You are currently browsing an author archive.

October 28th, 2014

Blue Sky Gallery Starts Book Publishing Program to Mark 40th Year

Portland, Oregon’s Blue Sky Gallery entered its 40th year with a retrospective exhibition at the Portland Art Museum, and the launch of Blue Sky Books, a new print-on-demand publishing program that offers affordable books by 36 of the artists who’ve shown at the gallery.

Since it opened in 1975 as a collaborative project by local photographers, Blue Sky Gallery has grown into an important photography outlet with an international reputation, showing the work of both emerging and established photographers from the region, the country and throughout the world.

The museum exhibition, which includes more than 120 works, looks back on more than 700 exhibitions at the gallery by 650 photographers.

The book program grew in part from the gallery’s DIY esthetic. “We’re a very populous, democratic gallery,” says Christopher Rauschenberg, the president of the Blue Sky board of directors and the editor of Blue Sky Books. “We’re an artist’s space, and artists don’t have any money,” he adds. The books cost $18 dollars on average and can be ordered through MagCloud, the print-on-demand service owned by Blurb. The price includes a 15 percent fee for the artist and a 15 percent fee for the gallery.

The program was inspired in part by an artist who’d shown at Blue Sky, who reached out to Rauschenberg about a deal a publisher was offering him: the publisher would put out the artist’s book if he raised $30,000. Rauschenberg told the artist it was a standard deal, “but I can’t say it’s a good deal and I don’t have anything else to offer you,” Rauschenberg recalls. Other photographers had asked similar questions. Rauschenberg realized he wanted to be able to offer photographers “something else.” In looking back at the history of the gallery, Rauschenberg also realized there were “all these bodies of work that were never published as books and great shows that we had 30 years ago,” he says. He chose to use MagCloud, which he had used to make small catalogues of his own work for portfolio reviews, to create a series of books that were affordable to buy, and to publish.

By releasing 36 books at once, as the gallery did last week, Rauschenberg felt the artists could leverage their collective networks to promote the endeavor. “We’ve asked everybody to not just put your own book out but promote the whole series,” Rauschenberg says.

Community support and collective effort have contributed to the gallery’s longevity. For instance, Bruce Guenther, who recently announced his retirement as the chief curator of the Portland Art Museum, was instrumental in helping the gallery figure out how to buy the space they now occupy, Rauschenberg says. “Portland has a really wonderful spirit” in which people come together to get things done, and the local audience responds.

Rauschenberg remembers the flood of exhibition proposals the gallery received soon after they opened so many years ago. “We came in with a certain amount of a dream, and then other people’s dreams have added to it.”

October 22nd, 2014

Tumblr Photo Community Calls Out Sexist ‘Recommended Photogs’ List

Social blogging platform Tumblr boasts a robust community of professional photographers, some of whom have used the platform to raise issues of social equality in the photography business. Most recently a handful of photographers called out a quarterly French photography magazine, Selektor, for publishing a list of 100 photographers to follow on Tumblr that included just eight women.

Selektor generated the list, which it published on its own Tumblr, by simply compiling the blogs of all of the photographers it had featured. After both female and male photographers pointed out the disparity, Selektor‘s founder, Loïc Thisse, admitted in a subsequent post that he “never thought to check the proportion of women photographers” he was featuring, he was simply operating based on his personal taste.

His mistake, he writes, was that he didn’t recognize that “Selecting and showing artists publicly is not like sharing one’s personal tastes. It is quite another thing. There are other issues. The representation of women is one of them.”

Tammy Mercure responded to Selektor’s list by generating one of her own, which included more than 70 women photographers to follow on Tumblr. “There is still systematic sexism at work in the photo world,” Mercure wrote in her post. But, she notes, she’s seen “great strides in equity for women and people with diverse backgrounds” in publications and “most places” on Tumblr.

Interestingly more than 1100 people noted or shared Mercure’s post, while fewer than 900 noted Selektor’s post.

Related: How One Magazine Strives for Gender Balance in Assignments
Are Women Photographers Being Discriminated Against in the Editorial Market?

October 16th, 2014

Art Photos About Animals the Focus of Muybridge’s Horse Blog

The homepage of Muybridge's Horse, featuring images by photographer Brandon Hall.

