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January 29th, 2016

Touring Exhibit Brings Robert Frank’s Work To Younger Generation

Robert Frank told the crowd at the opening of his new exhibition that having his work in a touring show is an opportunity to “have the photography come to life again.” The retrospective exhibition, “Robert Frank: Books and Films, 1947-2016,”  opened at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University last night,  and will also be on view at 50 universities, art schools, museums and other non-profit spaces worldwide throughout the year. The 91-year-old master photographer was accompanied by his wife, June Leaf, and renowned book publisher Gerhard Steidl. Steidl’s company, Steidl Verlag, organized the touring exhibition.

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On stage from left to right: photographer Robert Frank, Tisch School of the Arts Dean Allyson Green, publisher Gerhard Steidl.

Frank—who left his home country of Switzerland for the United States in 1947 and captured post-war American society in his influential book The Americans, published in 1959 briefly answered questions provided by both Steidl and audience members. The show includes images from The Americans and other series Frank has made throughout his career, personal correspondence with curators and editors, and reproductions of contact sheets, showing images he selected by circling them with a red grease pencil. Frank said the photos included in the show “make you really think back about life… it can be better to look forward, but I’m happy to see the photographs live again and to be appreciated,” he said. Frank, whose documentary work and artistic experimentations have influenced generations of photographers noted, “Sometimes a photograph can live longer because it becomes an image that lives in people’s minds and they remember it. That probably is the best thing about my photography and I’m here to say thank you, and come again.” Steidl said the show “is for younger generations” less familiar with Frank’s work.

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Included in the exhibition are contact sheets from Frank’s travels across the U.S., with selected images marked.

As the exhibition tours the U.S., each venue will receive its own set of exhibition prints. At NYU, where the show is on view through February 11, the images, printed on three-meter-long banners, are unframed and stuck to the walls. By agreement with Frank, all the paper banners are to be disposed of after display to ensure that none of the images are sold or re-used.

In looking back on the decisions he has made, Frank said, “America is the country that has given me encouragement. It’s the place to be. For me, it worked out that way….it might not be this way today for many young people, but at that time it definitely was and [I am thankful] to be here and look at all the people who come to see the work.”

January 20th, 2016

Nat Geo Seminar: Photographers Explain How they Reach New Audiences to Effect Change

One of the images of endangered species, curated by Louis Psihoyos, projected onto the Empire State Building. Courtesy Racing Extinction.

One of the images of endangered species, curated by Louis Psihoyos, projected onto the Empire State Building. Courtesy Racing Extinction.

In his talk during the National Geographic Seminar on January 14, Louis Psihoyos, the photographer, filmmaker and conservation advocate, urged photojournalists and nature photographers in the audience to reach beyond magazine readers and look for new, ambitious ways to get their message in front of a wider audience. Psihoyos’s film Racing Extinction has been shown in theaters, online and on the Discovery Network in more than 200 countries, and a light show he curated—featuring images of endangered species by several wildlife photographers—that has been projected onto the Empire State Building and the Vatican has been seen by billions in person and online, he said. By spreading a message through a variety of media, “you can continue the conversation,” he explained. Attitudes and behavior change, he said, when you persuade “10 to 15 percent” of the population: “To me, it’s about reaching a tipping point.”

Psihoyos echoed themes that were raised throughout the day-long National Geographic Seminar, about the need to find ways to reach new audiences as magazine readership shrinks. Speakers included emerging photographers who are building online audiences or are exploring new styles of documentary storytelling.

When he shot for National Geographic in the 1980s, Psihoyos said, “It had circulation of 11 million and we said four people saw each issues passed along.” National Geographic’s current rate base for 2016, according to its media kit, is based on a readership of 3.1 million.

He has long been an optimist about photography’s ability to stir action. The first newspaper that hired him required its photographers to shoot a weekly column that showcased an animal at the local shelter that would be euthanized if it was not adopted. “I loved doing pet of the week because all my cats and dogs got saved. I loved doing it because I could see the power of an image to save the life of another creature.”

