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Ed Sievers
Untitled (Self portrait in mirror), Venice Beach, CA, 1976
Ed Sievers
Ed Sievers

Ed Sievers

Country: United States
Birth: 1932 | Death: 2002

Ed Sievers was born in 1932 in St. Louis, MO, the son of a family doctor that made house calls and an aspiring opera singer. He attended Grinnell College, graduating with a degree in Speech in 1954. His first job was as a creative writer for Hallmark Cards. The slogans he penned were notable for the wry wit and wisdom with which he commented on the human condition. At the same time, his interest in the arts was expanding from the literary to the visual, and would ultimately lead him in a new direction.

In 1966 he was accepted into the MFA program at the Rhode Island School of Design to study photography with Harry Callahan. Upon graduation in 1968 he joined the faculty of California State University, Northridge, as a specialist in fine art photography. He took up residence in the Carlton Hotel in Venice Beach and soon realized he had walked into a street photographer's dream.

Originally designed as a resort community modeled after its Italian namesake, Venice had fallen on hard times. Buildings were in disrepair and rents were cheap. Influenced by the Bohemian lifestyle of its poets, artists, students and a struggling lower class, the boardwalk suddenly sprang to life. There were musicians, dancers, jugglers, mimes, magicians, comedians, roller skaters, fortune tellers, gritty street people and colorful hippies. And, of course, there was the sprawling nude beach. Throngs of gapers flocked from throughout Southern California to enjoy the expressive spirit of the moment.

But that was only on weekends. A quieter, more sensitive mood prevailed during the week. The gentle gestures of holocaust survivors at the Israel Levin Center. The recovering alcoholics quietly heading home after Al-Anon meetings. The homeless searching for food and drink. The once cheerful cottages longing for attention. The iconic murals. The myopic murals. The motions of a people not sure of what lay ahead.

Within a decade the Venice that Ed knew had been swallowed up by rampant commercialism and the inexorable influx of the nouveau riche. Upon his death in 2002, the Edwin R. Sievers Memorial Award was established to share his vision with future students; "His approach to photography was straight forward: use the nuances of available light to enhance the subject, whatever that may be: ordinary, quirky, or sublime."

Source: Robert Mann Gallery

 

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Helga Paris
Germany
1938
Helga Steffens, daughter of Gertrud Steffens and typesetter Wilhelm Steffens, was born just over a year before the outbreak of the Second World War in Gollnow, a small town then in the north of Germany. In May 1945 she celebrated her seventh birthday, while the war ended in defeat for Germany. Her father and two brothers were still away, but in the meantime frontier changes mandated by the victorious powers and large scale ethnic cleansing forced Helga's mother to flee with her two daughters. They ended up in Zossen, a small town a little to the south of Berlin. There she was raised by a community of mostly women, many of whom worked. She is introduced to photography by her aunts who take many photographs. In Zossen she went to school and successfully passed her School leaving exams in 1956. After this, till 1960, she studied fashion design at the School of Engineering for the Clothing Industry ("Berlin Ingenieurschule für Bekleidungsindustrie") in Berlin and undertook, still in Berlin, an internship at VEB Treffmodelle. After this she worked as a fashion lecturer and as a commercial artist. In 1960 she starts to take photographs with a 6x6 Flexaret camera. It was during this time that she met the painter Ronald Paris. They were married between 1961 and 1974. Through her husband she was now quickly able to establish contacts in the East German artistic scene of the time. By now she had also acquired a passion for photography. Like many of the German Democratic Republic's leading photographers, Helga Paris is often described as self-taught. She herself believes that much of her photographic passion and skill was acquired from two aunts who were themselves, enthusiastic photographers, constantly taking pictures through the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, which now Paris herself keeps carefully stored in a collection of show boxes adapted for the purpose. Paris began taking photographs seriously around 1967. She was influenced by the work of Edvard Munch, Max Beckmann, Francis Bacon, and Werner Held. Between 1967 and 1968 she worked in the photo laboratory of Walli Baucik. Her first freelance job, in 1969, was to photograph slaughtering at a home in Thüringen; in 1970 she shot fashion photographs for the youth magazine neues leben. In 1972 she joined the National Association of Visual Artists, which was virtually a prerequisite for success in what was now her chosen career. Her professional work is wide-ranging. In 1975 she photographed scenes from productions by Benno Besson at the Berlin Volksbühne ("People's Theatre"). She presented her first personal exhibition in 1978, in Dresden at the Fine Arts Academy. By the 1980s her work was concentrated increasingly on people and streetscapes, initially in Berlin where many of her subjects were neighbours and friends. She encountered greater difficulty when undertaking an equivalent project in Halle where the people she photographed were strangers and reacted with hostility. She then took time to talk to people and ask before photographing them. Under those circumstances, citizens of Halle agreed to be photographed, though there was still