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Philippe Fatin
Philippe Fatin
Philippe Fatin

Philippe Fatin

Country: France
Birth: 1962

Philippe Fatin is a photographer and a great traveller: after first stays in Mexico and South America, he discovered Asia (Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Japan, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Korea) and fell in love with China and more particularly with the region of Guizhou. After an interlude with the Wayanas Indians in French Guyana and the publication of his first book Guyane terre d'espace, he multiplies his travels to the Miao people of Guizhou and ends up residing there for more than twenty years. He published a book Randonnée d'un photographe voyageur in China and exhibits at the Guiyang museum, he also publishes in the national and international press. He is also a collector, organized various exhibitions of his personal collections in French museums: Gold and lacquers from Burma, tribal textiles from southwest China, Nuo masks from the exorcism theatre of China accompanied by publications.

In The Mounts of the Moon
When I got off the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1985, I knew nothing about China.
The blue of the heater set the tone on a red background.
I spent the first two years getting to know this culture, before discovering a province in the southwest that was still untouched by any contact with the outside world.
The last Westerners present in the region were missionaries, who were driven out of it in 1949 by the communists.
The province of Guizhou is one of the poorest, along with that of Gansu.
"There are never three days of good weather in a row, the inhabitant does not have three sapeques in his pocket, and there are not three lilies of the flat country." That sets the tone.
This province is rich in the diversity of its ethnic minorities, who had managed to maintain an authentic way of life. The villages still lived in autarky, protected by the mountain rampart. Ninety percent of the territory is karst peaks.
My camera equipment consists of two Leica M6 cameras and four lenses: 28, 35, 50, and 90mm.
With 270 days of rain per year and a constant fog, I use 400 ASA B/W silver film.
The access of this province being forbidden to tourism, the task was not easy.
The game of cat and mouse with the local authorities was not a perennial solution to penetrate these misty mountains concealing so many secrets.
My approach was to establish a base in the provincial capital.
I made "Guangxi" connections, and gained the trust of the people and the local authorities.
I worked hard to make them understand my work of investigating ethnic groups, especially the Miaos.
I obtained special permits to stay in various valleys and villages.
After years, I was able to set up different bases in villages that were completely self-sufficient.
Sharing the intimacy of the people and building trust, I was able to open the doors to them. My curiosity allowed the rest
It would absorb twenty years of my life, during which I photographed a way of life that surged from festivals governed by the gods and the seasons.
The evolution of the country a galloping modernization was going to change the situation.
Obeying the three priorities of the government: water, electricity and roads, the opening up of the province would radically shape a new face of the population and its environment.
In fifteen intervals, my photographic work has thus taken on a patrimonial status.
A massive folklorization of ethnic groups (amusement park, pilot village,) their acculturation by the Han mass, the race for enrichment, have contributed to a new mode of integration of these ethnic minorities.
This modernization of China and its brutal change of vision of society, over a short period of time, swept away ancestral cultures.
Few Westerners have lived in this province, which is now crossed by highways connecting Shanghai, or Guangzhou.
My photos are a testimony acquired over the long term, on a way of life that is disappearing in favour of a strong nationalism.
It seems to me essential to show the cultural richness of this people, (Nine million people).
The province of Guizhou is the home of the Miao diaspora (more than three hundred clans), a threatened melting pot of traditions and rituals mostly ignored by the Han.
Indeed, in this rapidly changing society, the peasant populations, known as "floating", have been the cheap labour of China's economic departure.
