Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Lonely Christmas Tree

Photographer Andreas Schmidt has started a facebook group called The Lonely Christmas Tree Picture Album.
Andreas writes: I am inviting photobook fanatics to post their best shot of their Christmas tree by following the link below. There will be a book of the best entries ready for Christmas 2012 (or sooner).
You can have a look at the fb page HERE. Why not join and post your own Lonely Christmas Tree picture....

And here are some of the photographs so far:

Laurence Vecten
Cedric Calandraud
Osvaldo Sanviti
Boehm Kobayashi
Elisabeth Tonnard
John Gossage (stolen from Monica Baltz)
Fred Free
Harvey Benge

Friday, December 30, 2011

Best Photobooks of 2011 - a list of the lists

Marc Feustel who perceptively writes the wonderful eyecurious blog, which you can check out HERE, has painstakingly pulled together a total of 52 lists where he reports 313 books were nominated overall. First place has gone to Christian Patterson's Redheaded Peckerwood with 19 votes.

Here are the lists, with thanks to Marc at eyecurious:
Brainpickings, The 11 best photography books of 2011; Sean O’Hagan (The Guardian), Photography books of the year 2011; American Photo, The best photobooks of 2011; Alec Soth, Top 20 photobooks of 2011; Rémi Coignet & Maria-Karina Bojikian, Livres de photographie: notre sélection 2011; Le Monde, Ouvrages de fête à savourer (Photographie); Jörg Colberg, My favourite photobooks this year; Tom Claxton, 2011 photobook highlights; Corey Presha, Favorite Books of 2011; Bridget Coaker, Photography Books of the Year; Yannick Bouillis, Favorite photobooks; Bart Peters, 10 favourite photobooks of 2011; Claire de Rouen, Xmas Top Ten; BJP, The best photobooks of 2011; Blake Andrews, Photography Books; Conor Donlon, Favourite Books of 2011; Sebastian Hau, “books that engaged me the most”; Larissa Leclair, The Best Books of 2011 (self and indie published); Willem Van Zoetendaal, Favorite Books of 2011; Rob Hornstra, Top Photo Books 2011; Marcel Du, Best of 2011 photobooks; Photobookstore, Our favourite photobooks of 2011; Elizabeth Avedon and friends, 2011 best photography books; NY Times Photo Department, Our Top 10 Photo Books of 2011; Time, Best of 2011: The Photobooks We Loved; Photo-eye (26 contributors), The Best Books of 2011; Laurence Vecten, 7 livres photographiques du moment, à feuilleter au coin du feu; Me, Another best books of 2011 list.

At photo-eye 26 photobook experts, including publishers, writers, photographers and photo professionals pronounce their verdict. Rinko Kawauchi's Illuminance was selected 9 times and Christian Patterson's Readheaded Peckerwood with 8 selections.
You can check out photo-eye's lists HERE.

The photo-eye list makers

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gerry Badger and the Pleasures of Good Photography Writing

Nobody to my knowledge writes as profoundly, succinctly and simply about photography than Gerry Badger. His essays are a skillful balance of form and substance, enjoyable and satisfying, rather like sitting and talking with a good friend over an excellent dinner and a superb bottle of wine.

Gerry's book, The Pleasures of Good Photographs. (Aperture 2010), is an essential read for anybody remotely interested in serious photography. That is photography that goes beyond the surface.

Here are a few quotations:
That is not to say that photographs cannot be made of rocks or trees, but they will be all the better if the photographer can relate them to history, to the world of human culture rather than just the photographer's personal sensibilities. This, I believe, is true of all photography - and it can be done.

Or are the really great photographers drawn from the ranks of those who reject visual style in favor of visual sensibility, those who recognize that the medium is profligate rather than reductive, and more akin to the film or the novel then the painting? Those accordingly who put content before form.

If looking at photographs is a pleasurable activity, it is pleasurable in a complex, transformative, frequently unsettling sense. It is not pleasure unalloyed, for no profound pleasure is pure... Like many truly enriching pleasures... photography has its dark, troubling, even dangerous aspects.

