Tag Archives: Personal Project

Eleonora Ronconi

I’m excited to introduce photographer, Eleonora Ronconi,  as next week’s guest curator and writer.  My busy travel schedule this fall opened an opportunity to ask a few guest editors to share work from different parts of the world, giving Lenscratch readers a fresh perspective on photography outside of the United States.  Next week Eleonora will be presenting photographers from Latin America, and in upcoming weeks, German photographer, Jacqueline Roberts, will be sharing work from European Photographers.  I can’t wait to see who they feature and learn more about global photography starting on Monday.  Thank you in advance to Eleonora and Jacqueline for all their efforts.

Eleonora Ronconi by Aline Smithson

Growing up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Eleonora tried to balance her love for the arts and sciences. She attended medical school for four years, but then had a change of heart and followed her entrepreneurial spirit and fluency in multiple languages to begin a career in conference interpreting. Her business has allowed her to travel extensively, and in 1998 she settled in Northern California and established her own interpreting company. Her photography has been a life long passion. Eleonora’s first solo exhibition was in her native Buenos Aires in 2009 and she has exhibited around the globe. Her work has been published by numerous magazines including Fraction and F-Stop.  She is best known for her project, Once Upon a Time, that deals with memory and loss. I am featuring her cell phone project, Fragmentos today.

image from Once Upon a Time
FRAGMENTOS 

These photos are part of an ongoing personal project about my childhood.

I have been living in California for 13 years and even though I visit Buenos Aires every year, this was the first time that I photographed there.

I have been going through a difficult transitional time, so I decided, on this visit, to go back to my roots and rebuild myself with a camera in hand. 

These images represent my past and symbolize ephemeral moments that developed right before my eyes, just like an old Polaroid photo. From the window of my now empty bedroom in the house where I grew up, to the fish head caught by my departed father, which sits on top of my aunt’s fridge, these photographs document the objects of my past that make up a puzzle I am trying to put together… 

I chose to use my iPhone camera because its small size and ease of use helps me stay in the moment with my surroundings. It also affords me spontaneity and the freedom to express my feelings right in that very moment.

Spencer Murphy


All images © Spencer Murphy

Spencer Murphy’s name should ring a bell thanks to his editorial commissions which has seen his photography published in such places as The Guardian Weekend, Telegraph Magazine, New Statesman, and the FT Weekend. He has also been included in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize no less than five times!

Here though are extracts from a personal project, a delicate and visually understated series entitled The Abyss Gazes Into You. It offers a gentle and thoughtful glimpse of Murphy’s use of the landscape as inspiration and as a means to discover something within him.

“These images are a reflection of something inside myself – a feeling of both being trapped and floating endlessly in time and space, a mixture of hope and despair, desolation and beauty,” says Murphy.

“The sense, perhaps, of what it is to live a finite life in an infinite universe. They are pictures that, to me, hint at the unfathomable scale not only of the universe, but of life itself. They are instances in which, by accident or design, I have found myself staring once more into the abyss, and the abyss has momentarily returned my gaze.”

Lofty themes and grand claims, but does the work bear the weight of these words? Check out more from the series here and decide for yourselves. We are giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Born in 1978, Murphy grew up in the Kentish countryside and studied photography at University College Falmouth, graduating in 2002. Murphy now lives and works in London.

Photographer #452: Julio Bittencourt

Julio Bittencourt, 1980, Brazil, started his photographic career in 2000 as a photographer and assistant photo editor for the newspaper Valor Economico in Sao Paulo. Since 2006 he has been working as an independant photographer. In his series In a Window of Prestes Maia 911 Building he documented the residents of possibly the largest squat in the world. The building had been vacant for over a decade. In 2003 the ‘Movement of the Homeless’ had moved in hundreds of homeless families. They created a new community who drove out the vermin and drug dealers and created workshops and a library. In 2006 the new residents were told that they would be evicted. The project was released as a book in 2008. For his project Citizen X he focused on the housing problem in Brazil again. He shows abandoned spaces that represent “both a testament to the magnitude of the problemas well as a source of potential hope for change.”  His personal project Ramos focuses on an artificial salt water lake surrounded by 15 favelas run by drug-trafficking gangs. Even though violence plagues the favelas, the park has been mostly free of problems. It is a crowded and polluted place where people enjoy the beach, sun and Brazilian rum. His work has been exhibited on numerous occasions worldwide and published in prestigious magazines as Time, Stern and GEO. The following images come from the series Ramos, Citizen X and In a Window of Prestes Maia 911 Building.


Website: www.juliobittencourt.com

The Girls of Chechnya

In 2010, when she was working for a news agency in Moscow, Diana Markosian asked to be sent to Chechnya. The photographer, who is Russian but studied in the United States, was 20 years old and curious about the history of the embattled region.

