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Alison Wright
Alison Wright
Alison Wright

Alison Wright

Country: United States

Alison Wright, an award-winning documentary photographer and author, has travelled to 150 countries photographing indigenous cultures and people while covering issues concerning the human condition. She is a recipient of the Dorothea Lange Award in Documentary Photography, a two-time winner of the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award, and an Explorers Club Fellow. She was recently named a National Geographic Traveler of the Year as someone who travels "with a sense of passion and purpose."

Alison has published ten books. Her upcoming book, "Grit and Grace: Women at Work" documents the empowerment of women working in global communities (Schiffer 2021). Her work has been published in numerous magazines including National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, National Geographic Adventure, Outside, Islands and Smithsonian.

Alison's life was nearly cut short during a devastating bus accident on a remote jungle road in Laos. Her best-selling memoir, "Learning to Breathe; One Woman's Journey of Spirit and Survival," chronicles her inspirational story of survival, the years of rehabilitation and her ongoing determination to recover and continue traveling the world as an intrepid visual storyteller. This experience while working in post disaster/conflict areas inspired her to establish a foundation called Faces of Hope (facesofhope.org); a non-profit that globally supports women and children's rights by creating visual awareness and donating directly to grass-roots organizations that help sustain them through education and healthcare.

Human Tribe
The emotive beauty and grace of the human face, in all its diversity, will never cease to inspire me but it's the enduring spirit of our collective tribe of humanity that will always certainly amaze me. One of the many things I have learned during my years of global travel as a documentary photographer is that no matter how unique we may look in appearance, from the exotic to the mundane, we basically have the same universal desires and concerns. Our needs are actually quite simple: to love and be loved; to have a useful place in our society with some meaningful and fulfilling occupation in our life; work that will hopefully provide us with enough money in our pocket to get by; food on the table; education, health and safety for ourselves, our family and our children. The freedom to be oneself is a right that creates the exquisiteness of our human race.

These portraits are an unguarded moment in the lives of a few of the people I have photographed from our remarkable human tapestry. Some are celebrating significant events, while others are living out ordinary days. Others are merely struggling to survive. Many are from countries whose lives are in flux or change due to war, natural disaster or the inevitable rapid progression of modernity. I feel drawn to those who live close to the land, documenting communities that may not last even another generation. Most are surprised that I actually wanted to stop and photograph someone who is considered in their culture to be such an ordinary looking person.

From tribes in Africa, to nomads in Asia, survivors of post conflict and disaster, families and individuals around the world have graciously opened up their homes and hearts to me. Surprisingly, I have discovered that it is often the ones who have the least who share the most. I find compassion in what can seem to be a world of chaos. The planet, at times, can seem so vast, with the numbers almost too large for us to comprehend. But when you capture the look in someone's eyes, an intimate stare, a knowing glance, his or her situation becomes a shared experience, a more personal connection. Their eyes seem to radiate a dignity, a claim for a right to be seen, no matter what their circumstances. These eyes are what initially draws us in and connects us together.

These photos are a celebration of the universal human spirit within us all. It is what bonds us as humankind, a continued thread, as together we continue this journey on the pilgrimage of life.
 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

