that now?

Phil Toledano: I'm still not sure I can explain myself very well. It was a kind of animalistic urge, to unburden myself of all the weight I had been carrying for the last few years. In some ways, I felt quite relieved to be so light.

Debra Klomp Ching: Have you felt particularly vulnerable for sharing your story? Or, have you found an additional inner strength, a more solid grounding in your relationship with family and friends?

Phil Toledano: I've never felt very vulnerable about sharing that story, in part, I suppose, because I was sharing it with strangers—who I probably would never meet. But the reaction and extraordinary feedback from so many people has made me grateful, and more aware of how lucky I was to be able to say goodbye to my dad the way I did. Also, in some ways, I do feel stronger for my story being adrift in the world. I'm not sure why, but I do.

Debra Klomp Ching: This journey and experience must also impact on your own family. Now, you’re the father and husband, rather than the son.

Phil Toledano: I've found it quite hard to come to grips with the idea that there is no one left alive who knew me as a child, as a teenager, as a baby. The idea that those memories only exist for me now, is quite sad. And yes, it's odd, no longer being a 'son'. But on the other hand, all the qualities that my parents left me, instilled in me, are drawn in sharp relief by their absence. I can now see their gifts to me clearly, and I’m grateful. I miss their advice, in a way that I never did before.

Debra Klomp Ching: You’ve shared a pivotal experience in your life, something so incredibly personal and intimate, yet something that is undeniably universal. How have you been affected by the collective responses to the story?

Phil Toledano: The annoying thing about clichés is that they're true. So, when I say that the response has made me aware of how similar we all are, it's boring, but quite true. Not to get all John Lennon, but love belongs to all of us. It's just that we let other things get in the way of seeing that.

Debra Klomp Ching: There have also been a huge number of individuals sending and posting messages. One person contacted you and offered to translate your text into Portuguese. Are there other points of direct contact that you’ve had with people through your story?

Phil Toledano: I've had quite a few Skype calls with total strangers, who just wanted to talk about taking photographs of their own parents, and were looking for some advice. I recently received an email from someone in China who is trying to get people together to publish the book. People seem to feel that this story belongs to all of us—and so it does.

Debra Klomp Ching: And of course, there’s been extensive global media interest. Has your relationship with the photographs, the website and book altered due to it, essentially, taking on a life of its own?

Phil Toledano: Well, of course, I often wonder what my parents—especially my dad—would have made of it all. I tried to explain the concept of the Internet to my father once—he was 95 or 96 at the time. He asked if it was 'in color', and 'where was it'. As it turns out, it's quite hard explaining something so intangible. My parents exist, first and foremost in my heart. I don't need the photos to remind me of them, but somehow the experience of making the photographs and writing about them, made me remember all that I need to remember. I do look at photos of my parents, and think about physical aspects of how they were. I remember how soft my father's face was after I’d shaved him, the way I could feel my mother's love, sometimes, when she looked at me.

Debra Klomp Ching: You were recently approached by MediaStorm to make a film about Days With My Father. What is the film about? Is it a documentation of the whole experience?

Phil Toledano: It's about lots of things— my parents, my relationship with them, the website, the book and the experience of both. It's also about me as a father, and my family as it stands now. And of course, it's about love. For my parents, my wife, my child. When I see the film, it's tremendously emotional for me—I inevitably start snuffling into my hankie. I don't know what it'll mean to other people, but it's a thing of perfect crystalline beauty to me.

Debra Klomp Ching: Behind all of this, still, there remains the story of Phil and his dad! A strange question perhaps, but has your relationship with your family (dad, mum, sister), changed as a result of Days With My Father?

Phil Toledano: Well, in some ways, it's made me regret not being a better son, and better brother. I wish there were things I could have told my mum, before she died. But I guess life is like that. It's imperfect, and by the time you've thought of everything you'd like to say, some of the people you'd like to say those things to aren't around anymore. I'm more aware of what they gave me. I'm more aware of how lucky I was to be their son, and to have basked in so much love.

Debra Klomp Ching: What do you believe is the legacy of Days With My Father?

Phil Toledano: I think 'Days' will be the best thing I ever do. If I croak tomorrow, at least I'll have done one good thing, and to be honest, that's a lot more than I expected.

Flash Forward Festival Boston 2012 Livestream

Flash Forward Festival Boston 2012 Livestream

Flash Forward Festival 2012

A collaboration with The Magenta Foundation

Hi All,

Touching base with a short dispatch from Flak Photo HQ…

Like a lot of you, I'm watching more photography-related videos online. (If you're interested, you can check out some of my recent favorites here on Vimeo.) I've also benefited from those forward-thinking organizations that have invested the time and resources to share their programs with the world using streaming video technology.

