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 Liliroze
 Liliroze
 Liliroze

Liliroze

Country: Switzerland/France
Birth: 1972

Liliroze was born in Geneva in 1972. Her passion for photography began when she was young whilst discovering the images of her father. Only after having obtained a degree in econometry did she decide to consecrate her life to the art.

She moved to Paris and became a diplomee of the ENS Louis Lumière school in 1997. She assisted famous photographers at the beginning. Liliroze nourished her work in her travels, with the colors, shadows and people that happened into view or crossed her path in unexpected encounters. In the changing light, in the heart of her apparatus, in total confidence, she transcends intimacy as a tableau which surges forth from the time of centuries.

First public Leica Prize of Les Indépendances laureate in the 2006, she now works as an independent photographer and follows her personal research.
 

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Betty Press
United States
Betty Press is a documentary fine art photographer, well-known for photographs taken in Africa where she lived and traveled for many years. Now living in Mississippi she has just completed a project called “Finding Mississippi” recording "real life" in small communities throughout Mississippi with black-and-white film and toy and vintage cameras. She taught photography at University of Southern Mississippi from 2003 to 2015. She is twice the recipient of a Visual Artist Grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission. Her photographs have been widely-exhibited as well as selected for many juried competitions. In addition, her photographs have been featured in publications such as Shots, Silvershotz, South x Southeast, Lenscratch, ACurator, RfotoFolio, and Don't Take Pictures. Her work is held in a number of public collections including Beinecke Library at Yale University, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, The Harry Ransom Center for the Humanities, The University of Texas, Austin, Mississippi Museum of Art and The Do Good Fund of Southern Photography. In 2011 Betty published a photobook I Am Because We Are: African Wisdom in Image and Proverb that portrayed a stunning, life-affirming portrait of the African people and culture. For this book she received a statewide award in photography, from the Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters and was selected for Critical Mass Top 50. Her other books/zines include La Dolce Vista, Hub City Impressions and Finding Mississippi. In August 2019 she moved to Nairobi, Kenya to photograph urban culture and social injustice, but returned to the USA in April 2020 due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Her most recent project They Were Us: Stories of Victims and Survivors of Police Brutality in Kenya, was selected for Photo Lucida Critical Mass Top 50. Betty was invited by Lenscratch to curate the States Project for Mississippi. She also helped bring the Do Good Fund Exhibition of southern fine art photography to USM Art Gallery and organized several simultaneous local exhibitions. Most recently, she co-curated an online show Virtual Photography 20:20 for One Off Contemporary Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya. She is represented by Panos Pictures, London; International Visions, Washington, DC; Fischer Galleries, Jackson, Mississippi; Treehouse Gallery, Oxford, Mississippi and One Off Contemporary Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya. As a former educator, journalist, and avid traveler Press brings a wide-ranging perspective and appreciation of diverse photographic styles, genres and mediums. Services Offered: The African Urban landscapeEye-catching, colorful and hand-painted! Popular creative signage, found on small shops started by mostly young entrepreneurs, livens up what would otherwise be a drab environment in the poorer, densely-populated areas of third world cities like Freetown, Nairobi, or Monrovia. Services, such as hairdressing, tailoring, phone charging, food stalls and video games are advertised. The designs, drawn from traditional as well as contemporary pop culture, are bold, simple and use primary colors and funky fonts. The sign painters are mostly young and self-taught. With more mobile smart-phone usage the signage reflects the modern world on an African canvas. I have spent more than 15 years living in various African countries. In 2019 I moved back to Kenya. My main focus was to document the social justice movement in Nairobi's urban settlements (formerly called slums), resulting in They Were Us: Stories of Police Brutality in Kenya which was selected for the 2020 Photo Lucida Critical Mass Top 50. On the side I would stop to photograph the colorful shops which I found so artful, refreshing and safer to photograph. Now back home in Mississippi, after being evacuated from Nairobi due to the pandemic, I continue working on my Mississippi projects which deal with how place, race and religion have played a part in the complicated history of the state and still affect black lives today.
