Tag Archives: Photoville

Shooting (Color) Blind: Matthew Gamber’s Still Lifes

A bunch of green bananas, a solitary flourescent bulb and the pie-shaped pieces of a Trivial Pursuit Game. These are the subjects of photographer Matthew Gamber’s latest collection of still lifes, titled “Any Color You Like.” The objects Gamber photographed were chosenfor their distinct and recognizable colorsa decision that appears to be in conflict with the presentation of the series as stark black-and-white prints.

The decision to print in black and white was meant, Gamber said, to challenge how people understand what they see. By using these different processes, and to try to look at certain subjects, it’s just to call attention to things that we take for granted in terms of seeing.

The inspiration for the project came while Gamber was teaching at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He discovered that a student in his color photography class was colorblind. He didn’t look at color as colorhe looked at it as value, Gamber said. He looked at it as a lack of contrast or a lack of clarity.”

The realization that his student was manipulating color, while only being able to see in tones of gray, led Gamber to create photographs that mimicked this experience. He began by shooting objects from pop-culture that were easily recognizable: a pair of 3D glasses and a Lite-Brite toy, for instance. He wanted to play with ideas of perception by removing the most recognizable feature from his subjects, their color.

I wanted it to be something that felt just out of reach, he says. I think the success of this relies on what the viewers expectations are.

As the project progressed, Gamber moved on to more subtle imagery. seo marketing . A shot of ornately patterned wallpaper in a Boston brownstone references Bauhaus-era color theory that influenced the industrial production of wallpaper in the 1930s, Gamber explained. An image of a display of North American birds took on more meaning when Gamber learned that the birds feathers do not have their own color, but rather, are able to reflect certain light spectrums.

In addition to thinking about color, Gamber wanted his photographs to play with ideas of timelessness. I wanted to shoot in a way that it looks like it could have been shot yesterday, but it also looks like it was shot in the 1940s or the 1950s, said Gamber. There is something about how when you photograph something in black and white, it gets locked in that timeframe where it just becomes obsolete as an everyday seeing experience.

Gamber spent two years on Any Color You Like, which recently won The Curator award from Photo District News and will be featured in Brooklyns Photoville show this month. All of the photographs were shot on color film or as color digital captures. The negatives and color files were then converted to black and white negatives and printed as traditional silver gelatin black-and-white prints in a darkroom.

Working on this project has influenced the way Gamber thinks about color in both his photography and his life. He has started bringing color blindness tests into the classes he teaches at various colleges in Boston. He has also, Gamber said with a chuckle, become a more color-coordinated dresser.

I can see that much more now, said Gamber I’m more aware of how we are more emotionally charged by certain colors.

Matthew Gamber is a Boston-based photographer. His photos will be featured in Brooklyn’s Photoville festival from June 22-July 1.

apertureWEEK: Online Photography Reading Shortlist

Aperture aggregates the best posts from this past week in the photography blogosphere.

  • Forty years after AP photographer Nick Ut took the iconic ‘napalm girl‘ photograph in Vietnam, photographer David Burnett writing for the Washington Post reflects on an exposure that could have been his. He was standing mere feet away from the scene, surrounded by journalists, re-loading film into his Leica when he missed what became a most emblematic moment. The entry seems like it might have been a good fit for Will Steacy’s collection Photographs Not Taken, which features similar essays from photographers on moments that never became their pictures.
  • “Radical change in the photography industry during the past five years has ignited an explosion of photo collectives,” writes James Estrin for the New York Times’ LENS Blog. He explores this recent trend after witnessing an impressive presentation by the newly formed Grain collective at the Look3 Festival in  Charlottesville, VA last month. The post offers a good bit of context for this May, 2012 Wired piece: “7 Budding Photo Collectives You Need To Know.”
  • New Yorker’s PhotoBooth profiles Underage, an exhibition of work from six emerging photographers in their late teens and early twenties on view at Photoville, an exciting, week-and-a-half-long photography happening which kicks off in Brooklyn this Friday, June 22,  and features 60,000 square feet of exhibitions, hands-on workshops, nighttime projections, a “photo dog run,” and a “camera garden.” Find daily programming here.
  • Time‘s LightBox goes “Behind the Cover: Capturing the American Dream,” exploring the process of the photo shoot for the birds-eye-view cover image by Jeff Minton that illustrates Jon Meacham’s article, “The History of the American Dream,” for this week’s magazine. They also profile Mike Sinclair, whose photographs accompany the same article inside the magazine. His current exhibition, Public Assembly, is on view at Jen Bekman Projects in New York City until June 23, 2012.
  • A few things on street photography this week. Blogger and photographer Blake Andrews, who is interviewed by LPV Magazine here, reviews Cedar Pasori’s recently published “50 Greatest Street Photographers Right Now,” with an extensive selection of images. PetaPixel posts the highly informative video by Portland-based photographer Jimmy Hickey, “How to Photograph Complete Strangers” and the free 31-day “program” and e-book by street photographer Eric Kim, “Overcoming Your Fear of Street Photography in 31 Days.” This fall, we’re very excited to be publishing a monograph by Doug Rickard, “A New American Picture,” which offers a radical rethinking of street photography–photographs re-taken in Google’s Street View.
  • Fototazo does another Book Discussion Group Recap on Gerry Badger’s collection of essays, The Pleasure of Good Photographs, this time focusing on “Without Author or Art: The Quiet Photograph,” exploring the restrained work of Stephen Shore, among others.
  • The Fotojatka festival that traveled to cinemas around the Czech Republic last week screening audiovisual photography slideshows is now offering them free on their website featuring work by Kristoffer Axén, Nikos Economopoulos, Erwin Olaf, and Reiner Riedler.

