All about photo.com: photo contests, photography exhibitions, galleries, photographers, books, schools and venues.
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins

Mark Coggins

Country: United States
Birth: 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.
 

Inspiring Portfolios

Call for Entries
AAP Magazine #41 B&W
Publish your work in AAP Magazine and win $1,000 Cash Prizes
 
Stay up-to-date  with call for entries, deadlines and other news about exhibitions, galleries, publications, & special events.

More Great Photographers To Discover

Shin Noguchi
Japan
1976
Shin Noguchi, born 1976 in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan, is an award winning street photographer based in Kamakura and Tokyo, Japan. He describes his street photography as an attempt to capture extraordinary moments of excitement, humanism and beauty among the flow of everyday life. With his discreet, poetic and enigmatic approach to his art, Shin is able to capture the subtleties and complexities of Japanese culture without relying on staged, no-finder or hip shot photography. He has been invited to hold solo exhibitions in Russia, France, China (organized by Leica Camera) and other countries, and also He has been featured on The Leica Camera Blog many times, in Courrier Inte'l, Internazionale, Libération, The Guardian, The Independent, etc, and some assignment work has been also published in Die Zeit, Libération, etc. His new book "In Color In Japan" was published in Italy, and one of his works was used as key visual for FIFDH 2022: The International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights. Currently, he has been selected for Leica Camera's new global campaign “M is M.” "The subjects tell me the meaning and value of life. To take a picture is to affirm the existence of peopleーthe human nature and karmaーand it's also an opportunity to affirm my own existence and accept it as it is." In Color in Japan From the introduction of the book: Like all good photographers, Shin Noguchi treats the camera as another appendage - a special sensory organ merging hand and eye that allows him to show us what he sees, and more subtly, how he sees. And his camera is always working. Noguchi is internationally respected as a "street photographer," but while he has won numerous prizes for his work in that genre, the appellation does not do justice to his omnivorous eye. His is just as likely to record tender moments with his family or newsworthy events like the typhoon as his encounters on the streets of Tokyo where he works, or Kamakura, where he lives. The connecting vein that runs throughout his work is a belief in the appearance of objectivity, a belief that first began to manifest when he discovered the work of the Magnum photo cooperative when he was still in his teens. It was, as he has said, the first time he realized that art and documentation could be merged. Noguchi knows perfectly well that what he shows us reflects his own sensibility and intellect but prefers to dial back the expressionistic impulse. It is an old trick in photography: make the viewer believe that had she been standing next to him she would have seen precisely what he saw. It’s also a difficult trick to pull off, particularly when the everyday world seems to be so full of surprises. In Noguchi-world, Giraffes wander about temples with Buddhist monks; workers dive into random circular openings in giant bushes, or burst from openings in blank walls as if transporting to or returning from another dimension; golf carts cluster like insects on neon-green lawns; objects possessed of more animate power than the people carrying them seem to propel their human cargo down the sidewalk instead of the opposite. In many images, goofy absurdity suddenly explodes from a sober social milieu in a way that seems to Western eyes particularly Japanese. Sentiment and affection are common themes, but the work is never sentimental. His new book, "Shin Noguchi, in Color in Japan," skates across the peaks of many of Noguchi’s favorite preoccupations (I personally have developed a fondness for his utterly adorable daughters) and one can only hope that we will get to explore his work more deeply in the future. - Chuck Patch museum curator, photographer and writer
Ernest Cole
South Africa
1940 | † 1990
Ernest Cole was born in South Africa’s Transvaal in 1940 and died in New York City in 1990. During his life he was known for only one book: House of Bondage – published in 1967. In 2011, the Hasselblad Foundation produced a follow-up: Ernest Cole: Photographer. Cole’s early work chronicled the horrors of apartheid and in 1966 he fled the Republic of South Africa becoming a ‘banned person’. He was briefly associated with Magnum Photographers and received funding from the Ford Foundation and Time-Life. In North America, he concentrated on street photography in primarily urban settings. Between 1969 and 1971, Cole spent an extensive amount of time on regular visits to Sweden where he became involved with the Tiofoto collective and exhibited his work. From 1972, Cole’s life fell into disarray and he ceased to work as a photographer, losing control of his archive and negatives in the process. Having experienced periods of homelessness, Cole died aged forty-nine of pancreatic cancer in 1990. In 2017, more than 60,000 of Cole’s negatives missing for more than forty years were discovered in a Stockholm bank vault. This work is now being examined and catalogued.Source: Magnum Photos Ernest Cole (1940–1990)—one of South Africa’s first black photo-journalists—created powerful photographs that revealed to the world what it meant to be black under apartheid. With imaginative daring, courage, and compassion, Cole portrayed the everyday lives of blacks as they negotiated apartheid’s racist laws and oppression. Apartheid, which means “apartness” in Afrikaans (the language of South Africa’s white minority of Dutch descent), was an often brutally enforced legal policy that separated people by race in all aspects of life, within a white supremacist hierarchy