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Sean Perry
Sean Perry
Sean Perry

Sean Perry

Country: United States
Birth: 1968

Sean Perry is a fine-art photographer living and working in New York City and Austin, Texas. His photographs and books center on architecture, space and light - expressing the ambiance felt within built environments. He is currently completing three series/books on New York City entitled Monolith, Gotham and Fotopolis, as well as exhibiting a recently completed body of work on the dreamscape of temporary environments, Fairgrounds.

Perry attended Berklee College of Music and was a working musician before turning to photography in 1996. His photographs and books have been acquired by notable private collectors including Manfred Heiting and Alan Siegel in addition to being held in the permanent collections of the Museum Fine Arts Houston, the Amon Carter Museum, Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern & Mexican Photography, and the Harry Ransom Center.

Cloverleaf Press published Perry's first limited edition book, Transitory in 2006, and followed with a second title, Fairgrounds in the Fall of 2008. In 2009 he was selected as a finalist for the Hasselblad Masters award for his work and book Fairgrounds. His photographs have been published widely including the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Graphis, Camera Arts, New York Magazine, Billboard and American Photography.

He has served as an adjunct Professor of Photography in Austin since 2001 as well as an adjunct Professor for the School of Visual Arts in New York City since 2006. Perry frequently contributes his photographs to auctions that benefit photographic and social concerns. His work is represented by the Stephen L. Clark Gallery, Austin.


Interview with Sean Perry

All About Photo: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer?
Sean Perry: When I was younger I didn't know or have access to any professional photographers, but I really loved movies and looked at a lot of books. At that time I got into music and everything else was just secondary. As a musician I always thought about pictures and the visual atmosphere great songs provoke and in my thirties I started photographing and haven’t stopped.

AAP: Where did you study photography? With whom?
SP: I don’t have a formal background studying photography but it’s not quite right to say I'm self taught either. One of my old bandmates, Jeff Miller is a brother to me, a great photographer and my first teacher - I learned about cameras, making good pictures and printing in the darkroom. That experience was also my first big introduction to contemporary artists like Joel-Peter Witkin and The Starns. I later had important mentors in a photographer I assisted for, Frank Curry and a sculptor who has had a tremendous influence on me as an artist and photographer, John Christensen.

AAP:Do you have a mentor?
SP: I have a few friends and colleagues who I admire and trust that I ask for insight and guidance with various things... Elizabeth Avedon, Jace Graf, Stephen Clark - there are others. I ask different people, different questions for different reasons if that makes sense. I think it's important to deeply consider who you ask and why. I've been a client of Mary Virginia Swanson for many years and her savvy is always invaluable, I truly owe her a great deal. I'm always learning and seeking out the chance to improve and grow.

AAP: How long have you been a photographer?
SP: I have been making pictures consistently since 1996 and started working professionally in 1998.

AAP: Do you remember your first shot? What was it?
SP: What I remember most are the pictures that when I saw the film, they made me feel that the image was somehow better, or more than my capability at the time. It would lead to months of chasing and trying to catch up to the image. The first time that happened was of a barren tree in the wintertime, backlit. I remember making the other pictures from that time, but the experience of seeing something unexpected back on the contact sheets always sticks with me as meaningful.

AAP: What or who inspires you?
SP: Music always. Also the discovery and study of people that give themselves to their pursuits with the discipline and heart to be excellent. New York City. Late fall leading to snow and cold weather makes me happy.

AAP: How could you describe your style?
SP: A little romantic but not sentimental - sci-fi but not overtly conceptual. I always work to make beautiful images and objects that don’t apologize for their consideration of aesthetic and design. My experience has taught me there is a strange, small line between beautiful and pretty, arbitrary and yet often substantial. I think my favorite word or aim for my work is earnest, and hopefully elegant. I try to be consistent and to quote someone I deeply respect, Paul Rand – "Don’t try to be original, just try to be good."

AAP: What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film?
SP: I’m fluent in digital tools and use them to manage images online etcetera, but I have used the same camera gear for over twelve years. Hasselblad 501CM with a 120mm lens and 25A Red filter. Tri-X film in A12 backs. Processed in D76, 1 to 1. Silver gelatin prints bleached and then toned in combinations of sepia and selenium or platinum–palladium prints from enlarged negatives.

AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images?
SP: I tend to run film and then not look at it for a while.... I then go through the contact sheets and make work prints of the things that seem to have promise. As the series and work evolves the process of editing, sequencing and design kicks in. After the edges of a project are more or less in place, I’ll go back again and see what I may have missed on the contact sheets.

AAP: Favorite(s) photographer(s)?
SP: If I am only allowed one, Irving Penn – hands down, no one else. I love books and too many favorites to list, but in no particular order others would be Saul Leiter, Ted Croner, Robert & Shana Parke-Harrison, Tom Baril, Louis Faurer, Edward Burtynsky, Albert Watson, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Berenice Abbott and Matt Mahurin.

