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July 22nd, 2015

A Dream Tool: Erica Kelly Martin’s Passion for Medium Format Goes Digital

Sponsored by Ricoh Imaging America

Erica Kelly Martin’s fascination with medium-format photography can be traced back to a mirror hanging in her childhood bedroom, which echoed the aspect ratio of a medium-format frame, and which she believed had the power to lead her into a “magical world.” As a teenager, she experimented with medium-format box cameras. Her first real camera, she notes, was a Pentax Spotmatic, and later, the quintessential Pentax K1000. In those days, she says, the darkroom was also a magical place.

Today the Los Angeles-based photographer prefers to work on long-term photographic series about “the interior lives” of people. “How they manifest who they are,” she explains, “or what they would like to be.” Trying to cast off some of the more shallow Hollywood culture that she grew up with for authentic images, she makes work that delves deeper into the identities of her subjects to portray what she calls their “grace and inner light.”

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Photo © Erica Kelly Martin

“I believe all photographs are mental constructs, and reflect more about the mind and culture of the artist than about reality,” she explains. “Every picture is in a sense a self-portrait—sometimes we just use surrogates.”

Martin still dusts off her vintage medium-format film cameras on occasion for studio work, but before picking up the Pentax 645Z digital medium-format camera, shooting with a 35mm DSLR was her modus operandi. But now she wonders why she didn’t invest in a medium-format digital camera sooner. “I would like to shoot this way all the time,” she explains. “First of all, because of the optical quality—I just like the way larger format images look. The bokeh (background blur) is so luscious. Second of course is the image quality, which is so fantastic.”

Marissa at Blue Ranch

Photo © Erica Kelly Martin

While the fragility and expense of other digital medium-format cameras were too fragile for her to make the leap, the 645Z checks all the boxes. “It’s the first camera that made medium-format digital photography a possibility for me,” she says.

It’s the camera she takes along with her for activities as disparate as a wedding on a beach, a landscape shoot amongst canyons, or a portrait project in the studio. It’s also the camera she reaches for when she’s simply lounging around the pool.

She says she’s looking forward to trying out the “sturdy and weatherproofed” 645Z in more challenging conditions, like the Burning Man playa in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert—one of her favorite places to shoot. This means exposing it to harsh conditions: “windstorms blowing fine dust are a constant; as are extreme temperatures, knocking around on bicycles, climbing huge art installations, and dancing till dawn,” she says. In the past, she had to wrap her cameras in plastic, put them in waterproof cases, or tape them up to protect them. “All that got in the way of working in a fast-paced and demanding environment.”

“The main thing I look for in a camera system is that it behaves like an extension of my arm,” she continues. “It has to function on an intuitive level, and if things I want to easily accomplish are hidden deep in some menu, it interferes with my creative process.” She explains that her workflow is simplified with this camera. “The crop is right, the color rendition is spot on, and the sharpness and clarity are exceptional. I now realize how much I had to do to get 35mm images to look the way I wanted them.”

In addition, the aspect ratio of the 645Z reminds her of working with a Pentax 6×7 or a vintage 4×5 “and for some reason, I naturally see in that way,” she says. “This camera does it for me perfectly, as the native image aspect ratio is 4:3.” The 645Z also boasts a 51.4 megapixel CMOS sensor, which Martin says has the ability to bring the deepest shadows in an image “back from the dead” and a high ISO range (up to 204,800) for the ability to work in any type of lighting situation.

©EricaKellyMartin-SharonatIndianCanyon

Photo © Erica Kelly Martin

Because the subjects of Martin’s shoots vary—from the street to documentary projects to nature to architecture to portraiture — she needs a variety of lenses, Her glass of choice? “I presently have two of the prime lenses—the 55mm and the 90mm Macro, both of which are f/2.8. [They] are my go-to lenses for what I shoot. I am looking forward to trying out the 120mm Macro and perhaps a zoom of some sort, as well as the 75 mm ‘Pancake’ lens for street work.”

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Martin says she’s feeling greatly inspired while shooting with this camera, and is even considering the transition into the moving image, knowing she now has what she calls, “a creative tool to match my imagination.”

To learn more about Pentax 645z, visit www.us.ricoh-imaging.com/645z/ and see more of Erica Martin’s work, visit www.ericakellymartin.com

 

 

July 1st, 2015

MoMA’s New Photography Show Expands, Explores “Ocean of Images”

© 2015 Lele Saveri "The Newsstand. 2013–14." Mixed medium installation. Courtesy the artist.

