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July 11, 2020

“It’s the primal glory of such a land, shared by so many different creatures, that has a visceral impact on most humans that see this. That has the ability to fill the most jaded of us with a profound sense of wonder. But the destruction of these animals, of these African places, is not happening in the past where we grew up, but in our own immediate present.”

In this video directed, written, and narrated by Nick Brandt, the viewer learns about the production of Brandt’s fascinating series, Inherit the Dust. For this work, the photographer records the impact of man in places where animals used to roam in Eastern Africa but no longer can. In a succession of panoramas, Brandt erects life-size panels of previously taken, but unreleased, animal portrait photographs. The combination of life-size animal portraits with encroaching urban landscapes depict the harsh realities of an environment that is no longer habitable by its original dwellers.

 

 

[ WATCH INHERIT THE DUST: THE CONCEPT, BY NICK BRANDT VIDEO ]

 

 

Nick Brandt is an English photographer whose themes have centered on the imminent peril and disappearance of the African natural world. For the past two decades, Brandt has been ahead of the curve and created a body of work that underlines the critical need for conservation efforts.

In his trilogy, On This Earth, A Shadow Falls, and Across the Ravaged Land (2001-2012), he established a style of portrait photography of animals in the wild, similar to that of the portraits of humans in studio settings. These pictures were shot on medium-format film, attempting to portray animals as sentient creatures not so different from us. This body of work presented Nick Brandt’s awe of the wonders of Africa and its rapid disappearance.

In his series, Inherit the Dust, Brandt places portraits of animals, printed life-size and glued to large panels in Kenya, in areas indigenous to those animals, but that now have been displaced by the human development of the modern world. In this series, the intrinsic allure of the natural fauna is juxtaposed against stark, gloomy environments comprised of quarries, underpasses, and dumpsites. These images demarcate the boundaries of so-called “progress.” They ask the question, is human development yielding the best results for the world? Or is it devastating the environment of the wildlife that thrived in those locations and destroying the habitat’s delicate balance?

Nick Brandt states:

“It’s a cliché, but we must act urgently. If we continue to do nothing, future generations will be inheriting the sad remnants of a once-vibrant living planet. They will be inheriting dust.”

Nick Brandt’s ravishing portraits of African animals are like premonitory memorials, taken to aid the cause of staving off extinction. In Inherit the Dust, his astonishing panoramas of those portraits – installed as life-size panels in industrial and urban wastelands that have trampled the animals’ habitats – are a jolting combination of beauty, decay, and admonishment. The result is an eloquent and complex “J’accuse,” for the people are as victimized by “development” as the animals are. The breadth, detail, and incongruity of Brandt’s panoramas suggest a collision between Bruegel and an apocalypse in waiting.” — Vicki Goldberg, Art Critic, Author

Brandt’s most recent series is This Empty World, 2019. About this work, the photographer writes:

“This Empty World addresses the escalating destruction of the natural world at the hands of humankind, showing a world where overwhelmed by runaway development, there is no longer space for the animals to survive. The people in the photos are also often helplessly swept along by the relentless tide of “progress.”

“The astonishing images in “This Empty World” deliver the emotional shock rarely felt, but urgently needed, to accelerate global conservation.”  — E.O.Wilson, Theorist, Biologist, Author

Nick Brandt’s photographs examine the consequences of human development in a literal as well as poetic manner, underscoring the need to protect both wildlife and the environment. Brandt creates a profoundly moving body of work that reminds the viewer that human life will be sorely diminished by the transformation of a landscape that fails to align our needs with those of the broader ecosystem.

Brandt has had a large number of solo gallery and museum shows worldwide, including New York, London, Berlin, Stockholm, Paris, and Los Angeles. Born and raised in England, he now lives in the southern Californian mountains.

He is co-founder of Big Life Foundation, fighting to protect the animals and ecosystem of a large area of Kenya and Tanzania.

July 7, 2020

Simple Pleasures is a new series curated by Holden Luntz Gallery, presenting ten of our favorite pictures organized thematically.

We hope you find these photographs as a gentle reminder that there are always simple pleasures to be found.

View images >

June 30, 2020

Simple Pleasures is a new series curated by Holden Luntz Gallery, presenting ten of our favorite pictures organized thematically.

We hope you find these photographs as a gentle reminder that there are always simple pleasures to be found.

View images >

June 27, 2020

“I take artistic license…I want an intense visual effect, and I want people to be curious… I want to use the beauty of the image to seduce people to make them think and be curious about what I am representing…”

Karen Knorr is both a conceptual photographer and a practitioner of Magical Realism. Knorr’s work visualizes the symbolism of parables and mythologies, investigating the power of images. Her use of animals has become a dominant feature in her work. With a large-format camera, she photographs architectural interiors and animals separately, joining them through editing software.

In the video Sofa Sessions: Conversations with Martin Parr – Karen Knorr video available on YouTube, we hear Karen Knorr and renowned British photographer Martin Parr in conversation as part of the Martin Parr Foundation’s Sofa Sessions. Knorr speaks about being a photographer for over 40 years, how education shaped her career, studying under Victor Burgin, and using texts with images. Knorr also talks of her different series, her collaborative experience with photographer Olivier Richon, and digitizing her work in the 90s while becoming a wildlife photographer among other subjects.

This intriguing and enjoyable conversation between two successful and original contemporary photographers provides an uplifting and unique view on how to talk about photography and the evolution of a photographer’s career.

In Knorr’s mythological visual realm, the animals contain a mystery and an allegorical component that become anthropomorphic. While she presents historical backdrops populated by elements from the animal world, she is interested in the juxtaposition of both aspects in her finished pictures. She is aware of the history of aristocratic interiors and institutions and selects culturally significant, refined locations. Her photographs call into question our assumptions of reality, how we live in and use domestic spaces, and how we relate to the greater world of nature. Her photographs create visually complex, vibrant, and seductive open-ended narratives.

Karen Knorr was born in Frankfurt, Germany, coming from a European and American heritage. She was raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the 1960s and later finished her education in Paris and London. Karen has taught, exhibited and lectured internationally, including at Tate Britain, Tate Modern, The University of Westminster, Goldsmiths, Harvard, and The Art Institute of Chicago. She studied at the University of Westminster in the mid-1970s, exhibiting photography that addressed cultural studies and film theory debates. She is currently Professor of Photography at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, Surrey.

Karen Knorr’s earlier series of black and white photographs with ironic and often humorous texts highlighting aspirations, lifestyle, and the British class. Her renowned work, Gentlemen (1981-1983), was photographed in Saint James’s clubs in London. This series investigated the patriarchal, conservative values of Britain during the Falklands war.

Karen’s work developed a critical and playful dialogue with documentary photography using different visual and textual strategies to explore her chosen subject matter. The topics she studied ranged from family to lifestyle to animals and their representation in the museum context.

Her series Fables (2004-2008) mixes analog and digital photography, playfully reconfiguring mythology and fables. Fables by Ovid, Aesop, and those of La Fontaine are combined with popular culture using Disney and Attenborough within museums and heritage sites. The potent imagery within these photographs is rich with reference to the baroque. In the last section of the work, Knorr interrogates the free-flowing space of modern architecture in Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, reintroducing life into a building’s modernist aesthetic.

Since a life-changing journey to India in 2008, Karen Knorr’s work explores Rajput and Mughal cultural heritage. India Song, a series of carefully crafted photographs, explores the past and its relation to India’s contemporary heritage sites across Rajasthan. The work studies cultural heritage and its relationship to both feminine subjectivity and the restrictions that civilization place on our personal freedoms.

Knorr’s photographs, taken as a whole, are part real, part imagined, and part dream. They have a beauty, a power, and a mystery that makes them captivating.

Click here to watch Knorr’s video >

June 23, 2020

Simple Pleasures is a new series curated by Holden Luntz Gallery, presenting ten of our favorite pictures organized thematically.

We hope you find these photographs as a gentle reminder that there are always simple pleasures to be found.

View images >

June 20, 2020

“Fashion is an expression of the times. Elegance is something else again.”

Horst P. Horst was a pioneer of the genre now known as classic fashion photography who produced distinctive, elegant work that made him one of the leading fashion photographers of the mid-20th century.

In the video Horst P. Horst, 1981 made available on YouTube, we are presented with a rare interview with legendary photographer Horst P. Horst. Interviewed by Barbara Lee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Horst answers questions for the television program Visions and Images: American Photographers on Photography. Horst reminisces while recalling studying under LeCorbusier, being an assistant for Hoyningen-Huene, and working under Conde Nast. In this intriguing video, we have the privilege of hearing one of history’s greatest photographers speak about his career in his own words.

The video, Horst: Photographer of Style available on YouTube, surveys curators, magazine editors, models, and people close to Horst who speak of his extraordinary talent and the significant influence of his work. The video also explores the archives at Conde Nast, where we see prints from Horst’s 60-year career as a photographer. This video, as well as the Victoria & Albert museum retrospective, is a testament to the power and influence of Horst as a great artist.

Born Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann in 1906 Germany, Horst P. Horst studied architecture and later apprenticed with modernist icon Le Corbusier in Paris. Through his studies Horst learned the principles of design and visual organization. Horst would rely on this knowledge and use its lessons in his photography. While in Paris, he traded architecture for photography. Horst’s architecture training imbued him with patience, attention to detail, and an eye for perfection. These attributes guided him through his painstaking process of organizing photographic sessions.

Fashion photographer, George Hoyningen-Huene, who further sharpened his vision, mentored him and by 1931 he was shooting for French Vogue and then in British Vogue in 1932, thanks to art director Mehemed Agha. He incorporated the influence that modernism and surrealism had on the art world into his photographs. At that time he also photographed such celebrities as Greta Garbo, Coco Chanel, Joan Crawford, and Katherine Hepburn.

In 1939, Horst made one of his most famous works, Mainbocher Corset. Shot the night he fled Europe, he packed up his equipment with many of his negatives and boarded the Normandie. After that, the German army invaded France. This photograph, that presented the back of a woman wearing an unraveling corset, is representative of the elegance and fragility of beauty in the face of destruction. It has become an icon for its beauty, mysterious sensuality, and masterful use of light, shadows, and the tonal complex range of black and white composition. It is a monumental photograph.

“It was the last photograph I took in Paris before the war. I left the studio at 4:00 a.m., went back to the house, picked up my bags and caught the 7:00 a.m. train to Le Havre to board the Normandie. We all felt that war was coming. Too much armament, too much talk. And you knew that whatever happened, life would be completely different after. I had found a family in Paris, and a way of life. The clothes, the books, the apartment, everything was left behind. I had left Germany, Huene had left Russia, and now we experienced the same kind of loss all over again. This photograph is peculiar – for me, it is the essence of that moment. While I was taking it, I was thinking of all that I was leaving behind.”

That same year he moved to the United States and became a citizen changing his name to Horst P. Horst. He struggled to find work until he was hired by the fashion magazine Vogue. He soon was immersed in the world of the New York glitterati, and, along with his fashion work, he became acclaimed for his portraits of the powerful and the famous. Horst’s fashion pictures were characterized by the elegance and sophistication of the compositions, rather than the celebrity status of the models.

Horst’s classic photography would establish a new standard for elegance and style beginning in the 1960s. He would continue to work at Vogue and for many other magazines, including Life. His photographs are collected in numerous museums throughout the world. Contemporaries such as Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Herb Ritts and Helmut Newton have all acknowledged learning from Horst. His work continues to exemplify the highest standards of perfection for both contemporary photographers and collectors to this day.
“Horst may not have revolutionized photography but he certainly perfected it…The combination of judicious poses and bearings, sparse accessories and simple but skillful lighting is typical of what is often described as Horst’s illusionist talent…He leaves, however, the ideal world that he creates as fiction, as the projection of an ideal conception of beauty. His beauty is distant, cool, and unapproachable, erotic and seductive, but only as a figment of the mind.” – Reinhold Mißelbeck, 20th Century Photography.

 

V&A Horst: Photographer of Style >

Visions and Images: American Photographers on Photography >

June 16, 2020

Simple Pleasures is a new series curated by Holden Luntz Gallery, presenting ten of our favorite pictures organized thematically.

We hope you find these photographs as a gentle reminder that there are always simple pleasures to be found.

View images >

June 13, 2020

Cathleen Naundorf creates fine art photographs that use haute couture creations in dream-like settings with an elegant and Old World aesthetic.

For the art director and fashion photographer, documentary representation is less important than an overall atmospheric, pictorial effect. The unique haute couture designs in Naundorf’s work result from privileged access to the archives of premier haute couture houses. Chanel, Dior, Valentino, Lacroix, Armani, Saab, and Gaultier have all opened their doors to Naundorf. As the artistic director for each of her shoots, she constructs interesting “mise-en-scenes.” These mise-en-scenes take place in either historic, cultural, architectural, or garden settings in cities around the world. Naundorf ultimately creates mysterious and beautiful tableaus and photographs them with a painterly pigmented saturation.

In the following videos available on YouTube and Vimeo, the viewer gets a glimpse at the process behind Cathleen Naundorf’s extraordinary fashion photographs.

Cathleen Naundorf photographs 1930s French Couture, is a short video made available by the Victoria & Albert Museum. In this video, the V&A invites the artist to use gowns from the museum’s collection to create photographs using her distinctive vision. Naundorf speaks of haute couture and the significance of the museum’s vintage clothes. Additionally, Naundorf explains her thought process while creating pictures that seem capable of transporting the viewer to a different time.

In “Secret Times” Fotografiska Museum, by Moon Man Studios, we see the Fotografiska museum preparing for Naundorf’s haute couture exhibition. The video features the founder of Fotografiska, Jan Broman, and Naundorf, who speak about the creation of the show. This insightful video underlines the technical brilliance and visual fantasy that Naundorf is capable of creating.