AAP: What advice would you give a young photographer?
SP: Fearlessly make all the bad pictures you need to in order to get to the good ones. Not thoughtlessly in the number of images, but without hesitation in the intent to chase your ideas. When you are disappointed, try to understand why specifically – was it a technical mistake your effort and experience will resolve over time or was it about vision in what you could or could not see at that moment. The technical things are usually easier to improve upon, I have found the other takes additional perseverance and courage. For myself there is always the confrontation of closing the distance between the potency I’m after and the many challenges at hand while guiding it there. I think the biggest secret is simply not to quit.

AAP: What mistake should a young photographer avoid?
SP: Everyone is different, so very hard to say. I believe one truth for myself has been it’s more valuable to invest time in what your pictures, your life, your point of view are all about and less energy worrying about the urgency sometimes encouraged in technology and shorter term concerns. Play long ball.

AAP: An idea, a sentence, a project you would like to share?
SP: I am currently administrating an ambitious project that connects college students with high school students, creating mentorship and the development of visual language. For the college students it is to illustrate the value of mentorship from both sides, as well as create meaningful dialogue about photography and image making. It provides a mechanism for high school students to share and express their photographic work with a new audience and has direct, tangible advantages for everyone involved – accenting the importance of communication and emphasizing the photography community's tradition of portfolio review. Visit The Picture Review.

AAP: Your best memory has a photographer?
SP: All of my favorite memories are darkroom related. My first darkroom was in John Christensen's studio, I deeply miss those days and that place. I would often print all day and all night - it's where I learned about photo-chemistry and the subtleties of split-toning and other irresistible alchemy.

AAP: Your worst souvenir as a photographer?
SP: My checking account.

AAP: If you could have taken the photographs of someone else who would it be?
SP: It's an interesting question but it reminds me of a rock & roll story, urban legend I remember as a kid and recently retold in Esquire Magazine. When Van Halen was touring in the late 70’s they were opening for Ted Nugent who admired Eddie Van Halen's guitar tone. Among other things, Eddie would hide one of his effect pedals (a tape echo) in an old bomb casing, adding to the mystery of his great tone and why he sounded the way he did. Everyone believed he had a "magic" black box. During sound check, Ted Nugent got the chance to play through Eddie’s rig and was disappointed to discover his guitar tone was unchanged – he sounded like he always did and whatever he loved about Eddie's tone was in his hands and not in the gear.

I think photographs are like that, there are many pictures I would be thrilled if I had produced but in the end I can only make what is in my hands and heart. The images I love that others have made don't represent my life and could never belong to me. I remain a fan and audience to my heroes, happily so.

 