reluctance to be photographed with Halle streets as background at a time when a major and long-running redevelopment project scheme involving extensive destruction of old houses was leaving the centre of the city looking badly damaged. Her 1986 exhibition Buildings and Faces: Halle 1983-1985, planned for the city's Marktschlößchen Gallery was cancelled a few days before the scheduled opening date because her pictures gave publicity to the city's misguided building policy. By the time it was cancelled a catalogue and exhibition labels for the photographs had already been printed. Her career as a free-lance photographer survived the changes of 1989/90 which led to the end of the German Democratic Republic, formally in October 1990 with German reunification, and for some commentators and others her photographs from the East German period have gained a wider interest as the period they depict has receded into history. Since 1996 Helga Paris has been a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts. In 2003 her twelve-part exhibition Self images 1981-1988 in the context of the Art in the German Democratic Republic exhibition drew much interest.Source: Wikipedia Buildings and Faces “I’ll take Halle” was Helga Paris’s spontaneous reaction when, at a meeting with colleagues and artists in East Berlin in the early 1980s, fellow photographer Arno Fischer came up with the idea of photographing East Germany systematically as photographers had done in the 1930s and 1940s for the Farm Security Administration on behalf of the US government. Helga Paris rose to the challenge and began to document Halle on her own initiative. The self-taught photographer had previously carried out several photo stories on themes relating to urban and neighborhood life as part of a personal project. She drove from East Berlin to Halle many times between 1983 and 1985. As her daughter lived there at the time, she had developed an affinity to the town. Helga Paris was fascinated by the endangered former beauty of the buildings and considered it her duty to preserve it in pictures before it disappeared completely. She decided to photograph Halle as if it were a “foreign town in a foreign country”. In doing so, she looked at it through the eyes of an explorer, who is inspired and galvanized by a new environment. She started off taking snapshots of urban life, focusing on streets with houses and passers-by. However, the local people, who felt exposed in their “everyday misery”, did not always react favorably. This prompted her to reconsider her approach and eventually to divide the project into portraits of buildings and portraits of people. Helga Paris consciously limited the moment between making contact with her subjects and pressing the shutter to ensure that their gazes were as open as possible. As a result, they seem to be poised in the very second in which they briefly pause for the photographer, but have not yet engaged mentally with the photographic situation. At the time, Halle was primarily putting money into building modern apartments, and the old town center offered a desolate picture with crumbling facades, including those of listed buildings, half-untiled roofs, and ramshackle roads and squares. All this is revealed in Helga Paris’s photographs in high-contrast black-and-white, although it was never her intention to denounce the state of things. However, the SED party leadership found that the picture of the town conveyed in Helga Paris’s images was too negative. As a result, she was barred from opening her exhibition Buildings and Faces at the last minute. Not until 1990, after German reunification, was it allowed to be shown in Halle.Source: Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation
Philip-Lorca diCorcia
United States
1951
Philip-Lorca diCorcia (born 1951) is an American photographer. He studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Afterwards diCorcia attended Yale University where he received a Master of Fine Arts in Photography in 1979. He now lives and works in New York, and teaches at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. diCorcia's work has been exhibited in group shows in both the United States and Europe since 1977 , he participated in the traveling exhibition Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort, organized by New York's MOMA in 1991. His work was also featured in the 1997 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and, in the 2003 exposition Cruel and Tender at London's Tate Modern. The following year diCorcia’s work was included in Fashioning Fiction in Photography Since 1990 at the MOMA. His most recent series was seen in the Carnegie Museum of Art’s 54th Carnegie International exhibition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He has also exhibited in Germany (Essen), Spain (Salamanca) and Sweden (Stockholm)[citation needed]. diCorcia received his first solo show in 1985 and from then on he has been featured in one-person exhibitions worldwide, including those at New York's Museum of Modern Art; Paris' Centre National de la Photographie; London's Whitechapel Art Gallery; Madrid's Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía; Tokyo's Art Space Ginza; and Hannover's Sprengel Museum. In March 2009, David Zwirner in New York held an exhibition of one thousand actual-size reproductions of diCorcia's Polaroids, entitled Thousand. Sprüth Magers London showed a series of Philip-Lorca diCorcia's Polaroids in 2011. DiCorcia alternates between informal snapshots and iconic quality staged compositions that often have a baroque theatricality. Using a carefully planned staging, he takes everyday occurrences beyond the realm of banality, trying to inspire in his picture's spectators an awareness of the psychology and