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John Simmons
John Simmons
John Simmons

John Simmons

Country: United States
Birth: 1950

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.

After completing an undergraduate degree from Fisk University in art and photography, Simmons went on to study cinematography at the University of Southern California, and then to move to LA, where he currently lives.

In 2004, Simmons was inducted into the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) and now serves as Vice President and as co-chair of the ASC Vision Committee. He is also on the Board of Governors of the Television Academy, working to increase diversity on-set, and taught at UCLA for 26 years before leaving to focus on his photography.

Simmons has also filmed music videos and commercials for artists such as Stevie Wonder, Britney Spears, Snoop Dogg and many more. As a filmmaker, Simmons has collaborated with industry giants such as Spike Lee and Debbie Allen, and has served as the Director of Photography for more than 25 television series. Simmons earned an Emmy for his work on Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn.

Outside of the aforementioned exhibits, his photographs are also held at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Center for Creative Photography, the David C. Driskell Center, University of Maryland, and Harvard University, where they exhibited in "Time is Now: Photography and Social Change in James Baldwin's America" at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts. His work is also in the permanent collection of the ASC.

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Eric Kunsman
United States
1975
Eric T. Kunsman (b. 1975) was born and raised in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. While in high school, he was heavily influenced by the death of the steel industry and its place in American history. The exposure to the work of Walker Evans during this time hooked Eric onto photography. Eric had the privilege to study under Lou Draper, who became Eric's most formative mentor. He credits Lou with influencing his approach as an educator, photographer, and contributing human being. Eric holds his MFA in Book Arts/Printmaking from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and holds an MS in Electronic Publishing/Graphic Arts Media, BS in Biomedical Photography, BFA in Fine Art photography all from the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. Currently, he is a photographer and book artist based out of Rochester, New York. Eric works at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) as a Lecturer for the Visual Communications Studies Department at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and is an adjunct professor for the School of Photographic Arts & Sciences. In addition to lectures, he provides workshops on topics including his artistic practice, digital printing, and digital workflow processes. He also provides industry seminars for the highly regarded Printing Applications Lab at RIT. His photographs and books are exhibited internationally and are in several collections. He currently owns Booksmart Studio, which is a fine art digital printing studio, specializing in numerous techniques and services for photographers and book artists on a collaborative basis. Eric's work has been exhibited in over 35 solo exhibitions at such venues as Nicolaysen Art Museum, Hoyt Institute of Fine Art, Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, and numerous university galleries. His work has also been a part of over 150 group exhibitions over the past 4 four years including exhibitions at the Center for Photography, A. Smith Gallery, SPIVA, San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, Spartanburg Museum of Art, Atlanta Photography Group, CEPA Gallery, Site:Brooklyn, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, and many more. Eric was named one of 10 B&W photographers to watch of 2018 by BWGallerist, B&W Best Photographers of the Year 2019 by Dodho Magazine, and won the Association of Photography (UK) Gold Award for Open Series in 2019, Finalist, Top 200 Critical Mass 2019, Top 15 Photographers for the Rust Belt Biennial. His Project Felicific Calculus was also awarded a Warhol Foundations Grant through CEPA Gallery in Buffalo, NY. Eric's work has also been published in magazines such as; LensWork, Dodho, B&W Photography along with online articles by Analog Forever Magazine, Catalyst: Interview, Texas Photo Society, and others. He is currently represented by HOTE Gallery in Los Angeles, CA and Malamegi in San Daniele del Friuli (Udine), Italy. There's no "given," formula for what demands Eric's focus as a photographer. Eric is as drawn to the landscapes and neglected towns of the American southwest as he is to the tensions of struggling rustbelt cities in the U.S. northeast. Eric is attracted to objects left behind, especially those that hint at a unique human narrative, a story waiting to be told. Eric's current work explores one of those relics: working payphones hidden in plain sight throughout the neighborhood near his studio in Rochester, NY. Associates suggested they signified a high crime area. This project's shown Eric something very different. Statement Felicific Calculus: Technology as a Social Marker of Class, Race, & Economics in Rochester, NY The felicific calculus is an algorithm formulated by jurist and reformer Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) for calculating the moral rightness of an action by balancing the probable pleasures and pains that it would produce. Bentham, a utilitarian philosopher, believed this calculus could, in principle, help determine the moral status of any considered act. In 2017, I relocated my studio to a different part of Rochester, NY. Colleagues immediately started making comments along the lines of: "...that area's a war zone." My experience with the new neighborhood was positive, so I wanted to discover what visual cues others might be seeing as indicators of a dangerous environment. Several people had mentioned the number of payphones in the area, inferring that only criminals use payphones these days. There really were a lot of payphones in my neighborhood. I began documenting them, and quickly saw that far from being used by criminals, these phones served as a lifeline for some of the poorest residents in the area. Looking deeper, I found the story behind Rochester's payphones reflected an unusually altruistic ‘felicific calculus' by Frontier Communications. Instead of focusing on profits, they had decided to maintain the payphones in poorer neighborhoods for the good of the community. Many policymakers have opted to view payphones as a social indicator of crime, unfortunately leading to ignorant or even dangerous decisions. In Detroit, Michigan, politicians had all public payphones removed without studying or surveying their actual use.They simply assumed the criminal connection. This decision was based on a further assumption that everyone today must own a mobile phone. Decision-makers lacking facts or any real understanding of issues facing citizens from a different economic class just acted on a misperception. Witnessing that type of reflexive judgement from my colleagues drove me to educate myself. I photographed payphones and mapped their locations, then overlaid them with census maps showing economic status, ethnicity, age and sex, and the city crime map. There was an immediate, direct correlation between the poverty level and location of the payphones. Areas with the most payphones coincided with Rochester neighborhoods where the average family incomes are lower than $20,000 annually. There was also no correlation with high crime neighborhoods. Through Felicific Calculus I hope to challenge negative perceptions of social markers that conflate poverty with crime. Though they are relics to most of us, payphones remain important for residents trapped in lower economic circumstances.
Dan Fenstermacher
United States
1985
Dan Fenstermacher merges documentary storytelling, and street photography with both humor and activism. Fenstermacher was recently selected as the winner of the 2020 Miami Street Photography Festival International Series Contest and the 15th Annual Smithsonian Photo Contest for the American Experience category. Fenstermacher has photographic experience on four continents including a multi-media internship in Accra, Ghana, as a portrait photographer in Sydney, Australia, a Professor of Fine Arts at Xiangfan University in China, and as an artist-in-residence in San Ramon Costa Rica. His work about mental illness and stigma has been featured in The Huffington Post. He holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Photography from San Jose State University, is a member of the Bay Area Photographers Collective, Maverick Photographers, and teaches photography at West Valley Community College. About Food Chain Series Every day the fisherman from the seaside towns of Prampram, Cape Coast, and Ada, Ghana, head out to sea where they fish up to 40 kilometers offshore. For generations families of these communities have fished the Atlantic Ocean. What they catch will determine the livelihood of the community and their families. Rising early to push the canoes in the water and fight with the breaking waves, and after a pause for prayer; the 10-hour workday ensues. Back on land the selling, cleaning, and cooking of the fish is a lively affair. Working hand to mouth, the fish are sold and taken in baskets by families and prepared for frying in oil for the night’s dinner. Some days there are barely any fish from the day’s work. To make matters worse, due to overfishing by many big fleets from China there is a depleted supply of fish. Millions of dollars per year are reported to be taken from the Ghana economy by overfishing from foreign countries. Because of this the government of Ghana has implemented an annual one-month fishing ban on local fisherman. Many do not know how they will make a living for the length of this ban, and fish illegally risking fines in-order-to feed themselves. With supplies of fish dwindling and the broken food chain as a result, these communities have little to fall back on, and the future of the Ghanaian fishing occupation is in danger of being inundated.
Margarita Mavromichalis
