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Mária Švarbová
Mária Švarbová
Mária Švarbová

Mária Švarbová

Country: Slovakia
Birth: 1988

Mária Švarbová was born in 1988; she currently lives in Slovakia. Despite studying restoration and archeology, her preferred artistic medium is photography. From 2010 to the present, the immediacy of Maria's photographic instinct continues to garner international acclaim and is setting new precedents in photographic expression. The recipient of several prestigious awards, her solo and group exhibitions have placed her among the vanguard of her contemporaries, attracting features in Vogue, Forbes, The Guardian, and publications around the world; her work is frequently in the limelight of social media. Maria's reputation also earned her a commission for a billboard-sized promotion on the massive Taipei 101 tower, in Taiwan.

Maria's distinctive style departs from traditional portraiture and focuses on experimentation with space, colour, and atmosphere. Taking an interest in Socialist era architecture and public spaces, Maria transforms each scene with a modern freshness that highlights the depth and range of her creative palette. The human body throughout her oeuvre is more or less a peripheral afterthought, often portrayed as aloof and demure rather than substantive. Carefully composed figures create thematic, dream-like scenes with ordinary objects. Her images hold a silent tension that hints at emergent possibilities under the lilt of clean and smooth surfaces.

There is often a sense of cool detachment and liminality in Maria's work. Routine actions such as exercise, doctor appointments, and domestic tasks are reframed with a visual purity that is soothing and symmetrical and at times reverberant with an ethereal stillness. The overall effect evokes a contemplative silence in an extended moment of promise and awareness—a quality difficult to achieve in the rapid pace of modern life. Maria's postmodern vision boldly articulates a dialog that compels the viewer to respond to the mystery, loneliness, and isolation of the human experience. Nevertheless, deeply embedded within the aqueous pastels, Maria's compositions hold to a celebratory elegance that transforms the viewer's gaze into an enduring reverence for life's simple beauty.

Hasselblad Master 2018
Forbes 30 under 30
Winner of International Photography Awards 2016

All about Swimming Pool

In the Swimming Pool is Maria's largest series yet, originating in 2014 and continuing to develop to date. Sparked by a hunt for interesting location, her fascination with the space of public swimming pools contributed to developing her visual style. Sterile, geometric beauty of old pools set the tone for these photographs. Each of them pictures a different pool, usually built in the Socialist Era, in various locations in Slovakia. There is almost cinematographic quality to the highly controlled sceneries that Maria captures. The figures are mid-movement, but there is no joyful playfulness to them. Frozen in the composition, the swimmers are as smooth and cold as the pools tiles. The colours softly vibrate in a dream-like atmosphere. Despite the retro setting, the pictures somehow evoke a futuristic feeling as well, as if they were taken somewhere completely alien. There is no disturbing emotion, there is no individuality in their stillness. The artificial detachment, created by Maria's visual vision, allows unique visual pleasure, unattainable in real life.
 