John R. Pepper
John Randolph Pepper, (1958) is an Italian photographer, screenwriter, theatre and film director, the son of sculptress Beverly Pepper and journalist/writer Curtis Bill Pepper, editor of Newsweek and manager of its Rome office. He was born and raised in Rome; lives in Palermo and works worldwide. Pepper started his career in Black & White analogical photography with an apprenticeship to Ugo Mulas at 14. He published his first photograph at 15 and had his first show at 17. He studied History of Art at Princeton University, where he was also the youngest member of the exclusive painting program, '185 Nassau Street'. He then became a 'Directing Fellow' at The American Film Institute, (Los Angeles) and subsequently worked as a director in theatre and film for 20 years. For thirty years, he dedicated himself to photography while directing both theatre and film. During that time he continued to take photographs with his Leica camera always using the same Ilford HP5 film stock. John R. Pepper, represented by the Art of Foto Gallery (St. Petersburg, Russia) and The Empty Quarter Gallery (Dubai, UAE), is a 'Cultural Ambassador' of numerous Italian Institutes of Culture in may parts of the world. Since 2008 he has exhibited his different projects 'Rome: 1969 - An Homage to Italian Neo-Realist Cinema', 'Sans Papier', 'Evaporations' in the United States, France, Italy, the Middle East and Russia. He has published three books and is represented in several major museums around the world. Since 2015 Pepper has been working on his project 'Inhabited Deserts', where he explores deserts and their effect on time, history and people. 'Inhabited Deserts' debuted in Paris in November 2017; in September 2018, with the support of the Italian Embassy in Iran and the Italian Foreign Ministry, Pepper exhibited at the Aaran Projects Gallery in Tehran where he was one of the first Italian photographers since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. In November 2018, after participating at Paris Photo with the Galerie Sophie Scheidecker, 'Inhabited Deserts' went to Tel Aviv, Israel, representing Italy at the 6th International Photo Festival 'Photo Is:Rael'. From December 12th 2018 to February 15th Inhabited Deserts was presented at The Empty Quarter Gallery in Dubai, U.A.E. with curatorial text by Kirill Petrin. Subsequently the show opened on March 19, 2019 in Saint Petersburg, Russia, at the Art of Foto Gallery and shortly thereafter, on April 18th, it returned to Tel Aviv at the NOX Contemporary Gallery. In 2020 Inhabited Deserts will be seen in the United States and Italy. Per John Pepper "When talking about photography, we're talking about time. The image is fixed in time. We also talk about black and white and color, digital and film, reality and punctum - the critical concept of the French philosopher Roland Barthes, denoting the wounding, personally touching detail, which establishes a direct relationship with the object or person within it. Is a photographer an artist or not? The ones who feel they are, modestly define themselves as artisans. Still others, who do not think of themselves as photographers will snap photos relying on destiny's outcome. Finally, there are the ones who fantasize conceptual sequences snapped in extravagant situations - most of which without interest. About photography, much has been said. There are established masters, schools of thought, and many hopes. Yet whoever is sufficiently open to a vision within himself, who has cherished and assimilated the masters, will emerge with something new. Passion triumphs when backed by culture. When looking at one of John Pepper's photographs - the one with the group of people, friends and family, in front of their home, for example - I think of Paul Strand's image in his book, published with Zavattini 'Un paese' del 1955. There is a similar gathering of characters at the doorstep of their home. Time here is not just in the shutter time and lens aperture - a sixtieth of a second at eight - but in the transformation of the people, in the process of revealing themselves. With John, however, the appearances differ from those of Strand - moved up in time as evident in the shoes and pants, the motorcycle helmet, the technology of the wheelchair and the modern necklace of the young girl. They appear happy and to be speaking to the photographer. Despite some apparently expensive upper-class possessions, we perceive they are of a modest condition. In Strand's photograph, there is no doubt they are of peasant culture. Motionless, they stare at the photographer with a serious gaze, though ignorant of the world of images. Today, image is consumerism. It goes beyond diffidence. Everyone can have a camera, a motorcycle helmet and Nike shoes. People are well nurtured; they have even grown in height. With John the scene is of movement. The characters interact with ease, and the photographer is part of the game. He uses black and white film enhanced by the fine art of printing - images stemming from classical photography. John was just a boy when he came to my house in Milan, in piazza Castello, above the studio that once belonged to Ugo. I like to think that the darkroom at that time influenced him. Who knows? However, I do believe that Ugo's work helped him to become a photographer. His reportage in Italy is filtered through the memory of many great photographers - Diane Arbus, Cartier Bresson, Robert Frank, the first Richard Avedon, and William Klein to name a few. He has also traveled through Italy, in the streets and byways of youth, finding dramatic, enlightened faces in the theater of life. His portrait of the religious procession is most beautiful, with a perfect, compact, composition, among astonished angels and those bearing a religious float against a sharp background of light. John lives and works in Palermo, an outward antithesis of New York. An American born and raised in Italy, it is as an Italian that he grasps the vital spirit, the soul, and the humanity of people. His choice to live in a region like Sicily, so full of contradictions and archaic values, will surely help him in chronicling the history of change in our era. Then, apart from making art, he will have absorbed it as his own - a part of his life that will recur in defining time, space, and the evolution of the human condition." Antonia Mulas, Todi, May 5, 2012
