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Aleksander Rodchenko
1935, Mrazkowa, Remes
Aleksander Rodchenko
Aleksander Rodchenko

Aleksander Rodchenko

Country: Russia
Birth: 1891 | Death: 1956

Born in St Petersburg on November 23rd, 1891, Aleksander Rodtchenko was one of the most eclectic artists to emerge from the Russian Revolution. Sculptor, painter, photographer and graphic designer, he is the founder of the "Russian Constructivist" movement and was also very influential in Photography and Russian Design. In 1907, after his father's death, his family moved to Kazan. In 1910, he began studies at the Kazan Art School, where he met his future wife Varvara Stepanova. In 1914, he moved to Moscow where he pursued briefly his artistic studies at the Stroganov Institute. In 1915, using a compass and a ruler, he created his first geometric black and white drawings. In 1916, introduced to Tatline by architect Viktor Vesnine, Aleksander Rodtchenko will exhibit his drawings at the "The Store" exhibition alongside painters Lioubov Popova, Alexander Exter and Ivan Klioune. Alexander Rodtchenko's work was influenced by innovative Cubist and Futuristic artists.

In 1917, he applied his Futurism research on everyday life objects and designed lamps for the "Pittoresque Café", newspaper stands, buildings etc... It is at that time that he founded the left wing "Painter Syndicat". Following the Russian Revolution, as most avant-gardist Russian artists, he will become a member of several official schools (Proletkoult, Vkhoutemas), where he will become a teacher.

In 1919, he will present his "black on black" paintings to answer Malevitch's "White on White" series. It is also at that time that he started experimenting with collages and photomontages. In 1921, he took part in various exhibitions, one called "5x5=25", where he presented a Monochrome triptych. Each canvas presenting a primary color: Red, yellow and blue. At the end of the exhibition, he signed the "Productivist Manifest" to abandon easel painting to focus on everyday life objects. The same year, in March, the "Constructivist" movement was created within the Inkhouk Institute. Initiated by artists, critics and theoricians its aim was to conduct "concrete experiments in the real world".

From 1922 onwards he started producing graphic designs for movie, books and political billboards. In 1923, he started collaborating with various editors and till 1925, he illustrated the cover of Constructivist magazine LEF. Influenced by German Dadaist photomontages, Rodtchenko began experimenting with photographs in 1923. His first photomontage illustrated Mayakovsky's poem "About this". From 1924 onwards, his focus was on photography. He started experimenting on new compositions and techniques. His work emphasized the subject's position and movement in space combined with a diagonal framing. He also produced many portraits.

In 1925, he was responsible for the Soviet Pavilion at the "International Industrial and Modern Art fair" held in Paris. In 1933, he was commissioned by Russian magazine SSSR na Stroïké, to photograph the construction of the Baltic Sea Canal.From 1934 to 1939 Rodtchenko and Stepanova, produced several photo albums: "Fifteen years of Soviet Cinema, Soviet Aviation, Ten years of Ouzbekistan". During the second world war, as other artists, he fled Moscow and took refuge in the Perm region where he will produce patriotic billboards.
