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George Zimbel
George Zimbel

George Zimbel

Country: United States / Canada
Birth: 1929

George S. Zimbel (born July 15, 1929) is an American-Canadian documentary photographer. He has worked professionally since the late 1940s, mainly as a freelancer. He was part of the Photo League and is one of its last surviving members. Born in Massachusetts, he settled in Canada about 1971. His works have been shown with increasing frequency since 2000, and examples of his work are part of several permanent collections including the Museum of Modern Art and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. George Zimbel has been described as a humanist. He has published several books of his photographs and in 2016 was the subject of a documentary retrospective film co-directed by his son Matt Zimbel and distributed by the National Film Board of Canada.

Born George Sydney Zimbel in Woburn, Massachusetts, son of a dry goods store owner, he attended Woburn High School and was the school's yearbook photographer. He later studied at the Photo League under John Ebstel. George Zimbel then enrolled in Columbia University in New York where he became the school's news photographer. There he met art student Garry Winogrand and introduced Winogrand to photography. They used the school's darkroom late at night to avoid crowding at other times of the day, and they called themselves the "Midnight to Dawn Club". Both Zimbel and Winogrand later both studied under Alexey Brodovitch at the New School for Social Research on scholarships in 1951.

He next met Edward Steichen, the then curator of the Museum of Modern Art who showed Zimbel original prints by early masters of photography, and this sealed his decision to take up photography as a career. On Steichen's advice, he had a stint as a photographer with the US Army and spent 2 years in Europe during the restoration period following World War II.

On his return to America, he became a freelance photographer. One of his early opportunities was the famous Marilyn Monroe shoot on Lexington Avenue in 1954 to promote her film The Seven Year Itch, at which Monroe wore her famous white dress. Zimbel never sold any of these images and packed them away until 1976, whereupon he printed them and began to show them in solo exhibitions.

He was married to Elaine Sernovitz in 1955. A professional writer, she has collaborated with George Zimbel on travelogues and other works. George and Elaine Zimbel had four children including jazz musician Matt Zimbel, founder of Manteca. Matt Zimbel co-produced and co-directed (with Jean-Francois Gratton) a documentary film about his father called Zimbelism, released in 2016.

In 1971, Zimbel and his family moved to the small community of Argyle Shore, Queens County, Prince Edward Island where they raised animals for the next 10 years at a farm they called "Bona Fide Farm". After their children moved away, he and his wife relocated to Montreal, where they still reside.

Though he was widely published in publications such as the New York Times, Look, Redbook and Architectural Digest in the 1950s and 60s, he did not become widely recognized until a retrospective exhibition of his work was mounted at the Institut Valencià d'Art Modern in Spain in 2000. Since then he has had several major shows around the world.

Source: Wikipedia


The American-Canadian humanist photographer George S. Zimbel is one of the last elders of photography faithful to the legacy of the Photo League, who in the fifties imbued their pictures with a personal commitment towards the people and the social landscapes they documented. Zimbel’s work is collected by major museums internationally, he has published numerous books and in 2016 he was the subject of an award winning feature documentary on his work called Zimbelism. George’s collection is now managed by his children. The collection consisting of prints printed by George, negatives and colour slides is in the process of being cataloged. Cataloging of the prints has been completed. The thousands of colour slides, and hundred of thousand negatives will be an on going project.

In an era of increased manipulation of the photographic image by computer technology, Zimbel’s commitment to the “straight” photograph has become stronger. He sees the early 21st century as a period in which classic photography will have it’s last flowering.