emotion contained in real-life situations. His work could be described as documentary photography mixed with the fictional world of cinema and advertising, which creates a powerful link between reality, fantasy and desire. During the late 1970s, during diCorcia's early career, he used to situate his friends and family within fictional interior tableaus, that would make the viewer think that the pictures were spontaneous shots of someone's everyday life, when they were in fact carefully staged and planned in beforehand. He would later start photographing random people in urban spaces all around the world. When in Berlin, Calcutta, Hollywood, New York, Rome and Tokyo, he would often hide lights in the pavement, which would illuminate a random subject in a special way, often isolating them from the other people in the street. His photographs would then give a sense of heightened drama to the passers-by accidental poses, unintended movements and insignificant facial expressions. Even if sometimes the subject appears to be completely detached to the world around him, diCorcia has often used the city of the subject's name as the title of the photo, placing the passers-by back into the city's anonymity. Each of his series, Hustlers, Streetwork, Heads, A Storybook Life, and Lucky Thirteen, can be considered progressive explorations of diCorcia’s formal and conceptual fields of interest. Besides his family, associates and random people he has also photographed personas already theatrically enlarged by their life choices, such as the pole dancers in his latest series. His pictures have black humor within them, and have been described as "Rorschach-like", since they can have a different interpretation depending on the viewer. As they are planned beforehand, diCorcia often plants in his concepts issues like the marketing of reality, the commodification of identity, art, and morality. Source: Wikipedia Philip-Lorca diCorcia is among the most influential and innovative photographers of the past thirty years. Bringing together 125 photographs made from the late-1970s to the present, including selections from all of his distinct series, this exhibition is the first comprehensive survey of diCorcia's work in the United States. DiCorcia's images perch on the lines between fact and fiction, blending a documentary mode with techniques of staged photography. The viewer is often unsure whether a scene has been found or posed by diCorcia, which lends an uncanny quality to the typically mundane imagery the artist presents. Ultimately, his work asks viewers to question the assumed truth of a photograph and to consider alternative ways that images might speak to and represent reality. In the mid-1970s, DiCorcia (born 1951 in Hartford, Connecticut) attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, followed by a Masters of Fine Art in Photography at Yale University. From the very beginning, he pursued a middle ground between two major photographic modes of the period. A modernist documentary style influenced by Walker Evans, Garry Winogrand, and Diane Arbus is evident, but so too is an approach informed by conceptual art, which mobilizes images as cultural archetypes or signs. In all his work, diCorcia captures moments that seem arrested in the chaotic flux of the larger world. From the psychological tension of his staged tableaux to his portraits of pedestrians on city streets to his experimental narrative sequence A Storybook Life, the ultimate effect of diCorcia's photographs is a sense of reality hanging in a threshold, uncertain, unstable, and poetic. Source: www.icaboston.org
Gertrude Käsebier
United States
1852 | † 1934
Gertrude Käsebier was an American photographer. She was well-known for her images of motherhood, portraits of Native Americans, and promotion of photography as a career for women. Käsebier was born Gertrude Stanton on May 18, 1852, in Fort Des Moines (now Des Moines, Iowa). Her mother was Muncy Boone Stanton and her father was John W. Stanton. He brought a sawmill to Golden, Colorado, at the start of the Pike's Peak Gold Rush in 1859, and he profited from the building boom that followed. Stanton, then eight years old, traveled to Colorado with her mother and younger brother to join her father. That same year, her father was elected as the first mayor of Golden, Colorado Territory's capital at the time. After her father died unexpectedly in 1864, the family relocated to Brooklyn, New York, where her mother, Muncy Boone Stanton, opened a boarding house to support the family. Stanton lived in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with her maternal grandmother from 1866 to 1870, and she attended the Bethlehem Female Seminary (later called Moravian College). Little else is known about her childhood. She married twenty-eight-year-old Eduard Käsebier, a financially secure and socially well-placed businessman in Brooklyn, on her twenty-second birthday in 1874. Frederick William, Gertrude Elizabeth, and Hermine Mathilde were the couple's three children. In 1884, they relocated to a farm in New Durham, New Jersey, in search of a healthier environment for their children to grow up in. Flying Hawk, American Indian, c. 1900, U.S. Flying Hawk, American Indian, c. 1900, U.S. Library of Congress © Gertrude Käsebier Gertrude Käsebier later wrote that she was unhappy for the majority of her marriage. She stated, "If my husband has gone to Heaven, I want to go to Hell. He was terrible... Nothing was ever good enough for him." Divorce was considered scandalous at the time, so the couple remained married while living separate lives after 1880. This unhappy situation later inspired one of her most strikingly titled photographs, Yoked and Muzzled – Marriage (c. 1915), which depicts two constrained oxen. Despite