Jerry Uelsmann
United States
1934
Jerry N. Uelsmann (born June 11, 1934) is an American photographer, and was the forerunner of photomontage in the 20th century in America. Uelsmann was born in Detroit, Michigan. While attending public schools, at the age of fourteen, there sparked an interest in photography. He believed that through photography he could exist outside of himself, to live in a world captured through the lens. Despite poor grades, he managed to land a few jobs, primarily photographs of models. Eventually Uelsmann went on to earn a BA from the Rochester Institute of Technology and M.S. and M.F.A. degrees from Indiana University. Soon after, he began teaching photography at the University of Florida in 1960. In 1967, Uelsmann had his first solo exhibit at The Museum of Modern Art which opened doors for his photography career. Uelsmann is a master printer, producing composite photographs with multiple negatives and extensive darkroom work. He uses up to a dozen enlargers at a time to produce his final images, and has a large archive of negatives that he has shot over the years. The negatives that Uelsmann uses are known to reappear within his work, acting as a focal point in one work, and background as another. Similar in technique to Rejlander, Uelsmann is a champion of the idea that the final image need not be tied to a single negative, but may be composed of many. During the mid-twentieth century, when photography was still being defined, Uelsmann didn't care about the boundaries given by the Photo Secessionists or other realists at the time, he simply wished to share with the viewer the images from his imagination and saw photomontage as the means by which to do so. Unlike Rejlander, though, he does not seek to create narratives, but rather "allegorical surrealist imagery of the unfathomable". Uelsmann is able to subsist on grants and teaching salary, rather than commercial work. Today, with the advent of digital cameras and Photoshop, photographers are able to create a work somewhat resembling Uelsmann's in less than a day, however, at the time Uelsmann was considered to have almost "magical skill" with his completely analog tools. At the time Uelsmann's work first came to popular attention, photos were still widely regarded as unfalsifiable documentary evidence of events. However, Uelsmann, along with Lucas Samaras, was considered an avant garde shatterer of this popular mindset and help to expand the artistic boundaries of photography. Despite his works' affinity with digital techniques, Uelsmann continues to use traditional equipment. “I am sympathetic to the current digital revolution and excited by the visual options created by the computer. However, I feel my creative process remains intrinsically linked to the alchemy of the darkroom.”[3] Today he is retired from teaching and currently lives in Gainesville, Florida with his third wife, Maggie Taylor.[4] Uelsmann has one son, Andrew, who is a graduate student at the University of Florida. But to this day, Uelsmann still produces photos, sometimes creating more than a hundred in a single year. Out of these images, he likes to sit back and select the ten he likes the most, which is not an easy process. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)
David Stewart
United Kingdom
1958
David Stewart began his career by photographing punk bands including The Clash and The Ramones. He also took to photographing the passing parade of colourful characters on Morecambe Promenade with squirrel monkey's Joey and Queenie. After graduating at Blackpool and The Fylde College, Stewart moved to London in 1981 where he persued a career in photography, rapidly establishing himself as one of the UK's most highly accomplished photographers. In 1995 he directed and produced a short film "Cabbage" which was nominated for a BAFTA. Accompanying the film is a series of surrealist photographic images in tribute to the much-maligned vegetable. In 2001 he published a body of work titled Fogeys comprising of kitsch, cartoon-like photographs of people growing old disgracefully. Exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art London "Fogeys" won a Silver Award at the Art Directors Club of New York. The book "Thrice Removed" was published in 2009. While still singular and mischievous, the book includes works that are more muted in colour and personal in tone. The projects "Indecision" and "Intension" return once again to the surreal providing an intriguing study of young women. "Teenage Pre-occupation" which takes a look at teenagers and the changes they go through and was published in May 2013. The short film "Stray" 2013 was screened at the London Short Film festival. Stewart won The Taylor Wessing portrait prize in 2015. He had been previously shortlisted for the Photographic Portrait Prize in 2007 and accepted a further fourteen times between 1995 and 2012 each time exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, London. In 2016 Stewart was presented with The Royal Photographic Society award for outstanding achievement and excellence in the fields of Editorial, Advertising and Fashion Photography. 2018 saw the publication of "Paid Content" which uses the setting of the advertising agency to explore the changing face of workplace culture and the wider dehumanising effect that is occurring due to the growth of large, faceless corporations and globalisation. 2020 saw the publication of "Geoffrey Valentine" which presents unflinching portraits of his dead father lying in a coffin in a chapel of rest. Geoffrey Valentine at Wren London
