Archives

May 2011

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May 31

The other day, Dan Vercruysse, a reader of this blog, sent me an email reacting to something I had written here. In his email, Dan brought up a well-known photographer (the name doesn’t matter) and wrote “he is surprisingly neutral in his commentary about the subject matter he is shooting. How can this be? He is clearly shooting very explicit images and subject matter with an agenda.” (Dan kindly allowed me quoting him here) Oh, the a-word: agenda. There’s something many photographers would rather avoid talking about, an agenda. (more)
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May 31

Adam Amengual’s Homies portrays former gang members or people who spent time incarcerated before changing their lives with the help of Homeboy Industries.
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May 31

One of the best videos about a photographer I’ve seen in a while: a documentary about Rob Hornstra, the Socci Project, slow journalism, and self-publishing.
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May 30

“On the biggest cemetery of Europe in Hamburg up to 1.7 million people are buried. This cemetery is more than a burial ground. It is a mystic place of the grief and the stop, as well as a workplace for numerous people who have to deal with the death every day.” - Jan-Christoph Hartung about his Memento Mori
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May 30

There’s a wonderful (short) documentary about Eikoh Hosoe here. Go and watch it!
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May 27

Once you’ve left you can never go home again. Going back you’ll realize that what you think should feel like home doesn’t. What you think you should be familiar with feels vague, if not outright strange. Inevitably, once enough time has passed, there will be a new home, a new sense of familiarity, even though it might never match what you had, or rather: what you think you had. Which, if you’re honest, really means: What you wish you had. Because maybe what you see when you go to the place you used to call home is what was always there, as disappointing as it might be. (more)
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May 27

There’s an ongoing debate about how much text you need alongside photography, with the spectrum ranging from those who say that photography should speak for itself, whereas others prefer to see a statement. This is not necessarily the most exciting debate to begin with (it’s rather old, too - even though the age of a debate does not say anything per se about its actual merit). Occasionally I find myself asking that question when I find some work without any text, and I wish there was some. As far as I can tell, whether or not some photography needs text or not does not depend on one’s preferences, but for the most part on the photography itself. In the case of photobooks, there typically is less of a debate, since most photobooks come with the obligatory essay (which people then might or might not read). (more)
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May 26

When I was writing If everybody can be a photographer… I approached things from my perspective of someone who writes about and teaches photography. You probably figured it out: That’s only part of the story. There’s more. (more)
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May 26

Lauren Hermele’s Asta e Viata (That’s Life) portrays a small Romanian village in ways that might be a bit more romantic than life might really be there (as the photographer acknowledges in the statement).
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May 26

In homage to the eagerly anticipated annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, Dear Dave, Magazine devotes its ninth issue to photographs that depict swimsuits in many different formats, aesthetics and functions. (more)
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May 25

Here’s the big question: If everybody can be a photographer, what will be the function of a professional? Good question, isn’t it? We all have at least cell phone with cameras, if not iPhones (with the assorted “apps” to make the images look a certain way). It gets amusing when you look at how some photojournalists have started using their iPhones to produce work - why shouldn’t they be doing what everybody is doing? Of course, things get quite a bit less amusing when you think about the role - or let’s say supposed - role of photojournalists: You’d imagine that catering to the latest hipster trend seems pretty low on the list. (more)
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May 25

It might be a bit hard to believe but Nicholas Mason’s Versificator was produced using Google Street View. The images are more than mere screen shots, though. This might be the artistically most ambitious Google Street View project I’ve seen so far.
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May 25

… but they make the money (and you won’t be seeing any). Key quote (my emphasis): “Image owners allow it to happen, though. Nobody forces them to accept the Twitpic terms of service. For many, it may well be a perfectly acceptable trade-off for a chance to share their images with the world. For others, the terms may come as an unwelcome surprise, but the onus is on Twitpic users to read and understand the service agreement when they sign up for an account.”
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May 24

Scale plays a huge role in Adam Magyar’s work. Thankfully, his website contains a zoom so you can look at the many details in the photographs (see the image, a crop from one of the larger pieces, with the zoom superimposed).
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May 24

