Tag Archives: Portraits

High and Low: Jim Goldberg’s Works in Process

Although a photographers process is integral to his/her work, it is often a carefully guarded secret. Most photographers tend to keep the development of their work to themselves, sometimes choosing to seek counsel only from a small circle of trusted friends.

It comes as a surprise, then, to find Magnum photographer Jim Goldbergs reworked sketches, videos and maquettes of his groundbreaking books openly shared online.

For Goldberga photographer whose approach has always been eclectic, evolving, and utilizing other mediums, including textthe very act of sharing these works in progress is an important and formative part of the final product.

Goldberg talked to LightBox about the process of revisiting, sharing and republishing two of his groundbreaking works. Rich and Poor (1977-85) juxtaposes two economic classes through intimate environmental portraits and personal statements written on the prints by the subjects, while Raised by Wolves (1985-95) documents the lives of homeless runaways in San Francisco and Los Angeles through photographs, text, drawings and interviews.

Being a teacher for so long, Ive realized that so much of what you teach students is about learning to respect the importance of process. Watching students grow is interestingand them observing my process helps them see that its not that mysterious of a thing to do. In order to figure this artmaking stuff out, its trial and error and experimentation, and takes some time and hard thinking. Putting work out in many forms and stages is an extension of how I see things. I feel the art process is best served when it invites comments and constructive criticism from people. Its a strategic gesture, too, because the feedback I receive helps me move forward with my ideas, which is what process is aboutto craft and evolve something.

Rich and Poor

I was invited by Steidl to republish Rich and Poor. Up to this point my archive was mostly analog. proveedor factura electrnica . Revisiting Rich and Poor meant that it was time to start digitizing my older work. I started by going through all of my contact sheets and re-editing. My studio ended up scanning a lot of images that were never printed in the original book, which in turn gave me a way to experience my old work with a beginners mind. This got me excited about seeing things I had passed over years before during my original edit. When I originally made the work, I was getting so much positive feedback about how I was using images with text that the stand-alone images fell by the wayside. Or perhaps back then I didnt have the courage to include images that functioned simply as straight photographs.

Revisiting the archive excited me on many levels. The freshness of my youth particularly resonated with me, but it also gave me thirty years of distance to look back at these images. Aside from the overall nostalgic patina, I feel like I was looking at these images with a critical distance for the first time. Im now able to separate my own impulses with the overarching history/context of what was happening in the 70s and 80s.

I also wanted to conceptually tie the past in with the present and so decided to revisit a few of the original subjects and map where they are today. I plan to include this in the new Rich and Poor edition via a small insert of contemporary imagery.

Raised by Wolves

Raised by Wolves has been out of print for some time, which has made it expensive and difficult to findso people are constantly asking me for it. Its also been almost 20 years since the book was published, so I felt it would be a good time to put it back on the table as something to look at again, as well as digitize.

Raised by Wolves was a good ten years of working with the kids; collecting ephemera;and making the exhibition and the book.

Still when it came time for the book and exhibition to be produced, and all the deadlines were mounting, aesthetic choices had to be made quickly as to what would be included and what was to go back into boxes. So there was a lot that hasnt been looked at since.

My studio manager and I started brainstorming on strategies to get the work out there again, and we decided that the best way would be to make something to put up on my website.

So we took a new intern to the studiowho happened to be a production whizzand had him organize and digitize everything. I gave him some guidance and checked in with him often on we had had discovered on that particular day, but for the most part gave him free reign as to what could be explored and organized.

Based on what I was witnessing on the streets, I knew that I needed to record what I was experiencing in ways that just couldnt be done with the camera alone. I have, since the beginning of my career, used text, video, audio, Polaroids, found objects, and ephemera. With Raised by Wolves it was my first attempt to incorporate all these various approaches into one project.

Raised by Wolves,video by Jim Goldberg

The children in Raised by Wolves were living hard liveslives that were leading to nowhere. So now, when I reheard a recording that the intern (Brandon) had found in some box, and I heard the voice of lets say Tweeky Dave, well that added something that would extend to the viewers experience of the project.