 

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Lewis Hine
United States
1874 | † 1940
Lewis Wickes Hine (September 26, 1874 – November 3, 1940) was an American sociologist and photographer known for using his camera as a tool for social reform. His photographs were instrumental in changing child labor laws in the United States. Lewis Hine was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on September 26, 1874. After his father was killed in an accident, Hine began working and saved his money for a college education. He studied sociology at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and New York University. He became a teacher in New York City at the Ethical Culture School, where he encouraged his students to use photography as an educational medium. Hine led his sociology classes to Ellis Island in New York Harbor, photographing the thousands of immigrants who arrived each day. Between 1904 and 1909, Hine took over 200 plates (photographs) and came to the realization that documentary photography could be employed as a tool for social change and reform. In 1907, Hine became the staff photographer of the Russell Sage Foundation; he photographed life in the steel-making districts and people of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for the influential sociological study called The Pittsburgh Survey. The next year, he became the photographer for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), leaving his teaching position. Over the next decade, Hine documented child labor, with focus on the use of child labor in the Carolina Piedmont, to aid the NCLC's lobbying efforts to end the practice. In 1913, he documented child laborers among cotton mill workers with a series of Francis Galton's composite portraits. Hine's work for the NCLC was often dangerous. As a photographer, he was frequently threatened with violence or even death by factory police and foremen. At the time, the immorality of child labor was meant to be hidden from the public. Photography was not only prohibited but also posed a serious threat to the industry. To gain entry to the mills, mines and factories, Hine was forced to assume many guises. At times he was a fire inspector, postcard vendor, bible salesman, or even an industrial photographer making a record of factory machinery. During and after World War I, he photographed American Red Cross relief work in Europe. In the 1920s and early 1930s, Hine made a series of work portraits, which emphasized the human contribution to modern industry. In 1930, Hine was commissioned to document the construction of the Empire State Building. He photographed the workers in precarious positions while they secured the steel framework of the structure, taking many of the same risks that the workers endured. To obtain the best vantage points, Hine was swung out in a specially designed basket 1,000 ft above Fifth Avenue. At times, he remembered, he hung above the city with nothing below but "a sheer drop of nearly a quarter-mile." During the Great Depression Hine again worked for the Red Cross, photographing drought relief in the American South, and for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), documenting life in the mountains of eastern Tennessee. He also served as chief photographer for the Works Progress Administration's National Research Project, which studied changes in the industry and their effect on employment. Hine was also a faculty member of the Ethical Culture Fieldston School. In 1936, Hine was selected as the photographer for the National Research Project of the Works Projects Administration, but his work there was not completed. The last years of his life were filled with professional struggles by loss of government and corporate patronage. Hine hoped to join the Farm Security Administration photography project, but despite writing repeatedly to Roy Stryker, Stryker always refused. Few people were interested in his work, past or present, and Hine lost his house and applied for welfare. He died on November 3, 1940, at Dobbs Ferry Hospital in Dobbs Ferry, New York, after an operation. He was 66 years old. Hine's photographs supported the NCLC's lobbying to end child labor, and in 1912 the Children's Bureau was created. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 eventually brought child labour in the US to an end. After Hine's death, his son Corydon donated his prints and negatives to the Photo League, which was dismantled in 1951. The Museum of Modern Art was offered his pictures and did not accept them, but the George Eastman House did. In 2006, author Elizabeth Winthrop Alsop's historical fiction middle-grade novel, Counting on Grace was published by Wendy Lamb Books. The latter chapters center on 12-year-old Grace and her life-changing encounter with Lewis Hine, during his 1910 visit to a Vermont cotton mill known to have many child laborers. On the cover is the iconic photo of Grace's real-life counterpart, Addie Card (1897–1993), taken during Hine's undercover visit to the Pownal Cotton Mill. In 2016, TIME Magazine published colorized versions of several of Hine's photographs of child labor in the US.Source: Wikipedia Lewis Hine was trained to be an educator in Chicago and New York. A project photographing on Ellis Island with students from the Ethical Culture School in New York galvanized his recognition of the value of documentary photography in education. Soon after, he became a sociological photographer, establishing a studio in upstate New York in 1912. For nearly ten years Hine was the photographer for the National Child Labor Committee, contributing to exhibitions and the organization's publication, The Survey. Declaring that he "wanted to show things that had to be corrected," he was one of the earliest photographers to use the photograph as a documentary tool. Around 1920, however, Hine changed his studio publicity from "Social Photography by Lewis W. Hine" to "Lewis Wickes Hine, Interpretive Photography," to emphasize a more artistic approach to his imagemaking. Having joined the American Red Cross