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© Giles Clarke

Giles Clarke is a social documentary photographer based in New York City known for his work in Haiti, Bhopal, and with the Occupy movement. We met at Photoville in Brooklyn this summer and I am honoured to publish his work. His diverse career includes producing TV segments for Channel 4, and tour visuals for Paul Oakenfold. Clarke began his serious work and dedication to activism with a 6-week stint in Bhopal, India where he filmed and photographed the victims of the Union Carbide gas tragedy. Clarke continues working closely with the Bhopal Medical Appeal on raising awareness. An image from his series 'Prison Pit' made in El Salvador was featured in CNN's A Year In Pictures.


Driving through the gates of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, or "Angola," is a chilling experience. This is the "Alcatraz of the South," a Manhattan-sized compound in a remote area north of Baton Rouge. When we arrived, we tuned into KLAS 91.7 FM--the only prison radio station in the country--and an inmate DJ proceeded to string off a long list of trivia about the prison. We learned that Angola is the largest maximum security prison in the country, that it has the highest percentage of prisoners serving life without parole, and that it's so big that it's the only prison with its own zip code. It also has its own fully functioning rodeo.

Angola opened in 1901 on a former plantation estate, quickly establishing itself as one of the toughest penal institutions in the country, responsible for overseeing the hardest criminal elements in the South, in a state with notoriously rigid laws. Conditions up until the early 70s were often described as "medieval and squalid," and prisoner protests were common. The current warden, Burl Cain, operates Angola as a "working farm," one of the most efficient in the state, stressing that "keeping inmates busy and working is the most important thing we try to do."

"The rodeo, which was first started in 1967, continues on because we see it as a vital tradition and good reward for the inmates who deserve to be here today. It's a big privilege to be allowed to take part in the rodeo, and they know that," said Warden Cain. "It also allows us to raise much needed funds for our rehabilitation programs." Photos and text by Giles Clarke.
Assisted by Lawrence Sumulong.

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"My work is bit true 
but like a fairy story about myself."

Images by Christo Viola (NSFW)


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Photographers | Permalink |


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© Rituparna Banerjee


Rituparna Banerjee is a photographer based in New Delhi. Here is her story about the approximately 1,200 residents of what is essentially a two-square-mile slum at the Yamuna Bazaar in Delhi.
"A walk into these very spaces reveals a grim reality. Vials of familiar anti-allergic medication, syringes and needles lie littered about in the dirt; huddles of small groups of men, women and children with their backs to you; their decaying bodies and reddened eyes, are a clear giveaway. We approached one of them. "I have been using drugs since I was 12...it's been over 14 years now, my wife left me. I continue to live like this", says Siddharth. When asked how he can afford it, he narrates with interest how begging and picking pockets are popular sources of income. "Each packet of crack costs me about four hundred rupees ($7), it keeps me high for about two hours; I take it 2-3 times a day. I can't live without this," he adds. Siddharth is one of the hordes of homeless people in Yamuna Bazaar whose life, income and expenditure revolve around the intoxicating chemicals he consumes every day.    

Half the addicts encountered are children. Their days are spent in the nearby railway area of the Wazirabad cargo depot. Moreover, their addiction continues well into adulthood, as testified by Siddharth. The children often turn to violence in desperation to get their hands on chemicals to cause intoxication. Chintan, a minor barely thirteen, shows the slash marks of a razor blade on his friend's chest. They are both from Darbhanga in Bihar. Holding a the tube of rubber solution used by cobblers and packers as glue, a 10 year old says, "I inhale this all day," with most of his face concealed beneath a cloth towel doused in the substance.
 
Substance abuse has been reported in many instances to reach uncontrollable proportions, and these images essay the condition of occupants of the Yamuna Bazaar area. Their peculiar situation makes them unqualified for any government benefits and the societal life applicable to other underprivileged city occupants. With the authorities having a blasé attitude towards a huge responsibility, the addicts occupy a crack in society and governance and continue to waste away as prisoners to their own addiction."

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'Respecting My Elders - Age and the Creative Spirit' is Ellen Wallenstein's self-published book  (print ($25) and digital ($5) of wonderful portraits of 30 people over 80 years old who have affected the American culture. I took the easy route and asked for the women. 

