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Guilhem Alandry
Guilhem Alandry
Guilhem Alandry

Guilhem Alandry

Country: France

Guilhem is a London based photographer and multimedia producer who has exhibited his work as an international artist around the world. He founded Documentography in 2000 and has worked in socially engaged issues for a number of charities, agencies, magazines and galleries. He is a pioneer of interactive photographic narratives and is highly accomplished in new media forms. He is a true multimedia artist, versatile and comfortable using photography, video, VR technology and sound and always looking for new ways to bring them together. Guilhem won important awards and his work as been shown in forms as varied as print, interactive projects, exhibitions and TV.
 

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Carlo Naya
Italy
1816 | † 1882
Carlo Naya was an Italian photographer known for his pictures of Venice including its works of art and views of the city for a collaborative volume in 1866. He also documented the restoration of Giotto's frescoes at the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. Naya was born in Tronzano di Vercelli in 1816 and studied law at the University of Pisa. An inheritance allowed him to travel to major cities in Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. He was advertising his services as portrait photographer in Istanbul in 1845, and opened his studio in Venice in 1857. He sold his work through photographer and optician Carlo Ponti. Following Naya's death in 1882, his studio was run by his wife, then by her second husband. In 1918 it was closed and publisher Osvaldo Böhm bought most of Naya's archive.Source: Wikipedia Carlo Naya studied law in Pisa before becoming a diplomat according to his father’s wishes. After his father’s death Naya embarked on a tour through Europe and Asia with his brother. During his stay in Paris in 1839 he was taught the daguerreotype process, which fascinated him. Naya settled in Venice in 1857, where he set up a photographic studio. For several years he collaborated closely with photographer Carlo Ponti but in 1868 he founded his own studio. During his long career, Naya photographed every aspect of the city of Venice. His views of the palaces on the Grand Canal, and his panoramas of the city give a complete picture of Venice’s architecture in the mid-nineteenth century.Source: The National Galleries of Scotland Carlo Naya (1816-1882) was born Carlo Naja at Tronzano Vercellese near Turin. He studied law in Pisa, where he graduated in 1840. Until recently it was thought that for the next fifteen years, he and his brother Giovanni travelled widely throughout Europe, Asia and Africa, only photographing occasionally for pleasure. However, recent research has revealed that Carlo Naya worked as a professional daguerreotypist long before his move to Venice. He apparently operated briefly in Prague around 1845, before opening a daguerreotype studio in Constantinople the following year. When his brother died in 1857, Carlo returned to Italy and settled in Venice. Initially he worked with the established publisher Carlo Ponti, who distributed his prints. The two men soon quarrelled, however, and Naya opened his own studio. In 1868 he opened a larger photographic shop in the Piazza San Marco, his business soon growing to rival Ponti‘s. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, the two firms were considered the leading photographic concerns in the city. At the time of Naya‘s death in 1882, Edward Wilson, an experienced and knowledgeable writer on photography, described Naya‘s studio as ‘the largest establishment we think we ever saw devoted to photography, in an old palace on the other side of the grand canal‘. Ponti and Naya were both photographic chroniclers of the city‘s tourist sights. Greater ease of travel meant that tourists came in ever increasing numbers to see the splendours of Italy, and these visitors were eager to take away with them souvenirs to show their friends and family at home and to help them remember what they had seen. Thus a photographer with a large stock of negatives showing the buildings and monuments, canals and palaces, harbour views and gondolas of Venice was assured of a steady, reliable income for years to come.Source: Luminous-Lint
Tim Franco
France/Poland
Tim Franco is French-Polish freelance photographer based in Shanghai. Since he first came to China in 2005, Tim Franco got fascinated by the fast social and urban transformation that chinese cities where going through. He has spent some time documenting those growth through urban photography but also by studying social changes, such at the underground art world and the social problems related to the evolutions of the cities. Among his projects is a comprehensive depiction of the growth of the alternative music scene in China and particularly Shanghai. The project was synthesized and published in a book, “Shanghai Soundbites”, released in June 2008 in response to the attitude towards cultural expression manifested in the lead up to the Beijing Olympics. Subsequently, the pictures have been included in numerous news and lifestyle publications both in China and abroad. He now continues his work documenting the urban development of chinese cities and