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Love and Agony in the Distressed Polaroids of Gail Thacker

Rafael at Home, 1997

Mark Morrisroe in Bed, 1989

“I am not a photographer,” Gail Thacker insists. “I am a painter who discovered a medium that has a soul with painterly effects.” Her love affair with the camera began in 1989 when a dear friend, the photographer and performance artist Mark Morrisroe, gifted her with a box of Polaroid 665 Positive/Negative film. It was three years after he had been diagnosed with AIDS, and he knew he didn’t have the time to use it. He was able to see some of Thacker’s early Polaroids before he died later that same year at the age of thirty.

When he’s not physically there, Morrisroe’s shadow lingers in the background of Thacker’s Polaroids. All her friends do. She dedicates her newest book and exhibition, Between the Sun & the Moon, to them.

37 Unexpected Holiday Gifts for Photographers

For photographers, the perfect gift can far outlast the holidays, whether it’s nn extraordinary camera, a thought-provoking yook, or a life-changing experience. In honor of the season, our editors put together this list of 36 inspirational, unforgettable, quirky presents. There’s something here for every photographer: the fine artists, the photojournalists, the portraitists, the foodies, and everyone in between. The majority of them were recently included in our epic giveaway at  The Print Swap exhibition and holiday party at ROOT Studios.

Magnum Photos English Breakfast Tray with Photo by Martin Parr, £42.50 Thanks to the Plinth/Magnum partnership, you can now purchase your very own breakfast tray printed with an image from Martin Parr’s famous 1995 book British Food. Magnum once wrote of the work, “Close-up, ring flashed images of everyday food from all parts of Britain invites the public to take a look at what they eat.” In the case of this tray, that’s taken to a clever and literal extreme.

69 Magnum Photographers Reveal Their Contact Sheets in New Book

Havana. Ministry of Industry.
Ernesto Guevara (Che), Argentinian politician,
Minister of industry (1961-1965) during an exclusive interview in his office.
© Rene Burri/Magnum Photos.

We would like to believe that photographs convey an element of truth, that in the fraction of a second recorded for posterity, we have captured something that lies beyond mere celluloid of digital technology – something we can gaze upon and discover verifiable facts, unearth an ineffable aspect of reality that lies beneath the surface.

Perhaps this is possible, in as much as we wish to believe it so, but when we consider that the single frame lies in a larger body of work can we be absolutely sure that we’re not being guided by the aesthetic power of the form. Are we not sentient beings whose powers and perceptions of sight heavily influenced by the perfection of the art?

It may be the best way to know is to consider the context, in as much as it is available to us: the circumstances of the moment, the players, the photographer themselves. And, if we are to consider the artist, where does this image fall, not only within their oeuvre but more specifically in project from which it is drawn? This is where the contact sheet comes in.

New Book Is a Road Map Through The Life of Photographer Roger Ballen

Mimicry, 2005

Roly Poly, USA, 1972

Stare, 2008

When Roger Ballen graduated from high school in 1968, his parents gave him a Nikon FTn camera. It was flown over from Hong Kong by a friend and lost in customs for several weeks before it finally arrived. The day that Ballen received it, he headed to the outskirts of Sing Sing prison to take photographs, a prescient moment to launch a journey in photography like no other before or since.

His name alone conjures up curious and disturbing visions of an uncanny world, one that recalls the spaces of the dreamscape, theaters of the unconscious. Here reality is a construction, but it is also something else: it is the space where our minds are released from rational sensibilities. To describe the work as unnerving would be polite. It is as though the non-linear spaces of the mind are given full flight.

“A shadow runs through my work,” Ballen observes in the magnificent new book, Ballenesque: A Retrospective (Thames & Hudson). “The shadow spreads, grows deeper as I move on, grow older. The shadow is no longer indistinguishable from the person they call Roger. I track my shadow (life) through these images.”