of power. Born in Eersterust, a black freehold township in Pretoria, Cole was forcibly relocated with his family to nearby Mamelodi in the late 1950s. While still a teenager, he began working as a darkroom assistant at Drum, a black lifestyle magazine in Johannesburg. There he mingled with young black South African photographers, journalists, jazz musicians, and leaders of the burgeoning anti-apartheid movement. Inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photo-essays, Cole embarked on a life mission to produce a book that would awaken the rest of the world to apartheid’s corrosive effects. House of Bondage was published in New York in 1967. Although it was immediately banned in South Africa, contraband copies spurred on the country’s emerging activist photographers. Cole’s images are hard-hitting and incendiary, yet often subtle and even elegant. He frequently worked clandestinely with a hidden camera to capture scenes he was forbidden to photograph, employing striking perspectives and framing. Many of the prints on view here are displayed for the first time uncropped, as he originally intended, and often accompanied by House of Bondage’s incisive captions. In 1966 Cole was arrested by the South African police. Fleeing to Europe, he took with him little more than the layouts for his book. He spent the remaining 23 years of his life in painful exile between Sweden and the United States; after 1975 he was often destitute, living on New York City streets and in the subway. In 1990 he died of cancer at the age of 49—one week after Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. Nearly all his possessions were lost; fortunately, he had given some prints to Tio Fotografer, a Swedish photographers’ association, which later donated them to the Hasselblad Foundation. Bringing this remarkable artist’s works to the international stage, Ernest Cole Photographer commemorates his pioneering efforts to capture the complex truths of day-to-day, lived experiences during harrowing times. Critiquing institutionalized segregation and celebrating human resilience, Cole challenged the status quo, and his work continues to speak eloquently and forcefully to contemporary issues of poverty and racial inequality in the United States and worldwide.Source: Grey Art Gallery, NYU
Martin Miklas
Slovakia
1982
Lisbon-based documentary photographer from Bratislava /Slovakia whose primary focus is on sociological changes in Eastern Europe and socioeconomical and ecological impact on the fishing industry in Portugal. Presently one of the alumni of the 2022-23 VII Photo Agency Masterclass, proud father and Visual Storytelling Masterclass by The Raw Society participant. Dive into the Depths: Unveiling the Ocean's Soul In the realm of the vast and ever-shifting oceans, where mystery and beauty intertwine, lies an industry of profound significance: the fishing industry. It is here, amidst the ebb and flow of tides, that I have embarked on a long-term photographic project, driven by a deep fascination and a sense of responsibility for the issues plaguing our oceans. Like a deep-sea explorer, I navigate through layers of metaphor and reality, capturing the resilience of fishermen, the fragile ecosystems, and the pressing issues afflicting our waters. I aim to spark awareness and action, exposing the consequences of overfishing, climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction. Through my lens, I strive to reveal the untold stories that unfold in the fishing communities, the fragile ecosystems, and the human-nature interplay intrinsic to the fishing industry. My intention is to shine a light on the multifaceted aspects of this complex web, delving into its triumphs, struggles, and the urgent need for awareness and action. Oceanic ecosystems, fragile and exquisite, teem with life that sustains not only the fishing communities but also our entire planet. It is disheartening to witness the ecological imbalance and the ripple effect of overfishing, climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction. My photographs aim to depict these adversities, not only to evoke empathy but also to instigate conversations about the choices we make and the consequences we collectively bear. I aspire to generate a profound emotional response that transcends mere aesthetics. Compositions seek to immerse viewers in the world beneath the surface, inviting them to explore the enigmatic beauty and the precarious state of our oceans. I aim to foster a deep sense of connection, nurturing a responsibility towards the marine environment and fostering a collective call for sustainable practices. It is my hope that these visual narratives will inspire viewers to question, to engage, and to take meaningful action, for the wellbeing of our oceans, the communities that rely on them, and the future of our planet. In the ever-evolving dialogue between art and environmental activism, I believe that images have the power to evoke change. Together, let us navigate the depths, expose the challenges, and illuminate a path towards a more harmonious relationship with the oceans that sustain us all. AAP Magazine Winner of AAP Magazine 32 B&W
Phil Stern
United States
1919 | † 2014
