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John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny

John Kenny

Country: United Kingdom

In 2006 I developed my style of portrait photography within traditional communities, heavily influenced by the dramatic pictures of chiaroscuro artists. Chiaroscuro is an Italian term which literally means light-dark. Back then, at the very start of my Africa journey, I was buzzing with energy having met people of real magnetism just days into my trip. I was excited by extraordinary people and fascinating cultures and wondered how I could possibly communicate and express these feelings of excitement to friends and family back home.

The solution, I imagined, would involve abstracting the remarkable from the not so remarkable: put simply, I felt that the vibrant and intense individuals that I had met in traditional communities would best show their magnetism on camera when they were removed from the (often) dull and dusty backgrounds of their immediate environment. After a few days I started to imagine each of these people in front of me emerging from the nothingness of darkness, with no distractions, hoping that this would provide a real feeling of proximity between the viewer and the person in the picture. I made a conscious decision at that time to leave a more documentary style of environmental portraiture to others. Practicing this new technique in remote African villages in 2006 I had nothing but sunshine and a hut available as a great ‘open studio': so I used these parameters and started experimenting (I've never really liked flash anyway). So it's simply the illumination of natural sunlight, and sun on dry earth, that reaches into the darkness of huts and lights up these remarkable people. Sun and dry earth are the only ingredients required for the lighting in my prints. And of course, you also need to find exceptional people!

Falling in love with photography, and the origins of this series:
I first fell in love with photography around 2003. I had not been fortunate enough to receive an art or photography education, but I knew back then, when I picked up my first SLR camera, that I had found the perfect way to express myself. Every time I had the camera in my hand I was looking to improve, needing to know what everything and anything looked like once it had been through the photographic process. It was a bit like a mad pursuit of alchemy - throwing everything into the mix to see if any magic came out of the other side. The process of photographic learning is very rarely a simple one, but to me it remains beautiful: discoveries, experimentation and seeing for the first time how a camera distorts and enhances the world.
In Africa I seem to have made it my goal to travel through some of the remotest areas of the continent where the reaches of urbanisation and 21st century living are barely detectable. Looking back, this wasn’t my intention when I first arrived there in 2006, but somehow I keep returning to Africa to photograph because I'm fascinated to encounter societies that are able to survive in some of the most arid, isolated and difficult environments that people have settled in. If you haven’t visited these places then the reality of living is not nearly as romantic or idealised as one might imagine. Life takes place against a backdrop of very uncertain resources and enormous hardships, but traditions and hospitality towards outsiders remain intact.
I specifically chose to photograph the individuals that you see in these galleries because I had a very real sense of wonder when I met them. Each one of these people had something that attracted me, sometimes a piercing intensity, or an uncommon beauty, that I felt compelled to try and capture. It’s true that I photograph for myself, first and foremost, but a close second is my desire to show others this magnetism that draws one into the eyes of these fascinating people.
I have usually travelled alone or with a guide on these journeys, along the way walking and hopping onto overloaded vehicles of every kind to head to remote settlements. Often the destination is a transient, weekly market where hundreds of vibrant, colourful people assemble somewhat incongruously against a dull, dusty backdrop for a few hours. Later in the day they will all melt away with their animals and traded possessions, until the location is again a patch of bone-dry ground with almost nothing to separate it from the rest of the featureless land that typifies much of the African Sahel. It is fascinating to observe this process play out in almost exactly the same way across countless African countries, many of which are separated by hundreds or thousands of miles across this huge continent’s surface.
My favourite tools are sharp prime lenses and cameras that let you capture the tiniest pieces of detail: whilst these details may be insignificant alone, when aggregated I feel they help paint the picture of the environment and how each person adapts to theirs.

