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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.
 

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Sasha Stone
Russia/United States
1895 | † 1940
Sasha Stone (1895-1940) was born Aleksander Serge Steinsapir in St. Petersburg, Russia, of Jewish parents. He lived and worked in Europe and America between the wars and is best known for his portraits, nude studies, photographs of Berlin and for his photojournalism. Stone studied engineering in Warsaw, and then spent several years in New York, where he obtained American citizenship and chose the pseudonym Sasha Stone. After a sculptor and painter education in Paris and Berlin, Stone described himself as an expert in the fields of advertising, architecture, illustration, film, and stage design. In the 1920s, Sasha Stone worked as a professional photographer in Berlin, primarily for the illustrated magazines published by the Ullstein publishing house. He belonged to the circle around the constructivist periodical "G", which included Moholy-Nagy, Mies van der Rohe, El Lissitzky and Walter Benjamin. He created the photomontage for the original book jacket of Benjamin's famous Einbahnstraße (One-Way Street) - which is still used for the English Penguin edition. In 1929, Stone published Berlin in Pictures, which is extremely difficult to find today. Both, his and his wife Cami's photographs were published in the German photography annual Das Deutsche Lichtbild. Threatened by the rising Fascism, they fled Germany in 1932 and moved to Brussels. Their studio was located at 18 rue de Naples until the German invasion of Belgium in 1940. Sasha Stone's nude work appeared in Les Femmes, and was published by Editions Arts et Metiers Graphiques, Paris, in 1933. His nudes are usually in poses that are quite modernist in sensibility, and the lighting emphasizes their sculptural shapes and angles. The couple separated in 1939. Cami again assumed her maiden name. Sasha died in 1939 during his flight to the United States in Perpignan. 800 photos of the archive of Cami and Sasha Stone, lost until recently, were auctioned in Argenteuil, France, in 2009. Cami Stones nephew had rescued the archive during World War II and stored it until last year.
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. 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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.
Rasel Chowdhury
Bangladesh
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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.
Richard Avedon
United States
1923 | † 2004
Richard Avedon (1923-2004) was born and lived in New York City. His interest in photography began at an early age, and he joined the Young Men's Hebrew Association (YMHA) camera club when he was twelve years old. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, where he co-edited the school's literary magazine, The Magpie, with James Baldwin. He was named Poet Laureate of New York City High Schools in 1941. Avedon joined the armed forces in 1942 during World War II, serving as Photographer's Mate Second Class in the U.S. Merchant Marine. As he described it, "My job was to do identity photographs. I must have taken pictures of one hundred thousand faces before it occurred to me I was becoming a photographer." After two years of service, he left the Merchant Marine to work as a professional photographer, initially creating fashion images and studying with art director Alexey Brodovitch at the Design Laboratory of the New School for Social Research. At the age of twenty-two, Avedon began working as a freelance photographer, primarily for Harper's Bazaar. Initially denied the use of a studio by the magazine, he photographed models and fashions on the streets, in nightclubs, at the circus, on the beach and at other uncommon locations, employing the endless resourcefulness and inventiveness that became a hallmark of his art. Under Brodovitch's tutelage, he quickly became the lead photographer for Harper's Bazaar. From the beginning of his career, Avedon made formal portraits for publication in Theatre Arts, Life, Look, and Harper's Bazaar magazines, among many others. He was fascinated by photography's capacity for suggesting the personality and evoking the life of his subjects. He registered poses, attitudes, hairstyles, clothing and accessories as vital, revelatory elements of an image. He had complete confidence in the two-dimensional nature of photography, the rules of which he bent to his stylistic and narrative purposes. As he wryly said, "My photographs don't go below the surface. I have great faith in surfaces. A good one is full of clues." After guest-editing the April 1965 issue of Harper's Bazaar, Avedon quit the magazine after facing a storm of criticism over his collaboration with models of color. He joined Vogue, where he worked for more than twenty years. In 1992, Avedon became the first staff photographer at The New Yorker, where his portraiture