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Ren Hang
Chinese
1987 | † 2017
Ren Hang (Chinese: 任航; March 30, 1987 – February 24, 2017) was a Chinese photographer and poet. During Ren's incipient career, he was known mostly for nude photographic portraits of his friends. His work is significant for its representation of Chinese sexuality within a heavily censored society. For these erotic undertones, he was arrested by PRC authorities several times. He received the backing of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who included Ren in his 2013 Netherlands show, Fuck Off 2 The Sequel, and curated the photographer's 2014 exhibition in Paris, France. Ren's erotic, playful and casual yet provocative expression gained him worldwide fame. Ren was born in 1987, in a suburb of Changchun, Jilin province, in northeastern China. In 2007, in order to relieve the boredom of studying advertising at college, he bought a point-and-shoot camera and began shooting his friends. As a self-taught photographer, he said his style of photography was inspired by the artist Shūji Terayama. Ren suffered from depression. He posted a series of diary entries titled My depression on his blog, recording the fear, anxiety and internal conflicts he experienced. Ren died by suicide on February 24, 2017 in Beijing. Ren Hang first began taking pictures of his roommates and friends in 2007, shooting them in the nude as all were close and seeking excitement. In an interview, he also admitted: “I usually shoot my friends, because strangers make me nervous.” He arranged his subjects' naked limbs in his photographs. Ren did not consider his work inappropriate: “I don’t really view my work as taboo, because I don’t think so much in cultural context, or political context. I don’t intentionally push boundaries, I just do what I do.” This may account for his reticence to limit his work to indoor settings. He said there were no preferred places for him to work, as he believed anywhere was beautiful and worthy to be shot, including sparse studios, parks forests, and atop buildings. Ren's photos employ nude groups and solo portraits of men and women often contorted into highly performative positions. For example, hands reach down milky thighs, a limp penis flops onto a watermelon and a series of backsides imitate a mountain range. Questioning the purpose of his work, he once stated that his creation was a way to seek fun for both photographer and the photographed. However, once he had reached fame on an international level, he began to think deeply about his work. The British Journal of Photography quoted him as once saying: "I don't want others having the impression that Chinese people are robots... Or they do have sexual genitals but always keep them as some secret treasures. I want to say that our cocks and pussies are not embarrassing at all." Ren also focused on marginalised people in Chinese society with gender identity disorders by 'indeterminating' sex and gender in some of his work: a group of naked bodies stacked together, men wearing silk stockings and wearing lipstick. He denied having a preference in models: “Gender… only matters to me when I’m having sex.” The international quarterly photography journal Aperture used his photo as the cover for its Queer theme. Commentators also see his work, the naked body and the starched penis, as evolving sexual mores and the struggle for creative and sexual freedom in a conservative, tightly controlled society. But Ren Hang also announced "I don't try to get a message across, I don't give my works names, I don't date them. I don’t want to instill them with any vocabulary. I don't like to explain my photos or work as a whole". It has been mentioned that Ren's work is softcore pornography because of the degree of nudity and sex in it, but he also worked with other themes. The most famous was titled My Mum. Although still under a fetishistic atmosphere, posing with usual props in Ren's works like animals and plants, Ren's mother posed as a clothed model, in a light-hearted way to represent her daily life. Ren's photographs have been included in magazines L'Officiel, GQ Style, and Vice. He worked with fashion companies Gucci, Rick Owens, and Loewe. Ren's work is included in Frank Ocean's magazine Boys Don't Cry. Ren Hang is noted to be greatly influenced by Chinese and Asian contemporary art and in particular, Japanese photographer and contemporary artist Nobuyoshi Araki. Ren Hang mainly worked with a simple point-and-shoot camera. He would direct the models as to how to place their bodies and shoot in quick succession. Genitalia, breasts and anuses were not covered up, but featured, or accentuated with props and close-ups. Colors were rich and high in contrast, increasing visual impact. This, along with the fact all bodies were slim, lithe and relatively hairless, made the impact of his photographs more impressive. His work communicated a raw, stark aesthetic that countered taboos and celebrated sexuality and it was this contemporary form of poeticism in a visual context in which Ren Hang expressed themes of identity, the body, love, loss and death. Nudity is not a theme in art that can be widely accepted by the Chinese older generation. Ren Hang's works are sometimes misinterpreted by the public as pornography. Although some have written that Ren Hang used his photographs to challenge Chinese cultural norms of shame around nudity, he did not believe he was challenging the stereotype and leading a revolution. For him, nudity and sexuality are natural themes which he used in his work. "Nudes are there since always. We were born nude. So talking about revolution, I don't think there's anything to revolutionize. Unless people are born with clothes on, and I want to take their clothes off, then I think this is a revolution. If it was already like that, then it's not a revolution. I just photographed things on their more natural conditions." He said