briefly in 1918, he continued to freelance for them through the 1930s. In 1936 Hine was appointed head photographer for the National Research Project of the Works Projects Administration, but his work for them was never completed. His last years were marked by professional struggles due to diminishing government and corporate patronage, and he died in 1940 at age sixty-six.Source: The J. Paul Getty Museum Born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Lewis W. Hine studied sociology before moving to New York in 1901 to work at the Ethical Culture School, where he took up photography to enhance his teaching practices. By 1904 he had begun a series of photographs documenting the arrival of immigrants at Ellis Island; this project, along with his pictures of harsh labor conditions published in the Pittsburgh Survey, brought his work to the attention of the National Child Labor Committee. He served as its official photographer from 1911 to 1916, and later traveled with the Red Cross to Europe, where he documented the effects of World War I in France and the Balkans for Red Cross Magazine. After returning to the United States in 1922, he accepted commercial assignments, produced another series on Ellis Island immigrants, and photographed the construction of the Empire State Building. Several of these construction pictures were published in Men at Work (1932), a book celebrating the individual worker's interaction with machines in the modern world. Despite the success of this book, Hine's financial situation became desperate and his photography was virtually forgotten. Berenice Abbott and Elizabeth McCausland learned of his work through the New York City Photo League and mounted a traveling retrospective exhibition of his work to revive interest in it in 1939. Lewis Hine is best known for the documentary images of child labor practices that he produced under the aegis of the National Child Labor Committee from 1911 to 1916. These photographs not only have been credited as important in the passing of child labor laws, but also have been praised for their sympathetic depiction of individuals in abject working conditions. Hine labeled his pictures "photo-interpretations," emphasizing his subjective involvement with his subjects; this approach became the model for many later documentary photographers, such as Sid Grossman and Ben Shahn.Source: International Center of Photography
David Pace
United States
1951 | † 2020
David Pace is a Bay Area photographer and curator. He received his MFA from San Jose State University in 1991. He has taught photography at San Jose State University, San Francisco State University and Santa Clara University, where he served as Resident Director of SCU's study abroad program in West Africa from 2009 - 2013. Pace photographed in the small sub-Saharan country of Burkina Faso annually from 2007-2016, documenting daily life in Bereba, a remote village without electricity or running water. His work has been exhibited internationally. His African photographs of the Karaba Brick Quarry are featured in the 2019 Venice Biennale in a group show entitled "Personal Structures" organized by the European Cultural Center. His book Images In Transition, a collaboration with gallerist Stephen Wirtz, was published in the spring of 2019 by Schilt Publishing. "Through my photography I want to express to a broad audience what it's like to live in West Africa. The Western media typically shows only the negative side of life in Africa, highlighting war, famine, genocide, and illness. This perspective is newsworthy but it is incomplete and misleading. It fails to capture the richness and complexity of life in small villages where a large percentage of West Africans live and work. Most live simple, meaningful lives. My photography in the remote village of Bereba and the surrounding region portrays a story of life in the community that is largely positive. My work projects a view that may be at odds with the more common perspective, but is no less accurate or realistic. I am committed to communicating the realities of life in West Africa to challenge the negativity that too frequently pervades the images we see." David Pace About Sur La Route
Dasha Pears
Russia
1982
Dasha Pears is an award-winning Russian conceptual photographer, currently based in Helsinki, Finland. Dasha uses the instruments of surrealism, color, and photography to speak about deepest psychological matters, including emotions, states of mind and mind shifts. She started her photographic path in 2011, after reaching burnout in a marketing communications career. Having tried many types of photography, Dasha found herself in the conceptual and fine art sphere. Since then her images have been exhibited in Russia, France, Poland, Austria, Italy and Finland. Dasha's photographs can be found on covers of books published in Europe, the United States and South America. In 2016 Dasha started sharing her experience of organizing conceptual photography shoots and producing surrealist artworks in the form of creative photography workshops. Since then she has held over 15 events in Finland and abroad. Statement Photography turned out to be a way of discovering my true self and expressing it. My works are a reflection of this discovery process and I hope that they can help others who are on the same journey as me. In metaphorical ways I try to show and share processes that are going on in many people's minds: dealing with negative self-talk, being overwhelmed by all kinds of emotions, finding that activity that puts you in the state of flow, when time ceases to exist. My photography is influenced by classical fine art, surrealism, as well as fantasy and science fiction books. The instruments of surrealism help me show that the scene is only partially real and that most of it is going on in the character's mind. My works are carefully composed and many of them are leaning towards minimalism. This is my way of expressing that controlling your mind and creating space is crucial for discovering who you are and who you are not.
