Category Archive: From the mailbag
Yesterday James Estrin, co-Editor of the New York Times Lens Blog and Staff Photographer for the Times, announced that they are inaugurating the first New York Photography Portfolio Review, a two-day event in April 2013. It will bring together 160 photographers, in two one-day sessions, with more than 50 prominent reviewers, including a diverse selection of photo editors, agents, publishers, curators and buyers. The event will include private portfolio reviews, discussions and workshops.
They’ve also announced that the event will be free to attend for invited photographers, a step away from other major portfolio reviews in the US and Europe which can cost hundreds of dollars. The event, on April 13 and 14 at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism in New York City, is divided in two sessions: on Saturday the 100 invited photographers will all be 21 years or older, and on Sunday all 60 photographers will be aged 18-27. To attend you must submit a portfolio by February 13, and invited photographers will be informed by March 8, 2013.
This is such an interesting event that I wanted to pose a few questions to Estrin, and he agreed to fill us in.
Dvafoto: Whose idea was this project, and how does it fit Lens’ and the NYT’s goals?
Estrin: I’ve always thought that the web, and social media were very powerful tools for communication, but significantly different than actual human interaction. Real Analogue interaction can have important and profound consequences.
I came up with the idea for the review with Lens co-editor David Gonzalez.
We have been lucky that our marching orders, from our boss [assistant managing editor for photography for the New York Times] Michele McNally, have always been to make the very best blog we could. Make the best editorial judgements that we could make, be willing to be smart, try to be principaled and don’t worry about traffic or business. So if this event can help the photo community, and create opportunities and discussion, then it fits into our mission. There are many ways to communicate.
Why did you choose to make the event free? This surely bucks the trend of most portfolio reviews and events for photographers these days.
It’s free because we wanted to create as many opportunities for photographers, regardless of background, to share their work.
There are fine portfolio reviews that charge- most of them non profit either by design or execution. I reviewed this year at Review Santa Fe and also at Lens Culture Fotofest in Paris and I think both were very was helpful for many photographers as well as for myself as an editor. At the same time I think we all have a responsibility to our fellow photographers, particularly the youngest new photographers amongst us.
Many people helped me when I was a young freelance photographer. I wouldn’t be here without them. I always remember how difficult it was to show my work in the pre-digital era, and how alone I often felt. There is an important tradition of experienced photographers helping newer ones.
Why the age categories? Will there be a different curriculum for each session?
The age categories are because I wanted to make sure that we did the utmost we could for up and coming photographers.
All photographers 21 and older can go on Saturday and I think the opportunities will be great. But on Sunday you have to be 18 -27 and there will be many workshops as well as reviews. By the way a very accomplished 21 -27 year old photographer could apply and get in for both days.
Ultimately, we just wanted to do some good, have fun, and help our colleagues in any way that we can. So we asked what would be a meaningful thing to do.
My colleagues from the New York Times, National Geographic, Time, Aperture, Abrams books, PDN, and many museums, magazines, galleries and blogs have generously agreed to share their time. We are adding new reviewers daily.
Thanks to James Estrin for answering some of our questions and for organizing this fantastic opportunity for photographers.
The deadline for submitting your portfolio is February 13, 2013 on the entry page. Good luck to everyone applying!
The Daily Show’s John Oliver looks at investigative journalism in another classic Daily Show “what the hell is happening around us’ takedown. I think it is an instant classic.
Brad Adgate: “But you don’t have to fly to some remote location to interview someone. You can just sit and use skype and save money that way”.
John Oliver: “But Brad, I don’t know how many child soliders in Sierra Leone use skype.”
Chloé Meunier wrote in to share her interesting project about the Afro-Carribean community in London. The work is the product of 3 years of photographing people and events in the community. It’s still a bit raw, but offers fascinating insight into how these people fit into life in the UK. I asked her to explain the project a little, and this is what she had to say below. English isn’t her native language, but the ideas are interesting:
“This reportage is the result of three years spent in London, among African and Caribbean communities, in places such as churches or street parades, but also in other places. Those people were kind enough to share a moment of their life. Nothing was really planned. The result is a portrait Africans and Caribbean natives in the English landscape.
“The fact of mixing them in a reportage could belittle them. Why should I group Afro-Carribean people who may not feel linked together as strongly as some other communities? I suppose this could European heritage from colonialism that mutated to Euro-centrism. In this particular case, I was trying to understand the results of a ‘living together’ between different cultures different backgrounds.
“Everyone mixes cultures in some way. It is an individual process and each person has their own way. What we do, what we don’t do to individualize ourselves… this shows that it is an individual’s relation to his or her environment or its perception. Anyone can see his or her own culture transcendence in relation to other people, and then they will link together.
“More generally, I felt that each person can develop answer or retorts, regarding his or her relation to the environment, but the unhooking bound to the individual time such as the sickness, send us back to our unity which is the peculiarity of the existing.
