Archive for the 'in the spotlight' Category

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A Conversation With Martin Parr

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David Alan Harvey: What I do on Burn is I will run a set of pictures and then have what I call a conversation, I don’t even call it an interview. You like beaches. I like beaches. You and I see different things at the beach but I am interested in this new take on Benidorm. Had you been to Benidorm before?

Martin Parr: Oh yeah, I did a little book on Benidorm before.

DAH: I didn’t see the book on Benidorm, how did I miss that?

MP: I don’t know, I did it about 15 years ago.

DAH: Somehow I missed that one. I have a pretty good collection of Martin Parr books but obviously I don’t have them all.

MP: It is more of a catalogue type, I’m sorry. I think of all this stuff as beach therapy, you see.

DAH: Explain beach therapy to me.

MP: When I try a new technique, I always do it first on the beach. There are about six phases of my photography career, black and white, then wide angle with medium format, etc., etc., but I always try them out on the beach first because it’s like an experimental laboratory for me. You have all these people, you can do different things, so this is no exception. It is really like the last chapter of exploration. So inevitably, therefor, I begin at the beach first.

DAH: Why do you think that is? How did that come to be your laboratory?

MP: Well I love beaches anyway, so it is always a good excuse to go to the beach and take more photographs and when you are trying out a new idea I always make it the place where I start.

DAH: What led to the long lens? Before you were always up in people’s faces, popping a flash with fairly close range with a wide angle or normal lens. Is it something that changed inside you that said “okay I want to pull back a little bit”, or you just like the look?

MP: In more recent times I have been using the digital on the beach, I have been pulling back anyway, but now I wanted to pull forward. This is all brought about because I had these big propaganda photography books that were from all over the place, but in particular they have very interesting, creative use of the telephoto lens and it just struck me that in the art photography business, which we are part of, the art photography / documentary business, this is a lens that is basically rejected and not used at all with the exception of Beat Streuli. It is very very occasional when you see it, but basically we all use wide angle as a standard.

DAH: Well I think you told me a couple of years ago in Arles, “David why don’t you go a little bit longer”, and you know I started out in photography with a 50mm lens, so I did, I went back since I had been shooting so much with the 35mm. So now I am in the 50-75mm range. I am not as long as you are – you are out there with the 200-300mm length it looks like.

MP: I think it is interesting to experiment and basically I am using this propaganda material as my starting point because they show me what is possible with the telephoto lens, because the art world hasn’t. As you know we turn a blind eye to it. We just blank it out. So it is very interesting to see if it can be made into something interesting. And you know I have had a few experiments now – I think those were the most successful.What I have done in Italy I haven’t edited very thoroughly yet, but you suddenly start to see a pattern emerge and it looks interesting.

DAH: Well that is great. So you will do another book on Benidorm?

MP: I will do a book eventually that will be called “beach therapy” where I’ll explain this process of experimentation and then illustrate it with the set of pictures done with the telephoto. If I do a book called “Life at the Beach” I have to set the whole thing back a bit.

DAH: Yeah, that’s right.

MP: There are different version of that. I did a deluxe version and and beach bag version. There is only so much power the world can take and there are only so many beach photographs that the world can take, but none-the-less you feel that you are onto something. That’s why I was quite happy to isolate the Benidorm pictures from one particular shoot that seemed to really work.

DAH: Well you have Argentina also.

MP: That was the start of the experiment and that showed me what was possible, and then I tried to build on it and since then I have done stuff in England and in Italy.

DAH: Also at the beach?

MP: Yes. It is more difficult though. I am shooting in Rome now and didn’t even bring the telephoto lens with me. What I am generally doing is having the foreground out of focus and focusing way beyond. That is the thing that to me looks more interesting. Now when I did my previous Benidorm book I was using the macro lens which is an insane lens to use on the beach. Macro with a ring flash. And there I was focusing on the foreground and letting everything else fall away. So now I am doing the entire opposite.

DAH: Is the woman with the glasses an original Benidorm picture?

MP: That was one of those things that inspired me, in fact. The out of focus there is very effective. It is an icon that you will remember and I am trying to replicate that feel and look, but that was done on the macro lens. So that was a 50mm lens compared to the 70-200mm lens which I am using now.

DAH: Right. Now this puts you into a completely different relationship with your subjects. Before, obviously at some point, you were so close to the people you had to engage with them probably some of the time. Now you are completely disengaged from the subject.

MP: In fact it works in my value because as you know it is getting more and more difficult to photograph on the beaches in particular when there are kids around because people go nutsy when you start photographing kids. I have been not quite arrested on the beach in Rio, but I have been apprehended to the police being called. Therefor, [the lens] does get rid of that problem. I had my phase of getting really close, and I still do get really close. For example this current session I am photographing in the Vatican Museum for the Museum here, and I am right on top of people so it is not like I am not doing that anymore. But the beach has become a particularly controversial place to photograph.

DAH: I think that is right. I always look around for mom and dad first if I see a kid because that can be an issue.

MP: Years ago when I was doing the last resort, which is the first big body of work I did, I shot on the beach, again as part of the beach therapy process, people didn’t even think about that. Now it is always in people’s minds.

DAH: At my beach here for some reason nobody minds. There are kids running all over the place. But in most beaches it has gotten like that. Well that’s great, thank you Martin.

MP: Thanks David.

 

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                    Photo for BurnDiary by Diana Markosian, 2013 EPF Winner

 

This is week is number 52 for BurnDiary. Our anniversary. One year of weekly diary posts by 52 photographers from a multitude of countries within all five continents.. So many different approaches to daily life that after looking backwards is kind of impossible to imagine all in one place… But they are, here in BurnDiary; city life, love stories, landscapes and social issues and mainly many pictures about the record of a moment.
I write now not for the past but to announce that this diary will be turned into our third printed magazine, entitled Diary. Yes – life moments disappear while we are living them, but this is also about photography… these images, for the beauty, the pureness, the immediate feeling deserve the possibility to say something for longer. This is why BurnDiary will be a book.
The photographer this week is Diana Markosian, our 2013 EPF winner, announced when BurnDiary was at the very first steps. She continued her work all along 2014 showing very well how a grant can be important in a photographer ‘s life to have the freedom to develop a project otherwise hard to fund.  The current year edition is almost to its deadline, so Diana’s week is just the perfect coincidence for this anniversary, the perfect candle for this birthday.
We want to say once again the 52 photographers who have joined us this past year are with us as part of Burn’s enlarged family and surely they have been able to create one of the best family diaries ever!
Many thanks to all who have created this most amazing collective one year essay. Our team at Burn Magazine looks forward to seeing what the next year will bring. In the meantime, please join us in our excitement for the soon-to-be release of Diary..
Diego Orlando, Editor, BurnDiary

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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

 

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-

danube revisited – the inge morath truck project

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The Inge Morath Truck Project

Danube Revisited

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“Photography is a strange phenomenon. In spite of the use of that technical instrument, the camera, no two photographers, even if they were at the same place at the same time, come back with the same pictures. The personal vision is usually there from the beginning; result of a special chemistry of background and feelings, traditions and their rejection, of sensibility and voyeurism. You trust your eye and you cannot help but bare your soul. One’s vision finds of necessity the form suitable to express it.”

–Inge Morath, Life as a Photographer, 1999

 

Danube Revisited: The Inge Morath Truck Project

By Jennifer Gandin Le

Where we are born leaves an indelible mark on our bodies. The space where we first take air into our lungs is where language meets our ears, light meets our eyes, and the sensation of skin begins. No matter what follows, the place stays with us.

For pioneering Magnum photojournalist Inge Morath (1923-2002), born in Graz, Austria, the place that captured her imagination and vision was the Danube region in Eastern Europe. For nearly forty years (1958-1995), she made trips along the full length of the river, from the Black Forest to the Black Sea, and photographed the people and landscape along the river through generations of social and political change. She made her first trip along the Danube in 1958, traveling to Germany, Yugoslavia, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Romania. Politics made Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Soviet Union inaccessible to her until the 1990s, after the fall of the Iron Curtain. In 1995, she exhibited her “Donau” project and published a book, but she continued to return to the region; the last trip she took before she died was to the land of her birth.

This July, Inge Morath’s photos of her beloved Danube region will return home.

Nine photographers — all of whom have received the Inge Morath Award, an annual prize given by Magnum Photos members to a woman photographer under 30 — will convert an 18-wheeler into a mobile gallery of her work and drive it along the Danube River, exhibiting the work in the very communities that Morath photographed.

Along the way, the women will create new work, collaborate with local female photographers in the region, and amplify the voices of existing local artists by inviting selected photographers to travel with them. “While we’re trained to be perceptive and pick up things with culture and people and photograph critically, essentially, we’re just visitors,” says Claire Martin of the project’s express mission to “support the under-represented female voice in documentary photography.” “We want people with the real voice of the region to participate in the project.”

“When I started here twelve years ago, the attention was on Inge and her history,” says John P. Jacob, director of the Inge Morath Foundation. “About halfway in, we changed the tone of the website to focus on her legacy. We asked, what can we do for those who feel her influence? It has been incredibly rewarding for us to see this project flow from that change in perspective.”

Danube Revisited’s numbers are impressive: nine photographers, three of their children, one documentary filmmaker, 24 cities and villages, 10 countries, 1,777 miles of river, and all in 35 days — especially when you consider that Morath completed her version of this journey across nearly 40 years.

“I’ve tried to put together group projects with friends before, but it’s never worked,” says Kathryn Cook, who won the Award in 2008. “This is different. There’s a lot of glue between those who have received the award.” Lurdes R. Basolí, 2010 winner, agrees. “I wouldn’t be doing this project without what we have in common — sharing this grant.” Despite the administrative challenges of organizing this project across four countries and over two years, Basolí’s faith in the project never flagged. “We built this ourselves. It was never an option to give up — we all had such deep commitment.”

