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Jonathan Banks
Jonathan Banks
Jonathan Banks

Jonathan Banks

Country: United Kingdom
Birth: 1971

Jonathan Banks is an award-winning photographer with over 20 years' experience in commercial and media photography.

Jonathan Banks studied under the prolific artist John Blakemore, and graduated from the University of Derby with a BA honours in Photographic Studies. He cut his teeth in editorial photography freelancing for The Daily Telegraph and various agencies.

His work has appeared in international magazines and books. Jonathan has exhibited several bodies of work as a solo artist, as well as in conjunction with other photographers in the UK and abroad. These have ranged from – personal projects to editorial assignments and photographs supporting various charities.

Jonathan has always worked with NGOs both in the U.K. and abroad. He is a British Red Cross volunteer and has exhibited work in support of International Alert. Jonathan currently works with a stable of blue chip clients, NGOs and architects providing a range of photographic and film services. Jonathan lives in Kent with his wife and two sons.

Statement
I have photographed in over 50 different countries, documenting subjects as diverse as mask dancing festivals in Burkina Faso, the effects of the Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine and the aftermath of 9/11 in New York. My international experience includes working in security impaired areas, where my communication skills and sensitivity allow me to capture subjects in the most challenging situations. Combined with my creativity and technical knowhow, this enables me to deliver award-winning images. I am passionate about my work and embrace the challenges of collaborating with global corporations, magazines and NGOs alike. Every assignment is different, and, as such, is approached uniquely. I am always on the lookout for new creative partnerships.
 

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George Brassaï
Hungary/France
1899 | † 1984
George Brassaï (pseudonym of Gyula Halász) was a Hungarian photographer, sculptor, and filmmaker who rose to international fame in France in the 20th century. He was one of the numerous Hungarian artists who flourished in Paris beginning between the World Wars. In the early 21st century, the discovery of more than 200 letters and hundreds of drawings and other items from the period 1940–1984 has provided scholars with material for understanding his later life and career.Gyula (Jules) Halasz (the Western order of his name) was born in Brassó, Transsylvania, Kingdom of Hungary (since 1920 Brasov, Romania), to an Armenian mother and a Hungarian father. He grew up speaking Hungarian. When he was three, his family lived in Paris for a year, while his father, a professor of French literature, taught at the Sorbonne. As a young man, Gyula Halász studied painting and sculpture at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts (Magyar Képzomuvészeti Egyetem) in Budapest. He joined a cavalry regiment of the Austro-Hungarian army, where he served until the end of the First World War. In 1920, Halász went to Berlin, where he worked as a journalist for the Hungarian papers Keleti and Napkelet. He started studies at the Berlin-Charlottenburg Academy of Fine Arts (Hochschule für Bildende Künste), now Universität der Künste Berlin. There he became friends with several older Hungarian artists and writers, including the painters Lajos Tihanyi and Bertalan Pór, and the writer Gyorgy Boloni, each of whom later moved to Paris and became part of the Hungarian circle. In 1924, Halasz moved to Paris to live, where he would stay for the rest of his life. To learn the French language, he began teaching himself by reading the works of Marcel Proust. Living among the gathering of young artists in the Montparnasse quarter, he took a job as a journalist. He soon became friends with the American writer Henry Miller, and the French writers Leon-Paul Fargue and Jacques Prévert. In the late 1920s, he lived in the same hotel as Tihanyi. Halasz's job and his love of the city, whose streets he often wandered late at night, led to photography. He first used it to supplement some of his articles for more money, but rapidly explored the city through this medium, in which he was tutored by his fellow Hungarian André Kertész. He later wrote that he used photography "in order to capture the beauty of streets and gardens in the rain and fog, and to capture Paris by night." Using the name of his birthplace, Gyula Halász went by the pseudonym "Brassaï," which means "from Brasso." Brassaï captured the essence of the city in his photographs, published as his first collection in 1933 book entitled Paris de nuit (Paris by Night). His book gained great success, resulting in being called "the eye of Paris" in an essay by his friend Henry Miller. In addition to photos of the seedier side of Paris, Brassai portrayed scenes from the life of the city's high society, its