Phil Stern was an American photographer noted for his iconic portraits of Hollywood stars, as well as his war photography while serving as a U.S. Army Ranger with "Darby's Rangers" during the North African and Italian campaigns in World War II. Settling in Los Angeles after the war, Stern was staff photographer for Look magazine. He also worked for Life magazine and Collier's. He was present on numerous film productions as still photographer, and in that capacity took photographs of a huge cross-section of the film community. Stern's images of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Marlon Brando and even musician Louis Armstrong have become widely recognized icons. A lifelong smoker, Stern died at the age of 95 in Los Angeles from COPD and congestive heart failure which he had been battling for over three and a half decades.Source: Wikipedia I’ve taken mountains and mountains of stuff, which I occasionally describe as mountains and mountains of shit. It so happens, there’s a little gem here and a little gem there. You dig out those gems. -- Phil Stern Phil Stern created portraits of stars of the silver screen – including James Dean, Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe – that were both iconic and intimate. His subjects looked natural, even self-absorbed or introverted. The lower half of his most famous portrait of James Dean (1955) is a black cable-knit jumper; the upper half reveals Dean’s face only from halfway up his ears. His eyes are rolled up, framed by straight eyebrows. The white plane of Dean’s forehead under a shiny shock of tousled hair, and the pale background, inevitably draw attention to those mischievous eyes, bisecting the frame and challenging the viewer. By contrast, one 1953 image of Marilyn Monroe shows her as wistful and withdrawn, looking into the distance with an air of abstraction, her hands nervously fingering the loosened bow at the waist of her gown. As Stern told Entertainment Weekly in 1993: “I was never interested in the glamour, I was interested in the tears and agony behind it.” His friendship with John Wayne gave him access to perhaps his most subversively casual image. It shows Wayne lighting up, eyeline going straight to a woman’s bared leg. But it’s not what he’s doing but what he’s wearing that draws the viewer’s eye: the cowboy hat and loose jacket conform to type, but below the waist the over-constricting gingham shorts, plump legs and girly espadrilles are a risible disaster. Stern’s pictures of musicians are very different in character. Formal ones – such as of the Rat Pack on stage in 1962 – are mainly of lineups. One senses his preference for the moodiness of Sinatra alone, shot from behind and dressed – as if by Raymond Chandler – in a hat and long mackintosh, pacing down a bleakly dirty corridor towards a dead end. Another Rat Pack member, Sammy Davis Jr, performed a rooftop diamond-shaped jump. Despite his tightly drawn up (and shiny) brogues, his white outfit and right-angled arms with their delicately spread fingers are reminiscent of a Hindu dancer (1947). Stern loved jazz, and he photographed Louis Armstrong in a coincidentally similar pose, not jumping but perched on a stool, trumpet upended on his knee as he looks down and laughs into his chest (1957). Stern enjoyed the image so much that he made a lifesize cardboard cutout of it, and had his own portrait taken alongside. A less artfully composed shot shows Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald together, in full swing, singing at a studio recording. There was more to Stern’s career than showbiz, however. He enlisted as a combat photographer in the second world war, and won a Purple Heart for his courage and willingness to risk his life picturing infantrymen under fire. Stern documented US troops advancing through north Africa, and was invalided home with severe shrapnel wounds to his arms and neck. In 1943 he returned to cover the Allied invasion of Sicily for Stars and Stripes, the US army magazine. According to his biographer, the journalist Herbert Mitgang: “His pictures of the invasion and its aftermath remain among the most outstanding documents in the annals of combat photography in any war, before or since.” The postwar decades saw a media boom: the heyday of photo magazines and blockbuster movies aimed at a predominantly young mass audience. Stern rode the publicity of a new generation of stars who became, at least in part through his attention, poster pinups. Interviewed later by the Los Angeles Times, he mused on his transfer from war to celebrity photography. “ [The war] very well might have helped me get access ... I don’t really know for sure, because some of them wanted publicity so bad that you didn’t have to have a Purple Heart for that. All you had to have was an expensive camera.”Source: The Guardian Look, Matisse I ain’t. You know how they have on the invitations, “a reception for the artist will be held at...” And I say, “Look, you gotta change this. I’m not an artist. I’m a photographer, a skilled craftsman.” -- Phil Stern
Mark Tuschman
United States
Over the years I have become more motivated to use my photography to communicate in a more socially conscious way—in a way that exposes people to both the degree of human suffering that exists in today’s world and to the courage and fortitude that people manifest to overcome it. In my travels I can easily imagine that I could have been born into completely different circumstances and my worldview would have been radically different, having been influenced by a completely, radically dissimilar environment and culture. Indeed, I know I have been privileged and fortunate to have been born into an affluent culture with tremendous opportunities. I believe that it is especially important for people in our society to understand other cultures and the enormous difficulties that people in other countries face daily in order to simply survive. The human condition is wrought with great uncertainty and suffering, and yet the human spirit and the hope for a better life can grow stronger in the face of adversity. I am constantly inspired by the profound fortitude of people living in difficult conditions and the empathy and commitment of the many who give counsel and aid to those less fortunate. I believe it as my moral obligation to use whatever talents I have as a photographer to transcend our limited worldviews and to help bridge the gap between cultures of affluence and poverty. Photography is a universal language and it is my hope that my images will move viewers to respond not only with empathy, but also with action. It is my intention to photograph people with compassion and dignity in the hope of communicating our interrelatedness. In the words of Sebastiao Salgado whose work I greatly admire, “If you take a picture of a human that does not make him noble, there is no reason to take this picture. That is my way of seeing things.”