The Pleasures of Good Photographs is an intellectual and aesthetic romp through the world of photography. It is a delight to read.

HERE is a link to Amazon.
This may well be the best $24.24 you have spent for a longtime.

BROKEN TRAIN - A picture game......

Broken Train is a picture game played by the five members of the fiveleveninetynine photographers group, Hannah Jones, Jonny Cochrane, Samuel Bland, Simone Massera and Teresa Cos. Each day a member posts an image in response to the previous image. This might be a new photograph from a members archive but also an image from any source and from any time.
On October 31st the group introduced First Class Carriage where each Monday a guest from the world of photography contributes to the Broken Train. I was invited to contribute a photograph, one which follows the image below from John Stezaker's Third Person Series.

From Monday (Northern Hemisphere time) you can check out what my image was in response.... HERE

Thursday, December 15, 2011

SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY iconic Paris bookstore founder dies

George Whitman, the founder of Shakespeare and Company, the iconic English-language bookshop in Paris, has died aged 98. Whitman "died peacefully at home in the apartment above his bookshop" on Wednesday, two months after having suffered a stroke, a posting on the store's Facebook page said. Whitman "showed incredible strength and determination up to the end, continuing to read every day in the company of his daughter, Sylvia, his friends and his cat and dog," the posting read. Nestled on the left bank of the Seine River, Shakespeare & Company is a veritable warren of books, stacked with volumes from floor to ceiling. It has long been known as a haven for writers and would-be writers, whom Whitman often allowed to crash in the store.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Best photobooks of 2011 - the lists

The lists of best photobooks for the year have started to appear.... here are a few links that are worth a look....

From the guardian, Sean O'Hagan On Photography HERE

From blogger Marc Feustel at eye curious HERE



Both Sean O'Hagan and Alec Soth have nominated Christian Patterson's Redheaded Peckerwood. O'Hagan describes it as "ambiguous and unsettling" and Soth says of it "like an investigator’s dossier in the age of Google Images." Certainly a book near the top of my best list for the year.
Rinko Kawauchi's Illuminance also gets a double mention. O'Hagan says, "a mix of intimacy and deceptively casual observation holds sway and the end results remain singularly beautiful." I've not seen this book yet but knowing Rinko's work I'm sure it will not disappoint.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Walid Raad - 2011 Hasselblad Award Winner

Walid Raad/Atlas Group, We Decided To Let Them Say "We Are Convinced" Twice. It Was More Convincing This Way, Beirut '82, Plane III, 2005

Lebanese born (1967 in Chbanieh, Lebanon), New York-based photographer Walid Raad is the recipient of the 2011 Hasselblad Foundation International Award in photography. Through his fictional collective The Atlas Group Raad has questioned and proposed new ideas about the relationship between documentary photography, archive and history. Raad approaches the imagery of war and the way political and social conflict can be explored in art.

His works to date include video, photography and literary essays. All, in one way or another, deal with the contemporary history of Lebanon with particular emphasis on the wars in Lebanon between 1975 to 1991. The work is also often concerned with the representation of traumatic events of collective historical dimensions; and the ways film, video, and photography function as documents of physical and psychological violence.

His works have been exhibited at Documenta 11 (Kassel), The Venice Biennale (Venice), The Whitney Biennial (New York), The Ayloul Festival (Beirut, Lebanon) and numerous other festivals in Europe, the Middle East, and North America.

He lives and works in New York, where he is currently an associate professor at the Cooper Union School of Art.

The exhibition Walid Raad – 2011 Hasselblad Winner will be shown at Hasselblad Center, Gothenburg, Sweden, until January 15, 2012.

In conjunction with the exhibition a book, Walid Raad – I Might Die Before I Get a Rifle, Hasselblad Award 2011, has been produced in collaboration with Steidl Verlag, Göttingen.