 

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Madhur Dhingra
I was born an only child to my parents, in Delhi, into a family torn apart by the aftermath of the India-Pakistan partition. Hailing from a affluent background in Pakistan my family was now struggling for survival in the walled city of Delhi totally penniless. Imbedded with deep insecurities and freshly bearing the scars of partition my family was now setting up trade in the walled city dealing in fabric. It is relevant for me to mention this background for these very insecurities I too inherited from my family and they remain with me till date even with the changed times and lifestyle. Things improved gradually financially, with the trade flourishing and much because of the sheer hard work of my grandfather, father& chachas(father's brothers).We settled in Delhi at the start as big joint family. I have grown up hearing tales of how we had started life selling fabric on the pavements of the walled city where we now own several properties. My father could never get over those scars of partition. I too was repeatedly made to realize that ( for better or for worse) even though I was born much later in Delhi. At the age of five I was put to school at St.Xavier's High School, Raj Niwas Marg, Delhi. That period was to become the most memorable part of my life. I remember enjoying that period thoroughly. I was always an above average student with a lot of love for extracurricular activities. In school I would love going hiking, camping, swimming & cycling with the boy scouts. From the very start I was naughty and mischievous and was a regular in getting in and out of trouble. After school I went to the Delhi University and took up English Hons as my subject. But nowhere was it in my mind to take up studies serious. Restless from the start I wanted to travel the world. I now join the Merchant Navy at the age of seventeen ,as a deck cadet leaving college in the first year itself. I loved this new experience and was good at learning navigation. Very soon I was promoted to become the navigating officer. For the first year I never came back home at all. I was fulfilling my desire to see the world thoroughly meeting different types of people and experiencing different kinds of cultures . Once while travelling in the city of Jeddah near Mecca during Ramadan I was amazed to see gold slabs and coins being sold on the pavements of the city. On the loudspeaker I then heard the azaan (prayer call) and to my utter astonishment I saw people leave all this gold unattended and enter the nearby mazjid for prayer. Such was the strictness of the prevailing law of the land that anybody caught stealing would have his hand chopped off. Nobody dared to steal. Now quite a different experience was when my ship first entered Thailand. To my utter surprise I saw hoards of women entering my ship. Their numbers must have been no less than a hundred odd. I was on duty and I objected to their entry and was immediately informed by my senior officer to back off as they were entering with the permission of the captain. These were prostitutes who stayed on my ship till the time it stayed there. Nobody was questioning the morality or the ethics. It was gala time for all officers, crew, and the Captain. This was the way of life for most sailors . One horrific incident I remember was when our Burmese radio officer died on the ship due to a liver problem. As we were still some days away from the next port,his body was put in the deep freezer of the ship, the same place where all vegetables and other eatables were stored. Life was going on as if nothing had happened and everybody was eating and drinking as any other day. In a ship life all relationships and friendships are very temporary and the moment a person gets off the ship all these are left behind and forgotten. My bag of experiences was filling up fast. The restlessness and void was again setting in fast. I was getting bored again after about five years of sailing. The novelty had worn off and my inherent nature and upbringing was not that of a sailor in any way .I finally decided to say quits and joined the family business which was waiting for me to return. My dad was overjoyed at this decision of mine. I had no problem settling into this environment as it just happened to be in my blood. I now decide to get married too. I get married and soon after become a father of two adorable children. My age at that period would have been early twenty or so. Time flew by fast earning bread and butter for my family. Nothing was more important than bringing up the kids properly and with a lot of love, something which I was deprived of badly during my childhood days. But now again the same restlessness and void was setting in. I was in a dilemma, now trying out new ways to end this emptiness . I initially tried my hands at learning sculpture at Triveni Kala Sangam Mandi House, but I soon realized that medium was not meant for me. Destiny seemed to have other plans for me and it was during this period that I was gifted a SLR by someone, a Ricoh 500 as I now try to remember. The camera body had a dial with some numbers and also some numbers on the lens of which I had no clue. There were photography classes also being held in Triveni Kala Sangam and I joined these classes with sculpture classes I was already doing. It was here I met my photography teacher and now a lifelong friend Satyasri Ukil for the first time. The Basic course was about learning the techniques of Black & White photography. Satyasri