Tag Archives: Professional Photographer

A Year of Photographers in the Picture

A little shy of a year agowith the world’s attention focused on a change of power in North Koreaa photo of Kim Jung Il’s funeral, released by KCNA (North Korean Central News Agency), sparked controversy. The image had been manipulatedless for overt political ends, more for visual harmony. Blog Submission . The photo’s offending elements, photoshopped from the image, were not political adversaries or top secret information, but a group of photographers who had disturbed the aesthetic order of the highly orchestrated and meticulously planned occasion.

KCNA/Reuters

Dec. 28, 2011. A limousine carrying a portrait of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il leads his funeral procession in Pyongyang.

In an age where seemingly every occasion is documented through photography from every conceivable anglean estimated 380 billion photographs will be taken this year aloneit’s not only North Korean bureaucrats who are wrestling to keep hoards of other photographers out of their pictures.

Photographers frequently appear in news photographs made by others. Banks of cameras greet celebrities and public figures at every event; cell phones held high by admirers become a tribute in lights, but a distraction to the viewer. Amateurs and professionals, alike, appear in backgrounds and in foregrounds of images made at both orchestrated events and in more candid moments. squido lense . The once-invisible professional photographer’s process has been laid bare.

On occasion, photographers even purposefully make their fellow photographers the subject of their pictures. The most difficult picture to take, it seems, is one without the presence of another photographer either explicitly or implicitly in the frame.

Everyone wants to record their own version of realityironically, it turns out, because by distracting oneself with a camera, it’s easy to miss the true experience of a moment. At a recent Jack White concert, the guitarist requested that audience members stop trying to take their own photos. “The bigger idea,” his label noted in a statement, “is for people to experience the event with their own eyes and not watch an entire show through a tiny screen in their hand. We have every show photographed professionally and the pictures are available from Jack White’s website shortly after to download for free.”

The abundance of camera phones and inexpensive digital cameras has changed the photographic landscape in countless and still-incompletely understood ways, and it’s not just the North Korean government trying to find ways around the hoards of photographers making their way into everyone else’s shots. Here, TIME looks back on the past year to highlight an increasingly common phenomenon: the photographer in the picture.

An iPhone in the DRC: Photos by Michael Christopher Brown

Like many photojournalists,Ive beenshooting with myiPhone for a while.Using a mobile phone allowsme to be somewhat invisible asa professional photographer;people see me as just anotherperson in the crowd.Invisibility is particularly usefulin the eastern part of the DemocraticRepublic of Congo, wherea potpourri of armed groups andgovernments have used conflictminerals as the latest way to helpfund the warfare, atrocities andrepression that have afflicted thearea for more than a century.

The electronics industry isone of the main destinations forthese minerals, which include tourmaline,cassiterite and coltan.They are used to make criticalcomponents of mobile phones,laptops and other gadgets. So it isfittingif ironicthat I shot thisentire essay with my iPhone.I arrived in Congo in earlyAugust to document some of themines in an attempt to highlighthow the minerals travel out of thecountryand the trades effecton the lives of the workers whohandle them along the way. At acamp for internally displacedpeople in Kibati, the phonehelped me shoot scenes unobtrusively.Taking photographswith a phone also raises myawareness as a photographer. Insteadof concentrating on camerasettings and a large piece ofequipment, I am better able tofocus on the situation beforeme. It becomes more about howI feel and what I see.

In Congo, the effects of themineral trade on every personslifeeven the lives ofpeople who arent working atthe minesare palpable. At aHeal Africa clinic in Goma, Imet an emaciated teenage girlwho had been gang-raped bythree Hutu militiamen allegedly funded by profits fromthe mines.Im not advocating givingup our gadgets. The causes ofproblems in Congo are far morecomplex. There are industry sponsored programslike Solutions for Hope, whichtries to monitor coltan. Butauditing the origins of theseminerals is complicated by inaccessibilityand danger. Id likepeople to pause when they lookat these photographs, takingtime to think about where thematerial for modern technology comes fromand what lives are affected before they get into thephones in our hands.

Michael Christopher Brown is a photographer based in New York City. Directory Submission . His photographs appear in this week’s issue of TIME. See more of his work here.

