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Category Archives: Photography Exhibitions

Saul Leiter: Retrospective

If you don’t know Saul Leiter where have you been? His colour photography has been the delight of many photographers for years. There is a retrospective of his work at The Photographers Gallery but only until April 3rd

It seems an irony that Saul Leiter always considered himself more a painter than a photographer. Firstly, because it was the latter that made his name. Secondly, because he was pretty bad at the former. Leiter moved to New York in the 1940s, soaked up the abstract expressionist scene, and occasionally showed his twitchy, garish, overworked paintings in galleries in the East Village.

Fortunately, alongside the art exhibitions, he also visited a show of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photography in 1947. Soon after, he bought a Leica and started taking pictures on the city’s streets. And out of an alchemical relationship between the two disciplines, there came a long and astonishing body of photographic work defined by a kind of elegant, painterly formalism.

Some people might be drawn to the people in these pictures: the kissing couples, the stooped men in raincoats. But Leiter was always more poet than documentarian. Taking his cues from Mark Rothko’s colour fields, Leiter’s photographs became increasingly defined by broad, abstracted planes of colour. This reached extremes in images like ‘Purple Umbrella’: the webbed rim of the umbrella fills just the upper quarter of the image; the rest is an out-of-focus sidewalk. It’s stark, bold and astounding.

Leiter’s other great achievement was making an aesthetic virtue of all the advertising that filled the Big Apple. Pictures of neon signs shimmering in puddles and billboards reflected in shop fronts make for an exquisite kind of shorthand for the urban experience. It’s never quite a human New York that he captures. But it isn’t half stylish. 

Venue name: Photographers’ Gallery
Address: 16-18 Ramillies St
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm; Thu 10am-8pm; Sun 11.30am-6pm
Transport: Tube: Oxford Circus
Price: £3, adv/concs £2.50, adv concs £2

Saul Leiter – Photographers Gallery Exhibition

If you have been on one of our courses we would have probably introduced you to Saul Leiter because we love his photographs. The Photographers Gallery in London has an exhibition of his work from 22 Jan – 3 Apr 2016. Now you can see his work as it should be seen, on the wall.

Saul Leiter


Saul Leiter: Red Umbrella, ca. 1958 © Saul Leiter, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York. Aus der Ausstellung "Saul Leiter-Retrospektive", Deichtorhallen Hamburg 3.2.-15.4.2012.





It’s only recently that Saul Leiter (1923-2013) has received due recognition for his pioneering role in the emergence of colour photography. He moved to New York intent on becoming a painter, yet ended up working for magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Elle andBritish Vogue and became known for his impressionistic colour street scenes.

As early as 1946, and thus well before representatives of the 1970s new colour photography school (such as William Eggleston and Stephen Shore), Leiter was using Kodachrome colour slide film for his free artistic shots, despite it being despised by artists of the day.

“When we do not know why the photographer has taken a picture and when we do not know why we are looking at it, all of a sudden we discover something that we start seeing. I like this confusion.” Saul Leiter

Photographers Gallery 

16–18 Ramillies Street, London W1F 7LW

Mon – Fri: 10.00 – 18.00
Thu: 10.00 – 20.00 during exhibitions
Sat: 10.00 – 18.00
Sun: 11.00 – 18.00

Portrait Salon – Rejected portraits

There has long been a tradition of revering the under dog, supporting the also ran. Portrait Salon describes itself as a salon des refuses – an exhibition of works rejected from a juried art show. So this exhibition is a collection of images rejected from the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, which is organised annually by the National Portrait Gallery (NPG), in London. We heartily endorse this enterprise as we generally think the TW prize is a lot of old tosh. I know a bit inflammatory but there you go. You can see our posts about previous TW portrait awards by using the Select Category drop down menu and clicking on Photography Awards.

So to the Portrait Salon, the BBC has an article and images about this and you can see many of the images selected from the rejections. This year’s exhibition features nearly 400 works by amateur and professional photographers. You can see a few of them below.


This portrait of Frank Carter is by London-based Phil Sharp.


Giovanna Del Sarto’s portrait is one from a series made during a trip to Georgia. The backdrop fabric was from a local market and used as a makeshift studio.


Derek Mossop pictured a couple in bed.