its social impact on the local people. He is also involved in local youth and underground movement both in China and greater asia. Tim Franco is a regular contributor to Le Monde ( newspaper and magazine ), but his work has also been published in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Le Point, NRC, Wiwo, Global Journal, Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, The Fader, CNN online, Time Out, Urban. About the series Vertical Communism Vertical Communism is a long term project about the city of Chongqing. This city, one of the biggest in central china, went through one of the fastest development process in the country. The main reason is, located upstream of the three gorges dam, the government has welcomed all displaced population from submerged region into its main urban areas. The city is fascinating because of its accelerated development that produced high rises buildings on the side of rivers and mountains, taking away the traditional charms of the old Chang Kai Shek capital, but also because of its political and social history. Once at the hand of the biggest organized crime group in China, the city has been re manipulated into a neo communist style red propaganda machine, led by the highly controversial son of a famous revolutionary named Bo Xilai. With his wife now in prison for the murder of a British national, and his personal implication in corruptions and tortures, Bo Xilai has been quickly removed from any government places in China and the city is looking once again for a new direction. I personally see Chongqing as a macro representation of the whole China. With its tumultuous political history and its growing social pressure for managing farmers coming into urban areas for a better life, all of it pushed by a constant need of investments and fast modernization, I wanted to portray this view of a growing china, far away from the common views of eastern cities such as shanghai or Beijing. From a photographic point of view, I have decided to shoot the people in their environment. But i have decided to take a step back, using medium format film camera, I want to transmit the feeling of scales that the city and china in general is facing. Urban Scales, Social Scales, the country's biggest problem is now to find a way to link some extremes the highly rich to the very poor, the extravagant to the meaningful. Vertical Communism is a portrait of Chinese a megapolis full of contradiction, trying to keep up with its unpredictable modernization. Interview with Tim Franco All About Photo: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer? Tim Franco: There is not a precise moment. When I was young, I loved writing stories, then my passion became music. I always wanted to share my ideas and vision of things through some mediums at the end it became photography. Where did you study photography? When I was a kid, my artist mother pushed me from one opening to the other, through museums and galleries. At first I hated it, and then became used to it and started to hang out more and more in her studio, until I took away her old cameras , I have learn through experience, other photographers and reading tutorials. How could you describe your style? Photographers tend to be classified, put into boxes, commercial photographer, photojournalists, artists, etc. I never really know how to classify my work. What I love is telling stories, document facts with an artistic esthetic to it. I also enjoy working on creative commercial assignments. I always try to stay simple in the esthetic and subtle about the story. What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film? For my personal work, I really enjoy medium format. When I see something, most of the time, I ideally want to frame it in square. I don't really like naming brands, they all have different feeling and esthetic and it really depends the look you want to give your image. To name a few I personally work with Hasselblad and old rolleiflex. For commercial work, I use Canon because of their price and availability in terms of lenses.> Do you spend a lot of time editing your images? When shooting film, I usually spend very little time editing, just cleaning dust on films and other small details. When shooting commercial work on digital its another story. Clients are very specific about what they want and color out of raw files needs to go through extensive treatment. My photo agency works with a retouching studio for most of our commercial projects. What advice would you give a young photographer? Those days, its very easy to call yourself a photographer, grab a camera , a couple of nice prime lenses and you can get some good images. But I think young photographers should really focus on what are they trying to say with their images. What makes a great photo is not the instant esthetic of it but the impact that image will have on its viewer. An idea, a sentence, a project you would like to share? One of the main project I worked on for the past year is about one particular city in China called Chongqing. Since 2009, I am going there quite frequently, at the beginning for some press assignments since the city have seen lot of interesting political stories and turmoils but also because it fascinates me. Both from an esthetic point of view and from its stories. This giant