their differences, her husband financially supported her when she began art school at the age of 37, at a time when most women of her generation were well-established in their social positions. Käsebier never explained why she chose to study art, but she did so wholeheartedly. Over her husband's objections, she relocated the family to Brooklyn in 1889 to attend the newly established Pratt Institute of Art and Design full-time. Arthur Wesley Dow, a highly influential artist and art educator, was one of her teachers there. He later assisted in advancing her career by writing about it and introducing her to other photographers and patrons. The key to artistic photography is to work out your own thoughts, by yourselves. Imitation leads to certain disaster. New ideas are always antagonized. Do not mind that. If a thing is good it will survive. -- Gertrude Käsebier Gertrude Käsebier studied the theories of Friedrich Fröbel, a nineteenth-century scholar whose ideas about learning, play, and education inspired the creation of the first kindergarten. Käsebier was greatly influenced by his ideas about the importance of motherhood in child development, and many of her later photographs emphasized the bond between mother and child. The Arts and Crafts movement also had an impact on her. She studied drawing and painting in school, but she quickly became obsessed with photography. Käsebier, like many other art students at the time, decided to travel to Europe to further her education. She began 1894 by studying the chemistry of photography in Germany, where she was also able to leave her daughters with her in-laws in Wiesbaden. She spent the rest of the year in France, studying with American painter Frank DuMond. Gertrude Käsebier returned to Brooklyn in 1895. She decided to become a professional photographer in part because her husband had become quite ill and her family's finances were strained. She worked as an assistant to Brooklyn portrait photographer Samuel H. Lifshey for a year, where she learned how to run a studio and expanded her knowledge of printing techniques. Clearly, by this point, she had a thorough understanding of photography. Only one year later, she exhibited 150 photographs at the Boston Camera Club, a massive number for a single artist at the time. The same photographs were shown at the Pratt Institute in February 1897. The success of these exhibitions led to another in 1897 at the Photographic Society of Philadelphia. She also gave a talk about her work and encouraged other women to pursue photography as a career, saying, "I strongly advise women with artistic tastes to pursue a career in the underserved field of modern photography. It appears to be uniquely suited to them, and the few who have entered it have found rewarding and profitable success." In 1898, Käsebier watched Buffalo Bill's Wild West troupe parade past her Fifth Avenue studio in New York City, toward Madison Square Garden. Her memories of affection and respect for the Lakota people inspired her to send a letter to William "Buffalo Bill" Cody requesting permission to photograph the members of the Sioux tribe traveling with the show in her studio. Cody and Käsebier were similar in their abiding respect for Native American culture and maintained friendships with the Sioux. Cody quickly approved Käsebier's request and she began her project on Sunday morning, April 14, 1898. Käsebier's project was purely artistic and her images were not made for commercial purposes. They never were used in Buffalo Bill's Wild West program booklets or promotional posters. Käsebier took classic photographs of the Sioux while they were relaxed. Chief Iron Tail and Chief Flying Hawk were among Käsebier's most challenging and revealing portraits. Käsebier's photographs are preserved at the National Museum of American History's Photographic History Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. Red Horn Bull, a Sioux Indian from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, c. 1900, U.S.Library of Congress © Gertrude Käsebier Käsebier's session with Iron Tail was her only recorded story: "Preparing for their visit to Käsebier's photography studio, the Sioux at Buffalo Bill's Wild West Camp met to distribute their finest clothing and accessories to those chosen to be photographed." Käsebier admired their efforts, but desired to, in her own words, photograph a "real raw Indian, the kind I used to see when I was a child", referring to her early years in Colorado and on the Great Plains. Käsebier selected one Indian, Iron Tail, to approach for a photograph without regalia. "He did not object. The resulting photograph was exactly what Käsebier had envisioned: a relaxed, intimate, quiet, and beautiful portrait of the man, devoid of decoration and finery, presenting himself to her and the camera without barriers." Several days later, Chief Iron Tail was given the photograph and he immediately tore it up, stating that it was too dark. Käsebier photographed him again, this time in his full regalia. Iron Tail was an international celebrity. He appeared with his fine regalia as the lead with Buffalo Bill at the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, France, and the Colosseum of Rome. Iron Tail was a superb showman and disliked the photograph of him relaxed, but Käsebier chose it as the frontispiece for an article in the 1901 Everybody's Magazine. Käsebier believed all the portraits were a "revelation of Indian character", showing the strength and individual character of the Native Americans in "new phases for the Sioux". In her photograph of Chief Flying Hawk, his glare is the most startling image among those portraits by Käsebier, quite contrary to the others who were shown as relaxed, smiling, or making a "noble pose". Flying