All about photo: photo contests, photography exhibitions, galleries, schools, books and venues.
Michael Ackerman
Photo by Kristina Lerner
Michael Ackerman
Michael Ackerman

Michael Ackerman

Country: Israel/United States
Birth: 1967

Born in Tel Aviv, Israel. His family moves to New York in 1974. Lives and works in Warsaw. Since his first exhibition, in 1999, Michael Ackerman has made his mark by bringing a new, radical and unique approach. His work on Varanasi, entitled "End Time City," breaks away from all sorts of exoticism or any anecdotal attempt at description, to question time and death with a freedom granted by a distance from the panoramic – whose usage he renewed – to squares or rectangles.

In black and white, with permanent risk that led him to explore impossible lighting, he allowed the grainy images to create enigmatic and pregnant visions. Michael Ackerman seeks – and finds – in the world he traverses, reflections of his personal malaise, doubts and anguish. He received the Nadar Award for his book "End Time City" in 1999, and the Infinity Award for Young Photographer by the International Center of Photography in 1998.

In 2009, he won the SCAM Roger Pic Award for his series "Departure, Poland". His last book "Half Life" has been published in 2010 by Robert Delpire. In 2014, he collaborated with Vincent Courtois, cellist, and Christian Caujolle, behind the project, in a show called “L'intuition” which proposes a dialogue between photography and music creation. This show was presented, in particular, as part of the festival Banlieues Bleues and for the Rencontres d'Arles 2014.

Source: Agence VU



Selected Publications
2wice, Abitare, Aperture, Art On Paper, Beaux Arts, Die Zeit, Doubletake, Eyemazing, French Photo, Granta, Harpers, India Magazine, La Humanite, Internazionale, Les Inrockuptibles, Liberation, Le Matin, Le Monde 2, Metropolis, New York Magazine, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The New Yorker, Ray Gun, La Repubblica delle Donne, Rolling Stone, Stern and The Village Voice.

Awards
SCAM Roger Pic Award, 2009.
Prix Nadar, End Time City, 1999.
Best Documentary of 1999, photo-eye, 1999.
Infinity Award, Young Photographer, International Center of Photography, 1998.

2014
L’intuition – A projection in collaboration with musician Vincent Courtois, curated by Christian Caujolle. Performed In la Friche Belle de Mai, Marseille, 4 Fevrier Le Lux Scene national de Valence, Festival Banlieues blues, Paris and Rencontres photographiques d’Arles

SUSPENSION

Noun: Suspension, Verb: suspend:
“To cause to stop for a period, hold in abeyance; suspend judgment.”

In Michael Ackerman's work, documentary and autobiography conspire with fiction, and all of the above dissolve into hallucination. The particular journeys of his book Half Life encompass New York, Havana, Berlin, Naples, Paris, Warsaw, and Krakow, but the locations aren’t necessarily recognizable at all. Michael has been moving towards this erasure of geographical and other distinctions in his photographs for some time. It hasn’t become dogma - the Smoke photographs shot in Atlanta’s Cabbagetown remain a beautifully regional document, but they document a neighborhood as a particular dream state rather than a set of facts, and the photos could wander easily into his other bodies of work. In all cases, there is surely a trajectory away from the constraints of a traditional documentary mode towards a very different way of getting at the world.

Some notes about particular photos in Half Life:

A family, seen on a decaying porcelain tombstone portrait - solarized by decades of exposure - is falling apart, as families do, is holding on together, as families do. The shape of their little monument is uncannily like that of the Hotel Centrum on a later page, where such a family, had they existed in the same era, would not have been able to stay. The Centrum, a modern Polish megalith, floats absurdly in the frame, freed from all scale but heavy on the page.

A naked man kneeling on a bed; we find him in supplication or some unspecific bondage. He is trapped, caught between stations, and the terrible but accepted scratch lines on the negative make it feel like TV or video, as if the man is seen through some screen, receding. It’s no longer a portrait of a particular person. It seems as if the man has become some vague entity, a sick feeling, a migraine headache, I don’t even know.

A man goes up stairs or an escalator and his hand is ridiculously long, maybe like that of Nosferatu in Murnau’s silent film. The stairs begin in Lodz but, according to the next page, pass a landing in Havana.

Suspension...