Alessandro Puccinelli
My earliest professional experience dates from 1993 when I moved to Australia, as an assistant in advertising photography. Returning to Italy a few years later, I chose to concentrate my attention on commercial photography and personal work. At the age of 16 I had the great good fortune, especially living in Italy, a country not widely known for big waves, of discovering the joy of surfing. From that moment forward was born a strong link with the sea that still today profoundly influences my life choices, both professionally and personally. The presence of the sea in my daily life represents something extremely important to me onto which I project fear, dreams, hope and receiving in return inner strength and mental clarity. The choice of placing the sea centre stage in my life positively affects my personal work which, in truth, is born from this choice. In short, it is the place above all other places where I prefer to be. In an entirely natural way, in my personal work there has evolved a current of romanticism, reflected above all others in my love of the work of J.W Turner. This does not surprise me as with the sea I co habit with the virtues of force, elegance and simplicity. I recognise the sea in front of me as my ancestral home, it’s force and vastness make me feel small and vulnerable, yet, at the same time, it indicates to me a pathway, an example to follow or even a point of arrival. In 2008, motivated by the desire to remain in close contact with the ocean, I decided to divide my time between Italy and Portugal. Attracted by this country, bathed by a stupendous and vigorous sea, I found a good balance between a European lifestyle and a strong contact with nature. Today, I principally divide my time between Tuscany, Lisbon and the southern coast of Portugal where frequently I take refuge in my motorhome hideaway in search of intimacy with the ocean. My works have been recognized in many photography awards including, Sony World Photography Awards, International Photography Awards, Black and White Photography Awards, Hasselblad Masters and others.
Mark Tuschman
United States
Over the years I have become more motivated to use my photography to communicate in a more socially conscious way—in a way that exposes people to both the degree of human suffering that exists in today’s world and to the courage and fortitude that people manifest to overcome it. In my travels I can easily imagine that I could have been born into completely different circumstances and my worldview would have been radically different, having been influenced by a completely, radically dissimilar environment and culture. Indeed, I know I have been privileged and fortunate to have been born into an affluent culture with tremendous opportunities. I believe that it is especially important for people in our society to understand other cultures and the enormous difficulties that people in other countries face daily in order to simply survive. The human condition is wrought with great uncertainty and suffering, and yet the human spirit and the hope for a better life can grow stronger in the face of adversity. I am constantly inspired by the profound fortitude of people living in difficult conditions and the empathy and commitment of the many who give counsel and aid to those less fortunate. I believe it as my moral obligation to use whatever talents I have as a photographer to transcend our limited worldviews and to help bridge the gap between cultures of affluence and poverty. Photography is a universal language and it is my hope that my images will move viewers to respond not only with empathy, but also with action. It is my intention to photograph people with compassion and dignity in the hope of communicating our interrelatedness. In the words of Sebastiao Salgado whose work I greatly admire, “If you take a picture of a human that does not make him noble, there is no reason to take this picture. That is my way of seeing things.”
Carolyn Drake
United States
Carolyn Drake works on long term photo-based projects seeking to interrogate dominant historical narratives and imagine alternatives to them. Her work explores community and the interactions within it, as well as the barriers and connections between people, between places and between ways of perceiving. Her practice has embraced collaboration, and through this, collage, drawing, sewing, text, and found images have been integrated into her work. She is interested in collapsing the traditional divide between author and subject, the real and the imaginary, challenging entrenched binaries. Drake was born in California and studied Media/Culture and History in the early 1990s at Brown University. Following her graduation from Brown, in 1994, Drake moved to New York and worked as a interactive concept designer for many years before departing to engage with the physical world through photography. Between 2007 and 2013, Drake traveled frequently to Central Asia from her base in Istanbul to work on two long term projects which became acclaimed bodies of work. Wild Pigeon (2014) is an amalgam of photographs, drawings, and embroideries made in collaboration with Uyghurs in western China. In 2018, the SFMOMA acquired the body of work and opened a six month solo exhibition of Wild Pigeon. Two Rivers (2013) explores the connections between ecology, culture and political power along the Amu Dary and Syr