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March 25th, 2016

Eli Durst Wins 2016 Aperture Portfolio Prize

Photographer Eli Durst has won the 2016 Aperture Portfolio Prize for his series “In Asmara.” The prize, which includes $3,000 and an exhibition at Aperture Gallery in New York, is intended to identify trends in contemporary photography and highlight artists whose work deserves greater recognition, according to Aperture. Past winners include LaToya Ruby Frazier, Michal Chelbin, and Bryan Schutmaat.

From Eli Durst's series, "In Asmara," Aperture Portfolio Prize winner.

From Eli Durst’s series, “In Asmara.” Photo © Eli Durst.

“In Asmara” documents Durst’s time visiting the capital city of East African country Eritrea. The city is renowned for its large collection of intact modernist buildings, however, Durst’s series documents the life going on around the buildings—a trash dump, a table set for dinner, the backseat of a car.

Runners up for this year’s prize are Bill Durgin, Sean Thomas Foulkes and RaMell Ross. Their work will be featured on Aperture’s website. They will also have the opportunity to participate in the Aperture Foundation limited-edition print program.

Durst grew up in Texas and graduated from Wesleyan University in 2011. After college he assisted photographer Joel Meyerowitz and worked at the fine-art printing studio Griffin Editions. He is currently pursuing an MFA in photography at the Yale School of Art.

 

March 16th, 2016

Ansel Adams, an Appreciation

We live in an era where photography is so pervasive and ephemeral that apps get multi-billion dollar valuations on the promise of deleting your images.

It’s a state of affairs that would no doubt flummox Ansel Adams, who saw in photography the possibility for “endless horizons of meaning” (today, it’s endless horizons of memes).

Readers are no doubt intimately familiar with Adams’ life and work, but we still found this short video appreciation of the master enjoyable. It details Adams’ growth as a photographer, his technique and his legacy in an era of image overload.

Enjoy.

Read More:
Explore the History of Photography in Kodak’s Vault

Hidden History of the Zoom Lens

A Brief History of Long-Lens Gotchas

 

February 29th, 2016

Roger Ballen on Photographers vs. Artists

To some, being an artist and a photographer is a distinction without a difference.

But according to Roger Ballen, that’s not always the case. In this short piece produced the Cooperative of Photography, Ballen offers seven distinguishing characteristics that set photographers-as-photographers apart from photographers-as-artists.

Have a look at let us know what you think.

 

February 17th, 2016

The 1,000 Year Palladiums Documenting Japan’s Natural Beauty

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 9.02.40 AM

It’s one of the ironies of the digital age that images taken with the most modern technology have very uncertain prospects for the future–at least until the Superman crystal memory gets perfected and commercialized. But images taken with some of the oldest photographic technologies actually enjoy some of the longest life spans.

Enter Japanese nature photographer Nobuyuki Kobayashi. He’s paired Hosokawa paper with platinum palladium printing to create prints that Kobayashi claims will last for 1,000 years.

This documentary, produced by augment 5, takes a deep dive into Kobayashi’s process and work exploring Japan’s natural wonders.

You can view the whole piece here:

Hat tip: Michael Zhang

February 5th, 2016

Great Weekend Reads in Photography and Filmmaking

Jon Westra | Flickr

Jon Westra | Flickr

 

“People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.” ― Logan Pearsall Smith

How Photography Became a Modern ArtChristies

10 Myths About the Rule of ThirdsIPox Studios

How the NY Times Is Using Old Images to Tell Stories It MissedPoynter

Shooting and Editing a Huge Indian Wedding Using Just an iPhone – Rangefinder

The FAA’s Drone Registry Is a Privacy NightmareEngadget

11 Reasons Why Virtual Reality Still Stinks Mashable

Famed War Photographer Don McCullin on Risk, War & GuiltGlobe & Mail

One of the Most Radical, Daring Photo Expositions Ever Feature Shoot

The Putin of Chechnya’s Flair for InstagramNew Yorker

Craft Guild Nominations vs. the OscarsVariety

Want more links? Check out past Weekend Reads here.

January 15th, 2016

Great Photography and Filmmaking Reads for Your Weekend

Barta IV | Flickr

Barta IV | Flickr

There were plenty of great reads published this week–hopefully you can block off a quiet hour or two to enjoy them.

