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Penelope James
Penelope James
Penelope James

Penelope James

Country: United States
Birth: 1974

I have lived many lives. A girl. A woman. A mother. A friend. A traveler. A believer. A creator and so many more. These lives have interwoven and diverged, twisted and tangled more times than I can count, but they've ultimately intersected into who I am today. As the journey unfolded, a camera fell into my hands and a passion was unleashed. My work shows you the world, perhaps, not as it is, but as I see it through the lens of my many lives and the passion that resides behind the camera.

Statement
These self portraits were created out of an abundance of nervous energy that demanded an outlet. Each photo is a visual representation of the very deep and powerful emotions that were provoked during the insidious year of 2020, and each photo also represents the release of that emotion as the process was completed. Never before had I experienced the therapeutic effects of creating art as I did during that time. There was not a specific theme in mind when creating these. In fact, there was not even a plan to have more than one. But time and circumstances demanded the energy be released and eventually the theme became clear: A hope to fly away. To escape. To be free.
 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

Ren Hang
Chinese
1987 | † 2017
Ren Hang (Chinese: 任航; March 30, 1987 – February 24, 2017) was a Chinese photographer and poet. During Ren's incipient career, he was known mostly for nude photographic portraits of his friends. His work is significant for its representation of Chinese sexuality within a heavily censored society. For these erotic undertones, he was arrested by PRC authorities several times. He received the backing of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who included Ren in his 2013 Netherlands show, Fuck Off 2 The Sequel, and curated the photographer's 2014 exhibition in Paris, France. Ren's erotic, playful and casual yet provocative expression gained him worldwide fame. Ren was born in 1987, in a suburb of Changchun, Jilin province, in northeastern China. In 2007, in order to relieve the boredom of studying advertising at college, he bought a point-and-shoot camera and began shooting his friends. As a self-taught photographer, he said his style of photography was inspired by the artist Shūji Terayama. Ren suffered from depression. He posted a series of diary entries titled My depression on his blog, recording the fear, anxiety and internal conflicts he experienced. Ren died by suicide on February 24, 2017 in Beijing. Ren Hang first began taking pictures of his roommates and friends in 2007, shooting them in the nude as all were close and seeking excitement. In an interview, he also admitted: “I usually shoot my friends, because strangers make me nervous.” He arranged his subjects' naked limbs in his photographs. Ren did not consider his work inappropriate: “I don’t really view my work as taboo, because I don’t think so much in cultural context, or political context. I don’t intentionally push boundaries, I just do what I do.” This may account for his reticence to limit his work to indoor settings. He said there were no preferred places for him to work, as he believed anywhere was beautiful and worthy to be shot, including sparse studios, parks forests, and atop buildings. Ren's photos employ nude groups and solo portraits of men and women often contorted into highly performative positions. For example, hands reach down milky thighs, a limp penis flops onto a watermelon and a series of backsides imitate a mountain range. Questioning the purpose of his work, he once stated that his creation was a way to seek fun for both photographer and the photographed. However, once he had reached fame on an international level, he began to think deeply about his work. The British Journal of Photography quoted him as once saying: "I don't want others having the impression that Chinese people are robots... Or they do have sexual genitals but always keep them as some secret treasures. I want to say that our cocks and pussies are not embarrassing at all." Ren also focused on marginalised people in Chinese society with gender identity disorders by 'indeterminating' sex and gender in some of his work: a group of naked bodies stacked together, men wearing silk stockings and wearing lipstick. He denied having a preference in models: “Gender… only matters to me when I’m having sex.” The international quarterly photography journal Aperture used his photo as the cover for its Queer theme. Commentators also see his work, the naked body and the starched penis, as evolving sexual mores and the struggle for creative and sexual freedom in a conservative, tightly controlled society. But Ren Hang also announced "I don't try to get a message across, I don't give my works names, I don't date them. I don’t want to instill them with any vocabulary. I don't like to explain my photos or work as a whole". It has been mentioned that Ren's work is softcore pornography because of the degree of nudity and sex in it, but he also worked with other themes. The most famous was titled My Mum. Although still under a fetishistic atmosphere, posing with usual props in Ren's works like animals and plants, Ren's mother posed as a clothed model, in a light-hearted way to represent her daily life. Ren's photographs