A woman, naked, holds her arms against her torso. She looks up, somehow in simultaneous surprise and recognition. I can’t say if her face shows love or sadness or fear, but there’s something inevitable in her expression. It’s strange how she seems so caught in flux, while her shadow, so dark on the wall, is just the opposite, permanent.

* * *

In the early stages of his building the Half Life book, Michael and I talked about where to put the series of pictures taken from train windows, mostly in deep winter. At one point they were scattered throughout, at other times they fell together in a bloc, but in any case, the body of work, and the book as a whole, started to feel to me like they ran on rails in the snow, and the places and people within them were stops, things seen or felt in passing. They’re encountered, drift away, are longed for, returned to, left behind again.

If Michael’s work is sometimes tough, the landscapes remind us back to a balancing delicacy, a faith in beauty. Michael deeply loves the snow trains that cut archaically through Europe, especially through Eastern Europe, especially the overnight trains which he and I share as our transportation of choice. On these you travel but are nowhere for the duration of the trip, floating through whiteness if it’s wintertime. This nothing in which things float is echoed in his prints, though the white is sometimes heavily vignetted, as if darkness wants in. Alternately, the backgrounds can be of total blackness, and then the subject radiates like a candle.

But back to the snow trains, which often run through the most ignored and beautiful parts of cities, where commercial facades drop away like forced smiles into debris and frozen mud and warehouses, which then give way to fields. Riding on one of these trains outside of Katowice, Poland en route to Paris, Michael spotted in the distance the warped row of dead train cars seen in the book. Desperate to photograph them, he guessed at their location and eventually returned. He got off at the closest stop, trudged through the snow, and found the trains, but approaching across a frozen field, camera in hand, his legs suddenly plunged through a chasm in the whiteness, a missing manhole cover. In what he referred to as a “rare case of quick thinking,” he stuck out his arms, breaking the fall, and managed to pull himself out. No one knew he was there, and if he’d perished, it would’ve been for the love of trains, and of wreckage, and of course, of pictures.

* * *

Many in the panel of men at the beginning of Half Life were photographed in bars. Some were found in a bar in Paris where the old and ageless proprietor became one of Michael’s favorite people, not just in the city, but in the world. Her bar was a special refuge, and though she was difficult, she truly took Michael in. This tiny bar remains a constant, a place of return, but many of the regulars he’s met over the years are now gone. For some moments however, they drew, or seemed to draw, terribly close, with alcohol as glue and pictures proof -- but of what… mutual need, eventual isolation, or the pendulum swing between the two…

A bar is something like the center of an hourglass: at the top is time disappearing, and at the bottom, time spent. But to those in the place, the regulars, the middle is the only thing apparent and there time has stopped. (An interesting circumstance for others in the time-stopping business, and not just still photographers. The phenomena is beautifully understood in Daumier’s paintings of drinkers or Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son). It is illusory, of course; the people are held in that place where, like the proverbial cartoon character who’s gone off a cliff, they just don’t realize the ground has dropped away beneath their feet.

Once again, suspension. Which also has a musical definition: The prolongation of a tone in one chord into the following chord, usually producing a temporary dissonance.

This prolongation of tone, an ongoing search, gives the work continuity, as does the dissonance, which can be restlessness or loss. I won’t talk much here about the emotional drive behind the work, or the personal ramifications, but that’s my hesitation, not Michael’s. There’s a picture in Half Life of the photographer and a woman, both with shaved heads, a troubled mirroring, a last strange union. The photograph is a pact: see you now, see you later, so long...

In the last few years, such goodbyes have given way to a series of welcomings, explorations of the concrete changes and dream states of immediate family, wife and child. These pictures, deeply caring but by necessity fearless, reverberate with bluntness, warmth, shock, matter of fact erotics, and of course love, which when regarded honestly, includes a steamer trunk of contradictions. So, there is fear mixed in with the fearlessness, the joy includes some trepidation, the innocence is utterly real, but tangled and fleeting.

How disappointing it would be if a photographer so open to the wrenching truths of the world would suddenly pull all punches when faced with the most intimate situation of all. How unfortunate it would be, for all of us, if investigations of intimacy were left to the whitewashers and the advertisers, the puritans and the pornographers. And so, in the recent work, new tightropes are stretched and new risks are taken.

