All about photo.com: photo contests, photography exhibitions, galleries, photographers, books, schools 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
Win A Solo Exhibition in August
Get International Exposure and Connect with Industry Insiders
 
Stay up-to-date  with call for entries, deadlines and other news about exhibitions, galleries, publications, & special events.

More Great Photographers To Discover

Alesya Osadchaya
Russia Federation
1990
Alesya Osadchaya was born in October of 1990 in Moscow, Russia. She studied veterinary medicine at the Moscow Veterinary Academy. Currently, he also works as a teacher in the field of veterinary entrepreneurship. The fascination with photography came from childhood. Dad taught her to handle the camera, later she got carried away with photography seriously and began to earn money by taking pictures - portrait and reportage. After graduation, the institute began to travel and take pictures of more scenery and travel reports. Travel and photography are closely related. Alesya rarely uses the services of travel agencies and travels alone. Always takes a camera with her. Through photographs, she shows the fragility of man compared to the forces of nature. Statement: No wonder they say that the most cool photos are obtained at a time when the elements are raging. Nature opens on the new side. In bad weather, few people can force themselves to leave the warm bed and go to meet the unknown. At this time, and people who are on the street once pretend to wear "masks". They are busy with more important things - how not to get wet, do not mess up your hair, save your property, and even the safety of your life, after all. But these are not all. However strange it may sound, I am inspired by the vagaries of nature: storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, storms. As a child, I reviewed a bunch of BBC films (and not only) about similar natural phenomena. Probably, therefore, at such moments in the head immediately the plots for photographs are born - a good look. But even in the quietest weather one can find "moments of strength". With my capture I want to show the greatness of nature, its beauty, strength and scale in comparison with fragility and human life.
Meryl Meisler
United States
1951
Meryl Meisler was born 1951 in the South Bronx and raised in North Massapequa, Long Island, New York. Inspired by photographers such as Diane Arbus and Jacques Henri Lartigue, as well as her dad, Jack, and grandfather, Murray Meisler, Meryl Meisler began photographing herself, family, and friends while enrolled in a photography class taught by Cavalliere Ketchum at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In 1975, Meisler returned to New York City and studied with Lisette Model, continuing to photograph her hometown and the city around her. After working as a freelance illustrator by day, Meisler frequented and photographed the infamous New York discos. As a 1978 C.E.T.A. Artist grant recipient, Meisler created a portfolio of photographs which explored her Jewish identity for the American Jewish Congress. After C.E.T.A., Meisler began a three-decade career as a NYC Public School Art Teacher. Meisler has received fellowships, grants, and residencies from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Light Work, YADDO, The Puffin Foundation, Time Warner, Artists Space, C.E.T.A., the China Institute, and the Japan Society. Her work has been exhibited at the Zillman Art Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Historical Society, Dia Art Foundation, MASS MoCA, Islip Art Museum, Annenberg Space for Photography, the New Museum for Contemporary Art, New-York Historical Society,Steven Kasher Gallery, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and in public spaces including Grand Central Terminal, South Street Seaport, Photoville, Vichy Portrait Festival, and throughout the New York City subway system. Her work is in the permanent collections of the American Jewish Congress,ARTPPOOL Budapest, AT&T, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Brooklyn HistoricalSociety, Book Art Museum (Poland), Columbia University, Emory University, Islip Art Museum,the Library of Congress, Musée de la Poste Paris, Smithsonian Institute, University of Iowa, and The Waskomium, and can be found in the artist book collections of Carnegie Mellon, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Chrysler Museum, the Museum of Modern Art NYC, Metronome Library, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Upon retiring from the New York City public schools, Meisler began releasing large bodies of previously unseen work. Her monographs have received international acclaim. A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick (Bizarre, 2014) juxtaposes her zenith of disco photos with images of the burned out yet beautiful neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn in the 1980s. Her second book, Purgatory & Paradise: