All posts tagged: California

Meet California: The winners

“California is the land of plenty. People tend to see it through its clichés: Hollywood, the roaring success of Silicon Valley, boundless natural wonders and the ever-present palm tree,” writes photographer Ricardo Nagaoka. “However the Golden State is so much more than just its loudest components.” It is the quieter, arguably more unassuming side of the state that will be the focus of Meet California. The British Journal of Photography commission, run in partnership with Visit California, will see four photographers travel across California and each create a new body of work that explores a different facet of its identity. While the iconic landmarks of the state will no doubt feature, the photographers will also shed light on the daily occurrences and extraordinary realities that give California its distinctive character. The winning photographers – Ricardo Nagaoka, Francesca Allen, Clément Chapillon and Brant Slomovic – will fly to San Francisco on 05 September and spend 10 days travelling across California as a group. The trip will be split into two chapters – northern and southern California – and …

2018-09-11T10:42:51+00:00

Beyond the Borderlands with Kovi Konowiecki

“Most of my initial photography projects have grown by asking myself questions about my heritage, culture and where I come from,” says Kovi Konowiecki, who’s currently based between his native California and Mexico City. Brought up in a Jewish home in Long Beach, the 25-year- old former footballer has intimately captured his hometown and its surrounding areas, as well as travelling further afield, to document the wider Jewish diaspora. The nebulous concept of home – what it means and what it is like to voyage beyond it – is a recurring theme in his work. From exploring contemporary notions of Orthodox Judaism in England, the US and Israel, to the racial and cultural discrimination faced by Ethiopian Jews in Israel, Konowiecki’s drive to better understand aspects of his own identity has brought him into contact with a broad range of distinct cultures and communities. Over the past three years, he began to trace similarities between the people he was photographing, who all tended to occupy a liminal space between belonging and isolation. His latest project, …

2018-06-19T12:00:21+00:00

Lakewood: A modern day utopia

Meet California will give four photographers the opportunity to road trip across the Golden State on a 10-day British Journal of Photography commission, in partnership with Visit California. To introduce the competition, BJP is profiling a number of photographers who have created work in the state. Twenty years ago, if you told photographer Tom M Johnson that Lakewood – the Californian city where he was born, raised and continued to live for much of his adult life – would be the subject of one of his most compelling bodies of work, he would have not believed you. Growing up it seemed as if there was nothing particularly special about the Los Angeles County community. Its leafy streets, single storey houses, and perfectly manicured lawns were the norm. It was only upon returning from his travels that Johnson began to see his neighbourhood in a new light. “It was necessary to leave Lakewood in order to appreciate it,” he says. “Growing up, it was just so normal but it seems special now. All the little things – …

2018-06-26T10:02:32+00:00

In Paris: Sam Contis’ Deep Springs

“Gentlemen, for what came ye into the wilderness? Not for conventional scholastic training; not for ranch life; not to become proficient in commercial or professional pursuits for personal gain. You came to prepare for a life of service, with the understanding that superior ability and generous purpose would be expected of you.” Located on an isolated desert ranch, east of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, Deep Springs is an all-male, liberal arts college founded a century ago by Lucien Lucius Nunn. The entrepreneur, who with his brother built the power station at Niagara Falls, devoted the last two decades of his life to what The New Yorker describes as “a novel form of education, an anomalous admixture of Christian mysticism, imperialist élitism, Boy Scout-like abstinence, and Progressive era learning-by-doing, with an emphasis on self-governance, leadership training, and the formation of strong character”.

2017-11-10T18:25:42+00:00

Portraits of adversity in California’s Central Valley

Stretching deep through the spine of California’s Central Valley is Route 99. Once the primary north-south highway on the West Coast of the US, it has now given way to the much larger Interstate 5. As a result, a string of towns in the 60-mile-wide, 450-mile-long route have been forgotten by the majority of travellers on their way to San Francisco or Los Angeles. Nestled deep in this dust-filled, insufferably hot region are the sites of Katy Grannan’s The Ninety Nine and The Nine. The title of the series of portraits, The Ninety Nine, references Route 99 and the small towns along its reach. The Nine is the title of a series of accompanying large-scale, black-and-white landscape photographs, as well as an upcoming film. This title refers to South 9th Street in the town of Modesto, which is considered to be one of the most dangerous roads in the region. It is also the place where many of her subjects reside.     The landscape of the Central Valley is empty, physically expansive and physiologically charged. The valley is …

2016-01-08T16:31:22+00:00

Spot the ball: Robin Maddock’s uncompromising, ambiguous vision of California

From the title of his photographic blog, Ugly Moments Strung Together, you sense that Robin Maddock is prone to critical self-analysis and distrust of aesthetic purity. Despite having two well-received photobooks already published by Trolley (or maybe because of it), Maddock says that he felt disoriented and perplexed when it came to finding inspiration for a new project or approach to work towards. His third book, III, also published by Trolley and shot largely in the harshly-lit urban topography of Los Angeles and San Francisco, is the culmination of this period of introspection and points to a future direction of enquiry that seems at odds with his documentary roots. His first book, Our Kids Are Going To Hell (2009), resulted from his work following police on raids in Hackney. The second, God Forgotten Face (2011), shot in his home town of Plymouth, was already more introspective, even if it remained recognisable as a documentary project, capturing the city as a kind of microcosm of Little England. Or so Maddock thought when he started, thinking of it as a kind of …

2016-01-13T14:44:56+00:00

BJP Staff