Month: August 2015

Matt Black’s ‘moral’ photography of America’s sprawling poverty

“It’s a very simple idea: to say no, this is not isolated, it’s literally everywhere and it’s something we all need to address squarely,” says Matt Black.  For newly appointed Magnum nominee Black, photography is as much an exercise in morality as it is one in aesthetics and artistry. That high-minded idea has been put, steadily and consistently into practice, evidenced by the two decades he’s spent exploring the rural United States, meeting communities that have been excluded and neglected. His work caught the attention of Magnum Photos, who named him as a Magnum Nominee this year alongside Carolyn Drake, Lorenzo Meloni, Richard Mosse, Max Pinckers and Newsha Tavakolian (featured in our September 2015 issue.) Black’s current ongoing project, The Geography of Poverty, is perhaps his deepest foray into these strongly-felt concerns. He’s travelling across the United States photographing communities with poverty rates of over 20 per cent, the official level for a ‘poverty area’. There are over 70 towns that meet the ’20 per cent’ standard and this in itself, Black finds appalling: “I …

2015-08-28T14:39:51+00:00

Photographing Saudi women as they evolve in British society

Since moving from Saudi Arabia to the UK in 2007, Wasma Mansour has turned her lens towards other women who have made a similar choice. Single Saudi Women takes an almost scientific approach to the ways in which these émigrés evolve in contemporary British society through three carefully crafted typologies – portraits of the women in their homes, still lifes of significant possessions in their homes, and studio images of veils packed in bags. “In the past, my awareness of photography had been limited to its use as an illustrative tool and as a means for providing visual evidence,” says Mansour, who recently completied a PhD in photography at London College of Communication. “Through collaborating with the participants when building their portraits, I became increasingly aware of the need to protect their anonymity. This led me to further revise and expand my use of photography.” Rather than imposing a personal view on how her subjects should be depicted, Mansour enters into a dialogue with each, involving them in the process – from setting the 4×5 camera to proofing the Polaroid test before taking the …

2015-08-28T11:55:10+00:00

Peter Watkins’ photographic exploration of his late mother

“I had no revelatory introduction to photography,” says Peter Watkins. “I used to walk around the streets photographing people and detritus just like anyone else with a camera, until eventually I got bored making photographs in this way. The revelation really came for me when I realised that photography was essentially about everything: philosophy, sociology, history, language, religion and politics.” The London-based photographer completed an MA at the Royal College of Art, following a degree at university of Westminster, which he says, “knocked him into shape”, with its emphasis on writing and theory. “I suppose what attracts me most to Peter’s recent work is the way it engages with some elemental questions about photography and the relationship between part and whole, form and expression,” says one of his lecturers at Westminster, Eugénie Shinkle. “As single images – formal studies – his photographs have a kind of monumental clarity about them. Bound together in a series, they’re transformed into something lyrical and occult. This tension is compelling.” In 2013, Watkins finished working on the series The Unforgetting, a project relating to his …

2015-08-27T17:34:42+00:00

Noorderlicht Photofestival grapples with information overload

Founded in 1991, Noorderlicht is one of the more experienced heads of the European photography scene. The Dutch festival has a decidedly ‘current’ scope, aiming to address social discussions and processes as they play out. Growing out of the Noorderlicht Photogallery in Groningen, for the festival, “photography is a socially inspired medium” and this year’s main theme is as rich as it is relevant: ‘Data Rush.’ WikiLeaks, the NSA, Sony vs. North Korea — information is being siphoned off and redistributed on a staggering scale, and inspired by the inundating stream of words, images, videos and combinations therein, this year Noorderlicht is tackling the digital age. This year, half of the planet’s population will have access to the internet, and ‘the next billion’ are beginning to grapple with the repercussions of constant connectivity. While contemporary artists have explored ideas surrounding technology thoroughly in recent years, Noorderlicht is focusing on the sheer scale of information overload, and through the images, asks what effect it may have on us. “‘Online’ is such a drastic concern”, says Wim Melis, curator …

2015-08-27T16:53:50+00:00

Photographing the people of Burma as the country opens its borders for the first time

“I wanted to document life in Burma by capturing a visual time capsule of the country, a country largely closed off from the outside world and largely untouched, but not for much longer,” says Clarisse d’Arcimoles of her new series Myanmar to Burma: Portraits of Change. In 2012, after half a century of repressive military junta rule, Burma reopened its borders to the outside world. A rapidly changing country about to have its first democratic election in November, d’Arcimoles, a French documentary photographer and fine artist, immersed herself in its culture to produce images of a people presenting itself to the outside world for the first time in decades.   She first travelled to Burma in the spring of 2014, when she organised an art competition to sponsor Burmese art through social media and exhibitions. In 2015 Clarisse decided to return in order to pursue her own photography project. “I immersed myself into the Burma of today, inside the homes which until recently were shut to outsiders, and in border towns amongst hill tribe villages and their …

