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Jane Fulton-Alt
Jane Fulton-Alt
Jane Fulton-Alt

Jane Fulton-Alt

Country: United States

Jane Fulton Alt began exploring the visual arts while pursuing her career as a clinical social worker. She received her B. A. from the University of Michigan and her M. A. from the University of Chicago. She is living and working on the shores of Lake Michigan in Evanston, Illinois, and in close proximity to the Mississippi River in New Orleans. Alt is a three time winner of Photolucida's Critical Mass for her Katrina and Burn portfolios. She has authored Look and Leave: Photographs and Stories of New Orleans's Lower Ninth Ward (The Center for American Places at Columbia College Chicago, 2009), The Burn (Keher Verlag, 2013), and her Crude Awakening portfolio was printed in multiple publications worldwide.

She received the 2012 Humble Arts 31 Women in Art Photography Award, the Photo District News 2011 Curators Choice Award, the 2007 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship Award and multiple Ragdale Foundation Fellowships. Alt has exhibited nationally and internationally and her work can be found in many permanent collections.
 

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Diane Arbus
United States
1923 | † 1971
Diane Arbus was an American photographer and writer noted for black-and-white square photographs of "deviant and marginal people (dwarfs, giants, transgender people, nudists, circus performers) or of people whose normality seems ugly or surreal." Arbus believed that a camera could be “a little bit cold, a little bit harsh” but its scrutiny revealed the truth; the difference between what people wanted others to see and what they really did see – the flaws. A friend said that Arbus said that she was "afraid... that she would be known simply as 'the photographer of freaks'"; however, that phrase has been used repeatedly to describe her. In 1972, a year after she committed suicide, Arbus became the first American photographer to have photographs displayed at the Venice Biennale. Millions of people viewed traveling exhibitions of her work in 1972–1979. Between 2003 and 2006, Arbus and her work were the subjects of another major traveling exhibition, Diane Arbus Revelations. In 2006, the motion picture Fur, starring Nicole Kidman as Arbus, presented a fictional version of her life story. Although some of Arbus's photographs have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction, Arbus's work has provoked controversy; for example, Norman Mailer was quoted in 1971 as saying "Giving a camera to Diane Arbus is like putting a live grenade in the hands of a child." Others have, however, pointed out that Mailer was dissatisfied with a picture of him holding his crotch taken by Arbus for the New York Times book review. Diane Arbus was born as Diane Nemerov, to David Nemerov and Gertrude Russek Nemerov. The Nemerovs were a Jewish couple who lived in New York City and owned Russek's, a famous Fifth Avenue department store. Because of her family's wealth, Arbus was insulated from the effects of the Great Depression while growing up in the 1930s. Arbus's father became a painter after retiring from Russek's; her younger sister would become a sculptor and designer; and her older brother, Howard Nemerov, would later become United States Poet Laureate, and the father of the Americanist art historian Alexander Nemerov. Diane Nemerov attended the Fieldston School for Ethical Culture, a prep school. In 1941, at the age of eighteen, she married her childhood sweetheart Allan Arbus. Their first daughter Doon (who would later become a writer), was born in 1945 and their second daughter Amy (who would later become a photographer), was born in 1954. Diane and Allan Arbus separated in 1958, and they were divorced in 1969. The Arbuses' interests in photography led them, in 1941, to visit the gallery of Alfred Stieglitz, and learn about the photographers Mathew Brady, Timothy O'Sullivan, Paul Strand, Bill Brandt, and Eugène Atget. In the early 1940s, Diane's father employed them to take photographs for the department store's advertisements. Allan was a photographer for the U.S. Army Signal Corps in World War Two. In 1946, after the war, the Arbuses began a commercial photography business called "Diane & Allan Arbus," with Diane as art director and Allan as the photographer. They contributed to Glamour, Seventeen, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and other magazines even though "they both hated the fashion world." Despite over 200 pages of their fashion editorial in Glamour, and over 80 pages in Vogue, the Arbuses' fashion photography has been described as of "middling quality." Edward Steichen's noted 1955 photographic exhibit, The Family of Man, did include a photograph