Sassy ‘70s, Suburbia &The City (Bizarre, 2015), contrasts intimate images of home life on Long Island alongside New York City street and night life. Her latest book New York PARADISE LOST Bushwick Era Disco (Parallel Pictures Press 2021) revieals darker sides of disco and takes the viewer into 1980s Bushwick school and street life. Meryl Meisler lives and works in New York City and Woodstock, New York. NIGHTLIFE NYC, 1977-2023 In 1975 Meryl Meisler moved to New York City. Two years later its most notorious and celebrated nightclub, Studio 54, opened its doors. Meisler immersed herself in the nightlife scene and began to make images of Studio 54's colorful pleasure-seekers, along with some of its most noted party-goers such as Andy Warhol. The photographer states, ''When Studio 54 opened, my friend JudiJupiter got us on the guest list as photographers. The doorman took a liking and parted the door for us night after night. Studio 54's fabulous changing décor, DJs, sound system, and incredible crowds of diverse ages, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and gender identities were thrilling.'' Fueled by the excitement of Manhattan's exploding club scene of the late 70s, Meisler photographed fashionable night revelers and celebrities at a number of other hedonistic havens that popped up throughout the City. Legendary clubs such as Copacabana, Paradise Garage, Hurrah, Xenon, GG's Barnum Room, CBGB, and erotic Go-Go bars, provided an endless and diverse array of extravagant subjects immersed in dance and party spectacles. Each venue had its own unique identity, clientele, and energy. Some club-goers who were unable to gain admission to Studio 54 or wanted a change of scenery explored the crowd, vibe, and music at other night spots. Meisler adds, ''On nights off, club owners and cohorts would party at other discos.'' It was on one of these evenings that Meisler photographed Halston and Studio 54 co-owner Steve Rubell comfortably huddled together on a couch at the club Hurrah. A monogamous relationship, full-time art teaching job, and the onset of the AIDS epidemic prompted the photographer's foray into nightlife culture to dramatically slow down around 1981. Meisler kept her collection of images to herself, as a sort of private visual memoir, until an encounter in 2014 at the drag & burlesque bar BIZARRE, in Bushwick. Many of the club's performers and the scene they created were reminiscent of the freedom and energy that abounded during New York City's nightlife heyday in the late 70s. This emerging scene with its emphasis on inclusion, costumed spectacles, and over-the-top revelry inspired Meisler to exhibit her earlier nightlife photos and, once again, document these venues of unbridled celebration. Dance and performance take center stage in many of Meisler's current images taken at clubs like Bushwick's House of Yes and Bartschland's roaming parties. These new club scenes with drag queens and kings, bodacious burlesque performers, acrobats, magicians, dancers, and disco divas add to the continuum of NYC's nightlife culture — honoring and elevating the dynamic spirit set forth by prior generations of party-goers.
Maxime Du Camp
France
1822 | † 1894
Maxime Du Camp was born on February 8, 1822, in Paris, France, into a prosperous family. His father, a successful surgeon, ensured that young Maxime received a thorough education, which was typical for children of the bourgeoisie. Du Camp's early years were marked by a strong inclination towards literature and the arts. He studied at the Collège Bourbon (now Lycée Condorcet), where he developed a keen interest in literature, history, and languages. His education extended beyond formal schooling; he was an avid reader, absorbing a wide array of subjects that later influenced his literary and journalistic career. In the early 1840s, Maxime Du Camp embarked on extensive travels that profoundly shaped his worldview and literary work. His first significant journey was to the Near East in 1844, where he visited Greece, Turkey, and Egypt. Traveling with a sense of adventure and a desire to document the cultures and landscapes he encountered, Du Camp honed his skills in photography, an emerging technology at the time, and became one of its early pioneers as a documentary tool. This journey had a substantial influence on Du Camp. The cultures, histories, and landscapes of the Near East provided rich material for his later writings. He published his travel experiences in "Souvenirs et paysages d'Orient" (1848), which combined vivid descriptions with keen observations of the places he visited. This work marked the beginning of his career as a travel writer and established his reputation in literary circles. One of the most significant relationships in Du Camp's life was his friendship with the famous French novelist Gustave Flaubert. The two met in 1843 and quickly formed a strong bond based on their mutual interests in literature and travel. In 1849, they