Its always good to find things that you havent found before. Im not doing it because I have nothing else to do or because Im old and I may as well go back into my archive. Im going back into my archive with purposeto see what I can reinvent. Im still vibrant and making new work. directory submission . The making of the new work guides how the old work looks.

Beyond Rich and Poor and Raised by Wolves, Goldberg is revisiting and re-imagining other projects from his archive. A previously unpublished series titled Coming and Going is being reworked as a series of Japanese small books. Goldberg is also reevaluating and reworking Open See, the project for which he was given the Henri Cartier-Bresson Award in 2007 and the Duestche Borse Award in 2011. Goldberg plans a new edition that will be more expansive than the original, one that will further explain the complexities of the situationof immigration, being a refugee and being trafficked in a place and time. Working roughs for the proposed book and multimedia sketches for the project again are available online. Goldberg says of his process Its always good to find things that you havent found before and Im going back into my archive with purposeto see what I can reinvent. Im still vibrant and making new work. The making of the new work guides how the old work looks.

Photographer/Artist Jim Goldberg is a member of Magnum Photos and Professor of Art at the California College of Arts and Crafts. He Lives in San Francisco.

Cornel Lucas’ Celebrity Portraits: Studio Stars of the Silver Screen

Legendary British photographer Cornel Lucas has photographed some of the most powerful and captivating film stars of the 20th century. With a career spanning 70 years, one can safely assume Lucas has ‘seen it all’ when it comes to stars—his glamorous portraits immortalize the iconic actors of the golden age of film. But it wasn’t always a piece of cake. The photographer—who celebrates his 92nd birthday on Sept. 12—fondly recounted some the highlights of his career for LightBox, including his shoots with names like Hepburn, Peck and Bardot.

Fi McGhee

Cornel Lucas with his Plate Camera, 1986

When movie star Marlene Dietrich arrived at Denham Studios for her portrait shoot with Lucas in 1948, she found a nervous photographer awaiting her arrival. Lucas had the idea to turn on a radio to break the ice for the star when she arrived—an idea quickly shot down by Dietrich’s publicist. “I was now more nervous than ever,” Lucas said. And it didn’t help his nerves that the publicity director announced to the photographer that her client was wearing a $40,000 coat.

But the Dietrich shoot went on without a hitch, save for the star’s creative direction. “She explained that she knew exactly where to sit, how to be lit and that her best pose was looking straight at the camera,” he said. “She was directing me!”

A day later, Dietrich arrived at the studio to examine Lucas’s contact sheets. Examining them with “an enormous magnifying glass”, she began marking the shots she liked most. Lucas then re-touched the images Dietrich chose and, the next day, showed her the final product.

“Pleased, she turned to me, shook my hand and said, ‘Join the club, Mr. Lucas!’,” he recalled. Perplexed, he asked the star’s publicist what she meant. His reply?

(c) Cornel Lucas

Diana Dors, 1955

“Mr. Lucas, it means you’re on the road to success.”

And indeed he was. The photographer’s career eventually took him to the grandest film sets and studios across Europe and the United States. The style and glamour of his work ensured that his portraits became the iconic image of the stars he photographed.

This makes it surprising that Lucas’ work has never been exhibited in New York until this month. A retrospective exhibition of his work is showing now at Fiorentini + Baker, the flagship store of the Italian shoemaker. Lucas’ work is also part of the permananet collections at the National Portrait Gallery and Victoria & Albert Museum, the National Media Museum and London’s Photographers’ Gallery.

A retrospective exhibition of Cornel Lucas’s work will be held at the Fiorentini + Baker store and show room in New York from Sept. 5 to Oct. 28. View more of Lucas’ work here.