Freelance photographer Anne-Marie Arpin’s ongoing series Les Colombophiles aims to document the relationship between a group of pigeons fanciers and their cherished birds and features this portrait of “Marcel”.

There is an exhibition to go with this project: The Portrait Salon exhibition is on show at The Embassy Tea Gallery in London from 19-22 November 2015 before travelling to The Reminders Photography Stronghold Gallery

See more pictures here or go to the Portrait Salon website here


There are many photographers of the year. They cover every genre of photography and in the landscape area there are a number. This one is the 2015 International Landscape Photographer of the Year.

Congratulations to Luke Austin of Perth, Australia for winning the International Landscape Photographer of the Year 2015. His portfolio of four images, after much discussion and deliberation between the judges, was elevated to first place with a cash prize of US $5000, a bespoke copy of the International Landscape Photographer of the Year book printed by Momento, and a trophy.




And congratulations also to Luke Tscharke for winning the International Landscape Photograph of the Year 2015. The ‘Photograph’ is different from the ‘Photographer’ in that this is the single best image overall as determined by the judging panel, whereas the ‘Photographer’ is the best four images. Luke wins a cash prize of US $2000, a bespoke copy of the International Landscape Photographer of the Year book printed by Momento, and a trophy.

In second place was Luke Austin and third place Warren Keelan.


Alec Soth: America’s most immaculate, intriguing photographer

You will either love or hate his pictures, they will speak to you or infuriate you with their pretensions, it is hard to think of another photographer so feted who is perhaps less understood. Sean O’Hagen in The Guardian makes a very good stab at explaining why Soth is thought to be ‘America’s most immaculate photographer’, it is worth reading even if you don’t like the pictures because the article will help you to understand why some photographers/artists are so lauded. The start point for this Soth love-in is a new retrospective exhibition at The Science Museum. I’m not sure what any of it has to do with science.


2008  from Alec Soth’s book Broken Manual and included in the exhibition Gathered Leaves. All images courtesy of the artist/Magnum


Melissa, 2005, from Niagara


Adelyn, Ash Wednesday, New Orleans, Louisiana, 2000, from Sleeping by the Mississippi


Two Towels, 2004, from Niagara


Bil. Sandusky, Ohio, 2014, from Songbook

O’Hagen says “Underpinning the series, and indeed all of his work, is Soth’s restless vision and relentless curiosity. In Niagara, he finds another location steeped in contradictions, a place of “spectacular suicides and affordable honeymoons,” as he puts it. Soth’s Niagara is both mundane and majestic, its mythology invested with so much hope that disappointment and despair are an inevitable consequence…..

The strange atmosphere of banality and heightened intimacy is sustained throughout, further evidence of Soth’s meticulous editing and his almost writerly understanding of how to sustain a mood…..

This article is a very useful insight into the world of contemporary photography, not photography as most people understand but one where “It isn’t what a picture is of,” the great American photography curator John Szarkowski once said. “It is what it is about.”

Understanding this type of photographic imagery involves using your mind more than your eyes because although what you might see as O’Hagen says “His results are beautiful, whatever their subject matter. Painstakingly composed on a large-format camera mounted on a tripod, his images can be breathtakingly stunning in their subtle range of muted colours.” it is what it speaks of that gives it value

The question is do you believe this is what photography is about? I don’t know, I am intrigued by what I see and I like to try to understand but more often than not I get the impression that artists such as Soth speak to other artists and to those in the art world that own the art version of the Rosetta Stone and the rest of us are diminished because ‘we just don’t get it’

Read the article follow the links look at the pictures make of it what you will. The exhibition information is here

Gathered Leaves: Photographs by Alec Soth

Alec Soth is widely considered to be world’s foremost documentary photographer. Recently described by the Telegraph as the ‘greatest living photographer of America’s social and geographical landscape’, Soth is admired for his experimentation across exhibition, book, magazine and digital forms.

Like many great photographers and writers from the American canon – such as Robert Frank, Stephen Shore and Joel Sternfeld – Soth takes the open road as his subject, but brings to it his own unique and modern twist.

Through haunting, intimate portraits, desolate landscapes and wide open wildernesses, his work captures a profound sense of what it is to be human. Tenderness, joy, disappointment, fear or pride – his striking portraits capture the rawness of human emotion and the tension between our conflicting desires for individualism and community.