Marsha Guggenheim
United States
1948
Marsha Guggenheim is a fine art photographer based in San Francisco. Storytelling is a guiding influence in her work. Marsha is deeply interested in photographing people and uses her diverse city to capture their stories. A street photographer for many years, her comfort and ease while shooting on the street has provided numerous opportunities for closer connections within her community. Complementing her street photography, Marsha spent years working as a photographer with formerly homeless women. This work resulted in the monograph, “Facing Forward,” which highlights these hard-working, proud women through portraits and stories of their life experiences. Without a Map is a personal project Marsha has developed over the past five years. Through the use of family photos, creating pictures from her memories and by turning the camera on herself, she has found the means to evoke, reinterpret and address unanswered questions that were buried long ago. Without a Map "How does one move through life with the scars of the past? When I was ten, my mother died unexpectedly from a heart attack. I couldn’t understand where she went or when she would return. Just as I began to comprehend this loss, my father died. I was without support from my family and community. I was lost. Without a Map reimagines this time that’s deeply rooted in my memories. Visiting my childhood home, synagogue and family plot provided an entry into this personal retelling. Working with family photos, creating new images from my past and turning the camera on myself, I found the means to evoke, reinterpret and address unanswered questions born from early imprints that were buried long ago."
Madhur Dhingra
I was born an only child to my parents, in Delhi, into a family torn apart by the aftermath of the India-Pakistan partition. Hailing from a affluent background in Pakistan my family was now struggling for survival in the walled city of Delhi totally penniless. Imbedded with deep insecurities and freshly bearing the scars of partition my family was now setting up trade in the walled city dealing in fabric. It is relevant for me to mention this background for these very insecurities I too inherited from my family and they remain with me till date even with the changed times and lifestyle. Things improved gradually financially, with the trade flourishing and much because of the sheer hard work of my grandfather, father& chachas(father's brothers).We settled in Delhi at the start as big joint family. I have grown up hearing tales of how we had started life selling fabric on the pavements of the walled city where we now own several properties. My father could never get over those scars of partition. I too was repeatedly made to realize that ( for better or for worse) even though I was born much later in Delhi. At the age of five I was put to school at St.Xavier's High School, Raj Niwas Marg, Delhi. That period was to become the most memorable part of my life. I remember enjoying that period thoroughly. I was always an above average student with a lot of love for extracurricular activities. In school I would love going hiking, camping, swimming & cycling with the boy scouts. From the very start I was naughty and mischievous and was a regular in getting in and out of trouble. After school I went to the Delhi University and took up English Hons as my subject. But nowhere was it in my mind to take up studies serious. Restless from the start I wanted to travel the world. I now join the Merchant Navy at the age of seventeen ,as a deck cadet leaving college in the first year itself. I loved this new experience and was good at learning navigation. Very soon I was promoted to become the navigating officer. For the first year I never came back home at all. I was fulfilling my desire to see the world thoroughly meeting different types of people and experiencing different kinds of cultures . Once while travelling in the city of Jeddah near Mecca during Ramadan I was amazed to see gold slabs and coins being sold on the pavements of the city. On the loudspeaker I then heard the azaan (prayer call) and to my utter astonishment I saw people leave all this gold unattended and enter the nearby mazjid for prayer. Such was the strictness of the prevailing law of the land that anybody caught stealing would have his hand chopped off. Nobody dared to steal. Now quite a different experience was when my ship first entered Thailand. To my utter surprise I saw hoards of women entering my ship. Their numbers must have been no less than a hundred odd. I was on duty and I objected to their entry and was immediately informed by my senior officer to back off as they were entering with the permission of the captain. These were prostitutes who stayed on my ship till the time it stayed there. Nobody was questioning the morality or the ethics. It was gala time for all officers, crew, and the Captain. This was the way of life for most sailors . One horrific incident I remember was when our Burmese radio officer died on the ship due to a liver problem. As we were still some days away from the next port,his body was put in the deep freezer of the ship, the same place where all vegetables and other eatables were stored. Life was going on as if nothing had happened and everybody was eating and drinking as any other day. In a ship life all relationships and friendships are very temporary and the moment a person gets off the ship all these are left behind and forgotten. My bag of experiences was filling up fast. The restlessness and void was again setting in fast. I was getting bored again after about five years of sailing. The novelty had worn off and my inherent nature and upbringing was not that of a sailor in any way .I finally decided to say quits and joined the family business which was waiting for me to return. My dad was overjoyed at this decision of mine. I had no problem