intellectuals, its ballet, and the grand operas. He had been befriended by a French family who gave him access to the upper classes. Brassai photographed many of his artist friends, including Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti, and several of the prominent writers of his time, such as Jean Genet and Henri Michaux. Young Hungarian artists continued to arrive in Paris through the 1930s and the Hungarian circle absorbed most of them. Kertèsz emigrated to New York in 1936. Brassai befriended many of the new arrivals, including Ervin Marton, a nephew of Tihanyi, whom he had been friends with since 1920. Marton developed his own reputation in street photography in the 1940s and 1950s. Brassaï continued to earn a living with commercial work, also taking photographs for the United States magazine Harper's Bazaar. He was a founding member of the Rapho agency, created in Paris by Charles Rado in 1933. Brassaï's photographs brought him international fame. In 1948, he had a one-man show in the United States at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City, which traveled to the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York; and the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois. MOMA exhibited more of Brassai's works in 1953, 1956, and 1968. He was presented at the Rencontres d'Arles festival (France) in 1970 (screening at the Théâtre Antique, "Brassaï" by Jean-Marie Drot), in 1972 (screening "Brassaï si, Vominino" by René Burri), and in 1974 (as guest of honour). In 1948, Brassaï married Gilberte Boyer, a French woman. She worked with him in supporting his photography. Source: Wikipedia
Colby Deal
United States
1988
Colby Deal is a photographic artist born (b. 1988) and raised in Houston, Texas. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in the practice of photography from The University of Houston. Within his practice, he explores the culmination of elements of the psychological environment as well as the physical. He shows the dynamic range of family, community and the individual by combining street photography and portraiture to capture vibrant communities. In recent years he has incorporated the medium of sculpture and public art as a means of preserving cultural characteristics that are being erased and positively influencing his community and others alike. Colby is directly inspired by his upbringing through getting to see his family’s photographs that were mostly taken by his father. This appreciation for slowing down and concentrating on photographing what’s right in front of him, “The Now”, has led him to be more in touch with using analog photography. Colby Deal is an alumni of Project Row Houses residency, Red Line Contemporary Art Center residency in Denver, Colorado and in 2020, was awarded an exhibition at the Houston Museum of African American Culture. Colby became a Magnum nominee member in 2020.Source: Magnum Photos Colby Deal is a firm believer in the potential of photography to be a transformative medium. “Especially now with Covid and how it is separating people, imagery is so important” he says, over video call from outside his home in Houston’s Third Ward, where he has been photographing with the intention to uplift cultural representations of the predominantly Black neighborhood. “People of color and people from under-resourced communities are always shown negative images about themselves,” says Deal, whose practice involves pasting his images onto abandoned buildings and derelict shopfronts. “Imagine being a kid, waking up, getting on the school bus, and seeing yourself displayed monumentally in a positive manner. That can have a strong psychological effect on the way you think about yourself and others. Like seriously, just a glance at an image can change your thought patterns — it can change your whole life.” Adopting a participatory approach, Deal’s process involves a lot of talking and walking. On a typical day, he will drag his large format camera on a wagon, stopping at people’s doorsteps and porches for a drink, smoke, and conversation, about their lives and the condition of their community. “I don’t want to call it a story because I sound like a fucking news reporter,” he laughs, “but what I’ll do is walk around, find things I like, and shoot around it”. The culmination of these excursions is Beautiful, Still, an ongoing collection of over 1,000 black-and-white negatives of street photographs and portraits. The ability to layer these historical, personal, and social contexts in a single image can be cited back to Deal’s childhood and evolution as an artist. Deal was initially self-taught, later enrolling in the Photography BFA at The University of Houston, mostly for “the network,” he says, and to “learn how to better articulate what I was doing”. The documentary photographer, who last month became a Magnum nominee, is also a sculptor, carpenter, graphic designer, and painter. “As a child, everything I found joy in was about art,” says Deal, who was drawing from the age of three, and later developed an obsession with breaking down objects and piecing them back together. “That aspect has played a huge part in what I do today, which is looking at an idea, concept, or message that I want to get across, then starting from the root, and working from there.”Source: British Journal of Photography