Success Stories: Harvey Stein

When a photographer thinks of a success story, the name Harvey Stein certainly comes to mind. His name sounds familiar because he is someone who has led a rich photographic life and has much to show for it. Harvey is a professional photographer, teacher, lecturer, author and curator based in New York City. He currently teaches at the International Center of Photography and in the Master of Professional Studies Program in Digital Photography at the School of Visual Arts. Harvey is a frequent lecturer on photography both in the United States and abroad. He is the Director of Photography at Umbrella Arts Gallery, located in the East Village of Manhattan and has been a member of the faculty of the New School University, Drew University, Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Bridgeport. In addition, Harvey teaches a number of well regarded workshops in the US and around the world (information can be found on his site).

To add to his long roster of achievements, Harvey has a new book, Coney Island 40 Years, recently published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd and a newly created website for the book and Coney Island, www.coneyisland40years.com. This new monograph is in addition to his other publications Parallels: A Look at Twins, E.P. Dutton (1978); Artists Observed, Harry Abrams, Inc. (1986); Coney Island, W.W. Norton, Inc. (1998); and Movimento: Glimpses of Italian Street Life, (Gangemi Editore, Rome). His photographs and portfolios have been published in every magazine imaginable, and he is widely exhibited with over 72 solo shows and 150 group show. Plus he has curated exhibitions for many venues, and his work is held in museum collections far and wide.

Cover image for Coney Island 40 Years ©Harvey Stein 2011

When you began the project 40 years ago, did you ever imagine that Coney Island would continue to draw your interest for so many years?

I never imagined that going to Coney Island in 1970 to photograph, at the suggestion of my teacher at the time, Ben Fernandez, would ever result in going back for 40 years to shoot there. I’d call anyone either crazy or a genius for doing anything photographic that long. And I know I’m not a genius. I’m just moved by the crush of humanity and beauty and funkiness of the place. It’s small but amazing, and it’s hard to say why. When first there, it doesn’t seem like much. It’s really a shell of what it was from, say 1900-1950. But it grows on you, gets into your blood, and you want to return again and again. The variety of people, and their activities are very visual and usually quite fascinating, at least for me.

Man Wearing Bow Tie, ©Harvey Stein 2011

Is there something in particular that intrigues you about the place?

Coney Island is about people, it’s the people that intrigues me and what I am always drawn to to photograph. All sizes, shapes, races, ages, religions, behaviors. The amusements, the sea, the open air, the sun and sand all impart a kind of freedom of behavior that I don’t see anywhere else. And I am interested in the contradictions and ironies present in its social world. I am always impressed with how we all get along at Coney Island.

Happy New Year Man, ©Harvey Stein 2011

What type of photography were you drawn to at the beginning of your career?

When I started, I did street and documentary photography and I still do. I love being on the streets shooting mostly strangers. After about 10 years of doing this, I began to photograph in the studio. I feel energized and creative there also, and do it often, but my first love is the street with the action and surprises and challenges that it provides.

Woman with Downcast Eyes, ©Harvey Stein 2011

I would love to have you share your thoughts on the photography world today versus even 15 years ago. Do you think it is more difficult to navigate the waters today?

The obvious huge difference in the photography world today versus 15 years ago is how digital we are now. I love film, Coney Island 40 Years is all black/white film, but I am shooting digitally about 40% of the time since 2006. My first choice is to shoot film, I think I’m better using it and feel more comfortable with it. If it’s an important shot, I’ll do it with film, but I’m usually shooting for myself. The commercial photography world mostly requires digital shooting. In many ways, digital photography is easier, and it certainly allows anyone to call themselves a photographer. So in that way, the fact that there are many more photographers today than 15 years ago, it is harder to “navigate the waters”. The prestige outlets, especially magazines, have largely disappeared, but there are probably more outlets for photography these days including blogs, websites, social media, and even galleries. It’s very diverse now, there are probably more opportunities along with the heightened competition.

Crowd up Close, ©Harvey Stein 2011

What event or opportunity took your work to the next level?

I can’t say one event or opportunity took my work to the next level. I feel that hard work, persistence and a belief in what I do all help me to succeed, if I indeed have succeeded. I don’t “play” to the marketplace, I do what I like to do, and I go my own way, working on my self-assigned projects. My hope is to turn these projects into books, which for me, is the peak achievement. Books live a lot longer than the monthly gallery show or magazine publication, and it gives me a chance to shape and control the work more than any other outlet I know. I edited, sequenced and designed Coney Island 40 Years. It is all up to me, success or failure is in my lap, and I like it that way. I have at least 6 book projects finished and ready for publication. But my one rule is to find someone to publish them, not to self publish.

