Prolific portrait and music photographer Justin Borucki adopted the old wet plate collodion process to record changing New York. With his necessary mobile darkroom, Borucki has embraced this tricky* process to make magical images of the city he loves. We've been colleagues over many years since he signed up for representation at the photo agency - props always to Kellie McLaughlin, now of Aperture. It's a pleasure to see how photographers progress and change with the times, coming into their own.
*Wikipedia: "Collodion process" is usually taken to be synonymous with the "collodion wet plate process", a very inconvenient form which required the photographic material to be coated, sensitized, exposed and developed within the span of about fifteen minutes, necessitating a portable darkroom for use in the field.
Once upon a time I fell in love with a series of photographs by Doris Mitsch of the poisonous and glorious datura flower. I was perturbed and fascinated when I learned that the images were made using only the light from her scanner. Fast forward a decade and find Coco Martin using his scanner to fully expose his models, holding it close to them, painting them with the light from it, and recomposing the images in post, to marvelous effect in a series of unusual portraits. Martin shares his time between Lima, Peru, and New York, and has been widely exhibited.
"This particular body of work represents the last five years of my practice in photography. I've been questioning myself about the concept of what we call a photograph and the meaning of the mechanical act of capture itself. I am looking to provide to my photographic work a new conceptual approach, and through scannographies, as a temporal denial and refusal to use a regular photographic camera, I am still able to call myself a photographer."
"By only using a flatbed scanner on the skin's model - no external lighting, nor lens or aperture to control - I ended up discovering this 'magic kingdom of a candle light'. This is a statement of pause, a way to take some distance of the overwhelming reality and get the chance to think about the main source, the light and the subject, the eager attitude to really get someone soul almost from the very skin.
"Within the current context of massive production of images due to the arrival of the digital era and despite the fact that each piece might take days to be composed and completed, the process took me back to rediscover the meaning of patience instead of the present immediacy."
A small round-up of portraits that Giles Clarke made in 2014. Giles is a social documentary photographer based in New York City who is known for his work, among multitudinous other topics and places, in Haiti, Bhopal, and with the Occupy movement. Just lately he has been producing for UNHCR, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as being a Featured Contributor to Getty Images Reportage.
These portraits will take you on but a portion of Giles' journey through last year.
British photographer Nat Wilkins is working towards a BA in the UK and has a few interesting projects under his belt. I'm afraid I erm, chickened out of his original submission: "The images are a small edit from the essay of the Torajan tribe, these rites involve ritual animal slaughter, illegal cock fighting, gambling, elaborate processions and huge feasts." I couldn't stomach it. But I love this series about the making of beedies, Indian rollies I sometimes smoked when I was a teenager. They make your lips tingle. Nat gives us a glimpse into how they are made.
Multi-talented photographer Daniel Mirer is based in the USA and the Netherlands. His commercial work is in the tricky field of architecture and his personal work drills down into areas of interest such as masculinity, and Americana.
Historically, a "thing" was "the governing assembly of a Germanic society, made up of the free people of the community presided over by lawspeakers."
Daniel tells me 'Thingstätten' is "a term used to define open-air Nazi cult theaters built between 1933-1945 for the specific intention to entertain local communities."
About the locations in Daniel's series: "The productions performed were to project propaganda of an idealistic Germanic history and used as a recruitment tool for the National Socialist Party. Architecture and impressive scenic places were chosen as thingsteads: locations where based on Germanic idyllic surroundings in wooded areas, near bodies of waters, nestled in hills or by natural rock formation as well traces of archaeological ruins of local Germanic tribal history."
Daniel has received funding from the German government to help make this project happen, which helps me encourage other photographers to explore all possible options.
In September 2014 a young woman was molested and her boyfriend beaten up by 10 fellow students of Jadavpur University, Kolkata. The general student body demanded an unbiased investigation but were denied. Protests followed in Kolkata, and other cities. The police were called in and beat the protesters. Avinandan Sthanpati is in Kolkata and recorded one of the demonstrations.
"...The general students' body of the university demanded an unbiased investigation committee. They continued to stay at the campus until the university authorities wanted to talk to them but all in vain. Instead of that, the Vice Chancellor of the university called up the police into the campus at night, who in turn beat up the students mercilessly, irrespective of male and female. Several of the female students were infact molested in the hands of the police. Several students were arrested and taken to the police station.
"But the police had no idea how this action of theirs could backfire on them. The students got united and within an hour, massive numbers of them went outside their campus and sat on the roads just in front of the Jadavpur Police station. With time, their number grew exponentially and students from other universities also started to join them.
"Rapid Action Force were summoned by the police and things were just going to get ugly when the student representatives took a mature decision and decided to go back to the campus only after the arrested students were released from the police custody. The police thought that this was over. They forgot that students were like seeds. They cannot be suppressed by throwing them on the grounds.
"The next week, almost 40,000 students gathered and started a protest march towards the Governor's house , demanding the resignation of the Vice Chancellor. The Governor had a closed door meeting with a few student delegates and assured them that he will look in to the matter on a serious note.
"Three months have passed after that assurance but alas, nothing has been done from his end. Tyranny is still present inside the university. But the students are getting more and more organised day by day and vouching for a revolution on a massive scale.
"This series is a collective of the photographs of the students from the night when they showed protest in front of the police station and also on the night of that historic march.
