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Annick Donkers
Annick Donkers
Annick Donkers

Annick Donkers

Country: Belgium

Annick Donkers is a documentary photographer from Antwerp, Belgium. After obtaining a Master’s degree in Psychology, she decided to specialize in photography. She has received a grant from the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was selected to participate in the Seminar on Contemporary Photography at the Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City (2008). Her work has been exhibited and published internationally. She was one of the winners at the Survival International Competition (2015), won an award at the San José Photo Festival in Uruguay (2016), the Sony Awards in UK (2016), the MIFA awards in Russia (2016), the IPA awards in USA (2016), the TIFA awards in Tokyo (2016), received an honorable mention at the Px3 Prix de la Photo in Paris(2016), was selected at Latin American Photography vol.5 (2016), on the cover of Dodho magazine (2016), shortlisted for the Kolga Tbilisi Awards and Athens Photo Festival (2017). She currently lives and works as a freelance photographer in Mexico City.

About Lucha Libre Extrema
The Lucha Libre Extrema series emerged from a growing interest I had in Mexican professional wrestling. I was soon drawn towards sub-genres of the sport such as Lucha Libre Exótica and Lucha Extrema. This semi-clandestine hardcore genre is currently prohibited in Mexico City because of how dangerous it is, but events still take place outside the capital, notably at a car wash-turned-arena in Tulancingo, the village where El Santo, Mexico’s most famous pro wrestler, was born. The participants receive professional training and are paid a little bit more because of the risks they take. They perform with a variety of weapons: chairs, thumbtacks, wire, and fluorescent lights, turning the ring into a war zone. Yet the community of luchadores “extremos” is closely knit and few outsiders have gained access. Mexico has been a very violent place in recent years. As such, I found it fascinating that people were drawn to the dangerous world of Lucha Libre Extrema and turned my camera to the audience in an attempt to understand their reasons.

About Afromexican Healers
At the end of last year my attention was drawn to the coastal region of Guerrero known as Costa Chica, located to the south of Acapulco. This region is home to Mexicans descended from African slaves that identify themselves as being “black”. But outside this region they are little-known and they are currently fighting to be officially recognized by the Mexican State. The Costa Chica is also a place rooted in traditional beliefs that include appearances of trolls, the devil and spirit animals. The legend tells that when a baby is born, a member of the family brings the child to a crossroads up in the mountains where lots of wild animals pass by. The first creature to approach the child will be the child's spirit animal, or tono in Spanish, since there is now a dependency created between child and animal. This means that when the animal is hurt, wounded or dies, the person is too. In the Afromexican communities there are healers that will cure these "animal"-related illnesses, since conventional medicine will not work in these cases. The person is cured with herbs selected by the healers and also according to the needs of the animal. They call these healers curanderos del tono and there are only a small number of them left. I went to the Costa Chica region in an attempt to capture what remains of this Afromexican tradition.
 

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Esmeralda Ruiz
United States
Artist Statement: "My childhood was different then most. Growing up with nothing but artists was one thing, but having actually flat lined during a surgery after being diagnosed with a kidney infection changed my life forever. It wasn’t that it left me weak or prevented me from going outside and playing or even going to school with other children but the images that I saw when that moment occurred is what I strive to show in my work today. A wonderful world where the air was crisp and refreshing, with all of its flowers in bloom, my journey begins down a path with little yellow homes on each side. Beyond the path, a valley flowers appeared. On the right there were rocky mountains so enormous that clouds covered their midsection with their snow covered summits peering through. To my left the sound of the ocean was relentlessly crashing into a cliff. As I crossed my valley of flowers and ascended the cliff, I felt a cool yet, strong breeze off the ocean forcing me back. As I looked up into the vast skies above, I was overcome by the ever so omnipotent clouds with their glorious rays of sunlight beaming through. The feeling of leaping into the breeze and flying towards the light was more then overwhelming. Instead, I greeted it with a smile and made my way back to the valley. Relaxed, laying across its delicate wild flowers, my tranquil body curled up and fell into a deep sleep. Awaking to my mother at my bedside, disappointment overcame me with the realization that it was all just a dream. Weeks passed, the pain healed but my dream still reigned true. Numerous sketches and endless rants of my new world was all that was real. Having to transition from a world of such perfection to a life of obscurity seemed almost inconceivable. As such, a