Smiling Woman, ©Harvey Stein 2011

What advice can you give emerging photographers, especially on presentation, on networking, on consistently producing excellent work?

I’d tell emerging photographers to thoroughly learn your craft, work hard and constantly, work on a single themed project, don’t try to do every kind of photography, be true to yourself and photograph what you love and what you are totally passionate about, don’t obsess about success or making money because that is rather empty and ultimately unrewarding, and be kind to your subjects.

Networking is important but don’t be obnoxious or overbearing. Have a website, probably a blog, and make prints to show, whether for a portfolio or your own enjoyment. Keep photography fun, an inspiration, a need for self-expression, and not a business.

Twirling a Hula-Hoop,©Harvey Stein 2011

Are you involved in social networking outlets? Do you tweet or are you active on Facebook?

I have twitter and Facebook accounts but have never sent a tweet, and only rarely have been on Facebook. I hope this will change, I see them as important marketing tools. I think I’m just a bit wary of them both, for no good reason, and have to find time to learn and use them properly.

Woman in Striped Shirt, ©Harvey Stein 2011

You are an amazing portrait photographer. You seem fearless in what you capture and have the ability to find moments that distill gestures and expressions. What is your favorite way of working with people?

I work with people as intimately as possible, I put them in the spotlight, and watch my subjects closely, their movements and mannerisms. I try not to play into their needs but to meet my own—and try to understand my motivations and ideas for photographing them. If they like the portrait, fine, if not that’s OK too, I need to satisfy myself first. As a result, I don’t really do portraits commercially, I photograph who I want to be with and who I think is interesting in one way or another, whether because of their looks (and not necessarily beauty) or personality or place on this planet. I enjoy being with people and like them, by and large, and take them as they are. I’m not interested in making them look good or bad, I am interested in how I feel about them and how they behave in front of the lens. And I look for the “off” moment, something different, off kilter, a bit strange, certainly powerful and revealing of the moment. I always want my subject to look into the lens, it makes for a stronger image by involving me and the viewer more directly.

The Happy Mermaid, ©Harvey Stein 2011

It’s interesting that you have used pinhole and a Holga for your images of the natural world. Is there a reason for those choices?

That is an interesting observation. I’ve done some portraits with the pinhole and Holga cameras, but mostly I do use them for landscapes, city views, architecture and scenes. Probably because the cameras are slow to use, especially the pinhole camera. I love using these cameras, they take me away from street shooting and into gardens, forests, swimming pools, and still subjects that I’d overlook otherwise. They expand my horizons and add to my interests and repertoire. In many ways, they are fun, light and freeing, but I treat my output with them seriously. I’ve sold more photographs made by the Holga than all my other cameras combined. Hmmmm, might say something profound, I just have to figure that out.

Black Hooded Man, ©Harvey Stein 2011

Do you ever have periods of self-doubt and feel creatively unmotivated?

In a word, no, that has never happened and I’d be very surprised if it ever will. As long as I am curious and continue my desire to learn and to see, I will be motivated and with that comes work and making new images and pursuing new ideas.

The Hug; Eyes Closed and Smile, ©Harvey Stein 2011

And finally, what would be your perfect day?

A good meal with good people, a few terrific images made, seeing new things in a new place, and getting some rest. Perfecto! And Adios.

Images from Mexico and Peru

Effigies, San Miguel, Mexico, ©Harvey Stein 2006

Exploding Effigies, San Miguel, Mexico, ©Harvey Stein 2006

Fireworks, Ollantaytambo, Peru, ©Harvey Stein 2010

Old Women Ollantaytambo, Peru, ©Harvey Stein 2010

Outside Cusco, Peru, ©Harvey Stein 2010

Raising Jesus, Queretaro, Mexioc, ©Harvey Stein 2008

Religious Procession, Taxco, Mexico, ©Harvey Stein 2009

Selling Meat, Cusco, Peru, ©Harvey Stein 2010

Silent Procession, Queretaro, Mexico, ©Harvey Stein 2008

Two Girls, Andean Mountains, Peru, ©Harvey Stein 2010

YPA Mentoring Program Deadline Extension

If you’re young and have a passion for photography, Young Photographers Alliance coordinates a mentoring program that will develop your skills and portfolio under the guidance of a professional photographer. The program offers six two-hour sessions with a mentor in the course of eight weeks and the application registration fee for a year membership is only $21. hotel deals . The finished project will show in an exhibit and be promoted through press.