settling into this environment as it just happened to be in my blood. I now decide to get married too. I get married and soon after become a father of two adorable children. My age at that period would have been early twenty or so. Time flew by fast earning bread and butter for my family. Nothing was more important than bringing up the kids properly and with a lot of love, something which I was deprived of badly during my childhood days. But now again the same restlessness and void was setting in. I was in a dilemma, now trying out new ways to end this emptiness . I initially tried my hands at learning sculpture at Triveni Kala Sangam Mandi House, but I soon realized that medium was not meant for me. Destiny seemed to have other plans for me and it was during this period that I was gifted a SLR by someone, a Ricoh 500 as I now try to remember. The camera body had a dial with some numbers and also some numbers on the lens of which I had no clue. There were photography classes also being held in Triveni Kala Sangam and I joined these classes with sculpture classes I was already doing. It was here I met my photography teacher and now a lifelong friend Satyasri Ukil for the first time. The Basic course was about learning the techniques of Black & White photography. Satyasri was a dedicated, honest & straightforward teacher. His likes and dislikes purely dealt with the merits of the image and not with the person who had shot the image. I was learning fast with my association with Satyasri at Triveni where he was teaching then . A few of us guys(now renowned photographers), formed a sort of a team under the guidance of Ukil (as we address Satyasri,till date).We were shooting developing and printing the whole day long. Photography was now no longer a hobby but a frenzy. I soon set up my own darkroom in my house and would develop and print negatives all night long. I now start trekking again now with a new SLR in hand going to high altitudes and to very difficult locales. I remember showing my first serious work to Ukil and found him overjoyed. Soon my ambitions grew and I start shooting product for the advertising agencies. My first breakthrough as I clearly remember had come from the agency 0& M whose creative head then was Benoy Mitra, who was one day present at the colour lab called "MultiColour in Jhandewalan, when my portfolio prints were coming out of the lab. He saw my work and quietly handed over his card asking me to see him in the agency. I was overjoyed. This was breakthrough I needed desperately. I soon started getting assignments from most major agencies. But now I started getting bored again shooting mountains product and off and on some fashion. I still needed to express myself in a different way. I decide to work towards my first solo exhibition and I show my landscapes and mountain work to the management of INDIA INTERNATIONAL CENTRE. After seeing my work they agree to sponsor my show fixing the date to 28th November 1998.It is pertinent to mention here that I had then "only" shown them my beautiful landscapes and mountain TP's as I had nothing more at that time in my kitty. I started a new journey, first shooting Ladakh. I found immense peace and tranquility (acting as a balm for my troubled mind )in the monasteries I visited. The filtrations of light from the windows and doors into the dark interiors of the monasteries were indeed very beautiful, tranquil and peaceful. I would sit inside these monasteries for hours at a stretch calming my taut nerves. The prayer gong would echo inside the main hall and seep deep inside my soul. I have always equated light with God and have believed that the darkness of the human soul will ultimately come alive with the play of Light (God) on it. My next visit was to Banaras. Here I found people visiting the Ghats in very colorful attires. A activity on these ancient Ghats like the Dashashwamedh Ghat would start very early in the morning. People from all over India visit Banaras to perform various religious rituals, right from the birth of a child to the cremation of the dead and also later to perform rites for their safe and comfortable passage after death. The quality of light that I found in Banaras was very warm & golden and I wouldn't hesitate a moment to call it heavenly. Now a special reference to the Manikarnika Ghat " the ghat of the dead" is needed. People from all over India come to Kashi (ancient name of Banaras)to cremate their dead at Manikarnika.It is believed by Hindus that a cremation at Manikarnika Ghat gives the human soul an unhindered passage to heaven. Pyres are being lit here continuously without getting extinguished for the last 3000 years. But it was on this BURNING GHAT that my worst nightmare was to begin. I would visit this ghat daily looking at the activities. It was not very long before I realised that whenever a body of a poor person would come in, it would be cremated in a bizarre manner. It required two mun wood at the least (mun is an Indian measure of weight equivalent to 20 kgs) to cover a human body completely for cremation. But the person accompanying the dead body did not have that much money in his pocket. So only that much wood was purchased in which only the torso could be covered by wood. The legs and head were left hanging out and the pyre lit. The head would get burnt in a horrific manner with the head and feet falling away from the torso partially burnt. Then these torn away parts were picked up and put into the pyre or thrown into the Ganges. This whole sequence was so bizarre that I decided to get it on film and show it to the world. This I did manage to photograph secretly even after a lot of objections and hindrances from the people in charge at Manikarnika. Man really "was" meeting his God in Kashi, though in a very bizarre manner. So much for Kashi, our GATEWAY TO HEAVEN.I have posted only a few of those pictures on this website just