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Deb Achak
Deb Achak
Deb Achak

Deb Achak

Country: United States

Raised in New Hampshire, Deb Achak holds a master's degree in social work and is a self-trained photographer and filmmaker. She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and sons in a grand old home that was once a bed and breakfast. Deb's fine art photography explores natural elements of water and grasses - earth elements with clean, simple compositions meant to calm and soothe. Her children are also a growing subject of her fine art work. Her photographs have been exhibited at the Black Box Gallery, Portland, OR; Sante Fe Photographic Workshops, Sante Fe, NM; the SE Center for Photography, Greenville, SC: and Vermont Center for Photography, Brattleboro, VT.

About She Told Us To Trust Our Intuition
My mother's last words to my siblings and I before she died were "trust your gut instincts". It's struck me over the years how profound and revolutionary that one simple phrase is. It has become my mantra - my north star. When we still our mind, free it of conscious thought, intuition can be heard and felt, and becomes the perfect guide. Some years ago, I started to notice that when I am in a deep flow with my art, it becomes a meditation and I am able to hear my inner voice with complete clarity. In this series I use water, color, movement and the human form to express the meditative quality I feel when I am in synch with the flow of creating. I seek to capture that single moment where my camera, my intuition, and the natural world are perfectly aligned, and to give gratitude to my mother for bestowing such a powerful parting gift.
 