Since the 1990s, Naundorf has found a photographic process that is painterly and sculptural and highlights the unpredictable beauty and uniqueness of the haute couture she documents. She has, up until recently, used an analog large-format camera by Deardorff or Plaubel along with Polaroid material or film. Unlike other fashion photographers who utilize Polaroids as preliminarily visual studies, Naundorf uses them as the final image. After all, she hand prints her black and white photographs as silver gelatin photographs and develops her color pictures as chromogenic prints.

A further defining trademark of Naundorf’s work is that she created her unique technique of Polaroid transfer. This technique gives the print’s surfaces a quality that includes various markings and irregular abraded patches of color. The final photographs are vibrant with the saturated color and particular surface densities that are typical in one of a kind Polaroids. Naundorf deliberately creates a visual patina to suggest the passing of time. The images appear to have had a past life belonging perhaps to a “grand age” of elegance and design. She has found a way of capitalizing on the creations of the Great Masters of 20th-century fashion with an imaginative and unique way of bringing the work to life by also suspending the work in elegant, mysterious, and temporal settings.

Cathleen Naundorf was born in the divided Germany of 1968. Her home of Weißenfels was the same hometown as influential photographer and eventual mentor, Horst P. Horst, who she consistently references in her work. Although she grew up in East Germany, Naundorf was able to move to Munich to study painting and photography. She apprenticed as a photographic assistant in New York, Singapore, and Paris. Consequently, she would be commissioned by Glamour and Vogue and quickly become one of their leading fashion photographers. She brought with her a steady sense of intelligence and elegance to the world of fashion photography. Naundorf’s reputation grew in 2005 when she began her series on haute couture with the cooperation of haute couture houses. She published these images in the book Haute Couture: The Polaroids of Cathleen Naundorf, published by Prestel in 2012. Naundorf worked privately with Valentino Garavani on several projects with some examples published in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, W, among others. Her most recent book, Women of Singular Beauty Chanel Haute Couture, is a collaboration between the house of Chanel and herself.

She’s had numerous exhibitions in Germany, the UK, Spain, and the USA. Cathleen Naundorf won the American Photography Award in 2016. She lives in Paris and continues to place her faith in the dramatic power of pure beauty and elegance.

“People often ask me what first inspires me when I get an idea for a shoot…In this case, I had everything: the amazing looks, the models, the idea, and the type of location I wanted, which was a kind of all powder white and completely unique place, but we could not find it. Finally, after three years, we discovered the last ‘stucrateur’ [plasterer] in Paris. It was an atelier du style! I was overwhelmed by the location. Big plaster statues standing around, pieces of antique flowers, casting bowls, old panels, and white dust; my powder everywhere! When I arrived on the day of the shoot, I saw big trucks from the House of Dior because some dresses were so large that they needed whole cars. It was quite fun. La fille en plâtre, The Girl in Plaster, had finally found her place.”

 

“Secret Times”, Fotografiska Museum Video >

Victoria and Albert Museum Video >

June 9, 2020

Simple Pleasures is a new series curated by Holden Luntz Gallery, presenting ten of our favorite pictures organized thematically.

We hope you find these photographs as a gentle reminder that there are always simple pleasures to be found.

View images >

June 6, 2020

“I would say that essentially photography is my hobby. At the same time, my profession and it’s a good thing that they use the same materials. It makes it quite convenient.”

Among celebrated photographers, no other became as well known for their sense of humor as Elliott Erwitt. Often bringing about smiles and sometimes outright laughter in viewers, Erwitt’s images create delightful moments through the use of visual wit. Erwitt’s puns usually join together seemingly disparate elements to make spontaneous flashes of comedy. Creating an informal style that is uniquely his own, Erwitt became an uncanny observer of others. 

In the following video, At home with Elliott Erwitt, available on Vimeo, we learn some history behind Elliott Erwitt’s influential career. Filmed in New York, Elliott Erwitt discusses joining the Magnum photography agency and meeting Edward Steichen, Robert Capa, and Roy Stryker. While the footage presents Erwitt’s most famous pictures and interior views of his studio, the photographer speaks on the trajectory of his career. Erwitt recalls beginning his career with Magnum and of the positive impact of keeping the copyright to his work. On how viewers find his work funny. Additionally, he speaks of working on a book a year and the pleasure of seeing his published prints.

Erwitt was born in Paris in 1928 and spent his childhood in Milan before moving to the United States in 1939. The son of Jewish immigrants, Erwitt, lived in NYC for two years before attending high school and college in Los Angeles. While in Los Angeles, he was first exposed to photography in a commercial photography studio. Then he went on to study filmmaking and photography at Los Angeles City College. In 1949, he returned to Europe to pursue artistic photography, where he traveled around France and Italy. In 1951, Erwitt was drafted in the U.S. Army and again took the opportunity to photograph Europe, specifically France and Germany. 

Erwitt eventually returned to New York, where he was to settle and met Robert Capa, Edward Steichen, and Roy Stryker, who would become guiding mentors for Erwitt. Stryker was the director of the Farm Security Association’s photography department, and he hired Erwitt to work on a photography project for Standard Oil. Erwitt would then start a freelance photography career working for such publications as LIFE, Look, and Collier’s. Early in his career, as a young Magnum photographer, he recorded many of the 20th century’s most meaningful events. He captured people such as Marilyn Monroe, Nikita Khrushchev, Richard Nixon, and Che Guevara. Robert Capa would later induct Erwitt into Magnum Photos, and Erwitt would serve as president of the organization for three terms starting in 1968. 

Being highly alert to the visible surprises in life, Erwitt possessed a deep appreciation of the moment and is skillful at capturing it. Fellow Magnum photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson believed: 

 “Elliott has to my mind achieved a miracle-working on a chain-gang of commercial campaigns and still offering a bouquet of stolen photos with flavor, a smile from his deeper self.”

Erwitt’s informal and ironic photographic style became his unique aesthetic. Elliott Erwitt became renowned as an uncanny observer of humanity and the human condition. His photographs captured the joyful bliss of the unexpected turns and quirky outcomes in life. Thus with humor and wit, his photographs elevated the sense of art in photography. Erwitt’s body of work helped position photography not only as a documentary enterprise but as one that could also capture the at times uplifting nuance of life.

Click here to watch Erwitt’s video >

June 2, 2020

Simple Pleasures is a new series curated by Holden Luntz Gallery, presenting ten of our favorite pictures organized thematically.

We hope you find these photographs as a gentle reminder that there are always simple pleasures to be found.

View images >

May 30, 2020

“I tell you, the thing I’ve always been amazed at is looking into a camera lens at someone, and they just change. All of a sudden you see something, and you’re not sure if you discuss it because you’re not sure if you’re drunk or….”

Innovative and unapologetic, Brian Duffy was one of the three photographers who defined the look of London’s ‘Swinging Sixties.’ Together with David Bailey and Terence Donovan, they were affectionately named by Norman Parkinson as the ‘Black Trinity’ and were elevated to celebrity status and known only by their surnames. Duffy’s work contributed to the advancement of fashion photography by breaking from the protocol of the well-established, stuffy 1950s fashion aesthetic. Willing to take chances, Brian Duffy helped usher in a dynamic and creative energy that documented the vibrancy of the “Swinging Sixties” London scene, ultimately becoming one of the world’s most respected photographers.

Duffy – The Man Who Shot the Sixties, the BBC documentary made available by the Duffy Archive on Vimeo, highlights the career of the iconic photographer Brian Duffy, considered one of the most influential photographers of the “School of English photographers” from London’s “Swinging Sixties.” We begin this documentary by seeing the legendary Duffy prepare for his return to the studio after leaving photography 30 years prior. With a portfolio that includes the likes of David Bowie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brigitte Bardot, Sidney Poitier, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Sammy Davis Jr., and three Pirelli calendars, Duffy did the unthinkable and quit the profession at the height of his success. In the video, a now older Duffy recalls his experience establishing himself as a cutting-edge fashion photographer of the 60s and 70s in London. With narration by Duffy’s contemporaries, he reunites with a prominent model of the time and shares anecdotes while acknowledging and revealing thoughts on his later unimaginable decision to quit photography.

Brian Duffy was born in 1933 to Irish immigrant parents in East London. Growing up in a politicized household, Duffy’s parents were strict Catholics, who would raise the young Duffy in a working-class family environment. At the age of twelve, he was enrolled at a progressive school in South Kensington, run by the London County Council. Staffed by injured ex-servicemen, it aimed to introduce “problem children” to the arts. At the behest of school, Duffy went to art galleries, the opera, the ballet, and museums, and soon began to experiment with painting. In 1950 Duffy won a place at Central Saint Martin’s to study painting, but realizing his contemporaries were more talented, he switched courses to dress design. His understanding of fashion would reward him throughout his photographic career as he would have a more fundamental understanding of the principles of fashion, like the drape and fall of fabric and playing with proportions.

In 1957 Duffy started his photographic career at Vogue, a relationship that continued into the 1970s; however, he always claimed that he did his best fashion work with French Elle, where his creative and artistic freedom was allowed to flourish. When the Sunday Magazines were established and popularized, Duffy was a frequent contributor and continued his work with all of the major British and US glossy magazines. The surrealistic Benson & Hedges advertisements of the late ’70s and the groundbreaking Smirnoff campaign won Duffy acclaim and awards.

Duffy is perhaps best remembered for his collaboration with David Bowie in addition to his fashion and portraiture work. He shot five sessions with Bowie; the most recognized is the Aladdin Sane album cover nicknamed the ‘Mona Lisa of Pop.’ In 2013, an image from the contact sheet was chosen as the iconic image for the worldwide touring Victoria & Albert museum’s exhibition ‘David Bowie Is’.

Duffy was an eclectic and innovative photographer and one of the few photographers to have shot three Pirelli calendars (the first in 1965 and two more in 1973 for different divisions.) Since the inception of the archive in 2008, Duffy’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide and is highly collectible. Recently he was voted one of the top 100 most influential photographers of all time and well thought of as a ‘photographer’s photographer.’ By watching the Duffy – The Man Who Shot the Sixties documentary, we get a closer look at and understand the highly innovative and bold photographer who was such an independent creative powerhouse, he literally and figuratively set ablaze his own permanent contribution to the world of fashion imaging.

Click here to watch: DUFFY, The Man Who Shot the Sixties >

May 28, 2020

William Gottlieb pictures from “the Golden Age of Jazz”

“It is America’s music, born out of a million American negotiations…That could only have happened in an entirely new world. It is an improvisational art, making itself up as it goes along, just like the country that gave it birth. It rewards individual expression but demands selfless collaboration. It is forever changing but nearly always rooted in the blues. It has a rich tradition and its own rules, but it is brand new every night.” – Jazz: a film by Ken Burns

As one of the most significant photographers at the epicenter of the golden age of jazz, William Gottlieb’s seminal photographs serve as evidence of the rise of jazz as an invaluable American tradition and preserves these unrepeatable moments for the annals of history. Since the late 1930s, Gottlieb’s pictures of jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and Charlie Parker have been in circulation as some of the best photographs of the giants of modern jazz. The pictures created an almost mythical record of these performers that shaped not only a sound but a cultural movement that would change the world.

William Gottlieb was born in Brooklyn in 1917. He grew up in the NYC metro area and studied economics at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. While in school, Gottlieb worked for the school newspaper, eventually becoming editor-in-chief while also starting a jazz column for the Washington Post. This column created one of the first newspaper features devoted to jazz and acted as a platform that allowed Gottlieb to develop his remarkable potential in photojournalism. Since the Washington Post could not afford to pay for photos for Gottlieb’s jazz column, he decided to purchase a press camera and begin taking pictures himself. Gottlieb learned how to use a camera with the help of the Post’s staff, and since photography supplies were expensive, Gottlieb moderated his photos to a few shots per show, crafting carefully composed portraits of the musicians he was covering. Because Gottlieb shot on his own accord, the paper decided Gottlieb could keep his negatives. This development began a collection of photographs that would even be used for many materials promoting jazz, including posters and album covers, but that most importantly became a crucial archive for the history of jazz.

Gottlieb was present at the intersection of jazz’s growing impact on culture.
“He was there when Willie “The Lion” Smith performed at the Howard Theater in Washington; at Eddie Condon’s club when a typical lineup included Pee Wee Russell, Max Kaminsky, and Wild Bill Davison; with Satchmo and the Duke, who towered above the rest of the jazz world; and along 52nd Street in New York, the liveliest spot in jazz during much of the Golden Age.” – The Golden Age of Jazz.

Jazz has influenced the deepest reaches of American culture, extending from a language of music to a cultural phenomenon. Three of the greatest jazz legends, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Louis Armstrong were immortalized through Gottlieb’s camera lens. To catch them in their milieu and entranced in performance was a privilege not afforded to many photographers. Gottlieb had total respect for them, as well as their art form. For one art form to find a meeting place in another is only capable when there is an organic flow in forms of expression. Gottlieb was there with intelligence, skill, enthusiasm, and respect to record a living history.

Gottlieb eventually retired from photographing the jazz world and moved on to work for an educational film company adjacent to the DownBeat magazine offices from which he took his first jazz pictures. His pictures from the late 30’s to the 40’s encompass the golden years of jazz. Although there are only a limited number of his signed photographs in the world, they encapsulate a unique period in American music, one that Gottlieb would capture with a passion and respect for this profoundly American art form, jazz. These photographs exemplify the “coolness” and “hipness” that great jazz photography conveys in its unique capacity.

Click here for more works by Gottlieb >

May 26, 2020

Simple Pleasures is a new series curated by Holden Luntz Gallery, presenting ten of our favorite pictures organized thematically.

We hope you find these photographs as a gentle reminder that there are always simple pleasures to be found.