embarked on a journey to the Middle East, which took them to Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey. This expedition was particularly important for Du Camp as it allowed him to combine his passion for travel with his budding interest in photography. During this trip, Du Camp took numerous photographs of ancient monuments, landscapes, and people. These images were later published in "Egypte, Nubie, Palestine and Syrie" (1852), one of the earliest photographic travel books. The collaboration with Flaubert during this journey also had a lasting impact on both men's work. Du Camp's photographs provided valuable visual documentation for Flaubert's future literary works, while Flaubert's meticulous approach to writing influenced Du Camp's style. Du Camp's literary career was diverse, encompassing travel writing, novels, poetry, and journalism. His early works, such as "Souvenirs et paysages d'Orient" and "Egypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie," were primarily travelogues that showcased his ability to capture the essence of distant lands through both words and images. In the 1850s, Du Camp turned his attention to fiction. His first novel, "Mémoires d'un suicidé" (1853), was a reflection on the social and moral issues of his time. Although not as commercially successful as his travel writings, this novel demonstrated his versatility as a writer and his willingness to explore different genres. Du Camp also made significant contributions to poetry. He published several collections, including "Les Chants modernes" (1855) and "Convictions" (1858), which were characterized by their reflection on contemporary society and politics. His poetic style was influenced by the Romantic movement, but he also incorporated elements of realism, a reflection of his broader literary interests. In addition to his literary pursuits, Du Camp was an active journalist. He contributed to various newspapers and magazines, including "La Revue des Deux Mondes" and "Le Constitutionnel." His journalistic work covered a wide range of topics, from politics to culture, showcasing his ability to engage with contemporary issues. Du Camp was also known for his critiques of French society, often addressing the tensions and contradictions of his time. Maxime Du Camp was not only a man of letters but also an engaged citizen. He was a staunch supporter of the Second French Empire under Napoleon III and was involved in the political discourse of his time. In 1851, he joined the ranks of the Saint-Simonians, a socialist group that advocated for social reform and the improvement of the working class's conditions. His political views were reflected in his writings, where he often addressed social justice and the need for societal progress. Du Camp's political engagement extended to his role as an editor. In 1862, he co-founded the influential literary magazine "Revue des Deux Mondes" with Charles Buloz. This publication became a significant platform for intellectual and literary debate in France, featuring contributions from leading writers and thinkers of the time. Despite his busy career, Du Camp continued to travel extensively throughout his life. His later travels took him to North Africa and Europe, where he continued to document his experiences through writing and photography. His later works, such as "Le Nil: Égypte et Nubie" (1877), reflected his ongoing fascination with the places he visited and his desire to share these experiences with a wider audience. Maxime Du Camp's contributions to literature, photography, and journalism have left a lasting legacy. His pioneering use of photography in travel writing helped establish the medium as a legitimate form of documentation and artistic expression. His travel books remain valuable records of the places and cultures he encountered, providing insights into the 19th-century world. Du Camp's literary works, though not as widely known today as those of his contemporaries like Flaubert, offer a rich exploration of the social and political issues of his time. His ability to blend personal reflection with broader societal commentary makes his writings relevant to contemporary readers. As a journalist, Du Camp's contributions to French intellectual life were significant. His engagement with political and cultural debates helped shape public discourse in 19th-century France. The "Revue des Deux Mondes," under his editorial guidance, became a cornerstone of French literary and cultural life. Maxime Du Camp passed away on February 8, 1894, on his 72nd birthday, leaving behind a diverse body of work that continues to be appreciated for its depth and breadth. His life was marked by a relentless curiosity and a desire to explore and understand the world, qualities reflected in his writings and photographs. Du Camp's legacy is that of a true Renaissance man, whose contributions spanned multiple fields and left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of his time.
