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A Conversation With Constantine Manos

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David Alan Harvey: So tell me how photography became a passion for you. At what age, and how did lightning strike you?

Constantine Manos: I grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, where I joined the school camera club at the age of thirteen. Photography became an instant passion for me, with an emphasis on the darkroom. I had a great teacher, who was a strict disciplinarian who taught me the fine art of how to develop film and make good prints. I fell in love with the darkroom, and this imparted a good sense of craftsmanship to all of my photography.

DAH: Do you make your own prints now?

CM: Yes, I make my own prints now. I worked in the darkroom most of my life and for the last four or five years I have been making what I consider to be beautiful digital prints, perhaps equivalent to darkroom prints – especially in black and white. Yes, I love making prints.

DAH: A lot of people get interested in photography at an early age, but what happened to make you think you could turn this into a profession, into a business, into a craft where you could earn a living? What made that happen?

CM: Well, almost immediately I realized I wanted to make a career out of it, and by the time I was fifteen I was doing picture stories that were being published in the Sunday magazine of the local newspaper, which was the largest newspaper in the state. At the age of seventeen I  discovered Henri Cartier-Bresson in a magazine article, and I found my mentor and the kind of pictures I wanted to take. I found out what camera he used, what film he used. I bought them and went to a little Island off the coast of South Carolina, and I made my first serious set of pictures – of which I am still proud. That was it. Cartier-Bresson was my long distance mentor for years. As soon as I got together a box of prints from the Island project I got on a Greyhound bus, went to New York, went to Magnum Photos and showed my pictures to whomever I met. I received a friendly but noncommittal reception. Cornell Capa was there, he looked at my pictures and said “lets go have a drink”. We went to a bar (I had never been to a bar in my life) and he sat me on the stool and said “what will you have”? I said “I’ll have whatever you have” and he said “Scotch”.  I’ve been a Scotch drinker ever since.

DAH: Well what was the island you photographed?

CM: It’s called Daufuskie Island; it was a little island that was inhabited by descendants of plantation slaves. It was very isolated. They were beautiful people, but that island is now a resort with golf courses and expensive houses. All of the original aspects of the island are gone, but I still have the pictures, and the negatives I processed are still beautiful after sixty years.

DAH: Yeah, that’s right. I forgot it was Daufuskie. I was on Daufuskie about twenty years ago and it was still pretty much like you photographed it. I photographed a one-room school house and that sort of thing, but yeah, I have heard that it is all resort now, so I can’t quite bear to go back there.

CM: And you know where the name comes from? All the little islands along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia are called keys, and Daufuskie was the first key in this string. In the Gullah dialect of the locals it was “Dau-fus-kie, the first key, and that is where the name comes from.

DAH: Well that is great. I think I used to know that fact, but thank you for the reminder. Now, you are a well known and very popular workshop teacher. At what point did mentoring other photographers become important to you and why did you do it?

CM: Well I have been doing workshops for about 30 years now and I did them because I reached a point where I felt I had things to say about photography in general, especially about the Magnum style, the Magnum spirit of photography in particular. In the process of teaching I learned a lot about my own photography because I had to articulate ideas that were useful for going out into the real world and approaching subjects very closely and being able to make pictures that went beyond just what things looked like, but were something special and perhaps unique.

DAH: Well the real world has changed obviously, as the real world does over time. Today, a young photographer has to look at the process of making it into the business much differently than when you or I did. Do you think what you have to say is still relevant to a young photographer today?

CM: I think what I have to say and what a lot of older photographers have to say is still relevant, especially the Magnum photographers who have embraced the Magnum spirit and the Magnum approach. I think it will be forever valid because the world is only changing superficially. We still have people, human beings, and it is really about the human condition which is the main subject of Magnum photographers. You can go back to the beginning and look at the work of Cartier-Bresson, who was a young poet, who began doing photojournalism, mostly at the urging of Robert Capa – a brave hardcore photo-journalist. George Rodger was the intrepid traveler going to exotic places like Africa, and David Seymour was kind of a mix of them all. Between these early founders you have in a way the beginning of the Magnum approach to photography – which is still very valid and will go on forever, as long as there is a world.  The Magnum archive is not the biggest in the world, but I feel it is most interesting and creative.

DAH: You can never take away from that basic story telling and humanistic vision of the world and the way that the Magnum photographers do it. Certainly not the only way, but it does seem the way that has stood the test of time.