Gregory Crewdson on Being an Art Photographer TodayVogue

Annie Leibovitz on Shooting Rock StarsBiography

Meet the Man Who Photographed David Bowie for 40 YearsVice

The Challenges of Managing an Archive of FilmEmulsive 

How Photographers Find and Define MeaningRangefinder

Trying to Reinvent a Foundering Movie BusinessNew Yorker

Who Controls Your Facebook Feed?Slate

“Making a Murder” and the Shift in Documentary FilmmakingReview Journal

A Stunning Portfolio Inspired by Frank Lloyd WrightCurbed

Find past Weekend Reads here.

January 15th, 2016

What Makes a Photographer?

Smartphones have made picture-taking and images abundant commodities. But has this glut encroached on the art and craft of photography? Ken Van Sickle doesn’t think so. In this short interview with PBS, the New York-based photographer offers his thoughts on what it means to be a photographer today.

“What a great photographer does is, they are consistently able to make something in a style that’s personal to themselves,” he says.

Enjoy.

January 4th, 2016

Photographer Sues Richard Prince Over Instagram Rip-offs… At Last

"Rastafarian Smoking a Joint" ©Donald Graham

“Rastafarian Smoking a Joint” ©Donald Graham

Photographer Donald Graham has sued appropriation artist Richard Prince and his gallerist Lawrence Gagosian for copyright infringement of a photo that appeared without Graham’s authorization on Instagram, and then in a gallery exhibition of Prince’s appropriation work.

Prince drew public complaints and vitriol last year for unauthorized reproduction, display and sale of a series of 67 x 55-inch inkjet prints of Instagram “screen saves” of images by other artists and photographers. But Graham is the first to sue.

The Los Angeles-based photographer filed suit in federal court in New York on December 30, alleging unauthorized use of a 1996 photograph (shown here) of a Rastafarian man lighting a joint. Graham alleges in his claim that a third party posted his photograph on Instagram without permission, and that Prince copied and enlarged that unauthorized photo and displayed it as part of his 2014 “New Portraits” exhibition.

Graham’s complaint calls Prince out for “his blatant disregard for copyright law” and goes on to say that “Mr. Prince consistently and repeatedly has incorporated others’ works” into his own works, without permission, credit or compensation. (more…)

December 14th, 2015

Free Toolkit and Video Series Provide Business Education for Artists

It’s difficult for many artists to think rigidly about time management, goal setting, branding, marketing, social media strategy and other decidedly business-like actions, but that’s exactly what a new, free artist’s education series from Creative Exchange proposes artists do.

Work of Art, as the video and workbook series is called, was produced from a professional development and entrepreneurship curriculum that has been taught to artists at colleges and cultural institutions for the past five years. Based on input from working artists, the curriculum aims to give both current and would-be artists the tools to run a successful creative business.

Creative Exchange, the organization that developed the Work of Art curriculum, is a national organization that connects and educates artists and community leaders in an effort to strengthen communities at a local level.

Topics covered in the workbook and video series include career planning, time management, portfolios, marketing, social media, pricing, recordkeeping, legal considerations, funding and business plan writing. In each topic category, the workbook suggests written exercises that will help an artist do things like define their brand, set goals and make personal assessments. One of the workbook tasks, for example, is to create an “Accountability Mailer.” The artist is encouraged to define goals for a six-month period, and to mail or give a copy of those goals to a person who will hold them accountable.

It may be difficult for the creative-minded to see their life and work structured like a Six Sigma certification course. However, with a focus on clear thought, organization and goal-driven work, the Work of Art toolkit has the potential to give artists more of what they really want and need: time in the day to focus on their creative work.

Related: What I Didn’t Learn in Art School: Life Lessons from Photographers (subscriber login required)
Advice From the Trenches for Graduating Photography Students
13 Tips For Building Your Fine-Art Network (subscriber login required)

October 24th, 2015

PhotoPlus Expo 2015: Photo Book Editors on How to Publish Your Photo Book

There may not be much money in photo book publishing, but is money a photographer’s only reason to publish a book? As Aperture book program publisher Lesley Martin said, “Books have become an integral part of photographic practice.” So for the legions of  photographers driven to publish a photo book despite the costs, a panel of experts gathered at PhotoPlus Expo to explain the how-to. Besides Martin, panelists included Abrams publisher Michael Sand, veteran book editor and agent Robert Morton, and photographer Lauren Henkin. PDN Editor Holly Stuart Hughes moderated the discussion.