“They wouldn’t send me so I decided to go by myself,” she remembers. “Grozny became my destination and later became my home.”

Markosian went back repeatedly after that first visit and soon became a specialist in covering a region where, she says, many of her colleagues don’t want to go. She moved to Chechnya last November to live there full-time. But, she says, her close relationship with the area doesn’t mean that it’s not a risky place to live and work—kidnappings are frequent, she says—or that such risk does not affect her photographs. Although Russian leaders declared the region normalized and peaceful three years ago today, following more than a decade of wars against rebels, life is still fraught. They may not appear in the frames, but Chechen authorities are the unseen presence in the work shown in this gallery, a personal project through which Markosian addresses the lives of girls growing up in Chechnya.

“It’s one thing to come here for a week like I used to do. It’s another to start living here, and not only hear what these women are going through but actually experience it yourself,” she says.

Markosian says that Chechnya has experienced a wave of Islamicization since the collapse of the Soviet Union: religious dress codes are mandatory, young (and polygamous) marriages are frequent and gender roles are increasingly conservative. The president, Ramzan Kadyrov, has said publicly that women are the property of their husbands. And at the same time, high unemployment has meant that many young women who are already becoming mothers still live with their own parents.

For Markosian, this has meant that—after she was told by security officers that her belt full of lenses made her look like a suicide bomber—she carries a handbag rather than the photographer’s gear bag to which she was accustomed, and that she has gotten used to being questioned or having her photographs deleted by officers. “As a regular citizen I don’t feel danger,” she says, “but just because I’m doing something a little out of the ordinary, especially for a woman, I’m looked at more carefully.”

It has also changed her working process. Because of what she says is widespread but justified distrust, people are wary of being shown doing anything that could be perceived as unusual. Something as seemingly innocent as a photograph of a woman smoking a cigarette could have dire consequences. The fear of being different has been a particular obstacle for photographing teenagers, as their parents are worried about what might happen if their children are seen as nonconforming.

But Markosian says that, by spending weeks with her subjects before taking a single photograph, she has been able to gain the access necessary for the project. And, in doing so, she says she has found these women to be a mirror for Chechnya as a whole. “That entire idea of a generation building itself and the resilience these girls have really motivated me,” she says. “They are trying to make something of themselves at the same time that this region is trying to build after almost two decades of war.”

Diana Markosian is a photographer based in Chechnya. See more of her work here.

Bob Carey and the Tutu Project

A few days ago, I recieved an e-mail from photographer Bob Carey about his quirky and personal project – a project that requires a sense of humor and lots of courage in order to give back to a very worthy cause. So I thought I’d help him get the word out. If you are interested in participating, please visit, The Tutu Project. From here on out, I will let Bob do the talking….and the dancing.

The Tutu Project began in 2003 as a lark. I mean, really, think of it. Me photographing myself in a pink tutu, how crazy is that?

But nine years ago my wife, Linda, and I moved to the East Coast and, as odd as it may sound, the self-portraits proved to be a perfect way of expressing myself. Why? Because even though the move was exciting, exhilarating, and inspiring, it was 180 degrees from what I knew. So I took the old, mixed it in with the new, and the kept the tutu handy.

Six months after the move, Linda, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She beat it, only to have it recur in 2006. During these past nine years, I’ve been in awe of her power, her beauty, and her spirit. Oddly enough, her cancer has taught us that life is good, dealing with it can be hard, and sometimes the very best thing—no, the only thing—we can do to face another day is to laugh at ourselves, and share a laugh with others.

Enter Ballerina, the book. Not only is it a collection of my tutu images, it also shares many humorous stories about the adventures of a guy and his pink tulle. So far, there has been a tremendous response to the series of photos—people are particularly moved by the images. And their interest and enthusiasm have made us want to share that experience with as many people as possible in the form of a book, so that we can raise money to help other women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

This autumn, I will self-publish Ballerina. The net proceeds from the sale of the book will go directly to breast cancer organizations, including Cancercare.org and the Beth Israel Department of Integrative Medicine Fund, that make significant differences in the lives of women with breast cancer and in the people who love them. Our goal is to raise $75,000. But we need your help to seed the project so it will take root and grow—and positively affect these families.

Here’s how sponsorship works. For $500, you will receive a special edition 20-by-24-inch signed tutu print, valued at $1,200—along with a first edition of the book, Ballerina. You will also receive recognition on my Facebook fan page and in all other project materials, including mention in Ballerina. Best of all, there is no limit to the number of sponsorships you can purchase.

Other ways you can contribute are by purchasing a T-shirt, pre-purchasing a signed copy of Ballerina, which will ship once it is published. Of course, you can also contribute any cash amount you choose. All of these options are below.

