All posts filed under: Portrait

Holding room. From Corrections, 2015 © Zora Murff

Kid criminals: tagged, tracked and cast off by society

“My dad left us when I was four or five, and I’ve been estranged from him ever since. Things were rough for my mum trying to raise two boys on her own,” says 28-year-old Zora Murff, whose series Corrections is informed in no small part by his experiences growing up disenfranchised, with a family diminished by low income, lack of opportunity and alcohol abuse. Born and raised in Des Moines, where one in three children live below the poverty line, Zora could easily have become a write-off. His mother was forced to take jobs out of town at weekends to provide for her two boys, often leaving them unsupervised for many hours. “My brother and I were very close when we were young, and I spent a lot of time following him around, until he got to the age where it wasn’t cool to have your little brother tagging along any more. When that happened, I had to learn to be alone – I started to read a lot and draw.” As Zora got older – with …

2015-06-24T16:34:44+00:00

From the series Patrulleros © Daniele Volpe

Photographing the Patrulleros – the violent vigilantes of Guatemala

“Photojournalism allows me to get close to events on the ground, so that I may better understand them as they unfold,” says award-winning photojournalist Daniele Volpe, who left his birthplace of Priverno, a small town in Latina, south of Rome, and made his home in Guatemala. “This kind of intimacy allows me to share my reportage and maybe draw the viewers in, making them feel closer to the subjects.” Volpe, now 34, started his career as a news photographer but soon felt unfulfilled. “There’s often little continuity in covering news, because news itself doesn’t always allow for follow-ups,” he explains. “As a natural consequence, I felt drawn to reportage, which allows for a more thoughtful approach to image-making, enabling me to tell a story, to create a narrative.” Guatemala is one of three countries in the Northern Triangle buckling from the strain of the gang-related activity that permeates every aspect of society. It has long been besieged by criminality, much of it attributed to two prominent gangs – Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, and Barrio 18 …

2015-06-23T20:34:23+00:00

The New Medium: exhibiting the first photographs ever taken in India

It is a cool midsummer’s evening in Mayfair’s Cork Street – the nucleus of London’s contemporary art world. Number 33 is the professional home of Prahlad Bubbar – collector of Indian and Islamic art – and the location of his new exhibition, The New Medium: Photography in India 1855-1930. The New Medium is a neat survey of the birth and rise of photography as a major art form in the subcontinent. Twenty-five photographs are ordered chronologically around the bright, airy rooms of the gallery, each one chosen to reflect a distinct decisive moment in Indian photographic history. Driven by Bubbar’s background in art history, his recognition of context binds the project together as the beginnings of a technological and artistic revolution in the context of one distinct and, in itself, rapidly evolving culture. In the middle of the 19th century, photography took over from painting as the new mode of representing the world – hence the name, The New Medium. The exhibition frames an era in which the diverse customs of India – the temples, animals and people – could all …

2015-06-19T10:09:02+00:00

Woman Washing Herself

Delicate Demons: do women belong in the home?

Delicate Demons is a collaborative, ongoing project between Finnish photographers Satu Haavisto and Aino Kannisto, in which women are meticulously staged in domestic spaces. The spaces in the photographs are tight, with a room corner in most of the scenes, compressing the viewer and the subject into an uncomfortably proximal relationship and emphasising the sense of home as a potentially oppressive place. The women appear as mysterious characters, deep in thought. They feel heavy and complicated, physically embodying difficult emotions and experiences. The gaze of many of the women is strikingly intense. In one image, Woman on Balcony, her stare out of the frame feels somewhat over-constructed until, with a jolt, we see in a reflection she is in fact gazing directly at the camera. Face on, her look is more vulnerable, more anxious and raw. Props and settings combine to hint at troubling, ambiguous backstories: one figure clutches a kitchen knife, barely visible between her knees. Delicate Demons comes from the same vein as Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s novella The Yellow Wallpaper, in which the apparently innocuous wallpaper …

2015-06-25T16:26:40+00:00

From Denudate 2015 © Neola Loretta McDavid

The female derobed: Neola McDavid’s untainted nudes

“Trust is very important when you ask someone to take their clothes off so you can photograph them nude,” says Neola Loretta McDavid, who will soon graduate from the University of Roehampton with a BA Honours in Photography. “Your subjects need to have confidence in you as a photographer, and they need to feel comfortable in themselves.” McDavid’s series of nude portraits, Denudate 2015, exudes strength – stripped back, it presents women in a state of undress, stoic in their own personal space, the only props being the intimate objects in their homes. Her series, like the meaning of the title itself, bares all – it strips women of the labels imposed upon them by society and returns them to their natural state, as “supreme beings” – equal to men, neither subordinate nor superior. “The women in my portraits signify empowerment. They are not obstructed by the mores of society or media in the way that influences how women are portrayed today. The women aren’t sexualised, nor are their poses meant to be suggestive. I’m not using the female …

