Tag Archives: Passion

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.

Kerry Skarbakka

Last year, Center awarded Kerry Skarbakka the 2011 Excellence in Teaching Award for his passion in the classroom. After experiencing his photographs and teaching philosophy, it appears that everyone would benefit from a semester with Kerry.  His high spirited photographs, thoughtful approach to his own image making, and profound understanding what it takes to give students an informed visual language in an “image-prolific” society, make him a force to be reckoned with. He was recently celebrated for his teaching in PDNedu.

We are a visual culture wherein photography has become an
exceedingly powerful form of communication. Moreover, the development of
digital technologies in the past ten years has wiped traditional artistic
boundaries away. As a result, it is now vital to educate students to have a
broader vision. As an artist, it is imperative to be aware of the language of
photography and to understand the responsibility image making has within our
culture. To be a successful communicator, it is necessary to learn the tools
and skills inherent within this practice. More importantly, is the
understanding of how to control the medium and apply its principles with
thought and sophistication.


He is a self processed  performance-based photographer, using his own body and physical prowess to create his images and video. He received his B.A. in Studio Art with an emphasis in Sculpture  from the University of Washington School of Art and his MFA in Photography from Columbia College in Chicago. Kerry’s work has been exhibited internationally in museums, galleries and art fairs. He has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Fifty-One Fine Art Photography in Antwerp, Belgium, Irvine Contemporary in Washington DC, and Lawrimore Project in Seattle. His work has been exhibited at the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Virginia, Ahlen Art Museum, Ahlen Germany and the Warhol Museum. Publications include Aperture Magazine Afterimage, Art and America and ArtReview International Additionally, Skarbakka has received funding and support from the Creative Capital Foundation, the 1% for the Arts (City of Seattle), the Chicago Center for Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Arts Council. He is represented by Fifty One Fine Art Photography in Antwerp, Belgium and Contemporary Wing in Washington DC. Currently Kerry is faculty of Digital Media and Photographic Studies at Prescott College.

The Struggle to Right Oneself 

Philosopher Martin Heidegger described human existence as a process of perpetual falling, and it is the responsibility of each individual to catch ourselves from our own uncertainty. This unsettling prognosis of life informs my present body of work. I continually return to questions regarding the nature of control and its effects on this perceived responsibility, since beyond the basic laws that govern and maintain our equilibrium, we live in a world that constantly tests our stability in various other forms. War and rumors of war, issues of security, effects of globalization, and the politics of identity are external gravities turned inward, serving to further threaten the precarious balance of self, exaggerating negative feelings of control. 

This photographic work is in response to this delicate state. It comprises a culmination of thought and emotion, a tying together of the threads of everything I perceive life has come to represent. It is my understanding and my perspective, which relies on the shifting human conditions of the world that we inhabit. It’s exploration resides in the sublime metaphorical space from where balance has been disrupted to the definitive point of no return. It asks the question of what it means to resist the struggle, to simply let go. Or what are the consequences of holding on? 

Using myself as model and with the aid of climbing gear and other rigging, I photograph the body as it dangles from dangerous precipices or tumbles down flights of stairs. The captured gesture of the body is designed for plausiblity of action, which grounds the image in reality. However, it is the ambiguiy of the body’s position in space that allows and requires the viewer to resolve the full meaning of the photograph. Do we fall? Can we fly? If we fly then loss of control facilitates supreme control. 

It is necessary to point out that I do not consider myself a glorified stuntman; nor do I wish to become a sacrifice to art. Therefore, safety is an important factor, however the work does carry with it a potential risk of personal injury as I engage the moment. This is unavoidable as much of the strength of the images lie in the fact that they are all recorded on location. The images are layered with references to an experienced background in sculpture and painting, and the cinematic quality of the work suggests the influence of commercial film. The dimensions are important to establish a direct relationship between the image and viewer. 

The images stand as ominous messages and reminders that we are all vulnerable to losing our footing and grasp. Moreover, they convey the primal qualities of the human condition as a precarious balancing act between the struggle against our desire to survive and our fantasy to transcend our humanness.

Boston Week: Paul Giguere

While I am enjoying the Focus Awards hosted by the Griffin Museum and the Flash Forward Festival hosted by the Magenta Foundation in Boston this week, I am re-running some earlier posts about Boston photographers, today with Paul Giguere.