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November 19th, 2015

Sponsored: Thomas Roma: In the Vale of Cashmere

Steven Kasher Gallery is proud to present Thomas Roma: In the Vale of Cashmere. This exhibition of Roma’s most recent project consists of an intricate sequence of 75 black and white portraits and landscapes photographed in a secluded section of Prospect Park where black gay men cruise for sexual partners. This is Roma’s first major New York exhibition of new photographs since his acclaimed solo exhibition Come Sunday at the Museum of Modern Art in 1996. The book In the Vale of Cashmere will be published by powerHouse Books in conjunction with the exhibition.

Thomas Roma Untitled (from the series In The Vale of Cashmere), 2011 Gelatin silver print, printed ca. 2011 11 x 14 in Edition of 4; Signed and dated by photographer verso

Photo by Thomas Roma – Untitled (from the series In The Vale of Cashmere), 2011
Gelatin silver print, printed ca. 2011
11 x 14 in, Edition of 4; Signed and dated by photographer verso

Roma is one of the most critically acclaimed photographers of our times. A Bard of Brooklyn, Roma is a poet-photographer who has been making profound images about the people and places of his native city since 1969. Fourteen books of his photographs have been published, almost all of them taken in Brooklyn. With In the Vale of Cashmere, Roma brings us into a little known Eden, one that has been quietly thriving for decades. Roma’s portraits of men set in an uncanny urban wooded landscape carry a history of New York and Brooklyn that predates and parallels the gay rights and civil rights movements. Roma brings us into a secret world, giving us the opportunity to consider the individual with sensitivity and respect while also engaging in a larger discussion of race, gender, sexuality, and class in an increasingly gentrified New York.

In 2008, Roma decided to bring his camera to the Vale of Cashmere, a section of Prospect Park he had frequented decades ago. Over the course of years of weekly visits, he approached the men there, introducing himself and explaining why he was taking pictures. Nine out of ten times Roma’s request to make a portrait was declined; it was from that tenth ask that the intense portraits in this exhibition come. In the Vale of Cashmere was created as a memoriam to Carl Spinella, one of Roma’s closest friends, who died in Tom’s arms of AIDS in 1992.

"Untitled" (from the series In The Vale of Cashmere), 2009 Gelatin silver print, printed ca. 2009 11 x 14 in Edition of 4; Signed and dated by photographer verso

“Untitled” (from the series In The Vale of Cashmere), 2009 Gelatin silver print, printed ca. 2009, 11 x 14 in Edition of 4; Signed and dated by photographer verso

Roma first met Spinella in 1974; a year later they were roommates living on Dean Street in Brooklyn. Spinella had been instrumental in bringing Roma to his native Sicily in 1978 so that Roma could discover his ancestral roots.  (These images were later published as the book Sicilian Passage.)  Their bond was so close that Tom often would drive Spinella to the Vale of Cashmere and sometimes pick him up at the drop-off site, an act of faith in a time before cell phones, when who knows what could happen in the woods.   It was to those woods that Roma returned alone in 1996. Tom’s son Giancarlo (named after Spinella) was a baseball player who played up to 120 games a year, many at the Parade Grounds in Prospect Park right across the street from the Vale of Cashmere. Roma noticed his son sometimes played better when his father was not around, and started taking walks in the Vale in memory of Spinella. Eventually his photography began there.

Thomas Roma: In the Vale of Cashmere will be on view from October 29th – December 19th, 2015.

Steven Kasher Gallery is located at 515 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10001. For more information visit: http://www.stevenkasher.com/exhibitions/thomas-roma-the-vale-of-cashmere

 

 

August 5th, 2015

Inaugural Seattle Art Fair Brings Attention to Under-the-Radar Collector Base

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Photo courtesy of the Seattle Art Fair.

More than 60 galleries from across the country and as far afield as Hong Kong participated this past weekend in the first edition of the Seattle Art Fair. Co-organized by Microsoft founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc. and Brooklyn-based art fair producers Art Market Productions, drew more than 15,000 attendees and generated sales that pleased many galleries.