was a dedicated, honest & straightforward teacher. His likes and dislikes purely dealt with the merits of the image and not with the person who had shot the image. I was learning fast with my association with Satyasri at Triveni where he was teaching then . A few of us guys(now renowned photographers), formed a sort of a team under the guidance of Ukil (as we address Satyasri,till date).We were shooting developing and printing the whole day long. Photography was now no longer a hobby but a frenzy. I soon set up my own darkroom in my house and would develop and print negatives all night long. I now start trekking again now with a new SLR in hand going to high altitudes and to very difficult locales. I remember showing my first serious work to Ukil and found him overjoyed. Soon my ambitions grew and I start shooting product for the advertising agencies. My first breakthrough as I clearly remember had come from the agency 0& M whose creative head then was Benoy Mitra, who was one day present at the colour lab called "MultiColour in Jhandewalan, when my portfolio prints were coming out of the lab. He saw my work and quietly handed over his card asking me to see him in the agency. I was overjoyed. This was breakthrough I needed desperately. I soon started getting assignments from most major agencies. But now I started getting bored again shooting mountains product and off and on some fashion. I still needed to express myself in a different way. I decide to work towards my first solo exhibition and I show my landscapes and mountain work to the management of INDIA INTERNATIONAL CENTRE. After seeing my work they agree to sponsor my show fixing the date to 28th November 1998.It is pertinent to mention here that I had then "only" shown them my beautiful landscapes and mountain TP's as I had nothing more at that time in my kitty. I started a new journey, first shooting Ladakh. I found immense peace and tranquility (acting as a balm for my troubled mind )in the monasteries I visited. The filtrations of light from the windows and doors into the dark interiors of the monasteries were indeed very beautiful, tranquil and peaceful. I would sit inside these monasteries for hours at a stretch calming my taut nerves. The prayer gong would echo inside the main hall and seep deep inside my soul. I have always equated light with God and have believed that the darkness of the human soul will ultimately come alive with the play of Light (God) on it. My next visit was to Banaras. Here I found people visiting the Ghats in very colorful attires. A activity on these ancient Ghats like the Dashashwamedh Ghat would start very early in the morning. People from all over India visit Banaras to perform various religious rituals, right from the birth of a child to the cremation of the dead and also later to perform rites for their safe and comfortable passage after death. The quality of light that I found in Banaras was very warm & golden and I wouldn't hesitate a moment to call it heavenly. Now a special reference to the Manikarnika Ghat " the ghat of the dead" is needed. People from all over India come to Kashi (ancient name of Banaras)to cremate their dead at Manikarnika.It is believed by Hindus that a cremation at Manikarnika Ghat gives the human soul an unhindered passage to heaven. Pyres are being lit here continuously without getting extinguished for the last 3000 years. But it was on this BURNING GHAT that my worst nightmare was to begin. I would visit this ghat daily looking at the activities. It was not very long before I realised that whenever a body of a poor person would come in, it would be cremated in a bizarre manner. It required two mun wood at the least (mun is an Indian measure of weight equivalent to 20 kgs) to cover a human body completely for cremation. But the person accompanying the dead body did not have that much money in his pocket. So only that much wood was purchased in which only the torso could be covered by wood. The legs and head were left hanging out and the pyre lit. The head would get burnt in a horrific manner with the head and feet falling away from the torso partially burnt. Then these torn away parts were picked up and put into the pyre or thrown into the Ganges. This whole sequence was so bizarre that I decided to get it on film and show it to the world. This I did manage to photograph secretly even after a lot of objections and hindrances from the people in charge at Manikarnika. Man really "was" meeting his God in Kashi, though in a very bizarre manner. So much for Kashi, our GATEWAY TO HEAVEN.I have posted only a few of those pictures on this website just to avoid unnecessary disturbance to people's minds. In the meantime the Purn Kumbh was being held at Hardwar. This again has become a very interesting event to relate. I was aghast to see completely naked so called Naga "sadhus" storming the streets of Hardwar. It was here I came to understand from the local inhabitants of Hardwar that this whole show was a complete farce. These so called ascetics only stormed the streets during the Khumb. Neither do they live in the remoteness of the Himalayas leading a renounced life, but on the contrary live in air conditioned lavishly furnished akharas in Hardwar itself. They were a weird sight. ( I have shown some photographs of them in my Black & White section). Here I saw them fight pitched battles with the police before the procession. DOWNRIGHT CRIMINALS TO THE VERY CORE, MOST OF THEM. On the day of the procession I got up early in the morning and positioned myself on roof top of a house near the Niranjani Akhara.This was very early in the morning and I was testing the auto focusing of my telephoto 300mm Canon lens when I saw a group of nagas in the akhara compound. I was taken aback when I saw one Naga fiddling with the genitals of the other Naga, "AND I TOOK THE SHOT".