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Felice Beato
Felice Beato

Felice Beato

Country: Italy / United Kingdom
Birth: 1832 | Death: 1909

Felice Beato, also known as Felix Beato, was an Italian–British photographer. He was one of the first people to take photographs in East Asia and one of the first war photographers. He is noted for his genre works, portraits, and views and panoramas of the architecture and landscapes of Asia and the Mediterranean region. Beato's travels gave him the opportunity to create images of countries, people, and events that were unfamiliar and remote to most people in Europe and North America. His work provides images of such events like the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and the Second Opium War, and represents the first substantial body of photojournalism. He influenced other photographers, and his influence in Japan, where he taught and worked with numerous other photographers and artists, was particularly deep and lasting.

A death certificate discovered in 2009 shows that Beato was born in Venice in 1832 and died on 29 January 1909 in Florence. The death certificate also indicates that he was a British subject and a bachelor. It is likely that early in his life Beato and his family moved to Corfu, at the time part of the British protectorate of the Ionian Islands, and so Beato was a British subject.

Because of the existence of a number of photographs signed "Felice Antonio Beato" and "Felice A. Beato", it was long assumed that there was one photographer who somehow photographed at the same time in places as distant as Egypt and Japan. In 1983 it was shown by Chantal Edel that "Felice Antonio Beato" represented two brothers, Felice Beato and Antonio Beato, who sometimes worked together, sharing a signature. The confusion arising from the signatures continues to cause problems in identifying which of the two photographers was the creator of a given image.

Photographs of the 19th century often now show the limitations of the technology used, yet Beato managed to successfully work within and even transcend those limitations. He predominantly produced albumen silver prints from wet collodion glass-plate negatives.

Beato pioneered and refined the techniques of hand-coloring photographs and making panoramas. He may have started hand-coloring photographs at the suggestion of Wirgman, or he may have seen the hand-colored photographs made by partners Charles Parker and William Parke Andrew. Whatever the inspiration, Beato's colored landscapes are delicate and naturalistic and his colored portraits, more strongly colored than the landscapes, are appraised as excellent.

As well as providing views in color, Beato worked to represent very large subjects in a way that gave a sense of their vastness. Throughout his career, Beato's work is marked by spectacular panoramas, which he produced by carefully making several contiguous exposures of a scene and then joining the resulting prints together, thereby re-creating the expansive view. The complete version of his panorama of Pehtang comprises seven photographs joined together almost seamlessly for a total length of more than 2 meters (6 1/2 ft).

Although Beato was previously believed to have died in Rangoon or Mandalay in 1905 or 1906, his death certificate, discovered in 2009, indicates that he died on 29 January 1909 in Florence, Italy.

Source: Wikipedia


In a peripatetic career that spanned five decades, the photographer Felice Beato (1832–1909) covered a wide swath of East Asia. Following in the wake of Britain's vast colonial empire, he was among the primary photographers to provide images of newly opened countries such as India, China, Japan, Korea, and Burma.

A pioneer war photographer, Beato recorded several conflicts: the Crimean War in 1855–56, the aftermath of the Indian Mutiny in 1858–59, the Second Opium War in 1860, and the American expedition to Korea in 1871. His photographs of battlefields, the first to show images of the dead, provided a new direction for that genre.

Catering to a Western audience, Beato produced an exceptionally diverse oeuvre: topographical and architectural views, including panoramas, as well as portraits and costume studies of the countries he visited or in which he resided.

From Beato's series on domestic Japanese society, the full-length portrait shown here depicts the traditional armored costume of the samurai, the soldier of noble class who served the powerful rulers of Japan. Beato spent more than 20 years in Japan (1863–84), his longest residency in one country and the most prolific period of his career. There he witnessed one of the most turbulent eras in Japan's history, known as the Bakumatsu period (1853–68), when the Tokuga shogunate gave way to the Meiji reign.