Margarita Mavromichalis comes from a family of Greek diplomats and has spent her life living and traveling all over the world. She speaks five languages and studied translation and interpreting. She likes to think that photography is her second language, as it's a universal language, one that is understood by all across the world and conveys messages in the most powerful way. Margarita moved to New York in 2009. She continued her studies for three years at the International Center of Photography where she also served as a Teaching Assistant for several classes. She moved back to Greece from 2013 to 2016 where she devoted most of her work covering the refugee crisis as it developed on the island of Lesvos. She currently lives and works in London. Margarita is mostly attracted to street photography and the elements that evoke emotions and surprise in our every day life. Furthermore she is passionate about documenting current events that she feels very strongly about, highlighting their social impact. Her work has been displayed in exhibitions in New York, Boston, San Diego, The Museum of the City of New York, the Brooklyn Historical Society and most recently in Budapest, Athens, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona and London. Selected images are part of the permanent collections of the Museum of the City of New York and the Brooklyn Historical Society. She is the winner of the 9th Pollux Awards (2016) and the winner of the 12th edition of the Julia Margaret Cameron Awards (2018) and has been nominated for the 2019 Prix Pictet Hope Award.
Kevin Lyle
United States
1951
I am, for the most part, self taught. I first became interested in art around the age of 12. Art class became the most interesting part of school. After high school I attended the Cleveland Institute of Art for one semester before realizing that art school was not for me at that time. After moving to Chicago my first job turned into a career in computers and systems management and I did little or no art for many years. I've always had an inclination to collect. Collecting African masks and the process of photographing them for documentary purposes led to a broader interest in photography. When I began going for long walks to search for photographic material I soon realized the exercise and fresh air were an added bonus to this pursuit of collecting images. Artist Statement As long as I can remember, I've been curious about incidental objects and environments and their potential for a sort of extraordinary/ordinary beauty. I find this quality in the work of photographer Eugene Atget, composer Erik Satie and singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie. These great artists are a constant source of inspiration. My process is fueled by an innate hunter/gatherer impulse. Most of my images are collected within walking distance of my home on Chicago's north side. Contemplative wandering in the urban analog world, away from the preponderance of drama delivered digitally via television and the Internet, reveals evidence of real life - evidence of what may be, may have happened or may yet occur. Sometimes mundane, sometimes oblique, askew or atypical. Mostly overlooked, until documented.
Cally Whitham
New Zealand
Taking an idealistic view of the world, Cally Whitham records the ordinary, transforming it into a surreal image, reflecting the way things are perceived and altered through nostalgia and memory. Driven by a desire to remember, Whitham uses her camera to collect images, which allows her to preserve her surroundings forever. At the age of 11, she spent Christmas using her first roll of film shooting her favourite things, including her aunt's farm, an old house she wanted to live in and a big tree at the beach. As an adult she returns to similar subjects recaptured in shadows of times past. Based in New Zealand, Whitham finds the subtle, forgotten and overlooked in these locations, which are touched with beauty through their ordinariness and familiarity. Layering her photographs with emotion, the works explore the ways in which personal milieus are captured. Source: www.cally.co.nz The New Zealand photographer Cally Whitham focuses her artistic research on the depiction of everyday life She began photography at 11 years old when accompanying her father who was a painter. He roamed the countryside to do sketches of forests and farms. From an early age she therefore had painting as an artistic reference and mastered the techniques of the Beaux Arts. Source: Yellow Korner Interview With Cally Whitham: AAP: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer? "When I was about 16 I think. I took a class at school and was hooked." AAP: Where did you study photography? "I studied at the Design School, which has since become Unitech." AAP: How long have you been a photographer? "21 years, with a few years break in the middle." AAP: Do you remember your first shot? What was it? "The first photo I ever took was of my grandparents and brother at a beach. I couldn't believe I was allowed to take a photo!" AAP: What or who inspires you? "Light inspires me. When the quality of light is just right anything seems possible; the unworthy becomes photogenic." AAP: How could you describe your style? "Pictorialism" AAP: Do you have a favorite photograph or series? "Wow, too hard to choose!" AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images? "Yes I do. The initial photo is just a part of the process in creating an image. Post production is the place where the image and the vision I had come together. I don't photograph reality but rather create a potential or ideal reality and that potential is added in post production." AAP: Favorite(s) photographer(s)? "Alfred steiglitz in his early days and Julia Margaret Cameron." AAP: What advice would you give a young photographer? "Have a back job to pay the bills - it's a tough industry now to try to pay a mortgage on." AAP: What mistake should a young photographer avoid? "Not understanding the business, tax and admin side of being a photographer." AAP: Your best memory has a photographer? "The moments I have realized I was on to something during a shoot."