The homepage of Muybridge’s Horse, featuring an image by photographer Brandon Hall.

Emma Kisiel’s blog, Muybridge’s Horse, features photography that explores the relationship between humans and animals. The collection includes the work of artists like Charlotte Dumas, Simen Johan, Chris Jordan, Lindsay Blatt and dozens of others, offering a wide-ranging look at the varied ways photographers and artists working in other media depict animals and the natural world. For Kisiel, the blog has provided an opportunity to connect with other artists who share her interests, and to grow her understanding of contemporary art and the possibilities for her own work.

“Working on Muybridge’s Horse has opened my eyes to such innovative ways of image-making and storytelling,” Kisiel told PDN via email. “I also love seeing how many artists who explore animal life (or death) in their art are women. I know how male-dominated the photography field can feel sometimes.”

Muybridge’s Horse, named for Eadweard Muybridge’s “Horse in Motion” photographs, which he made in 1878, grew from a personal blog Kisiel kept as a photography student at the Maryland Institute College of Art. On it, she indexed all types of work that interested her. Eventually she “noticed that artists who work with animal and nature subject matter dominated the blog,” Kisiel says.

After Kisiel graduated and began working in a field unrelated to art, she pursued the blog as a “creative outlet.” She worked with a developer friend to create Muybridge’s Horse, and emailed all of the artists whose work she’d posted on her personal blog as a student. “Many responded with comments that they couldn’t believe a site like this hadn’t existed yet,” Kisiel says. She launched it in early 2013, hoping to reach “students, artists, curators, animal lovers—anyone seeking pictures that affect them.”

Kisiel generally finds images on Tumblr, by following RSS feeds of other art publications like Lenscratch and iGNAT, and through submissions. Artists also often recommend other people for Kisiel to feature. She worried at one point that she would run out of subject matter, but adds, “I currently have over 100 posts in my queue, so I’m not worried right now.”

Through her work on the blog, she’s received support from other photographers, has developed friendships, and has met artists with whom she’s corresponded.

It’s also altered her thinking about her own work. “I am much more challenged to create photographs that matter,” she says. “I am a proponent of looking at and being very aware of contemporary photography if you’re a photographer yourself, and I have felt humbled and inspired by the discovery of the artists I feature.”

Kisiel says that she’s struggled at times to find a sense of community as an artist, but that Muybridge’s Horse has provided that. “I have mixed feelings about the internet, the way it changes how people and artists act and interact, but watching artists lift each other up and exist as a part of a unique network has been encouraging as an artist working today.”

Related: Photographers Share Intimate Images of Loved Ones for Curated Photo Website
Charlotte Dumas: A Fine-Art Approach to Photographing Animals

September 24th, 2014

New Forest Service Directive on Still Photos Worries Reporters, First Amendment Activists

Proposed changes to United States Forest Service rules for photographers and videographers have some first amendment groups concerned that journalists could be required to obtain permits and pay up to $1,500 in fees to photograph within national forests, according to a report by The Oregonian.

The Oregonian quotes first amendment groups and politicians who are expressing concern about a vaguely worded directive, which could be interpreted to require special permits for all uses other than breaking news situations. Other news situations would appear to require a permit, The Oregonian says.

According to current land use requirements, special permits are  required for “use of still photographic equipment on National Forest System lands that takes place at a location where members of the public generally are not allowed or where additional administrative costs are likely, or uses models, sets, or props that are not a part of the site’s natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities.”

Special permits are also required currently for the “use of motion picture, videotaping, sound recording, or any other moving image or audio recording equipment on National Forest System lands that involves the advertisement of a product or service, the creation of a product for sale, or the use of models, actors, sets, or props, but not including activities associated with broadcasting breaking news.”

The proposed directive “would make permanent guidelines for the acceptance and denial for still photography and commercial filming permits in congressionally designated wilderness areas,” according to US government website Federal Register.

The new guidelines for granting a special use permit ask that applicants meet several requirements. Applicants should be promoting wilderness and outdoor activities, be doing work that doesn’t damage the environment or get in the way of the general public, and shouldn’t use vehicles or other machinery, among other requirements.