minor state of depression would set in as my life slowly began to drift back into its regular routine. During this time my only solace came from the amazing work found in books from various art movements and even my favorite childhood cartoons. However, as my healing process dragged on, much of what I know about color (and how I use it today) came from all the extra time spent in my parent’s studio. Watching them work and being surrounded by various mediums helped better understand art as a form of expression. This would inevitably forge my desire to show the world what I had experienced on that fateful day. As the years pass, my dream still lives within me. My thesis project has only driven my need to share my moment with the world in ways I never thought possible. After much soul searching and numerous critiques, I have come to the realization that my utopia isn’t just a dream; it is in the landscapes that have always surrounded me. Those three minutes had and will always have a tremendous impact on my life. If anything, I learned how fragile life is and to always appreciate the beautiful things in life. Photography has allowed me to show what stands out in my eyes by glorifying it in a photograph. It is the best way that I can communicate what I saw and what I felt at that particular moment. It is the bridge between my past and my present.Source: Esmeralda Ruiz Website
David Stewart
United Kingdom
1958
David Stewart began his career by photographing punk bands including The Clash and The Ramones. He also took to photographing the passing parade of colourful characters on Morecambe Promenade with squirrel monkey's Joey and Queenie. After graduating at Blackpool and The Fylde College, Stewart moved to London in 1981 where he persued a career in photography, rapidly establishing himself as one of the UK's most highly accomplished photographers. In 1995 he directed and produced a short film "Cabbage" which was nominated for a BAFTA. Accompanying the film is a series of surrealist photographic images in tribute to the much-maligned vegetable. In 2001 he published a body of work titled Fogeys comprising of kitsch, cartoon-like photographs of people growing old disgracefully. Exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art London "Fogeys" won a Silver Award at the Art Directors Club of New York. The book "Thrice Removed" was published in 2009. While still singular and mischievous, the book includes works that are more muted in colour and personal in tone. The projects "Indecision" and "Intension" return once again to the surreal providing an intriguing study of young women. "Teenage Pre-occupation" which takes a look at teenagers and the changes they go through and was published in May 2013. The short film "Stray" 2013 was screened at the London Short Film festival. Stewart won The Taylor Wessing portrait prize in 2015. He had been previously shortlisted for the Photographic Portrait Prize in 2007 and accepted a further fourteen times between 1995 and 2012 each time exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, London. In 2016 Stewart was presented with The Royal Photographic Society award for outstanding achievement and excellence in the fields of Editorial, Advertising and Fashion Photography. 2018 saw the publication of "Paid Content" which uses the setting of the advertising agency to explore the changing face of workplace culture and the wider dehumanising effect that is occurring due to the growth of large, faceless corporations and globalisation. 2020 saw the publication of "Geoffrey Valentine" which presents unflinching portraits of his dead father lying in a coffin in a chapel of rest. Geoffrey Valentine at Wren London
Lee Jeffries
United Kingdom
Lee Jeffries lives in Manchester in the United Kingdom. Close to the professional football circle, this artist starts to photograph sporting events. A chance meeting with a young homeless girl in the streets of London changes his artistic approach forever. Lee Jeffries recalls that, initially, he had stolen a photo from this young homeless girl huddled in a sleeping bag. The photographer knew that the young girl had noticed him but his first reaction was to leave. He says that something made him stay and go and discuss with the homeless girl. His perception about the homeless completely changes. They become the subject of his art. The models in his photographs are homeless people that he has met in Europe and in the United States: «Situations arose, and I made an effort to learn to get to know each of the subjects before asking their permission to do their portrait.» From then onwards, his photographs portray his convictions and his compassion to the world. "If you will forgive my indulgence, This work is most definitely NOT photojournalism. Nor is it intended as portraiture. It's religious or spiritual iconography. It's powerful stuff. Jeffries gave these people something more than personal dignity. He gave them a light in their eyes that depicts transcendence, a glimmer of light at the gates of Eden, so to speak. The clarity in their eyes is awesome to behold, as if God is somewhere in there. He has made these people into more than poor old broken homeless people lazily waiting for a handout from some urbane and thoughtful corporate agent. He infused them with light, not darkness. Even the blind guy has light pouring from his sightless eyes. I think Jeffries intended his art to honor these