Tag Archives: Magazine Photographer

Erika Larsen

The simple fact is that Erika Larsen cannot take a bad photograph.  Her entire site is one stunning and compelling image after another, and well worth a visit. The clarity and beauty that she brings to her images comes from knowing her subjects, spending time in their worlds, and capturing the essence of a culture in a series of well crafted and soulful photographs.  The work featured today is from Erika’s project, Sámi ,The People Who Walk With Reindeer.  Erika spent 4 years living within this culture to create the work — there were no family ties, just a curiosity and need to understand the Sámi.

Erika’s uses photography, video and writing to learn intimately about
cultures that maintain strong connections with nature. She began working
professionally as a magazine photographer in 2000 specializing in
human-interest stories and sensitive cultural issues. Her images have been
published and exhibited internationally. Her work has been included in the
Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, National Geographic Society, The Swedish
Museum of Ethnography and Ajtte Sámi Museum. Larsen is a recipient of several
grants and fellowships including a Fulbright Fellowship, New Jersey State Arts
Council Fellowship, Women in Photography Individual Project Grant and the Lois
Roth Endowment. Erika received a BFA and MFA from Rochester Institute of

Erika has created a crowd funding campaign for a book of Sámi ,The People Who Walk With Reindeer through Empas.Is and of you are interested in contributing, you can do so here.

Erika has two upcoming exhibitions of this work, at and Visa Pour L’Image International Festival of Photography in Sweden in September, and the Catherine Edleman Gallery in Chicago in 2013 

Sámi,The People Who Walk With Reindeer
came on a search to understand the primal drive of the modern hunter by taking
an inclusive look at an original hunter-gatherer, nomadic society.

I came to find people who could interpret the language of the land 
when it speaks.

I came in search of silence so that I could begin to hear again.

Every day in the Arctic extremes play upon the lives of the Sámi, an indigenous group native to the Arctic Circle of northern Scandinavia  and Russia–the largest area in the world with an ancestral way of life based on the seasonal migrations of the animals The Sámi are by tradition reindeer herders who have lived as nomads. Today only 10 percent of the Sámi population still works in reindeer husbandry, a business that is regulated by the European Union. By possessing a livelihood dependent on their surroundings, the herders must be acutely aware of changes in nature and more specifically the arctic landscape.

My photographs explore the Sámi herder’s symbiotic relationship with the environment, their existence in today’s world and their ancestral roots.This work was created in Kautokeino, Norway and Gallivare, Sweden where I worked as a beaga, or housekeeper, for a family of Sámi reindeer herders. I chose to immerse myself in this manner so that I could better understand what I was seeing and experiencing when creating the images. The actual image making process was intuitive but the process for understanding the culture required full immersion, through work, learning North Sámi language and listening.

The spoken Sami language, despite being derived from Finno- Uralic roots, has transformed over time and is considered an Arctic language rich in its ability to explain the natural world.

While the reindeer herding Sami remain largely insulated from urban life, they straddle two worlds – tied to their historical roots while acknowledging modern realities. They maintain a deep connection with nature and remain a semi- nomadic people, with little need for the world beyond the arctic landscape.  Yet the Sami are acutely aware of and embrace global connectedness, modern technology and popular culture.

Living with the Sami, I have observed nature being at once both beautiful and brutal. Through their lives, I hope to better understand our role as stewards of the earth and recognize the cycles of life and death and the role of people within this circle.

The Sami have managed to survive in extreme climatic circumstances for ages. As biodiversity, forest stability, water supplies and wildlife management become increasingly important global concerns, this community will be vital to understanding sustainability in the Arctic region.

Yvette Marie Dostatni

Willis Grieger, a Chesterton, Indiana farmer and folk artist, with a concrete companion he made. Behind his barn is another of his creations, a man falling from a telephone pole.

You’ve got to love someone who is a little bit Harper Lee, a little bit Martin Parr, and a lot, Yvette Dostatni. I featured some of Yvette’s wonderful work on Lenscratch way back when, and was delighted to discover that she would be accompanying me to China for the Lishui Photography Festival last November. Curator Sarah Hadley of Filter Photo Festival selected two photographers to bring to the event (Yvette and me), and it allowed for an opportunity to spend time with someone who lives in another part of the country.

Yvette began her photo career at the ripe old age of 18, where she talked her way onto the staff of a newspaper. For the past twenty years, she has been talking her way into all sorts of situations, capturing humanity as only she can. Her work has appeared in SPIN, Smart Money magazine, Shape magazine and National Geographic. She is a frequent contributor to the Chicago Tribune Magazine, Chicago Magazine and The Chicago Reader.

In 2000, she was selected as one of eight full-time photographers to document the city of Chicago as part of the Comer Foundation. She is also the winner of numerous documentary photography awards, including two consecutive Magazine Photographer of the Year awards for portraiture. Yvette’s portfolio is in the Permanent Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago and The Museum of Contemporary Photography’s Midwest Photographers Project in Chicago.

Images from Portraits

Kimberly Abrego and Leon Leckavici, homecoming queen and king at the Whiting, Indiana High School, with the school mascot, portrayed by Abel Aguilera, reflecting the industry most associated with Whiting:oil refining.

Music teacher A.J. Romba at Crestone Music School in Hammond, Indiana, its walls filled with photos of students Romba has taught since 1937.

Larry Gabor and Jeanette Dostatni with Larry’s gun collection.

Matilda with her ferret and friend Charlie on top of Matilda’s apartment roof in Chicago, Illinois.

