Tag Archives: Portrait Photographer

Lee Grant, Nathan and Mac, BMX bros

Lee Grant, Nathan and Mac, BMX bros

Lee Grant

Nathan and Mac, BMX bros,
Canberra, ACT, Australia, 2009
From the Belco Pride series
Website – LeeGrant.net

Lee Grant is a documentary and portrait photographer who lives and works in Canberra. She is the founder and co-curator of Light Journeys as well as a founding editor of Timemachine Magazine. In 2010, Lee recently received a Master of Philosophy in Visual Arts from the Australian National University. That same year she was the recipient of the prestigious Bowness Photography prize. Lee has exhibited at the Australian Centre for Photography (Sydney), the Monash Gallery of Art (Melbourne) and the National Portrait Gallery (Canberra) amongst others. A selection of her work was recently published in the Big City Press monograph Hijacked Volume 2: Australia and Germany. Lee’s work is held in the National Library, the Canberra Museum and Art Gallery as well as numerous private collections and she has received grants from ArtsACT, CAPO/Singapore Airlines and the Australia Council.

Jess T. Dugan, Erica and Krista

Jess T. Dugan, Erica and Krista

Jess T. Dugan

Erica and Krista,
, 2012
From the Every Breath We Drew series
Website – JessDugan.com

Jess T. Dugan is a portrait photographer whose work explores issues of gender, sexuality, identity, and community. She earned a BFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and an ALM in Museum Studies from Harvard University. Jess’ photographs are regularly exhibited nationwide and are in the permanent collections of the Harvard Art Museum, The Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, and the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. She is represented by Gallery Kayafas in Boston, MA and the Schneider Gallery in Chicago, IL.

Photographers-Turned-Directors: Susan Bright’s Favorites on MOCAtv

In July 2012, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (MOCA) asked me to compile a playlist of videos directed by photographers for their new online series, MOCAtv. Launched last week, MOCAtv bills itself as the “Global Contemporary Art Channel,” providing a wide range of content related to the arts. Looking to see if photographers’ skills translated into music videos was one of the most enjoyable commissions I have ever had.

My personal interest in music videos is mainly autobiographical. I was a teenager in the 1980s—the heyday of the music video. Videos were crucial to bands’ identity; it was really the only way, apart from photography, that an image was disseminated to the world. MTV was the dominant force, but if you grew up in Britain, it was the quaintly titled BBC show Top of the Pops that was one of the only ways to see them.

Looking back at these videos has evoked amazing memories, but at times, I view some videos with a new perspective and appreciate them now because of who made them and how they look. For example, the mesmerizing Addicted to Love by Robert Palmer was always incredible – but now that I know it was directed by the great British fashion and portrait photographer Terence Donovan, all I can see are the similarities to his later photographs of the 1980s with their strong, almost aggressive, female glamour.  It’s interesting to note where the photographer’s hand is so apparent and successful, and elsewhere, when they lose something of their signature flair by having a moving camera instead of a still shot.

Like many, my introduction to music came via my older brother. Always one step ahead of me, he had very sophisticated taste. My first concert was Souxsie and the Banshees when I was 14. Somehow I managed to persuade him (and more miraculously my parents) that I should go along with him and a gang of heavily hair-sprayed goths. It was not the music that I particularly remember, but the amazing beauty of this particular strand of post punk music. From that moment I was addicted to live concerts and the performance of dressing up.

I knew about New Order due to my brothers liking of Joy Division. I saw them perform that summer and their shortened remix of Blue Monday (1988) is like a backing track to those heady months, which were incredibly hot and renamed by many of my contemporaries as ‘the summer of ale.’ I was 18.

When I was asked to put this playlist together I couldn’t believe that I had never seen the video. I was so delighted that it was done by William Wegman. It is full of lovely references for me. Wegman is an artist who manages to have conceptual credibility and respect in the art world and also make calendars with puppies. I can’t think of any one else who manages such success in both commercial and art worlds with such ease and lack of compromise on either side. His ABC video Alphabet Soup featuring Fay, Batty, Chundo and Crooky is my favorite gift to all new parents; my daughter’s go-to bedtime book is Wegmonolgy and my brother has Weineramas. It’s like all good things in my life are condensed into this one video.

A year after Blue Monday, New Order released Run and asked Robert Frank to direct it. This video combines many different kinds of video techniques into one film. It has both live footage and a narrative. It also uses still photographs many times. Nothing is really explained but it has that coldness, disconnect and mystery which is so crucial to a Frank photograph. The song is not the strongest, but you are held utterly by the video. The ending is pure Frank: it stops on a still photograph where everyone is looking in different directions and the scene is chaotic but happy. In two takes he goes closer in to the black-and-white photograph with a woman clutching a book titled listen to god. About two seconds of existential anxiety almost lost as the song fades out.