have been included in magazines L'Officiel, GQ Style, and Vice. He worked with fashion companies Gucci, Rick Owens, and Loewe. Ren's work is included in Frank Ocean's magazine Boys Don't Cry. Ren Hang is noted to be greatly influenced by Chinese and Asian contemporary art and in particular, Japanese photographer and contemporary artist Nobuyoshi Araki. Ren Hang mainly worked with a simple point-and-shoot camera. He would direct the models as to how to place their bodies and shoot in quick succession. Genitalia, breasts and anuses were not covered up, but featured, or accentuated with props and close-ups. Colors were rich and high in contrast, increasing visual impact. This, along with the fact all bodies were slim, lithe and relatively hairless, made the impact of his photographs more impressive. His work communicated a raw, stark aesthetic that countered taboos and celebrated sexuality and it was this contemporary form of poeticism in a visual context in which Ren Hang expressed themes of identity, the body, love, loss and death. Nudity is not a theme in art that can be widely accepted by the Chinese older generation. Ren Hang's works are sometimes misinterpreted by the public as pornography. Although some have written that Ren Hang used his photographs to challenge Chinese cultural norms of shame around nudity, he did not believe he was challenging the stereotype and leading a revolution. For him, nudity and sexuality are natural themes which he used in his work. "Nudes are there since always. We were born nude. So talking about revolution, I don't think there's anything to revolutionize. Unless people are born with clothes on, and I want to take their clothes off, then I think this is a revolution. If it was already like that, then it's not a revolution. I just photographed things on their more natural conditions." He said he was not trying to liberate nudity and sexuality since he believed that the Chinese young generation was open-minded and less affected by the old-fashioned cultures. When Ren Hang talked about the question whether the topic of sexuality was still a taboo in China, he said: "I don't think it's related to our times, these are individual cases. Like how to say it, I think it depends on different people, it doesn't really relate to other things. I was not in the whole parents told you that you can only have sex if you get married era. The time after I grow up was already over that period, it was already different like everyone was already more relaxed."Source: Wikipedia Flesh, corpses, souls and bland flashlights, all composite into seconds or milliseconds of lights and shadows, projecting onto the film that never knows how to lie. Focus gathering and the shutter releasing, connecting his unpretentious, rebellious, wild and free perspectives towards the naked human body. The images look so natural, yet fun and unexpected. One soul after another all blossom like a newborn baby, urging to crawl out of his mother’s womb, dying to be redefined. In this era that we live in, being censored by the Chinese government has almost become a stamp of approval for contemporary artists. Ren Hang, a young man with a mature look and tanned skin, hair as short as a Chinese soldiers’, always carrying an irresistibly cute and innocent smile on his cheeks. He is, perhaps, the sole artist and photographer with the most edgy outlook towards the naked human body. Ren Hang continues to stress the fact that he is “boring“. Especially when asked about those basic questions of his inspirational origins and meanings behind the photos, he always just smiles naively, shakes his shoulders and says, “I don’t really know. I never really thought about it.” Perhaps he is such a paver, heading towards the direction of happiness and creative freedom without realizing the pathways he has left behind. You might find him confusing and puzzling, but he has the ambience of such kindness that you would always trust that no evil can come out from him. He is merely a pure form of naked human beings. Source: ITSLIQUID
Peter Lindbergh
Germany
1944 | † 2019
Peter Lindbergh, born Peter Brodbeck, is a German photographer and filmmaker, born on November 23, 1944 in Leszno, Poland (the city was German between 1939 and 1945 and called Reichsgau Wartheland). Peter Lindbergh spent his childhood in Duisburg. After a basic school education he worked as a window dresser for the Karstadt and Horten department stores in Duisburg. At 18, he moved to Switzerland. Eight months later, he went from Lucerne to Berlin and took evening courses at the Academy of Arts. He hitchhiked to Arles in the footsteps of his idol, Vincent van Gogh. After several months in Arles, he continued through to Spain and Morocco, a journey that took him two years. Returning to Germany, he studied Free Painting at the College of Art in Krefeld (North Rhine-Westphalia). In 1969, while still a student, he exhibited his work for the first time at the Galerie Denise René - Hans Mayer. Concept Art marked his last period of interest in art. In 1971 his interest turned toward photography and for two years he worked as the assistant to the Düsseldorf-based photographer, Hans Lux. Peter Lindbergh moved to Paris in 1978 and started working internationally for Vogue, first the Italian, then the English, French, German, and American Vogue, later for The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Allure, and Rolling Stone. His