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Category Archives: Masters of Photography

The body art of Aida Muluneh – in pictures

Sometimes the most startling things show up and it is with thanks to the Guardian this time. Aida Muluneh is a photographer and film-maker from Ethiopia.

Born in Ethiopia in 1974, Aïda left the country at a young age and spent an itinerant childhood between Yemen and England. After several years in a boarding school in Cyprus, she finally settled in Canada in 1985. In 2000, she graduated with a degree from the Communication Department with a major in Film from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

After graduation she worked as a photojournalist at the Washington Post, however her work can be found in several publications.

Her work is beautiful and surprising in colour and presentation and also quite wonderful.

Aida Muluneh

Memory of Libya

Aida Muluneh

Sai Mado. The Distant Gaze

Aida Muluneh

The Morning Bride Muluneh has had an uprooted existence since her birth in Ethiopia, living in Yemen, the UK, Cyprus, Canada and finally the US, where she worked as a photojournalist for the Washington Post

Aida Muluneh

Age of Anxiety She has since returned to Ethiopia, a move she describes as ‘a lesson in humility, and what it means to return to a land that was foreign to me’

Aida Muluneh

Denkinesh Birth on Ground These works are from her series The World Is 9, named after a saying of her grandmother: ‘The world is nine, it is never complete and it’s never perfect’

See more of these images here on the Guardian page

Visit Aida Muluneh site here

Unhappy families: Weronika Gesicka’s warped Americana – in pictures

As seen in The Guardian

These rather disturbing but fascinating images are by Weronika Gęsicka

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Gęsicka is a guest artist at the Circulations festival for young European photographers, Paris, until 5 March. All images: Weronika Gęsicka

Polish photographer Weronika Gęsicka takes corny American photography and manipulates it into something surreal and uncomfortable.  Weronika Gesicka, born in 1984 in Włocławek (Poland). Graduated from the graphics department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and the Academy of Photography in the same city. She received a scholarship from the polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage. Weronika is doing projects about memory and its mechanisms. She is interested in the scientific and pseudoscientific theories, mnemonics and various disorders concerning it. Her main field of activity is photography, but she also create objects and artifacts, often in collaboration with craftsmen and sometimes with other artists. An important part of her art is working with archive materials of various sources. These are both image banks or images found on the Internet and police archives or old press photography.

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‘Who are, or were, these people in the images? Are they actors playing happy families, or real persons whose photos were put up for sale by the image bank? That is not fully clear’

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‘Who are, or were, these people in the images? Are they actors playing happy families, or real persons whose photos were put up for sale by the image bank? That is not fully clear’

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Polish photographer Weronika Gęsicka takes corny American photography and manipulates it into something surreal and uncomfortable

See more from The Guardian article here

 

Paddy Summerfield – The Oxford Pictures 1968-1978

It may have taken too long in coming but now there is a book of images by Paddy Summerfield from his early Oxford period. You may not know Paddy but he has been part of the photographic firmament of Oxford for ever. I first met him on June 6th 1982. I had just opened the doors of my new business, The Photographers Workshop, and in strode Paddy. I had heard tell of this mythic man and when he said who he was and could he help I thought this is it, I am on the road. Paddy and I have been friends now for more than 30 years and I cherish that time. I remember the first time I saw his Oxford pictures appearing under the red lights of the darkroom and wondering how this man before me could have taken such brilliant photographs. Prior to seeing his work I had only seen similar in books by people who were really famous, and this man was in my darkrooms.

He shared his passion and knowledge with anyone who would benefit; teaching, mentoring and helping and never for reward, he didn’t want money he just wanted to be involved with interesting images and people.

So to his book, a beautiful edition with many of the pictures from a period when Oxford was still the Oxford of memory. What has amazed me about the book is how close the reproductions are to the prints he would work on in the dark, they have a quality, an intensity that I don’t see from digital work. This is a wondrous thing to behold, I would recommend you find a copy and spend time indulging your love of photography. Do not expect warm, honey coloured stones, this Oxford is much darker and more interesting.

