Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Cindy Sherman in 2016 Street Style Star

I came across this article and images in Bazaar and although intrigued by the pictures found myself uncertain about what was going on. I could instantly see how these related to her earlier work but the text and interview was confusing. Was she actually working for the fashion houses or are these true to form satirical images? The sub heading to the article is, so maybe, who knows? Text by  and of course photographs by Cindy Sherman

In an exclusive series of satirical portraits, the famed contemporary artist arms herself with the season’s standout pieces. Her quest? Social media validation.

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She began shooting portraits in the mid-’70s, while her landmark series, “Untitled Film Stills” (69 works in all, in which she embodied female stereotypes), was created between 1977 and 1980. The youngest—by many years—of five siblings, Sherman says her motivation to make portraits was a very basic need for attention. “They were already established as a family by the time I came along,” she recalls. “It was a way for me to say, ‘I’m here, you guys, don’t forget about me!’ Or ‘Maybe if you don’t like me this way, you’ll like me this way!’ Or ‘I can do this!’ “

Sherman’s parents weren’t as prone to introspection as their daughter. “I think they thought it was cute or something,” she says. “I know they didn’t think it would really turn into anything. When I went to college, my mother was always like, ‘Take some education courses just in case so you can always teach.’ They did see the early days of success; I think they started to realize it was a tangible thing for me.” She adds, “I still don’t think they really had a clue what I was doing.”…..

Today, Sherman could very much rest on her laurels. In 2012, New York’s Museum of Modern Art hosted a retrospective, and in 2011 one of her works, 1981’s Untitled #96,sold for $3.89 million at Christie’s (then a record for a photograph at auction). Ask if she’s still ambitious and she replies, “I want to continue to be happy with what I’m working on because that’s the biggest challenge. I’m hard on myself, but everyone is always waiting for someone to fall. That’s a common problem for artists. They fall into a mold of their greatest hits and just repeat it. WhenI feel that I’m repeating myself, or about to, it’s time to move.”

But when the work is done—new characters born, new realities created—Sherman exhales into her life. She’ll ride around Manhattan on her retro Pashley bicycle, or head out to her house on Long Island to collect her chickens’ eggs. Sometimes, when she’s feeling spent, she jaunts to a deprivational German health spa. Unlike the subjects of this series, she doesn’t live in the middle. “I don’t take selfies,” she says. “I hardly ever use my phone for photographs. It’s really hard to remember to even take a picture of something.” She shrugs. “Usually the moment is gone. I just don’t think about it.”

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Sherman, 62, is one of the world’s greatest sociologists, so in a way, infiltrating the street-style species is a weirdly natural extension of her work. “You know, I never expected to be doing what I’m doing for as long as I’ve been doing it,” she says. “Every time I start a new project, it’s a new challenge, to try to think of new faces or new characters. Sometimes I feel I’m repeating characters that are poking out of these faces that I shot maybe eight years ago”—a fun exercise for Sherman nerds. “I take on projects like this when I’m starting on a new body of work because it inspires me, gets the juices flowing.”

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see more read more here

see previous Posts

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman – working with MAC comestics

 

In the Future, We Will Photograph Everything and Look at Nothing & Free Nik Software

My good friend David Thomas alerted me to this article in The New Yorker

This is a really interesting and important article because it looks and addresses the issues that photography now faces. Yes I know that sounds heavy and overblown but there is no doubt that the way we make pictures, what we do with them and how they are consumed has changed, and changed for ever. Don’t worry I am not deaf to all those who tell me film is coming back, it’s just that I think it is doing so only to those who like the film process and mostly those are not the people who are interested in image making. They enjoy the craft based process and uncertainty that they introduce into the image production through lack of control that film can bring if you don’t know what you are doing with it.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY JORDAN STRAUSS / INVISION / AP

“Today everything exists to end in a photograph,” Susan Sontag wrote in her seminal 1977 book “On Photography.” This was something I thought about when I recently read that Google was making its one-hundred-and-forty-nine-dollar photo-editing suite, the Google Nik Collection, free. This photo-editing software is as beloved among photographers as, say, Katz’s Deli is among those who dream of pastrami sandwiches.

Before Google bought it, in 2012, the collection cost five hundred dollars. It is made up of seven pieces of specialized software that, when used in combination with other photo-editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom, give photographers a level of control akin to that once found in the darkroom. They can mimic old film stock, add analog photo effects, or turn color shots into black-and-white photos. The suite can transform modestly good photos into magical ones. Collectively, Nik’s intellectual sophistication is that of a chess grand master. I don’t mind paying for the software, and neither do thousands of photographers and enthusiasts. So, like many, I wondered, why would Google make it free?

