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 …
Originally trained as a journalist, Barcelona-born Laia Abril expanded her storytelling methods after studying at New York’s ICP. She is best-known for the first chapter of her long-term project A History of Misogyny, On Abortion, which recently won the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook of the Year Award and has been shortlisted for the 2019 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize
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.”
“What lies behind this project is my particular, unique attachment to Slovenia,” writes Klavdij Sluban, a French photographer of Slovenian origin and curator of If Slovenia Were. “It is an exceptional project in as much as it was born out of the desire to share a stretch of a photographic journey with a group of young Slovenian photographers, quite apart from any institutional, educational or other structures.”
Stemming from a desire to keep in touch with the country of his roots, Sluban began the project with an open call, selecting 18 young Slovenian photographers to take part. Each responded freely to the theme, and have been working on their projects for the past three years, developing them in meetings with Sluban on his occasional visits to the country. The resulting projects include series on expatriates who have emigrated elsewhere, photographers’ personal interpretations of Slovenian family life, and introspective series dealing with the artists’ private experiences.
She cradles a Rolleicord camera to her breast, her eyes staring into her reflection. Until recently, the woman behind the camera was unknown, living a quiet life as a nanny in Chicago and dying, alone in a nursing home, in 2009 at the age of 83. When Vivian Maier’s cache of 100,000 images were unearthed, her work was compared with the greats of street photography. A film was made, Finding Vivian Maier, which introduced a new generation to her work. But Maier herself was the draw; who, exactly, was the mysterious French nanny? What drove her relentless imagery, and why did she keep it so resolutely hidden?
Maier was a private but eccentric Mary Poppins-like figure, who spoke with a delicate French trill and was never without her medium format camera. She took thousands of photographs from the 1950s to 70s, but squirrelled them away in a room she forbade anyone to enter. She was poor, and in 2007 her possessions were auctioned off to recoup her debts – her archive of photographs among them. John Maloof, an estate agent and president of his local history society, discovered them at an auction and took a punt, hoping to find images for a book he was writing on the Portage Park area of Chicago. He found nothing relevant, and put the whole lot into storage for two years.
So far the wildfires in California have claimed the lives of 94 people and laid waste to 1,667,855 acres of land this year. And, according to Dutch paper NRC Handelsblad, they’ve also consumed a world-renown library of photobooks, put together over the last six years by Dutch collector Manfred Heiting.
Based at Cutberth Road, Malibu, Heiting’s collection included vintage photographs, posters, ceramics and art deco furniture – and at least 36,000 photobooks. Residents in this area were told to evacuate a week ago, and the coastal town is now “a war zone”, Heiting told NRC Handelsblad. At the time of the report on 20 November, Heiting has not yet been given the green light to visit his house but he stated that: “On satellite photos I can see that everything in my neighborhood has disappeared. Two or three houses may have survived. The rest was pulverized in a ten-minute fire storm.”
It is estimated that 7% of the prison population in the UK has a learning disability, compared to around 2.2% of the general population. A study by Prison Reform Trust in 2008 found that people with learning disabilities are seven times more likely to come into contact with the police, five times more likely to be subject to control and restraint, and three times more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression, and spend time in solitary confinement.
These numbers are estimates rather than straight statistics because there is no system in place to screen, identify, and record whether a prisoner has a learning disability. In a research paper from 2005, psychologist John Rack estimated that around 20% of prisoners have some form of “hidden disability” which affects their performance in education and work settings. It’s worryingly disproportionate, and it begs the question – if prisons don’t have systems in place to even identify these people, how can they begin to give them the support they need to survive in a prison environment?
Since its discovery in 2009, Vivian Maier’s work – and her life – has attracted global attention. It been exhibited all over the world, featured in mainstream media outlets, and circulated in multiple books and films. Even so, many details of the American street photographer’s life remains a mystery.
We know that she worked as a nanny for 40 years in Chicago, and that she liked to spend time walking the streets, taking photographs with her Rolleiflex camera – with and without the children she was looking after. We also know that Maier took more than 150,000 photographs, many of which remain unseen, mostly of the people and architecture in Chicago, New York and LA, but also of herself, and her young charges.
“How to fill the gap between politics and art? This is both an old and a new problem,” writes Takuma Nakahira, in the afterword to PROVOKE no.1, published 50 years ago this month. Led by some of Japan’s best-known photographers and art critics – including Takuma Nakahira, Koji Taki, and iconoclast Daido Moriyama, who joined from the second issue – the magazine stemmed from the anger and discontent that they felt towards the post-war world. Though it survived only three issues, and was criticised at the time, it is now widely recognised as a ground-breaking publication in the history of contemporary Japanese photography.
The magazines were printed in 1968 and 1969, both turbulent years for politics which featured the May 1968 riots in Paris; the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr and the anti-Vietnam protests in the US; the end of the Prague Spring. In Japan, 1968 was the year that a string of violent student uprisings forced many of the top universities to close.
Would you want Martin Parr to take your portrait? You might say its a brave soul who goes in front of his penetrating lens, but it’s part of a portfolio of benefits the Martin Parr Foundation is launching in its Membership Scheme.
Parr set up the Bristol-based Foundation in 2014 to house his archive, but in October 2017 it opened to the public in a purpose-built space, offering free access to much more – a rolling programme of exhibitions, a large photobook library, and a growing collection of prints. Parr’s used the opportunity to hone in on British and Irish photographers, as well as work taken in the British Isles by others, and put the focus on their documentary work – an area which he believes is still underrated.