A unique collaboration in a field known for its solitary work, these nine photographers will spend five weeks sharing ideas, informing each others’ work, pressing each other to grow and evolve, and supporting each other along the way.

“I’ve done collaborative projects like this with my students before, and it’s always been exciting to shoot similar situations, then look at our images together afterwards and see how our eyes are different. I’m excited to do this with these great photographers,” says Emily Schiffer, 2009 award winner. Schiffer and Cook will be traveling with their children, which was another important priority for the organizers. Their Kickstarter page drives the point home: “We are all between the ages of 31 and 41 and would love to prove that there doesn’t have to be an age or a period when women can’t create or take part in an adventure.”

Despite being the namesake for a high-profile award for female photographers, Morath herself was dismissive of the gender issue, emphasizing her photography as the important discussion. However, she and her Magnum colleague Eve Arnold were also proud of their prominence as women photographers, especially in a time when there were obvious gaps in the diversity of not only Magnum, but also the entire industry.

Claire Martin says, “We’re trying to correct the balance from the historical white male bias in documentary photography, and trying to bring it back a bit. Inge was a pioneer that way, and that’s why we’re so inspired by her. She was one of the first to put a woman’s print on work and have it publicly validated and recognized.”

Most of the award winners knew little about Morath when they applied. But through the last two years of planning Danube Revisited, Morath’s legacy has come alive for them in a new way. “As you talk with everyone who knew her, you realize that they created the award out of deep respect and love for her,” says Martin. “In creating this project, she’s become really influential to me. I think of her being the one of the first women, breaking the barriers of entrenched gender roles at the time. How challenging that must have been. How ballsy she must have been to be so defiant, such a powerhouse.”

Jessica Dimmock wonders about Morath’s own perception of her trajectory in the field. “Did she think her career would change things for women, or did she feel isolated by being a solo woman in a field driven by men? Based on the changes she was seeing in her lifetime, did she think the nine of us could exist? Would she have an idea that this many women would be drawn to this craft?”

 

Jennifer Gandin Le is a writer and photographer based in Austin, TX. When she’s not telling stories with words or images, she’s saving lives through her company Emotion Technology, which works with social web companies to prevent suicide and promote mental health online. When she was just 24, director Francis Ford Coppola commissioned her film adaptation of the best-selling novel The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank. Her non-fiction writing has been published in Wired Magazine, Time Out New York, BUST Magazine, and The Village Voice. Her short film, Small Changes, won the Grand Jury Prize in the 2009 Intelligent Use of Water film competition, and was screened at The Getty Center in Los Angeles. Gandin Le graduated with honors from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

The Inge Morath Award was established by the members of Magnum Photos in tribute to their colleague, who was associated with Magnum for more than fifty years. The annual Inge Morath Award is given to a woman photographer under thirty years of age, to assist in the completion of a long term documentary project. The winner and finalists are selected by the photographer members of Magnum Photos and a representative of the Morath Foundation at the Magnum annual meeting. The photographers participating in Danube Revisited are nine of the past Inge Morath Award winners, who have benefited and grown as a result of the award, and wish to honor the legacy of Inge Morath by retracing her Danube journey. Each photographer brings to the project both a unique personal vision and a common appreciation for the challenges facing women photographers today.

WE ARE: Olivia Arthur, Emily Schiffer, Claire Martin, Lurdes Basoli,  Kathryn Cook, Mimi Chakarova, Jessica Dimmock, Claudia Guadarrama, and Ami Vitale.

 

Related links

Danube Revisited: The Inge Morath Truck Project

Kickstarter Campaign

 

David Alan Harvey Interviews Magnum Legend Elliott Erwitt

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“It’s about reacting to what you see, hopefully without preconception. You can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy. ” - Elliott Erwitt

Born in Paris in 1928 to Russian parents, Erwitt spent his childhood in Milan, then emigrated to the US, via France, with his family in 1939. As a teenager living in Hollywood, he developed an interest in photography and worked in a commercial darkroom before experimenting with photography at Los Angeles City College. In 1948 he moved to New York and exchanged janitorial work for film classes at the New School for Social Research.Erwitt traveled in France and Italy in 1949 with his trusty Rolleiflex camera. In 1951 he was drafted for military service and undertook various photographic duties while serving in a unit of the Army Signal Corps in Germany and France.While in New York, Erwitt met Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker, the former head of the Farm Security Administration. Stryker initially hired Erwitt to work for the Standard Oil Company, where he was building up a photographic library for the company, and subsequently commissioned him to undertake a project documenting the city of Pittsburgh.In 1953 Erwitt joined Magnum Photos and worked as a freelance photographer for Collier’s, Look, Life, Holiday and other luminaries in that golden period for illustrated magazines. To this day he is for hire and continues to work for a variety of journalistic and commercial outfits.

In the late 1960s Erwitt served as Magnum’s president for three years. He then turned to film: in the 1970s he produced several noted documentaries and in the 1980s eighteen comedy films for Home Box Office. Erwitt became known for benevolent irony, and for a humanistic sensibility traditional to the spirit of Magnum.

 

Up from the Sands

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It has been a long time since I have written here. I have been shooting and teaching and teaching and shooting like crazy. Oaxaca, Rio, and now Dubai. Like a madman. Yet all of it my passion , all of it fun, and all of it just what I DO. Yet of course I just run out of time. Can’t do it all. Want to. Just can’t.

The above picture from Dubai is my most recent, shot a few days ago just before I left Dubai. Not a  likely place for me to shoot, or so I thought before I went there last year. Something bit. I came back again. There was a fascination for me in a new age city where the people of the land went from the poorest on the planet to the richest. Overnight. Allah Akbar. Hence the title of my upcoming magazine : Up from the Sands.

Those of you who know me know that I love books the most as the ultimate resting place for fine work. Books are where I want my work to be. Books are my nourishment from colleagues, those I admire, my students,  and those who are unknown to me., I simply love fine work regardless of source. Sure I want you to be interested in BurnBooks. You have acquired all that we have offered so far. Thank you. Yet for sure I will promote any day the fine work of great publishers like Steidl , Aperture, Phaidon, Trolley, Taschen, etc etc. and anyone else who makes a great book.

I am a Magnum photographer and I will promote Magnum anytime. My company. I will also interview for Burn fine photographers from VII and from Noor and from any other agency where I see fine fork. Why would I promo the competition?

I will tell you why. There just are not that many good ones out there. I will assemble any time all the great producers of any kind. We need each other. To keep the level high. Buy a Taschen book today, buy a Phaidon book tomorrow and get a BurnBook while you are at it. Competing? Sure. Only keeps the level high.

I will be introducing in a couple of weeks Michael Loyd Young’s new book:  Beer, Bait & Ammo. Our latest BurnBooks offering. A work of art, a work from the heart. Mike flipped his life around. A former student, Mike turned his camera on his own world, something I implore all of my students to do.

We will be announcing  soonest our upcoming lineup of books , and zines. Some mine. Mostly others.

It was Kelly Lynn James  who has always been fully credited by me for the name BURN. Thanks Kelly.

So as we did for the title Burn , I am throwing this one out there for you to help choose (no money in this for you)

I wrote above that the title for my upcoming zine on Dubai was gonna be Up from the Sands. Yet I have also thought simply:  Sand …what you think?

(a) Up From the Sands

(b) Sand

(c) your best title…

 

Thanks………….David

Photo Tips #5

PHOTO TIPS #4: A Choice of Weapons

 

Learn how Egyptian photographer Laura El-Tantawy covers conflict.

Photo Tips # 2: NatGeo Editor Speaks

Check this out. No way you won’t get something out of this short preview of a longer conversation with Susan Welchman, a Photo Editor at NatGeo. This is a one time chat like I never had before with a colleague with whom I have collaborated on at least 10 major essays at NatGeoMagazine.

falling into place: self portraits by patricia lay-dorsey

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Patricia sings as her husband Ed plays in a nightly ritual in their home in Detroit. Photo by David Alan Harvey

 

Conversation with Patrica Lay-Dorsey

Author of Falling Into Place: Self Portraits

 

Detroit-based artist Patricia Lay-Dorsey was diagnosed with chronic progressive Multiple Sclerosis in 1988. Twenty years later she turned her camera on herself and began taking self-portraits with the intention of showing from the inside the day-to-day life of a person with a disability.

The photographs chronicle the struggles and achievements of the artist as she learns to accept the limitations of her body and celebrate her abilities rather than her disability. Taken together, the images build a compelling narrative about the artist’s daily life over five years that is inspiring, deeply moving and offers a fascinating insider perspective. The story highlights Lay-Dorsey’s energetic lifestyle, and unconventionally for a woman of her age, a love of Detroit electronic dance music which led its aficionados to bestow on her the nickname ‘Grandma Techno’.

Published by Ffotogallery in Cardiff, Wales and designed by award-winning book designer Victoria Forrest, the hardback book includes 50 colour images, an artist statement and biography, and texts by David Alan Harvey, Magnum photographer and Burn Magazine Editor, and David Drake, Director of Ffotogallery.

 

David Alan Harvey: Patricia, I think you are the first Burn commenter who has actually done a book on their own. Is that right as far as you know? Who else has done one?

