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S. Gayle Stevens
S. Gayle Stevens
S. Gayle Stevens

S. Gayle Stevens

Country: United States

S. Gayle Stevens has worked in antiquarian photographic processes for over fifteen years. Her chosen medium is wet plate collodion for its fluidity and individuality. She exhibits extensively across the United States, United Kingdom, the Netherlands and China. Ms. Stevens received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999. She is an educator, speaker, juror, curator and an active member of the photographic community. Named one of the Critical Mass Top Fifty Photographers for 2010, she received second place in the Lens Culture International Exposure Awards in 2011 and was named a finalist for the Clarence John Laughlin Award in 2012. Her work has been featured in Fraction, Square, Shots, Diffusion, B + W Photography, South by Southeast and Fuzion magazines and in the recently published book Inventing Reality, New Orleans Visionary Photography. North Light Press published a book of Stevens’ work, Calligraphy, in their 11 + 1 Signature series. Christopher James will feature her work in the third edition of The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes. Stevens’ work is widely collected and is part of the permanent collection of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Rockford Museum of Art and the Center for Fine Art Photography among others. A member of the Posse photo collective, she divides her time shooting in Pass Christian, Mississippi and Downers Grove, Illinois, where she resides. Stevens is represented by Tilt Gallery.
 

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William Eggleston
United States
1939
William Eggleston was born in Memphis, Tennessee and raised in Sumner, Mississippi. His father was an engineer and his mother was the daughter of a prominent local judge. As a boy, Eggleston was introverted; he enjoyed playing the piano, drawing, and working with electronics. From an early age, he was also drawn to visual media, and reportedly enjoyed buying postcards and cutting out pictures from magazines. At the age of 15, Eggleston was sent to the Webb School, a boarding establishment. Eggleston later recalled few fond memories of the school, telling a reporter, "It had a kind of Spartan routine to 'build character'. I never knew what that was supposed to mean. It was so callous and dumb. It was the kind of place where it was considered effeminate to like music and painting." Eggleston was unusual among his peers in eschewing the traditional Southern male pursuits of hunting and sports, in favor of artistic pursuits and observation of the world. Nevertheless, Eggleston noted that he never felt like an outsider. "I never had the feeling that I didn't fit in," he told a reporter, "But probably I didn't." Eggleston attended Vanderbilt University for a year, Delta State College for a semester, and the University of Mississippi for about five years, but did not complete any degree. Nonetheless, his interest in photography took root when a friend at Vanderbilt gave Eggleston a Leica camera. He was introduced to abstract expressionism at Ole Miss by visiting painter Tom Young. Eggleston's early photographic efforts were inspired by the work of Swiss-born photographer Robert Frank, and by French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson's book, The Decisive Moment. Eggleston later recalled that the book was "the first serious book I found, from many awful books...I didn't understand it a bit, and then it sank in, and I realized, my God, this is a great one." First photographing in black-and-white, Eggleston began experimenting with color in 1965 and 1966 after being introduced to the medium by William Christenberry. Color transparency film became his dominant medium in the later 1960s. Eggleston's development as a photographer seems to have taken place in relative isolation from other artists. In an interview, John Szarkowski describes his first encounter with the young Eggleston in 1969 as being "absolutely out of the blue". After reviewing Eggleston's work (which he recalled as a suitcase full of "drugstore" color prints) Szarkowski prevailed upon the Photography Committee of MoMA to buy one of Eggleston's photographs. In 1970, Eggleston's friend William Christenberry introduced him to Walter Hopps, director of Washington, D.C.'s Corcoran Gallery. Hopps later reported being "stunned" by Eggleston's work: "I had never seen anything like it." Eggleston taught at Harvard in 1973 and 1974, and it was during these years that he discovered dye-transfer printing; he was examining the price list of a photographic lab in Chicago when he read about the process. As Eggleston later recalled: "It advertised 'from the cheapest to the ultimate print.' The ultimate print was a dye-transfer. I went straight up there to look and everything I saw was commercial work like pictures of cigarette packs or perfume bottles but the colour saturation and the quality of the ink was overwhelming. I couldn't wait to see what a plain Eggleston picture would look like with the same process. Every photograph I subsequently printed with the process seemed fantastic and each one seemed better than the previous one." The dye-transfer process resulted in some of Eggleston's most striking and famous work, such as his 1973 photograph entitled The Red Ceiling, of which Eggleston