Alexander Gronsky
Alexander Gronsky was born in 1980 in Tallinn, Estonia. He moved to Russia in 2006 and he became member of the Photographer.Ru agency in 2004. His works have been published in numerous international newspapers and magazines, such as The Sunday Times, Esquire, Le Monde 2, Vanity Fair, Spiegel, Bolshoy Gorod, Ojode Pez. He was awarded the Aperture Portfolio Prize in 2009, the Foam Paul Huf Award in 2010 and the World Press Photo 3rd place for Daily Life stories in 2012. Alexander Gronsky is represented by Agency.Photographer.Ru and Gallery.Photographer.Ru.Alexander Gronsky has joined INSTITUTE for Artist Management in 2012. About Pastoral In his photographic account Pastoral, Alexander Gronsky portrays the outskirts of Moscow: the places where humanity takes refuge to find solace far from the cities, colliding with urban expansion and frailty of nature. The space explored lives “in between”, suspended in the nothingness of the unknown and what stands “on the other side”. Gronsky is a landscape photographer with an incredibile ability to capture natural scenes with an allegorical meaning: expanses and hills, spectacular lights, broad horizons. His skilful use of perspective and his ability in composition, lead the observer’s eye deeply into the landscape, generating a sense of astonishment for every place portrayed in photo. In the images, human presence is constant, Gronsky looks for infrequent but precious moments of relief and diversion in woody areas and open beaches, in remote corners and common meeting places. Meanwhile, he always bears in mind the proximity of the big city: glimpses of skyscrapers and industrial parks can be seen in the distance between the trees or, sometimes, surprisingly close to the people “surrounded by nature”. (Source: www.contrastobooks.com)
Robert Adams
United States
1937
Robert Adams (born May 8, 1937) is an American photographer who has focused on the changing landscape of the American West. His work first came to prominence in the mid-1970s through the book The New West (1974) and the exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape (1975). He was a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow in photography in 1973 and 1980, and he received the MacArthur Foundation's MacArthur Fellowship in 1994. Robert Adams, son of Lois Hickman Adams and Ross Adams, was born on May 8, 1937 in Orange, New Jersey. In 1940 they moved to Madison, New Jersey where his younger sister Carolyn was born. Then in 1947 he moved to Madison, Wisconsin for five years, where he contracted polio at age 12 in 1949 in his back, left arm, and hand but was able to recover. Moving one last time in 1952 his family goes to Wheat Ridge, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, when his father secured a job in Denver. His family moved to Colorado partly because of the chronic bronchial problems that he suffered from in Madison, New Jersey around age 5 as an attempt to help alleviate those problems. He continued to suffer from asthma and allergy problems. During his childhood, Adams often accompanied his father on walks and hikes through the woods on Sunday afternoons. He also enjoyed playing baseball in open fields and working with his father on carpentry projects. He was an active Boy Scout, and was also active with the Methodist church that his family attended. He and his father made several raft trips through Dinosaur National Monument, and during his adolescent years he worked at boys' camps at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. He also took trips on pack horses and went mountain climbing. He and his sister began visiting the Denver Art Museum. Adams also learned to like reading and it soon became an enjoyment for him. In 1955, he hunted for the last time. Adams enrolled in the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1955, and attended it for his freshman year, but decided to transfer the next year to the University of Redlands in California where he received his B.A. in English from Redlands in 1959. He continued his graduate studies at the University of Southern California and he received his Ph.D. in English in 1965. In 1960 while at Redlands, he met and married Kerstin Mornestam, Swedish native, who shared the same interest in the arts and nature. Robert and Kerstin spent their first few summers together in Oregon along the coast, where they took long walks on the beach and spent their evenings reading. In 1962 they moved back to Colorado, and Adams began teaching English at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. In 1963, Adams bought a 35mm reflex camera and began to take pictures mostly of nature and architecture. He soon read complete sets of Camera Work and Aperture at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. He learned photographic technique from Myron Wood, a professional photographer who lived in Colorado. While finishing his dissertation, he began to photograph in 1964. In 1967, he began to teach only part-time in order to have more time to photograph. He met John Szarkowski, then curator of photography at the Museum of Modern art, on a trip to New York City in 1969. The museum later bought four of his prints. In 1970, he began working as a full-time photographer. © by Robert Adams, courtesy of Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York Source: Wikipedia Robert Adams is an American photographer best known for his images of the American West. Offering solemn meditations on the landscapes of California, Colorado, and Oregon, Adams’s black-and-white photos document the changes wrought by humans upon nature. “By Interstate 70: a dog skeleton, a vacuum cleaner, TV dinners, a doll, a pie, rolls of carpet. Later, next to the South Platte River: algae, broken concrete, jet contrails, the smell of crude oil,” he wrote. “What I hope to document, though not at the expense of surface detail, is the form that underlies this apparent chaos.” Born on May 8, 1937 in Orange, NJ, his family moved around the Midwest throughout his childhood, finally settling in Wheat Ridge, CO in 1952. Adams went on to study English at the University of Redlands and received his PhD in English from the University of Southern California in 1965. It wasn’t until the near completion of his dissertation for USC that Adams began to take photography seriously, learning techniques from professional photographer Myron Wood and reading Aperture magazine. In the 1970s, he was released the book The New West (1974), and a year later was included in the seminal exhibition “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape.” Adams has twice been the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and once the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. Adams lives and works in Astoria, OR. Today, his works can be found in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others. Source: Artnet
Eugène Atget
France
1857 | † 1927
Jean-Eugène-Auguste Atget was born 12 February 1857 in Libourne. His father, carriage builder Jean-Eugène Atget, died in 1862, and his mother, Clara-Adeline Atget née Hourlier died shortly after. He was brought up by his maternal grandparents in Bordeaux and after finishing secondary education joined the merchant navy. Atget moved to Paris in 1878. He failed the entrance exam for acting class but was admitted when he had a second try. Because he was drafted for military service he could attend class only part-time, and he was expelled from drama school. Still living in Paris he became an actor with a travelling group, performing in the Paris suburbs and the provinces. He met actress Valentine Delafosse Compagnon, who became his companion until her death. He gave up acting because of an infection of his vocal chords in 1887, moved to the provinces and took up painting without success. His first photographs, of Amiens and Beauvais, date from 1888. 1890 Atget moved back to Paris and became a professional photographer, supplying documents for artists: studies for painters, architects and stage-designers. Starting 1898 institutions such as the Musée Carnavalet and the Bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris bought his photographs. The latter commissioned him ca. 1906 to systematically photograph old buildings in Paris. 1899 he moved to Montparnasse. While being a photographer Atget still also called himself an actor, giving lectures and readings. During World War I Eugène Atget temporarily stored his archives in his basement for safekeeping and almost completely gave up photography. Valentine's son Léon was killed at the front. 1920-1921 he sold thousands of his negatives to institutions. Financially independent he took up photographing the parks of Versailles, Saint-Cloud and Sceaux and produced a series of photographs of prostitutes. Berenice Abbott visited Atget in 1925, bought some of his photographs, and tried to interest other artists in his work. 1926 Valentine died and Man Ray published several of Atget's photographs in la Révolution surréaliste. Abbott took Atget's portrait in 1927. Eugène Atget died 4 August 1927 in Paris.Source: Wikipedia Eugène Atget (1857–1927) turned to photography in his late 40s, building a body of work that described the city of Paris and its environs. In its simplicity and clarity of vision, this project, resulting in over 10,000 photographs, became a modern urban portrait that has influenced many photographers since. Inspired to make a portrait of Paris at the moment when historic Paris was becoming Haussman’s modern Paris, Atget captured the changing city with eloquence and sensitivity. Atget received little recognition before his death in 1927, but due to the posthumous efforts of photographer Berenice Abbott, his work was preserved, promoted, and gained its rightful place in history. A significant number of his prints, including many negatives, are held by the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., along with the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.Source: Fraenkel Gallery Photos © Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
Madhur Dhingra
