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Robert Virga
Robert Virga
Robert Virga

Robert Virga

Country: United States

Robert Virga is a photographer residing in the New York City metropolitan area. Though largely self-taught, he has taken Master Classes with Mary Ellen Mark and Bruce Davidson. Working with film and the traditional darkroom, his street photography portrays a social landscape of extremes, capturing reality at its most expressive. Richly emotional, lyrical and untainted by interference or staged detail. A tableau of relationships, the human condition, life and death. Reminding us of how large a fraction of what we see won't exist in its present form only a moment from now.

A humanist portrayal...candid and without comment or sentimentality, un-selfconscious in its theatricality and self-presentation. Displaying ourselves with grace and self-confidence, a sense of timelessness...and a little humor. In solitude and freed from any mystery.

Social documentary and romanticism combined in the same instant. Our lives, in a matter of seconds, are caught in the act... where the obvious and mundane transition into something more provocative.

His work has been featured in both solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Italy and Spain. In addition, he has been published and reviewed in, among others, Black and White Magazine, Photography Gala Awards, FotoNostrum Gallery, Urban Photo Awards, and winner of the 14th Pollux Street Photography Award.
 

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Annick Donkers
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 HealersAt 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.
Fausto Podavini
Fausto Podavini was born in Rome, where he still lives and works. His passion for photography began when he was 18, first as assistant and studio photographer, then working on ethnological and social reportage. In 1992, he worked at MIFAV, the photography museum at Tor Vergata University in Rome and then studied at the John Kaverdash photography academy in Milan, taking a master’s degree in reportage. Podavini left studio photography to dedicate himself exclusively to reportage, and is nowadays a freelance photographer, collaborating with a number of NGOs. He has covered issues in Italy, Peru, Kenya, and Ethiopia, where he is currently developing personal photographic projects.Italian social reportage photographer Fausto Podavini is honoured this year as both third place winner in the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards Lifestyle category as well as first prize for the 2013 World Press Photo's 'Daily Life' category. His winning series, follows the relationship of Mirella and Luigi as Mirella cared for for husband at home in Rome. Married for over 40 years, Luigi began experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. For six years, Mirella tended to her husband's needs due to the progressive degenerative illness. After five years of living with Alzheimers, Luigi no longer recongised his wife; he died in May 2011 with her at his bedside. Podavini's intimate and delicate series follows Mirella for four years. WPO's Kaley Sweeney spoke to the photographer a bit more about his experiences developing the long term project. (Source: World Photography Organisation)
Karen Knorr
United States
1954
Karen Knorr was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany and was raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico in the 1960s. She finished her education in Paris and London. Karen has taught, exhibited and lectured internationally, including at Tate Britain, Tate Modern, The University of Westminster, Goldsmiths, Harvard and The Art Institute of Chicago. She studied at the University of Westminster in the mid-1970s, exhibiting photography that addressed debates in cultural studies and film theory concerning the ‘politics of representation’ practices which emerged during the late 1970s qnd early 1980s. She is currently Professor of Photography at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, Surrey. Karen Knorr produced Belgravia (1979-1981) a series of black and white photographs with ironic and humorous texts that highlighted aspirations, lifestyle and the British class system under the neo liberalist Thatcher era in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Her most well known work called Gentlemen (1981-1983) was photographed in Saint James’s clubs in London and investigated the patriarchal conservative values of Britain during the Falklands war. Karen ’s work developed a critical and playful dialogue with documentary photography using different visual and textual strategies to explore her chosen subject matter that ranges from the family and lifestyle to the animal and its representation in the museum context. In 1986 her work Connoisseurs used colour to explore connoisseurship regarding authenticity, heritage and art in England. Here she introduced elements and staged events in the architectural interiors of Chiswick House, Osterley Park House and the Dulwich Picture Gallery. The use of text and captioning appeared as a device to slow down consumption of the image and to comment on the received ideas of fine art in museum culture. These strategies still appear in her photography today with digital collage of animals, objects and social actors in museums and architecture challenging the authority and power of heritage sites in Europe and more recently in India. Academies (1994- 2001), a series of colour photographs taken in academies and museums across Europe, reflects on the relationship between the production of western fine art, its transmission and consumption. The work continues a critical dialogue with conceptual art, visual culture, feminism and animal studies reflecting an engaged interest in theory and its relation to photographic practice. In 1995 the Academies project included video and installation with wall text transfers in order the explore the relationship between art and science in the staging of transgressive performative events and gestures in museums. Being for Another (1995), an 18 minute video records a young man caressing an 18th century sculpture by Canova in the Victoria and Albert Museum