My guess is that it wants to kill the software, but it doesn’t want the P.R. nightmare that would follow. Remember the outcry over its decision to shut down its tool for R.S.S. feeds, Google Reader? Nik loyalists are even more rabid. By making the software free, the company can both ignore the product and avoid a backlash. But make no mistake: it is only a matter of time before Nik goes the way of the film camera—into the dustbin of technological history.”….

Google’s comments—disheartening as they might be—reflect the reality of our shifting technologies. Sure, we all like listening to music on vinyl, but that doesn’t mean streaming music on Spotify is bad. Streaming just fits today’s world better. I love my paper and ink, but I see the benefits of the iPad and Apple Pencil. Digital photography is going through a similar change, and Google is smart to refocus.

Read the rest of this article and here you can download the Google Nik Software for free

Magical Land Art By Andy Goldsworthy

I have been a huge fan of Andy Golsdworthy for many years and have a number of his books. He is a sculptor who creates such ephemeral works that only photography can capture them before they dissolve, melt, blow away or sink back into the waters. Here are some of his works but you can see more on Bored Panda

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Andy Goldsworthy is a British sculptor, renowned in his field, that creates temporary installations out of sticks and stones, and anything and everything else that he finds outside. The son of a mathematician, Goldsworthy grew up working on farms before eventually getting his BA from what is now the University of Central Lancashire. “A lot of my work is like picking potatoes,” he told the Guardian. “You have to get into the rhythm of it.”

Much of Goldsworthy’s work is transient and ephemeral, leading many to view it as a comment on the Earth’s fragility. But for Goldsworthy, the picture is more complex.

“When I make something, in a field or street, it may vanish but it’s part of the history of those places,” he says in another interview. “In the early days my work was about collapse and decay. Now some of the changes that occur are too beautiful to be described as simply decay. At Folkestone I got up early one morning ahead of an incoming tide and covered a boulder in poppy petals. It was calm and the sea slowly and gently washed away the petals, stripping the boulder and creating splashes of red in the sea. The harbour from which many troops left for war was in the background.”

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see more here

Andy Goldsworthy

Melt

Andy Goldsworthy – Land Art video

 

1930s ‘Killed’ photographs The American Great Depression — excised.

As found on Mashable

The photos look just like the most famous FSA images of Depression-era America. Laborers with weathered faces stare into the distance, sharecropping families stand on splintered porches and rag-clad children play in the dust.

But each picture is haunted by a strange black void. It hangs in the sky like an inverted sun, it eclipses a child’s face, it hovers menacingly in the corner of a room.

The black hole is the handiwork of Roy Stryker, the director of the FSA’s documentary photography program. He was responsible for hiring photographers such as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Arthur Rothstein and Gordon Parks and dispatching them across the country to document the struggles of the rural poor.

Stryker was a highly educated economist and provided his photographers with extensive research and information to prepare them for each assignment. He was determined to get the best work possible out of his employees — which also made him a bit of a tyrannical editor.

When the photographers returned with their negatives, Stryker or his assistants would edit them ruthlessly. If a photo was not to his liking, he would not simply set it aside — he would puncture the negative with a hole puncher, “killing” it.

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see the full article and many more images here

other associated posts

Migrant Mother – Dorothea Lange the story of a picture

Photographing the Great Depression, then and now – Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange ……..the greatest American documentary photographer

 

 

Alec Dawson Photographer

In his series of untitled photographs Nobody Claps Anymore, the Mexican-American photographer Alec Dawson portrays ordinary people in their homes in a downbeat, ultra-stylised manner. Nobody Claps Anymore by Alec Dawson is on show at Perugia Social Photo festival, until 28 March, which focuses on photography around social issues – this year with the theme of ‘blindness’ . Dawson, who works as a civil engineer and has no formal training in photography, keeps the houses of his subjects largely unchanged, but brings in cinematic lighting to throw sharp shadows and dramatic highlights on them

The series’ title, Nobody Claps Anymore, was inspired by an emotional realisation that I experienced when my plane landed in Melbourne. Hundreds of tons of metal, carrying hundreds of passengers, silently flared momentarily before the tires collided with the runway. The nose of the plane heaved forward. The reverse thrusters roared and rapidly decelerated the plane. As the plane turned off the runway onto the taxi-way the individual joints in the pavement were perceptible as the plane lumbered to the gate’ Eventually the plane parked and I heard the sounds of belt buckles, zippers, and the rustling of bags. It all happened in silence. Not a word uttered. No applause. The audience had forgotten to clap’

Every so often by wandering around the web something special pops out. Today it was Alec Dawson. I know his work is somehow reminiscent of Gregory Crewdson except that Dawson shoots real people in real situations rather than constructing a set. He just adds dramatic lighting and I don’t doubt manages the location and people a bit. The images are remarkable for that, their reality, is this a truth. The idea that these are true representations forces the question what is truth. Anyway I am always willing to applaud great creativity and just wish I had thought of it first although I doubt Oxfordshire would have presented such characters.