(later to appear on the first page of THE INDIAN EXPRESS). There were hutments built for sadhus by the kumbh authorities across the river bed. I would visit those and sit with some real sanyasis and listen to their discourses and hear them sing bhajans. This was a very nice and peaceful experience. The Kumbh ended and my exhibition date also was drawing near. The IIC Gallery wanted to see the final prints that I had decided to display. Nowhere in my final selection were those beautiful landscapes to be seen. Their place had been taken by naked sadhus with Trishuls and burning ghats & corpses. The Gallery management told me in no uncertain terms that they will not allow the show to go on unless these pictures were withdrawn. My dilemma was that my photo essay "Where Man Meets God'" was a story of a man's passage of life, his wanderings, his search for God. This essay was incomplete without these pictures. I told the management that I will show my work as it is and will not remove any picture from the list. Much courage to take this right stand was coming from Satyasri Ukil who stood by me all this while withstanding this massive ONSLOUGHT . IIC Management banned my exhibition. It was during this period that me and Satyasri Ukil were introduced to Suneet Chopra a reputed Art Critic. He later introduced us to Siddharth Tagore, a gallery owner at Art Consult Hauz Khas Village. Siddharth Tagore offered to hold my preview party at his gallery inviting respected artists like B.C.Sanyal, Jatin Das and many other artists of repute. The preview was a major success with all these stalwarts in their respective art fields giving their nod to my exhibition. Mr.Khushwant Singh the famous and a very respected writer too came up with an article on me in his column "Malice Towards One And All .Now IIC started shifting its stance and a compromise was reached. "That the images will be allowed to display but only facing towards the Gallery wall, whoever who wanted to see them could do so at his own discretion". Almost everybody saw those images.. Many reputed people visited the exhibition, some of them I mention in my TESTIMONIAL column. Eight major newspapers wrote elaborately on this exhibition. There was a TV interview also held by a channel also. The exhibition was a huge success on the whole. I am now planning another exhibition with a different theme and gearing up to hold another show in Milan. Life for me as a photographer continues...
Ruth Bernhard
Germany / United States
1905 | † 2006
Ruth Bernhard (October 14, 1905 – December 18, 2006) was a German-born American photographer. She was born in Berlin to Lucian Bernhard and Gertrude Hoffmann. Lucian Bernhard was known for his poster and typeface design, many of which bear his name and are still in use. Bernhard's parents divorced when she was 2 years old and she only met her mother twice after the divorce. She was raised by two schoolteacher sisters and their mother. Bernhard's father Lucian was a major proponent of Ruth's work, and advised her frequently. Bernhard studied art history and typography at the Berlin Academy of Art from 1925 to 1927 before moving to New York City to join her father. She worked as an assistant to Ralph Steiner in Delineator magazine, but he terminated her employment for indifferent performance. Using the severance pay, Bernhard bought her own camera equipment. By the late-1920s, while living in Manhattan, Bernhard was heavily involved in the lesbian sub-culture of the artistic community, becoming friends with photographer Berenice Abbott and her lover, critic Elizabeth McCausland. Her first realization that she was attracted to other women occurred on New Year's Eve 1928 when she met the painter Patti Light. She wrote about her "bisexual escapades" in her memoir. In 1934 Bernhard began photographing women in the nude. It would be this art form for which she would eventually become best known. In 1935, she chanced to meet Edward Weston on the beach in Santa Monica. She would later say: "I was unprepared for the experience of seeing his pictures for the first time. It was overwhelming. It was lightning in the darkness ... here before me was indisputable evidence of what I had thought possible—an intensely vital artist whose medium was photography." Bernhard was so inspired by Weston's work that, after meeting him in 1935, she moved to California (where he lived). In 1939, Bernhard moved back to New York for eight years, during which time she met photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Bernhard was inspired by the small things in her life. In an interview from 1999 with Photographers Forum, Ruth states, "I’m most interested in—the little things that nobody observes, that nobody thinks are of any value". In the same interview she stated that, "Everything is universal" and that she was "very much aware of that". This idea of minimalism drove her passion for photography. In 1934 Ruth received a commission from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to photograph works for the Machine Art exhibition catalog. Her father Lucian Bernhard set up the meeting with MoMA for her. By 1944 she had met and became involved with artist and designer Eveline (Evelyn) Phimister. The