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Tim Franco
Self Portrait
Tim Franco
Tim Franco

Tim Franco

Country: France/Poland

Tim Franco is French-Polish freelance photographer based in Shanghai. Since he first came to China in 2005, Tim Franco got fascinated by the fast social and urban transformation that chinese cities where going through. He has spent some time documenting those growth through urban photography but also by studying social changes, such at the underground art world and the social problems related to the evolutions of the cities. Among his projects is a comprehensive depiction of the growth of the alternative music scene in China and particularly Shanghai. The project was synthesized and published in a book, “Shanghai Soundbites”, released in June 2008 in response to the attitude towards cultural expression manifested in the lead up to the Beijing Olympics. Subsequently, the pictures have been included in numerous news and lifestyle publications both in China and abroad.

He now continues his work documenting the urban development of chinese cities and its social impact on the local people. He is also involved in local youth and underground movement both in China and greater asia. Tim Franco is a regular contributor to Le Monde ( newspaper and magazine ), but his work has also been published in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Le Point, NRC, Wiwo, Global Journal, Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, The Fader, CNN online, Time Out, Urban.

About the series Vertical Communism
Vertical Communism is a long term project about the city of Chongqing. This city, one of the biggest in central china, went through one of the fastest development process in the country. The main reason is, located upstream of the three gorges dam, the government has welcomed all displaced population from submerged region into its main urban areas. The city is fascinating because of its accelerated development that produced high rises buildings on the side of rivers and mountains, taking away the traditional charms of the old Chang Kai Shek capital, but also because of its political and social history. Once at the hand of the biggest organized crime group in China, the city has been re manipulated into a neo communist style red propaganda machine, led by the highly controversial son of a famous revolutionary named Bo Xilai. With his wife now in prison for the murder of a British national, and his personal implication in corruptions and tortures, Bo Xilai has been quickly removed from any government places in China and the city is looking once again for a new direction.

I personally see Chongqing as a macro representation of the whole China. With its tumultuous political history and its growing social pressure for managing farmers coming into urban areas for a better life, all of it pushed by a constant need of investments and fast modernization, I wanted to portray this view of a growing china, far away from the common views of eastern cities such as shanghai or Beijing. From a photographic point of view, I have decided to shoot the people in their environment. But i have decided to take a step back, using medium format film camera, I want to transmit the feeling of scales that the city and china in general is facing. Urban Scales, Social Scales, the country's biggest problem is now to find a way to link some extremes the highly rich to the very poor, the extravagant to the meaningful. Vertical Communism is a portrait of Chinese a megapolis full of contradiction, trying to keep up with its unpredictable modernization.

Interview with Tim Franco
All About Photo: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer?
Tim Franco: There is not a precise moment. When I was young, I loved writing stories, then my passion became music. I always wanted to share my ideas and vision of things through some mediums at the end it became photography.

Where did you study photography?
When I was a kid, my artist mother pushed me from one opening to the other, through museums and galleries. At first I hated it, and then became used to it and started to hang out more and more in her studio, until I took away her old cameras , I have learn through experience, other photographers and reading tutorials.

How could you describe your style?
Photographers tend to be classified, put into boxes, commercial photographer, photojournalists, artists, etc. I never really know how to classify my work. What I love is telling stories, document facts with an artistic esthetic to it. I also enjoy working on creative commercial assignments. I always try to stay simple in the esthetic and subtle about the story.

What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film?
For my personal work, I really enjoy medium format. When I see something, most of the time, I ideally want to frame it in square. I don't really like naming brands, they all have different feeling and esthetic and it really depends the look you want to give your image. To name a few I personally work with Hasselblad and old rolleiflex. For commercial work, I use Canon because of their price and availability in terms of lenses.>

Do you spend a lot of time editing your images?
When shooting film, I usually spend very little time editing, just cleaning dust on films and other small details. When shooting commercial work on digital its another story. Clients are very specific about what they want and color out of raw files needs to go through extensive treatment. My photo agency works with a retouching studio for most of our commercial projects.

What advice would you give a young photographer?
Those days, its very easy to call yourself a photographer, grab a camera , a couple of nice prime lenses and you can get some good images. But I think young photographers should really focus on what are they trying to say with their images. What makes a great photo is not the instant esthetic of it but the impact that image will have on its viewer.

An idea, a sentence, a project you would like to share?
One of the main project I worked on for the past year is about one particular city in China called Chongqing. Since 2009, I am going there quite frequently, at the beginning for some press assignments since the city have seen lot of interesting political stories and turmoils but also because it fascinates me. Both from an esthetic point of view and from its stories. This giant megapolis has been forcly populated with countryside people and has now a very hard time to deal its urbanization.

