Lois Bielefeld grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She graduated in 2002 from Rochester Institute of Technology, receiving her BFA in Advertising Photography. Soon after she made the mass migration with all the other photo graduates to NYC where she lived for seven years. After assisting photographers she began shooting commercial and fashion work. In 2008 she started The Bedroom when she shared a bedroom for one year with her eight year old daughter in their small Brooklyn apartment. She is very close to completion of the 100 portrait series and aims to publish a book of all the work. In 2010 she relocated back to Milwaukee with her eleven year old daughter, partner, guinea pig and their cat. Besides photography, Lois loves to bike, cook, eat and dabble in Midwestern things like trap shooting.
We’re accustomed to seeing Olympic athletes in their elements: gymnast Gabby Douglas tumbling across the balance beam; runner Lola Jones mid-hurdle on the track. But in his portrait series of gold-medal hopefuls for TIME’s 2012 Olympics special issue, Martin Schoeller shows three U.S. team members—Douglas, Jones and swimmer Ryan Lochte—whose passion for sport isn’t contained by training center walls.
(For daily coverage of the 2012 Games, visit TIME’s Olympics blog)
In Des Moines, Iowa, where Gabby Douglas has lived since 2010 with a host family to train with legendary Olympic coach Liang Chow, Schoeller met a young athlete who was a role model in the gym and in her home. “It was inspiring to see Gabby with the family who has taken her in so that she can pursue her dream of being an Olympic athlete,” the photographer said. In one picture, Douglas is posed in a full split against her family’s refrigerator, a move that Schoeller says isn’t uncommon for the 16-year-old gymnast. “She’s always stretching around the house to stay limber—you see what it means for these athletes to live and breathe their sport,” Schoeller says. “And then to watch the little girl clinging to Gabby’s leg and playing with her like a new sister was really lovely.”
In Baton Rouge, La., Schoeller photographed track and field athlete Lolo Jones, who finished a disappointing 7th in the 100-meter race at the 2008 Games in Beijing after she clipped a hurdle during the race. “Lolo made me realize how much pressure is on these athletes,” says Schoeller, who, in one image, captured the athlete training for hurdles with her dog. “One little misstep in her last Olympic performance caused a big disappointment, and that is devastating when these athletes have given up everything to become an Olympian.”
Watch behind-the-scenes footage of Martin Schoeller’s cover shoot with swimmer Ryan Lochte
Swimmer Ryan Lochte has become somewhat of the poster boy for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team after appearing on the June cover of Vogue and on the front page of the New York Times’ style section. It’s not surprising, then, that Schoeller found a confident, self-assured athlete in Lochte when he photographed the swimmer in Gainesville, Fla. this May. “He was very nice and very nice-looking, almost like a model,” Schoeller says. “But he is also obviously an incredible athlete—to watch him swim back and forth, turn at the edge and create those ripples in the pool made for a great photo.” With just an hour and a half to shoot, Schoeller tapped a professional diver to lay a black sheet and several lights at the bottom of the pool to create the contrast seen in his photos. “I’m not even a big sports person, but athletes’ bodies are mesmerizing,” Schoeller says. “They’re constantly putting themselves in pose and doing something interesting with the physical expressions, and I love to photograph them because they’re natural performers at heart.”
Martin Schoeller is a New York City–based photographer. See more of his work here.
Aperture Foundation and the Photography Program at the School of Art, Media, and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design are pleased to present a lecture with artist Shirin Neshat, the Iranian born and New York-based photographer, filmmaker, and video artist, whose controversial work has received international acclaim for its exploration of the complex socio-political discourse surrounding the female experience in Iranian society.
Born in Qazvin, Iran before immigrating to the United States in 1974, Neshat has been called “artist of the decade” by G. Roger Denson of the Huffington Post “[because her work is] chronically relevant to an increasingly global culture,” exploring our “convergence and collision of values.” Often through the use of multi-channel video and sound installations, her exacting iconography turns to historical and contemporary sources to create technically beautiful and richly provocative portraits, often addressing the deep-rooted resilience and determination of women in Muslim societies.
Beginning in the nineties with the provocative portrait series Women of Allah (1993-1997)—“the stark photographs of Iranian women in chadors, some brandishing guns, others with skin covered by Persian script that few people outside Iran can read”— Neshat’s artistic practice has focused on the myriad dualities inherent in Iranian gender structures. She explains in an interview with Studio Banana, that the interrogation of such dualities is inherent to her work, both in the content and form.
Neshat’s 1998 Turbulent utilizes two opposing projections, two singers (one male, one female) to create a striking visual and audible metaphor for the complexity of gender and social power within the framework of ancient Persian music and poetry. Necessary viewing.
In conversation with Heyoka Magazine, Neshat remarks, that in order to properly analyze her body of work, a viewer must always consider both its personal and social context that always run parallel:
“My themes always seem to develop as a personal inquiry toward certain issues that I am faced with as an individual; for example my resentment and questions toward political powers or events such as the Islamic revolution (1979) that has determined the course of my life and so many other Iranians’. Consequently this path naturally has pulled me toward a larger cultural investigation.”