If for some reason you missed the rifle kings Mrs Deane unearthed head right over and check them out.
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May 23

The above image is from Doug Rickard’s A New American Picture, which - so far - has been flying under the radar in most unfortunate ways. Culled from Google Street View, A New American Picture demonstrates what can be done with photography even if you don’t leave your house. Needless to say, the “leaving your house” aspect shouldn’t really be a criterion to talk about photography, but we’ll come to that later. Via dvafoto now comes Mishka Henner’s No Man’s Land: “the margins of our urban and rural European environment as experienced by what appear to be women soliciting sex in liminal, post-industrial and rural settings, captured by Google Street View cameras.” (more)
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May 23

A work in progress, Martin McGagh most recent series (to be found under “New Photographs”) is in need of an edit maybe, but regardless there’s a great body of work about a region in Ireland in the making.
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May 21

Talking about photography, I don’t think there’s an elephant in the room. There is a group of elephants in the room, with different sizes and ages. Stan Banos just pointed one out and asked “When will we finally see people of color not only in front of the lens serving as ample, year round subject matter, but also as: photographers, judges, editors, gallery owners, workshop presenters and festival organizers in some representative proportion beyond mere tokenism?” I’d be incredibly happy if I had a good answer, but, alas, I don’t, and unless I’m missing something (always possible) I don’t think anyone else has one, either. Such questions are, should we say, inconvenient, but that’s what makes it a good question: The elephant will not disappear if we ignore it, so we might as well make an effort to deal with it. We owe it to ourselves, if when we use the phrase “the photographic community” we truly embrace the meaning of the word “community”. (more)
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May 20

Very crudely speaking, the zine often lives at the intersection of artist books and photobooks produced by commercial publishers: From the former the zine takes the fact that it’s put together by one person, the artist, from the latter it takes the mass production. There is one aspect that makes most zines differ from artist books or commercial photobooks: Zines tend to be lo-fi affairs in terms of their production. To produce a zine you care about the making in ways that, at least superficially, is the opposite of what you’d expect from artist or commercial books. Of course, this description is rather simplistic, but you get the idea. If you’ve ever visited The Independent Photobook Blog you will be familiar with photozines - those tend to be flying underneath the radar of the photobook publishing world. (more)
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May 20

Why would anyone walk around and take photographs in the streets of Vancouver? Here is Fred Herzog’s answer: “After about a year of shooting I increasingly felt, ‘somebody has to do this.’ Because otherwise people in the future would only be able to go to People magazine or Look or Time or Life or any of those to see how people looked at the time.” This is a remarkable statement, placing the photographer and his work into the documentary realm. What I most like about the statement is the photographer’s ambition, however. I personally don’t care so much whether I’m looking at street photography or documentary photography in Herzog’s images. What I do care about is the quality of the work and the ambition that shines through. (more)
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May 19

You leave the country for almost two weeks to spend time in Berlin (Germany), and when you come back you learn the world is going to end a couple of days later. I didn’t hear anything about this in the German media (they must be busy dealing with actual news), so I’m still busy reading up it (here is something I found, another proud moment for journalism). I’m just glad I’m back before the end of the world, I might have missed it in Berlin. If you don’t have the time to check the news you might want to look at Brandon Tauszik’s Pray For Mercy for lots of photographs.
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May 19

Via LPV Magazine comes Martin Buday’s Stay Golden.
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May 19

I was out of town for almost two weeks, and I just got through the list of new books/zines to add to The Independent Photobooks Blog - have a peek!
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May 18

Ali Taptik’s Nothing Surprising is the exact opposite, and that’s good. Very nice work!
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May 17

Maxime Brygo’s Newland portrays the contemporary Dutch landscape. (via)
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May 16

Baudouin’s Unknown but nice contains compelling environmental portraiture. (via)
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May 13