people, not pity them. He honors those people by giving their likenesses a greater meaning. He gives them a religious spiritual significance. He imbues them with the iconic soul of humanity. I think that's what he was trying to do, at least to some degree thereof." Source: www.yellowkorner.com Lee Jeffries leads a double life – as a full-time accountant near Manchester, and in his free time as an impassioned photographer of the homeless all over the world. A self-taught photographer who started out taking pictures of stock in a bike shop, his epiphany came in April 2008 when, on the eve of running the London Marathon, he snatched a long-lens image of a homeless girl huddling in a doorway, and felt compelled to apologize to her when she called him out for it. Their resulting conversation changed not only his approach to photography; it changed his life. Since that day Lee has been on a mission to raise awareness of – and funds for – the homeless. His work features street people from the UK, Europe and the US whom he gets to know by living rough with them, the relationship between them enabling him to capture a searing intimacy and authenticity in his portraits. He has published two critically acclaimed fund-raising books, Lost Angels and Homeless, worked with the Salvation Army on a major campaign, and donated the half-dozen cameras he's won in prestigious imaging competitions to charity. He estimates he's given thousands of pounds of his own money to help those he photographs. All this, and he's still 'an amateur'. Source: Nikon In-Frame Read our Exclusive Interview with Lee Jeffries
Gabriel Isak
Sweden
1990
Gabriel Isak was born in 1990 in Huskvarna, Sweden. In 2016, he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Photography at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California. Isak has exhibited his work at solo exhibitions at The Cannery Gallery, San Francisco, California and his works have been included in various important exhibitions including "Acclimatize" at Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm, Sweden and "Culture Pop" at M Contemporary, Sydney, Australia. Isak lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden, from where he travels all around the world for personal and commissioned projects. Artist Statement Gabriel Isak's art entails surreal and melancholic scenes where he invites the viewer to interact with the inner world of solitary figures that symbolize our own unconscious states. He uses photography as a medium to draw and paint surreal images, minimal and graphic in its aesthetic, rich in symbolism and emotion, focusing on themes inspired by human psychology, dreams and romanticism, as well as his own experiences, especially the years he went through depression. Isak's work is a serene and melancholic meditation that stills the chaos of life and transforms into an introspective journey that questions the depths of existence. The objective of Gabriel Isak's art is to shine a light on the experiences of being and the states of mind those brings along. His subjects are anonymous, imprisoned in monochromatic settings, so the viewer can envision oneself as the subject, reflecting back on one's own experiences and journey in life.
André Kertész
Hungary
1894 | † 1985
André Kertész, born Kertész Andor, was a Hungarian-born photographer known for his groundbreaking contributions to photographic composition and the photo essay. In the early years of his career, his then-unorthodox camera angles and style prevented his work from gaining wider recognition. Kertész never felt that he had gained the worldwide recognition he deserved. Today he is considered one of the seminal figures of photojournalism. Expected by his family to work as a stockbroker, Kertész pursued photography independently as an autodidact, and his early work was published primarily in magazines, a major market in those years. This continued until much later in his life, when Kertész stopped accepting commissions. He served briefly in World War I and moved to Paris in 1925, then the artistic capital of the world, against the wishes of his family. In Paris he worked for France's first illustrated magazine called VU. Involved with many young immigrant artists and the Dada movement, he achieved critical and commercial success. Due to German persecution of the Jews and the threat of World War II, Kertész decided to emigrate to the United States in 1936, where he had to rebuild his reputation through commissioned work. In the 1940s and 1950s, he stopped working for magazines and began to achieve greater international success. His career is generally divided into four periods, based on where he was working and his work was most prominently known. They are called the Hungarian period, the French period, the American period and, toward the end of his life, the International period. Source: Wikipedia André Kertész (1894–1985) has been hailed as one of the most important photographers of the twentieth century. Working intuitively, he captured the poetry of modern urban life with its quiet, often overlooked incidents and odd, occasionally comic, or even bizarre juxtapositions. He endeavored "to give meaning to everything" about him with his camera, "to make photographs as by reflection in a mirror, unmanipulated and direct as in life." Combining this seemingly artless spontaneity with a sophisticated understanding of composition, Kertész created a purely