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Herbert List
Germany
1903 | † 1975
Herbert List was a classically educated artist who combined a love of photography with a fascination for surrealism and classicism. Born into a prosperous Hamburg merchant family, List began an apprenticeship at a Heidelberg coffee dealer in 1921 while studying literature and art history at Heidelberg University. During travels for the coffee business between 1924-28, the young List began to take photographs, almost without any pretensions to art. In 1930, though, his artistic leanings and connections to the European avant-garde brought him together with the photographer Andreas Feininger, who introduced his new friend to the Rolleiflex, a more sophisticated camera that allowed a deliberate composition of images. Under the dual influence of the surrealist movement on the one hand, and of Bauhaus artists on the other, List photographed still life and his friends, developing his own style. He has described his images as "composed visions where [my] arrangements try to capture the magical essence inhabiting and animating the world of appearances.” After leaving Germany in 1936 for political and personal reasons, he turned his hobby into a profession. Working in Paris and London, he met George Hoyningen-Huene, who referred him to "Harper's Bazaar". Dissastisfied with the challenges of fashion photography, List instead focused on composing still lifes in his studio. The images produced there would later be compared to the paintings of Max Ernst and Giorgio de Chirico, and paved the way for List's role as the most prominent photographer of the Fotografia Metafisica style. Greece became List's main interest from 1937 to 1939. After his first visit to the antique temples, sculptures and landscapes, his first solo show opened in Paris in the summer of 1937. Publications in "Life", "Photographie", "Verve" and "Harper's Bazaar" followed, and List began work on his first book, Licht Ueber Hellas, which wasn't published until 1953. Working in Athens, List hoped to escape the war but was forced by invading troops to return to Germany in 1941. Because of his Jewish background, he was forbidden to publish or work officially in Germany. Several works, stored in a hotel in Paris, have been lost. Portraits of Berard, Cocteau, Honegger and Picasso during a short visit to Paris and a series on the Panoptikum in Vienna characterized List's main work before the war ended in 1945. In 1946, he photographed the ruins of post-war Munich and took the job of art editor of "HEUTE", an American magazine for the German public. In 1951, List met Robert Capa, who convinced him to work as a contributor to Magnum, but he rarely accepted assignments. He turned his interest towards Italy from 1950 to 1961, photographing everything from street scenes to contemplative photo-essays, from architectural views to portraits of international artists living in Italy. In 1953, he discovered the 35mm camera and the telephoto lens. His work became more spontaneous and was influenced by his Magnum colleague Henri Cartier-Bresson and the Italian Neo-Realism film movement. Over the next few years, he completed several books, including Rom, Caribia, Nigeria and Napoli, this one in collaboration with Vittorio de Sica. List more or less gave up photography in the early 1960s. Despite his earlier fame throughout Europe, his particular style was no longer fashionable. By the time he died in Munich in 1975, his work had been almost forgotten. Interest has revived recently, though, thanks to a fine monograph published by Monacelli Press, which features 250 of List's photographs divided into five sections: Metaphysical Photography, Ruins and Fragments, Eros and Photography, Portraits, and Moments. Herbert List died in Munich, April 4th 1975.From wikipedia.orgHerbert List (October 7, 1903–April 4, 1975) was a German photographer, who worked for magazines, including Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and Life, and was associated with Magnum Photos. His austere, classically-posed black-and-white compositions, particularly of male nudes, taken in Italy and Greece have been highly formative for modern photography, with contemporary fashion photographers like Herb Ritts being clearly influenced by List's style. He is also noted for his erotic street photography. Herbert List was born on 7 October 1903 to a prosperous business family in Hamburg, the son of Luise and Felix List. He attended the Johanneum Gymnasium, and afterwards studied literature at the University of Heidelberg. While still a student he became apprenticed to his family coffee company. From 1924 to 1928 List continued to work at the company and to travel to Brazil, Guatemala, Costa Rica and elsewhere. During this time he began taking photographs. In 1930 he met photographer Andreas Feininger, who introduced him to the Rolleiflex camera. He began taking portraits of friends and shooting still lifes, influenced by the Bauhaus and surrealist movements. He used male models, draped fabric, and masks along with double-exposures.He has explained that his photos were "composed visions where [my] arrangements try to capture the magical essence inhabiting and animating the world of appearances.” In 1936 List left Germany and took up photography as a profession, working in Paris and London. He met George Hoyningen-Huene who referred him to Harper's Bazaar magazine, but List was unsatisfied with fashion photography. He turned back to still life imagery, producing images in a style he called "fotografia metafisica", which pictured dream states and fantastic imagery, using mirrors and double-exposures. From 1937 to 1939 List traveled in Greece and took photographs of ancient temples, ruins, sculptures, and the landscape, many of which were published in magazines and books. In 1941, during World War II, he was forced to return to Germany; but because one of his grandparents was Jewish he was not allowed to publish or work professionally. In 1944 he was drafted into the German military, despite being of partly Jewish ancestry and gay. He served in Norway as a map designer. A trip to Paris allowed him to take portraits of Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Christian Berard, Georges Braque, Jean Arp, Joan Miro, and others. After the war, he photographed the ruins of Munich, and he became art editor of Heute magazine. In 1951 List met Robert Capa, who invited him to join Magnum Photos. For the next decade he worked heavily in Italy. During this time he also started using a 35 mm film camera and a telephoto lens. He was influenced by his Magnum colleague Henri Cartier-Bresson as well as the Italian neorealism film movement. In the 1950s he also shot portraits of Marino Marini, Paul Bowles, W. H. Auden, and Marlene Dietrich in 1960. List gave up photography in the early 1960s. He died in Munich on April 4, 1975.Source: www.magnumphotos.com