This exhibition presents his four signature series – Sleeping by the Mississippi (2004), Niagara (2006), Broken Manual (2010) and the most recent, Songbook (2014) – and highlights his remarkable career and distinctive vision.

Gathered Leaves is Soth’s first major UK show and offers a unique opportunity to see the journey his photographs make from the printed page to the exhibition wall.

Gathered Leaves: Photographs by Alec Soth

First major UK exhibition by award-winning American photographer Alec Soth
Floor: 2
Price: £8


On a final note I am reminded that I went to the Brighton Photography Biennial in 2010. Alex Soth was one of the main attractions, he had been contracted to produce an exhibition of his pictures of Brighton. When he arrived at Heathrow on a tourist visa it was evident he couldn’t work in the UK so was not allowed to photograph for the show so  So he handed over the reins of his latest exhibition to a new collaborator: his seven-year-old daughter The Guardian

It was so disappointing, why not let any local seven year old take the pictures….art, you have got to laugh

ZSL animal photography prize 2015


Friday, September 18 to 28 February 2016 

The tigers, snakes and penguins won’t be the only thing entrancing visitors this autumn at ZSL London Zoo, as the winning images from the 2015 ZSL Animal Photography Prize have been unveiled to the public.

Until 28 February 2016 visitors to ZSL London Zoo will be able to admire the stunning shots entered into the Zoological Society of London’s fourth annual photography competition, displayed in a striking exhibition.

Combining mesmerising imagery with the enthralling sights, and sounds of the creatures at the Zoo, the exhibition is on show within squawking distance of the flamboyant flamingos and picturesque pelicans.

The exhibition’s top wildlife photographs were chosen by a panel of judges including ZSL Honorary Conservation Fellow and television presenter Kate Humble, and renowned ornithologist Bill Oddie.

The ZSL Animal Photography Prize Exhibition is free with every standard admission ticket to ZSL London Zoo. With more than 17,000 incredible animals to see and a packed schedule of brilliant talks and demonstrations, ZSL London Zoo makes the perfect autumn day out.


The Strongest Bond by Tom Way The Perfect Moment category  Adult runner up


Timeless by Andy Skillen Judges’ Choice Size Matters category  Adult winner


Sleeping Beauty by Tianha Williams Last Chance to See category  Runner up


Bright Eyes by Carolyn Collins Weird and Wonderful category  Adult winner


You can see more images on The Guardian website

Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2015

Found on the BBC website a plethora of images of the heavens, heavenly images I guess. This time of year as it gets harder to see the stars in the UK the winners of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year are announced and what a surprising set of images they are.


Huge Prominence Lift-off – by Paolo Porcellana (Our Sun, Winner)

Paul Kerley writes

Shimmering phenomena in the night sky – and starry sights billions of light years away – take a look at some of the finalists in the 2015 Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. “Utterly enthralling with moments of brilliance” is how the comedian, impersonator and amateur astronomer Jon Culshaw describes the shortlisted entries in the competition to become the Astronomy Photographer of the Year. With his personal interest in the cosmos, Culshaw was one of the judges this year. He says he was aged about seven or eight when he got the space bug. He looked for UFOs, was fascinated by lunar eclipses and always watched the Sky at Night.


Interaction – Hemnesberget, Nordland, Norway – by Tommy Eliassen (People and Space, Highly Commended)


Silk Skies – Abisko National Park, Lapland, Sweden – by Jamen Percy (Aurorae, Winner)


Eclipse Totality over Sassendalen – by Luc Jamet (Skyscapes, Winner and Overall Winner)


Sumo Waggle Adventure – Lomaas River, Skanland, Norway – by Arild Heitmann (Aurorae, Highly Commended)


Sunset Peak Star Trail – Lantau Island, Hong Kong – by Chap Him Wong (People and Space, Winner)


Royal Observatory Greenwich in London until 26 June 2016.