During his time in Japan, Beato employed the wet-collodion method, which reduced the length of exposure to seconds rather than minutes. The use of photography began to spread in Japan in the mid-1850s, and Beato's work rapidly achieved success as he offered the first hand-colored photographs and photographic albums in the country.

Despite restrictions on foreigners' travel, Beato developed a remarkable and rare visual record of Japan. This photograph depicts the monumental sculpture of the Dai Bouts (Great Buddha), which had been the centerpiece of a temple that was destroyed by a typhoon. It was an important attraction at Kamakura, and Beato was the first Westerner to photograph it. He posed himself in the scene, sitting on the stairs, while local men climbed the statue.

Beato left Japan in 1884, but his photographs continued to circulate with the successive sales of his negatives to different studios.

Source: The J. Paul Getty Museum


 

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1831 | † 1885
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The family moved to Beirut in 1867 where they opened a photographic studio called "Maison Bonfils". Source: Wikipedia Félix Bonfils and his wife Lydie (1837-1918) came from Saint Hippolyte du Fort in the Gard. As a binder, then a printer, and finally a photographer trained by Niépce de Saint Victor, Félix Bonfils stayed in Lebanon in 1860 during France’s military expedition. He soon decided to transfer his activity there, and so Bonfils’s photographic studio was founded in Beirut in 1867. Bonfils was not a pioneer photography, yet he was the first Frenchman to open a studio in Beirut. His wife, soon assisted by their son Adrien (1861-1929), produced portraits and genre scenes as they travelled throughout Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Turkey and Greece before bringing back their shots. The Bonfils studio was above all renowned for its landscapes, sites and views of architecture made first of all for artists, wealthy travellers, art historians and archaeologists, then for an increasing number of tourists. Bonfils immediately became extremely active: at the beginning of the 1870s his catalogue included some fifteen thousand shots, five hundred and ninety-one negatives from Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Greece, and nine thousand stereoscopic views. In 1876, Constantinople was added. A new catalogue resuming these images was published in 1876. These shots were sold one by one on demand, but also brought together in albums. In 1872, Bonfils started out by presenting Architecture antique. Egypte. Grèce. Asie Mineure. Album de photographies published by Ducher in Paris and including fifty albumen originals tipped onto cards with printed captions. For the Paris World Fair in 1878, he produced a series of five volumes entitled: Souvenirs d’Orient : album pittoresque des sites, villes et ruines les plus remarquables… published by their author in Alès in 1877-1878 and covering the Orient from Egypt and Nubia (volumes I and II) to Athens and Constantinople (volume V). Each album included around forty original, tipped-in photographs, as well as an “historical, archaeological and descriptive notice opposite each plate”. These collections were thus offered to the buyers in a finished form, a little like the engraved keepsakes from the 1830s. They won a medal at the World Fair and the department of Stamps at the then Bibliothèque Impériale acquired the entire collection. At this time, the firm, which was now divided between Alès and Beirut, was renamed Bonfils et Cie. This enterprise had a commercial rationale: it was important for it to offer as broad an offer as possible covering all the countries of the Middle East, with all the sites, monuments and landscapes sought-out by its clientele. For this reason, Félix Bonfils was soon unable to do everything on his own. Apart from his wife and son, he took on the help of assistants who have mostly remained anonymous, as well as local photographers also from the Gard, such as Tancrède Dumas (1830-1905) and Jean-Baptiste Charlier (1822-1907) who sold on their shots to him. In 1875 Félix Bonfils felt the need to distribute his prints from Europe, even if he also had a network of foreign correspondents as can be seen in their often bilingual captions. He left his wife and son to manage the Beirut studio and moved back to Alès in the Gard to organize mail ordering of all the images they produced on the banks of the Mediterranean. After his death in 1885, the firm which had opened up several subsidies around the Middle East, was run by his wife and son, until 1895 when the latter turned towards the hotel business. It was only at the death of Lydie Bonfils in 1918 that Abraham Guiragossian, who had been an associate since 1909, brought up the business, which finally closed in 1938. The entire catalogue of works