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Joel-Peter Witkin
Joel-Peter Witkin

Joel-Peter Witkin

Country: United States
Birth: 1939

Joel-Peter Witkin (born September 13, 1939, in Brooklyn, New York City) is an American photographer who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work often deals with such themes as death, corpses (and sometimes dismembered portions thereof), and various outsiders such as dwarves, transsexuals, hermaphrodites, and physically deformed people. Witkin's complex tableaux often recall religious episodes or classical paintings. Witkin was born to a Jewish father and Roman Catholic mother. His twin brother, Jerome Witkin,[2] and son Kersen Witkin, are also painters. Witkin's parents divorced when he was young because they were unable to overcome their religious differences. He attended grammar school at Saint Cecelia's in Brooklyn and went on to Grover Cleveland High School. Between 1961 and 1964 he was a war photographer documenting the Vietnam war. Going freelance in 1967, he became the official photographer for City Walls Inc. He attended Cooper Union in New York where he studied sculpture, attaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1974. After Columbia University granted him a scholarship, he ended his studies at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where he became Master of Fine Arts.
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Martin Elkort
United States
1929 | † 2016
Martin Edward Elkort (April 18, 1929 - November 19, 2016) was an American photographer, illustrator and writer known primarily for his street photography. Prints of his work are held and displayed by several prominent art museums in the United States. His photographs have regularly appeared in galleries and major publications. Early black and white photographs by Elkort feature the fabled Lower East Side in Manhattan, New York City, showing its ethnic diversity, myriad streets and cluttered alleys. The Coney Island amusement park in Brooklyn was another favorite site during that period. His later work depicts street scenes from downtown Los Angeles and Tijuana, Mexico. Throughout Martin Elkort's long career as a photographer, he always showed the positive, joyful side of life in his candid images. Born in the Bronx, New York City, Martin Elkort grew up during the Great Depression. Elkort took his first professional photograph at the age of 10 while on a car trip with his parents to Baltimore. During the trip, he took photographs of flooded streets. The Baltimore Sun purchased his photographs of flood scenes and featured one of them on its front page. At the age of 15, he suffered a bout with polio and spent four months in the hospital. When he returned home, his parents gave him his first Ciroflex, a twin-lens reflex camera, that cost them about a week’s salary. After his recovery from polio, he set out around Manhattan taking pictures of whatever interested him. While studying at New York City's Cooper Union School of Art, Elkort joined the New York Photo League, an organization of photographers that served as the epicenter of the documentary movement in American photography. There he studied under successful photographers including Paul Strand, Aaron Siskind, Sid Grossman, Lou Stoumen, Imogen Cunningham and Weegee, learning to become adept at what he refers to as "stealth photography". With a more refined Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex camera strapped around his neck, he would roam the streets peering down into the 2×2 inch ground glass. He developed the skill of walking right up to a person and taking their photo without them even realizing it. His goal was to capture this post-war period's general optimism and innocence. During this period he worked at the Wildenstein & Company Gallery and later, the Stephen Michael Studio in Manhattan where he further enhanced his photographic knowledge and technique. In 1948, Elkort showed his pictures of Hasidic Jewish boys playing in the streets to Edward Steichen, who was curator of photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art and probably America's most famous photographer at the time. Steichen rejected his photos, describing Martin's skills as "no better than the other 35 million amateur photographers in the country." Dejected but determined, Elkort worked tirelessly to improve his craft and two years later, he met with Steichen again. This time the famous curator bought three of his images for the museum's collection: Soda Fountain Girl, Puppy Love, and The Girl With Black Cat, all uplifting images of children at Coney Island. Elkort's photographs (c. 1951) of recently liberated Jewish immigrants learning new work skills at the Bramson ORT (Organization for Rehabilitation and Training) School in Brooklyn offer a rare and intimate glimpse into of their optimistic struggle to integrate into a new society after World War II. Some of his pictures show Jewish workers bearing tattoos evidencing their incarceration in Nazi concentration camps during The Holocaust. In 1951, more than 20,000 Jews received vocational training at the Bramson ORT School. Seamstresses, tailors, pattern makers, pressers; here they learned a trade that was much needed in New York’s growing fashion and garment district. In 2008, Elkort donated 33 of his vintage ORT photographs to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.. Elkort was a member of New York Photo League from 1948–1951; an editorial associate and contributor to New Mexico Magazine in 1957; a founding member in 2002 of Los Angeles League of Photographers (LALOP); a contributing editor and contributed photographs to Rangefinder Magazine in 2006; and a member of the Photography Arts Council at Los Angeles County Museum of Art. After receiving a digital camera for his 70th birthday, Martin's photographic career re-ignited. He began to show his current and older work in galleries around the country. He also found a renewed interest in the New York Photo League. In 2002, he co-founded the Los Angeles League of Photographers along with David Schulman and David Stork. Modeled after the New York Photo League, its mission is to expose the wider public to photography's essential social, political and aesthetic values. He also writes articles for magazines dealing with photography including Rangefinder and Black & White Magazine. As of March 2014, Elkort's work is widely exhibited and can be found in the permanent collections of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Modern Art in New York City; The Jewish Museum (Manhattan) in New York City; the Columbus Museum of Art; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles; as well as many corporate and private collections.Source: Wikipedia