Patricia Lay-Dorsey: What about Michael Loyd Young?
DAH: I am talking about somebody who was an avid Burn commenter and who sort of came out of the Burn crowd, so I don’t see Mike in quite that role. I mean, Mike looked at Burn, but he wasn’t a Burn commenter in the way you were. I mentored Mike out of workshops. You just from Burn itself. Mike by the way is my next interview with his upcoming Beer, Bait & Ammo.
PLD: Yes, I was quite active on Burn.
DAH: That’s right. Mike is actually on his second or third book, but I think you’re certainly one of the first people that we published originally for a Burn essay. Do you know where Falling Into Place came onto Burn there at the beginning?
PLD: It was right before the new year, so it was the end of December 2008.  It was either the second or third essay published.
DAH: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Certainly one of the early ones.
PLD: Right at the beginning.
DAH: Now refresh my memory on exactly how Falling Into Place started getting shot. What happened?
PLD: Okay, actually you had a lot more to do with it than I think you realize. I was scheduled to go to Look3 in 2008 for the first time and take your essay class.
DAH: Yeah, Nachtwey and I were teaching an essay class, and you did take that class.
PLD: No, I didn’t, because my husband Ed ended up with a bad back, had to go to the hospital and then was on a walker. I couldn’t leave him.
DAH: Oh, that’s right. I was just teaching a class by myself and you were going to do it, then I remember now something happened and you couldn’t do it.
PLD: Exactly. So I was very conscious of the fact that your workshop was going on that week in June. And it occurred to me that I could do an essay on my own at home at the same time, just as if I were in the workshop. So I was conscious of that. On the morning of June 11th, 2008, I was sitting on the toilet and looked down at my nightgown and saw this puddle of light, of sunlight, in my lap and it interested me. I had my camera right there, and so I took a picture of it. Then I looked down a little farther and I saw my bare foot with a lattice-like shadow on it, and I took a picture of that. So that wasn’t unusual because I would take random shots, but what was unusual was my next thought, which was “I think I will go into the shower and take a picture in there”. Now, when I thought that, it was a little above and beyond the norm. And I did it. I did go in there, and I took maybe four or five frames of my legs and feet in the water with the shower pouring down. Obviously the water was not on me. I have a shower chair, so I pushed that back and didn’t get wet. But when I came out of that shower I knew I was serious about this and that I was starting a self-portrait project. So that’s how it started.
DAH: Okay, now wait a minute. Are we sure we’ve got the right year there? Because you said June of 2008, but that was before Burn.
PLD: Oh yeah, I was on Road Trips!
DAH: Oh yes!
PLD: When I signed up for your workshop, I had found you on Google, I had found Look3 on Google. I thought it was time for me to go to a photo festival so I Googled “photo festival” and there it was.
DAH: Okay, now I’ve got it. I can’t remember life in sequence. Thank goodness for photography just for memory. I mean, I look at my Instagram and that’s my only calendar. I think “Oh yeah, I was there and there and there”. Okay, so that’s how it happened. That’s right. That’s why you had the essay a few days after Burn started, because you had already been doing it for six months.
PLD: Exactly.
DAH: I get it, okay.
PLD: And with you mentoring me for those six months. Because when you saw the first twelve images…you know in those days on Road Trips we would put up a link to portfolios that we had started…and when you saw the first twelve, you immediately said, “Well my dear this is a book and I’ll mentor you on it”, and you did.
DAH: Yeah, I don’t remember the years, and I don’t remember a lot of the details, but I do remember that when I first saw the pictures I thought it would be an incredible book if you could keep going with me. Now, we’re talking five years later and here we have it?
PLD: Five and a half years, yes.
DAH: Now, does that seem like a really long time, or does that seem like a reasonable time to you? Does it seem like it has taken forever, or does it seem kind of fast in retrospect?
PLD: I think it feels reasonable. It wasn’t like that was the only project I was doing for five and a half years. I did eight other serious projects and I still have some that are ongoing projects. If it was the only thing I had been doing, it would have been forever. But, to be honest, looking at it realistically, I think I was fortunate that it came so quickly. After all I consider myself the oldest emerging photographer on the planet! It isn’t like I’ve been doing this for a long time.
DAH: That’s right. Well, you’ve been an artist. You were an artist.
PLD: I’d been an artist for 30 years but I had only gotten serious about photography in 2006.
DAH: That’s right. I remember that you were writing to me in the first place, telling me that you were an artist and were going to take my class, etc. So that’s how it happened.
DAH: Of course to those of us on the outside it seems like you did the book relatively fast, but of course five years to me looking at your life goes by quicker than five years to you. I know that. It takes a year just to kind of get your act together and then some things work and some things don’t work. But anyway, you got the book and I think I know how you feel, but tell me again how you feel having this actually here.
PLD: I pinch myself. I pinch myself to see if this is real or if I am dreaming. You know, I was thinking about how I feel about the book. First of all I am extremely grateful that it exists, that I can hold it in my hands, that it’s here. And I am very pleased with how it turned out, and I have my publisher David Drake of Fotogallery to thank for that. I mean he was the one that took a chance on this. He first saw my prints and my Blurb book in March 2012 at FotoFest in Houston. Within two days he said he wanted to publish my book, so that was just amazing. David was just marvelous to work with, and then he knew Victoria Forrest, a book designer he had worked with before. Both David and Victoria are in the UK, and he recommended that we hire her and we did. I just think Victoria’s way of presenting this narrative was way more lucid and concise than I could ever have done on my own.
DAH: Yeah, you want to have a good collaborator, and you obviously had great collaborators here all the way around, and you know, you even got new pictures in here that I hadn’t seen before. So yeah, I agree, the sequence and the juxtaposition of pictures is just right. I think it’s the right size. I think it came out really terrific. You should be proud.
PLD: Thank you.
DAH: So this works and I think when a book works, you want to sell the book mostly because you want the publisher to be happy with their investment, right? Yeah, you want it to get out there.
PLD: I want it to get out there and you knew from the beginning this was more than just a photography book because of the subject, so it doesn’t fit into any real defined niche. There is a broader audience than for most photography books, and luckily David Drake was also very conscious of that from the beginning, and so was Victoria, my book designer. So all of us were conscious of attempting to create a document that would not only work in the photography world…where we hoped it would…but also in the wider world. I mean I really intend for this to go to university libraries…which is already happening…and to health care professionals and disability organizations. I’m already getting presentation and exhibition opportunities at universities and I love that! Now a bank is asking me to talk about disability to their employees. Unbelievable things are happening.
DAH: Yeah, I can see no limit to that and I think that the photography world is no longer the photography world anyway. The photography world encompasses all things. It’s a universal language and so it goes out beyond where people would just buy a book of photographs. And it does absolutely have a wider audience because for sure you are an inspiration to people and people are always looking for inspiration.
PLD: Well I have to say, it always makes me a little uneasy when people say I am inspiring to them. I guess maybe that’s partly why I did the project in the first place. When I would see essays or films or books on persons with disabilities, or articles in newspapers, they were often pushing this idea that she’s so brave or she is so inspiring and it kind of turned me off. These were by non-disabled folks, a way different perspective from mine.
DAH: Yeah, I can see how that would be.
PLD: You know, I am not brave or any such thing. What I am doing is dealing with what came my way. This is what my life has become, so I am either going to curl up in a ball and spend my life moaning about it, or I am just going to get on with my life, which is what I do. So I am the one who is inspired. I’ve been inspired by you and what you do. I think the model that you offer is an amazing model of don’t sit back and be satisfied with what you’ve already done. Your model is to keep pushing the boundaries. Keep moving on to new things, keep expanding your horizons, keep learning more. I remember when you were changing from Road Trips to Burn. We were a little uneasy because we loved Road Trips, it was very intimate, and yet you were so right about that.
DAH: Well, you do things, and you don’t know if you’re going to be right about anything, but you do it anyway. If it feels right then you have to do it because you can’t stay in the same place. But I can kind of understand that discomfort because, for example, I absolutely do not think of you as a woman in a wheelchair. That is not how I see you and if I don’t see you that way, then I doubt that you see yourself that way. In other words, you deal with this, you deal with that, but it’s not the main thing on your mind so I can see where you might be slightly uncomfortable with being inspirational when you are just doing your thing.  But at the same time you are, so you just have to accept your fate.
PLD: Thank you, I accept it.
DAH: Well listen, even if in your own head you see it in a slightly different way, your book is out there, you’re going to be talking to young people…well, people of all ages I guess…so if you’re inspiring then don’t worry about it so much for youself, just think about what you’re giving to them, right?
PLD: Well, what I have come to with this book actually…because I have now taught some university classes on disability…and what I am finding from these young people who are teaching me so much, is that this book is not about disability and it’s not about me. If this book has a message, the message is that everybody has something to deal with and usually it’s invisible. My issue is visible which in many ways is easier to deal with. I have asked many young people, “How many of you have dealt with a tough issue that was invisible?” Almost all hands go up. And what this says is that you go ahead, you go ahead with your life, you live as full a life as you can, no matter what, and that to me is the message, so it’s not really about disability at all.
DAH: No, you’re absolutely right. Because as you may recall from the class that you finally did take, I always try to get people to look in the mirror. Now you literally are looking in the mirror in a very obvious way, but I try to get everybody to do that. Mostly it’s a psychological thing rather than a physical thing, so in that sense, yeah, it’s easier to understand what it is you’re talking about in this book. Somebody can pick up the book and immediately figure out what Falling Into Place means. So it is comprehensible in that sense, whereas a psychological thing that somebody might be dealing with would perhaps be more difficult.
PLD: Yeah, some people wanted me to have text. Some people wanted me to tell the stories of the different images and I resisted that from the beginning.
DAH: Yeah, that would have been a bad idea.
PLD: This is not my story. I want people to look at the pictures and see their own stories in it. Tell themselves their own story, not mine.
DAH: Yeah, that would have been a mistake to have text on every page and to tell every story because the picture tells enough of a story and then you’re done. You do that and then you’re done.
PLD: I hope so. That’s what we wanted.
DAH: I think the beauty of Falling Into Place is that its manageable, it’s something you want to pick up over and over again. You can flip through it, you can go through it in sequence, go through it not in sequence. You know we look at books backwards half the time, most of us from the middle back. But I think it reads really well in every direction, from front to back, back to front. I can start in the middle and go backwards and it still has power that way.
PLD: Thank you, David. Well I am sure you noticed that it begins with your Foreword. What you wrote…and this would have been in 2009 for my first Blurb book…I reread that over and over and to me, that is inspiring, what you wrote as the Foreword, because it was like you got it. You absolutely got it from the beginning and I felt so seen and heard and understood in terms of what I was trying to do and say. And you articulated it in a very personal way and very professionally too. I am really very grateful to you for that.
DAH: Well, I really didn’t do anything. The only thing you can do as a mentor is two things…you look at the work they’ve done and then you try to just say something or do something that will inspire somebody to do something. You can’t tell somebody how to do it. I mean, it’s not a how-to process.
PLD: In terms of your mentoring though, one of the things I learned from you, a really important thing, was about editing because that was the main function that you served for this book at the beginning. It wasn’t that I was so much a part of the process, it was seeing how you did it that has served me so well and that was my hands-on learning. It was almost by osmosis that I was able to learn.
DAH: And then you learned how to edit yourself and then you learned how to see how other people edited. I remember because we had the pictures all spread out on the table under the Williamsburg bridge there one time. So anyway, it has been a process. How much do you think the fact that you’re a long distance runner had to do with you being able to finish this?
PLD: That came to me all the time. I say that five and half years wasn’t a long time, but when you’re in the middle of it and you don’t know when the end is going to be, it can seem like a long time. There were moments where I really doubted myself and the project and doubted that anything would ever happen with it. But I am not kidding, it did remind me of when I had decided I was going to run a marathon. I saw these people run in front of my house during the Detroit Marathon at about the five hour mark. At that time I had only run six miles, but I looked at some of them and said to myself, “I am in better shape than them, I can do this”, and so I worked for a solid year and I was obsessive about it. I read the books, I ran every day, I did the alternate hard day/easy day, all of that. Well, after I ran my first marathon…I ran two of them…I said to myself, I now know I can do anything I set my mind to.
DAH: Yeah, once that sets in, once the idea clicks into your head, then you’ve got it made for life in general, don’t you think?
PLD: Oh, I do.
DAH: Once you realize that eventually, somehow, someway, if it’s the right thing to do, you can figure out a way to do it.
PLD: And you just stick with it. You become a bulldog. I figured that was one of my best qualities in working on this, just being a bulldog.
DAH: Yeah that’s right, just sticking with it, getting back up on the horse and riding again, that’s right. Because there are going to be so many times when there is self doubt or a variety of impediments. It’s really simple when I talk to young people, I tell them the same thing, I say listen..it’s two things, just deliver what you say you are going to deliver to people, and then be a bulldog on it. If you have talent and everything else that’s all great, but like Darwin said, its not the strongest or the best that survive, it’s those that can adapt. Those are the species that went forward. Not the biggest and strongest ones, they didn’t make it.
PLD: That’s interesting. Actually I found that in the process of turning the camera on myself…and I mean I have pictures of me on the toilet, I have pictures of me in the shower, getting dressed, it’s very intimate, things that no one else had ever seen except maybe my husband, and things I was ashamed of, that I didn’t know I was ashamed of until I put my camera on it and saw the pictures. What this whole process did was help me come to terms with being disabled in a way that I had never come to terms with it before. Because it was in my face. I could no longer ignore any part of it because I was taking pictures of it all. And before, what I had tried to do was wear blinders and just bull straight ahead, but now I was always looking for photo opts. So, I was seeing everything very differently. It helped me.
DAH: Well there you go, that’s the perfect kind of project. You helped other people and you helped yourself, so what’s not to love about that, right?
PLD: Exactly, that’s win/win.
DAH: It absolutely is.
FIP_book_cover
Bio