The application deadline has been extended until Saturday, May 21st and there are spaces available in multiple cities across the US and internationally. This list of mentors for US cities are as follows:

Atlanta, GA, led by Stan Kaady
Boston, MA, led by Lynne Damianos & Margot Cheel
Chicago, IL, led by Dirk Fletcher
Denver, CO, led by EJ Carr & Christopher Davies
Houston, TX, led by Rocky Kneten & Sofia van der Dys
Los Angeles, CA, led by Cat Jimenez
New York, NY, led by Barbara Bordnick, Stella Kramer & Jill Waterman
San Diego, CA, led by Jenna Close & Jon Held
Seattle, WA, led by Rafael Soldi & tbc
Toronto, Canada, led by Ozant Kamaci

For details and to apply, please visit YPA’s website here.

What’s next?

Coinciding with FOAM‘s tenth anniversary is a forward-looking micro-site: What’s Next. The site a selection of articles and reflections by some of the most interesting minds in photography today, covering everything from the future of the institution to the effects of digital media on photography.

The good people at FOAM say: “The question ‘What’s Next?’ is founded in our conviction that photography has fundamentally changed during the last twenty years. And this process of change and transition might not be finished yet. The digitalization of the medium has altered every aspect of photography, whether it is the photograph as an object, the position of the professional photographer, the function of the photo lab, the news agency or the photography museum.

In fact the question ‘What’s Next?’ is about far more than ‘just’ the future of photography. It is also about the future of a society dictated by visual media, of a society in which people primarily communicate with technological tools that have been developed and made into consumer products with incredible speed. It is about the future of a society in which every layman can and will be a photographer, sharing his experiences with newly made online communities, a society in which the experience of time and space have drastically changed.”

In conjunction with the website FOAM recently held a fascinating symposium, a few video clips of which you can see here:

To see more videos like this from FOAM click here

– Voluptuous Women Wanted: Kristin Herout’s Graduate School Project

Starting in February 2008, posters across the Northern Illinois University campus called for voluptuous women to participate in an unusual photography session. Kristin Herout, a 23 year old graduate student and professional photographer, needed some models to complete the photography portion of her graduate project which included a scholarly paper examining ads in Cosmopolitan magazine over time.

According to the poster, Herout needed women with “real booty, boobs, and hips.” A voluptuous woman herself, Herout was looking for models to recreate designer ads found in popular fashion magazines with a particular focus of portraying plus-size models in the same way thinner models were shown.

I was really pleased to hear about Herout’s project. In college, my entire class was shown a video on the media’s portrayal of women and women’s bodies. The video was filled with very thin women who were considered the standard for beauty, an oft-discussed topic. I think most people have heard or participated in a conversation on standards of beauty, whether they are realistic or not, and the way in which these standards affect society, specifically women. This is the conversation our film viewing facilitated.

I agree that the ubiquity of wafer thin models and actresses creates an unrealistic standard of beauty. I think it is obvious that women do not come in one shape or in a range of three sizes. It is ludicrous that the media only presents such a minority of women’s bodies as beautiful. A breath of fresh air, not only was Herout using shapely models in her photographs, her goal was to recreate ads in the exact same way.

Herout argued that when plus-size models are photographed for advertisements, they encounter different treatment than thinner models. She specifically discussed models used in bridal ads, stating that the plus-size bride “is given a simpler dress, simpler background and loses the sexy mysteriousness that is common in haute-couture models.”

She also described that “the plus-size girl wears a huge toothy smile, therefore there are different expectations for a woman of larger stature compared to a thinner model.” She gave examples of thinner models being given more exotic make-up and location shots than their plus-size counterparts, reinforcing the idea that thinner models received preferential treatment.

Herout’s goal was to mimic couture ads and feature curvy models and by following the link above you can see examples of recreations compared to the originals. Assuming that Herout had neither the budget nor the team of make-up artists, dressers and assistants that cover girls have, I think she did a fair job recreating the selected ads.