provided by the Bonfils company is as large as it is interesting, especially because these images marry a documentary concern with an aesthetic approach to composition and framing. The large number of photographers explains the obvious fluctuations of quality. The great demand, trade requirements, and the interest of the clientele in the obviously picturesque explains why a part of the production can be judged to be rather mediocre, unjustly obscuring pieces of great quality. This huge production spread out over more than half a century explains why Bonfils’s photographs are today heavily present in French public collections (the BnF, Médiathèque de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, Musée Niépce…).Source: Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Anaïs Boileau
France
1992
Anaïs Boileau is from the south of France. She completed training in photography and visual communication at ECAL, the art school from Lausanne. She works in 2012 with the photographer Charles Freger and in 2014 she gets a residency at the Hong Kong Design Institute. Her photographic work is presented in various group exhibitions. In 2015, her photographic project Plein Soleil is part of the Black Mirror exhibition in New York, organized by Aperture Foundation, and is presented to Katmandu Photo festival in Nepal. It is selected to Boutographies 2016 projection of the jury and is one of ten finalists presented at the 31st edition of the international fashion and photography festival in Hyères at the Villa Noailles where she received the audience award and the Elie Saab grant.My work "Plein Soleil" is about a kind of community women taking the sun. These are women with golden skin exposing themselves under the omnipresent sun. They stay along the coast of the seaside towns marked by Latin, bright and colorful architecture. There is a temporality game beetween women and architectures because they are modeling in the same way by the sun light. These portraits represents a kind of happy idleness that exist in south. I try to bring a look a bit funny and tender about that women cause it was like a game with them about their image. Lost behind their sunglasses, accessories, women are distant, pensive as absorbed by the sun. We never see their eyes with their solarium glasses and that make them impersonal. Floating Between documentary and fiction, the portraits of this matriarchal community, reveal a desire for exoticism. There is a dimension of artificiality and something false in all that . The idea that they put forward, they refine and polish their bodies but also in the idea that all this is just a world of appearance, of surfaces.
John Novis
United Kingdom
1950
John Novis is photographer and story teller working on environmental issues, particularly climate change for the last 30 years. Climate Change is the biggest global threat ever known to mankind, yet it is the most challenging and difficult subject to visualize to any great effect. Any image presented, be it extreme weather events, scientific evidence or global protests can be argued against by a sceptic media, governments and industry. It is precisely this challenge that drives concerned photographers to push ever more creative photos into the image pool to drive home the importance of this emergency of our times. We are getting somewhere thanks to Greta Thunberg and Environmental groups such as Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion etc. which provide scope for compelling pictures. Social media has also provided a valuable platform for citizen journalism reporting climate related events as they unfold in real time. How I got there I stared my career in photography in London during the 'swinging 60's 'years working with high profile photographers in Vogue, Apple Corp (Beatles), top Fashion and Industrial photo studios Adrian Ensor Labs up until 1977 when I enrolled on a 3 year 'Creative Photography' course in Nottingham University under the guidance of Thomas Joshua Cooper and Raymond Moore. In 1980 I received a grant from UK South East Arts to make a 30 minute, 16mm film called 'Our trip to the Zoo' analysing the family snapshot with the old Kodak slogan – 'to capture life'. Throughout most of the 80's I worked as a freelance commercial photographer and then in 1989 I joined Greenpeace as an in –house photographer where I was employed until 2015. Just before I joined Greenpeace, I was becoming disillusioned with photography as an instrument for advertising and generating profit. It was though Greenpeace I was able to employ my expertise in photography to produce images that would serve as a wake-up call to the critical state of our environment. As photography became more important to the organisation I became Head of Photography at the international headquarters in Amsterdam, directing major photo projects such as: - Ocean and whaling expeditions, Amazon – Illegal