Patricia Lay-Dorsey was born in 1942 in Washington, DC. She received her MSW from Smith College School for Social Work in 1966 and ten years later studied fine arts at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. Patricia and Ed Dorsey have lived in the Detroit area since they married in 1966.

Patricia’s book of self-portraits, Falling Into Place, was published in November 2013 by Ffotogallery in Cardiff, Wales. It is available at the ICP bookstore in NYC and on Amazon globally. This award-winning project has had solo exhibits at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA and Fovea Exhibitions in Beacon, NY. It has been featured in Newsweek Japan and New Mobility Magazine, and online on Burn Magazine, the NY Times Lens blog, The Daily Mail (London), ABC News, CBS News and Slate Magazine’s Behold blog. Patricia is currently giving slide presentations and facilitating discussions about disability & creativity in universities, disability organizations, corporations and community groups.

 

Related Links

Patricia Lay-Dorsey

Falling Into Place Book Info

Burn Essay, 2008

 

marco vernaschi – biophilia

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Marco Vernaschi

Biophilia

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BIOHILIA, a newly born NGO based in Argentina, is currently developing a set of programs with different Communities throughout the Country. The photographs featured in this essay are part of a developing work in progress that will keep growing through the next four months.

In particular, BIOPHILIA is supporting a diversified set of projects in the heart of the Quebrada de Humahuaca, Province of Jujuy, fostering the culture and economy of the Quechua people inhabiting the Andean Atiplano. BIOPHILIA is implementing a number of projects with a selection of local farmers that contribute in the development of a sustainable, local economy, taking into account the cultural and territorial values and reflecting such richness into their products. Traditional culture and rural economy are at the core of BIOPHILIA’s initiatives; in particular with the Samilantes Communities of Chalala and Huichaira, as well as with the vibrant and colorful community of Tilcara that shines through the Diablos, during the traditional Carnival.

With the same philosophy and criteria, BIOPHILIA is developing a sustainable program with the Guarani Community of Jasy Pora, in the Province of Misiones, up in the North East region bordering with Brazil. The main goal is to develop a flow of responsible Eco-Tourism, which is currently the main possible source of income for the Guarani people inhabiting this portion of the region.

Through BIOPHILIA Experience we will shape a comprehensive map of rural farmers, eco-projects and innovative initiatives that are contributing to foster a sustainable model of development, involving local communities and ethnic groups, reflecting the cultural values within each territory. BURN is BIOPHILIA’s main media partner. Starting from now, we will develop a variety of original formats and contents, and we will soon feature a dedicated BURN-Biophilia page.  The journey began in Iguazù, on the border with Brazil, developing through the North Western region and then through a long trip descending the legendary Ruta 40. The itinerary stretches from the Argentinian Amazon to the surreal Andean Altiplano, all the way to the Austral South, in the heart of Patagonia.

 

Bio

Marco Vernaschi was born in Italy, 1973. He lives in Buenos Aires since 2005. Through 2006 and 2008 he worked in Bolivia, following the early stages of President Evo Morales’ new policy on coca crops and the fratricidal war among miners in Bolivia’s Altiplano. In 2005 he covered “The Bitter Taste of Salt” on the daily struggle of the Quechua salt-miners living in the northwestern salt flats of Argentina. In 2009 Marco began working with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, documenting the major illegal activities behind narco-terrorism. In the Project West Africa’s New Achilles’ Heel, Marco focused on cocaine trafficking, in Guinea Bissau, documenting how criminal networks led by Hezbollah and Al Qaeda control drug trafficking in Africa, giving insight on the aftermath of this phenomenon at a social and political level. Again for the Pulitzer Center, in 2009, Marco started an international campaign on maternal mortality, with the project Dying for Life, focusing on the dire situation of maternal health in the Sub-Saharan African region. In 2010 Marco worked at his third project with the Pulitzer Center documenting child sacrifice and organ trafficking in Uganda. His last work, Placebo, was exhibited in 2011 at the 54th Venice Biennale at the Italian Pavilion, in St. Petersburg at the Karl Bulla Historical Photography Foundation and at Rome’s MACRO-Testaccio, among other exhibitions.

Marco’s personal work has published in several major fine art magazines, including EYEMAZING, La Lettre de la Photographie, DIENACTH, GUP, etc. His documentary work has been featured worldwide by STERN, TIME Magazine, National Geographic, GEO, Newsweek, The New York Times and Sunday Times Magazine, among others. He has receives several award including World Press Photo 2010  (1st Prize – GN Stories), PGB Photo Award 2010  (Best Picture of the Year – Picture Story of the Year – 1st Prize), finalist on ASME Award 2011,  Lens Culture International Exposure Award 2009  (1st Prize), nominee at ICP Infinity Award in Photojournalism 2010, SONY PHOTO AWARD 2010 ( finalist on Current Issue), finalist ODP Award for Human Values 2009 (Finalist)

BIOPHILIA is a newly born NGO, of which Marco Vernaschi is President and founder. The organization’s mid-term goal for 2014-15 is to work closely with a number of selected communities, local producers and farmers through Argentina, on a series of synergetic and diversified projects that will allow such communities to develop a solid, local economy. The model they have in mind, takes into account the cultural values of each region and ethnicity, the unique features of each territory and of course the demand in terms of global markets, which is important to make the project successful.

 

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BIOPHILIA

 

Beach Games Tabloid

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I have very little time to write. I am shooting. In the mode. In the zone. After all of the day to day things we must do constantly just  to “maintain”,  it is those moments when we can actually feel and shoot and live and breathe the work that are the most rewarding. I am on it now in Rio. Again.