Chris Killip
United Kingdom
1946
Born in Douglas, Isle of Man in 1946, he left school at age sixteen and joined the only four star hotel on the Isle of Man as a trainee hotel manager. In June 1964 he decided to pursue photography full time and became a beach photographer in order to earn enough money to leave the Isle of Man. In October 1964 he was hired as the third assistant to the leading London advertising photographer Adrian Flowers. He then worked as a freelance assistant for various photographers in London from 1966-69. In 1969, after seeing his very first exhibition of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, he decided to return to photograph in the Isle of Man. He worked in his father's pub at night returning to London on occasion to print his work. On a return visit to the USA in 1971, Lee Witkin, the New York gallery owner, commissioned a limited edition portfolio of the Isle of Man work, paying for it in advance so that Killip could continue to photograph. In 1972 he received a commission from The Arts Council of Great Britain to photograph Huddersfield and Bury St Edmunds for the exhibition Two Views - Two Cities. In 1975, he moved to live in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on a two year fellowship as the Northern Arts Photography Fellow. He was a founding member, exhibition curator and advisor of Side Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, as well as its director, from 1977-9. He continued to live in Newcastle and photographed throughout the North East of England, and from 1980-85 made occasional cover portraits for The London Review of Books. In 1989 he was commissioned by Pirelli UK to photograph the workforce at their tyre factory in Burton-on-Trent. In 1989 he received the Henri Cartier Bresson Award and in 1991 was invited to be a Visiting Lecturer at the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, Harvard University. In 1994 he was made a tenured professor and was department chair from 1994-98. He retired from Harvard in December 2017 and continues to live in the USA. His work is featured in the permanent collections of major institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; George Eastman House; Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; Museum Folkwang, Essen; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Source: chriskillip.com Skinningrove 1982 - 84 The village of Skinningrove lies on the North-East coast of England, halfway between Middlesbrough and Whitby. Hidden in a steep valley it veers away from the main road and faces out onto the North Sea. Like a lot of tight-knit fishing communities it could be hostile to strangers, especially one with a camera. "Now Then" is the standard greeting in Skinningrove; a challenging substitute for the more usual, "Hello". The place had a definite 'edge' and it took time for this stranger to be tolerated. My greatest ally in gaining acceptance was 'Leso' (Leslie Holliday), the most outgoing of the younger fishermen. Leso and I never talked about what I was doing there. but when someone questioned my presence, he would intercede and vouch for me with, 'He's OK'. This simple endorsement was enough. I last photographed in Skinningrove in 1984, and didn't return for twenty-six years. I was then shocked by how it had changed, as only one boat was still fishing. For me Skinningrove's sense of purpose was bound up in its collective obsession with the sea. Skinningrove fishermen believed that the sea in front of them was their private territory, theirs alone. Without the competitive energy that came from fishing, the place seemed like a pale reflection of its former self. Common Market and Health and Safety rules and regulations, coupled with increasing insurance costs, brought an end to the Skinningrove I'd known. When you're photographing you're caught up in the moment, trying to deal as best you can with what's in front of you. At that moment you're not thinking that a photograph is also, and inevitably, a record of a death foretold. A photograph's relationship to memory is complex. Can memory ever be made real or is a photograph sometimes the closest we can come to making our memories seem real. Chris Killip Remembering: Richard Noble (18) and David Coultas (34) drowned off Skinningrove on March 31 1984 Leslie Holliday - 'Leso' (26) and David Hinton (12) drowned off Skinningrove on July 29 1986 Source: Howard Yezerski Gallery
Laura El-Tantawy
Laura El-Tantawy is an Egyptian photographer living between Cairo and London. She is represented by VII Mentor. She was born in Worcestershire, England to Egyptian parents & grew up between Saudi Arabia & Egypt. In 2002, El-Tantawy started her career as a newspaper photographer with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel & Sarasota Herald-Tribune (USA). In 2006, she became freelance so she could focus on pursuing personal projects. In 2008, she was nominated & accepted as one of 15 young photographers from around the world to participate in Reflexions Masterclass, a two-year photography seminar directed by renowned Italian photographer Giorgia Fiorio and French curator Gabriel Bauret. In 2010, she was awarded a six-month fellowship at the University of Oxford (UK) to write about freedom of expression in Egypt and the role played by Internet of expression in Egypt and the role played by Internet blogging and independent newspapers in pushing the boundaries of free speech in Egypt. In 2005 she started work on her first book exploring the identity and change facing her native Egypt. Her work has been published & exhibited in the United States, Europe, Asia & the Middle East and she has been recognized across several international awards. In 2013, she will be taking part in the 4th edition of the Northern Lights MasterClass, an educational program for documentary photographers powered by the Noorderlicht Foundation in the Netherlands. El-Tantawy is a graduate of the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia (USA) with a dual degree journalism and political science. Source: www.lauraeltantawy.com