he was not trying to liberate nudity and sexuality since he believed that the Chinese young generation was open-minded and less affected by the old-fashioned cultures. When Ren Hang talked about the question whether the topic of sexuality was still a taboo in China, he said: "I don't think it's related to our times, these are individual cases. Like how to say it, I think it depends on different people, it doesn't really relate to other things. I was not in the whole parents told you that you can only have sex if you get married era. The time after I grow up was already over that period, it was already different like everyone was already more relaxed."Source: Wikipedia Flesh, corpses, souls and bland flashlights, all composite into seconds or milliseconds of lights and shadows, projecting onto the film that never knows how to lie. Focus gathering and the shutter releasing, connecting his unpretentious, rebellious, wild and free perspectives towards the naked human body. The images look so natural, yet fun and unexpected. One soul after another all blossom like a newborn baby, urging to crawl out of his mother’s womb, dying to be redefined. In this era that we live in, being censored by the Chinese government has almost become a stamp of approval for contemporary artists. Ren Hang, a young man with a mature look and tanned skin, hair as short as a Chinese soldiers’, always carrying an irresistibly cute and innocent smile on his cheeks. He is, perhaps, the sole artist and photographer with the most edgy outlook towards the naked human body. Ren Hang continues to stress the fact that he is “boring“. Especially when asked about those basic questions of his inspirational origins and meanings behind the photos, he always just smiles naively, shakes his shoulders and says, “I don’t really know. I never really thought about it.” Perhaps he is such a paver, heading towards the direction of happiness and creative freedom without realizing the pathways he has left behind. You might find him confusing and puzzling, but he has the ambience of such kindness that you would always trust that no evil can come out from him. He is merely a pure form of naked human beings. Source: ITSLIQUID
Jerry Takigawa
United States
1945
Jerry Takigawa studied photography with Don Worth at San Francisco State University and received a degree in art with an emphasis in painting. He has been the recipient of a variety of photographic honors and awards including the Imogen Cunningham Award (1982); nominated for the Santa Fe Prize (2007); nominated for the Prix Pictet (2013, 2016); Critical Mass Top 50 (2017, 2020); The Clarence John Laughlin Award (2017); LensCulture, Fine Art Photography Awards Finalist (2018); New York Center for Photographic Art, Humans, First Place (2018); CENTER Awards, Curator's Choice-First Place (2018); the Rhonda Wilson Award (2020); and the Foto Forum Santa Fe Award, Santa Fe NM (2021). Internationally exhibited, his work is included in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Crocker Art Museum, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, and the Monterey Museum of Art. Takigawa lives and works in Carmel Valley, California. False Food False Food underscores a plastic pollution epidemic that we now know is universally destructive and, tragically, man-made. False Food portrays pieces of plastic waste, recovered from the stomachs of dead albatross, placed in surprising and unfamiliar contexts. Presenting the problem in a different light can promote new ways to think about (and act on) it. Negative images trigger our reptilian brain where clear, ethical thinking is lacking. In this way, warnings about terror can become acts of terror themselves-amplifying fear and blinding us to answers. I believe aesthetically recontextualizing environmental threat opens the heart to not turn away. In this way I wanted to make something transformative-something that didn't terrorize consciousness, but elevated it. Balancing Cultures In Balancing Cultures, I am working with layers of meaning, memory, family, and- centrally-the actions and consequences of Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066. Issued in 1942, it caused the incarceration of 120,000 American citizens and legal residents of Japanese ancestry. My recent discovery of family photographs, taken in the WWII American concentration camps, compelled me to examine my family's unspoken feelings of shame and loss. I wanted to give voice to those feelings, which they had kept concealed for fear of retribution.
Edward Henry Weston
United States
1886 | † 1958
Edward Henry Weston was a 20th century American photographer. He has been called "one of the most innovative and influential American photographers…" and "one of the masters of 20th century photography." Over the course of his forty-year career Weston photographed an increasingly expansive set of subjects, including landscapes, still lifes, nudes, portraits, genre scenes and even whimsical parodies. It is said that he developed a "quintessentially American, and specially Californian, approach to modern photography" because of his focus on the people and places of the American West. In 1937 Weston was the first photographer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship, and over the next two years, he produced nearly 1,400 negatives using his 8 × 10 view camera. Some of his most famous photographs were taken of the trees and rocks at Point Lobos, California, near where he lived for many years. Weston was born in Chicago and moved to California when he was 21. He knew he wanted to be a photographer from an early age, and initially his work was typical of the soft focus pictorialism that was popular at the time. Within a few years, however, he abandoned that style and went on to be one of the foremost champions of highly detailed photographic images. In 1947 he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and he stopped photographing soon