said, "The Red Ceiling is so powerful, that in fact I've never seen it reproduced on the page to my satisfaction. When you look at the dye it is like red blood that's wet on the wall.... A little red is usually enough, but to work with an entire red surface was a challenge." At Harvard, Eggleston prepared his first portfolio, entitled 14 Pictures (1974). Eggleston's work was exhibited at MoMA in 1976. Although this was over three decades after MoMa had mounted a solo exhibition of color photographs by Eliot Porter, and a decade after MoMA had exhibited color photographs by Ernst Haas, the tale that the Eggleston exhibition was MoMA's first exhibition of color photography is frequently repeated, and the 1976 show is regarded as a watershed moment in the history of photography, by marking "the acceptance of colour photography by the highest validating institution" (in the words of Mark Holborn). Around the time of his 1976 MoMA exhibition, Eggleston was introduced to Viva, the Andy Warhol "superstar", with whom he began a long relationship. During this period Eggleston became familiar with Andy Warhol's circle, a connection that may have helped foster Eggleston's idea of the "democratic camera", Mark Holborn suggests. Also in the 1970s Eggleston experimented with video, producing several hours of roughly edited footage Eggleston calls Stranded in Canton. Writer Richard Woodward, who has viewed the footage, likens it to a "demented home movie", mixing tender shots of his children at home with shots of drunken parties, public urination and a man biting off a chicken's head before a cheering crowd in New Orleans. Woodward suggests that the film is reflective of Eggleston's "fearless naturalism—a belief that by looking patiently at what others ignore or look away from, interesting things can be seen." Eggleston's published books and portfolios include Los Alamos (completed in 1974, but published much later), William Eggleston's Guide (the catalog of the 1976 MoMa exhibit), the massive Election Eve (1977; a portfolio of photographs taken around Plains, Georgia, the rural seat of Jimmy Carter before the 1976 presidential election), The Morals of Vision (1978), Flowers (1978), Wedgwood Blue (1979), Seven (1979), Troubled Waters (1980), The Louisiana Project (1980), William Eggleston's Graceland (1984; a series of commissioned photographs of Elvis Presley's Graceland, depicting the singer's home as an airless, windowless tomb in custom-made bad taste), The Democratic Forest (1989), Faulkner's Mississippi (1990), and Ancient and Modern(1992). Some of his early series have not been shown until the late 2000s. The Nightclub Portraits (1973), a series of large black-and-white portraits in bars and clubs around Memphis was, for the most part, not shown until 2005. Lost and Found, part of Eggleston's Los Alamos series, is a body of photographs that have remained unseen for decades because until 2008 no one knew that they belonged to Walter Hopps; the works from this series chronicle road trips the artist took with Hopps, leaving from Memphis and traveling as far as the West Coast. Eggleston's Election Eve photographs were not editioned until 2011. Eggleston also worked with filmmakers, photographing the set of John Huston's film Annie (1982) and documenting the making of David Byrne's film True Stories (1986). In 2017 an album of Eggleston's music was released, Musik. It comprises 13 "experimental electronic soundscapes", "often dramatic improvisations on compositions by Bach (his hero) and Haendel as well as his singular takes on a Gilbert and Sullivan tune and the jazz standard On the Street Where You Live." Musik was made entirely on a 1980s Korg synthesiser, and recorded to floppy disks. The 2017 compilation Musik was produced by Tom Lunt, and released on Secretly Canadian. In 2018, Áine O'Dwyer performed the music on a pipe organ at the Big Ears music festival in Knoxville. Source: Wikipedia William Eggleston assumes a neutral gaze and creates his art from commonplace subjects: a farmer's muddy Ford truck, a red ceiling in a friend's house, the contents of his own refrigerator. In his work, Eggleston photographs "democratically"--literally photographing the world around him. His large-format prints monumentalize everyday subjects, everything is equally important; every detail deserves attention. A native Southerner raised on a cotton plantation in the Mississippi Delta, Eggleston has created a singular portrait of his native South since the late 1960s. After discovering photography in the early 1960s, he abandoned a traditional education and instead learned from photographically illustrated books by Walker Evans, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Robert Frank. Although he began his career making black-and-white images, he soon abandoned them to experiment with color technology to record experiences in more sensual and accurate terms at a time when color photography was largely confined to commercial advertising. In 1976 with the support of John Szarkowski, the influential photography historian, critic, and curator, Eggleston mounted "Color Photographs" a now famous exhibition of his work at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. William Eggleston's Guide , in which Szarkowski called Eggleston's photographs "perfect," accompanied this groundbreaking one-person show that established his reputation as a pioneer of color photography. His subjects were mundane, everyday, often trivial, so that the real subject was seen to be color itself. These images helped establish Eggleston as one of the first non-commercial photographers working in color and inspired a new generation of photographers, as well as filmmakers. Eggleston has published his work extensively. He continues to live and work in Memphis, and travels considerably for photographic projects. Source: The Getty Museum