My favourite series of work remains the Northern Kenya series which involved 6 weeks of intense travelling with my guide, Mo, across remote areas without a vehicle and often without any semblance of an idea how to get to the next tiny settlement. The trip was full of unique encounters in locations that seemed to be famous, to me at least, as places where no transport seemed to be heading. On one particular occasion we came across a lone Moran (warrior) emerge into the dawn light, miles from anywhere. He seemed like a mirage: a vibrant vision in pink cloth and bright colourful jewellery, and more acutely so when set against the hazy yellow monotone of land that he emerged from. Even for Northern Kenya, I thought he seemed to be in a remote, featureless location: devoid of any water, and within an hour it would again be blistering hot. Despite these uncomfortable realities - which clearly weighed more heavily on my mind than his - the warrior seemed confident of his bearings and stopped for a moment to exchange pleasantries with Mo and I. A couple of minutes later, after sharing cigarette with my guide, he purposefully set off walking again, to God knows where. This place that looked barren and foreboding, to me at least, was clearly his home.
 

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Cig Harvey
United States
1973
The photographs and artist books of Cig Harvey have been widely exhibited and remain in the permanent collections of major museums and collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; the Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine; and the International Museum of Photography and Film at the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York. Cig began working in a darkroom at thirteen and has been dedicated to photography ever since. She grew up in the deep valleys of Devon in the UK, and came to the States for her MFA in 1999, after years spent living in Barcelona and Bermuda. Cig Harvey's first monograph, You Look At Me Like An Emergency (Schilt Publishing, 2012,) is a collection of ten years of pictures and written vignettes. It sold out in all printings and was named one of PDNʼs Best Books of the Year 2012. Cig had her first solo museum show at the Stenersen Museum in Oslo, Norway, in conjunction with the release. The book was well reviewed in a number of publications, including The Independent, Aesthetica, the Boston Globe, Blink, and PDN. Pro Photographer magazine ran an in depth feature, "Chance: Cig Harvey's deceptively simple photographs tap into the universal elements of the human experience: love, loss, longing and belonging. She's in demand for editorial and commercial work-as well as her for her fine art prints and books." Cig Harvey's second monograph, Gardening at Night (Schlit Publishing, 2015,) was published in conjunction with solo shows at Robert Mann Gallery, New York, Robert Klein Gallery, Boston and Paul Kopeiken Gallery, Los Angeles. The book received critical acclaim with features and reviews in Vogue, The Telegraph, the International Wall Street Journal, the International New York Times, and Aesthetica among others. The International Wall Street Journal said of the series, "Though the subjects and setting are familiar to us, we cannot help but feel that Cig Harvey has led us through the looking glass to a world of wonder. In the way that twilight is not quite day and not quite night, the photographs of Gardening at Night are stories not yet fully developed, while still capturing the unexpected yet oddly harmonious moments that surround us daily." Cig Harvey's work has been displayed at Paris Photo, Art Miami, and AIPAD every year since 2006. She has been a nominee for John Gutmann fellowship and the Santa Fe Prize, and a finalist for the BMW Prize at Paris Photo and for the Prix Virginia, an international photography prize for women. Cig's devotion to visual storytelling has lead to innovative international campaigns and features with New York Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Japan, Kate Spade, and Bloomingdales. Cig teaches workshops and regularly speaks on her work and processes at institutions around the world. She is known for her high energy, sense of humor and creativity. She brings a profound sense of optimism to all that she does. Cig lives in a farmhouse in the Midcoast of Maine with her husband Doug (who has the profile of an emperor on a Roman coin), their wayward daughter Scout, and Scarlet the dog (the original baby). The slow passing of time and the natural surroundings of her rural home has made her alert to the magic in the mundane. Articles Discover Cig Harvey's Interview Find out more about Cig Harvey in this article
Keiichi Tahara
Japan
1951 | † 2017
