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May 16th, 2013

Photolucida: Portfolio Reviews From the Photographer’s Side of the Table

Lamb-HopewellFurn

© Eliza Lamb, from her series “Hopewell.”

By Eliza Lamb

As a photographer I find that portfolio reviews are the perfect combination of exhaustion and exhilaration, community and competition, motivation and humility. After I returned from a whirlwind four days in Portland, Oregon at Photolucida I was still coming off the high of it all. I found myself trying to integrate the connections I’d made and the feedback I’d gotten with the life I knew and the assumptions I held before I left. Sorting through piles of leave behinds, business cards, signed books and pages full of notes, I was struck by feelings of accomplishment and uneasiness, and by my downright good fortune for being able to be a part of such an amazing community.

The process of creating visual art can be very isolating and often involves years of self-reflection, pondering and personal expense, punctuated by both excitement and doubt. It can feel antisocial as we create our images and crawl back into our studios or sit in front of our computer screens for hours upon hours of editing, processing and contemplating. Having trained for years as an actress and receiving instant gratification, I find it can be near maddening putting your work out there to radio silence. But portfolio reviews are a way for photographers to join together to gain feedback, camaraderie and opportunities, to gather despite their home locations or educational training and present their work to the community as equals with common passions, goals and frustrations. (more…)

May 15th, 2013

Awards, Book Fairs, Exhibitions and Other Photo Happenings

Exhibitions and Other Happenings:

TOMORROW! Columbia College Chicago is hosting an informal portfolio review for their graduating photography students from 5-8pm tomorrow, May 16. Creative professionals are invited to go check out the work of this group of young photographers. There will be food and drink and conversations about photography. http://www.colum.edu/industryevents/events/photography-review.php

The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center is holding their fourth annual Book Fair. Participants include MACK Books, Printed Matter, Vox Populi, Light Work and Houseboat Press, among many others. It’s a fair of photo books. Nuff said.
http://www.philaphotoarts.org/events/annual-book-fair/

An exhibition of the work of 50 photographers selected as finalists in the 2013 Critical Mass competition opens this Friday at Jennifer Schwartz Gallery in Atlanta. The exhibition is curated by W.M. Hunt. http://www.jenniferschwartzgallery.com/critical-mass-top-50-exhibition/

This is very cool: United Photo Industries and New York Waterway’s East River Ferry people are partnering to exhibit photographs on weekday ferries throughout the summer. The project kicked off this week, and it will include water-related photography by Joni Sternbach, Stephen Mallon, David Doubilet, Andreas Franke, Corey Arnold and Eric Prinvault. http://unitedphotoindustries.com/special-projects/drawn-to-water/ (more…)

May 8th, 2013

Upcoming Photo Events, and Current Competition and Award Deadlines

Awards and Competitions:

2013 Pierre and Alexandra Boulat Award
The Pierre and Alexandra Boulat Award for journalism was created in honor of the late VII Photo founder Alexandra Boulat and her father, Pierre. Sponsored by Canon, the award carries an 8,000 Euro prize, and is given to “a professional photographer of any age, sex or nationality who wishes to cover a social, economic, political or cultural issue in a journalistic manner.” Entries for the award are due by June 7, 2013, and the winner will be announced at Visa Pour l’Image in Perpignan in September. Entry is free.

18th Annual Photo Competition Exhibition
Seattle’s Photo Center Northwest is accepting entries for their annual juried exhibition. Entries selected by this year’s juror, collector and curator John Bennette, will be exhibited at Photo Center Northwest in August and September of this year. The deadline for entries is May 18, 2012. (more…)

April 30th, 2013

A Tribute to David Goldblatt, ICP’s 2013 Lifetime Achievement Honoree

David Goldblatt, The Transported of the KwaNdebele: Travellers from KwaNdebele buying weekly season tickets at the PUTCO bus depot in Marabastad, Pretoria, 1983. © David Goldbatt/The Goodman Gallery

The Transported of the KwaNdebele: Travellers from KwaNdebele buying weekly season tickets at the PUTCO bus depot in Marabastad, Pretoria, 1983. © David Goldbatt/The Goodman Gallery

Imagine photographs by Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson.  Wait a moment, then imagine some more by Diane Arbus and others by Sebastian Salgado.  Good.  Being the sort of person who reads this blog, you probably just conjured a dozen or more vividly remembered images in your mind’s eye.