I was born an only child to my parents, in Delhi, into a family torn apart by the aftermath of the India-Pakistan partition. Hailing from a affluent background in Pakistan my family was now struggling for survival in the walled city of Delhi totally penniless. Imbedded with deep insecurities and freshly bearing the scars of partition my family was now setting up trade in the walled city dealing in fabric. It is relevant for me to mention this background for these very insecurities I too inherited from my family and they remain with me till date even with the changed times and lifestyle. Things improved gradually financially, with the trade flourishing and much because of the sheer hard work of my grandfather, father& chachas(father's brothers).We settled in Delhi at the start as big joint family. I have grown up hearing tales of how we had started life selling fabric on the pavements of the walled city where we now own several properties. My father could never get over those scars of partition. I too was repeatedly made to realize that ( for better or for worse) even though I was born much later in Delhi. At the age of five I was put to school at St.Xavier's High School, Raj Niwas Marg, Delhi. That period was to become the most memorable part of my life. I remember enjoying that period thoroughly. I was always an above average student with a lot of love for extracurricular activities. In school I would love going hiking, camping, swimming & cycling with the boy scouts. From the very start I was naughty and mischievous and was a regular in getting in and out of trouble. After school I went to the Delhi University and took up English Hons as my subject. But nowhere was it in my mind to take up studies serious. Restless from the start I wanted to travel the world. I now join the Merchant Navy at the age of seventeen ,as a deck cadet leaving college in the first year itself. I loved this new experience and was good at learning navigation. Very soon I was promoted to become the navigating officer. For the first year I never came back home at all. I was fulfilling my desire to see the world thoroughly meeting different types of people and experiencing different kinds of cultures . Once while travelling in the city of Jeddah near Mecca during Ramadan I was amazed to see gold slabs and coins being sold on the pavements of the city. On the loudspeaker I then heard the azaan (prayer call) and to my utter astonishment I saw people leave all this gold unattended and enter the nearby mazjid for prayer. Such was the strictness of the prevailing law of the land that anybody caught stealing would have his hand chopped off. Nobody dared to steal. Now quite a different experience was when my ship first entered Thailand. To my utter surprise I saw hoards of women entering my ship. Their numbers must have been no less than a hundred odd. I was on duty and I objected to their entry and was immediately informed by my senior officer to back off as they were entering with the permission of the captain. These were prostitutes who stayed on my ship till the time it stayed there. Nobody was questioning the morality or the ethics. It was gala time for all officers, crew, and the Captain. This was the way of life for most sailors . One horrific incident I remember was when our Burmese radio officer died on the ship due to a liver problem. As we were still some days away from the next port,his body was put in the deep freezer of the ship, the same place where all vegetables and other eatables were stored. Life was going on as if nothing had happened and everybody was eating and drinking as any other day. In a ship life all relationships and friendships are very temporary and the moment a person gets off the ship all these are left behind and forgotten. My bag of experiences was filling up fast. The restlessness and void was again setting in fast. I was getting bored again after about five years of sailing. The novelty had worn off and my inherent nature and upbringing was not that of a sailor in any way .I finally decided to say quits and joined the family business which was waiting for me to return. My dad was overjoyed at this decision of mine. I had no problem settling into this environment as it just happened to be in my blood. I now decide to get married too. I get married and soon after become a father of two adorable children. My age at that period would have been early twenty or so. Time flew by fast earning bread and butter for my family. Nothing was more important than bringing up the kids properly and with a lot of love, something which I was deprived of badly during my childhood days. But now again the same restlessness and void was setting in. I was in a dilemma, now trying out new ways to end this emptiness . I initially tried my hands at learning sculpture at Triveni Kala Sangam Mandi House, but I soon realized that medium was not meant for me. Destiny seemed to have other plans for me and it was during this period that I was gifted a SLR by someone, a Ricoh 500 as I now try to remember. The camera body had a dial with some numbers and also some numbers on the lens of which I had no clue. There were photography classes also being held in Triveni Kala Sangam and I joined these classes with sculpture classes I was already doing. It was here I met my photography teacher and now a lifelong friend Satyasri Ukil for the first time. The Basic course was about learning the techniques of Black & White photography. Satyasri was a dedicated, honest & straightforward teacher. His likes and dislikes purely dealt with the merits of the image and not with the person who had shot the image. I was learning fast with my association with Satyasri at Triveni where he was teaching then . A few