Staying in the 1980s is Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game, directed by Herb Ritts. This song, which came out in 1989, was reinserted into popular culture when it was used in a scene of Wild at Heart by David Lynch. The video is trademark Ritts. The female body (Helena Christensen) is Amazonian—sexy, strong and very much associated with the 1980s before the AIDS crisis (although of course the AIDS crisis had very much gripped huge swaths of society by this time). It’s crisp, clean and erotic. He shoots from many angles so the body, although always sensuous, can also become abstracted. This photographic technique, which Ritts has become so famous for, was most eloquently played out in a photograph of five of the most famous supermodels gathered together naked (Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi, Hollywood, 1989) their limbs lending graphic strength and dynamism to the composition of the picture.

Die Antwoord, I Fink U Freeky directed by Roger Ballen (2012) practically went viral among photography circles recently. The video starts with “Die Antwoord in Association with Roger Ballen.” This is the first time I have seen musicians and the director on equal footing, especially when the band has a much bigger global presence than the photographer.

Ballen has lived and worked in South Africa for most of his life. His work is a swirling mix of reality, fantasy, documentary and personal investigation. He photographs in the poorest white areas of South Africa, and his work is immediately recognizable for its disturbing almost nihilistic qualities, which are confusing in terms of ethics and morals of representation. This video is like a zooped up, hammy musical journey through his work and is so well suited to the band, who have a trickster element to them. They are the perfect artistic combination.

Another South African photographer, Pieter Hugo, has directed Spoek Mathambo, Control which was originally recorded by Joy Division and has again been introduced to a younger generation through the biopic of Ian Curtis in the film Control by Anton Corbijn (who has also done a large number of music videos). Again this has similar elements to the Ballen video in that reality has been pushed to appear fantastical. Of all the videos selected it is the most ‘photographic,’ and you can really see Hugo’s skill in using backdrops to create scenes. If you were to go through freeze framing it each scene could work beautifully as a photograph. It reminds me of his Nollywood series about the horror film industry in Nigeria. For this he took costumed actors and put them into the street causing a tension between reality, fantasy, horror, staging and theater. This video has all of those elements and similar references to the genre, but was filmed in a township in Cape Town. It’s the best cover of Control I have ever heard, making it absolutely belong here in South Africa and not the North of England.

Music videos act as lightening rods to memories. Headier than photographs they possess the most potent Proustain links to the past. When they are at their very best, like the ones I have mentioned here, they are like stills come to life. Photographers can offer a particular way of looking at the world. When that coincides with a similar musical vision the results can be spectacular.

Susan Bright is a New York-based writer and curator. You can see more of her work here

View more of MOCAtv’s programming on their YouTube channel.

Medium Festival: Jamie Johnson

Featuring photographers seen at the Medium Photography Festival in San Diego….
Once in a while, a photographer has that light bulb moment, where they see something in their work they never noticed before, and then they see it again and again and all of a sudden they realize that, without their knowledge, they’ve been building a body of work–in the case of Los Angeles photographer, Jamie Johnson, quite a profound body of work at that.
I’ve known Jamie for many years and she’s the hardest working photographer I know.  Jamie has a family and children portrait business that keeps her busy seven days a week, year round, but one month out of every year, she explores a part of the world, often on her own, where she leaves the “platinum pacifiers of Bel Air” behind and refreshes her appreciation of humanity.
She has won awards from Prix De La Photographie Paris , Women in Photography International, the Gold Award at Color Magazine and shown at The Fowler Museum in Los Angeles, amongst many exhibitions across the country and online. 
One World 

I cover many terrains as a photographer. I work as an editorial and portrait photographer with an emphasis on family and children portraiture, I am drawn to the simple quality of just being in the world. A simple passion that lured me to travel around the globe and I make work as a way of exploring other cultures. With no particular direction, my two worlds suddenly became one. It started with an instant of recognition, of familiarity of a gesture, an expression, or a person, and I began to see that we are much more one world, than individuals. 

I began to see clearly that we are all experiencing the same joy, the same sorrow, the same routines, the same commitment to family and I began to see the universality of being human. My series, One World, features two photographs, captured years apart without any connection to the other image. The surprising similarities within images that I have been creating over the years, speaks a powerful truth and lesson about who we are.

Stephanie de Rouge

Some photographers are natural observers, and some take that curiosity to another level and want to open a few drawers and dig a little deeper.  French photographer, Stephanie de Rouge, is one of those visual investigators, probing into the pysche of how we humans function, especially in big city life.  Stephanie has traversed a number of approaches to looking at our lives–shooting New Yorkers in their bedrooms or on their rooftops, and with the work featured below, In Your Fridge, shooting what her subjects eat, or at least have in their refrigerators.

After 30 years in Paris, Stephanie now makes her home in New York, teaching at the International Center for Photography, works as a contributor for Le Journal de La Photographie and the New York Times, and is a freelance portrait photographer.  Her work has been featured in many publications and she has exhibited widely, with two recent exhibitions in Paris.