Richard Misrach
United States
1949
Richard Misrach (born 1949) is an American photographer "firmly identified with the introduction of color to 'fine' [art] photography in the 1970s, and with the use of large-format traditional cameras" (Nancy Princenthal, Art in America). David Littlejohn of the Wall Street Journal calls Misrach "the most interesting and original American photographer of his generation," describing his work as running "parallel to that of Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky, two German contemporaries." Littlejohn notes that all three used a large scale color format that defied the expectations of fine art photography at the time. Misrach is widely recognized as "one of this century’s most internationally acclaimed photographers." He is perhaps best known for his depictions of the deserts of the American west, and for his series documenting the changes brought to bear on the environment by various man-made factors such as urban sprawl, tourism, industrialization, floods, fires, petrochemical manufacturing, and the testing of explosives and nuclear weapons by the military. Curator Anne Wilkes Tucker writes that Misrach's practice has been "driven [by] issues of aesthetics, politics, ecology, and sociology." In a 2011 interview, Misrach noted: "My career, in a way, has been about navigating these two extremes - the political and the aesthetic." Describing his philosophy, Tracey Taylor of the New York Times writes that "[Misrach's] images are for the historical record, not reportage." Misrach has been married since 1989 to writer Myriam Weisang and has a son, Jake, from his first marriage to Debra Bloomfield. Misrach's book Desert Cantos received the 1988 Infinity Award from the International Center for Photography, and his Bravo 20: The Bombing of the American West, co-authored with Myriam Weisang Misrach, was awarded the 1991 PEN Center West Award for a nonfiction book. His Katrina monograph Destroy This Memory won Best Photobook of the Year 2011 at PhotoEspaña. He has received numerous awards including four National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an International Center of Photography Infinity Award for a Publication, and the Distinguished Career in Photography Award from the Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies. In 2002 he was given the Kulturpreis for Lifetime Achievement in Photography by the German Society for Photography, and in 2008 he received the Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Fine Art Photography. In 2010, Apple licensed Misrach's 2004 image Pyramid Lake (at Night) as the inaugural wallpaper for the first iPad. The opening credits of the 2014 HBO series True Detective featured a montage of images from Misrach's Petrochemical America. In 2016, the AIGA selected Border Cantos for its "50 Books | 50 Covers" competition, a "survey of the best in book design represent[ing] perhaps the longest-standing legacy in American graphic design." Source: Wikipedia Richard Misrach is one of the most influential photographers of his generation. In the 1970s, he helped pioneer the renaissance of color photography and large-scale presentation that are in widespread practice today. Best known for his ongoing series, Desert Cantos, a multi-faceted approach to the study of place and man’s complex relationship to it, he has worked in the landscape for over 40 years. A recent chapter of the series, Border Cantos, made in collaboration with the experimental composer Guillermo Galindo, explores the unseen realities of the US-Mexico borderlands. This work was exhibited at the Amon Carter Museum of Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and San Jose Museum of Art in 2016-17. In the most recent chapters, Premonitions and The Writing on the Wall, Misrach documents graffiti on abandoned buildings throughout the Southwest and Southern California, finding an angry and ominous response to the highly charged political climate before and after the 2016 election. Both series premiered at Fraenkel Gallery in 2017. Other notable bodies of work include his documentation of the industrial corridor along the Mississippi River known as “Cancer Alley”, the study of weather, time, color and light in his serial photographs of the Golden Gate Bridge, and On The Beach, an aerial perspective of human interaction and isolation. Recent projects mark departures from his work to date. In one series, he has experimented with new advances in digital capture and printing, foregrounding the negative as an end in itself and digitally creating images with astonishing detail and color spectrum. In another, he built a powerful narrative out of images of graffiti produced in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, made with a 4-megapixel pocket camera. In fall 2012, in collaboration with landscape architect Kate Orff, Misrach launched a major book and exhibition entitled Petrochemical America, which addresses the health and environmental issues associated with our dependency on oil. Source: Fraenkel Gallery
Adam Bartos
United States
1953
Adam Bartos visited local speedways in rural New York, Florida and New Mexico where drivers race the super-stock class of car on quarter-mile dirt oval tracks. This elemental class of driver-owned racecar competes without corporate sponsorship, for minimal prize money, simply for the pure thrill and sport of weekend motor racing on tracks all over the U.S. The intrinsic aesthetic Bartos captures is that of a rather crude and utilitarian technology glamorized by the singularity of its purpose and accumulated patina, acquired at high speeds on dirt tracks.It is said that stock car racing originated in the 1920s, during prohibition, when "moon runners" began boasting about the speeds of their nighttime trips, often on backcountry roads, illegally transporting liquor. Soon they began to race with each other for sport on weekends. (Famously, Robert Mitchum played one of these runners in the 1950’s cult classic, Thunder Road).Adam Bartos’s work has been exhibited widely. His books include: International Territory (Verso, 1994), which looks at the aging modern architecture of the United Nations’ headquarters and, implicitly, the ideals which created it; Kosmos (Princeton Architectural Press, 2001), a then inconceivable look into the Russian space program; Boulevard (Steidldangin, 2005), a dialogue between Paris and Los Angeles; Yard Sale Photographs (Damiani Editore, 2009) and Darkroom (Steidldangin, 2012). His work is in the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and others. In 2013, he was shortlisted for the Prix Pictet, a global award in photography and sustainability, for his series Yard Sale Photographs.
