All posts filed under: Portrait

Grade 11 students do their homework in a solar-powered after-school community centre.

Portraits of 21st century rural life, as Myanmar re-emerges from military rule

When Rubén Salgado Escudero visited Myanmar on assignment, he was struck by the stark realities of rural life. Out of an estimated 68,000 villages, only 3,000 are connected to any power grid – with roughly 73% of the population living without electricity. His project, ‘Solar Portraits’, addresses the lack of access to electricity in developing nations, as well as the benefits of solar energy in people’s lives. The work won first place in the Professional portraiture category at the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards; the latest edition of the competition is currently open for entry. What was the genesis of the project? A one month assignment for a humanitarian organisation took me to many villages in rural Myanmar, where I quickly realised how hard life was for most people once the sun fell, as they were living practically in the dark. After some weeks, I ran across a village which had solar panels placed on household rooftops. The difference in the quality of life for the families was crystal clear.       Small, inexpensive photovoltaic …

2016-01-13T14:44:25+00:00

Philip Larkin, the Auto-Erotic Portrait Photographer Incapable Of Love

In a re-write of a letter titled Letter to a Friend About Girls, addressed to his long-term friend and Oxford contemporary Kingsley Amis, the poet Philip Larkin wrote: Only cameras memorise her face Her clothes would never hang among your interests. Larkin, attempting a more cathartic dialogue with Amis, was discussing the various women who came and went throughout the years, partners who were often ridiculed or dismissed by Amis. Whilst these words belong to an unpublished version of the poem, and were probably not meant to be seen by Amis, it reveals Larkin’s growing fatigue with Amis’s habit of condescending him, which had come to epitomise the two men’s relationship. Larkin accepts his female partners are less attractive, less desirable, than Amis’.  And yet, in writing ‘only cameras memorise her face’, Larkin, usually so apathetic, displays an ability to be both disparaging in his attitude and decisive in his willingness to preserve these women on film. In The Importance of Elsewhere, a new photobook that explores, for the first time, Larkin’s active life as a photographer, we find a much sought after adjunct to …

2015-12-23T15:53:29+00:00

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Capturing the full spectrum of gender through the lens

Transgender rights and representation has steadily built momentum over recent years, with public figures like Laverne Cox, Antony Hegarty and Caitlyn Jenner bringing a broader spectrum of gender nonconformity to the public sphere. Los Angeles-based photographer Dave Naz’s work revolves around the diversity of identity, and in his recent book Genderqueer (Rare Bird), he documented communities who are “transgender, intersex, pangender, and every shade in between”. We spoke to him about the difficulties of handling such a sensitive subject and reaching out to marginalised communities. Why did you decide to make the shift from fetish photography to your recent work on pan-gender identity?  I’ve never considered myself a fetish photographer, although I have covered the subject through the years in my work. The gender identity series came about when Drew Deveaux emailed about modelling for me – he has a look that defies gender. Around this time I found models Jiz Lee and Syd Blakovich online and asked them if I could take their portraits. All three appear on the cover of my book Genderqueer: …

2016-01-13T14:32:07+00:00

Frank Sinatra’s adolescent self-portraits exhibited on his 100th birthday

Over the course of his singular career, Frank Sinatra sold over 150 million albums worldwide, starred in a variety of Hollywood pictures, and won a panoply of awards – including honorary degrees, Oscars, Grammies, Walk of Fame stars and – remarkably – an Israeli Medal of Honour. The latter was bestowed upon him after he reportedly raised $6.5m in bond pledges for the state of Israel through his concerts. He’s now the subject of a new exhibition at Proud Chelsea, London, in celebration of Sinatra’s 100th birthday. Titled Sinatra at 100: A Century in the Making, the collection is taken from the Sinatra Family Archive, and curated by Sinatra’s granddaughter, Amanda Erlinger, who has access to Nancy Sinatra Senior’s family photo albums as well as self-portraits taken by Sinatra himself in his early, formative years, only discovered in the past few months. Alongside, Proud show photographs of Sinatra in his heyday, taken by photographers of the calibre of  Milton Greene, David Sutton, Ed Thrasher, Ken Veeder, John Bryson and Allan Grant. Sinatra was a performer who divides opinion; his reputed Mafia connections, alongside political flip-flopping (he publicly backed both Democrats and Republicans) suggest Sinatra …

2016-01-13T14:38:45+00:00

Photographing Kung Fu in the Qufu School of Shaolin Kung Fu, China

Ameena Rojee’s collection, Hard Work, documents life at the School of Shaolin Kung Fu in Qufu, China. Rojee travelled to the school following a “split-second decision”, she says, inspired by the martial arts films she had watched growing up, and as part of a broader interest in exploring human limits and our power to break them. The images candidly depict a world poised between the romance of the old and the expediency of the new, where traditional monk’s robes float above Nike trainers, and religious icons vie with plastic bags for the viewer’s attention.                       It is a leitmotif Rojee shares with photographer Jon Tonks, who she cites as a key influence. She says the juxtaposition of ancient practices in the modern world is something that has always intrigued her, being rooted in her mixed Mauritian and Spanish heritage and UK upbringing. “I essentially grew up in a mix of old and new”, she explains. Nowhere is this more striking than in an image of …

