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Maureen Ruddy Burkhart
Maureen Ruddy Burkhart
Maureen Ruddy Burkhart

Maureen Ruddy Burkhart

Country: United States
Birth: 1954

My creative quest has always been about the 'journey' as opposed to the 'destination'. The first is experiential, alive, organic; that latter seems rushed.

I grew up in places that I now see as exotic, but at the time I just thought it was terribly inconvenient and definitely too far from friends back 'home'.

In 1971, at age 17, I left Iran, after three years, in tears and some relief. I immediately thought 'why didn't I take any pictures there?'. I fell in love with that country and its people, but I would not be going back (at least, not yet!).

Holding onto what memories I had taken with me, I vowed this would not happen again. So I enrolled in the SFAI. Many years have unfolded since then, and I've been a filmmaker (when 'film' was film), a writer/director, an I.Q. tester, stock photographer, and a documentary and fine art photographer.

My most seminal work to date, in terms of how it changed my worldly perceptions, came after spending some three years on and off working for a documentary project in the Kibera slum of Kenya. "Kibera: A Slice of Heaven" earned numerous international awards and press, but my favorite was a local 'Artist of the Year' in Longmont, Colorado. The Firehouse Art Center curator, Jessica Kooiman Parker, called it an 'act of bravery'. Reflecting on that, I realized that bravery is a way to change the world AND the photographer, one heart at a time. The power of photography is truly unlimited.

Amidst a crazy world (and always being on the move), I developed a love of landscape photography. Most people acknowledge that nature can be a place of solace and inspiration. While it is definitely the same for me, I've been creating 'scenes' from nature. I often photograph the same landscape over and over, taking my favorite parts of the series and compositing them into a singular landscape that mimics my relationship to it. It's fantasy, whimsy, and hope. In my darker landscapes, there's a moody melancholia…but I never lose sight of the hope.