View images >

May 20, 2020
“Really, what my work is about is to try and create a thinking space but also a kind of space one can slide into and disappear into and perhaps not come back from. I want the thing which appears to kind of come with a grace and a simplicity as if it’s always been there, and for me, that should be an aspiration as if it’s just emerged into the world.”

Garry Fabian Miller is one of the most uniquely forward-thinking photographers. The evolution of his art practice from landscape work into ‘camera-less’ photography captures the essence of photography and ultimately expands the creative possibilities of the medium. Known for working meticulously within the confines of his darkroom, Fabian Miller creates immersive, transcendent compositions that appear to glow and palpitate in place, creating works of art that free the imagination by their sheer magnitude and rich chromatic values. By physically directing light through a variety of translucent materials, Fabian Miller’s crafted exposures attempt to capture the aura of color and light itself.

In this short film entitled: Camera-less photography: Garry Fabian Miller, created for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s “Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography” exhibition, the photographer describes some of the sources of inspiration behind his work, from the observation of nature to his method of experiencing the landscape. In this revealing and insightful short film, we hear Fabian Miller speaks about his conscious experience of the environment and how his photographic practice is a poetic response to the rhythms and patterns of the nature that surrounds him.

Garry Fabian Miller video created by the Edinburgh Film Company illustrates the collaboration between the artist and the Dovecot Tapestry Studios. In the video, we see Garry Fabian Miller working in his Dartmoor studio, demonstrating how his luminescent exposures are created. The video shows the white walls of the studio as well as the darkroom space, becoming an extension of the artist’s mind. The video displays the artist’s mark-making, light tracing, and taping on the walls, all indicative of the handcrafted method Fabian Miller uses to create his pictures.

Garry Fabian Miller was born in Bristol, England, in 1957. His parents ran a portrait studio, so his interest in photography developed at an early age. Beginning in his teenage years, Fabian Miller used photography as a tool for documentary projects. As he began to take an interest in the light and color of the rural landscape, the artist gave up conventional photography with a camera over 30 years ago to explore his interests in space, form, color, and light, investigating the possibilities of time and space through the organic process of ‘camera-less’ photography. Working from a remote South West corner of England, Garry Fabian Miller started producing photographs by passing light through diaphanous objects and liquids onto light-sensitive paper. Fabian Miller effectively paints with light, more akin to the interest of lyrical painters than conventional photographers. He builds composite images through multiple, calculated exposures that range from thirty seconds to twenty hours. The Ilfochrome and Cibachrome photographic paper contains dyes that react to the exposures, pushing the limitations of his materials to reveal qualities of light and color that reflect Fabian Miller’s thoughtful interpretations inspired by the region’s environmental properties.

His work is held in many private and public collections including Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France; Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio, USA; Deutsche Morgan Grenfell; Fidelity, London, UK; The Fogg Art Museum, Boston, USA; The Gillman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA; Goldman Sachs, UK; Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, UK; Hiscox PLC; Houston Museum of Fine Arts, USA; Sir Elton John Collection; Museet for Fotokunst, Odense, Denmark; Kasama Nichido Museum of Art, Tokyo, Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, Orkney, UK; Museum Ritter, Waldenbuch, Germany; Victoria & Albert Museum, UK.

Garry Fabian Miller shares love and fascination with the beautiful chromatic qualities of visible light that connect him to other groundbreaking artists such as James Turrell, Dan Flavin, and Mark Rothko, among others. His trajectory as a photographer, from detailed photograms of plant objects to crafted light exposures, is a beautiful, comprehensive path towards abstraction, resembling a clarity akin to Mondrian’s abstraction of painting and the almost spiritual, resonating sublimity of Malevich. In simpler terms, Garry Fabian Miller can capture, with his unique art form, the vital, universal, and intrinsic energies that live through him and his environment.

Click on the links below to watch Fabian-Miller’s videos:

 

May 19, 2020

Simple Pleasures is a new series curated by Holden Luntz Gallery, presenting ten of our favorite pictures organized thematically.

We hope you find these photographs as a gentle reminder that there are always simple pleasures to be found.

View images >

May 16, 2020

“What we’ve loved in Africa is that body painting is really like a celebration. People have an amazing amount of excitement and energy around body painting. For them, it’s life-affirming, it’s spontaneous, it’s transforming, and it’s also the signature of being alive.”

In this presentation for National Geographic entitled Painted Bodies of Africa, photographers Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher recall their many stories of anthropological travel as they document some of the oldest visual traditions and ceremonies in the African continent. Both Beckwith and Fisher, who have worked hand in hand for decades, talk extensively about their passion for photography, for the preservation of culture, and unexpected and uplifting human moments while on the road. 

For the photographers, the pursuit of documenting the ancient visual traditions of Africa is of fundamental value. Africa is the historical and geographical epicenter of humankind, providing the underlying common thread in the essence of our human development. With the Nat Geo presentation, Beckwith and Fisher pay particular attention on body painting practices, one of the oldest art forms in Africa that date back to as far as 100 thousand years. The photographers recall their stories of gathering a mule train to reach the Surma during courtship season, meeting the Himba people in the oldest desert in the world, and traveling 700 miles to meet the Woddabe nomads of the Sahel, decorating themselves for the all-male beauty and charm courtship contests.  

Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher each have over 40 years of field experience photographing Africa, creating pictures that are part ethnographic studies and part compelling works of art. In their quest to document tribal rituals and ceremonies in Africa, before their disappearance due to clashes with contemporary culture, the photographers managed to gain unparalleled access to some of the continent’s most remote areas. At times they had to wait as much as 12 years for permission to record seldom occurring ceremonies in previously unreachable tribal lands. Beckwith and Fisher gained access to secluded cultures through a mutual sense of intimacy, openness, and a profound wish to preserve the ceremonial heritage of the world’s oldest civilizations.  They have consistently been both ethnographers and artists.

As children head for the cities, the rapid pace of change on the continent has given their work notable urgency. Even as the pair continues to find new cultures to document, they estimate that about 40 percent of the rites and ceremonies they have documented  have already disappeared into the mists of history.  Beckwith, from Boston, and Fisher, from Adelaide, Australia, have published books individually but the majority of their work has been coauthored.  They have traveled more than 270,000 miles together, enduring every conceivable hardship in pursuit of their images.  For instance, permission to visit the Kuba kingdom came after 12 years of trying. When they eventually arrived, the duo met children who had never seen a white face before.

Their extraordinary photographs are recorded in sixteen best-selling books and their films. “Painted Bodies” (2012) follows “Maasai” (1980), “Nomads of Niger” (1983), “Africa Adorned” (1984), “African Ark” (1990), “African Ceremonies” (1999), “Passages” (2000), “Faces of Africa” (2004), “Lamu: Kenya’s Enchanted Island” (2009), and “Dinka” (2010). The special limited-edition books, hand printed in Santiago, Chile, are titled “Surma,” “Karo,” “Maasai,” and “Dinka.” 

“African Ceremonies,” and “African Twilight” their 2 defining body of work, are double volumed , pan-African study of rituals and rites of passage from birth to death, covering 93 ceremonies from 26 countries. “African Ceremonies”  won the United Nations Award for Excellence for “vision and understanding of the role of cultural traditions in the pursuit of world peace.”

Beckwith and Fisher’s work has been exhibited in museums around the world. They have had comprehensive exhibitions at such institutions as the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the National Geographic Museum, the Smithsonian Museum of African Art, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. They have made four films that also express their interest in and love for Africa. Beckwith and Fisher received the Award of Excellence from the United Nations Society of Writers and Artists “for vision and understanding of the role of cultural traditions in the pursuit of world peace,” and were especially honored by Kofi Annan in 1999. WINGS have also awarded them the distinguished Lifetime Award. Beckwith and Fisher are passionate about completing the record of Africa’s quickly disappearing cultural rituals. The photographic duo wants to leave a legacy for future generations and make sure these cultural ceremonies as well as their underlying  values are preserved  into the 21st-century.

In a globalized world that seems less keen on respecting tradition in exchange for technology and modernity, the dedication to preserving humanity’s cultural arenas is an honorable, necessary, and arduous task. This enlightening National Geographic presentation helps to gain a deeper understanding of the value of photography as a record for preserving history. Beckwith and Fisher’s photographs underline the potential for the human body to become a vessel for the cultural and historical preservation of human narratives.

Click the link to watch Beckwith & Fisher’s video >

May 13, 2020

“My studio was like a Renaissance studio of the past. We built everything from the raw material to the finished product. We built the sets in house; Painted and decorated, developed, and printed the images, the client got the finished product. The studio was made up of people I trained. If you tried to do the Paris 1963 bubble shoot, it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars today; not to mention the exorbitant cost of the insurance. We shipped all of the bubble elements and my studio crew Paris.”

In this video presentation and behind the scenes footage available on YouTube, we get a thorough look at the life and work of influential fashion photographer Melvin Sokolsky. Innovative and determined, Melvin Sokolsky is renowned for his inventive use of daring and unique approaches in fashion photography, which ultimately expanded the creative potential of the genre and the medium. 

The informative video presentation highlights many of the important photographs and series that shaped Melvin Sokolsky’s career. The video emphasizes the reasons Sokolsky was so influential in the world of fashion photography and illustrates how his work helped revolutionize the art of fashion photography beginning in the 1960s. The video attests to Sokolsky’s commitment to his creative vision by showing work from fashion print media to directing commercials.

In the second video, we gain access to rare color footage that shows the making of Melvin Sokolsky’s prominent bubble series. Presenting film crew and cast members, (like the Golden Globe-winning actress Ali MacGraw before her big-screen success,) and several of the shoot locations, the footage offers a different perspective of the moments before and after the iconic photographs are created. The cheery playfulness and complicated undertaking of creating the series seen in the video provide insight into the demanding preparation necessary to embark on Sokolsky’s visionary project.  

Born and raised in New York City, Melvin Sokolsky was never formally trained as a photographer; instead, he learned the art of photography through a trial and error approach at a young age using his father’s box camera and relied on conversations with advertising photographers for his mentorship. As one of his earliest memories, Sokolsky recalls his father showing him an image of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, a painting that would impact and influence the young Melvin. Confined to a bed with a fever as a child, Sokolsky would have recurring dreams of traveling above exotic lands in a spherical bubble, similar to the one depicted in the middle panel of a Garden of Earthly Delights.

Sokolsky’s bold ideas and experimental approach to fashion photography assignments working for magazines like Harper’s Bazaar and Esquire went against the grain of 1950s studio photography. He created poetic illusions that appeared to defy gravity and highlighted the enormous potential for allure and magic in image-making, predating the idea of photoshop and changing the course of fashion photography.  

 In the 1960s, Sokolsky used his original vision to create two astounding series of photographs that have become iconic images in the history of fashion photography. Sokolsky’s Bubble and Fly series depicted a model floating within a bubble through the streets of Paris and New York as well as appearing to “fly” inside of restaurants and above the rooftops of Paris. In his series, Sokolsky defies gravity by displaying the model, Simone D’Aillencourt, airborne within the bubble, becoming an embodiment of grace and beauty, untouchable in her world, mesmerizing her observers as well as the modern viewer. 

Melvin Sokolsky’s photographs remain as remarkable more than half a century later. His innovative images made before the standardization of digital editing continue to influence the cover pages of magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, and his work is still inspirational to a new generation of photographers.

Click links below to watch Sokolsky’s videos:

Video 1 >

Video 2 >

May 9, 2020

“With still photography, with one single picture, you have the opportunity like a painter has of warping the space. I started to take some of the ideas that I had about space, warping the space, what do you see first? This idea of filing up the space, horror vacui is called in the Roman language …means fear of empty space, so the idea that nature abhors a vacuum. So anytime there is any kind of openness or emptiness, something will fill that emptiness, that’s the philosophical background. For me, I just loved the fun of it the activity of finding all of these things, working with these things.” 

As part of their monthly photographer guest speaker series, the New York Film Academy hosts photographer and installation artist Sandy Skoglund for a special guest lecture and Q&A. Sandy Skoglund is an internationally acclaimed artist whose work explores the intersection between sculpture, installation art, and photography. Her large-format photographs of the impermanent installations she creates have become synonymous with bending the ordinary perception of photography since the 1970s. Her constructed scenes often consist of tableaux of animals alongside human figures interacting with bright, surrealist environments. Skoglund’s blending of different art forms, including sculpture and photography to create a unique aesthetic, has made her into one of the most original contemporary artists of her generation. 

In this lecture, Sandy Skoglund shares an in-depth and chronological record of her background, from being stricken with Polio at an early age to breaking boundaries as a conceptual art student and later to becoming a professional artist and educator. She shares her experiences as a university professor, moving throughout the country, and how living in a mobile home shaped her art practice through photographs, sketches, and documentation of her work. This delightfully informative guest lecture proves to be an insightful, educational experience especially useful for students of art and those who wish to understand the practical and philosophical evolution of an artist’s practice. 

Sandy Skoglund was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts. She studied art history and studio art at Smith College in North Hampton, Massachusetts, later pursuing graduate studies at the University of Iowa. While moving around the country during her childhood, Skoglund worked at a snack bar in the Tomorrowland section of Disneyland and later in the production line of Sanders Bakery in Detroit, decorating cakes for birthdays and baby showers. These experiences were formative in her upbringing and are apparent in the consumable, banal materials she uses in her work. Experimenting with repetition and conceptual art in her first year living in New York in 1972, Skoglund would establish the foundation of her aesthetic. Using repetitive objects and carefully conceived spaces, bridging artifice with the organic and the tangible to the abstract. 

Skoglund has often exhibited in solo shows of installations and photographs as well as group shows of photography. Esteemed institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Chicago Art Institute, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum in New York all include Skoglund’s work. She is a recipient of the Koopman Distinguished Chair in the Visual Arts for Hartford Art School, the Trustees Award for Excellence from Rutgers University, the New York State Foundation for the Arts individual grant, and the National Endowment for the Arts individual grant.