Through my travels, I have developed a fascination for big cities and their devastating energy.  Since I live and work in New York, I am more than ever wondering how humans survive those tentacular – always exciting – and often hostile urban spaces.  How they preserve their singularity and intimacy, where they find the soft, he poetic, the soothing, where they hide their secrets.

 Brookkyn, NY, Famille Englund

I started the project by shooting portraits of New Yorkers in their bedrooms (In Your Room) thinking it could be a good place for intimacy.  I was wrong. Or not exactly right.  The building walls don’t talk.  New Yorkers move all the time, share/sublet bedrooms…Not a good setting for a long term relationship with one self.

 Brooklyn, NY, Andrew et Framton

Quickly, my subjects whispered a few words about a place dear to their hearts: rooftops.  An outdoor space for intimacy? Why not…Let’s see…I discovered more than 40 of these urban shelters between earth and sky (On Your Roof), and as fascinated not by the amazing light, not by the phenomenal views, but by the real people I met up there and the very touching stories they shared with me.

 Brooklyn, NY, Fred

Then I got thirsty…Can I grab a juice in the fridge?

 New York, NY, John

Hmmm….what’s with the Barbie doll behind the salad? From Paris to New York, I opened more than 45 fridges and discovered quite amazing worlds.  Much more elaborate and revealing than I had expected in the first place.  But I knew I was at a milestone in my quest of intimacy on big cities when people actually started refusing to show their fridges.  As if something too personal was stacked between the cheddar cheese and the mayonnaise.  So…show me (what you eat) your refrigerator, I’ll tell you who you are? Maybe. Maybe no.

 New York, NY, colocataries

 New York, NY, Charmaine et Marc

 Paris, Aurore

 Paris, Famille Doucet

 Paris, Famille Reytier

 Paris, Famille Rouge

 Paris, Marie

 Paris, Monique

 Paris, Pierre

 Paris, Thierry

 Queens, NY, Famille Hamad

Rye, NY, Famille Fillion

Jess T. Dugan, Dallas

Jess T. Dugan, Dallas

Jess T. Dugan

Dallas,
, 2012
From the Every Breath We Drew series
Website – JessDugan.com

Jess T. Dugan is a portrait photographer whose work explores issues of gender, sexuality, identity, and community. She earned a BFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and an ALM in Museum Studies from Harvard University. Jess’ photographs are regularly exhibited nationwide and are in the permanent collections of the Harvard Art Museum, The Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, and the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. She is represented by Gallery Kayafas in Boston, MA and the Schneider Gallery in Chicago, IL.

Photo News – Norwich University of the Creative Arts student Simon Bell recognised in annual D&AD awards

Photos above and below: © Simon Bell

In June I was invited to give a talk to photo degree students, across all years, at Norwich University for the Creative Arts (NUCA), and in the afternoon, I looked at third-year students’ portfolios.

Some of the students took the initiative to speak to me afterwards and contact me by email with feedback and some questions. One of the photographic briefs given to the students was to enter the D&AD student awards with a task set by celebrity and portrait photographer Rankin, who took the black-and-white portrait of me that I use for social media purposes.

Congratulations to NUCA student Simon Bell who scooped the Best of Year Award. “This is something like a Special Commendation,” Bell says, “and is awarded to work that has taken a particular aspect of the criteria and developed it to a point of excellence making it worthy of a special mention.”

This year’s brief was “to find a way of making a 2D image appear more 3D” and to create an image that “doesn’t appear flat – which has depth, texture, life – it jumps out of the page at you”. The international competition is open to students and was judged this year by Rankin and Nadav Kander. D&AD‘s remit is “to inform, educate and inspire those who work in and around the creative industries”.

Of his working practice Bell writes: “Having had a mostly scientific and mathematical educational background, prior to university, I find my work and photographic interests centre around the themes of geometry, order and shape. These themes I translate into visual elements of pattern, line and space to create geometric and abstract images.

“Whilst maintaining these ideals within all of my work, I exploit the subject matter of my surroundings in an attempt to attribute new meaning, to otherwise dull situations.”

Filed under: Photographers, Photography Awards & Competitions Tagged: creative photography, international, Norwich, Norwich University of the Creative Arts, NUCA, photo competition, Rankin, Simon Bell

Tearsheet of The Day | 25 June 2012

Platon’s portraits of one of my all time favourite  filmmakers, Woody Allen, in the latest edition of Newsweek International, to coincide with the release of Allen’s latest film To Rome With Love.

Newsweek (Int’l ed.) 25 June 2012 issue. Photos © Platon.

Platon(b.1968, London) is a British portrait photographer based in New York. He is a staff photographer at The New Yorker and his work appears regularly in the Time magazine.

He is perhaps most known in the photojournalism community for his 2007  photo of Russian president Vladimir Putin, which was awarded the 2008 World Press Photo Portrait prize. You can see Platon talk about the shoot here.

Platon’s most recent book is Power: Portraits of World Leaders, which is also available for the iPad.