Mark Coggins
United States
1957
Mark Coggins is a crime-fiction novelist and photographer. Five of his six award-winning novels are illustrated with images taken by him. His photos have been exhibited in galleries across the country and have been featured in books of other authors, notably Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell and A Lover's Discourse: Fragments by Roland Barthes. He has written about photography for View Camera magazine and is a contributor to Getty Images.All About Photo: When did you realize you also wanted to become a photographer?Mark Coggins: I've been interested in photography for a long time. I had a darkroom with a friend in grade school where I developed and printed pictures I took with an old 35mm Bolsey rangefinder camera my father gave me, but didn't really get serious about it until my mid-30's when I took a view camera class with Mark Citret. All About Photo: Where did you study photography? With whom? Mark Coggins: I've taken a number of classes and workshops with Mark Citret. While Mark is primarily a large-format photographer and I was initially interested in large format as well, I've evolved into more of "street photographer" using digital 35mm equivalents. However, I believe the training in large format has given me a deeper appreciation of composition, depth of field and exposure that is quite beneficial in making my images. All About Photo: Do you take photographs between books or at the same time? Mark Coggins: I move fluidly between writing and photography, doing both pretty much at the same time. When I photograph to illustrate my novels, of course, the two are yoked together in the service of the same goal. All About Photo: Does your writing influence your photography or vice versa? Mark Coggins: A bit of both. Originally, I was using photography to document street scenes I wanted to describe in my books. Then I hit upon the idea of including the photos I was taking in the books. Later I began to alter the plot of my books to have an excuse to include photos I liked that I had taken without reference to a particular scene. All About Photo: What lead you to photography and why? Mark Coggins: In the very beginning, it was the photos my father had taken during the Korean War with the 35mm Bolsey camera he eventually gave me. My mother recently found a box of his old negatives and slides, and several images-particularly of Korean children-are quite good. All About Photo: Do you remember your first shot? What was it? Mark Coggins: I don't remember the first photo I took, but I do remember the first one I developed and printed (around the age of 12). It was a snapshot of a large toy rubber beetle of my brother's. Not great art! All About Photo: What was your first paid assignment/job? Mark Coggins: The first print I sold was the photo of two chess pieces on a board that was used for the cover of my first novel, The Immortal Game. Several bookstores carried prints of the photo to sell to collectors who had enjoyed the book. All About Photo: What or who inspires you? Mark Coggins: I photograph street scenes from cities throughout the world. What inspires me most is capturing groups of people interacting or engaged in a common activity, rather than simply taking street portraits of individuals, although I have plenty of those in my portfolio. All About Photo: How could you describe your style? Mark Coggins: I like sharply focused images with a full tonal range, pulling in as much detail as I can in the shadows. Most all my work is black and white with a colder toning. All About Photo: Do you have a favorite photograph or series? Mark Coggins: "Geisha Confidential." It was taken one evening in Kyoto, Japan. I was walking down a back street in the older part of town when a cab with a geisha pulled up. The cab driver went in to an adjacent building to retrieve a second geisha. The photo documents the moment when the second joined the first and they began an urgent conversation.I like the image both because I was so extraordinarily fortunate to be in a position to take it and because I did a fair amount of editing to achieve the nourish atmosphere (I believe) it conveys. All About Photo: What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film? Mark Coggins: I mostly use Fujifilm rangefinder digital cameras, which is perhaps appropriate since my first camera was the Bolsey rangefinder. I also have a full-frame Nikon DSLR that I use for non-street photos. All About Photo: What is the influence of digital technology on your photography? Mark Coggins: Although my serious interest in photography began with my involvement with large format film photography, I was never that good a printer. It wasn't uncommon for me to like the Polaroid proof I took of a particular shot more than I did of the final print. If, as Ansel Adams said, the negative is the score and the print is the performance, I was blowing it during the performance. Digital has made me a better performer. All About Photo: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images? For what purpose? Mark Coggins: I do a fair amount of editing. I often crop, convert to black and white, dodge and burn where necessary and try to make sure I've gotten as much detail in the shadows as I can. I also tone my images on the colder range of the scale. All About Photo: How do you choose your subjects? Mark Coggins: I look for interesting people interacting in interesting ways on the street. All About Photo: Favorite(s) photographer(s)? Mark Coggins: Oh, there are so many. Mark Citret, of course. From there, in no particular order, Sally Mann, Edward Weston, Ruth Bernhard, Eugène Atget, Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson. All About Photo: What advice would you give a young photographer? Mark Coggins: I can't tell you how to do this, but I do believe it is important: to develop one's own style. It took me a long time to do it, and I only realized I had done so long after the achievement. It's not a paint-by-numbers type goal. All About Photo: What mistake should a young photographer avoid? Mark Coggins: Although I've been guilty of it myself, I see a lot of photographers over-manipulating images. Perhaps it's the influence of Instagram filters. All About Photo: What