of us guys(now renowned photographers), formed a sort of a team under the guidance of Ukil (as we address Satyasri,till date).We were shooting developing and printing the whole day long. Photography was now no longer a hobby but a frenzy. I soon set up my own darkroom in my house and would develop and print negatives all night long. I now start trekking again now with a new SLR in hand going to high altitudes and to very difficult locales. I remember showing my first serious work to Ukil and found him overjoyed. Soon my ambitions grew and I start shooting product for the advertising agencies. My first breakthrough as I clearly remember had come from the agency 0& M whose creative head then was Benoy Mitra, who was one day present at the colour lab called "MultiColour in Jhandewalan, when my portfolio prints were coming out of the lab. He saw my work and quietly handed over his card asking me to see him in the agency. I was overjoyed. This was breakthrough I needed desperately. I soon started getting assignments from most major agencies. But now I started getting bored again shooting mountains product and off and on some fashion. I still needed to express myself in a different way. I decide to work towards my first solo exhibition and I show my landscapes and mountain work to the management of INDIA INTERNATIONAL CENTRE. After seeing my work they agree to sponsor my show fixing the date to 28th November 1998.It is pertinent to mention here that I had then "only" shown them my beautiful landscapes and mountain TP's as I had nothing more at that time in my kitty. I started a new journey, first shooting Ladakh. I found immense peace and tranquility (acting as a balm for my troubled mind )in the monasteries I visited. The filtrations of light from the windows and doors into the dark interiors of the monasteries were indeed very beautiful, tranquil and peaceful. I would sit inside these monasteries for hours at a stretch calming my taut nerves. The prayer gong would echo inside the main hall and seep deep inside my soul. I have always equated light with God and have believed that the darkness of the human soul will ultimately come alive with the play of Light (God) on it. My next visit was to Banaras. Here I found people visiting the Ghats in very colorful attires. A activity on these ancient Ghats like the Dashashwamedh Ghat would start very early in the morning. People from all over India visit Banaras to perform various religious rituals, right from the birth of a child to the cremation of the dead and also later to perform rites for their safe and comfortable passage after death. The quality of light that I found in Banaras was very warm & golden and I wouldn't hesitate a moment to call it heavenly. Now a special reference to the Manikarnika Ghat " the ghat of the dead" is needed. People from all over India come to Kashi (ancient name of Banaras)to cremate their dead at Manikarnika.It is believed by Hindus that a cremation at Manikarnika Ghat gives the human soul an unhindered passage to heaven. Pyres are being lit here continuously without getting extinguished for the last 3000 years. But it was on this BURNING GHAT that my worst nightmare was to begin. I would visit this ghat daily looking at the activities. It was not very long before I realised that whenever a body of a poor person would come in, it would be cremated in a bizarre manner. It required two mun wood at the least (mun is an Indian measure of weight equivalent to 20 kgs) to cover a human body completely for cremation. But the person accompanying the dead body did not have that much money in his pocket. So only that much wood was purchased in which only the torso could be covered by wood. The legs and head were left hanging out and the pyre lit. The head would get burnt in a horrific manner with the head and feet falling away from the torso partially burnt. Then these torn away parts were picked up and put into the pyre or thrown into the Ganges. This whole sequence was so bizarre that I decided to get it on film and show it to the world. This I did manage to photograph secretly even after a lot of objections and hindrances from the people in charge at Manikarnika. Man really "was" meeting his God in Kashi, though in a very bizarre manner. So much for Kashi, our GATEWAY TO HEAVEN.I have posted only a few of those pictures on this website just to avoid unnecessary disturbance to people's minds. In the meantime the Purn Kumbh was being held at Hardwar. This again has become a very interesting event to relate. I was aghast to see completely naked so called Naga "sadhus" storming the streets of Hardwar. It was here I came to understand from the local inhabitants of Hardwar that this whole show was a complete farce. These so called ascetics only stormed the streets during the Khumb. Neither do they live in the remoteness of the Himalayas leading a renounced life, but on the contrary live in air conditioned lavishly furnished akharas in Hardwar itself. They were a weird sight. ( I have shown some photographs of them in my Black & White section). Here I saw them fight pitched battles with the police before the procession. DOWNRIGHT CRIMINALS TO THE VERY CORE, MOST OF THEM. On the day of the procession I got up early in the morning and positioned myself on roof top of a house near the Niranjani Akhara.This was very early in the morning and I was testing the auto focusing of my telephoto 300mm Canon lens when I saw a group of nagas in the akhara compound. I was taken aback when I saw one Naga fiddling with the genitals of the other Naga, "AND I TOOK THE SHOT".