October 2007 Archives
October 31, 2007
The photo books of Harvey Benge are always thought-provoking and enlightening, and his new book, "A Short History of Photography" is no exception.
The cover is like a visual poem, invoking the names of 40 of today's most famous photographers, and promising "a short history of photography". And sure enough, when you flip through the full-page photos, it is relatively easy to match each photo with one of those famous names, even though we've never seen any of these particular photos before, and even though they do not have captions to identify the photographers.
There's good reason for that: Each photograph was made by Benge himself.
When I first saw this book, it gave me pause, and then I had to laugh, and then I had to think how truly difficult it must have been to make all of these photographs look so uniquely like the work of different famous photographers.
Here is an excerpt from Gerry Badger's introductory text:
"While looking through his contact sheets, Harvey Benge noticed that one of his pictures reminded him of a 'Friedlander', another someone else. All photographers do this, and if the photograph in question apes another photographer too closely, it's usually a cause for rejection. But Benge did the opposite. Picking out his 'Friedlander' and his 'Parr' and his 'Baltz' he decided to make an 'anthology' of contemporary photography featuring some of its biggest names. Yet they are all genuine, original Benges. They are also all good pictures, not mere pastiches of the 'originals' of which they gently but insistently remind one. This may be a game, but games can be very serious, and this fascinating book is both a serious and light-hearted exploration of photographic style."
It brings to mind some questions we all face. Is this work original? Is it unconscious influence or something more intentional? Can you trademark a "style" in photography?
Look for it at your favorite photobook store.
A Short History of Photography
By Harvey Benge, with Gerry Badger
Published: 2007 by Dewi Lewis Publishing, England
Hardback, 88 pages, 280 x 228 mm
October 30, 2007
Thanks to Martin Fuchs at Magnum for including the lensculture.com blog in his list of worthwhile online resources about photography and visual arts!
"There are a whole bunch of blogs that are worth reading, that you can learn from, that can inspire you and broaden your horizon.
"In an effort to bring some more inspiration to all of us I have collected 83 links to blogs about photography, art, multimedia and journalism, that I hope might be a source of good information for you. You might know a lot of them, or even all, but maybe you can find a couple of blogs that you did not yet know."
I discovered some overlooked gems in his list, and I've bookmarked some new sites.
You can see his posting here.
October 29, 2007
There is a truly great series of audio slideshows by Photographer Simon Norfolk at The New York Times. He's such a great story teller, and a real adventurer. Listen as he talks about recently climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with his 8 x 10 camera -- and check out the photos! There's lots more, too.
You can also see some of his other images, and listen to our own audio interview with Norfolk recorded in 2005, in the Lens Culture Archives.
October 15, 2007
The new issue of Lens Culture features important new contemporary photography from around the world, plus previews from the upcoming Paris Photo 2007 Festival, highlights from a Helen Levitt retrospective, new book reviews, our latest contest winners, and more... Please take some time to browse through all of the new features. Enjoy!
October 14, 2007
New York, circa 1940, © Helen Levitt. Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery and powerHouse Books.
Helen Levitt has been photographing the ordinary and marvelous theater of the streets in New York City since the 1930s. A retrospective show in Paris, and two relatively new books, support the notion that she is one of the most important street photographers of the 20th century. She was a pioneer of color photography, too, earning a one-woman show at the MoMA in 1974 — the first time a museum considered color photography to be "art".
The retrospective, at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, reminds me a bit of the magical Wizard of Oz movie: We emerge awestruck from the exquisite black-and-white prints from the 1930s and 40s, only to discover on the next floor the same world, a couple decades later, in vibrant super-saturated color. The yummy dye-transfer prints from the 70s make me yearn for that all-but-abandoned technology.
Lens Culture is pleased to present a small overview: 24 of Levitt's photos that span the decades.
October 13, 2007
Kristina Sereikaite is a young student photographer living in Vilnius Lithuania. While attending ENSP, the photography school in Arles France, she befriended a local older woman named Josette, who became her muse and model for a narrative sequence of photographs. The result of this collaboration is a moody meditation on old age, loneliness, and the approach of death.
Stills, from Josette, by Kristina Sereikaite
Sereikaite composed a short 5 minute movie with a sequence of still images of Josette and the interior of her home. At times it is slow, somber, and melancholy, accompanied by a minimalist musical sound track. Other sequences call to mind rapid-fire dream images Ã la Stanley Kubrick.
You can view a Quicktime version of the movie here at Lens Culture.
October 10, 2007
Untitled, Beelitz 2006, from Workers, by Ingar Krauss
Despite globalization and open borders in the EU, low-paid hard physical labor is still the most viable source of income and survival for many men from Eastern Europe. Berlin-based photographer Ingar Krauss has documented this ongoing situation with a series of portraits that capture the dignity and despair of wokers who have travelled very long distances to earn a brutal and meager living in the farmlands of Germany. Krauss also supplies an insightful and poignant text to accompany his photos.
October 5, 2007
Keith Johnson started making simple yet complicated photos as he travelled the US by car, working as a camera salesman. He continues to find human-made landscapes that are often rather horrifying when you stop to look at all the man-made shit in front of the lens. His work is being shown this month in shows in New Haven Connecticut and Seattle Washington. Check his website for more details and lots more photos.
October 3, 2007
One of the winning entries of "In Between" by Jason Potter
Lens Culture is pleased to announce the 35 winning photographs in our first contest. The theme is "In Between" and the range of interpretations is quite pleasing. You can view the winners at www.lensculture.com/inbetween.html.
And you can take a spin through all of the entries at www.flickr.com/groups/lensculture-contest-1/.
October 2, 2007
© 2007 Richard Renaldi
Richard Renaldi is a great young photographer who published his first monograph "Figure and Ground" at Aperture last year. We reviewed the book, interviewed Renaldi, and showed some of the photos in Lens Culture.
In a more personal DIY way, Richard self-publishes e-books as PDFs. His most recent book is all about his experiences at the Burning Man festival this year. You can download the 4.9 MB e-book for free.
And you can visit his web site at www.renaldi.com.
October 1, 2007
Pamela, Druid, New Zealand, part of the series Observance by Nicola Dove
Photographer Nicola Dove has made an interesting collection of more than 100 long-exposure portraits of people gazing intently through the lens of Dove's 4 x 5 camera as they silently recite a prayer or mantra to themselves. The people represent many religions and come from areas all over the world. As they pray, they try to engage the viewer directly, outside of time and place. Some seem to be able to transmit their calm wisdom and unquestioning faith through the energy of the photograph. Others look downright frightening.
Lens Culture is pleased to be able to share 16 of Dove's images plus a text by the photographer.
You may find it interesting to compare Dove's portraits with those made by Robert Lyons of convicted murderers from the Rwandan genocide. Humanity cries out in all of them.