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Famous Photographers / V

John Vachon
United States
1914 | † 1975
John Vachon was a world-traveling American photographer. Vachon is remembered most for his photography working for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) as part of the New Deal and for contributions to Look magazine. One becomes keenly alive to the seeking of picture material. It becomes part of your existence to make a visual report on a particular place or environment. -- John Vachon John Felix Vachon was born on May 19, 1914 to a middle class Irish Catholic Family in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He was the son of Ann Marie (O'Hara) and Harry Parnell Vachon. His parents were not well off, his father made a get-by living as a traveling salesman in stationery supplies. He had one younger brother named Robert. Vachon had a Catholic education and graduated from Cretin High School local military Catholic high school (now Cretin-Derham Hall High School). He continued his education at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul and received a bachelor's degree in 1934. Vachon moved to Washington, D.C. after receiving a fellowship to attend graduate school at Catholic University of America to study English literature and become a writer. As he began his studies, a few months later, he was forced to leave school due to his drinking. After his leave from graduate school, Vachon looked for work around Washington D.C., finding his first job in photography working for the Farm Security Administration's Historic Division as one of the photographers hired by Roy Stryker to document the plight of migrants during the Great Depression. In about 1938 Vachon married Millicent Leeper who was known as Penny. While Vachon was on the road working as a photographer for the FSA, he wrote daily letters to Penny, as well as to his mother. He wrote them to describe his experiences, ambitions, self-doubt, sense of humor, the obligation to the FSA, the people he met, the news he read about, and the movies he watched. In the letters, Vachon describes how he relied on Penny to support him and his work. They had three children. Penny committed suicide in 1960. Vachon married Marie Francoise Fourestier in 1961. They had two more children. Vachon served in the United States Army in 1945. Vachon's daughter, Christine Vachon, became an independent film producer in adulthood, and their son Micheal became an editor who worked with his father in later years. The FSA was a New Deal agency created in 1937 to combat rural poverty during the Great Depression in the United States. The FSA is famous for its small but highly influential photography program which ran from 1935 to 1944, and documented the challenges of rural poverty and farm life. John Vachon's first job at the FSA carried the title "assistant messenger." He was twenty-one, and had come to Washington D.C from his native Minnesota to attend The Catholic University of America. Vachon had no intention of becoming a photographer when he took the position in 1936, but as his responsibilities increased for maintaining the FSA photographic file, his interest in photography grew. The FSA sent more than forty photographers into the field and collected images of American life that would result in an archive of 165,000 FSA prints. Some FSA employees had well-established careers, while others become famous as photographers as a result of their work, including Esther Bubley, Marjory Collins, Marion Post Wolcott, Jack Delano, Arthur Rothstein, Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Gordon Parks, Charlotte Brooks, Carl Mydans, Dorothea Lange and Ben Shahn. By 1937 Vachon started to take photographs himself, and with advice from Ben Shahn, he tried out a Leica camera in and around Washington. His weekend photographs of "everything in the Potomac River valley" were clearly the work of a beginner, but Stryker lent him equipment and encouraged him to keep at it. Arthur Rothstein, who took him along on a photographic assignment to the mountains of Virginia. In October and November 1938, Vachon traveled to Nebraska on his first extensive solo trip. He photographed agricultural programs on behalf of the FSA's regional office and pursued an extra assignment from the photography project's chief, Roy Stryker: the city of Omaha. Vachon worked extensively in the midwestern and Great Plains states. As the Great Depression lessened and American involvement in the War in Europe increased, the government moved FSA photography project to the Office of War Information, and Vachon's job transferred to that agency as well, where he worked from 1942 to 1943. He later worked as a staff photographer for Standard Oil Company of New Jersey between 1943 and 1944. After serving in the army in 1944-45, in 1947 Vachon joined the Photo League, where he wrote book reviews for Photo Notes and participated in many exhibitions. Between 1945 and 1947 he photographed New Jersey and Venezuela for Standard, and Poland for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. Vachon became a staff photographer for Life magazine, where he worked between 1947 and 1949, and for over twenty-five years beginning in 1947 at Look magazine. In 1953 Vachon took the first pictures of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio when Monroe cured a sprained ankle near Banff, Canada. With Look closed, he had continued to work as often as he could. He photographed two stories for Vermont Life, a magazine edited at the time by his son Brian and became a freelance photographer. In 1973, he won a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1975, he was a visiting professor at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. In Vachon's later years, he was teaching a class in photography where he kept notebooks on the main points of the day. For December 9th, 1974 he reflects on it earlier assignment he had given his students to emulate the work of FSA photographers. Vachon continued as a freelancer until cancer brought him down. Vachon died of cancer in 1975 in New York at age 60.Source: Wikipedia
Peter van Agtmael
United States
1981
