Month: March 2015

Attention all photography graduates: BJP is looking for the cream of this year's crop to feature in the projects section of our summer issues. Picture shows our August 2014 issue, featuring the work of Nottingham Trent graduate Ben Swanson (left) and Middlesex graduate Johanna Churchill (right)

Class of 2015: get your work in a special print issue of BJP

If you think you’ve got what it takes to be featured in a forthcoming special issue of BJP, and you are graduating from a higher education photography course in the UK or Ireland this summer, we want to see your work. BJP prides itself on spotting new talent, each year giving a platform to emerging photographers graduating from colleges and universities across the UK and Ireland to showcase their work with their peers and photo industry VIPs. The best we see will feature in print in our Projects section in our June, July and August summer editions, and a further number given global exposure across our online and social media platforms, reaching more than half a million people worldwide. To be considered, simply send a link to your final year work, or attach a maximum of eight low res JPEGs totalling no more than 5MB, to the editor at bjp.editor@bjphoto.co.uk. It is vital that you write into the subject line of the email, ‘Class of 2015’, and that you graduating this summer from a recognised …

2015-04-17T13:36:00+00:00

Codes of living for a black man in township South Africa

“He’s a a typical black gangster,” Sipho Gongxeka says. “Rings, cigarette, dark-skinned, and with a dope-ass suit.” Sipho breaks into peels of laughter. The 24-year-old South African, who grew up on a Soweto township, is describing an image from his series Skeem’ Saka of a black man – his friend, it turns out – with bleached hair and a dapper double-breasted suit, smoke curling from his fingers, a separate chunk of precious metal on each. Gongxeka, a former making-it footballer for South Africa’s lower leagues, identifies himself as a ‘fashion-documentary’ photographer. For motivation, he does not look much further than the streets of Soweto. Gongxeka’s photographs are meditations, he says, on the “circular relationship” between the reality of black male life in township South Africa, mediated images of black culture (and how often they are associated with remorseless violence) and the insinuations of clothes. “A certain dress code does not necessarily accompany a certain mode of behaviour or personality,” he says. Skeem’ Saka loosely translates as ‘Homeboys in the Township,’ an attempt, Gongxeka says, to capture relationships that go beyond friendship.  His …

2015-08-24T12:18:57+00:00

Alec Soth – Songbook

On my way out from interviewing Alec Soth, navigating the stairs from his publisher’s office, out into the rainy late-November evening outside, it seems appropriate – significant even – that it happened on London’s Denmark Street. This tiny diagonal lane on the flanks of Covent Garden has been a draw for musicians since Dickensian times, when the music halls and theatres nearby bought sheet music in bundles from the terraced shops on its route. Later, in the 1950s, it was host to a flourishing music publishing industry, becoming known as the British ‘Tin Pan Alley’, and later still The Rolling Stones and David Bowie sang into microphones in recording studios on their upper floors. These days, most of what’s left of that illustrious, sing-song past is a clutch of guitar shops and specialist music retailers – all under threat of redevelopment – the brassy-yellow light from their windows reflecting in the sheen of wet, gum-dotted pavement. Soth is here in London to lay the ground for a retrospective of his photography opening at Media Space …

2015-10-06T14:54:03+00:00

Gail Albert Halaban – Out My Window

It started with a stark reality. “My five-year-old son Jonah was in the emergency room for a long-term heart condition which would require surgery,” says photographer Gail Albert Halaban, who was supposed to be in Amsterdam on an assignment, and had to find a way, from the hospital, to continue the project. “I realised all the technology in a hospital is remote. The doctors were monitoring my son’s heart from a different floor. They could look inside his body without being near him. I realised I could look at the world in the same way.” Gail Albert Halaban has made a career taking pictures of, and through, stranger’s windows. The subjects seem to be unaware of the camera as they go about their private, domestic lives. “At first I know it sounds kind of creepy,” Albert Halaban says. “Many people may even think it’s illegal. But I’m a friendly window-watcher.” Looking in such a way at the lives of others should feel voyeuristic; yet these are warm, empathetic images. They’re staged, the photographs taken with the consent of the subjects, yet they remain deeply, nakedly domestic; a …

2015-04-17T18:42:55+00:00

Harley Weir – fashion’s hottest property

“I discovered Harley on a blog shortly after she’d left university,” says Chris McGuigan, who founded photography agency Mini Title three years ago. “She hadn’t been commissioned much and her portfolio was still quite raw, but I could tell she’d be a star.” He’s talking about 26-year-old Harley Weir, one of the agency’s earliest signings and now fashion photography’s hottest new talent. Weir graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2010 but really broke through in 2014, with back-to-back commissions from big names such as AnOther, i-D, Pop, Arena Homme+, Dazed & Confused, Bottega Veneta, Armani and Maison Martin Margiela. She’s been working so hard, in fact, she’s thinking about taking time out to “get back to what I first fell in love with”. “It can be difficult to keep sight of yourself when so many other people come in to play on commercial jobs,” she says. London-born Weir studied Fine Art and taught herself photography, using Flickr to showcase her work and initially dipping her toe into music photography before the fashion world came calling. …