Tahara was born in Kyoto. He learned photographic techniques at an early age from his grandfather, a professional photographer. In 1972, he travelled Europe with Red Buddha Theatre as a lighting and visual technician. While in France, he encountered a sharp, harsh and piercing light that he had never experienced in Japan. Since then, he remained in Paris for next 30 years and started his career as a photographer. His first series of work "Ville (City)" (1973-1976) captured the unique light in Paris in black-and-white photography. His next series of work "Fenêtre (Windows)" (1973-1980) awarded the best new photographer by Arles International Photography Festival in 1977 and he moved into the limelight.The following year, he started the new series "Portrait" (1978), then "Eclat" (1979-1983) and "Polaroid" (1984) and received number of awards such as Ihei Kimura award (1985). His morphological approach to light has extended to sculpture, installations, and other various method crossing over the genre of photography. In 1993, in moat of the Castle of Angers (1993), the first light sculpture in France, "Fighting the Dragon" (1993) was installed. "Garden of Light" (Eniwa, Hokkaido, 1989) is a representative piece in which light sculptures are installed in a public space covered in snow for six months of the year. The light changes in response to music and presents a space of poetic dimensions. Based on the same concept, "Échos du Lumières" (2000) was installed in the Canal Saint-Martin, commissioned as a public space project by the City of Paris. The spectacle colors from the prisms illuminate the stone wall synchronizing with the sounds. The rest of his work include a permanent outdoor installation "Niwa (Garden)" (2001) at the Photography Museum in Paris (Maison Européenne de la Photographie), "Portail de Lumière", an installation created as a part of the cultural project Lille 2004, and " Light Sculpture" exhibition at Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum in 2004. In 2008, Tahara lead the project of building Ginza 888, with the artistic direction of the Museum of Islamic Art. A photography book was published. He continued to produce a number of light installation projects in urban spaces. He died on 6 June 2017. Source: Wikipedia When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer? It was 1972 when I am 21 years old Where did you study photography? With whom? From my grand father Do you have a mentor or role model? Trace of light. Moholy-Nagy / Man-Ray How long have you been a photographer? 40 years Do you remember your first shot? What was it? Yes, when I was 6 years old took the picture of garden of our family house What or who inspires you? So many artists which I met in my life How could you describe your style? Trace of light. Do you have a favorite photograph or series? Serie de Eclat 1979-1983 Do you spend a lot of time editing your images? For what purpose? Light/Observation/Notation what mistake should a young photographer avoid? Do not afraid mistake, mistake make a art An idea, a sentence, a project you would like to share? 1970 What are your projects? 1970
Kimiko Yoshida
Kimiko Yoshida is a Japanese visual artist who was born in 1963 and lives in Europe since 1995. Subtle, fictional, paradoxical, Kimiko Yoshida’s Bachelor Brides form an ensemble of quasi-monochromatic self-portraits, fragments of an intimate web, elaborating on a singular story: the feminine condition in Japan. Her images are large format, luminous squares, underlining her fantasy-bio epic. While still very young, Kimiko Yoshida was struck by the story of her own mother, who met her husband for the first time on her wedding day. Kimiko Yoshida’s own story is compelling. Born in Japan, she left to France in 1995, where she adopted a new language, a new way to live, to create. She studied photography at the Ecole Nationale at Arles, later she went to "Le Fresnoy Studio" at Tourcoing, France. Kimiko Yoshida has been concentrating on this series of "intangible self-portraits" which can be read as a quest for the hybridization of cultures, for the transformation of the being, and perhaps even as a deletion of identities. The metamorphosis of her own identity into a multiplicity of identifications expresses the fading of uniqueness, the "deconstruction" of the self. Source: Gallery 51 Kimiko Yoshida was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1963. Feeling oppressed as a woman, she left Japan in 1995 and moved to France to pursue her artistic ambitions. She studied at the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie in Arles and the Studio National des Arts Contemporains in "Le Fresnoy". Since gaining her artistic freedom, Yoshida has been working prolifically. Her work revolves around feminine identity and the transformative power of art. In her most recent project, “Painting. Self-Portrait” she wears elaborate costumes and paints her skin in a monochrome color that matches the background. The monochromatic elements accentuate the fashion of Yoshida’s costumes. For the artist, the costume is "the field of diversion, detournement, and deflection." The visual elements, coupled with the titles’ reference to artists and paintings of the past (Ophelia by Delacroix, The Torero Bride with a Black Suit of Lights, Remembering Picasso), are meant to come together to challenge conventional notions and traditions of art and cultural identity. "I want an image that tries to rethink its own meanings and references." For her self-portraits, Yoshida received the International Photography Award in 2005. She continues to exhibit worldwide, and her work is found in the permanent collections of the Fine Arts Museum of Houston, the Israel Museum, the Kawasaki City Museum, and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. Source: Holden Luntz Photo Gallery