"My work begins with recording an image, but it is not finished until I have made a fine print. That is my photograph. A lot goes into a finished documentary photograph: a very personal view of life, a knowledge of technique, and of course, information. It is the information that grabs the viewer, but it is the photographer’s art that holds them." – George S. Zimbel

Source: georgezimbel.com


 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

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Newsha Tavakolian
Newsha Tavakolian (born 1981) is an Iranian photojournalist and documentary photographer. She has worked for TIME Magazine, The New York Times, Le Figaro, and National Geographic. Her work focuses on women's issues and she has been a member of the Rawiya women's photography collective which she co-established in 2011. Tavakolian is a full member of Magnum Photos. Born and brought up in Tehran, at age 16, Tavakolian took a six-month photography course, after which she began working as a professional photographer in the Iranian press. She started at the women's daily newspaper Zan, and later worked for other nine reformist dailies, all of which have since been banned. She covered the July 1999 student uprising, using her Minolta with a 50mm lens, and her photographs were published in several publications. However, she was forced to go on hiatus from her photojournalist work following the "chaos" of Iran’s presidential election in 2009. During this time, she began other projects focusing on art using photography as well as social documentary. Tavakolian’s photographs became more artistic and involved social commentary. She got her international break in 2001 at age 21, when she met J.P. Pappis, founder of Polaris Images, New York at a photography festival in Perpignan, France. She began covering Iran for Polaris Images, in the same year, and started working as a freelancer for The Times in 2004. Tavakolian has worked internationally, covering wars, natural disasters and social documentary stories in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Yemen. Her work has been published by international magazines and newspapers such as TIME Magazine, Newsweek, Stern, Le Figaro, Colors, New York Times Magazine, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, NRC Handelsblad and National Geographic. Common themes in her work are photo stories of women, friends and neighbors in Iran; the evolving role of women in overcoming gender-based restrictions; and contrasting the stereotypes of western media. Her photo projects include Mother of Martyrs (2006), Women in the Axis of Evil (2006), The Day I Became a Woman (2010) and Look (2013). Tavakolian was part of the 2006 Joop Swart Masterclass organized by World Press Photo. In 2007 she was a finalist for the Inge Morath Award. Her work has been exhibited and collected at institutions such as the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Somerset House, London. (April 2014), where she was one of eight Iranian photographers featured in the critically acclaimed Burnt Generation exhibition. In June 2015 Tavakolian became a nominee member of Magnum Photos and in 2019 a full member. She lives and works in Tehran and is married to the Dutch journalist Thomas Erdbrink. In 2019, the Iranian authorities barred her from working in the country.Source: Wikipedia Newsha Tavakolian is known for her powerful work covering wars in Iraq and social issues in her native Iran. With clarity and sensitivity, Tavakolian has photographed female guerilla fighters in Iraqi Kurdistan, Syria and Colombia, prohibited Iranian female singers and the lives of people living under sanctions. Over the years, her practice has shifted from photojournalism to photography as art. A self-taught photographer, Tavakolian began working professionally in the Iranian press at the age of 16, at women’s daily newspaper Zan. At the age of 18, she was the youngest photographer to cover the 1999 student uprising, which was a turning point for the country’s blossoming reformist movement and for Tavakolian personally as a photojournalist; a year later she joined New York-based agency Polaris Images. In 2003, she started working internationally, covering the war in Iraq. She has since covered regional conflicts, natural disasters and made social documentary stories. Her work has been published in international magazines and newspapers such as Time Magazine, Newsweek, Stern, Le Figaro, Colors, The New York Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, NRC Handelsblad, The New York Times Magazine and National Geographic. Commercial clients include Qatar foundation, who commissioned her to make a book about education around the world and Shiseido, who commissioned a two-year assignment looking at the meaning of beauty in Paris, France.Source: Magnum Photos
Thomas Annan
Scotland
1829 | † 1887