2015-08-28T13:34:33+00:00

George Byrne uses Los Angeles to study loneliness

“Photography is a funny game,” says LA-based photographer George Byrne. “It’s a lonely sport – you’re on your own, on an obscure mission to capture something and you don’t often know what you’re looking for but you know when you see it.” Byrne moved from Sydney to Melbourne, then experienced New York for one year before settling in Los Angeles – without much money or knowledge of the city – in 2011. The alien quality of his photographs stems from this personal distance from LA. “A lot of the time I’m shooting in LA I feel like I’m at war,” he says. “It’s like a desert. I’m a very white person and I get burned. I get so much satisfaction out of making pictures that beautify this bizarre landscape because it’s quite difficult to do it. People will keep their window up and the pedal pressed.” Byrne documents the LA streetscape, driving and shooting in sweltering temperatures in search of shadows and symmetry. He frames a pastel narrative of the sun-blasted walls lining the roads. Few …

2015-08-28T13:35:02+00:00

Call for entries – BJP’s International Photography Awards 2016

British Journal of Photography’s annual International Photography Award is now open for entries, offering the winners the chance to show their work at TJ Boulting, an innovative gallery in the heart of Fitzrovia, central London. The winners will also have their work printed and framed by one of Europe’s leading professional photography labs, theprintspace. Now in its 10th year, the IPA has established itself as one of the photography world’s leading showcases for new work, with last year’s series winner, Dominic Hawgood, attracting rave reviews in The Guardian and Time Out. This year’s elite judging panel, drawn from the worlds of photography, art and media allow entrants to get their work in front of the most influential people in the industry. This year’s panel includes: Kate Bush, head of photography at Media Space within The Science Museum, London Sean O’Hagan, photography critic at The Guardian and The Observer Emily Graham, culture & education manager at Magnum Photos Bruno Ceschel, founder of Self Publish, Be Happy and photobook expert Hannah Watson, director of Trolley Books and TJ …

2017-10-24T16:02:11+00:00

Svetlana Shutkina: the photography novice learning from Magnum experts

Earlier this year, Magnum Photos collaborated with The Nippon Photography Institute to hold international workshops for promising young photographers, in partnership with the BJP. The workshop were led by three leading Magnum photographers, each of whom have produced a book in Tokyo at points of their career: Bruce Gilden (Go), Jacob Aue Sobol (I, Tokyo), and Gueorgui Pinkhassov (Sightwalk). Russian amateur photographer Svetlana Shutkina was selected from the attendees for the Fuji Camera Award, winning a Fujifilm X100T camera . Pinkhassov, whose 1996 series collected stolen moments of everyday Tokyo life, said that selecting a winner was a tough task, but Shutkina’s work and unique story was too good to ignore. “Svetlana’s case is a special one,” he says, “[as] a native of Chabarovsk she resides in Tokyo. Initially Svetlana hesitated to join because she could not speak English and was a complete novice in photography… [but] the more professional a photographer, the less flexible she/he is.” For Pinkhassov, a Magnum member since 1991, the secret lies in “letting go and letting an image come …

2015-08-25T11:33:46+00:00

Stark portraits from a former communist republic

“Gilles burst into my consciousness when I was judging a competition in September,” remembers Stephen Mayes, executive director of the Tim Hetherington Trust. “His Albanian study exploded with passion and vigour, which seems to flow effortlessly from frame to frame. He takes documentary to the realm of emotion and metaphor, with a rock-solid technique that never falters.” A former company executive, Gilles Roudière left his job in 2005 to move to Germany and dedicate himself to a hobby that progressively turned into a passion. He learned everything by reading library books and studying photo agencies’ websites. The day he became a photographer was the day he “stopped ‘understanding’ images, but ‘felt’ them instead”, he says. The Berlin-based photographer is profoundly interested in what makes a ‘space’ a ‘place’, and has therefore grounded each of his projects so far in a defined territory. “What is most important is how a locale is experienced, and the photographic translation of said experience, more than its straightforward depiction. I have no interest in objectivity. I want to be as subjective as possible,” he says, …

2015-08-21T15:29:55+00:00

The custodians watching over Oxford’s hallowed institutions

Writing about Oxford, the travel writer Jan Morris observed, “it forms a national paradigm — in whose structure sometimes shadowy, sometimes splendidly sunlit, we may explore the history, the character and the condition of the English”. When Joanna Vestey moved to the city, she was intrigued by the way its inhabitants interact with its history, and she’s explored this nexus in her upcoming book Custodians. Lush, wide-angle shots frame the interior of locations such as The Radcliffe Observatory, The Codrington Library and the Trinity College Dining Hall, inhabited by a solitary figure somehow connected to the building. Vestey was interested in “how institutions shape us, and we them”, she writes in the afterword. She explains to me that she “wanted to find a middle ground that preferenced the space and the individual equally and leant towards something more painterly than photographic”. Russell Roberts describes Custodians as “a journey through the tourist imagination of Englishness” in his essay for the book, but Vestey says that she doesn’t intend this to be deferential. “[Roberts] also includes [an excerpt] by Allan Bennett …

2015-08-20T16:24:20+00:00

BJP Staff