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John Thomson
John Thomson
John Thomson

John Thomson

Country: Scotland
Birth: 1837 | Death: 1921

John Thomson, one of the great figures of nineteenth century photography, is known for the unusual and exotic nature of his chosen subject matter. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1837, Thomson took up photography as a profession in his early twenties. For ten years, from 1862, he traveled and explored the Far East, visiting Hong Kong, Singapore, Penang and the Malay Peninsula, Siam, Cambodia, Vietnam, Formosa and especially China.

Utilizing a large wooden box-type camera capable of accommodating a glass plate of up to 12 x 16 inches, John Thomson photographed commoners and kings, attempting to capture the individual behind the veneer of social status. His photographic record of the Far East documented a complete panorama of the cultures and people of the Far East at a time when Westerners were a few and curious lot. John Thomson not only created a photographic history, but also wrote numerous articles and books on his travels and views of life in the Far East.

There is no doubt that it was Thomson’s sympathetic approach to his subjects, and the dignity with which he embued them, as much as his great technical expertise, which enabled him to produce such an outstanding photographic documentary. It is this marriage between sensitivity, technical expertise and sheer professionalism, not to mention his voluminous literary output and descriptions of the scenes and people, which he photographed, that has earned Thomson the title of the ‘first of the great photo-journalists’. His work, which has only recently gained full recognition, represents one of the great photo-historical records in the history of documentary photography.
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Filip Gierlinski
United Kingdom
My uncle is a very accomplished craftsman and very keen and skilled amateur photographer. I always loved to see him draw, paint, design and gave me my fist Minolta x370 35mm manual camera when I was about 8, so it started there. At school and Uni I studied art subjects. I graduated in Graphic Design, worked for a year as a junior designer, but all the time thought I wanted to be the guy who came into our office with a contact sheet of commissioned photography, and not the guy sitting at a screen and designing the layouts for his photos. A friend was working in a Commercial Photo studio and needed some summer intern cover, and I jumped at the chance. 3 months tuned into nearly 4 years at the studio, and I learnt the skills, techniques, discipline, equipment and it opened my eyes to the industry and business of commercial photography. I have always had a passion for travel and I was eager to get outside, into the sun, and shoot people and places...we worked on products, catalogues and room sets at the studio which was an amazing experience and training, but not what I most desired to be shooting. I was fortunate enough to learn my trade in the days of film, and came to professional photography just as digital was breaking in and the industry was opening up and shifting. This gave me the technical skills of shooting on film for many years, and the ability to by my first semi-pro digital slr and advertise online for freelance jobs - so I had the best of (understanding) both worlds. After some travel and teaching TEFL with my wife, we came back to the UK and I started to freelance, shooting mostly art projects, working for the Arts Council and delivering educational programmes, and all the time slowly building up my freelance business. So since about 2003 I have worked as a commercial and corporate photographer, covering a wide range of subjects and industries and have had the opportunity to work with some amazing and diverse clients. The work as a tutor gives me the opportunity to travel and practice my craft and I bring that inspiration back to my business. Part of my early freelance work was shooting business portraits, and so I started to advertise specifically for Corporate Headshots and Portraits as a separate arm of my work, and this has become the main source of my income and commissions over the past few years. I have shot for huge companies with 1000's employees, as well as small businesses, professionals and entrepreneurs. I try to bring a sense of style and creativity, and an editorial feel to the ‘Corporate Headshot' and think that defines me with a distinctive look and product. I enjoy bringing a bit of creativity and style into the corporate world in my own little way, and years of shooting 1000s of people means I can read with my sitters quickly, make them feel at ease and connect with them which is something that shows through in my portraits. The skill is to do that within the 4 or 5 minutes I have with each person, sometimes up to 60-100 times a day! Most recently I shot a campaign for a bowling alley company, working with a sports marketing agency, and so in between my corporate work and travels, I work with agencies for hospitality, sports and automotive industries. Working on set with director Shane Meadows was a great experience, as well as shooting the bands I loved since I was a kid from the press pit and back stage at rock festivals - a real pinch yourself moment. As I often photograph a lot of faces and people in my daily work, it is always nice to get a luxury hotel commission where it's all about the rooms and design, architecture and details and make for a pleasurable change of pace. I was born in Poland in 1977, at 2 months packed into basket and flown to Tunis as my father was a civil engineer and contracted out there for a few years. We then lived in Poland and France and then moved to the UK when I was a child and so travel is in my blood. Since then I have been lucky to visit so many amazing countries. I have never really had money to just go travel, but always seeked out jobs where I could see the world. I have spent time as a tour guide in South America, teaching English in Nepal and India, and more recently working as a tutor has taken me all over the world. I have been lucky enough to be able to balance seeing the world, with a family life and earning here in the UK. I don't shoot travel stock or go with any intent to produce a commercial library, but more to see the people, to document their lives, to capture a story, as I feel my travel images are much more personal stories and of a more editorial feel than commercial. This may all change as i shoot new projects and seek to follow my vision. It is still my dream to find a way to move more towards travel and editorial commissions but I am lucky to be able to make ends meet through a job that I love every day.