and three lifeclass models enact the lifeclass on the dissecting table of the anatomy theatre of Uppsala University in Lessons (2002). The introduction of a sound glass sculpture with recorded birdsong responded to the furniture and art collection of The Wallace Collection in 2001 synthesizing a 1960’s Pete Seeger song with an actual blackbird’s sound. In her series Fables (2004-2008) photographs mixes analogue and digital photography playfully reconfiguring tales (Ovid, Aesop La Fontaine) with popular culture (Disney and Attenborough) in museums and heritage sites which include Carnavalet Museum, the Museum of Hunt and Nature in Paris, Chambord Castle and the Conde Museum in Chantilly Castle. The visuality of these photographs is rich with reference to the baroque. In the last section of the work, Knorr interrogated the free flowing space of modern architecture in Corbusier’s Villa Savoye reintroducing life into the modernist aesthetic of a building. Since her life changing journey to Rajasthan, India in 2008, Karen Knorr’s work continues to explore Rajput and Mughal cultural heritage and its relationship to questions of feminine subjectivity and animality. India Song, a series of carefully crafted photographs explores the past and its relation to India’s contemporary heritage sites across Rajasthan. Since 2012 Knorr has been visiting Japan to reflect on tradition within contemporary Japan referencing Ukiyo-e prints and folktales connected to Shinto and Buddhist heritage sites.Her first series entitled Monagatari, places animals and humans in temple sites found in Nara, Kyoto, Tokyo and Ohara. Her second related series Karyukai is inspired by the Kano’s 36 portraits of poets also referencing “bijinga” prints of the 17th century. Women photographed by Karen Knorr were asked to compose waka and haiku reflecting on their life and dreams. Source: karenknorr.com About India Song Karen Knorr’s past work from the 1980’s onwards took as its theme the ideas of power that underlie cultural heritage, playfully challenging the underlying assumptions of fine art collections in academies and museums in Europe through photography and video. Since 2008 her work has taken a new turn and focused its gaze on the upper caste culture of the Rajput in India and its relationship to the "other" through the use of photography, video and performance. The photographic series considers men's space (mardana) and women's space (zanana) in Mughal and Rajput palace architecture, havelis and mausoleums through large format digital photography. Karen Knorr celebrates the rich visual culture, the foundation myths and stories of northern India, focusing on Rajasthan and using sacred and secular sites to consider caste, femininity and its relationship to the animal world. Interiors are painstakingly photographed with a large format Sinar P3 analogue camera and scanned to very high resolution. Live animals are inserted into the architectural sites, fusing high resolution digital with analogue photography. Animals photographed in sanctuaries, zoos and cities inhabit palaces, mausoleums , temples and holy sites, interrogating Indian cultural heritage and rigid hierarchies. Cranes, zebus, langurs, tigers and elephants mutate from princely pets to avatars of past feminine historic characters, blurring boundaries between reality and illusion and reinventing the Panchatantra for the 21st century.
Maynard Switzer
Maynard Switzer was born in Los Angeles and is a professional freelance travel and documentary photographer. He is a graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and a former assistant to legendary photographer Richard Avedon. He has taught at the International Center of Photography in New York City and has written many magazine articles about travel photography. His love of foreign cultures and their fascinating customs has been the main catalyst for Maynard’s photography around the globe. Maynard has had his photography published in National Geographic Traveler Magazine, Geo Magazine, Afar Magazine and the prestigious Fine Art Spanish Magazine Art Fotografico. Statement There are approximately 195 independent countries in the world and an estimated 6,800 different languages spoken, and often times there is a breakdown in communication. Some caused by language barriers, other times lost or inadequate translation and sometimes a woeful attempt at hand signals. However, images are universally understood. The cliché "a picture is worth a thousand words" certainly rings true. Pictures speak a thousand words to a thousand different people in a thousand different ways. This global understanding has been the main reason that I have been documenting various cultures around the world. Over the past 20+ years I have concentrated on photographing people and their various ways of life that seem to have been left behind by the world's rush to modernize. Certain aspects of these various cultures seem to be in a time warp, many within their own country. The photographs presented here are part of a long-term project photographing some of these people that live and work in challenging environments that time seems to have forgotten and whose way of life may never be seen again.
Herman Leonard
United States
1923 | † 2010
Herman Leonard was born in 1923 in Allentown, Pennsylvania to Romanian immigrants. At the young age of 9, he first witnessed an image being developed in his brother's darkroom and became enthralled with the magic of photography. As the official photographer for his high school, Herman quickly learned that with a camera in hand, he had an "open sesame" to people and events, that his shyness might have prevented him from experiencing. When it came time for college, Herman chose Ohio University, "The only university at the time that could offer me a degree in Photography". His college studies were interrupted from 1943-1945, as Herman joined the United States Army and was sent to Burma with the 13th Mountain Medical Battalion. He had hoped to be a field photographer, but was ironically assigned as a combat anesthetist when he failed a test, which required him to identify the chemical ingredients of film developer. After the war, Herman returned to college and graduated in 1947 