Peter van Agtmael (born 1981) is a documentary photographer based in New York. Since 2006 he has concentrated on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their consequences in the United States. He is a member of Magnum Photos. Van Agtmael's photo essays have been published in The New York Times Magazine, TIME Magazine, The New Yorker and The Guardian. He has published three books. His first, 2nd Tour Hope I Don't Die, was published by Photolucida as a prize for winning their Critical Mass Book Award. He received a W. Eugene Smith Grant from the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund to complete his second book, Disco Night Sept. 11. His third, Buzzing at the Sill, was published by Kehrer Verlag in 2016. He has twice received awards from World Press Photo, the Infinity Award for Young Photographer from the International Center of Photography and a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Van Agtmael was born in Washington D.C. and grew up in Bethesda, Maryland. He studied history at Yale, graduating in 2003. He became a nominee member of Magnum Photos in 2008, an associate member in 2011, and a full member in 2013. After graduation he received a fellowship to live in China for a year and document the consequences of the Three Gorges Dam. He has covered HIV-positive refugees in South Africa; the Asian tsunami in 2005; humanitarian relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina's effects on New Orleans in 2005 and after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the filming of the first season of TV series Treme on location in New Orleans in 2010; the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and its aftermath, Nabi Salih and Halamish in the West Bank in 2013 and the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict and its aftermath. Since 2006 he has concentrated on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their consequences in the United States. He first visited Iraq in 2006 at age 24 and has returned to Iraq and Afghanistan a number of times, embedded with US military troops. Later he continued to investigate the effects of those wars within the US. In 2007 his portfolio from Iraq and Afghanistan won the Monograph Award (softbound) in Photolucida's Critical Mass Book Award. As part of the prize Photolucida published his first book, 2nd Tour, Hope I Don’t Die. With work made between January 2006 and December 2008, this "is a young photojournalist’s firsthand experience: the wars’ effects on him, on the soldiers and on the countries involved." The 2012 W. Eugene Smith Grant for Humanistic Photography provided $30,000 to work on his second book, Disco Night Sept. 11, which "chronicles the lives of the soldiers he has met in the field and back home."Source: Wikipedia
James Van Der Zee
United States
1886 | † 1983
James Van Der Zee was an American photographer best known for his portraits of black New Yorkers. He was a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Aside from the artistic merits of his work, Van Der Zee produced the most comprehensive documentation of the period. Among his most famous subjects during this time were Marcus Garvey, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and Countee Cullen. Born in Lenox, Massachusetts, Van Der Zee demonstrated an early gift for music and was initially aspired to a career as a professional violinist. Van Der Zee's second interest was in photography. He bought his first camera when he was a teenager, and improvised a darkroom in his parents' home. He took hundreds of photographs of his family as well as his hometown of Lenox. Van Der Zee was one of the first people to provide early documentation of his community life in small-town New England. In 1906, he moved with his father and brother to Harlem in New York City, where he worked as a waiter and elevator operator. By now Van Der Zee was a skilled pianist and aspiring professional violinist. He would become the primary creator and one of the five performers in a group known as the Harlem Orchestra. In March 1907, Van Der Zee married Kate L. Brown and they moved back to Lenox to have their daughter, Rachel, born in September. Soon after, they moved to Phoebus, Virginia. In 1908, their son, Emile, was born but died within a year from pneumonia. In 1915, he moved to Newark, New Jersey, where he took a job in a portrait studio, first as a darkroom assistant and then as a portraitist. That same year, he converted to Catholicism and began taking assignments from the Church. He returned to Harlem the following year, just as large numbers of Black immigrants and migrants were arriving in that part of the city. He set up a studio at the Toussaint Conservatory of Art and Music with his sister, Jennie Louise Van de Zee, also known as Madame E Toussaint, who had founded the conservatory in 1911. In 1916, Van Der Zee and Gaynella Greenlee launched the Guarantee Photo Studio on West 125th Street in Harlem. They married in 1918. His business boomed during World War I, and the portraits he shot from this period until 1945 have demanded the majority of critical attention. In 1919, he photographed the victory parade of the returning 369th Infantry Regiment, a predominantly African American unit sometimes called the "Harlem Hellfighters." During the 1920s and 1930s, he produced hundreds of photographs recording Harlem's growing middle class. Its residents entrusted the visual documentation of their weddings, funerals, celebrities and sports stars, and social life to his carefully composed images. Quickly Van Der Zee became the most successful photographer in Harlem. Among his many renowned subjects were poet Countee Cullen, dancer Bill ("Bojangles") Robinson, Charles M. "Daddy" Grace, Joe Louis, Florence Mills, and black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. By the early 1930s, Van Der Zee found it harder to make an income from his work in photography, partly because of the strained economic circumstances of many of his customers and partly because the growing popularity of personal cameras reduced the need for professional photography. Van Der Zee worked predominantly in the studio and used a variety of props, including architectural