2016-01-13T14:43:18+00:00

Million Mask March: Anonymous white collars on their lunchbreak

Jonathan Meades, one of our great commentators on the built environment, once wrote: “We are surrounded by the greatest of all free shows. Places.” This idea drives Nicholas Sack’s Lost In The City, a new photobook published by London’s independent publishers Hoxton Mini Press, the eighth instalment of the publisher’s ongoing East London Photo Stories. “This is an ongoing, long term adventure for me really,” Sack says in a bar in the Square Mile, the heart of London’s financial industry, and the locale for his photography series. “I’ve been walking around this area for 30 years taking pictures,” he says. “What attracts me to the Square Mile is this collision of architecture, the old and the new; 17th century Wren churches slap bang next to a modern tower of glass and steel. That’s the joy of London to me, it wasn’t planned in the way that Paris was.” The work of Richard Rogers and Norman Foster, two of the heavyweight architecture triumvirate in the building boom of the 1970s and 80s, can be spotted amongst these arrangements. But Sack …

2015-11-27T11:29:48+00:00

Susie Howells

Buying items off an Amazon Wish List in exchange for a portrait

“All of my sessions require a tribute, but a good slave knows that tribute in itself is not enough,” Mistress Jezabel writes on her wish list. “A submissive who goes out of their way to please Mistress is one who is remembered affectionately by Her. Expensive is often good, but what’s more important is to find something that pleases Her.” Mistress Jezabel, a London-based dominatrix (willing to travel to America and across Europe), is one of many women 23-year-old Sophie Skipper, from Long Melford in Suffolk, photographed for her collection entitled He wants to see my Amazon Wish List.       Speaking from her Cardiff home – she graduated from the documentary photography course at the University of South Wales last year – she tells of being interested in gift-giving and “whether it can ever be a selfless thing”. She noticed women using a hashtag on Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest – #myamazonwishlist – with a link to a list of exclusive items on the shopping website Amazon. “I realised the wish list idea is …

2015-11-25T13:35:39+00:00

Five Girls 2014 by David Stewart © David Stewart

Winner of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 announced

BJP

David Stewart is this year’s winner of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 for his group portrait of his daughter and her friends. The National Portrait Gallery presented the £12,000 award to the London-based photographer last night at the awards ceremony. The winning portrait Five Girls 2014 depicts the distance between a seemingly close group of friends, and mirrors a photograph he took of them seven years ago, which was also displayed in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize in 2008. Stewart says about the photograph: “I have always had a fascination with the way people interact – or, in this case, fail to interact, which inspired the photograph of this group of girls. While the girls are physically very close and their style and clothing highlight their membership of the same peer group, there is an element of distance between them.” Second prize has been awarded to Hector, Anoush Abrar’s photograph of a young boy, inspired by Caravaggio’s painting Sleeping Cupid; third prize has gone to Nyaueth, Peter Zelewski’s photograph of a woman …

2015-11-11T14:30:31+00:00

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Portraits of remembrance: glass plate photographs of British service personnel

By 1915, the scale of the horror of the First World War was becoming abundantly clear. This was the year of the Battles of Gallipoli, Ypres and Loos. In Benjamin Reeves’ photography studio in Lewes, Sussex, young sergeants, sailors, privates and lieutenants were preparing for battle in their own, deeply personal way – by having their portrait taken. These photographs were often presents, tokens to pass to mothers, fathers and loved ones in their absence. But they were also a proof of existence, of a life that might be extinguished too soon. 100 years have now passed. But in the same studio, using the same camera and even the same hand-painted backdrop, British Service men and women are having their portrait taken for the Royal British Legion’s 2015 Poppy Appeal  – and by a Reeves man, no less.  Alex Bamford, Art Director of the project, tells us that researching old portraits from the era led them to Edward Reeves Photography, the world’s longest established photographic business (founded in 1855, a year after British Journal of Photography). …

2015-11-05T13:14:28+00:00

Revisiting the characters of her childhood by getting up close and personal with strangers

Street photographer Michelle Groskopf’s images let us know what fascinates her right away. “Street photography acts as a time machine for me. It has this funny way of allowing me to revisit the characters and tone of my childhood. “Even though I’ve spent my life trying to get as far away as possible from the small Canadian suburb I grew up in, when it comes to my work it seems clear to me that I’m just trying to make my way back home.” Teen culture, femininity and suburbia all feature heavily in her work, which has been featured in the likes of Vice, Fotografia Magazine and Conde Nast Traveler. “I’m interested in the places where the suburbs intersect with the city,” Groskopf says. “The sorts of attitudes, fashion and geometry these spaces tend to inspire in the people traversing them. I have a desperate desire to get as close up to these details as possible. For that reason my world tends to be one full of tension. People tend not to like being scrutinised.”  Now represented by international photo agency INSTITUTE, …

2015-11-03T17:38:54+00:00

BJP Staff