Darya rivers and was exhibited at The Pitt Rivers Museum, the Soros Foundation, the Third Floor Gallery, and the Photo Book Museum, among other venues. In Internat (2014-17), Drake worked with young women in an ex Soviet orphanage to create photographs and paintings that point beyond the walls of the institution and its gender expectations. The work was exhibited at the Houston Center for Photography in the US, and at Si Fest and Officine Fotografiche Roma in Italy. Drake returned to the US in 2014 and is now based in Vallejo, California, from where she is currently making work that upends perceptions of gender, community, and safety in her own community. Drake is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, the Lange-Taylor Prize, the Anamorphosis prize, an HCP fellowship, a Lightwork residency, and a Fulbright fellowship to Ukraine, among other awards. Her work has been published widely, in publications such as The New Yorker, Aperture, The New York Review of Books, Harpers, The New York Times Magazine, Prix Pictet, IMA, the British Journal of Photography, The Guardian, and Paris Review. She became a member of Magnum Photos in 2019. Source: carolyndrake.com
Brian Ulrich
United States
1971
Brian Ulrich is an American photographer known for his exploration of consumer culture. Ulrich's work is held many collections including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Photo District News named Ulrich as one of 30 Emerging Photographers (2007). He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (2009). His work has been featured in the New York Times Magazine; Time Magazine; Mother Jones; Artforum; and Harper’s. Aperture and the Cleveland Museum of Art published his first major monograph, Is This Place Great or What (2011). The Anderson Gallery published the catalog Closeout: Retail, Relics and Ephemera (2013).Source: Rhode Island School of Design Ulrich was born in Northport, New York, and lives in Providence, Rhode Island. He received a BFA in photography from University of Akron in Akron, Ohio (1996) and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago (2004). He has taught photography at Columbia College Chicago and Gallery 37, both in Chicago; and at the University of Akron. He is an Associate Professor of Photography at the Rhode Island School of Design. In 2001 in response to a national call for citizens to bolster the American economy through shopping, Ulrich began a project to document consumer culture. This project, Copia, is a series of large-scale photographs of shoppers, retail spaces, and displays of goods. Initially focused on big-box retail establishments and shoppers, the series expanded to include thrift stores, back rooms of retail businesses, art fairs, and most recently empty retail stores and dead malls. Ulrich works with a combination of 4×5 large format and medium format cameras, and also incorporates found objects as sculpture, juxtaposed with his photographs on gallery walls.Source: Wikipedia
Tony Law
China
1963
Tony Law is a professional designer and photographer. He has a studio, mainly focussed on interior design, graphic design, architectural illustration and photography. He was born and raised in Guangzhou, China. He studied in Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. majoring in Industrial Design. In the early 1990s, he came to Australia for further study, settled in Sydney, and has been living there ever since. He was interested in art and photography when he was a child. After joining the "Chinese Photographic Society of Australia Inc." in 2011, he began his photography journey. Later in 2012, he and some local landscape photographers formed the "Australian Seascape Photography Group"". He has great interest in shooting a wide range of subjects, exploring different styles and techniques. In recent years, though, he has mainly focused on shooting sports, seascape and astrophotography. His works have been published in magazines and he has won many prominent international photography awards. His main achievements are: The Finalist of All About Photo Awards 2020. Top 101 International Landscape Photographs of the Year 2019 First Place in Astrophotography Category, Sony Alpha Awards 2019. First Place in Night Category, Australian Travel Photography Awards 2019. Sports Photographer of the Year, International Photography Awards 2019. 2nd Place in Nature, Astrophotography Category, International Photography Awards 2019. 2nd Award in Photojournalism Category, 2019 Xposure International Photography & Film Contest. 3th Place in People Category, The Mono Awards 2019. Top 3 in Editorial Category, Sony Alpha Awards 2018. Silver Award in Amateur Category, The EPSON International Pano Awards 2017. Runner Up Award in Theme Passion Category, 2017 Heritage Bank Photographic Awards. 2nd Place of 2017 GAILCK creates visual landscape photography award. Silver Award of 2016 The Real Australia Landscape Photo Awards Artist statement I am attracted by wild and brutal power of extreme sports; I am amazed by the magical power of nature. I often work tirelessly to explore and discover new places. The long coastline of Sydney is where I go for inspiration, finding the fine balance between light and shadow, from sunrise to sunset, watching the stars of the Milky Way emerge from the horizon. Photography makes me forget myself and brings me endless happiness, and it will always fascinate me.