Sandy Skoglund has created a unique aesthetic that mirrors the massive influx of images and stimuli apparent in contemporary culture. She painstakingly creates objects for their part in a constructed environment. The work begins as a project that can take years to come to completion as the handmade objects, influenced by popular culture, go through an evolution. Skoglund organizes her work around the simple elements from the world around us. Cheese doodles, popcorn, French fries, and eggs are suddenly elevated into the world of fine art where their significance as common materials is reimagined. The carefully crafted environments become open-ended narratives where art, nature, and domestic spaces collide to explore the things we choose to surround ourselves within society. Skoglund treats the final phase in her project as a performance piece that is meticulously documented as a final large-format photograph from one specific point of view. A full-fledged artist whose confluence of the different disciplines in art gives her an unparalleled aesthetic, Skoglund ultimately celebrates popular culture almost as the world around us that we take for granted.

In this lecture, Sandy Skoglund explains her thought process as she creates impossible worlds where truth and fiction are intertwined and where the photographic gaze can be used as a tool to examine the cultural fascinations of modern America. 

Click here to watch Skoglund’s video >

May 6, 2020
“You try and guide them into the right space, where they will give you that intimate contact with the camera that will communicate something to the audience.”

In this Backstage Sessions video (published by WeTransfer,) we have a privileged behind the scenes look at celebrated Rock & Roll photographer Gered Mankowitz, as he recalls his experiences as a young photographer in the vibrant music scene of London’s Swinging Sixties. Deciding to become a music industry photographer from an early age, Mankowitz describes his process for capturing intimate, compelling photographs of Rock’s most influential stars, creating remarkable photoshoots with the Rolling Stones, Kate Bush, and Jimi Hendrix, to name a few. As Mankowitz narrates his process and ideas about photography, the viewer can attest to his contribution to the music industry; his photographs have ultimately resulted in iconic images and album covers from the history of Rock n’ Roll.

Mankowitz was born in London in 1946, the first of four sons to Wolf Mankowitz, an established film writer and producer, and Ann Mankowitz, a psychotherapist. Dropping out of school at the age of 15, Mankowitz began his career in photography and displayed an innate talent that would be discovered by notable photographer Tom Blau, who offered him an apprenticeship in his famous studio, Camera Press Ltd., where he would gain much experience. In 1962, his photography career took off. Still in his teens, he traveled to Barbados and began to work professionally on photography. Directly after this, he would go to Paris and start working in fashion photography. Uninterested in this area of work, Mankowitz began working under “show-biz” photographer Jeff Vickers.

After opening his first studio at 9 Mason’s Yard, in the cultural center of the London Swinging 60’s scene, Mankowitz began taking photographs of musicians, actors, and show people. Within a few months, Gered had already started to make a name for himself, and he was approached to photograph Marianne Faithful, who had just had a big hit with “As Tears Go By.” Through Marianne, he met the manager and producer Andrew Loog Oldham, and in 1965, Oldham asked Gered to photograph the Rolling Stones, who he also managed and produced.

This event was a significant turning point in Gered’s career; his image was selected as the cover for “Out of Our Heads” (U.S. title “December’s Children.”) Gered continued working with the Stones as their official photographer, producing photos for albums (“Between the Buttons”; “Got Live If You Want It!”; “Big Hits”; and several others.)

Through the ’60s, Gered continued to photograph many major artists including Free, Traffic, The Yardbirds, and through the ’70s with Slade, Suzi Quatro, Elton John, Eurythmics, and Duran Duran among others.

Over the last 20 years, Gered has been based at his North London studio, taking prize-winning photos for the advertising industry while being a regular contributor to several major publications and he still works occasionally in the music business photographing bands and singers. Gered has participated in many solo and group exhibitions around the globe, including having several images in the “Icons of Pop” exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery in London and has published many books of his iconic images.

For the past 50 years, Mankowitz’s photographs of Rock & Roll’s most celebrated figures have helped shape the image of the stars we idolize. Mankowitz’s ability to capture Rock & Roll’s most influential burgeoning musical acts helped define our conceptions of rockstars and cemented their importance as rebels and trailblazers of modern society. Mankowitz is currently working on an extensive film project, documenting the lives of music icons from the 60s forward.

 

Click here to watch Mankowitz’s video >

May 2, 2020
“What fascinates me is to connect with my subjects so that they will allow me to show something that’s below the sort of facade or surface that we all present in everyday life.”

For this edition of Meet Our Artists, we are highlighting the work of Joyce Tenneson by sharing videos by the Maine Media Workshop + College and Canon USA, as part of their series, Canon Explorers of Light. Joyce Tenneson is a photographer who, for decades, has used her photography to probe the vast depth of the human psyche; her portraits search for the inner essence of the individual’s she uses as subjects.

In the video by Canon USA, Tenneson speaks of her relationship with fine art photography, her travels in capturing portraits of women around the country, and her experiences as an educator of photography. In inspiring and straightforward fashion, the video follows Joyce Tenneson as she discusses the different ways she has been able to explore the human spirit using light, which is the basis of all photography.

In the Joyce Tenneson Visionary Award video, creative professionals such as the first Latino U.S inaugural poet Richard Blanco, prominent lecturer, and educator Sean Kernan, and art director and photographer Alissa Hessler speak of the impact that Tenneson’s work has had on their own experience. These professionals honor Tenneson’s resonant legacy as a visionary artist and her enlightened mentorship. In the video, Tenneson’s career is noted for its ability to inspire courage and conscientiousness for her peers and students alike.

Joyce Tenneson was born in Weston, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1945. Her childhood was spent living on the grounds of a convent where her parents worked. Joyce describes the environment she grew up in as mysterious- “something out of Fellini”- yet filled with symbolism, ritual, and beauty; aspects that are evident in her portraiture and in her visions of nature. With intense luminosity, Joyce’s work embodies a soul that brings her photographs to life. 

Tenneson’s human portraits go beyond a surface recording of her subject’s likeness. Her work is a combination of portraiture and mythology; she is interested in discovering the archetypes of our being. Her signature images attempt to show the inner person often inaccessible behind the facade. Before creating her portraits, she learns as much as she can about her subjects, trying to get a sense of their history. Tenneson tries to open herself to their universe – to discover some inner essence that helps crystallize their uniqueness. She also photographs flowers in much the same spirit as she does people. Tenneson records the physical aspects of their beauty, along with the emotional dimensions of their being. She sees flowers not as mere decorations, but as distinct personalities and living entities that go through birth life and death just as humans. 

Tenneson is among the most respected photographers of our time and has been described critically as “one of America’s most interesting portrayers of the human character.” Her work has been shown in over 150 exhibitions worldwide and is part of numerous private and public museum collections. Her photographs have appeared on countless covers for magazines such as Time, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, Premiere, Esquire and The New York Times Magazine. Tenneson is the recipient of numerous awards, including the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award, for best-applied photography. She has been named “Photographer of the Year” by the international organization, Women in Photography. A poll conducted by American Photo Magazine voted Tenneson among the ten most influential women photographers in the history of photography.

The Canon and Maine Media Workshop videos present Joyce Tenneson as an influential photographer whose decades of experience have culminated in a remarkable body of work and an exceptional ability to create an impact among her peers. Tenneson’s capacity to try to give a visual dimension to the human soul as an ardent life force, as ethereal, luminous beings that transcend physicality, encourage anyone viewing her work to seek the light within human beings. In the words of seminal art historian Vicki Goldberg: “Tenneson possesses a unique vision which makes her photographs immediately recognizable. She creates enigmatic and sensuous images that are timeless and haunting.”

Click the links below to watch Tenesson’s videos:

The Joyce Tenneson Visionary Award >

Canon Explorers Of Light, Joyce Tenneson >

April 29, 2020
“Photography can be described as the recording of a single moment, frozen within a fraction of time. Each moment or photograph represents a tangible piece of our memories as time passes. But what if you could capture more than one moment in a photograph? What if a photograph could actually collapse time, compressing the best moments of the day and the night, seamlessly into one image?”
Delve into the world of Stephen Wilkes’s Day to Night series in this insightful TED Talk as the prominent artist presents his striking body of work. Day to Night explores using the creative possibilities of modern technology to present photography as never before, exploring the space-time continuum within a two-dimensional photograph.
In this articulate and fascinating talk, Stephen Wilkes lays out the origins and development of his remarkable series, as well as the demanding methodology and physical challenges required to make his final pictures. Throughout the TED Talk, we watch Stephen Wilkes speak with conviction about the transcendent influence of the Hudson River School on his work, the origin and practical nature of merging his images, and building photographs based on time. His painstakingly crafted panoramic images transcend the single moment of conventional photography and place Wilkes as one of the most original contemporary photographers on the international scene.
Since 1983, Wilkes has built an unprecedented body of work and a reputation as one of America’s most innovative photographers, widely recognized for his fine art, editorial, and commercial work. 
In 1996, Stephen Wilkes was commissioned by LIFE magazine to take a panoramic shot of the cast and crew of the film Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann. Once on location, Wilkes realized the set was square, prompting him to improvise for his shot. Influenced by previously studying David Hockney’s photographic collages, Wilkes decided to create a panoramic shot through different angles and later physically pasting them together to form a single image. Employing this technique, he was able to capture the lead actors, engaged in a hug in one shot, and kissing in the reflection of a nearby mirror in another. It’s here that Stephen Wilkes begins to bend time and maneuver the narrative in a way that would transform his methodology and shape a future path towards his acclaimed series.
Day to Night, Wilkes’ most defining project, began in 2009. These constructed landscapes, portrayed from a fixed camera recording images for up to 30 hours, capture the ephemeral as light passes in front of his lens over a full day. To create the final image, Wilkes blends a curated selection of his large-format photographs captured from a fixed position, frequently 40 feet in the air, into a single picture, which can take months to complete.
Wilkes’s defining achievement as an artist has been his surpassing photography’s ability to represent the instant by coalescing time and space into an extrapolated narrative. His calculated use of modern technology, the influence of the idealized naturalism of the Hudson River School in his work, and the overcoming of a myriad of technical as well as physical challenges needed to set up locations and make thousands of exposures to create a single final image are the reasons that set Stephen Wilkes apart. His photographic body of work in the Day to Night series generates serious conversation on the future of art, technology, and the environment. Wilkes is creating a body of work that will help redefine our understanding of the potential impact of photography in the 21st century.
April 25, 2020

​“I’m just at the beginning of my dream. I’m finally at the place now for myself where I feel my true voice has a potential of being expressed out in the world. At 78.”

In this engaging video profile created by 60 Minutes of photographer Norman Seeff, we get an inside look at the man responsible for taking some of the most candid and authentic pictures of famous public personalities during his renowned photographic sessions. Norman Seeff has been a coveted photographer and filmmaker for over 45 years, and his success has come after plenty of unexpected life turns. His move from his birthplace of South Africa to New York City during his youth fostered his intuitive search for creativity. It began a journey in the ability of the photographer to capture the stars at a human level.

The 60 Minutes video, which was broadcasted by CBS in 2017, offers a glimpse into the remarkable life of Norman Seeff. From recording a 22-year old John Travolta doing the hustle before the movie Saturday Night Fever to getting comfortable with Ray Charles as he casually talks and plays music. Or stumbling into Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe at a bar, and capturing the first pictures of Steve Jobs with his prototype of a Mac, the video shares fantastic footage of once in a lifetime experiences. 

Norman Seeff was born March 5, 1939, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Seeff graduated with honors in science and art at King Edward VII School in Johannesburg. At the age of 17, he was drafted as the youngest player in the South African national soccer league. Seeff qualified as a medical doctor in 1965. For three years, he worked in emergency medicine at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, focusing on the management of traumatic shock. In 1969, he immigrated to the United States to pursue his creative passions and artistic abilities.

Soon after arriving in New York, Seeff’s photographs of the people he encountered on the streets of Manhattan were discovered by the famed graphic designer, Bob Cato. Cato introduced Seeff to the world of album cover design and offered him his first major photographic assignment for The Band, which brought him immediate recognition. His early work also includes images of Robbie Robertson, Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol as well as other New York personalities. In 1971, Seeff spent a year as Professor of Photography at Bennington College in Vermont.

In 1972, on the recommendation of Cato, Seeff relocated to Los Angeles to become the creative director of United Artists Records. There his work in design and photography received multiple Grammy Award nominations. Three years later, he opened an independent studio on Sunset Boulevard. His photographic sessions soon became legendary and attracted audiences of 30-40 at each session, swelling to over 200 on some occasions. A combination of an actor’s workshop and a celebration of creative spontaneity, Seeff’s sessions were emotionally engaging experiences that resulted in many iconic images with leading artists and innovators of the time.

Seeff’s creative interaction with artists inspired him to film his sessions beginning with an Ike & Tina Turner session in 1975. Using the photo session as a vehicle for exploring the inner dynamics of the creative process with artists at work, Seeff has continued this process for over three decades. His film and tape archive of more than 400 shoots with musical artists, film directors, authors, television personalities, scientists, visionaries, and entrepreneurs provides a unique insight of artists and innovators in the act of creation.

The 60 Minutes video, which was broadcasted by CBS in 2017, offers a glimpse into the remarkable life of Norman Seeff. From professional soccer player, to doctor, to acclaimed “rock” photographer, he has persevered in the world of photography by way of open and honest conversations with his subjects. As artists speaking to one another, his sessions are distinguished by removing the layers of fame from his subjects while letting their inner personalities shine through. Seeff’s skill as a communicator emphasizes his ability to create an engaging environment for artists to share their creative process. In his famed sessions, the photographer captures the passion and essence of artists as they describe their experiences. Seeff’s work provides an unfiltered glimpse into the inner light of some of the world’s most cherished and respected creative personalities. 