Dale Odell
United States
Dale O'Dell lives in Prescott, Arizona and is a professional photographer and digital artist. He studied photography and philosophy in college and earned a Bachelor's of Science degree in Photography in 1982 from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. Since 1979 he has exhibited in over two-hundred group and solo shows, his works have been exhibited and published internationally and he's written for most of the leading photographic magazines and journals. He is a consummate experimenter and innovator and works with diverse subjects in a variety of styles. He has published nineteen art books and is currently at work on number twenty. He uses modern digital technologies to create artwork in a variety of styles. “Using the power of technology and an active imagination there are few limitations. I've produced straight documentary-style photos, advertising, editorial illustration, street photography, portraiture, landscape, infrared, night and astronomical photography as well as abstract-expressionism, impressionism and surrealism. You won't find me making the same image over and over.” Despite their photographic origins, Dale's images are best described as 'photo/digital artworks' and are not all straight photographs. He has fully embraced the digital revolution of photography to explore expression beyond traditional photographic limitations. Zen Cairns A cairn is a human-made pile (or stack) of stones. The word cairn comes from the Scottish Gaelic: càrn. Cairns are used for a variety of purposes. In modern times, cairns are often erected as landmarks, a use they have had since ancient times and cairns are used as trail markers in many parts of the world. They vary in size from small stone markers to entire artificial hills, and in complexity from loose conical rock piles to delicately balanced sculptures and elaborate feats of megalithic engineering. Cairns may be painted or otherwise decorated, whether for increased visibility or for religious reasons. The Zen Cairns came into existence as a result of researching what other photographers had done with the cairn as subject. I look at others' works to see what's already been done with the subject. This helps me to avoid repeating what others have done and (hopefully) forge my own path of originality with the subject. As I studied the myriad of cairn photos online I saw some that made me look twice and carefully consider the laws of gravity. While I saw many examples of true 'balance artistry' when stacks of rocks seemed to be magically balanced for real, I also saw images that really did defy the law of gravity. These were 'impossible' stacks of rocks that, at first glance, looked 'real,' but they were, in fact, held together with metal rods or glue. These were probable yet impossible cairns. A quick look at these could easily fool the viewer. Looking at the probable yet impossible cairns I thought I could create a series of physically impossible yet visually probable cairns - after all, I do have Photoshop. Almost immediately I could see the finished images in my minds-eye. I went to my sketchbook and very quickly did a series of drawings - which came to me full-blown, complete with titles! I already had the river rocks in my studio so I photographed them all twice, with lighting from two different directions, allowing me to use them in different ways in Photoshop yet keep a consistent direction of light. With the image fully-formed in my mind's eye I created a portrait-studio type background which would be lit oppositely from the rocks. I did a quick version of this background as a proof-of-concept (which worked) and then went to various paint and lighting programs to create the actual background. Interestingly, each new and improved background failed to work in the image and I ultimately ended up using the original proof-of-concept background. Sometimes you get it right the first time but you've got to do the extra work anyway so you know the first one really does work and you didn't quit too soon. For consistency I used the same background for all ten images. Using my sketches as guides I assembled each image from individually photographed river rocks. I added shadows to simulate what it would really look like as a set in the studio. I sharpened all the rocks to enhance their texture and softened the background to create a more three-dimensional effect. I worked in black and white to emulate the luminosity of classic B&W still-life prints from the darkroom. It is my hope that the direction of light, shadows and texture induces an emotional response of 'reality' in the viewer before the intellect of analysis informs them, 'this is not real.'
