Month: September 2015

The rural mythologies of English country life

It took Andy Sewell five years to photograph the fragment of green that is Hampstead Heath, and given that its “ancient trees, tall grass and thickets dense enough to get lost in” cover just a couple of square miles, it was some investigation. For this British photographer, endgame is long in the forging. Instead, he begins with “an attraction; something I feel confused about, and making the work is the process of finding some coherence within that”. For his latest undertaking, he has set about unravelling the myths, histories and impressions encircling the English countryside. Once again the venture took five years, and once again it will be published initially as a special edition book – an approach that worked well with The Heath, which won the International Photobook Award in 2012 and plaudits from both Martin Parr and Robert Adams, the latter stating that it had rekindled his dwindling faith in photography. Both bodies of work engage with landscape, but where grand, sweeping views might have been an obvious source of inspiration, Sewell hones in on the particular. …

2015-09-30T11:45:32+00:00

Winner of the Unseen Dummy Award announced

Amsterdam’s annual celebration of photography Unseen Photo Fair closed for the year earlier this month, but not before showcasing some of the most interesting work in contemporary photography. During the fair and festival, Yoshinori Masuda won the Unseen Dummy Award for his photobook, Tiger 2. For his project, the Japanese photographer visited a zoo to depict two tigers in a state of repose, hinting at ideas around the dangerous state of nature and the  unsettling power of the gaze. Much of Masuda’s thinking behind Tiger 2 was influenced by an eclectic jumble of high-minded influences, including mathematical laws and scientific theories, but he was initially prompted by the simplest of reasons: “I was attracted by [the tigers]. Therefore I photographed them.” Masuda was immensely grateful for receiving the award, but as he tells the BJP, the most pleasing aspect of the award is the larger audience the prize affords: “I just want people to have the book in their hands, and enjoy it until it falls apart.” Masuda was chosen by an international jury, consisting of …

2015-09-30T10:20:41+00:00

Julian Germain photographed classrooms in 19 countries all over the world

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s Ethiopia or Germany”, says Julian Germain, the British photographer who has spent the last 11 years photographing children in their classrooms at school’s all over the world. “Each school is instantly recognisable,” Germain says. “A teacher standing in front of rows of children in an oblong space, with a blackboard at one end is the template of education throughout the world.” This universal experience is something that Germain has captured in his aptly named series Classroom Portraits, that will have its UK premiere at the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne at the beginning of October. After starting the series in the north of England, Germain photographed in 19 countries across the world, including Russia, Taiwan, Bangladesh, the USA and Saudi Arabia.    The project began when his when his own daughters first started their education.  He realised that, despite this experience being universal, there were hardly any depictions of schooling in the photography world. “The way it worked was pretty random,” Germain says. “If I was travelling somewhere, I’d ask people I knew …

2015-10-06T09:25:11+00:00

Portraits of gang members in a El Salvadoran prison too dangerous for the wardens to enter

Not many photographers get the chance to enter a prison guarded by an army, let alone shoot inside one. But Adam Hinton managed it, travelling to El Salvador, the most densely populated country in Central America, and gaining access to one of the world’s most dangerous gangs. Hinton’s photobook MS-13, published this month by Paul Belford, gathers 22 photographs, primarily portraits of members of the gang La Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). Each were serving 20 to 40-year sentences in Penal de Ciudad Barrios, a prison with 26,000 inmates – it was built for 800 – and the final destination for the vast majority of convicted MS-13 members. El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, with 4,000 murders this year. Gang culture is rife; just last month, gangs forced a bus strike and killed seven drivers. There are an estimated 70,000 active gang members in El Salvador according to the BBC, and approximately 12,000 of them are behind bars. But the images seek to show a human side to such dangerous men, Hinton says. “They only …

2015-10-15T12:33:44+00:00

BJP #7840: The Fashion Issue

While Continental Europe is only just returning home from holidays, here in London, after a particularly damp August, we’re ready to brighten things up, turning on the style with a month of issues dedicated to fashion, available to order now, as well as a download from the App Store. We’re in good company. Later this month, the fashion cognoscenti will be heading to the British capital for London Fashion Week, where homegrown talents such as Gareth Pugh, JW Anderson and Vivienne Westwood share the runway with international designers, including Maison Margiela, Barbara Casasola and Versus. And London-based fashion magazines such as Pop, The Gentlewoman and Dazed & Confused have just put out their September editions, which are usually the most important of the year in terms of page numbers and ad spend. We’ll be celebrating British talent with a profile of photographer du jour, Jamie Hawkesworth, interviewed by Jason Evans, alongside a visit to the London home of someone who influenced him, Nigel Shafran. We will also be covering the emergence of agencies devoted to mature …

2015-10-19T15:15:49+00:00

© Barbara Pyle/Reel Art Press

Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, forty years ago, on the tour that made them