two moved in together, and remained together for the next ten years in Carmel, California. Here, Bernhard worked with Group f/64. Soon, finding Carmel a difficult place in which to earn a living, they moved to Hollywood where she fashioned a career as a commercial photographer. In 1953, they moved to San Francisco where she became a colleague of photographers such as Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Minor White, and Wynn Bullock. Most of Bernhard's work is studio-based, ranging from simple still lifes to complex nudes. In the 1940s she worked with the conchologist Jean Schwengel. She worked almost exclusively in black-and-white, though there are rumors that she had done some color work as well. She also is known for her lesbian themed works, most notably Two Forms (1962). In that work, a black woman and a white woman who were real-life lovers are featured with their nude bodies pressed against one another. In 1967, Bernhard began a teaching career. This same year, Bernhard met United States Air Force Colonel Price Rice, an African American man ten years younger than her, and the two became lovers. They would remain together until his death in 1999. In her 90s, Bernhard cooperated with biographer Margaretta K. Mitchell in the book Ruth Bernhard, Between Art and Life, publicly revealing her many affairs with women and men throughout her lifetime. A departure was a collaboration with Melvin Van Peebles (as "Melvin Van"), then a young cable car gripman (driver) in San Francisco. Van Peebles wrote the text and Bernhard took the unposed photographs for The Big Heart, a book about life on the cable cars. In the early 1980s, Bernhard started to work with Carol Williams, owner of Photography West Gallery in Carmel, California. Bernhard told Williams that she knew there would be a book of her photography after her death, but hoped one could be published during her lifetime. Williams approached New York Graphics Society, and several other photographic book publishers, but was advised that "only Ansel Adams could sell black-and-white photography books." Bernhard and Williams decided to sell five limited edition prints to raise the necessary funds to publish a superior quality book of Ruth Bernhard nudes. The ensuing edition was produced by David Gray Gardner of Gardner Lithograph, (also the printer of Adams's books) and was called The Eternal Body. It won Photography Book of the Year in 1986 from Friends of Photography. This book was often credited by Ruth Bernhard as being an immeasurable help to her future career and public recognition. The Eternal Body was reprinted by Chronicle Books and later as a deluxe limited Centennial Edition in celebration of Ruth Bernhard's 100th birthday in October 2005. Carol Williams credited Ruth Bernhard with encouraging her to venture into book publishing, and later published several other photographic monographs. In the 1980s Bernhard also started to work with Joe Folberg. Folberg bought Vision Gallery from Douglas Elliott (who founded it in 1979) in San Francisco in 1982. Bernhard and Folberg worked together until Folberg's death. The gallery split with Debra Heimerdinger taking over operations in North America and Folberg's son Neil moving the "Vision Gallery" to Jerusalem. In 1984 Ruth worked with filmmaker Robert Burrill on her autobiographic film entitled, Illuminations: Ruth Bernhard, Photographer. The film premièred in 1989 at the Kabuki Theater in San Francisco and on local PBS station KQED in 1991. Bernhard was inducted into the Women's Caucus for Art in 1981. Bernhard was hailed by Ansel Adams as "the greatest photographer of the nude". Bernhard died in San Francisco at age 101.Source: Wikipedia
Vik Muniz
Brazil
1961
Vik Muniz is a Brazilian artist and photographer. Initially a sculptor, Muniz grew interested in the photographic representations of his work, eventually focusing completely on photography. Primarily working with unconventional materials such as tomato sauce, diamonds, magazine clippings, chocolate syrup, dust, dirt, etc., Muniz creates works of art, referencing old master's paintings and celebrity portraits, among other things, and then photographs them. His work has been met with both commercial success and critical acclaim and has been exhibited worldwide. He is currently represented by Galeria Nara Roesler based in New York and Brazil. In 2010, Muniz was featured in the documentary film Waste Land. Directed by Lucy Walker, the film highlights Muniz's work on one of the world's largest garbage dumps, Jardim Gramacho, on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. The film was nominated to the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 83rd Academy Awards. Vik Muniz was born in 1961 in São Paulo, Brazil, as the only child of Maria Celeste, a telephone operator, and Vincente Muniz, a restaurant waiter. Muniz’s grandmother, Ana Rocha, taught him how to read at an early age. In his memoir, Muniz recalled struggling with writing in school which is why he turned to visuals to communicate his thoughts. At the age of 14, his math teacher recommended him to enter an art contest. He won and was awarded a partial scholarship to an art studio. At the age of 18, Muniz got his first job working in the advertising industry in Brazil, redesigning billboards for higher readability. While on the way to his first black-tie gala, Muniz witnessed and attempted to break up a street fight, where he was accidentally shot in the leg by one of the brawlers. He was paid by the shooter to