Thomas Dodd
United States
Thomas Dodd is a visual artist and photographer based out of Atlanta, Georgia who has developed a style that he calls "painterly photo montage" - a method he employs during principal photography and in editing software with which he crafts elaborately textured pieces that have a very organic and decidedly non-digital look to them. His work often has mythic and quasi-religious themes that pay homage to Old Master art traditions while at the same time drawing from psychological archetypes that evoke a strong emotional response from the viewer. Although his artwork resembles paintings, his pieces are entirely photographic in nature, fusing many images into a cohesive whole. His larger works are often presented in a mixed media form that adds a depth and texture that complements the photography beautifully. Thomas has had numerous exhibitions of his works in many cities in the USA and around the world. He has had recent shows in New York City, Paris, Mexico City, New Orleans, Tokyo, San Antonio, Seattle, and in his hometown of Atlanta. Dodd's photographs have been featured in many magazines, on book and album covers and he frequently teaches workshops and webinars on photo-editing and marketing for artists. Thomas began his career as a visual artist in 2005. Before that, he was best known as the harpist and songwriter for the 1990s musical group Trio Nocturna, a Celtic Gothic ensemble that put out three critically-acclaimed albums ("Morphia", "Tears of Light" and "Songs of the Celtic Night") and performed at author Anne Rice's annual Halloween balls in New Orleans, as well as spawning an offshoot band called the Changelings. Thomas also played harp on two albums by Michael Gira (the driving force behind the influential post-punk band the Swans): "the Body Lovers" and the Angels of Light "New Mother". The images that Thomas creates are basically a visual equivalent of the music he composed in the 1990s. Mythic themes and their relation to emotions and psychological states continue to be his primary subjects and motivations. Source: thomasdodd.com Interview with Thomas Dodd All About Photo: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer? Thomas Dodd: There was a period in my early teens where I was inspired by seeing a gallery show of Ansel Adams’ work, and for a short time thereafter I was compelled to study black and white film photography (of course, digital did not exist back then in the 1970s), but that inspiration quickly was replaced by the kick in the ass I received when I heard the Sex Pistols (in 1977) which made me run out and get a guitar so I could take out my teen angst upon the (non-listening) world! AAP: Where did you study photography? With whom? TD: My father taught me the basics of the camera back in the 1970s. I also took a darkroom course in high school. My reemergence as a photographer in 2006 (after a 25 year musical career playing the Celtic harp) was basically a self-taught one with quite a few online tutorials along the way! AAP: Do you have a mentor? TD: My father was a great influence on me- both as a photographer and a human being. AAP: How long have you been a photographer? TD: Since 2006. My brief dabbling in photography in the 70s barely counts! AAP: Do you remember your first shot? What was it? TD: My first real photoshoot was of my friend (and first Muse) Halley dressed in a beautiful Rococo-themed dress she made. We wandered through the streets of downtown Decatur Ga. at around midnight searching for street light to shoot in. AAP: What or who inspires you? TD: Beauty inspires me. Great painters inspire me. An artistic or chameleonesque model inspires me... AAP: How could you describe your style? TD: “Painterly” photo montage with an artistic approach AAP: Do you have a favorite photograph or series? TD: My favorite photo is always the one I am currently working on! AAP: What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film? TD: I really am not one of those photographers who likes to talk about gear because I think the most important tool that an artist possesses is their imagination... but I shoot with a Sony A57 using a 18-70mm lens. AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images? For what purpose? TD: I seem to spend ALL my time editing photos - What purpose? Self expression and sometimes' client satisfaction! AAP: Favorite(s) photographer(s)? TD: Jan Saudek - for the way he created such boldly erotic personal imagery while hiding from a repressive Communist regime... He also used texture and color in a very painterly way which has influenced me a great deal. AAP: What advice would you give a young photographer? TD: Don't be in a hurry to "succeed", and shun advice like "Fake it ‘til you make it". It takes TIME and PATIENCE to develop your own style. Always follow your own voice and don't be swayed by what is currently popular, and don't forget to ENJOY it - this is not supposed to feel like work! AAP: What mistake should