by the Arbuses of a father and son reading a newspaper. In 1956, Diane Arbus quit the commercial photography business. Although earlier she had studied photography with Berenice Abbott, her studies with Lisette Model, beginning in 1956, led to Arbus's most well-known methods and style. She began photographing on assignment for magazines such as Esquire, Harper's Bazaar, and The Sunday Times Magazine in 1959. Around 1962, Arbus switched from a 35 mm Nikon camera which produced grainy rectangular images to a twin-lens reflex Rolleiflex camera which produced more detailed square images. In 1963, Arbus was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for a project on "American rites, manners, and customs"; the fellowship was renewed in 1966. In 1964, Arbus began using a twin-lens reflex Mamiya camera with flash in addition to the Rolleiflex. Her methods included establishing a strong personal relationship with her subjects and re-photographing some of them over many years. During the 1960s, she taught photography at the Parsons School of Design and the Cooper Union in New York City, and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. The first major exhibition of her photographs occurred at the Museum of Modern Art in a 1967 show called New Documents, curated by John Szarkowski. The show also featured the work of Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander. Some of her artistic work was done on assignment. Although she continued to photograph on assignment (e.g., in 1968 she shot documentary photographs of poor sharecroppers in rural South Carolina for Esquire magazine), in general her magazine assignments decreased as her fame as an artist increased. Szarkowski hired Arbus in 1970 to research an exhibition on photojournalism called From the Picture Press; it included many photographs by Weegee whose work Arbus admired. Using softer light than in her previous photography, she took a series of photographs in her later years of people with intellectual disability showing a range of emotions. At first, Arbus considered these photographs to be "lyric and tender and pretty," but by June, 1971, she told Lisette Model that she hated them. Associating with other contemporary photographers such as Robert Frank and Saul Leiter, Arbus helped form what Jane Livingston has termed The New York School of photographers during the 1940s and 1950s. Among other photographers and artists she befriended during her career, she was close to photographer Richard Avedon; he was approximately the same age, his family had also run a Fifth Avenue department store, and many of his photographs were also characterized as detailed frontal poses. Another good friend was Marvin Israel, an artist, graphic designer, and art director whom Arbus met in 1959. Arbus experienced "depressive episodes" during her life similar to those experienced by her mother, and the episodes may have been made worse by symptoms of hepatitis. Arbus wrote in 1968, "I go up and down a lot," and her ex-husband noted that she had "violent changes of mood." On July 26, 1971, while living at Westbeth Artists Community in New York City, Arbus took her own life by ingesting barbiturates and slashing her wrists with a razor. Marvin Israel found her body in the bathtub two days later; she was 48 years old.Source: Wikipedia
Bissera Videnova
Bulgaria
1966
Bissera Videnova is a contemporary photographer, poet, writer, and editor in her native tongue. She became interested in photography at a very young age when she had already participated in movie and television productions and wanted to be in front of and behind the camera at the same time. Mrs. Videnova has published both poetry and prose for academic and online articles in her country. In 2012, she won the Mediterranean Women Forum with a short story. She had a collection of poems published in her native tongue (2017) She is the editor of the first book released in Bulgarian about the artist Christo and Jeanne-Claude. She translated the upcoming issue, again in Bulgarian, of Cyril Christo's poems about Christo and Jeanne-Claude's projects. Her poems and prose were translated and published in English, Korean, Italian, Romani, and French. She participated several times in poetry readings of the Yale Poetry Club in Manhattan. As a photographer, she participated in group exhibitions in Sofia/Bulgaria, Venice/ Italy, and Tampa/ Florida. She is a member of FMoPA (Florida Museum of Photographic Arts), finalist of Siena International 2020,2021; BECA Photo Awards 2021; July 2020 Bissera published her first photo book "The Speed of My Life" inspired by her poem on early emotional loss. Statement Globalization, which overtook after the collapse of communism, the nations enclose in capsules because of the language, are the most common parts of my