Photoville: Established 2012; Population Growing

Photography doesn’t usually have the problem that it’s too noisy an art form, but that was exactly the challenge that faced the organizers of Photoville, a new photo festival that will open in Brooklyn, New York, on June 22. One of the major components of the show is an exhibit inside a warren of industrial shipping containers. Forty-two of them, to be exact, laid out in a maze carefully planned with both exploration and safety in mind.

Sam Barzilay

Viewers check out photography in a shipping container at a past United Photo Industries event.

“Getting a container is simple. Getting 42 of them placed in an intricate pattern is complicated. The most complicated thing is they’ll show up, they’ll dump it and they’ll drive away. I’ve learned that their preferred hour of doing that is 4:30 in the morning,” says Sam Barzilay, formerly of the New York Photo Festival, who is one of the three minds behind the festival. “Dumping a container as it grinds off the truck onto cobblestone is about the loudest thing I’ve ever heard.”

But when the festival opens, the containers will be there, full of photos. And that won’t be all: Photoville will also include about 1000 feet of fencing covered with community-centric photography, presentations from organizations like the Magnum Foundation and Photo District News, a number of workshops and even a beer garden and a dog run with a dog photo booth. And it’s all completely free.

Photoville is the product of United Photo Industries, a year-old cooperative comprising Sam Barzilay, Laura Roumanos and Dave Shelley. Barzilay says that the idea behind the event, and United Photo Industries’ other projects, is the realization that New York real estate affects the art scene. Empty storefronts have meant that small pop-up galleries have been relatively accessible during the last few years, but that won’t last forever. “The writing on the wall was sooner or later the economy would pick up again and people will be back in business, opening the stores,” says Barzilay. “Those spaces weren’t going to last.” They wanted to figure out a way to continue to present artwork without the overhead needed for a giant space. And once the shipping-container idea struck, the ideas just kept coming.

The end result is meant to appeal to photographers and civilians alike. “Even though it’s the most easily relatable art medium at this point, because everybody carries a camera, I think a lot of the time people are afraid of photography exhibitions,” says Barzilay. “We’re trying to cater to a full spectrum of people. I want people to come and enjoy it.” That’s why the free and open model is so important to the organization.

Barzilay and Shelley have both worked for the New York Photo Festival in the past, but Photoville is not meant to be competition for the more established festival. New York is big enough and “art-loving enough” to support many festivals, says Barzilay—and, besides, Photoville isn’t even meant to be a festival in a traditional sense of the word. “We’re trying to build a destination, trying to build a place where you go and spend a day listening to lectures and participating in a workshop, probably having a beer, to bring your dog to the dog run,” he says. “It’s a place to spend physical time with the photography, not so much as a passive viewer.”

Photoville will be held in Brooklyn from June 22 through July 1. More information about the event is available here.

See more work from Bruce Gilden, one of Photoville’s featured photographers, here.

‘No Place Like Home: Foreclosures in America’ by Bruce Gilden

Bruce Gilden’s photo series about foreclosed homes, which will be presented this weekend by the Magnum Foundation as part of the Photoville 2012 festival, is a departure from the photographer’s usual working style—and not just because this exhibition is going to be held in a shipping container.

“It’s the only piece I’ve ever done that could be considered photojournalistic, because I work generally like a poet,” Gilden says, meaning that he went into the project with a point of view rather than just looking for people or things that caught his eye. “I take pictures of what I feel, but this is a direct thing: I’m going to photograph houses that are foreclosed.”

Gilden got started on the topic in 2008, as part of a Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund effort to revisit a 1960s project; the idea was that President Obama might present a parallel to President Kennedy, and that it was a good time to look at the state of the country. Gilden intended to go to Florida and photograph the people of Miami Beach, but his wife suggested that foreclosures might be a more appropriate subject. “I didn’t even know really what foreclosure was,” he remembers. “But I went down and did foreclosures, and as I started to do it I started to get annoyed, because I saw it’s like legalized thievery.”He subsequently began to study up on the topic—he says he has now read 20 books on the topic, throws around words like “tranche” and can cite foreclosure rates by state—and the annoyance turned to anger. That anger became the message of the photographs. “I’m not on the one-percent side,” he says.

Video about the project from Gilden’s Kickstarter page

Some people do take advantage of the mortgage crisis as a scam, he says, but mostly it’s the bankers who he sees benefitting. “This just showed me how people in our country get used and abused,” he says. He cites one woman he met in Las Vegas, who earned $40,000 a year and received a $360,000 mortgage; “I mean, you must be kidding me,” he says. He admits that it’s not smart to take such an offer, but in a scenario where banks can get rid of bad mortgages rather than suffering from them, he sees incentive for those in power to convince individuals to take loans they can’t handle.

In the time since Gilden began photographing foreclosed houses, he says the problem has gotten worse. The original photographs of Florida have expanded to include several other states, including Nevada, which he recently visited on a Kickstarter-funded trip. The people he’s met along the way, people who feel taken advantage of, are eager to tell their stories in the interviews he conducts along with his photography. But he says he doesn’t plan to work on this series indefinitely. Next, he’d like to capture the step that sometimes follows foreclosure, life as a long-term resident of a motel. And he doesn’t see improvement coming any time soon: if the people capable of changing the situation benefit from the status quo, he says, why would they ever make those changes?

So even though this recent work is a departure from Gilden’s typical style and process, his interest is consistent when it comes to what he calls the dark side of life. “It’s great to wake up every morning because the world is great,” he says, “but it’s not a wonderful place for everyone.”

More information about Bruce Gilden’s No Place Like Home is available here, through the Magnum Foundation. The Photoville exhibition will be shown June 22 – July 1 in Brooklyn, New York; more information about the festival is available here.