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Posts tagged: documentary photography

Enchanting Photos from a Cabin in the Woods

Night Swimming, 2017

Zephyranthes (Rain Lilies) at Dusk, Near the Cypress Swamp, Early Spring 2018

Ark Lodge, a cabin tucked away in the woods of South Carolina, has been in Jen Ervin’s family for generations. Built between 1939 and 1940 by her husband’s grandparents, it sits between two rivers, where Ervin, her husband, and their three children have spent countless hot and sticky summer days.

Ervin first visited the cabin when she was seventeen years old, just a few years older than her three daughters are now. Throughout the decades, their ancestors have left behind vintage photographs, many of mysterious origin. In 2012, Ervin picked up where they left off, creating portraits of life at the cabin using an old and compact Polaroid Land Camera.

She continued to document her family and this landscape for six years, culminating in The Arc, a book published this year by Aint-Bad.

Arlene Gottfried’s Mesmerizing Photographs of New York in the 1980s

Boy with Knife, late 1970s

Heroin Series, Man With Beer And Cigarette, late 1970s

Hailing from Coney Island, Arlene Gottfried (1950-2017) grew up on the streets of Crown Heights during the 1960s just as white flight was reshaping the face of New York. She moved to Greenwich Village in 1972 as a young photography student enrolled at Fashion Institute of Technology and soon thereafter her family moved to the East Village when it was more familiarly known as Alphabet City — one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Manhattan.

But the ragged, jagged edges of the city didn’t frighten Gottfried. Rather, like a moth to the flame she found herself drawn to the people living on the margins, whose lives often fell between the cracks, and made it her business to create some of the most sensitive, compelling portraits of an era that has all but vanished.

“New York City street photography is genre of photography itself. How many photographs of New York have been made?” gallerist Daniel Cooney asks. “What makes Arlene’s work special is Arlene herself. We see New York as Arlene sees it. It is not the subject matter, because the subject matter is not new. It is Arlene. She was an original.”

The Photographer Who Used the Camera as a Passport to Freedom

After knocking repeatedly on Pablo Picasso’s door hoping to meet the master, a young college student by the name of Fred Baldwin was turned away. Then inspiration struck. Baldwin decided to pen a letter replete with illustrations hoping that the Spanish artist would chuckle in recognition and grant him access to his private villa in Cannes.

“Dear Monsieur Picasso,” Baldwin penned in script on July 28, 1955. “I am a student at Columbia University and this summer I am a freelance journalist. I know that you’re very busy but I am here in my car and each day that you won’t see me, my beard grows longer and loner. I will soon look like Moses. If you would let me take some color photographs then I could go to Florence where I have some money and cut off my beard.”

The extra effort finally did the trick, and the 74-year-old legend opened his doors to the ambitious young Baldwin. Perhaps he had recognized himself in another upstart who was both tenacious and unafraid to look the fool in order to pursue his dream.

Sing It From the Mountain Tops: The Women Reclaiming Cholita Identity in Bolivia

Zongo glacier with the Cholitas 

Huayana Potosi Mountain 6088m/19,974ft

Originally from New Zealand, Todd Antony first got involved with photography when he was 15 and his father brought a Canon EOS 650 home from work. He was immediately hooked and studied photography at college and university for a year, before spending three years traveling around the world, working on cruise ships as a photographer.

Fifteen years ago he moved to London work as a commercial photographer and pursue personal projects such as Cholita Climbers, a series documenting Aymara indigenous women of Bolivia, who summited the 22,841ft peak of Mt Aconcagua — the highest mountain outside of Asia — in January 2019. They made this historic climb eschewing traditional climbing clothing in favor of their traditional, vibrant, billowing dresses, using their traditional shawls to carry equipment rather than backpacks.

“The word ‘cholita’ has previously been used as a pejorative term for the indigenous Aymara women of Bolivia. But these woman are reclaiming it as a badge of honor,” Antony says.

This June, Antony spent ten days in La Paz, documenting the climbing Cholitas and share with us his experiences making this vivid body of work.

Rediscovering “The Hampton Album,” a Renowned Record of African-American History After the Civil War

Credited as the first female photojournalist in the United States, Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952) received a commission in 1899 to photograph the Hampton Institute, a private historically Black university located in Hampton, Virginia.

Founded in 1868, just four years after the Civil War, the Hampton Institute was dedicated to the education of African-American men and women — and from 1878 to 1923, also maintained a program for Native Americans. The campus was located on the grounds of “Little Scotland,” a former plantation. Among its many illustrious alumni was no less than Booker T. Washington who taught at Hampton after he graduated before going on to found Tuskegee University.

Over the course of several weeks in December 1899 and January 1900, Johnston created a series of work that came to be known as the Hampton Album, a series of 159 luxurious platinum plates offering a window into daily life for Hampton students. Displayed in a cabinet with folding leaves, the work was first exhibited in the American Negro Exhibit at the Exposition Universelle in Paris as part of the U.S. government’s efforts to rebrand its international image following the decimation of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

A New Exhibition Looks at Our Complex Relationship with Animals

Karsten, impoundment #87239. Karsten was an 11-month male Labrador/hound mix was a stray. He was brought to the Wake County Animal Center in Raleigh, NC on 4/20/13. Karsten was adopted on 8/13/13 after spending 78 days in the shelter, and thirty-seven days after being photographed at Landfill Park. © Shannon Johnstone

In 2013, Shannon Johnstone met a puppy named Karsten at the Wake County Animal Center in Raleigh, North Carolina as part of her long-term project Landfill Dogs, a series of photographs of shelter dogs who are at risk of being euthanized.

