Having missed the last 4 carnivals over the Bank Holiday weekend, this year I made a quick visit on the main day which is on the Monday, a holiday in the UK. Here are a few images from the day.
Having missed the last 4 carnivals over the Bank Holiday weekend, this year I made a quick visit on the main day which is on the Monday, a holiday in the UK. Here are a few images from the day.
The Nottinghill Carnival begins tomorrow but the big board-up began in earnest this Saturday evening on the main roads and side streets around the carnival route. As soon as one shop front is boarded up, the packs of graffiti artists with multi-coloured spray cans in hand would begin their artistry. More businesses and private homes have chosen to board up their frontages in anticipation of the huge crowds over the 2 days.
What is in a portrait? What makes us connect with the people we see in portraits? It is the human connection inherent within each of us. The answer to this question could be more intuitive than expressive. Come and join in the discussion at my workshop on 2 September at Mt.Rokko International Photo Festival 2018.
This workshop will introduce you to the significance of formalistic portrait photography, it’s historical context and present-day interpretations.
It will enable you to appreciate the knowledge and skill needed to set up a formal portrait session in a 1-hour practical outdoor shoot.
Brief : 2-hours
We will become familiarised briefly with the historical aspect of the portrait in paintings and from the invention of photography to the present day. We will look at the role of portraits from the invention of the camera in Victorian times, and then to the reproducible image, and the representational aspects of the personal portrait photograph.
We will consider and discuss the modern practice of portraiture and contemporary styles, and look at the importance and significance of the genre in modern society. We will examine some of the notable modern day photographers who used portraiture in significant ways, their influences socially and in journalism.
We will also look at how to appreciate and analyse portrait photographs throughout modern history.
We are able to review portrait photographs brought by the participants and perform a deconstruction and critique of each other’s works.
In the following session, I will present some of my personal choices of the finalist entries from KL International Photoawards from 2009 to 2018 including this year’s winning entries.
Practice : 1-hour
The workshops practical session follows with staged portrait shoots of participants in the studio or gallery space and outdoors. You will be able to make small prints of your portraits.
Note to participants
Please bring up to 5 portrait prints taken by yourself, or from magazines/online that you wish to present or review. Please bring your camera.
To workshop registration here.
Steven Lee is the founder director of Kuala Lumpur International Photoawards.
(You know what they say about London buses, wait for one and three turns up. I’ve been so fortunate to be able to feature three amazing photographers recently, and this is the third.)
Donning a baseball cap and wearing a bright yellow t-shirt, she smiled and said hello to me at the Camucia-Cortona train station. She was the only person smiling in the 30c heat, and introduced herself. Then I recall seeing her at the Cortona-On-The-Move festival but apologised that I had not talked with her during the last three days. She showed me her photo book The Rage of Devotion, a recent winner at Arles, and it clicked. This is Liza Ambrossia. Our journey to Rome took slightly longer than 2 and a half hours, so we chatted about her awards, projects, her book and about life in general. She was also trying to arrange accommodation in Rome at the same time. She kindly offered me plums from her landlady’s garden.
Q. You have just completed your ‘festival’ tour in Europe where you have been awarded a couple of major prizes, the FNAC Talent Award 2018 for your series Blood Orange and also at Arles, scooping the best photobook prize from the Voies Off Awards with The Rage of Devotion. I’d like to wish you many congratulations on receiving these prizes. Thank you for saying hello to me at Camucia-Cortona railway station and showing me your book, otherwise, I would not have discovered your wonderful work!
The success of your works depends on the amazing esoteric imagery that you produce, and the non-linear approach to editing your projects into fantastic, almost dream-like stories. How do you inspire yourself to create these images? Do you have a set formula following the story outline, or do you make the images randomly and put together at a later stage?
LA : Free association is the key to my line of work, a psychological process that gives independence to creativity in a mental state of emancipation directly related to the emotional state of the person who practices it. What we manage to retain from life not only from photography has to do with three essential points according to my criteria, what can be seen, what we want to see and what is revealed to us. To this I adhere structures of my contradictory personality: ease to live and radical when it comes to projecting stories.