The things you see when traveling abroad can be rather strange, and often it takes a visitor (or a child) to point a finger and something to make us look. It’s also strange how sometimes things we take for granted, things we’d never expect to change, implode, collapse or disappear. Occasionally, all of this is even connected, as was the case when the last financial bubble burst, to destroy both companies such as Lehman Brothers as well as the homes of many who had financed them in ways that simply didn’t make any sense. The consequences of the implosion of the US housing market are still with us, years later, and one would imagine that such a huge event - just short of another Great Depression - would result in some changes. It has not. The financial sector has got away with proverbially burning down the house and literally getting thousands and thousands of people evicted out of their homes. Many houses are now empty, either never sold, or because their owners lost them. (more)
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May 12

For those who love photographs of ruins, Thomas Jorion’s website has plenty to offer.
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May 11

You might have already read this article on lenscratch about the high costs of photography (if you have not head right over). I’m currently on the road, so I can only post something brief, at least for the time being. (more)
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May 11

George Osodi’s Lagos Bomb Blast depicts the results of an explosion at an ammunition storage site in the town (view full screen - and read the statement to find out how the photographer achieved the look of these images)
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May 10

“For the series Commonness I’ve portrayed the cities Bordeaux, Kosice, Mechelen, Plzen and Mons all European cities that aspire to the title of European Capital of Culture. The resulting pictures display a similarity between the different cities, a discovery both surprising and unsettling since the cities compete for the title with distinctive assets. And yet, here they are shown to be overwhelmingly homogenous.” - Dieuwertje Komen (via)
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May 9

This is an image from Wayne Lawrence’s Orchard Beach - The Bronx Riviera.
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May 6

What do you call a book filled with photographs? If you were to ask someone unaffiliated with the world of photography, the answer probably would not be “a photobook”. In all likelihood, it would be “a photo album”. Remember those? Photo albums? If you have a Facebook account, you’ll know that your photos are organized in albums. But if you’ve ever held an actual photo album, you probably know that it’s quite a different beast: The difference is not that it’s an object - versus a label for a way to organize digital images. The difference is that an album can be customized in any which way. You could just stick your prints into the folders, but you could also do all kinds of additional things. So many photo albums ended up being little pieces of art, mirroring their makers ideas and idiosyncrasies. That, in part, is why so many photography fans collect them, buying them up on flea markets or on Ebay. (more)
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May 5

Here’s something I’ve wanted to write about for a while: Is the Dominance of the Gallery System Photography’s Biggest Handicap? This is certainly not how I would have phrased the question, but there are a few things to talk about here. (more)
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May 4

I wrote a piece for The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog about Why We Want to Look Death in the Face - check it out!
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May 4

Nikita Pirogov’s The other shore is an absolutely inspiring body of work, combining still and moving images with sound. The presentation is superb. (via)
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May 3

It might be fair to say that every conceivable photograph will be taken or has been taken already. What is more, every conceivable photo will then be posted on the internet. If anything that’s what we’ve learned so far. Whether this is in fact good or bad is an entirely different matter - that’s where things get interesting, of course. So for me the question is not whether or not a photograph of the corpse of Bin Laden should be released. Do we really want to pretend that it’s not going to happen? Do we really want to believe that somehow a photo might not find its way onto the internet? (more)
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May 3

The other day, I asked why stealing a wallet was not appropriation art. Maybe it’s too obvious a question, but unless I’m missing something the number of reactions was rather small (if you exclude a minor flurry of tweets). But regardless, there were some great posts, here’s what I found. (more; updated below)
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May 3

“My newest work [Still Lives], although inspired from the Dutch genre paintings, investigates the still life in our intransient contemporary culture. […] The Protestant moralistic message of the Dutch painters has been replaced by the plasticized fantasy of perfection and want, known as the American Dream.” - Timothy Masters
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May 2

“Photographers should write more. And I don’t mean blog more, I mean writing, actual writing. The type of writing that takes at least an hour or two to complete and then is edited the next day.” - Bryan Formhals
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May 2

Unfortunately, I missed this year’s photo festival in Hyères. You can all about the festival by watching Everything you need to know about Hyères in 2’6”. And who won? Well, you can either watch this video or read this tweet (the video is more fun).
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May 2

The photography of LaToya Ruby Frazier compellingly documents familial and communal history, private and public space, and environmental injustice and class. Find an interview with the artist here.
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