megapolis has been forcly populated with countryside people and has now a very hard time to deal its urbanization. "I personally see Chongqing as a macro representation of the whole China. With its tumultuous political history and its growing social pressure for managing farmers coming into urban areas for a better life, all of it pushed by a constant need of investments and fast modernization, I wanted to portray this view of a growing china, far away from the common views of eastern cities such as shanghai or beijing. From a photographic point of view, I have decided to shoot the people in their environment. But I have decided to take a step back, using medium format film camera, I want to transmit the feeling of scales that the city and china in general is facing. Urban Scales, Social Scales, the country's biggest problem is now to find a way to link some extremes the highly rich to the very poor, the extravagant to the meaningful. Vertical Communism is a portrait of chinese a megapolis full of contradiction, trying to keep up with its unpredictable modernization." Your best and worst memory as a photographer? Being a professional photographers gives you a chance to go to many great places and meet amazing people. Sometimes the best memory is all the instants that led you to take a particular photo, the untold stories. What happened in the discussion you had with the person you were about to portray, how did you get to this fantastic point of view etc. For worst memory there is always issues of dealing with authorities, this large gap of misunderstanding between the photographer wanting to tell a story and a person not allowing you to shoot. This is always very annoying. More about METAMORPOLIS More about UNPERSON
Adolphe Braun
France
1812 | † 1877
Jean Adolphe Braun was a French photographer, best known for his floral still lifes, Parisian street scenes, and grand Alpine landscapes. One of the most influential French photographers of the 19th century, Braun used contemporary innovations in photographic reproduction to market his photographs worldwide. In his later years, he used photographic techniques to reproduce famous works of art, which helped advance the field of art history. Braun was born in Besançon in 1812, the eldest child of Samuel Braun (1785–1877), a police officer, and Marie Antoinette Regard (born 1795). When he was about 10, his family relocated to Mulhouse, a textile manufacturing center in the Alsace region along the Franco-German border. He showed promise as a draftsman, and was sent to Paris in 1828 to study decorative design. In 1834, he married Louis Marie Danet, who he had three children with: Marie, Henri, and Louise. That same year, Adolphe, alongside his brother Charles, opened the first of several unsuccessful design partnerships. After several unsuccessful design ventures in the 1830s, Adolphe Braun published a successful collection of floral designs in 1842. Upon the premature death of his wife 1843, Braun sold his Paris studio and moved back to Mulhouse, where he became chief designer in the studio of Dollfus-Ausset, which provided patterns for textiles. He remarried to Pauline Melanie Petronille Baumann (1816–1885) on 12 December 1843 and had two more children with her; son Paul Gaston and daughter Marguerite. In 1847, he opened his own studio in Dornach, a suburb of Mulhouse. In the early 1850s, Braun began photographing flowers to aid in the design of new floral patterns. Making use of the recently developed collodion process, which allowed for print reproduction of the glass plates, he published over 300 of his photographs in an album, Fleurs photographiées, in 1855. These photographs caught the attention of the Paris art community, and Braun produced a second set for display at the Paris Universal Exposition that same year. In 1857, Adolphe Braun formed a photography company, Braun et Cie, and with the help of his sons, Henri and Gaston, and several employees, set about taking photographs of the Alsatian countryside. These were published in 1859 in L’Alsace photographiée, and several were displayed at the 1859 Salon. By the 1860s, the Braun et Cie studio was operating in a factory-like manner, producing all of its own materials except paper. The studio created thousands of stereoscopic images of the Alpine regions of France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. Braun also produced a number of large-format panoramic images of the Alpine countryside, using the pantoscopic camera developed by English inventors John Johnson and John Harrison. Photography historian Naomi Rosenblum described Braun's work as representative of the relationship between art and commercialism in the mid-19th century. His self-sustaining Mulhouse studio helped elevate photography from a craft to a full-scale business enterprise, producing thousands of unique images which were reproduced and marketed throughout Europe and North America. Rosenblum also suggests that Braun's detailed reproductions of works of art in European museums brought these works to art students in North America, providing a major catalyst for the field of art history in the United States. Braun's early photographs were primarily of flowers, originally taken to complement his work as a pattern designer. Subsequent photographs focused on Alpine