Click to watch Seeff’s videos >

 

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April 22, 2020

“I take photographs to hold on to the ephemeral, capture chance, keep an image of something that will disappear, gestures, attitudes, objects that are reminders of our brief lives. The camera picks them up and freezes them at the very moment that they disappear.”

In a particularly timely video that shares the essence of Humanism, we encourage you to sit back and reminisce with Sabine Weiss, the remarkable and invaluable artist from a generation of photographers who dedicated their work to find and celebrate the simple moments of humanity. 

Weiss shares personal anecdotes and talks of finding a life’s purpose in pursuing photography in this video (made for Paris Photo). The Swiss-born nationalized French photographer is the last remaining practitioner of the French Humanists. The humanists are a genre characterized by spontaneous, candid, and emotionally engaging photographers that captured moments from everyday life, all strewn together through a focus on a universal underlying human nature.

Through a thick French accent and a warm personality, Sabine Weiss recounts starting her career in the world of photography, working with classic French icons like Brigitte Bardot, Jeanne Moreau, and Francois Sagan to capturing the everyday occurrences of the citizenry. She speaks of working in Gypsy communities, the role religion has on society and her work, and her love of capturing children at play. Weiss’s work crystallized the congeniality of the human experience. Her photographs recorded the aftermath of a city finding joy within itself, rekindling its spirit, while leaving the sadness and conflict of World War II behind. 

“You know, there is a period also from after the war, where people had been happier than now in Paris, with time to walk in the streets and take pictures from what we see, it is very simple. It is now good to know a bit of how it was before, more children on the street and people you know, doing things on the street.” 

Born in Switzerland, Weiss moved to Paris in 1946, where she first assisted fashion photographer Willy Maywald, learning much about composition and the technical aspects of photography. Her meeting with Robert Doisneau in 1952 in the offices of Vogue was decisive, as it led her to join the influential Rapho agency that would exhibit her work, and she signed a nine-year contract as a Vogue photographer. During that period, she would develop her permanent focus on humanity, making her one of the few reportage photographers whose work combined everyday poetry with sharp social observation. Weiss traveled the world and published a large number of reports in a range of magazines, such as TIME, Life, Newsweek, Town and Country, and Paris Match. In 1955, Edward Steichen selected three of her photographs for The Watershed Family of Man exhibition.  

For over sixty years, Sabine Weiss’s name has been synonymous with the seminal era of French Humanist photography. A living legend, with numerous prestigious one-person exhibitions held for her at major museums through the world, Weiss’s images from 1950s Paris speak of a postwar time when a feeling of hope and “joie de vivre” that could be felt in the people populating the city’s cafes, squares, streets, and in all corners throughout Paris. Weiss would photograph individuals going about their daily lives capturing their emotions and creating a style that combined spontaneity and informality, backed by the photographer’s intuition and a knack for seeing and celebrating the joys of life.  

“I love this constant dialogue between myself, my camera and my subject, which is what differentiates me from certain other photographers, who don’t seek this dialogue and prefer to distance themselves from their subject.”  

Sabine Weiss’s photographs, as with many of her Humanist counterparts, serve as an epilogue to the senseless suffering caused by war. With images that present a modern sense of equality and universal humanity, they create a new normal, making “joie de vivre” as the central tenant of the human condition.

Click to watch Weiss’ video >

April 18, 2020
“I have always been fascinated with large scale artwork, large scale photography, large scale paintings. I always enjoyed, since my early days in London, to visit galleries and be taken away from reality by seeing incredibly large-scale works.”

This video by London based Brazilian-German photographer, André Lichtenberg, introduces his Within Series, describing the bold nature and personal depth of his unique and immersive body of work. While standing with one of his photographs, Lichtenberg recalls his fascination with large-scale artworks and the childhood memories that influenced the creation of the Series.

In the video, Lichtenberg discusses creating his inverted cityscapes, which are made from hundreds of architectural photographs. These large-scale landscapes explore our understanding of famous cities like Paris, London, or New York City from different perspectives. Their inversion and meticulous detail evoke the effects memory has on our conceptions of place and use technology to craft a new method of representation for these historical urban compositions.

Lichtenberg was born in the south of Brazil to mixed European heritage. As a child, he grew up in the expansive urban architecture of Porto Alegre and frequently traveled with family, influencing his future work. Saying of his travels: “we had occasional trips to the seaside and hilly countryside, and I really enjoyed those landscapes… My father used to draw romantic European scenes in a very realistic style – mostly rural landscapes involving alpine-style mountains and lakes.” Lichtenberg recalls his architectural drawings made as a child, saying, “I used to draw buildings and cityscapes from a bird’s eye view as if I were on the rooftop of a very tall building or complex motorway junctions as seen from a helicopter. There was a sense of precision in those pictures, an almost mathematical precision.” His educational background in the sciences also influences his style, studying Civil Engineering before receiving degrees in the photographic arts and sciences.

“Another thing I remember in my childhood was the occurrence of small blackouts. You know, playing with my friends in the street and suddenly poof! A street generator would blow, and the whole city would darken itself up. Suddenly everything would get quiet; little radios plugged into the mains would go off. I remember a kind of certain magic around those blackouts. They would last a bit long, suddenly there would be little candles in city windows, in houses. Again, almost if the city was beginning to be lit from within.”

His project, Within Series, has been awarded two grants by the Arts Council England, selected for the Aesthetica Art Prize in the UK, and exhibited as a major solo show in Brazil. He has worked with publications such as the Sunday Times (London) and Le Monde (Paris). His images have been recognized with several international prizes and awards including the Aesthetica Art Prize, Renaissance Photography Prize, and AOP Awards, and exhibited in prestigious art spaces, including the Museu da Republica (Rio de Janeiro – Brazil), Centro Cultural Sao Paulo (Brazil), The Photographers Gallery and the Barbican Centre (London). In 2015, Lichtenberg was invited to collaborate with the Centre Pompidou/IRCAM in Paris. There he had one of his artworks from the Licht Series illustrating the cover of the festival catalog and a three-meter print displayed outside the famous Parisian building and square. His images have crafted their way into numerous international private and corporate collections.

Lichtenberg’s photographs recreate the city. We see the parts and the whole. In the finished picture, we sense an accumulation of energy acting to weave together the almost countless elements that these city landscapes contain. The large-scale composite renditions address issues of process, technology, and remembrance. The sheer process of presenting so much detailed information is perhaps a metaphor for extended dialogue. The parts of the whole all relate to one another either through form or subject. In his quest through memory and photography, Lichtenberg merges art and science to explore and expand on new ways of seeing.

 

Click to watch Lichtenberg’s video >

April 17, 2020

Herb Ritts, Madonna, Hollywood “True Blue”, 1986

“Madonna looks like an animated version of Marilyn Monroe, and dresses in this picture as if James Dean were her boyfriend. The habit of posing against pale, flat backgrounds had been established in the 1950s and 1960s by Irvin Penn and by Richard Avedon, and it often stood for victimhood. The subject had nowhere to go and had to make do with whatever resources of spirit the moment had to offer. Madonna’s acting is a response to that format, and an assertion that she is equal to the moment. The Warhol response of the 1970s had been one of impassivity, but Madonna – representative of new aesthetic – took a different approach, adapting and changing with the occasion. Herb Ritts, one of the best-known celebrity portraitists of the 1980s and 1990s, is specially associated with the magazine Rolling Stone, in which this portrait originally appeared.”

 

By Ian Jeffrey

The Photo Book

Phaidon Press Limited

April 15, 2020

“It’s absolutely essential that the creative force you have, your passion, your dreams, everything is piled onto that image.”

Informative, witty, and inspirational throughout, this presentation by one of the 20th most influential photographers of all time, Albert Watson, at Adobe MAX 2018, is an excellent introduction to his life and work. This live presentation by the photographer himself provides insight into the progression of his legendary career and tells behind the scenes stories for some of his most iconic images, including shooting Alfred Hitchcock as a young photographer, photographing King Tutankhamen’s artifacts, and capturing Mick Jagger with a leopard for Rolling Stone magazine.

As one of the most influential and prolific photographers today, Albert Watson is truly a master of photography. His work blends art, fashion, and commercial photography into memorable images that have created a lasting impact and shaped the fashion industry, the entertainment world, and fine art photography for 50 years.

“My focus initially was on advertising and editorial work. But then slowly but surely, I became interested in the fine art aspect.”

Born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, Albert studied graphic design at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, and film and television at the Royal College of Art in London. Having vision in only one eye since birth, Albert nonetheless studied photography as part of his curriculum. In 1970, he moved to the United States with his wife, Elizabeth, who got a job as an elementary school teacher in Los Angeles, where Albert began shooting photos, mostly as a hobby. Later that year, Albert met an art director at Max Factor, who offered him his first test session, from which the company bought two shots. Albert’s distinctive style eventually caught the attention of American and European fashion magazines such as Mademoiselle, GQ, and Harper’s Bazaar, which booked him for a shoot with Alfred Hitchcock, the first celebrity Albert ever photographed. Soon after, Albert began commuting between Los Angeles and New York, and in 1975, he won a Grammy for the photography on the cover of the Mason Proffit album “Come and Gone.” In 1976, Albert landed his first job for Vogue, and with his move to New York that same year, his career took off.

Over the years, Albert’s photographs have appeared on more than 100 covers of Vogue worldwide. They have been featured in countless other publications, from Rolling Stone to Time to Harper’s Bazaar, with many of the photos being iconic fashion shots or portraits of rock stars, rappers, actors, and other celebrities. Albert has created the photography for hundreds of ad campaigns for major companies such as Prada, the Gap, Levi’s, Revlon, and Chanel. He has shot dozens of movie posters such as “Kill Bill” and “Memoirs of a Geisha.” He has also directed more than 100 television commercials. Watson has exhibited at some of the most prestigious museums and galleries throughout the world, including in Milan, Vienna, Edinburgh, Antwerp, Stockholm, and New York, to name a few. He has published five books, including his latest “Kaos,” published by Taschen in the fall of 2017. Albert has won numerous honors, including a Lucie Award, a Grammy Award, three Andys, a Der Steiger Award, a Hasselblad Masters Award, and the Centenary Medal, a lifetime achievement award from the Royal Photographic Society. Queen Elizabeth II awarded the Scotsman an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in June 2015 for his lifetime contribution to the art of photography.

Albert Watson’s contributions to photography are impressive and multifaceted. His conceptual and diversified approach towards commercial, fashion or art photography challenges expectations and delivers boundless creativity. After a career that spans over 50 years, Albert Watson remains one of the world’s most compelling voices in contemporary photography.

 

Click to watch “Adobe MAX Conference” video >

April 14, 2020

Michael Kahn, Three Dories, 2011

“At dawn, the instant I stepped outside I knew where I wanted to go. I had been watching this set of three dories for many years, never figuring out how exactly to isolate them from a busy background. But this morning, I knew the fog was exactly the element I had been waiting for. Standing on the shore, I went through ten rolls of film, watching the dories slowly turn and shift in the water, seeing the fog silently lift and the morning gradually appear around me. From that day I recall… A heron calls, a small duck answers. A mother and three babies trail behind the boats. We watch for hours as they line up, turn, and move. Everything was changing by the moment. Before I realized it, the day had unfolded and the fog was gone, but this ethereal vision of three boats floating in space was finally captured.”

 

By Michael Kahn

Kennebunkport, Maine

August 2011

April 11, 2020

“When dancers perform, it’s the moment, and then it’s gone.”

Go behind the scenes in the photo studio thanks to this insightful video by Adorama that presents husband and wife duo Ken Browar and Deborah Ory’s transformative NYC Dance Project. The “Spotlight: NYC Dance Project,” an Adorama original, shows the couple’s creative process and practical grounds for producing a series that has become an important cultural contribution for the contemporary world of dance. Through captivating and compelling photographs depicting elegance and movement, the project aims to record and archive elite performers in the NYC dance circuit. 

The project’s origin came about with an exciting realization. After searching for modern dance pictures to gift their ballet-loving daughter, the couple noticed the scarcity of available photographs of contemporary dancers. Seeing that the only available images were those of an older generation of classic dancers, like Baryshnikov and Martha Graham, the photographer, and retired dancer duo, merged their combined skills in fashion and editorial photography and embarked on a journey to showcase the wonderful world of present day’s dance and dancers, centered in New York City. 

“For us, it’s really about capturing the emotion the dancers express through their body. We don’t want to show tricks necessarily. Sometimes the movements are really simple and really subtle; it could just be a beautiful arm gesture or a beautiful breadth that their doing. But really we want to capture emotion through motion. I think that’s the message. It’s that they have to have some passion and power in the images.”

Ken Browar grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Paris with a plan to become a photographer at the age of 19. Staying in Paris 20 years later, his love for photographing movement began by capturing dancers at the Paris Opera Ballet. Browar went on to become a renowned fashion photographer. His work for many European magazines, including Vogue, Elle, and Marie Claire, continued to highlight his excellent eye for grace and motion. 

Deborah Ory, a dancer since the age of 7, maintains a passion for the art of movement, which is evident in her photography. She began photographing the rehearsals she was supposed to be in using a camera her father had brought home, foreshadowing an early connection between photography and dance. Her work includes editorial assignments for House & Garden, Mirabella, Self, Health, Martha Stewart Living, and Real Simple. Ken and Deborah together both form the collaborative partnership that is the NYC Dance Project.

In the video, the photographic sessions of Browar and Ory unfold naturally. As organic collaborations between the photographers and the dancers, the footage sheds light on how the due is capable of capturing such sensuous and captivating images. 

The NYC Dance Project comes out of a tradition of dance photography established by George Hoyningen-Huene, Horst. P Horst, Irving Penn, and Barbara Morgan, among others. Traditionally, dance pictures were taken for publicity or commercial purposes. The photographs were taken in a studio where it was easier to control lighting, placement, composition, and costumes than it would have been in live performances. The NYC Dance Project follows this rich tradition within art history, modernizing the subject to fit today’s needs for cultural innovation.