Hasselblad Foundation

Thursday, December 8, 2011


I have just completed the fourth bookwork in my Paris Diary series, PARIS DIARY, November 2011. This is the same format as the previous diaries with an edition limited to 75 copies, each book signed and numbered. There are 28 photographs, over 28 pages, printed on 150gsm art paper, 226 x 160 mm. Here are some pages.

Copies can be obtained directly from me at:
Prices are, €22 / £19 / US$30 / NZ$36, which include packing and postage. For payment you can simply log on to my PayPal account using my email address above.

Dutch photographers and photobooks

It is generally accepted that when it comes to photography and making photobooks nobody does it better than the Dutch. When in Amsterdam in November  I talked to photographer and photo-educator Corinne Noordenbos about some Dutch photobooks that particularly impressed her. Here are just a few of the works.

Niels Stomps / 83 days of Darkness - Every winter between 11 November and 2 February the sun fails to rise above the slopes of the Alps leaving the North Italian village of Viganella completely in shadow during this period of the year. This village which is situated at the end of a narrow valley beside an 80-kilo meter road that extends to the Swiss Alps is suffering from an exodus of its population. Only the Center of town is left inhabited.
Therefore a large computer-operated mirror has been erected some 500 meters up the slope above the village just to reflect the sunlight onto the village for some seven hours a day.
In the mountain regions old laws have always reigned relations between man and nature. But now it is man that wants to prevail over it all. Working the hardest rocks or climbing the highest heights
More of Neils Stomps work HERE

Pieter van den Boogert / What We Wear - The global clothes market in three chapters, including the production in Bangladesh, the consumption in the Netherlands and the reuse of worn clothes in Ghana. This trilogy can be seen as a visual example of how western wealth and trendy consumption cannot be seen separately from poor working conditions and global market mechanisms.
More of Pieter van den Boogert's work HERE

Judith van IJken / Mimicry - Walking around in the New York neighbourhood of Williamsburg, I kept thinking I saw my father going past. Not the way he looks now, but as I know him from old photos. Nothing but young guys with great mops of black curls, moustaches and beards, 1980s-style training tops, tight jeans and often on racing bikes. Guys who looked like their fathers did in the 1980s.
In the first instance I saw this as a matter of fashion, the ‘retro’ trend that seems to move in parallel with my generation. When I gave it some more thought, I realised that this everyday phenomenon raises interesting questions about the age we live in. Questions such as: “Why is it that this generation would want to look like its parents?”, “What does that say about our time?”, “What is the relationship between these generations?” and “What has happened in the meantime?”
More of Judith van IJken's work HERE

Henk Wildschut / Shelter - In the vicinity of the port of Calais there is an area of a few hundred square meters known as the "jungle". The inhabitants of this area have traveled many miles to come here and still their journey is not finished. Calais is the starting point for the last and most popular crossing. Thousands have come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and nigeria in search of a better life in england, the destination of their dreams. Not that they are welcome, as illegal immigrants are banned and excluded. While waiting for a chance to make the long crossing they build makeshift shelters: tent-like structures of waste materials found in the immediate vicinity of the camp.
More of Henk Wildschut's work HERE 

Raimond Wouda / School - Between 2002 and 2007 I photographed in a large number of secondary schools in the Netherlands, both in the provinces and the Randstad conurbation. I consciously avoided photographing in classes and focused instead on places in which pupils relax between lessons and are able to be themselves. During breaks these areas rapidly fill up with dozens of pupils. I have depicted these clusters of young people from high vantage points: I placed a camera on a tripod high on a ladder and remained on the ground where I took pictures by remote control at specific moments. These pictures show groups of pupils huddled together and throw contemporary Dutch youth in a completely new light. Interaction between individuals, formation of groups, clothing and hairstyles: everything is captured in a single picture. Apart from providing a unique snapshot of a particular period, the series offers a sociological survey of young Holland in a modern variation on the traditional Dutch militia corps portrait.
More of Raimond Wouda's work HERE 

Anouk Kruithof / Happy Birthday to You - From January to March 2011 the photographs in this book were made at a psychiatric institution, Altrecht in Den Dolder in the Netherlands. Ten patients were interviewed about their wishes for their birthday and in accordance with those wishes Anouk Kruithof organised and celebrated these birthdays with them.
More of Anouk Kruithof's work HERE