Giandomenico Veneziani
My name is Giandomenico Veneziani. I am an Italian photographer. I approached photography from a young age. I have learned over time the techniques and the infinite possibilities of artistic creation. Photographic experimentation finds ample expression during my travels. I was inspired by people, their stories, faces, emotions. Photography for me is an important means of sharing feelings and stories of the people I photograph. I take inspiration mainly from painting, books and films. I also studied the most important photographers who made the history of photography. I really like portraits and fashion photography. I try to make unique and unconventional shots giving my portraits a cinematic vision. Bringing my point of view to the public eye is my main goal. Getting someone into my inner world is something extraordinary just as photography is extraordinary. In every shot there is my person, my fragility, my emotions. I love photographing people and interacting with them drawing their essence through the photographic medium. My greatest gratification is being told "I feel beautiful because I am just like that". These shots represent me and also the photographed subject. Portrait photography is the testimony of an encounter, in fact the photographer's task is to guide the person so that she is able to bring out herself. Establishing a relationship of trust between the artist and the photographed subject leads to the creation of a connection that enriches both, since in the realization of a photographic project the fundamental element is to create a path whose journey is carried out side by side between photographer and model. I really like using artificial lights to create the right atmosphere. I take great pleasure in presenting my projects that deviate from a usual reality, which everyone sees. Sometimes it is very distorted, I represent parallel and imaginary visions and worlds belonging to a dystopian future. I like it for this because it is different and the different is beautiful because it is unique.
Bill Owens
United States
1938
Bill Owens, born in 1938, is a well-known American photographer who documented suburban life in the 1970s. His photography provides a unique and deep look into the everyday lives of average Americans, capturing both the commonplace and remarkable features of suburbia life. Owens began his photographic career in the late 1960s as a staff photographer for a local newspaper in Livermore, California. During this period, he began his most noteworthy project, "Suburbia," which would become a major body of work in American documentary photography. "Suburbia" was published as a book in 1973, featuring Owens' images and conversations with suburban dwellers. The project's goal was to investigate the goals, aspirations, and inconsistencies of suburbia life, offering a critical yet sympathetic study of the American Dream. Owens' images depicted scenes of backyard barbecues, family gatherings, children at play, and the myriad rituals and social interactions that constituted suburban areas. He highlighted both the humor and the underlying intricacies of suburban life through his good observation and direct attitude. What distinguished Owens' work was his ability to see past the surface and capture the soul of his subjects. His images conveyed a sense of realism by portraying suburbanites in their natural settings and enabling their tales to flow through genuine moments captured in time. Owens' art struck a chord with a large audience because it highlighted a huge societal transition in America during the 1970s. Owens' images challenged the idealized image of suburban life by exposing the hardships, wants, and inconsistencies inherent in the pursuit of the American Dream. Throughout his career, Owens continued to explore various topics and subjects in addition to his "Suburbia" series. He documented the California wine industry, capturing the agricultural process as well as the people that make it happen. He also covered countercultural trends of the 1960s and 1970s, such as the rise of the hippie and biker subcultures. Bill Owens' contributions to documentary photography will be remembered. His ability to depict the everyday lives of regular people in suburbia America with honesty and empathy earned him a place in American photographic history. His work is still being shown and researched, providing important insights into the social and cultural fabric of a specific period and place.
Patrick Wack
France
1979
Patrick Wack was born in Cannes in 1979 and grew up in the Paris suburbs. A former top sportsman, he has a degree in foreign languages and a diploma from the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Paris. His studies took him to the United States, Sweden and Germany. A self-taught photographer, he left Berlin in 2006 for China with the ambition of documenting its emergence, and the hope of living a life off the beaten track. He was based in Shanghai for eleven years as a freelance photographer alternating between commissions for the international press and institutional clients. He also worked on long-term documentary projects on themes important to the understanding of our times. These include urban change and forced modernisation in China, the Tibetan question, inter-ethnic tensions in the Balkans and the 'pioneering front' of the New Silk Road in its aesthetic, social and political dimensions. After eleven years in China, he now divides his time between Europe, China and Russia. His reports have been published in Time magazine, The Sunday