themes. My quests are in the dissolving of the human ego into the ego of the rest around and into the demands of society. I am interested in both theories of time - one is that time flows linearly in our physical world and the other is metaphysical, that everything happens at the same time. Photography as an art is also relevant to the time. For me, it is not an immediate record of reality, a testimony, but a process that I go through myself first while shooting, then while editing and finally, if necessary, to manipulate the images. I seek the real personal story and not the person as a role model. As a poet, I need wordless images that contain apparent emotionality. I try to find the detail or the anchor remaining in the unconscious after disappearing from the picture; where are the limits of individuality versus the society at large. I am interested in my role as a bridge between the generations. Has what I have learned and what I pass on broken down somewhere on the "wire" and when communication is disrupted in the modern world, even more so now, in a time of the pandemic, are only technologies to blame? Is there a conflict between people and machines - a question I often think about and is the subject of an unfinished play? More and more people are reaching out to photography as a means of expression. Just like poetry and prose, they are beginning to heal their emotional body by separating their personality and life from themselves and starting to look away. The narration of yourself also contains the topics you work on and how you approach the technique. "Regarding the Pain of the Others" on Sontag is also a choice. The books are a testament to the time and culture in which the author lives. Besides, the photographs have one more advantage - the light that can immediately unveil the secret of the photo.
Ruud van Empel
Netherlands
1958
Ruud van Empel (born 21 November 1958 in Breda) is a Dutch photographer and visual artist. Ruud van Empel was born in Breda in 1958. He studied at the Academie voor Beeldende Kunst St. Joost (St Joost Academy of Art) in Breda in the 1970s, and began making independently produced videotapes in the eighties. He moved to Amsterdam in the late eighties to work on his career as a visual artist. His first photographic series were The Office (1995-2001), Study for Women (1999-2002) and Study in Green (2003). The Groninger Museum presented his first solo exhibition in 1999. He made his international breakthrough with his series World-Moon-Venus, which was shown in the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York State. Until mid-1995, Van Empel’s art was primarily generated by a process of assembling analogue photographic images. At that point, he exchanged this traditional collage technique – cutting, pasting and retouching in the darkroom – for image processing on the computer, working in an idea-driven manner. The first series created with this method was The Office (1995). In a technical sense, The Office displays a handicraft-like quality, missing the perfectionist character of his later work. Nevertheless, Ruud van Empel clearly demonstrated that his approach differed from other disciplines such as staged photography. In certain aspects, The Office offered a somewhat surrealistic character and referred to photomontages from the 1920s in terms of style and design. On the basis of this art-historical reference, Van Empel created a new genre within photography – without a ready-to-wear label. The artist himself speaks of the ‘construction of a photographic image’. Although he does make use of pure photomontage – he never applies so-called morphing techniques – the final result strives for content aligned to natural reality rather than to surrealism. The artificiality is visible but the final image is a convincing, autonomous reality. As a consequence, the work does not seem grotesque or absurd but could theoretically actually appear in reality. In that respect, Van Empel’s images are independent. They do not manifest themselves as ‘symbolic’ and have been stripped of all ‘pictorial’ associations. He does not deploy photography as a substitute for painting but rather uses it as an independent form of depiction. Every image consists of photographic sources that are digitally assembled on the computer. The work of Ruud van Empel exists by grace of the camera by means of which he records his building blocks. After The Office, he created the Study for Women series, which comprises a number of female portraits that refer to the magic realism art movement. In this series, produced in the period 2000-2002, he displayed the form language with which he would soon gain worldwide recognition. The Study in Green series from 2003-2004, the Untitled series from 2004, and the three closely related series World, Moon and Venus, which he began in 2005, represented Van Empel’s true international breakthrough. Curator Deborah Klochko invited him to participate in the exhibition entitled Picturing Eden in the George Eastman House. In the book Ruud van Empel Photoworks 1995-2010, she wrote: ‘Van Empel’s virtuosity lies in his capacity to combine in photography the kind of ideas anchored in painting (historical references, the power of a glimpse, use of colour) and cinema (structure with multiple images and the power of a narrative), and to do so on a large scale. To understand his work you must ask yourself: ‘Is it science or art? Is it real or imaginary? Is innocence or decadence?’ Particularly the World series, which explores the theme of innocence, made a deep impression. These works were inspired by photos taken by his father. Van Empel placed neatly dressed, black boys and girls in paradisical settings of unspoiled, non-existent natural surroundings. Great interest in and appreciation of this series are expressed worldwide to this day. The breakthrough in America also led to renewed attention in Dutch museums. Van Empel has had solo exhibitions in Museum Het Valkhof in Nijmegen, the Groninger Museum and the NoordBrabants Museum in ’s-Hertogenbosch. Since the international recognition of his work gave Ruud Van Empel the status of an artist with an own independent form language, he has progressively extended his oeuvre with the Theatre series from 2010-2013, and Souvenir, which provided a charged picture of his youth in Breda. This series was purchased by the NoordBrabants Museum. A typical feature of the work of Ruud van Empel is the composition of a perfected and idealized representation right down to the finest details. But this always has a darker side, albeit not always evident. Ruud Schenk, curator of the Groninger Museum, wrote about that aspect with reference to the Study for Women series (2000-2002): ‘As a spectator you feel that there is something not quite right about the depiction of the women: they are not completely lifelike, but tend to be a mixture of real women and window dummies. This generates a certain discomfort, an uneasiness that touches upon what was described as 'das Unheimliche' (the uncanny) at the beginning of the 20th century.’ Although the photographic images seem to capture an epoch, you can hardly assign a date to any of them. This timeless element of Van Empel’s work has taken on a different significance in his recent work, as he deals with themes such as transience and Vanity in his Still Life series from 2014, and also portrays older people as in the portrait of an older woman in the Sunday series (2012), or in the Nude series (2014), in which he questions the pose of the model and the aesthetics of nudity. In the Solo Work series, on which Ruud van Empel has been working since 2011, he consistently deals with just one topic in an isolated work. The moral, ethical and aesthetic dilemmas of society and art are presented to us in a photographic form language. The significance of these is shown in the countless publications and international exhibitions of this work, not only in institutions specialized in photography but also in renowned museums for modern visual art.Source: Wikipedia
Olivia Arthur
United Kingdom
1980
Olivia Arthur is a British documentary photographer. She co-founded Fishbar, a publisher and space for photography in London, with Philipp Ebeling in 2010. Arthur is a member of the Magnum Photos agency and has produced the books Jeddah Diary (2012) and Stranger (2015). Originally studying mathematics at Oxford University, Arthur later studied photojournalism at London College of Printing. She became a nominee member of Magnum Photos in 2008, an associate member in 2011, and a full member in 2013. In 2010 Arthur co-founded Fishbar, a publisher and space for photography in East London, with her husband Philipp Ebeling. Her first book Jeddah Diary (2012) is about the lives of young women in Saudi Arabia. Her second book Stranger (2015) views Dubai through the eyes of the survivor of a shipwreck.Source: Wikipedia Olivia Arthur is known for her in-depth photography examining people and their personal and cultural identities. Much of her work has illuminated the daily lives of women living in countries as varied as Saudi Arabia, India and across Europe. A more recent focus on large format portraiture has brought her work back to the UK. “For me, part of the power of still photography is the ambiguousness of pictures, the ability to give a hint about a scene or event without being too absolute,” says Arthur of her work. Arthur was born in London and grew up in the UK. She studied mathematics at Oxford University and photojournalism at the London College of Printing. She began working as a photographer in 2003 after