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Charles Saatchi on the commodification of the art world

Charles Saatchi

In last Fridays Guardian, Charles Saatchi the 1990s tastemaker behind the rise of the Young British Artists lashed out at the art world and particularly at his fellow, obscenely rich art collectors, calling them "Eurotrashy, Hedge-fundy, Hamptonites." "Do any of these people actually enjoy looking at art?" he wrote. "Or do they simply enjoy having easily recognised, big-brand name pictures, bought ostentatiously in auction rooms at eye-catching prices, to decorate their several homes, floating and otherwise, in an instant demonstration of drop-dead coolth and wealth…. Even a self-serving narcissistic showoff like me finds this new art world too toe-curling for comfort."
"I don't actually believe many people in the art world have much feeling for art and simply cannot tell a good artist from a weak one, until the artist has enjoyed the validation of others – a received pronunciation. For professional curators, selecting specific paintings for an exhibition is a daunting prospect, far too revealing a demonstration of their lack of what we in the trade call "an eye". They prefer to exhibit videos, and those incomprehensible post-conceptual installations and photo-text panels, for the approval of their equally insecure and myopic peers. This "conceptualised" work has been regurgitated remorselessly since the 1960s, over and over and over again.""Few people in contemporary art demonstrate much curiosity. The majority spend their days blathering on, rather than trying to work out why one artist is more interesting than another, or why one picture works and another doesn't."

It's sad but true!

You can read the full Guardian story HERE

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2012 - The shortlist

Pieter Hugo. Yakubu Al Hasan, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana 2009 © Pieter Hugo. Courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town and Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

The four photographers shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2012 are Pieter Hugo, Rinko Kawauchi, John Stezaker and Christopher Williams.
This selection showcases diverse approaches to photography, from portraits taken in the toxic waste dumps of Ghana, to exquisite images of everyday moments and the conceptual use of found imagery. The photographers have been nominated for the following projects:

Pieter Hugo (b.1976, South-Africa) for his publication Permanent Error, published by Prestel (Germany, 2011).

Rinko Kawauchi (b.1972, Japan) for her publication Illuminance, published by Kehrer (Germany, 2011).

John Stezaker (b.1949, UK) for his exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (29 January – 18 March 2011).

Christopher Williams (b. 1956, USA) for his exhibition Kapitalistischer Realismus at Dům umění České Budějovice, Budweis, Czech Republic (5 May - 12 June 2011).

The annual award of £30,000 rewards a living photographer, of any nationality, for a specific body of work in an exhibition or publication format, which has significantly contributed to the medium of photography in Europe between 1 October 2010 and 30 September 2011. Previous winners include amongst others Jim Goldberg, Sophie Ristelhueber, Paul Graham, Joel Sternfeld, Juergen Teller, Rineke Dijkstra and Andreas Gursky.

The members of this year's Jury are: François Hébel, Director, Les Rencontres d'Arles; Martin Parr, photographer; Beatrix Ruf, Director/Curator, Kunsthalle Zürich and Anne-Marie Beckmann, Curator, Art Collection Deutsche Börse, Germany. Brett Rogers, Director of The Photographers’ Gallery, is the non-voting Chair.

Rinko Kawauchi. Untitled, from the series Illuminance

Friday, December 2, 2011

David Kregenow - portraits of photographers

David Kregenow is a Berlin based photographer whom I had the pleasure of meeting at Paris Photo. Among other work, David makes portraits of other photographers. Here are some....