Forty years ago, in the months leading up to the release of Bruce Springsteen’s seminal Born to Run, photojournalist Barbara Pyle documented a band of young men on tour across America, unaware they were about to be catapulted from left-field obscurity to the forefront of American rock music. Pyle photographed Springsteen and The E Street Band in their native New Jersey habitat of Asbury Park to the Cajun splendour of New Orleans – where the band were touring the new material. She photographed them in her own family home in rural Oklahoma, and gives a broad mix of studio portraits, performance shots and travelogue images. “I first saw Bruce and the E Street Band by accident,” Pyle says. “I was blown away by their music. For the next year, I drove to as many of their gigs as I could reach. They jokingly started calling me their ‘official unofficial photographer’. I was just expected to be there, and I almost always was – on my self-imposed mission to document this little known New Jersey band. “I had the remarkable good fortune to spend most of …

2015-10-20T17:18:46+00:00

The Greek photographer escaping urban crisis for the Athens natural landscape

Petros Koublis has responded to Greece’s economic crisis by focusing his lens on the countryside surrounding Athens. For him, exploring his homeland’s natural landscape was the instinctual way to reflect on and probe the effects of the financial crisis, he says. The idea for In Landscapes came to him in November 2012, and was born from a personal need to explore “the difficult times we’re going through today”. He explains: “I wanted to avoid the narrative of violence and its graphic representation in news reports. The landscapes provided me with an abstract language through which I was not only able to emotionally express the crisis of our days with dignity, but also reach for something universal.” In doing so, Koublis hoped to emphasise the differences between nature and the city, and also touch upon how the beauty of nature can provide solace in turbulent times. “The series is an evaluation of our lives, the need for an escape, and the despair of not knowing exactly where to turn,” he says. “Nature provides a way out, an escape …

2015-09-28T12:32:31+00:00

Saudi Arabia lit up in neon lights

When scientists first discovered neon in 1898, they knew there was something extra-ordinary within its distinctive red glow. They named their newborn gas neon after the Greek word for ‘new’ and quickly put it on the market. After being rejected by homeowners who took offence to its devilish glow, neon eventually found a place for its eye-catching self in commercial America; within the tubes of advertising slogans, strip clubs and dive bars that continue to pepper the landscape to this day. While neon continues to play out its twitching career across a jaded USA, in Saudi Arabia, the inert gas is considered as both a symbol of status and luck, says photographer Celine Stella. “The neon shapes and objects photographed here first caught my attention when we were driving through the desert at night a couple of summers ago. It was pitch dark and suddenly these kiosks appeared like balls of light in the middle of nowhere. The colours shining in the dark were beautiful, but alien. The contrast between the light and what was …

2015-09-28T11:31:48+00:00

© Laura Boushnak/RAWIYA

Delhi’s Just Another Photo Festival wants to prove that it’s different from the rest

While Martin Parr describes photography as “the most accessible, democratic medium available in the world”, the industry that has built up around it has not always followed suit. Often confining itself to intimidating, inaccessible museums, galleries and organisations, photography as an art form doesn’t always interact with the public at large. A new Indian festival, Just Another Photo Festival wants to remedy this, aiming to “democratise photography across the country.” The initiative of photographer Poulomi Basu, Emaho Magazine founder Manik Katyal and British independent filmmaker CJ Clarke, the New Delhi festival will be showcasing 150 photographers from over 35 countries. Work from the likes of Roger Ballen, Philip Toledano and Sim Chi Yin will be displayed in 11 different locations. This guiding idea of expanding the base of photography lovers is being put into action by bringing photography to open, public spaces including malls, universities and even slums. “We’re showing it at a school in a slum,” Katyal says. “They’ve told me they would never imagined that they would get to enjoy photography in this space. We’re …

2015-09-25T17:44:10+00:00

Anton Corbijn talks about Dennis Stock, James Dean and his own photography

From what I’ve read, Dennis Stock was an irascible guy. In the later stages of his life they called him ‘Dennis the Menace’ in the Magnum offices. That’s true. Dennis Stock didn’t take any prisoners, he was no mercy, incredible. He had five ex-wives and a few of them didn’t want to talk to us about him – he didn’t leave them on good terms. We portrayed his relationship with his son at the end of the film as more positive than it was in real life. d Did Robert Pattinson have an interest in photography when you cast him as Dennis Stock? I don’t think so. We made sure he got a camera months in advance to familiarise himself with that and to get a sense of wanting to take a picture of moments. Of course when you shoot with film you don’t take as many pictures. When I looked at the Magnum contact sheets, the Times Square sequence for example, there are are six shots. You’re much more focused. You considered shooting the film in …

2015-09-25T17:33:32+00:00

BJP Staff