Deborah Bay
United States
Deborah Bay is a Houston artist who specializes in constructed studio photography. She has exhibited most recently at Photo London Digital 2020, Foto Relevance (Houston), Texas Contemporary 2018 and 2019 and Photoville Brooklyn. Her work is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson and Dorsky Museum of Art at State University of New York at New Paltz. LensCulture and the Griffin Museum of Photography highlighted images from her Traveling Light series in on-line features earlier this year, and the British Journal of Photography has published her work on its cover. Her work was recognized in the Texas National 2018, and she was a finalist for Artadia Houston 2015. An active member of the Houston arts community, she has served on the board of the Houston Center for Photography and its Advisory Council. She holds graduate and undergraduate degrees from The University of Texas at Austin. Statement: My work explores the beauty of light and color. It builds on a studio practice that has focused for the past 15 years on constructed, macro photography. The images in the work presented here bring together an eclectic set of influences, ranging from geometric constructivism to color field. After collecting an assortment of prisms and lenses, I became interested in capturing how light and color interact with optical materials - seeming to bounce nonchalantly across surfaces, yet strictly bound by the laws of physics. Lenses and prisms were layered and stacked at angles to capture light wrapping around form. Chromatic geometries emerged from the planes and lines of color created using film gels. In my practice the camera often is a tool for highlighting details of physical phenomena that are overlooked or not easily observed. Particularly intriguing is the mystery created by the juxtaposition of scale - making close-up images of small objects and showing them as prints at many times their actual size. The images were produced in-camera and follow in the lineage of experimental studies exploring the most elemental components of photographic processes: light and lenses.
Mike Brodie
United States
1985
Claiming inspiration from “old-school American values mixed with a little punk-rock idealism,” Mike Brodie, aka The Polaroid Kidd, hopped trains across the U.S. for seven years, documenting his friends, lovers, and travels with a Polaroid and a 35-millimeter camera and amassing a critically acclaimed body of images. Like a 21st-century Jack Kerouac, replacing pen with pictures, Brodie rode the railways with a motley crew. In 2004, two years into his journeying, he acquired a camera and began photographing this gritty youth subculture. His intimate portraits, saturated with color and often set against moving backgrounds, capture the reality of this life in raw detail—its dirt-encrusted bodies, sickness and exhilaration, dangers and comforts. After traveling more than 50,000 miles through 46 states, Brodie has since become an itinerant mechanic. He says he has abandoned photography—at least for now. Source: Artsy Mike Brodie, best known by his pseudonym "Polaroid Kidd", is a self-trained American photographer from Pensacola, Florida. In 2003 Brodie left home at 18 to travel the rails across America. A friend gave him a camera and he found himself spending three years photographing the friends and companions he encountered with the Polaroid SX-70. Polaroid discontinued SX-70 film, so now he shoots on 35mm on a Nikon F3. His photographs have been featured in exhibits in Milwaukee, at Get This! Gallery in Atlanta and in Los Angeles at M+B Gallery. His work was also selected to appear in the 2006 edition of the Paris International Photo Fair at the Louvre. In November 2007 he collaborated with Swoon and Chris Stain to mount an installation at Gallery LJ Beaubourg in Paris. He also has had collaborative shows with artist Monica Canilao. His photographs largely depict what he refers to as "travel culture", train-hoppers, vagabonds, squatters and hobos. Critic Vince Aletti of artsandantiques.net says of Brodie's work: "Even if you're not intrigued by Brodie’s ragtag bohemian cohort—a band of outsiders with an unerring sense of post-punk style—the intimate size and warm, slightly faded color of his prints are seductive. His portraits... have a tender incisiveness that is rare at any age." Source: Wikipedia Born in 1985, Mike Brodie began photographing when he was given a Polaroid camera in 2004. Working under the moniker 'The Polaroid Kidd,' Brodie spent the next four years circumambulating the United States, amassing an archive of photographs that make up one of the few, true collections of American travel photography. Brodie made work in the tradition of photographers like Robert Frank, William Eggleston and Stephen Shore, but due to never having undergone any formal training he always remained untethered to the pressures and expectations of art market. Brodie compulsively documented his exploration of the tumultuous world of transient subcultures without regard to how the photographs would exist beyond him. After feeling as though he documented all that he could of his subject, his insatiable wanderlust found a new passion, and as quickly as he began making photographs, he has left the medium to continue in his constant pursuit of new adventures. In 2008, Brodie received the Baum Award for American Emerging Artists and has a forthcoming book to be published by Steidl, as well as numerous international shows. Brodie recently graduated from the Nashville Auto Diesel College (NADC) and is now working as a diesel mechanic. Although Brodie has stopped making photographs, the body of work he made in only four short years has left a huge impact on the photo world, and is now being made available to the public. Source: M+B