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. Upon graduation from Ohio University, he took a chance and drove to Ottawa, Canada in hopes of working with famed portraiture photographer, Yousuf Karsh. Karsh was impressed with his determination and took him on as an apprentice. Herman assisted Karsh in the darkroom and with photographic sittings including, Martha Graham, Harry Truman, and Albert Einstein. Karsh's photographic advice to Leonard, "Tell the truth, but in terms to beauty." During a portrait session with Albert Einstein, Leonard questioned the professor about the connection between a musician and a mathematician. Einstein's response, "Improvisation." Leonard was inspired by these two influential men and applied their credos to his work. In 1948, Herman's passion for jazz brought him to New York City's Greenwich Village, where he set up a small studio at 220 Sullivan Street. He made his way into the swinging clubs of Broadway, 52nd Street and Harlem. With his camera as his free ticket, he offered to shoot publicity stills at the jazz clubs for admission. While shooting at The Royal Roost and Birdland, he quickly developed friendships with the some of the greats of jazz royalty, including Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Lena Horne, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Quincy Jones and many more. His stunning photographs began appearing in Downbeat and Metronome magazines, and on the covers of albums while working for jazz producer Norman Granz. In 1956, he was hired by Marlon Brando as his personal photographer, and traveled with him on an extensive research trip throughout the Far East. Upon his return to NYC, he was offered a position at Barclay Records in Paris, France. He continued to photograph the prolific jazz scene, with many of the American jazz artists now living there, he also photographed many French recording artists such as Charles Aznavour, Jacques Brel, Eddy Mitchell and Johnny Hallyday. Paris would be his home for the next 25 years, working from his studio in Paris's Neuilly-sur-Seine neighborhood. He also had a successful career working in advertising, for fashion houses Yves St. Laurent and Dior, as well as many international magazines including Life, Time and early Playboy. In 1980, he left France for a more tranquil life, and moved his family to the Spanish island of Ibiza. During that time he rediscovered his jazz negatives that had been stored in a box under his bed, and in 1985 released his first book, The Eye of Jazz, published by Hachette/Filipachi Publications. In 1988 he moved to London where he had the first exhibition of his jazz photographs at the Special Photographers Company. After rave reviews by the London Times and the BBC, he became an overnight sensation, with 10,000 people coming to the small Notting Hill gallery to view his unseen images. The following year he premiered his first US show, which toured nationally. After living in Europe for over thirty years, he returned to the U.S. In 1992, an exhibit in New Orleans would change his life. He fell in love with the city and moved there to immerse himself in its vibrant and lively jazz scene. He continued to exhibit his work around the world in numerous solo shows. In 1995, Leonard released his second book, Jazz Memories, published by Editions Filipacchi, and in that same year was awarded an "Honorary Masters of Science in Photography" from The Brooks Institute of Photography. Other awards received at this time included the "Milt Hinton Award for Excellence in Jazz Photography," from Jazz Photographer's Association, the "Excellence in Photography Award" from the Jazz Journalists Association, and a "Lifetime Achievement Award" from Downbeat Magazine in 2004. In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed his home and studio when it was flooded with over 8 feet of water. The storm claimed his life's work, some 8,000 silver gelatin photographs that had been hand printed by him, a master printer in his own right. As the storm blew in, Leonard's crew had gathered the negatives and securely placed them in the care of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, where they were stored in an upper level vault. At the age of 82, and with his city in ruins, he decided to move with his family to Los Angeles to reestablish his life and business. In 2006, he released his third book, "Jazz, Giants, And Journeys: The Photography of Herman Leonard", published by Scala Publishers, Ltd. In the forward to the book, Quincy Jones wrote, "When people think of jazz, their mental picture is likely one of Herman's." Herman Leonard's photographs, now considered fine art collector's items, are a unique record of the jazz scene in the 1940's, 50's and 60's. Throughout his long life, he traveled and lived around the world, capturing images with his distinctive style. Whether he was photographing Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong or a street musician in his home in New Orleans, Herman's smile, warmth and engaging personality continued to open doors for him and his camera; to reveal a world we might have missed. Certainly Herman Leonard's iconic photographs will long be remembered not only for their enduring historic significance, but also for their breathtaking artistic beauty. They are part of the permanent archives of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., where they are considered as essential to American music history as Benny Goodman's clarinet or Louis Armstrong's trumpet. His legacy has continued to be honored with major touring exhibitions of his work including the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles, Jazz at Lincoln Center in NYC, the San Francisco Jazz Center (SFJAZZ), The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, and The Clinton Presidential Center. President Bill Clinton has called Herman Leonard, "The greatest jazz photographer in the history of the genre." In the last years of his life, Herman Leonard's goal was to bring his entire jazz collection, comprising a visual documentation of America's original art form, back to life and preserve it for future generations. Source: hermanleonard.com
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