landscapes, especially lake scenes, and glacier scenes. Unlike many landscape photographers during this period, Braun liked to include people in his scenes. Photography historian Helmut Gernsheim suggested that Braun was one of the most skillful photographers of his era in rendering composition. While not known as a portraitist, he did take portraits of several notable individuals, including Pope Pius IX, Franz Liszt, and the Countess of Castiglione, mistress of Napoleon III. Braun's work has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The J. Paul Getty Museum, the George Eastman House, and the Musée d'Orsay. His photographs of Parisian street scenes and Alpine landscapes are frequently reproduced in works on the history of photography.Source: Wikipedia Trained as a fabric designer, Adolphe Braun began his photography career in 1853. His photographs of flowers, for a catalog titled Fleurs photographiées, were to be transferred onto printing blocks for wallpaper and fabric designs. It was an extremely successful project for Braun; one album of the photographs was presented to Empress Eugénie of France, and it earned him a medal at the 1855 Paris Exposition Universelle. By the early 1860s, Braun's focus had shifted to the making of topographical views of scenes throughout Europe and, beginning in 1866, to reproductions of works of art. The reproduction of paintings, drawings, lithographs, engravings, and sculpture was an important endeavor in France, and photography provided an accurate record. Braun opened a photography studio that became one of the world's largest publishers of such images. In 1869 Braun's was one of only two photographic firms invited to photograph the opening of the Suez Canal in Egypt.Source: The J. Paul Getty Museum
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
Annie Leibovitz
United States
1949
Annie Leibovitz is an American portrait photographer best known for her engaging portraits, particularly of celebrities, which often feature subjects in intimate settings and poses. Leibovitz's Polaroid photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, taken five hours before Lennon's murder, is considered one of Rolling Stone magazine's most famous cover photographs. The Library of Congress declared her a Living Legend, and she is the first woman to have a feature exhibition at Washington's National Portrait Gallery.Source: Wikipedia Annie Leibovitz was born on October 2, 1949, in Waterbury, Connecticut. While studying painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, she took night classes in photography, and in 1970, she began doing work for Rolling Stone magazine. She became Rolling Stone’s chief photographer in 1973. By the time she left the magazine, 10 years later, she had shot 142 covers. In 1983, she joined the staff at Vanity Fair, and in 1998, she also began working for Vogue. In addition to her magazine editorial work, Leibovitz has created influential advertising campaigns for American Express and the Gap and has contributed frequently to the Got Milk? campaign. She has worked with many arts organizations, including American Ballet Theatre, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Mark Morris Dance Group, and with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Her books include Annie Leibovitz: Photographs (1983), Photographs: Annie Leibovitz 1970–1990 (1991), Olympic Portraits (1996), Women (1999), American Music (2003), A Photographer’s Life: 1990–2005 (2006), Annie Leibovitz at Work (2008), Pilgrimage (2011), Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016 (2017), The Early Years, 1970–1983 (2018), and Wonderland (2021). Exhibitions of her images have appeared at museums and galleries all over the world, including the National Portrait Gallery and the Corcoran Gallery, in Washington, D.C.; the International Center of Photography, in New York; The Brooklyn Museum; the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; the Centre National de la Photographie, in Paris; and the National Portrait Gallery in London. Leibovitz has been designated a Living Legend by the Library of Congress and is the recipient of many other honors, including the Barnard College Medal of Distinction and the Infinity Award in Applied Photography from the International Center of Photography. She was decorated a Commandeur in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. She lives in New York with her three children, Sarah, Susan, and Samuelle.Source: Vanity Fair Leibovitz became Rolling Stone’s chief photographer in 1973, and by the time she left the magazine, she had amassed 142 covers and published photo essays on scores of stories, including the 1975 Rolling Stones tour. Moments of freedom and an unyielding imagination fed the evolution of Leibovitz’s photography. The monumental body of work taken during her thirteen-year tenure at Rolling Stone blurred the lines between celebrity and civilian, interviewer and interviewee, artist and subject, dissolving the boundary separating Leibovitz from those captured in her photographs. Documenting fellow reporters and photographers in addition to their subjects, Leibovitz highlighted those hidden behind the camera and brought them to the forefront. Leibovitz recorded major political moments of the Seventies in the United States, including