Daniel Naude
South Africa
1984
Naudé was born in 1984 in Cape Town, where he continues to live. He graduated with a BA Visual Arts Honours degree from the University of Stellenbosch in 2007. Naudé had solo exhibition “A Decade of Seeing” at the Everard Read gallery Johannesburg, South Africa (2018). A group show include “Botanical Show” at Everard Read Johannesburg, South Africa (2018); “WINTER” at Everard Read Cape Town, South Africa (2018); BOTH, AND… A group exhibition reflecting on 15 years of the gallery's existence, Stevenson gallery Cape Town, South Africa (2018). LA GACILLY PHOTO FESTIVAL BADEN, AUSTRIA (2018) He has had solo exhibitions at Stevenson Cape Town and Johannesburg (2011, 2010 and 2014) and showed selected photographs from Animal Farm in the print room at The Photographers' Gallery in London in 2013. Group shows include Chroma (Cape Town) and The Loom of the Land (Johannesburg), at Stevenson in 2014 and 2013; In Focus: Animalia at the J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2015); Lyon Biennale, La vie modern (2015); Joseph Walsh, Johannes Nagel and Daniel Naudé at Artists House, New Art Centre, Wiltshire (2014); Apartheid and After at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam (2014); The festival artist at the Aardklop National Arts Festival, Potchefstroom (2012); Neither Man Nor Stone at the Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town (2012); Lagos Photo Festival, Nigeria (2011); Bamako Encounters African Photography Biennial, Mali (2011); Greatest Hits of 2007 at the AVA Gallery, Cape Town (2011); Breaking News: Contemporary photography from the Middle East and Africa, works from the collection of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena, in Modena, Italy (2010); and PEEKABOO – Current South Africa at the Tennis Palace Art Museum, Helsinki (2010). Naudé's first book, Animal Farm, was published by Prestel in 2012, followed by Sightings of the Sacred: Cattle in India, Uganda and Madagascar in 2016, also by Prestel. His third book, Cattle of the Ages together with South African's President Cyril Ramaphosa was published by Jacana media (2017). Naudé took part in the Fall 2011 residency programme at Anderson Ranch in Aspen, Colorado. His work has been collected by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and Huis Marseille in Amsterdam and by many others such as Paul Allen the Co-founder of Microsoft. Naudé has also done assigned commissions for the Oppenheimer's horses, Stephan Welz's Thuli cattle and South African's President Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa's Ankole cattle.
Todd Hido
United States
1968
Todd Hido (American, b.1968) is a prolific photographer whose works of suburban and urban homes have been shown in galleries and businesses throughout the nation. He was born in Kent, OH, and is now based in San Francisco, CA. He received a BFA in 1991 from Tufts University in Massachusetts, and an MFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts. He is currently an adjunct professor at the California College of Art in San Francisco. TODD HIDO (b. 1968 in Kent, OH) is a San Francisco Bay Area-based artist who received his M.F.A. from the California College of Arts and Crafts and his B.F.A. from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Tufts University. His photographs have been exhibited internationally, including solo exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, and are included in numerous museum collections, including the Whitney Museum of Art, Guggenheim Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as well as in many other public and private collections. His work has been featured in Artforum, The New York Times Magazine, Eyemazing, Metropolis, The Face, I-D, and Vanity Fair. In 2001 an award-winning monograph of his work titled House Hunting was published by Nazraeli Press and a companion monograph, Outskirts, was published in 2002. His third book, Roaming, was published in 2004. Between the Two, focusing on portraits and nudes, was published in 2007. His latest book of landscapes, A Road Divided, was published in 2010. In May of 2013 Excerpts from Silver Meadows was published by Nazraeli Press. He is an adjunct professor at the California College of Art, San Francisco, California. Source: Rose Gallery Drawing from childhood memories as a creative wellspring, Hido wanders endlessly, taking lengthy road trips in search of imagery that connects with his own recollections. For his landscapes the artist chooses to photograph during overcast days and often frames his images through the vantage point of his car, using the windshield as an additional lens. Through this unique process and signature