All posts tagged: portraits

Portrait(s) festival returns to Vichy

From the star-studded hills of Hollywood, to Ukraine’s military camps, Russia’s Caucasus region, and the gloomy streets of Thatcher-era England, the programme for this year’s Portrait(s) festival covers a wide breadth of both geography and context. The French photofestival dedicated to portraiture returns to Vichy for its seventh edition this summer, with exhibitions by Philippe Halsman, Tish Murtha, Michal Chelbin, Bastiaan Woudt, Turkina Faso, Benni Valsson, Ambroise Tézenas, and an intriguing show about selfies, curated by Olivier Culmann.

Selfies, Equal/Egos presents a mixture of amateur photography and artists who explore the phenomenon in their practice. Both serious and offbeat, the exhibition examines the mechanisms of virality, and the repetitive nature of the image economy in a digital age.

2019-06-05T10:15:57+01:00

Female in Focus: “Dominance is often a characteristic associated with men”

Alice Mann is a South Africa-born, London-based photographer, who was awarded the prestigious Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize in 2018 for her photographs of all-female teams of drum majorettes in South Africa’s Western Cape province. The images that make up Drummies are celebratory and empowering portrayals of young majorettes from some of South Africa’s most marginalised communities. “Winning the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize was confirmation that people were able to instantly access the power these women had,” Mann says, “I’m really pleased that the girls’ confidence came across in the series.” Alice Mann is one of our females in focus; a remarkable photographer making extraordinary work, whose images we are revisiting as part of our pledge to elevate photography by women. Female in Focus is a new award, launched this year by 1854 Media, in which female-identifying photographers are invited to apply to have their work exhibited as part of a month-long group show at United Photo Industries gallery in Brooklyn, New York. Female in Focus is our way of addressing the gender imbalance …

2019-05-30T13:11:14+01:00

Female in Focus: “Willingness for change, and honesty, will move the photography industry forward”

Our next Female in Focus is Ngadi Smart. Her portraits, often of subjects with a striking sense of style, examine how people express their identity through both fashion and their surroundings. Combining photography and illustration, Smart’s work is rich with colour, pattern and personality. Ngadi Smart is a West African multi-disciplinary artist who has moved between Sierra Leone,  the UK and Canada. This has given her an international and expansive worldview that radiates throughout her work. However, her West African roots remain at the forefront of her work, and much of her photography interrogates themes of identity, sexuality and feminism through an African lens. By deconstructing mainstream portrayals of the continent, Smart challenges Western perceptions of African cultures. Smart’s work is motivated by the misrepresentation of black people of colour; their varied, vibrant and broad cultures, as well as feminism and gender roles. Through art, she reconsiders what it means to be considered ‘normal’ or ‘beautiful’. We spoke to Smart in light of Female in Focus, a new award that seeks to more bring diverse …

2019-05-30T12:39:18+01:00

A portrait of the real Brexit Britain

Documentary photographer Danyelle Rolla is proud of her roots. That much is clear from her portfolio, which reads like a guide to working-class Britain. Rolla grew up in Norris Green, one of Liverpool’s poorest towns – the type of town, she says, that the press misrepresents as a hotbed of crime and social decay. Out of frustration at this, Rolla has made it her mission to rewrite the narrative of the people and places that have shaped her, by photographing them in a more flattering light. The photograph that won Rolla Portrait of Britain 2018 captures Dotty, an older resident of Norris Green, Liverpool, outside the local pub. She is sporting a perm that might be from the Eighties, with shoulder pads to match. In fact, many of the scenes that Rolla photographs could be from other eras: from kitsch village fetes, to groups of skinheads in bomber jackets. In her playful, sometimes garish, images, she captures a Britain that seems to be longing for the past. This is the same Britain, Rolla’s photographs suggest, …

2019-04-11T11:46:15+01:00

Martin Parr’s Only Human

When the Portrait Gallery was established in London in the mid-19th century, its role was envisioned “to consist of those persons who are most honourably commemorated in British history”. Opening in an era when photography was still a new and untried technology, the National Portrait Gallery (as it later became known) was intended to be the national repository of the images, chiefly paintings and drawings, of those men and, much later, women who represented what was best among the British hierarchy of achievements, skills and aptitudes. Its function was to hold up a mirror to Britain that reflected its qualities back to those who came to observe them, as object lessons about how to aspire to, or more simply respect, the qualities and moral standing of the great and the good.