photographic idiom that celebrates direct observation of the everyday. Neither a surrealist, nor a strict photojournalist, he nevertheless infused his best images with strong tenets of both. "You don't see" the things you photograph, he explained, "you feel them." Born Kertész Andor in Budapest, he received his first camera in 1912 and immediately began to make intimate portraits of family and friends, studies of the Hungarian countryside, and scenes of daily life behind the battle lines of World War I. Seeking to make a living through photography, he moved in 1925 to Paris, where he established a successful career as a photojournalist. Buoyed by this accomplishment and inspired by the vibrant artistic community of the French capital, he created some of the most intriguing and celebrated images of the period. In 1936 Kertész relocated to New York in order to further his career. Captivated by the rich visual spectacle of the city and awed by its scale, he used the camera to record both his fascination with, and sense of alienation from, his new surroundings. The images attest to a complicated personal history borne through the political upheavals of two wars and life in three countries. He died at age ninety-one. This exhibition offers a comprehensive overview of Kertész's rich and varied career. Source: The International Center of Photography
Sean Perry
United States
1968
Sean Perry is a fine-art photographer living and working in New York City and Austin, Texas. His photographs and books center on architecture, space and light - expressing the ambiance felt within built environments. He is currently completing three series/books on New York City entitled Monolith, Gotham and Fotopolis, as well as exhibiting a recently completed body of work on the dreamscape of temporary environments, Fairgrounds. Perry attended Berklee College of Music and was a working musician before turning to photography in 1996. His photographs and books have been acquired by notable private collectors including Manfred Heiting and Alan Siegel in addition to being held in the permanent collections of the Museum Fine Arts Houston, the Amon Carter Museum, Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern & Mexican Photography, and the Harry Ransom Center. Cloverleaf Press published Perry's first limited edition book, Transitory in 2006, and followed with a second title, Fairgrounds in the Fall of 2008. In 2009 he was selected as a finalist for the Hasselblad Masters award for his work and book Fairgrounds. His photographs have been published widely including the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Graphis, Camera Arts, New York Magazine, Billboard and American Photography. He has served as an adjunct Professor of Photography in Austin since 2001 as well as an adjunct Professor for the School of Visual Arts in New York City since 2006. Perry frequently contributes his photographs to auctions that benefit photographic and social concerns. His work is represented by the Stephen L. Clark Gallery, Austin. Interview with Sean Perry All About Photo: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer? Sean Perry: When I was younger I didn't know or have access to any professional photographers, but I really loved movies and looked at a lot of books. At that time I got into music and everything else was just secondary. As a musician I always thought about pictures and the visual atmosphere great songs provoke and in my thirties I started photographing and haven’t stopped. AAP: Where did you study photography? With whom? SP: I don’t have a formal background studying photography but it’s not quite right to say I'm self taught either. One of my old bandmates, Jeff Miller is a brother to me, a great photographer and my first teacher - I learned about cameras, making good pictures and printing in the darkroom. That experience was also my first big introduction to contemporary artists like Joel-Peter Witkin and The Starns. I later had important mentors in a photographer I assisted for, Frank Curry and a sculptor who has had a tremendous influence on me as an artist and photographer, John Christensen. AAP:Do you have a mentor? SP: I have a few friends and colleagues who I admire and trust that I ask for insight and guidance with various things... Elizabeth Avedon, Jace Graf, Stephen Clark - there are others. I ask different people, different questions for different reasons if that makes sense. I think it's important to deeply consider who you ask and why. I've been a client of Mary Virginia Swanson for many years and her savvy is always invaluable, I truly owe her a great deal. I'm always learning and seeking out the chance to improve and grow. AAP: How long have you been a photographer? SP: I have been making pictures consistently since 1996 and started working professionally in 1998. AAP: Do you remember your first shot? What was it? SP: What I remember most are the pictures that when I saw the film, they made me feel that the image was somehow better, or more than my capability at the time. It would lead to months of chasing and trying to catch up to the image. The first time that happened was of a barren tree in the wintertime, backlit. I remember making the other pictures from that time, but the experience of seeing something unexpected back on the contact sheets always sticks with me as meaningful. AAP: What or who inspires you? SP: Music always. Also the discovery and study of