Tag Archives: Photographic History

Portrait of a City: A Look at London

In the new photo book London: Portrait of a City, editor Reuel Golden says he wanted to use images to convey the history of the city and tell it in a compelling way that will sort of surprise people as well. That’s no easy feat when the city in question is one of the world’s oldest. But Golden says he found Londons photographic history was most compelling in three main eras: the Victorian period, the post-World War II era and the swinging ’60s. Images from those particular time periods, according to Golden, best displayed the character of the city, the soul of the city and the personality of the city.

Thats not to say the process was simple. To kick the project off, a few thousand photos were compiled, many of which were found buried in dusty drawers from places like the London Metropolitan Archive, which catalogs records of the city. Then came the task carried out by Golden, famed publisher Benedikt Taschen and art director Josh Bakerof whittling down the thousands of images into a manageable collection of photos that exemplified London. Though the book is the latest in a series of city-themed collections (past books have featured New York and Berlin), when it came to picking images of London, the team was especially critical in what they included. They were looking for photos that exuded fashion, a certain kind of cool,” says Golden. “And also you want to show ready identifiable icons.

Throughout the pageswhich also feature essays on the citythere are images of London life from the East end to the West end, all of which are invariably both familiar and fresh. Each image symbolizes a recognizable piece of Londons architecture, history, culture and of course, its iconic style, but often in a way that’s never been seen before.

The end result is a 552-page behemoth of a book with hundreds of images from anonymous and amateur photographers, as well as the big names of the business like Bill Brandt and David Bailey. article writing submission . Its important to get a good mix of big, important photographers, but also people who just documented London in a totally, totally different way, says Golden. Part of our mission behind these books is to sort of discover lesser known photographers and bring them out to the light of the world.

London: Portrait of a City was recently released byTASCHEN.

Review Santa Fe: David Emitt Adams

Over the next month, I will be sharing the work of photographers who attended Review Santa Fe in June.  Review Santa Fe is the only juried review in the United States and invites 100 photographers to Santa Fe for a long weekend of reviews, insights, and connections.  I was fortunate enough to be a pre-juror for this event. 
Arizona photographer, David Emitt Adams has a wonderful project that pulls us back and forth through photographic history.  Exquisitely presented, his project, 36 Exposures, shines a light on what we have lost in the digital world–the tactile presence of objects that surround film, and the creation of work that does not require a battery or outlet.  His work focuses on historical media and uses that media to create an informed contemporary dialogue about photography’s past and present.

David received a BFA from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and an MFA from Arizona State University.  His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and
abroad. David was selected for the prestigious Lens Culture
International Exposure Award 2011
and most recently, was awarded the Freestyle
Crystal Apple Award
for Outstanding Achievement in Black and White
Photography.  Within the last year,
David was awarded the Nathan Cummings Foundation $5000 travel grant that funded
a trip to France and England.  This
opportunity enabled him to investigate the resurgence of antiquated processes
at its source and their application in contemporary photography. Currently he is working on two new bodies of work as an
Artist-in-Residence at Art Intersection in Gilbert, Arizona. 

Images from 36 Exposures
As an artist who is enthralled with photography, I gain
pleasure from exploring its past and discovering how that past relates to where
the medium is today.  Photography
is in the era of megapixels and I have made the conscious decision to embrace
the processes and elements of display from
photography’s past.  This is
not to say that I have rejected the digital era. 
I, too, own a digital camera, but have chosen to conduct a
constant search to understand everything photography is, and could be.

In the piece 36
Exposures, I have used 35mm film canisters that were discarded by my
“Introduction to Photography” students as a base to hold their portraits.  I employed a labor-intensive, 19th
century, chemical photographic procedure known as the wet plate collodion
process to make the students’ photographs on the very film canisters that
played a crucial role in their initial understanding of photography.  The canisters and the process I used
speak of the evolving nature of photography, representation, and culture.  By mining the history of photography, I
can find the relevance of my work today. 

The Latin American Photobook, Jonathan Torgovnik’s Intended Consequences Win Les Rencontres d’Arles Awards

The Latin American Photobook, edited by Horacio Fernández and published by Aperture, has been awarded the historical book award at the Rencontres d’Arles photography festival. The volume, a blend of bibliography, facsimile, and encyclopedia, offers a critical study of the most important photography books to come out of Latin America, from the 1920s to today. Along with Aperture’s The Dutch Photobook: A Thematic Selection from 1945 Onwards and Japanese Photobooks of the 1960s and ’70s, The Latin American Photobook is part of a growing body of scholarship on the photobook and its place in photographic history.

