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Elliott Erwitt
Elliott Erwitt

Elliott Erwitt

Country: France
Birth: 1928

Born in Paris in 1928 to Russian parents, Erwitt spent his childhood in Milan, then emigrated to the US, via France, with his family in 1939. As a teenager living in Hollywood, he developed an interest in photography and worked in a commercial darkroom before experimenting with photography at Los Angeles City College. In 1948 he moved to New York and exchanged janitorial work for film classes at the New School for Social Research.

Erwitt traveled in France and Italy in 1949 with his trusty Rolleiflex camera. In 1951 he was drafted for military service and undertook various photographic duties while serving in a unit of the Army Signal Corps in Germany and France.

While in New York, Erwitt met Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker, the former head of the Farm Security Administration. Stryker initially hired Erwitt to work for the Standard Oil Company, where he was building up a photographic library for the company, and subsequently commissioned him to undertake a project documenting the city of Pittsburgh.

In 1953 Erwitt joined Magnum Photos and worked as a freelance photographer for Collier's, Look, Life, Holiday and other luminaries in that golden period for illustrated magazines. To this day he is for hire and continues to work for a variety of journalistic and commercial outfits.

In the late 1960s Erwitt served as Magnum's president for three years. He then turned to film: in the 1970s he produced several noted documentaries and in the 1980s eighteen comedy films for Home Box Office. Erwitt became known for benevolent irony, and for a humanistic sensibility traditional to the spirit of Magnum.