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Photographer Editta Sherman (1912 - 2013) at 97 © Ellen Wallenstein
"I tried to improve my work each day, read books and photography magazines to become more proficient in my work. I have always been curious and interested in what's going on in the world. I enjoy conversing with other people who are creative also." (written to Wallenstein)

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Journalist Ruth Gruber (b. 1911) at 99 
Motivation: "The search for truth." Philosophy: "Never Retire!" Advice: "Let no obstacles stop you." (to Wallenstein)

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Author Bel Kaufman (b. 1911) at 100
"Words of wisdom? Words of common sense: Provided you are healthy (a huge proviso) you can have a long and interesting old age. The problems and insecurities of youth are in the past, children are grown and on their own, this is the time to do not what you always had to do but what you want to do. You can be creative, productive, helpful, even inspiring or simply content to be privileged to live in a world which is changing every day." (to Wallenstein)

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Actor and activist Judith Malina (b. 1926) at 84
"Tremble: your whole life is a rehearsal for the moment you are in now." (Quote)

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Author Francine duPlessix Gray (b. 1930) at 80
"We write out of revenge against reality, to dream and enter the lives of others." (Quote)

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Photographer Rosalind Solomon (b. 1930) at 80
"Artists must be in touch with life, create frame-works and find the freedom to express themselves within their personal structures. As long as I have eyes, ears, hands, feet and sanity, I will improvise and keep moving. I advise young artists to do the same. This is a matter of essence, not age." (to Wallenstein)

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Painter Lois Dodd (b. 1927) at 83
"Be stubborn and follow your own voice." (to Wallenstein)

 
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Photographer Rebecca Lepkoff (b. 1916) at 92
"Avoid trends. Think for yourself. Think of a project that you w ould like to concentrate on, and spend time developing it. Time passes. Will it be of interest 49 years from now?" (to Wallenstein)

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Designer Jeanyee Wong at 90
"If you love what you do, you get better at it.... The more you learn the more interesting life is." (to Wallenstein)

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Designer Eva Ziesel at 102
The pleasure of making things useful or beautiful involves your feelings as well as your thinking. When your original sketch evolves into a tangible, three-dimensional object, your heart is anxiously following the process of your work. And the love involved in making it is conveyed for those whom you made it." (Quote)

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Painter Sylvia Sleigh at 94
"What do you think about rivalry between women? It's divide and rule anyway. I mean if you set women against each other, then you're going to be able to dominate them much more than if they're together. You see our strength now is to love one another and appreciate one another and defend one another." (to Wallenstein)
Books, Photographers | Permalink |


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Pigeon Fright, Italy, 1956

'Europe in the Fifties. Through a Soldier's Lens' is a book of photographs by Bill Perlmutter, a soldier with the US army who traveled through Europe beginning in 1954. The photographs were presented for the first time earlier this year by the German house of seltmann+söhne who are thrilled to announce that the book just won silver in the prestigious Deutscher Fotobuchpreis. You can buy a copy of 'Europe in the Fifties' directly from them, for 40 Euros. Nice Christmas present if anyone's thinking of getting me something. 

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G.I. baby, Germany, 1955

"It all started in December 1954, when the then 27-year old soldier boarded a troop carrier to Germany, to start his new assignment as a photographer for the U.S. Army magazine. The first images from Perlmutter's Rolleiflex originated during the rough Transatlantic passage. Even though he had never left his home country and was a bit apprehensive about his future, Perlmutter was "looking forward to photographing Europe and visiting all those wonderful places that I had read about and seen in the movies." 

Almost 60 years after the images were conceived, they clearly document the photographer's sense of the special moment. Every single image becomes a lively piece in the puzzle of remembrance, reporting accurately on the historical period, but also capturing very personal encounters. His insightful work has a long lasting effect, way and allows those pictures to come alive. Again and again. Even after all those many years."

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Street Musicians, Paris, 1955

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Woman Reading in the Park, Paris, 1956

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Open Wide, Germany, 1955

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A Kiss on the Hand, Paris, 1956

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Man With Dark Glasses, Italy, 1956

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Bill Perlmutter was born in New York on September 5, 1932. He began his career with a Bachelor of Arts in Motion Picture Techniques from the City College Film Institute in New York. In 1954 after graduating from the United States Army Photography School, he spend two years in Europe as a staff photographer for the U.S. Army newspapers based in West Germany. Since then he traveled extensively all around the world as a free-lance photographer. From 1978-1997 he worked as the Vice President of Rainbow Chromes, a company specializing in photographic and digital retouching.

Many thanks to seltmann+söhne for providing such great images for press. Glück!
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Books, Photographers | Permalink |


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© Antonio Pulgarin

I was invited to judge the second Latin American Fotografía and Ilustración competition for AI-AP this year, and chose a selection from across both the 'Selected' and 'Chosen' winners to publish in the magazine. Winning images were exhibited at the annual AI-AP party earlier in November, and will be part of a traveling exhibit in 2014. There was an interesting variety of work as I expected, and I liked the simplicity of the judging process and the fact that so many images were given a nod.