Philip Jones Griffiths
Wales
1936 | † 2008
Born in Rhuddlan, Wales, Philip Jones Griffiths studied pharmacy in Liverpool and worked in London while photographing part-time for the Manchester Guardian. In 1961 he became a full-time freelancer for the London-based Observer. He covered the Algerian War in 1962, then moved to Central Africa. From there he moved to Asia, photographing in Vietnam from 1966 to 1971. His book on the war, Vietnam Inc., crystallized public opinion and gave form to Western misgivings about American involvement in Vietnam. One of the most detailed surveys of any conflict, Vietnam Inc. is also an in-depth document of Vietnamese culture under attack. An associate member of Magnum since 1966, Griffiths became a member in 1971. In 1973 he covered the Yom Kippur War and then worked in Cambodia between 1973 and 1975. In 1977 he covered Asia from his base in Thailand. In 1980 Griffiths moved to New York to assume the presidency of Magnum, a post he held for a record five years. Griffiths' assignments, often self-engineered, took him to more than 120 countries. He continued to work for major publications such as Life and Geo on stories such as Buddhism in Cambodia, droughts in India, poverty in Texas, the re-greening of Vietnam, and the legacy of the Gulf War in Kuwait. His continued revisiting of Vietnam, examining the legacy of the war, lead to his two further books ‘Agent Orange’ and ‘Vietnam at Peace’. Griffiths' work reflects on the unequal relationship between technology and humanity, summed up in his book Dark Odyssey. Human foolishness always attracted Griffiths' eye, but, faithful to the ethics of the Magnum founders, he believed in human dignity and in the capacity for improvement. Philip Jones Griffiths died at home in West London on 19th March 2008From en.wikipedia.orgJones Griffiths was born in Rhuddlan, to Joseph Griffiths, who supervised the local trucking service of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, and Catherine Jones, Rhuddlan's district nurse, who ran a small maternity clinic at home. He studied pharmacy in Liverpool and worked in London as the night manager at the Piccadilly branch of Boots, while also working as a part-time photographer for the Manchester Guardian. His first photograph was of a friend, taken with the family Brownie in a rowboat off Holyhead. Jones Griffiths never married, saying it was a "bourgeois" notion, but that he had had "significant" relationships. Survived by Fanella Ferrato and Katherine Holden, his daughters from long-term relationships with Donna Ferrato and Heather Holden. He died from cancer on March 19, 2008. Journalist John Pilger wrote in tribute to Griffiths soon after his death: "I never met a foreigner who cared as wisely for the Vietnamese, or about ordinary people everywhere under the heel of great power, as Philip Jones Griffiths. He was the greatest photographer and one of the finest journalists of my lifetime, and a humanitarian to match…. His photographs of ordinary people, from his beloved Wales to Vietnam and the shadows of Cambodia, make you realise who the true heroes are. He was one of them." Griffiths started work as a full-time freelance photographer in 1961 for the Observer, travelling to Algeria in 1962. He arrived in Vietnam in 1966, working for the Magnum agency. Magnum found his images difficult to sell to American magazines, as they concentrated on the suffering of the Vietnamese people and reflected his view of the war as an episode in the continuing decolonisation of former European possessions. However, he was eventually able to get a scoop that the American outlets liked: photographs of Jackie Kennedy vacationing with a male friend in Cambodia. The proceeds from these photos enabled him to continue his coverage of Vietnam and to publish Vietnam Inc. in 1971. Vietnam Inc. had a major influence on American perceptions of the war, and became a classic of photojournalism. The book was the result of Griffiths' three years work in the country and it stands as one of the most detailed surveys of any conflict, including descriptions of the horrors of the war as well as a study of Vietnamese rural life and views from serving American soldiers. Probably one of its most quoted passages is of a US army source discussing napalm: ‘We sure are pleased with those backroom boys at Dow. The original product wasn’t so hot - if the gooks were quick they could scrape it off. So the boys started adding polystyrene - now it sticks like shit to a blanket. But if the gooks jumped under water it stopped burning, so they started adding Willie Peter (white phosphorus) so’s to make it burn better. And just one drop is enough, it’ll keep on burning right down to the bone so they die anyway from phosphorus poisoning.’ The South Vietnamese president, Nguyen Van Thieu, criticized Griffiths' work, remarking "Let me tell you there are many people I don't want back in my country, but I can assure you Mr. Griffiths name is at the top of the list." In 1973, Griffiths covered the Yom Kippur War. He then worked in Cambodia from 1973 to 1975. In 1980, he became the president of Magnum, a position he then held for five years. In 2001 Vietnam Inc. was reprinted with a foreword by Noam Chomsky. Subsequent books have included Dark Odyssey, a collection of his best pictures, and Agent Orange, dealing with the impact of the US defoliant Agent Orange on postwar generations in Vietnam. After becoming aware of his terminal condition, Jones Griffiths launched a foundation to preserve his archives. His daughters helm the foundation, which as of July 2008 lacked a permanent home. Source: www.magnumphotos.com
Madame d’Ora
Austria
1881 | † 1963
Dora Philippine Kallmus, also known as Madame D'Ora or Madame d'Ora, was an Austrian fashion and portrait photographer. Born in Vienna, Austria, in 1881 to a Jewish family, into a privileged background and coming of age amidst the creative and intellectual atmosphere of fin-de-siècle Vienna, Kallmus was extremely well cultured. Her father was a lawyer. Her sister, Anna, was born in 1878 and deported in 1941 during the Holocaust. Although her mother, Malvine (née Sonnenberg), died when she was young, her family remained an important source of emotional and financial support throughout her career. At age 23 while on a trip to the Côte d’Azur, she purchased her first camera, a Kodak box camera. She became interested in the photography field while assisting the son of the painter Hans Makart, and in 1905 she was the first woman to be admitted to theory courses at the Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt (Graphic Training Institute), which in 1908 granted women access to other courses in photography. That same year she became a member of the Association of Austrian photographers. She was the first woman photographer in Vienna to open her own studio and in May 1906, she was listed in the commercial register as a photographer for the first time. She established her studio called the Atelier d’Ora or Madame D'Ora-Benda with Arthur Benda. The name was based on the pseudonym "Madame d'Ora", which she used professionally. Self-styled simply as d’Ora, she initially took portraits of friends and members from her social circle. In the autumn of 1909, an exhibition of her work received a lively response from the press. Critics both praised the artistic style of her portraits and emphasized the prominent individuals who streamed in to view the show. Over the course of her lifetime, d’Ora turned her lens on many artists, including Josephine Baker, Colette, Gustav Klimt, Tamara de Lempicka, and Pablo Picasso, among others. Alongside these commissions, she also photographed members of the Habsburg family and Viennese aristocracy, the Rothschild family, and other prominent cultural figures and politicians. D’Ora had close ties to avant-garde artistic circles and captured members of the Expressionist dance movement with her lens, including Anita Berber and Sebastian Droste. Fashion and glamor subjects were another important mainstay of her business. She regularly photographed Wiener Werkstätte fashion models and the designer Emilie Flöge of the Schwestern Flöge salon wearing artistic reform dresses. When d’Ora moved to Paris in 1925, she shifted her focus to fashion, covering the couture scene and leading lights of the period until 1940. She befriended key figures, such as the French milliner Madame Agnès and the Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga, as well as the top fashion magazine editors of the day. She also helped create and sustain glamorous images for a variety of celebrities, including Cecil Beaton, Maurice Chevalier, and Colette. When the Nazis seized control of Paris in 1940, she was forced to close her studio and flee. She spent the war years in a semi-underground existence living in Ardèche in the southeast of France. Her sister Anna Kallmus, along with other family and friends, died in the Chełmno concentration camp. After World War II, d’Ora returned to Paris, profoundly affected by personal losses. While she lacked an elegant studio in Paris, d’Ora’s lasting connections to wealthy clients remained and many of them returned to her. While she accepted portrait commissions, mostly for financial stability, she also pushed into new, sometimes darker directions. Around 1948, she embarked on an astonishing series of photographs in displaced persons or refugee camps, which was commissioned by the United Nations. From around 1949 to 1958, d’Ora worked on a project, which she called “my big final work.” She visited numerous slaughterhouses in Paris, and amid the pools of blood and deathly screams, she stood in an elegant suit and a hat photographing the butchered animals hundreds of times. She died on 28 October 1963. Four years prior, she had sustained injuries after being hit by a motorcycle in Paris, resulting in her returning to Vienna.Source: Wikipedia
