Tag Archive: benjamin lowy
“Stories have always been a large part of what Hipstamatic is about. We have an opportunity to let photographers do the stories they want to tell, so we will be giving out grants to these photographers, so they don’t have to find publishers to finance their work.” -Lucas Allen Buick, CEO of Hipstamatic publisher Synthetic, speaking to BJP
This is an exciting development. Hipstamatic, the photo filter app for iPhones (iTunes store link), has announced plans to offer grants in support of photojournalism. We’ve written about the use of Hipstamatic and other iPhone filter apps in photojournalism before. There’ve been a few significant bodies of photojournalistic work produced on the iPhone: Damon Winter’s A Grunt’s Life, Michael Christopher Brown’s work from Libya, parts of the Basetrack project, VII’s iSee exhibition, and Ben Lowy’s iLibya and work from Afghanistan, among others.
There are scant details on how these photojournalism grants will work, but as BJP reports, they could be monthly or quarterly and will involve an application and judging process. The grants will be managed through the Hipstamatic Foundation, an educational arm of the company designed to support photographic storytelling.
Ben Lowy, incidentally, has been posting iPhone images frequently on his tumblr, including recent work from Libya produced on a grant from the Magnum Foundation, and he’s involved at some level with the forthcoming Hipstamatic photojournalism grants. Lowy has entered a partnership of sorts with Hipstamatic to release a Ben Lowy Lens, which will be sold under the company’s GoodPak program to provide funding for the photojournalism grants.
Make sure to check out Tumblr’s storyboard blog for an interview with Lowy about his current iPhone work. They’ll be publishing his Libya photos daily over the next week.
By the way, if you click through our links to buy anything here, we get a small cut of the sale. It’s a way for us to keep the lights on here at dvafoto. Thanks to those of you who have clicked through us in the past!
UPDATE: Here’s a link to the interview.
Two of my favorite things (talented photojournalists and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) converge tonight when Benjamin Lowy appears as a guest on the show to talk about his latest book Iraq | Perspectives. The show will air on Comedy Central in the US on Dec. 5, 2011, and will likely be available online shortly thereafter. I’ve been a frequent watcher of the Daily Show since before Jon Stewart’s reign as host, and I can’t remember ever seeing another photographer as guest on the show. Lowy may be the first photojournalist to be featured in the show’s history.
The dearth of photographer guests on the Daily Show has always seemed strange to me, especially considering the number of war correspondents and documentary writers featured. Photographers have unparalleled on-the-ground experience of the wars and disasters chronicled, parodied and lambasted on the Daily Show. Other shows and outlets involve photographers a bit more; Ben Lowy recently, Ron Haviv, David Walter Banks, and others have been on CNN, and NPR’s Fresh Air has featured a number of photographers, including: Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva, Roy DeCarava, James Balog, Joel Meyerowitz, Christopher Morris, and Horst Faas and Tim Page. But for some reason, the Daily Show rarely features photographers. Hopefully, Lowy’s appearance will be the start of a trend!
I’m usually wary of photo essays about poverty and drugs. Eugene Richards has unleashed a torrent of imitators, and the results are often voyeuristic and exploitative–unless there’s an underlying story, photos of depraved debasement do little more than serve as a vehicle for gawking at the unmentionables, grotesques without empathy. Benjamin Lowy‘s “The Afghan High” does the opposite.
The essay presents Afghanistan’s drug culture and the government’s futile fight against the opium growers as facets of a complex international political issue with both compassion and journalistic distance. The portrait at the top of this post, for instance, portrays the man not just as a token drug user but instead as a thinking, emotive, whole agent caught in the middle of a bad situation. If the essay stopped with the drug users, though, its value and interest would have been lost. By including images of the government’s meager efforts to fight poppy growers, the essay becomes a powerful statement on the entirety of Afghanistan’s relationship with drugs. The last photo, especially, (sorry I can’t link to it) evokes an idea of just how ingrained drug culture is in Afghan culture: the poppy fields, which are the focus of strategic international maneuvering and the fate of which may determine the outcome of America’s military efforts, are a place where children play. Lowy’s control of light throughout the essay is breathtaking, as well.
At the helm this year of New York magazine’s annual New York Look fashion week special issue, photographed in the past by Paolo Pellegrin (or here) and Christopher Anderson, was VII Network’s Benjamin Lowy. The pictures are worth a look, even if you’re getting a bit tired, as I am, of the behind-the-scenes fashion show genre of photography. Regardless, be sure to check out the short interview with Benjamin Lowy on the NYT Lens Blog. It’s a behind-the-scenes of the behind-the-scenes look at Fashion Week, and covers topics from Lowy’s connection to Iraq to the disconnect between witnessing a suicide bombing and then getting a call from a photo editor to shoot fashion pictures to the changing nature of the photographer’s job to Lowy’s tendency to bring shoot in different styles depending on the assignment.
New York Look is an adjunct bi-yearly magazine from the people who bring us the (wonderful) New York magazine. They have been doing something pretty unique and cool, hiring one photographer to shoot all of the work for each issue. It started with Paolo Pellegrin in Spring 2008 and followed with Christopher Anderson in Fall 2008. The latest issue seems to be out now, and features a portfolio by Benjamin Lowy: Spring 2009.
I’ve been fascinated by this idea of taking photographers from one ‘genre’ and dropping them in to a different world since I first saw the New York Fashion Week pictures from Paolo Pellegrin and Alex Majoli from 2005 (links are to their fashion work). I actually remember hearing from a New York Magazine photo editor who said they, of course, do this very deliberately .. to get a new take on things. (Probably wouldn’t work sending a fashion-only guy to Kabul, though). These are still some of my favorite pictures by either of these photographers. I’ve always described it as something like, “you take a photographer who is used to making beautiful and challenging pictures of terrible things, and then you throw them into a situation where beautiful things are all around, you’re going to get some incredibly pretty pictures”. I think the editors at New York magazine got this entirely (hell, they introduced it to me..) and I’m very excited to see these portfolios in Look.
These two pictures from Lowy aren’t exactly representative of whole of his work for Look (go have a look to see what I mean), but they’re my favorite, and the most different from the work I had seen before. One of my complaints about all of this is.. more than most projects, I see so much overlap in the vision and feel of these three photographers covering these same fashion shows. In 2005, Pellegrin and Majoli had very similar looking work (and used very strange but nearly identical techniques of lighting). And Anderson’s (and, now, Lowy’s to a lesser extent) seem to draw direct influence from the pictures that had come from their colleagues before them. An interesting debate.. maybe they all see alike, but maybe there is now a defined style of how you shoot these things. I don’t know, I’ve never shot fashion shows..
Also, here is a link to Alec Soth on the Magnum Blog asking “Should Magnum do fashion?. It generated over a hundred responses.. and probably no answers.
And my apologies, this was a bit of a melodramatic and misleading title… I know these guys do much more than ‘war’.. in fact their most interesting and important stuff isn’t from war.