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Rainer Elstermann
Rainer Elstermann

Rainer Elstermann

Country: Germany
Birth: 1965

Rainer Elstermann was born in West-Berlin in 1965. He took his first self-portrait-photographs when he was 17 years old. In 1983 when he was 18 he started working with the avantgarde experimental super-8 film production company Teufelsberg Produktion. In 1984 he began being seriously involved with photography after his uncle gave him a complete dark-room equipment. Further encouragment came by the way of famous fashion photographer Paolo Roversi who photographed Rainer Elstermann for Italien Vogue in 1985. After seeing his portfolio he insisted Rainer should be a fashion photographer in Paris. Instead Rainer Elstermann moved to London in 1988 where he remained until 1992, realizing little art projects and exploring photography. First assignements followed. In 1999 he started his studio as an advertising photographer. From 2006 Rainer Elstermann projects moved again towards Art photography and since 2009 he is exclusively concentrating on Art. Also in 2006 he met Andreas Stamm and they have been working together since.
 

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Rafal Michalak
Poland
1971
Lives and works in Wroclaw, Poland. He studied political science and public relations. Graduate of Academy of Art and Design in Wroclaw with a Master of Arts (Media Art Department). A member of The Association of Polish Art Photographers (ZPAF). He has been associated with the advertising industry and commercial photography for years. In his everyday work he deals with brand communication issues as well as visual identity development for companies and corporations. At the same time, he is actively engaged in creating his own original photography, thereafter presented in exhibitions and published in trade magazines. Winner of many photographic praises and commendations. Human being as individuality and its place in the so fast altering world are the key factors of Michalak’s photographic research. In his photography he is mostly consumed with transgression understood as a conscious and intentional exceeding of bounds and limits that we impose on ourselves or encounter. At the same time, it provides a way to learn more about the hidden depths and makes it possible to experience reality from different points of view. Transgressive approach has characterised Michalak’s personal style of representation, regardless of used technique and medium, ever since he knowingly engaged in fine-art photography. Transgression determines his personal choices in terms of subjects he approaches, and even more so, the message, i.e. the idea behind a photograph, which he believes to be essential.
Seydou Keïta
Mali
1921 | † 2001
The great African portraitist Seydou Keïta lived in Bamako, Mali from 1921 to 2001. A self-taught photographer, he opened a studio in 1948 and specialized in portraiture. Seydou Keïta soon photographed all of Bamako and his portraits gained a reputation for excellence throughout West Africa. His numerous clients were drawn by the quality of his photos and his great sense of aesthetics. Many were young men, dressed in European style clothing. Some customers brought in items they wanted to be photographed with but Keïta also had a choice of European clothing and accessories - watches, pens, radios, scooter, etc. - which he put at their disposal in his studio. The women came in flowing robes often covering their legs and their throats, only beginning to wear Western outfits in the late 60s. Seydou Keïta worked primarily with daylight and for economic reasons took only a single shot for each picture. Seydou Keïta was discovered in the West in the 1990s. His first solo exhibition took place in 1994 in Paris at the Fondation Cartier. This was followed by many others in various museums, galleries and foundations worldwide. He is now universally recognized as the father of African photography and considered one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century. "It’s easy to take a photo, but what really made a difference was that I always knew how to find the right position, and I never was wrong. Their head slightly turned, a serious face, the position of the hands... I was capable of making someone look really good. The "photos were always very good. That’s why I always say that it’s a real art." Seydou Keïta, Bamako, 1995/1996 © André Magnin From en.wikipedia.orgSeydou Keïta was born in 1921 in Bamako, although the exact date is unknown. He was the oldest in a family of five children. His father Bâ Tièkòró and his uncle Tièmòkò were furniture makers. Keïta developed an interest in photography when his uncle gave him a Kodak Brownie with a film with eight shots in 1935, after returning from a trip to Senegal. In the beginning Keïta worked as both a carpenter and photographer, taking first portraits of his family and friends, later of people in the neighborhood. He learned photography and how to develop from Pierre Garnier, a French photographic supply store owner, and from Mountaga Traoré, his