Clara Kolb and her kitten Snowball in Saltillo, Mississippi. Clara is wearing the ballgown she hopes to wear when she wins a future 6th grade beauty queen pageant. Clara is wearing her older sister’s crown.

Maxwell Street: Before succumbing to the renovation and upward mobility in the new millennium, Chicago’s Maxwell Street was home to a large homeless polulation, many of whom stayed at Maxworks, 717 W. Maxwell Street.

Lewis “Bubble” Tucker has no money for tobacco, so he smokes wax paper, which creates a lot of smoke. He has lived in his car for about 15 years. He says he’d been living on Maxwell Street for about 50 years. “I don’t go nowhere else ever since I was about 10 years old. This (the car) is like a clubhouse, somewhere to sleep.”

A blues musician plays in the lot outside 717 W. Maxwell Street.

Tyner White’s feet dangle from the rafters of the home he lived in at 717 W. Maxwell St. called “Maxworks.”

Of his Clue board game, Lewis “Bubble” Tucker says, “This here? This picture? This is a rich picture. This is how white people live, know what I mean?”

Avi and Tyner White store stuff in a hole under the sidewalk of the home at 717 W. Maxwell Street called “Maxworks.”

Art gets ready to leave the house he lived in called “Maxworks” at 717 W. Maxwell Street.

Joshua Dudley Greer, Interior, TNT Storage Igloo S1-A

Joshua Dudley Greer, Interior, TNT Storage Igloo S1-A

Joshua Dudley Greer

Interior, TNT Storage Igloo S1-A ,
Point Pleasant, West Virginia, 2011
From the Point Pleasant series
Website – JDudleyGreer.com

Joshua Dudley Greer was born in Hazelton, Pennsylvania. He received his BFA in Photography from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2002 and his MFA, with distinction, from the University of Georgia in 2009. Joshua's work has been featured in publications such as Smithsonian Magazine, Photographer's Forum Magazine and Flash Forward 2010. He has received grants from the Maryland State Arts Council and was a Critical Mass finalist in 2011. He is currently living in Johnson City, Tennessee where he is a visiting assistant professor of photography at East Tennessee State University.

Photolucida 2011

Image by ©Mike Davis/www.michaelddavis.com

I have just returned from Photolucida, a 5 day portfolio review event that takes place every two years in Portland. One hundred and sixty photographers, sixty reviewers, a host of volunteers, almost two dozen local “roving” reviewers, and the incredible Photolucida board, spearheaded by Laura Moya, meet for portfolio reviews, lectures, networking, exhibitions, and all things photography at the wonderful Benson Hotel in downtown Portland. It’s an intense experience, not for the faint of heart, and not for the unprepared.

The Benson Hotel, Portland, OR

Wednesday was arrival day, with photographers and reviewers checking into the hotel and greeting old friends. An evening welcome meeting started the event, followed by a lecture about collecting photography featuring Charles Hartman and Julia Dolan.

Thursday morning, we hit the ground running, with our portfolios and reviewer schedules in hand. Mornings and afternoons (from 9-5) were for official reviews, 20 minutes long and often coined as “speed dating for photographers”. “Reviewers were selected for their experience, involvement, and commitment to advancing the work of emerging and mid-career artists. Over the years, many participants have made contacts that have led directly to exhibitions, publications, and sales, in addition to receiving useful critiques.”

Images by Aline Smithson

Photographers selected their reviewers in advance, focusing on the editors, curators, gallerists, or publishers that were best suited to their portfolios.

There were daily lunch time lectures featuring speakers Michael Itkoff from Daylight Magazine, photographer Julie Blackmon, photographer and publisher Lauren Henkin, writer and curator Larissa Leclair and photographer and publisher Raymond Meeks. When photographers had any free time, they congregated in the the lobby or in an additional ballroom that hosted roving reviews and portfolio sharing.

Image by ©Mike Davis/www.michaelddavis.com

The Photographer’s Portfolio Walk was hosted at the Portland Art Museum on Thursday evening. Three one-hour-long sessions allowed photographers, reviewers, and the the Portland community a chance to see the many portfolios brought to the event.

Image by ©Mike Davis/www.michaelddavis.com

Image by Robbie Kaye

After the reviews, the night time activities kicked in. Friday night, the Portland Art Museum hosted a lecture by photographer Todd Hido. Saturday night offered a host of exhibition openings at local Portland galleries, and Photolucida finished with a Sunday night party at Blue Sky Gallery.

By the end of the event, I had shared my portfolio with about two dozen reviewers, many photographers, and had a chance to connect in a significant way with many others. Whenever I hear photographers complaining about the costs of a review, I acknowledge that yes, it’s expensive, but I like to think of it as part of my education, my marketing, and my growth as a photographer. Portfolio reviews are unique to the photo world, and we need to remember that having access to museum curators, magazine editors, gallerists, book publishers, or Photography Center directors is truly remarkable.

Personal successes of a review are often not immediately evident, but over time those connections and relationships grow and flourish. I have been given shows years after first meeting with a reviewer. In addition to establishing relationships with reviewers, connections with fellow photographers are just as important as sometimes photographers go on to become editors (David Bram, Michael Itkoff, Blue Mitchell, Jason Houston), Directors of Photography Centers (Kyohe Abe), curators, or your biggest supporters.

A big thank you to all the organizers, to the busy reviewers who made time in their schedules to come share their expertise, and to all the photographers who shared their amazing images, offered support and friendship. A special thank you to my roommate and friend, Noelle Swan Gilbert, who kept me laughing and real.