Thank you for considering sponsorship of the much-anticipated Tutu Project. We want you to know how grateful we are. By joining us in this effort, you are making a real difference for women who have to endure far too much.

After years of talking about the project, it’s really happening—and I’m tickled pink.

On the Trail with Romney: Photographs by Lauren Fleishman

In the days leading up to yesterday’s Super Tuesday primary contests, Republican candidate Mitt Romney set his sights on Ohio, a swing state that has played a crucial role in recent presidential elections. Photographer Lauren Fleishman, who was photographing the candidate for TIME, did the same.

“I have been here before. It’s what I remember,” she says of the state, where she previously spent time working on an extensive personal project about the Amish. “The landscape still looks the same.” And, although the photographer was focused on a different kind of Ohioan this time around, she found that, while Romney was the star of the scene, the people of Ohio were still the highlight of the trip.

Photo opportunities with Romney were highly controlled—something that Justin Maxon, who was also photographing Super Tuesday for TIME, found to be equally true for Rick Santorum’s campaign. It was especially so after when Fleishman left her car to join the official campaign bus. The increase in access, the backstage passes, was paid for in limitations on where and when the photographer could stand and shoot. Taking those photographs was an artistic and technical challenge—how to make a good picture when you can’t get close enough?—but Fleishman found that the people who turned up to see the candidate were the real source of interest.

For example, at a factory in Canton, Ohio, on Monday, Fleishman turned her camera to the workers. “They were in their work outfits, which is just jumpers and construction hats, because they went to work on a Monday and a lot of them, I was told, didn’t even know that there was going to be something going on,” she says. “For me the most exciting thing is getting to see the people from each town come out, and to speak to them and to see their faces.”

From Dayton to Youngstown, each town had its own character—and each town had its own characters. Each campaign event presented the photographer with one group of people that made up one piece of Ohio. As the campaign bus traveled through the state, the photographer was able to put those pieces together, many portraits of people becoming a portrait of a state. And yesterday, anticipating leaving the state to join Romney as he waited for the day’s results in Boston, Fleishman hoped that her photographs from Ohio would show the state itself as a part of a larger puzzle.

“You get these little glimpses into different towns,” she says. “I want the photographs in some way to show a portrait of America through the candidate.”

Lauren Fleishman is an award-winning photographer based in New York City. See more of her work here and her last post on LightBox here

Stephen Wilkes

Photographer Stephen Wilkes really understands New York City. His amazing day-to-night images, taking a minimum of 10 hours to create from the same perspective, will be on exhibition at the Clamp Art Gallery in New York Ciy from September 8th through October 29th. These large scale, luscious prints take the viewer on a visual journey and create a “definitive view of New York City’s epic scale, along with the humanity and energy which flow through the city’s streets.” Be sure to click on the images to see a larger view.

Times Square, 2010

This is not the first fine art project Stephen has produced about New York. In 1999, he completed a personal project photographing the less attractive south side of Ellis Island and because of the attention this work garnered, Stephen inspired $6 million in funding to be raised towards the restoration of the south side of the island. This photographic project traveled to numerous galleries and museums across the country, culminating with an exhibition at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles in 2010.

In addition, Stephen has worked for two decades as a commercial photographer receiving numerous awards and recognition. His photographs can be found in a array of magazines including Vanity Fair, Time, Life, and The New York Times Magazine.

Images from Day to Night

Gramery Park, 2011

Coney Island, 2011

Central Park, 2010

Washington Square Park, 2009

Highline, 2009

Park Avenue, 2011

Flatiron, 2011


Stephen Wilkes

Photographer Stephen Wilkes really understands New York City. His amazing day-to-night images, taking a minimum of 10 hours to create from the same perspective, will be on exhibition at the Clamp Art Gallery in New York Ciy from September 8th through October 29th. These large scale, luscious prints take the viewer on a visual journey and create a “definitive view of New York City’s epic scale, along with the humanity and energy which flow through the city’s streets.” Be sure to click on the images to see a larger view.

Times Square, 2010

This is not the first fine art project Stephen has produced about New York. In 1999, he completed a personal project photographing the less attractive south side of Ellis Island and because of the attention this work garnered, Stephen inspired $6 million in funding to be raised towards the restoration of the south side of the island. This photographic project traveled to numerous galleries and museums across the country, culminating with an exhibition at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles in 2010.

In addition, Stephen has worked for two decades as a commercial photographer receiving numerous awards and recognition. His photographs can be found in a array of magazines including Vanity Fair, Time, Life, and The New York Times Magazine.

Images from Day to Night

Gramery Park, 2011

Coney Island, 2011

Central Park, 2010

Washington Square Park, 2009

Highline, 2009

Park Avenue, 2011

Flatiron, 2011