Timo Stammberger was born in 1980 in Hamburg. He grew up in Hamburg and Frankfurt/ Main and graduated in 2009 from the Ostkreuzschule for Photography. For his Underground Landscapes series, Stammberger photographs with and without permission the subway tunnels of cities such as Berlin, New York, Lisbon and Stockholm. Stammberger lives and works in Berlin, but will soon be moving to New York City.
From the monthly archives:
Jason Wallis is an editorial and advertising photographer based in Birmingham, Alabama. He recently returned from a trip to Northern India to document, through portraits, the work of Never Thirst, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing clean water to those who have none. Of the series, he says: “India is such a paradoxical place for me. It’s one of the dirtiest places I have ever been, with the most vibrant colors and people I have ever met. I met villagers that had never seen white men before. The Indian people are a curious sort, so we drew crowds every time we showed up in a village and pulled out our gear. I can only imagine what they were thinking seeing these ghosts of men pulling out their flashing lights!”
Finn O’Hara was born in London and raised in Inglewood, Ontario, a small rural town north of Toronto. He was introduced to the world of photography at a young age by his father, a former employee at Kodak, and was given different types of cameras and film to experiment with as a child. After studying English Literature at Bishop’s University in Quebec, he moved to Toronto, where he made the transition back to photography. With clients including Forbes, The Guardian Weekend Magazine, New Scientist, Wallpaper, and Wired, he is currently working on a personal portrait project based on tragically awesome names.
There’s a strong narrative throughout your work. Can you talk a bit about your inspiration and how you decide what idea is worth putting into production?
‘My inspiration comes over time and really derives from front page news, stories from friends and acquaintances, and urban myths. I found myself continuously intrigued by the improbable and fantastic stories that make their way to newspapers or into a great story told at a party. What really impresses me, after collecting those stories, are the ones that evoke recognizable moments of heightened tension. It’s something that I’ve just begun working on, and continually attempt to refine’.
What’s the first thing you do once you have a new idea for a shoot or project you want to implement?
‘The first thing I do is compile a lot of inspirational imagery, build a location roster, develop a casting brief, and begin to storyboard the project. I call it a sandbox. Once everything is in, I begin to sift everything and determine what elements I like, and which ones don’t fit’.
You’re working on a new project called, I Love Your F**king Name. How did you come up with this concept and what’s the process once you have a heap of people with cool names to photograph?
‘The concept actually came to me in the shower, and I have no recollection as to what brought me to that stage. I think what partially inspired it, though, was the fact that I always had to explain my name, and I got to thinking that a lot of other people have similar challenges with theirs. The process of determination as to who I’d like to photograph are fairly loose, but it has to be a name that is given at birth. It’s something that we’re branded with, and have no control over, and definitely contributes to who we are. So once I get a heap of names, I’m looking for how someone’s name conflicts with what’s normal â€” funny sounding, lyrical, rhyming, and so on â€” and how it has affected them. The portraits will be accompanied by a small dossier, which will include the person’s story about their name and a photo of their identification’.
How do you see the movement of more and more content online changing the way that you work in the future?
‘I started my career in photography working for a magazine in the mid 90s which embraced the online publishing model, far before any other publication in Canada. Most of my earliest commercial clients were through Digital Agencies (Henderson Bas, Organic, Teehan+Lax), and I shot strictly for online campaigns. So it’s always been at the top of my mind. Also, keeping a blog detailing my processes and recent work, and thus being an active participant in photography discourse, has been the latest addition to my working practice in embracing the online shift. Keeping an online presence is the key to being able to maintain and adapt to the shift to online content’.
Brett Bell lives and works in New York City and Missouri. Having graduated with an M.F.A. Photography from the Parsons’ New School for Design, he recently won the Camera Club of New York Residency and had his work featured as part of the Chelsea International Fine Art Competition.
Jing Quek is a young Chinese photographer from Singapore. His work has been featured in Time Out Singapore, Newsweek, Communication Arts, Surface, and Maxim. Jing’s Superhyperreal world combines his eye for subtle gestures and expressions with a tropical color palette, capturing the full character of his subjects in his images.
Born in Poznan, Poland, Joanne Ratajczak moved to first to Konstanz, Germany and then to Canada in 1988. She eventually graduated with a BFA from York in Visual Arts. Of her work she says, ‘Right now I’m in transition from assisting to shooting. For a long time I was unsure of the direction I wanted to go, or even how my work fit into the bigger picture. Assisting allowed me the freedom to pursue my own projects as well as pay the rent’.
Raised in Pittsburgh, Eric Gregory Powell completed a BFA in Photojournalism from The Corcoran College of Art, Washington DC, attending the Eddie Adams Workshop during his senior year. Whilst in Washington, he worked in the famous Adamson Editions print studio on projects for Adam Fuss, Chuck Close, Inez van Lamsweerde, Annie Leibovitz, Jack Pierson, Roni Horn, Jenny Holzer, Bruce Weber, and William Christenberry. He was subsequently an assistant to Contact Press Images’ David Burnett during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and has since remained in China.