mostly black-and-white photographs, implement a pictorial language that takes its lead from early German cinema and from the Berlin art scene of the 1920s. In 1988, Anna Wintour arrived at American Vogue and signed Lindbergh for the magazine. He shot Miss Wintour’s first, then revolutionary American Vogue, November 1988 cover. Lindbergh photographed the "iconic" January 1990 Vogue cover that featured Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Tatjana Patitz, Cindy Crawford, and Christy Turlington. He made portraits of Catherine Deneuve, Mick Jagger, Charlotte Rampling, Nastassja Kinski, Tina Turner, John Travolta, Madonna, Sharon Stone, John Malkovich, and countless others. When Lindbergh was put under contract to the American Harpers Bazaar by Liz Tilberis in 1992, she made her editor sign a seven-figure check. His first book, 10 Women by Peter Lindbergh, a black-and-white portfolio of ten top contemporary models, was published in 1996 and had sold more than 100,000 copies as of 2008. Twice he has shot the Pirelli calendar, in 1996 and 2002. The latter, which featured actresses instead of models for the first time, was shot on the back lot of Universal Studios, and was described by Germaine Greer as "Pirelli's most challenging calendar yet." He currently maintains residences in Paris, Manhattan, and Arles. Source: Wikipedia
Robert Mapplethorpe
United States
1946 | † 1989
Robert Mapplethorpe was born in 1946 in Floral Park, Queens. Of his childhood he said, "I come from suburban America. It was a very safe environment and it was a good place to come from in that it was a good place to leave." In 1963, Mapplethorpe enrolled at Pratt Institute in nearby Brooklyn, where he studied drawing, painting, and sculpture. Influenced by artists such as Joseph Cornell and Marcel Duchamp, he also experimented with various materials in mixed-media collages, including images cut from books and magazines. He acquired a Polaroid camera in 1970 and began producing his own photographs to incorporate into the collages, saying he felt "it was more honest." That same year he and Patti Smith, whom he had met three years earlier, moved into the Chelsea Hotel. Mapplethorpe quickly found satisfaction taking Polaroid photographs in their own right and indeed few Polaroids actually appear in his mixed-media works. In 1973, the Light Gallery in New York City mounted his first solo gallery exhibition, "Polaroids." Two years later he acquired a Hasselblad medium-format camera and began shooting his circle of friends and acquaintances—artists, musicians, socialites, pornographic film stars, and members of the S & M underground. He also worked on commercial projects, creating album cover art for Patti Smith and Television and a series of portraits and party pictures for Interview Magazine. In the late 70s, Mapplethorpe grew increasingly interested in documenting the New York S & M scene. The resulting photographs are shocking for their content and remarkable for their technical and formal mastery. Mapplethorpe told ARTnews in late 1988, "I don't like that particular word 'shocking.' I'm looking for the unexpected. I'm looking for things I've never seen before … I was in a position to take those pictures. I felt an obligation to do them." Meanwhile his career continued to flourish. In 1977, he participated in Documenta 6 in Kassel, West Germany and in 1978, the Robert Miller Gallery in New York City became his exclusive dealer. Mapplethorpe met Lisa Lyon, the first World Women's Bodybuilding Champion, in 1980. Over the next several years they collaborated on a series of portraits and figure studies, a film, and the book, Lady, Lisa Lyon. Throughout the 80s, Mapplethorpe produced a bevy of images that simultaneously challenge and adhere to classical aesthetic standards: stylized compositions of male and female nudes, delicate flower still lifes, and studio portraits of artists and celebrities, to name a few of his preferred genres. He introduced and refined different techniques and formats, including color 20" x 24" Polaroids, photogravures, platinum prints on paper and linen, Cibachrome and dye transfer color prints. In 1986, he designed sets for Lucinda Childs' dance performance, Portraits in Reflection, created a photogravure series for Arthur Rimbaud's A Season in Hell, and was commissioned by curator Richard Marshall to take portraits of New York artists for the series and book, 50 New York Artists. That same year, in 1986, he was diagnosed with AIDS. Despite his illness, he accelerated his creative efforts, broadened the scope of his photographic inquiry, and accepted increasingly challenging commissions. The Whitney Museum of American Art mounted his first major American museum retrospective in 1988, one year before his death in 1989. His vast, provocative, and powerful body of work has established him as one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. Today Mapplethorpe is represented by galleries in North and South America and Europe and his work can be found in the collections of major museums around the world. Beyond the art historical and social significance of his work, his legacy lives on through the work of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. He established the Foundation in 1988 to promote photography, support museums that exhibit photographic art, and to fund medical research in the fight against AIDS and HIV-related infection.