Kourtney Roy
Canada
1981
Roy (b.1981) was born in the wilderness of Northern Ontario, Canada. She holds a degree in media studies specializing in photography from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, Canada. Roy is currently based in Paris, France, where she has been exhibiting her work nationally and internationally for over 10 years at such events and venues as Le Bal, Paris, the Musée Elysée, Lausanne, The Head On Photo Festival in Sydney and the Moscow International Photo Biennale. Kourtney Roy's work is bound up in an ambiguous and cinematic image-making that borders the real and the fantastic. Her approach to photography provokes contemplation and reconfiguration of common place subjects via playful revelation of the bizarre and the uncanny. She is fascinated with exploring the boundaries of liminal spaces; whether spatial, temporal or psychological. By using herself as the principal subject in her work, the artist creates a compelling, intimate universe inhabited by a multitude of diverse characters that explore these enigmatic themes. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including the Prix Picto (2007), Emily Award (2012), Carte Blanche PMU (2013), The Prix Elysée Nomination (2014) and The Canadian Council for the Arts artist grant (2015). Several books have been published on her work, including Ils pensent déjà que je suis folle (Editions Filigranes, 2014), California (Editions Louis Vuitton, 2016) and The Tourist (Editions La Pionnière, 2020). Source: www.kourtneyroy.com Roy has produced several series which all share the artist’s bold and cinematic aesthetic. Staged in laundrettes, motels, supermarkets and various other banal locations Roy creates hyper-realistic images that resemble film stills. Throughout her work Roy plays with ideas of the bizarre and the uncanny, whether it be a lone female figure walking along a deserted road in a vast landscape or a woman photographed through the wing mirror of a car, Roy’s photographs are permeated with an unsettling air. In her work Roy creates familiar still images of stereotyped heroines, using herself as the model Roy invents numerous characters for herself. This is a crucial element to her work, Roy has stated “It’s usually the male gaze, and the woman is the object to be looked at. So the idea was becoming the person who objectifies, but also objectifying myself. I just thought it was interesting to play the dual role.” Source: Huxley-Parlour The Canadian photographer Kourtney Roy was born in Northern Ontario in 1981. Intrigued by the possibility of creating a tragic mythology of the self, she conjures an intimate universe pervaded by both wonder and mystery. Kourtney Roy's photographer’s eye is drawn to places and settings whose lyrical qualities underscore the sublime banality of everyday life. Roy’s studies in photography, at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver and later at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, inspired her to develop her finicky aesthetic, which lends itself particularly well to both glossy paper and film. Roy works extensively as an independent photographer/filmmaker in the art world. Instilled with a dark sense of humor, taking their clues as much from the grotesque nature of seemingly placid settings as from the tensions simmering just under the surface, her photographs have garnered many prizes, including the Prix Picto in 2007, The Emily Award in Canada in 2012 and the Prix Carte Blanche PMU/Le Bal in 2013 and the Pernod Ricard Carte Blanche in 2018. In 2019 she won best experimental film at the Brest European Short Film Festival with her dark and dreamy piece, Morning, Vegas. Roy’s work has been exhibited widely in France, but also abroad. She has been seen at the Planche(s) Contact Festival in Deauville in 2012, The Portraits Festival in Vichy in 2015 and at Le Bal in 2014 and a solo show at Paris Photo in 2018, among other events and venues. Internationally Kourtney Roy’s photography has been featured at exhibitions in China, as well as Italy, Switzerland, The United States, Australia, the Moscow Photo Biennale in 2017 and at the Incadaqués International Photo Festival in Spain in 2019. Roy has also released several publications on her work including an accompanying artist book to Le Bal’s exhibition Ils pensent déjà que je suis folle and an artist’s book Enter as Fiction, both published by Filigrane Editions, as well as Northern Noir published by Editions La Pionnière. California is edited by Editions Louis Vuitton and was released in 2016 and her latest publication, The Tourist, is published by André Frère Editions and was released in November 2020.Source: Jackson Fine Art
Stephan Vanfleteren