not press charges and used the money to travel to Chicago in 1983. In Chicago, Muniz worked at a local supermarket cleaning the parking lot while he attended night school to study English. In the English class, he learned Polish, Italian, Spanish, and Korean without any improvements to his English vocabulary. Later, Muniz attended culinary and carpentry classes where he learned most of his English. Muniz took his first trip to New York in 1984. There, he visited the Museum of Modern Art and met a woman who changed his thoughts on Jackson Pollock’s paintings. This also influenced Muniz to move to New York just two months after his first visit. Muniz's friend lent him a studio where he started his career as a sculptor. He was 28 when he had his first solo exhibit in 1989. Inspired by works of Man Ray and Max Ernst, Muniz executes simple imagery intricately. Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media encouraged Muniz to explore perception in the media through abstraction and manipulating the components of the image. He cites the mosaics in a church in Ravenna as one of his influences and is also a self-proclaimed student of Buster Keaton. He decided to become an artist after seeing the works of the Postmodernists Cindy Sherman and Jeff Koons. Muniz, like both of these artists, reworks popular imagery in his work. Muniz says that he does not believe in originals, but rather believes in individuality. Muniz works to re-purpose themes and showcase them in a different light for the viewer. Muniz is best known for recreating famous imagery from art history and pop culture with unexpected, everyday objects, and photographing them. For example, Muniz's Action Photo, After Hans Namuth (From Pictures of Chocolate), a Cibachrome print, is a Bosco Chocolate Syrup recreation of one of Hans Namuth's photographs of Jackson Pollock in his studio. The monumental series Pictures of Cars (after Ruscha) is his social commentary of the car culture of Los Angeles utilizing Ed Ruscha's 60's Pop masterpieces rendered from car ephemera. Muniz often works on a large scale and then he destroys the originals of his work and only the photo of his work remains. Muniz has spoken of wanting to make "color pictures that talked about color and also talked about the practical simplification of such impossible concepts." He also has an interest in making pictures that "reveal their process and material structure," and describes himself as having been "a willing bystander in the middle of the shootout between structuralist and post-structuralist critique." Muniz says that when he takes photographs, he intuitively searches for "a vantage point that would make the picture identical to the ones in my head before I’d made the works," so that his photographs match those mental images. He sees photography as having "freed painting from its responsibility to depict the world as fact." In Muniz's earthworks series, Pictures of Earthworks, show a strong resemblance to the 1970s Earthworks movement. However, unlike the Earthworks movement, that were influenced by ancient cultures, Muniz's series shows distinct human impact on nature. In addition to sculpting, Muniz experiments with drawing and photography, which is seen in the series Sugar Children, featured in the Museum of Modern Art's New Photography 13 show, alongside Rineke Dijikstra, An-My Le, and Kunié Sugiura, in 1997. In Sugar Children, Muniz photographed the families that worked on sugar plantations on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. Beginning with Polaroids of several of the children of plantation workers, Muniz "drew" the images by sprinkling sugar on black paper and rephotographed these compositions. This series was met with criticism, where scholars have pointed out that he photographs of subjects continuing to live in poverty and yet can make upwards of 5 figures on these works at auction. After his Pictures in Garbage series, Muniz donated the profits, close to $50,000, from the Marat (Sebastiao) to the workers collective after it was auctioned in the UK. He also tries to make art more accessible through the use of common materials, because of his belief that the art world should not be just for the elite. Muniz stated in the documentary Waste Land, "I'm at this point in my career where I'm trying to step away from the realm of fine arts because I think it's a very exclusive, very restrictive place to be. What I want to be able to do is to change the lives of people with the same materials they deal with every day."Source: Wikipedia Originally trained as a sculptor, Muniz’s work began to take on its mature form with The Best of LIFE; he drew from memory pictures of Life magazine photographs included in the coffee table book The Best of Life after losing the book in a move. He then photographed his drawings and kept only the photographs, thereby establishing his signature working style. Muniz subsequently applied this methodology to works in the art history canon, reproducing Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as well as iconic photographs of Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe using chocolate syrup and replicating a Donald Judd sculpture by using dust taken from the Whitney Museum’s halls and galleries. To make the series Pictures of Garbage, Muniz spent two years working with garbage pickers at Jardim Gramacho, an open-air dump site near Rio. He photographed several of the pickers as subjects of classical portraits, with the background details supplied by the garbage they scavenged. This effort was captured in the documentary Waste Land, which was nominated for an Academy Award. Muniz’s photographs are in many collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art; the Tate Gallery; and the Victoria and Albert Museum.Source: International Center of Photography