CM: When a young photographer asks me, “how do I get an assignment?” I reply that before you even seek assignment you have to produce a body of work that shows how you view the world and what you can do with your camera. In other words you have to have something very unique, a vision, a proof that you are capable of putting your own personal stamp on your pictures and can show us things we have never seen before and will never see again. I think every successful photograph is a surprise, often defined by a special moment. Think about the poet who writes poems for their own sake and then seeks a publisher. Photography has become so simple, particularly since the arrival of the digital camera.  I often start my workshops by saying any fool can take a picture, why don’t you try playing the violin? It is still very difficult, even though much easier technically with digital cameras. Everyone is taking pictures. Everyone is out there with a cell phone or whatever. When we were coming up, you had to at least know how to use a hand held exposure meter, set the f/stop, set the shutter speeds, focus… you had to have some skill and sense of craft, and then in high school there was usually one guy who had the professional camera and everyone else was just taking pictures with box cameras and a roll of film. Today there is a glut and because of the glut there is in a way a lowering of standards because so many people consider themselves photographers who have never gone through the ordeal of learning the craft, but have just picked up a camera and started pushing the button.  We are swamped in a sea of banality, even coming from some people who are professionals and make their living from photography

DAH: I think that is right. I look at it as a combination of a plus and a minus. In other words it is a plus that everybody is picking up the language of photography, that’s fantastic, but I think the reason workshops are so popular these days is because at some point people realize “well wait one minute, I can kind of speak the language, but I can’t really speak the language”, and so they start looking for the history of photography, they start looking at more sophisticated ways of doing it. So it is kind of a plus and a minus. I think it is probably more plus in the long run though.

CM: Yes, it is more plus.

DAH: Yeah, everybody is a photographer, and like we were talking about in the workshop in Texas, English is a language that everybody speaks but only a few people speak it really really well and I think that is maybe a good parallel. So that is a good segue into what we are doing now with Magnum in Provincetown. Can you explain that one a little bit? I think you have created a potential experience for people to pick up on some of the things you have just talked about. Can you explain the workshops in Provincetown and what it has to offer?

CM: Well, Magnum Days is going to be a photographic gathering in the small town of Provincetown, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. It is going to run from September 15th through the 21st. Bruno Barbey, Larry Towell, Olivia Arthur, and yea you will be doing workshops. Provincetown is a very artistic town, with sixty art galleries. Artists and art are revered here. Magnum is partnering with the Fine Arts Work Center,  a wonderful institution which is supplying us with ten studios and twenty student apartments which we will be using for this workshop. Provincetown is a wonderful place to take pictures. You can walk right out of the Arts Center onto the main street which is always bustling with all kinds of people. It is a seaside town so there is the whole nautical thing, and then there are the beaches, but mainly there is a lot of humanity here and great opportunities for photography. So it offers a great locale for our kind of photography if you are out there looking for a wonderful poetic moment of something happening between people, among people, in an interesting environment. I make my students all work with a wide-angle lens so that they have to get close and fill the frame and have a lot of information in the picture, and I try to teach them how to do that physically with their body, how to go out, find a picture, think about it and think about exactly what they want from this situation and go for it, and be able to get close without ever being seen.

DAH: Well nobody articulates better than you that process, and describing the elements of a picture. I kind of feel like taking one of your workshops myself, but because I have taught with you a couple of times I have caught some of your critique and you are amazing at being able to describe the process of seeing.

CM: It will be five days of workshops. Bruno Barbey, Larry Towell, Olivia Arthur, Eli Reed, and yea you…and me!!,  will be doing workshops. Every night there will be a slideshow by one of the workshop instructors in the evening, and then on the weekend (Saturday and Sunday) we will have a gala for visiting photographers, Bruce Davidson, Steve McCurry, Susan Meiselas and Peter Van Agtmael who is one of our fine younger members. They and the workshop instructors will be doing portfolio reviews for all who wish to partake of them, not only the registered workshop students. There will be an interesting symposium called “The State of Photography Today?” because we all know photography is going through a revolution right now. In the middle of all of this there is the Magnum tradition, which has gone on for almost 70 years. There will be continuous loop projections in one of the large studios titled The Magnum Legacy, a history in pictures of iconic images from each of the photographers from the beginning to today. There will also be a projection titled Magnum Film Clips showing clips of movies made by Magnum photographers.

DAH: Well we have a continuum. I think if we have gone on for 70 years through good times or bad times there has got to be something to it.

CM: That is right, absolutely. And so we are always looking for young photographers who believe in this Magnum tradition and would like to be a part of it. It doesn’t mean we are all taking pictures like Cartier-Bresson. We have some remarkable young people who are doing ground breaking work, like Jacob Aue Sobol…a young photographer who is doing very interesting black and white work which is totally new and fresh, but is still about people and the human condition.