the 1972 presidential campaign, which she covered with the writer Hunter S. Thompson. In a haunting photograph taken when President Richard Nixon resigned, on August 9, 1974, Leibovitz’s camera records his helicopter as it takes off from the White House lawn. Her immersion within the political landscape extended to photographs from the 1976 election, when figures such as Jerry Brown and Jimmy Carter seized national attention. The artist photographed the Democratic National Convention in New York City, showcasing candid moments with Dianne Feinstein and journalists such as Sally Quinn and Dan Rather. Leibovitz’s unobtrusive lens implicates both the photographer and her colleagues as significant actors and contributors to cultural moments. When traveling with the Rolling Stones to document their tour of the Americas in the summer of 1975, Leibovitz entered the band’s world to such a degree that only her camera served as a reminder of her identity. It was Leibovitz’s distinct ability to immerse herself in varying environments that enabled a direct engagement with her subjects, revealing their true, honest, and perhaps most vulnerable selves. Leibovitz began using a medium-format camera that produced square photographs and was appropriate for shooting set-up portraits with a strobe light. The planned portraits were based on a straightforward idea often stemming from a deeply personal collaboration with her subjects. Evidencing a level of uncanny intimacy and an uncommon depth of engagement, this relationship can be seen in one of her most celebrated photographs, in which a naked John Lennon clutches Yoko Ono. The portrait, made on December 8, 1980, was meant to serve as an intimate emblem of the couple’s relationship. When Lennon was killed just hours after the photo was taken, the image became a powerful visual memorial. In 1983, when Leibovitz joined the staff of the revived Vanity Fair, she was established as the foremost rock-music photographer and an astute documentarian of the social landscape. At Vanity Fair, and later at Vogue, she developed a large body of work – portraits of actors, directors, writers, musicians, athletes, and political and business figures, as well as fashion photographs. Leibovitz’s portraiture reflects a signature technique she developed early in her career, as she consciously and consistently fit style to subject through collaborating with her subjects, photographing them in their homes or in a location that meant something to them, where friends, lovers, children, and other personal markers might appear. Annie Leibovitz’s prolific output and her inventive approach to photography itself position her distinctly within the traditions and trajectory of American portraiture during the twentieth century. Her unique photographic language dovetailed with – and advanced – the medium’s evolution as a force for art making. The singularity of her vision, which included combining portraiture with photojournalism that captured historical and cultural touchstones throughout the United States and abroad, places her within a lineage of some of her personal heroes – artists like Andy Warhol and Richard Avedon, both innovators of their mediums. Influences such as Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson inspired Leibovitz to turn the tide on photography’s reception. Combining Frank’s highly personal and emotional style of photographic reportage with Cartier-Bresson’s Surrealist and even sculptural art photography, Leibovitz embraced her own inclination toward personal journalism. The artist’s large and distinguished body of work encompasses some of the most well-known portraits of our time.Source: Hauser & Wirth
Helga Paris
Germany
1938
Helga Steffens, daughter of Gertrud Steffens and typesetter Wilhelm Steffens, was born just over a year before the outbreak of the Second World War in Gollnow, a small town then in the north of Germany. In May 1945 she celebrated her seventh birthday, while the war ended in defeat for Germany. Her father and two brothers were still away, but in the meantime frontier changes mandated by the victorious powers and large scale ethnic cleansing forced Helga's mother to flee with her two daughters. They ended up in Zossen, a small town a little to the south of Berlin. There she was raised by a community of mostly women, many of whom worked. She is introduced to photography by her aunts who take many photographs. In Zossen she went to school and successfully passed her School leaving exams in 1956. After this, till 1960, she studied fashion design at the School of Engineering for the Clothing Industry ("Berlin Ingenieurschule für Bekleidungsindustrie") in Berlin and undertook, still in Berlin, an internship at VEB Treffmodelle. After this she worked as a fashion lecturer and as a commercial artist. In 1960 she starts to take photographs with a 6x6 Flexaret camera. It was during this time that she met the painter Ronald Paris. They were married between 1961 and 1974. Through her husband she was now quickly able to establish contacts in the East German artistic scene of the time. By now she had also acquired a passion for photography. Like many of the German Democratic Republic's leading photographers, Helga Paris is often described as self-taught. She herself believes that much of her photographic