elements, backdrops, and costumes, to achieve stylized tableaux vivant in keeping with late Victorian and Edwardian visual traditions. Sitters often copied celebrities of the 1920s and 1930s in their poses and expressions, and he retouched negatives and prints heavily to achieve an aura of glamour. He also created funeral photographs between the wars. These works were later collected in The Harlem Book of the Dead (1978), with a foreword by Toni Morrison. In 1982, at age 96, Van Der Zee photographed 21-year-old painter Jean-Michel Basquiat for the January 1983 issue of Interview magazine. Van Der Zee died in Washington, D.C. on May 15, 1983. Ten years later the National Portrait Gallery exhibited his work as a posthumous tribute. In 1984 Van Der Zee was inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum. It’s a hard job to get the camera to see it like you see it. Sometimes you have it just the way you want it, and then you look in the camera and you don’t have the balance. The main thing is to get the camera to see it the way you see it. -- James Van Der Zee Works by Van Der Zee are artistic as well as technically proficient. His work was in high demand, in part due to his experimentation and skill in double exposures and in retouching negatives of children. One theme that recurs in his photographs was the emergent black middle class, which he captured using traditional techniques in often idealistic images. Negatives were retouched to show glamor and an aura of perfection. This affected the likeness of the person photographed, but he felt each photo should transcend the subject. His carefully posed family portraits reveal that the family unit was an important aspect of Van Der Zee's life. "I tried to see that every picture was better-looking than the person ... I had one woman come to me and say 'Mr. VanDerZee my friends tell that's a nice picture, but it doesn't look like you.' That was my style", said VanDerZee. Van Der Zee sometimes combined several photos in one image, for example by adding a ghostly child to an image of a wedding to suggest the couple's future, or by superimposing a funeral image upon a photograph of a dead woman to give the feeling of her eerie presence. Van Der Zee said, "I wanted to make the camera take what I thought should be there." Van Der Zee was a working photographer who supported himself through portraiture, and he devoted time to his professional work before his more artistic compositions. Many famous residents of Harlem were among his subjects. In addition to portraits, Van Der Zee photographed organizations, events, and other businesses.Source: Wikipedia
Ruud van Empel
Netherlands
1958
Ruud van Empel (born 21 November 1958 in Breda) is a Dutch photographer and visual artist. He studied at the Academie voor Beeldende Kunst St. Joost (St Joost Academy of Art) in Breda in the 1970s, and began making independently produced videotapes in the eighties. He moved to Amsterdam in the late eighties to work on his career as a visual artist. His first photographic series were The Office (1995-2001), Study for Women (1999-2002) and Study in Green (2003). The Groninger Museum presented his first solo exhibition in 1999. He made his international breakthrough with his series World-Moon-Venus, which was shown in the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York State. Until mid-1995, Van Empel’s art was primarily generated by a process of assembling analogue photographic images. At that point, he exchanged this traditional collage technique – cutting, pasting and retouching in the darkroom – for image processing on the computer, working in an idea-driven manner. The first series created with this method was The Office (1995). In a technical sense, The Office displays a handicraft-like quality, missing the perfectionist character of his later work. Nevertheless, Ruud van Empel clearly demonstrated that his approach differed from other disciplines such as staged photography. In certain aspects, The Office offered a somewhat surrealistic character and referred to photomontages from the 1920s in terms of style and design. On the basis of this art-historical reference, Van Empel created a new genre within photography – without a ready-to-wear label. The artist himself speaks of the ‘construction of a photographic image’. Although he does make use of pure photomontage – he never applies so-called morphing techniques – the final result strives for content aligned to natural reality rather than to surrealism. The artificiality is visible but the final image is a convincing, autonomous reality. As a consequence, the work does not seem grotesque or absurd but could theoretically actually appear in reality. In that respect, Van Empel’s images are independent. They do not manifest themselves as ‘symbolic’ and have been stripped of all ‘pictorial’ associations. He does not deploy photography as a substitute for painting but rather uses it as an independent form of depiction. Every image consists of photographic sources that are digitally assembled on the computer. The work of Ruud van Empel exists by grace of the camera by means of which he records his building blocks. After The Office, he created the Study for Women series, which comprises a number of female portraits that refer to the magic realism art movement. In this series, produced in the period 2000-2002, he displayed the form language with which he would soon gain worldwide recognition. The Study in Green series from 2003-2004, the Untitled series from 2004, and the three closely related series World, Moon and Venus, which he began in 2005, represented Van Empel’s true international breakthrough. Curator Deborah Klochko invited him to participate in the exhibition entitled Picturing Eden in the George Eastman House. In the book Ruud van Empel Photoworks 1995-2010, she wrote: ‘Van Empel’s virtuosity lies in his capacity to combine in photography the kind of ideas anchored in painting (historical references, the power of a glimpse, use of colour) and cinema (structure with multiple images and the power of a narrative), and to do so on a large scale. To understand his work you must ask yourself: ‘Is it science or art? Is it real or imaginary? Is innocence or decadence?’ Particularly the World series, which explores the theme of innocence, made a deep impression. These works were inspired by photos taken by his father. Van Empel placed neatly dressed, black boys and girls in paradisical settings of unspoiled, non-existent natural surroundings. Great interest in and appreciation of this series are expressed worldwide to this day. The breakthrough in America also led to renewed attention in Dutch museums. Van Empel has had solo exhibitions in Museum Het Valkhof in Nijmegen, the Groninger Museum and the NoordBrabants Museum in ’s-Hertogenbosch. Since the international recognition of his work gave Ruud Van Empel the status of an artist with an own independent form language, he has progressively extended his oeuvre with the Theatre series from 2010-2013, and Souvenir, which provided a charged picture of his youth in Breda. This series was purchased by the NoordBrabants Museum. A typical feature of the work of Ruud van Empel is the composition of a perfected and idealized representation right down to the finest details. But this always has a darker side, albeit not always evident. Ruud Schenk, curator of the Groninger Museum, wrote about that aspect with reference to the Study for Women series (2000-2002): ‘As a spectator you feel that there is something not quite right about the depiction of the women: they are not completely lifelike, but tend to be a mixture of real women and window dummies. This generates a certain discomfort, an uneasiness that touches upon what was described as 'das Unheimliche' (the uncanny) at the beginning of the 20th century.’ Although the photographic images seem to capture an epoch, you can hardly assign a date to any of them. This timeless element of Van Empel’s work has taken on a different significance in his recent work, as he deals with themes such as transience and Vanity in his Still Life series from 2014, and also portrays older people as in the portrait of an older woman in the Sunday series (2012), or in the Nude series (2014), in which he questions the pose of the model and the aesthetics of nudity. In the Solo Work series, on which Ruud van Empel has been working since 2011, he consistently deals with just one topic in an isolated work. The moral, ethical and aesthetic dilemmas of society and art are presented to us in a photographic form language. The significance of these is shown in the countless publications and international exhibitions of this work, not only in institutions specialized in photography but also in renowned museums for modern visual art.Source: Wikipedia
Stephan Vanfleteren
Stephan Vanfleteren studied photography at Lucas Institute in Brussels (1988-1992). From 1993 to 2009, he worked as a free-lance photographer for the Belgian Journal De Morgen and always worked and invested in his own personal projects. Actually, Stephan works for museums, he's publishing his portraits in foreign journals and several foreign magazines. He's cofounder of Hannibal Publishing and Cannibal Publishing. Stephan Vanfleteren is art-director for the two publishing houses. PRICES 1996 - World Press Photo Award - Sports, third prize stories - Boxing in Cuba 1997 - World Press Photo Award - Daily Life, first prize stories - Aids, Kenia 1998 - European Fuji Awards 2000 - World Press Photo Award - Arts and Entertainment, third prize stories, Elvis & Presley 2001 - World Press Photo Award - Children's Award, prize singles - Afghanistan 2001 - European Fuji Award 2007 - Nikon Press Photo Award 2009 - Louis Paul Boon award - Belgium 2010 - Lead Awards: 'Portätfotografie des Jahres', Germany 2011 - Henri Nannen Price, Germany - Tomi Ungerer 2012 - Vijfjaarlijkse Cultuurprijs voor de Provincie West-Vlaanderen 2012 - National Portrait price of the Netherlands - Rem Koolhaas, Dutch architect 2013 - World Press Photo Award - Staged Portraits, first prize stories, People of Mercy 2019 - Henri Nannen Price, Germany - Angels of the Sea - Mare Publication. BOOKS 1999 - Elvis&Presley, with photographer Robert Huber (Switserland) 2000 - Buren, with Mark Power & Eva Leitolf 2003 - Tales from a Globalizing World 2005 - Flandrien - Cannibal Publishing 2007 - Belgicum - Hannibal Publishing 2009 - Portret 1989-2009 - Lannoo 2012 - En avant, marche! - Hannibal Publishing 2013 - Façades & Vitrines (Limited edition 666 exp) - Hannibal Publishing 2014 - MMXIV - De Red Devils - Cannibal Publishing 2014 - Atlantic Wall - Hannibal Publishing 2015 - Charleroi, il est clair que le gris est noir - Hannibal Publishing 2018 - SURF TRIBE - Hannibal Publishing 2019 - PRESENT - Hannibal Publishing 2019 - ONUITGESPROKEN - Hannibal Publishing About PRESENT Stephan Vanfleteren is mainly known to the general public for his penetrating black & white portrait photography, but over the past decades his work has ranged to documentary, artistic and personal pictures. From street photography in world cities like New York to the genocide of Ruanda, from storefront façades to the mystical landscapes of the Atlantic wall, from still lifes to intense portraits. The iconic images sit side by side with unknown treasures in this heavy tome containing no less than 505 photographs. In the very personal accompanying text, Vanfleteren reflects on how his own work and the photography genre as a whole have evolved in recent decades. You get a close-up look at his intriguing career from the very beginning, when he travelled the world with an appetite for action. He also photographed his home country: all of the headline news stories of the 1990s appeared before his lens. Around the Millennium, Vanfleteren started to focus on that which is disappearing. With painstaking attention to nuance he created a visual archive of his homeland and of his fellow Belgians, in his own inimitable style. In the last few years Vanfleteren has brought the world inside, to his daylight studio, resulting in many encounters and portraits. This book includes two new series – not previously published – which were born in the intimacy of his studio: an exploration of the still life and a study of nude photography, both in colour. Present is an impressive overview of Vanfleteren's oeuvre that provides a complete picture of him as a photographer, an artist, and above all a human being who faces life with empathy, wonder, and curiosity. More about PRESENT