Submit to The Print Swap for a Chance to Exhibit Work at MOPLA

Gullfoss © Dani Vottero (@danivottero)

The fourth-ever Print Swap exhibition will take place this April as part of the 10th Anniversary edition of the Month of Photography Los Angeles! As always, we’re inviting photographers around the world to submit images via Instagram by using the hashtag #theprintswap. Curator Paul Kopeikin, the director of LA’s renowned Kopeikin Gallery, will select thirty outstanding images from photographers participating in The Print Swap to be part of the show. All images must be submitted between November 29th, 2017, and January 26, 2018, in order to be considered.

The Month of Photography Los Angeles (MOPLA) by the Lucie Foundation has been a premier festival for photographers, curators, editors, and collectors since it was first launched in 2009. In past years, it has hosted work from a diverse array of fine artists and photojournalists, including Sebastiao Salgado, Robert Mapplethorpe, Catherine Opie, Nick Brandt, Lynsey Addario, Larry Sultan, Alex Prager, Martin Schoeller, Graciela Iturbide, Bruce Nauman, and more.

With 25-plus years in the gallery world, Kopeikin is the perfect fit for this exhibition, having exhibited work from everyone from Diane Arbus and Walker Evans to Henry Hornstein and Jill Greenberg. Kopeikin Gallery currently represents influential artists like Cig Harvey, Richard Tuschman, Didier Massard, Hiroshi Watanabe, Gail Albert Halaban, Kevin Cooley, Matthew Swarts, Alejandro Cartagena, Jeffrey Milstein, and Kahn and Selesnick, to name just a few.

There is no theme for the exhibition. In addition to Instagram submissions, we accept submissions sent via email to [email protected] Only new images submitted and selected after November 29th will be eligible for the show, though previous participating photographers are more than welcome to submit again. While The Print Swap is an ongoing project and there is no deadline to submit images, photographers must submit by January 26th, 2017 at 11:59PM EST to be considered for this show.

Every photographer who participates in The Print Swap gives a print and receives a print. Prints are mailed at random all over the globe, so it’s always fun to see who ends up with which print. There is no fee to submit, though selected photographers pay $40 per image to participate. We cover printing and shipping. Learn more at The Print Swap website and on Instagram at @theprintswap.

Portraits Reveal the Many Faces of Bureaucracy

Ram Prabodh Yadav (b. 1970) is sub-inspector (deputy inspector) of police in Maner Block, Patna district, State of Bihar. Monthly salary: 10,000 rupees (131 euro).

Thomas Harris (b. 1949) is chief of police of the city of Rockdale (some 6,000 inhabitants), Milam County, Texas. Monthly salary: $4,250 (3,162 euro).

The word ’bureaucracy’ has a negative connotation. It suggests unnecessary paperwork, inefficiency and unfriendliness. This negative perception is created in time, by people’s repeated experiences, and the degree of resentment towards this system of government differs per country. For his series Bureaucratics, Dutch photographer Jan Banning traveled to eight countries on five continents, and visited hundreds of offices, documenting the culture, symbols and rituals of state civil administrations and its servants.

Civil servants are to an extent the face of the government. Banning’s images are full of details, and the stories describing the civil servant’s task and his salary are illustrative for the relationship between the state, the civil servant’s rank and power.

Banning’s visits were unannounced, and the images reflect what a local citizen would see when coming inside. Each photo is shot from the same height, the height of a standing person. But the photos put these offices in a different perspective than what a visitor actually sees. Most likely, the people that come in are more interested in solving the issue that brought them there, than in paying attention to these places. In a way, these photos make these offices and the people in them truly visible for the first time.

The series Bureaucratics has been published in a book that is available together with Jan Banning’s new book “Red Utopia: Communism 100 years after the Russian Revolution” which was released on the 14th of October.

The Print Swap is Coming to Brooklyn for a Holiday Exhibition and Event

Mimi and Bibsy say goodbye © Charles Read (@chasread), Princeton, NJ

Promise of Spring © Ellen Jantzen (@ellenjantzen), Santa Fe, NM

The Print Swap, our international photo-sharing initiative, is coming to ROOT Studios in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on December 7th in a show curated by Gabriela Landazuri, Photo Editor at The Huffington Post. Throughout the month of November, photographers around the world submitted images via Instagram using the hashtag #theprintswap, and forty were selected to be part of the holiday exhibition and party. These images, made in the US, UK, Canada, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain, and Australia, will be mailed to Print Swap participants all over the globe. As part of the festivities, there will also be giveaways of some of our favorite books, photo gear, and other items from this year.