mentor. In 1948 he set up his first studio in the family house in Bamako-Koura behind the main prison.From www.gallery51.comConsidered to be one the important precursors of African photography, Seydou Keïta was born in Bamako (Mali) in 1920. Like many of his contemporaries, nothing particularly predestined him to become a photographer. His uncles bring back a camera from a trip to Senegal, and the young Seydou is fascinated. He starts photographing his relatives and discovers a deep passion for this art. Although he makes furniture for a living, he spends much time with Pierre Garnier who has his own studio. There, Seydou Keïta learns the secrets of the trade and soon realises that there was an enormous demand for individual pictures. This drives him to open his own studio in 1948. Up until then, whites had had a lot of trouble convincing local population to have their pictures taken, because they were so afraid to lose their identity. With Keïta it's different: he is one of them and permits them to choose their own picture that will be left for the close family. From then on, we see the opposite effect: people queue up to have their pictures taken. This is to become the great specialty of the malinese artist. Slowly he develops his own style, in which one finds accents of Mountaga Kouyaté's work, an intellectual that fought a bitter personal battle for the independence of Soedan. To look their best, that is the sole desire of people in front of Keïta's lens. Keïta even gives them costumes, accessories and furniture to further enhance their appearance.Men, women and children, all look perfectly elegant. If we look beyond the aesthetics of the black-and-white pictures, Seydou shows us a portrait of Malinese society in full transition. Finally Seydou is to become the country's official photographer, and will stop working in 1977. Nevertheless, it will be many years before his work is noted at the famous "Festival of African Photography". Source: www.seydoukeitaphotographer.com
George Dambier
France
1925 | † 2011
Born in 1925, Georges Dambier first went to work for painter Paul Colin, where he learnt drawing and graphic design. Then he landed a job as assistant to Willy Rizzo, a famous portraitist photographer (Harcourt’s Studio, Paris Match). There, he discovered photography and was taught the fundamentals of this art, especially lighting. Georges Dambier was 20 when the Second World War came to an end, a moment when the social scene in Paris suddenly took off. Nightlife, subdued during the Occupation, exploded. Le Bœuf sur le toit, Le Lido, la Rose Rouge, Le Lorientais, Le Tabou : he frequented cabarets and jazz clubs in Saint Germain des Prés, where famous artists and celebrities organised glittering parties and balls. One night, he managed to take pictures of Rita Hayworth who had come incognito to a famous night club, Le Jimmy’s. He sold the exclusive images to France Dimanche, a daily magazine recently created by Max Corre and Pierre Lazareff, and won himself a job on the magazine as a photo-reporter. In his new post, he was sent to all over the world to cover current events. However, with his predilection for graphic design and aesthetics, his liking for refined mise-en-scene, and at the urging of many friends, such as Capucine, Suzy Parker, Jacques Fath, Bettina, Brigitte Bardot, Jean Barthet, he was lead towards fashion photography. As Georges Dambier built and perfected his craft, he was hired by Helene Lazareff, director of ELLE, the fashion magazine. She encouraged him and gave him his first assignment as a fashion photographer. Georges Dambier did not conform to the standard technique of taking fashion pictures, with models standing emotionless and seemingly indifferent to the camera. Instead, he showed models smiling, laughing and often in action. His models were surrounded by local people in a market place in Marrakech, or in a village in Corsica, or – and above all – in his beloved Paris. Most of all, it was Georges Dambier’s ability to put his subjects at ease (many of them were friends) that helped him create true, intimate and lasting images. With his delicate style, and refined technique, his work revealed a reality of great elegance. As his career blossomed, he became widely known for his ability to capture the essence of feminine chic and glamour in his images. In 1954, Robert Capa asked him to lead a fashion department at the Magnum Photo Agency. Unfortunately, Capa died a few weeks later, while covering the Indochinese war. Meanwhile, Georges Dambier set up his own studio in Paris, Rue de la Bienfaisance. As a freelance photographer, he continued to contribute to ELLE and other magazines: Vogue, Le Jardin des Modes, Marie France…He also collaborated with Françoise Giroud and Christine Collanges at L’Express. Big advertising campaigns (Synergie, Havas, Publicis), and contracts for many brands such as L’Oréal, Carita, Jacques Dessange followed. In addition to his work in advertising, Georges Dambier did portraits for record covers and posters for his great friend, the producer Eddie Barclay and Jacques Canetti. As his