But in looking back at Michael’s work as a whole, I’m reminded that one of the great challenges artists face is when to pull back from the proverbial edge - those addicted to pushing the envelope sometimes fall into a negative trap which has its own complacency. A kind or subtle or purely beautiful image might actually be the risk that they can’t seem to take. The walking of tightropes has always been integral to Michael’s work, but I don’t see him falling into that dark trap, which is why the work is thorny but never cynical, heavy but also sweet.

Beyond all of that, I still don’t understand how the pictures happen, how he gets them.

It certainly isn’t about the equipment, the cameras come and go, sometimes literally broken but still pressed into use. I think Michael feels that taking pictures and taking chances should be kindred enterprises. I’ve met few artists less uptight about the technology and intricacies of gear and production, though he does of course become completely intimate with what he needs in order to get at what he feels. Once I heard him suggest in a Q & A that he just doesn’t care about technique, but knowing the time and tortures he’s given over to darkroom work, I thought that was a touch disingenuous. He meant that technique and technology are never the core of the matter, and that he doesn’t like to be precious about them. And he needs accidents; they might reveal something, break something open. Sometimes they might go too far and the image itself is obliterated: again, necessary risk. I’ve seen him photograph without putting the camera to his eye, as if to confirm that what he was after wasn’t primarily even about seeing. (That too is deceptive; with time, some photographers know what the camera is getting, regardless of where it’s held). Maybe I mean that compared to many other photographers, Michael’s work isn’t so concerned with sight itself. If he could have been a writer, painter, or a musician, that might have worked too.

In any case, the results speak for themselves, and the results are often kind of insane. Sadly, because of the madness of these photographs and the digital times we’ve entered, people increasingly assume that certain pictures must be computer manipulations. Michael is no purist, but that simply isn’t what is going on here.

Do you see how it matters that even if these are accidents of light and the distorting lens, they are things that somehow happened, that were? They come out of the real; however unlikely or impossible, they are measurements - not constructions. They are measurements, but in the end, of the interior as much as of the world.

But like I said, Michael’s not a purist, and in his impure searching, he occasionally walks a thin line between accepting pure actuality and giving it a nudge. We argue about it. I don’t know what to make of the picture where someone else’s old portrait of Anna Akhmatova is held up and rephotographed. I guess Michael wanted to invite her into that streetscape, felt she was part of his history or emotional landscape; maybe he just loved her profile and wondered, what the hell, why not?

Sometimes the work is funny. The absurdly mismatched nude couple in the book aren’t funny but they are, as is the man who wears a monocle made of smoke. The Coney Island hotdog signs reading ‘Franks’ and the American flag they stutter towards comprise a whimsical tribute to one particular, beloved photographer; first name - Robert.

Occasional whimsy aside though, Half Life is a rough ride through damaged places and situations. And what’s it like to be with Michael when he’s photographing such things? Well, it isn’t necessarily comfortable, or easy, or pleasant. Sometimes artists push their work, and their luck along with it. Sometimes Michael just plunges in. I was crossing the street with him on the Lower East side once when a woman suddenly appeared, coming towards us in the intersection. Something in her presence struck us instantly with force -- she might have been beautiful or she might have been mutilated -- we had no time to register anything; but he lunged and got off one picture as I stood by and winced. I doubt she noticed at all, but what if she had? (The picture is in Fiction; it appears to be of a ghost in a miniskirt, perhaps with a black eye.) Such pictures do not come out of discretion, or delicacy, or fair exchange. In many of Michael’s pictures mutual understanding simply may or may not have existed. There is a harshness to this observation; it troubles me, and yet I can say that Michael’s pictures are always, deeply made without judgment, in total acceptance. That in itself is a kind of love.

And the subjects obviously extend him enormous trust. (Well... except when they don’t. Walking with Michael on a street in Krakow, he photographed another approaching woman, a middle-aged matron. She yelled angrily at him in Polish; he kept walking but yelled back, in Polish: “You’re beautiful.”)

It is probably no accident then that the gesture of the embrace recurs again and again in Michael’s work. Which leads me to what may be my favorite set of pictures that Michael has taken, of the couple on the stairs:

To what do we owe this strange and tender record ? And what is the record of?