About a year or so ago, you left Washington DC for Beijing. Do you find you are more inspired to photograph in China?
‘By that time, I had been in DC for almost five years. I had finished school, then worked for a year after graduating. Maybe it was just the “Last Days of W”, but DC had not been the most inspiring of places. Listening to the World Service on the radio every night, it was all China this, China that. And every Phillips de Pury catalog was filled with Chinese artists. It’s not so much that I feel more inspired to photograph here, but that there is simply so much more happening’.
You are curating a show with the young Chinese artist, Luo Yang. Can you talk about how this came about and what the gallery scene looks like in Beijing?
‘Back in September, I came across Luo Yang’s work in an academic photography show in the Shanxi province. Then I’d been going through her film to edit a project and found a gallery willing to show the work. The show runs until the middle of April in a smaller gallery in the 798 district. Everyone knows about the scene in Beijing because of all the international press it has received. When people come here and see all the amazing gallery spaces and the huge studios, they are blown away and think that this the future of the art market.
‘Many of the less established galleries have started to close down. Of course, people will say that it’s because of the economic crisis and slowing sales, but the truth is that they never sold anything to begin with. They are usually operated by mega-rich Chinese business people who caught wind of the money to be made in the art market and decided to open a space.
‘They have a huge gallery designed and built for next to nothing and then staff it for a few dollars a day. All of the big name artists who have already made money sold work directly from their own studios, and the international galleries that have set-up spaces in Beijing just want to have better ties with their artists who are based here. I am not convinced the domestic Chinese art market even exists. But for a young curator, there is an endless supply of empty gallery spaces waiting to be filled’.
Are the Chinese receptive to having their photo taken? How do you communicate with them from the beginning of the process?
‘Since the build-up to the Olympics, and especially since the Sichuan earthquake, the Chinese on all levels of society are very aware of international media stereotypes that have been applied to them. Being a tall, white guy does not make things any easier.
‘I find that working in large format helps. Setting up the big camera gets a lot of attention, but makes people more interested in having their photo taken. Being able to speak a bit of the language is also a must.
‘I was once in Inner Mongolia with a friend and we were walking around an old factory. The scene got really tense because a couple of the guards thought we were Russians up to some trouble. But after explaining to them that we were Americans, the conversation turned friendly and soon they were asking about Obama and if we eat anything other than bread and McDonalds’.
Are you working on a specific project in Beijing or simply documenting interesting places and people that you come across?
‘I have not really been working on a project, but what has been interesting me most is urbanism. Beijing is the least convenient place I have ever been to. You cannot walk anywhere. I live an apartment area on the edge of the city, and all the streets are at least six lanes wide and all the buildings are at least 300 meters apart. Go into the “center” of the city and it’s the same.
‘There is no relationship to human scale, and this seems to be the case in almost every booming city on the mainland. I have recently been able to travel to Taipei and Hong Kong, and both of these cities could not be any more different from China. They are really amazing and efficient places. Everyone is always focusing on the immediate implications of the political situation in China, but I am more interested in the long term effects on the livability of cities’.
What are some things that really excite you about living and photographing in Beijing?
‘When it comes down to it, cost is a really big factor. I can comfortably sustain myself as photographer pursuing my own interests in Beijing, which despite all its inconveniences and occasional dust-storms, is still a dynamic international city. There is always a major exhibition opening somewhere, with a banquet style dinner party that follows. Things change so fast here that you can visit a place once and not even recognize it a month later.
‘There are so many other huge Chinese cities with populations of more than ten million people that you probably haven’t even heard of. And each is just a cheap train ticket away. At any moment I can jump on a quick flight to Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taipei, Seoul, Singapore, or perhaps even Pyongyang’.
Born and raised in western Canada, Mackenzie Stroh moved to New York in 2003. Although she imagined herself becoming either a writer or a doctor, her teenage preoccupation with photography led her to study multimedia at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, BC. She completed her BFA in 1998 and continued her formal education in Montreal, Quebec, where she received her Masters in Studio Arts from Concordia University in 2003. Stroh is regularly commissioned by clients such as The New York Times Magazine, Fortune, New York Magazine, the Wall Street Journal Magazine and American Express. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows throughout Canada and the U.S.
Evan Lane is a working photographer and director based out of Los Angeles. He specializes in portrait and editorial photography. Evan was the kid who took apart his toys and put them back together again. He takes the same approach when he places human or object in front of his camera.
Luo Yang is a photographer and graphic designer from Shenyang, China. She will graduate from the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts, Shenyang this May 2009 with a BFA in Graphic Design. She has a solo show at Taikang Top Space 798 (Beijing) going on now. Her work will also been included in upcoming group shows including Three Shadows Photography Center New Artists Exhibition and the Guangzhou International Photography Biennial at the Guangzhou Museum of Art.