DAH: Well, you can use HCB as an influence but it wouldn’t do any good just to copy. You are influenced by somebody and then you do your own thing.

CM: You are influenced by a lot of photographers! You are a combination of everything you have seen and liked and thought about and you should hopefully become a unique photographer, a unique individual. The greatest compliment a photographer can have is for people to recognize their style without knowing who took the picture, and it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of thinking and a lot of focusing to accomplish this.

DAH: Well, thank you. That is great.

CM: Thank you, David.

 

Constantine Manos was born in South Carolina of Greek immigrant parents. He attended the University of South Carolina, where he received a B. A. in English Literature. He is a member of Magnum Photos.

Manos’ photographs are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Bibliotheque National, Paris; George Eastman House in Rochester; the Museum of Fine Ars, Houston; and the Benaki Museum, Athens.

Manos is the author of five books: Portrait of A Symphony, A Greek Portfolio, Bostonians, American Color, and American Color 2. In 2003 he was awarded the Leica Medal of Excellence. Manos’ work may be seen at magnumphotos.com.

 

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Constantine Manos

Magnum Days at the Fine Arts Work Center, September 15-21, 2014

 

Lindy Hop


Woke up this morning. At noon. Still not feeling great. Got to work to get assignments that was not worthy an extra shot for @burndiary and rest of the day has basically been photo editing. But then I walked passed these beautiful people! ️ Lindy hop!@jostraube for @burndiary

alejandro cegarra – the other side of the tower of david

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Alejandro Cegarra

The Other Side of the Tower of David

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The tower of David is a skyscraper located in downtown Caracas, Venezuela. The structure is 195 meters high, consists of two towers, and contains 45 floors. Construction began in 1990, but after a devastating economic crisis hit Venezuela in 1994, construction was abandoned. The building was 60% complete. 13 years later, in 2007, construction began again. This time however, it was not for its original purpose. Instead of office spaces, approximately 2,000 families invaded the space illegally.

According to the latest census taken by the inhabitants, there are around 1,300 people currently living there. The Tower of David has become an emblematic symbol of the city of Caracas. It represents the hopes of Caracas to remain a major economic center, and the failure to do so.

In this same way, the Tower of David has come to represent Venezuela as a whole. The Tower has a reputation for harboring the most dangerous of criminals; ironically, the inhabitants are drawn to the Tower due to its security. For them, the Tower is their part in the Bolivarian Revolution. Their way of life is a fight against the social parameters in which they are viewed as a dysfunctional community.

The Tower remains a closed society, as they are afraid of being discriminated against, because of their living arrangements. While the take over of the Tower, and their way of life remain controversial, the reality is that the inhabitants are simply people who are searching for a sense of belonging, and a place to call home.

This work was recently selected as the winner of the Leica Oscar Barnack Newcomer Award 2014

Bio

Alejandro Cegarra was born in 1989, in Caracas, Venezuela, which is the city he still calls home. He began studying photography 4 years ago in the “Roberto Mata Taller de Fortografia” or “Roberto Mata Photography Workshop,” while at the same time studying Publicity at Alejandro de Humboldt University.

After working for a year at an advertising agency called “Creative Army” and only viewing photography as a hobby, he decided to pursue photography more fully. In 2012 he started filling in for other photographers at the largest newspaper in Venezuela, “Ultimas Noticias” or “Latest News.” Simultaneously he worked for two other newspapers, “Ciudad Caracas” and “2001,” returning as a full time employee of “Ultimas Noticias” in 2013. Since November of 2013, Alejandro has been working as a stringer for Associated Press.

 

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Alejandro Cegarra

Alejandro Cegarra

 

Back in the park


Back in the park, the sun, the day … It all begins again. Battersea London. Photo by Poulomi Basu @poulomi07 for Burn Diary @viiphoto

Dreams Destroyed


And how many dreams destroyed? And how many will now search for a lovers embrace without end? Kingland Road, London. Photo by Poulomi Basu @poulomi07 for Burn Diary @viiphoto

A Letter From David…

RAINBOW

Photo ©Michael Loyd Young

Ahhh, after a whirlwind spring and early summer, I am finally at home for a bit.  Summertime is exactly that, and for sure we all need a break at times. In this summertime spirit, we are going to extend the deadline for the Emerging Photographer Fund grant of $10,000 to September 02, 2014.  Our original deadline for the EPF/Magnum Foundation Grant was July 31, 2014.