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I was born in 1970 in Basel, Switzerland. Since my late teen years, photography has become a key medium for me to express myself. Professionally, however, I took a different path, studying economics and now working in a management position. I'm married and a father of two lovely daughters. On many trips to different continents, I have continuously worked on improving my skills as a photographer and on developing my own visual language. I participated in various workshops of well-known photographers such as Mary Ellen Mark, Anders Petersen or Ernesto Bazan. Until 2007 I photographed exclusively with black-and-white film and made all prints in my own darkroom. In 2005, I started scanning the negatives, editing them in Photoshop and creating fine art prints. Two years later, I started to use also digital cameras. My long-term project on circuses behind the scenes is planned to be published as a photo book in 2021. My other on-going personal project is to document the childhood years of my children. Statement I love music, but I have never played an instrument. So the camera has become the "instrument" for my creative work: I compose images instead of songs. I prefer black and white photography because leaving out the colors, the way we usually see the world, directs the viewer's eye to the essence of the image. I have always had a passion for observing people. Their emotions, facial expressions, interactions, activities and personal moments inspire me. Photographing people is a way to communicate with them, to capture perhaps just a fraction of their lives. A powerful photograph becomes a true gift of the moment when it manages to capture some sort of mystery or magic. My photos are meant to transport the viewer into a world less known to them, perhaps reminding them of experiences long past or leading them mentally into a possible future. With my photos I do not want to tell everything, but deliberately suggest unanswerable behind what is shown.
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Margaret Watkins (1884-1969) was born in Canada. Best known for art and advertising photography executed in New York in the 1920s, Watkins was active in the Clarence White school of photography and a participant in the shift from pictorialism to modernism. Her working life spanned a Victorian upbringing in Hamilton, Ontario, and the witnessing of the first Soviet Five-Year Plan. Watkins' modernism, which involved experimentation and a radical focus on form, transgressed boundaries of conventional, high-art subject matter. Her focus was daily life and her photographs, whether an exploration of the objects in her New York kitchen or the public and industrial spaces of Glasgow, Paris, Cologne, Moscow, and Leningrad in the 1930s, strike a balance between abstraction and an evocation of the everyday, offering a unique gendered perspective on modernism and modernity. Watkins established a studio in Greenwich Village and in 1920 she accepted the position of editor of the annual publication Pictorial Photography in America. Clarence White asked Watkins to join the faculty of his school, where Watkins met other notable photographers, including Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand. She worked for Macy's department stores and for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, capturing simple domestic objects with a clarity of modernist vision rare in commercial photography at the time. Her landscapes, portraits, nudes, still lifes, and abstractions received praise and attracted controversy. Exhibitions were held in the United States and in Europe. In 1928, Watkins decided to visit her four elderly aunts in Glasgow, Scotland. She traveled throughout Europe, photographing extensively and producing a body of work documenting post-revolution Russia. Her aunts began to take ill, and Watkins remained in Glasgow to help care for them. She drifted from the spotlight of public recognition, and few photographs or negatives exist from this time. Watkins lived in Scotland in seclusion until her death in 1969.
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Navid Memar is a Tehran-based artist who has had experience as an director and designer. He is working on post-dramatic and space-making in art. His main interest in art is on illustrating base. Navid Memar is working in different tendencies such as architecture, visual arts like collage, sculpture, short film, video art, and theatre. He has had many influences from Romeo Castellucci, and he produces his own plays about the theatre ideology of Romeo Castellocci. Of course, in combination with Iranian elements and his personal ideology from "amata studio". He spent his childhood and youth in Kashan and has a special interest in Iran's history and native culture and Iranian writers. He is studying directing in Tehran University Fine arts. In 2015 he established a studio named Amata. Since then he starts his professional work. Statement " 'افلا تتفکرون' means 'Do you not think?' It is a part of a Quranic verse. This name invites the audience to think independently in each frame, regardless of the overall issue of the collection. And each audience can build their mental world according to the signs they see in the photo. 'افلا تتفکرون' collection is the narrative of creation through paintings related to each event in a historic men's public bath that has been turned into a museum. Baths are in direct contact with the body. My approach to the narrative of creation has been a combination of the views of Islam and Christianity in this regard. In this collection, a look is taken at the issue of women's absence in the first Qajar family photos, as an example of which I have addressed the issue of women's absence in public baths. The alternative was a baby girl instead of a wife / Eve. In most frames, the presence of paintings helps to narrate and emphasize the signs. And give us this It informs that the problem of creation has been repeated again and again and this process will continue." -- Navid Memar
Eric Kunsman