2015-09-21T18:06:19+00:00

Olga Matveeva – Feud

“Our relationship was strong, sophisticated,” says the Russian photographer Olga Matveeva. She had just graduated from Rodchenko Moscow School of Photography when, together with her boyfriend, they decided to move from Moscow to Crimea, for the winter at least, “and probably for longer”.  They were sharing a home, deeply in love. “But suddenly, something changed in the air,” she tells BJP from Moscow. “Everything became serious, frightening. Everyone stopped trusting each other.” The protests began in Kiev’s Maidan Square. Then, with a slow inevitability, Ukraine fell into war with its old master. Matveeva and her boyfriend found themselves sitting on the sofa, watching TV, comparing the news coverage of Putin’s coded invasion of Ukraine and the eventual annexation of Crimea. It was, says Matveeva, “a strange kind of entertainment”. As they flicked from Ukrainian to Russian to European TV channels, she started to come to terms with her situation. “I realised we were not a couple anymore, because we were not willing to give support to each other,” she says of her lover. So began Feud, a photography project …

2015-04-17T18:44:18+00:00

Tod Papageorge – Studio 54

Bianca Jagger rode a white horse through it on her birthday. On Andy Warhol’s special day, the owners gave him bin full of dollar bills for his. New York’s Studio 54 opened in 1977 and closed less than three years later, but it’s gone down in history as the most glamorous, most louche, best nightclub in history. It was also one of the most photographed. Populated by celebrities and party people, decorated with literally tonnes of glitter and an illuminated, coke-snorting man-on-the-moon, Studio 54 was a treasure trove for image-makers. Tod Papageorge was one of them, first arriving at the new year’s eve party of 1977/78 and going back again and again until it closed. But while most of the photographers were shooting on assignment, or shooting celebrities with a view to selling them on, Papageorge was working for himself, free to capture the whole scene on his own terms. “I was on my own kind of self-assignment,” he tells BJP. “It had nothing to do with celebrity, and all to do with making what I hoped would be …

2015-04-17T18:45:00+00:00

“Ma’am, could you back up please? Could you give him some air?”

BJP

When I started thinking about this article, my focus was set to be on Oscar Grant, the 22-year-old black Californian who was shot to death — while unarmed, and held face down — by a white transit cop on New Year’s Day, 2009. The fictionalised story of Grant’s final day was turned into an award-winning film, Fruitvale Station. It’s a powerful work, confidently directed by first-timer Ryan Coogler, and it boasts a moving turn from Michael B. Jordan as the tragic Grant. Fruitvale Station is notable for opening with real, raw cameraphone footage of the incident, sourced from one of the many bystanders who made use of lightweight, mobile technology to capture this instance of appalling institutional dysfunction. This directorial choice casts a dark shadow over the remainder of the film, and seems to acknowledge the importance of authenticity over fictional reconstruction. It’s a bold move from a young filmmaker making his “calling card” picture, but it reflects a key truth at the heart of the matter: Oscar’s slaying was one of the first such …

2015-04-17T18:47:41+00:00

Dead on a sidewalk, martyred online

BJP

On 17 July 2014, Eric Garner was choked to death by a New York Police Officer. Footage of the event, shot on the camera phone of Ramsey Orta, Garner’s friend, was shared online millions of times within a handful of hours, and Garner’s death energised a nationwide debate about police brutality and institutional racism that continues today. In the days following the video’s circulation, Deputy Photo Editor of TIME magazine Paul Moakley managed to track down Orta, 22, who still held the last moments of his friend, an unarmed father of six, in his hand. “Since I started at TIME, it’s been ingrained in me to get the full story behind any picture,” Moakley says. “I realised no one had talked in depth to Ramsey, so I thought it would be useful to let him tell the story.” Moakley, who lives a few blocks away from where the tragedy took place on Staten Island, encouraged Orta to recall the event, editing his words over sections of the Garner footage and two other videos of aggressive police behaviour Orta had …

2015-04-17T13:45:50+00:00

Tim Matsui – The Long Night

BJP

Between one and three hundred thousand women are being trafficking in the USA today. Many of the girls started on the streets at twelve or thirteen. Around 85 per cent ran away from home. This is the subject of Tim Matsui’s The Long Night, which won the 2015 World Press Photo’s Multimedia competition for best feature documentary this month. As one of the oldest and most respected photojournalism and documentary photography competitions, World Press Photo’s award is testament to the subtlety and strength of Matsui’s film, and the years he spent researching the subject. Although the film began life with a grant from the Alexia Foundation, Matsui first began looking at sexual violence and victimisation fifteen years ago, before creating a non-profit organisation that tries to engage communities in the tragedies taking place in their midst. “As a result, I think I’m able to bring a fairly deep understanding of the issue and its root causes,” Matsui tells BJP. Set in Seattle, The Long Night explores a street-view perspective of sex trafficking, following the police charged with trying to limit it, and the …

2015-05-01T14:26:55+00:00

BJP Staff