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Jeff Brouws
United States
1955
Jeff Brouws, born in San Francisco in 1955, is a self-taught artist. Pursuing photography since age 13, where he roamed the railroad and industrial corridors of the South Bay Peninsula, Brouws has compiled a visual survey of America's evolving rural, urban and suburban cultural landscapes. Using single photographs as subtle narratives and compiling typologies to index the nation's character, he revels in the "readymades" found in many of these environments. Influenced by the New Topographic Movement, the artist books of Ed Ruscha (to whom Brouws paid homage with his Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations project in 1992) as well as the writings of cultural geographers like J.B. Jackson, Dolores Hayden, John Stilgoe, Mike Davis and Leo Marx, Brouws has combined anthropological inquiry with a somber aesthetic vision mining the overlooked, the obsolete, and the mundane. Initially engaged with what Walker Evans termed the "historical contemporary" along America's secondary highways beginning in the late 1980s, over the following twenty years Brouws has extended this inquiry into the everyday places occupied by most Americans – the franchised landscapes of strip malls, homogenized housing tracts and fast food chains. Since moving to the Northeast in the late 1990s, Brouws has also investigated inner city areas, abandoned manufacturing sites, and other commercial ruins found in Buffalo, Detroit, Cleveland and Youngstown. His photographs of these discarded spaces—the byproducts of de-industrialization, white flight, disinvestment, and failed urban policy—suggest an underlying disparity throughout a country that purports economic equality and social justice for all. Alongside his photographic practice, for the past thirty years Brouws has researched and written about the historic and aesthetic development of railroad photography in America, authoring and editing numerous books on the subject including The Call of Trains: Railroad Photographs by Jim Shaughnessy, A Passion for Trains: The Railroad Photography of Richard Steinheimer, and his most recent publication (edited with Wendy Burton) Some Vernacular Railroad Photographs. In 2013 Brouws (along with co-editors Wendy Burton and Hermann Zschiegner and authors Phil Taylor and Mark Rawlinson) published Various Small Books: Referencing the Various Small Books by Ed Ruscha (MIT Press). This was a multi-year, collaborative project involving ninety artists from around the world. Honoring Ruscha’s seminal books from the 1960s and 70s like Twentysix Gasoline Stations, VSB went on to become the defacto catalog for the Ed Ruscha: Books & Co exhibition staged at the Gagosian Gallery, New York and the Museum Brandhorst in Munich. Brouws’s photography is represented by The Robert Mann Gallery, The Robert Koch Gallery, The Robert Klein Gallery, and The Craig Krull Gallery. His work is in numerous private and public collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Princeton University Art Museum and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Margaret Watkins
Canada
1884 | † 1969
Margaret Watkins (1884-1969) was born in Canada. Best known for art and advertising photography executed in New York in the 1920s, Watkins was active in the Clarence White school of photography and a participant in the shift from pictorialism to modernism. Her working life spanned a Victorian upbringing in Hamilton, Ontario, and the witnessing of the first Soviet Five-Year Plan. Watkins' modernism, which involved experimentation and a radical focus on form, transgressed boundaries of conventional, high-art subject matter. Her focus was daily life and her photographs, whether an exploration of the objects in her New York kitchen or the public and industrial spaces of Glasgow, Paris, Cologne, Moscow, and Leningrad in the 1930s, strike a balance between abstraction and an evocation of the everyday, offering a unique gendered perspective on modernism and modernity. Watkins established a studio in Greenwich Village and in 1920 she accepted the position of editor of the annual publication Pictorial Photography in America. Clarence White asked Watkins to join the faculty of his school, where Watkins met other notable photographers, including Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand. She worked for Macy's department stores and for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, capturing simple domestic objects with a clarity of modernist vision rare in commercial photography at the time. Her landscapes, portraits, nudes, still lifes, and abstractions received praise and attracted controversy. Exhibitions were held in the United States and in Europe. In 1928, Watkins decided to visit her four elderly aunts in Glasgow, Scotland. She traveled throughout Europe, photographing extensively and producing a body of work documenting post-revolution Russia. Her aunts began to take ill, and Watkins remained in Glasgow to help care for them. She drifted from the spotlight of public recognition, and few photographs or negatives exist from this time. Watkins lived in Scotland in seclusion until her death in 1969.
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.
Chuck Kimmerle
United States
Despite knowing little about photography at the time, I knew I was destined to make my living as a photographer when I received my first camera, a Canon Canonet QL17 GIII, as a high school graduation present. The entire process mesmerized me. I was hooked. However, a prior enlistment in the U.S. Army Infantry, which began shortly afterwards, put that dream on the back burner for a few years.Following my discharge, I enrolled in the Photographic Engineering Technology program at St. Cloud State University, thinking it a solid career backup plan should my dream of being a photographer be unrealized. The technically-focused program provided me with a solid background in photographic science, chemistry, processes and sensitometry.While at the university, I began working at the school paper, which was followed by a photojournalism position at the St. Cloud Times and, subsequently, jobs at newspapers in Pennsylvania and finally North Dakota, where I was part of a four-person staff named as finalists for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography. In 2000, I left the erratic schedule of photojournalism to the more predictable hours as the staff photographer at the University of North Dakota, where I remained for the next 10 years.In 2010 I followed my wife, a New York City native, to her new job in the least populated state in the U.S., Wyoming, where I now work as an educational and commercial freelance photographer.Throughout the years working as a photographer for others, I spent a great deal of my free time doing personal work for myself. These images, which were infinitely more important to me that the work images, were primarily landscapes. However, I have never considered myself a nature photographer. Instead, I tend to gravitate towards those areas which are influenced by both man and nature.Despite having embraced the digital medium, I consider myself a landscape photographer in the traditional sense of the word. My style is straightforward and formal, with a deep depth-of-field and an unabashed honesty to the subject matter, and is in direct contrast to the contemporary trend of highly conceptualized pictorials. Who says newer is always better?In the past few years I've had the honor to study with such esteemed photographers as Alan Ross, George DeWolfe, Jean Meile, Jay Dusard, Jack Dykinga and Bruce Barnbaum. Source: chuckkimmerle.com
Roger Ballen
United States
1950
One of the most influential and important photographic artists of the 21st century, Roger Ballen's photographs span over forty years. His strange and extreme works confront the viewer and challenge them to come with him on a journey into their own minds as he explores the deeper recesses of his own. Roger Ballen was born in New York in 1950 but for over 30 years he has lived and worked in South Africa. His work as a geologist took him out into the countryside and led him to take up his camera and explore the hidden world of small South African towns. At first he explored the empty streets in the glare of the midday sun but, once he had made the step of knocking on people's doors, he discovered a world inside these houses which was to have a profound effect on his work. These interiors with their distinctive collections of objects and the occupants within these closed worlds took his unique vision on a path from social critique to the creation of metaphors for the inner mind. After 1994 he no longer looked to the countryside for his subject matter finding it closer to home in Johannesburg. Over the past thirty five years his distinctive style of photography has evolved using a simple square format in stark and beautiful black and white. In the earlier works in the exhibition his connection to the tradition of documentary photography is clear but through the 1990s he developed a style he describes as 'documentary fiction'. After 2000 the people he first discovered and documented living on the margins of South African society increasingly became a cast of actors working with Ballen in the series' Outland (2000, revised in 2015) and Shadow Chamber (2005) collaborating to create powerful psychodramas. The line between fantasy and reality in his subsequent series' Boarding House (2009) and Asylum of the Birds (2014) became increasingly blurred and in these series he employed drawings, painting, collage and sculptural techniques to create elaborate sets. There was an absence of people altogether, replaced by photographs of individuals now used as props, by doll or dummy parts or where people did appear it was as disembodied hands, feet and mouths poking disturbingly through walls and pieces of rag. The often improvised scenarios were now completed by the unpredictable behaviour of animals whose ambiguous behaviour became crucial to the overall meaning of the photographs. In this phase Ballen invented a new hybrid aesthetic, but one still rooted firmly in black and white photography. In his artistic practice Ballen has increasingly been won over by the possibilities of integrating photography and drawing. He has expanded his repertoire and extended his visual language. By integrating drawing into his photographic and video works, the artist has not only made a lasting contribution to the field of art, but equally has made a powerful commentary about the human condition and its creative potential. His contribution has not been limited to stills photography and Ballen has been the creator of a number of acclaimed and exhibited short films that dovetail with his photographic series'. The collaborative film I Fink You Freeky, created for the cult band Die Antwoord in 2012, has garnered over 125-million hits on YouTube. He has taken his work into the realms of sculpture and installation, at Paris' Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (2017), Australia's Sydney College of the Arts (2016) and at the Serlachius Museum in Finland (2015) is to name but a few. The spectacular installation at Les Rencontres d'Arles 2017, "House of the Ballenesque" was voted as one of the best exhibitions for 2017. In 2018 at the Wiesbaden Biennale, Germany, another installation "Roger Ballen's Bazaar/Bizarre" was created in an abandoned shopping centre. Ballen's series, The Theatre of Apparitions (2016), is inspired by the sight of these hand-drawn carvings on blacked-out windows in an abandoned women's prison. Ballen started to experiment using different spray paints on glass and then 'drawing on' or removing the paint with a sharp object to let natural light through. The results have been likened prehistoric cave-paintings: the black, dimensionless spaces on the glass are canvases onto which Ballen has carved his thoughts and emotions. He also released a related animated film, Theatre of Apparitions, which has been nominated for various awards. In September 2017 Thames & Hudson published a large volume of the collected photography with extended commentary by Ballen titled Ballenesque Roger Ballen: A Retrospective.
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Call for Entries
AAP Magazine #18: B&W
Winners will receive $10,000 in cash awards, extensive press coverage and global recognition.