thereafter. He spent the remaining ten years of his life overseeing the printing of more than 1,000 of his most famous images. Source: Wikipedia Edward Henry Weston was born March 24, 1886, in Highland Park, Illinois. He spent the majority of his childhood in Chicago where he attended Oakland Grammar School. He began photographing at the age of sixteen after receiving a Bull’s Eye #2 camera from his father. Weston’s first photographs captured the parks of Chicago and his aunt’s farm. In 1906, following the publication of his first photograph in Camera and Darkroom, Weston moved to California. After working briefly as a surveyor for San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad, he began working as an itinerant photographer. He peddled his wares door to door photographing children, pets and funerals. Realizing the need for formal training, in 1908 Weston returned east and attended the Illinois College of Photography in Effingham, Illinois. He completed the 12-month course in six months and returned to California. In Los Angeles, he was employed as a retoucher at the George Steckel Portrait Studio. In 1909, Weston moved on to the Louis A. Mojoiner Portrait Studio as a photographer and demonstrated outstanding abilities with lighting and posing. Weston married his first wife, Flora Chandler in 1909. He had four children with Flora; Edward Chandler (1910), Theodore Brett (1911), Laurence Neil (1916) and Cole (1919). In 1911, Weston opened his own portrait studio in Tropico, California. This would be his base of operation for the next two decades. Weston became successful working in soft-focus, pictorial style; winning many salons and professional awards. Weston gained an international reputation for his high key portraits and modern dance studies. Articles about his work were published in magazines such as American Photography, Photo Era and Photo Miniature. Weston also authored many articles himself for many of these publications. In 1912, Weston met photographer Margrethe Mather in his Tropico studio. Mather becomes his studio assistant and most frequent model for the next decade. Mather had a very strong influence on Weston. He would later call her, “the first important woman in my life.” Weston began keeping journals in 1915 that came to be known as his Daybooks. They would chronicle his life and photographic development into the 1930’s. In 1922 Weston visited the ARMCO Steel Plant in Middletown, Ohio. The photographs taken here marked a turning point in Weston’s career. During this period, Weston renounced his Pictorialism style with a new emphasis on abstract form and sharper resolution of detail. The industrial photographs were true straight images: unpretentious, and true to reality. Weston later wrote, “The camera should be used for a recording of life, for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself, whether it be polished steel or palpitating flesh.” Weston also traveled to New York City this same year, where he met Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Charles Sheeler and Georgia O’Keeffe. In 1923 Weston moved to Mexico City where he opened a photographic studio with his apprentice and lover Tina Modotti. Many important portraits and nudes were taken during his time in Mexico. It was also here that famous artists; Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros, and Jose Orozco hailed Weston as the master of 20th century art. After moving back to California in 1926, Weston began his work for which he is most deservedly famous: natural forms, close-ups, nudes, and landscapes. Between 1927 and 1930, Weston made a series of monumental close-ups of seashells, peppers, and halved cabbages, bringing out the rich textures of their sculpture-like forms. Weston moved to Carmel, California in 1929 and shot the first of many photographs of rocks and trees at Point Lobos, California. Weston became one of the founding members of Group f/64 in 1932 with Ansel Adams, Willard Van Dyke, Imogen Cunningham and Sonya Noskowiak. The group chose this optical term because they habitually set their lenses to that aperture to secure maximum image sharpness of both foreground and distance. 1936 marked the start of Weston’s series of nudes and sand dunes in Oceano, California, which are often considered some of his finest work. Weston became the first photographer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship for experimental work in 1936. Following the receipt of this fellowship Weston spent the next two years taking photographs in the West and Southwest United States with assistant and future wife Charis Wilson. Later, in 1941 using photographs of the East and South Weston provided illustrations for a new edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Weston began experiencing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in 1946 and in 1948 shot his last photograph of Point Lobos. In 1946 the Museum of Modern Art, New York featured a major retrospective of 300 prints of Weston’s work. Over the next 10 years of progressively incapacitating illness, Weston supervised the printing of his prints by his sons, Brett and Cole. His 50th Anniversary Portfolio was published in 1952 with photographs printed by Brett. An even larger printing project took place between1952 and 1955. Brett printed what was known as the Project Prints. A series of 8 -10 prints from 832 negatives considered Edward's lifetime best. The Smithsonian Institution held the show, The World of Edward Weston in 1956 paying tribute to his remarkable accomplishments in American photography. Edward Weston died on January 1, 1958 at his home, Wildcat Hill, in Carmel, California. Weston's ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean at Pebbly Beach at Point Lobos. Source: www.edward-weston.com
Rory Doyle
United States
1983