The positive results highlighted what many local and national galleries already knew: that Seattle boasts an important group of collectors, some well-established and others who are beginning to build collections and, thanks to a growing economy and a robust tech sector, have the means to do so. Robert Goff, a director at David Zwirner in New York, says the gallery participated because they feel Seattle is “a good place to build a foundation.” (more…)

June 12th, 2015

LOOK3 2015: Larry Fink on Experience, Empathy, and Being “Stuck” with a Successful Career

Photographer Larry Fink appeared on the main stage of the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph last night for a freewheeling conversation with his friend, author Donald Antrim. Fink talked frankly about his formative experiences, the evolution of his motivations and his work, and the path of his illustrious career. It all added up to plenty of practical advice about how to approach subjects, follow your instincts, and make good photographs.

Fink’s career, spanning more than 55 years, has included shows at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and other museums. He has published several monographs, including Social Graces (Aperture, 1984) and, most recently, The Beats (powerHouse, 2014), a retrospective of his earliest work from 1958. Fink is perhaps best known for his unflinching black-and-white photographs of society parties for Vanity Fair, W, GQ and other magazines. His work is delicious visual eavesdropping: It reveals the emotion and human interaction roiling below the surface of polite manners and social grace.

Fink told a packed house at Charlottesville’s Paramount Theater,  “I’ve photographed everything. Nothing was beneath me or above me. I’m just alive. I’m just hungry, hungry to experience, and the camera can translate these experiences in certain ways other things can’t.

“The idea is, is it possible for me…to make a picture that somehow or another assimilates that experience, and then has the miraculous transference to be able to be understood by many others?” Fink said. “How do I enter into you [the subject], pull you through me, clicking all the way, so that we merge inside? And that’s empathy on the deepest, primary level.”
(more…)

June 11th, 2015

Photographer Lectures Expand “Emerging” Exhibit (And They’re Free)



Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream
The Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles will host a series of informative and inspiring photographer lectures over the next three months during the run of “Emerging,” the exhibition co-produced by PDN’s editors and featuring photographers selected for the annual PDN‘s 30 issue since 2008. The “Iris Nights” talks, to be held at the Skylight Studios across the park from the Annenberg, feature exhibited photographers discussing recent work, their career paths, and their approaches to a range of subject matter.

The series begins June 11 with a talk by Lauren Dukoff, the celebrity and music photographer, and it continues through September:

June 18 – Dina Litovsky
June 25 – Ilvy Njiokiktjien
July 9 – Olivia Bee
July 16 – Katie Orlinsky
July 23 – JUCO (Julia Galdo & Cody Cloud)
July 30 – Nicole Tung
August 6 – Peter DiCampo
August 13 – Marcus Smith
August 20 – Pari Dukovic
August 27 – Toni Greaves
September 3 – Bryan Derballa
September 10 – Corey Arnold
September 24 – Diana Markosian

The schedule is subject to change, of course, but we’re delighted to see some of the most thoughtful, articulate participants in past PDN’s 30 panels are scheduled to share their stories with the public.

More information is available on the events page of the Annenberg Space for Photography website:  annenbergphotospace.org/events

Related Articles:
New Perspectives: “Emerging” at the Annenberg Space

PDN Video: Marcus Smith on How to Attract the Clients You Want

PDN Video: Olivia Bee on Instagram, iPhones, Expectations and Envy

November 5th, 2014

PPE 2014: Building a Career in Fine-Art Photography

Be nice. This simple and self-evident maxim was one of many takeaways from the PhotoPlus Expo seminar, “Your Picture on the Wall: Building a Career in Fine-art Photography,” which was held on Thursday, October 30 at the Javits Center in New York City.

Hosted by collector, curator and former gallerist W.M. Hunt, the panel included gallerists with different ideas and interests: Andrea Meislin and Sasha Wolf from New York, and Catherine Edelman from Chicago. While they may show different work, the gallerists all agreed that being pleasant and respectful goes a long way when you are trying to get a gallerist interested in your work.

Wolff told a story about an artist who came to all of her openings, was enthusiastic and pleasant, and all the while never asked to show Wolf her work. Instead, it was Wolf who asked to see her work.

Hunt recalled a letter he received from an artist who praised a talk he gave. The artist never mentioned his own work. “It was implicit that he wanted me to champion his work, but he didn’t ask for it,” Hunt says. Showing an appreciation for a gallerist’s time and the work they show, and being able to talk about how your own work might fit, shows that an artist has done some homework and has “an appreciation” for the gallerist, Hunt noted.