Times, Géo, The British Journal of Photography and Courrier International, among others. He is one of the co-founders of the photographic cooperative Inland. DUST Dust, a monographic book by photographer Patrick Wack on the Uyghur communities. The monograph DUST gathers four years of work by French photographer Patrick Wack shot in the areas of Central Asia known as East Turkistan or Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region under the current Chinese administration. In recent years, the region has been at the centre of an international outcry following the mass-incarceration of its Uyghur population and other Muslim minorities. This body of work captures a visual narrative of the region and is a testimony to its abrupt descent into an Orwellian dystopia. In 2016 and 2017, Wack spent more than two months in Xinjiang photographing Out West, his first long-term project about the region. He decided to return in 2018, upon reading reports of the mass arbitrary detention system being set up there. In 2019, he travelled to Xinjiang on two separate occasions for another project, The Night Is Thick. This second reportage aimed at documenting life under acute repression among the Uyghur minority alongside the disturbing simultaneous increase of Han-Chinese tourism in the region. These images have been widely published and exhibited over the past four years, illustrating the situation in the region, and have received numerous accolades. Recent events in Xinjiang are now considered some of the most severe crimes against humanity currently unfolding in the world and this project is possibly the most complete photographic documentation of the region in recent years. Find out more about DUST
Ian Berry
United Kingdom
1934
Ian Berry made his reputation as a photojournalist reporting from South Africa, where he worked for the Sunday Times and Drum magazine. He was the only photographer to document the massacre at Sharpeville. While based in Paris he was invited to join Magnum by Henri Cartier-Bresson. He moved to London to become the first contract photographer for the Observer Magazine. He has covered, conflict in Israel, Ireland, Vietnam, Czechoslovakia and Congo, famine in Ethiopia and apartheid in South Africa. He has also reported on the political and social transformations in China and the former USSR. Awards include Nikon Photographer of the Year (twice), Picture of the Year award from the National Press Photographers of America, and British Press Magazine Photographer of the Year (twice). Arts Council Award, Art Directors' Club of New York Award. His books include The English, two books on South Africa, Sold into slavery and Sea. Exhibitions in London, Paris, Hamburg, Brussels, Bradford, Perpignan, Aix en Provence Shanghai, Lowry Gallery, Walker Art Gallery Liverpool, Edinburgh, SCOP Shanghai, Hastings, Bruges. Ian Berry: Street Photography Photojournalism, documentary, reportage, call it what you will, shooting on the street is not easy. It needs a level of dedication and commitment as well as preparation, both mentally and with your shooting equipment. I'm aware of the differences of opinion over whether a photographer should ask a potential subject's permission before taking a picture. My take on the matter is that if you want a self-conscious stare into the camera, by all means ask, but if you want a potential subject in their natural environment and make a picture that reflects the situation, then shoot first and, if needs be, talk later. If observed, a smile nearly always puts your subject at ease. Often I find that if I walk out of a hotel in a strange city and go unnoticed when shooting the first picture, I'm high all day and can photograph non-stop without being seen or rebuffed, but a bad reaction from the first subject and I might as well go back to bed. A good way to hone your skills is to attend local events, street fairs and even pet shows, places where people are more amenable and accustomed to being photographed. It goes without saying that whether planning to shoot abroad or in Britain one should respect local customs and dress codes. It's no good wandering around a city in shorts and colourful T-shirts if you wish to move unobserved. This selective process also applies to equipment; whether you compromise between the Christmas tree approach and the sneaky ‘one camera in the hand behind the back' system, and between carrying enough gear to cope with whatever might arise, but not so much that you're exhausted after a few hours. I'm always amazed at colleagues who walk up to people with a 28mm lens and a flashgun banging away in their faces. It certainly creates a style but adds artificiality that I find unpleasant, both visually and in terms of aggression towards the subject. I think a style on the street should be created by a vision rather than a technique. Also the benefit of today's digital cameras to boost the ISO has enabled me at least to ditch a flashgun altogether during the day. Once in a while a new photographer joins Magnum with a totally different vision, like Russian Gueorgui Pinkhassov, who really excites me and makes me want to go out and shoot, not to recreate his style but rather to reinvent myself. I love to shoot with two fixed focal length lenses on two quiet Olympus cameras hanging around my neck, partially concealed under a vest or jacket. Only partially concealed because I don't want it to appear as if I were trying to hide the fact I am a photographer. The lenses I use are a 28mm and a 50mm, which are small, light and fast. I prefer fixed focal