are your projects? Mark Coggins: I shot continuously in my home city of San Francisco, but for some reason, my best photos seem to come during travel to foreign countries. I'm planning a trip to several new (to me) European cities this summer. All About Photo: Your best memory as a photographer? Mark Coggins: When the Patricia Cornwell's publisher contacted me about using my photo of Savannah's Colonial Park Cemetery for the endpapers of her novel Red Mist. All About Photo: Your worst souvenir as a photographer? Mark Coggins: Over-exposed 4x5 negative of what I was certain to be a great shot when I didn't properly seat the bag bellows of my large format camera. All About Photo: The compliment that touched you most? Mark Coggins: When my mother hung one of my (really not very good) photos in her living room next to a watercolor by very accomplished artist. All About Photo: Your favorite photo book? Mark Coggins: Along the Way by Mark Citret. All About Photo: An anecdote that comes to your mind? Mark Coggins: I lived next to Ruth Bernhard in San Francisco for several years. I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't really understand her importance to the photography world until I met her at a party. All About Photo: Anything else you would like to share? Mark Coggins: Another anecdote: when I shut down my darkroom, I sold my sink to music photographer Tom O'Neal, who photographed the cover of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's Deja Vu album.
Marion Post Wolcott
United States
1910 | † 1990
Marion Post (later Marion Post Wolcott) (June 7, 1910 - November 24, 1990) was a noted American photographer who worked for the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression documenting poverty and deprivation. She was born in New Jersey. Her parents split up and she was sent to boarding school, spending time at home with her mother in Greenwich Village when not at school. Here she met many artists and musicians and became interested in dance. She studied at The New School. She trained as a teacher, and went to work in a small town in Massachusetts. Here she saw the reality of the Depression and the problems of the poor. When the school closed she went to Europe to study with her sister Helen. Helen was studying with Trude Fleischmann, a Viennese photographer. Marion showed Fleischmann some of her photographs and was told to stick to photography. While in Vienna she saw some of the Nazi attacks on the Jewish population and was horrified. Soon she and her sister had to return to America for safety. She went back to teaching but also continued her photography and became involved in the anti-fascist movement. At the New York Photo League she met Ralph Steiner and Paul Strand who encouraged her. When she found that the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin kept sending her to do "ladies' stories," Ralph Steiner took her portfolio to show Roy Stryker, head of the Farm Security Administration, and Paul Strand wrote a letter of recommendation. Stryker was impressed by her work and hired her immediately. Her photographs for the FSA often explore the political aspects of poverty and deprivation. They also often find humour in the situations she encountered. In 1941 she met Lee Wolcott. When she had finished her assignments for the FSA she married him, and later had to fit in her photography around raising a family and a great deal of travelling and living overseas.Source: Wikipedia A biographical sketch by Linda Wolcott-Moore: "As an FSA documentary photographer, I was committed to changing the attitudes of people by familiarizing America with the plight of the underprivileged, especially in rural America... FSA photographs shocked and aroused public opinion to increase support for the New Deal policies and projects, and played an important part in the social revolution of the 30s", said Marion Post Wolcott. Beginning in September of 1938, Wolcott spent three and a half years photographing in New England, Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. A photographic pioneer on America's ragged economic frontier, Wolcottt survived illness, bad weather, rattlesnakes, skepticism about a woman traveling alone and the sometimes hostile reaction of her subjects in order to fulfill her assignments from the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Unique among FSA photographers, Wolcott showed the extremes of the country's rich and poor in the late 30's, its race relations, and the fertile land formed with government assistance, which revealed the benefits of federal subsidies. Her work has a formal control, emotional reticence and keen wit.(...) Marion Post entered the 20th Century on June 7, 1910, one of two daughters of Marion (Nan) Hoyt Post and Dr. Walter Post. The Posts were a prominent family in Montclair, New Jersey where Dr. Post was the local physician, a homeopathist, in those days, the leading type of medicine. The Posts ended their marriage when Marion was a young teenager, and she and sister Helen were packed off to boarding school. At Edgewood School in Greenwich, Connecticut, removed from the trials of her parents’ bitter and heart-rending divorce, Marion thrived in a progressive atmosphere which fostered open inquiry, flexibility and individuality. Throughout those early years, she also had a very close, loving relationship with the Post’s black housekeeper, Reasie, a relationship that gave Marion an ease and empathy with the blacks she would later photograph in the fields and juke joints of the deep South. On weekends and in the summer--whenever possible--she spent time with her mother, Nan, in her tiny Greenwich Village apartment in New York City. Nan was working with Margaret Sanger helping to set up health and birth control clinics around the country, a pioneer in her own right and an inspiration to Marion. In "The Village," mother and daughter hung out with musicians, artists, writers and members of the theatrical crowd, went to art exhibits, lectures and concerts, and after graduation from Edgewood, Marion fell in love with, and began studying, modern dance. At the same time she was working her way through school as a teacher of young children, pursuing her interest in early childhood education at the New School for Social Research, and then at New York University. As the Great Depression began to impact the working people around her, she witnessed dramatic class differences among those living in the small Massachusetts town where she was then teaching.