reputation grew, so did opportunities to meet and photograph celebrities from different worlds. He captured the faces of the most notable artists of the 60’s: Sacha Distel, Zizi Jeanmaire, Dalida, Jeanne Moreau… His impressive client list included celebrities (Cerdan, Cocteau…), singers (Johnny Hallyday, Sylvie Vartan, Charles Aznavour...), actors (Alain Delon, Françoise Dorléac, Catherine Deneuve…) and many others. In 1964, Georges Dambier launched his own project: a magazine for young people, dedicated to culture and fashion: TWENTY. He hired young artists and photographers: Just Jaeckin, Jean Paul Goude, Philippe Labro, Copi, Bosc and many others who would later become famous in their own right. Twenty lasted two eventful years. In 1976, he created the magazine VSD with his old friend Maurice Siegel. Georges Dambier led the artistic side of the magazine and headed the photographic section. VSD was an instant success. In the late eighties, Georges Dambier retired to a quieter life in the countryside. He died in May, 2011. Source: Peter Fetterman Gallery
Justyna Neryng
Poland
1981
Born in Poland in 1981, Justyna Neryng spent much of her childhood playing with her father’s cameras and dark room while roaming the forests of Chelmsko on the Czech boarder. As an adult, a mother and an immigrant to Britain, her photography has flourished into a substantial body of portraiture. Perhaps the most evocative of her works are her exquisitely emotive self-portraits that seem to carry the dark spirit of the forest from her childhood as well as potently baring the scares of modern womanhood. They show vulnerability and intimate eroticism as well as a deep sense of isolation and alienation. It is these portraits that have been most published and exhibited in both in her polish homeland and in the UK. More recently Justyna has begun to collaborate with her daughter Nell, on a project called Childhood Lost. Justyna currently produces her works in her adopted home town of Brighton and Hove, where she lives with her daughter. Artist Statement: Childhood Lost is an autobiographical ,self portrait in a different body, ongoing project exploring the nature of portraiture and memory. As a single mother I have found myself exploring notions and representations of childhood. I see my daughter’s experiences of growing up in urban England conflicting with my own experiences of growing up in rural Poland.I must confess that my own childhood is not a source of many happy memories, perhaps the most resonant of which are the times I escaped to a world of fantasy played out in the forests surrounding my home village of Chelmsko. Watching my daughter grow up has in a sense held a mirror to my own memories of the past while experiencing her childhood dreams enacted through play, and story telling. I find myself in a strange place where I can experience my own memories as well as see my daughter’s childhood through my adult eyes. It is these notions I am seeking to explore with the Childhood Lost project. Interweaving childhood nostalgia with the stories and myths of my Polish childhood and those that I share with my essentially British daughter. The project is using these ideas to produce a series of portraits that evoke characters that populate this world we know as childhood. A court of characters from myth and dreams. The images are aesthetically inspired by portraiture from the Golden Age of Dutch painting. By drawing on paintings as inspiration I am hoping to give a timeless feel to the final images. Also key to the project is also the painstaking styling and prop building, which I am using to evoke these different persona played out by my daughter. I want to develop the series in to a substantial set of portraits of my daughter playing the characters of childhood, as well as producing more elaborate set pieces embracing a theatricality that would take the project to the next level. Subject to funding it would also be a dream of mine to be able to revisit the forests of my own childhood and produce work there. Justyna Neryng is a multi-award winning self-taught photographer born in Poland and now living and working in the United Kingdom. She spent much of her childhood playing with her father’s cameras and dark room while roaming the forests of her hometown. She specialises in portraits and nudes, her photography has flourished into a substantial body of portraiture. She is mainly known for her enchanting theatrical portraits of her daughter, a gallery of triumphal characters, captured on a neutral and undefined background, with their fantastic ‘uniforms’ and imperious look . These images are aesthetically inspired by portraiture from the Golden Age of Dutch painting. And her exquisitely emotive self-portraits that seem to carry the dark spirit of the forest from her childhood as well as potently baring the scars of modern womanhood. They show vulnerability and intimate eroticism as well as deep sense of isolation and alienation.Source: justynaneryng.com
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...
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