moving to Delhi and was based in India for two and a half years. In 2006, she left for Italy to take up a one-year residency with Fabrica, during which she began working on a series about women and cultural divides. Representation and the way we see ourselves are also areas of interest for Arthur. She explored these themes in her project In Private/Mumbai (2016-2018) about sexuality in India and through her ‘Portrait of a City’ commission about young people for Hull, City of Culture (2017). Arthur’s work has been shown in publications including The New Yorker, Vogue and TIME Magazine among others and selected commercial clients include British Airways, Capeb and BNP Paribas. She has received support from the Inge Morath Award, the National Media Museum, OjodePez-PhotoEspana Award for Human Values. Arthur continues to return to India and to work in London where she lives. She became a full member of Magnum Photos in 2013.Source: Magnum Photos
Michael Ackerman
Israel/United States
1967
Born in Tel Aviv, Israel. His family moves to New York in 1974. Lives and works in Warsaw. Since his first exhibition, in 1999, Michael Ackerman has made his mark by bringing a new, radical and unique approach. His work on Varanasi, entitled "End Time City," breaks away from all sorts of exoticism or any anecdotal attempt at description, to question time and death with a freedom granted by a distance from the panoramic – whose usage he renewed – to squares or rectangles. In black and white, with permanent risk that led him to explore impossible lighting, he allowed the grainy images to create enigmatic and pregnant visions. Michael Ackerman seeks – and finds – in the world he traverses, reflections of his personal malaise, doubts and anguish. He received the Nadar Award for his book "End Time City" in 1999, and the Infinity Award for Young Photographer by the International Center of Photography in 1998. In 2009, he won the SCAM Roger Pic Award for his series "Departure, Poland". His last book "Half Life" has been published in 2010 by Robert Delpire. In 2014, he collaborated with Vincent Courtois, cellist, and Christian Caujolle, behind the project, in a show called “L'intuition” which proposes a dialogue between photography and music creation. This show was presented, in particular, as part of the festival Banlieues Bleues and for the Rencontres d'Arles 2014.Source: Agence VU Selected Publications 2wice, Abitare, Aperture, Art On Paper, Beaux Arts, Die Zeit, Doubletake, Eyemazing, French Photo, Granta, Harpers, India Magazine, La Humanite, Internazionale, Les Inrockuptibles, Liberation, Le Matin, Le Monde 2, Metropolis, New York Magazine, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The New Yorker, Ray Gun, La Repubblica delle Donne, Rolling Stone, Stern and The Village Voice. Awards SCAM Roger Pic Award, 2009. Prix Nadar, End Time City, 1999. Best Documentary of 1999, photo-eye, 1999. Infinity Award, Young Photographer, International Center of Photography, 1998. 2014 L’intuition – A projection in collaboration with musician Vincent Courtois, curated by Christian Caujolle. Performed In la Friche Belle de Mai, Marseille, 4 Fevrier Le Lux Scene national de Valence, Festival Banlieues blues, Paris and Rencontres photographiques d’Arles SUSPENSION Noun: Suspension, Verb: suspend: “To cause to stop for a period, hold in abeyance; suspend judgment.” In Michael Ackerman's work, documentary and autobiography conspire with fiction, and all of the above dissolve into hallucination. The particular journeys of his book Half Life encompass New York, Havana, Berlin, Naples, Paris, Warsaw, and Krakow, but the locations aren’t necessarily recognizable at all. Michael has been moving towards this erasure of geographical and other distinctions in his photographs for some time. It hasn’t become dogma - the Smoke photographs shot in Atlanta’s Cabbagetown remain a beautifully regional document, but they document a neighborhood as a particular dream state rather than a set of facts, and the photos could wander easily into his other bodies of work. In all cases, there is surely a trajectory away from the constraints of a traditional documentary mode towards a very different way of getting at the world. Some notes about particular photos in Half Life: A family, seen on a decaying porcelain tombstone portrait - solarized by decades of exposure - is falling apart, as families do, is holding on together, as families do. The shape of their little monument is uncannily like that of the Hotel Centrum on a later page, where such a family, had they existed in the same era, would not have been able to stay. The Centrum, a modern Polish megalith, floats absurdly in the frame, freed from all scale but heavy on the page. A naked man kneeling on a bed; we find him in supplication or some