Magazine


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"Patron" Hillbilly Ranch, Boston, Massachusetts, 1972 © Henry Horenstein, courtesy of Horenstein and ClampArt


I am pleased to present a small selection of images from Henry Horenstein's 'Honky Tonk: Portraits of Country Music.' As you can see, I went with a selection of people on the periphery, but you can also see some big-name country music stars at ClampArt, NYC, where the exhibition is on now through October 13th, and online, in conjunction with Henry's latest book of the same title.

"Some say the 1970s were the last great decade of country music - between the pomade, plaid jackets, and goofy hillbilly jokes of the 1950s and the more polished 'Urban Cowboy' sound of Nashville in the early 1980s. Horenstein's work captures it all, from the roadside seediness of TJ's Lounge to the backstage glamour at the Grand Ole Opry. From bluegrass festivals and country music parks to the honky tonks and dance halls, these images picture such celebrities as Dolly Parton, Jerry Lee Lewis, Waylon Jennings, up to a recent cardboard cut-out of Garth Brooks (which speaks volumes about the artist's personal opinion of the direction the genre has taken of late). However, the photographs feature not only the stars, but also include the familiar venues and enthusiastic fans who sustain them."

View the full-screen magazine photo feature.

Full disclosure: I am now working at ClampArt and thrilled to be in a position to work with artists such as Henry, and others who have been published here in the past, not least of all one of my favourites, Lori Nix.

Submissions to aCurator are still thoroughly encouraged!

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© UNICEF /  Betty Press

"When a child behaves like an adult he sees what an adult sees." African proverb

This series of photographs is from Betty Press' 20 year project which has culminated in a book 'I Am Because We Are: African Wisdom in Image and Proverb.'

"The title of the book comes from a well-known proverb, attributed to South Africa, 'I am because we are: we are because I am.' It speaks to the interconnectedness and responsibility that we have for each other, and it embodies the concept of Ubuntu, the African idea of living harmoniously in community. Together the images and proverbs tell the story of life, moving through: family, home, education, relationships, work, leisure, environment, conflict, peace, music, dance, religion, wisdom, old age, and death, finally coming full circle with hope, as life goes on with the descendants and the living community. The proverbs in this book have been compiled by Annetta Miller who has been collecting proverbs for more than 30 years. Ms. Miller, an American born in Tanzania, has worked in East Africa for most of her life."

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

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Groom, Texas © Rob Hann

Repeat contributor and good mate Rob Hann makes collaborating easy and fun. I share his Brit-ex-pat love for the American highway so I am pleased to once again chuck you in the passenger seat and take you away for a bit.

"For my latest road trip I wanted to travel around the edge of Texas so that's what I did. I flew into Houston and drove a rental car anti-clockwise all the way round, with a couple of trips into the interior, til I got back to Houston. Here are some of the pictures I took along the way." - Rob Hann, August 2012

Enjoy the rest of summer! (apologies for being Northern Hemisphere-centric)

View the magazine full-screen photo feature.

See Rob's previous features here and here.

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© Wayne Lawrence

Welcome to the Bronx Riviera.

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."

View the full-screen magazine photo feature.

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Peshawar, Pakistan, 1988 © Marissa Roth

"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?

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

"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."

Mikkel_Aaland_County_Fair_02.jpgThe photographer's favourite children's portrait © Mikkel Aaland

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."

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

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Back in New York I discover Janette Beckman has an original copy.

Marc_Wilson_Last_Stand.jpgFindhorn, Moray, Scotland © Marc Wilson

The UK connection has been kind to me of late and Marc Wilson's beautifully pensive project is the latest series that I am honoured to publish.

This is the landscape as witness to war, a project I heard about through the crowd-funding site Indie GoGo. Receiving regular updates on something that you've contributed to is thrilling; the pleasure of publishing the final results? Priceless!

Here's Marc in his own words:

"Since late 2010 I have been researching, reccieing and shooting the photographs that make up The Last Stand, which aims to document some of the remaining physical remnants of war in the 20th century, along the coastlines of the UK and Northern Europe. These man-made objects and zones of defence now sit silently in the landscape, imbued with the history of our recent past. Some remain proud and strong, some are gently decaying. Many now lie prone beneath the cliffs where they once stood. Through the effects of the passing years, all have become part of the fabric of the changing landscape that surrounds them.