a young photographer avoid? TD: Becoming an imitation or a copy of another photographer. Being in a hurry to get published or displayed in galleries is another common mistake. Take the time and develop your craft for a few years before you start thinking about sharing it with the world! AAP: Any quotes you would like to share? TD: "I am steadily surprised that there are so many photographers that reject manipulating reality, as if that was wrong. Change reality! If you don't find it, invent it!" - Pete Turner AAP: What current projects are you working on? TD: Nothing I can tell you about, but I will drop a hint and say it involves shattering some commonly held preconceptions about a "marginalized" segment of society. AAP: Your best memory as a photographer? TD: There have been so many, it's hard to choose an absolute best but I will say my first solo show, my first print sale and my first publication were all high points! AAP: Your worst souvenir as a photographer? TD: My broken D50 which gasped it’s last breath 5 clicks into a nude shoot! Or maybe the memory card and external hard drive that I irretrievably lost data from. Here is some more good advice - ALWAYS use an online backup in addition to discs and hard drives! AAP:The compliment that touched you most? TD: When my 92 year old Mother came to my first big gallery show in Atlanta (featuring some very large nude images) and said she was proud of me... AAP: Your favorite photo book? TD: Bob Carlos Clarke's "The Dark Summer" and Helmut Newton's "White Women". AAP: An anecdote? TD: I long ago learned as a model photographer that the crucial things to pack in your camera bag are not extra lenses, filters and light meters, They are instead bobby pins, safety pins, hair ties, insect repellent and sun block. Oh yeah, and a few model releases too! AAP: Anything else you would like to share? TD: Please feel free to "like" my Facebook page and introduce yourself.
Katerina Belkina
Katerina Belkina was born in Samara, a city in the South-East of the European part of Russia. She grew up in an artistic atmosphere; her mother is a visual artist and, in herplace of birth, she got an education in the art of painting at the Art Academy. She continued her education in 2000 at an Academy for Photography also in Samara and exhibitions of her mysterious self-portraits ensued in Moscow and Paris. Katerina Belkina was nominated for the prestigious Kandinsky Prize (comparable to the British Turner prize) in Moscow in 2007. At the moment, Katerina Belkina is living and working in Moscow and Berlin.AAP: Where did you study photography?I started in a studio of photography and then I decided to study photography in an Art College. After several years I learned photography at the Photo Academy in Samara, Russia.AAP:How did you become a photographer?I think of myself as an artist in the broad sense of the word. For me photography is just a medium like a painting, drawing etc. However I like to use photography as a basis for my works. This form of art was always interesting for me. As well as drawing. I was influenced by my family in my childhood to like both mediums.AAP: Do you remember your first shot? What was it?When I was in fifth grade I took my school photo-group. Otherwise everything around me: school friends, street dogs, home yard.AAP:What was your first paid assignment/job?It was for an inexpensive portrait. The client was a girl who looked very similar to Marilyn Monroe. I found out that only when I looked at her in the viewfinder.AAP: What or who inspires you?Other people working in my field. When I see good results and when I see how they work. AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images? For what purpose?Yes, a lot. At first I like the process of editing. In my case it is a combination of photo elements and then layer by layer drawing or correcting and making post-productions. I like when any art work include skills and labor. Every good idea should be perfectly executed.AAP: How do you choose your subjects?I always choose a topic that could be interesting for me at that moment. Then comes the process of thinking about. In the beginning ideas are always abstract. After a while it takes a shape: I choose a subject, composition, color combinations and details. AAP: Can you explain the process that you use to set up a portrait?When the idea takes shape in my mind, I draw a sketch, prepare all the necessary things for shooting and then start. Despite the fact that I know very exactly what I want for my future composition, I like to allow improvisation in the process. Because the result can be interesting and unexpectable. To take self-portraits I use a stative and make it by myself or I ask an assistant.AAP: Your worst souvenir as a photographer?Oh yes I remember! A meeting with a client who paid me and thought the world should rotate around him just because of that.AAP: What advice would you give a young photographer?Shoot a lot, take everything that could be interesting for you. Try new things, make discoveries. This is the most important thing. Don’t listen to anybody when they want to teach you something especially when it is in a critical way. AAP: What mistake should a young photographer avoid?Don’t try to be or to do like someone else. Your photography style will become unique over time. You need to be interested by what you are doing even if other photographers or artists can inspire you.