2015-06-25T16:30:44+00:00

An Argentinian photographer took portraits of older men she thought might be her father

When Mariela Sancari was 14, her father killed himself. As she tried, often forlornly, to deal with his absence, sometimes denying even it, Sancari began to invent in her mind his personality, his life, his whereabouts. He grew older in her mind. As a professional photographer, Sancari decided to confront this chapter of her life. In her native Buenos Aires, she started placing adverts in local newspapers and putting up posters; she was looking for men in their 70s, the age her father would be now if he were alive. She wanted to meet, and photograph, men who might look a bit like the man she lost, to discover in them a tiny fraction of the relationship so finitely denied to her. The men she found, and whom sat for her, wear her father’s patchwork jumper. In some of the images, she poses herself in the background, or lets a stranger carefully comb her hair. It’s a heart-stoppingly simple evocation of how, through an unsaid understanding, through a sense of transference that can transcend words and gestures, we can find familiarity, intimacy and comfort …

2015-06-24T16:16:37+00:00

Sukhi, Jambur, 2005

On Belonging: Portraits of an ancient Indian community of African descent

“At the entrance of the village, there were four boys playing carrom. As I approached they looked at me with such hostility, almost resentment; I was a complete outsider.” Ketaki Sheth’s first encounter with the Sidi, an Indian community of African descent, was the kind of serendipitous occurrence that sparks photographers to action. Driving through the Gir Forest National Park while on holiday with her family, she caught glimpse of a village enveloped deep within the forest. Her curiosity piqued, she spent the next six years learning about its inhabitants. Her exhibition, On Belonging, is currently on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Even for a country that Muhammed Ali Jinnah termed a “subcontinent of nationalities”, the Sidi defy categorisation.

2015-06-17T14:03:01+00:00

Remembering Mary Ellen Mark

From the 1940s until perhaps the early 90s, an empathic documentation of everyday life appeared weekly or monthly in the world’s illustrated magazines, a medium whose appeal lay almost wholly in its use of outstanding photography, by great practitioners. It was a time, Mary Ellen Mark recalled, when “the magazines really needed photographers, especially documentary photographers. When they flourished you could bring an idea to a magazine and they would do it. Sadly that time is over”. Nonetheless, she worked on very successfully until the end of her life, combining documentary reportage with commercial assignments in fashion and advertising and portraiture. She was as adept in the studio as in the street, and as at ease with a Leica as she was with an ultra-large format studio camera. Faithful to film photography to the end, she never felt attracted to digital: “I’m staying with film, and with silver prints and no Photoshop …[that’s] the way I learned photography. You make your picture in the camera,” she said in 2008. Born in Elkins Park, near Philadelphia, …

2015-05-28T18:02:04+00:00

Gareth McConnell’s young hedonists the morning after a night in Ibiza

“All these fucking photographs,” says Gareth McConnell at the very beginning of our conversation. “What do you do with them? How do you make sense of them?” It’s taken weeks to connect. The Irish-born, London-based photographer has given me the runaround, but he’s so engaging and funny when he finally replies that I find it hard to maintain any strop. “I am gonna look for PDFs now,” he writes. Then: “I have neither copies of the books or money for a courier if I did… why didn’t I pay more attention at school?” He’s much like this in conversation: frequently self-deprecating, easy-going, often cheeky. He also talks nineteen to the dozen, weaving punk bands, AK-47s, Tommy Hilfiger, Susan Sontag and Carl Cox into his conversation as easily as his publishing venture (Sorika), his daughter, and his long-time battle with drug addiction. At the end of it all, I find myself wondering what on earth just happened. McConnell came to international attention with the publication of his first book, a short-lived collaboration between Steidl and Photoworks, …

2015-06-09T11:58:01+00:00

From Ultra-Orthodox Jews Celebrate Purim in Mea Shearim 2014 © Gili Yaari

Gili Yaari photographs the Purim celebration in Ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem

When Gili Yaari was a child having a kickabout with friends, and his father walked past after a long day’s work and patted the top of his head with those giant hands, coarse from the hours spent mending leather goods in a workshop, the sadness that engulfed him wasn’t always apparent because, as a young boy, what Yaari saw was his Dad’s sweet face, his tender gaze. The fact that his father was a Holocaust survivor wasn’t immediately apparent because he was, after all, a survivor – a provider, a worker, a lover, a Dad. “I grew up in what seemed like a ‘normal’ house. My parents emigrated to Israel from Hungary, and they integrated into society, worked for their living and managed to raise a family. It was only when I grew up that I understood I was actually raised in a house where there was no happiness, where joy was illegitimate, where fear and survival were a driving force,” says the Israeli photojournalist of his upbringing in Beit-Shmesh, a suburb of Jerusalem. That …

2015-05-22T15:24:32+00:00

BJP Staff