(...) Soon after, in 1932, Marion traveled to Europe to study dance in Paris, and later, child psychology at the University of Vienna. There she met Trude Fleischmann, a Viennese photographer with whom her sister Helen was studying. Upon seeing Marion's first photographic images, Trude encouraged her to continue. "Sis," you've got a good eye," she exclaimed, a line Marion Post would never forget, although she was quite reticent about encroaching upon the territory of her sister, Helen, long considered the artist in the family. Meanwhile, a horrified young Marion and Helen were witnessing the rise of Nazism and Fascism in Europe. Of their friends, again many were musicians, artists, and young intellectuals. Many also were Jewish, and Marion watched as swastikas burned in front of the homes of her anti-Nazi friends, and their fields and fences were set ablaze. She was further rocked by the assassination, during the winter of 1933-34, of Austrian Chancelor Dolfuss and the bombing of apartments of socialist workers near Vienna. Lending a hand, she spent several months working in the local schools with the children of Austrian workers. It was too dangerous, however, for her to stay; the University of Vienna had been closed, and Marion was told either to return home or give up her small allowance. Back in the States, she took a teaching position at the progressive Hessian Hills School at Croton-on-Hudson. Here she began taking more photographs and making her first prints. Close to New York, she also became active in the League Against War and Fascism, and, together with Helen, helped Jews, including Trude Fleischmann, leave Europe and immigrate to the United States. She had friends in the socially and politically concerned Group Theatre who became both subjects and clients, and she published her first work in Stage Magazine. Encouraged by her progress, a year later, at twenty-five, Marion moved to New York and began freelancing, even landing a picture on the cover of the New York Times Magazine. She also began attending meetings of the New York Photo League, an important organization that was influencing many of the country's best young photographers. There Marion met Ralph Steiner and Paul Strand who, upon seeing her work, asked her to join a group of serious young photographers who met at Steiner's apartment to discuss and critique each other's photography.(...) Needing more certain wages, Marion accepted a position as a staff photographer for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. As a young woman, however, she was required to do stories on the latest fashion and events for the ladies' page, hardly compelling assignments for a young woman of 25 with her background and experiences! Mentioning her frustrations to Ralph Steiner one day, he took her portfolio with him to Washington, to Roy Stryker, head of the Farm Security Administration. Stryker was impressed, asked to meet her. So, armed with letters of recommendation from no less than Paul Strand and Ralph Steiner, Marion Post set off for Washington. She was hired immediately, and joined the ranks of the other FSA photographers, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Russell Lee, and Arthur Rothstein, among them. From 1938 through 1941, Marion produced many of the most vividly moving of the more than 100,000 images in the FSA archives, reflecting her many years of social and political involvement, her strength and independence, and her deep sensitivity to the children and families of the less fortunate. The Farm Security Administration had been mandated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to assist American farmers who had suffered grievously during the Depression. Families were stranded and starving; soil was worn out, unfit for production.(...) Segregation and discrimination; humiliation and condescension; labor movements; eroded, worn-out land; dirty, sick, malnourished children; overcrowded schools. She traveled primarily alone, got tired and lonely and sick and burned out. She had to wrap her camera in hot water bottles to keep the shutters from freezing; write captions at night in flimsy motel rooms while fending off the men trying to enter through the transoms; deal with southern social workers, suspicious cops, chiggers and mosquitoes; mud, heat, and humidity.(...) In 1941, Marion met the man she wanted to marry--Lee Wolcott, a handsome, bright assistant to Henry Wallace, Secretary of Agriculture under President Roosevelt. Marion completed her assignments and left the FSA in order to raise a family, tend their farms, and later to live and travel extensively overseas. Both passionate, eager, curious, intellectual, they developed interesting modern art and music collections; had interesting, involved friends; were deeply committed to the raising and educating of four accomplished children, and with mentoring their grandchildren. Although she did not again work as a "professional," largely due to the demands of family and overseas living and traveling, she captured numerous serious images of farming in rural Virginia, and later in Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan. Upon returning to the States, she taught and photographed American Indian children in New Mexico, did a series on the ‘70’s counter-culture in Isla Vista, California, and in Mendocino, California. She also was actively involved with the photography communities in both San Francisco and Santa Barbara where she helped, encouraged, and inspired, and was loved by many younger artists, worked with museum and gallery curators, and, in the 80’s, at the urging of the same, undertook a massive project to produce an archive of fine prints of her work of both the FSA and later years.(...) Letter from Paul Strand: "Dear RoyIt gives me pleasure to give this note of introduction to Marion Post because I know her work well. She is a young photographer of considerable experience who has made a number of very good photographs on social themes in the South and elsewhere... I feel that if you have any place for a conscientious and talented photographer, you will do well to give her an opportunity."--Paul Strand 6-20-38 Marion's favorite image: "I guess if I had to pick one, just one, favorite image, it would be the Negro Man Going Up the Stairs of the Movie Theatre. I think it says the most about me, about what I was trying to do and trying to say." (Conversation with her daughter, Linda)
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