Nadav Kander
Israel
1961
Nadav Kander is a London based photographer, artist and director, internationally renowned for his portraiture and landscapes. His work forms part of the public collection at the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Kander's work is also exhibited in numerous international galleries and museums. Kander was born in tel Aviv, tal aviv. His father flew Boeing 707s for El-Al but when he lost his eye for medical reasons he was unable to carry on flying. His parents decided to start again in South Africa and moved to Johannesburg in 1963. Kander began taking pictures when he was 13 on a Pentax camera and later when drafted into the South African Air Force, worked in a darkroom printing aerial photographs. He moved to London in 1986, where he still resides with his wife Nicole and their three children. Kander's most celebrated images include Diver, Salt Lake, Utah 1997, in which a lone women peers out into the vast lake, and his 2009 portrait of Barack Obama photographed for The New York Times Magazine as a cover feature. Diver, Salt Lake, Utah, 1997 was also the cover image for Kander's Monograph Beauty's Nothing. On 18 January 2009 Nadav Kander had 52 full page colour portraits published in one issue of The New York Times Magazine. These portraits (from a series titled Obama's People) were of the people surrounding President Barack Obama, from Joe Biden (Vice President) to Eugene Kang (Special Assistant to The President). The same issue also included a series of cityscapes of Washington DC also taken by Kander. This is the largest portfolio of work by the same photographer The New York Times Magazine has ever showcased in one single issue. Source: Wikipedia Nadav Kander (b. 1961) lives and works in London. Selected past projects include Yangtze – The Long River, winner of the Prix Pictet award in 2009; Dust, which explored the vestiges of the Cold War through the radioactive ruins of secret cities on the border between Kazakhstan and Russia; Bodies 6 Women, 1 Man; and Obama’s People, an acclaimed 52 portrait series commissioned by the New York Times Magazine. His ongoing series, Dark Line - The Thames Estuary, is a personal reflection on the landscape of the River Thames at its point of connection with the sea, through atmospheric images of its slow-moving dark waters and seemingly infinite horizons. Kander’s work is housed in several public collections including National Portrait Gallery, London, UK; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, USA; Marta Herford Museum, Germany; Sheldon Museum, Lincoln, USA; The Frank-Suss Collection, London, New York and Hong Kong; and Statoil Collection, Norway. He has exhibited internationally at venues including Weserburg Museum, Germany; Musée de L’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland; Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, USA; Museum of Applied Arts, Cologne, Germany; The Barbican Centre, London, UK; The Photographers’ Gallery, London, UK; Somerset House, London, UK; Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France; and Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Israel. Recent fellowships and awards include an Honorary Fellowship Award from the Royal Photographic society. Source: Flowers Gallery "I hated school with dedication. A shame, but true. I wasn’t hugging and saying tearful goodbyes on the final day. I just left and I have never returned. Having a very bad accident on my motorbike that I had had since I was 15 (a Triumph 650 Tiger), was a hinge event. Prior to this I had been a practising hard man and going nowhere. Working on the machines during the day and riding in groups at night was my life. After the accident when I was 17, I never rode again and my focus shifted back to photography. South Africa forced its white male citizens to partake in National Service, and I somehow ensured I was drafted into the Air force and then into a darkroom where I printed aerial pictures for two years. It was here that I became certain I wanted to become a lens based artist. A Photographer back then. I met Nicole Verity at about this time. The day after I cleared out of the Air force I started working for Harry De Zitter, and a few months later, soon after my 21st birthday, I left for England. At the end of 1985 I was back in South Africa and met up with Nicole again. She joined me in England in 1986. We squatted in a block of flats two streets away from where we later bought a house. We married in the wilds of Africa in 1991." -- Nadav Kander Source: www.nadavkander.com
Elisabeth Hase
Germany
1905 | † 1991