Max Yavno
United States
1911 | † 1985
Max Yavno (1911–1985) was a photographer who specialized in street scenes, especially in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. The son of Russian immigrants, Yavno was born in New York on April 26, 1911. He had one sister. He was married at age 19 and divorced three years later. He died in April 1985 of complications resulting from a fall in a shower. Yavno worked as a Wall Street messenger while attending City College of New York at night. He attended the graduate school of political economics at Columbia University and worked in the Stock Exchange before becoming a social worker in 1935. He did photography for the Works Progress Administration from 1936 to 1942. He was president of the Photo League in 1938 and 1939. Yavno was in the U.S. Air Force from 1942 to 1945, after which he moved to San Francisco and began specializing in urban-landscape photography. History professor Constance B. Schulz said of him: For financial reasons he worked as a commercial advertising photographer for the next twenty years (1954–75), creating finely crafted still lifes that appeared in Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. He returned to artistic landscape photography in the 1970s, when his introspective approach found a more appreciative audience. Funding from the National Endowment for the Arts enabled him to travel to Egypt and Israel in 1979. He also captured a pre-Dodgers Chavez Ravine, a giant plaster leg on top of a building in in West Los Angeles and a "nostalgic" shot of a cable car being turned around at Powell and Market streets in San Francisco. His noted photograph of a crowd watching "sun-worshipping body builders at Muscle Beach in Venice" sold at auction in 1984 for almost $4,000. He said he had spent three Sundays at the beach before the subjects "stopped flexing for his camera and resumed posing for each other." His obituary in the Los Angeles Times said that: Melrose Avenue photo gallery owner G. Ray Hawkins, who represented Yavno and exhibited his works, called him a "social documentarian" and noted that he had "a very special ability for combining composition and content while capturing his social vignettes." Photographer Edward Steichen selected twenty of Yavno's prints for the permanent collection at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1950, and the next year Yavno won a Guggenheim fellowship. Source Wikipedia
Ilse Bing
Germany
1899 | † 1998
Ilse Bing was one of the leading European photographers of the interwar period. She was born into a comfortable Jewish family in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1899. As a child her education was rich in music and art. In 1920 she began studying mathematics and physics at the University of Frankfurt, but soon changed to study the history of art. In 1924 she continued her studies with a doctorate on the Neo-Classical German architect Friedrich Gilly. Bing's introduction to photography was triggered by a practical need to illustrate her doctoral thesis. She bought a Voigtlander camera in 1928 and began to teach herself photography. The following year she bought a Leica, the new and revolutionary 35mm hand-held camera that enabled photographers to capture fast-moving events. As well as enabling her to photograph buildings for her thesis, Bing's newfound skill with the camera earned her an extra living as a photojournalist for a German illustrated magazine supplement, Das Illustriete Blatt. During these early days of her career, Bing was also commissioned by the Dutch modernist architect Mart Stam, who taught at the Bauhaus school of design, to visually record all of his housing projects in Frankfurt. The resulting photographs were characterized by dizzy angles, flat planes and strong shadows, which were characteristic of an emerging modernist language of art and design, pioneered by both the new architecture and the 'New Photography' movement, of which Bing was beginning to be a part. Through Stam, Bing was also introduced to Frankfurt's avant-garde artistic circles. Having found some commercial success with photography, and with her artistic horizons expanding, Bing gave up her thesis in the summer of 1929 and, in 1930, decided to move to Paris to concentrate on photography. Establishing herself in Paris as a freelance photographer, she applied elements of the photographic style she had experimented with in Frankfurt to commercial work, including photojournalism, architectural and theatrical photography, advertising, fashion and portraiture. For the first couple of years in the city, she published her work regularly with German newspapers and Das Illustriete Blat. Gradually, she also started to publish work in the leading French illustrated newspapers such as L'Illustration, Le Monde Illustré and Regards, and from about 1932, she increasingly worked for fashion magazines Vogue, Adam, Marchal, and the American Harper's Bazaar. She explored Paris' rich historic past and its worn and weathered environments as well as its modern urban scenes, photographing the exhausted grandeur of the Père Lachaise cemetery, dark apartment blocks reflected in gutters, or the layering of torn posters on a wooden fence. Her fascination with shadow, contrasts of light and dark, and basic geometrical shapes also informed her portraiture. Her photograph of a young girl (Flower Girl, 1931) staring into the distance demonstrates her skill as a portraitist. The large flowers in the background contrast with the delicate bright flowers on the girl's dress, and the shadows behind highlight the bright young face. When on assignment, Bing would take extra pictures for her own artistic interests, and she quickly built up a large body of work. During a