There is no theme for the show, though the images do seem bound together, if only by a shared sense of mystery. People find themselves submerged in water in the work of Samuel Hicks and Wolf James; it’s unclear whether they’re falling or rising. We meet the eye of a frog (Alex M. Smith) and the eye of a horse (Murielle Etc), a single swan (Felix Koschel), an isolated orange flower in a sea of black (Rowan Spray). Dani Gros photographs a fox with an injured paw, without divulging what happened before or after. Windows, open and closed, trigger the sensation of being far away and close at hand all at once, and they appear repeatedly, in images by Andrew Heiser, Beth Chucker, Brad Curran, Charles Read, Felipe Neves, Ronald William Waite. And there’s so much blue, a color the great artist Yves Klien once describes as the most abstract and unknowable. Together, these pictures establish their own mythology.

Submissions to The Print Swap are rolling. Simply tag your images #theprintswap on Instagram, and they will be considered. Selected photographers give a print and receive a print. Prints all mailed out at random, so it’s always a surprise who ends up with whose print. It’s free to submit, though participating photographers pay $40 to participate. We cover printing and shipping. Learn more at our website, and follow along on Instagram for updates and new exhibition opportunities.

Tragic, Heartfelt Photos from the Streets of Poughkeepsie

Karen with Marvin’s Kitten, 2017

During his junior year at Vassar College, the photographer Caleb Stein passed through Main Street in Poughkeepsie, New York every day on the way to his internship with Bruce Gilden. He stopped for the first time when a group of basketball players caught his eye. He took out his camera, and he spent time talking to them. Over the next year, he made a point to visit Main Street and travel back to campus by foot. “ I started to see the same people in the same places,” he remembers. “And they started to recognize me.”

Photographer Captures a Day in the Life of Children with Rare Genetic Conditions

Madison has excessive amounts of iron accumulating in her brain, leading to stiffness in her limbs, Parkinson’s, dystonia, vision problems, and developmental delays. She still manages to laugh a lot, and she loves the swings.

Ian has MCAP and PMG which involve the skin, connective tissue, and brain, causing a disproportionately large head and capillary malformations on the skin. He and his sister have a special bond.

In 1969, Karen Haberberg’s parents lost their first son, a two-year-old boy named Raphael Haberberg. Rafi had a rare genetic disorder called Tay–Sachs disease, and he passed away before Karen was born. Now a photographer, Karen and her family are still followed by Rafi’s memory. They still have his baby pictures. One of them appears in the introduction to An Ordinary Day, Karen’s photo book about families affected by rare, often painful, sometimes disabling genetic conditions.

Martin Parr’s Evocative Ode to Scotland

Tomintoul Highland Games, Tomintoul, 2006.

The East Mainland Show, Orkney, 2007.

In the title of his newest book from Damiani, Martin Parr suggests: Think of Scotland – and what comes to mind? Perhaps it is the wail of bagpipes held by men donning rich plaid kilts or visions of medieval castles lay in ruins sitting nobly on distant isles. Maybe you see fields of heather spread across the moor, under blue grey skies from which featherlike rain softly falls. Or maybe you dream of Mary Queen of Scots, walking to her death, defiantly disrobing to reveal a velvet petticoat and sleeves in crimson-brown, the color of martyrdom.

Or perhaps Parr’s directive draws to mind the words of Irvine Welsh who penned the classic novel, Trainspotting, a story of modern Scotland, in which he writes, “Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that?”

It is here, in the space between these two realms, that Parr finds himself, a chronicler of the fabled land whose national animal is the unicorn. For more than 25 years Parr has traversed the country creating a body of work from the streets of Edinburgh to the markets of Glasgow, the Portree Games on the Isle of Skye to the agricultural shows in Orkney. The works, assembled here, have gone largely unpublished – until now. 

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