Arthur Tress
United States
1940
Arthur Tress (born November 24, 1940) is an American photographer. He is known for his staged surrealism and exposition of the human body. Tress was born in Brooklyn, New York. The youngest of four children in a divorced family, Tress spent time in his early life with both his father, who remarried and lived in an upper-class neighborhood, and his mother, who remained single after the divorce and whose life was not nearly so luxurious. At age 12 he began to photograph circus freaks and dilapidated buildings around Coney Island in New York City, where he grew up. Tress studied at Abraham Lincoln High School in Coney Island, and gained a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. After graduating from Bard College in 1962, Tress moved to Paris, France to attend film school. While living in France, he traveled to Japan, Africa, Mexico, and throughout Europe. He observed many secluded tribes and cultures and was fascinated by the roles played by the shaman of the different groups of people. The cultures to which he was introduced would play a role in his later work. Tress spent the spring and summer of 1964 in San Francisco, documenting the Republican Convention that nominated Barry Goldwater, civil rights demonstrations at segregated car dealerships on Van Ness Avenue, and the Beatles launching their 1964 tour. Tress took over 900 photographs that were put away and re-discovered in 2009, and featured in a show at San Francisco's deYoung Museum. He currently resides in San Francisco, California. Source: Wikipedia Arthur Tress began his first camera work as a teenager in the surreal neighborhood of Coney Island where he spent hours exploring the decaying amusement parks. Later, during five years of world travel, mostly in Asia and Africa, he developed an interest in ethnographical photography that eventually led him to his first professional assignment as a U.S. government photographer recording the endangered folk cultures of Appalachia. Seeing the destructive results of corporate resource extraction, Tress began to use his camera to raise environmental awareness about the economic and human costs of pollution. Focusing on New York City, he began to photograph the neglected fringes of the urban waterfront with a straight documentary approach. This gradually evolved into a more personal mode of “magic realism” combining improvised elements of actual life with stage fantasy that became his hallmark style of directorial fabrication. In the late 1960s Tress was inspired to do a series based upon children's dreams that combined his interests in ritual ceremony, Jungian archetypes, and social allegory. Later bodies of work dealing with the hidden dramas of adult relationships and the reenactments of male homosexual desire evolved from this primarily theatrical approach. Beginning in the early 1980s, Tress began shooting in color, creating room-sized painted sculptural installations out of found medical equipment in an abandoned hospital on New York's Welfare Island. This led to a smaller scale exploration of narrative still life within a children's toy theater and a portable nineteenth-century aquarium. Around 2002, Tress returned to gelatin silver, exploring more formalist themes in the style of mid- century modernism, often combining a spontaneous shooting style with a constructivist's sense of architectural composition and abstract shape. In addition to images of California skateboard parks, his recent work includes the round images of the series Planets and the diamond-shaped images of Pointers. Source: www.arthurtress.com
Irving Penn
United States
1917 | † 2009
Irving Penn was born on June 16, 1917 in Plainfield, New Jersey, to Harry Penn and Sonia Greenberg. In 1922, Irving Penn's younger brother, Arthur Penn, was born, who would go on to become a film director and producer. Irving Penn attended the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art (now the University of the Arts) from 1934 to 1938, where he studied drawing, painting, graphics, and industrial arts under Alexey Brodovitch. While still a student, Penn worked under Brodovitch at Harper's Bazaar, where several of Penn's drawings were published. Irving Penn worked for two years as a freelance designer and making his first amateur photographs before taking Brodovitch's position as the art director at Saks Fifth Avenue in 1940. Penn remained at Saks Fifth Avenue for a year before leaving to