An older man and his young girlfriend collapsed in drunken surrender… or perhaps a father and son broken together on a subway staircase ? Who is holding who up? Was the man once a boxer? If the younger one is in fact a woman, is she his lover? The stairs are at once unyielding and rippling, bending and unbending. This couple, whatever their relationship and circumstance, are attended to then in a series of photographs, equally harsh and gentle, unwrapped over time. But what time is given - minutes, hours, or an unending day or an unending night? You can just about hear the tinny loudspeakers in the background of the train station, and thinking of stations, I am reminded that the 13th station is the descent from the cross. The actual circumstances, the truth of it, the year and the gender, hardly matter, don’t matter at all. At its best, the work speaks past such details, and even beyond photography.

Agency

Agence VU

 

Michael Ackerman's Video

Selected Books

Inspiring Portfolios

Call for Entries
Solo Exhibition
Be Featured in our April 2021 Online Juried Solo Exhibition!
 
Stay up-to-date  with call for entries, deadlines and other news about exhibitions, galleries, publications, & special events.

More Great Photographers To Discover

Vladimir Nosalskiy (Lenin)
Russia Federation
1973
I was born in USSR on June 10-th 1973. My pseudonyms in arts is Lenin. Back there our country was far from being open towards new ways of self-expression such as modern art, creative photography or so. For a long time everything people could percept from art and culture has been gray and monotonous. My childhood passed in criminal district. However, both of my parents are self-educated artists. I am sure that my ability to see beauty in ordinary, routine things originates from my family. Photography itself appeared in my life when I was 10.With my father's camera Zenith; I discovered all the nearby corners of my district, all the parks and squares. When I was teenager, the only way to make surrounding world more beautiful was to go studying as a tailor, which was the only creative profession in our town back there. During Perestroika Russia moved from cultural aspects of governmental policy into market economy, which made a life of an artist hard. I built into the system by creating decorations and shows for governmental and business events. However, I always missed the camera, it was my companion everywhere. I took pictures of the art plans, events, nature, city and travel. However, my comeback to real inspirational photoshoots happened several years ago. "Contemplate, create, enjoy" - has become my moto since I was young. I had several personal exhibitions art & photo: 1999, "26 steps", Moscow, Russia, 2000, "Cocoon-2000", Moscow, Russia. And several group exhibitions 1999, "Kazantip", "Kazantip-2" The exhibition of young artists "Lenin i Deti", Moscow, Russia, 2016, "Planet Moscow 2016" , Moscow, Russia. My inspiration in photography and arts are: Alexander Rodchenko, Auguste Rodin, Billy Monk, Claude Monet, Francisco Josè de Goya, Hieronymus Bosch, Ivan Bilibin, Jackson Pollock, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Leonardo da Vinci, René Magritte, Vladimir Tatlin, Wassily Kandinsky.
Thierry Cohen
France
1963
Thierry Cohen was born in Paris in 1963. He began his professional career in 1985 and is seen as one of the pioneers of digital photography. His work has been shown at the Palais de Tokyo, and the Musee de l”Homme in Paris, and in 2008 was an official selection of the Mois de la Photo. Since 2010 he has devoted himself to a single project – “Villes Enteintes” (Darkened Cities) – which depicts the major cities of the world as they would appear at night without light pollution, or in more poetic terms: how they would look if we could see the stars. Cohen’s method is original and precise and harkens back to the methodologies employed by early 19th century photographers like Gustave Le Grey. He photographs the world’s major cities, seeking out views that resonate for him and noting the precise time, angle, and latitude and longitude of his exposure. As the world rotates around its axis the stars that would have been visible above a particular city move to deserts, plains, and other places free of light pollution. By noting the precise latitude and angle of his cityscape, Cohen is able to track the earth’s rotation to places of atmospheric clarity like the Mojave, the Sahara, and the Atacama desert. There he sets up his camera to record what is lost to modern urban dwellers. Compositing the two images, Cohen creates a single new image full of resonance and nuance. The work is both political and spiritual questioning not only what we are doing to the planet but drawing unexpected connections between disparate locations. Equally importantly it asks: what do we miss by obscuring the visibility of stars? As the world's population becomes increasingly urban, there is a disjunction with the natural world which both Cohen and science posit causes both physical and psychological harm. Cities that never sleep are made up of millions of individuals breaking natural cycles of work and repose. Cohen’s photographs attempt to restore our vision, and in beautifully crafted prints and images offer the viewer a possibility - to re-connect us to the infinite energy of the stars.Source: Danziger Gallery
Cathleen Naundorf
France/Germany