Images from Anonymous Lives

Paul Giguere has had a camera in hand from an early age when he began to document his family from a 8-year-old’s perspective, and now he does the same from an adult one. Paul has a busy life, working full time, raising a family, and still finds time for his passion of fine art photography. On top of that full plate of activities, Paul is the host of Thoughts on Photography, a series of audio podcasts available on his site and on itunes. His podcasts cover myriad of photographic subjects, presented in a thoughtful and timely way, and in addition, TOP includes many interesting interviews with image makers. It’s time to add these to your ipod.

I am featuring work from two series, Anonymous Lives and Seasons Running. The first addresses the alienation of our commuter lives, that out-of-focus zone that we often find ourselves in as we move through the day. His blurred black and white images work as a way to capture our warp speed lives in a timeless way. The second series, Seasons Running, taps into Paul’s passion for documenting family and the ever changing moments in childhood.

Images from Anonymous Lives

Images from Seasons Running

Video: Mountain-climbing photographers in France

via @pixfan @gPHOTOcommunity

The eyes of Chamonix

Mountain TV and Quechua interview three lovers of high-altitude images. Fotografia . squido lense . Pascal Tournaire, Ren Robert and Monica Dalmasso, mountain photographers, talk about their extraordinary jobs a mix of passion, precision and performance. Directory Submission . (In French with English subtitles).

Montagne TV et Quechua sont partis la rencontre de trois amoureux de l’image en altitude. Pascal Tournaire, Ren Robert et Monica Dalmasso, photographes de montagne, voquent leur mtier hors du commun, entre passion, performance et prcision.

Jennifer Schwartz’s Crusade for Collecting

Thinking outside the box, Jennifer Schwartz of Atlanta’s Jennifer Schwartz Gallery, has come up with a unique idea for bringing fine art photography to collectors…she has just launced a Kickstarter campaign which will allow her to travel the country, bringing photographs to the people, rather than the people to the photographs…and you can help her to get started.

So in her words:
Its a crusade. A crusade for collecting.

Bringing art to the people.

Tell me about this crusade. . .

Culturally, we are in our prime. We have sophisticated tastes and crave unique experiences. We are on-trend, we are curious, we are seekers.

And yet, we dont buy art. roofing repairs . We dont patronize galleries and museums, and we dont support artists. Abstractly, we think art is interesting and to be valued, but we are not collectors.

I am on a crusade for collecting. For cultivating a new crop of art collectors. For making collecting cool.

Because it is cool. Falling in love with an original piece of art and buying it. That is collecting. It doesnt have to cost you thousands of dollars or even make a huge dent in your paycheck. Its about the connection. Its about looking at something and having an emotional response. Feeling something. Home Security Systems in San Fernando, CA . And then purchasing that piece and hanging it on your wall and living with it. Your home becomes personal. Your walls start to describe you, and everywhere you look you see something you love.

That is collecting. And that is beyond cool.

So what am I going to do about it?

Well, if were talking crusade, then Ive got to get out there. Not in a medieval military sort of way. All the passion without the violence and gore. A call to arms for art.

So I take this show on the road. I go on a 10 week, 10 city tour and do pop-up shows of photography from The Ten (a project I created to promote photography and collecting). I get a van and trick it out to have storage racks for framed art and flat files. Then I roll into town and show work right out of the van. Bringing art to the people. An art revival, tents and all.

Art is awesome. Heart art.

I want to talk about this far and wide and give people the opportunity to connect with photography and bring it home with them. A different photographer will travel with me on each leg of the trip. Well be talking photography, live blogging, creating podcasts and Blair Witch style video. You will be able to follow us from city to city, and I do hope youll visit.

I want to start a movement, spark a fire.

I just need the wheels.

ReRuns: Enrique Ahumada

I have a house full of guests and am taking the day off! So am sharing a previous post on Enrique Ahumada!

Enrique Ahumada is an Argentine American who discovered the power of photographic images at an early age. Growing up in Buenos Aires, I asked Enrique what brought him to the United States. He said that after an artist friend returned to Argentina after an extended absence, I asked her what she as an artist found to be the biggest difference between Europe and the US. She told me that Europe was truly the Old World, that sometimes it seemed that everything had already been done there. While in the US, in comparison, it was like everything was in constant change, even those things that seemed to have already been done.