 

Click to watch “SPOTLIGHT: NYC DANCE PROJECT” video >

April 10, 2020

Arthur Rothstein, Dust Storm, Cimarron County, Oklahoma, 1936

“The farmer and his eldest son are pressing forward energetically into the wind, while the younger child- struggling to keep up- shields his eyes to protect them from the dust. The child’s gesture is the key to this scene, for it makes sense of the abraded foreground and the bleak, dust-filled sky. Without that defensive gesture, the whole picture would amount to little more than a fragment of derelict countryside. Rothstein asks his audience not to stand back and analyze but to imagine in their bodies what it might actually feel like to live in such a pitiless landscape. The photographer himself suffered eye damage due to exposure to the dust of Oklahoma, an area badly affected by drought and dust storms. This picture, taken by Rothstein for the Resettlement Administration (an American government agency set up to cope with the impact of the Depression and alter known as the Farm Security Administration), became an American icon and one of the great motifs of the 1930s.”

 

The Photography Book

Phaidon Press

April 8, 2020

“The metaphor is probably the main instrument of poetry, at least of the poetry that I’m sensitive to. For me, the only thing that is interesting in photography is the metaphor. It’s not showing something; it is making you think of something.”

With a career spanning over the past 50 years, internationally renowned photographer Frank Horvat has used the medium as a way to “try to understand” the world while also shooting fashion in a unique, fresh, and spontaneous style. In recent years, Frank Horvat has gained a renewed focus apparent by the videos and interviews created by different institutions including museums, major galleries, and international art fairs. Indeed “a lion in winter,” Frank Horvat has weathered the passage of time with photographs that have proven to be of timeless resonance.

In the video by the Los Angeles Review of Books, a literary review journal that the Hollywood Reporter called “the juicy new read of L. A’s intellectuals,” the photographer is included in the journal’s series, Photographer Spotlight, which focuses on his career and working process.

With narration by Horvat, this episode of the video series details his commitment to creating great photographs and his approach towards art. Recounting his unique experiences, such as capturing a celebrated photo of Coco Chanel, although he never met her in person, or his difficulty with photographic sittings, Horvat’s candid narration provides clarity to the makings of his influential photographs. By creating a peaceful and curious mood, the video allows Horvat to recall and remark on his career in a profound manner.

In the video by Philippe Abergel, Frank Horvat speaks in detail about his life and career. With moments that include family photos and personal documents along with personal anecdotes and narration from the artist, this video provides a very intimate look at the career of one of the world’s most accomplished photographers.

Frank Horvat was born in Abbazia in 1928 in what was then Italy but is now Croatia. Although he began his career with the desire to become a writer, he started taking photographs at the age of fifteen with a 35mm Retinamat camera, selling his stamp collection to buy his first camera. In 1947, Horvat moved to Milan to study art and increasingly successful by 1950; he was already working for Italian fashion magazines. Horvat would subsequently travel to Paris where he would meet Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson, and take a job at Magnum. Cartier-Bresson would coach him in the importance of composition and would become a significant influence in the rising photographer. Horvat’s work at the elite magazines of the 1950s and ’60s, like Life, Look, Vogue, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar, helped him cement his stature as a prominent photographer of his era.
He would later travel to Pakistan and India as a free-lance photographer, developing the dynamic reportage style, which would serve him well shooting fashion in the 50s and 60s.

The recent attention garnered by Horvat confirms his influence on the development of fine art photography. His work, influenced by the French humanists, enliven the coincidental moments of joy in life that Horvat himself calls his “miracles.” Ultimately, Horvat’s enduring images encourage the viewer to enjoy the genuine moments captured in the photographs. His search for truth based on a universal understanding of empathy and coincidence, help the viewer focus on Frank’s fascination with the world.

Click the links below to watch Horvat’s videos:

Photographer Spotlight: Frank Horvat >

Frank Horvat by Philippe Abergel >

(This video includes two minutes in French and the rest is subtitled or in English)

April 7, 2020

Edward Weston, Pepper No. 30, 1930

Tenderly, Edward inscribed the print of this he gave to Sonya Noskowiak, his student, companion and lover: “A mi querida (to my dear lady) and apprentice- whose early works show promise of and important future. She discovered this pepper for me- watched the long struggle to see it well- I dedicate the first print to Sonia with my love- Edward. Carmel, August 1930”.

He took at least thirty different negatives of peppers- all on four days in August, 1930. He credited Sonya as his temptress, his pepper supplier. On the second day, August 3, she brought him two more. While arranging one of these, he finally solved his background problem. From then on, Weston usually used a tin funnel to hold the pepper, no longer did he balance it against a muslin backdrop or a piece of white cardboard.

Weston made at least twenty-five prints of this image, making it his most popular pepper. There are many reasons for this: the long, smooth, barely turned surfaces; the glow of the light unpredictably on the firm skin; the gentle “S” curves- all factors enhanced by the almost exaggerated contrasts between light and dark, concave and convex, abstract and tactile, the firm, waxed surfaces touching the scratched tin. The associative possibilities are, of course, endless. Even the rotten spot on the lower right of the back of the pepper does not detract from the sensuous and sensual intensity. Instead, the spot grounds the subject, heightening the tension between subject and form as well as ideal and real.

Adapted from “Edward Weston: Photographs” by Amy Conger

April 4, 2020
“For me, it’s just about that whole connection. It’s not always with a camera; it’s humanity.”

Acclaimed documentary photographer, author, and speaker Alison Wright presents her incredible journey as a photojournalist in a captivating lecture entitled Portraits of the Human Spirit at National Geographic Live!

The New York-based social documentary photographer has spent her career capturing the universal human spirit through her work in photojournalism, a profession she knew she was destined to be a part of from an early age. With parents who encouraged travel as part of her education, Wright began studying photojournalism to later embark on a career that has taken her to regions all around the globe, including 150 countries.

“It was really Mr. Lee, my high school English teacher, that took me aside and really taught me how to use my first SLR camera. I can remember the first time he said the word photojournalist, and that you could travel the world taking pictures. I was 15 years old, and I said, that’s what I want to do; that’s what I want to be.”

Wright has photographed for a multitude of humanitarian aid organizations, focusing on post-conflict, disaster relief, and human rights issues, especially in the realm of women and children. Her pictures document endangered cultures and issues concerning the human condition.

“I’m always trying to find compassion in the face of chaos.”

While in Laos, working on her book Faces of Hope, a project that captures portraits of children from around the world, Alison Wright suffered a near-fatal bus accident. Wright survived the collision through the help of villagers, doctors, and ultimately the kindness of strangers. The life-altering experience emboldened the photographer’s passion for her work and, together with her years of experience in post-disaster/conflict areas, helped her to create, Faces of Hope. This non-profit fund gives back to the communities she photographs and helps support women and children in crisis around the world through healthcare and education.

“I always wanted to create change through my camera. Early on, I became very involved with refugees through my work with Unicef, Save the Children, and Oxfam.”

Wright is a recipient of the Dorothea Lange Award in Documentary Photography, a two-time winner of the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award, and has been named a 2013 National Geographic Traveler of the Year. Wright’s photography is represented by National Geographic Creative and has been published in numerous magazines, including National Geographic, Outside, Islands, Smithsonian Magazine, American Photo, Natural History, Time, Forbes, and The New York Times. Wright has also photographed/ authored nine books, including “Learning to Breathe: One Woman’s Journey of Spirit and Survival,” chronicling her physical and spiritual rehabilitation after a devastating bus accident in Laos that nearly took her life.

Alison Wright’s photographs and journalism experience serve as a visual record of empathy and humanity, a testament to the beauty and resilience of the human spirit.

Click to watch Wright’s video >

April 3, 2020

John Dugdale, Life’s Evening Hour, 1998

“I began this new journey leaning against Henry Fox Talbot’s tombstone at his home, Lacock Abbey, England, the birthplace of modern photography, which I had the honor of visiting a few summers ago. Talbot made the first book of photography, “The Pencil of Nature.” Lacock was built in high Gothic style atop a thirteenth-century abbey. There, I and my traveling companions, Billy O’Connor and Daniel Levin, my assistant, visited places where Talbot made his first “sun photographs.” We walked through his chambers in the house and around the grounds, trying to absorb the energy there, and we spent time in the abbey where nuns once lived. I was shaken to be at the beginning place of photography; I felt as if I were on sacred ground. At the end of the long day we found the Talbot family’s burial plot. When we took my self-portrait at his grave site in the gloaming, I was totally overwhelmed.””

 

By John Dugdale

LIFE’S EVENING HOUR

1997

Lacock Abbey, England

April 1, 2020
“I embraced the camera frame almost as if it were a blank canvas, knowing that in this space, I could create and find a visual equivalent for anything that came to mind. It didn’t matter that; as a photographer, I was not able to shoot moving images. I would construct my still images dynamically.”
 
Working in the fashion industry for over 50 years while being dubbed “the original wild child of fashion photography,” iconic film director and photographer Jim Lee recalls his experiences as a career artist through a few intriguing videos. The brief videos present Lee’s photography, his passion for classic cars, and a published book that has been praised by doctors intended as a strategy to cope through the tough times in life. Jim Lee’s tongue-in-cheek interactions, cinematic narratives, asymmetrical compositions, and bold colors helped usher in an era of expressive liberty for fashion photography.
 
“Jim was a sort of missing link between the work of the 60s and that of the 70s. His strength is using color and movement in a very powerful way. There’s always a supercharging narrative in his work; highly theatrical and very gripping.”
– Martin Barnes, Senior curator of photography, The V&A Museum
 
Jim Lee was born in 1945 and had an unconventional upbringing. Lee’s parents worked for the British military intelligence service, MI5, and unbeknownst to him; he was a descendant of the Royal Family. In an environment of secrecy and privilege, Jim Lee would seek a life of revelry and adventure. Lee moved to Australia, enchanted by the rugged Outback lifestyle, and while there became a self-taught photographer, developing negatives for a local photographer in exchange for housing. Lee would make a name for himself photographing rock stars like The Beatles and the Rolling Stones and eventually move back to England and begin an incursion into fashion photography. Working with the young and rising editor Anna Wintour, Lee gained recognition as a photographer in the era of the late 1960’s “Swinging Sixties” of London. Lee would go on to shoot a feature-length film with Alan Bates, collaborate with influential designers like Yves Saint Laurent and Gianni Versace, and direct over 200 significant commercials.
 
In the videos, Jim Lee’s long career is celebrated with a retrospective exhibition entitled “Arrested” and an accompanying book of the same name. The exhibition highlights his introduction to the fashion industry and delves into the “beyond the frame” narrative that Lee’s work encapsulates. Lee’s interest in the romantic qualities of American muscle cars is captured on camera as he drives through the streets of London. Lee references the importance of vehicles on cinema and how he transported his car from America back to London.
The final video discusses a coping mechanism called The Box, which Jim Lee devised after enduring a tragedy in his life. Not a therapist or a philosopher, Lee’s intimate relationship with trauma moved him to create a self-help book based on his experience. As Emmy-Award winning English actor Stephen Fry writes of The Box, “A valuable little pocketbook that suggests an interesting and potentially very useful approach to anxiety and loss.” Lee’s experience ultimately helped him create an easy to follow self-help book that is profoundly sensible and compassionate.
 
Jim Lee’s storied career and unapologetic photography helped expand the aesthetic freedom for the world of fashion photography, making him one of the most distinguished photographers in his field.
 

Click the links below to watch Lee’s videos:

THE BOX >

ARRESTED >

JIM’S MUSTANG >

March 31, 2020

Ormond Gigli, Girls in the Windows, 1960

“In 1960, while a construction crew dismantled a row of brownstones right across from my own brownstone studio on East 58th Street, I was inspired to, somehow immortalize those buildings. I had the vision of 43 women in formal dress adorning the windows of the skeletal facade. We had to work quickly to secure city permissions, arrange for models which included celebrities, the demolition supervisior’s wife (third floor, third from left), my own wife (second floor, far right), and also secure the Rolls Royce to be parked on the sidewalk. Careful planning was a necessity as the photography had to be accomplished during the workers’ lunch time! The day before the buildings were razed, the 43 women appeared in their finest attire, went into the buildings, climbed the old stairs, and took their places in the windows. I was set up on my fire escape across the street, directing the scene, with bullhorn in hand. Of course I was concerned for the models’ safety, as some were daring enough to pose out on the crumbling sills. The photography came off as planned. What had seemed to some as too dangerous or difficult to accomplish, became my fantasy fulfilled, and my most memorable self – assigned photograph. It has been an international award winner ever since. Most professional photographers dream of having one signature picture they are known for. ‘Girls in the Windows’ is mine.”

 

by Ormond Gigli

March 28, 2020

 

“There is a sense of freedom to me in the hours between two and four in the morning… I feel like anything can happen.”

Michael Massaia finds solace in the creation of photography, and in the dark cloak of the night. The short documentary The Twilight World of Michael Massaia follows the solitary fine art photographer treading through the quiet, unpopulated streets of the New York City metro area and Central Park while describing his often uniquely poetic and complicated photographic process. Michael Massaia’s large-format camera photographic procedure of working only in the night captures the viewer’s attention and provides a glimpse into the hushed, luminous environments of Massaia’s nocturnal dreams. Massaia’s whispery, confidential narration, has a sense of immediacy that draws the viewer closer to the story and creates an attentive listening experience. Objective, intimate, and minimal, the short documentary makes a case for the beauty of stillness and precision, for the necessity to work with a specific vision and goal as he painstakingly produces his hand-crafted photographs. For Michael, as for most artists with his degree of perfection, dealing with failure is all part of the organic process of his work. 

“The only real job of an artist is to find things that people don’t think are special and make them… special.” 