Cathleen Naundorf is a French German photographer. In the late 1980s, she graduated from photography studies in Munich. She worked as a photo assistant in New York, Singapore and Paris in the following years, before she started traveling in 1993 to such destinations as Mongolia, Siberia, Gobi Desert and the Amazonas headwaters in Brazil. The results of these insightful pictures have been included in eight publications of renowned publishing houses. Inspired by her encounter of and longstanding friendship with Horst P. Horst, Cathleen Naundorf early on turned to fashion photography. As of 1997, she started photographing backstage Paris fashion shows for Condé Nast. Since 2005, Cathleen Naundorf has worked on her haute couture series “Un rêve de mode” focusing on seven couture houses : Chanel, Dior, Gaultier, Lacroix, Saab, Valentino and Philip Treacy. Thanks to her outstanding pictures, Cathleen Naundorf got the privilege to choose gowns from the couturiers’ archives for her elaborate and cinematic productions. This work got published in "The Polaroids of Cathleen Naundorf", Prestel Edition, 2012.She works with large format cameras like Plaubel or Deardorff for her shootIngs and use mostly Polaroid or negative films. Cathleen Naundorf is working passionately on Haute Couture and Luxury Prêt-à-Porter. Her work got published in magazines like Harper's Bazaar, Tatler, VS Magazine or American Express.Cathleen Naundorf's work is represented by the Hamiltons Gallery in London.
Cig Harvey
United States
1973
The photographs and artist books of Cig Harvey have been widely exhibited and remain in the permanent collections of major museums and collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; the Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine; and the International Museum of Photography and Film at the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York. Cig began working in a darkroom at thirteen and has been dedicated to photography ever since. She grew up in the deep valleys of Devon in the UK, and came to the States for her MFA in 1999, after years spent living in Barcelona and Bermuda. Cig Harvey's first monograph, You Look At Me Like An Emergency (Schilt Publishing, 2012,) is a collection of ten years of pictures and written vignettes. It sold out in all printings and was named one of PDNʼs Best Books of the Year 2012. Cig had her first solo museum show at the Stenersen Museum in Oslo, Norway, in conjunction with the release. The book was well reviewed in a number of publications, including The Independent, Aesthetica, the Boston Globe, Blink, and PDN. Pro Photographer magazine ran an in depth feature, "Chance: Cig Harvey's deceptively simple photographs tap into the universal elements of the human experience: love, loss, longing and belonging. She's in demand for editorial and commercial work-as well as her for her fine art prints and books." Cig Harvey's second monograph, Gardening at Night (Schlit Publishing, 2015,) was published in conjunction with solo shows at Robert Mann Gallery, New York, Robert Klein Gallery, Boston and Paul Kopeiken Gallery, Los Angeles. The book received critical acclaim with features and reviews in Vogue, The Telegraph, the International Wall Street Journal, the International New York Times, and Aesthetica among others. The International Wall Street Journal said of the series, "Though the subjects and setting are familiar to us, we cannot help but feel that Cig Harvey has led us through the looking glass to a world of wonder. In the way that twilight is not quite day and not quite night, the photographs of Gardening at Night are stories not yet fully developed, while still capturing the unexpected yet oddly harmonious moments that surround us daily." Cig Harvey's work has been displayed at Paris Photo, Art Miami, and AIPAD every year since 2006. She has been a nominee for John Gutmann fellowship and the Santa Fe Prize, and a finalist for the BMW Prize at Paris Photo and for the Prix Virginia, an international photography prize for women. Cig's devotion to visual storytelling has lead to innovative international campaigns and features with New York Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Japan, Kate Spade, and Bloomingdales. Cig teaches workshops and regularly speaks on her work and processes at institutions around the world. She is known for her high energy, sense of humor and creativity. She brings a profound sense of optimism to all that she does. Cig lives in a farmhouse in the Midcoast of Maine with her husband Doug (who has the profile of an emperor on a Roman coin), their wayward daughter Scout, and Scarlet the dog (the original baby). The slow passing of time and the natural surroundings of her rural home has made her alert to the magic in the mundane. Articles Discover Cig Harvey's Interview Find out more about Cig Harvey in this article
Hilary Duffy
United States
Hilary began her photography career in news and travel for The Tico Times while she lived in Costa Rica in the 1990's. Over the course of seven years, she immersed herself in the culture of Costa Rica as an educator and honed her photography skills. In 2000, Hilary graduated from the International Center of Photography's Documentary/PJ Program and later assisted the Maine Photo Workshops in Havana, Cuba. Compelled to share photography with local youth, she developed a photo library and directed the Havana Youth Photo course in 2003—sharing her passion for photography and educating a younger generation. As a recipient of the ICP/Johnson & Johnson Fellowship in 2002 and 2004, Hilary completed assignments for Johnson & Johnson's corporate social responsibility at the U.S.-Mexico border, then India and Vietnam. This led to subsequent assignments for NGOs in the U.S., Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and tsunami-affected regions. Hilary's international work and experience provided the opportunity to document the plight and rehabilitation of street children for Covenant House/Latin America. Her project Young Lives at Risk on the Streets was featured on Media Voices for Children, PhotoPhilanthropy and socialdocumentary.net. These collaborations have allowed Hilary to strengthen her passion as a socially concerned photographer and led to a permanent exhibit at Covenant House Headquarters in New York City. In addition, Hilary has exhibited in Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala and the U.S. And her stock photography has been represented in Aurora, Corbis and the National Geographic Image Collection. Hilary's curiosity, honesty, compassion and cultural sensitivity are reflected in her imagery.