See the full article and many more fascinating images on the BBC here

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015

For a little while now I have written about the refugee crisis and the impact photography has had on the publics’ awareness, so serious and important stuff. However never wishing to be too intense I now have the chance to bring you news of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015. This is a very serious (sorry) portrait award and usually is won by a picture involving an animal, see last years winner and the winner from 2011 As I say it is a serious prize to win, the trouble is usually the majority of people, photographers and ordinary people alike just don’t get it. As with many areas of contemporary art the choices confuse those outside the world of contemporary art, like so many things you need to be in the club. Anyway now there is this years prize.  The Guardian article lists all the shortlist contenders, here is what they say about the images and the photographers


Ivor Prickett’s photograph, Amira and her Children, taken at the Baharka refugee camp. Photograph: Ivor Prickett/PA

A photograph of a displaced Iraqi family who fled their village after the area fell under Isis control is on the shortlist for the 2015 Taylor Wessing prize, theNational Portrait Gallery has announced.

Ivor Prickett, a London-based documentary photographer, took the image, Amira and her Children, in northern Iraq in September 2014 while working on an assignment for the UN refugee agency.

Prickett met Amira and her family in their tent at the Baharka camp near Erbil. They had fled their village near Mosul after Isis took control of the area.

“I spent some time speaking with Amira about what her family had gone through,” said Prickett. “As they became more comfortable with me being there, they really started to express their closeness and became very tactile. It was a beautiful moment to witness in the midst of such a difficult situation.”


Nyaueth  2015  © Peter Zelewski

Peter Zelewski is a London-based portrait and documentary photographer. Born in Detroit, USA, he moved to London in the late 80s and studied Graphic Design at North London Polytechnic. Through his fascination and love of the city, he was drawn to the streets of London to take photographs of its citizens. Zelewski now divides his time between graphic design, commercial photography and his personal street portraiture projects. Zelewski’s portrait Nyaueth was taken near Oxford Street as part of his series Beautiful Strangers. Zelewski explains: ‘The aim of Beautiful Strangers is to challenge the concept of traditional beauty with a series of spontaneous and powerful street portraits of everyday citizens who show character, uniqueness and a special inner quality, which I try to interpret in my photographs.’


David Stewart’s portrait of his daughter and her friends. Photograph: David Stewart/PA

The fourth shortlisted work is Five Girls 2014, by David Stewart, a photographer born in Lancaster and based in London. The five girls of the title are his daughter and her friends, a group he first photographed seven years ago when they were about to start their GCSEs.

“I have always had a fascination with the way people interact, or in this case fail to interact, which inspired the photograph of this group of girls,” he said. “While the girls are physically very close and their style and clothing highlight their membership of the same peer group, there is an element of distance between them.”


Anoush Abrar photo of a young boy, inspired by Caravaggio’s painting Sleeping Cupid. Photograph: Anoush Abrar/PA

Anoush Abrar, a photographer born in Iran who now lives and teaches in Lausanne, Switzerland, is shortlisted for Hector, a photograph of a young boy inspired by his fascination with Caravaggio, and particularly the artist’s 1608 painting Sleeping Cupid.

“Somehow I needed to make my own Sleeping Cupid,” he said. “I found my portrait of Hector so powerful and iconic that it inspired me to continue this project as a series called Cherubs.”

This is what TW say about themselves…The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 is the leading international competition which celebrates and promotes the very best in contemporary portrait photography from around the world. The selected images, many of which will be on display for the first time, explore both traditional and contemporary approaches to the photographic portrait whilst capturing a range of characters, moods and locations.

With over 2,200 entries, this year’s Prize continues to uphold its reputation for a diversity of photographic styles submitted by a range of photographers, from gifted amateurs to photography professionals, all competing to win one of the four prestigious prizes including the £12,000 first prize.

All four photographs will be included in an exhibition of the best of this year’s entries. The winning photographer, to be announced on 10 November, will receive £4,000 and a commission. The four photographs were chosen from 4,929 submissions entered by 2,201 photographers from 70 countries.

Nicholas Cullinan, the director of the National Portrait Gallery, who chaired the judging panel, said: “The strength of the four shortlisted works reflects the outstanding level that photographers across the world are working at today.

“The exhibition will be especially exciting this year as we will be displaying a number of photographs that were submitted as a series of portraits, as well as new and unseen work by acclaimed photographer Pieter Hugo.”