Pierre Verger
France
1902 | † 1996
Pierre Edouard Leopold Verger, alias Fatumbi or Fátúmbí was a photographer, self-taught ethnographer, and babalawo (Yoruba priest of Ifa) who devoted most of his life to the study of the African diaspora - the slave trade, the African-based religions of the new world, and the resulting cultural and economical flows from and to Africa. At the age of 30, after losing his family, Pierre Verger took up the career of journalistic photographer. Over the next 15 years, he traveled the four continents, documenting many civilizations that would soon be effaced by progress. His destinations included Tahiti (1933); United States, Japan, and China (1934 and 1937); Italy, Spain, Sudan (now Mali), Niger, Upper Volta, Togo and Dahomey (now Benin, 1935); the West Indies (1936); Mexico (1937, 1939, and 1957); the Philippines and Indochina (now Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, 1938); Guatemala and Ecuador (1939); Senegal (as a conscript, 1940); Argentina (1941), Peru and Bolivia (1942 and 1946); and finally Brazil (1946). His photographs were featured in magazines such as Paris-Soir, Daily Mirror (under the pseudonym of Mr. Lensman), Life, and Paris Match. In the city of Salvador, Brazil he fell in love with the place and people, and decided to stay for good. Having become interested in the local history and culture, he turned from errant photographer to a researcher of the African diaspora in the Americas. His subsequent voyages are focused on that goal: the west coast of Africa and Paramaribo (1948), Haiti (1949), and Cuba (1957). After studying the Yoruba culture and its influences in Brazil, Verger became an initiated of the Candomblé religion, and officiated at its rituals. During a visit to Benin, he was initiated into Ifá (cowrie-shell divination), became a babalawo (priest) of Orunmila, and was renamed Fátúmbí ("he who is reborn through the Ifá"). Veger's contributions to ethnography are embodied in dozens of conference papers, journal articles and books and were recognized by Sorbonne University, which conferred upon him a doctoral degree (Docteur 3eme Cycle) in 1966 — quite a feat for someone who dropped out of high school at 17. Verger continued to study and document his chosen subject right until his death in Salvador, at the age of 94. During that time he became a professor at the Federal University of Bahia in 1973, where he was responsible for the establishment of the Afro-Brazilian Museum in Salvador; and served as visiting professor at the University of Ifé in Nigeria. The non-profit Pierre Verger Foundation in Salvador, which he established to continue his work, holds more than 63,000 photos and negatives taken until 1973, as well as his papers and correspondence. Source: Wikipedia
Roman Vishniac
Russia/United States
1897 | † 1990
Roman Vishniac was a Russian-American photographer, best known for capturing on film the culture of Jews in Central and Eastern Europe before the Holocaust. A major archive of his work was housed at the International Center of Photography until 2018, when Vishniac's daughter, Mara Vishniac Kohn, donated it to The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at the University of California, Berkeley. Vishniac was a versatile photographer, an accomplished biologist, an art collector and teacher of art history. He also made significant scientific contributions to photomicroscopy and time-lapse photography. Vishniac was very interested in history, especially that of his ancestors, and strongly attached to his Jewish roots; he was a Zionist later in life. Roman Vishniac won international acclaim for his photos of shtetlach and Jewish ghettos, celebrity portraits, and microscopic biology. His book A Vanished World, published in 1983, made him famous and is one of the most detailed pictorial documentations of Jewish culture in Eastern Europe in the 1930s. Vishniac was also remembered for his humanism and respect for life, sentiments that can be seen in all aspects of his work. In 2013, Vishniac's daughter Mara (Vishniac) Kohn donated to the International Center of Photography the images and accompanying documents comprising ICP's Roman Vishniac Rediscovered travelling exhibition. In October, 2018, Kohn donated the Vishniac archive of an estimated 30,000 items, including photo negatives, prints, documents and other memorabilia that had been housed at ICP to the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, a unit of the University of California at Berkeley's library system.Source: Wikipedia As the Nazis rose to power in Berlin, Vishniac photographed the ominous changes in the city and also worked to document Germany-Jewish relief and social service organizations. In 1935, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC) hired Vishniac to travel to Eastern Europe and take photographs documenting Jewish poverty and relief efforts to be used in its fundraising campaigns. In 1939, Vishniac pursued other AJDC assignments in Western Europe and worked as a freelance photographer there. After the German invasion of France, he was arrested and sent to an internment camp. With help from the AJDC and the remainder of his family’s resources, he secured the release and immigrated with his wife and two children to the United States via Portugal in December 1940. They settled in New York, where Vishniac worked as a photographer, making portraits and documenting Jewish refugees and American-Jewish community life. In 1947, Vishniac returned to Europe to document the aftermath of the war and the plight of refugees and those living in displaced persons camps. Back in the United States, Vishniac continued his work as photographer and scientist and became a pioneer in the new field of photomicroscopy. Vishniac’s photographs of Jewish life in prewar Eastern Europe gained renown in the aftermath of the Holocaust and were used to illustrate numerous books. Many people today are familiar with his work from his book A Vanished World (1983). However, the