Go to Paddy’s website to find more information http://paddysummerfield.com/

cover-oxford

Paddy Summerfield 1

Paddy Summerfield 2

 

The New York Times no less reviewed this book, go here to see 16 images on their gallery

Sprawled on grass, floating down a river, or gazing blankly into the distance — all the subjects captured, unawares, in the photographer Paddy Summerfield’s new book “The Oxford Pictures” share a certain listlessness. In 1968, having been “thrown out” of Guildford School of Art (“the staff weren’t particularly sympathetic towards my vision”), Summerfield returned to his hometown of Oxford, England. He spent the summers of the next 10 years wandering around the grounds of the elite Oxford University, where he photographed students at leisure.

What he sensed at the university, he says, was an atmosphere that mirrored how he felt about his own life. “I was young,” he says, “It’s a young person’s vision, noticing girls and noticing other people’s relationships — but I was always outside everything.” He recognised a similar nervousness in the subjects of his photos, who hovered between the social rituals of university and an existential uncertainty. At the time, Summerfield was heavily influenced by John Lennon — and there is something personal and deeply melancholy about these images. “I set out to show heartache and disappointment,” he says. “It’s about feeling… well, I suppose, isolated and lonely, and full of sexual anxiety.

A selection of Summerfield’s pictures was shown at the Museum of Modern Art Oxford in 1976. But this month, 40 years later, they become the subject of a new book. Summerfield says that the fashionable British documentary photographers of the time — Don McCullin, David Hurn, Ian Berry, Tony Ray Jones — were more preoccupied with society than with introspection. “They were interested in the world around them,” he says. “I’m interested in the interior world.”

Malick Sidibé: The Eye of Modern Mali – Exhibition in London

Les jeunes bergers peulhs, 1972. Photograph: © Malick Sidibé Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris.

Les jeunes bergers peulhs, 1972.
Photograph: © Malick Sidibé Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris.

Jeune homme avec pattes d’éléphant, sacoche et montre, 1977. Photograph: © Malick Sidibé Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris.

Jeune homme avec pattes d’éléphant, sacoche et montre, 1977.
Photograph: © Malick Sidibé Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris.

The first major solo exhibition in the UK of the late Malian photographer. Sidibé is known for his black-and-white images chronicling the lives and culture of the Malian capital, Bamako, in the wake of the country’s independence. The exhibition will present 45 original prints from the 1960s and 1970s around three defined themes: ‘Au Fleuve Niger / Beside the Niger River’, ‘Tiep à Bamako / Nightlife in Bamako’, and ‘Le Studio / The Studio’.

Sidibé was the first photographer, and first African artist, to receive a Gold Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2007. Other significant awards include The Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography in 2003, as well as the Infinity Award from International Center of Photography in 2008 and winning the Arts and Entertainments category at the World Press Photo competition in 2010.

Accompanying the photographs, the gallery soundtrack will recreate the spirit and soul of the nightclubs where he shot and his own Studio Malick, where “often it was like a party”. Curated by DJ, presenter and African music expert Rita Ray, it will feature an eclectic mix of music and urban sounds to which Sidibé’s photographic subjects may have listened, from the familiar rock ‘n’ roll, pop songs and fusions of the continent in the 60s and 70s to timeless Malian roots music.

Launching at 1:54, the exhibition will continue throughout the winter season.

6 October 2016–15 January 2017
Monday, Tuesday, Saturday & Sundays 10.00-18.00 (last admission 17.00)
Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays 11.00-20.00 (last admission 19.00)

Terrace Rooms
Free admission

From The Guardian

As a photographer working in Mali just after independence, Malick Sidibé captured the spirit of the post-colonial nation’s new identity, as seen through the changing scene of its capital.

He went on to become the first African artist and the first photographer to receive the prestigious Golden Lion award at the Venice Biennale, and his portrait photography has been shown across the world.

But less is known about the place it all started: Studio Malick, the poky room on Corner 19, 30th Street, in the Bagadadji neighbourhood in Bamako which by the early 1990s had become a local landmark, with queues of customers keen to sit for a portrait.

As the first solo exhibition of his work opens in London as part of the 1:54 African art fair, I went in search of the people who had met the man, to find out more about the setting in which these now famous images were taken……

 

See more pictures here

Between Darkness and Light

always majestic

Steve McCurry's Blog

The shadow is that place between darkness and light.