The exhibition of the prize winners and other entrants is at The National Portrait Gallery, London from November 12 to February 21

There are also events going on in support of the award, here is one but you can find the full list here

Weekend Workshop: Classic Photographic Portraits

28 November – 29 November 2015, 11:00-17:00
Please check signage on the day for details
Tickets: £150 (£125 concessions and Gallery Supporters) Book online, or visit the Gallery in person.

Taking inspiration from the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015, hone your skills in this two day practical workshop.

We also have a Portrait Photography Course where you will learn how to take portraits of your family, friends but generally not small animals, nor will we inspire you with images from……

Here is a link to our post about the 2014 TW prize

and here, the 2013 TW prize   and the 2012….oh and the 2011 and finally our post about the 2010  We are thorough

A century of west African portrait photography – in pictures

The rich tradition of portrait photography in west Africa is explored in a new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In and Out of the Studio showcases over 80 images taken from the 1870s to 1970s, ranging from casual shots to formal portraits, and features some of the stars of west African photography such as JD ‘Okhai Ojeikere and Samuel Fosso. The exhibition runs 31 August to 3 January  In The Guardian



The installation seeks to expand our understanding of West African portrait photography by rendering the broad variety of these practices and aesthetics. It juxtaposes photographs, postcards, real photo postcards, and original negatives taken both inside and outside the studio by amateur and professional photographers active from Senegal to Cameroon and from Mali to Gabon.


Further details from the Museum website here

Keith Arnatt is proof that the art world doesn’t consider photography ‘real’ art

Sean O’Hagan on photography in The Guardian is always a good place to start when looking for something intriguing, interesting and often challenging. You are not likely to find Sean talking about sunsets, flower or wildlife photography and in this article he highlights an exhibition by Keith Arnatt.


Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of His Former Self, 1969-72, by Keith Arnatt. Photograph: © Keith Arnatt Estate. All rights reserved, DACS 2015/Courtesy Sprüth Magers

Keith Arnatt liked to photograph things “everyone else thinks aren’t worth photographing”. These included discarded toys, dog poo, detritus from rubbish tips and the various notes his wife, Jo, left around the house for him.

Seven years after his death in 2008, Arnatt remains a singular – and bafflingly undervalued – presence in British art. A small but illuminating show at Sprüth Magers in London, called Absence of the Artist, provides a glimpse of Arnatt’s early use of a medium he would later embrace with the obsessive devotion of the convert. It is a survey of Keith Arnatt, the pioneering conceptual artist, before he became Keith Arnatt, the pioneering photographer.

Arnatt had already made a name for himself as a mischievous artist when he went to a lecture in 1973 entitled Photography or Art? by David Hurn, who had just set up the photography department at Newport College of Art, in south Wales. “When the lecture was over,” Hurn later wrote, “a man came over and introduced himself, saying ‘I’m Keith Arnatt. Would you help me become a photographer?’”


Intriguingly, Arnatt had already been using photography in his art practice, making extended pieces like Self-Burial, on display here, which comprises nine images of him slowly disappearing into the earth. Inspired by Hurn’s lecture on the work of Diane Arbus, August Sander and Walker Evans, Arnatt suddenly embraced photography by “mucking in with the students”. As he immersed himself in the history of photography, he started making work that was all his own: odd, slyly humorous and provocative takes on the everyday that were both acutely observational and absurd.


Keith Arnatt, from the sequence Self-Burial, 1969. Photograph: Courtesy Sprüth Magers/© Keith Arnatt Estate. All rights reserved, DACS 2015

The exhibition is at Sprüth Magers Berlin London

SEPTEMBER 01 – SEPTEMBER 26 2015 Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm

The SM website says The Absence of the Artist betrays the artist’s deadpan wit, wholly characteristic of Arnatt’s response to the various conflicts stimulating the art world throughout the late 1960s. The viewer is presented with a paradox: a sign, posted on a brick wall and photographed in black and white, declares the absence of the artist. Yet by denying his absence, he thrusts himself forward, seemingly emphasising the artist’s role. The Absence of the Artist highlights a fierce ambivalence about the artist’s role that was prevalent at the time. As more sceptical, pluralist ideas about art were starting to replace modernism – and its pantheon of great artists – the role of the artist was subjected to constant investigation. What divides the artist from his work or the ideas that it might produce? Do we even need the actions of an artist to declare something an artwork?

Read more from The Guardian and Sean O’Hagen here