“So this project is about perception more than concept. I never thought to link the pictures I was taking to one another at the time I was taking them. I was just concentrating on each portrait of people or group or situation, and also on my own question regarding how to represent who or what was in front of me, that is the person and his or her relation to the world and life. At the same time I thought about how society and history can affect or influence each person and my own perception of what was happening in front of me.
“I also talked with the people in my pictures, trying to know a bit more about them. I didn’t do this in order to tell a story afterward, but just to learn about them. I have also been careful not to theorize on what I’ve seen and photographed, and I hope I haven’t done that here.”
Some of these pictures have been published or exhibited, including at the Hackney Central Museum in London and in Fototazo. Be sure to check out Chloé’s website for more pictures and other projects. Also, check out her collective Essenci’Elles, which focuses on photographing the feminine world. There’s some great work there, too.
In 2010, fifteen young South-East European photographers and three masters met in Berlin for the SEE New Perspectives masterclass, organized by World Press Photo and Robert Bosch Stiftung. After the first meeting in Berlin all of the photographers were given a grant to photograph a story within the region but outside of their home country.
The resulting projects are now being exhibited in Belgrade, Serbia (on display until December 14 at the ARTGET gallery on Trg Republike) after debuting in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in October. The show will soon move to Zagreb, Croatia and Berlin, Germany. The exhibition features an interesting concept of displaying oversized “magazines” each devoted to one photographer’s project, with only one image from each project along with the photographer’s name on the wall.
You can see all of the stories produced in the masterclass on the SEE New Perspectives website as well as more information about the organization of the project.
The photographers are:
Andrei Pungovschi, Romania
Armend Nimani, Kosovo
Bevis Fusha, Albania
Dženat Dreković, Serbia
Eugenia Maximova, Bulgaria
Ferdi Limani, Kosovo
Jasmin Brutus, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Jetmir Idrizi, Kosovo
Marko Risović, Serbia
Nemanja Pančić, Serbia
Octav Ganea, Romania
Petrut Calinescu, Romania
Sanja Jovanović (née Knežević), Serbia
Tomislav Georgiev, Macedonia
Vesselina Nikolaeva, Bulgaria
And the Tutors are:
Regina Anzenberger, Austria, artist, curator, photographer’s agent, gallerist
Silvia Omedes, Spain, president at Photographic Social Vision Foundation
Donald Weber, Canada, photographer VII Agency
I asked my old friend Jasmin Brutus, a Bosnian photographer who was part of the masterclass, to paraphrase the statement he gave at the Sarajevo opening which expresses his feelings about the years-long masterclass project: “We [the participating photographers] all returned with nice small toolbox which our employers will never know how to utilize. So, I think experience in the masterclass is very useful for my personal projects and for my job is almost useless. I gained new skills and my old skills got enhanced. But, for me the most important thing is that I met a group of really great people and great photographers.”
Congratulations to my friends from around the region who were able to take part in this interesting project and many of whom were able to produce terrific photo stories that may otherwise never have seen light or been published. I encourage you to explore the work published on the SEE New Perspectives site or peruse the photographers’ own websites linked above.
The video below features interviews with all of the photographers about their work and experience in the masterclass:
In recent months the Alexia Foundation has been very busy with new social media presence and a gorgeous new website that shows off all of the terrific projects and photographers they have supported over the last 21 years. The Foundation was founded in 1991 and has awarded $700,000 in grants to fund over 128 projects by both professionals and students.
This year’s winners include Justin Maxon’s When the Spirit Moves, Kathryn Cook’s Memory of Trees and Katie Orlinsky’s Innocence Assassinated: Living in Mexico’s Drug War. Past winners include Matt Eich (2008), Balazs Gardi (2006), Marcus Bleasdale (2005), Francesco Zizola (2004), Ami Vitale (2000) and Melissa Lyttle (1999).
The Foundation has also just announced a new $25,000 grant called the Women’s Initiative “to provide resources for a photojournalist to produce a project that illuminates any form of abuse of women in the United States but with global significance.” The deadline is August 15, 2012.
“The Alexia Foundation’s main purpose is to encourage and help photojournalists create stories that drive change. While our traditional grant guidelines put no limits on the subject matter for grant proposals, a few proposals about women’s rights in the last few years have been so powerful that they have compelled the Foundation to create a grant specifically on the issue of women’s abuse. Because this issue is so shocking and deplorable – but continues partly because it is so often unseen or ignored – the Foundation will provide a $25,000 grant so a project can be produced that will illuminate the horrors of what is happening, often invisibly in our own communities.”