Hawk was a combatant in nearly all of the fights with United States troops during the Great Sioux War of 1876. He fought along with his cousin Crazy Horse and his brothers, Kicking Bear and Black Fox II, in the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876. He was present at the death of Crazy Horse in 1877 and the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890. In 1898, when the portrait was taken, Flying Hawk was new to show business and he was unable to hide his anger and frustration about having to imitate battle scenes from the Great Plains Wars for Buffalo Bill's Wild West in order to escape the constraints and poverty of the Indian reservation. Soon, Flying Hawk learned to appreciate the benefits of a Show Indian with Buffalo Bill's Wild West. Flying Hawk regularly circulated show grounds in full regalia and sold his "cast card" picture postcards for a penny to promote the show and to supplement his meager income. After the death of Iron Tail on May 28, 1916, Flying Hawk was chosen as his successor by all of the braves of Buffalo Bill's Wild West and he led the gala processions as the head Chief of the Indians. I am now a mother and a grandmother, and I do not recall that I have ever ignored the claims of the nomadic button and the ceaseless call for sympathy, and the greatest demand on time and patience. My children and their children have been my closest thought, but from the first days of dawning individuality, I have longed unceasingly to make pictures of people... to make likenesses that are biographies, to bring out in each photograph the essential temperament that is called, soul, humanity. -- Gertrude Käsebier Over the next decade, she took dozens of photographs of the Indians in the show. Some of those photographs become her most famous images. Unlike Edward Curtis, a photographer who was her contemporary, Käsebier focused more on the expression and individuality of the person than their costumes and customs. While Curtis is known to have added elements to his photographs to emphasize his personal vision, Käsebier did the opposite, sometimes removing genuine ceremonial articles from a sitter to concentrate on the face or stature of the person. In July 1899, Alfred Stieglitz published five of Käsebier's photographs in Camera Notes, declaring her "beyond dispute, the leading artistic portrait photographer of the day". Her rapid rise to fame was noted by photographer and critic Joseph Keiley, who wrote "a year ago Käsebier's name was practically unknown in the photographic world... Today that names stands first and unrivaled...". That same year her print of The Manger sold for $100, the most ever paid for a photograph at that time. In 1900, Käsebier continued to gather accolades and professional praise. In the catalog for the Newark (Ohio) Photography Salon, she was called "the foremost professional photographer in the United States". In recognition of her artistic accomplishments and her stature, later that year, Käsebier was one of the first two women elected to Britain's Linked Ring (the other was British pictorialist Carine Cadby). The next year, Charles H. Caffin published his landmark book Photography as a Fine Art and devoted an entire chapter to the work of Käsebier ("Gertrude Käsebier and the Artistic Commercial Portrait"). Due to demand for her artistic opinions in Europe, Käsebier spent most of the year in Britain and France visiting with F. Holland Day and Edward Steichen. Alfred Stieglitz, c. 1902, U.S.Library of Congress © Gertrude Käsebier In 1902, Stieglitz included Käsebier as a founding member of the Photo-Secession. The following year, Stieglitz published six of her images in the first issue of Camera Work. They were accompanied by highly complementary articles by Charles Caffin and Frances Benjamin Johnston. In 1905 six more of her images were published in Camera Work, and the following year, Stieglitz presented an exhibition of Käsebier photographs (along with those of Clarence H. White) at his Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession. The strain of balancing her professional life with her personal one began to take a toll on Käsebier at this time. The stress was exacerbated by her husband's decision to move to Oceanside, Long Island, which had the effect of distancing her from the New York artistic center. In response, she returned to Europe where, through connections provided by Steichen, she was able to photograph the reclusive Auguste Rodin. When Käsebier returned to New York an unexpected conflict with Stieglitz developed. Käsebier's strong interest in the commercial side of photography, driven by her need to support her husband and family, was directly at odds with Stieglitz's idealistic and antimaterialistic nature. The more Käsebier enjoyed commercial success, the more Stieglitz felt she was going against what he felt a true artist should emulate. In May 1906, Käsebier joined the Professional Photographers of New York, a newly formed organization that Stieglitz saw as standing for everything he disliked: commercialism and the selling of photographs commercially rather than for love of the art. After this, he began distancing himself from Käsebier. Their relationship never regained its previous status of mutual artistic admiration. Eduard Käsebier died in 1910, finally leaving his wife free to pursue her interests as she saw fit. She continued to follow a separate course from that of Stieglitz and helped to establish the Women's Professional Photographers Association of America. In turn, Stieglitz began to publicly speak against her contemporary work, although he still thought enough of her earlier images to include 22 of them in the landmark exhibition of pictorialists at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery later that year. The next year, Käsebier was shocked by a highly critical attack made by her former admirer, Joseph T. Keiley, that was published in Stieglitz's Camera Work. Why Keiley suddenly changed his opinion of her is unknown, but Käsebier suspected that Stieglitz had put him up to it. Part of Käsebier's alienation from Stieglitz was due to his stubborn resistance to the idea of gaining financial success from artistic photography. If he felt a buyer truly appreciated the art, he often sold original prints by Käsebier and others at far less than their market value and, when he did sell prints, he took many months before paying the photographer of the work. After several years of protesting these practices, in 1912, Käsebier became the first member to resign from the Photo-Secession. In 1916, Käsebier helped Clarence H. White found the group Pictorial Photographers of America, which was seen by Stieglitz as a direct challenge to his artistic leadership. By this time, however, Stieglitz's tactics had offended many of his former friends, including White and Robert Demachy, and a year later, he was forced to disband the Photo-Secession. During this time, many young women starting out in photography sought out Käsebier, both for her photographic artistry and for inspiration as an independent woman. Among those who were inspired by Käsebier and who went on to have successful careers of their own were Clara Sipprell, Consuelo Kanaga, Laura Gilpin, Florence Maynard, and Imogen Cunningham. Throughout the late 1910s and most of the 1920s, Käsebier continued to expand her portrait business, taking photographs of many important people of the time, including Robert Henri, John Sloan, William Glackens, Arthur B. Davies, Mabel Dodge, and Stanford White. In 1924, her daughter, Hermine Turner, joined her in her portrait business. In 1929, Käsebier gave up photography altogether and liquidated the contents of her studio. That same year, she was given a major solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. Käsebier died on October 12, 1934, at the home of her daughter, Hermine Turner. A major collection of her work is held by the University of Delaware. In 1979 Käsebier was inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum.Source: Wikipedia
Vivian Maier
United States
1926 | † 2009
Vivian Dorothea Maier was an American amateur street photographer, who was born in New York City but grew up in France. After returning to the United States, she worked for about forty years as a nanny in Chicago, IL. During those years, she took about 100,000 photographs, primarily of people and cityscapes in Chicago, although she traveled and photographed worldwide. Her photographs remained unknown and mostly undeveloped until they were discovered by a local Chicago historian and collector, John Maloof, in 2007. Following Maier's death, her work began to receive critical acclaim. Her photographs have been exhibited in the US, England, Germany, Denmark, and Norway, and have appeared in newspapers and magazines in the US, England, Germany, Italy, France and other countries. A book of her photography titled Vivian Maier: Street Photographer was published in 2011. Many of the details of Maier's life are still being uncovered. Initial impressions about her life indicated that she was born in France, but further researching revealed that she was born in New York, the daughter of Maria Jaussaud and Charles Maier, French and Austrian respectively. Vivian moved between the U.S. and France several times during her childhood, although where in France she lived is unknown. Her father seems to have left the family for unknown reasons by 1930. In the census that year, the head of the household was listed as award-winning portrait photographer Jeanne Bertrand, who knew the founder of the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1951, at 25, Maier moved from France to New York, where she worked for some time in a sweatshop. She made her way to the Chicago area's North Shore in 1956 and became a nanny on and off for about 40 years, staying with one family for 14 of them. She was, in the accounts of the families for whom she worked, very private, spending her days off walking the streets of Chicago and taking photographs, most often with a Rolleiflex camera. John Maloof, curator of Maier's collection of photographs, summarizes the way the children she nannied would later describe her: "She was a Socialist, a Feminist, a movie critic, and a tell-it-like-it-is type of person. She learned English by going to theaters, which she loved. She wore a men's jacket, men's shoes and a large hat most of the time. She was constantly taking pictures, which she didn't show anyone." Between 1959 and 1960, Maier traveled to and photographed in Los Angeles, Manila, Bangkok, Beijing, Egypt, Italy and the American Southwest. The trip was probably financed by the sale of a family farm in Alsace. For a brief period in the 1970s, Maier worked as a nanny for Phil Donahue's children. As she got older, she collected more boxes of belongings, taking them with her to each new post. At one employer's house, she stored 200 boxes of materials. Most were photographs or negatives, but Maier collected other objects, such as newspapers, and sometimes recorded audiotapes of conversations she had with people she photographed. Toward the end of her life, Maier may have been homeless for some time. She lived on Social Security and may have had another source of income, but the children she had taken care of in the early 1950s bought her an apartment in the Rogers Park area of Chicago and paid her bills. In 2008, she slipped on ice and hit her head. She did not fully recover and died in 2009, at 83.Source: Wikipedia Sometime in 1949, while still