Source: Magnum Photos

 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

Lise Sarfati
France
1958
Lise Sarfati has lived and worked in the United States since 2003. She has realized six important series of photographs there. They have been followed by exhibitions and publications. Each of her works makes clear the identity of an approach focused on the intensity of the rapport established with the person photographed, and of that person with the context. A vision in which the individual is environment, a map outlining a perilous cultural geography. The richness of perception is constructed without effects. The compositions are flawless in the simplicity and unity of the image – the style tends to be elementary and clean, avoiding all qualifications, but the traits of each thing and each person trace a hundred thousand folds. The dimension of the interplay of postures is that of a solemn immaturity: the scenery formed by the people and places is the silent crumpling of a dream in which each risks his or her skin. A feminine seduction tinged with fateful coincidences; the beauty of the adolescents looks like a magic spell. Their solitude and strangeness in the world turn the image into an echo chamber inhabited by the photographer, her subject and the viewer. The earlier period of a photographic work carried out in Russia (continuously from 1989 to 1999) confirms the tendency of this research. She identifies a very precise and endless psychological spectrum. The projections, the ambitions associated with the immense space, the way in which they compose these figures, play an essential role: the supporting roles are incandescent. A determinism of the heroic, inevitably tragic figure, as if not even we really have another choice. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY The New Life (2003). Published by Twin Palms in 2005 Immaculate (series, 2006-07) Austin, Texas (2008).Commission work published by Magnum Photos. She (2005-09) Published by Twin Palms in 2012 Sloane (2009) On Hollywood (2009-2010)
Hiroji Kubota
Japan
1939
Hiroji Kubota (born 2 August 1939) is a Japanese photographer, a member of Magnum Photos who has specialized in photographing the far east. Born in Kanda (Tokyo), Kubota studied politics at Waseda University, graduating in 1962. In 1961 he met the Magnum photographers René Burri, Elliott Erwitt, and Burt Glinn. He then studied journalism and international politics at the University of Chicago, and became an assistant to Erwitt and Cornell Capa, in 1965, a freelance photographer. Kubota photographed the 1968 US presidential election and then Ryūkyū islands before their return to Japan in 1972. He then photographed Saigon in 1975, North Korea in 1978, and China in 1979–85, and the USA in 1988–92, resulting in books and exhibitions. Kubota won the Mainichi Art Prize in 1980,[2] and the Annual Award of the Photographic Society of Japan in 1981. Three of his publications won him the first Kodansha Publishing Culture Award in 1970: "Black People", and essays on Calcutta and the Ryūkyū islands.Source: Wikipedia Hiroji Kubota sounds a little over-the-top when he insists his "life is meaningless" without photography. But a glance at his latest and 19th book will convince you he is absolutely right, given how his life has been intertwined with some of Magnum's legendary photographers, like René Burri, Burt Glinn and my father, Elliott Erwitt. He started out working with some of them as a fixer and translator, even though he refused payment at first. "I was brought up comfortably and didn't need it," he said. He did, however, accept a beat-up Leica M3 from Burri. His life changed when he got the first edition of Henri Cartier-Bresson's The Decisive Moment a month later. "When I opened it, I said, 'My gosh, what is this?" he recalled. "That motivated me. That's when I became serious." His fate was sealed when Burri showed him a Swiss magazine that featured his Gaucho pictures. "It shocked me like crazy," he said. "I knew then I wanted to be a photographer." The results of those personally decisive moments are evident in Aperture's Hiroji Kubota Photographer a retrospective covering 50 years of his work. I met Hiroji almost that long ago, because my father, Elliott Erwitt, sponsored him when he first came to America, even picking him up at the TWA terminal at Kennedy Airport. They had met when Hiroji worked as a fixer on one of my father's early trips to Japan, in 1962, to illustrate Robert Donovan's book PT 109, about John F. Kennedy's World War II exploits. Hiroji was my father's translator when he photographed the captain and crew of the destroyer that famously cut Kennedy's boat in two. That kind of work led to his meeting other influential photographers who would encourage him, eventually bringing him to New York, where he became a familiar figure at the Magnum offices. Back then, the agency was a small, international and slightly dysfunctional family that was accessible if you met the right people, which he did. Cornell Capa, a Magnum photographer, "adopted me literally, not legally," he said. "He had no children, so he needed a son, a fairly well-behaved son who could cook for him." Capa, who entertained "big shots" at his Fifth Avenue apartment, helped Hiroji make a few extra dollars by having him cook. Burt Glinn also hired Hiroji as an assistant to help him get by. Hiroji showed similar ingenuity when he spent the better part of a year photographing in Chicago, where he ran an ad hoc Japanese catering business every other weekend to help pay the bills. By 1967, he was a successful photographer firmly ensconced at Magnum, and it was time to return to Japan. He has proved to be a remarkably tenacious photographer who immerses himself in a story and returns to it until he is satisfied. He has managed to get to places others can't - like his unlimited access on many trips to China, when travel within the country was still limited. He would talk government officials into allowing him the time and access he needed to achieve his purpose. Same with North Korea; he has made countless visits - at its invitation - at a time when it was essentially a closed country. -- By Misha ErwittSource: The New York Times During a visit by Magnum members to Japan in 1961, Hiroji Kubota came to know René Burri, Burt Glinn and Elliott Erwitt. After graduating in political science from Tokyo’s University of Waseda in 1962, Kubota moved to the US, settling in Chicago, where he continued photographing while supporting himself by working in a Japanese catering business. He became a freelance photographer in 1965, and his first assignment for the UK newspaper The Times was to Jackson Pollock’s grave in East Hampton. In 