Stephan Vanfleteren studied photography at Lucas Institute in Brussels (1988-1992). From 1993 to 2009, he worked as a free-lance photographer for the Belgian Journal De Morgen and always worked and invested in his own personal projects. Actually, Stephan works for museums, he's publishing his portraits in foreign journals and several foreign magazines. He's cofounder of Hannibal Publishing and Cannibal Publishing. Stephan Vanfleteren is art-director for the two publishing houses. PRICES 1996 - World Press Photo Award - Sports, third prize stories - Boxing in Cuba 1997 - World Press Photo Award - Daily Life, first prize stories - Aids, Kenia 1998 - European Fuji Awards 2000 - World Press Photo Award - Arts and Entertainment, third prize stories, Elvis & Presley 2001 - World Press Photo Award - Children's Award, prize singles - Afghanistan 2001 - European Fuji Award 2007 - Nikon Press Photo Award 2009 - Louis Paul Boon award - Belgium 2010 - Lead Awards: 'Portätfotografie des Jahres', Germany 2011 - Henri Nannen Price, Germany - Tomi Ungerer 2012 - Vijfjaarlijkse Cultuurprijs voor de Provincie West-Vlaanderen 2012 - National Portrait price of the Netherlands - Rem Koolhaas, Dutch architect 2013 - World Press Photo Award - Staged Portraits, first prize stories, People of Mercy 2019 - Henri Nannen Price, Germany - Angels of the Sea - Mare Publication. BOOKS 1999 - Elvis&Presley, with photographer Robert Huber (Switserland) 2000 - Buren, with Mark Power & Eva Leitolf 2003 - Tales from a Globalizing World 2005 - Flandrien - Cannibal Publishing 2007 - Belgicum - Hannibal Publishing 2009 - Portret 1989-2009 - Lannoo 2012 - En avant, marche! - Hannibal Publishing 2013 - Façades & Vitrines (Limited edition 666 exp) - Hannibal Publishing 2014 - MMXIV - De Red Devils - Cannibal Publishing 2014 - Atlantic Wall - Hannibal Publishing 2015 - Charleroi, il est clair que le gris est noir - Hannibal Publishing 2018 - SURF TRIBE - Hannibal Publishing 2019 - PRESENT - Hannibal Publishing 2019 - ONUITGESPROKEN - Hannibal Publishing About PRESENT Stephan Vanfleteren is mainly known to the general public for his penetrating black & white portrait photography, but over the past decades his work has ranged to documentary, artistic and personal pictures. From street photography in world cities like New York to the genocide of Ruanda, from storefront façades to the mystical landscapes of the Atlantic wall, from still lifes to intense portraits. The iconic images sit side by side with unknown treasures in this heavy tome containing no less than 505 photographs. In the very personal accompanying text, Vanfleteren reflects on how his own work and the photography genre as a whole have evolved in recent decades. You get a close-up look at his intriguing career from the very beginning, when he travelled the world with an appetite for action. He also photographed his home country: all of the headline news stories of the 1990s appeared before his lens. Around the Millennium, Vanfleteren started to focus on that which is disappearing. With painstaking attention to nuance he created a visual archive of his homeland and of his fellow Belgians, in his own inimitable style. In the last few years Vanfleteren has brought the world inside, to his daylight studio, resulting in many encounters and portraits. This book includes two new series – not previously published – which were born in the intimacy of his studio: an exploration of the still life and a study of nude photography, both in colour. Present is an impressive overview of Vanfleteren's oeuvre that provides a complete picture of him as a photographer, an artist, and above all a human being who faces life with empathy, wonder, and curiosity. More about PRESENT
Michael Ackerman
Israel/United States
1967
Born in Tel Aviv, Israel. His family moves to New York in 1974. Lives and works in Warsaw. Since his first exhibition, in 1999, Michael Ackerman has made his mark by bringing a new, radical and unique approach. His work on Varanasi, entitled "End Time City," breaks away from all sorts of exoticism or any anecdotal attempt at description, to question time and death with a freedom granted by a distance from the panoramic – whose usage he renewed – to squares or rectangles. In black and white, with permanent risk that led him to explore impossible lighting, he allowed the grainy images to create enigmatic and pregnant visions. Michael Ackerman seeks – and finds – in the world he traverses, reflections of his personal malaise, doubts and anguish. He received the Nadar Award for his book "End Time City" in 1999, and the Infinity Award for Young Photographer by the International Center of Photography in 1998. In 2009, he won the SCAM Roger Pic Award for his series "Departure, Poland". His last book "Half Life" has been published in 2010 by Robert Delpire. In 2014, he collaborated with Vincent Courtois, cellist, and Christian Caujolle, behind the project, in a show called “L'intuition” which proposes a dialogue between photography and music creation. This show was presented, in particular, as part of the festival Banlieues Bleues and for the Rencontres d'Arles 2014.Source: Agence VU Selected Publications 2wice, Abitare, Aperture, Art On Paper, Beaux Arts, Die Zeit, Doubletake, Eyemazing, French Photo, Granta, Harpers, India Magazine, La Humanite, Internazionale, Les Inrockuptibles, Liberation, Le Matin, Le Monde 2, Metropolis, New York Magazine, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The New Yorker, Ray Gun, La Repubblica delle Donne, Rolling Stone, Stern and The Village Voice. Awards SCAM Roger Pic Award, 2009. Prix Nadar, End Time City, 1999. Best Documentary of 1999, photo-eye, 1999. Infinity Award, Young Photographer, International Center of Photography, 1998. 