people that give themselves to their pursuits with the discipline and heart to be excellent. New York City. Late fall leading to snow and cold weather makes me happy. AAP: How could you describe your style? SP: A little romantic but not sentimental - sci-fi but not overtly conceptual. I always work to make beautiful images and objects that don’t apologize for their consideration of aesthetic and design. My experience has taught me there is a strange, small line between beautiful and pretty, arbitrary and yet often substantial. I think my favorite word or aim for my work is earnest, and hopefully elegant. I try to be consistent and to quote someone I deeply respect, Paul Rand – "Don’t try to be original, just try to be good." AAP: What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film? SP: I’m fluent in digital tools and use them to manage images online etcetera, but I have used the same camera gear for over twelve years. Hasselblad 501CM with a 120mm lens and 25A Red filter. Tri-X film in A12 backs. Processed in D76, 1 to 1. Silver gelatin prints bleached and then toned in combinations of sepia and selenium or platinum–palladium prints from enlarged negatives. AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images? SP: I tend to run film and then not look at it for a while.... I then go through the contact sheets and make work prints of the things that seem to have promise. As the series and work evolves the process of editing, sequencing and design kicks in. After the edges of a project are more or less in place, I’ll go back again and see what I may have missed on the contact sheets. AAP: Favorite(s) photographer(s)? SP: If I am only allowed one, Irving Penn – hands down, no one else. I love books and too many favorites to list, but in no particular order others would be Saul Leiter, Ted Croner, Robert & Shana Parke-Harrison, Tom Baril, Louis Faurer, Edward Burtynsky, Albert Watson, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Berenice Abbott and Matt Mahurin. AAP: What advice would you give a young photographer? SP: Fearlessly make all the bad pictures you need to in order to get to the good ones. Not thoughtlessly in the number of images, but without hesitation in the intent to chase your ideas. When you are disappointed, try to understand why specifically – was it a technical mistake your effort and experience will resolve over time or was it about vision in what you could or could not see at that moment. The technical things are usually easier to improve upon, I have found the other takes additional perseverance and courage. For myself there is always the confrontation of closing the distance between the potency I’m after and the many challenges at hand while guiding it there. I think the biggest secret is simply not to quit. AAP: What mistake should a young photographer avoid? SP: Everyone is different, so very hard to say. I believe one truth for myself has been it’s more valuable to invest time in what your pictures, your life, your point of view are all about and less energy worrying about the urgency sometimes encouraged in technology and shorter term concerns. Play long ball. AAP: An idea, a sentence, a project you would like to share? SP: I am currently administrating an ambitious project that connects college students with high school students, creating mentorship and the development of visual language. For the college students it is to illustrate the value of mentorship from both sides, as well as create meaningful dialogue about photography and image making. It provides a mechanism for high school students to share and express their photographic work with a new audience and has direct, tangible advantages for everyone involved – accenting the importance of communication and emphasizing the photography community's tradition of portfolio review. Visit The Picture Review. AAP: Your best memory has a photographer? SP: All of my favorite memories are darkroom related. My first darkroom was in John Christensen's studio, I deeply miss those days and that place. I would often print all day and all night - it's where I learned about photo-chemistry and the subtleties of split-toning and other irresistible alchemy. AAP: Your worst souvenir as a photographer? SP: My checking account. AAP: If you could have taken the photographs of someone else who would it be? SP: It's an interesting question but it reminds me of a rock & roll story, urban legend I remember as a kid and recently retold in Esquire Magazine. When Van Halen was touring in the late 70’s they were opening for Ted Nugent who admired Eddie Van Halen's guitar tone. Among other things, Eddie would hide one of his effect pedals (a tape echo) in an old bomb casing, adding to the mystery of his great tone and why he sounded the way he did. Everyone believed he had a "magic" black box. During sound check, Ted Nugent got the chance to play through Eddie’s rig and was disappointed to discover his guitar tone was unchanged – he sounded like he always did and whatever he loved about Eddie's tone was in his hands and not in the gear. I think photographs are like that, there are many pictures I would be thrilled if I had produced but in the end I can only make what is in my hands and heart. The images I love that others have made don't represent my life and could never belong to me. I remain a fan and audience to my heroes, happily so.
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