Valerie Laney
United States
1964
Valerie Elizabeth Laney was born in sunny San Diego, California, and was raised in rural North Carolina, where she spent endless summers catching tadpoles and chasing fireflies and exploring the surrounding woods, creeks and tobacco fields. Growing up in and around nature inspired her to spread her wings, and she has spent years exploring and photographing our wondrous planet. Valerie holds a degree in Visual Design from North Carolina State University, College of Design which, when combined with a career as a Graphic Designer, enhances her skill in composition as well as visual story telling. Photography was a natural outcome of her love of nature and her skill as an artist; and it has become her passion to capture images of unique places, diverse landscapes and fascinating cultures. A love of adventure sends her on photo expeditions to places like Iceland, Madagascar and the steppes of Mongolia, where her photographs capture majestic landscapes, native cultures, wildlife and underwater marine life. Valerie loves sharing her photography and hopes it inspires dreams, travel and memories for her growing audience. Statement Photography allows one to capture the world in a way that is unique to the beholder. Photos are visual story telling, but yet, everyone is left to their own interpretation of the story that is being told. So in that way, photography allows both the photographer and the onlooker to take part in the creative process. I compose photos to give a sense of what is happening in the shot: viewers should feel the cold, smell the air, and feel like they can anticipate the moments that followed as if they were present.
Cedric Delsaux
France
1974
Cédric Delsaux was born in 1974. For almost 20 years, his oeuvre has sought to deconstruct our conventional view of the relationship between reality and photography. His aim is for the medium of photography to no longer directly express Reality, but rather the Fiction through which it is perceived. First known for his work as an advertising photographer, he has since made a name for himself through his personal long-term photo series. His first, Here To Stay/Nous resterons sur terre, was published in 2008 in France, and by Monacelli Press (Random House) in the US the following year. This series takes us on a subjective tour of symbolic places in our (post)modern world; these places are at once beautiful and ugly, conventional and crazy. His second, Dark Lens, was published in France in 2011 by Éditions Xavier Barral, distributed in the US by D.A.P., and translated into Japanese through publisher X-Knowledge. George Lucas wrote the foreword to the book. Dark Lens places characters from the Star Wars saga into real-world settings—like Dubai, Lille or the banlieue of Paris—and reveals the extent to which our perception of a city passes through the filter of fiction. In his next series, Échelle 1, he asked random passers-by to stand on a white wooden base, instantly transforming them into 1:1 scale figurines. For his 2014 book, Zone de repli, published by Éditions Xavier Barral, he spent three years reexploring an infamous news story, revisiting the haunts of a notorious imposter-murderer. The series he made with "France Territoire Liquide", a group co-founded with three other photographers, featured in an exhibition at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in 2017 (Paysages français: Une aventure photographique) and in a collected volume published by Éditions du Seuil ("Fiction&Cie" collection). Welcome to the Dark Corporation. It all began over 14 years ago with Dark Lens, Delsaux's initial series combining everyday places with the universe of Star Wars. Hailed an international success (...), it was honored by the Master himself, George Lucas.* After taking a break, Cédric Delsaux now reawakens the fantasy with this new opus, irreversibly breaking down the boundaries between Reality and Fiction... While the vehicles and characters of the famous Star Wars saga still haunt the real-world places he shoots—like Paris, Dubai, Marseilles, and Abu Dhabi—, this time Delsaux has worked with a full team (designer, 3D graphic artists, retouchers) to further tear back the veil between true and false, to the point that we begin to wonder if even the slightest frontier still remains. What was originally a simple confrontation between Reality and Science Fiction is finished; now the World and the "Dark Corporation" become one. It is as if the characters of the series have now permanently settled on Earth, bringing with them their ancient powers. These new residents have acquired their own vehicles, which are inspired by the Hollywood saga but recreated in the style of earthlings, borrowing design and techniques from the world that came before, the one that belonged to humankind... With this approach Cédric Delsaux combines two opposing states, reality and fantasy, as if to suggest that one can no longer be perceived without the other. The present of his photographs is no longer in the indicative, but is modified using some unknown conjugation to produce a sort of present of the conditional, distorting Roland Barthe's formula "this has been" into a puzzling "and if this was". Delsaux also uses his sets to suggest a looming, insidious threat. Each piece of land he captures depicts the latent conflict between human beings and the technology they have created... And he has an original way of exploiting the modern myth that is Star Wars to summon up all the anxieties and ambitions of a generation abandoned at the edge of the gaping chasm left by the disappearance of the Grand Narratives. Designer Vincent Gravière
Sean Perry
United States
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.