helped redefine the aesthetic of the magazine. During this period, his fashion photography appeared almost exclusively in the French magazine Égoïste. Throughout, Avedon ran a successful commercial studio, and is widely credited with erasing the line between "art" and "commercial" photography. His brand-defining work and long associations with Calvin Klein, Revlon, Versace, and dozens of other companies resulted in some of the best-known advertising campaigns in American history. These campaigns gave Avedon the freedom to pursue major projects in which he explored his cultural, political, and personal passions. He is known for his extended portraiture of the American Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam war and a celebrated cycle of photographs of his father, Jacob Israel Avedon. In 1976, for Rolling Stone magazine, he produced "The Family," a collective portrait of the American power elite at the time of the country's bicentennial election. From 1979 to 1985, he worked extensively on a commission from the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, ultimately producing the show and book In the American West. Avedon's first museum retrospective was held at the Smithsonian Institution in 1962. Many major museum shows followed, including two at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1978 and 2002), the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (1970), the Amon Carter Museum of American Art (1985), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (1994). His first book of photographs, Observations, with an essay by Truman Capote, was published in 1959. He continued to publish books of his works throughout his life, including Nothing Personal in 1964 (with an essay by James Baldwin), Portraits 1947-1977 (1978, with an essay by Harold Rosenberg), An Autobiography (1993), Evidence 1944-1994 (1994, with essays by Jane Livingston and Adam Gopnik), and The Sixties (1999, with interviews by Doon Arbus). After suffering a cerebral hemorrhage while on assignment for The New Yorker, Richard Avedon died in San Antonio, Texas on October 1, 2004. He established The Richard Avedon Foundation during his lifetime. Source: The Richard Avedon Foundation
Josephine Sacabo
United States
1944
Artist Statement: "I believe in Art as a means of transcendence and connection. My images are simply what I’ve made from what I have been given. I hope they have done justice to their sources and that they will, for a moment, ‘stay the shadows of contentment too short lived.’” Sacabo divides her time between New Orleans and Mexico. Both places inform her work, resulting in imagery that is as dreamlike, surreal, and romantic as the places that she calls home. Born in Laredo, Texas, in 1944, she was educated at Bard College in New York. Prior to coming to New Orleans, Sacabo lived and worked extensively in France and England. Her earlier work was in the photo-journalistic tradition and influenced by Robert Frank, Josef Koudelka, and Henri Cartier-Bresson. She now works in a very subjective, introspective style, using poetry as the genesis for her work. Her many portfolios are visual manifestations of the written word, and she lists poets as her most important influences, including Rilke, Baudelaire, Pedro Salinas, Vincente Huiobro, and Juan Rulfo, Mallarmé, and Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. Her images transfer the viewer into a world of constructed beauty. During her 36 year career her work has been featured in over 40 gallery and museum exhibitions in the U.S., Europe and Mexico. She has been the recipient of multiple awards and is included in the permanent collections of the George Eastman House, the International Center of Photography, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and la Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France. Source: josephinesacabo.com
Cristina de Middel
Cristina de Middel (born 1975) is a Spanish documentary photographer and artist living and working in Uruapan, Mexico. De Middel self-published The Afronauts in 2012, a photobook about the short-lived Zambian space program in Southern Africa. The book quickly sold out and the work was met with critical acclaim. She was nominated for the 2013 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize for The Afronauts. In 2013, de Middel received the Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography. In 2017 she became a nominee member of Magnum Photos and in 2019 an associate member. Source: Wikipedia Cristina de Middel investigates photography’s ambiguous relationship to truth. Blending documentary and conceptual photographic practices, she plays with reconstructions and archetypes in order to build a more layered understanding of the subjects she approaches. Working from the premise that mass media is reducing our real understanding of the world we live in, De Middel responds to an urgency to re-imagine tired aesthetic tropes and insert opinion in place of facts. Her impulse for