Q: During our two and a half hour train ride to Rome, we chatted about many things – UFO’s, chupacabras, demons, death, eagles, snails, narco killings, Manila, Marcos, about your childhood and the scholarship you gained in Spain. Your influences to your work are clearly derived from many experiences and circumstances in your life and travels, growing up in Mexico and Spain. However, the overall theme of your works is about identity, longing and a sense of regret, I feel. Is there any truth in this, and are your photographs a sort of self-reflection or examination of your personal journey as an artist, always in search of the unreachable?
LA : Extraordinary memory yours, my dear friend … But I must emphasize that from my perspective my work does not speak of repentance; but speaks of revenge, of madness, of the monstrous thing that lives in our souls and how to reach freedom after destroying the universe in which chance has placed us (family, religion, homeland, name or physical). I intend for my work to be what I am as a person, someone who believes that social structures are a drag on imagination and growth. My work talks about what I have lived, suffered, loved, hated, dreamed and desired. I am not afraid to speak with my images of my dark, comedic or immoral inclinations. My ambition is to achieve the greatest freedom that the religion of art can give me.
Q. You write that ‘reality is overrated and fantasy underrated…”. The imagery of your works can be said to be ‘Lynch-ian’ in some respects, even nightmarish. eg. the arm with snails, the eagle eating the frail hatchling, and the numerous masked faces in The Rage. Is there a sense that you wish to provoke a reaction, any reaction from your viewers, that leads them to question your work or the images are purely to illustrate the concepts that you have to tell your story effectively, (ie. not caring about your viewers).
LA : Artists like me are beings led by demons and we are aware that these demons also observe us (the spectators). I like to write, make videos, images, tell stories, talk to strangers, the football and travel like a dog without a house as if I did not have tomorrow. I am an extremely passionate and passionate person for love and hate, to celebrate and to desolate, to live. I grew up in an atmosphere of chaos and exhausted my childhood and adolescence in that triangle of self-destruction; I currently know that there are many images that I already have inside and when I find them I collect them knowing that I am showing my demons. Demons with the ability to scare or fascinate.
Q. You also write that you are searching for the ‘transgressive aesthetic of the strange and the ‘every day’. I think you have succeeded in many ways, looking at your works in Blood Orange and The Rage. What is your next project and will you continue with this aesthetic, or perhaps go in a new direction altogether?
LA : My aesthetic continues to grow and is increasingly derived from film and short films because it is a language in which I recognize myself more. Although I will continue to make photobooks. My next project will talk about another dark moment in my life, suicide a personal complex because my father committed it and I could address it in a different way by living a few weeks in Switzerland two years ago when I discovered that deciding to die is a legal and even possible human right to pay. So I’m generating an optimistic opinion around the subject, in a project that will not take long to hang on my website more than a couple of months.
LIZA AMBROSSIO, Rome Termini, July 2018 © Steven Lee
(B. in Mexico City, Mexico) Liza Ambrossio is a Mexican artist who lives and produces in Madrid, Spain. Winner of Voies Off award 2018 prize of the photography meetings in Arles, France, she is the winner of the FNAC New Talent Award, Spain, 2018; and the Discoveries award 2017 of the PHotoEspaña festival and La Fábrica. Her body of work mixes macabre archive photographs with cryptic paintings, performance, intervention, videos, psychology, nightmares, science fiction and witchcraft that unites by free association.
Liza’s work has been published on the network of Center of the image (Mexico City), Fototazo (Colombia-United States), Espacio Gaff (Mexico-Venezuela) and L’Oil de la Photographie (France). Liza has been granted a scholarship to study production residences in Iceland and the United States (2017). She has been selected as a finalist in the 50 best young promises of the Emerging Talent of Lens Culture 2016 in Amsterdam, Holland and selected in New Visions 2018 of the Cortona On The Move festival, Italy. In March 2018 she presented her first photo book ‘The anger of devotion’ (The Rage of Devotion) edited by Desiertas Ediciones (México) and La Fabrica (Spain) within the Fotofest of Houston, Texas, United States.