"I personally see Chongqing as a macro representation of the whole China. With its tumultuous political history and its growing social pressure for managing farmers coming into urban areas for a better life, all of it pushed by a constant need of investments and fast modernization, I wanted to portray this view of a growing china, far away from the common views of eastern cities such as shanghai or beijing. From a photographic point of view, I have decided to shoot the people in their environment. But I have decided to take a step back, using medium format film camera, I want to transmit the feeling of scales that the city and china in general is facing. Urban Scales, Social Scales, the country's biggest problem is now to find a way to link some extremes the highly rich to the very poor, the extravagant to the meaningful. Vertical Communism is a portrait of chinese a megapolis full of contradiction, trying to keep up with its unpredictable modernization."

Your best and worst memory as a photographer?
Being a professional photographers gives you a chance to go to many great places and meet amazing people. Sometimes the best memory is all the instants that led you to take a particular photo, the untold stories. What happened in the discussion you had with the person you were about to portray, how did you get to this fantastic point of view etc. For worst memory there is always issues of dealing with authorities, this large gap of misunderstanding between the photographer wanting to tell a story and a person not allowing you to shoot. This is always very annoying.

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More Great Photographers To Discover

Milton Rogovin
United States
1909 | † 2011
Milton Rogovin was born in New York City in 1909. He graduated from Columbia University in 1931 with a degree in optometry and a deep concern for the rights of the worker. He moved to Buffalo, New York, in 1938, where he established his own optometric practice in 1939. In 1942, he married Anne Snetsky. That same year, he purchased his first camera, and was inducted into the U.S. Army, where he served in England as an optometrist until 1945. Upon his discharge, he returned to his optometric practice and his growing family. By 1947, the Rogovin's had two daughters, Ellen and Paula, and a son, Mark.Source: www.miltonrogovin.com Milton Rogovin (1909–2011) was a documentary photographer who has been compared to great social documentary photographers of the 19th and 20th centuries, such as Lewis Hine and Jacob Riis. His photographs are in the Library of Congress, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Center for Creative Photography and other distinguished institutions. Milton Rogovin was born December 30, 1909 in Brooklyn, New York City of ethnic Jewish parents who emigrated to America from Lithuania, then part of the Russian empire. He attended Stuyvesant High School in New York City and enrolled in Columbia University, from which he graduated in 1931 with a degree in optometry. Following graduation Rogovin worked as an optometrist in New York City. Distressed by the rampant and worsening poverty resulting from the Great Depression, Rogovin began attending night classes at the New York Workers School, a radical educational institution sponsored by the Communist Party USA. In 1938 Rogovin moved to Buffalo and established an optometry practice there. In 1942, he married Anne Snetsky (later changed to Setters). In the same year, he was inducted into the U.S.Army, where he worked as an optometrist. After his discharge from the Army, Milton and Anne had three children: two daughters (Ellen and Paula) and a son (Mark). Rogovin was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1957. Like many other Americans who embraced Communism as a model for improving the quality of life for the working class, he became a subject of the Committee's attentions in the postwar period: He was discredited — without having been convicted of any offense — as someone whose views henceforth had to be discounted as dangerous and irresponsible. The incident inspired Rogovin to turn to photography as a means of expression; it was a way to continue to speak to the worth and dignity of people who make their livings under modest or difficult circumstances, often in physically taxing occupations that usually receive little attention. In 1958, a collaboration with William Tallmadge, a professor of music, to document music at storefront churches set Rogovin on his photographic path. Some of the photographs that Rogovin made in the churches were published in 1962 in Aperture magazine, edited by Minor White, with an introduction by W.E.B. Du Bois, a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). That same year Rogovin began to photograph coal miners, a project that took him to France, Scotland, Spain, China, and Mexico. Many of these images were published in his first book, The Forgotten Ones. Rogovin traveled throughout the world, taking numerous portraits of workers and their families in many countries. His most acclaimed project, though, has been The Forgotten Ones, sequential portraits taken over three decades of over a hundred families who resided on Buffalo’s impoverished Lower West Side. The project was begun in 1972 and completed in 2002. In 1999, the Library of Congress collected more than a thousand of Rogovin’s prints.Source: Wikipedia
Sem Langendijk
The Netherlands
1990
Sem Langendijk is a documentary photographer with an interest in communities and their habitat, the urban environment and spatial arrangements. He observes the identity of a place, the impact communities have on their environments, and how space functions within the structures of a city. Langendijk shoots on large and medium format cameras, and aims to imbue his subjects with a certain tranquility. He continues to balance his work on the very narrow edge between visual storytelling and poetic personal documentation. Langendijk studied documentary photography at the Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague. In 2018, he was a recipient of the Mondrian Fund Stipendium for Emerging Artists and his work is exhibited at multiple art fairs and festivals, most recently 'The American Landscape', a group show travelling the US with The Gallery Club. He is currently working in Amsterdam, Londen and New York, on a personal body of work, continuing his research about the former Docklands. As an artist I intend to raise questions about the concept of 'the city' in our time. What role does history play in the identity of place, and feeling of belonging? How does ownership of (private) property relate to the right of the city? Through working with communities and researching their habitats I try to reveal (economical and political) systems that influence today's city life. My visual work is loosely related to social geography and anthropology, as I do field research and create visual notes. I combine this with more structured and methodological work, such as typologies. With these approaches I mean to reflect upon, as well as creating a more personal excerpt of, reality.