to avoid unnecessary disturbance to people's minds. In the meantime the Purn Kumbh was being held at Hardwar. This again has become a very interesting event to relate. I was aghast to see completely naked so called Naga "sadhus" storming the streets of Hardwar. It was here I came to understand from the local inhabitants of Hardwar that this whole show was a complete farce. These so called ascetics only stormed the streets during the Khumb. Neither do they live in the remoteness of the Himalayas leading a renounced life, but on the contrary live in air conditioned lavishly furnished akharas in Hardwar itself. They were a weird sight. ( I have shown some photographs of them in my Black & White section). Here I saw them fight pitched battles with the police before the procession. DOWNRIGHT CRIMINALS TO THE VERY CORE, MOST OF THEM. On the day of the procession I got up early in the morning and positioned myself on roof top of a house near the Niranjani Akhara.This was very early in the morning and I was testing the auto focusing of my telephoto 300mm Canon lens when I saw a group of nagas in the akhara compound. I was taken aback when I saw one Naga fiddling with the genitals of the other Naga, "AND I TOOK THE SHOT".(later to appear on the first page of THE INDIAN EXPRESS). There were hutments built for sadhus by the kumbh authorities across the river bed. I would visit those and sit with some real sanyasis and listen to their discourses and hear them sing bhajans. This was a very nice and peaceful experience. The Kumbh ended and my exhibition date also was drawing near. The IIC Gallery wanted to see the final prints that I had decided to display. Nowhere in my final selection were those beautiful landscapes to be seen. Their place had been taken by naked sadhus with Trishuls and burning ghats & corpses. The Gallery management told me in no uncertain terms that they will not allow the show to go on unless these pictures were withdrawn. My dilemma was that my photo essay "Where Man Meets God'" was a story of a man's passage of life, his wanderings, his search for God. This essay was incomplete without these pictures. I told the management that I will show my work as it is and will not remove any picture from the list. Much courage to take this right stand was coming from Satyasri Ukil who stood by me all this while withstanding this massive ONSLOUGHT . IIC Management banned my exhibition. It was during this period that me and Satyasri Ukil were introduced to Suneet Chopra a reputed Art Critic. He later introduced us to Siddharth Tagore, a gallery owner at Art Consult Hauz Khas Village. Siddharth Tagore offered to hold my preview party at his gallery inviting respected artists like B.C.Sanyal, Jatin Das and many other artists of repute. The preview was a major success with all these stalwarts in their respective art fields giving their nod to my exhibition. Mr.Khushwant Singh the famous and a very respected writer too came up with an article on me in his column "Malice Towards One And All .Now IIC started shifting its stance and a compromise was reached. "That the images will be allowed to display but only facing towards the Gallery wall, whoever who wanted to see them could do so at his own discretion". Almost everybody saw those images.. Many reputed people visited the exhibition, some of them I mention in my TESTIMONIAL column. Eight major newspapers wrote elaborately on this exhibition. There was a TV interview also held by a channel also. The exhibition was a huge success on the whole. I am now planning another exhibition with a different theme and gearing up to hold another show in Milan. Life for me as a photographer continues...
Petros Kotzabasis
Petros Kotzabasis was born in Komotini, a small town in north of Greece, where he has chosen to live. He has teaching photo, to the cultural club of students of Democritos University of Thrace, since 2007.The procedure of taking pictures has an affect on him, similar to psychoanalysis, as he says, he feels as if he is the one and only viewer of an act that takes place daily and his camera is the diary that captures, in this moving reality which surrounds us, pictures that only last for split seconds. Lines and shapes formed and get lost instantly, changing every minute and in this constant alteration and movement he works by isolating several instant expressions of real through this lens. A photo is a creation of the reality, in which there are not the spots of the world that he does not want to include in his picture. It' s the total of the thinks that the photographer has lived, others that he has read, listen or he has imagined. The power of an artist is his knowledge that, by using something real simple, such as a different composition of colours, or the change of the contrast, or the standing of a head, or the shoot from a lower angle, makes the difference between the indifferent and the genius. His pictures are spontaneous and quite personal. There are no special events in them, he searches for magic in common people of the street, his neighbors, passers-by. He believes that the everyday routine of the object is what leaves plenty of space for elements to create the "art" of photography. He takes photographs of "everyday life" on a daily basis, urged by a habit he used to have when he was little. As he describes: "Every day I used to stand on our doorstep with my grandmother and observe the street and the passers-by for hours, making up stories between us. Without exchanging a single word, we had absolute communication. That habit, as I was growing up, directed me to photography." With a canon 5D and a 35 mm lens he tries to create a photograph which possesses elements of poetry, he would call it 'visual poetry', thus intending to communicate with the viewers as he used to do with his grandmother, without explanations and messages, permitting them total freedom. His starting point