2014 L’intuition – A projection in collaboration with musician Vincent Courtois, curated by Christian Caujolle. Performed In la Friche Belle de Mai, Marseille, 4 Fevrier Le Lux Scene national de Valence, Festival Banlieues blues, Paris and Rencontres photographiques d’Arles SUSPENSION Noun: Suspension, Verb: suspend: “To cause to stop for a period, hold in abeyance; suspend judgment.” In Michael Ackerman's work, documentary and autobiography conspire with fiction, and all of the above dissolve into hallucination. The particular journeys of his book Half Life encompass New York, Havana, Berlin, Naples, Paris, Warsaw, and Krakow, but the locations aren’t necessarily recognizable at all. Michael has been moving towards this erasure of geographical and other distinctions in his photographs for some time. It hasn’t become dogma - the Smoke photographs shot in Atlanta’s Cabbagetown remain a beautifully regional document, but they document a neighborhood as a particular dream state rather than a set of facts, and the photos could wander easily into his other bodies of work. In all cases, there is surely a trajectory away from the constraints of a traditional documentary mode towards a very different way of getting at the world. Some notes about particular photos in Half Life: A family, seen on a decaying porcelain tombstone portrait - solarized by decades of exposure - is falling apart, as families do, is holding on together, as families do. The shape of their little monument is uncannily like that of the Hotel Centrum on a later page, where such a family, had they existed in the same era, would not have been able to stay. The Centrum, a modern Polish megalith, floats absurdly in the frame, freed from all scale but heavy on the page. A naked man kneeling on a bed; we find him in supplication or some unspecific bondage. He is trapped, caught between stations, and the terrible but accepted scratch lines on the negative make it feel like TV or video, as if the man is seen through some screen, receding. It’s no longer a portrait of a particular person. It seems as if the man has become some vague entity, a sick feeling, a migraine headache, I don’t even know. A man goes up stairs or an escalator and his hand is ridiculously long, maybe like that of Nosferatu in Murnau’s silent film. The stairs begin in Lodz but, according to the next page, pass a landing in Havana. Suspension... A woman, naked, holds her arms against her torso. She looks up, somehow in simultaneous surprise and recognition. I can’t say if her face shows love or sadness or fear, but there’s something inevitable in her expression. It’s strange how she seems so caught in flux, while her shadow, so dark on the wall, is just the opposite, permanent.* * * In the early stages of his building the Half Life book, Michael and I talked about where to put the series of pictures taken from train windows, mostly in deep winter. At one point they were scattered throughout, at other times they fell together in a bloc, but in any case, the body of work, and the book as a whole, started to feel to me like they ran on rails in the snow, and the places and people within them were stops, things seen or felt in passing. They’re encountered, drift away, are longed for, returned to, left behind again. If Michael’s work is sometimes tough, the landscapes remind us back to a balancing delicacy, a faith in beauty. Michael deeply loves the snow trains that cut archaically through Europe, especially through Eastern Europe, especially the overnight trains which he and I share as our transportation of choice. On these you travel but are nowhere for the duration of the trip, floating through whiteness if it’s wintertime. This nothing in which things float is echoed in his prints, though the white is sometimes heavily vignetted, as if darkness wants in. Alternately, the backgrounds can be of total blackness, and then the subject radiates like a candle. But back to the snow trains, which often run through the most ignored and beautiful parts of cities, where commercial facades drop away like forced smiles into debris and frozen mud and warehouses, which then give way to fields. Riding on one of these trains