in France, Maier began making her first photographs with a modest Kodak Brownie– an amateur camera with only one shutter speed, no focus control, and no aperture dial. In 1951, she returned from France alone and purchased a Rolleiflex camera the following year. In 1956, she moved to the North Shore suburbs of Chicago, where a family employed her as a nanny for their three boys. She enjoyed the luxury of a darkroom as well as a private bathroom, enabling her to process prints and develop her own rolls of black and white film. As the children entered adulthood, Maier had to seek other employment, forcing her to abandon developing her own film. Moving from family to family thereafter, her rolls of undeveloped, unprinted work began to collect. It was around this time that Maier decided to switch to color photography. Her subject matter shifted away from people to found objects, newspapers, and graffiti. In the 1980s, financial stress and lack of stability once again put Maier’s processing on hold, and the undeveloped color rolls began to accumulate. Sometime between the late 1990s and the first years of the new millennium, Maier put down her camera and stored her belongings while she tried to stay afloat. She bounced from homelessness to a small studio apartment, which a family she used to work for helped pay the rent. With meager means, the photographs in storage became lost memories until 2007, when they were sold off due to non-payment of rent. In 2008, Maier’s health began to deteriorate after she fell on a patch of ice, forcing her into a nursing home. She never made a full recovery, leaving behind an immense archive of work when she died in 2009.Source: Howard Greenberg Gallery When John Maloof, a real-estate agent, amateur historian, and garage-sale obsessive, acquired a box of photographic materials and personal detritus at an auction in suburban Chicago in 2007, he quickly realized that he had stumbled upon an unknown master of street photography. But despite his vigorous snooping, he could find no record of Vivian Maier, the name scribbled on the scraps of paper that he found among the negatives, prints, and undeveloped rolls of film. He tracked down the rest of the boxes emptied from an abandoned storage garage, amassing a collection of hundreds of thousands of frames shot in New York, Chicago, France, South America, and Asia between the nineteen-fifties and the nineteen-seventies. Two years after he bought the first box, he Googled the name again and, to his surprise, found an obituary announcing that Vivian Maier had died only a few days before. The short text had just enough information for Maloof to deduce that Maier had worked as a nanny in suburban Chicago.Source: The New Yorker
Jacob Riis
Denmark/United States
1849 | † 1914
Jacob August Riis was a Danish-American social reformer, "muckraking" journalist, and social documentary photographer. He contributed significantly to the cause of urban reform in America at the turn of the twentieth century. He is known for using his photographic and journalistic talents to help the impoverished in New York City; those impoverished New Yorkers were the subject of most of his prolific writings and photography. He endorsed the implementation of "model tenements" in New York with the help of humanitarian Lawrence Veiller. Additionally, as one of the most famous proponents of the newly practicable casual photography, he is considered one of the fathers of photography due to his very early adoption of flash. While living in New York, Riis experienced poverty and became a police reporter writing about the quality of life in the slums. He attempted to alleviate the bad living conditions of poor people by exposing their living conditions to the middle and upper classes. Riis had for some time been wondering how to show the squalor of which he wrote more vividly than his words could express. He tried sketching but was incompetent at this. Camera lenses of the 1880s were slow as was the emulsion of photographic plates; photography thus did not seem to be of any use for reporting about conditions of life in dark interiors. In early 1887, however, Riis was startled to read that "a way had been discovered to take pictures by flashlight. The darkest corner might be photographed that way." The German innovation, by Adolf Miethe and Johannes Gaedicke, flash powder was a mixture of magnesium with potassium chlorate and some antimony sulfide for added stability; the powder was used in a pistol-like device that fired cartridges. This was the introduction of flash photography. Recognizing the potential of the flash, Riis informed a friend, Dr. John Nagle, chief of the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the City Health Department who was also a keen amateur photographer. Nagle found two more photographer friends, Henry Piffard and Richard Hoe Lawrence, and the four of them began to photograph the slums. Their first report was published in the New York newspaper The Sun on February 12, 1888; it was an unsigned article by Riis which described its author as "an energetic gentleman, who combines in his person, though not in practice, the two dignities of deacon in a Long Island church and a police reporter in New York." The "pictures of Gotham's crime and misery by night and day" are described as "a foundation for a lecture called 'The Other Half: How It Lives and Dies in New York.' to give at church and Sunday school exhibitions, and the like." The article was illustrated by twelve-line drawings based on the photographs. Riis and his photographers were among the first Americans to use flash photography. Pistol lamps were dangerous and looked threatening, and would soon be replaced by another method for which Riis lit magnesium powder on a frying pan. The