I cannot remember ever coming back to the same “well” twice. Yet Rio has me again. For a totally different essay than (based on a true story). Not only a switch to black & white, but a whole different storyline….In the back of my mind , I am wondering if Rio is all of it, or only part of it. This I do not know yet.  Beach Games has been on my mind for about a year. The double meaning will hopefully be obvious in the final result. Right now I am simply sketching and playing and absorbing “the games”….Doing little layouts and sequences in my mind, yet not quite ready to “go to the wall”with prints for another few weeks….And of course I could drop the whole idea entirely. I often drop projects where I have spent lots of time. I have no fear of rejecting weeks and weeks of work if I see it is not happening in the way I may have imagined.

I tell those I mentor and I tell myself, be ready to throw it all away at any time. Start over. I throw most of my work away. I only finish some thing , not everything. Never marry an idea until that point when you just know it is what you wanted to say.

Rio will be behind me in a few days. Ahhhh , the weather will be hard to leave!  Freezing New York is out there ahead of me.  Then off to Dubai to finished or not finish the essay I stared there last year at this time and was cut short because of the passing of my mother. The Burn team of Diego Orlando and Kaya Berne will be joining me in Dubai for a workshop associated with GPP and then I will shoot again for a couple of weeks and see IF Dubai becomes a tabloid/zine as is my intention for Beach Games.

Ok, that’s it. I must roll now into the one thing I know how to do. I must forget all else, and concentrate. A zen sort of concentration that is pure pleasure and somehow “work”at the same time.

THE place to be, whenever you can get there, and any way you can get there.

-dah-

THE MAGAZINE of (based on a true story)

 

federica valabrega – daughters of the king, the book

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Federica Valabrega

Daughters of the King, the Book

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In my photographs, I have sought to avoid the common stereotypes frequently attributed to Orthodox Jews. I have attempted to show aspects of these women, their most spiritual ones, those that transcend their religion and its strict rules governing the sanctity of their bodies. I chose to delve into a deeper dimension of my subjects’ holiness–one of femininity accompanying every gesture, every moment of their daily lives as religious women. In my images, head coverings, long-sleeved dresses, modest skirts, and shoes ceased to be barriers to unwanted eyes, but instead became vessels, unveiling a deep, emotional access in the search for meaning as a woman.

“Daughters of the King” reveals the subtlest gestures of feminine beauty within moments of the daily lives of these women: The preparation for a wedding ceremony, the moment a mother and a daughter light candles before the beginning of Shabbat, or choosing a dress to wear for a particular occasion and combing their hair for an evening outing.

“Daughters of the King” began four years ago in New York in the streets of Crown Heights, the Lubavitch Orthodox neighborhood in Brooklyn, continued within the Breslov and Dati Lumi communities in Israel and the Sephardic Jews of Paris the next year and carried onward to Morocco and Tunisia within the old Jewish community of Casablanca and the folkloristic community of religious women in Djerba.

“I do not choose the women I photograph. They choose me. These women have not only ‘lent me their stories,’ they have also opened my heart to my own spirituality, revealing to me what it means to be a true Bat Melech beyond the limits of religion.”

Daughters of The King will be showing in Rome at  ETG until January 15, 2014

 

DAUGHTERS OF THE KING by Federica Valabrega - published by BurnBooks on November, 2013 in an edition of 1000 copies –  dimension: 300mm x 200mm (12 ” x 8 “), 88 pages plus 24 pages booklet with texts in english and italian –  - $ 40.00 – € 35,00 (excl. shipping)

Author: Federica Valabrega

Publisher: BurnBooks, 2013

Art Direction, Book Concept, Photoediting: Annalisa d’Angelo and Diego Orlando

Image Color Correction: Paolo Lecca

Book Design: Valeria Semenzato

Production manager: Diego Orlando for BurnBooks

Printing and Binding: Grafiche Antiga, Italy

 

DAUGHTERS OF THE KING  can now be ordered here

 

008Related links

Daughters of the King

Federica Valabrega

 

 

 

JR – Conversation

JR

Conversation with JR

 

David Alan Harvey: The reason I am interested in you is because you’re a pop star, yet you do good things for people. You have brought art to the streets for everyone to see. You use your photographs to cover up the roofs of substandard housing in Nairobi. Your pictures keep the rain out. You use your art for social causes. We share an enthusiasm for supporting other artists.

So anybody in the arts, whether they are a painter, sculpture, filmmaker, etc., those people have always interested me since I was a kid. And I am always especially interested in,  ”when did the light come on?”.

Now I sort  of know when the light came on for you. There were the riots in Paris, and I was in Arles when you pasted there in 2007. I didn’t know you at that time, and I guess not so many people did.

Since then you have obviously taken off, but when did the spark go off? Obviously you were spraying, you were a graffiti artist.

JR: Yeah, I was pasting even before the riots. I guess the moment when it became clear to myself and to the people that I wanted to be an artist was at the riots because everyone discovered my work through the media. So I did the cover of the New York Times in 2005, but there was not even my name, they didn’t even know who I was. So I am on the cover, walking in front of my pasting, but the caption was something like “a passerby walking in this really tense neighborhood in Paris”. They didn’t know who was doing that. So what happened after the riots is that during the riots all the media emailed me and said ‘look, no journalist can get in. We saw that you have your work in there, can you take photos for us?’ That was the first time that I actually got a job offer as a photographer, but at that moment I decided I would not accept it because I wanted to choose the subject of my photos.

DAH: You wanted to be completely pure with it.

JR: Exactly. That is what put me into the portrait scene.

DAH: Okay well let me back up even further than that. I know you want to be anonymous so you don’t have to be specific, but there must have been an age when you were a little kid, six years old, seven years old, ten years old, that you realized you needed to project your feelings somehow and it goes to graffiti art. What happened? When did the light go off?

JR: I mean I started graffiti really early, maybe twelve or thirteen, but I definitely had no idea that there was a job for being an artist. I really had no clue.

DAH: It was just something you had to do?

JR: Some of the kids were doing it in the neighborhood and it’s so great to have your name up there and then it became a challenge like who’s going to get up there and who’s going to get that one, and who’s going to have more balls. There was nothing like ‘Oh, look how beautiful these are or look at how they change people’…nothing like that. So, it is later on when I got evicted from my school in the suburbs that I had to go live with some cousins in Paris that I met some writers that were in a totally different game. They said ‘your letters are bullshit, we do letters like this’. It is like if you come from the countryside and you think you had it all right and then you get in the city and you meet the real dudes and you start right from the bottom, and those guys actually do crazy letters, and one of the crew I was affiliated with was a really legit one and the leader lived in my suburb, so that’s why they accepted me in Paris. But my writing was terrible.

DAH: Ah, so how old were you when you went to Paris?

JR: I was seventeen.

DAH: Oh so that is a tough time.

JR: Yeah, and so basically, the moment I was in Paris I realized that there was a whole game for it. There were guys who were really good at it, and that is when I was like, oh I am meeting the best dudes, but I am not that great at it, so why don’t I document those guys.

DAH: So you started by just taking pictures of the guys who were rioting?

JR:  Yeah. And then printing the photos and re-pasting them in the street. But really small. Really tiny.

DAH: Was it after the pasting in Arles?

JR: No that was 2001. I pasted my first poster when I was seventeen.

DAH: Really? Because you are thirty now right?

JR: Yeah, I’m thirty now. So I started thirteen years ago basically. Now I am working on a secret project that no one knows about.

DAH: I guess we had better keep your “secret project” a secret (laughing)…Save it for the next interview!!

Well let me ask you this…when did you suddenly go from underground, in trouble, getting arrested, obviously the government’s against you, you’re a bad boy, now you’re obviously a good boy and I want to ask you about that too. Is that a problem being a good boy?

You’re a famous pop artist now, is that a contradiction to the original JR?

JR: No, what I love about it is that I can be a good boy in New York and sometimes a good boy in France, but then when I did that I was arrested for that.

DAH: But you are a “good boy” in France now aren’t you?

JR: Yeah but we never got into a position to do that. I tried, even with my name to get the authorization to paste in the building; they wouldn’t give it to me. And so the funny thing is that, even when I was in China, I can have an exhibition in a museum and at the same time have problems with the outside, because for some people this is art and for other’s it’s silly crime, so we are talking about simple posters being a piece of art in a place and….

DAH:  And a crime in another place?

JR:  Yeah. Most of the places I go I start from scratch again. If I was only in New York, or only in France, I would have that feeling that everything seems easier, but because all those places I travel to, I start back from scratch, from people who don’t know my work or from police, who think: I don’t care who you are.

DAH: What about in Kibera or Cuba?

JR: Kibera we had no authorization. Cuba we had to do it through the Art Biennale but we had to finance everything, the best thing is Berlin for example. You know, I just did a project there and for most of it we actually didn’t get authorization.  So we rented a huge crane and we just parked it wherever we wanted to. We know how to pretend we are legit, so if police came and looked at us, we looked really professional.

DAH: Listen, you are out there with the social media, you’re out there, you’re a celebrity, you’re a pop artist in a way, but you still keep the little extra part of original JR in there too. Is this correct?

JR: I have that thing where I am always in the grey zone, basically. That’s where I feel the most comfortable. In a place where you don’t know if it’s legal or illegal. Even Times Square that looks like the most legal thing ever, we didn’t have a paper from the city. They couldn’t give us official authorization saying that they agreed on that since there were insurance problems if people fell, etc. No one would take that responsibility. So basically Times Square Arts said you can go ahead but that everything was on our head because no one in the city would give us a paper covering your ass for what we were going to do.

DAH: I am used to photographers doing big things,  but you’re out there on some other planet. I don’t see how you do all that stuff one after another. You take on Times Square and I think “Okay, that’s enough for two years of work and that’s that”. But then the next thing I know you’re in Berlin. How are you doing all that stuff? You have a team obviously…

JR: Well my favorite part is to be out pasting with my team, so we always travel altogether.