The Oregonian article stirring up some furor argues that “a reporter who met a biologist, wildlife advocate or whistleblower alleging neglect in any of the nation’s 100 million acres of wilderness would first need special approval to shoot photos or videos even on an iPhone.”

Maybe. The Forest Service’s special use requirements appear to be targeted at commercial photographers, not journalists engaged in legitimate news gathering. But The Oregonian report did make one rather interesting point: The maximum fee for permits is $1500, while the maximum potential fine for violating the requirements is $1000. So yes, it’s potentially cheaper to break the rules and pay the fine.

Those who wish to comment on the proposed directive on still photography and commercial filming permits can do so here.

September 15th, 2014

New $10K Grant Will Send Newborn Babies Home From Hospital As Photo Collectors

A new $10,000 grant to support programs that engage new audiences with photography has been awarded to Pittsburgh photographer Matthew Conboy. The photographer won the grant, which was established by the non-profit Crusade for Art, for a proposal to send newborn babies at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh home with signed prints from local photographers.

Conboy took his inspiration for the project from a program created by a local hospital. There, they send each newborn home with a “Terrible Towel,” the yellow towel waved by fans at Pittsburgh Steelers NFL football games.

“While I am a proud Steelers Fan, I believe that babies could be sent home with something else that could change their lives and the lives of those around them: art,” Conboy wrote in his proposal.

The jury that awarded Conboy the grant included Museum of Contemporary Photography curator Karen Irvine, Colorado Photographic Arts Center executive director Rupert Jenkins, and New Yorker photo director Whitney Johnson.

Irvine and Crusade For Art executive director Jennifer Schwartz hailed the creativity of Conboy’s idea in a press release announcing the award. “We are excited to award this grant to someone whose idea feels completely original and unique,” Irvine said.

Conboy chose 12 local photographers—including himself—to participate in the program. Their work represents a broad spectrum of photographic interests. The program will run for one year, and Conboy estimates the group of artists will send 3500 newborn babies home with an original artwork. He also hopes to expand the project to include other hospitals in the region “and beyond,” he says.

September 3rd, 2014

Photojournalists Launch “Selfie Against the Death Penalty” Campaign

Documentary photographer Marc Asnin and VII Association, a non-profit organization founded by VII Photo Agency, have launched a social media campaign that advocates for the abolition of the death penalty.

The “Photographers Selfie Against the Death Penalty” campaign is part of a collaboration between Asnin’s Neverland Publications and VII Association on Final Words, a book and traveling exhibition that presents the final statements of 515 inmates executed in Texas since 1982. The aim of the project is to focus on “the humanity at the center of the death penalty in America,” the organizers said in a statement.

To participate, photographers are being asked to upload an image to the Final Words site, and to finish the statement “I stand against the death penalty because….” Among the photographers who have participated so far are Larry Fink, Rudy Archuleta, Anthony Barboza, Sim Chi Yin, and several members of the VII Photo Agency.

For full instructions for how to participate in the campaign, visit the Final Words site here.

August 22nd, 2014

Yale Research Group Launches Fascinating Search Platform for 170k FSA-OWI Images

Image caption: Modern riverboat, St. Louis, Missouri, 1940, by John Vachon.

Modern riverboat, St. Louis, Missouri, 1940, by John Vachon.

Screen shot 2014-08-21 at 6.32.37 PM

An image of the Photogrammar’s map tool, which visualizes the quantities of images FSA-OWI photographers made in regions around the country.

A group of researchers at Yale created “a web-based platform for organizing, searching, and visualizing the 170,000 photographs from 1935 to 1945 created by the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information (FSA-OWI).”

The platform, which they’re calling Photogrammar, allows people to use visual tools to search through the digitized photographs from the FSA-OWI archive, which is housed at the Library of Congress. The map tool, for instance, allows users to see the quantity of images made in regions across the United States. One can also use the map to trace the work of individual photographers such as Dorothea Lange, John Collier and Marion Post Wolcott, and see where they worked and produced the most images.

The Treemap, another visualization, uses colored blocks of different sizes to show the number of images of different types FSA-OWI photographers produced in different category topics. Users can drill down into subtopics of the category topics.

The Photogrammar also features a more traditional keyword-driven search function.