When I realized that I was in need of a fresh start for my life, that thought came to mind. Where else could I find a better place to nurture my passion for photography? Where else could I look for new ideas and new horizons outside and inside of me? Where else could I be challenged by such a diverse human and social tapestry? Should I move to a place where the rules were written in ancient stone or to a place where stones were meant to be broken to build new worlds?

Enrique has been working in the advertising field for many years and he has found inspiration from the art directors, artists, and photographers that surround him. His own specialty is with words, but his desire to express himself in the visual world drew him back to his childhood love of photography.

At Review LA, Enrique had one of the most clever and engaging “leave-behinds” I’ve seen. Created through Mag Cloud, Enrique created his own fashion magazine, using the images of mannequins from his series, Women In Windows. A take-off of a “W” magazine, Enrique created M (ode) magazine. It’s a smart and interesting way to present work and it’s for sale on Mag Cloud if you want to purchase a copy.

I’m featuring work from two series, Women in Windows, and Purloined. I don’t recommend Enrique’s “shoot while driving” technique used in the latter series, especially now that California has banned all forms of hand held objects (next could be the Starbucks cup) while driving.

From Women in Windows:I suppose inside every photographer lives a voyeur. A voyeur that goes beyond his basic pleasure, his primitive instincts, trying to get thrilled by capturing something– with the help of his camera, as his blind witness, and share his joy with people. We can also say that a photographer is a voyager as well. A voyager that enjoys traveling around seeing the world in a different way than the ordinary. Cropping and highlighting reality, unveiling what is hidden to the everyday viewer. Women in Windows reflects some of the impact that certain window mannequins had on my voyeur and my voyager selves. The impact of their silent feminine beauty, sometimes half naked sometimes half dressed, triggered all sorts of sensations, emotions and thoughts for me. Their sex appeal certainly tricked my eye. As I turned my head, suddenly, in a glimpse they seemed real. I could feel their presence. Actually, they were real to me for a portion of a second, like in a dream. A very exciting dream where my most secret desires take their own photographs.

From Purloined: “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” Confucius. Driving is embracing the traffic and erasing everything else. We commute to forget the experience of the rest of the world. As in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The purloined letter,” beauty is out there hidden in plain sight. We look at it but we just can’t see it. This series of photographs, which I took while driving, is a first attempt to reconnect with the world around me. To restore the idea of appreciating the ride rather than just my final destination. To acknowledge the existence of beauty out of my bubble on wheels. Enjoying the light bathing a well designed building. Or being surprised by people or an unusual sign or graffiti. Beauty is out there. Shouldn’t I unveil it?

Photographer #335: Mauro D’Agati

Mauro D’Agati, 1968, Italy, is a documentary photographer who has released various monographs with large publishers. One of the books is Alamar (2010), telling the story on the town close to Havana in Cuba. It was once a symbol of the utopian dream of the socialist community. Although build with passion during the 1970’s, it has been constructed in an amateurish way and has become more of an example of chaos and mistakes. In his book Napule Shot (2010) he shows us various aspects and sections of Naples through various characters and locations. Other books Mauro has released are Palermo Unsung (2009) on performances at local music festivals in various districts of Palermo, Vucciria (2006) about an old market neighbourhood in Palermo and Less Vegas (2011) with stories in and around Las Vegas. The following images come from the series Alamar, Napule Shot and Vucciria.

Website: www.maurodagati.com
(Video in Italian)

Wayne Levin

Underwater surfers and swimmers

I featured Wayne Levin’s stunning images of Fish Schools three years ago on Lenscratch, but I really didn’t do the project justice. I never tire of looking at the amazing natural phenomenon of life underwater, and Mr. Levin serves it up in spades. Wayne received his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, and an MFA in Photography from Pratt Institute. I met Wayne in Hawaii last year, at the La Pietra School in Honolulu where he started the photography program in the 80’s and it was obvious that his passion for photography, especially under the water, is not slowing down. His website reflects many series, centered around the ocean, and very much worth exploring.

Human fish schools shot during a triathalon

Fish Schools