Katerina Belkina
Katerina Belkina was born in Samara, a city in the South-East of the European part of Russia. She grew up in an artistic atmosphere; her mother is a visual artist and, in herplace of birth, she got an education in the art of painting at the Art Academy. She continued her education in 2000 at an Academy for Photography also in Samara and exhibitions of her mysterious self-portraits ensued in Moscow and Paris. Katerina Belkina was nominated for the prestigious Kandinsky Prize (comparable to the British Turner prize) in Moscow in 2007. At the moment, Katerina Belkina is living and working in Moscow and Berlin.AAP: Where did you study photography?I started in a studio of photography and then I decided to study photography in an Art College. After several years I learned photography at the Photo Academy in Samara, Russia.AAP:How did you become a photographer?I think of myself as an artist in the broad sense of the word. For me photography is just a medium like a painting, drawing etc. However I like to use photography as a basis for my works. This form of art was always interesting for me. As well as drawing. I was influenced by my family in my childhood to like both mediums.AAP: Do you remember your first shot? What was it?When I was in fifth grade I took my school photo-group. Otherwise everything around me: school friends, street dogs, home yard.AAP:What was your first paid assignment/job?It was for an inexpensive portrait. The client was a girl who looked very similar to Marilyn Monroe. I found out that only when I looked at her in the viewfinder.AAP: What or who inspires you?Other people working in my field. When I see good results and when I see how they work. AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images? For what purpose?Yes, a lot. At first I like the process of editing. In my case it is a combination of photo elements and then layer by layer drawing or correcting and making post-productions. I like when any art work include skills and labor. Every good idea should be perfectly executed.AAP: How do you choose your subjects?I always choose a topic that could be interesting for me at that moment. Then comes the process of thinking about. In the beginning ideas are always abstract. After a while it takes a shape: I choose a subject, composition, color combinations and details. AAP: Can you explain the process that you use to set up a portrait?When the idea takes shape in my mind, I draw a sketch, prepare all the necessary things for shooting and then start. Despite the fact that I know very exactly what I want for my future composition, I like to allow improvisation in the process. Because the result can be interesting and unexpectable. To take self-portraits I use a stative and make it by myself or I ask an assistant.AAP: Your worst souvenir as a photographer?Oh yes I remember! A meeting with a client who paid me and thought the world should rotate around him just because of that.AAP: What advice would you give a young photographer?Shoot a lot, take everything that could be interesting for you. Try new things, make discoveries. This is the most important thing. Don’t listen to anybody when they want to teach you something especially when it is in a critical way. AAP: What mistake should a young photographer avoid?Don’t try to be or to do like someone else. Your photography style will become unique over time. You need to be interested by what you are doing even if other photographers or artists can inspire you.
Tim Franco
France/Poland
Tim Franco is French-Polish freelance photographer based in Shanghai. Since he first came to China in 2005, Tim Franco got fascinated by the fast social and urban transformation that chinese cities where going through. He has spent some time documenting those growth through urban photography but also by studying social changes, such at the underground art world and the social problems related to the evolutions of the cities. Among his projects is a comprehensive depiction of the growth of the alternative music scene in China and particularly Shanghai. The project was synthesized and published in a book, “Shanghai Soundbites”, released in June 2008 in response to the attitude towards cultural expression manifested in the lead up to the Beijing Olympics. Subsequently, the pictures have been included in numerous news and lifestyle publications both in China and abroad. He now continues his work documenting the urban development of chinese cities and its social impact on the local people. He is also involved in local youth and underground movement both in China and greater asia. Tim Franco is a regular contributor to Le Monde ( newspaper and magazine ), but his work has also been published in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Le Point, NRC, Wiwo, Global Journal, Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, The Fader, CNN online, Time Out, Urban. About the series Vertical Communism: Vertical Communism is a long term project about the city of Chongqing. This city, one of the biggest in central china, went through one of the fastest development process in the country. The main reason is, located upstream of the three gorges dam, the government has welcomed all displaced population from submerged region into its main urban areas. The city is fascinating because of its accelerated development that produced high rises buildings on the side of rivers and mountains, taking away the traditional charms of the old Chang Kai Shek capital, but also because of its political and social history. Once at the hand of the biggest organized crime group in China, the city has been re manipulated into a neo communist style red propaganda machine, led by the highly