St. Anthony of Padua, Church of San Domenico, Cortona
Part 1 : At-the-feet-of-saints
Ranita Roy is a young photographer who aspires to be a photojournalist. Based in West Bengal, India she is constantly seeking out social issue stories – education, poverty, flood, environment to document. Already having a string of accolades, awards, and publications after her name, she strives to have her most deserved works seen. I asked her a few questions recently, most notably about her black & white projects, which I feel are her strongest and most accomplished. Her work is mature and filled with emotion.
Q. When did you first discover photography and its ability to tell stories?
Since my childhood, I liked the camera. Numerous times I played with my father’s camera. Be as it may, I never thought I wanted to be a photographer or turn out to be extremely enthusiastic about photography. When I was in college, amidst a discouraging time, one day I left my home with a compact camera and began shooting, and I understood that it gave me a certain delight and helped me to overcome that circumstance. From that point onwards, photography turned into a sort of contemplation for me and became part of my life.
Since I started photography, for one year I was trying every genre, but somehow I realized that photographing in the street is challenging and I started to focus on photographing regular people in exaggerated situations that highlighted aspects of who they are. Later, I started to following documentary photographers and their works and found this genre to be a powerful medium to show reality with artistry. Gradually, my interest grew in narrative photography.
Q. What was your very first project?
My very first project was photographing backstage of a drama play. But it was not planned and it happened within a fraction of second’s decision. Reaching the stage to look around, I found that work backstage, behind the scene, was very interesting. I thought the images could also be a story for the performers.
But as a first planned project, I must tell you about Chhordima, my grandmother. Ever since my childhood, I witnessed her pain, sorrow, joy, excitement and enthusiasm. How positively she lived with all sorts of social restrictions. I learn from her.
Q. Who are your influences in art and photography?
It’s very difficult for me to name a single person. There are many people who has influenced me a great deal. It is not only from photography, but also in filmmaking, documentaries, and painters. I am inspired by Satajit Ray, Stanley Kubrick, Ritwik Ghatak, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Vittorio De Sica etc. In photography, I can say, Lynsey Addario, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ron Haviv, Raghu Rai, Kevin Carter, Alex Webb, Raghubir Singh, Ren Hang and many more.
I would like to name Sudipta Chakraborty, my photography mentor, whose continuous support has helped me a lot. I am inspired by his works.
Q. How do you identify a story to pursue?
Actually, I go to search out the burning issues. The issues that need special immediate attention. Firstly, I decide on the story, and then begin gathering research and data on that particular issue. After analysing the data, later I visit the place, do a recce. Then I plan for the shoots. The duration of preparation for the story depends on the subject matter. For the floods, it was planned on ahead of time and I start shooting immediately when it happens. As most of the issues I deal with are on long-term basis, I always get time to prepare for the next level of shooting. For child labour stories, it took a lot of time to cover, as I had to keep in mind the political, administrative and local issues.
Q. How much research do you do before you set out on your projects?
I have already replied in my previous answer. After identifying the story, I first collect data and information from the internet. I also try to search for the reports and news of that story to understand how much has already been covered. The next phase, I generally visit those places a couple of times to understand the scenario and prepare my approach. For stories which need immediate action, I directly visit those places and start shooting at the same time during my recce, to determine what are the major issues there and if possible, I may stay back there or make continuous visits.
Q. You have achieved a great deal in terms of awards and recognition, and also have worked published internationally. How do you reach out to these organizations and what which genre of photography would you like to see yourself getting into further?
Generally, I receive enquiries through the mail from those organizations. They get to know my work from either my website or from the contest pages, where my story or images were published.
I have grown interested in narrative photography and I would like to work as a photojournalist.
Q. I especially like your two black and white series – Upanayanam and Chhordima. They are very intimately photographed portraits with strong visuals, and the images tell the stories very well. These stories are truly unique and deserve more exposure. Why did you use B&W for these?