00054_09, Preah Khan, Angkor, Cambodia, 1999, CAMBODIA-10049NF. Shadow Play. Untold_book retouched_Sonny Fabbri 09/08/2015 Preah Khan, Angkor, Cambodia

We find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows,
the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates…
Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.
–  Junichiro Tanizaki

Kampala, Uganda Kampala, Uganda

The loveliest things in life are but shadows, and they come and go, and
change and fade away…”
– Charles Dickens

Angkor Wat, Cambodia Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Angkor, Cambodia Angkor Wat, Angkor, Cambodia

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow.
– T. S. Eliot

Bamiyan Province, Afghanistan Bamiyan Province, Afghanistan

A shadow on the wall
boughs stirred by the noonday wind
that’s enough earth
and for the eye
enough celestial participation.
– Gottfried Benn
Translated from The German by Michael Hofmann

New York City, USA New York City, USA

Afghanistan Afghanistan

I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be…

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William Eggleston Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery

Time Out reviews the William Eggleston Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery until 23rd October 2016

©William Eggleston

©William Eggleston

Legendary Memphis photographer William Eggleston has created a whole genre of psychologically ambiguous Americana, much of it centred on apparently mundane bits of his home town. I expected that isolating his portraits from the rest of his work wouldn’t work. How would they fare, without all those existential landscapes and unanswered questions to problematise them? In fact, this show really makes you realise all over again this man’s extraordinary genius and oddness.

Two photos in this show, both from the early 1970s, really nail the whole Eggleston thing. The first is a tiny photobooth black-and-white self-portrait. In it, Eggleston seems remote: a fine-boned, bespectacled, Mahleresque face, a foppish college scarf, one of those monied, long-all-over haircuts. The second is a photo of his friend, weirdo Memphis dentist TC Boring. Boring is in the house in which he would later be murdered and incinerated. He is standing naked in a moment of reflection. The bedroom is blood red, with ‘God’ and ‘Tally Ho!’ sprayed on the wall. The colour hums, as though the print itself were struggling to keep Boring alive: it’s terrible, hilarious, disturbing and uncontrived, all at the same time. How did that man take this photo?

It’s one thing to imply alienation and dread with a grim motel room or a deserted parking lot. It’s quite another to manage to do so – as Eggleston does here – in a picture of your nephew sitting at home in an armchair. A portrait of the dead blues musician Fred McDowell in his casket is way less troubling than a shot of Eggleston’s wife taking a nap on a bed in front of a buzzing untuned TV and a sinister open closet. Time and again, Eggleston shows us that a picture of a person is never a simple thing.

This is not a big show, for a man who is supposed to have taken more than a million photographs, but I could spend a week in it, happily. Or a year. You have to see Eggleston’s work edited in this way. And you have to see his photos in the flesh (including Mr Boring’s knob). If I could give it six stars, I would.

©William Eggleston

©William Eggleston

©William Eggleston

©William Eggleston

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.

Celebrating ​James Barnor – the first photographer to shoot Ghana in colour ​

As seen in The Guardian

James Barnor helped put black women on the covers of British magazines and documented fashion in a country marching towards independence. Now, aged 87, he has taken to Instagram and a London gallery is exhibiting his work

His early works recorded Ghana as it headed towards independence and came to terms with modernity through new inventions, music and fashion. In the 1960s, Barnor moved to the UK to continue his work with South African magazine Drum, for which he shot numerous cover images throughout the decade, as well as developing his own brand of street reportage and documentary photography

His early works recorded Ghana as it headed towards independence and came to terms with modernity through new inventions, music and fashion. In the 1960s, Barnor moved to the UK to continue his work with South African magazine Drum, for which he shot numerous cover images throughout the decade, as well as developing his own brand of street reportage and documentary photography

Barnor returned to Ghana in the early 1970s to open the first colour processing studio in the country. During this period, he was the first person to shoot outdoors and process images in full colour

Barnor returned to Ghana in the early 1970s to open the first colour processing studio in the country. During this period, he was the first person to shoot outdoors and process images in full colour

Embracing contemporary photography, Barnor recently set up an Instagram account aged 87. A collaborative exhibition between Barnor and the award-winning Italian photographer Daniele Tamagni is on show at the October Gallery in central London until 30 September

Embracing contemporary photography, Barnor recently set up an Instagram account aged 87. A collaborative exhibition between Barnor and the award-winning Italian photographer Daniele Tamagni is on show at the October Gallery in central London until 30 September

see more here

 

Levon Biss Microsculpture Exhibition at Museum of Natural History Oxford

I have seen a number of the images Levon has created and have to say I am blown away by the beauty and technical expertise.