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Originally found in the Guardian, this is a good place to see interesting photography and worth checking on a regular basis. The Guardian Alec Dawson

 

Sony World Photography National Awards

There are many photography awards, the Sony version is not my favourite but with every award or competition there are some that stand out. Here are some from the current national awards

The winners and runners-up in the Sony World Photography National Awards have been revealed. An expert panel selected the best image taken by a photographer from each of the 60 participating countries.

Here is a selection of some of the winners as shown on the BBC website

 

Minh Thanh Ngo, Winner, Vietnam, National Award, 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

Image copyright Minh Thanh NgoImage captionThe winner for Vietnam, Minh Thanh Ngo, focused on the traditional custom of lighting lanterns on the Perfume River in Hue City.

© Pedro Diaz Molins, Winner, Spain, National Award, 2016 Sony World Photography AwardsImage copyrightPedro Diaz MolinsImage captionPedro Diaz Molins took first place for Spain with this image of an old couple on a beach.

© Khairel Anuar Che Ani, Winner, Malaysia, National Award, 2016 Sony World Photography AwardsImage copyrightKhairel Anuar Che AniImage captionWinner for Malaysia was Khairel Anuar Che Ani who captured a tired moment while Rejang dancers wait their turn the during Melasti Festival in Bali, Indonesia.

© Abhuit Banerjee, Winner, India, National Award,2016 Sony World Photography AwardsImage caption Abhijit Banerjee was awarded first place in India with this photograph titled Gangasagar Fair, taken at India’s second-largest fair, which takes place in West Bengal’s Sagar Island.

© Luis Portelles, 3rd place, Canada, National Awards, 2016 Sony World Photography AwardsImage copyrightLuis PortellesImage captionA colourful graphic shot by Luis Portelles was awarded third place for Canada.

Here is the Sony website

The winning images will be shown at Somerset House, London, from 24 April – 10 May.

Pictures of the week 2016-03-19

Just a few of the utterly remarkable images in the Guardian Pictures of the week

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I knew it was difficult – Animal magic: how to photograph wildlife

So you may have gathered if you are a regular here that I am not bothered about wild life photography. You know they are animals, get over it. But I also understand the pleasure so many people get from taking pictures of animals, I just don’t get it. As for owning animals, just that phrase makes me wonder, why would someone want to own another living being, anyway beyond all that I do admire great animal photography if only for the sheer doggedness of the perpetrators. So when I found this article in the Guardian by  I knew I was on to something, that is something most people would benefit from, how to photograph wildlife by Andrew Forsyth a Wildlife Photographer of the year 2014 finalist. Someone who knows what it takes.

“I want to see you crawling. Get down lower. Crawl!” I am crawling – my elbows hooking uselessly into the large, loose pebbles of Brighton beach, dragging my body another inch forward, while my hands and wrists wobble beneath the weight of a hefty Canon 5D MK III camera. It might look impressive if I wasn’t so embarrassed. Through the unsteady lens, my target bounces about: a flock of seagulls, squatting 10 metres away.

Along the shore people duck and dodge the gulls, which swoop with menacing confidence towards chips, children and ice-cream. Yet, I’m having the opposite problem – every time I get within striking distance of a bird, it soars off into the distance.

I am in Brighton with Andrew Forsyth for a crash course in wildlife photography. In 2014, Andrew was a finalist for the ultra-competitive Wildlife Photographer of the Year for the second time, with an atmospheric photo of Brighton’s starlings swarming above the sea.

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The first lesson I learn, when Andrew places his huge, heavy, long-lens camera in my hands, is that wildlife photography is tough. When he tells me to take a clean, well-composed portrait of a seagull I think “easy!” but it seems to require the same stealth and effort as photographing a lion in the Sahara. Once you’ve scrambled silently towards your subject, there’s a three-way struggle to focus, compose and shoot before it scarpers.

To improve my chances, he says, I need to know my subject. It took four months for Andrew to take his winning starlings photo, which was one of 25,000 shots. For the first few weeks, he stalked the prom and pier, watching where the birds roosted, how they flew, what time they woke up and went to bed.

“At first the photos were quite conventional, and after a few days of shooting I was sick and tired of it. But I pushed through, and that’s when something interesting happened. I became wildly experimental, trying out whacky things with aperture and shutter speed, more in hope than expectation, but my photographs were more original and exciting.”

For whatever reason, Andrew tells me, it is impossible to jump straight to this wild, creative phase – you always have to push through the slow, methodical bit first.