Appreciating the work a gallerist does also came up when the panel discussed the issue of exclusivity. Each said they preferred, and Wolf insisted, that they be the “home” gallery for the artists they represent. That means they handle responsibilities like recordkeeping, exhibition production and business for their artists. This didn’t mean they aren’t willing to have the artist show with other galleries, the panelists said. They just want all of those arrangements channeled through them. Edelman noted that she’d lost exclusive artists to galleries in New York City. She advised that artists not “use dealers” as stepping stones to larger galleries. “It’s a small world and we know each other,” Edelman noted.

On the perpetual question of print pricing, sizing and editions, Meislin suggested that photographers not offer images in more than two sizes, and said she doesn’t want the total number of prints available of a single image to exceed 10. “The smaller [the edition] the better,” she said. Wolf agreed, saying that collectors “feel good knowing that they have one of not very many.” She, too, felt that two sizes of prints was a good bet. She also added that she prices the work of artists who are new to her gallery based on the career they’ve had and what collections have purchased their work. She also looks at other artists who are at similar points in their careers. Meislin added that she also considers how much money goes into producing the work.

Artists should “have feeling about it,” Hunt said of their pricing. Artists should have done their homework and have an opinion, otherwise the conversation about pricing becomes “cumbersome,” he said.

All of the panelists agreed that image sizes should be appropriate for the work, and that big prints weren’t necessary or even preferred. Wolf talked about artist Bryan Schutmaat’s show, currently on view at her gallery. His portraits of people living rough lives in the West wouldn’t work as large prints, she said. But at the right size they are beautiful and powerful.

Edelman reminded the audience that artists can “always raise prices but can’t lower them.” Photographers should start low, and if an edition sells quickly the price should increase slowly.

The panelists also discussed making prints for special editions of books and for charity sales. Edelman said that when one of her artists wanted to offer a print with a special-edition book, she and the artist chose an image from an edition that was already sold out. That way they weren’t undercutting the market for the larger print of that image. (The print was also made at a smaller size for the book.) Hunt says that when photographers want to donate works to charity auctions, he advises them to print them differently and in “a weird size.” He also suggested they write all over the back of a print specifying that it was created for charity, and consider creating an edition specifically for donation purposes.

An audience member asked who should be responsible for framing, and all of the gallerists had different answers. Meislin said she expected artists to handle 50 percent of the production costs, and that she would front the artist’s 50 percent if necessary, but would recoup those costs when sales were made.

Edelman says she tries to get her artists to pay for production, but will ultimately pay for everything if an artist needs that. She noted that she’ll recoup the framing expenses when an artist sells a framed print if she’s paid for the production.

Wolf said she doesn’t want to pay for production, but she will. She reminded artists to keep in mind that they are not “in our league” in terms of the overhead gallerists have to come up with each month to keep their galleries open.

MFAs aren’t necessary, the panelists agreed. But they also agreed there was value in an MFA degree, not only creatively, but in the network it provides artists. Wolf noted that MFA teachers will call her to recommend artists.

To close, Hunt asked what had changed recently in the fine-art photography business. Wolf got the last word. “Tragedy abounds,” she said jokingly. “But I feel blessed, no matter what little things change.”

Related Stories: What To Expect From the Photographer/Gallery Relationship (For PDN subscribers; login required)
Selling Prints to Fund Books: It’s Complicated (For PDN subscribers; login required)
13 Tips For Building Your Fine-Art Network (For PDN subscribers; login required)

October 28th, 2014

PhotoPlus Expo 2014: On the Upbeat – A Conversation with Ben Folds

140312_tour_portraitMany PhotoPlus Expo goers will know Ben Folds from his day job as a multi-platinum selling singer/songwriter, touring solo artist and leader of the eponymous Ben Folds Five. What you may not know is that Folds is an avid photographer, enamored of his darkroom and a devotee of both film and digital techniques.

PDN’s Technology Editor Greg Scoblete interviewed Folds about his photography ahead of his PhotoPlus Expo keynote on Saturday, November 1. What follows is an edited transcript.

You’ve said that you became an “obsessive freak” about photography when your kids were born. That’s probably true of a lot of parents, at least in the infant stages, but yours turned into a more enduring passion. Why?