outside of Katowice, Poland en route to Paris, Michael spotted in the distance the warped row of dead train cars seen in the book. Desperate to photograph them, he guessed at their location and eventually returned. He got off at the closest stop, trudged through the snow, and found the trains, but approaching across a frozen field, camera in hand, his legs suddenly plunged through a chasm in the whiteness, a missing manhole cover. In what he referred to as a “rare case of quick thinking,” he stuck out his arms, breaking the fall, and managed to pull himself out. No one knew he was there, and if he’d perished, it would’ve been for the love of trains, and of wreckage, and of course, of pictures. * * * Many in the panel of men at the beginning of Half Life were photographed in bars. Some were found in a bar in Paris where the old and ageless proprietor became one of Michael’s favorite people, not just in the city, but in the world. Her bar was a special refuge, and though she was difficult, she truly took Michael in. This tiny bar remains a constant, a place of return, but many of the regulars he’s met over the years are now gone. For some moments however, they drew, or seemed to draw, terribly close, with alcohol as glue and pictures proof -- but of what… mutual need, eventual isolation, or the pendulum swing between the two… A bar is something like the center of an hourglass: at the top is time disappearing, and at the bottom, time spent. But to those in the place, the regulars, the middle is the only thing apparent and there time has stopped. (An interesting circumstance for others in the time-stopping business, and not just still photographers. The phenomena is beautifully understood in Daumier’s paintings of drinkers or Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son). It is illusory, of course; the people are held in that place where, like the proverbial cartoon character who’s gone off a cliff, they just don’t realize the ground has dropped away beneath their feet. Once again, suspension. Which also has a musical definition: The prolongation of a tone in one chord into the following chord, usually producing a temporary dissonance. This prolongation of tone, an ongoing search, gives the work continuity, as does the dissonance, which can be restlessness or loss. I won’t talk much here about the emotional drive behind the work, or the personal ramifications, but that’s my hesitation, not Michael’s. There’s a picture in Half Life of the photographer and a woman, both with shaved heads, a troubled mirroring, a last strange union. The photograph is a pact: see you now, see you later, so long... In the last few years, such goodbyes have given way to a series of welcomings, explorations of the concrete changes and dream states of immediate family, wife and child. These pictures, deeply caring but by necessity fearless, reverberate with bluntness, warmth, shock, matter of fact erotics, and of course love, which when regarded honestly, includes a steamer trunk of contradictions. So, there is fear mixed in with the fearlessness, the joy includes some trepidation, the innocence is utterly real, but tangled and fleeting. How disappointing it would be if a photographer so open to the wrenching truths of the world would suddenly pull all punches when faced with the most intimate situation of all. How unfortunate it would be, for all of us, if investigations of intimacy were left to the whitewashers and the advertisers, the puritans and the pornographers. And so, in the recent work, new tightropes are stretched and new risks are taken. But in looking back at Michael’s work as a whole, I’m reminded that one of the great challenges artists face is when to pull back from the proverbial edge - those addicted to pushing the envelope sometimes fall into a negative trap which has its own complacency. A kind or subtle or purely beautiful image might actually be the risk that they can’t seem to take. The walking of tightropes has always been integral to Michael’s work, but I don’t see him falling into that dark trap, which is why the work is thorny but never cynical, heavy but also sweet. Beyond all of that, I still don’t understand how the pictures happen, how he gets them. It certainly isn’t about the equipment, the cameras come and go, sometimes literally broken but still pressed into use. I think Michael feels that taking pictures and taking chances should be kindred enterprises. I’ve met few artists less uptight about the technology and intricacies of gear and production, though he does of course become completely intimate with what he needs in order to get at what he feels. Once I heard him suggest in a Q & A that he just doesn’t care about technique, but knowing the time and tortures he’s given over to darkroom work, I thought that was a touch disingenuous. He meant that technique and technology are never the core of the