unspecific bondage. He is trapped, caught between stations, and the terrible but accepted scratch lines on the negative make it feel like TV or video, as if the man is seen through some screen, receding. It’s no longer a portrait of a particular person. It seems as if the man has become some vague entity, a sick feeling, a migraine headache, I don’t even know. A man goes up stairs or an escalator and his hand is ridiculously long, maybe like that of Nosferatu in Murnau’s silent film. The stairs begin in Lodz but, according to the next page, pass a landing in Havana. Suspension... A woman, naked, holds her arms against her torso. She looks up, somehow in simultaneous surprise and recognition. I can’t say if her face shows love or sadness or fear, but there’s something inevitable in her expression. It’s strange how she seems so caught in flux, while her shadow, so dark on the wall, is just the opposite, permanent.* * * In the early stages of his building the Half Life book, Michael and I talked about where to put the series of pictures taken from train windows, mostly in deep winter. At one point they were scattered throughout, at other times they fell together in a bloc, but in any case, the body of work, and the book as a whole, started to feel to me like they ran on rails in the snow, and the places and people within them were stops, things seen or felt in passing. They’re encountered, drift away, are longed for, returned to, left behind again. If Michael’s work is sometimes tough, the landscapes remind us back to a balancing delicacy, a faith in beauty. Michael deeply loves the snow trains that cut archaically through Europe, especially through Eastern Europe, especially the overnight trains which he and I share as our transportation of choice. On these you travel but are nowhere for the duration of the trip, floating through whiteness if it’s wintertime. This nothing in which things float is echoed in his prints, though the white is sometimes heavily vignetted, as if darkness wants in. Alternately, the backgrounds can be of total blackness, and then the subject radiates like a candle. But back to the snow trains, which often run through the most ignored and beautiful parts of cities, where commercial facades drop away like forced smiles into debris and frozen mud and warehouses, which then give way to fields. Riding on one of these trains outside of Katowice, Poland en route to Paris, Michael spotted in the distance the warped row of dead train cars seen in the book. Desperate to photograph them, he guessed at their location and eventually returned. He got off at the closest stop, trudged through the snow, and found the trains, but approaching across a frozen field, camera in hand, his legs suddenly plunged through a chasm in the whiteness, a missing manhole cover. In what he referred to as a “rare case of quick thinking,” he stuck out his arms, breaking the fall, and managed to pull himself out. No one knew he was there, and if he’d perished, it would’ve been for the love of trains, and of wreckage, and of course, of pictures. * * * Many in the panel of men at the beginning of Half Life were photographed in bars. Some were found in a bar in Paris where the old and ageless proprietor became one of Michael’s favorite people, not just in the city, but in the world. Her bar was a special refuge, and though she was difficult, she truly took Michael in. This tiny bar remains a constant, a place of return, but many of the regulars he’s met over the years are now gone. For some moments however, they drew, or seemed to draw, terribly close, with alcohol as glue and pictures proof -- but of what… mutual need, eventual isolation, or the pendulum swing between the two… A bar is something like the center of an hourglass: at the top is time disappearing, and at the bottom, time spent. But to those in the place, the regulars, the middle is the only thing apparent and there time has stopped. (An interesting circumstance for others in the time-stopping business, and not just still photographers. The phenomena is beautifully understood in Daumier’s paintings of drinkers or Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son). It is illusory, of course; the people are held in that place where, like the proverbial cartoon character who’s gone off a cliff, they just don’t realize the ground has dropped away beneath their feet. Once again, suspension. Which also has a musical definition: The prolongation of a tone in one chord into the following chord, usually producing a temporary dissonance. This prolongation of tone, an ongoing search, gives the work continuity, as does the dissonance, which can be restlessness or loss. I won’t talk much here about the emotional drive behind the work, or the personal ramifications, but that’s my hesitation, not