Lola Álvarez Bravo
Mexico
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Lola Álvarez Bravo (1907 – 1993) was a Mexican photographer. She was a key figure (along with Tina Modotti, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and her husband Manuel Álvarez Bravo) in Mexico's post-revolution renaissance. She was born Dolores Martinez de Anda to wealthy parents in the state of Jalisco. She moved to Mexico City as a young child, after her mother left the family under mysterious circumstances. Her father died when she was a young teenager, and she was then sent to live with the family of her half brother, living nearby in Mexico City. It was here that she met the young Manuel Alvarez Bravo, a neighbor. They married in 1925 and moved to Oaxaca where Manuel was an accountant for the federal government. Alvarez Bravo became pregnant but before she gave birth, they returned to Mexico City. Manuel had taken up photography as an adolescent; he taught Alvarez Bravo and they took pictures together in Oaxaca. Manuel also taught her to develop film and make prints in the darkroom. As he became more serious about pursuing a career in photography, she acted as his assistant, although she also harbored a desire to become a photographer in her own right. The Alvarez Bravo's separated in 1934 but she decided to maintain the Alvarez Bravo name. Alvarez Bravo needed to support herself and taught as well as worked in a government archives. She also continued to experiment with photography and in 1936 received her first real commission photographing the colonial choir stalls of a former church. She also worked in commercial photography, including advertising and fashion. She was the director of photography at the National Institute of Fine Arts. She opened an art gallery in 1951 and was the first person to exhibit the work of Frida Kahlo in Mexico City. She also taught photography at the Academia de San Carlos in Mexico City. Inspired by such photographers as Edward Weston and Tina Modotti, Alvarez Bravo established her own independent career. 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In 1927 their son Manuel was born and they opened a photography gallery in their Mexico City home. The couple played a vital role in the cultural circle that included artists Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Rufino Tamayo, Maria Izquierdo, and David Alfaro Siquerios. Lola continued to take photographs but her work always came second to Manuel’s development as an artist. They separated in 1934 and Lola turned to photography to support herself and her seven-year-old son. Stubbornly independent, her camera became both her livelihood and her means of portraying what she explained as “the life I found before me.” She traveled throughout Mexico photographing people in everyday circumstances with honesty and respect. Her assured formal aesthetic, which often bordered on the abstract, included strong compositional elements, crisp details, and the play of light and shadow on surfaces. Most often Alvarez Bravo eschewed posing subjects or staging situations. Instead, she moved amongst the people along cluttered streets, observing them at work, in the marketplace, and at leisure, waiting for opportunities to capture informal moments in carefully composed scenes. Her keen eye produced stirring and expressive images of Mexican life with a contemporary sensibility that places her among the renowned photographic interpreters of that country in the modern period: Edward Weston, Paul Strand, Tina Modotti, and Manual Alvarez Bravo. During her long career, Lola Alvarez Bravo worked as a photojournalist, commercial photographer, professional portraitist, political artist, teacher, and gallery curator. Despite her professional success, it is her personal photography that marks her most significant contribution to the history of the medium. While working professionally she culled a small, core group of photographs she would refer to as her personal work, “mis fotos, mi arte.” The photographs in the Center’s collection are among those she most valued and are in the spirit of that distinction. Her direct, uncompromising, and impassioned studies of the Mexican people offer an important chapter to the history of photography, both as creative force and indelible subject matter. The Center acquired the Lola Alvarez Bravo Archive in 1996. It includes her negatives and nearly 200 gelatin silver photographs, 100 of which were selected by Lola Alvarez Bravo in 1993. An additional 100 photographs were selected by the Center in consultation with the artist. © Artists Rights Society (ARS)Source: Center for Creative Photography
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