Author: Diane Smyth

Creative Brief: Emily Keegin, The Fader

Asked to describe the style of photography featured in The Fader, the celebrated music journal launched in New York in 1999 championing contemporary style and emerging artists, Keegin shoots back with, “All-you can-eat buffet”. The magazine’s photo director since 2015, having previously worked for Time and Bloomberg Businessweek, she describes her preferred aesthetic as “manic”, explaining, “I like all kinds of photography and am happiest when genre, style and hue smash into each other on the same page”.

While her predecessors championed intimacy and authenticity, gaining unusual access to musicians and shooting them in relaxed pose in natural light, Keegin’s approach injects flash, colour and surrealism. “To me, great photography is the result of an emotional connection between a photographer and her subject,” she says. “This form of interpersonal magic is not genre specific or the result of a certain set of aesthetic constraints.”

2018-10-16T12:13:19+00:00

Lviv – God’s Will by Viacheslav Poliakov

A white painted stone sits atop a pile of concrete from a fallen telephone pole. A seemingly random assortment of rubble, it has in fact been gathered to fasten a manhole cover in place. During a period of particular hardship in Ukraine in the 1990s, manhole covers were often stolen and sold for scrap metal, leaving dangerous open holes in the road. This makeshift device, erected over time out of miscellaneous materials, is one of the objects in Viacheslav Poliakov’s Lviv – God’s Will, a taxonomy of the “unexplored field of accidents” that make up his surrounding urban environment.

2018-10-23T14:11:49+00:00

Diane Arbus comes to London

Born Diane Nemerov in 1923, to a wealthy family in New York, Diane Arbus started out in photography shooting fashion with her husband, Allan Arbus, working for magazines such as Glamour, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar. In 1956 she quit commercial photography – apparently announcing “I can’t do it anymore. I’m not going to do it anymore” during a spring shoot for Vogue – and took to the streets, documenting passersby, and studying with Lisette Model. Quickly finding her signature style, her work was shown in the New Documents exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1967, which was curated by John Szarkowski and also included work by Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander.

Her portraits proved divisive, and has remained so – some, mostly notably Susan Sontag, judging it coldly voyeuristic, while others feel a sense of empathy. Arbus’ subjects often came from outside of her personal sphere, the circus, for example, or New York’s clubs, and she herself stated that her favourite thing was “to go where I’ve never been”. On the other hand, she could also find a sense of the unsettling in Central Park. In 1971, she took her own life.

2018-10-16T09:51:27+00:00

New Zealand’s Mongrel Mob gang, photographed by Jono Rotman

Arresting. Exquisite. Gripping. Chilling. Disgraceful. Unacceptable. These are all words people have used to describe portraits made by Jono Rotman. Created over the last decade, his project Mongrelism presents an intimate look at members of the Mongrel Mob – New Zealand’s largest, most notorious gang. Though he is looking at a subculture as an outsider – a domain regularly mined by photojournalists – Rotman eschews a traditional documentarian approach to his subject matter. In so doing, the project’s scope extends beyond the Mob itself to touch upon issues related to New Zealand’s charged colonial past and self-professed biculturalism, the politics and ethics of portraiture, and the intersections of seemingly disparate human experience.

The New Zealand-born photographer explains that since childhood, “I always felt certain violent and uneasy forces within my country”. In Lockups (1999-2005), Rotman photographed the interiors of prisons and psychiatric hospitals throughout New Zealand, exploring the medium’s ability to convey the fraught “psychic climate” embedded in these state-controlled institutions. The works are eerily devoid of people, a deliberate decision made, says Rotman, “because I wanted to encourage a direct, personal interaction with the spaces. With prisons, for example, as soon as you introduce people into the picture, it becomes easy to think, ‘Here’s the storyline: this place is for those sorts of people. And I can fit it all into my established worldview’.”

2018-11-05T12:20:53+00:00

Lu Nan’s insights into China – and life

“In 15 years, not a day went by when I didn’t question my own work,” says Chinese photographer Lu Nan, in an interview included in his new book Trilogy. “That’s why I scrutinise what I was doing by means of reading. This mode of assessing action through thought and assessing thought through action helped me to complete these projects. 

“The trilogy is concerned with human beings. I hope that by looking into real life, I’ll find something fundamentally and enduringly human.”

Lu Nan isn’t well known outside China but this book, his first in English, should change all that. It collects together three projects he shot over 35 years – The Forgotten People, a look at the lives of Chinese psychiatric patients, shot from 1989-1990; On the Road, a look at the lives of Catholics in China, shot from 1992-96; and Four Seasons, a look at the lives of rural Tibetans, shot from 1996-2004.