George Mayer
Photographer, designer, artist. member of the Union of Russian Art Photographers. George was born in Nizhny Tagil, Russia in 1985. In 2004 he graduated from the Ural College of Arts and Crafts with honors where he majored in environmental design. Up to 2007 he worked as an interior designer. He participated and became a prize winner of Russian national contests of architecture and design. His works were published in professional books and periodicals for architects and designers by such publishing houses as Tatlin and UniverPress. Since 2008 he has been taking part in well-known international photo contests such as Photog-raphy Masters Cup (USA), The Spider Awards (USA), National Portrait Gallery Awards (UK), Maestro Photo Contest (Russia). In 2011 George Mayer won the Russian photo contest Young Photographers of Russia. The contest projects were exhibited in Kazan, Moscow, at the interna-tional art festival in Marsciano (Italy) and were published in professional editions. In 2011 George was the winner of the photo contest The Spider Awards (USA) where he won Photographer of the Year, Outstanding Achievements in Black-and-White Photography. In 2011 George Mayer arranged his first personal exhibition in FotoliaLAB Gallery (Berlin, Germa-ny). In 2012 he was a finalist of the contest Young Photographers of Russia after which he was admitted to the Union of Russian Art Photographers. In the same year he was nominated for the award in the photo contest Sony World Photography Awards, the exhibition was held in Somerset House (London, UK). In 2015 he participated in the project Perfumer organized by the art center Perinnye Ryady in St. Petersburg (Russia). With his project "Shadows" he won Photographer of the Year at Internation-al Photography Awards. The award ceremony took place in Carnegie Hall (New York, USA). George was nominated for the first prize of IPA and Lucie Awards statuette. In 2017 George won one of the most prestigious world photography contests "Sony World Pho-tography Awards" where the project Light. Shadows. Perfect woman." took the first prize among the professionals in nomination "Portraiture". After winning the project "Light. Shadows. Perfect woman." was published in numerous specialized European editions about photography. The SONY company gave a grant for the project "Libido & Mortido", the portraits from this project were exhibited in Somerset House, London. Along with art photography George Mayer works in commercial and fashion photography. Since 2009 he has been collaborating with internationally recognized modeling agencies and stylists. Thanks to this his works are regularly published in Russian and foreign fashion magazines. Among the companies that have bought photos by George Mayer are Adobe, Atlantic Records, Alfa Romeo, Lalique and others. His photographs can be seen on covers of dozens of music CDs by such popular foreign singers as Chris Brown, "Buller for my Valentine", "Operator". And also one can see photos by George on books by acknowledged Russian and foreign writers and playwrights. Among them are the Nobel Prize winner in literature Mario Vargas Llosa and the famous French writer Bernard Werber. Some photos were also bought by Netflix for the film "Bright" (2017) starring Will Smith and some photos were bought by the MGM Television for the cult-favourite series "Fargo. AAP Magazine Shadows
Maia Flore
France
1988
Maia Flore was born in 1988, in France. She is currently living in Paris. Graduated from Ecole des Gobelins in 2010, she joined Agence VU' in 2011. Her approach fits into a research of coincidences between reality and her imagination. Her world is a complete fabrication in form of touching and enchanting narrations, even surrealistic. This is in Sweden she begins her first series "Sleep Elevations", a journey that indulges in childhood memories. During the summer of 2012, while her first residence in Finland, Maia Flore explores new methods of representation and narration. These researches will then continue at the Arts Center of Berkeley, California. Resulting two series (Situations and Morning Sculptures) that continue to explore the feelings of confusion in which the photographer places her characters as her audience. She is exposed for the first time in February 2011 at the festival Circulation (s) of the Young European Photography in Paris. More recently, as part of a White Card from Atout France and the French Institute, Maia Flore depicts the French heritage through her dreamy world in the series "Imagine France – Le voyage fantastique" exposed in Bercy Village until September 2014. In 2015, she wins Le prix HSBC pour la photographie. Source: Agence VU Situations (2012) In the Situations series, a girl runs through varyingly weathered landscapes donning a striking red outfit. In search of a sublime freedom, she travels to find fleeting moments of communion with nature. Draped in red, she catches the light of the sun or buries herself in the fog. As though she were attempting to rediscover this space, she roams on land-locked clouds that evaporate into the landscape upon the return of the sun as it chases away their mystery. Like a game between reality and fantasy, the clash between clairvoyance and a moment of madness, the girl is amused by her emotional confusion. Sleep Elevation (2010) "Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night," Edgar Allan Poe. This is how these girls, carried away in the air by objects, let themselves travel through boundless landscapes. Flying towards dreamed lands, making real a complete attraction between the character, his ideal universe and the world they live in: that is where these girls lead us. Their contorted movements are merging with the shape of the one revealing their passion. Mix of an imaginary realism and childhood memories, these beings in levitation invite us to dream, limitlessly.
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