Anders Petersen

Boris Becker

Elliot Erwitt

Gregory Crewdson

JH Engstrom

Jurgen Teller

Taryn Simon

Thomas Ruff
You can check out David's website HERE it's well worth a look

Nan Goldin's Ballad of Sexual Dependency scandalizes Rio

Rio de Janiero’s Oi Futuro Museum has cancelled a Nan Goldin exhibition featuring images from her famous “Ballad of Sexual Dependency” series, deeming the American photographer’s images of sex, drugs, and illness to be too disturbing for its audience. Denouncing the Oi Futuro's decision as a "step back" for Brazil, the director of Rio’s Museum of Modern Art (MAM-Rio), Luiz Camillo Osorio, said that "people confuse the symbolism of art with reality." Osorio is putting his institution where his mouth is: MAM-Rio has stepped up to host the Goldin exhibition, early next year. [AFP]

Thursday, December 1, 2011

THE AGNOSTIC PRINT - a resource for photographers wanting the best out of their digital files

I came across THE AGNOSTIC PRINT a SITE which outlines the fundamentals of getting the best out of digital photography, from file to print. Remembering what Beaubourg curator Quentin Bajac  once told me, that the museum no longer regards digitally produced photographs to be "objects", I was particularly interested in a piece on "defining archival standards in photography."

Bill Kennedy writer of the article states, There is a great deal of confusion among photographers and artists, and those who sell and collect art, over exactly what the term “archival” means. Labeling a photographic print archival implies that it has met or exceeded a standard.
What is the standard? Is there one standard for all photographic images: color, black/white, inkjet, and alternative process? Is there a different standard for other, non-photographic prints?
The short answer is no. The Image Permanence Institute, a department of RIT’s College of Imaging Arts & Sciences, offers this definition:
“Archival- a term often used to imply that a material will be stable over time. The term has neither a recognized standard definition nor a quantifiable method for verification.” 

The long answer is that photographers (photographers are arguably more guilty of misusing archival than any other group) use the term to mean that a print has been made to the highest standards of craftsmanship. Realistically it simply means that the photographer has taken great care to make an object that will last as long as possible.

All this is essential reading for any photographer making and selling digital prints.
And I suspect even more essential for collectors who put down serious money to acquire works that a museum of the stature of The Pompidou Centre regards as non objects.

You can read the full article HERE plus other equally informative material, the State of Inkjet, the Future of Scanning, What Happened to Photography and more.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

John Gossage and Alec Soth - The Auckland Project (at last)

John Gossage at Paris Photo, John's book on the left and Alec's on the right.
In January 2009 at my invitation, John Gossage and Alec Soth came to Auckland to present at the annual AUT St Paul Street Gallery photography workshop.
John had previously worked with Martin Parr where together they photographed in Memphis and from that joint venture produced the small but perfectly formed bookwork Obvious and Ordinary. I suggested to John and Alec that they might like to undertake a similar collaboration here in Auckland. Pleasingly they agreed. My worst nightmare was that Alec would bring his laborious 10x8 camera and John shooting with his Canon 5D, heading out to "make a book in a block." Fortunately Alec arrived with a brand new digital back Hasselblad. This was not without its problems however as Alec's first pictures turned out to be just jpegs, while John announced on the first day of shooting that already he'd made five good pictures. Could I detect  a feeling of competition in the air?

I drove John and Alec all over Auckland, from harbour to volcanic cones. Fortunately they seemed to discover more than enough inspiration within a mile or so of my house, steadfastly disappearing separately after breakfast into the streets of Ponsonby and Grey Lynn, returning hours later. In the end John did make a book in a block and Alec went on record to say he only made one good picture in Auckland. Modest as ever.

Production and design of the book was left in John's hands and both Alec and I thought the book would turn out to be something similar to Obvious and Ordinary. Simple and to the point. Not so. At Paris Photo John had a few advance copies,  I brought a copy back. All I can say is that the edition is superb, wonderful photographs, stunning design, and incredible production. John's work is in a case bound book of around 80 photographs and Alec's photographs are on a fold out poster tipped into a hard backed folder. Both held in a plastic slip case. In Alec's words a sort of Oblique and Ornate. Whatever you call it The Auckland Project is something very special.

John's book

Alec's front of poster photograph
You can order a copy of The Auckland Project directly from the publisher Radius Books HERE or from Amazon HERE. There are some special editions available too.