Michael Massaia was born in 1978 and grew up in New Jersey, remaining around the New York City metro area in New Jersey throughout his life. His involvement in photography started in high school, and he has remained consumed by a calling to create fine pictures ever since. He is self-taught in the science of photography and the specific chemical and material process he uses, merging his superb craftsmanship with thoroughly planned compositional skills. He specializes in large format black and white film image captures and large format platinum and silver gelatin printing.  

Massaia’s single-minded objective vision compels him to control all aspects of his practice, allowing for his captivating images to be possible. As with Ansel Adams, the taking of the negative is only half of the creative process – equally important is the printing of that negative onto the photographic paper. Massaia is enamored with the medium and the potential expressive power of various photographic processes. The complex procedure of hand-making platinum and silver prints demonstrates the photographer’s dedication and mastery of making extraordinary photography.

“Black and white large format film has a quality, an organic quality, a dimension that is so superior to anything that can be done digitally.” 

The documentary sheds light on the passionate and personal relationship between the artist and their process, a love story between the photographer and the large format camera. It taps into the necessity of being with oneself. The video engages with the romantic and solitary nature of being an artist, totally consumed by ideas and of giving their life to the spirit of art, in this case, quietly and soft-spoken into the night.

Click here to watch Massaia’s video >

Meet Our Artists is a recurring virtual series that presents biographical content introducing photographers whose work and journey is compelling and engaging. The content is intended for informative and viewing pleasure.

March 27, 2020

Edouard Boubat, Lella de face sur un bateau, Bretagne, France, 1947

“Lella was one of the photographer’s sister’s friends. In an interview Boubat described these friends, who were among his earliest photographic subjects, as being each one more beautiful than the rest. Here he may be proposing that Lella is some handsome epitome of France resurgent, for the war was not long over. The face in the background, by contrast, looks older and anxious as if to confirm Lella in her beauty. Boubat, who studied photogravure at the Ecole Estienne in Paris during the war, admits to being self-taught in photography itself. Nevertheless, his ability to make an art out of ‘instants in which nothing happens’ was in keeping with a post-war ethos which stressed respect for others. His approach to his subjects was companionable and conversational. Boubat’s first exhibition was at La Hune bookshop on the Left Bank was prompted by Robert Delpire, who would become the most influential publishers of new photography in the 1950s.”

 

The Photography Book

Phaidon Press

March 26, 2020
March 26, 2020

Horst P. Horst, Marlene Dietrich, 1942

Marlene Dietrich (1901-92) gained international fame starring in paramount films such as Morocco (1930) and The Devil is a Woman (1935). The director Josef von Sternberg was instrumental in shaping the actress’s femme fatale image in those, and several other visually arresting movies.

Despite her immense stardom, Horst did not consider his fellow countrywoman a great beauty, commenting that ‘without makeup, her face had typical flat German features. She projected sex but she was not sexy’. The screen celebrities of the era were often known for specific attributes: Bette Davis for her eyes, and Dietrich for her perfect legs. Yet, for this portrait, Horst obscured the famous legs altogether, placing a chair in front of her.

The focus of the image is Dietrich’s face, with its slightly open mouth and heavily lidded eyes that gaze into the distance and effect an expression of longing. Though undoubtedly bewitching, she is depicted here as a real woman rather than a celluloid siren.

 

Adapted from “Horst Photographer of Style” by Susanna Brown

March 25, 2020

“A great photograph can never happen again.”

Chronicling the illustrious career of renowned photographer Harry Benson, the biographical movie Shoot First details Harry’s life and work and provides insight into the man responsible for some of history’s most iconic photographs. 

Share this email with friends to watch Harry Benson – Shoot First, a film by Justin Bare and Matthew Miele. (Viewable at home from Netflix and Amazon prime and a variety of other sources by following this link http://www.magpictures.com/harrybenson/watch-at-home)

 With Harry’s humorous and captivating storytelling as narrative, the film offers anecdotal tales while following Harry throughout his career. The first to record The Beatles landing in America and their meteoric rise to popularity followed by decades of incredible shots capturing everything from Winston Churchill, HRH Queen Elizabeth II, Dr. Martin Luther King, every U.S. president since Dwight D. Eisenhower, Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger to the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy and the emergence of Muhammad Ali.

 “I’ve always said: a great photograph can never happen again. I have always tried to be first on a story or the last one out because the story keeps changing. You try to photograph everything that you see; fleeting moments, final moments. Joy, regret; each a glimpse and gone forever.”

The documentary’s breadth of personal references from Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin, journalist Dan Rather, and designer Ralph Lauren (to name a few) attest to Harry Benson’s versatility. Moving effortlessly from magazine cover shoots to on the ground war reportage, and with a relentless and remarkable work ethic, Benson’s photographs feel as though he has captured everyone and everything.

“If I don’t take a photograph, I’ve made a terrible mistake. I photograph what I see, and what I see should inform.”

In 2009, Benson was named Commander of the Order of the British Empire by HRH Queen Elizabeth for his service to photography. He was twice named NPPA Magazine Photographer of the Year and was twice awarded the Leica Medal of Excellence. Benson’s photographs are in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.; Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow, and the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. His 60-year career as a photojournalist included magazines like LIFE, Time, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, G.Q., Esquire, Vogue, and Architectural Digest. He has enjoyed over 40 solo exhibitions and published 17 books.

 

Watch Benson’s movie trailer >

 

March 24, 2020

George Hoyningen-Huene, Swimwear by Izod (Divers), 1930

“The pair look as though they might gaze out to sea for ever. In 1930 high-divers epitomized perfection, for they were the most self-possessed of all performers. Hoyningen-Huene’s models may be advertising nothing more than swimwear, but the context is the world of athletics. Hoyningen-Huene inaugurated the heroic phase in fashion photography in the late 1920s. In both his fashion and travel photography he tried to present mankind in a dignified light, as sculptural and heroic. He appreciated what he called ‘naturalness of form and movement’ and deplored ‘organized artificiality.’ Both phrases are taken from African Mirage, his travel book of 1938. He undertook fashion photography for Vogue in 1926, moved to Harper’s Bazaar in 1936, and in 1943 published eloquent picture books on Egypt and Greece. In 1946 he moved to Hollywood and became a portrait photographer of movie starts.”

 

The Photography Book

Phaidon Press

March 21, 2020

At Holden Luntz Gallery, we value the relationships we have fostered with our clients, artists, and friends. Our love for photography has created a community in South Florida and beyond that thrives on the enthusiasm for fine art photography. The community we have built over the past 20 years has become as vital to us as the pictures we hang in the gallery.

This is a time that requires all of us to stay close to our loved ones and to remain updated on how to keep our community safe. We wish everybody the best during these challenging times and hope everybody is doing well and staying safe. We are all available to help in any way we can. Following safety guidelines, we are presently open by appointment only.

As part of our continuing efforts to be a source of knowledge for all content related to photography as well as to share something enriching , we are launching an online program introducing artists that have a close relationship with the gallery and who we consider to be a part of our extended Holden Luntz Gallery family. In place of our Saturday Morning Coffee & Conversation series, where we invite you into our gallery, we want to extend an invitation to join us on our new virtual series, “Meet our Artists.” This email series aims to introduce you to new photographers and learn more about other photographers you might already enjoy. We hope that by having access to this content, we can provide enjoyable information about these artists as well as creating a space to escape into the life of iconic photographers and take a respite from our present reality.

“Sometimes, the hardest places to photograph well are the most spectacular places.” Journey through the scenic expanse of the South Georgia landscape with internationally acclaimed fine art photographer David Yarrow. Yarrow’s narration guides us through the creative process of shooting at one of the most challenging sites on the planet; his trademark relentless pursuit for the perfect shot takes us to St. Andrew’s Bay in the South Georgia islands. In this remarkable landscape, the photographer gains extremely rare access to South Georgia’s beaches and gets the viewer closer to what Discovery Channel refers to as the Antarctic “City” of King Penguins. “I had a clear preconception of what was necessary to take a powerful image in South Georgia. My overriding goal was to capture a sense of depth and a sense of scale. South Georgia is raw and dramatic with many fiercely steep mountains towering above the wildlife, and to exclude them from an image would risk telling only half the story.” As one of the most sought-after photographers in the world, we get a taste of the behind the scenes action required to get the “perfect” single shot. Author of three photography books detailing the expansiveness of his work, Nowhere (2007), Encounter (2013), and David Yarrow Photography: Americas Africa Antarctica Arctic Asia Europe (2019), British photographer David Yarrow kneels into the icy waters of the South Atlantic ocean and provides detailed insight into the conceptual and aesthetic rigor of his working process. In his legendary images captured over the span of two decades, Yarrow’s immersive portrayal of wildlife sheds light on the magnificence of the earth’s natural beauty, as well as providing ways to help in preserving them. “All that matters is whether the final print stacks up. Whether it’s strong enough to elicit an emotional reaction.”

 

Click here to watch Yarrow’s video >

March 2o, 2020

Elliott Erwitt, New York City, (Dog legs), 1974

“The occasion was an advertisement for boots, and the Great Dane and the Chihuahua were on hire from an agency. Erwitt, the most famous dog photographer in the history of the medium, remarked on the advantages of dog models saying that they were cheaper than hired humans, often more attractive, more distinctive than humans and indifferent to fashion trends. Dogs, too, are ideal for shoe adverts because they take the eye down to where it matters. In other more philosophical work in which dogs and humans appear together, Erwitt points both to the animality of humans and to the humanity evident in animals. Like them we eat, scratch, and guard our privacy. The purpose of almost all of his pictures, with or without dogs, is to elicit commentary and captioning: in this case bearing on the large and the small. A multi-faceted photographer from his teens, Erwitt’s books include Observations on American Architecture (1972).”

 

The Photography Book

Phaidon Press

March 18, 2020

To our friends and clients: Holden Luntz Gallery & JL Modern Gallery will be open by appointment only until the present health situation has been resolved.
Visit us online at holdenluntz.com and jlmoderngallery.com
For information please call 561-632-3999 or click on the link below to schedule an appointment.

CLICK TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT WITH US

March 17, 2020
March 14, 2020
March 7, 2020
February 27, 2020
February 22, 2020
February 15, 2020

“A great photograph seems to arrest time. It permits the view to be ‘born to the instant’—the Now. In a great photograph the image is never static, whether it be a leaf, a child’s head, a dancer in motion—it is all vibrant with Life….

This seems to me to be the essential greatness of Barbara Morgan’s photographic images—initial honestly, tireless skill, and reverence for life makes her essential greatness.”—Martha Graham

Barbara Morgan’s Letter to the World illustrates photography’s ability to preserve a moment in history, with all its drama and intensity, which might have otherwise been lost forever. Morgan’s photograph presents physical evidence of Martha Graham’s Letter to the Word, and has carried on the spirit of Graham long after her passing. Morgan’s genius in pinpointing the most dramatic and pivotal moments within a ballet has enabled her to capture the essence of this dance, which is based on the love life of the American Poet, Emily Dickinson.

Morgan transcends the intrinsically static medium of photography in her ability to convey the drama of mobility in Graham’s dance. Morgan felt stage performances to be inadequate when documenting and isolating the pivotal themes and key gestures of a dance. She relocated Graham to her studio so that she was able to redirect, relight and photographically synthesize what she felt to be the core of the total dance. Morgan went beyond purely documenting Graham’s artistic expression and developed a symbiotic relationship between the artist and her subject. This relationship enabled powerful movements charged with emotion and drama to be immortalized through the artist’s lens.

As a study of black and white and mid-tone range, this photograph is a beacon of what pure expressive powers photography allows. As a study of composition it is one of the most graceful images ever captured on film. It has served as a model for other photographers and artists for the last 75 years and has never been bettered. This picture offers a collector a chance to own one of the most lyrically beautiful photographs ever created. It is in countless museum collections.

February 14, 2020
February 5, 2020

“To take photographs is to hold one’s breath when all faculties converge in the face of fleeing reality. It is at that moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy…

As far as I am concerned, taking photographs is a means of understanding which cannot be separated from other means of visual expression. It is a way of shouting, of freeing oneself, not of proving or asserting one’s own originality. It is a way of life.” — Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Seville exemplifies his extraordinary skill at capturing the spontaneity, the mystery, the humor and the universality of the events that passed before him. In a career spanning more than sixty years, Cartier-Bresson’s camera served as his third eye, with which he captured the nuances of humanity and produced some of the most striking and insightful photographs ever published. Seville demonstrates the photographer’s ability to seek out and capture a fleeting moment in time that would have otherwise never bene documented. This photograph was later chosen by Andre Breton to illustrate an imaginary episode of the Spanish Civil War in his book L’Amour fou (Mad Love).

Born in 1908, Cartier-Bresson’s innate artistic ability was clear from a very young age. By his mid-twenties, he had already begun to shape and establish modern photography through his wildly imaginative photographs. After World War II, his talent for capturing lasting images from a world in perpetual motion made him a leading figure in professional photojournalism. He was one of the original founders of the influential agency, Magnum. By the end of his photographic career, he had created a comprehensive body of work completely unique in both its geographical scope and in its historical overview of the vast transformations of the modern century.

The photograph Seville was taken during Franco’s Civil War in Spain in an environment of partially destroyed, war-torn buildings. In this bleak theatre, Cartier-Bresson focuses on the joy and energy of children playing. He highlights the optimism of the human spirit as it transcends the pessimism of war. Cartier-Bresson is among the most important image makers with dozens and dozens of great photographers all looking back to his work for inspiration. His photographs have become icons of both great photography and the 20th-century cultural history.