spend a year painting and taking photographs in Mexico and across the US. When Irving Penn returned to New York, Alexander Liberman offered him a position as an associate in the Vogue magazine Art Department, where Penn worked on layout before Liberman asked him to try his hand at photography for the magazine. Irving Penn photographed his first cover for Vogue magazine in 1943 and continued to work at the magazine throughout his career, shooting covers, portraits, still lifes, fashion, and photographic essays. In the 1950s, Penn founded his own studio in New York and began making advertising photographs. Over the years, Penn's list of clients grew to include General Foods, De Beers, Issey Miyake, and Clinique. Irving Penn met fashion model Lisa Fonssagrives at a photo shoot in 1947. In 1950, the two married at Chelsea Register Office, and two years later Lisa gave birth to their son, Tom Penn, who would go on to become a metal designer. Lisa Fonssagrives died in 1992. Irving Penn died aged 92 on October 7, 2009 at his home in Manhattan. Source: Wikipedia
Georges Rousse
France
1947
Georges Rousse (born July 28, 1947) is a French photographer, painter, and installation artist. He has been taking photos since receiving his first camera at the age of nine, but he never formally attended art school to pursue photography. Instead, he attended medical school in Nice, but studied photography and printing on the side. He currently lives in Paris.Source: Wikipedia When he was 9 years old, Georges Rousse received the legendary Kodak Brownie camera as a Christmas gift. Since then, the camera has never left his side. While attending medical school in Nice, he decided to study professional photography and printing techniques, then opened his own studio dedicated to architectural photography. Soon, his passion for the medium led him to devote himself entirely to photography, following in the footsteps of such great American masters as Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adams. After he discovered Land Art and Malevich's Black Square against a white field, Georges Rousse altered his relationship to photography, inventing a unique approach that shifted the relationship of painting to space. He began making installations in the types of abandoned or derelict buildings that have long held an attraction for him--creating ephemeral, one-of-a-kind artworks by transforming these sites into pictorial spaces that are visible only in his photographs. From the early 1980s on, Georges Rousse has chosen to show his photographs on a large scale, so that his viewers participate in the work and experience the sense of space in a compelling way. Collapsing the usual restrictions between artistic mediums, his unique body of work quickly made its mark on the contemporary art world. Since his first exhibition in Paris, at the Galerie de France in 1981, Georges Rousse has continued creating his installations and showing his photographs around the world, in Europe, in Asia (Japan, Korea, China, Nepal.), in the United States, in Quebec and in Latin America. He is represented by several European galleries and his works are included in many major collections the world over. Georges Rousse was born in 1947 in Paris, where he currently lives andworks.Source: www.georgesrousse.com French artist and photographer Georges Rousse, converts abandoned or soon-to-be-demolished buildings into surprising visions of color and shape. Rousse translates his intuitive, instinctual readings of space into masterful images of several “realities”: that of the actual space, wherein the installation is created; the artist’s imagined mise-en-scène, realized from a single perspective; and the final photograph, or the reality flattened. Since his first exhibition in 1981 at the Galerie de France in Paris, Rousse has continued creating his one-of-a-kind installations and photographs around the globe. His work has exhibited in the Grand Palais (Paris), Hirshhorn Museum (Washington, D.C.), Haggerty Museum (WI), House of Culture (La Paz, Honduras), Sivori Museum (Buenos Aires), and National Art Museum of China, among hundreds of others. In 1988, he received the International Center of Photography Award. In 2008, Georges Rousse succeeded Sol LeWitt as an associate member of the Belgian Royal Academy.Source: Sous Les Etoiles Gallery
Sumaya Agha
Syria/United States
1970