The Mohawk Ironworkers: Rebuilding the Iconic Skyline of New York

For more than a century, ironworkers descended from the Mohawk Indians of Quebec have helped create New York City’s iconic skyline, guiding ribbons of metal into the steel skeletons that form the backbone of the city. In the tradition of their fathers and grandfathers, a new generation of Mohawk iron workers now descend upon the World Trade Center site, helping shape the most distinct feature of Lower Manhattan—the same iconic structure their fathers and grandfathers helped erect 40 years ago and later dismantled after it was destroyed in 2001.

Driving some 360 miles south to New York from the Kahnawake reserve near Quebec, these men work—just as their fathers did—in the city during the week and spend time with their families on the weekends.

One year ago, around the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, photographer Melissa Cacciola began documenting some of these workers—not an easy task given that the roughly 200 Mohawks (of more than 2,000 iron workers on site) are working at a frantic pace, helping One World Trade Center to rise a floor a week.

Cacciola, a photographer with a background in chemistry and historic preservation, is one of few photographers who work exclusively with tintypes, images recorded by a large-format camera on sheets of tin coated with photosensitive chemicals. Having previously photographed members of the armed-forces for her War and Peace series, Cacciola looked to document those continuing to help the city move past the shadow of tragedy.

“It seemed like a real New York thing,” she told TIME. “And it made sense as the next chapter in the post-9/11 landscape. Rebuilding is part of that story.”

Just as towers like the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center mark the height of America’s skyscraper architecture, tintype photographs are inherently American. Tintype developed in the 1850s as early American photographers looked for alternatives to the expensive and finicky glass-plate processes popular in Europe. Recycled tin was a readily available resource in the new nation—less than 100 years old—and so the tintype grew in popularity, earning its place in American photographic identity. Even Abraham Lincoln’s campaign pins contained an inlaid tintype portrait of the candidate.

“You don’t find tintypes on other continents,” Cacciola said.

Slightly blurry and sepia-toned, Cacciola’s portraits feel timeless, save for the occasional modern stickers on her subjects’ hardhats. Each portrait focuses tightly on the men’s strong facial features.

The 30 tintypes in the series are each made from bulk sheets of tin, although Cacciola has also used recycled biscuit jars in prior tintype projects. Coated first with a black lacquer and then a layer of collodion emulsion to make them light sensitive, the plates are dipped in a silver bath immediately before exposure to form silver iodide—a step that bonds actual particles of silver to the emulsion. Nothing could be more fitting for men working with steel to be photographed on metal.

In the tradition of 19th-century photography, Cacciola’s process is slower than today’s digital systems. But the finished plates are more than simple portraits; rather, they hold their own weight as tangible objects. Just as histories often reflect the blemishes of times past, Cacciola’s tintypes are fragile, containing marks and slight imperfect artifacts that reflect the medium’s limitations. Working by hand rather than machine, each portrait records the artist’s intentions as much as her subject’s.

“These tintypes are so much a part of me,” she says. “Like the fact that you get partial fingerprints or artifacts from the way I’m pouring collodion on the plate—it’s all human. The way silver and light interact in this chemical reaction is a testament to the Mohawk iron workers and this early [photographic] process—it’s unparalleled in terms of portraiture.”

Melissa Cacciola is a New York-based tintype photographer.

Embodiment: A Portrait of Queer Life in America by Molly Landreth

Stella-and-Sterling-WEB.jpg

Stella and Sterling, 2007, Seattle, WA, from Embodiment: A Portrait of Queer Life in America
© Molly Landreth

Embodiment: A Portrait of Queer Life in America is an ongoing photography / biography archive project by Molly Landreth. It is rich with imagery, honesty, humor, and individual stories. It’s a celebration of life and love, and it avoids the usual clichés.