public saw only a small fraction of Vishniac’s work before his daughter, Mara Vishniac Kohn, entrusted his images to ICP and the Museum. This project makes them available to the public at large in hopes of learning more about the subjects of his photographs.Source: Unites States Holocaust Memorial Museum As an amateur photographer, Roman Vishniac took to the streets with his camera throughout the 1920s and ’30s, offering an astute, often humorous visual commentary on his adopted city and experimenting with new and modern approaches to framing and composition. Documenting the rise of Nazi power, he focused his lens on the signs of oppression and doom that soon formed the backdrop of his Berlin street photography. From 1935 to 1938, while living in Berlin and working as a biologist and science photographer, he was commissioned by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), then the world’s largest Jewish relief organization, to photograph impoverished Jewish communities in Central and Eastern Europe. On New Year’s Eve, 1940, he arrived in New York and soon opened a portrait studio. At the same time, he began documenting American Jewish communal and immigrant life and established himself as a pioneer in the field of photomicroscopy. In 1947, Vishniac returned to Europe and documented Jewish displaced persons camps and the ruins of Berlin. During this time, he also recorded the efforts of Holocaust survivors to rebuild their lives and the work of the JDC and other Jewish relief organizations in providing them with aid and emigration assistance.Source: International Center of Photography
Ami Vitale
United States
1971
Nikon Ambassador and National Geographic magazine photographer Ami Vitale has traveled to more than 100 countries, bearing witness not only to violence and conflict, but also to surreal beauty and the enduring power of the human spirit. Throughout the years, Ami has lived in mud huts and war zones, contracted malaria, and donned a panda suit— keeping true to her belief in the importance of “living the story.” In 2009, after shooting a powerful story on the transport and release of one the world’s last white rhinos, Ami shifted her focus to today’s most compelling wildlife and environmental stories. Instyle Magazine named Ami one of fifty Badass Women, a series celebrating women who show up, speak up and get things done. She appeared alongside a group of incredible women including Jane Goodall, Christiane Amanpour and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She has been named Magazine photographer of the year in the International Photographer of the Year prize, received the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Reporting and named Magazine Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association, among others. She is a five-time recipient of WorldPress Photos, including 1st Prize for her 2018 National Geographic magazine story about a community in Kenya protecting elephants. She published a best-selling book, Panda Love, on the secret lives of pandas. She is a featured speaker for the National Geographic LIVE series, and frequently gives talks and workshops throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Her photographs have been commissioned by nearly every international publication and exhibited around the world in museums and galleries. She is a founding member of Ripple Effect Images, an organization of renowned female scientists, writers, photographers and filmmakers working together to create powerful and persuasive stories that shed light on the hardships women in developing countries face and the programs that can help them. She is also on the Photojournalism Advisory Council for the Alexia Foundation. Currently based in Montana, Ami Vitale is a contract photographer with National Geographic magazine and frequently gives workshops throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Ami Vitale talks about Climate Change Awareness
Massimo Vitali
Massimo Vitali was born in Como, Italy, in 1944. He moved to London after high-school, where he studied Photography at the London College of Printing. In the early Sixties he started working as a photojournalist, collaborating with many magazines and agencies in Italy and Europe. It was during this time that he met Simon Guttman, the founder of the agency Report, who was to become fundamental in Massimo's growth as a "Concerned Photographer." At the beginning of the Eighties, a growing mistrust in the belief that photography had an absolute capacity to reproduce the subtleties of reality led to a change in his career path. He began working as a cinematographer for television and cinema. However, his relationship with the still camera never ceased, and he eventually turned his attention back to "photography as a means for artistic research." His series of Italian beach panoramas, starting in 1995, began in the light of drastic political changes in Italy. Massimo started to observe his fellow countrymen very carefully. He depicted a "sanitized, complacent view of Italian normalities," at the same time revealing "the inner conditions and disturbances of normality: its cosmetic fakery, sexual innuendo, commodified leisure, deluded sense of affluence, and rigid conformism." (October Magazine 2006, no. 117, p. 90, How to Make Analogies in a Digital Age by Whitney Davis) Over the past 22 years he has developed a new approach to portraying the world, illuminating the apotheosis of the Herd, expressing and commenting through one of the most intriguing, palpable forms of contemporary art - Photography. He lives and works in Lucca, Italy, and in Berlin, Germany sometimes. Vitali’s work has been collected in four books: Natural Habitats, Landscapes With Figures, Beach and Disco, and Entering a New World. His photographs have been published in magazines, newspapers, and other periodicals around the world. Additionally, his work is represented in the world’s major museums, including the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, the Fond National Art Contemporain in Paris, the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, the Fondation Cartier in Paris, and the Museo Luigi Pecci in Prato.