Despite a couple of weeks of delays beyond the control of Matt and Scott, we are pleased to announce the winner of the dvafoto / Think Tank Photo contest. There were 52 entries on Twitter and on Facebook from supporters of dvafoto who suggested “The Most Powerful Image” they knew. Scott Brauer held the drawing from his very own hat (msb: Well, a vase actually…) and the randomly selected winner is Tamara Zidar, from Belgrade, Serbia. The image she chose for the contest is by Argentinian photographer Alejandro Kirchuk. When asked about why she chose this picture Zidar wrote,
“When I look at this photo, every time I feel slight pain in my stomach. I think about love, commitment, sacrifice and strange stories of our lives.
It hurts to see her watching through him and don’t recognising her friend, her love, partner. But yet his look says “Eat now, my love, you will be just fine.” as if he doesn’t know she is not coming back.”
Scott and Matt are currently editing the rest of the submissions in to a blog post that will compare what our audience considered “the most powerful” pictures they have seen to an earlier article Scott wrote about Reddit users’ choices.
If you haven’t won but still are interested in Think Tank Photo equipment, remember you can order online at this link or through the advertisement on the right-side of the site. With this code, you will get a special gift with your purchase. If you order through our site part of your purchase will also go to support the costs of maintaining dvafoto. Thanks again for your support, and congratulations to Tamara!
Matt and Scott are about to send out their quarterly newsletters updating clients and friends about the work we have been up to and the plans for the near future. It is the best way to keep up with what we are working on and where our pictures are being published. You can sign up for Scott’s newsletter here, and sign up for Matt’s here, or click on their respective photos below. We both use MailChimp to manage our newsletters and you can unsubscribe at any time, and we promise not to bombard you more than a handful of times per year.
While most of Scott’s recent work is still under embargo or not quite published, here are few highlights from him, based in Boston, Massachusetts:
- Updates on new work, including recent portraiture and political coverage
- Tearsheets from Education Week, MIT News, Montana’s Office of Tourism, and others
- New-to-you images from Tibetan areas of China in my archive
- Travel images from flyover states
- Information about upcoming travel this summer
Some highlights from Matt, who is based in Belgrade, Serbia:
- Lutton will be traveling in the United States from mid-June until the end of August, and tentatively in Africa in September.
- Tearsheets and archive features from recent assignments for The Wall Street Journal, 2012 Magazine and M Le Magazine du Monde.
- Coverage from the Serbian Presidential and Parliamentary elections which took place on May 6, and previewing the second round of Presidential voting on May 20.
- Preview of his new story “The Destruction of Belville” which follows another mass Roma eviction in Belgrade similar to his project Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere from 2009.
Sign up and see the full updates from Matt and Scott when they send their newsletters next week. Thanks again for supporting us and our work, we look forward to sharing more of our pictures and a lot more on dvafoto soon.
We’re proud to announce a dvafoto contest in partnership with Think Tank Photo. They’ve donated a Retrospective 5 bag for us to give away to friends and fans of dvafoto. We’ve got the bag in hand, and if we weren’t giving it away, it would be going out on assignment with one of us. It’s small, doesn’t look like a camera bag, and has a ton of neat features (extra pockets, customizable dividers, great strap, a special velcro-less silent mode, and on and on). It’s a great bag, and now there’s a chance for you to get one free.
We thought this presented a great opportunity to start a discussion about powerful imagery, similar to our recent post about the most powerful photography as chosen by Reddit users. We want to hear about which photograph you would nominate the most powerful picture you know and to give away a great camera bag to one lucky person who has answered our question. We will randomly draw a name from all the entries and discuss submissions in a future post on dvafoto.
For all the information you need about entering this contest and to see which images both Matt and Scott chose to nominate themselves, visit the contest page at www.dvafoto.com/contest.
The deadline is
March 30, 2012 DEADLINE EXTENDED to April 6, 2012.
We’re looking forward to seeing your entries!
Wall Street Journal photo editor Matthew Craig and photographer Brandon Thibodeaux recently produced a powerful multimedia piece focusing on Iraq veteran Ian Welch’s life in the US after an artillery round exploded near him during the 2003 fight for Baghdad. The piece was produced over the last year and combines still photography, video, and audio interviews, offering an intimate look at the way Welch and those who surround him cope with life after his traumatic time in Iraq. Be sure to watch the editing and sound design around the 6 minute mark when Welch’s girlfriend discusses the difficulties of dealing with his PTSD. The piece, especially the final minute as Welch describes his fears for the future, is a strong reminder of the long-lasting toll of the past decade of war. You can read the accompanying article here: For Wounded Vet, Love Pierces the Fog of War
Edoardo Pasero wrote to us recently and shared his new project Doll Flesh. I was immediately taken by the depth and sincerity of the reportage, and the unique woman at the heart of the story. We’re excited to share this work with you alongside a few questions we had for Pasero.