© 2015 Lele Saveri “The Newsstand. 2013–14.” Mixed medium installation. Courtesy the artist.

The Museum of Modern Art has announced that it has selected 19 photographers to be shown in the 2015 edition of its “New Photography” exhibition, opening in November.  The number of photographers in this year’s show is more than double the museum’s previous selections – and that’s appropriate, given that the subtitle of this year’s New Photography exhibition is “Ocean of Images.” 
 
The exhibition will examine the ubiquity of photography today and what the museum describes in its press release as “the Internet as a vortex of images, a site of piracy and a system of networks.” Many of the exhibited photographers experiment with moving images, online remixes of images, installations and images turned into three-dimensional objects.

The title of the photo is provocative in part because it isn’t new.  In a 2014 interview with PDN, MoMA’s chief curator of photography, Quentin Bajac, noted that back in the 1920s and 1930s, critics noted “the ocean of new images, that blizzard of images that is due to the arrival of the illustrated press.”

What will be new in “New Photography 2015″ may be the methods by which the exhibiting artists embrace the abundance of digital images. As Bajac told PDN, “Maybe each generation has that feeling that that new amount of images is going to be difficult to absorb, and yet they do.”

The artists in New Photography 2015 are:
Ilit Azoulay (Israeli, b. 1972)
Zbyněk Baladrán (Czech, b. 1973)
Lucas Blalock (American, b. 1978)
Edson Chagas (Angolan, b. 1977)
Natalie Czech (German, b. 1976)
DIS (Collective, founded in New York in 2010)
Katharina Gaenssler (German, b. 1974)
David Hartt (Canadian, b. 1967)
Mishka Henner (Belgian, b. 1976)
David Horvitz  (American, b. 1982)
John Houck (American, b. 1977)
Yuki Kimura (Japanese, b. 1971)
Anouk Kruithof (Dutch, b. 1981)
Basim Magdy (Egyptian, b. 1977)
Katja Novitskova (Estonian, b. 1984)
Marina Pinsky (Russian, b. 1986)
Lele Saveri (Italian, b. 1980)
Indrė Šerpytytė (Lithuanian, b. 1983)
Lieko Shiga (Japanese, b. 1980).

Now in its 30th year, the “New Photography” exhibition has been a showcase and springboard for photographers from around the world, including Mikhael Subotzky, Rineke Dijkstra, Doug Rickard and Viviane Sassen.

“New Photography 2015: Ocean of Images” is curated by Bajac, Senior Curator Roxana Marcoci, and Assistant Curator Lucy Gallun.

When the exhibition opens, MoMA will launch an online platform to show the archive of the New Photography exhibitions of the past 30 years.

Related Articles
MoMA’s New Chief Photo Curator Turns to Studio Photography for First Show

April 10th, 2015

Arne Svenson Exonerated on Appeal in Privacy Invasion Case

From Arne Svenson's series "The Neighbors" ©Arne Svenson

From Arne Svenson’s series “The Neighbors” ©Arne Svenson

A New York State appeals court court has upheld a lower court ruling that rejected privacy invasion claims against fine-art photographer Arne Svenson. But the court has also challenged the New York state legislature to consider legislation to prohibit what Svenson did: photograph his neighbors inside their apartments through their un-curtained windows.

Svenson was sued by Martha and Matthew Foster in 2013 for using a telephoto lens to photograph them and other neighbors through the windows of their apartments, then displaying the images in art galleries for sale as fine-art prints.

The invasion of privacy committed by Svenson was not actionable, state appeals court judge Dianne T. Renwick wrote in a unanimous decision handed down yesterday, “because [Svenson’s] use of the images in question constituted art work and thus is not deemed ‘use for advertising or trade purposes,’ within the meaning of the statute.” (more…)

March 20th, 2015

On Showing Both Commercial & Fine-Art Work: Emily Shur’s Advice

Emily Shur's photograph of Kevin Hart for Men's Health. © Emily Shur

Emily Shur’s photograph of Kevin Hart for Men’s Health. © Emily Shur

"Hotel Pool, Osaka-fu," is part of Shur's ongoing project about Japan. © Emily Shur

“Hotel Pool, Osaka-fu,” is part of Shur’s ongoing project about Japan. © Emily Shur

Emily Shur recently posted on her Tumblr about two of her images (above) being selected for American Photography 31, each shot for very different purposes. One is a portrait of the comedian Kevin Hart commissioned by Men’s Health; the other, a photograph of a hotel pool in Osaka, Japan, that is part of a long-term personal project. While building her career as a commercial and editorial photographer, Shur has also made a point of showing and promoting her personal projects at portfolio reviews, on her site and to her social media audience. She also recently published a book of her work from Japan.

