I reviewed Wayne Lawrence's Urban Beach Week, Miami, series, and interviewed him last year for Emerging Photographer. What a pleasure to engage with a young photographer who came a little later to the art and who has embraced exactly what it is they love, with marvelous results. Over the years of representing the estate of Yousuf Karsh I have learned a lot about portraits; we benefit from the connection Wayne is able to make in such a short time.
"Orchard Beach, a mile-long sliver of constructed shoreline, has long served as an oasis for generations of working-class families living in an environment defined by struggle, yet is embedded in the imagination of many as a ghetto beach carrying all the stereotypes associated with the hood. As the only beach in the Bronx, the stigma attached to Orchard is due in part to the complex history of a borough stained by a tumultuous past and loaded with racial, cultural, and socio-economic undertones. With this series, I determined to create a body of work in celebration of this community at Orchard Beach and have sought to exalt the souls who have allowed me to share their space.
I began the journey to the heart of the Riviera at a crucial point in my personal life. I was a father and wounded, having witnessed the birth of my son a few years earlier, only to experience the most profound grief a year later when my older brother David was brutally murdered. Finding a sense of community at Orchard Beach has allowed me the time and space to reflect on the importance of family and to find my voice as a photographer. I've approached this work instinctually and see every person portrayed here as magnificent in their own way. To stand face-to-face with the souls in these images is to accept them as they are without prejudice because ultimately, we are all one.
Bearing witness to the polarities of human existence is what drives me to do this work. I am interested in examining the totality of life with all its complexities from our entry into this world as raw potential to the day we no longer exist."
Oh Happy Monday! A welcome opportunity to publish a photo of David Hasselhoff and this hysterical news item.
David Harry Stewart from the Casey stable made a photo of David Hasselhoff holding an iced
coffee for Cumberland Farms. After it was sent into stores as a cut-out
to highlight their yummy iced coffee, patrons started stealing David's
Hoff and posing with him on Twitter. 550 have been stolen with only 20
left. The story went viral and here we are, 2012, with Hoff still making headlines.
Here's what David had to say about David.
"Working with David Hasselhoff is a blast. Super fun, super professional, and able to turn on The Hoff character on command. He closes his eyes, pauses for a moment, then Hasselhoff the man turns into meta-Hoff the character. It's amazing to watch. I would ask for more of a smile, or a surprised look, and he would just start riffing on it through his Hoff character. In between takes we would chat about surfing or Baywatch, and then when it was time to shoot, out of the skin of this really quite regular guy came the HOFF. Such a comedian at his own expense. Love him.
The Hoff-Cumberland Farms campaign is like nothing else I have ever done. In an age where people are worried about internet copyright theft, here we have people loving these images so much, they're actually stealing them out from stores. I love it! To go into a Cumberland Farms and run out with a stolen ad shows, real dedication. Never in all the ad campaigns I have done has there been anything like this. I'm so happy that people will be able to enjoy The Hoff in the privacy of their living rooms for years to come. It is enormously flattering."
There's a long piece in the Guardian this weekend 'If we have to go with the Hoff to pay the rent, let's go with the Hoff' and below is my personal favourite Hoff moment.
Thanks to Alex Geana and the Casey crew for submitting this. You guys made my day.
"One Person Crying: Women and War, is a 28-year, personal global photo essay that addresses the immediate and lingering effects of war on women. In an endeavor to reflect on war from what I consider to be an under-reported perspective, the project brought me face to face with hundreds of women who endured and survived war and its ancillary experiences of loss, pain and unimaginable hardship. I traveled the world photographing, interviewing and writing down their histories, noting gestures and gruesome details, in order to document how war irrevocably changed their lives. Women are the touchstones for families and communities and are often relied upon to keep everything held together during a war or conflict. Often, there is no time for them to assess their own traumas afterwards, let alone speak of them in order to process the experience. I was compelled to put faces and give voices to the other side of war, with no judgment as to which war was worse for its victims. There is no blood or any guns in the images, just the record of lives lived with a never-ending post-war backdrop."
Marissa has launched a Kickstarter Campaign to help with the expense of producing a traveling exhibition of the work. Funding starts at $1 - rewards start at only $25 - lend a hand?
"The consequences of war for women in countries, cultures and communities that are directly affected by it, have often been overlooked. My main hope for this project is to show that war doesn't discriminate how it metes out pain or suffering, that women are basically the same everywhere in how they endure war and live with its aftermath into their post-war lives. I also hope that this project inspires dialog and activism, in order to bring on-the-ground psychological and social support to these war-impacted women.
Addressing this subject started in response to immediate political and social events that I covered as a photojournalist starting in the late 1980's. After 10 years, I formalized it into a documentary project and continued it from that perspective. In 2009, it was during a trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, that I fully understood the deeper motivation for this work. My parents were Holocaust refugees and my paternal grandparents, and great-grandmother were killed in a 1942 massacre in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia. On the final day of that trip, I found my grandparents' former home, and also found their names on a memorial plaque by the Danube River, dedicated to the numerous massacre victims. It felt like I had found them for the first time.
In March/April of 2012, I went to Vietnam for the first time, in order to finally conclude the arc of the project. The war in Vietnam was my coming-of-age war and greatly influenced my formative years, not only as a person and activist, but also as a photographer."
Leland Bobbé's half-drag series is getting published around the world! The aCurator favourite (see here and here) has developed a community around this work and people just love it.