process involved removing the lens cap, igniting the flash powder, and replacing the lens cap; the time taken to ignite the flash powder sometimes allowed a visible image blurring created by the flash. Riis's first team soon tired of the late hours, and Riis had to find other help. Both his assistants were lazy and one was dishonest, selling plates for which Riis had paid. Riis sued him in court successfully. Nagle suggested that Riis should become self-sufficient, so in January 1888 Riis paid $25 for a 4×5 box camera, plate holders, a tripod and equipment for developing and printing. He took the equipment to the potter's field cemetery on Hart Island to practice, making two exposures. The result was seriously overexposed but successful. For three years, Riis combined his own photographs with others commissioned of professionals, donations by amateurs and purchased lantern slides, all of which formed the basis for his photographic archive. Because of the nighttime work, he was able to photograph the worst elements of the New York slums, the dark streets, tenement apartments, and "stale-beer" dives, and documented the hardships faced by the poor and criminal, especially in the vicinity of notorious Mulberry Street. A particularly important effort by Riis was his exposure of the condition of New York's water supply. His five-column story "Some Things We Drink", in the August 21, 1891, edition of the New York Evening Sun, included six photographs (later lost). Riis wrote: "I took my camera and went up in the watershed photographing my evidence wherever I found it. Populous towns sewered directly into our drinking water. I went to the doctors and asked how many days a vigorous cholera bacillus may live and multiply in running water. About seven, said they. My case was made." The story resulted in the purchase by New York City of areas around the New Croton Reservoir, and may well have saved New Yorkers from an epidemic of cholera. Riis tried hard to have the slums around Five Points demolished and replaced with a park. His writings resulted in the Drexel Committee's investigation of unsafe tenements; this resulted in the Small Park Act of 1887. Riis was not invited to the eventual opening of the park on June 15, 1897, but went all the same, together with Lincoln Steffens. In the last speech, the street cleaning commissioner credited Riis for the park and led the public in giving him three cheers of "Hooray, Jacob Riis!" Other parks also were created, and Riis was popularly credited with them as well.Source: Wikipedia
Esmeralda Ruiz
United States
Artist Statement: "My childhood was different then most. Growing up with nothing but artists was one thing, but having actually flat lined during a surgery after being diagnosed with a kidney infection changed my life forever. It wasn’t that it left me weak or prevented me from going outside and playing or even going to school with other children but the images that I saw when that moment occurred is what I strive to show in my work today. A wonderful world where the air was crisp and refreshing, with all of its flowers in bloom, my journey begins down a path with little yellow homes on each side. Beyond the path, a valley flowers appeared. On the right there were rocky mountains so enormous that clouds covered their midsection with their snow covered summits peering through. To my left the sound of the ocean was relentlessly crashing into a cliff. As I crossed my valley of flowers and ascended the cliff, I felt a cool yet, strong breeze off the ocean forcing me back. As I looked up into the vast skies above, I was overcome by the ever so omnipotent clouds with their glorious rays of sunlight beaming through. The feeling of leaping into the breeze and flying towards the light was more then overwhelming. Instead, I greeted it with a smile and made my way back to the valley. Relaxed, laying across its delicate wild flowers, my tranquil body curled up and fell into a deep sleep. Awaking to my mother at my bedside, disappointment overcame me with the realization that it was all just a dream. Weeks passed, the pain healed but my dream still reigned true. Numerous sketches and endless rants of my new world was all that was real. Having to transition from a world of such perfection to a life of obscurity seemed almost inconceivable. As such, a minor state of depression would set in as my life slowly began to drift back into its regular routine. During this time my only solace came from the amazing work found in books from various art movements and even my favorite childhood cartoons. However, as my healing process dragged on, much of what I know about color (and how I use it today) came from all the extra time spent in my parent’s studio. Watching them work and being surrounded by various mediums helped better understand art as a form of expression. This would inevitably forge my desire to show the world what I had experienced on that fateful day. As the years pass, my dream still lives within me. My thesis project has only driven my need to share my moment with the world in ways I never thought possible. After much soul searching and numerous critiques, I have come to the realization that my utopia isn’t just a dream; it is in the landscapes that have always surrounded me. Those three minutes had and will always have a tremendous impact on my life. If anything, I learned how fragile life is and to always appreciate the beautiful things in life. Photography has allowed me to show what stands out in my eyes by glorifying it in a photograph. It is the best way that I can communicate what I saw and what I felt at that particular moment. It is the bridge between my past and my present.Source: Esmeralda Ruiz Website
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