Benjamin Dimmitt
United States
Benjamin Dimmitt photographs wetlands and forests using film and a medium format camera. He uses his camera to investigate interdependence, competition, survival and mortality in the natural world. Benjamin was born and raised on the Gulf Coast of Florida. He graduated from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL and also studied at the International Center of Photography in NYC, NY, Santa Fe Photographic Workshop in Santa Fe, NM, Santa Reparata Graphic Arts Centre in Florence, Italy and City and Guild Arts School in London, England. He moved to New York City after college and held an adjunct professor position at the International Center of Photography from 2001-2013. He now lives and works in Asheville, NC and teaches workshops throughout the Southeast. Benjamin's photographs have been exhibited at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, School of International Center of Photography, NYC, NY, American Academy of Arts & Letters, NYC, NY, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA, Griffin Museum, Boston, MA, Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Tampa, FL, Center for Fine Art Photography, Ft. Collins, CO and Midtown Y Photography Gallery, NYC, NY. In November, 2019, his work will be included in a three person climate change exhibit at Southeast Museum of Photography in Daytona Beach, FL. His work is represented by Clayton Galleries in Tampa, FL and is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts and Eckerd College among many others. Ain't Bad, Architectural Digest, Black & White, Don't Take Pictures, Lenscratch, Oxford American, Orion, Photo District News, The New Yorker Photo Booth and others have featured Benjamin's photographs. He was a finalist in Photolucida's Critical Mass Award in 2014, 2017 and 2018 and in New Orleans Photo Alliance's Clarence John Laughlin Award in 2014 and 2015. An Unflinching Look The Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge is a very fragile, spring-fed estuary on Florida's Gulf Coast, north of Tampa. I was overwhelmed by its lush, primeval beauty on my first visit over 30 years ago and have photographed there extensively since 2004. The dense palm hammocks and hardwood forests were festooned with ferns and orchids and the fresh water creeks were a clear azure. There are other similar estuaries nearby but the Chassahowitzka River and the surrounding wetlands are protected as part of the federal National Wildlife Refuge system and the river itself is designated as an Outstanding Florida Water. Unfortunately, saltwater began creeping up into the spring creeks around 2011. Rising sea levels due to climate change are the primary cause. However, the saltwater intrusion was accelerated when the state water commissioners, appointed by climate change denier and former governor Rick Scott, determined that the wetlands could survive with less fresh water. This new minimum flow policy would allow the state to increase the pumping of fresh water for large-scale inland developments and agricultural interests. The drawdown of fresh water for these lobbyists has taken fresh water away from the aquifer that feeds Chassahowitzka's springs and many others nearby. As the fresh water flow in the estuaries decreased, saltwater advanced upstream and took its place. What had been verdant, semi-tropical forest is now mostly an open plain of grasses relieved by palms and dying hardwood trees. Sabal palms are the most salt tolerant trees in this ecosystem and are the last to expire. This is a widespread phenomenon, occurring all along the Big Bend section of the Gulf coast of Florida. In 2014, I began to photograph in the salt-damaged sawgrass savannas and spring creeks there as a way of reckoning with the ecosystem loss and of understanding what has become of my native Florida. I have narrowed my focus to a small, remote area that I know and love. My intention in bearing witness to this loss has been to portray the ruined landscape with respect, nuance and beauty. To document the progress of the saltwater intrusion, I have re-photographed landscapes that I first photographed as much as 30 years ago. This ruin is the fate of estuaries around the world as sea levels rise. With increasingly fierce storms and extensive flooding along coastal areas, we are reminded that climate change is a certainty and a priority.
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