Rory Doyle is a working photographer based in Cleveland, Mississippi in the rural Mississippi Delta. Born and raised in Maine, Doyle studied journalism at St. Michael's College in Colchester, Vermont. In 2009, he moved to the Mississippi Delta to pursue a master's in education at Delta State University in Cleveland. He has remained committed to photographing the Delta, with a particular focus on sharing stories of overlooked subcultures. He was a 2018 Mississippi Visual Artist Fellow through the Mississippi Arts Commission and National Endowment for the Arts for his ongoing project about African American cowboys and cowgirls, "Delta Hill Riders." Doyle won the 16th Annual Smithsonian Photo Contest, the 2019 Southern Prize from the South Arts organization, the 2019 Zeiss Photography Award, the 2019 ZEKE Award for Documentary Photography, and the 2019 Michael P. Smith Award for Documentary Photography from the New Orleans Photo Alliance. He has had solo exhibitions in New York City, London, Atlanta and Mississippi. Doyle's work has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The Guardian and CNN. Delta Hill Riders Historians agree that just after the Civil War, one in four cowboys were African American. Yet this population was drastically underrepresented in popular accounts, and it is still. The "cowboy" identity retains a strong presence in many contemporary black communities. This ongoing documentary project in the Mississippi Delta sheds light on an overlooked African American subculture - one that resists historical and contemporary stereotypes. The project began January 2017 when I attended a black heritage rodeo in Greenville, Mississippi. The body of work reveals how deep and diverse this community is. I've been invited to black heritage rodeos, horse shows, trail rides, "Cowboy Nights" at black nightclubs across the Delta, and to subjects' homes across the region. The project aims to press against my own old archetypes - who could and could not be a cowboy, and what it means to be black in Mississippi - while uplifting the voices of my subjects.
Bieke Depoorter
Belgium
1986
Bieke Depoorter (born 1986) is a Belgian photographer. She is a member of Magnum Photos and has published four books: Ou Menya, I am About to Call it a Day, As it May Be, and Sète#15. Depoorter received a master's degree in photography at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent in 2009. The relationships Depoorter establishes with the subjects of her photographs lie at the foundation of her artistic practice. Accidental encounters are the starting point, and how these interactions naturally develop dictate the nature of Depoorter’s work. Many of her self-initiated projects are about intimate situations in families and in peoples' homes. For her graduation project and her first book, Ou Menya (2011), she made three trips to Russia, photographing people in their homes that she met whilst travelling around. The series won the 2009 Magnum Expression Award. Bieke Depoorter made the work for her second book, I am About to Call it a Day (2014) in a similar way whilst hitchhiking and driving around the U.S. However several recent projects have been the result of Depoorter questioning the medium. In As it May Be, she gradually became more aware of her status as an outsider, both culturally and as a photographer. So, in 2017, she revisited Egypt with the first draft of the book, inviting people to write comments directly onto the photographs. In Sète#15, and also Dvalemodus, a short film she co-directed together with Mattias De Craene, she began to see her subjects as actors. Although she portrayed them in their true environments, she tried to project her own story onto the scenes, fictionalizing the realities of her subjects in a way that blurred the lines between their world and hers. In the ongoing project Agata, a project about a young woman Depoorter met at a striptease bar in Paris in October 2017, she explores her interest in collaborative portraiture. It’s an example of Depoorter’s interest in finding people that can work with her in telling a story. These stories are always partially hers, and partially theirs. In her latest project Michael, she investigates the disappearance and life of a man she met on the streets of Portland in 2015. After giving her three suitcases full of scrapbooks, notes and books, everyone lost sight of him. Bieke Depoorter became a nominee member of Magnum Photos in 2012, an associate member in 2014, and a full member in 2016. She is the fourth Belgian member of the agency, after Carl De Keyzer, Martine Franck, Harry Gruyaert... Depoorter has won the Magnum Expression Award, The Larry Sultan Award and the Prix Levallois.Source: Wikipedia For the past six years, Bieke Depoorter has spent countless nights photographing perfect strangers—people that she encounters on the street who are willing to open their homes to Depoorter and her camera. The project began when she was travelling on the Trans-Siberian Railway, in 2008. She didn’t speak the language, so photography became her mode of communication. (She carried a letter that a friend wrote in Russian that explained her intent.) After publishing the work as a book, called Ou Menya, Depoorter headed to the United States, in 2010, where she hitchhiked and drove around the country, creating the collection found in her latest book, I Am About to Call It a Day. The project, both intimate and removed, hinges upon Depoorter’s ability to build trust within a tight timeframe. In many of the photographs, she seems to go unnoticed, capturing the unguarded moments found only in the privacy of one’s own home. “I like the atmosphere of the night,” Depoorter told me. “When people go to sleep, I think it’s most real. No one is looking at them, and they become their true selves.” She told me that her process is intrinsic to the success of her images. “I try to not hope for a picture,” she said. “I am there as a person first, and a photographer second.”Source: The New Yorker
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