In her Tumblr post, Shur made some interesting observations about how, in a photographer’s career, the pursuits of commercial work and personal work seem, at times, to be in opposition to one another. She also addressed the concern that it might be detrimental or counterproductive for “commercial photographers” to show personal, fine-art photographs that may appear to differ completely from their commissioned images.

We asked Shur for permission to publish excerpts of her blog post here, because we though it might resonate with readers of PDNPulse who aspire to be successful both commercially and with their personal work. (more…)

March 13th, 2015

Blake Little’s Preservation: Dipped in Honey

© Blake Little

© Blake Little

Photographer and artist Blake Little’s new project, Preservation, kicked off a run at the Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles (March 7 – April 18) with a book also available now. The behind-the-scenes video on YouTube (NSFW) drew over 2 million views in a little over a month and a deluge of comments (690 as this was published), including persistent criticism about the use of honey and a dog as a subject. We reached out to Little via email for his thoughts on the project and the reaction it sparked online. (more…)

February 23rd, 2015

Artist Residency for Photographers of Color: Deadline February 28

© Rose Wind Jerome. Photographer Maria Buyondo working at the Center for Photography at Woodstock on her handmade book, Where No One Can See Me.

© Rose Wind Jerome. Photographer Maria Buyondo working at the Center for Photography at Woodstock on her handmade book, Where No One Can See Me.

The artist-in-residency program at the Center for Photography at Woodstock supports artists of color working in the photographic arts who reside in the US. The residency comes with an honorarium, a stipend for food and travel, and access to the Center’s darkroom and assistants. Equally important, the AIR provides artists time to work on projects without the interruptions or distractions of everyday life. Applications for the next CPW residency program must be postmarked February 28 or earlier.

For insights into how photographers have successfully landed this prestigious residency in the past — and how they used their quiet time in upstate New York — check out our article, “Anatomy of a Successful Grant Application: Center for Photography at Woodstock,” and read the comments by photographers Caleb Ferguson and Maria Buyondo and CPW executive director Ariel Shanberg.

An application and submission guidelines are available on the CPW website.

Related articles
Anatomy of a Successful Grant Application: Center for Photography at Woodstock

13 Tips for Building Your Fine-Art Network

Donna J. Wan on the Center for Photography at Woodstock Artist Residency

February 9th, 2015

PDN Video Pick: Office Scene (“Today, I’m going to let them touch me”)

Photographer Endia Beal’s video “Office Scene” demonstrates how it is possible to make strong, compelling video with almost nothing, if you’re smart about it.

The video is a foray into the discomfort zone of inter-office race and personal relations. Beal, who is African American, heard rumors around a corporate office she worked in that several of her white male colleagues were fascinated by her hair. So she decided to let them touch it–on the conditions that they really dig their hands in, and agree to talk on tape afterwards about how the experience felt to them. Amazingly enough, they agreed. “I transform into a voyeuristic actress fulfilling the desires of my male colleagues,” Beal explains. She uses just two video shots to tell the story. By focusing her camera on the banal and stripping the visuals down to a minimum, she’s able to use the audio to maximum effect, leaving much to the imagination of the viewer.

Beal projected this video, along with her more recent (and equally compelling) “9 to 5″ video, at the National Geographic Photography Seminar last month in Washington, DC.

She explained at that seminar that her work is intended to push conversation about the experience of women of color in corporate America, particularly about issues that people are afraid to talk about. Beal credited Tod Papageorge with pushing her to use photography to explore her own experiences while she was enrolled in the MFA photography program at Yale.

“I said, ‘[Those experiences are] so intimate and personal to me,'” she recounted. “He said, ‘Those are the stories that need to be told.’ So I took the risk. I had no idea that something so personal and private could be universally translated, that other people could understand, that a minority woman could speak to the universal.

“The history of photography for minority women is still being written,” she continued. “I think about Deborah Willis, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Deana Lawson, Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson–all these wonderful women. But our book is really short. If I can add a couple of photographs to that narrative, then I’ve done my job.”

Related:
Look3: Carrie Mae Weems on Race, Sexuality, History and Finding Meaningful Work

December 23rd, 2014

PDNPulse: Top Stories of 2014

As another fascinating year in the world of professional photography comes to a close, we look back on the stories that drew the most interest from PDNPulse readers this year.

From manipulated news photos, to photographers arrested for doing their jobs, to collaborative efforts between photographers and an interview with one of photography’s most influential star makers, these stories capture some of the highs and lows of the photography business today.