DAH: But how do you do all that stuff? You must have a military precision operation thing here. You’re a super organized guy.

JR: It’s a little of both. For example, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I sleep well.

DAH: Yeah, I was going to ask you if you ever sleep.

JR: Yes, I need to sleep for hours.

DAH: Do you have a personal life?

JR: I have one, it’s just that I travel a lot. The way I keep a close circle that is trained is that I have the same team that I’ve had for years. Those are the same guys that I did a project with 10 years ago in the suburbs. They are the same guys that I work with. We don’t need to call each other every day. They know which truck we need to rent when I get in a place. I never feel like I am arriving with new people…I am always with my team. We are like a family.

DAH: That I understand. I have some small version of that, but yours is on a huge level. Do you have an advance team who is going and lining all this stuff up?

JR: Sometimes they go to places and check it out before me, but I need to go and validate the walls.

DAH: Are you going yourself and making the deals with the official people or biz people,  or is there somebody else?

JR: No, there are some people who do that here in New York, other guys in Berlin, other guys when it’s in France. And also, when I did the project in Rio, I worked with some people from Providencia. Now when I came back to Providencia I knew people there and we all stay very close.  So depending on the city, I don’t need to send guys since I already have somebody there that knows how I work. And of course all the volunteers sometimes come and help, which is great. I have some guys who construct stuff and those guys don’t joke. You tell them I want a truck with that thing and that thing and he never calls you back and when you come it’s ready. They are the kind of guys that just make shit happen. There is a lot of this in the team where everybody takes these things personally and it becomes their part. And so we work a lot like that very closely. It’s like if I put a frame, and inside that frame everyone does their part. We have pasting guys who are willing to take risks, and have other who say “call me when you have an exhibition or legal war”, and other guys who I worked with in the suburbs have been in jail so they take the risks, to do their thing knowing that if they get arrested, it is everyone on their own basically because we have no paper, nothing.

DAH: Now I would imagine that you would get financing from various city’s or from various patrons of things.

JR: No, Times Square I financed myself. Paris, same thing.

DAH: You can do that just with your….

JR: The sales of the artwork.

DAH: Really? You do all that with that?

JR: I don’t have time to write forms or grants and no one on the team knows how to do it. Who would maybe be good at it? We don’t know. Most of the stuff we do is on the grey zone.

DAH: How do you get those big prints made in Nairobi?

JR: For example all the vinyl prints on the roof, we actually printed in Nairobi.

DAH: You printed it IN Nairobi?

JR: Yeah, because that is the cheapest way to work. That’s where they do all the banners for West Africa advertising and stuff like that. And now we covered another 4,000 square meters on top of what we did before and we just did it with help of the community. That’s like what you saw in Brazil, just continuity. So every year we come back and cover more.

DAH: And you just pick your social projects…I mean everything you do has some social relevance to it. I mean it may be in protest to something, something that you care about.

JR: The thing is, I am sure most of the people think I have legal authorization from the state when I actually have nothing. It’s like working in the favela. Providencia is the only favela where you cannot do any art projects, especially at the time when I went. There are no NGOs here are no contacts in there. When I went in there, there was just no way I could do it. I just met one woman, and that woman presented me to Mauricio, he was the key to everything. He was the guy who basically explained to every person (because I didn’t speak Portuguese) why I came and what the project was, because those people could do it. They were so good at it, so why wouldn’t it just be their project?

DAH: So then you go out and get your team together and you bring it back?

JR: Yes, exactly.

DAH: Well you are an artist with a sense of social responsibility. You said art was a great place for you to discuss all these social issues in kind of a free form. But you are doing more than a lot of journalistic photographers are doing. You don’t consider yourself that kind of photographer. You are an artist, but still, the issues are exactly the same.

JR: Now, I only understood that this year actually since I started using Instagram, I didn’t have social media a year and a half ago. I realized that if I put up a single photo people would think that was cool, but if I put up a whole story then suddenly people are touched and want to respond to that.

DAH: This is something you are just now realizing?

JR: Yeah, I didn’t understand the power of that before.

DAH: You’ve turned down the job as a journalist twice?

JR: Yeah, but I am not trying to do journalism.

DAH: I know you’re not, but you are making social change, which is what a lot of journalists are trying to do. I mean a lot of documentary photographers. Including me…I go to Kibera and I see the conditions there, and I’m thinking ‘Ok, I will take pictures here and hopefully if I publish it in magazines through Magnum I will effect some social change. Actually you in fact are going in as an artist and putting covers over the roofs so they don’t leak anymore. So that is a real social change, a real powerful and direct effect. So this is something you are realizing more and more. Is this something you are thinking about more and more?

JR: I am thinking about that fact that from the beginning. I realized when I go into this neighborhood and I have no contact there, I realized quickly that I wanted to have a real interaction with the people and as I was always into pasting, I knew I would implicate them, need their help but the thing is, how can that make sense for them? And they are the ones that will decide if it makes sense.

DAH: When you are in Kibera, they are the ones deciding?

JR: Exactly, and Liberia was the same thing. In Liberia there were just two of us and just guys with machetes around asking what the fuck are you guys doing here. You explain to them you want to paste a photo of a woman, and they don’t get it, but they are so curious because you don’t come from an NGO. So they are like ok what do you want to do? And I say we want to paste and they say okay you pay me and you can paste. I say no, I’m not going to rent a space from you. It’s not advertising. I say look, I’m not going to paste it if you tell me not to paste it, but if you tell me to paste it and you don’t like it and you want to scratch it in front of me, that is fine with me. So they ask why then do you even want to do it? I say I do it because it’s art. Basically the guys are so curious they say go ahead and do it, we don’t care. So they look and then when you try to do it, and remember that broken bridge, it was so hard because the bridge was broken, that they help you ended up having child soldiers helping to paste a woman that they may have raped during the conflict. But this would only happen to through that whole thing of you as an artist and trying to come into someplace and trying something with no insurance that you can actually do it. So when I travel, there is always a risk that I am going to be stopped before I even start, and that is the risk that most other people who travel don’t want to have. They don’t want to go there for nothing. All of those places that I went to, I had always in mind that there was a great percentage of chance that it wasn’t going to happen. Even in the favela, because I don’t have a paper.

DAH: Yeah, well you are in another world when you are in Kibera or in the favela. Okay, one last question because I know you have to go, your long term goal… you are going at such an incredible pace, you are 30 years old and you have already established a good solid 10 years of credibility already as an artist, so describe yourself right now.

I mean I’ve seen different descriptions that you’ve given, but right this minute, right now,  how do you see yourself in the future? Street artist? Photographer? Same thing or more?

JR: I don’t think I’m a street artist anymore or photographer. I think I use those tools everyday. I love the artist title because you can do anything. I don’t have a direct goal or direct mission, except that if I fail tomorrow I want to fail inside my field. I don’t want to sell out basically. So I put those codes in since the beginning and I always did every one of my projects inside those codes that I fixed to myself, and I just wish that in the future, if I stop or if I fail that will be the best thing for me to have stayed true.

DAH: That’s a great message for emerging photographers. That’s the best thing. If you screw up, at least you did it.

JR: And as an artist you have the same rules to actually enter into rich homes in Copacabana and into the slums in Kibera. You have them so to do the same thing with your life. This building I live in I don’t pay rent, and it is beautiful, but if tomorrow I am back into a really small apartment, basically, I wouldn’t see that as failure. As you go and live to the complete extreme, you’d better be ready for it. So, of course I love my NYC studio, but if tomorrow I don’t have it anymore, I know that’s not failure. I don’t care, as long as I can express myself. When I was doing it 10 years ago, I didn’t feel that it was failure to just work in my little room and print my little photos. So I’m fine to go back to that, it wouldn’t be a failure.

DAH: I always felt the same way. Ready to go back to the street anytime. Anything but sell out.

JR: Exactly. It’s like people are so afraid to lose things, and so by being afraid to lose everything, they will do whatever. For example they will print the same thing over and over because it sells. I don’t care. Inside Out was the example. Two years ago I decided to give my techniques away. This is how you print and this is how you glue it. I am going to print for you and I am even going to pay for you if you want…all these people were like ‘wait, but if you give your techniques away, what’s left? Keep your copyrights’. I said ‘no I am going to give everything away I don’t care’. This has helped me more than has taken me down. Of course I have spent a lot of money in it, but I love the interaction. I meet so many people. I wouldn’t change that for anything. So, I think that all this is just a step that I am taking in the blind, and then I just react to it. And that is my way of working everyday. I am not planning stuff three years ahead. I know what I am going to do just this year, and after that I don’t know.

DAH: Inspiration for all. Thanks for your time JR. Great stuff….

 

Related links

JR

Photograph of JR in his studio in New York by David Alan Harvey.

East River

East River

 

For those of you who will be in New York this coming Friday September 27th, I will be moderating a panel discussion along with BurnBooks editor Diego Orlando. on book publishing at the Photoville  exhibition space in Dumbo. Photoville is an exhibition space right on the East River. I made this photo above while perusing the exhibitions of a wide variety of photographers set up in metal ship containers. A unique location and alternative way of looking at pictures to be sure.

Panelists set for the 45 minute presentation will include Chris Boot, CEO of Aperture; Chris Capozziello, self publishing photographer (featured on Burn with his essay The Distance Between Us); Olga Yatskevich founder of 10×10 Photobooks; and Nina Pollari, publishing projects specialist Kickstarter.

The open air freestyle nature of Photoville I think puts everyone in a relaxed informal atmosphere, and really takes advantage of the New York waterfront in a unique way.