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Eric T. Kunsman (b. 1975) was born and raised in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. While in high school, he was heavily influenced by the death of the steel industry and its place in American history. The exposure to the work of Walker Evans during this time hooked Eric onto photography. Eric had the privilege to study under Lou Draper, who became Eric's most formative mentor. He credits Lou with influencing his approach as an educator, photographer, and contributing human being. Eric holds his MFA in Book Arts/Printmaking from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and holds an MS in Electronic Publishing/Graphic Arts Media, BS in Biomedical Photography, BFA in Fine Art photography all from the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. Currently, he is a photographer and book artist based out of Rochester, New York. Eric works at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) as a Lecturer for the Visual Communications Studies Department at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and is an adjunct professor for the School of Photographic Arts & Sciences. In addition to lectures, he provides workshops on topics including his artistic practice, digital printing, and digital workflow processes. He also provides industry seminars for the highly regarded Printing Applications Lab at RIT. His photographs and books are exhibited internationally and are in several collections. He currently owns Booksmart Studio, which is a fine art digital printing studio, specializing in numerous techniques and services for photographers and book artists on a collaborative basis. Eric's work has been exhibited in over 35 solo exhibitions at such venues as Nicolaysen Art Museum, Hoyt Institute of Fine Art, Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, and numerous university galleries. His work has also been a part of over 150 group exhibitions over the past 4 four years including exhibitions at the Center for Photography, A. Smith Gallery, SPIVA, San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, Spartanburg Museum of Art, Atlanta Photography Group, CEPA Gallery, Site:Brooklyn, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, and many more. Eric was named one of 10 B&W photographers to watch of 2018 by BWGallerist, B&W Best Photographers of the Year 2019 by Dodho Magazine, and won the Association of Photography (UK) Gold Award for Open Series in 2019, Finalist, Top 200 Critical Mass 2019, Top 15 Photographers for the Rust Belt Biennial. His Project Felicific Calculus was also awarded a Warhol Foundations Grant through CEPA Gallery in Buffalo, NY. Eric's work has also been published in magazines such as; LensWork, Dodho, B&W Photography along with online articles by Analog Forever Magazine, Catalyst: Interview, Texas Photo Society, and others. He is currently represented by HOTE Gallery in Los Angeles, CA and Malamegi in San Daniele del Friuli (Udine), Italy. There's no "given," formula for what demands Eric's focus as a photographer. Eric is as drawn to the landscapes and neglected towns of the American southwest as he is to the tensions of struggling rustbelt cities in the U.S. northeast. Eric is attracted to objects left behind, especially those that hint at a unique human narrative, a story waiting to be told. Eric's current work explores one of those relics: working payphones hidden in plain sight throughout the neighborhood near his studio in Rochester, NY. Associates suggested they signified a high crime area. This project's shown Eric something very different. Statement Felicific Calculus: Technology as a Social Marker of Class, Race, & Economics in Rochester, NY The felicific calculus is an algorithm formulated by jurist and reformer Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) for calculating the moral rightness of an action by balancing the probable pleasures and pains that it would produce. Bentham, a utilitarian philosopher, believed this calculus could, in principle, help determine the moral status of any considered act. In 2017, I relocated my studio to a different part of Rochester, NY. Colleagues immediately started making comments along the lines of: "...that area's a war zone." My experience with the new neighborhood was positive, so I wanted to discover what visual cues others might be seeing as indicators of a dangerous environment. Several people had mentioned the number of payphones in the area, inferring that only criminals use payphones these days. There really were a lot of payphones in my neighborhood. I began documenting them, and quickly saw that far from being used by criminals, these phones served as a lifeline for some of the poorest residents in the area. Looking deeper, I found the story behind Rochester's payphones reflected an unusually altruistic ‘felicific calculus' by Frontier Communications. Instead of focusing on profits, they had decided to maintain the payphones in poorer neighborhoods for the good of the community. Many policymakers have opted to view payphones as a social indicator of crime, unfortunately leading to ignorant or even dangerous decisions. In Detroit, Michigan, politicians had all public payphones removed without studying or surveying their actual use.They simply assumed the criminal connection. This decision was based on a further assumption that everyone today must own a mobile phone. Decision-makers lacking facts or any real understanding of issues facing citizens from a different economic class just acted on a misperception. Witnessing that type of reflexive judgement from my colleagues drove me to educate myself. I photographed payphones and mapped their locations, then overlaid them with census maps showing economic status, ethnicity, age and sex, and the city crime map. There was an immediate, direct correlation between the poverty level and location of the payphones. Areas with the most payphones coincided with Rochester neighborhoods where the average family incomes are lower than $20,000 annually. There was also no correlation with high crime neighborhoods. Through Felicific Calculus I hope to challenge negative perceptions of social markers that conflate poverty with crime. Though they are relics to most of us, payphones remain important for residents trapped in lower economic circumstances.