color palette, he alludes to the quiet and mysterious side of suburban America, where uniform communities provide for a stable façade, while concealing the instability that lies within its walls. While Hido is notorious for photographing suburbia from the outside as his pictures of well-worn dwellings evidence, he has also entered the interiors of these houses and integrated the human form into his work. His ability to capture the inherent tensions of both the human body and landscapes marks his work as a starting point of a broader discussion. Any narrative inferred form his work is entirely a construct of the viewer’s imagination heightened by Hido’s power of sequencing photographs and his fascination with a cinematic style of image making. Hido was born in 1968 in Kent, Ohio. He received his B.F.A. from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Tufts University. In 1996 he earned his M.F.A. from the California College of Arts and Crafts where he was mentored by Larry Sultan. He is now an adjunct professor at the California College of Art, San Francisco. Hido has been the recipient of the Eureka Fellowship, Fleishhacker Foundation, Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation Visual Arts Award, and the Barclay Simpson Award. His latest show with Bruce Silverstein Gallery, Bright Black World is the artist's fourth solo exhibition with the gallery. His photographs have been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City. Other major institutions that have previously exhibited Hido’s work include the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washignton D.C.; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Miami Art Museum, Florida; Netherland Architecture Institute, Rotterdam; Palazzo Ducale, Genova, Italy; Samsung Museum of Modern Art in Korea; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Work by Hido is held in public and private collections including the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Art; and the Whitney Museum of Art. In 2001 an award-winning monograph of his work titled House Hunting was published by Nazraeli Press, followed by a companion monograph, Outskirts, published in 2002. His third book, Roaming, was published in 2004. Between the Two, focusing on portraits and nudes, and A Road Divided were respectively published in 2007 and 2010. A full volume of Silver Meadows, mined from Hido’s own experience growing up in Kent, was launched at Paris Photo 2012. Intimate Distance, published in 2016, is the first comprehensive monograph charting the career of the artist. Hido’s most recent publication, Bright Black World, will be released in late autumn 2018. This newest publication highlights the artist’s first significant foray extensively photographing territory outside of the United States, chronicling a decidedly new psychological geography. The artist lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. Source: Bruce Silverstein
Ian Berry
United Kingdom
1934
Ian Berry made his reputation as a photojournalist reporting from South Africa, where he worked for the Sunday Times and Drum magazine. He was the only photographer to document the massacre at Sharpeville. While based in Paris he was invited to join Magnum by Henri Cartier-Bresson. He moved to London to become the first contract photographer for the Observer Magazine. He has covered, conflict in Israel, Ireland, Vietnam, Czechoslovakia and Congo, famine in Ethiopia and apartheid in South Africa. He has also reported on the political and social transformations in China and the former USSR. Awards include Nikon Photographer of the Year (twice), Picture of the Year award from the National Press Photographers of America, and British Press Magazine Photographer of the Year (twice). Arts Council Award, Art Directors' Club of New York Award. His books include The English, two books on South Africa, Sold into slavery and Sea. Exhibitions in London, Paris, Hamburg, Brussels, Bradford, Perpignan, Aix en Provence Shanghai, Lowry Gallery, Walker Art Gallery Liverpool, Edinburgh, SCOP Shanghai, Hastings, Bruges. Ian Berry: Street Photography Photojournalism, documentary, reportage, call it what you will, shooting on the street is not easy. It needs a level of dedication and commitment as well as preparation, both mentally and with your shooting equipment. I'm aware of the differences of opinion over whether a photographer should ask a potential subject's permission before taking a picture. My take on the matter is that if you want a self-conscious stare into the camera, by all means ask, but if you want a potential subject in their natural environment and make a picture that reflects the situation, then shoot first and, if needs be, talk later. If observed, a smile nearly always puts your subject at ease. Often I find that if I walk out of a hotel in a strange city and go unnoticed when shooting the first picture, I'm high all day and can photograph non-stop without being seen or rebuffed, but a bad reaction from the first subject and I might as well go back to bed. A good way to hone your skills is to attend local events, street fairs and even pet shows, places where people are more amenable and accustomed to being photographed. It goes without saying