Jared Ragland
United States
1977
Jared Ragland is a fine art and documentary photographer and former White House photo editor. He currently teaches and coordinates exhibitions and community programs in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and is at work on a long-term documentary on methamphetamine users living in northeast Alabama. He is the photo editor of National Geographic Books' "The President's Photographer: Fifty Years Inside the Oval Office," and has worked on assignment for NGOs in the Balkans, the former Soviet Bloc, East Africa and Haiti. His photographic work is rooted in his lifelong exposure to the landscapes, people, aesthetics, and storytelling traditions of the American South, and his work has been exhibited internationally and featured by The Oxford American, The New York Times, and TIME Magazine. Jared is an alumni of LaGrange College and a 2003 graduate of Tulane University with an MFA in Photography. He resides in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. Statement: The rise in use of methamphetamine across the United States over the last decade has led to increased cultural anxiety about the drug and those who use it, while the general perception of the meth-head is perpetuated by popular television programs and pervasive anti-meth campaigns. These limited representations typically paint one-dimensional, demonized characters whose chronic drug use is epitomized by obsessiveness, paranoia, and monstrous physical side effects. But while there are certainly deleterious consequences to meth use and stereotypes often ring too true, existing cultural narratives too often fall short of more complex, individually considered realities. Photographed over 18 months in collaboration with University of Alabama at Birmingham sociologist Heith Copes, Ph.D., GOOD BAD PEOPLE documents the tumultuous lives of meth users from Sand Mountain, a sandstone plateau in northeast Alabama infamous for extreme poverty, poultry processing plants, Pentecostal snake-handlers, and meth production. The images simultaneously reinforce and undermine assumptions of what it means to be a methamphetamine user and present an intimate look into the lives of those who struggle amidst drug use and diminished social status.
Jerry Takigawa
United States
1945
Jerry Takigawa studied photography with Don Worth at San Francisco State University and received a degree in art with an emphasis in painting. He has been the recipient of a variety of photographic honors and awards including the Imogen Cunningham Award (1982); nominated for the Santa Fe Prize (2007); nominated for the Prix Pictet (2013, 2016); Critical Mass Top 50 (2017, 2020); The Clarence John Laughlin Award (2017); LensCulture, Fine Art Photography Awards Finalist (2018); New York Center for Photographic Art, Humans, First Place (2018); CENTER Awards, Curator's Choice-First Place (2018); the Rhonda Wilson Award (2020); and the Foto Forum Santa Fe Award, Santa Fe NM (2021). Internationally exhibited, his work is included in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Crocker Art Museum, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, and the Monterey Museum of Art. Takigawa lives and works in Carmel Valley, California. False Food False Food underscores a plastic pollution epidemic that we now know is universally destructive and, tragically, man-made. False Food portrays pieces of plastic waste, recovered from the stomachs of dead albatross, placed in surprising and unfamiliar contexts. Presenting the problem in a different light can promote new ways to think about (and act on) it. Negative images trigger our reptilian brain where clear, ethical thinking is lacking. In this way, warnings about terror can become acts of terror themselves-amplifying fear and blinding us to answers. I believe aesthetically recontextualizing environmental threat opens the heart to not turn away. In this way I wanted to make something transformative-something that didn't terrorize consciousness, but elevated it. Balancing Cultures In Balancing Cultures, I am working with layers of meaning, memory, family, and- centrally-the actions and consequences of Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066. Issued in 1942, it caused the incarceration of 120,000 American citizens and legal residents of Japanese ancestry. My recent discovery of family photographs, taken in the WWII American concentration camps, compelled me to examine my family's unspoken feelings of shame and loss. I wanted to give voice to those feelings, which they had kept concealed for fear of retribution.
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