The panelists discussed how to conceptualize a book project, how to pitch it to publishers, how to raise funds for publication, and how to market your book once it is published.

As veteran book editor and agent Robert Morton explained, technology has dramatically changed the photo book business. On the one hand, it’s easier than ever for photographers to create a book themselves thanks to online, on-demand publishing. On the other hand, photo books are much harder to sell because independent bookstores have closed by the hundreds, so potential buyers of photo books have no good way to browse. “Amazon doesn’t show you what’s inside the book,” he said.

The editors on the panel strongly advised against publishing albums of personal work. “Your material has to have a subject,” Morton said. “If it’s purely personal work, you’re going to have a hard time coming up with a subject. Fine art books that are purely and simply a photographer’s vision of the world are almost impossible to sell, [and were] even in the days when there were 4,000 bookstores.”

Hughes directed the audience to the Princeton Architectural Press submission guidelines for authors interested in pitching book ideas. Its questionnaire requires authors to figure out who the primary and secondary audiences are for their proposed book, to research comparable titles to the books they are proposing and answer other tough questions. The questionnaire had been recommended by Mary Virginia Swanson, co-author of Publish Your Photography Book. http://mvswanson.com/tag/publish-your-photography-book

“It gets to the heart of [the question]: Why does the world need your book?” Quoting Swanson, Hughes said, “If you can answer the questions, you can [pitch your book project] to any editor.”

Sand ran through his list of “14 thoughts on placing your book with a commercial publisher.” The list underscored the difficulty of getting a commercial trade publisher to publish and market photo book. Some of the items on Sand’s how-to list included:

1. Be famous. (Sand pointed to Drew Barrymore’s books of snapshots titled Find It in Everything)
2. Be famous and dead (e.g., Ansel Adams)
3. Be famous, live a complicated life, and write about it. (e.g., Sally Mann)
5. Get in a helicopter for a fresh perspective (e.g., George Steinmetz)
6. Associate with interesting people (e.g., Todd Selby, creator of The Selby)
9. Animals make good subjects
10. Consider food [cookbooks]

Martin explained that the two critical issues for publishers and self-publishers alike are how to pay for the production, printing, and distribution of a book, and how to find potential buyers in order to sell the book. A non-profit publisher, Aperture has traditionally raised funds through grants and print sales, but has recently worked with photographers by running Kickstarter crowd-funding campaigns —a strategy that not only raises money, but also helps to pre-sell copies of a book. For instance, a Kickstarter campaign for Richard Renaldi’s Touching Strangers book raised $80,000 in pre-publication book sales. Another Kickstarter campaign for Robin Schwartz’s Amelia & the Animals raised about $30,000.

Martin advised the audience that “the photo book community is a self-organized, highly networked, international community. So be part of it.” For instance, web sites such as Photobookclub.org offer resources and ideas for marketing a photo book–at festivals, book fairs, meet up, and through photo blogs. She also referred the audience to The Photobook Review, a free, twice-a-year publication from Aperture about book publishing. And Martin noted that “one of the myths of self-publishing is that have to do [everything] yourself. You don’t.” She added that the most successful books are the result of a collaborative effort.

And that has been the experience of Henkin, who has self-published several successful fine art books since 2010.

Having studied architecture, Henkin is as much concerned with materiality and scale of the books as she is with the content. Her books, which she has produced in editions of a few hundred,  are collectible as objects, as she discovered when she set about figuring out who might be interested in buying her first book. She found interest among a community of special collections librarians, who led her to private rare book dealers and collectors.

“I banged on a lot of doors to build that audience,” she said.

Her third (and most recent) book, Still Standing, Standing Still, is a sculptural object. It contains just 14 images of a single tree, place in a wooden box. The images are mounted on a stiff backing, and bound so they can be displayed radially on top of the box. Viewers can then walk around and view the images as if they’re walking around the tree Henkin photographed.

Henkin made 300 copies of the book, and priced it at $500. It sold out in a day.

by David Walker

Related:
You’ve Published Your Photo Book. Now How Do You Market It?
How to Pitch Your Photo Book to Publishers
Leveraging an Online Audience to Atrract Book Publishers
Lauren Henkin: How (and Why) to Hand-Make Your Photo Book