Jens Juul
Denmark
My name is Jens Juul, and I'm a photographer. I'm trained as both photographer and portrait painter and have also done graphic design for years. I recently won the portraiture category in The Sony World Photography Awards with my series Six Degrees.About my way of working with photography: Strong impressions form the motive power of my work. Behind a strong impression always lies an interesting and often untold story. Of course the strong impressions can be seen on the news, where we daily watch pictures from global hot spots or places hit by sudden disasters. These pictures any photographer can chase in competition with other photographers with access to the same news channels. But apart from the spectacular and crisis hit places I actually believe that strong impressions can be found around all of us. My morning bike ride to take my children to school is often cause of great inspiration. The story is right on your doorstep. It is just a matter of seeing it and of really seeing the people who are part of the tapestry of your daily life, and then of finding your angle and the courage to step across the boundary between yourself and other people formed by each person¹s privacy sphere even to those strangers who may at times seem dangerous and intimidating. of Copenhagen.About Six Degrees of Copenhagen: My photo series Six Degrees of Copenhagen is a textbook example of breaking this boundary. The way I work is that I approach someone I don't know, be it on the street, in a supermarket or at a social event. I ask if I can portray them in their homes and then I pay them a visit. The visit usually lasts a couple of hours or however long it takes to break the ice and get just the right shot of the subject. I then ask them to pass the torch so to speak and recommend someone in their own network that I can portray in the same way. I got the idea from the theory of six degrees of separation - the notion that all people on Earth are connected in the sixth degree. There is nothing scientific about my work, though, and I'm not trying to show the extent of human networks. It is a way of working that magically enables me to travel through a city and meeting its inhabitants. I've come across all walks of life, old and young, and I have seen many different ways of life. If you meet people without prejudice and with a lot of curiosity it really is amazing how willing they are to share their experiences and the insights they've gained. In that way my work is a journey into the minds and lives of other people.About Inmates: A third project I am working on is a book project about being an inmate in a prison. The Inmate project takes its point of departure in a profound curiosity regarding the consequences of being punished with long-term imprisonment to someone's life. The project focuses on the life conditions of long-term inmates in Danish prisons. What do inmates think about their own lives, their relationships with people both inside and out of prison, and what kinds of hopes and expectations do they have about the future? The project will be using a combination of interviews, portraits and picture documentation of the everyday life in Danish prisons to tell the story of inmates. The aim is to publish a book with ten interviews and approximately 75 pictures. I'm looking into crowd funding possibilities, and am also considering making an electronic version that would keep production costs down and provide a possibility of layering information. Through the Danish Prison and Probation Service I have been granted access to the Danish prisons. In some prisons I have only been allowed to take pictures of architectural details. In other prisons I have been escorted around by prison employees, who have opened and locked doors for me, and walked me through the different parts of the prison. In yet other places I have been permitted to move around freely, and take all the pictures I wanted, as long as I got permission from the inmates first. In total I have been granted a much higher degree of access than I had ever dreamt of when I made the first phone call in order to get into prison. But why on Earth, one might ask, am I giving criminals that have harmed fellow human beings a chance to express themselves? And why would I offer them to have their portraits and pictures of their everyday life grace the pages of a book, and even do so in a book looking all luxurious with big pictures? The answer is simple, really: Because their voices to a large extent are missing in the public debate. There are black holes, so to speak, in the public's map when it comes to the realities and consequences of incarceration. What is it like? Really? In Denmark, imprisonment is largely seen as punishment, but with an agenda of offering possibilities for resocialization, and only severely hardened or mentally ill inmates have little prospect of ever getting out. However, reality is that resocialization is difficult, even in a social-liberal welfare state like Denmark. The question then is: if prison breeds more criminals, how does society benefit from locking people away? It is my ambition to start a public debate about the relationship between justice, punishment, revenge and resocialization that