controversial son of a famous revolutionary named Bo Xilai. With his wife now in prison for the murder of a British national, and his personal implication in corruptions and tortures, Bo Xilai has been quickly removed from any government places in China and the city is looking once again for a new direction. I personally see Chongqing as a macro representation of the whole China. With its tumultuous political history and its growing social pressure for managing farmers coming into urban areas for a better life, all of it pushed by a constant need of investments and fast modernization, I wanted to portray this view of a growing china, far away from the common views of eastern cities such as shanghai or Beijing. From a photographic point of view, I have decided to shoot the people in their environment. But i have decided to take a step back, using medium format film camera, I want to transmit the feeling of scales that the city and china in general is facing. Urban Scales, Social Scales, the country's biggest problem is now to find a way to link some extremes the highly rich to the very poor, the extravagant to the meaningful. Vertical Communism is a portrait of Chinese a megapolis full of contradiction, trying to keep up with its unpredictable modernization Source: www.timfranco.com Interview with Tim Franco: AAP: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer? Tim Franco: There is not a precise moment. When I was young, I loved writing stories, then my passion became music. I always wanted to share my ideas and vision of things through some mediums at the end it became photography. AAP: Where did you study photography? TF: When I was a kid, my artist mother pushed me from one opening to the other, through museums and galleries. At first I hated it, and then became used to it and started to hang out more and more in her studio, until I took away her old cameras , I have learn through experience, other photographers and reading tutorials. AAP: How could you describe your style? TF: Photographers tend to be classified, put into boxes, commercial photographer, photojournalists, artists, etc. I never really know how to classify my work. What I love is telling stories, document facts with an artistic esthetic to it. I also enjoy working on creative commercial assignments. I always try to stay simple in the esthetic and subtle about the story. AAP: What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film? TF: For my personal work, I really enjoy medium format. When I see something, most of the time, I ideally want to frame it in square. I don't really like naming brands, they all have different feeling and esthetic and it really depends the look you want to give your image. To name a few I personally work with Hasselblad and old rolleiflex. For commercial work, I use Canon because of their price and availability in terms of lenses. AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images? TF: When shooting film, I usually spend very little time editing, just cleaning dust on films and other small details. When shooting commercial work on digital its another story. Clients are very specific about what they want and color out of raw files needs to go through extensive treatment. My photo agency works with a retouching studio for most of our commercial projects. AAP: What advice would you give a young photographer? TF: Those days, its very easy to call yourself a photographer, grab a camera , a couple of nice prime lenses and you can get some good images. But I think young photographers should really focus on what are they trying to say with their images. What makes a great photo is not the instant esthetic of it but the impact that image will have on its viewer. AAP: An idea, a sentence, a project you would like to share? TF: One of the main project I worked on for the past year is about one particular city in China called Chongqing. Since 2009, I am going there quite frequently, at the beginning for some press assignments since the city have seen lot of interesting political stories and turmoils but also because it fascinates me. Both from an esthetic point of view and from its stories. This giant megapolis has been forcly populated with countryside people and has now a very hard time to deal its urbanization. "I personally see Chongqing as a macro representation of the whole China. With its tumultuous political history and its growing social pressure for managing farmers coming into urban areas for a better life, all of it pushed by a constant need of investments and fast modernization, I wanted to portray this view of a growing china, far away from the common views of eastern cities such as shanghai or beijing. From a photographic point of view, I have decided to shoot the people in their environment. But I have decided to take a step back, using medium format film camera, I want to transmit the feeling of scales that the city and china in general is facing. Urban Scales, Social Scales, the country's biggest problem is now to find a way to link some extremes the highly rich to the very poor, the extravagant to the meaningful. Vertical Communism is a portrait of chinese a megapolis full of contradiction, trying to keep up with its unpredictable modernization." AAP: Your best and worst memory as a photographer? TF: Being a professional photographers gives you a chance to go to many great places and meet amazing people. Sometimes the best memory is all the instants that led you to take a particular photo, the untold stories. What happened in the discussion you had with the person you were about to portray, how did you get to this fantastic point of view etc. For worst memory there is always issues of dealing with authorities, this large gap of misunderstanding between the photographer wanting to tell a story and a person not allowing you to shoot. This is always very annoying.
Advertisement
POTW
AAP Solo Exhibition
CPA Artist Grant