that whether planning to shoot abroad or in Britain one should respect local customs and dress codes. It's no good wandering around a city in shorts and colourful T-shirts if you wish to move unobserved. This selective process also applies to equipment; whether you compromise between the Christmas tree approach and the sneaky ‘one camera in the hand behind the back' system, and between carrying enough gear to cope with whatever might arise, but not so much that you're exhausted after a few hours. I'm always amazed at colleagues who walk up to people with a 28mm lens and a flashgun banging away in their faces. It certainly creates a style but adds artificiality that I find unpleasant, both visually and in terms of aggression towards the subject. I think a style on the street should be created by a vision rather than a technique. Also the benefit of today's digital cameras to boost the ISO has enabled me at least to ditch a flashgun altogether during the day. Once in a while a new photographer joins Magnum with a totally different vision, like Russian Gueorgui Pinkhassov, who really excites me and makes me want to go out and shoot, not to recreate his style but rather to reinvent myself. I love to shoot with two fixed focal length lenses on two quiet Olympus cameras hanging around my neck, partially concealed under a vest or jacket. Only partially concealed because I don't want it to appear as if I were trying to hide the fact I am a photographer. The lenses I use are a 28mm and a 50mm, which are small, light and fast. I prefer fixed focal length lenses because I like to know exactly what is going to be in the frame, and it's far easier to take half a step forward or backward than fiddling with a zoom. In Magnum the jury is out among the street shooters over whether a DSLR or a range finder is the better choice, but nearly all use single focal length lenses. The other plus of a small camera is that you are often perceived as an amateur photographer and therefore less of a threat to the people you're photographing. Shooting with a long zoom on the street is a definite no-no, as you will be viewed as a voyeur. Curiously, I find I can be 3ft or 4ft from someone, shoot with a 28mm lens and pass by unnoticed and yet be obvious at 15ft. A recent fashion trend I don't think works is trying to carry equipment in a rucksack. It's great for the countryside or getting to or from a location but on the street every second counts and by the time you get a camera or lens out of this sort of bag, night has fallen and everyone has gone home. I find that a soft bag of the Domke variety will hold a body with longer lens inconspicuously but within quick reach. Whatever your kit set-up, however, the same creative needs apply. The ability to recognise a potential situation and produce an elegant composition in a fraction of a second on the street is what separates the great photojournalists such as Eugene Smith, Sebastião Salgado and Alex Webb from the rest of us. I've noticed that with that ability comes the physical stamina and professionalism to pound the streets for 12 hours on the trot. The basic elements are either to grab the decisive moment on the hoof, to see a potential situation and hover unseen until it develops, or spot a potentially great background and be prepared to hang around for an hour or more until the right juxtaposition of people slot into place in front of you. This is something I frequently do, especially in a foreign environment; simply wait until you become part of the fixtures and fittings so that when you raise the camera slowly and smoothly to the eye, no one's attention is drawn by an unusual movement. One of the great things about growing up photographically in Magnum was the words of wisdom dropped casually on occasion by Henri Cartier-Bresson. For example, "A great photograph is not an intellectual result, the only intellectual involvement is being there in the first place. The actual moment is purely intuitive, like squeezing the trigger of a gun when your subject is in exactly the right place in the frame." On another occasion as we were wandering around in Paris, "Walk softly and slowly. If you are moving quickly and stop suddenly, the people you are about to photograph will react to the change of pace in their peripheral vision and become aware of you." Street photography in Britain has become another issue. Years ago when travelling from Istanbul to Beijing by train, I'd passed from Iran into Turkmenistan and was shooting in the capital, Ashgabat. Most of the main buildings had 15ft-high portraits of the President in true personality cult style and after wandering around I chose what I thought was the most interesting building architecturally. I then stood for quite a while waiting for interesting people to pass by to make up the shape. After a short time a couple of guys came out of the building and watched me, then came over and ‘invited' me into the building. It transpired I was photographing the equivalent of the FSBheadquarters. One of the men spoke excellent English and after quizzing me in a not unpleasant way, asked that if he were to come to London would he be allowed to photograph Scotland Yard? In response I invited him to call me when he was next in London