February 3, 2020
January 25, 2020

Creating the Iconic: “Pillow Fight” & “Mainbocher Corset”

Imagine the innumerable clicks of a camera during a fashion shoot. Envision the countless rolls of film a photojournalist exposes during an assignment. Over the course of a photographer’s career, the number of images a photographer produces is immense, but they are constantly in search of that perfect shot, or to capture “the decisive moment” as famed Humanist photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson termed it. Having a prolific career and life come down to one or several, well-known photographs may seem reductive, but is often the case with many of the most famous of photographers. Legendary photojournalist Harry Benson who has captured decades of historical photographs believes, “Every photographer comes down to one photograph.” Given this belief from a renowned photographer with countless classic images, what contributes to that one, iconic photo that comes to define a photographer’s body of work?

Harry Benson’s self-described “one photograph” is Beatles’ Pillow Fight from 1964 at the Hotel George V in Paris. In this instance, Benson was not only privileged to be working with The Beatles, but lucky enough to be with the legendary band when they received the news that their song “I Want to Hold Your Hand” went to number one on the charts in the United States. Before he knew it, Benson was artfully photographing a pillow fight. He was snapping away at their celebratory play fighting, catching the signature shot of Paul McCartney swinging a pillow at John Lennon while Ringo Starr jumps on top of George Harrison. Benson says about his work with The Beatles, “Some assignments I feel I could go back and improve on, but not The Beatles, I don’t think I could have bettered it.” He then says about Beatles’ Pillow Fight in particular, “With most of my pictures I think I could have done better, but this was the perfect moment, it won’t happen again. I got it.” This is a strong belief from a photographer known for producing such a highly regarded and beautifully composed body of work shooting intimate photos of the most recognized personalities of the 20th century. During this particular time in 1964, The Beatles were still fresh, new, and working well together creating the perfect chance for Benson to capture them at their height. Benson’s timing was impeccably placed to capture Paul McCartney’s swing after Benson’s subtle suggestion led the way for an intimate and playful portrayal of the legendary band. Benson recalls processing the negatives in the bathroom of the George V and putting the negatives in his suitcase, never realizing their historic and cultural importance.

On the other hand, renowned fashion photographers who come to be defined by a select few images may not depend on being at the right place at the right time as much, but more on their own composed settings and circumstances to achieve that special image. Take for example pioneering photographer Horst. P. Horst who has become recognized as one of the old masters of fashion photographers for his work mostly with Vogue starting in the 1930s. The image that has become most closely associated with the “master of dramatic light” is his iconic work, Mainbocher Corset from Paris in 1939. The timeless composition with its subtle elegance and astounding balance, not to mention the flattering light and dramatic shadows has become regarded by many as Horst’s best work. In great contrast to Benson, Horst utilized a large format camera mounted on a stand with a focusing screen using long exposures allowing him to manipulate his compositions down to the minutest detail. One wonders how long Horst spent adjusting the bands in the corset to achieve his most elegant image with the model holding her pose for prolonged periods given Horst’s long exposures. Mainbocher Corset was carefully composed with every detail planned; yet it is still the product of a special moment. Describing the context that the photograph was shot within, Horst says, “It was created by emotion…It was the last photo I took in Paris before the war. I left the studio at 4.00 a.m., went back to the house, picked up my bags and caught the 7.00 a.m. train to Le Havre to board the Normandie. The photograph is peculiar for me. While I was taking it, I was thinking of all that I was leaving behind.” Perhaps the impending departure from an adopted home and feelings of loss and anxiety allowed Horst to compose the image with an altered and perhaps more emotionally charged outlook. Although it is not outwardly obvious, this photograph too may be as much a result of a moment in time as Harry Benson’s “one photograph.”

Two very different, but equally iconic images embraced and were the products of a particular moment. They both captured singular examples of the 20th century experience. Even though fashion photography may rely much more heavily on careful composition and lighting than the more situational documentary photograph, each borrows from the other creating highly regarded and quintessential photographs the results of situational chance, composition, and of course the photographer’s eye. These emotionally charged photographs still have the same effect on viewers as they did when first created decades ago. The timelessness and continuing popularity of these images is a testament to the enduring talent of the artists and their advantageous use of the context and circumstances that they were a part of.

January 11, 2020

Beckwith and Fisher: Beyond Documentation

Rites of passage have persisted for thousands of years since the beginnings of human culture and remain an integral part of the human experience. “From Africa we have learned the value of rites of passage, which define what is required by a person in each stage of their life,” comments renowned photographers, artists, and travelers Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher. For over 35 years they have devoted their lives to photographing and documenting as fully and artistically the traditional rituals of Africa that persist more or less unchanged. Beckwith and Fisher have gained unprecedented access photographing more than 90 distinct ceremonies in 36 countries traveling over 270,000 miles across Africa. Although their wide-reaching documentation of these ceremonies is impressive unto itself, Beckwith and Fisher truly excel in their photography by connecting with their subjects on a personal level coupled with artistically composed and creative imagery of African cultures in all of their forms.

As National Geographic writer Robert Morton asserts, “No artists of any era have captured so many images of authentic and ancient ritual practices,” but Beckwith and Fisher move beyond the prolific documentation of African rites of passage. Each of their individual images offers new perspectives, and the images, as a whole, offer a group portrait of the African spirit in all of its varieties. Beckwith and Fisher comment on their photography as focusing on the individual rather than just documentation, saying, “Our photography goes beyond classic portraiture to embrace the poetry of nuance, gesture, hints of presence, and the unique stamp of an individual in time and place.” The personal aspects of their work are revealed through such instances as a knowing glance of a Karo dancer, or smiles on the faces of Surma children that Beckwith and Fisher managed to elicit through their warmth and personable touch. Their mission to also photograph their subjects artistically moves beyond strict documentation as well. For instance, when photographing the Surma people of southwestern Ethiopia they decided to photograph close-up sections of the painted nude bodies as beautiful abstractions unto themselves, and they often digitally remove backgrounds in order to focus exclusively on Surma body painting to avoid distractions.

Beckwith and Fisher’s far reaching and isolated journeys have meant their contact with African cultures has often been for extended periods of time. They believe in fully engaging with these people and creating personal connections with them. In order to achieve their prolific, yet personal and artistic record of traditional African rituals, Beckwith and Fisher have endured some of the most challenging conditions and have put their own safety in peril. Utilizing all manners of travel on foot, by mule train, on camelback or horses, in vehicles, and by boat, Beckwith and Fisher’s quest to access and photograph these isolated people reached the pinnacle of endurance and persistence. In one trip to find and photograph the Wodabe nomads in central Niger, they traveled 700 miles on the back of mules and then trekked in 120 degree heat for six weeks surviving on a daily calabash of milk all in order to reach the elusive Wodabe who were preparing for a weeklong courtship festival. The photographers possess remarkable modesty, humanity and acceptance through everything they have endured the last 35 years. “We could tell many stories about our adventures, but we rarely comment on the often challenging conditions of our travels, for one simple reason: time after time, the African people have demonstrated how they not only survive the planet’s harshest climates, but draw their identity and strength – their powerful sense of being – from their surroundings.

Beckwith and Fisher have developed close relationships with their subjects, some of whom have become lifelong friends and are included repeatedly in their poignant images over decades. These surprising relationships that were formed between wholly different people in what would be extreme conditions for Westerners shows the incredibly amiable nature of these ambassadors. It also reinforces their idea of all people being ultimately the same with core needs and wants with individuals from drastically different environments still being able to create strong connections. In taking so much from Africa and having formed such close relationships, Beckwith and Fisher have given back in the truest sense of reciprocity. The photographers have contributed to a variety of humanitarian projects such as building schools and wells, while also contributing proceeds from their numerous books and publications. Perhaps best of all, they have left to the world a personal and artistic documentation of the spirit of Africa for all of time.

January 9, 2020
January 1, 2020

Jim Lee – “Arrested” Photographs

London based photographer and film director Jim Lee has developed a fresh and unique photographic style.  His ‘auteurship’ developed from the late 1960’s to the present.  He has shot campaigns for Ossie Clark, Versace, Alexander McQueen, Zandra Rhodes, Yves Saint-Laurent, and Valentino among others.

Jim Lee’s work has appeared in Elle, Vogue, the London Sunday Times, Harper’s Bazaar and Playboy as well as numerous other fashion publications.  He has directed commercials for Esso, Lindt, the Royal Mail, Johnnie Walker, Saab, British Airways and many other major corporations.

Lee has directed several feature films in addition to his other work.  Jim Lee has exhibited his photography at Hamilton’s Gallery in London as well as the Sommerset House.  He is currently scheduled for international museum exhibitions in Moscow and Beijing.  His photographic style is cinematic – with close angular cropping and narrative constructions.  The pictures generally have a dynamic quality and show subjects in motion.  The work intrigues us and is often enigmatic and slightly cryptic.  The use of color and often times the multiple sequencing of his photographs pushes the narratives in unique and interesting directions.  The pictures are inventive and reference impressionist and contemporary painting as well as classic works of cinema.  His work challenges the viewer with its immediacy, inventiveness, graininess, and motion.  Jim Lee has experimented with special film stocks, filters, and film processing techniques.  He’s very demanding and specific about the look of his final prints.

Jim Lee draws on his personal life with his photographic references.  His mother and father were MI6 with the Secret Service in Britain; he moved around often as a child and was not cut out for the classic academic career his parents had planned for him.  He attended a dramatic academy for several years, roamed the Outback of Australia, and narrowly escaped being drafted into the Vietnam War. His rebellious and free wheeling youth helped create the scenarios and original vitality of his photographic work.  Lee’s early experience in photography was as a freelance photojournalist.  He subsequently apprenticed with a fashion photographer and learned his craft from the ground up.  His photography campaigns have been outrageous and daring in their inventiveness as well as their size. They have earned him comparisons to Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton in his ability to challenge the norms of formulaic, safe, and conservative fashion based photography.

December 31, 2019
December 23, 2019

Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment

“The difference between a good picture and a mediocre picture is a millimeter,” said Henri Cartier-Breson in the documentary, “Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment.” And he knew exactly how to achieve that difference.

The father of the photographic style described as the “decisive moment,” Cartier-Bresson’s method was straightforward and brilliant. He sought to almost instantly and instinctively detect a perfect geometry in what he saw, a “structure of sensuous and intellectual pleasure and recognition of an order that is in front of you.”

A decisive moment photographer works impulsively, with few rules. Cartier-Bresson explained, “How many pictures should you take a day? There is no rule, it’s an instinct.”

Though instinctive and decisive when shooting the world around him, Cartier-Bresson discussed the more difficult task of portrait photography, calling them “the most difficult thing for me.” In the documentary he recalls a portrait session with Ezra Pound in which the two sat for over an hour just looking at one another. Cartier-Bresson took only 6 shots of Pound. In a portrait he sought not just to capture the person’s expression, but the significance of that expression.

Despite a few challenges he faced with his art, Cartier-Bresson had a simple philosophy about the thing that consumed his life: “Photography is a physical pleasure, it doesn’t take much brains, it takes sensitivity a finger and two legs.”

Put simply, he was a natural.

April 4, 2018

Fine Art Photographs by Michael Massaia – Awaken From Your Dream

Are you curious to see New York City’s Central Park at night? The romance, mystery and beauty of nature at night? The lush photographs of Michael Massaia awaken us from our dreams and seduce us with their gorgeous blacks, greys, milky white surfaces.

Michael Massaia’s nocturnal studio becomes the park where from 4:00 – 6:00 he captures in half light the beauty that old growth trees, winding paths, leaves, and old lamp posts create. The body of Central Park photos is called, “Deep in a Dream.” Mr. Massaia is one of the most in demand contemporary photographers. He has been the subject of multiple fine art and photography magazine articles, featured on television interviews and has had many one man exhibitions at fine art galleries throughout the country. He works with a large format camera and spends dozens of hours printing out his pictures in a time consuming old world way with the precious metals of platinum and palladium.

Wherever the work is shows it enchants viewers with its dreamy, surreal beauty. While the world and the park slumbers Mr. Massaia is hard at work – like an alchemist conjuring up dream with light, dark and an old almost magical box. Just as photography in the 1860’s excited the world with its magical transformation of 3 dimensional life onto a 2 dimensional surface Massaia’s work leaves us with a sense of wonder and awe. As it turns out he often uses multiple exposure and instead of printing work in shades of grey paints the pictures with light through multiple exposures. He lights up walkways, brightens buildings and creates a shadow world of light that is sometimes soft and gentle and other times bright and brilliant.

After contemplating the joy of visually gazing on the park many of us have wonderful memories of amusement parks. Michael Massaia lept the fences of some of the most famous New Jersey amusement parks to survey the area – again with his wonderful large format camera, in the early hours of the morning. The rides are still, the food concessions are closed and only our spirits are left to roam in the half light. It is as if they have been frozen in time by their eerie and beautiful stillness. The architecture of the amusement parks and the beautiful signage are provide us with a playground where we can only imagine the whirling and energetic activities of the day, the cheering of voices, laughing of children and the simple joys of escaping into a world of thrills and pleasure. Michael’s camera captures the beautiful forms of the rides, signs and walkways of the park. The pictures are themselves luxurious playgrounds of blacks, whites and greys. The tonal ranges in the oversize brilliantly printed pictures are superb. He again works his magic and brings these amusement parks to life. They have a similar dreamy quality – but the architecture is all man made as opposed to the natural forms of the trees in Central Park. Now, post Hurricane Sandy, we can only remember them and dream about them. The amusement parks were victim of the Hurricane and they will never open their gates again. They belong to a life time that ended in the fall of 2012. If photography is about preserving our histories, places and dreams Michael Massaia’s pictures excel at this task. They are memories of joy, beauty and Americana.

Be sure to visit his work on our sight and wake up your imagination. The pictures are normally printed in two or three sizes – all by Michael himself, and are small editions. You will be enchanted by the mystery, beauty and seductive power of Michael Massaia’s pictures. These are truly pictures to spend time with, enjoy and dream about.