will hopefully engage both the public and the politicians. Each year, so many families live with the consequences of crime. Children of criminals and victims alike are growing up with the effects of crime and punishment. So we'd better make it count! And to return to the relationship to our personal networks and the use of them, my work inside the prison walls has shown me that much crime is committed by individuals whose networks have been insufficiently present. A lack of care and love early in life, but also a lack of engagement from the personal circle of acquaintances. Instead of stepping in when people are in trouble, we turn our heads away to avoid becoming a part of the problem. A lot of human misery could be avoided if only we dared to get involved and show some interest in the lives of our fellow human beings!Awards:2013 Winner of the Sony World Photography Awards 2013 in the portraiture category2013 Finalist in KL International Photoawards 2013 in the Portrait Category.2013 Selected for a Spotlight Award in the Black & White Portfolio Contest 20132013 4th place for the Su-ture 1st Edition by Gomma, 2013
Seydou Keïta
Mali
1921 | † 2001
The great African portraitist Seydou Keïta lived in Bamako, Mali from 1921 to 2001. A self-taught photographer, he opened a studio in 1948 and specialized in portraiture. Seydou Keïta soon photographed all of Bamako and his portraits gained a reputation for excellence throughout West Africa. His numerous clients were drawn by the quality of his photos and his great sense of aesthetics. Many were young men, dressed in European style clothing. Some customers brought in items they wanted to be photographed with but Keïta also had a choice of European clothing and accessories - watches, pens, radios, scooter, etc. - which he put at their disposal in his studio. The women came in flowing robes often covering their legs and their throats, only beginning to wear Western outfits in the late 60s. Seydou Keïta worked primarily with daylight and for economic reasons took only a single shot for each picture. Seydou Keïta was discovered in the West in the 1990s. His first solo exhibition took place in 1994 in Paris at the Fondation Cartier. This was followed by many others in various museums, galleries and foundations worldwide. He is now universally recognized as the father of African photography and considered one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century. "It’s easy to take a photo, but what really made a difference was that I always knew how to find the right position, and I never was wrong. Their head slightly turned, a serious face, the position of the hands... I was capable of making someone look really good. The "photos were always very good. That’s why I always say that it’s a real art." Seydou Keïta, Bamako, 1995/1996 © André Magnin From en.wikipedia.orgSeydou Keïta was born in 1921 in Bamako, although the exact date is unknown. He was the oldest in a family of five children. His father Bâ Tièkòró and his uncle Tièmòkò were furniture makers. Keïta developed an interest in photography when his uncle gave him a Kodak Brownie with a film with eight shots in 1935, after returning from a trip to Senegal. In the beginning Keïta worked as both a carpenter and photographer, taking first portraits of his family and friends, later of people in the neighborhood. He learned photography and how to develop from Pierre Garnier, a French photographic supply store owner, and from Mountaga Traoré, his mentor. In 1948 he set up his first studio in the family house in Bamako-Koura behind the main prison.From www.gallery51.comConsidered to be one the important precursors of African photography, Seydou Keïta was born in Bamako (Mali) in 1920. Like many of his contemporaries, nothing particularly predestined him to become a photographer. His uncles bring back a camera from a trip to Senegal, and the young Seydou is fascinated. He starts photographing his relatives and discovers a deep passion for this art. Although he makes furniture for a living, he spends much time with Pierre Garnier who has his own studio. There, Seydou Keïta learns the secrets of the trade and soon realises that there was an enormous demand for individual pictures. This drives him to open his own studio in 1948. Up until then, whites had had a lot of trouble convincing local population to have their pictures taken, because they were so afraid to lose their identity. With Keïta it's different: he is one of them and permits them to choose their own picture that will be left for the close family. From then on, we see the opposite effect: people queue up to have their pictures taken. This is to become the great specialty of the malinese artist. Slowly he develops his own style, in which one finds accents of Mountaga Kouyaté's work, an intellectual that fought a bitter personal battle for the independence of Soedan. To look their best, that is the sole desire of people in front of Keïta's lens. Keïta even gives them costumes, accessories and furniture to further enhance their appearance.Men, women and children, all look perfectly elegant. If we look beyond the aesthetics of the black-and-white pictures, Seydou shows us a portrait of Malinese society in full transition. Finally Seydou is to become the country's official photographer, and will stop working in 1977. Nevertheless, it will be many years before his work is noted at the famous "Festival of African Photography". Source: www.seydoukeitaphotographer.com
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