passion and skill was acquired from two aunts who were themselves, enthusiastic photographers, constantly taking pictures through the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, which now Paris herself keeps carefully stored in a collection of show boxes adapted for the purpose. Paris began taking photographs seriously around 1967. She was influenced by the work of Edvard Munch, Max Beckmann, Francis Bacon, and Werner Held. Between 1967 and 1968 she worked in the photo laboratory of Walli Baucik. Her first freelance job, in 1969, was to photograph slaughtering at a home in Thüringen; in 1970 she shot fashion photographs for the youth magazine neues leben. In 1972 she joined the National Association of Visual Artists, which was virtually a prerequisite for success in what was now her chosen career. Her professional work is wide-ranging. In 1975 she photographed scenes from productions by Benno Besson at the Berlin Volksbühne ("People's Theatre"). She presented her first personal exhibition in 1978, in Dresden at the Fine Arts Academy. By the 1980s her work was concentrated increasingly on people and streetscapes, initially in Berlin where many of her subjects were neighbours and friends. She encountered greater difficulty when undertaking an equivalent project in Halle where the people she photographed were strangers and reacted with hostility. She then took time to talk to people and ask before photographing them. Under those circumstances, citizens of Halle agreed to be photographed, though there was still reluctance to be photographed with Halle streets as background at a time when a major and long-running redevelopment project scheme involving extensive destruction of old houses was leaving the centre of the city looking badly damaged. Her 1986 exhibition Buildings and Faces: Halle 1983-1985, planned for the city's Marktschlößchen Gallery was cancelled a few days before the scheduled opening date because her pictures gave publicity to the city's misguided building policy. By the time it was cancelled a catalogue and exhibition labels for the photographs had already been printed. Her career as a free-lance photographer survived the changes of 1989/90 which led to the end of the German Democratic Republic, formally in October 1990 with German reunification, and for some commentators and others her photographs from the East German period have gained a wider interest as the period they depict has receded into history. Since 1996 Helga Paris has been a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts. In 2003 her twelve-part exhibition Self images 1981-1988 in the context of the Art in the German Democratic Republic exhibition drew much interest.Source: Wikipedia Buildings and Faces “I’ll take Halle” was Helga Paris’s spontaneous reaction when, at a meeting with colleagues and artists in East Berlin in the early 1980s, fellow photographer Arno Fischer came up with the idea of photographing East Germany systematically as photographers had done in the 1930s and 1940s for the Farm Security Administration on behalf of the US government. Helga Paris rose to the challenge and began to document Halle on her own initiative. The self-taught photographer had previously carried out several photo stories on themes relating to urban and neighborhood life as part of a personal project. She drove from East Berlin to Halle many times between 1983 and 1985. As her daughter lived there at the time, she had developed an affinity to the town. Helga Paris was fascinated by the endangered former beauty of the buildings and considered it her duty to preserve it in pictures before it disappeared completely. She decided to photograph Halle as if it were a “foreign town in a foreign country”. In doing so, she looked at it through the eyes of an explorer, who is inspired and galvanized by a new environment. She started off taking snapshots of urban life, focusing on streets with houses and passers-by. However, the local people, who felt exposed in their “everyday misery”, did not always react favorably. This prompted her to reconsider her approach and eventually to divide the project into portraits of buildings and portraits of people. Helga Paris consciously limited the moment between making contact with her subjects and pressing the shutter to ensure that their gazes were as open as possible. As a result, they seem to be poised in the very second in which they briefly pause for the photographer, but have not yet engaged mentally with the photographic situation. At the time, Halle was primarily putting money into building modern apartments, and the old town center offered a desolate picture with crumbling facades, including those of listed buildings, half-untiled roofs, and ramshackle roads and squares. All this is revealed in Helga Paris’s photographs in high-contrast black-and-white, although it was never her intention to denounce the state of things. However, the SED party leadership found that the picture of the town conveyed in Helga Paris’s images was too negative. As a result, she was barred from opening her exhibition Buildings and Faces at the last minute. Not until 1990, after German reunification, was it allowed to be shown in Halle.Source: Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation
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