1968, Kubota returned to live in Japan, where his work was recognized with a Publishing Culture Award from Kodansha in 1970. The next year he became a Magnum associate. Kubota witnessed the fall of Saigon in 1975, refocusing his attention on Asia. It took him several years to get permission to photograph in China. Finally, between 1979 and 1984, Kubota embarked on a 1,000-day tour, during which he made more than 200,000 photographs. The book and exhibit, China, appeared in 1985. Kubota’s awards in Japan include the Nendo Sho (Annual Award) of the Japanese Photographic Society (1982), and the Mainichi Art Prize (1983). He has photographed most of the Asian continent for his book Out of the East, published in 1997, which led to a two-year project, in turn resulting in the book Can We Feed Ourselves? Kubota has had solo shows in Tokyo, Osaka, Beijing, New York, Washington, Rome, London, Vienna, Paris and many other cities. He has just completed Japan, a book on his homeland and the country where he continues to be based.Source: Magnum Photos
Wendel Wirth
United States
1966
Wendel Wirth is an American contemporary fine art photographer. Originally from New York City and Chicago, Wirth lives in the mountains of Ketchum (better known as Sun Valley), Idaho. She in interested in the space between minimalist art and photography, ultimately pushing the viewers attention beyond the subject matter and celebrating the most essential and elemental aspects of the photograph. Wirth is an Idaho Commission on the Arts Fellow and is represented by Gilman Contemporary in Ketchum, Idaho and Dimmitt Contemporary in Houston, TX. THIS IS THE PLACE THIS IS THE PLACE is a photographic exploration of minimalist art as found in the landscape of our fading farmland. Driving highway twenty through central Idaho, the ground stretches for miles, expanding space. The linear landscape feels curated. In the winter months, the muted horizon parades elemental forms; barns and grain elevators, cow houses, cowsheds, granges as they have been called. My mind, in its road trip haze, translates the landscape into fields of Donald Judd's concrete blocks. As a photographer, I flatten the plane, calling to mind Judd's woodblock prints. The structures fade into a cluster of modest rectangles. A perfectly centered horizon line juts from a singular form. Repetition, as found in minimalist art, is used to draw attention to the subtle details & linear interests. As I peer through my viewfinder, I am not only deeply engaged with form and texture, line, color and atmosphere, I am also contemplating the rate at which our farmland in disappearing. It is urgent for me to capture a place that historically has served as a source of health and ecosystem before it is gone. Through intersecting my obsession of minimalist art, photography and farmland, my intent is to inspire you to visually play in and to conserve this precious land. THIS IS THE PLACE I am telling you about.
Petros Kotzabasis
Petros Kotzabasis was born in Komotini, a small town in north of Greece, where he has chosen to live. He has teaching photo, to the cultural club of students of Democritos University of Thrace, since 2007.The procedure of taking pictures has an affect on him, similar to psychoanalysis, as he says, he feels as if he is the one and only viewer of an act that takes place daily and his camera is the diary that captures, in this moving reality which surrounds us, pictures that only last for split seconds. Lines and shapes formed and get lost instantly, changing every minute and in this constant alteration and movement he works by isolating several instant expressions of real through this lens. A photo is a creation of the reality, in which there are not the spots of the world that he does not want to include in his picture. It' s the total of the thinks that the photographer has lived, others that he has read, listen or he has imagined. The power of an artist is his knowledge that, by using something real simple, such as a different composition of colours, or the change of the contrast, or the standing of a head, or the shoot from a lower angle, makes the difference between the indifferent and the genius. His pictures are spontaneous and quite personal. There are no special events in them, he searches for magic in common people of the street, his neighbors, passers-by. He believes that the everyday routine of the object is what leaves plenty of space for elements to create the "art" of photography. He takes photographs of "everyday life" on a daily basis, urged by a habit he used to have when he was little. As he describes: "Every day I used to stand on our doorstep with my grandmother and observe the street and the passers-by for hours, making up stories between us. Without exchanging a single word, we had absolute communication. That habit, as I was growing up, directed me to photography." 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Here in Greece, you see, you are deemed a photographer if you are professionally involved with wedding photography or photojournalism.AAP: Where did you study photography?I haven’t actually studied photography; I am self-taught. I have come upon everything by looking up in books.AAP:Do you have a mentor?Strange though it may sound, I could regard as my “mentor” the distinguished Greek poet, Odysseas Elytis, Fernando Pessoa or Marcel Proust, as they help me find my way whenever I reach a deadlock.AAP: How long have you been a photographer?I became involved with photography in 1985 but in 1994 I reached a stalemate and for almost a decade I stopped photographing. I didn’t shoot a single photo. I couldn’t even lay my hands on the camera; not even on holidays when a tourist asked me to take a photo. Then a certain incident urged me to take it up again in 2004 and since then I keep on photographing on a daily basis. I have never seen the photos of that first phase and I dumped the films in the basement of the house I used to live at that time.AAP: Do you remember your first shot? What was it?It’s been quite a while and I can’t remember my first shot. Instead, I could recount the story of a photo of mine, which may be indicative of the way I act. A few years ago, I set off for a traditional fete that takes place on the mountains, almost a two-hour drive from home. I set off equipped with several memory cards with a view to taking loads of photos during the 3 days the fete lasted. As soon as I reached my destination and opened the car door, I saw the frame that was created , took the picture and felt such a fulfillment that I realized there was no point in taking any more photos; so I instantly closed the door and returned with that one single photo.AAP: What or who inspires you?Literature and poetry have always been a source of inspiration for me.AAP: How could you describe your style?I would characterize what I am trying to do as visual poetry. In my photos there are no extraordinary events; I seek magic in the ordinary people on the street, in my neighbors, in passers-by. I seek the moment when narration is no longer needed with the aim of creating a new universe where all will be evident yet something will be left unrevealed, not with symbols but with hints. Starting point for me has been a quote by Odysseas Elytis “with lime twigs you may capture birds; yet you will never capture their singing…”AAP: What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film?The gear that I use is rather simple; a digital camera-Canon 5D- and a 35mm/f1,4 lens. I am against using several kinds of gear that may give you more opportunities; I like putting limitations and making particular choices, as they render you less “garrulous” and more conscious.AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images?Once I take a picture, I don’t spend so much time on it. At the end of the day I have a look at what I’ve shot and in very few minutes I sort out the one or ones that I am interested in. I always show the selected lot to a specific person who is not in any way involved with photography or any other form of art, but who I trust otherwise, and once I get their opinion, I make my final choice. Because I browse through the photos very quickly every evening, I feel that in my hard disks there may be photos I have never noticed and I have always had the urge to have another look at them but I never did.AAP: Favorite(s) photographer(s)?A lot of photographers are my favorite. The first one I had ever studied and really made an impression on me was Koudelka, then I “met” and fell in love with Kertész and Bresson. Also, Robert Frank , Plossu , my compatriot, Economopoulos and many others.AAP: What advice would you give a young photographer?The most important thing for someone who is about to take up photography is to gain a deep insight into themselves; it’s this process of personal development and cultivation that will enable them to express themselves through photography and take photos that will be the real them and provoke the interest of others.AAP: What mistake should a young photographer avoid?When one sets out on this photographic trip, they browse through the internet and magazines and try to shoot at some point what they have seen. I consider this a great mistake since they are drifted away in an attempt to imitate and they are caught in a deadlock.AAP: An idea, a sentence, a project you would like to share?Since my intention is not to depict something specific or recount an event through my pictures, I couldn’t claim that I am currently working on some kind of project and once this is over, I’ll start with another one. The point is to decode what’s inside me and this “project” will be over once I am over with photography or once I am no longer alive.AAP: Your best memory has a photographer?What I find important, is that some say or write that one of my photos triggered a burst of emotion in them. I find this the most significant gift photography could grant me. AAP: Your worst souvenir has a photographer?Since I mainly photograph on the streets, the police have arrested me twice as a suspect. I believe these are my worst experiences as a photographer. 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Richard Avedon
United States
1923 | † 2004
Richard Avedon (1923-2004) was born and lived in New York City. His interest in photography began at an early age, and he joined the Young Men's Hebrew Association (YMHA) camera club when he was twelve years old. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, where he co-edited the school's literary magazine, The Magpie, with James Baldwin. He was named Poet Laureate of New York City High Schools in 1941. Avedon joined the armed forces in 1942 during World War II, serving as Photographer's Mate Second Class in the U.S. Merchant Marine. As he described it, "My job was to do identity photographs. I must have taken pictures of one hundred thousand faces before it occurred to me I was becoming a photographer." After two years of service, he left the Merchant Marine to work as a professional photographer, initially creating fashion images and studying with art director Alexey Brodovitch at the Design Laboratory of the New School for Social Research. At the age of twenty-two, Avedon began working as a freelance photographer, primarily for Harper's Bazaar. Initially denied the use of a studio by the magazine, he photographed models and fashions on the streets, in nightclubs, at the circus, on the beach and at other uncommon locations, employing the endless resourcefulness and inventiveness that became a hallmark of his art. Under Brodovitch's tutelage, he quickly became the lead photographer for Harper's Bazaar. From the beginning of his career, Avedon made formal portraits for publication in Theatre Arts, Life, Look, and Harper's Bazaar magazines, among many others. He was fascinated by photography's capacity for suggesting the personality and evoking the life of his subjects. He registered poses, attitudes, hairstyles, clothing and accessories as vital, revelatory elements of an image. He had complete confidence in the two-dimensional nature of photography, the rules of which he bent to his stylistic and narrative purposes. As he wryly said, "My photographs don't go below the surface. I have great faith in surfaces. A good one is full of clues." After guest-editing the April 1965 issue of Harper's Bazaar, Avedon quit the magazine after facing a storm of criticism over his collaboration with models of color. He joined Vogue, where he worked for more than twenty years. In 1992, Avedon became the first staff photographer at The New Yorker, where his portraiture helped redefine the aesthetic of the magazine. During this period, his fashion photography appeared almost exclusively in the French magazine Égoïste. Throughout, Avedon ran a successful commercial studio, and is widely credited with erasing the line between "art" and "commercial" photography. His brand-defining work and long associations with Calvin Klein, Revlon, Versace, and dozens of other companies resulted in some of the best-known advertising campaigns in American history. These campaigns gave Avedon the freedom to pursue major projects in which he explored his cultural, political, and personal passions. He is known for his extended portraiture of the American Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam war and a celebrated cycle of photographs of his