›› Released in 2009, Neshat’s feature-film debut, Women Without Men, is an “exquisitely crafted view of Iran in 1953, when a British- and American-backed coup removed the democratically elected government.”
Last month LightBox featured the work of Lee Jeffries, a self-taught photographer who is crusading to bring attention to the plight of the homeless. Most recently, he traveled to Florida from the end of January through early February to continue the series he began in London four years ago.
It was a poignant time for Jeffries to be in Miami. The Sunshine State held its Republican primary on Jan. 31., and the following day, contest winner and GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney said in an interview that he was “not concerned about the very poor” because “we have a safety net there.” In Miami, the photographer documented some of the city’s most impoverished—many of whom have fallen through the “safety net” Romney described and find themselves homeless, living on the streets. As he does on every trip, Jeffries met and spent time with people on an individual basis—listening to their life stories, taking their portraits and trying to help them in any way he could.
Here LightBox presents an exclusive first look at Jeffries’ latest images of his powerful and moving portrait series on the homeless population—a series that has previously taken him from his native Manchester, England, to Rome, Los Angeles, New York and Las Vegas. Jeffries says first few days of each trip are always tentative. He tends to make small steps into the areas he has researched prior to his visit. This time around, Jeffries focused on Miami Beach, Downtown Miami, Fifth Street and Overtown, which has achieved a certain notoriety for being one of the tougher areas of town.
As this trip progressed Jeffries found that each area of Miami had its own distinct characteristics. Miami Beach, which includes South Beach, had a homeless population that tended to drift in from the downtown areas during the course of the week, perhaps for safety or the relative ease of panhandling from the richer tourists. Seeing downtown Miami’s sidewalks literally lined with homeless people surrounded by bags or trolleys of their entire worldly possessions immediately took Jeffries’ mind back to the hundreds of homeless people he had encountered lining Fifth St. and St. Julian, the address of Los Angeles’ Skid Row neighborhood.
In Overtown, located just above downtown, Jeffries found a mix of homeless people and housed families. Originally called Colored Town during the city’s segregated past, it is a major center of the African-American population and Jeffries says he found the community a little daunting to enter at first. But that didn’t last long. “I soon met some people who touched my heart so deeply I will never forget them,” he says, noting that only chance stood between their situation and that of anyone else.
One such person was Latoria, a 29-year-old who has lived in Overtown for just over a year and whose genuine sadness made a particularly deep impression on the photographer. “I spent time with her every day of my trip since our first meeting,” says Jeffries. “Her uncompromising addiction to crack cocaine was both obvious and tragic and I often watched helplessly as she fed that addiction. Perhaps the most moving aspect for me was witnessing her almost child-like vulnerability. There was just something about her that just screamed the tragedy of a wasted life.”
Then there was Terri, also living in Overtown, who has been on the streets on and off since she was 13; ”Flowers,” a cool Jamaican property owner; “Cooper,” a homeless man Jeffries met in a cemetery; and “Calvin” from Overtown, who was shot in the eye 1981 during a gang war.
“They are all part of the community,” Jeffries says, “and that is exactly what places like Overtown and Downtown Miami are: communities of people who shouldn’t be feared but respected and embraced and helped wherever possible. I have the utmost respect for every person I met there, and I hope I left with theirs.”
See Jeffries’ earlier work on LightBox here.
Eric T. White, 1982, USA, is a photographer based in New York City. When he started art school he did not have a clear idea what he should study. When Eric’s uncle died he inherited all of his cameras. This lead him to professionally persue a career in photography. He spent four years learning from photographer Christopher Griffith’s technical expertise as his first assistant. His primary focus lies on portraiture and landscape photography. He describes his work as being “about capturing fleeting moments… specific moods and feelings.” For his series National Defense, which consists of two chapters, he documented a fake arabic town in California and the border between the US and Mexico. Currently he is simultaneously working on a portrait series based on the Lower East Side, a black and white landscape series and his first book. The following images come from the series Least Likely To, Lake Harmony and National Defense.
This was first posted in 2009…
I’ve been meaning to write about Los Angeles photographer, Gilda Davidian for sometime. Gilda knows how to take a Portrait (with a capital “P”) and her website and flickr pages are full of wonderful imagery of her friends and Armenian family members, taken with a an artist’s eye. “(I am) interested in using photography to explore ideas involving home, familial relationships, and the process of forming identity through the act of portraiture.”
Gilda graduated from Cal Arts with a BFA in 2006 and soon after helped start the Los Angeles photo collective, From Here to There, which allows fellow Cal Arts graduates to create exhibition possibilites as a group. J. Wesley Brown has an interesting interview about the collective with Gilda on We Can Shoot Too.
Two series are featured below: Portraits and Portrait Studio. In her portrait series, Gilda manages to tell a story within each image, where the setting, the clothing, the color, and the person combine to provide the viewer with significant insights into the sitter.
One of my favorite series, Portrait Studio, is a wonderful look at those behind the camera. The fact that these Armenian portrait photographers, mostly from Glendale or Pasadena, spend day after day in small, unassuming studios, working to create memories, has a sad poignancy as they pose next to faded images of by gone days.