(later to appear on the first page of THE INDIAN EXPRESS). There were hutments built for sadhus by the kumbh authorities across the river bed. I would visit those and sit with some real sanyasis and listen to their discourses and hear them sing bhajans. This was a very nice and peaceful experience. The Kumbh ended and my exhibition date also was drawing near. The IIC Gallery wanted to see the final prints that I had decided to display. Nowhere in my final selection were those beautiful landscapes to be seen. Their place had been taken by naked sadhus with Trishuls and burning ghats & corpses. The Gallery management told me in no uncertain terms that they will not allow the show to go on unless these pictures were withdrawn. My dilemma was that my photo essay "Where Man Meets God'" was a story of a man's passage of life, his wanderings, his search for God. This essay was incomplete without these pictures. I told the management that I will show my work as it is and will not remove any picture from the list. Much courage to take this right stand was coming from Satyasri Ukil who stood by me all this while withstanding this massive ONSLOUGHT . IIC Management banned my exhibition. It was during this period that me and Satyasri Ukil were introduced to Suneet Chopra a reputed Art Critic. He later introduced us to Siddharth Tagore, a gallery owner at Art Consult Hauz Khas Village. Siddharth Tagore offered to hold my preview party at his gallery inviting respected artists like B.C.Sanyal, Jatin Das and many other artists of repute. The preview was a major success with all these stalwarts in their respective art fields giving their nod to my exhibition. Mr.Khushwant Singh the famous and a very respected writer too came up with an article on me in his column "Malice Towards One And All .Now IIC started shifting its stance and a compromise was reached. "That the images will be allowed to display but only facing towards the Gallery wall, whoever who wanted to see them could do so at his own discretion". Almost everybody saw those images.. Many reputed people visited the exhibition, some of them I mention in my TESTIMONIAL column. Eight major newspapers wrote elaborately on this exhibition. There was a TV interview also held by a channel also. The exhibition was a huge success on the whole. I am now planning another exhibition with a different theme and gearing up to hold another show in Milan. Life for me as a photographer continues...
Patrick Zachmann
Patrick Zachmann (b. 1955) has been a freelance photographer since 1976. He joined Magnum in 1985 and became a member in 1990. Zachmann has dedicated himself to long-term projects on the cultural identity, memory, and immigration of different communities. In 1989, his story on the events of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square was widely published in the international press and his work was awarded the prestigious Prix Niepce. Zachmann’s published books include Enquête d’Identité ou Un Juif à la recherche de sa mémoire (1987) and W. ou L’Œil d’un Long Nez (1995). Zachmann’s directed films include the short film, La Mémoire de Mon Père (My Father’s Memory), and the feature-length films Allers-retour: Journal d’un Photographe (Round trip: diary of a photographer) and Bar Centre des AutocarsSource: The Eye of Photography For more than 40 years, Patrick Zachmann has produced acclaimed, long-term projects that use photography and film to explore themes of memory, identity and immigration. He has documented the Chinese Diaspora, Jewish identity and the plight of migrants in Marseilles, all the while pushing himself to subvert his ‘style’ by working with both analogue and digital, colour and black and white, and using multimedia formats. “I don’t want to repeat myself like many photographers do by developing a special style,” he says of his practice. Zachmann was born in 1955 in Choisy-le-Roi, France and became a freelance photographer in 1976. In 1982 he began an in-depth project on the Naples police and mafia, which resulted in his first monograph, Madonna! (1983), accompanied by a fictional novel inspired by his pictures. Following that he began a seven-year study of Jewish identity in France—finishing with his own family—which resulted in his second book, Enquête d’identité. Un Juif à la Recherche de sa Mémoire / Investigation of Identity. A Jew in Search of his Memory (1987). In 1989, his coverage of the events in Tiananmen Square, Beijing was widely published in the international press. In the same year, he was awarded the prestigious Prix Niépce for his work. To mark the twentieth anniversary of the events on Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989, Zachmann made a web-documentary Generation Tiananmen in 2009, shown on Le Monde, Der Spiegel and Al Jazeera’s websites. He is represented by Magnum Gallery, Clair Gallery (München) and Beaugeste Gallery (Shanghai).Source: Wikipedia
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