"These images are part of an ongoing series of portraits of drag queens in half-drag. With this series my intention is to capture both the male and the alter-ego female side of these subjects in one image. Through the power of hair and makeup these men are able to completely transform themselves and find their female side while simultaneously showing their male side. These are composed in camera and are not two separate images joined together."
Marika Dee submitted her latest personal project. I myself have learned something... "In recent years, several thousands of people, many belonging to the Roma, Ashkali or Egyptian (RAE) community, have been forcibly returned to Kosovo by western European countries. Germany is one of the countries expelling RAE families that have been living there for a long time, often 15 years or more. The deportations take place in the framework of a "readmission agreement" that Germany concluded with Kosovo, the latter being under political pressure to accept. The deportations were heavily criticized by several NGO's, the Council of Europe and UNICEF. Most of the children were not only brought up in Germany but were born there as well. In Kosovo the families fall into a marginal existence and the children feel uprooted. In the coming years an estimated 12,000 people will be returned by Germany, half of them children.
Over the course of last year I traveled several times to Kosovo to document the precarious daily life of a few of these families."
I met the delightful, exuberant photographer Mikkel Aaland at the Nordic Light Festival in Kristiansund, Norway, where he MC'ed, and moderated, and enlightened us as to his multi-faceted life in San Francisco.
Mikkel was showing prints from this portfolio one afternoon and I fell in love with the series. The book "County Fair: Portraits" was originally published in 1981; a Special Portfolio Edition is out now.
"My association with Harold Foote, the owner of the studio, began in 1971 when I went to the Pleasanton fair with two schoolmates in search of summer work. Foote had just pulled his studio onto the grounds and was busy setting up. He asked if any of us had photography experience. He noticed my slender frame and said, "You fit in the darkroom. A dollar-sixty-five an hour and the job is yours." The darkroom then was a dingy closet and there my career began. Two weeks later when the fair ended, Harold asked if I wanted to go on the road as a darkroom person and I agreed. Three years later I moved out of the darkroom and became a shooter and began this collection in 1976.
These portraits were made in a portable studio that was hauled from fair to fair between 1976 and 1980. The studio was complete with darkroom and a shooting stage and it took a crew of three to run it: a shooter (me), a front person to handle customers and a darkroom person to develop and print the 4x5 inch negative. The entire process, when going smoothly, took about fifteen minutes.
The studio, a weather-beaten structure of wood and steel, was mounted on a trailer and covered with peeling orange, black and white paint. At a fair we disguised it as best we could with some of our most glamorous photos-smiling faces and beauty queens. The shooting stage was just inside a heavy orange curtain which only partially blocked out the roar of the fair. A 4x5 wood box Burke & James camera was mounted on a rigid turret, its 135 mm lens so old and scratched that our pictures came out happily softened, a quality I could never achieve with a newer lens. For lighting we installed three Honeywell strobes around the room and a flood lamp above the camera. We painted the background neutral gray. Our only props were three stools and a table for infants.
Because our prices were so reasonable, we often had lines of customers that lasted from ten in the morning to midnight. To give you an idea of our volume: on a busy day in Pleasanton, I shot over 450 portraits, averaging three people per print, meaning 1,350 mostly smiling faces.
Customers generally posed themselves. I directed them to the camera and tried not to interfere with their moods, unless a mother insisted that I make her kid smile. Most of the time I only clicked the Packard shutter once, provided the subject sat sill. The shutter speed was 1/30 of a second, which doesn't stop even a slow motion. I spent a couple minutes with each customer, but large families and fussy babies took longer. After I exposed the negative, the customer paid and I sent the film holder back to the darkroom with a color coded ticket, which told the crew what size and quantity to print.
The darkroom stood behind the shooting area, through a door stained with photo chemicals. It was divided into two rooms with space for four people, though we usually worked two at a time. On one side was the small negative processing room secured from the printing area by a black curtain. The negative was processed in the normal manner, although we heated our developer to 92 degrees F and cooked the Ilford film for a brief forty seconds. Ilford was the only film we could work with; the others disintegrated at the high temperature.
The developed and fixed negative was then shoved through a small opening to the print room where a second person dipped it into a solution of Photo-Flo and squeegeed off the excess. The still-damp negative then went to one of our two Omega D-II enlargers, one for wallet-sized prints and the other for larger sizes up to 16x20 inches.
Since there was not time for guess work the exposure was determined by a densitometer. Once exposed, the paper was placed face-up in a Kreomatic processor which developed, fixed, washed and dried the print in about four minutes. This machine was a luxury we only recently acquired. Before, we had four messy, open tanks which explains why our trailers' frame was so eroded by acid and fix.
The entire procedure, from negative to finished print went smoothly most of the time. Only when we at our busiest did blunders from inexperienced help, power blackouts, electrical shorts, contaminated chemicals, scratched negatives and a host of other disasters seem to occur.
We slept in cheap motels, on cots in campgrounds, in our cars, and often in the back of a 1966 Dodge stock truck. Inside its aluminum shell we installed three bunks, two closets, a refrigerator and an air-conditioner. Chemicals and photographic paper were stored separately up front. We parked the truck on the fairgrounds near the studio. It was convenient to sleep within walking distance, particularly after a fourteen-hour workday.
During those years with Foote I shoot nearly 60,000 portraits. Of those I saved 700 negatives, 25 of which make up this portfolio."