John Kenny
United Kingdom
In 2006 I developed my style of portrait photography within traditional communities, heavily influenced by the dramatic pictures of chiaroscuro artists. Chiaroscuro is an Italian term which literally means light-dark. Back then, at the very start of my Africa journey, I was buzzing with energy having met people of real magnetism just days into my trip. I was excited by extraordinary people and fascinating cultures and wondered how I could possibly communicate and express these feelings of excitement to friends and family back home.The solution, I imagined, would involve abstracting the remarkable from the not so remarkable: put simply, I felt that the vibrant and intense individuals that I had met in traditional communities would best show their magnetism on camera when they were removed from the (often) dull and dusty backgrounds of their immediate environment. After a few days I started to imagine each of these people in front of me emerging from the nothingness of darkness, with no distractions, hoping that this would provide a real feeling of proximity between the viewer and the person in the picture. I made a conscious decision at that time to leave a more documentary style of environmental portraiture to others. Practicing this new technique in remote African villages in 2006 I had nothing but sunshine and a hut available as a great ‘open studio': so I used these parameters and started experimenting (I've never really liked flash anyway). So it's simply the illumination of natural sunlight, and sun on dry earth, that reaches into the darkness of huts and lights up these remarkable people. Sun and dry earth are the only ingredients required for the lighting in my prints. And of course, you also need to find exceptional people!Falling in love with photography, and the origins of this series:I first fell in love with photography around 2003. I had not been fortunate enough to receive an art or photography education, but I knew back then, when I picked up my first SLR camera, that I had found the perfect way to express myself. Every time I had the camera in my hand I was looking to improve, needing to know what everything and anything looked like once it had been through the photographic process. It was a bit like a mad pursuit of alchemy - throwing everything into the mix to see if any magic came out of the other side. The process of photographic learning is very rarely a simple one, but to me it remains beautiful: discoveries, experimentation and seeing for the first time how a camera distorts and enhances the world.In Africa I seem to have made it my goal to travel through some of the remotest areas of the continent where the reaches of urbanisation and 21st century living are barely detectable. Looking back, this wasn’t my intention when I first arrived there in 2006, but somehow I keep returning to Africa to photograph because I'm fascinated to encounter societies that are able to survive in some of the most arid, isolated and difficult environments that people have settled in. If you haven’t visited these places then the reality of living is not nearly as romantic or idealised as one might imagine. Life takes place against a backdrop of very uncertain resources and enormous hardships, but traditions and hospitality towards outsiders remain intact.I specifically chose to photograph the individuals that you see in these galleries because I had a very real sense of wonder when I met them. Each one of these people had something that attracted me, sometimes a piercing intensity, or an uncommon beauty, that I felt compelled to try and capture. It’s true that I photograph for myself, first and foremost, but a close second is my desire to show others this magnetism that draws one into the eyes of these fascinating people.I have usually travelled alone or with a guide on these journeys, along the way walking and hopping onto overloaded vehicles of every kind to head to remote settlements. Often the destination is a transient, weekly market where hundreds of vibrant, colourful people assemble somewhat incongruously against a dull, dusty backdrop for a few hours. Later in the day they will all melt away with their animals and traded possessions, until the location is again a patch of bone-dry ground with almost nothing to separate it from the rest of the featureless land that typifies much of the African Sahel. It is fascinating to observe this process play out in almost exactly the same way across countless African countries, many of which are separated by hundreds or thousands of miles across this huge continent’s surface.My favourite tools are sharp prime lenses and cameras that let you capture the tiniest pieces of detail: whilst these details may be insignificant alone, when aggregated I feel they help paint the picture of the environment and how each person adapts to theirs.My favourite series of work remains the Northern Kenya series which involved 6 weeks of intense travelling with my guide, Mo, across remote areas without a vehicle and often without any semblance of an idea how to get to the next tiny settlement. The trip was full of unique encounters in locations that seemed to be famous, to me at least, as places where no transport seemed to be heading. On one particular occasion we came across a lone Moran (warrior) emerge into the dawn light, miles from anywhere. He seemed like a mirage: a vibrant vision in pink cloth and bright colourful jewellery, and more acutely so when set against the hazy yellow monotone of land that he emerged from. Even for Northern Kenya, I thought he seemed to be in a remote, featureless location: devoid of any water, and within an hour it would again be blistering hot. Despite these uncomfortable realities - which clearly weighed more heavily on my mind than his - the warrior seemed confident of his bearings and stopped for a moment to exchange pleasantries with Mo and I. A couple of minutes later, after sharing cigarette with my guide, he purposefully set off walking again, to God knows where. This place that looked barren and foreboding, to me at least, was clearly his home.
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