Now imagine a photograph by David Goldblatt.  Thought so.  Unless you’re a fellow South African or one of his fans, you probably drew a blank.  He’s one of the world’s most honored living photographers, a man who is greatly respected and, yet, is little known.  It’s a paradox.

On Wednesday evening, when the International Center of Photography [ICP] confers on him its Cornell Capa Lifetime Achievement Award, Goldblatt will collect yet another prestigious award.  He’ll add this to his resume, right above the 2006 Hasselblad Award, 2009 Henri Cartier-Bresson Award, and the 2010 Lucie Award for Lifetime Achievement.

As prestigious as those honors surely are, they’re little more than the icing on a magnificent cake.  Over a 50-year career, Goldblatt has been the subject of exhibitions at major museums in Europe, Africa, and North America, including solo shows at the Museum of Modern Art, in 1998, and the Jewish Museum, in 2010.  In addition, leading publishers of photography have produced a dozen books devoted to his work.

It’s an impressive list of accomplishments by any measure.  So, why isn’t Goldblatt’s photography as well known as his name?  And what’s his photography all about anyway?  (more…)

April 26th, 2013

Alec Soth on Wandering, Storytelling and Robert Adams vs. Weegee

Last week at the Portland Art Museum as part of the 2013 Photolucida festivities, Alec Soth gave a lecture titled “From Here to There: Searching for Narrative in Photography.” The talk could have been titled “Searching for Narrative in Photography Lectures,” because Soth mostly allowed the audience to lead the way with questions, which he responded to with the aid of a number of prepared slideshows. The evening was free-form, entertaining and a bit wandering, which made sense given that Soth emphasized that wandering and taking pictures without a set goal in mind has produced some of his most important bodies of work. But more on that later.

Soth started on a down note, sharing a quote from Robert Frank—“There are too many images, too many cameras now. We’re all being watched. It gets sillier and sillier. As if all action is meaningful. Nothing is really all that special. It’s just life. If all moments are recorded, then nothing is beautiful and maybe photography isn’t an art any more. Maybe it never was.” He also showed a photograph of an installation by Erik Kessels: a pile of prints made from all of the images uploaded to Flickr in a 24-hour period.

Soth described the perspectives offered by the Frank quote and Kessels’ installation as “bleak.” But, he said, the “way out of this [bleak situation for photographers] is storytelling.” (more…)

April 25th, 2013

Richard Prince Wins Appeal; Court Overturns Infringement Ruling

A federal appeals court has ruled that artist Richard Prince did not infringe photographer Patrick Cariou’s copyrights by reproducing several dozen of Cariou’s images without permission. The appeals court said 25 out of 30 works by Prince at the center of the dispute made fair use of Cariou’s photographs.

The decision reversed a lower court ruling that held Prince liable for infringement.

Click here for the full story.

April 23rd, 2013

Eggleston to Photo Community: Don’t Bother Me

Reclusive photographer William Eggleston has deigned to take a few written questions from photographers, curators, and fans, and the questions, along with his responses, were published yesterday in British newspaper The Independent.

Among those who posed questions were Martin Parr, Nina Berman, Alec Soth, Jason Evans, Tate Modern photo curator Simon Baker, and Brett Rogers, director of The Photographers’ Gallery in London.

Eggleston’s terse, deadpan responses reveal so little beyond his disinterest in the exchange that readers might be left wondering: Why did he bother? One possibility is that he needs to come out periodically and remind everyone that he doesn’t talk about his work, so stay the heck away. That said, if Eggleston has to put up with the type of bizarre, irrelevant questions that he was asked (e.g., What building would you like to blow up?), he might be forgiven for hiding.

April 12th, 2013

Ballet and Skateboarding Mix in Limited Edition Decks From Henry Leutwyler

leutwyler-ballet-skate-decks-pulse

Earlier this year we wrote in our Exposures column about Henry Leutwyler’s project photographing the New York City Ballet. One of the photographs in his book and exhibition depicted the grit behind the grace of ballet, contrasting a ballerina’s bandaged and bloodied bare right foot with her left foot as an audience might normally see it, wrapped in a pointe shoe.