Jonathan Torgovnik won the Rencontres d’Arles Discovery prize for Intended Consequences—his portraits of women and their children who were born of rape in the Rwandan genocide—which was published by Aperture in 2009. Watch an excerpt of a panel discussion with Torgovnik, and read an interview with the photographer on FLYP. Intended Consequences and limited-edition prints of Torgovnik’s work are available for up to 35% off as part of Aperture’s summer sale, until midnight EST, August 10, 2012.

Check out The Guardian for more coverage of the Rencontres d’Arles festival prizes.

A Brief, Photographic History of Republished Books

As we increase our understanding of the history of photography as defined by its great accomplishments in bookmaking, the question of the availability of that printed history becomes central. The coveted first edition of a classic photo book can at times demand a higher price tag than even original photographic prints. The art of “the book,” in some circles, has overshadowed the offerings of the gallery world.

Reprints of older photobooks, commonly known as second editions, have been one way for newer generations of photographers and students of photography to become familiar with and learn from artists who came before them. Books have served me by informing and inspiring me throughout my own photographic practice for more than two decades.

But where multiple printings are common with books of literature or non-fiction, reprints are not as common for many visual books after they are considered out of print. This usually rests on two main factors: First, in the world of art book publishing, there is rarely financial gain for the publisher involved, let alone the artist. The second factor is that artists tend to be resistant to repetition, thinking that reprinting the same exact book, edition after edition, seems to be an unnecessary act.

The result is that the books tend to become rare and increasingly valuable to collectors, leaving them sought-after but difficult to see firsthand. In a medium where the book plays such an important role in its progression, it is an unfortunate fact that so many examples of some of the greatest photobooks have been essentially lost to history. That notion fueled my own publishing project, Errata Editions, which offers studies of rare photobooks that won’t see a traditional reprint because of the aforementioned reasons.

In the Errata series of “books on books,” each volume is dedicated to the study of one photobook that has been recognized as important to the history of the genre. They present images of all of the page spreads contained in the original books, along with contemporary essays about the book. Within three years, we have published twelve volumes that include studies of books by Eugene Atget, Walker Evans, Chris Killip, William Klein, Paul Graham, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, David Goldblatt and others.

Artists open to reprinting their books often tinker with their creations by reediting. However, a complete reenvisioning of the book in its entirety was apparent with Josef Koudelka’s book Gypsies. That book represented a kind of revisioning in reverse, as the 2011 edition is actually closer to Koudelka’s original vision for the book, whereas the 1975 edition was a construction of Robert Delpire, the editor and publisher.

For many other artists, what might be seen as the flaws of youthful instinct give way, over time, to a desire to clean up the editing or design in any given book, or to revisit contact sheets and give new life to many images that were left out of the original book. The Magnum photographer Bruce Davidson has republished some of his classic books, such as East 100th Street and his recent new edition of Subway, both of which present newly edited material. Davidson has also taken the advances in printing technology to heart as additional attention has been made to color-correct the images to Davidson’s current slightly colder palette.

An interesting case in point is William Klein’s masterwork Life is Good & Good for You in New York, first published in 1956. When Klein revisited those same photographs in the mid-1990s, he completely redesigned and reedited the work—removing much of the original’s energetic and experimental design—until there was little, if any, similarity to the original book. “The first book was about graphic design. The second was about the photography,” he says of the two editions. Whether you agree or not, that resistance to repeat is apparent.

Over the years a resurgence of reprints has hit bookstores, and a few have come from the German publisher Steidl. Last December saw a set of facsimile reprints of several important, if somewhat obscure, political photobooks with The Protest Box, edited by the British photographer and photobook historian Martin Parr. Elsewhere, Dewi Lewis has released another printing of the Dutch photographer Ed van der Elsken’s exquisite 1954 Love on the Left Bank, which is faithful to the original. And a new edition of one of the top-selling photobooks of all time, the 1972 Diane Arbus monograph from Aperture, is now available.

While not all photobooks considered great or groundbreaking will see a reprint, one can hope that enough will exist to maintain a full sense of photobook history.