is the phrase by Odysseas Elytis, the great Greek poet that says: "with lime twigs you may capture birds, yet you never capture their singing. It takes a different kind of twig...." This very singing is what he tries to capture with his photographs.All about Petros Kotzabasis:AAP: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer?It’s rather hard to answer such a question as I still haven’t realized that I am a photographer. What I am doing is actually due to an urge to create and express myself. Here in Greece, you see, you are deemed a photographer if you are professionally involved with wedding photography or photojournalism.AAP: Where did you study photography?I haven’t actually studied photography; I am self-taught. I have come upon everything by looking up in books.AAP:Do you have a mentor?Strange though it may sound, I could regard as my “mentor” the distinguished Greek poet, Odysseas Elytis, Fernando Pessoa or Marcel Proust, as they help me find my way whenever I reach a deadlock.AAP: How long have you been a photographer?I became involved with photography in 1985 but in 1994 I reached a stalemate and for almost a decade I stopped photographing. I didn’t shoot a single photo. I couldn’t even lay my hands on the camera; not even on holidays when a tourist asked me to take a photo. Then a certain incident urged me to take it up again in 2004 and since then I keep on photographing on a daily basis. I have never seen the photos of that first phase and I dumped the films in the basement of the house I used to live at that time.AAP: Do you remember your first shot? What was it?It’s been quite a while and I can’t remember my first shot. Instead, I could recount the story of a photo of mine, which may be indicative of the way I act. A few years ago, I set off for a traditional fete that takes place on the mountains, almost a two-hour drive from home. I set off equipped with several memory cards with a view to taking loads of photos during the 3 days the fete lasted. As soon as I reached my destination and opened the car door, I saw the frame that was created , took the picture and felt such a fulfillment that I realized there was no point in taking any more photos; so I instantly closed the door and returned with that one single photo.AAP: What or who inspires you?Literature and poetry have always been a source of inspiration for me.AAP: How could you describe your style?I would characterize what I am trying to do as visual poetry. In my photos there are no extraordinary events; I seek magic in the ordinary people on the street, in my neighbors, in passers-by. I seek the moment when narration is no longer needed with the aim of creating a new universe where all will be evident yet something will be left unrevealed, not with symbols but with hints. Starting point for me has been a quote by Odysseas Elytis “with lime twigs you may capture birds; yet you will never capture their singing…”AAP: What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film?The gear that I use is rather simple; a digital camera-Canon 5D- and a 35mm/f1,4 lens. I am against using several kinds of gear that may give you more opportunities; I like putting limitations and making particular choices, as they render you less “garrulous” and more conscious.AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images?Once I take a picture, I don’t spend so much time on it. At the end of the day I have a look at what I’ve shot and in very few minutes I sort out the one or ones that I am interested in. I always show the selected lot to a specific person who is not in any way involved with photography or any other form of art, but who I trust otherwise, and once I get their opinion, I make my final choice. Because I browse through the photos very quickly every evening, I feel that in my hard disks there may be photos I have never noticed and I have always had the urge to have another look at them but I never did.AAP: Favorite(s) photographer(s)?A lot of photographers are my favorite. The first one I had ever studied and really made an impression on me was Koudelka, then I “met” and fell in love with Kertész and Bresson. Also, Robert Frank , Plossu , my compatriot, Economopoulos and many others.AAP: What advice would you give a young photographer?The most important thing for someone who is about to take up photography is to gain a deep insight into themselves; it’s this process of personal development and cultivation that will enable them to express themselves through photography and take photos that will be the real them and provoke the interest of others.AAP: What mistake should a young photographer avoid?When one sets out on this photographic trip, they browse through the internet and magazines and try to shoot at some point what they have seen. I consider this a great mistake since they are drifted away in an attempt to imitate and they are caught in a deadlock.AAP: An idea, a sentence, a project you would like to share?Since my intention is not to depict something specific or recount an event through my pictures, I couldn’t claim that I am currently working on some kind of project and once this is over, I’ll start with another one. The point is to decode what’s inside me and this “project” will be over once I am over with photography or once I am no longer alive.AAP: Your best memory has a photographer?What I find important, is that some say or write that one of my photos triggered a burst of emotion in them. I find this the most significant gift photography could grant me. AAP: Your worst souvenir has a photographer?Since I mainly photograph on the streets, the police have arrested me twice as a suspect. I believe these are my worst experiences as a photographer. AAP: If you could have taken the photographs of someone else who would it be?As I mentioned before, I love and admire the work of many photographers; thus, it would be impossible for me to pick one.