This is an extension of 4 weeks – all of August. We are receiving a lot of requests to extend it for one or two days, one week… No point to do that, so let’s have a real extension. The grant winner official announcement will be on October 7, 2014 , directly on BURN.
IF you have already entered and wish to add more to your essay or change your entry with this new deadline, then you may do so easily. Simply send an email to: anton@burnmagazine.org.
The next two weeks I will be at home. Working with my Burn team of Diego Orlando, Kaya Berne, Anton Kusters, Panos/Kim Skoulidas and Haik Mesropian to make BurnMagazine and BurnBooks as good as we can make them. Burn is an extension of my general mentoring. We produce workshops and books, yet Burn remains an independent entity. It is just us. We are not owned nor managed by any company nor beholding to anyone. This audience supports Burn through voluntary funding.  We pay back by publishing your work when appropriate and trying to give a good educational experience.  The EPF is only one part of it.
One of the incredible spinoffs from Burn is that I  have had the opportunity to meet so many people from this audience in person in various parts of the world. Matter of fact, wherever I travel, there you are!
In about three weeks I will go to Cologne, Germany where Markus Schaden’s Photobook Museum will open. One of the books featured in this spectacular showing of photo books will be BurnBooks (based on a true story) my book set in Rio. Many thanks for your support on this project from the beginning.
Then to our workshop in Venice, Italy in early September where my students will produce a small book printed by Antiga Press from their week of work .
Soon after that I go to Paraty Em Foco photo fest in Brazil where some of my Rio work will hang and I will have a chance to do a short workshop. And of course drink caipirinhas with my Brazilian amigos where my relationships run deep.
I will end my shooting year in Jeju Island , Korea with a one month intensive shoot on the lady shellfish divers of Korea, producing a b&w book on this soon to be extinct cultural phenomena.
So, if you are anywhere near any of these locations, come see me. I will take the time to meet you if at all possible. I always do.
Let us know please if you have any questions about the EPF, or submitting to Burn, or getting a week of BurnDiary or whatever. We will do our best to answer.
Please enjoy the rest of your summer. Take some time. Shoot some “lazy” pictures. Often the best. If you are around the Outer Banks, come sit on my porch and have a cold beer.  Good ideas pop , and real things get done when the vibe is right. That is the whole point of BURN.
-dah-

nadja wohlleben – heartcore

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Nadja Wohlleben

HeartCore

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Love is brutal. Beautiful. A rollercoaster ride of paradox emotions. From lush forests of fiery passion to deserted quicksand of fearful despair; my love relationship has been a merge of delightful joie de vivre and hurtful self-questioning over my own sanity. Adrenaline rushes, screams of joy and excitement in one moment, only to feel sick and nauseous from the whirls in the next.

A double-edged sword: Love heals – Love hurts. The person that makes you feel alive can make you feel like you are dying. Looking in the mirror, my eyes revealed the struggle of losing myself. I felt vulnerable and hurt, yet simultaneously empowered to harm – the one I loved.

Never did I grow more than in my relationship. A partner constantly mirrors you, boldly reflecting both your most adorable and repulsive sides. Our love has been a burning, raging fire – someone was bound to get burned. Sometimes you just have to let it burn. Once the blaze is over, new things can grow, nurtured from the ashes of the past.

“HeartCore” is an ongoing series of conceptual self-portraits and portraits of my partner, illustrating the range of ambiguous emotions I experience in our love relationship. During our six years together we lived the full spectrum: from happiness to sadness, passion to rejection, tenderness to aggression, hatred to harmony. We have experienced the best, yet also faced the worst. Through this project I am working through our problems – finding a therapy for myself in photographing us. This visual relationship diary has helped me deal with issues I thought I couldn’t overcome. It has aided me to forgive, heal, let go of the past, and move on towards a brighter future.

 

Bio

Nadja Wohlleben is a documentary photographer and modern nomad, traveling the world with her camera in hand whenever she can. Both a photojournalist and an anthropologist, Nadja wants her work to improve intercultural understanding. Her empathy enables her to approach people of all kinds, striving on her sensitivity to capture them in the right light. Idealist at heart, stubborn by nature, German by nationality, Nadja pushes the envelope of contemporary photography – whether in her documentary work or more conceptual personal projects. She works both digital and on film, capturing a raw genuine intensity in her imagery, while celebrating life in the moment, the instant, the transient.

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This is Luis.