Karsten was a great dog, but he was young and big. He also had lots of energy, which meant he’d be harder to adopt. “Not long after his photo shoot, Karsten ended up in quarantine,” the artist remembers. “The note in his file read ‘Quarantined for rambunctious behavior.’”

Johnstone left Karsten’s photo shoot that day feeling sad and worried that he wouldn’t find a home. In his portrait, he’s sitting in the grass, looking back at the photographer under a cloudy sky. His expression is hopeful, but it’s also solemn.

Despite the nuances of the work, Johnstone initially had trouble getting people to care about dogs like Karsten. “When I began Landfill Dogs, I attended portfolio reviews and consultations with curators,” she remembers. “I was disappointed to hear that my photographs would never be anything but dog portraits.

“I was told by more than one individual that because of the subject, the photographs needed something else, some other twist to ‘elevate’ them. This really bothered me. Why can’t a portrait of a dog be just as important as a portrait of human?”

Now, an exhibition of five female artists is hoping to shift the narrative. With support from the Culture and Animals Foundation, Johnstone, Lee Deigaard, Jo-Anne McArthur, Traer Scott, and L.A. Watson have come together under one roof to examine the dignity, individuality, and worthiness of animals.

A Portrait of the Eternal City During the 1970s

Rome is a cinematic wonderland: a landscape made to be immortalized in photography and film. It’s grandeur lies in the dereliction of empire everywhere you look, the inevitable, inescapable decay of the imperialist impulse. It is pure romance in the nineteenth century sense of the word: the sublime awe-inspiring knowledge that all that remains of the past is fantasy and myth.

By the 1970s, Rome had become a restless place, one of innocence long faded away. In its place, a new spirit emerged, one that evokes the pride of those who are determined to survive at any cost. It is anything but la dolce vita, though a Fellini-esque spirit lurks in the shadows of debauched darkness punctured by quivering beams of shining light.

It is in this city that American photographer Stephan Brigidi took aim, capturing slices of daily life in his new book Rome 1970s: A Decade of Turbulent Change (Daylight). Like many world capitals of the era, Rome had become a harsh, sinister place, the breeding ground for the kidnapping and murder of prominent politician Aldo Moro by the Red Brigades.

Documenting the Migrant Crisis in Bangladesh in Photos

Since August 2017, more than 700,000 people have fled Rakhine State, Myanmar to seek safety in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Theirs has been a treacherous journey, made all the more dangerous since arriving at sprawling camps on the unstable hillsides of Kutupalong, their lives put in jeopardy with every passing monsoon and cyclone season.

Many arrive injured, malnourished, and traumatized, these refugees live in structures made of bamboo, plastic, cardboard and sometimes corrugated metal sheeting. Heavy rain, flooding, landslides, cyclones, and water-borne illnesses are all real threats to the families living in these temporary homes.

With support from the American Red Cross, these families are now working to prepare for the onslaught of weather emergencies that continue to threaten their survival. Photographer Brad Zerivitz shares his experiences documenting the migrant crisis in this distant corner of the world.

A History of Photography as Seen Through the Eyes of Howard Greenberg

Young girl in profile, 1948. Consuelo Kanaga (American, 1894–1978)
Photograph, gelatin silver print

Madrid, Spain, 1933. Henri Cartier?Bresson (French, 1908–2004)
Photograph, gelatin silver print

The history of photography is shaped not only by the people who make the pictures but those who preserve their work and their legacies. In a world where the art market feeds a compulsion to buy and sell, to trade art like a commodity, the words of Oscar Wilde may spring to mind: “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

But once upon a time, it was not so. The collector was a person of tremendous importance and influence, supporting not only the artist in the tradition of patronage, but transforming the landscapes of history and art. Gallerist Howard Greenberg is one such person who understand this point of view, having not only helped establish the medium of photography in the haughty market of art, but having established a collection whose value extends far beyond the pallid discussion of price.

The new exhibition Viewpoints: Photographs from the Howard Greenberg Collection, on view at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston through December 15, 2019, presents 150 highlights from a group of 446 recently acquired images that showcases some of the most important pictures made during the twentieth century.

The list of photographers is a veritable who’s who of modern art — and some of our favorites including Berenice Abbott, Diane Arbus, Roy DeCarava, William Klein, Dorothea Lange, Helen Levitt, Gordon Parks, Irving Penn, James Van Der Zee, Arnold Newman, and Brassaï (Gyula Halasz) to name just a few of the legends whose works are now on display.

Photos Capture the ‘Serenity and Chaos’ of India

“I feel the serenity in the chaos is what makes India so amazing–the smells, the noise, the heat, the people, the animals,” the Bangalore-based photographer Vivek Prabhakar tells us. “I love going out when the streets are busy. There are so many moments unfolding.”

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