View the full-screen magazine photo feature.

I am now on competition-judging hiatus until further notice.
Awards | Permalink |


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Facade © Xiang-Yun Chen

Xiang-Yun Chen was born and raised in China, and is now living in New York. 'Package from Home' is a nicely-executed, easy-to-consume, perfectly-encapsulated photo project, to which many of us can relate - especially in NYC where about 1 in every 2 of us claims to be an ex-pat.

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Mum's favorite soup

Chen tells the story: "In the summer of 2011, during my cousin's pregnancy, we got a package from home, which was filled with various necessities for her puerperal period. Not long after that, one night, I had a dream. I am not the type of person who dreams very often. In the dream, two of my front teeth fell out with the teeth in my hand, unceasing tears flying away,  I recalled the doctor told me a couple of months ago in reality that if I didn't do a full examination of my left eye, and know what the problem is, I might lose my vision forever. So I started running, running, until the tears washed me back into the reality."

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Still Life with Herb and Plastic Bag

"I would not have this project if I hadn't opened the package after I had the dream. When I was unsealing it, it wasn't the act of opening an almost smashed box, but the feeling that was unfolding my memories, all the emotions, happiness, past, sadness, all the connections that I had with my family and homeland. I wanted to break the geometry boundary between my small family in America and big family in my country. Adding the props from the house in the U.S. allows me to live in the imagination that we are still together, nothing can cut off the root, and we are tangled up as a family until it doesn't matter whether it is the transient moment or longer than that."

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Uprooted

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Stil Life with Hair, Garlic,Ginseng
All images © Xiang-Yun Chen
Photographers | Permalink |


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At a funeral. Tirana, Albania, 2012 © Enri Canaj

Thanks to Enri Canaj for this heartfelt story.

"I was born in 1980, in Tirana, Albania. My family lived near the Enver Hoxha residence, (the Communist leader of Albania from 1944 to 1985), the most developed part of the city, during that time. I remember the beauty of that place: the parks, the shops, well-dressed people strolling around. When I turned 11, we came to Greece because of the political, social and economic situation that my country was going through.

Albania is a small country in the heart of the Balkans. Despite its rich culture, people outside do generally not know much about it. It is also my homeland, the place of my early childhood. I grew up separated from it, and returned later to pick up the threads that were left behind. What I found was modernity and tradition living together. I traveled a lot and started to know my birthplace, the people, their mentality, and their traditions. I felt very welcome, and was fascinated by all the people I met. They were kind, friendly and curious about my work.

I made this journey together with my wife. When people realized we were a couple, they were very open, they welcomed us inside their homes and extended wishes, blessings and congratulations. Marriage is very important in Albania. Everyone has to get married, it is considered to make men stronger and more respected in society.

In this photographic project I would like to show the everyday lives of Albanian people - the big picture, as well as the small, seemingly insignificant moments. What impressed me most was the strong family union, the connection among people. I found it everywhere - in married young couples and their babies, at a funeral ceremony where relatives shared their pain, at a wedding party, or when a son accompanied his father at work. I didn't see any lonely people."

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A Man Feeding Swans in the Snow © Marcin Ryczek. 1st Place winner in the Landscape/Seascape/Nature category

We are thrilled to announce the winners of this year's Grand Prix de Découverte, International Fine Art Photography competition.

I was honoured to be invited to be a juror again for year two. This year I was in the company of photographer Hiroshi Watanabe; Director of Galerie Camera Obscura, Paris, Didier Brousse; author, curator, and former Chair of the Department of Photography at The Art Institute of Chicago, David Travis; Anne Biroleau, Curator of Photography, Bibliothèque Nationale de France; and Alexandre Percy, Director of ACTE2 Galerie, Paris. The competition was sponsored by the Paris-based DeGroot Foundation. The Grand Prix de la Découverte winners' prizes included a trip to Paris for the opening of the exhibition; each won cash, are exhibited at Paris Salon de la Photo, and have been accepted into the prestigious collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. C'est magnifique!

View the first place winners.
Awards, News | Permalink |


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Aglu make pocket photobooks - collectable little marvels, costing £5. One of their current releases, 'Ghost Ships,' features images made in artist Simon Jones' old house and "takes us on a voyage of discovery through frayed carpets and other domestic hazards." 

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Jones makes "photographic artworks about memory, which usually involves the creation of small dioramas captured on location with a single exposure." 

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Along side the books, Aglu offer small-run limited edition prints. They publish six books per year and are interested in submissions.

Buy the pocket photobook.

See more from Simon.
Books | Permalink |



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