1: George Steinmetz Wonders: Was It Worth Getting Arrested for National Geographic Cover Story Photos

2: 2014 Winter Olympics Op-Ed: Everything You’ve Read About Problems for Photographers in Sochi is True

3: PDN Video: Lens Blog’s James Estrin’s Career Tips for Photojournalists

4: Photographers Share Intimate Images of Loved Ones for Curated Photo Website

5: AP Severs Ties With Photographer Narciso Contreras Over Photoshopped Image
5a: Photographer Fired by AP Says Decision Was Fair, But Process Wasn’t

6: How Much Do Editorial Clients Pay? “Wiki” Gives Names and Fees

7: If that Kim Kardashian Photo Looks Familiar…

8: Calumet Photographic to Liquidate, Closes U.S. Stores

9: Photographer Creates Free iPhone App for His Signature Style

10: Wal-mart Sues Photographer’s Widow Claiming Copyright for Decades of Portraits of Walton Family

11: Suffolk County Pays $200K to Settle News Photographer’s Unlawful Arrest Claim

12: How Should Clients React to Sexual Coercion Allegations Against Terry Richardson?

13: AP Photographer Anja Niedringhaus Killed in Afghanistan

14: Cowboy Lifestyle Photographer David Stoecklein Dies, 65

15: Photojournalist Camille Lapage, 26, “Murdered” in Central African Republic

December 17th, 2014

Phase One Intros A-Series Medium Format Cameras (For Real This Time)

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Phase One and Alpa have officially announced the first products following their September 2014 partnership announcement. News of the A-series had surfaced  earlier this year when Phase One dealer Digital Transitions posted some preliminary details online.

The new Phase One A-series cameras combine an Alpa 12TC mirrorless camera body and a Phase One medium format IQ2 A-series back.

There will be three cameras in the new series.

The A250, for $47,000, uses Phase’s IQ250 50-megapixel CMOS-based camera back and can also display a live view feed on an iOS device for focus assist capabilities. The A260 uses the IQ260 back and will retail for $48,000. Finally, the A280 will use the IQ280 back and will set you back a cool $55,000.

All of the A-series cameras will ship with a 35mm Rodenstock Alpar lens. At launch, there will be two other lenses available for the system: an Alpagon f/5.6 23mm for $9,070 and an Alpa HR Alpagon f5.6 70mm for $4,520.

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All of the A-series lens profiles are factory calibrated and preloaded on the IQ2 A-series digital backs, eliminating the need to manually create and apply LCC profiles. You can select the lens you’re using in the camera menu and corrections are  automatically processed when importing to Capture One Pro 8.1, according to Phase One.

Phase One A-Series systems ship with Capture One Pro 8.1 software as well as Capture Pilot 1.8 for remote viewing on iOS devices. New accessories, such as lens shades, phone mounting hardware and shimming kits will also be available to support the new line.

The A-series is available now.

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December 8th, 2014

Obituary: Street Photographer Arthur Leipzig, 86

Arthur Leipzig, a documentary photographer who captured daily life in New York City, died on Friday, December 5, 2014, at his home in Sea Cliff, N.Y., The New York Times reports.  He was 96.

A high-school dropout, Leipzig studied under Sid Grossman at the Photo League, enrolling in 1941 after he injured his hand in an industrial accident. He soon after joined the staff of the daily newspaper PM, and began photographing the children of New York City, work later immortalized in the 1994 book Growing Up in New York. Leipzig claimed he was inspired by the Flemish painter Pierter Bruegel the Elder and his depictions of children’s games in Renaissance-era Flanders.

51g-CDLasdL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_He was born Isidore Leipzig on Oct. 25, 1918, in Brooklyn, NY, but never used his first name, and legally changed it to Arthur when he came of age. Leipzig lost his sight in his left eye while covering a story on backyard skating rinks, but still retained enough depth perception to continue in photography.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City included his work in its exhibition of photography’s “New Faces” in 1946, and his photo “Sleeping Child” was exhibited as part of “Photography in the Fine Arts” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1960. Leipzig’s work is a part of the permanent collections of the MoMA, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris. His photos were exhibited in 24 solo shows, and he published four books of photography. From 1968–1991, he taught art at C.W. Post College of Long Island University, and in 2004 he was given the Lucie Award for fine arts photography by the Lucie Foundation.

He is survived by his wife of 72 years, the former Mildred Levin; his daughter, Judith; his son, Joel; three grandsons and a great-granddaughter.