Portrait of Humanity provides photographers with the chance to share portraits of everyday life around the world, with the world. The aim is to explore and celebrate the many faces of humanity. That’s also the aim of Holland-based documentary photographer Leander Varekamp, whose image was selected by The Guardian editors as one of their favourite Portrait of Humanity entries so far, and voted by our followers as their favourite of the picks. The image, a crisp black & white portrait, is part of a series on Burrneshas – Albanian women who have chosen to live their lives as men. With only a few dozen Burrneshas left, the tradition is quickly dying out, and Varekamp is using portraiture to ensure that this little-known phenomenon is not forgotten completely. Since Varekamp discovered a talent for photography at the age of 17, he has used his camera as a means of investigating communities – such as Burrneshas – that intrigue him. As he puts it, ‘the camera opens doors that would otherwise remain closed’. We spoke to Varekamp …
David Levene has spent many years photographing for The Guardian, and in particular for their EyeWitness series, which he cites as some of his best work. Beyond The Guardian, Levene has undertaken a great number of projects for charities, photographing the unique challenges, but also the similarities, of people around the world. His interest in that which connects us makes Levene the perfect ambassador for Portrait of Humanity, a project seeking to prove that there is more that unites us than sets us apart. David Levene’s book City combines over 14 years of work shot across 62 different cities, from the suburban banality of Walthamstow, London, to the congested streets of Tokyo’s Shibuya crossing, and the homeless camps of San Francisco. The book provides a startling glimpse into the diverse forms of urbanity that exist around the world. With more than half of the world’s population now living in cities, Levene’s photographs tell a powerful story of people, place, and modern life. City is set to be re-released soon as a revised edition, with a …
Our followers voted Iranian photographer Hossein Fardinfard’s image as their favourite of the recent Guardian Editor’s Pick gallery of the best Portrait of Humanity entries so far. Taken in Tbilisi, the image depicts a scene from a national holiday in Georgia, with girls dressed in traditional costume. It captures a moment of togetherness and community, values at the heart of Portrait of Humanity. Fardinfard, now based in the Netherlands, found photography via an unconventional route. Having studied cartography, Geomorphology and IT, he pursued a career as a web developer before discovering his aptitude for the art form at the age of 30. Initially interested in street photography, his focus eventually shifted onto documentary photography and portraiture. He’s currently undertaking photography research at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, Holland. What are your key interests as a photographer? Social observation, human rights, and identity. I’m currently working on some long-term projects, like the Post-Soviet Generation project I’m doing in Georgia, which is about changes that the collapse of the Soviet Union has spelled for …
“I felt like I was always playing the same cards. With this project, I wanted to collect the cards and reshuffle them,” says José Pedro Cortes, whose latest book, A Necessary Realism, proposes new ways of seeing old images, gathered from almost 15 years of work and presented in his favourite medium, the photobook.
“The book is always an important moment for me,” says the Portuguese photographer, who is co-founder of the publishing Pierre von Kleist. “They are a mirror into the time I am living in, where I looked for a while in the same area.
“I wanted to fill in the gaps,” he adds. “By trying to break from this idea that images have a connection to a specific geography, and also a specific time, I wanted to take a different look at my archive, as if it were something new.”
“It was a moment where I could step out of my ordinary and rather boring existence, and shape it into something different,” says Federico Clavarino, who’s photographs from his foundational years at Blank Paper in Madrid are now published as a book
“Your memory isn’t like a file in your hard-drive that stays the same every time you revisit it. It actively changes,” says John Houck, whose images, just like our memories, can be deceptive. His pieces are made cyclically, by photographing and rephotographing objects, paintings, and sheets of folded paper, adding and removing elements with each iteration. “It’s a way to get at the way in which memory is an imaginative act,” he says.
BJP-online Loves Lei Lei and Pixy Liao win at the 2018 Jimei x Arles festival
bjp-online has been following both Lei Lei and Pixy Liao for a while, so we were happy to see them both win prizes at the Jimei x Arles festival. Lei Lei picked up the Jimei x Arles Discovery Award, giving him 200,000 RMB plus a spot in Arles’ prestigious Discovery Award exhibition and competition next summer; Pixy Liao won the Jimei × Arles – Madame Figaro Women Photographers Award. And bjp-online loves the Jimei x Arles initiative in general, which is packed with interesting work by image-makers from China and beyond. Plus six other key stories from the last week
“I see the bastard countryside everywhere I go,” says Robin Friend, pointing out of the window of his studio in East London, where an ivy plant has climbed up a nearby wall and is wrapping its vines around a rusting CCTV camera. “I ran with this idea of city and countryside splattering into each other, creating this hybrid nature,” explains Friend, who has been producing photographs for his book, unknowingly at first, for 15 years since he started started his BA in Brighton, where he studied under Jem Southam.
“Bastard countryside” is a phrase coined by Victor Hugo in his novel Les Miserables, in which he describes the city of Paris as an “amphibian”, stretching out into the countryside and devouring everything in its path. It is a zone in which the urban and rural mix, the manmade and the natural, clashing and colliding to create a strange form of beauty and ugliness.
US-based photographer Anna Mia Davidson was voted as our People’s Choice Winner, after The Guardian editors picked her image as one of the best Portrait of Humanity entries so far. The image shows a farmer and her grandson harvesting flowers. Bright and rich with colour, the portrait celebrates its subjects. As with many of Davidson’s portraits, the image captures a bond – in this case, between grandmother and grandson. Family is where photography began for Davidson, whose father – a professional photographer – encouraged her interest in the medium from an early age. Davidson has published two photobooks, Cuba Black And White, an eight-year project focusing on life in Cuba during the United States’ embargo, and Human Nature: Sustainable Farming in the Pacific Northwest, a multi-year portrait project about the people behind the sustainable farming movement. Davidson’s chosen topics tend to be weighty and complex, but her photographs are optimistic, and the resounding message of her work is that crisis can be overcome by the power of community. Can you tell me about your background …
Almost every Saturday between 1978 and 1999, Tom Wood travelled from his home in New Brighton by ferry and bus to Great Homer Street market, just outside Liverpool city centre in the North West of England. He would spend the morning there photographing the mothers and daughters, kids dressed in matching blue and lilac tracksuits, teenagers chatting away with their curly hair swept up into side-ponies, and grandmothers haggling for of a string of pearl necklaces or a second-hand coat. In the afternoon he’d travel on to either Everton or Liverpool football ground, then back on the bus and ferry, taking pictures every step of the way.
”God knows how many photographs I took,” he says. “When I first began photographing in Liverpool I was just overwhelmed by the people and the place. It was an exciting place to be, I fed off the energy there.”