Elisabeth Hase (December 16, 1905 – October 9, 1991) was a German commercial and documentary photographer active in Frankfurt from 1932 until her death in 1991, at the age of 85 Hase was born in Döhlen bei Leipzig, Germany. She studied typography and commercial art from 1924 to 1929 at the School of Applied Arts, and later at the Städelschule, under, among other teachers, Paul Renner and Willi Baumeister. Hase was active as a photographer during the time of the transition from the Weimar Republic to the Third Reich and through post-WWII Germany. She was able to avoid government oversight of her work by establishing her own photographic studio in 1933. Hase's work included surreal photography, such as close-up photographs of dolls. She received several awards, several for paper designs and collages. During a two-year collaboration in the studio of Paul Wolff [de] and Alfred Tritschler [de], Hase took architectural photographs in New Objectivity style for the magazine Das Neue Frankfurt (The New Frankfurt) and documentary photographs of modern housing projects, including those of Ferdinand Kramer. In 1932, Hase started her own business. It focused on timeless designs like still life, structures, plants, dolls, people, especially self-portraits. Often she used herself as a model in her photographic “picture stories.” Cooperation with agencies like Holland Press Service and the Agency Schostal[2] enabled her to publish her photographs internationally. Despite the bombing of Frankfurt in 1944 by the Allies, Hare's photographic archive survived the war without major damage. Many of those works are now part of the collections held by the Folkwang Museum in Essen, Germany, in the Albertina (Vienna) in Vienna, and in the Walter Gropius estate in the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin, as well as in private collections in Germany and abroad. Despite loss of her cameras and other technical equipment in the chaos of war, Hase was able to resume taking photographs in 1946 by the help of emigre friends who provided her with film and cameras to use. Among others subjects Hase documented was the reconstruction of St. Paul's Church in Frankfurt. From 1949, her work focused on advertising, consisting mostly of plant portraits. Hase died at the age of 85 in 1991 in Frankfurt am Main. Source: Wikipedia This new discovery is a rich body of work by a female artist who was photographing during the time of the transition from the Weimar Republic to the Third Reich and through post-WWII Germany. Hase's photographic compositions are comparable to a number of her avant-garde contemporaries such as Florence Henri, Ilse Bing, and Germain Krull. Elisabeth Hase (1905-1991) was born in Germany and began her artistic studies in 1924 at the Art Academy in Frankfurt. During World War II Hase was able to avoid the politicization of her work by retreating to her studio. This however would not prevent her work from being wholly untouched by the war. During the air raid on Frankurt in 1944 her cameras and other equipment were lost however, quite remarkably, her archives of glass and film negatives survived. Most intriguing are Hase's self-portraits which experiment with identity and perceived reality. In one self-portrait she has photographed herself in the reflection of a silver sphere, she and the room are warped on the convex surface of the globe. In another image she is sprawled over a staircase as if fallen, with shoes and purse strewn likewise over the stairs. This practice of role-playing and adopting different personas is seen throughout Hase's portraiture. Hase's work has been shown in museums across Germany including; the Folkwang Museum, Essen; the Historical Museum, Frankfurt; and the Museum of Photography, Braunschweig. Hase's work was exhibited in the show "Who is Afraid of Women Photographers?" at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France. Her work in found in prominent museum collections internationally, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Ackland Art Museum, the Chrysler Museum of Art, Folkwang Museum in Essen, The Albertina Museum in Vienna and The Bauhaus Museum of Design in Berlin. Source: Robert Mann Gallery
David Seymour (Chim)
United States
1911 | † 1956
David Szymin was born in 1911 in Warsaw into a family of publishers that produced works in Yiddish and Hebrew. His family moved to Russia at the outbreak of the First World War, returning to Warsaw in 1919. After studying printing in Leipzig and chemistry and physics at the Sorbonne in the 1930s, Szymin stayed on in Paris. David Rappaport, a family friend who owned the pioneering picture agency Rap, lent him a camera. One of Szymin's first stories, about night workers, was influenced by Brassaï's Paris de Nuit (1932). Szymin - or 'Chim' - began working as a freelance photographer. From 1934, his picture stories appeared regularly in Paris-Soir and Regards. Through Maria Eisner and the new Alliance agency, Chim met Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa. From 1936 to 1938 Chim photographed the Spanish Civil War, and after it was over he went to Mexico on an assignment with a group of Spanish Republican émigrés. On the outbreak of the Second World War he moved to New York, where he adopted the name David Seymour. Both his parents were killed by the Nazis. Seymour served in the US Army (1942-45), winning a medal for his work in intelligence. In 1947, along with Cartier-Bresson, Capa, George Rodger, and William Vandivert, he founded Magnum Photos. The following year he was commissioned by UNICEF to photograph Europe's children in need. He went on to photograph major stories across Europe, Hollywood stars on European locations, and the emergence of the State of Israel. After Robert Capa's death he became the new president of Magnum. He held this post until 10 November 1956, when, traveling near the Suez Canal to cover a prisoner exchange, he was killed by Egyptian machine-gun fire. Source: Magnum Photos
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