matter, and that he doesn’t like to be precious about them. And he needs accidents; they might reveal something, break something open. Sometimes they might go too far and the image itself is obliterated: again, necessary risk. I’ve seen him photograph without putting the camera to his eye, as if to confirm that what he was after wasn’t primarily even about seeing. (That too is deceptive; with time, some photographers know what the camera is getting, regardless of where it’s held). Maybe I mean that compared to many other photographers, Michael’s work isn’t so concerned with sight itself. If he could have been a writer, painter, or a musician, that might have worked too. In any case, the results speak for themselves, and the results are often kind of insane. Sadly, because of the madness of these photographs and the digital times we’ve entered, people increasingly assume that certain pictures must be computer manipulations. Michael is no purist, but that simply isn’t what is going on here. Do you see how it matters that even if these are accidents of light and the distorting lens, they are things that somehow happened, that were? They come out of the real; however unlikely or impossible, they are measurements - not constructions. They are measurements, but in the end, of the interior as much as of the world. But like I said, Michael’s not a purist, and in his impure searching, he occasionally walks a thin line between accepting pure actuality and giving it a nudge. We argue about it. I don’t know what to make of the picture where someone else’s old portrait of Anna Akhmatova is held up and rephotographed. I guess Michael wanted to invite her into that streetscape, felt she was part of his history or emotional landscape; maybe he just loved her profile and wondered, what the hell, why not? Sometimes the work is funny. The absurdly mismatched nude couple in the book aren’t funny but they are, as is the man who wears a monocle made of smoke. The Coney Island hotdog signs reading ‘Franks’ and the American flag they stutter towards comprise a whimsical tribute to one particular, beloved photographer; first name - Robert. Occasional whimsy aside though, Half Life is a rough ride through damaged places and situations. And what’s it like to be with Michael when he’s photographing such things? Well, it isn’t necessarily comfortable, or easy, or pleasant. Sometimes artists push their work, and their luck along with it. Sometimes Michael just plunges in. I was crossing the street with him on the Lower East side once when a woman suddenly appeared, coming towards us in the intersection. Something in her presence struck us instantly with force -- she might have been beautiful or she might have been mutilated -- we had no time to register anything; but he lunged and got off one picture as I stood by and winced. I doubt she noticed at all, but what if she had? (The picture is in Fiction; it appears to be of a ghost in a miniskirt, perhaps with a black eye.) Such pictures do not come out of discretion, or delicacy, or fair exchange. In many of Michael’s pictures mutual understanding simply may or may not have existed. There is a harshness to this observation; it troubles me, and yet I can say that Michael’s pictures are always, deeply made without judgment, in total acceptance. That in itself is a kind of love. And the subjects obviously extend him enormous trust. (Well... except when they don’t. Walking with Michael on a street in Krakow, he photographed another approaching woman, a middle-aged matron. She yelled angrily at him in Polish; he kept walking but yelled back, in Polish: “You’re beautiful.”) It is probably no accident then that the gesture of the embrace recurs again and again in Michael’s work. Which leads me to what may be my favorite set of pictures that Michael has taken, of the couple on the stairs: To what do we owe this strange and tender record ? And what is the record of? An older man and his young girlfriend collapsed in drunken surrender… or perhaps a father and son broken together on a subway staircase ? Who is holding who up? Was the man once a boxer? If the younger one is in fact a woman, is she his lover? The stairs are at once unyielding and rippling, bending and unbending. This couple, whatever their relationship and circumstance, are attended to then in a series of photographs, equally harsh and gentle, unwrapped over time. But what time is given - minutes, hours, or an unending day or an unending night? You can just about hear the tinny loudspeakers in the background of the train station, and thinking of stations, I am reminded that the 13th station is the descent from the cross. The actual circumstances, the truth of it, the year and the gender, hardly matter, don’t matter at all. At its best, the work speaks past such details, and even beyond photography.
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