length lenses because I like to know exactly what is going to be in the frame, and it's far easier to take half a step forward or backward than fiddling with a zoom. In Magnum the jury is out among the street shooters over whether a DSLR or a range finder is the better choice, but nearly all use single focal length lenses. The other plus of a small camera is that you are often perceived as an amateur photographer and therefore less of a threat to the people you're photographing. Shooting with a long zoom on the street is a definite no-no, as you will be viewed as a voyeur. Curiously, I find I can be 3ft or 4ft from someone, shoot with a 28mm lens and pass by unnoticed and yet be obvious at 15ft. A recent fashion trend I don't think works is trying to carry equipment in a rucksack. It's great for the countryside or getting to or from a location but on the street every second counts and by the time you get a camera or lens out of this sort of bag, night has fallen and everyone has gone home. I find that a soft bag of the Domke variety will hold a body with longer lens inconspicuously but within quick reach. Whatever your kit set-up, however, the same creative needs apply. The ability to recognise a potential situation and produce an elegant composition in a fraction of a second on the street is what separates the great photojournalists such as Eugene Smith, Sebastião Salgado and Alex Webb from the rest of us. I've noticed that with that ability comes the physical stamina and professionalism to pound the streets for 12 hours on the trot. The basic elements are either to grab the decisive moment on the hoof, to see a potential situation and hover unseen until it develops, or spot a potentially great background and be prepared to hang around for an hour or more until the right juxtaposition of people slot into place in front of you. This is something I frequently do, especially in a foreign environment; simply wait until you become part of the fixtures and fittings so that when you raise the camera slowly and smoothly to the eye, no one's attention is drawn by an unusual movement. One of the great things about growing up photographically in Magnum was the words of wisdom dropped casually on occasion by Henri Cartier-Bresson. For example, "A great photograph is not an intellectual result, the only intellectual involvement is being there in the first place. The actual moment is purely intuitive, like squeezing the trigger of a gun when your subject is in exactly the right place in the frame." On another occasion as we were wandering around in Paris, "Walk softly and slowly. If you are moving quickly and stop suddenly, the people you are about to photograph will react to the change of pace in their peripheral vision and become aware of you." Street photography in Britain has become another issue. Years ago when travelling from Istanbul to Beijing by train, I'd passed from Iran into Turkmenistan and was shooting in the capital, Ashgabat. Most of the main buildings had 15ft-high portraits of the President in true personality cult style and after wandering around I chose what I thought was the most interesting building architecturally. I then stood for quite a while waiting for interesting people to pass by to make up the shape. After a short time a couple of guys came out of the building and watched me, then came over and ‘invited' me into the building. It transpired I was photographing the equivalent of the FSBheadquarters. One of the men spoke excellent English and after quizzing me in a not unpleasant way, asked that if he were to come to London would he be allowed to photograph Scotland Yard? In response I invited him to call me when he was next in London so we could photograph it together. Sadly I could not do that any more, we are no longer that relaxed a society. So what to do when you're in front of the Bank of England trying to shoot an essay on the City and an officious PCSO or a jobsworth from the nearest sock shop arrives to tell you to desist, or worse, delete your images? The advice of lawyer Rupert Grey, who knows a thing or two about photographers' rights, is to keep your cool, be polite and explain that you are perfectly entitled to take photographs in a public place without being hassled. The public are more sensible on the whole, although it's still best to avoid photographing children. Years ago when shooting for my book, The English, I was able to go into school playgrounds with the teachers' approval and thought nothing of it; and it was the same in shopping centres, even hospitals, but no longer. Having said that, not too long ago I was passing an African-Caribbean church and stopped outside to take a few pictures of people milling around, only to be invited in to photograph the service – a pleasurable experience in this age, which tells me that one should not give up on recording life in Britain. Ian's words of wisdom "Know your camera inside out. Walk with your finger on the release. Have your lens pre-focused (Josef Koudelka had bits of matchsticks glued to Olympus lenses at different points to focus by feel). A single focal lens is best. I shoot on aperture, only adjusting as light conditions change. Don't be intimidated, most people are happy to be photographed. If nervous walk with a friend, although they are always distracting and get in the way. Buy a waistcoat or jacket a size too big to keep your camera concealed inside. Look around you constantly. Be discreet; looking beyond the subject after shooting often helps. If confronted, good-humoured banter and a smile always work."