Baron Raimund von Stillfried
Austria
1832 | † 1911
Baron Raimund von Stillfried, also known as Baron Raimund von Stillfried-Rathenitz (6 August 1839, in Komotau – 12 August 1911, in Vienna), was an Austrian photographer. He was son of Baron (Freiherr) August Wilhelm Stillfried von Rathenitz (d. 1806) and Countess Maria Anna Johanna Theresia Walburge Clam-Martinitz (1802–1874). After leaving his military career, Stillfried moved to Yokohama, Japan and opened a photographic studio called Stillfried & Co. which operated until 1875. In 1875, Stillfried formed a partnership with Hermann Andersen and the studio was renamed, Stillfried & Andersen (also known as the Japan Photographic Association). This studio operated until 1885. In 1877, Stillfried & Andersen bought the studio and stock of Felice Beato. In the late 1870s, Stillfried visited and photographed in Dalmatia, Bosnia, and Greece. In addition to his own photographic endeavours, Stillfried trained many Japanese photographers. In 1886, Stillfried sold the majority of his stock to his protégé, the Japanese photographer Kusakabe Kimbei, he then left Japan. He left Japan forever in 1881. After travelling to Vladivostock, Hong Kong and Bangkok, he eventually settled in Vienna in 1883. He also received an Imperial and Royal Warrant of Appointment as photographer.Source: Wikipedia To many in the West, Japan is an exotic country, seen through the distorting lens of tourist cliches: cherry blossoms, geisha, samurai, kamikaze. In that sense, little has changed since the Meiji Era (1868-1912), when Japan was first promoted abroad as a sort of Oriental theme park. Baron Raimund von Stillfried, a 19th-century pioneer of photography in Yokohama, was the first in Japan to recognize the new medium's potential as a global marketing tool. Adept at producing theatrical souvenir photos, Stillfried also took the first ever photograph of Emperor Meiji and shocked Vienna when he imported Japanese teenage girls to the city to work in a mock teahouse. A Career of Japan by Luke Gartlan, a lecturer in art history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, is the first comprehensive study of Stillfried's extraordinary life and works. Written for an academic readership using the language of critical theory, Gartlan's account of a scandal-prone impresario resonates with contemporary parallels. Baron Raimund Anton Alois Maria von Stillfried-Ratenicz was born in Austria in 1839 and spent his childhood in military outposts on the fringes of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1864, aged 24, he chose life as a cabin boy in a ship headed for Peru instead of an aristocratic military career. By 1868, after a couple of years adventuring in Mexico, fighting a doomed campaign for the Habsburg Emperor, he had set up a photography studio in Yokohama. The rough and ready port town was hosting its first "globetrotters," a word coined locally to describe the new wave of round-the-world tourists, propelled by the 1869 opening of the Trans-American railway and the Suez Canal. One German globetrotter, Margaretha Weppner, recorded her impressions the same year: "The foreigner in Japan leads an expensive, luxurious life. (The climate) requires that liquors should be taken before breakfast, wine, beer, and champagne at breakfast; the same routine before, at, and after dinner, and brandy and soda all day long." In Yokohama, tourism brought a new demand for "curious" and souvenir photos. Baron Raimund von Stillfried specialized in staged studio portraits featuring models decked out as traditional Japanese "types." These striking hand-colored images were widely copied in Western newspapers and became emblematic of Japan. In the same way that the foreign press today fixates on "weird Japan" stories, Stillfried's images, Gartlan argues, were a popular fiction that exploited Western ignorance. Take, for example, Two Officers - used on the cover of A Career of Japan - that purports to show two samurai with their hair in topknots. The photograph was taken in 1875, four years after the traditional hairstyle worn by Japan's warrior class was banned. It was as a paparazzo that Stillfried first achieved notoriety. Hearing that Emperor Meiji was to visit Yokosuka on New Year's Day in 1872 - the first public appearance by a Japanese monarch - Stillfried was determined to take his picture. According to contemporary accounts, he hid on a ship docked next to the Imperial landing area and secretly photographed the divine countenance through a hole in a sail. Government officials reacted with fury when Stillfried brazenly advertised his scoop, ordering a police raid on his studio. Today, only one print survives. Stillfried was threatened with deportation, and the ensuing scandal reverberated around Asia. Shanghai's North China Daily News said that the crack down was "the most foolish thing we have heard of the Japanese." Partly in order to trump Stillfried, the government commissioned an official portrait of the Emperor the same month. Kuichi Uchida's image of "H.I.M. The Mikado" in Western dress was the state's first foray into visual PR. The Meiji regime may have disapproved of Stillfried, but they admired his talents as a propagandist, and hired him six months later to photograph the newly-colonized territory of Ezo (present-day Hokkaido). Stillfried's photos of the