2018-11-12T09:25:13+00:00

Vote for the Greenpeace Photo Award winner

With €10,000 up for grabs to realise a project, the Greenpeace Photo Award is a great opportunity – and this year, the public decides who wins. Run with support from Geo Magazine, an awards jury has shortlisted seven photographers to choose from, each from a different country and each working on a series with an environmental theme.

The public has until 31 October to vote on the winner; a further €10,000 will go to a second winner selected by the jury, which this year includes curator and lecturer Lars Willumeit, and Geo Magazine chief photo editor Lars Lindemann.

The shortlisted photographers are: Niels Ackermann (Switzerland); Magda Biernat (USA); Arko Datto (India); Niklas Grapatin (Germany); Katrin Koenning (Australia); Pablo Piovano (Argentina); and Ian Willms (Canada). 

2018-10-11T10:14:30+00:00

We Feed The World

“It all came together very organically,” says Cheryl Newman, appropriately enough for a project about small-scale, low-impact farming. Initially signed up to work on We Feed The World for 12 months, she’s ended up spending three years on the project, commissioning nearly 50 world-class photographers to shoot agriculture around the globe, including renowned image-makers such as Stefan Ruiz, Susan Meiselas, and Graciela Iturbide. 

The aim of the project is simple – to shift the public perception of small-scale farming, which is often considered synonymous with subsistence farming but which in fact produces around 70% of the world’s food, according to a report by the United Nations.

“Photography is the language of our age and it has the ability to shift consciousness and effect change on a scale beyond any other form of communication,” says Newman, who was photography director of the Telegraph Magazine for more than 15 years.

2018-10-10T20:03:02+00:00

V&A’s new Photography Centre now open

“The new Photography Centre brings to life some of the V&A’s most beautiful original picture galleries and provides a permanent home for one of the finest and most inspiring collections of photography in the world,” says Martin Barnes, senior curator of photographs at the V&A. “The spaces and facilities allow visitors to access, explore and enjoy photography in its many forms.

“The Photography Centre encompasses more than a new gallery space. Beyond its walls lies an associated programme of research, digitisation, learning activities, publications, exhibitions, access to items in stores, and collaborations with other UK and international partners. Photography is one of our most powerful forms of global communication, and I’m thrilled that we can contextualise the past and present of this powerful medium in new and exciting ways.”

It’s an important development for photography in the UK and it opens on Friday – the V&A’s new Photography Centre, which more than doubles the museum’s existing photography space.

2018-11-05T12:21:49+00:00

Mass action across the UK supports jailed photographer Shahidul Alam

At 10pm on 05 August, photographer and social activist Shahidul Alam was arrested at his home in Dhaka. The next day he was charged for violating Section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology Act (ICT), after giving an interview to Al Jazeera on the current wave of student protests in Bangladesh against unsafe roads, in which he said that these actions stemmed from anger about widespread government corruption. He now faces up to 14 years in prison.

According to Amnesty International, which has taken up the photographer’s plight, Section 57 is a “draconian law” that has been used against well over 1000 people since it was introduced in 2006. “Police do not need arrest warrants or official permission to prosecute,”  explains the organisation. “Those accused are mostly denied bail pending their trial and kept locked up for months with no official verdict. Shahidul himself was denied bail on 10 September 2018. Those arrested are often journalists who’ve published articles criticising the government.”

2018-10-29T10:12:54+00:00

Ezra Acayan wins the 2018 Ian Parry Scholarship

Born in 1993 in the Philippines, Ezra Acayan has won the 2018 Ian Parry Scholarship Award for Achievement for his series Duterte’s War On Drugs Is Not Over, which records the fall out from the war on drugs which President Rodrigo Duterte announced in 2016.

Threatening those connected to drug consumption and sales with the death penalty, Duterte urged members of the public to kill suspected criminals and drug addicts, and allowed the police to act with brutality. In the two years since, an estimated 20,000 people have been murdered and a state of emergency has been declared. The United Nations has appealed to the Philippine government to investigate extrajudicial killings and to prosecute the perpetrators, while the International Criminal Court has announced preliminary examinations into killings linked to the campaign.

Tough and hard-hitting, Acayan’s images aim to “illuminate the violent acts carried out in the Philippines as well as the questionable methods of Duterte and the police”.

2018-10-29T10:13:17+00:00

BJP Staff