If you would like to read more of this and get further insights into wildlife photography go to The Guardian here Andrew Forsyth holds one-to-one sessions throughout the year. For details visitthewildlifephotographer.com/workshops

You might also like to see some truly spectacular wildlife photography by Marina Cano go here

Marina Cano Wildlife Photographer

There are many superb wildlife photographers, their work a testament to their skills, patience, understanding and determination. We can wonder at their ability to capture that most elusive of animals, to be there when that special moment happens, we think how lucky they are. In reality the most impressive wild life photographs come not from luck but from exceedingly hard work and hours spent in the most uncomfortable locations. Some photographers specialise in certain animal groups, some in specific locations and some have that thing which sets them apart, style. A photographer who has their own style is memorable. Think of all the great photographers you know and I am sure you could recognise one of their pictures even if you had never seen it before through it’s style. Marina Cano is one of them, she has style. You will have seen her pictures before, they are widely distributed, here is her website in case you need a reminder.

In her own words:

I’m a  Spanish wildlife photographer, based in Cantabria,  Northern Spain. I’ve been taking pictures since I was a teenager, started with my father’s camera. My work has been published around the world and have won international awards. In 2009 I’ve published my first book, Cabárceno, with the pictures I’ve took for three years in the largest park of wildlife in Europe, with the same name. In December 2012 I published my second book: Drama & Intimacy, a carefully selection from the pictures I took in South Africa, Kenya, England and Cabarceno. I’ve also made exhibitions in Cape Town, London, Spain, La Habana, I’m currently exhibiting in Korea. My talks took me to different places like Finland, Cuba, South Africa, Israel, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom. In 2015 I’ve been finalist of the most prestigious Nature Photography Contest in the world: Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

So as a little Easter gift here are some of her pictures to put a smile on your face

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Marina gives talks, has exhibitions, books and guided safari tours all accessible from her website

I hope you enjoyed these

 

Vogue 100: A Century of Style

Photographs from a 100 years of Vogue at the National Portrait Gallery, London

Many of the truly great photographers of the last century contributed to Vogue so just to see the works of some masters would be worth the visit. I do suppose it depends a bit on what you think about fashion in general. I am sure with two minutes to spare I could come up with some pointless cynical views on the subject but no doubt I would be in a minority, which is where I generally prefer to be.

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Now as you may imagine I know little about fashion photography so here is a review in Time Out of the exhibition by someone who gives it 5 stars

Not just a pretty face – the style bible is a reflection of our times.

Fashion may be fickle, but the fashion photographer’s lens is also a mirror. ‘Vogue 100: A Century of Style’ is as much a reflection of a hundred years of our history as it is a celebration of the original glossy.

Born in 1916 during WWI, when shipping the US magazine became impossible, BritishVogue has always been more than a fashion mag. And this exhibition is so much more than a collection of pretty models in pretty clothes – Boris Johnson has found his way on to the walls, for goodness’ sake! JG Ballard and Aldous Huxley have both written for Vogue. A pre-fatwa Salmon Rushdie has shared an issue with John Galliano, years before the latter’s fall from grace. Both Queen Elizabeth and her boozy mum have appeared. And, of course, most of the century’s best photographers have shot for its pages. Exhibition curator (and contributing editor to British Vogue) Robin Muir gave Tim Walker, the man responsible for many of today’s most fantastical Vogue shoots, his first job in the 1990s: archiving Cecil Beaton’s work for the magazine from the 1930s.

In this thoughtfully arranged show, it’s the little details that make the difference – from the cocktail style menu of credits in the 1930s room to the wall of seemingly disparate portraits of actress Helena Bonham Carter, milliner Stephen Jones and model Ben Grimes-Viort – united by a colour scheme of feathery pink. A side room shows a series of slides from the ’40s to the ’90s; as though you’re in the cutting room, you watch images go from picture to page.

There’s a charming library of bound copies in which you can survey the century of Vogue as a physical thing. A peek at the pages reveals coverage of major events with far-reaching consequences, like the bloody Alsace campaign at the end of WWII, as reported by Vogue’s very own war correspondent (and former model) Lee Miller. There are also moments of fashion history that reflect societal leaps, such as the launch in 1947 of Christian Dior’s ‘New Look’, which celebrated the end of austerity with its extravagant layers of fabric. Or Donyale Una becoming Vogue’s first black model, gracing the cover in 1968 – a whole ten years before US Vogue would do the same. British Vogue has been around for a century and, in one way or another, it has documented it all in the most beautiful fashion. 

National Portrait Gallery

St Martin’s Place
London
WC2H 0HE
020 7306 0055
Contact us

Opening hours

Daily 10.00 – 18.00
Thursdays and Fridays until 21.00.
Last admission to the exhibition is one hour before the Gallery closes.
Exiting commences ten minutes before the closing time

On until the start of May

 

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