All posts filed under: Portrait

BJP #7833: Songbook

British Journal of Photography’s March issue is about the long game, what it takes to spend a life making photographs, and what it means to return to a place that was once home. The issue is on sale in all good newsagents from the first Wednesday of February, or you can pre-order it now, directly from the BJP shop. Last month we featured the Ones to Watch, a celebration of the best emerging talents in photography. Now, we’ve gone in-depth with four photographers who have managed to keep going, even while remaining unsung. And who are, in their endurance, their dedication and their ability to adapt, each remarkable. Fame, or at least recognition, has found each differently, but it never struggled to locate Alec Soth, whose Sleeping by the Mississippi became one of the iconic series of the twentieth century. Now he talks about Songbook, a revisitation of his beginnings as a staff photographer on a suburban newspaper in Minneapolis. “To sustain myself creatively is to not give myself over entirely in one way or another,” Soth tells Lucy Davies. “And I like …

The art of perfect coverage

A retired electrical engineer from London started to publish images of himself  ‘fully veiled’ on Flickr, wearing clothes found across the Muslim world, hoodies, headscarfs and more. “This new idea translates the idea of perfect coverage as understood in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the English high street, for anyone who enjoys anonymity, luxury and a sense of drama,” he writes. “It’s easy; all it needs is a sense of adventure and courage.” A selection of these images have now been published by Here Press, the small publishing house behind Edmund Clark’s Control Order House, David Moore’s Pictures from the Real World, Ben Roberts’ Occupied Spaces and Seba Kurtis’ Drowned. Working with the anonymous gentlemen behind the veil, they have produced a slim but thought-provoking book, 2041 – named after the author’s online identity. The book features a small selection of the 60,000+ images the author has made of himself – or maybe other people – swathed in fabric, and was a collaboration between 2041 and two editors, Lewis Chaplin and Ben Weaver. BJP asked Chaplin more about the project. BJP: How did you come across the …

Leica Meet: a lesson in organic photography communities

Some strangers met at London’s Southbank on an autumn’s day. The founding members of Leica Meet, Gavin Mills, Olaf Willoughby and Stephen Cosh, had met on Flickr. They started sharing images, realising they shared a passion for Leica-based photography. Then they met up, Leicas in hand, to photograph their environments together. The mutual appreciation and support for their work spurned a friendship between three men who had never met before. They decided to turn it into a regular meet, and to invite other Leica members. Some of the most valuable lessons come from interactions with other class members, Olaf Willoughby says of the early meets. “How they see, how they shoot, how they talk about their work. How their images are so different, even though we are all in the same location.” Over the course of the year, they expanded their admin team to include Eileen McCarney Muldoon, a fine art photographer in Rhode Island. Muldoon, Willoughby says, was able to balance the team with a feminine perspective and enable US representation for the group. Together, Leica …

“God’s flock”

You may remember the image: a girl looks apprehensively at the camera, her fingers covering her mouth as stray strands of hair fall across her face. She is dressed simply – in a patterned dress – and sits in sparse surroundings. This portrait of a young Mennonite woman – Margarita Teichroeb – won the 2012 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize (and made the cover of BJP). The judges praised the use of muted colours, the image’s “otherworldly feel”, and its timeless quality. Indeed, it is an image that could have been taken many decades ago; there is little to suggest this is a contemporary portrait. Its creator is Spanish photographer Jordi Ruiz Cirera, who between 2010 and 2011 spent time in Santa Cruz in Eastern Bolivia, photographing the Mennonite communities that live and work there. These are notoriously tight-knit communities, isolated colonies that are “remote and difficult to access” as Ruiz Cirera writes in the text for his new book, Los Menonos. They are people, he tells us, who view themselves as “God’s flock”, and …

Tiago Casanova – Madeira

Tiago Casanova’s interest in photography is wedded to his love of architecture. “I usually say that being a photographer is my own way of being an architect,” he explains.  He studied the latter at Portugal’s Porto School of Architecture, and uses image-making “as a medium to talk about important architectural issues.” Casanova now lives in Portugal but was born and raised on Madeira, and decided to train his lens on the island for his recently-completed project of the same name. The series came about after he was invited to join the group project Visual Narratives: European Borderlines, supervised by Vanessa Winship and George Georgiou, which saw twelve young photographers from Latvia, Turkey, Iceland, and Portugal embark on a year-long documentary project on the theme of ‘borderlines’. “I decided to explore Madeira and the notion of the borderline between nature and construction,” says Casanova. “I chose this topic for several reasons, including the fact that the local government was being investigated for spending billions in unneeded infrastructures, and modifying the face and landscape of an island …