an unconventional angle developed after a 10-year career as a photojournalist when De Middel stepped outside of straight documentary and produced the acclaimed series The Afronauts (2012). It explored the history of a failed space program in Zambia in the 1960s through staged reenactments of obscure narratives, challenging the traditional depiction of the African continent. De Middel’s ongoing project Gentleman’s Club (which began in Rio de Janeiro in 2015 and has now expanded to every continent around the globe bar Australasia) focuses on prostitution’s less documented side: the male clients. Her intimate portraits of these men subvert the paradigms of the status quo to provide new sources of insight and understanding. As well as her acclaimed personal projects, De Middel has worked on commission for clients including The Nobel Peace Foundation, Christian Dior, Vanity Fair USA, Vogue USA and FC Barcelona. De Middel was born in Spain and is based between Mexico and Brazil. She became a Magnum nominee in 2017.Source: Magnum Photos
Dorte Verner
Dorte Verner was born in Denmark and lives in Washington, D.C, USA. She holds a Ph.D. in economics and a passion for bringing change and attention to vulnerable people and voiceless people. Dorte's expertise in international development allows her to understand the reality in the environments she photographs. Dorte has won numerous prizes and awards for her photographs, e.g. she won the Nikon-100-Year Photo Contest 2016-2017, specifically the Most Popular Entry: Disappearing Fishing Method by Moken out of 80,000 submitted photographs. In the 2017, Dorte received first and third prize in Culture and Traditions, respectively in prestigious International Photo Award (IPA) by the Lucie Foundation and the Silver Prize in PX3. Dorte has photographed since 2011 and is a self-taught photographer. Dorte's photography focuses on people that has little voice and never make the news, but who have important knowledge and experiences to share. She captures their strength and beauty through intimate moments. She has focused on nomads, refugees, indigenous people, and people affected by climate change, among other changes. Dorte's portfolio centers on environmental portraits, with images inspired by the lives and livelihoods of people living in extreme situations. These people live in remote geographical locations, including: rural areas in Africa such as refugee camps; the Arabian Desert; Latin America's Amazon and drylands; and Asia's plains and mountains. Dorte's photographs are featured in many shows and galleries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the USA. Currently her photographs are exhibited in The Silk Road, Photography Biennial of Tianshui, China; and in two solo exhibitor shows: The Sahel, The World Bank, USA and Beyond Borders, Henry Luce III Center for Arts and Religion, Washington D.C., USA. They are also on permanent display in International Organizations and published in magazines such as GEO and Vanity Fair and on the cover of books and publications.
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Francesco Gioia is an Italian photographer who lives in England. He is the winner of AAP Magazine 15 Streets with his project 'Wake Up in London'. We asked him a few questions about his life and work
Exclusive Interview with Paul Brouns
Paul Brouns is a Dutch photographer who found his voice by capturing architecture. The urban landscape is his ideal playground for apprehending rhythm, color and geometrical elements. He is the winner of AAP Magazine 14 "Colors" with his project 'Urban Tapestries'. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Exclusive Interview with Réhahn
Referred to as someone who "captures the souls of his models", (Wanderlust Travel Magazine, 2018) Réhahn is more than just a man behind a camera. Behind each click is a story. Whether the photograph shows a child with startling blue eyes, a woman pulling a needle through indigo fabric or a man walking alone down a brightly painted street, these are more than just images to Réhahn. They are the culmination of an experience. The stories of his subjects as well as his passion to learn more about their culture, diversity and changing traditions are what drives Réhahn's work.
Craig Varjabedian: Found Horizons
Craig Varjabedian's photographs of the American West illuminate his profound connection with the region and its people. His finely detailed images shine with an authenticity that reveals the ties between identity, place, and the act of perceiving. For Varjabedian, photography is a receptive process driven by openness to the revelation each subject offers, rather than by the desire to manipulate form or to catalog detail. He achieves this vision by capturing and suspending on film those decisive moments in which the elements and the spirit of a moment come together
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AAP Magazine #20: Travels
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