Ainu people were displayed at the 1873 Vienna International Exhibition. Referring to a group Ainu portrait, the Japan Gazette of Jan. 23, 1873, said: "The gift of beauty - has not been vouchsafed to the female descendants of Yesso (Ezo) - whose primitive ugliness of feature is artificially increased by moustachios [sic] tattooed along the upper lip." A separate image of two of the same figures was hand-colored by Stillfried. Gartlan notes that "the selective addition of colors emphasizes the women's tattoos, a traditional practice soon to be banned by the Japanese government." Stillfried's Hokkaido photos may have been displayed in the Japanese pavilion in Vienna but the man himself was barred from joining the official delegation to his home country, due to the lingering scandal over his photo of the Emperor. He reacted with typical bravado by erecting an imitation Japanese teahouse in the exhibition grounds, staffed by teenage Japanese girls imported from Yokohama. The press reacted with thrilled prudence. "How innocent the term (teahouse) sounds to us, but what amount of shame it entails in Japan!" the official exhibition journal reported, while the Chicago Daily Tribune referred to the "Yokohama Belles" as "by no means virgins." Gartlan argues that the teahouse was a respectable project, but the scandal was enough to close it down, leaving Stillfried almost bankrupt. One employee later alleged that the photographer beat his workers, evicted the girls at gunpoint and tried to have the teahouse burned down in order to claim insurance. Returning to Yokohama in 1874, Stillfried's career faltered amid growing competition from Japanese photographers whom he had personally trained, and who were happier to portray their country as a modern nation. His final return to Viennese high society in 1883 coincided with the peak of the European craze for Japan-inspired art - culminating in "The Mikado" and "Madame Butterfly" - that his souvenir photographs had helped to create 15 years earlier. Stillfried's heavily romanticized images had, in Gartlan's words, a "vast impact on how the West perceived Japan at the time." His legacy can still be seen today. Western fantasies of Japan continue to draw on anachronistic assumptions about the country - from ornamental women to picturesque teahouses - and equally inaccurate images of a "futuristic" nation (one where fax machines have no place). Modern-day parallels can also be seen in the book's depiction of Stillfried's expat experiences: the battles with bureaucracy, the government propaganda, the conflicted approach to foreigners - and the drinking.Source: Japan Times
Homai Vyarawalla
India
1913 | † 2012
Homai Vyarawalla, India's first woman photojournalist, is best known for documenting the country's transition from a British colony to a newly independent nation. Vyarawalla was born on 9 December 1913 in the western Indian state of Gujarat. Her family belonged to India's tiny but influential Parsi community. She spent much of her childhood on the move because her father was an actor in a travelling theatre group. But the family soon moved to Mumbai (then Bombay), where she attended the JJ School of Art. She was in college when she met Manekshaw Vyarawalla, a freelance photographer, who she would later marry. It was he who introduced her to photography. She received her first assignment - to photograph a picnic - while she was still in college. It was published by a local newspaper, and soon she started to pick up more freelance assignments. Vyarawalla began to draw more attention after her photographs of life in Mumbai were published in The Illustrated Weekly of India magazine. The Vyarawallas moved to Delhi in 1942 after they were hired to work as photographers for the British Information Service. Homai Vyarawalla, one of few female photojournalists working at the time in Delhi, was often seen cycling through the capital with her camera strapped to her back. She took her most iconic images, however, after India became independent - from the departure of the British from India, to the funerals of Mahatma Gandhi and former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Homai Vyarawalla also photographed most prominent independence leaders. But she said in an interview that her biggest regret was that she missed photographing the meeting where Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. She was on her way to attend it when her husband called her back for some other work. Her work also includes candid, close-up photographs of celebrities and dignitaries who visited India in the years following independence, including China's first prime minister Zhou Enlai, Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh, Queen Elizabeth II and US President John F Kennedy. Vyarawalla photographed many famous people but Mr Nehru figures most prominently in her work as her "favourite subject". She said in an interview that when Mr Nehru died she "cried, hiding my face from other photographers". Ms Vyarawalla clicked her last picture in 1970, retiring after a four-decade-long career. She left Delhi after her husband died in 1969 and moved to Gujarat. She was awarded India's second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2011. She died on 16 January 2012 at the age of 92.Source: BBC
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