Advertisement
Win a Solo Exhibition in August
AAP Magazine #42: Shapes
Win a Solo Exhibition in August

Latest Interviews

Exclusive Interview with Laurent Baheux
French photographer Laurent Baheux, follows the tradition of humanist photographers by capturing black-and-white images of nature and wildlife. His subjects are not confined to cages or enclosures; they are free individuals, captured in the moment, displaying the full strength of their freedom, the beauty of their personalities, and the tenderness of their communal lives. Celebrated for their aesthetic power and authenticity, Laurent's black-and-white photographs have been featured in books, publications, exhibitions, and conferences, and are displayed in galleries both in France and internationally.
Reflections by Jon Enoch
Jon Enoch is a London-based freelance photographer, who works with celebrities, sports people, CEOs, as well as advertising agencies and brands. Jon regularly creates his own personal work, which have won numerous awards over the years. Jon’s recent project ‘The Candymen of Mumbai’ has won a Portrait of Humanity award and was the overall winner of the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the year 2023. His previous 2019 project called ‘Bikes of Hanoi’ also picked up multiple awards including the Paris Photo Prize - Gold in 2019, Portrait of Humanity Award 2020 and was the Smithsonian Grand Prize Winner in 2020. He was also shortlisted for the Sony World Photography Awards in 2020 and nominated for the Lens Culture Portrait Prize 2020. We asked him a few questions about his project 'Reflections'
Exclusive Interview with George Byrne
George Byrne is an acclaimed Australian photographer known for his striking use of color and composition. Byrne's work often captures urban landscapes with a minimalist and abstract aesthetic, transforming ordinary cityscapes into vivid, painterly images. His distinctive style highlights the beauty in everyday scenes, emphasizing geometry, light, and shadow to create visually captivating pieces. Byrne has gained international recognition for his unique approach to photography, blending elements of fine art and documentary to offer a fresh perspective on the urban environment.
Barbara Cole and Wet Collodion Photographs
Cole is best known for her underwater photography, but her other studio practice during the cold months in Toronto is an ongoing series of wet collodion photographs. This heavily analog process from the 19th Century is a years-long endeavor of revitalization and experimentation, offering modern day viewers an understanding of what it took to develop photographs in the early days of its invention. Cole has added her own unique take on the process by adding a layer of color in contrast to the usual sepia tones associated with the genre. The resulting wet plate photographs are tactile and dimensional dances between light and shadow, past and present, depicting women in timeless dreamscapes. We asked her a few questions about this specific project
Exclusive Interview with Michael Joseph
I discovered Michael Joseph's work in 2016, thanks to Ann Jastrab. I was immediately captivated by the power of his beautiful black and white photographs from his series 'Lost and Found.' His haunting portraits of young Travelers have stayed with me ever since.
Exclusive Interview with Debe Arlook
Debe Arlook is an award-winning American artist working in photography. Through color and diverse photographic processes, Arlook’s conceptual work is a response to her surroundings and the larger environment, as she attempts to understand the inner and outer worlds of human relationships. Degrees in filmmaking and psychology inform these views.
Orchestrating Light: Seth Dickerman Talks About his Passion for Photographic Printmaking
Seth Dickerman is a master manipulator of the wide spectrum of light densities that reflect off the surface of a photographic print and enter into our field of vision. His singular intent in making prints is to bring out the best an image has to offer, which means giving an image the ability to hold our attention, to engage us, and to allow us to discover something about an image that is meaningful and significant.
Exclusive Interview with Michel Haddi
Photographer and film director, Michel Haddi has photographed many high-profile celebrities while living in the USA including, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, David Bowie, Uma Thurman, Francis Ford Coppola, Cameron Diaz, Faye Dunaway, Nicholas Cage, Johnny Depp, Heath Ledger, Angelina Jolie, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and many others. He also manages a publishing house, MHS publishing, which publishes his own books. Currently based in London we have asked him a few questions about his life and work
Exclusive Interview with Sebastien Sardi
In 2008, Swedish photographer Sebastian Sardi, inspired by an article exposing hidden mining-related incidents, embarked on a photography journey. Without formal training, he explored mines and ventured to India's Jharkhand state to document coal miners in Dhanbad, known as the "coal capital." His project, "Black Diamond," captured the lives of people, including men, women, and children, dedicated to coal extraction in grueling conditions.
Call for Entries
AAP Magazine #42 Shapes
Publish your work in AAP Magazine and win $1,000 Cash Prizes