Unfortunately, she seems to have included some characteristics in her recreations that she was originally arguing against. In some of the images shown the models sport what she called the “toothy grin”, though the original models did not. Also, she did not use any ads with the more exaggerated make-up that she listed as one of the preferences given to thinner models.

I appreciate and agree with her project and arguments, but I wish she had done a little more with her execution. I would have loved to see recreations of some edgier ads with over-the-top make up, hair and bold backdrops. At first reading, I was very pleased with her project, until I started to really study her recreations. I still support and agree with her arguments, but it was even more disappointing that she did not live up to her own standards.

It is a challenge to find sexy and mysterious full-figured models in the media. Clothing designed for larger women tends to be shapeless and unflattering. Designers for the average woman (meaning what the average woman can afford) are beginning to design flattering clothing that show off curves while being stylish and contemporary. Unfortunately, the models used for these clothes tend to be sizes 12 or 14 but taller than average, which again is only showing up to a certain size body type. Though sexy plus-sized clothes are easier to find, it’s still difficult to find the truly plus-sized models.

Herout is one of many people fighting to change the tides for plus-sized women, but even her approach had its faults.


– Voluptuous Women Wanted: Kristin Herout’s Graduate School Project

Starting in February 2008, posters across the Northern Illinois University campus called for voluptuous women to participate in an unusual photography session. Kristin Herout, a 23 year old graduate student and professional photographer, needed some models to complete the photography portion of her graduate project which included a scholarly paper examining ads in Cosmopolitan magazine over time.

According to the poster, Herout needed women with “real booty, boobs, and hips.” A voluptuous woman herself, Herout was looking for models to recreate designer ads found in popular fashion magazines with a particular focus of portraying plus-size models in the same way thinner models were shown.

I was really pleased to hear about Herout’s project. In college, my entire class was shown a video on the media’s portrayal of women and women’s bodies. The video was filled with very thin women who were considered the standard for beauty, an oft-discussed topic. I think most people have heard or participated in a conversation on standards of beauty, whether they are realistic or not, and the way in which these standards affect society, specifically women. This is the conversation our film viewing facilitated.

I agree that the ubiquity of wafer thin models and actresses creates an unrealistic standard of beauty. I think it is obvious that women do not come in one shape or in a range of three sizes. It is ludicrous that the media only presents such a minority of women’s bodies as beautiful. A breath of fresh air, not only was Herout using shapely models in her photographs, her goal was to recreate ads in the exact same way.

Herout argued that when plus-size models are photographed for advertisements, they encounter different treatment than thinner models. She specifically discussed models used in bridal ads, stating that the plus-size bride “is given a simpler dress, simpler background and loses the sexy mysteriousness that is common in haute-couture models.”

She also described that “the plus-size girl wears a huge toothy smile, therefore there are different expectations for a woman of larger stature compared to a thinner model.” She gave examples of thinner models being given more exotic make-up and location shots than their plus-size counterparts, reinforcing the idea that thinner models received preferential treatment.

Herout’s goal was to mimic couture ads and feature curvy models and by following the link above you can see examples of recreations compared to the originals. Assuming that Herout had neither the budget nor the team of make-up artists, dressers and assistants that cover girls have, I think she did a fair job recreating the selected ads.

Unfortunately, she seems to have included some characteristics in her recreations that she was originally arguing against. In some of the images shown the models sport what she called the “toothy grin”, though the original models did not. Also, she did not use any ads with the more exaggerated make-up that she listed as one of the preferences given to thinner models.

I appreciate and agree with her project and arguments, but I wish she had done a little more with her execution. I would have loved to see recreations of some edgier ads with over-the-top make up, hair and bold backdrops. At first reading, I was very pleased with her project, until I started to really study her recreations. I still support and agree with her arguments, but it was even more disappointing that she did not live up to her own standards.

It is a challenge to find sexy and mysterious full-figured models in the media. Clothing designed for larger women tends to be shapeless and unflattering. Designers for the average woman (meaning what the average woman can afford) are beginning to design flattering clothing that show off curves while being stylish and contemporary. Unfortunately, the models used for these clothes tend to be sizes 12 or 14 but taller than average, which again is only showing up to a certain size body type. Though sexy plus-sized clothes are easier to find, it’s still difficult to find the truly plus-sized models.

Herout is one of many people fighting to change the tides for plus-sized women, but even her approach had its faults.