so we could photograph it together. Sadly I could not do that any more, we are no longer that relaxed a society. So what to do when you're in front of the Bank of England trying to shoot an essay on the City and an officious PCSO or a jobsworth from the nearest sock shop arrives to tell you to desist, or worse, delete your images? The advice of lawyer Rupert Grey, who knows a thing or two about photographers' rights, is to keep your cool, be polite and explain that you are perfectly entitled to take photographs in a public place without being hassled. The public are more sensible on the whole, although it's still best to avoid photographing children. Years ago when shooting for my book, The English, I was able to go into school playgrounds with the teachers' approval and thought nothing of it; and it was the same in shopping centres, even hospitals, but no longer. Having said that, not too long ago I was passing an African-Caribbean church and stopped outside to take a few pictures of people milling around, only to be invited in to photograph the service – a pleasurable experience in this age, which tells me that one should not give up on recording life in Britain. Ian's words of wisdom "Know your camera inside out. Walk with your finger on the release. Have your lens pre-focused (Josef Koudelka had bits of matchsticks glued to Olympus lenses at different points to focus by feel). A single focal lens is best. I shoot on aperture, only adjusting as light conditions change. Don't be intimidated, most people are happy to be photographed. If nervous walk with a friend, although they are always distracting and get in the way. Buy a waistcoat or jacket a size too big to keep your camera concealed inside. Look around you constantly. Be discreet; looking beyond the subject after shooting often helps. If confronted, good-humoured banter and a smile always work."
Craig Varjabedian
United States
1957
"Craig Varjabedian's photographs of the American West would be the perfect illustrations to a Cormac McCarthy book. They have a surreal beauty and poetic emptiness that border on the fictional. It's as if this isn't the real West, but the West of tall tales and American dreams." Claire O'neill, "The Picture Show," National Public Radio Craig Varjabedian is an award-winning photographer, author, and teacher. His stunning photographs of the people and places of the American West are critically acclaimed, not only for their powerful imagery and artistic composition, but also for their ability to transcend the commonplace-immanently engaging the viewer with scenes that passionately reflect the artist's connection to his subjects. Varjabedian achieves this goal through a skillful visionary acuity and intuition, allowing him to make photographs that expand awareness. As a result, viewers are presented with new ways of seeing and experiencing this region so integral to our collective imagination and our unique American identity. Varjabedian's gift lies in his ability to blend both technical expertise and illustrative narrative-depicting lyrical images that reveal the humanity and character of a vast sometimes barren country known for its legendary beauty and dramatic heritage. Varjabedian's photographs tell contemporary stories that continue to inspire today what has historically been recognized as the "spirit of the Great American West." Craig graduated from the University of Michigan witha Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and received his Master's degree from the prestigious Rochester Institute of Technology. As a fine art photographer for over forty years, Varjabedian has been widely praised for his masterful images ranging from awe-inspiring, expansive landscapes, to intimate soul-revealing portraits. He is also the director of Eloquent Light Photography Workshops in Santa Fe. In further recognition of his work, Varjabedian has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the McCune Charitable Foundation, and the New Mexico Humanities Council. His photographs have been exhibited in, and his prints collected by, museums around the country, including the William Benton Museum of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Albuquerque Museum of Art. In 1991, Craig received an Emmy Award for his collaboration with award-winning filmmaker Karl Kernberger on the PBS documentary En Divina Luz: The Penitente Moradas of New Mexico. Photographs from this project were published in a 1994 book by the same name. Craig's other books include By the Grace of Light: Images of Faith from Catholic New Mexico (1998), Four & Twenty Photographs: Stories from Behind the Lens (2007); Ghost Ranch and the Faraway Nearby (2009), which received the prestigious Wrangler Award for Outstanding Photography Book from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum; and Landscape Dreams, A New Mexico Portrait (2012), released to coincide with the New Mexico State Centennial. Varjabedian's latest book, Into the Great White Sands, a photographic celebration of White Sands National Monument, was published by the University of New Mexico Press in 2018. The book received a prestigious New Mexico/Arizona Book Award. Craig Varjabedian's Interview
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