Levon Biss Microsculpture

Levon Biss is a British photographer based in the UK who has been shooting campaigns for international brands for the last 18 years.  His work has graced the covers of publications such as TIME Magazine and he has produced a best selling book on the global game of soccer titled ‘One Love’.

Here Levon explains how he works on his Microsculpture project

“Each image from the Microsculpture project is created from around 8000 individual photographs.  The pinned insect is placed on an adapted microscope stage that enables me to have complete control over the positioning of the specimen in front of the lens.  I shoot with a 36-megapixel camera that has a 10x microscope objective attached to it via a 200mm prime lens.

I photograph the insect in approximately 30 different sections, depending on the size of the specimen.  Each section is lit differently with strobe lights to bring out the micro sculptural beauty of that particular section of the body.  For example, I will light and shoot just one antennae, then after I have completed this area I will move onto the eye and the lighting set up will change entirely to suit the texture and contours of that part of the body.  I continue this process until I have covered the whole surface area of the insect.

Due to the inherent shallow depth of field that microscope lenses provide, each individual photograph only contains a tiny slither of focus.  To enable me to capture all the information I need to create a fully focused image, the camera is mounted onto an electronic rail that I program to move forward 10 microns between each shot.  To give you an idea of how far that is, the average human hair is around 75 microns wide.  The camera will then slowly move forward from the front of the insect to the back creating a folder of images that each have a thin plane of focus.  Through various photo-stacking processes I flatten these images down to create a single picture that has complete focus throughout the full depth of the insect.

I repeat this process over the entire body of the insect and once I have 30 fully focused sections I bring them together in Photoshop to create the final image.  From start to finish, a final photograph will take around 3 weeks to shoot, process and retouch.”

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Levon Biss Microsculpture

Microsculpture The exhibition
Oxford University Museum of Natural History
27 May – 30 October 2016

Microsculpture presents the insect collection of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History like never before. The result of a collaboration between the Museum and photographer Levon Biss, this series of beautifully-lit, high magnification portraits captures the microscopic form of insects in striking large-format and high-resolution detail.

Levon Biss Microsculpture

Levon Biss Microsculpture

Levon is holding a workshop at the Museum:

Photography Workshop with Levon Biss
Levon Biss’ photography is a masterclass in lighting. Pick up some expert techniques using specimens at different scales from the Museum collections. Special workshop to coincide with the Microsculpture exhibition.

Details to follow after Microsculpture exhibition opens on 27 May.
Saturday 9th July

Levon Biss Microsculpture

Microsculpture

Formed at scales too tiny for us to perceive and with astonishing complexity, the true structure and beauty of insects remains mostly hidden. Their intricate shapes, colours and microsculpture are dizzying in their variety, but it takes the power of an optical microscope or camera lens to experience insects at their own scale.

At high magnification the surface of even the plainest looking beetle or fly is completely transformed as details of their microsculpture become visible: ridges, pits or engraved meshes all combine at different spatial scales in a breath-taking intricacy. It is thought that these microscopic structures alter the properties of the insect’s surface in different ways, reflecting sunlight, shedding water, or trapping air.

Alongside these elements are minute hairs adapted for many purposes. They can help insects grip smooth surfaces, carry pollen, or detect movements in the air, to name but a few. The shape of these hairs is sometimes modified into flattened scales – structures so small they appear like dust to the naked eye. In some insects, such as butterflies and beetles, these scales scatter and reflect light, creating some of the most vibrant and intense colours seen in nature.

The evolutionary process of natural selection should account for all this wonderful diversity of microstructures, but for many species their specific adaptive function is still unknown. By observing insects in the wild, studying museum collections, and developing new imaging techniques we will surely learn more about these fascinating creatures and close the gaps in our current understanding.

Dr James Hogan
Life Collections, Oxford University Museum of Natural History

 

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

 

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