logging, Yunnan, China campaigning against the introduction of GMO rice to the rice growing communities, Climate in Crisis - Yellow River drying up, the Disappearing Glaciers on Everest, Climate and Poverty along the Silk Road in Gansu Province, China - Palm oil production in Riau, Indonesia and 'Forest Solutions' global communities living from the forest management towards a sustainable solution. In addition, I have also worked on numerous successful publications including the nuclear industry of Russia with Dutch photographer Robert Knoth, (Panos) and Bhopal – '' with Raghu Rai (Magnum). My professional services outside Greenpeace have included, organizing and hosting the Beijing Photo Master Classes with World Press Photo winners, member of the jury for the 2007 CHIPP (China International Press Photo Contest) and Member of the Jury and visiting lecturer to Fotopub, Slovenia July 2008. Directing a major exhibition and slide show at 1999 Perpignan, Visa Pour L'image with an interview with Jean Francois Leroy on stage. In 2012 I ran a photo workshop and curated a renewable energy exhibition at the Angkor Photo Festival in Siem Reap, Cambodia and was invited as guest speaker for Wild Photos at the Royal Geographic society in 2011. I am currently working on Climate Emergency events and supporting on line publications with consultancy and archive picture material.
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John Simmons is a multi-talented artist whose work has spanned across decades. Born in Chicago and coming of age during the Civil Rights Era, Simmons' photography started at the peak of political and racial tension of the 1960s, mentored by a well known Chicago Civil Rights photographer, Bobby Sengstacke.
Exclusive Interview with Nick Brandt About The Day May Break
Photographed in Zimbabwe and Kenya in late 2020, The Day May Break is the first part of a global series portraying people and animals impacted by environmental degradation and destruction. An ambitious and poetic project picturing people who have all been badly affected by climate change - some displaced by cyclones that destroyed their homes, others such as farmers displaced and impoverished by years-long severe droughts. We asked Nick Brandt a few questions about the project.
Exclusive Interview with Barbara Cole
For the last forty-five years, artist Barbara Cole has been recapturing the otherworldly mysteries of early photography in a body of work that flows in and out of time.
Exclusive Interview with Daniel Sackheim
Daniel Sackheim is an American Film & Television director and producer best known for his work on such highly acclaimed series as HBO's True Detective Season 3, Game of Thrones, and Amazon’s Jack Ryan. But he is also a talented photographer. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Exlusive Interview with Tom Price Winner of All About Photo Awards 2021
Tom Price is the Photographer of the Year, winner of All About Photo Awards 2021 - The Mind's Eye. My co-jurors Keith Cullen, Denis Dailleux, Stefano De Luigi, Monica Denevan, Claudine Doury, Ann Jastrab, Stephan Vanfleteren, Hiroshi Watanabe, Alison Wright and myself were impressed by his work 'Porter' taken from a series of surreal portraits, featuring 'relocated' porters from Kolkata, as a reflection on the experience of migrant workers.
Interview: Jill Enfield by Jon Wollenhaupt
Alternative photography pioneer Jill Enfield comes from a long line of photographers dating back to 1875-the date when her ancestors opened up gift stores in Germany where they sold cameras and other technical equipment. In 1939, after fleeing Nazi Germany, her family opened the first camera store in Miami Beach, where as a child, Jill roamed the aisles. It is easy to imagine that she grew up always having a camera in her hands. With photography imprinted in her DNA, her career path seemed inevitable.
Exclusive Interview with Michael Nguyen
Michael Nguyen is a street and documentary photographer living near Munich, Germany. He is also the co-founder of Tagree Magazine. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Exclusive Interview with Jon Enoch
Jon Enoch is a London-based photographer who focuses on portrait and lifestyle photography for advertising and media publications, as well as large organisations. He has won numerous awards for his Vietnamese photography portrait series called cBikes of Hanoi', including the Smithsonian Grand Prize; the Lens Culture Portrait Award and the Portraits of Humanity Award in 2020. The images were also shortlisted for the Sony World Photography Award and they won the gold Prix de la Photographie Paris (Px3) award in 2019. The set of portrait images were featured on the BBC, the Guardian, the Telegraph and went viral on websites across the world.
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Solo Exhibition January 2022
Win an Online Solo Exhibition in January 2022