Gerry Badger’s tribute to Lewis Baltz

“It is possibly useful to think of creative photography as a narrow but deep area lying between the cinema and the novel,” Lewis Baltz once said. The life and work of the New Topographics photographer, who died in Paris on November 22 at the age of 69, is recalled by his close friend, the photography critic Gerry Badger. The first thing to be said about Lewis Baltz is that he was one of the most intelligent of photographic artists. To say that may seem redundant, because any artist in the premier division – and Baltz was certainly in the premier division, up near the top of the table – is going to be intelligent. But there are different kinds of intelligence. Eugène Atget was undoubtedly intelligent, but it is unlikely that it was of the order of Baltz’s, which was prodigious, both in terms of his art, of his artistic milieu, of the other arts, and most importantly, of the world around him, which he regarded with a degree of healthy scepticism. Baltz was a leading figure in …

A tribute to Rhonda Wilson

Rhonda Wilson MBE, one of the nation’s champions of the photographic arts, has died at the age of 61. The creative force behind the Rhubarb–Rhubarb International Festival of the Image, Rhonda died on Thursday 06 November 2014 after a debilitating term of severe depression. Born in Birmingham on 17 August 1953, Rhonda began her career in the 1970s as a trainee journalist with D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd. in Dundee, working on the popular Jackie magazine as a music editor, stylist, photographer and problem page agony aunt. Returning to Birmingham in 1980, she worked as a graphic designer, moving on to develop her skills as a photographer and subsequently building an international reputation for progressive photographic campaigns around low pay and homelessness. The Age of the Elders exhibition showcased people from different cultures growing old in the city together, for example, while From The Heart of the City drew together 80 portraits of women, while Worth Paying For was commissioned by the West Midlands Low Pay Unit. Rhonda also partnered with Ming de Nasty in 1989 to …

BJP #7830: Who am I?

“Who am I?” we ask in the November issue of British Journal of Photography, an issue dedicated to exploring identity and expression in contemporary portraiture, available to buy and download now. We remember the extraordinary life of René Burri, who died on 20 October at the age of 81 after a long battle with cancer. We feature Michael Grieve’s article on Bertien van Manen, who discovered photography as a young mother in 1970s Holland. We celebrate the photography of Danny Lyon, the counter-cultural American documentarian who, as a 20-year-old Jewish New Yorker, hitchhiked to the Deep South to take some of the first pictures of the nascent Civil Rights Movement. And we look ahead to Paris Photo, “the most prestigious fair dedicated to the photographic medium”. The early photographs of Bertien van Manen’s family – “vital images at once considered and free” writes Michael Grieve – were published shortly after her husband’s death. “You do not need to show yourself,” she tells Grieve, “because your photographs already possess the capabilities to do this.” Over the drunken sounds of a …

Taylor Wessing Portrait Photograph of the Year: Konrad Lars Hastings Titlow, June 2014 © David Titlow

David Titlow wins Taylor Wessing portrait prize

This year I think the jurors got it right. The winner of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014 goes to David Titlow for his picture of his baby son. Shot on the morning after a midsummer party in Sweden, little Konrad was introduced to a young dog and some assembled friends, while held (I presume) by his adoring mother. Despite the clutter of empty beer cans, it captures a beautiful moment, brought into sharp focus by the dappled light and the fixed attention of the group within this Pre-Raphaelite scene. For some, it might be a bit of a stretch to call it a portrait. But I can’t agree. Without being at all mawkish or overly sentimental (not easy when you’re photographing a mother and child), the feelings of love and joy and pride are clearly translated in the photograph. I also very much like Blerim Racaj’s Indecisive Moment, which along with Titlow’s picture and two others – Skate Girl by Jessica Fulford-Dobson, and Braian and Ryan by Birgit Püve – was shortlisted for the £12,000 prize. Taken from his series, …

Remembering David Redfern, the king of jazz photography

David Redfern, one of the most influential and revered music photographers of his generation, died last week, aged 78, three years into a brave struggle with pancreatic cancer, writes Leon Morris, a long-time friend. In the pantheon of music photographers – and particularly in the uber-hip niche of jazz photography – Redfern ranks as a pioneer. He was, until his passing, the undisputed elder statesman of jazz photography. Many of Redfern’s images have already achieved iconic status; many more will achieve that status as his archive continues to be unearthed. In Whiplash, the 28-year-old debutant director Damien Chazelle’s multi-award winning independent film released early next year, Redfern’s image of drummer Buddy Rich, head turned, mouth wide open, hands ablur, is taped to the wall above the young student drummer’s practise kit. It is a recurring talisman for the film’s theme of physical and emotional tension in pursuit of the elusive perfection (or imperfection) of jazz genius. That image, about as close to perfection as a live image of a jazz drummer can be, was taken side stage at …