Please come and hang. We look forward to meeting you.

-dah-

 

Related links

photovillenyc

 

David Hobby – Conversation

David Hobby

Conversation with David Hobby

 

David Alan Harvey: You are a force in the social media/blog world. You have hit it very big with Strobist. We both started out as newspaper photographers.

David Hobby: I didn’t know that about you. Where did you start out?

DAH: I worked with Rich Clarkson at the Topeka Capital-Journal right out of grad school. I was a U of Missouri photojournalism student.

DH: But you weren’t at A newspaper, you were kind of at THE prototypical photography newspaper.

DAH: Well, it was at the time, yes it was. That would be the only reason to go to Topeka, Kansas ha ha. I liked Topeka. First job out of school, a good job. That was the last time I was rich!!

DH: So it was Rich Clarkson and Jim Richardson? Wasn’t he there?

DAH: Jim Richardson was there, Chris Johns was there, Brian Lanker was there.

DH: Wow, a medium-sized paper with that staff?

DAH: Oh yeah, Clarkson built a real place “to be” for young photogs…Rich is my single best mentor for what followed in life.

DH: Now was there like a dud there too?

DAH: Not really. It was an elite little crew. All of us eager. Ready to of course get out of Topeka and head for Life or NatGeo. None of us figured Topeka was good for more than a couple of years. Clarkson knew that, and he wanted new blood every couple of years anyway.

DH: Right.

DAH: I mean, the New York Times you didn’t have any control, or the Chicago Tribune…The big papers we knew were not really the place to be. I mean at the medium sized papers you did your own thing. Came up with ideas. Did the layout. Learned the whole process. Went deep into stories.

DH: I had that same experience. One year at the Patuxent Newspaper group (near Baltimore) I did a hundred and four cover stories. And a cover story was a stretch-tab, full-page cover and a minimum of four pages inside with no ads. I mean, your worry was that you’d come back with four pages worth of good stuff and they gave you eight pages.

DAH: Well that’s right, and at Topeka we were doing in-depth stories. I mean we were doing with the newspaper (and you were too) what Life magazine had done prior. There was no more Life magazine, but the newspapers became a great outlet.

DH: We were a magazine disguised as a newspaper. I loved that.

DAH: That’s right. And you had to produce on demand. You had to go out and make a picture today. Right now. You could talk about it all you want, but you had to come back with a picture. Now how do you think that translated into what you are doing now? Was there any part of the newspaper world that transferred into your blog?

DH: So many parts of what we were doing then transferred …and I’m talking about twenty or twenty five years ago…that was my peak experience in newspapers.

We were a newspaper unlike any other newspaper in the country. Sort of like the Galapagos Islands. We had evolved completely with our own ecosystem, and the best example I can give is that we had editorial and then design and production.

So, editorial were the word people, and designer/production were what made the paper look good and everything. Photography was under design and production, meaning we never answered to a word person. We talked to them as peers. I think every single newspaper should be set up that way, because you never had, “Oh well, that’s nice but do you have a horizontal for this space and actually we changed the story to be about this…” and that kind of stuff. We bumped heads as equals, and because of that the newspaper was a much better product.

We had our editorial meetings for every paper and every news cycle, which for us was weekly. And we had a section of fourteen papers, but that was just one of many little things that just by chance evolved differently. Well, not by chance, because the people who did the newspaper were willing to listen to the director of photography just as much as they would listen to the word editor of the paper.

DAH: Well, and that’s what we had with Rich. Do you know him?

DH: I’ve never meet him.

DAH: Really?

DH: I would bet he was a formidable person to be sitting across from.

DAH: Rich Clarkson was a tough guy to deal with. I am sure he says the same about me!  But we had a similar situation. What I am trying to figure out is how you went from newspaper photographer, basically to Strobist, which led to all kinds of other things, which you’re involved in, including social media and blogs and everything else. What day did the light go off in your head that you were going to take lighting, which is a mystery to everybody, and take that out there, and turn that into an incredible business. When did the light go off? No pun intended.

DH: So that actually goes back to the early days at Patuxent still, because one of the other things we evolved differently was the idea that there was really no ceiling on what you could do. You know, at the bigger newspapers you’re actually part of a machine and we don’t want you to put too much time or resources into this; we just need to get this page out and this section out. Patuxent would actually give us the time to do things in ways that we hadn’t tried before, and more and more of that started including bringing lights to basketball games for instance. This was in 1990 or 1991.

DAH: You’re a super sports enthusiast?

DH: Well yeah, we each had to be jacks of all trades because it was a group of seven photographers and they shot for fourteen weekly papers. Some of those weekly papers were two hundred and fifty pages long stretched out, so we were busting.

DAH: Well I heard you say something the other night that I would like for you to say again somehow. And that was how lucky you felt to be a photographer.

DH: I don’t see it is a job so as much as a religion. And you don’t know that until maybe you leave newspapers and you realize how much of a religion that process was. But, I still have that dream like I am on an assignment, this is, you know, six years later, and I can’t get the camera out of the trunk fast enough. My hands just aren’t working and I realize that I am right back in newspaper photography. I said “we” about the Baltimore Sun for four or five years after I left.

DAH: But you felt lucky you were just being paid to go to the football games and such.

DH: Oh yeah. Eighteen years old, shooting high school football on Friday and college football on Saturday, and pro football on Sunday? I mean, how much would I have paid to do that? It’s not that you’re getting paid, but fast forward to 2005, 2006 at the Baltimore Sun, I was kind of getting comfortable in the position and it’s a completely different experience than working for what I think of as a tight-knit small paper.

I asked my DOP—Dudley Brooks, who was fairly fresh off of being a staff shooter at the Washington Post, so he is definitely like one of the guys director of photography—if he would mind if I would start blogging about how I lit some of my assignments and he thought that was cool. So he gave me verbal permission to do that, and I just started leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for guys that were twenty years behind me. I had no idea in the world that the amateurs would find it. I thought I was writing for maybe a thousand people tops. You know, late photojournalism students, early photojournalism career types.

DAH: Were you self-taught with lighting?

DH: I don’t think anybody is self-taught really. You hang out at the light table and ask, “How did you do that?” At the Orlando Sentinel, where I was interning in 1988, there was a guy named Tom Burton who was actually kind of into this stuff. When we would come back from a cool assignment, he would have us put a picture in a notebook on one side of a double-truck and on the other side of the double-truck you would write down how it was lit. That actually worked well for a while. Then somebody would take a picture of a dead frog on the road and on the other side it would have a diagram pointing, like, “dead frog on road” and then there was another diagram pointing “sun at ninety-three and a half degrees from you know, whatever.” So nobody wants to admit that they are really studying or learning from other people at these papers, but you’re doing it full-time.

DAH: Sure. And that’s what you do now. I was always kind of an available light guy and you’re Mr. Light and you have managed to turn that into an incredible business. What made that happen? Was lighting required at the paper or you just picked it up and it was just a natural thing for you?

DH: I have this theory about adding light or shooting available light. My theory is that for instance, you see somebody who says “I’m just an available light photographer… I’m a purist.” Well nobody is really a purist. Heisler said that you’re a purist if you’re fifty thousand feet up in the air with a Leica, a fifty mil and tri-x, shooting straight down so they don’t know you’re there.

But, for those of us who do things the way we do, you hear a photographer say “I’m a strictly available light photographer, I’m a purist…” I hear, “I’m scared shitless of using light so I’m going to do this instead.” Well, for me it was kind of the other way around. I’ve always been a weaker photographer when it came to just having patience and waiting, and that interpersonal and that social stuff, so for me lighting was a way to start to create interesting pictures in a way that I could do it. So my weaknesses were almost certainly your strengths.

DAH: Yeah, and well nothing changes a picture as much as lighting. I use lights. Clarkson made me use lights. So so glad he made me!!!

DH: That’s true.

DAH: And you can be in a terrible situation and make it interesting with lights, which you prove all the time.

DH: Right, or I could wait and just be a better photojournalist, but I have the time nor the ability to do that.

DAH: That’s right, if you’re bringing your own lights you can turn anything into an interesting picture situation.

DH: Short answer is I am running around my back hand, and my back hand is a weakness in the more classic photojournalism skills.

DAH: Strobist started in what year?

DH: I started writing it in March of 2006. I wrote most of Lighting 101 with the flu, which explains a lot of the grammar and such that you see. I was on a lot of the good drugs at the time. And literally, I was writing about five or six articles a day. As soon as I started writing that module I knew pretty much everything I wanted to say. It’s like I was writing to myself as a twenty year old. That was exactly the compass point. Sort of like, man, if I could go back and grab you now and show you this, you would have a completely different career.

So I wrote maybe thirty articles over the course of March. I took the first article and backdated it to February and then waited until April to launch, so when I first started telling people about it I would at least have what looked like three months of archives. I figured looked a little better than just this asshole who put twenty articles down in a month and said “Hey, take a look at this.” So that was it. It was on.

DAH: Were you always a businessperson? I mean you’re a natural entrepreneur. You’ve got amazing positive energy. I watched you meet people. You’re enthusiastic with every person you meet. That’s obviously in your genes, but I mean energy and positivity I think are your hallmarks. Plus you know how to do something that people want to learn how to do and you’ve monetized it. That’s pretty damn good.

DH: So, I think people see the world differently. We see different systems. For example, I’ve watched you, and you really see the way that people interact with each other and the way people interact with their environment and you see that in a compositionally profound way. I suspect that you actually see those pictures in your head before they are happening and you’re just kind of waiting for them to happen.