Explore the Photogrammar site here. But fair warning: it will suck you in.

Related: 14 Rare Color Photos From the FSA-OWI

August 20th, 2014

Aaron Siskind Foundation Announces 2014 Grant Recipients

The Aaron Siskind Foundation announced the five winners of their 2014 Individual Photographer’s Fellowship grants yesterday. The grant recipients are Lucas Foglia, Curran Hatleberg, Gillian Laub, Peter van Agtmael and Tomas van Houtryve. Each of this year’s winners receives an $8,000 award.

There were two rounds of judging for this year’s IPF grants. The first round judges included curator Elisabeth Biondi, Harper’s Magazine Art Director Stacey D. Clarkson and Alexa Dilworth, of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Photographer Elinor Carucci, Curatorial Assistance CEO Graham Howe, and Morgan Library Curator of Photography Joel Smith were the final round judges.

The IPF program was started in 1991, the same year that the Foundation was created, in keeping with photographer Aaron Siskind’s request that upon his death his estate be used to support and inspire contemporary photography. The grants are open to photographers of all levels who reside in the U.S. and are 21 years of age or older, as long as their work is “based on the idea of the lens-based image,” according to the Foundation’s website. Awards of up to $10,000 have been given every year since the IPF’s inception—with the exception of 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2006. Past recipients have included Gregory Crewdson, Matt Eich, Lisa Elmaleh, Ashley Gilbertson, Ron Jude, Wayne Lawrence, Jenny Riffle and Joshua Lutz.

Related: Out West: Lucas Foglia’s Frontcountry
Tomas van Houtryve Drone Essay Longest Ever Published by Harper’s
Heroes & Mentors: Tina Barney and Gillian Laub

August 5th, 2014

Photogs Marcus Bleasdale, Steve Ringman Win Environmental Journalism Awards

The Society of Environmental Journalists announced their 2014 awards for reporting on the environment yesterday. Seattle Times staffer Steve Ringman and VII’s Marcus Bleasdale were among the honorees.

Ringman was recognized for his work with writer Craig Allen Welch on “Sea Change: The Pacific’s Perilous Turn,” the Seattle Times‘ multi-part investigation of ocean acidification and its impacts on the Pacific Ocean. (PDN spoke with Ringman and the Seattle Times about the creation of the “Sea Change” for our December 2013 issue. Read that feature here.) Ringman and Welch received the Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding In-depth Reporting for a large market publication, the top award given by SEJ.

Bleasdale received the award for Outstanding Environmental Photojournalism for “The Price of Precious,” his story on conflict mineral mining in Congo, which was published by National Geographic. (PDN featured Bleasdale’s long-term project on conflict minerals in our December 2013 issue. Read that story here.)

Second place in the Environmental Photojournalism category went to J. Carl Ganter, Matt Black and Brian Lehmann for their photographs examining the effects of water scarcity, published in Circle of Blue. Jenny E. Ross received a third place mention for her photo essay on polar bears, published by Natural History magazine.

The awards will be given out during a ceremony at the SEJ’s annual conference, which takes place in New Orleans in early September.

Related: MSNBC.com: A Place for Serious Photo Stories (Subscribers only)

July 14th, 2014

Chicago Photographer Murdered In Apparent Case of Mistaken Identity

Wil Lewis, a 28-year-old photographer, was shot and killed in broad daylight on Saturday afternoon as he waited for a bus in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, according to reports from the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune.

Police have arrested a man in the shooting, charging him with first degree murder.

Lewis’s father told the Tribune that police believe Lewis was mistaken for someone else. “Somebody basically shot him dead. They felt it was a case of mistaken identity. Wil was not in the wrong,” he told the paper.

Born in Guatemala, Lewis was adopted at age 7 and grew up in California and Wisconsin. Lewis, a graduate of Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, had worked as a photo assistant and digital tech for Kohl’s, Sears, Blackbox Visual and other clients. He opened his own studio, Wil Photography, in 2009. A friend told the Sun-Times that Lewis was due to begin a new job as a photographer at an online men’s clothing retailer this week. He and his wife, an art director at ad agency Leo Burnett, were expected to celebrate their second wedding anniversary next month.