Whilst I capture the individual beauty of these objects in their landscapes, the series of photographs become much more than a set of traditional landscapes. My aim is that the collection will become a permanent photographic record of the past. A testament to the subjects physical form and the histories, stories and memories contained within, both of these wartime objects and the landscapes themselves.

With each passing year the evidence and memories fade a little more and it is especially for this reason that I have undertaken this project. I see every landscape as a witness to war and the passing time, each with a story to tell, whether it is one of unfulfilled defiance or one of tragedy.

This project takes in locations throughout the UK, from Cornwall in the south west of England to the far north west of Scotland; and along the northern coasts of Europe including those of France and Belgium.

The project is being supported by Spectrum Photographic in Brighton."

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

Follow Marc on Twitter.

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@cigaretteburns_ © Travis Hodges

When Travis Hodges joined Twitter, he wanted to meet the people he was communicating with. "I photographed the most active person I followed and asked them to select the next subject from those they follow. Online social networking is changing the way people build relationships and I set out to illustrate one thread within this interconnected web."

The project is the manifestation of an enjoyable part of online networking - actively appreciating someone you're connected to, whom you really don't know. I was surprised that Travis and I have only @JAMortram in common so I'm now following everyone in this story. With the publication of this feature, I hope to connect with more. I have had the pleasure of a cup of tea or two with people I've 'met' on Twitter - it's a great feeling to take these online relationships offline.

Follow Travis.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

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From Heidi & Ed: The fight for our children © J A Mortram

Jim Mortram is up-front about his own situation as a full-time caregiver, and in what spare time he has he photographs people in the margins, people in difficult circumstances - mentally or physically ill or just plain in-trouble. He gives them space to tell their stories, and the results are intimate and non-judgmental. Jim photographs warmly, with obvious compassion and investment in people's lives. "No matter who I shoot I want to shoot them forever!"

Mortram is a member of Aletheia Photo collective. Read a short interview with him at sevenbyfive or view his work with 'Independent Arts and Minds' over on the Beeb.

Visit his site for the full stories, be inspired - you will find yourself wanting to know how things turn out.

View the aCurator magazine full screen photography feature.

Update: a piece focusing on Jim's series Simon: Living With Epilepsy over at DuckRabbit's top blog.

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Denis Abdullah © Carlos A. Moreno

Carlos A. Moreno is a "photojournalist who has a deep passion for documentary work and likes to share his vision about social change with socially conscious organizations that share his desire to make a difference with photographs." Carlos is based out of San Diego, California and lives near the U.S.-Mexican border.

"'Picking up the Pieces' is a story about how a family and its neighbors barely survive in one of America's richest technological hubs, the Silicon Valley Area, home to the likes of Cisco and Google, and how even in such a place of success can working professionals like the Abdullahs still not make it and fall through the cracks.

The Abdullahs survive day-to-day, starting early in the morning recycling and tearing apart computer parts, copper wire, and whatever they can find to make ends meet so they can stay in the hotel they've been inhabiting for two years now and feed their son, Shadeed. With much work and sacrifice they sometimes manage to gain enough for the day's rent and for tools to make recycling a "business," as Denise and Mahir Abdullah see it. Their lives are far and apart from what they use to be years ago, when both had lucrative jobs, he as an electrical engineer at Intel Corp and she as a childcare facilitator.

The 2000 dot-com bubble destroyed their chances of getting ahead and with Mahir's skills now outdated and with a current and long-lasting economic slump neither has a chance of getting back on their feet. Though the odds seem stacked against them, they still persevere and even after facing such hurdles, help their neighbor, Tasha, a single mother who has a severe case of fibromyalgia and who is also struggling financially.

Both families face making rent and not having the needed resources to break the cycle of poverty; they are hoping with their determination and ingenuity that they will not end up homeless, but can slowly pick up the pieces of their lives one part at a time." - Carlos A. Moreno

View the full screen magazine photography feature.

Follow Carlos on Twitter.

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