William Carrick
Scotland / Russia
1827 | † 1878
William Carrick was a Scottish-Russian artist and photographer. The son of a timber merchant, Andrew Carrick (died 1860), and Jessie née Lauder, he was born in Edinburgh on 23 December 1827. Only a few weeks old, the Carrick family took William with them to the port of Kronstadt in the Gulf of Finland. Andrew had been trading with this port for some time, and the family would stay there for 16 years. In 1844, the family moved to Saint Petersburg, where William became a student at the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts, studying architecture under the renowned Alexander Brullov. By 1853 he had completed his studies there, moving to Rome to undertake further studies. Although his family's business collapsed during the Crimean War, in 1856 William Carrick returned to Saint Petersburg to become a photographer. However, in the summer of the following year he departed for Edinburgh to gain more experience of photography. There he met the photographic technician John MacGregor. In October, he returned to Russia, taking MacGregor with him in the aim of establishing a business and career. He opened a studio (or atelier) at 19 Malaya Morskaya Street, Saint Petersburg, making MacGregor his assistant. Carrick quickly made a name for himself capturing pictures of Russian life and pioneering Russian ethnographic photography, obtaining the patronage of Grand Duke Konstantine Nicholaievich of Russia. In 1862, Nicholas Alexandrovich, Tsesarevich of Russia ordered him a portrait, and was satisfied with it, therefore granted him with a diamond ring. In 1865, Count Mihaly Zichy hired Carrick to take pictures of his watercolours, in order to resell them as prints. Carrick did similar business with other artists, Ivan Kramskoi, Viktor Vasnetsov, and Nikolai Ge; after his death in 1879 many of these were published in his Album of Russian Artists. Carrick and MacGregor made several rural expeditions, including in 1871 a monthlong trip to Simbirsk province. He amassed a large collection of photographs depicting the lives of Russian and Mordovian peasants. In 1872 his colleague MacGregor died, leaving Carrick in despair. Despite this, Carrick continued his work. In 1876, he became photographer of the Academy of Arts, obtaining a studio in the Academy for his photography. An exhibition of his works was held in the Russian capital in 1869, followed by exhibitions at London (1876) and Paris (1878), all to great acclaim. Carrick died of pneumonia, at Saint Petersburg, on 11 November 1878. William Carrick was noted in Russia for his height, which was 6 foot and 4 inches. He had married once, to one Aleksandra Grigorievna Markelova (1832–1916), fathering by her two sons, Dmitry and Valery, whilst adopting her son Grigory from an earlier marriage. He trained Grigory as a photographer, while Valery went on to become a famous caricaturist. His wife Aleksandra, nicknamed Sashura, was a liberal and a nihilist, and for a time the only female journalist at the Peterburskie Vedomosti (Saint Petersburg Times).Source: Wikipedia
Advertisement
AAP Magazine #41: B&W
Win a Solo Exhibition in July
AAP Magazine #41: B&W

Latest Interviews

Barbara Cole and Wet Collodion Photographs
Cole is best known for her underwater photography, but her other studio practice during the cold months in Toronto is an ongoing series of wet collodion photographs. This heavily analog process from the 19th Century is a years-long endeavor of revitalization and experimentation, offering modern day viewers an understanding of what it took to develop photographs in the early days of its invention. Cole has added her own unique take on the process by adding a layer of color in contrast to the usual sepia tones associated with the genre. The resulting wet plate photographs are tactile and dimensional dances between light and shadow, past and present, depicting women in timeless dreamscapes. We asked her a few questions about this specific project
Exclusive Interview with Michael Joseph
I discovered Michael Joseph's work in 2016, thanks to Ann Jastrab. I was immediately captivated by the power of his beautiful black and white photographs from his series 'Lost and Found.' His haunting portraits of young Travelers have stayed with me ever since.
Exclusive Interview with Debe Arlook
Debe Arlook is an award-winning American artist working in photography. Through color and diverse photographic processes, Arlook’s conceptual work is a response to her surroundings and the larger environment, as she attempts to understand the inner and outer worlds of human relationships. Degrees in filmmaking and psychology inform these views.
Orchestrating Light: Seth Dickerman Talks About his Passion for Photographic Printmaking
Seth Dickerman is a master manipulator of the wide spectrum of light densities that reflect off the surface of a photographic print and enter into our field of vision. His singular intent in making prints is to bring out the best an image has to offer, which means giving an image the ability to hold our attention, to engage us, and to allow us to discover something about an image that is meaningful and significant.
Exclusive Interview with Michel Haddi
Photographer and film director, Michel Haddi has photographed many high-profile celebrities while living in the USA including, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, David Bowie, Uma Thurman, Francis Ford Coppola, Cameron Diaz, Faye Dunaway, Nicholas Cage, Johnny Depp, Heath Ledger, Angelina Jolie, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and many others. He also manages a publishing house, MHS publishing, which publishes his own books. Currently based in London we have asked him a few questions about his life and work
Exclusive Interview with Sebastien Sardi
In 2008, Swedish photographer Sebastian Sardi, inspired by an article exposing hidden mining-related incidents, embarked on a photography journey. Without formal training, he explored mines and ventured to India's Jharkhand state to document coal miners in Dhanbad, known as the "coal capital." His project, "Black Diamond," captured the lives of people, including men, women, and children, dedicated to coal extraction in grueling conditions.
Exclusive Interview with Debra Achen
Monterey-based photographer Debra Achen was born and raised near Pittsburgh, PA, where she developed a passion for both nature and art. She studied a variety of studio arts, including drawing, painting, and printmaking in addition to her training in traditional film and darkroom photography. Her project 'Folding and Mending' won the September 2022 Solo Exhibition. We asked here a few questions about her life and work.
Exclusive Interview with Steve Hoffman
Steve Hoffman is a documentary photographer who has who spent the last dozen years working with and photographing the people that live the housing projects in Coney Island. He was the winner of the July and August 2022 Solo Exhibition. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Exclusive Interview with Aya Okawa
Aya is passionate about exploring the natural world and protecting ecosystems and wild landsAll about Photo: Tell us about your first introduction to photography. What drew you into this world? Her project The Systems That Shape Us'won the February 2022 Solo Exhibition. We asked her a few questions about her life and her work.
Call for Entries
Solo Exhibition July 2024
Win an Online Solo Exhibition in July 2024