commission to photograph the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret, for example, she made a series of photographs of dancers, which formed her first exhibition in Paris in 1931. Later that year, her photographs caught the attention of the photographer and critic Emmanuel Sougez, who praised their dynamism. Nicknaming Bing 'the Queen of the Leica', Sougez continued to be an important and influential supporter of her work throughout the 1930s. In 1931 Bing met the New York-based writer Hendrik Willem van Loon, who became her most important patron and introduced her work to American clients. Van Loon showed her work to the collector and gallerist Julien Lévy, who subsequently displayed her work in the exhibition Modern European Photography: Twenty Photographers at his New York Gallery in 1932. Bing also frequently exhibited in Parisian galleries, where her work was shown alongside that of Brassaï, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Florence Henri, Man Ray and André Kértesz. In a trip to New York, Bing met Alfred Stieglitz, a leading figure in the American photographic world and great supporter of modern photography. We can see the influence of Stieglitz's vision on the photographs Bing made of the city following their meeting. In Bing's image of a carriage in Central park, the cropped dark outline of the carriage and its driver dominate the composition, providing a stark contrast to the wispy trees and gentle cityscape in the background – stylistically reminiscent of Stieglitz's work The Terminal (1892). Bing also absorbed the styles of other contemporary American artists – some of whom she met through Stieglitz. Her street scenes, for example Barber College, New York (1936), can be likened to scenes from contemporary American realist painting. After returning to Paris in 1937, Bing married the German pianist Konrad Wolff, whom she had met in 1933 when they lived in the same block of flats. Bing kept her maiden name for her photographic activities, but also used the name Ilse Bing Wolff. She took fewer photographs during the late 1930s, though she continued to find inspiration in Paris, and explored different subject-matter, including still life work. The outbreak of the Second World War changed everything. In 1940 Bing and Wolff, who were both Jewish, were forced to leave Paris and were interned in separate camps in the south of France. Bing spent six weeks in a camp in the Pyrenees, before rejoining her husband in Marseille. The couple spent nine months there, awaiting visas for the US. Eventually, with the support of the fashion editor of Harper's Bazaar, they were able to leave for the US in June 1941. Although Bing had managed to take her negatives with her, she left all of her prints behind in Paris under the safekeeping of a friend. They were sent on to Marseille but Bing and her husband had left already France by the time they arrived. The prints remained in Marseille – in a shipping company's warehouse – miraculously missing the many bombs that fell on the port, until the end of the War, when they were finally sent to Bing in New York. Tragically, when they arrived, Bing was unable to pay the customs duty for all of them. She had to sift through the prints and decide which to keep and which to throw away – some of her most important vintage prints were lost at this time. Five years after her successful visit to New York in 1936, Bing returned to an altogether different environment. This was partly due to changing fashions in photography, and partly because of the large number of photographers who had, like Bing, fled Europe and were now seeking work. Bing found it hard to gain commissions for reportage work and worked much less as a photojournalist from this point on, though she continued to take portraits – especially of children – and exhibited her work throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s. Bing returned to Paris twice after the war, in 1947 and in 1952, and once again photographed the city that she had loved so much in the 1930s. According to Bing, these later Paris photographs are infused with a different spirit. Influenced by the war, she saw things on a more impersonal, isolated level. In the late 1950s, Bing eventually gave up photography, wanting to make more abstract work through poems and line drawings, and later, collage.Source: Victoria and Albert Museum
Valerie Laney
United States
1964
Valerie Elizabeth Laney was born in sunny San Diego, California, and was raised in rural North Carolina, where she spent endless summers catching tadpoles and chasing fireflies and exploring the surrounding woods, creeks and tobacco fields. Growing up in and around nature inspired her to spread her wings, and she has spent years exploring and photographing our wondrous planet. Valerie holds a degree in Visual Design from North Carolina State University, College of Design which, when combined with a career as a Graphic Designer, enhances her skill in composition as well as visual story telling. Photography was a natural outcome of her love of nature and her skill as an artist; and it has become her passion to capture images of unique places, diverse landscapes and fascinating cultures. A love of adventure sends her on photo expeditions to places like Iceland, Madagascar and the steppes of Mongolia, where her photographs capture majestic landscapes, native cultures, wildlife and underwater marine life. Valerie loves sharing her photography and hopes it inspires dreams, travel and memories for her growing audience. Statement Photography allows one to capture the world in a way that is unique to the beholder. Photos are visual story telling, but yet, everyone is left to their own interpretation of the story that is being told. So in that way, photography allows both the photographer and the onlooker to take part in the creative process. I compose photos to give a sense of what is happening in the shot: viewers should feel the cold, smell the air, and feel like they can anticipate the moments that followed as if they were present.
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AAP Magazine #22: Streets
AAP Magazine #22: Streets
Solo Exhibition December 2021

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