father, Jacob Israel Avedon. In 1976, for Rolling Stone magazine, he produced The Family, a collective portrait of the American power elite at the time of the country's bicentennial election. From 1979 to 1985, he worked extensively on a commission from the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, ultimately producing the show and book In the American West. Avedon's first museum retrospective was held at the Smithsonian Institution in 1962. Many major museum shows followed, including two at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1978 and 2002), the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (1970), the Amon Carter Museum of American Art (1985), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (1994). His first book of photographs, Observations, with an essay by Truman Capote, was published in 1959. He continued to publish books of his works throughout his life, including Nothing Personal in 1964 (with an essay by James Baldwin), Portraits 1947-1977 (1978, with an essay by Harold Rosenberg), An Autobiography (1993), Evidence 1944-1994 (1994, with essays by Jane Livingston and Adam Gopnik), and The Sixties (1999, with interviews by Doon Arbus). After suffering a cerebral hemorrhage while on assignment for The New Yorker, Richard Avedon died in San Antonio, Texas on October 1, 2004. He established The Richard Avedon Foundation during his lifetime. Source: The Richard Avedon Foundation Born in New York, Richard Avedon attended city public schools and Columbia University, and served in the photographic section of the merchant marines. He studied under Alexey Brodovitch at the New School for Social Research from 1944 to 1950, and became the elder designer's protégé. Avedon was a staff photographer for Junior Bazaar and then Harper's Bazaar for some twenty years, and became a staff photographer at Vogue in 1966. In 1994 he was the first staff photographer hired by The New Yorker. For a photographer whose roots are in publication work, Avedon has been exceptionally successful in museums as well. He was included in the 1955 landmark exhibition The Family of Man at the Museum of Modern Art, and has received solo exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and many other institutions. Most recently, the Whitney Museum of American Art presented Evidence: 1944-1994, a career retrospective of his work, and the International Center of Photography organized Avedon Fashion 1944–2000 in 2009. In 1993, Avedon received the Master of Photography Infinity Award from ICP. Since the late 1940s--when Avedon's blurred black-and-white portrait heads were acclaimed for capturing the raw dynamism of youth--his photography has changed to reflect the style, energy and dynamism of the moment. He helped set the standard for sleek, urbane elegance in mid-twentieth century fashion photography, and his gift for highlighting the allure and drama of his subjects has made him one of the most iconic photographers of the late twentieth century. Avedon maintains that "a photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he's being photographed, and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he's wearing or how he looks."Source: International Center of Photography
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
Jerry Uelsmann
United States
1934
Jerry N. Uelsmann (born June 11, 1934) is an American photographer, and was the forerunner of photomontage in the 20th century in America. Uelsmann was born in Detroit, Michigan. While attending public schools, at the age of fourteen, there sparked an interest in photography. He believed that through photography he could exist outside of himself, to live in a world captured through the lens. Despite poor grades, he managed to land a few jobs, primarily photographs of models. Eventually Uelsmann went on to earn a BA from the Rochester Institute of Technology and M.S. and M.F.A. degrees from Indiana University. Soon after, he began teaching photography at the University of Florida in 1960. In 1967, Uelsmann had his first solo exhibit at The Museum of Modern Art which opened doors for his photography career. Uelsmann is a master printer, producing composite photographs with multiple negatives and extensive darkroom work. He uses up to a dozen enlargers at a time to produce his final images, and has a large archive of negatives that he has shot over the years. The negatives that Uelsmann uses are known to reappear within his work, acting as a focal point in one work, and background as another. Similar in technique to Rejlander, Uelsmann is a champion of the idea that the final image need not be tied to a single negative, but may be composed of many. During the mid-twentieth century, when photography was still being defined, Uelsmann didn't care about the boundaries given by the Photo Secessionists or other realists at the time, he simply wished to share with the viewer the images from his imagination and saw photomontage as the means by which to do so. Unlike Rejlander, though, he does not seek to create narratives, but rather "allegorical surrealist imagery of the unfathomable". Uelsmann is able to subsist on grants and teaching salary, rather than commercial work. Today, with the advent of digital cameras and Photoshop, photographers are able to create a work somewhat resembling Uelsmann's in less than a day, however, at the time Uelsmann was considered to have almost "magical skill" with his completely analog tools. At the time Uelsmann's work first came to popular attention, photos were still widely regarded as unfalsifiable documentary evidence of events. However, Uelsmann, along with Lucas Samaras, was considered an avant garde shatterer of this popular mindset and help to expand the artistic boundaries of photography. Despite his works' affinity with digital techniques, Uelsmann continues to use traditional equipment. “I am sympathetic to the current digital revolution and excited by the visual options created by the computer. However, I feel my creative process remains intrinsically linked to the alchemy of the darkroom.”[3] Today he is retired from teaching and currently lives in Gainesville, Florida with his third wife, Maggie Taylor.[4] Uelsmann has one son, Andrew, who is a graduate student at the University of Florida. But to this day, Uelsmann still produces photos, sometimes creating more than a hundred in a single year. Out of these images, he likes to sit back and select the ten he likes the most, which is not an easy process. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)
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AAP Magazine #22: Streets
AAP Magazine #22: Streets
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