Ben Folds: I wasn’t happy with the glut of ‘evidence’ photographs.  I wanted something enduring and archival that could be framed or touched for years. In order to do that I needed to learn to print well, and I needed to make decisions about what spoke of their childhood… In the process, I became obsessive about the materials—the film, the cameras, the tools.

I know you keep a fully packed schedule between recording and touring. When and how do you work in photography? Is it a part of your daily life?


Ben Folds: It’s like a break. I can work without working. I find it relaxing to go through my shots on a plane or in a hotel. I’m always surprised how ‘productive’ I remain about photography.

A more prosaic question: what do you typically shoot with? What’s your photographic process look like?

Ben Folds: These days I shoot three ways: color with my Sony digital camera, which I generally convert to black and white; black-and-white digital with my Monochrom and black-and-white film with my old Rolleiflex.

I can develop my film in the bathroom, or more often with my schedule, I send it to a lab [where] I’ve had good results for a couple years. I just stay on the lightly ‘overexposed’ side and have them ‘pull’ the film and I get a good grey printable negative generally. The negatives I really like, I have scanned. I may soon invest in a crazy good scanner, but boy that is an investment. I don’t have a darkroom at the moment—it’s all in storage. I miss my darkroom.

On your photography website you write that archival prints that would last generations are a more eloquent representation of your children’s youth “than digital folders full of snapshots.” Beyond the longevity, what do you find compelling about prints? 


Ben Folds: They are real. Life is real. We do live online a lot, but we’re still creatures of the Earth. Printing and prints means something you can hold—and there’s limited space and time so you have to make a decision. You can’t be in two places at once and while you can keep a million files on a hard drive, they’re not really there until they’re printed.

There’s seems to be a similarity in the way the business models of photography and music have been impacted by the Internet and digital technology. What was once scarce is now plentiful and what was once a high barrier to entry is considerably lower. Are you optimistic about the ability of future artists — be they photographers or musicians — to earn a living? 

Ben Folds: I think we can earn a living.  I don’t think we can expect to be rich at it.

You’ve written that you photograph things on the upbeat rather than the downbeat. What do you mean by that? 

Ben Folds: The downbeat is where we all land. It’s predictable. It’s not that I don’t shoot the predictable, I just find that I’m drawn to the photos that were shot between the moments—between the poses, and between the subjects, somehow.

I’m no master of that, but I can feel it when I see it and I try to be spontaneous enough to hit the shutter before I even know why. That [approach], somehow, was easier with film. I know that’s weird, but something about knowing there are a limited number of exposures on a roll made me feel more dangerous.

Anyway, at the end of the day, it’s just about telling a story—you can make that more interesting in the way you tell it, when you tell it and how you frame it.

August 26th, 2014

Free Seminar Alert: David McLain on 4K Video Workflow

David_McLain2(Sponsored) Come see why 4K video is quickly becoming the new standard in video capture and learn about workflow options at this free seminar being conducted by National Geographic veteran photographer & Sony Artisan of Imagery David McLain.  At this seminar (one of three at a day-long event), you’ll experience how McLain used the Sony a7s full-frame interchangeable lens camera to cover the World Cup in Brazil and learn why professional photographers and videographers alike are moving to 4K video. August 28, 2014, 11:00 a.m. at the B&H SuperStore in New York City.

More information at: www.bhphotovideo.com/find/eventDetails.jsp/id/1879

For more on McLain’s filmmaking, see PDN’s “Frames Per Second: Documentary Film Traces the Roots of Play.”

July 29th, 2014

On Board with Duggal—PDN attends The Summer Duggal Gatsby Party

Photo District News and Rangefinder representatives. Photo © Morgana Skelton

Photo District News and Rangefinder representatives. Photo © Morgana Skelton

As a media partner, PDN was present at The Summer Gatsby Party thrown by Duggal Visual Solutions on June 26, along with staff from our sister publication Rangefinder. Clients, partners and friends of the Duggal brand were treated to four hours aboard a yacht circling New York City. The Great Gatsby-themed soiree asked attendees to arrive in all-white attire to set the mood for the evening event, which included live music, a catered dinner, an open bar, a photo booth and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, all aboard the Cornucopia Majesty Yacht. (more…)