Jeffrey Ladd is a photographer, writer, editor and founder of Errata Editions. Visit his blog here.

Ann Mitchell: The Medium is the Message

I am thrilled that my friend Ann Mitchell who is a wonderful photographer and educator, created a blog post for me while I am halfway around the world. Huge thanks to Ann for her contribution of this enlightening essay.

For the vast portion of photographic history, image-making has been a repeatable experience. You captured an image on film and then it could be replicated indefinitely. Photography’s power was in the actual image, and sometimes in the luscious print, but it is generally been viewed as primarily an image-based discipline. Today I’m showing five photographers that push beyond that viewpoint by incorporating an element of “objectness” in their artwork.

Mixing politics, personal experience and fantasy, Dinh Q. Le creates his imagery out of a wide variety of found photographs that are reprinted, cut into thin strips and then woven together.

Untitled (#2), 1998

Untitled (Paramount), 2003

Mr. Le uses the traditional Vietnamese mat-weaving techniques that he was taught by his aunt and then finishes them with linen tape on the edges. Initially, he started by working with imagery from both Vietnam and America that dealt with the Vietnamese War and went on to incorporate imagery from commercial sources such as cereal boxes and candy wrappers. His imagery addresses the experience of being between two countries and examines the roll that images play in our memories and imaginations.

Alternative Processes are by their nature unique, but some artists have taken that concept even further by working with “cameraless” images. Jerry Burchfield’s Exotics combined installation with performance to create one-of-a-kind lumen prints, that literally exposed themselves over the length of each exhibition. Working with exotic plant cuttings, collected from the natural environments near the exhibition venue, a seven foot diameter platform was created for the mandala-like installation.

Exotics Riverside, opening reception

Exotics Riverside, closing reception

At the end of the exhibition (some of which lasted as long as 3 months) the image was fixed and then unveiled at the closing reception. The first image above shows the installation of the plant cuttings on photographic paper at the Exotics Riverside CMP opening, while the second image shows the final revealed print at the closing reception. Mr. Burchfield was also known for his participation in the Legacy Project which created the world’s largest negative a few years ago.

Chris McCaw’s “Sunburn” series features unique gelatin silver paper negatives created in-camera with massively long exposures that push the photographic material beyond its normal responses into solarization. He sees the work as a partnership with “the sun becoming an active participant in part of the printmaking.”

Sunburned GSP#323 (Santa Cruz Mtns/expand & contract), 2009

Sunburned GSPS 166 (Mojave Winter Solstice full day) 2007

In this process the sun burns its path onto the light sensitive negative. After hours of exposure, the sky, as a result of the extremely intense light exposure, reacts in an effect called solarization– a natural reversal of tonality through over exposure. The resulting negative literally has a burnt hole in it with the landscape in complete reversal. The subject of the photograph (the sun) has transcended the idea that a photograph is simple a representation of reality, and has physically come through the lens and put it’s hand onto the final piece. This is a process of creation and destruction, all happening within the the camera.”

Stephen Berkman’s installations reflect a deep interest and understanding of the photographic process. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to see his exhibition at Loyola Marymount University’s Laband Art Gallery. What I was really captivated by were his installation pieces which played with the physical nature of photography and light.

Installation view, Looking Glass

Looking Glass Study, calotype and kosher salt print

Throughout it all, there was a wry sense of humor, as evidenced by his “Looking Glass” piece above, a clear glass camera obscura which is capturing and projecting the image of a cromagnon skull on its ground glass. Another favorite of mine was Surveillance Obscura, a wooden box-like camera obscura mounted on the wall at ceiling height. The entire exhibition felt like walking in a magician’s workshop.

Amanda Keller Konya has explored the meaning and practice of photography through several series that go beyond the 2-dimensional approach. Her series “Specimens from North America’s most polluted river” features a series of photographs submerged in a jar of the water that is featured in each photograph. Each jar then sits on its own shelf for the installation of the work.

In addition to the multilayered environmental, social and political issues that provoked my interest in the New River, throughout my photographic practice, I continue to be dedicated to a critical investigation of the photographic medium. To play with ideas of image construction, a reversal of the photographic experience is built into the work. The viewer looks through the river water to access the photographic referent where as one would usually look at the image to arrive at the river referent.”

