I am filled with admiration for people like Joni Sternbach, who not only take a large format camera into the field but because she is using a wet-plate collodion process the photographic plates must be prepared and developed on location too.
The project that I’m most familiar with is – Surfland. It’s a project that was started ten years ago and has taken her to local surf spots on both coasts of the US, to Hawaii, Uruguay, Australia, France and England. It is a fascinating exploration of surf culture across the globe and well worth a deeper look.
Check out the Surfland project on Sternbach’s website here. There are also a couple of books associated with the project that can be found on her website here or from amazon.
The image above is from Ellie Davies ‘Stars’ portfolio created by combining images of the forests of southern England with Hubble telescope images. For many forests are magical fairytale places for others, myself included, they are dark and scary places. Yet I find the Stars series of images compelling, they draw me in, make me want to step forward and cause me to look closer.
I have been thinking about how a single theme can be developed and extended – Ellie’s projects are a great case study. Silent, Deep and Dark serves as an entry point, both literally and figuratively, into the forests. This body of work explores the forest boundaries – the edge between outside and inside, light and dark. From here Ellie begins to interact with the forest, weaving patterns with wool, highlighting pathways with paint, powder, wool and paper, building structures that are reminiscent of barnacles or anemones, incorporating stars and most recently suggesting the presence of people by the introduction of fires.
Watch and listen to Ellie describe here work below and find out more about here.
I had been looking at some Michael Kenna images over the last weekend and in looking at his moonrise image came across Barbara Bosworth’s image from her new book ‘The Heavens’. I was intrigued enough to dig a little deeper.
Heavens is a photographic celebration of the not just the night sky but the moon, the heavens (stars) and sun. I enjoyed looking at the pictures of the moon and stars. They reminded me of looking at the stars with my dad on the walk home from my grans house as a child. I’m always interested in how photography can show us things that we wouldn’t otherwise see or allow us to experience in a different way. The image above is one example, there are others in the book including photographs of sun spots which I found fascinating. The
I am always keen to seen behind the curtain to get a sense of the creative process and I was not disappointed in this regard either. The appendix includes ephemera that went into supporting the project – books, a planisphere and copies of Barbara’s darkroom notebook pages relevant to her work on images that went into the book.
The Heavens portfolio can be found on her website here and you can find out more about Barbara here.
Listen to Barbara discuss one of her earlier projects ‘Birds and other Angels’ below.
After running through a string a contemporary landscape photographers in recent weeks I could help but recognize that all of these were guys which made me wonder who were the women active in this genre. It was then that I remembered the fabulous book by Victoria Sambunaris, ‘Taxonomy of a Landscape‘ that I had recently came across. The book documents a decade long exploration of the American landscape and our place in it. In fact it’s two books, the companion volume collects the associated research materials and other bits and pieces that Sambunaris accumulated during the course of the project. A fascinating behind the scenes look into her process.
For more information on Sambunaris and her projects check out the video here and the embeded video below.
I am continuing to enjoy hopscotching through ‘contemporary’ photographers, spending some time in the last week looking at the work of Richard Misrach. Until recently my exposure to Misrach’s work had been the image above and few others in this series. This series of images are striking but I didn’t dig deeper into the origins of this work something which Misrach gets into in the video below.
I have yet to deeply explore the work that Misrach is perhaps most well know for – his on-going project called ‘Desert Cantos’, photographs of the deserts of the american west – spending more time looking at his work associated with hurricane Katrina and of what he calls ‘cancer alley’. These two projects resulted in the books ‘Destroy this memory‘ and ‘Petrochemical America‘.
While it could be argued that all of his work deals with man’s rather complex relationship with the environment the Petrochemical America project really struck home for me. Will we ever put long term sustainability before short term gains? I’m going to continue digging into Misrach’s work. For now watch Richard Misrach talk about his work in the videos below.
I’m continuing to dig deeper into the work of some of the photographers that were part of the New Topographics exhibition curated by William Jenkins in 1975. These were a group of photographers working to find ‘beauty in the banal’, making ‘photographs of a man-altered landscape’. In many ways it’s easy to dismiss this work as having a ‘snap-shot’ aesthetic and for some of this work I really struggle to connect with it. This week’s project has been Stephen Shore. If you read his biography one of the first things that is pointed out is that he sold his first photographs at age 14 to Alfred Steiglitz and that at 24 was only the second living photographer to have a solo show at the MoMA.
His work in the New Topographics exhibition was in color whereas the other 7 photographers were shooting in black and white. It’s interesting to reflect on the fact that at that time in the early ’70’s shooting in color was not what you did if you wanted to be taken seriously as an artist. Color was okay for magazines but not for ‘art’. Perhaps this further adds to the sense of these photographs being snapshots. In looking over this work and some of the subsequent work that arose out of these early projects I can’t help but think that this would be a great instagram feed and indeed you can find Stephen Shore on Instagram although I was surprised to find that I don’t connect with these photographs in the way that I do with the images in his books.
I often feel like I’m missing the joke when I look at contemporary photography and so it’s been useful for me to listen to Shore talk about his work in the videos below and lift the veil, at least a little.
I first came across Robert Adams when I was looking for the answer to the question ‘why do people photograph’ and found his book ‘Why People Photograph‘ and then later I came across his book ‘Beauty in Photography‘. These small books are collections of essays covering topics such as collectors, humor, teaching, money and dogs and discussions of Photographers such as Edward Weston, Paul Strand, Laura Gilpin, Judith Joy Ross, Susan Meiselas, Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and Minor White. I have enjoyed reading these books and get something new out of them as I reread them with a deepening understanding of photography as an art.
Why People Photograph must have been on my bookshelf for almost as long as I’ve been taking photographs, almost 10 years now, and yet it was only last year that I realized that Robert Adams can not only write but he is a well know photographer too! How many other holes in my appreciation of the history of photography could you drive a truck through?
I’m at my beginning of my exploration of his work, and I’m doing so by starting with his most recent projects first. Photographs taken around his home near the Oregon coast of the forests, coastline and meadows, very different subjects to the photographs of the American west increasingly spoiled by the urban sprawl that brought him to prominence. This work can be found in ‘The New West‘ a new edition of which will come out in the summer.