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This is Luis. He is a painter that invited me to have a tea in his studio and take a photograph of him. Before taking the photo, we talked about his passions. He loves plants and books and spends part of the year in the country side where he has a house full of plants and books… Photo by @ana_yturralde for BurnDiary. #portrait #books #window #burndiary

Flashy Shoes

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I met a well-known performer on the street wearing flashy shoes. We talked for some minutes and then he said: “This performance is just for you”: he took a chalk from his pocket and drew a heart on the floor. Just for me. Photo by @ana_yturralde for @burndiary. #performer #shoe #performance #chalkheart #heart #street #burndiary

Summer rain. Family reunion Carolina

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KafCafé

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“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly” – Franz Kafka Just passed by a cafe-bar called KafCafé dedicated to the writer Kafka. All its walls are covered with bookcases and you can read any book while having a drink or listening to music. “Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old” – Franz Kafka. Photo by @ana_yturralde for@burndiary. #kafka #burndiary #throughtheglassFollow

 

eugeni gay marín – from quantum island

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Eugeni Gay Marín

From Quantum Island

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La Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca is located at 3800m altitude. An old sacred place, legends say Manco Capac and Mamma Occlio departed from there to establish the city of Cusco and the Inca empire. Today it is inhabited by three Aymara communities. Two and a half hours by boat from the nearest town, it has remained relatively isolated for a long time, until the entry not many years ago of tourism and motorboats.

The island kept ancestral rites, sacrifices of llamas or night ceremonies at mountain tops. It is a magical place, eagles predict the fate of people, are able to predict death, flying women, light entering the lake, gold comes and goes, souls who attack by night, a sacred city sunk around and some even believe the island is the ark of Noah and that the Titicaca Lake originated during the Global Flood. They live in harmony with the earth, growth, grazing animals and fish, the lake gives them life. Offerings are made to Pachamama every time they drink, when they kill animals, in ceremonies with coca leaves.

I went there for the first time in 2006 and since then I have returned 4 times, first attracted by the landsacape and the sense of calmness I found there, later I began to realize that the island was much more than just that, it was a way of understanding the world around us completely different from the Western vision, other values, other priorities, which have made this place so special.

 

Bio

Born in Barcelona in 1978. Eugeni Gay Marín has been working as a photographer and teacher since 2003. His images have been published in various media such as El País Semanal or Lonely Planet, and he has participated in two collective books and has been selected to show his work in several festivals. In 2010 Eugeni Gay Marín co-founded El Observatrio project, specialized in monitoring photographic student work and in 2014 he began Fotoholica, a digital retouching company for photographers.

In 2014 he won the photography FNAC New Talent in Spain for the work “From Quantum Island”. This project was exposedin the Voices Off festival in Arles and won the “Le prix Révèlation SAIF 2014”.

 

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Eugeni Gay Marín

Letters make words.

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Letters make words. Words make phrases. Phrases make stories. And persons live stories… This is what I thought when I took this shot this afternoon in the airport of Palma. A phrase extracted from the text on that wall: “Daily: Happening on or relating to every day”. Photo by @ana_yturralde for @burndiary. #daily #airport #burndiary #letters #phrases #stories

Electronic Youth

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Alba is a teenager and most of the time she is stuck to her iPhone… and enlightened by it?. Electronic youth. Photo by @ana_yturralde for @burndiary #teenager #iphone #mobileaddiction

 

View from our window.

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Hello everybody! I’m Ana Yturralde, @ana_yturraldeand I’ll be taking over the @burndiary feed for this week with pictures from my daily life. I’m a photographer based in Spain and living in two cities, one on the mainlands and the other in an island: Valencia and Palma de Mallorca. Today I’m in Palma and this is the view from our window. The first thing I do every morning is to take a glance of the sea while having a fresh orange juice. It gives me a sensation of calmness, specially in Sundays knowing that the world outside is in motion but I’m relaxed at home enjoying a quiet day. #palmademallorca #burndiary #spain #windowview

Goodbye

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Goodbye part one @rrrudya posting from #Hamburg for the #Burndiary Some pictures don’t need extra words #motionblur #streetphotography #love

Nostalgia

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Today is the last day @rrrudya is posting for the #Burndiary -this time from the #harbor city of Hamburg I’ve been to Hamburg twice – each time it was a spontaneous trip, which marked a beginning or an end of something very special for me. It is weird how we associate places with particular events or people of our lives and cannot get rid of a weird nostalgia – which can be a good or a bad thing- for the things we experienced seeing, smelling, touching and feeling on that particular spot at that particular moment. I am a very #romantic person, and for me this kind of place-related nostalgia has a very cinematic form. Sometimes it is #Bertolucci, sometimes #Almodovar but most often it is #Fellini in color. Today while I was biking through the streets of Hamburg, I had a very nostalgic mood indeed- a little bit happy, a little bit sad, longing for the things I haven’t experienced yet and not regretting the things I’ve done in the past. #germany #travel #nostalgia #beautyiswithin