If these approaches to working with photographic materials interest you, here’s a few more great resources to check out: Chuck Close’s work with daguerrotypes, Photography’s Antiquarian Avant-Guard: The New Wave in Old Processes, Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison: The Architect’s Brother series, Jose Manuel Fors, Artists and Alchemists: the trailer for a documentary on the Antiquarian movement and Scully & Osterman.

My thanks to Dan Miller, Amanda Keller-Konya and Brian Doan for their input and suggestions on this list and my thanks to Aline for allowing me to write this post.

Success Stories: Tami Bone

I’m been a fan of Tami Bone’s dreamy and surreal photographs for a long time and I have been remiss in sharing her work on Lenscratch. I recently received a newsletter from The Center of Fine Art Photography sharing the news that Tami’s work had received the Juror’s Award in the Center Forward exhibition, and in addition, her work has been selected for The Texas Photographic Society Print Program. As her achievements mount, I thought it would be a good time to share her success story.

Born in South Texas and currently living in Austin, Tami attended the University of Texas and has continued her photographic education through classes and workshops. The images from her newest work are sometimes, but not always, constructions of several images. Each one begins as handwritten notes about a particular memory or imagining from her childhood, forming a narrative for the image. As the story unfolds, she begins photographing, often times going back and re-photographing an element over and over until it becomes clear as to what it should be. The journey from concept to finish seems to have a mind all its own, as if the story wants to be told as much as she wants to do the telling.

Congratulations on your Center of Fine Art Photography Award! It’s great to see your work getting recognition. Tell me a little bit about your photographic history. What drew you to the medium?

Thank you! I’ve always related visually to my surroundings, although my interest in photography started about 20 years ago when my children were young. I wanted photographs reflecting how I saw them, and decided then to study photography. So, at that time I started taking photography classes at my local community college, and fell in love with the darkroom. A few years later I was doing freelance portrait work, mainly photographing children in an environmental style. I was also fortunate to photograph in a journalistic way at the local elementary school, and began submitting work to a suburban newspaper and getting images published regularly. So I would say that photographing my own children as well as others initially drew me into photography, although thinking back to my early years, I remember being mesmerized with my parents’ Life and Look magazines. I believe it was the often raw emotion that was so compelling.

How did you develop you signature style? Was it evolutionary? Did you start off with toy cameras?

That’s interesting about a signature style, as I don’t think of it that way, but more as a way of seeing. I can’t remember where it began. I think to some extent it’s always been a part of who I am. I would say that tapping into my vision and learning to photograph and print in a way that expresses it has most definitely been evolutionary and taken years to unfold. I am fairly driven and I want to understand the process as best I can, so I’ve always got myself on a learning curve. My grandmother gave me a white Polaroid camera when I was in my teens, but it wasn’t then that I fell in love. Later, when I knew I had to study photography I bought a Nikon film camera. It felt like an extravagant purchase, and the manual was daunting!

Were/are you influenced by a particular photographer or artist?

Yes, there are so many wonderful visual artists, but specifically I have been influenced by Keith Carter for his sensitivity and love of being astounded by beauty. I have two of his pieces on a wall that I pass by many times a day, and the work never ceases to move me. Sean Perry’s personal vision has been an influence. Sean is the quintessential artist and I was also fortunate to have him as a teacher. He pulled me out of a class one day to talk about my work, and it was the first time that I started to understand that it could move beyond portraiture. Bill Kennedy, a teacher in the photo department at St. Edward’s University in Austin, and owner of K2 Press has been a wonderful encourager. Some years ago Bill said to me, “The most important thing about your work is knowing what you have to say.” I think of that piece of advice often.

I also have to say that the natural world, everyday people and creatures, pure ordinary light at the end of a day – these things have been a constant influence as long as I can remember.

Your resume is ever expanding–you were in 10 shows last year and 5 already this year. Do you have a philosophy or approach to submitting to competitions?

Initially my philosophy was to just get the work out and to start building a resume. I was doing the work long before I started submitting, so I felt I was playing catch-up. Now I am more selective as far as choosing competitions with jurors I’d like to get the work in front of.

Are you active in Social Media and has it changed how you promote your work?

I’m not as active as I probably should be with social media. I have a twitter account, but haven’t caught on. I use facebook primarily to stay in touch with fellow photographers/artists around the world. I love being able to see what people are doing and read about their work.