Michael’s. There’s a picture in Half Life of the photographer and a woman, both with shaved heads, a troubled mirroring, a last strange union. The photograph is a pact: see you now, see you later, so long... In the last few years, such goodbyes have given way to a series of welcomings, explorations of the concrete changes and dream states of immediate family, wife and child. These pictures, deeply caring but by necessity fearless, reverberate with bluntness, warmth, shock, matter of fact erotics, and of course love, which when regarded honestly, includes a steamer trunk of contradictions. So, there is fear mixed in with the fearlessness, the joy includes some trepidation, the innocence is utterly real, but tangled and fleeting. How disappointing it would be if a photographer so open to the wrenching truths of the world would suddenly pull all punches when faced with the most intimate situation of all. How unfortunate it would be, for all of us, if investigations of intimacy were left to the whitewashers and the advertisers, the puritans and the pornographers. And so, in the recent work, new tightropes are stretched and new risks are taken. But in looking back at Michael’s work as a whole, I’m reminded that one of the great challenges artists face is when to pull back from the proverbial edge - those addicted to pushing the envelope sometimes fall into a negative trap which has its own complacency. A kind or subtle or purely beautiful image might actually be the risk that they can’t seem to take. The walking of tightropes has always been integral to Michael’s work, but I don’t see him falling into that dark trap, which is why the work is thorny but never cynical, heavy but also sweet. Beyond all of that, I still don’t understand how the pictures happen, how he gets them. It certainly isn’t about the equipment, the cameras come and go, sometimes literally broken but still pressed into use. I think Michael feels that taking pictures and taking chances should be kindred enterprises. I’ve met few artists less uptight about the technology and intricacies of gear and production, though he does of course become completely intimate with what he needs in order to get at what he feels. Once I heard him suggest in a Q & A that he just doesn’t care about technique, but knowing the time and tortures he’s given over to darkroom work, I thought that was a touch disingenuous. He meant that technique and technology are never the core of the matter, and that he doesn’t like to be precious about them. And he needs accidents; they might reveal something, break something open. Sometimes they might go too far and the image itself is obliterated: again, necessary risk. I’ve seen him photograph without putting the camera to his eye, as if to confirm that what he was after wasn’t primarily even about seeing. (That too is deceptive; with time, some photographers know what the camera is getting, regardless of where it’s held). Maybe I mean that compared to many other photographers, Michael’s work isn’t so concerned with sight itself. If he could have been a writer, painter, or a musician, that might have worked too. In any case, the results speak for themselves, and the results are often kind of insane. Sadly, because of the madness of these photographs and the digital times we’ve entered, people increasingly assume that certain pictures must be computer manipulations. Michael is no purist, but that simply isn’t what is going on here. Do you see how it matters that even if these are accidents of light and the distorting lens, they are things that somehow happened, that were? They come out of the real; however unlikely or impossible, they are measurements - not constructions. They are measurements, but in the end, of the interior as much as of the world. But like I said, Michael’s not a purist, and in his impure searching, he occasionally walks a thin line between accepting pure actuality and giving it a nudge. We argue about it. I don’t know what to make of the picture where someone else’s old portrait of Anna Akhmatova is held up and rephotographed. I guess Michael wanted to invite her into that streetscape, felt she was part of his history or emotional landscape; maybe he just loved her profile and wondered, what the hell, why not? Sometimes the work is funny. The absurdly mismatched nude couple in the book aren’t funny but they are, as is the man who wears a monocle made of smoke. The Coney Island hotdog signs reading ‘Franks’ and the American flag they stutter towards comprise a whimsical tribute to one particular, beloved photographer; first name - Robert. Occasional whimsy aside though, Half Life is a rough ride through damaged places and situations. And what’s it like to be with Michael when he’s photographing such things? Well, it isn’t necessarily comfortable, or easy, or