I was first became aware of Sam Comen’s terrific work when I explored his project, Lost Hills, while jurying portfolios for Critical Mass last year. The image below is from a series that looks at the agricultural communities in Central California and the dreams for a better life in America.
Sam is an award winning photojournalist, living in his native Los Angeles. His work has appeared in Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Details, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, and Fortune, but his personal photo essays are also garnering much acclaim and exposure. He just opened his first solo exhibition, 28 at 28, at the Nextspace Gallery in Culver City, CA and the exhibition will run through January 22, 2012. In 2009, when Sam was 28, he initiated the project by shooting twenty-eight 28-year-olds. The next year he shot twenty-nine 29-year-olds – 29 at 29 – and he is currently shooting the same 29 people, plus one, for this year’s installment – 30 at 30. In the years to come, he will continue to follow this growing group and investigate how perspective and sense-of-self evolve with age.
“28 at 28” is an ongoing annual portrait series documenting my peers.
I sensed a turning point in my late 20s. Those around me were making strides in their careers, becoming prolific in their artwork, finding partners, buying homes, and having children. Others were directionless, some scrapping everything to start fresh. With the stakes higher than they’d ever been before, all of us were in the throes of finding our voices as we embraced adulthood. I felt like the next few years would inform the rest of our lives—it seemed a perfect time to begin a document of my peers, and by extension, my generation.
Inspired by Nicholas Nixon’s “The Brown Sisters” and the BBC “7-Up” series, two years ago I shot the first iteration of this project—portraits of 28 other 28-year-olds. They were close friends, and friends-of-friends in varying fields: artists, actors, musicians, scientists, corporate managers and municipal employees. The following year I added one more subject, making a group of “29 at 29.” Now that I’m 30, I’ve shot the same subjects, and added one, making it “30 at 30.” I’ll continue this same format, and follow this same group, documenting each year of change.
In the first three years of shooting this project I’ve seen lofty hopes in my subjects tempered only by a quiet resolve to take on this difficult historical moment. Not only am I interested in recording the changes wrought by aging, but I want to see how this group realizes—or looses sight of—its potential. In iterations to come I will work to document its defining traits and work to distill its ambitions. My hope is to not only record the passage of time, but to explore how knowledge, perspective, and sense-of-self evolve with age.
Over the years, I aim to create familiarity and intimacy with the subjects and document the way my relationships with them evolve. I assume that the way I see my photography will change as well. So, besides the literal self-portrait I make of myself each year, the entire set of photographs becomes a figurative self-portrait. As I change course in my portraiture, the project will change course too, and it will be a years-long document of my development as a photographer.
Speaking to these pictures’ significance in the greater scheme of art and photography, I initially I chose to show these images online and via Facebook in deliberate contrast to the deluge of casual snapshots constantly posted. My hope is that an annual formal photograph will stand apart from a sea of camera-phone snaps and give viewers a more succinct sense of aging and achievement. Unlike an online feed, I intended this temporal-based series to be a photographic equivalent of the yearly notches a parent makes on a doorframe as their child ages.
Brigitte Lacombe was just a teenager when she got her start snapping film stars at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival. More than 35 years later, Lacombe has photographed many of the industry’s most influential icons, including Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep and Quentin Tarantino, among others. But her latest major project also focuses on emerging talent—particularly the rising filmmakers in the Middle East. Titled I Am Film, the portrait series debuts today at the opening of the third annual Doha Tribeca Film Festival, which runs through Oct. 29 in Qatar’s capital city.
Working with film stars unknown to audiences stateside, as well as newcomers in the industry, was a refreshing experience for Lacombe. “I found the same type of passionate people, the same form of expression, but somehow, devoid of all the other things that have been added to the culture we know so well—which is a lot of money, an entourage,” she said. “Everyone I did portraits of would come by themselves with a change of clothes under their arm if I’d asked them to. It was a very simple encounter instead of all that accompanies the world of film as we know it now.”
When Amanda Palmer, executive director of the festival, and Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, founder and chair of the Doha Film Institute and festival, first approached Lacombe with the idea of a possible collaboration for the festival’s third run in 2008, the photographer decided very quickly that she’d take black-and-white series portraits against neutral backdrops to give the various images a sense of unity. Lacombe began shooting in 2009 and has traveled around the world photographing nearly 200 actors, directors and producers.
More than 600 of Lacombe’s images have been printed on billboards, which run for one mile on both sides of the road that leads to the Katara Cultural Village, where the film festival takes place. Lacombe says she immediately embraced the idea for the installation, which was spearheaded by designer Michael Rock at 2×4 studio. Aside from the photo wall, approximately 100 print ads featuring Lacombe’s portraits are on display throughout Doha.
“It’s a kind of situation that does not exist very often—to be entrusted with an idea and then be able to do it, be given the means to do it and not be controlled in any way,” Lacombe said of her experience. “It was a life-changing proposition for me. I was able to concentrate on the long-term project and do what I do, and with great support.”