Have you attended portfolio reviews?

Yes, I attended PhotoNola in 2007 and Review Santa Fe in 2008. I was as nervous as I’ve ever been in my life before PhotoNola! I’m going to Photolucida in a few weeks, and am still getting ready, and yes, nervous.

What advice would you give other emerging photographers?

I would say several things – decide on a project, any project, as long as it’s accessible. Begin photographing and try to see the process as being as important as the final prints. There is wonderful opportunity for growth both photographically and personally in project-driven work. The two are so intertwined. Also, I would say to give a lot of thought to whatever it is that is unique to you. Think about what has been never-changing and there for as long as you can remember. Ask yourself why it is important, and then figure out how to start expressing that uniqueness visually. You’ll know when you’ve hit upon it because it will feel completely vulnerable.

And finally, describe your perfect day.

Okay, my perfect day would be surfing gentle waves in a remote area on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, followed by aimless wandering with my camera until the sun came down. And if that isn’t doable, I’m thrilled to have a few hours to devote to photography, especially when I have a concept in mind for an image. I love getting caught up in a good story.

Shadow Catchers: Camera-Less Photography

Image © Floris Neusüss

If you haven’t had a chance to check out Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography at the V&A yet, there’s still time, as the show closes it’s doors on 20 February. Featuring Floris Neusüss, Pierre Cordier, Susan Derges, Garry Fabian Miller and Adam Fuss, the exhibition offers a cross-section of the careers of each artist alongside new work created exclusively for the occasion.

In contrast to the visually verbose nature of much photography, the work of the artists presented here is by turns minimal and reductive. The differing techniques – achieved by not using a camera – create an interesting sense of indexicality and gently coax the viewer into a highly contemplative state. Living up to the title, the ethereal and the fleeting loom large and the work often draws inspiration from nature, religion, science as well as photographic history.

Introducing the exhibition is Floris Neusüss’ work – well developed in exploring it’s themes of “mythology, history, nature and the subconcious”. At times somewhat fetishised, his Gewitterbild pieces – photographs exposed by lightning – were fascinating in their inversion of ideas of authorship.

Pierre Cordier is unique within the group, insisting strongly that he does not ‘make’ photographs. His highly complex works stem from a strong interest in the cryptic, the cult-ish and the encoded. These, combined with his pseudo-scientific approach provide an intoxicating mix of both control and chance, all enshrouded by an air of obsessiveness.

Renown for her photograms of water, Susan Derges work is largely influenced by ideas of cyclical rhythm and ‘what underlies the visual’. Her Arch series is truly brought to life with a separate room solely dedicated to it allowing you to fully soak it in.

Masterful in his execution,Garry Fabian Miller‘s abstract images focus on “the essence of photography: time and light”. His ‘photographs’ take both a spiritual and meditative form, seeming always to posit the question ‘what is the real essence?’

Seeming to finally underscore and examine our relationship to nature, the final room in the exhibition is dedicated entirely to Adam Fuss’ series My Ghost. Nuss takes us on a journey of the spiritual through symbolic and emblematic motifs.

The truism that sometimes the nature of things can be better understood, not by what they are, but by what they are not, certainly seems apt here, and as a whole, the exhibition is defined in this way – rather than documenting the world, the camera-less photographs show what has never really existed at all.

Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography is curated by Martin Barnes, Senior Curator of Photographs at the V&A and exhibits from the 13 October – 20 February.

The Grange Prize Shortlist

In late May, AGO and Aeroplan announced the four shortlisted artists for the Grange Prize. These four photographers – Josh Brand, Moyra Davey, Leslie Hewitt, and Kristan Horton – represent a variety of creative styles and four intriguing views of the photographic medium.

Get to know these artists and their work at the Grange Prize website, where you will find images, video, and a history of the prize. Over the past few weeks, The Grange Prize blog has posted videos of each artist as they discuss their work and techniques – everything from materials, use of space, perspective, their photographic history, and even a bit of philosophy.

One of the best elements of this contest? Beginning Wednesday September 22, the public (meaning YOU) can visit the GP site to vote for the winner. So get to watching, reading, and voting!

Josh Brand

A selection of works by all four shortlisted artists will be on view at the MoCP from October 8 through December 23, 2010.