pleasant. Sometimes artists push their work, and their luck along with it. Sometimes Michael just plunges in. I was crossing the street with him on the Lower East side once when a woman suddenly appeared, coming towards us in the intersection. Something in her presence struck us instantly with force -- she might have been beautiful or she might have been mutilated -- we had no time to register anything; but he lunged and got off one picture as I stood by and winced. I doubt she noticed at all, but what if she had? (The picture is in Fiction; it appears to be of a ghost in a miniskirt, perhaps with a black eye.) Such pictures do not come out of discretion, or delicacy, or fair exchange. In many of Michael’s pictures mutual understanding simply may or may not have existed. There is a harshness to this observation; it troubles me, and yet I can say that Michael’s pictures are always, deeply made without judgment, in total acceptance. That in itself is a kind of love. And the subjects obviously extend him enormous trust. (Well... except when they don’t. Walking with Michael on a street in Krakow, he photographed another approaching woman, a middle-aged matron. She yelled angrily at him in Polish; he kept walking but yelled back, in Polish: “You’re beautiful.”) It is probably no accident then that the gesture of the embrace recurs again and again in Michael’s work. Which leads me to what may be my favorite set of pictures that Michael has taken, of the couple on the stairs: To what do we owe this strange and tender record ? And what is the record of? An older man and his young girlfriend collapsed in drunken surrender… or perhaps a father and son broken together on a subway staircase ? Who is holding who up? Was the man once a boxer? If the younger one is in fact a woman, is she his lover? The stairs are at once unyielding and rippling, bending and unbending. This couple, whatever their relationship and circumstance, are attended to then in a series of photographs, equally harsh and gentle, unwrapped over time. But what time is given - minutes, hours, or an unending day or an unending night? You can just about hear the tinny loudspeakers in the background of the train station, and thinking of stations, I am reminded that the 13th station is the descent from the cross. The actual circumstances, the truth of it, the year and the gender, hardly matter, don’t matter at all. At its best, the work speaks past such details, and even beyond photography.
Tim Flach
United Kingdom
1958
Tim Flach is an animal photographer with an interest in the way humans shape animals and shape their meaning while exploring the role of imagery in fostering an emotional connection. Bringing to life the complexity of the animal kingdom, his work ranges widely across species, united by a distinctive stylisation reflecting an interest in how we better connect people to the natural world. He has four major bodies of work concerning different subjects: Equus (2008) focusing on the horse, Dogs Gods (2010) on canines, More Than Human (2012) a broad exploration of the world’s species, and Endangered (2017) a powerful document of species on the edge of extinction. He has published five books; Endangered (2017), Evolution (2013), More than Human, (2012), Dogs Gods (2010) and Equus (2008). Flach is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from University of the Arts London in 2013. He lives and works in London with his wife and son. Source: timflach.com Over the past decade, Flach's work has increasingly focused on animals, ranging widely across species but united by a distinctive style that is derived from his concerns with anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism. His interests lie in the way humans shape animals, and shape their meaning. He has three major bodies of work: More Than Human, Dogs Gods, and Equus. Through the related books and exhibitions, Flach has attracted international interest. His images have been acquired by major public and private collections. Commissions by leading editorial and commercial clients have also garnered multiple awards, including three Cannes Lions. He has won the International Photography Award's Professional Photographer of the Year for fine art, and in 2013 was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate from Norwich University of the Arts, in recognition of his contribution to photography.
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AAP Magazine #22: Streets
AAP Magazine #22: Streets
Solo Exhibition December 2021

Latest Interviews

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Exlusive Interview with Tom Price Winner of All About Photo Awards 2021
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Solo Exhibition December 2021
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