Vittoria is a transsexual of German origins born forty-eight years ago in Brazil and now living in Milan, Italy. More than 20 years ago she went through about 300 injections of liquid silicone to shape her body into that of a woman; tragically, she suddenly discovered she was intolerant.
After so many years now of intoxication and cortisone treatments her body is consumed. She still works as a prostitute along a highway near Milan, but she never gets undressed with her clients because she doesn’t want them to be aware of her condition.
In her spare time she custom builds Barbie dolls. Her talent is really appreciated in the world of the “custom Barbie making”.
- Note: there are no captions except for the last image, which is a translation of this page of Vittoria’s diary.
How did you meet Vittoria? What inspired you to photograph her story?
Pasero: I knew her thanks to ALA, a nonprofit organization based in Milan. They work on subjects like drugs, prostitution, transsexualism and so on. I have a personal obsession with everything concerned with the body and it was immediately clear to me that I had to work with her. She has a really extreme case of silicone intoxication and when I heard her story I was astonished. I was completely fascinated by her hobby working with dolls; to me it is like she did the first, primal doll experiment on herself, and now she is replicating it doing new dolls. Once, she told me she wanted to be like the unicorn she tattooed on her back.
What, if anything, was she interested in communicating when she agreed to be part of your story?
Vittoria was in denial about her condition for a long time and just lately she reconciled with it. Just think to the fact that she works with the clothes on and that, according to her words, I’m the first man seeing her naked in ten years. So, to work with me was her way to say: “pay attention to what you do, silicone can be dangerous”. She never wanted to see the pictures, she’s ok with the project but it’s still too much for her to see her naked body in a picture.
Would you consider this project a collaboration with Vittoria? Does she help select the drawings or dolls you’ve included in this series? What is her reaction to these photographs and the way you’ve edited them together?
It was a collaboration in the sense that she let me to do what I wanted, everything except for the moments when she is with her clients. To let a photographer with his camera in to your life and in the place you live is the most collaborative act of all. I simply took pictures of her and her environment. Clearly I spent a lot of time with her, that’s for sure. I spent time with her without a camera too, doing things like going to the hospital, shopping, dinners etc. There is one picture in the sequence, a blurry one, where you can see two arms taking away old band-aids from her bottom, to put on the new ones. One arm is clearly Vittoria, the other one is my girlfriend, during that period they became friends, and we still are.
The selection was a pain, it took months. I love to edit and I think it is half of the work. Additionally I live in the same city where I have my agency (Prospekt) and I really live in the office. So it was a collaborative effort to make this edit, and I have to thank a lot all of the people there at Prospekt. But, by the other side, it was a sort of “controversial” process; it was like every person looking at it for the first time had a different idea than the one before and so on, much more than the other works I edited before. So I had to put a stop at one point.
Does this story fit in to any larger body of work you are working on?
It was originally intended as part of a bigger project to be done with the ALA organization about transgendered people in the city of Milan, but at the moment nothing is going on so I think it will stay as a work on it’s own. I’ve got no plans. I’d like to see it published somewhere as I’d like to expose this subject, but I understand it’s not simple.
Where do you come from? What is your background as a photographer?
I’ve done workshops with Lorenzo Castore, Antoine D’Agata and Anders Petersen, and except for that I’m self-taught. My father was a really good photographer in his youth and taught me how to use a camera and some darkroom techniques but I learned looking at books of photographers I liked. My parents have both a degree in philosophy and I studied philosophy too; photography became a practical way to apply it in life.
When I was going back through your project I saw one particular image – the picture of Vittoria with an umbrella by the side of the road – which immediately reminded me of Mishka Henner’s project No Man’s Land.
It caused a stir amongst photographers and critics I know, about evenly split on positive or negative, with some of the debate focused on the use of Street View and others on his treatment of the subject itself. I think your project could be considered a much more personal and journalistic response to the scenes and individuals involved in Henner’s distant photographs. Do you have any thoughts about that project or how your work relates?
About “No Man’s Land”, it is interesting how the 70% of the work is done with images “taken” in Italy, hah. Anyway, I have nothing against this kind of work, but I think it would be correct to present it as a research work based on archive material. It’s a conceptual work. This kind of approach is really used in contemporary art. For example, my friend Diego Marcon works mainly in this way. He takes family tape archives and he re-organizes it in to something new: Marcon’s SPOOL project.
So, to be clear, I don’t think Mishka Henner’s work is photography, it is something else, really interesting and worth a look but not photography, it’s 90% project idea and 10% framing on a computer screen using someone else pictures.
To me photography still requires just one simple condition, to be present at the moment of the click.
What has the response been to Doll Flesh, have you been able to publish this project?
Heh, I started to share it in October 2011 and here on dvafoto is the first publication. I think it’s a difficult project to place, reactions vary a lot from one person to another and I understand perfectly that some pictures are a bit harsh. Anyway, it was a great experience for me and that’s what matters.