Leutwyler, an appreciator of both the artform of ballet and the sport of skateboarding, sees the parallels between the two, so he created a limited edition set of decks from the image. Check them out, here.

April 12th, 2013

Recap of the PDN’s 30: Strategies for Young Working Photogs Panel at SVA

During this week’s PDN’s 30 panel discussion at the School of Visual Arts Theatre, perseverance, personality and community emerged as common themes in the early careers of 2013 PDN’s 30 photographers Geordie Wood, Lisa Elmaleh and Bon Duke.

PDN editor Holly Stuart Hughes moderated the panel, which also included Readers Digest photo director Rebecca Simpson Steele and Sony Artisan of Imagery Brian Smith.

Wood, an editorial photographer who is also the photo editor at the Fader, said that he chose to assist rather than working an unrelated day job while he was starting out as a way to stay in the photo community. He also emphasized the importance to his career of a group of fellow photographers who share information, introduce one another to clients and exchange ideas in person and online. “Photography,” he said, “is much more fun as a team sport.”

When the bottom dropped out of the economy right after she graduated from SVA and she found herself out of work, Elmaleh, a fine-art photographer and teacher who works with alternative processes, asked friends in the photo community for leads and found work teaching carbon printing at the Center for Alternative Photography. She also assisted photographers Joni Sternbach and Mitch Epstein, before beginning to teach classes at SVA. “We really have to cobble it together,” Elmaleh said of making a living as a fine-art photographer.

Internships with magazines and production companies, and connections to fellow SVA student working in design or cinematography helped Duke, who does editorial and commercial fashion work and films, learn about different aspects of the creative business and make connections. Talking with design students, for instance, helped him understand how his images would work with text in layouts for ads or editorial pages. He also pointed out that students studying other creative disciplines go on to become art directors.

Duke also emphasized that learning how to communicate with creatives in a collaborative way so he could stick up for what he wanted creatively was an important step. Duke says that, on set, he is nice to everyone and “treats everyone as equals.”

Elmaleh’s work has been supported by several grants, and she underlined the importance of perseverance in applying for funding. She said she’s never gotten a grant the first time she applied for it, and suggested several resources for grant-seekers (see the list at the bottom of this post).

On the subject of perseverance, Smith, a veteran celebrity portraitist who began his career shooting news and sports, argued that careers are built not through one big break, but a series of smaller breaks.

And Wood pointed out that working hard to shoot new images, and to promote that work to editors and online audiences, have been important elements of his early career.

Offering a client perspective, Rebecca Simpson Steele spoke about sometimes following the work of photographers for long periods of time before finding a job for which they are a good match. “I pay attention to photographers when they don’t know I’m watching,” Simpson Steele said.

Grant resources: Creative Capital, Foundation Center, Brooklyn Arts Council, New York Foundation For the Arts, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

Note: The next PDN’s 30 panel takes place the evening of April 25 at Santa Monica College, Humanities & Social Sciences Building, 1900 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA. The panel will include Brian Smith, Jessica Sample, Michael Friberg and Ian Allen.

April 10th, 2013

Spring Photography Auctions Total More Than $30.8 Million, Set Artist Records

© 2013 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Man Ray's "Untitled Rayograph, 1922" set an auction record for a work by the artist of $1.2 million at the Christie's photographs sale on April 4.

© 2013 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Man Ray’s “Untitled Rayograph, 1922″ set an auction record for a work by the artist of $1.2 million during a Christie’s photographs sale on April 4.

Six photography sales last week at the three major auction houses in New York City brought in more than $30.8 million dollars and included record sales for masters Man Ray and Diane Arbus, among others, as well as contemporary artists including Robert Frank, Richard Misrach, Alex Prager and Viviane Sassen.

Two sales at Christie’s on April 4 and 5 totaled nearly 15 million. “The strength of these results is indicative of the thriving market for photographs, which continues to gain momentum with every sale,” said Philippe Garner, one of the Christie’s directors, in a statement.

The April 4 sale of a private collection of modernist photographs totaled more than $7.5 million, including a $1.2 million, auction record sale of a unique gelatin silver photogram by Man Ray, “Untitled Rayograph,” made in 1922. Nine other world auction records for artists were set during the sale, according to Christie’s. (more…)