I see ecosystems and connections, and not necessarily just with photography, but with just about anything. So for me, I can see thing A and thing B and then thing C off in the distance and my brain just starts to say “wait a minute, if this and this and this happen…” And I start to visualize the D, the E, the F and the G that don’t exist yet, and I’m looking to find those things and put them together. I compose ecosystems sort of the way that you compose dynamic moment pictures.

DAH: And you’re able to diagram them and put them down on a piece of paper and explain them to other people.

DH: Yeah, I can’t not see that. And I literally do physically write down diagrams. I am big on multiple positive feedback loops, whether it is money or whether it is creating something that does something really cool for the community, or the combination of those things. It might not be a paying job for me, but I know that this will create the energy that will make something else happen and a better paying job will come than I would have gotten if I just didn’t do anything and waited for a job that might have been to shoot Bobby’s Bar Mitzvah or something.

I’m not interested in just sitting around and waiting for whatever job may come in. I think in the same way that you don’t just sit around aimlessly and wait for something to happen. You see things converging and then you try to get to be in a position where you can take advantage of all those things while they converge. That is exactly what I am doing but more from an ecosystem kind of way.

DAH: So yeah, the elements are all there and you just put it together.

DH: It’s the same skill.

DAH: You compose the ecosystem and make it digestible for people.

DH: So, I’m composing ecosystems in the way dynamic photographers compose pictures. I’ve never had that analogy before in my head, but I think that’s exactly it.

DAH: I think that’s it, too. It’s amazing. I always knew that lighting was a struggle for most photographers, and now even more than ever, but I never thought of lighting as a base for another whole thing, and you saw that.

DH: Well no, I didn’t see it as a base for any kind of a business. When I started Strobist it was purely altruistic, just get all this stuff out, and I’m going to help people the same way that guys helped me when I was a young photographer. Guys like John Ashley in particular, at the first paper I worked at. And all of that co-photographic help that happened at Patuxent and then later at the Baltimore Sun.

I think the secret was I didn’t start it trying to be a business. I started it with a really true compass point and that made it grow so ridiculously quickly because of the combination of the compass point and the need that was out there. And then once it grew into what would be bigger than any photo magazine in the world if it were a print magazine… and it has no major expenses associated with it really, because it is all built on Google. You’d be pretty much an idiot not to make that into a business.

DAH: And you did that and now you have another business that tells other people how to do your business. So you created a business out of this need, seeing these different ecosystems, and now you’ve turned that even into another business, right?

DH: Well, I’ve taught a blogging and social media class for three years here at Gulf Photo Plus. I don’t think of that as being a business, I really only came over to teach lighting for Mohamed Somji, and he’s like “well what else are you interested in doing?” I thought that there was a need for people, especially for photographers in a time of digital. You know you can be that one-person vertical, you can have the whole shooting and curation and publication kind of thing. So as photographers we can kind of own the entire operation if you think about it that way. So the operation should be able to actually produce income for you and allow you to be sustainable.

So I’ve done a blogging and social media class. Then last year I did a digital business models class, which for me was an eye opener because I hadn’t really sat down and articulated the way that I think about things. I started drawing these flow charts and they would literally be as tight as I could make them, but the sheet of paper would be 11×14 and Im writing all these tiny letters and pointing arrows to these boxes and such. That was an eye opener for me. It kind of articulated the way that I think about it going forward

DAH: It seemed to me that you could hire yourself out, and you probably do, as a consultant to other people wanting social media to create their business. I was noticing half of your class yesterday and that’s the picture I got.

DH: Well, it’s funny. I’ve always considered myself a photographer, and I think that teaching lighting is sort of one derivative up from that. What I started to realize when Strobist was expanding was the same forces that were killing us as photographers, that everybody had a camera and everybody would be happy to take pictures to be published. That was putting real pressure on long-time people who had been doing this for a living.. Then taking a step back (which we call a derivative in math) and that is its own audience and its own market.

So, I saw that and developed that with Strobist. But with the digital business models, I think I am still trying to keep that as pure as possible. Because if you start doing that for money there gets to be a suspicion that there is an ulterior motive, like you just want to consult to make $20,000 this week. So, everything that I had done up to this point, in terms of taking ideas that will marry two different things going on and marry them in a way that is really synergistic and accretive, has been just to do it because its the right thing to do.

My reward is seeing it happen, and creating a relationship between two different parties, or a three-way, very strong relationship. I’ve been thrilled with how receptive the guys at Fuji have been to a couple of ideas I had that I know no other camera manufacturer would consider. And these guys at Fuji just stop and listen to you and they think, “wow, that could really work.” I mean, they are a company of 400 people. On the other hand, if you’re Nikon, you can’t turn the battleship.

DAH: How big is your company?

DH: My company, counting me? One.

DAH: You’re a team of one?

DH: Yeah, I am. Meetings are always really easy. We have consensus on everything. When stupid stuff happens you know exactly who to blame. You know, I’m both the pointy-haired manager and Dilbert.

DAH: That’s amazing. Well, you obviously have got many skills.

DH: You’ve got to learn them if you don’t have them. If you’re chief cook and bottle washer you’ve got to learn to wash bottles and cook and everything.

DAH: Did you ever look at having two or three people help you with this stuff? Or you just don’t need it?

DH: Yeah, my wife looks at that a lot, I think.

DAH: Well so your wife is on your team?

DH: Well, we are a team but she’s not really involved in Strobist or anything like that.

DAH: What about on the business side?

DH: No, and she’s actually offered. She would be way more organized, because my weaknesses are organizational weaknesses. Like my desk is super messy, etc.

DAH: Yeah, well you are obviously highly organized in…

DH: Internally!

DAH: Yeah, I am like that too. My office is a total mess, but I can actually go from point A to point B.

DH: Exactly. And I think if you are internally, like mentally, organized, it allows you to be physically just a total wreck and total mess. Google Calendar saved my life actually. I couldn’t go without Google Calendar.

DAH: No, in that way we are very similar. Obviously I get from point A to point B, but the people around me are saying “well how could you possibly do that because your office is such a mess”…”how do you find anything in here?”.

DH: I think once every six months or so, my wife invites a bunch of people over to the house sufficient that I feel pressured into cleaning the entire office. And I think she does that by design, which I appreciate. But, I feel that my business could be significantly bigger, but rather than do that I consistently make decisions not to make it bigger, not to have to hire a person to do that. I try to maintain an equilibrium between being happy as a photographer, having a successful business and maintaining enough of my life to have been a good dad and husband.

DAH: How many children?

DH: I’ve got a boy of twelve and a girl who is 15, and my goal is to not miss soccer games.

DAH: Do you make the soccer games? When I look at you online you seem to be everywhere all the time. How do you do that? You appear to be all over the place.

DH: I really try to maintain through the Saturdays in May and November and such when the soccer seasons are really in full force. Good luck getting me to go someplace. In fact, literally right now, my daughter is performing in a high school play for the first time (a musical). And that just killed me because the Gulf Photo Plus dates were set far enough in advance, and that was a variable that popped up, so it was tough. A lot of Skyping back and forth and making sure when the DVD comes out we get to watch it together first.

DAH: Well you are a fascinating guy. You’re certainly a teacher for me. I never did any lighting classes until I met you in Mexico and I thought “well I could try that”, and the first time I did it I filled up a room of about 100 people in New York, but I don’t know how to teach it the way you teach it.

DH: That’s funny, I was looking at some of your pictures and they were either in Mexico or Brazil and you were doing something that I don’t think I’ve seen anybody else do in a neat way. Like some of the Cuba stuff, you’re always walking down the road with an M6 and a Vivitar 2500, just to kind of kiss things. And that was cool, and I get that, but the thing that I saw which I thought was really smart was you had a speed light on automatic mode… like old school automatic. Not TTL. And you had a camera that was pretty far away from it, kind of working at a 90 degree angle. And you had an assistant who was smart enough to have that light where people could see.

DAH: Well I lit the whole hip hop story.

DH: Yeah, thats exactly what it was. Well the beauty was that the light stand was intelligent, and he or she is walking around in a way where the flash could see everything you need to see—it’s lighting from a 90-degree angle.

DAH: Yeah, she learned how I thought and moved. Every once in a while I would give her a look… you know, get a little bit over here… and she would figure out where to be.

DH: And the beauty is that you’re building an ambient exposure that is probably a stop underexposed and you’ve got the flash going off with a flash exposure at about a stop underexposed, and they are married together to make this motion and cross light, and you can see every face you want to see in the frame. At first I thought, “well that’s brilliant, he doesn’t have a wireless TTL, he doesn’t have this off camera cord, he’s not using high technology.” And if your flash is coming out a little hot you just close down your aperture a little bit and that fixes it… you open up your shutter speed and you’re back in business.

DAH: That’s right. Well, the thing is, while I was in high school I worked in a portrait studio so I learned basic lighting, and when the studio would close down at the end of the day I said “hey, can I play in here”… so I learned basic lighting really early on. It made me a better available light photographer. I think by learning what you know how to do with lighting… if you decide to go available light, you will know how to work available light a lot better.

DH: I think painters see light better than photographers do because they have to invent it whole cloth. I mean, you look at Edward Hopper, and see that that guy could light. Edward Hopper was Gregory Crewdson before Gregory Crewdson was Gregory Crewdson.

DAH: That’s right, Gregory Crewdson is totally derivative of Hopper. Exactly. He says so.

DH: And God bless him for working on the scale of a Hollywood budget, but Hopper could do that with a paint brush and his brain. And then to replicate that you have to have a hundred thousand dollar budget for a picture, which to me is fantastic.

DAH: That’s exactly right. Well listen, we both have to get moving here, but much appreciated. You are a fascinating guy, and again your energy is absolutely infectious. That’s your greatest asset besides being able to put all these ecosystems together.

 

Related links

Strobist