Thomas Annan was a Scottish photographer, notable for being the first to record the bad housing conditions of the poor. Born in Dairsie, Fife he was one of seven children of John Annan, a flax spinner. After his initial apprenticeship as a lithographic writer and engraver at the Fife Herald in Cupar, he moved to Glasgow in 1849 and worked as a lithographer and engraver for Joseph Swan until 1855. He set up business with George Berwick at 40 Woodlands Road, Glasgow, listing in the 1855 - 56 Glasgow post office directory as calotypists, practitioners of this early form of photography. In 1855, he photographed the ship RMS Persia, under construction on the Clyde, which was probably a commission by engineer, Robert Napier. This photograph was part of a group of images sent to the Photographic Exhibition in connection with the British Association. After dissolving his previous partnership, he established himself in a photographic studio at 116 Sauchiehall Street during 1857. In 1859, the business moved to 200 Hope Street and he was also able to establish a printing works in Hamilton in 1863. First interested largely in architectural photography and then portraits, as well as photographing artworks and maps, in 1866 Annan photographed slum areas of the city. These images were used by Glasgow City Improvement Trust to document the overcrowded, unhygienic conditions ahead of extensive redevelopments. It was this series of photographs, created between 1868 and 1871, entitled Old Closes and Streets of Glasgow, that ensured his posterity. In 1869, Annan purchased the contents of Rock House, which belonged David Octavius Hill, which included many of Hill's photographs and negatives. These were eventually exhibited by Thomas' son, James Craig Annan, and reproduced in photogravure in Alfred Stieglitz's journal Camera Work. Annan's photographs of the Loch Katrine Waterworks were praised in the British Journal of Photography: "The views by Mr. Annan could scarcely fail to be attractive, for in a country so beautiful a clever artist is bound to produce results in keeping with the nature of the subject, and this Mr. Annan has done." Indeed, Annan's work was often praised not only for its aesthetics, but also for its technical virtuosity. Twenty years later, Annan's studio would be singled out by Baden Pritchard for its accomplishments in carbon printing and "beautiful pictures of exteriors and interiors of Scotch strongholds." Thomas Annan purchased the rights to the photogravure process in Britain from Karel Klíč of Vienna in 1883 after visiting the city with his second son, James Craig Annan. James was a noted photogravurist and associated with late nineteenth-century art photography continued in his father's profession, receiving a Royal Warrant as Photographers and Photographic Engravers to Her Majesty in Glasgow. Thomas Annan died on 14 December 1887 at his home in Lenzie. Before his death by suicide, he had experienced a month-long period of "mental aberration". The family business survives to the present day in the form of the Annan Fine Art Gallery, located on Woodlands Road in the West End of Glasgow. A selection of prints from the Glasgow Improvements act 1868 series were displayed in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery from 2011 to 2012. In 2017, the J. Paul Getty Museum curated an exhibition entitled Thomas Annan: Photographer of Glasgow, the first to survey his career and legacy as photographer and printer.Source: Wikipedia
Attila Ataner
Canada/Turkey
I am of Turkish ancestry, but born in Svishtov, Bulgaria, a small town on the Danube river. During the 1980s, my parents and I lived in Triploi, Libya, where I attended an international school for the children of expats. There, I was introduced to photography by one of my all-time best, and favourite teachers. I have been an avid amateur photographer ever since. I currently live in Toronto, Canada, with my wife and two young children. I am formerly a practicing lawyer, however I recently returned to school to pursue a PhD degree in philosophy, with my focus being on environmental philosophy and legal and political theory. My current passion for photography, and the series of photos I have been working on more recently, is partly informed by my scholarly work on environmental issues. For instance, my series titled "Landscapes of Modernity" is an attempt to translate some of my philosophical ideas into a visual/photographic format. Landscapes of Modernity This series of phots is, in part, an attempt to translate some of my academic work on environmental philosophy into visual/photographic format, an effort to express my ideas through art rather than scholarship alone. My overall project aims to reflect on the contemporary experience of dwelling in extensively built-up, "artificial" spaces. Our ancestors lived in spaces pervaded by natural landscapes, by mountains, valleys, by open skies, and the like. They were surrounded by spontaneous, self-generating, self-sustaining (i.e., so-called "natural") entities. Conversely, consequent to modernity, our visual landscapes are now largely colonized by massive, cuboid, monolithic structures; and by constricted, disrupted or otherwise occluded skies. Above all, we have surrounded ourselves with a seemingly endless array of almost exclusively human-made constructs. This is the central contrast between modernity and the modes of dwelling of our ancestors. ... And here, in this modern moment, we find astounding beauty mixed with a certain apprehension, oppressiveness and brutality - for instance, as is exemplified by the staggering scale of the seemingly omnipresent and ever-expanding character of the structures that now envelop and enframe our lives. I hope my photos manage to capture this duality in the contemporary urban landscape.
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