Sumaya Agha is a freelance photographer based in Portland, OR, who began documenting the Syrian refugee crisis over four years ago in Jordan and Europe. She is of Syrian descent with many aunts, uncles, and cousins still living in Damascus. Sumaya holds a BS in Applied Art and Design with a concentration in Photography from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, CA and an MPA from Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Her worked appeared in the Huffington Post, BBC Focus on Africa, Forbes Africa, and NPR.org, and she was a still photographer for the Academy Award winning film “The Fog of War.” She has lived in Syria, Liberia, and the United States. Watching from afar as civil war ripped apart Syria, I felt compelled to help the refugees whose lives have been destroyed by the conflict. And with dozens of close relatives enduring the horrors in their hometown of Damascus, I had a personal connection to the crisis. I moved to Amman, Jordan in 2012 and began working as a photographer for humanitarian organizations helping mitigate the crisis that had spilled over from neighboring Syria. While in Jordan, I spent many days in the refugee camps and host communities, getting to know countless families living there and documenting their substandard living conditions. I heard myriad stories of heartbreaking loss and brutality and enduring spirit, and found that hopelessness is pervasive among the young, as they cannot see a future for themselves. In January 2016 I went on assignment to Macedonia and Serbia to photograph the refugees migrating through the Balkans. Throughout the freezing winter, 2,200 refugees per day crossed into Serbia. Up to 10,000 a day crossed in warmer months. They came from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, including many families with young children. The typical journey went like this: flee their home country, take a perilous raft ride from Turkey to Greece, and then move onward through foreign lands in search of a peaceful home. Now that the Balkan borders are closed to refugees, thousands are stranded in Eastern Europe, hoping to be relocated to Western Europe. More than 60,000 refugees are in camps throughout Greece, including Ritsona Refugee Camp, where I went on assignment in July to document the crisis. With no end in sight to the conflict in Syria and elsewhere, the refugee crisis is certain to continue right along with it. That means millions of regular people continuing to seek safety and some sense of normalcy in the absence of peace.
Thomas Crauwels
Switzerland
1983
I live at the service of these impetuous guardians of the eternal snows. Watching their light, vibrating to the rhythm of their beauty has become second nature. I like to live these moments of contemplation of panoramas both frozen and changing, which feed me with their greatness. In these moments, I taste peace and melt into the landscape. When the clouds are absent, when my gaze goes on forever and I can let my inspiration flow freely. Without any particular goal. Just to live. To let myself be carried. At other times, I become a truth hunter. I look for the ephemeral moments. The coming storm. The elements colliding. The wind, the air, the rock, creating a chaos that engulfs me in intense and intoxicating sensations. These minutes where I hold my breath so much they are nimbered of a perfection which exceeds me and carries me in a different space. A space that my eye and its accomplice, my camera, know how to capture. Suddenly, everything calms down. Just after the fin of the world, the revelation of another world arrives. Before my amazed gaze, my senses on the alert, the clouds are torn apart like the curtain rises on a new show. The highest summits are adorned with another light, a new contrast. Nature creates before my eyes. Trembling with an inner joy, I try to capture impermanence. It is like a miracle always renewed. Just after the storm, when the first rays of sunlight illuminate the peaks with their royal light. My daily life is punctuated by the study of weather forecasts. Detecting the approach of the forces of nature. A subtle alliance between intuition and the rational study of the elements. I am at one with nature, who is the chief creative artist...and I the humble craftsman. Mixture of experience and naivety, dancing alchemy of summits and elements, fusion between nature and the human being that I am. Who am I in front of all this? A stardust, present, vibrating, panting in the heart of the mystery of life. I aspire to the mastery of the moment which however escapes... In the end, should I really try to control the moment? When I have everything in place with rigor and yet failure looms, I let my heart speak. And then, sometimes, the miracle happens. This miracle that floods me with joy. I am happy to share with you some of the nuggets I brought back from these journeys to the end of my dreams... My quest for an ever-renewed perfection, nature has offered it to me so that I can offer it to you in turn. I hope you will have as much pleasure in dreaming in front of these photos as I had in looking for the perfect moment, the right moment.
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