Here’s the story about this photo of Stella and Sterling, written 5 years after it was taken:

STELLA 2012:

“Basically, when this photo was taken, me and Sterling had recently broken up. Well, of course, that’s what gives this photo such a strange undertone. I look angry. Well, my choice in eyebrows doesn’t help the situation. Our mattresses had been pushed apart prior to the photo I believe. That was a big deal. I was waiting to hear back about a new apartment and we were awkwardly living together after the break up in a one bedroom. And then the “happy valentines day” box, pinned above our beds. It looks so empty and lonely up there. I remember being excited to be featured in your project and I’m still glad I did it but I also remember thinking we were fooling everyone that we were still together in the photo that so many people who didn’t know us at all would be viewing. Looking back at it years later, I see we weren’t fooling anyone. Though it was an uncomfortable time in my life, I’m happy that you were able to capture the situation so perfectly.”

See many more portraits and related stories from this series here in Lens Culture.

Re runs: Verner Soler

I’m stepping away from Lenscratch this week to work on a new personal website and prepare for upcoming photo activities…wanted to reintroduce you to some wonderful photographers featured several years ago, today with Verner Soler that was featured in January, 2009.

After growing up in a Swiss village, population 250, Verner Soler, has a unique window into a world we’ve only seen in the movies. Juggling a full plate as an art director, husband, and father, Verner does not get back to the village as often as he would like to. Several years ago, after being struck by how much his parents had aged between his visits, he decided to take definitive portraits of his parents, and more recently, has completed the typology with members of his extended family. It’s a powerful and fascinating series of genetics and love, (and for those of us living in Los Angeles, incredibly refreshing to see real faces). He will also be sharing images from his visits to Switzerland at Review LA.

From Heads (Grandmother, Mother, Father)

From Visits to My Village

Justyna Badach, Phil

Justyna Badach, Phil

Justyna Badach

Phil,
Pennsylvania, 2008
From the Bachelor Portraits series
Website – JustynaBadach.com

Justyna Badach’s work has been exhibited internationally and is included in the collections of Museet for Fotokunst Brandts, Odense, Denmark. Cranbrook Museum of Art and The Center for Photography,Woodstock. She is the recipeint of numerous grants and awards including: The Independence Foundation Artist Fellwoship, The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and The Leeway Foundation. Her work is represented by Gallery 339 in Philadelphia.

Re Runs: Hisaji Hara

I’m stepping away from Lenscratch this week to work on a new personal website and prepare for upcoming photo activities…wanted to reintroduce you to some wonderful photographers featured several years ago, today with a post on Hisaji Hara that ran in 2010.


Many photographers, myself included, are inspired by painters. Toyko photographer Hisaji Hara has reproduced art works by Balthus in timeless black and white imagery.

Hara’s tranquil monochrome portraits look strangely familiar — and indeed, all are modeled after paintings by Balthus (1908-2001), one of the most revered artists of the 20th century. Although the figures and background furnishings are not identical to the originals, the compositions are. Through this tableau-vivant-like approach, Hara somehow manages to capture the essence of Balthus’s works.


photograph of Balthus and his wife

Images by Hisaji Hara followed by the paintings that inspired them.

The RNC in Pictures: The Delegates by Grant Cornett

Throughout the year, political pundits have obsessed over delegates, the people who come to the Republican National Convention from every state to vote for their party’s nominee. Before the convention, they were faceless numbersprizes to be won in primaries. calohealth.com . In Tampa, they’ve proven to be a diverse and enthusiastic cast of characters, coming from a wide variety of occupations and age groups.

We asked each one to tell us about the most vital issues at stake in this year’s election. Most are obsessed with the economy. Some are fixated on the country’s “moral decline.” And a rare few sport wardrobes worthy of the theater (or at least Halloween). Most delegates support Mitt Romney, but there are exceptions holding on to Ron Paul.

Photographer Grant Cornett roamed the convention center in Tampa, capturing members of each delegation. His portraits reveal a cross section of the people who make up the Grand Old Party of 2012.

Related: The DNC in Pictures: The Delegates by Grant Cornett

Katy Steinmetz is a reporter in TIME’s Washington bureau. In addition to working on features for TIME and TIME.com, she contributes to TIME’s Swampland, Healthland and NewsFeed blogs.