Nicholas White
United Kingdom
1989
Nicholas JR White is a photographer based in the UK. His work examines our relationship with landscape and the ways in which we interact with our natural spaces. He has been featured in numerous publications internationally as well as being named in notable photographic awards such as the Magenta Foundation Flash Forward, Royal Photographic Society IPE, Landscape Photographer of the Year and the World Photography Organisation ZEISS Photo Awards. In 2017 Nicholas was awarded the Royal Photographic Society Under 30's Environmental Bursary in association with The Photographic Angle and was a winner in the Lens Culture Emerging Talent Awards. His debut monograph, 'Black Dots', was published by Another Place Press in February 2018. About Black Dots 'Black Dots' is an exploration of mountain bothies and bothy culture throughout the United Kingdom. Far from civilisation and mostly accessible only by foot, bothies are secluded mountain shelters scattered across the British Isles and tirelessly maintained by volunteers from the Mountain Bothies Association. Unlocked and free to use, they provide a refuge from the vast terrain that surrounds them and have become an iconic feature of the British landscape over the past fifty years. Bothies are synonymous with the outdoor experience in the UK and from day trippers to mountaineers, the growing community of bothy-users is hugely diverse. 'Black Dots' is the result of almost three years spent traversing our most remote landscapes in an attempt to better understand what these buildings are, where they're located and the culture that surrounds them. Drawn not only by the primitive beauty of the bothies and the landscapes they sit within, the work also investigates the human element to the bothy story, capturing the faces of those who trek for hours to temporarily inhabit these spaces, many miles from the nearest settlements.
Henri Cartier-Bresson
France
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Born in Chanteloup, Seine-et-Marne, Henri Cartier-Bresson developed a strong fascination with painting early on, and particularly with Surrealism. In 1932, after spending a year in the Ivory Coast, he discovered the Leica - his camera of choice thereafter - and began a life-long passion for photography. In 1933 he had his first exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York. He later made films with Jean Renoir. Taken prisoner of war in 1940, he escaped on his third attempt in 1943 and subsequently joined an underground organization to assist prisoners and escapees. In 1945 he photographed the liberation of Paris with a group of professional journalists and then filmed the documentary Le Retour (The Return). In 1947, with Robert Capa, George Rodger, David 'Chim' Seymour and William Vandivert, he founded Magnum Photos. After three years spent travelling in the East, in 1952 he returned to Europe, where he published his first book, Images à la Sauvette (published in English as The Decisive Moment). He explained his approach to photography in these terms, "For me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. It is by economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression." From 1968 he began to curtail his photographic activities, preferring to concentrate on drawing and painting. In 2003, with his wife and daughter, he created the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris for the preservation of his work. Cartier-Bresson received an extraordinary number of prizes, awards and honorary doctorates. He died at his home in Provence on 3 August 2004, a few weeks short of his 96th birthday.Source: Magnum Photos His technique: Henri Cartier-Bresson almost exclusively used Leica 35 mm rangefinder cameras equipped with normal 50 mm lenses or occasionally a wide-angle for landscapes. He often wrapped black tape around the camera's chrome body to make it less conspicuous. With fast black and white films and sharp lenses, he was able to photograph almost by stealth to capture the events. No longer bound by a huge 4×5 press camera or an awkward medium format twin-lens reflex camera, miniature-format cameras gave Cartier-Bresson what he called "the velvet hand [and] the hawk's eye." He never photographed with flash, a practice he saw as "Impolite...like coming to a concert with a pistol in your hand." He believed in composing his photographs in the viewfinder, not in the darkroom. 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It is up to us to apply them to our technique, to improve ourselves, but there is a whole group of fetishes which have developed on the subject of technique. Technique is important only insofar as you must master it in order to communicate what you see... The camera for us is a tool, not a pretty mechanical toy. In the precise functioning of the mechanical object perhaps there is an unconscious compensation for the anxieties and uncertainties of daily endeavor. In any case, people think far too much about techniques and not enough about seeing." He started a tradition of testing new camera lenses by taking photographs of ducks in urban parks. He never published the images but referred to them as "my only superstition" as he considered it a 'baptism' of the lens. Henri Cartier-Bresson is regarded as one of the art world's most unassuming personalities. He disliked publicity and exhibited a ferocious shyness since his days in hiding from the Nazis during World War II. 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His photographs may be summed up through a phrase of his own: "the decisive moment," the magical instant when the world falls into apparent order and meaning, and may be apprehended by a gifted photographer.Source: International Center of Photography
Richard Le Manz
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