Tag Archives: Personal Spaces

SW Regional SPE: Skott Chandler

Sharing photographers that I met at the SW Regional SPE Conference hosted by the Center of Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado….

I think most of us would like to think we lead interesting lives, but Colorado photographer, Skott Chandler provides the evidence that much of what we do is routine or banal. Skott gave a spirited presentation at SPE that spoke to his creative approaches to making images. The photographs featured today from his project, House Watch, are the result of self-created pinhole cameras secured to the ceilings of a whole host of living spaces.  The results reflect how people (and dogs) use space–those who are in focus or semi-focus are more stationary, those who disappear are only moving through the room.

Skott is a  photographic artist in Denver, Colorado where he teaches at the Art Institute of Colorado. He received his degree in Studio Art at Southern Utah University, and during that time he received a UGRASP (Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Program) grant for his surreal Photocubism series.
He then received his MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Skott has exhibited work throughout the United States, as well as internationally in Bordeaux, France, Hong Kong, and Geneva, Switzerland. His work was selected for Klopmpching Gallery’s inaugural FRESH 2011 photography competition and he was recognized by Gallery 263 in Cambridge, MA, as one of the Top 30 Emerging Artist Under 30 for 2011.

 House Watch

Humans have many levels of connection with their personal spaces. Narratives within these domestic spaces differ depending on the inhabitants and their activities that may be mundane, ambiguous, hilarious, absurd, or unsettling. The space within a house affects the inhabitants, and the inhabitants affect the space–an oddly intriguing phenomenon that proves difficult to visualize. 

Creating a photographic representation of such an abstract emotional experience was my motivation. The photographs take the perspective of an omniscient voyeur investigating the dynamics of space within a home. Ceiling mounted pinhole cameras cast an unflinching gaze upon the inhabitants and rooms within the walls; not to judge, but to witness.

E. Brady Robinson

There are an infinite amount of approaches to portraiture, and one that is incredibly revealing and insightful is to look at personal spaces.  E. Brady Robinson has explored this approach in her terrific series, Desks as Portraits: An Inside Look at the DC Art World . I first met Brady as a co-exhibitor at the Lishui Photography Fesitval in China this past fall.  Her exhibition was greeted by the Chinese with great success and it garnered her the Grand Prize in the American Life exhibition.

Brady has a long roster of exhibitions, has been featured in a myriad of publications, and her work is held in many significant collections. She received her MFA in Photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art and
BFA in Photography from The Maryland Institute, College of Art in
Baltimore, Maryland . Brady  maintains a studio in Washington,
DC and Orlando, Florida. She is Associate Professor in the School of
Visual Arts and Design, University of Central Florida. Brady is also working to make Fotoweek D.C., running November 9-18th, a huge success.

Images from Desks as
Portraits: An Inside Look at the DC Art World 

Desks as Portraits: An Inside Look at the DC Art World documents the desks of artists, curators, collectors, art critics, dealers, museum directors and taste makers in the District. This project has become a “six degrees of separation” in the DC Art World. One photo shoot leads to another in which Brady asks for recommendations and names of possible subjects. Further introductions are made and invitations accepted which allows her private access to people who are making significant contributions to contemporary art and photography in DC.

This series explores the concept of desk as portrait combined with the social experiment of navigating the DC art world. Robinson plans to continue this series in new markets at home and abroad. This work has been featured in The Washington Post, Channel One Russia TV and won Grand Prize in the “American Life” exhibition in the 2011 Lishui Photography Festival.

The Darkroom: Nostalgia for a Dying Craft

The thought that most photographers working today will no longer, or will never, step foot in a traditional analog darkroom is remarkable for me. So much of the public imagination historically (and cinematically) with “photography” has been tied to the image of a man or woman hunched over trays of liquid watching an image appear on paper while enshrouded by the warm, amber glow of a safelight. Will that collective image ever be replaced with one of someone sliding a cursor along a histogram while bathed in the cool glow of a Macintosh monitor? Adam Bartos’s new book from Steidl Darkroom sheds some white light on the dying craft of analog printmaking and the environments that have produced most of the medium’s greatest images.

©Steidl—Adam Bartos

The cover of Adam Bartos’s new book from Darkroom.

Bartos is a photographer of the generation where working in a darkroom was a natural extension of the artist’s process and although I suspected this book to be a kind of lament to their near extinction, Bartos himself has been making digital prints of his work for over a decade.

“I’ve never thought that spending time in a darkroom makes for a better (or worse) photographer. That’s a matter of choice and process…The difference might be that I make distinctions about prints because I have a feeling for them as objects with history. Those of us who have spent time in darkrooms may be more likely to share that experience, but I hope that photographers who haven’t will be interested in what the possibilities of printmaking are before thoughtlessly accepting the standard product. It’s quite easy to make a digital print that looks alright, but it’s still very difficult to make one that is beautiful and expressive.”

Bartos’s still-lifes describe how darkrooms are part laboratory and part personal spaces – lived in and decorated with talismans; a ball compass hangs from a safelight fixture, old test prints and penciled notations are left pinned to walls, layers of dust coat unused equipment. (I recall reading a story about the American photographer Garry Winogrand and his darkroom enlarger upon which hung several items including an old bow-tie and a string of rosary beads. When asked about these things he simply replied, “They can’t hurt.”)

I have spent most of my life as a printer in such environs so the first few images bring a flood of memories from the last twenty-five years: Printing in Helen Buttfield’s ancient darkroom above the old Irving Klaw Studio where Betty Page was often photographed at 212 East 14th street; Trying to print on GAF photo-paper that had expired in 1968 – the same year I was born; My printing teacher Sid Kaplan pouring his hot coffee into the developer tray because the chemistry was “too cold”; Coming home to find a pigeon sitting on my film drying lines in my improvised darkroom in my 35th street tenement apartment. Discovering my cat Bun-Bun had once again used one of my 16X20 developing trays as a litter box. Having my exhaust fan tumble out of my window and somehow shatter my downstairs neighbor’s window. The shrill beep of my Gra-lab enlarger timer as it counted down: 5, 4, 3, 2…

Adam Bartos’s Darkroom is available from Steidl this now.

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