I could make both series in color but I chose black & white just because I would like to show the varying shades of only two colours, black and white. In Chhordima, as you read the story, the lady crossed many hurdles and restrictions of society in her life. Thus I wanted to contrast positivity & negativity, by using these two ‘shades’. In Upanayanam also I used black and white to show the transformation of a Brahmin boy, from his colourful childhood, he enters into a very strict disciplined life, where he can visualize the future paths of life. The rays indicate the positive ways for him and black & white referred to the very simple, straightforward and strict disciplined life he entered into.
I was in New Zealand recently, attending the Auckland Festival of Photography, by a kind invitation from festival director Julia Durkin. In its 15th year, the festival is well established and featured over 100 gallery exhibitions, international presentations, workshops and portfolio reviews. The festival center is located at Silo Park, where the specially curated thematic ‘Control’ exhibitions were held, literally in two giant disused concrete silos and a metal gantry in the surrounding open space by the water’s edge.
That was where I met Herlinde Koelbel, the respected German photographer known for her lifelong portraits of Angela Merkel and her series ‘Jewish Portraits’. In Auckland, Herlinde was showing her recent project Targets, part of the Control theme, as noted in the program :
“For years Herlinde Koelbl travelled around the world, and in a total of thirty countries, made photographs of the military targets used in the training of soldiers. As icons with which the various armies of the world learn the craft of war, everyone considers himself to be on the right side. In the reality of war, the soldiers themselves are always ultimately the target. For Koelbl, it was thus obvious that exhibited beside the mechanical targets are portraits of the soldiers – for they are the living targets.”
I spent my first morning in Auckland enjoying a delicious brunch with her in a cafe on North Wharf and snapped this portrait. We chatted about her project and discovered she had traveled to many countries, liaising with their militaries and consulates to gain access to their training and practice locations to photograph. Encountering obstacles and being passed from one department to another she nevertheless obtained permission in many of the prominent nations. ‘Targets’ attempt to show the ultimate futility in armed conflicts, the power play and arms race amongst nations. By portraying and comparing methodologies and practice targets used in various militaries, a powerful insight about the ‘art of killing’ and the soldiers trained to do so, only to discover that they are the very targets that the others are being trained to kill.
Photo : Bare tree, Wimbledon Common, 1st March, 2018
Cold Siberian weather, with snow, blizzards and freezing rain gripped the whole of Britain over the last few days, foiling the start of Spring in the official calendar. The UK can hardly cope with a few inches of snow, since extreme weather like this only occurs about once in a few years and only for a few days, at most, a week.
Thinking of a last minute present? Here’s a print you can have before Christmas. It was taken in the summer of 2015, in Nice, France.
I’m about to make a print order for this image, size 20×16 inches (50cm x 40cm), limited edition 10 only, Price $100 plus postage. I’ll be sending orders to Cambodia, Japan and USA, so there’s 7 prints remain in this edition.
Postage : Asia /USA $25.00, Europe $15.00.
Print on Fujifilm Crystal Archive satin or gloss, or Kodak Endura Metallic paper (nice!)
All prints will be signed, editioned and embossed, by me!
Send me a message on email@example.com
“ How can you talk about photography without talking about desire?” Hervé Guibert, L’Image fantôme. Photography expanded its scope to space and in volume in the 1960s (a development which then sped up during the 1970s).
This evolution gives metaphorical proof of the importance that contemporary art has acquired in the development of photography. Approche puts forward the hypothesis-and even bets on the idea that photography has an articulate and autonomous body whose two feet are firmly anchored to the contemporary scene. Moreover, the exploratory dimension of photography (as it has been written during its protohistory) has paved the way for certain contemporary artistic expressions. “
Art is everywhere. Art is nowhere.
I am in Paris for a couple of nights to visit Paris Photo and also meet up with some photographers and gallerists who are exhibiting over the weekend at the satellite shows. One exhibition I was taken to visit was Approche.Paris which was housed in a multi-level building just off Palais Royal, on Rue de Richlieu. The exhibition showcased 14 contemporary photographers/artists with different approaches using the medium of photography and constructed mixed media materials to challenge the often misconstrued legitimacy of photography as a ‘minor artform’.
‘Contemporary art and photography are not mutually exclusive.’