Latest Interviews

Exclusive Interview with Paul Brouns
Paul Brouns is a Dutch photographer who found his voice by capturing architecture. The urban landscape is his ideal playground for apprehending rhythm, color and geometrical elements. He is the winner of AAP Magazine 14 "Colors" with his project 'Urban Tapestries'. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Exclusive Interview with Réhahn
Referred to as someone who "captures the souls of his models", (Wanderlust Travel Magazine, 2018) Réhahn is more than just a man behind a camera. Behind each click is a story. Whether the photograph shows a child with startling blue eyes, a woman pulling a needle through indigo fabric or a man walking alone down a brightly painted street, these are more than just images to Réhahn. They are the culmination of an experience. The stories of his subjects as well as his passion to learn more about their culture, diversity and changing traditions are what drives Réhahn's work.
Craig Varjabedian: Found Horizons
Craig Varjabedian's photographs of the American West illuminate his profound connection with the region and its people. His finely detailed images shine with an authenticity that reveals the ties between identity, place, and the act of perceiving. For Varjabedian, photography is a receptive process driven by openness to the revelation each subject offers, rather than by the desire to manipulate form or to catalog detail. He achieves this vision by capturing and suspending on film those decisive moments in which the elements and the spirit of a moment come together
Exclusive interview with Jacopo Della Valle
Jacopo Maria Della Valle is an Italian travel photographer who fell in love with photography at young age thanks to the influence of his father. Since then he has travelled to Europe, the USA, Cuba, Morocco and all over Asia. He is the winner of AAP Magazine 12 B&W with his project Bull Jumping. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Exclusive interview with Giedo Van der Zwan
Giedo van der Zwan is a street photographer, writer and publisher from the Netherlands. He started working on a long-term project 'Pier to Pier' in 2017 and published his book in June 2018. He is the winner of AAP Magazine 8 Street. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Exclusive interview with Eli Klein
Eli Klein Gallery has an international reputation as one of the foremost galleries specializing in contemporary Chinese art and continues to advance the careers of its represented artists and hundreds of other Chinese artists with whom it has collaborated. The Gallery has been instrumental in the loan of artworks by Chinese artists to over 100 museum exhibitions throughout the world. It has published 40 books/catalogues and organized more than 75 exhibitions of Chinese contemporary art at our prestigious venues in New York City.
Exclusive interview with Cayetano González
Cayetano González is a talented Spanish photographer and cinematographer who found his calling when his grandfather lend him his Leica. Since then he has directed commercials and shot several covers of major magazines. His work is influenced by the painters he admires like Sorolla, Velázquez, Rembrandt and Delacroix.
Exclusive interview with Mauro De Bettio
Mauro De Bettio is an Italian photographer who lives in Spain. His pictures are a visual story able to highlight unseen or ignored realities. A vital tool that can help bring about social changes. He is the winner of AAP Magazine 11 Travels. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Exclusive interview with Stéphane Lavoué
Stéphane Lavoué, is a French portrait photographer born in Mulhouse in 1976. He lives and works between Brittany and Paris. He is the winner of the Niépce Prize 2018. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Call for Entries
Solo Exhibition
Be Featured in our Apr 2021 Online Juried Solo Exhibition!