This conception of the NPG may still be widespread in the public mind, as even Martin Parr thought his work would be an ill-fit for a contemporary exhibition along these lines. “I never thought of myself as a portrait photographer,” he says, “and when I first met Phillip Prodger [NPG’s former head of photographs], I told him I had only a few celebrity portraits. I just put a lightbox together and sent them to him, though I was quite surprised at what I had.” Prodger, however, had other ideas, seeing in Parr the work of a social observer who could also offer a portrait of a nation at a key point in its history. So it is that the NPG put together Only Human, on show from 07 March to 27 May, bringing together some of Parr’s most famous photographs alongside a number of works never exhibited before.

2019-03-08T13:01:39+01:00

When you have to leave with Nina Röder

After losing both grandparents in the space of a year, Nina Röder and her family were faced with the challenging task of sorting out and selling their house – and with it, the inescapable matter of letting go. Röder’s project, Wenn du gehen musst willst du doch auch bleiben, takes its name from a sage observation made by her nine-year-old nephew, Luis, while they were packing up the belongings. Roughly translated, it means: ‘When you have to leave but you still want to stay’.

The unresolvable question of how to grieve is one that follows every death. For many, the photographic act can be a way of thinking through and processing difficult times. During the two-week period before her grandparents’ house was sold, Röder photographed her family in it – sometimes posing in their clothes and with their belongings – archiving its distinct aesthetic before it disappeared forever. “I wanted to show a different way of dealing with grief and loss,” she explains. “By staging absurd scenes with my mum, cousin and brother, we found a strategy of how to say goodbye.”

2019-02-26T11:32:50+01:00

Portrait of Humanity: The Guardian’s David Levene on capturing the city

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 …

2019-01-10T13:03:13+01:00

Portrait of Humanity: Alessandra Sanguinetti on youth and portraiture

Alessandra Sanguinetti was born in New York, but grew up in Argentina, where she lived for over 30 years. She began taking pictures during her childhood holidays spent in the Pampas, which are sprawling grasslands covering much of Argentina. It was here that she undertook her first photographic project, On the Sixth Day, a documentation of farming life and the way people interact with the animals they rear for slaughter. But perhaps her best-known project is The Adventures of Guille and Belinda, a series of portraits of two young local cousins, which has expanded as the girls have got older. Sanguinetti is now preparing to judge our inaugural Portrait of Humanity award, in partnership with Magnum Photos. In this interview, she discusses some of her best-known projects, including The Adventures of Guille and Belinda, as well as what interests her about photographing youth, and why it’s important to stay true to yourself. She also offers her advice to aspiring portrait photographers, who are showing us the world through their lens. The Adventures of Guille and Belinda is probably your …

2019-01-10T13:04:51+01:00

Michelle Sank’s portraits of young people in Britain’s Black Country

When Michelle Sank approached young people on the streets of Sandwell, asking to take portraits of them in their bedrooms, most were happy to be photographed. It was trickier to negotiate with their parents, who were sceptical for obvious reasons. “I had to explain why it was so important for me to photograph them in their bedrooms,” says Sank. “What’s on their walls is a metaphor for their identity and personality”. My.Self is a collaboration with Multi Story, a local charity that works with artists to make work for and about the people of Sandwell. The charity hadn’t produced any work yet on young people in the Black Country – a name for this region of the British West Midlands believed to have come from the layer soot it was covered with in the Industrial Revolution – so with her past experience of working with young people, Sank decided to make portraits of them in their bedrooms, wearing the clothes, and surrounded by the items, which help to confer their identities. The book is dedicated to …

2018-11-22T10:45:44+01:00

BJP Staff