"I name this series "Hok Kolorob" - "Let's make some noise" (or "Let there be noise" - ed) in accordance with the name that was given to this protest movement. I, along with scores of people all across the world, am in soliditary with "Hok Kolorob.""
Los Angeles-based Thomas Alleman's commentary on the ubiquitous and perturbing images that constitute American Apparel's ad campaigns.
"American Apparel is an internationally-known purveyor of hip sportswear. Their advertising campaigns are controversial for their depiction of very young women who're sexualized in strangely-poised photographs. In Los Angeles, where American Apparel manufactures its line, the company has for many years licensed about a hundred small billboards in ethnic and working-class neighborhoods, where those ads are placed at eye level."
"The sexual fantasies portrayed in those sleek, graphically simple ads are surrounded by the very complicated reality of LA's visually chaotic urban landscape, whose grit, anarchy and blight are at odds with the blithe spirit of those strange billboards. My photographs document the "dialogue" between LA's built environment and American Apparel's groovy, pervy teenage daydreams." - Thomas Alleman.
"Two ads, on the advertiser's website and Instagram page, for a skirt which was featured in their 'School Days' or 'Back To School' range:
a. The website ad on www.americanapparel.co.uk featured an image of a girl wearing the skirt, a top and white underwear, bending over to touch the ground, photographed from behind from a low angle. Her crotch and buttocks were visible.
b. The ad posted on the advertisers' UK Instagram page featured an image of a girl wearing the skirt and a top leaning into a car, photographed from behind from a low angle. Her buttocks were visible.
American Apparel (UK) Ltd said the images which appeared in their advertising featured non-airbrushed, everyday people, most of whom were not professional models. They said their approach was not graphic, explicit or pornographic, but was designed to show a range of different images of people who were natural, not posed and real. They said their models were happy, relaxed and confident in expression and pose and were not portrayed in a manner which was vulnerable, negative or exploitative."
There are a lot of events going on around Sir Winston Churchill this year, and we are involved in a few, not least of all the Order of Service for the wreath laying in his honour at the Houses of Parliament on January 30th, which is the 50th anniversary of his State Funeral. Here at the Karsh Estate we are proud to work closely with the Churchill Center and archives, and I thought I'd take this opportunity to publish the Smiling portrait, rather than the Roaring Lion with which we are all so familiar, as this image is being used by the Center and its partners.
For those of you who don't know the story of the Churchill photo shoot, here it is:
"My portrait of Winston Churchill changed my life. I knew after I had taken it that it was an important picture, but I could hardly have dreamed that it would become one of the most widely reproduced images in the history of photography. In 1941, Churchill visited first Washington and then Ottawa. The Prime Minister, Mackenzie King, invited me to be present. After the electrifying speech, I waited in the Speaker's Chamber where, the evening before, I had set up my lights and camera.
The Prime Minister, arm-in-arm with Churchill and followed by his entourage, started to lead him into the room. I switched on my floodlights; a surprised Churchill growled, "What's this, what's this?" No one had the courage to explain. I timorously stepped forward and said, "Sir, I hope I will be fortunate enough to make a portrait worthy of this historic occasion." He glanced at me and demanded, "Why was I not told?" When his entourage began to laugh, this hardly helped matters for me. Churchill lit a fresh cigar, puffed at it with a mischievous air, and then magnanimously relented. "You may take one." Churchill's cigar was ever present. I held out an ashtray, but he would not dispose of it. I went back to my camera and made sure that everything was all right technically. I waited; he continued to chomp vigorously at his cigar. I waited. Then I stepped toward him and, without premeditation, but ever so respectfully, I said, "Forgive me, sir," and plucked the cigar out of his mouth. By the time I got back to my camera, he looked so belligerent he could have devoured me. It was at that instant that I took the photograph." - Yousuf Karsh, 1908 - 2002.
"Irish Travellers, also called pavees, tinkers or gypsies, are a traditionally itinerant ethnic group who maintain a set of traditions. They live mostly in Ireland as well as having large numbers in the United Kingdom and in the United States. Their origin is disputed."
"My project 'The Travellers' gives insight into the everyday life of Ireland's largest minority group. This group has a nomadic origin, stemming from the tradition of migrant workers. As this tradition no longer exists, the travellers are looking for a new identity within the Western European society of the 21st century. Both the travellers' traditions and their way of life are so different that they are met with little acceptance by the rest of the Irish society. The travellers live in a kind of parallel world with rules all of its own and traditional gender roles, a world to which outsiders have little access."
"To this day, some traveller families live by the roadside illegally - mostly without electricity, running water or sanitation, even though the government has provided halting sites for the travellers where they can stay with their caravans.
I travelled to Ireland with a VW bus in order to photograph the travellers the first time in 2011. I wanted to capture the travellers' way of life and their values in pictures. In doing so, I did not want to romanticize them, but rather show their everyday life. A life where people still hunt rabbits and where horses play a vital role. But it is also a life that contains hardship and boredom from an early age.
Since my first encounter with the travellers, I have been in touch with one large family. Over time, I have gained their trust. Consequently, I was allowed to live with them so that I and my camera became part of their daily lives."
Among other acclaim, Birte received a CNN Journalist Award in 2014, was Category Photo Winner PDN Annual 2013, and a Critical Mass 2013 Top 50.