Photo education plays a key role in many of my projects so I was excited when The Magenta Foundation founder Maryann Camilleri asked me to join this year's Flash Forward Festival Programming Committee. That group is a passionate one and it was lots of fun working with them to bring this festival to life. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to broadcast this year's program online and now it's time — the festivities kick off Thursday, June 7 at 10 A.M. EDT.

Watch Flash Foward Festival Boston 2012 on the Flak Photo Stream »

I'm looking forward to sharing these programs with the online community and hope to produce more educational projects like this. If you are a photo/arts event coordinator interested in sharing your organization's video programming with a wider audience I'd love to here from you. Please feel free to contact me by email or Facebook at any time. Thank you!

Best,

Andy Adams
Editor • Producer • Publisher
FlakPhoto.com

Flash Forward Festival, Boston 2012

If you love photography, you might want to consider coming to Boston on June 7 -10th for the Flash Forward Festival, sponsored by the Magenta Foundation. And guess what, it’s FREE.

I am particularly excited as I have been asked to be one of the keynote speakers (of Friday, June 8th…biting my nails already), but it will be a chock-a block event filled with exhibitions on site and at many participating galleries in Boston, tons of lectures and educational panels and presentations, the Focus Awards hosted by the Griffin Museum of Photography, and so much more.  
Hope to see you there!

Senior Love Triangle: Photographs by Isadora Kosofsky

Three people—Jeanie, 82, Will, 84, and Adina, 90—are bound together in a relationship, a love triangle of sorts, a three-way connection that they rely on to shield them from the pains of loneliness and the fear of aging. Every day the trio meets near their senior-care facilities (each lives at a different location) to spend their remaining days together. Will picks up Jeanie at her care center, greeting her with a long kiss, and the two head hand-in-hand to collect Adina for whatever the day may bring.

Recently, that includes Isadora Kosofsky, who, after the death of the maternal grandmother who raised her, began to search for catharsis through photography. “Grief following my grandmother’s death unconsciously led me to photograph the lives and relationships of the elderly,” Kosofsky says.

The trio’s relationship clearly challenges cultural norms. Will, describing the trio’s bond to Kosofsky, said, “We live above the law. Not outside the law, but above the law. We are not outlaws.” Will, Jeanie and Adina are connected by more than time and space. “There are many different kinds of love,” Adina told Kosofsky. Their relationship, like all relationships, can be frustrating for all three. Jeanie once confided in Kosofsky that “to share Will is a thorn in your side…A relationship between a man and a woman is private. It’s a couple, not a trio.” But despite Jeanie’s misgivings, she must share Will with Adina and Adina must share Will with her.

Kosofsky met Jeanie, Will and Adina three short years after picking up a camera. “I befriended the group because I recognize a part of me in both Jeanie and Adina. Will, too, is familiar to me… a reflection of men I have known,” she says. “When I share in their lives, I am reminded of my adolescence.”

Kosofsky herself is not that far removed from adolescence. She is 18 years old and is now a documentary photographer based in Los Angeles—finding inspiration from photographers like Jane Evelyn Atwood, who spent years documenting one subject. Kosofsky believes long-term projects offer the opportunity of deeper and more poignant storytelling. In her own projects, it is her goal to “devote myself to living amongst my subjects as an occupant, rather than a visitor.”

“The aged are becoming increasingly hidden and disenfranchised. I noticed that even towards the end of my grandmother’s life, she appeared distant from society,” Kosofsky says. The photographer is currently engaged in photographing a three-part series on aging—a subject about which she is passionate. “I feel that age is a perceived barrier and that we too have once, either literally or figuratively, shared their fear of isolation and their wish for acknowledgement,” she explains. “Even when Jeanie and Adina are not present, Will walks with his right hand straight and open at his side, as if he were waiting for someone to hold on.”

Isadora Kosofsky is a Los Angeles-based documentary photographer. More of her work can be seen here.

Dean Chalkley screens The New Faces at the book club in London

iPhone shots from the screening of Dean Chalkley’s latest short film The New Faces at the book club in east London last week. Check out the electric light bulb ceiling. Love it. The 20-minute film played to a packed house and was followed by some rare groove and northern soul moves on the dance floor courtesy of the audience. See previous post for more information and a link to the video online.

Filed under: Fashion Photography, Photographers, short films Tagged: Dean Chalkley, mod culture, The Book Club, The New Faces