James Mollison: Where Children Sleep. 2010

A graduate of Oxford Brookes University and the Newport School of Art and Design, Kenya born photographer James Mollison, undertook a notable project while working in Italy, at Benetton’s creative lab, Fabrica. Weaving around the core idea of children’s rights worldwide, Mollison reflected on his own childhood and the spaces he inhabited, finally zeroing down on the thought of the bedroom and the child – a space that spoke much about culture, class, affinities, possessions or the lack of thereof. Since not all spaces where children slept were ‘rooms’, he chose to call the project ‘Where Children Sleep’. Combining portraits of children, with the spaces they sleep in, and accompanied by their individual stories, Mollison manages to evoke childhood and livelihoods across cultures and nations of the world – Mexico, Japan, Cambodia, Brazil, England, Italy, Israel and the West Bank, Kenya, Senegal, Lesotho, Nepal, China, India, USA among others. His work has been widely published worldwide, by Colors, The New York Times Magazine, the Guardian magazine, The Paris Review, GQ, New York Magazine and Le Monde. Take a look at some selections from ‘Where Children Sleep’.

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Tomasz Gudzowaty: The Monks of Shaolin

Polish photo-essayist Tomasz Gudzowaty has a deep commitment to documenting the often neglected area of non-commercial, non-mainstream sports and sporting activities. A law graduate from the University of Warsaw, he initiated himself into photography through work on nature, and then onto the social documentary, before arriving at his passion for non-commercial sports photography. Not unlike accomplished and critically acclaimed socially committed photo-essayists like W.Eugene Smith and Sebastiao Salgado, Gudzowaty chooses to express himself solely in the absence of colour, through remarkable black and white. The classic photo essay is often often identified as the one that is black and white – pitching itself into representing ‘stark reality’ as opposed to the distractions that colour might impose on the image, preventing the viewer from appreciating ‘the whole’. Non commercial sports also present unique moments, moments that Gudzowaty captures with mastery in his photo essay on the monks of the ancient fifth century Shaolin monastery in the Henan provice of China, a monastery well known for its martial arts practice of Shaolin Kung Fu. Take a look.

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Jordan Matter: Dancers among Us

New York city native Jordan Matter happens to be a great admirer of Henri Cartier-Bresson, and for a photographer who holds spontaneity dear to him, Jordan has more than enough reasons to smile about, in his photographic project, “Dancers among Us”. Over a period of three years (2009-11) Jordan teamed up with dancers of various dance companies like the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Jody Oberfelder Dance Projects, Elisa Monte Dance and others, to come up with images of spontaneous dance expressions in public locations across different cities in the USA. The striking poses of the dancers in each image are in stark contrast to the surroundings – humans, and the built environment. If you are having a bad (or good) day, this might just make you smile, or dance. Take a look.

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19th Century Photo-portraits: ‘Invisible’ mothers and visible babies

A rather curious form of portrait photographs emerged from about the mid to late 19th century – a ‘form innovation’ necessitated by a frailty of early photographic technologies viz. low emulsion sensitivity, and, consequently lengthy exposure times. The subject had to stay still for a fairly long stretch. Photographing adults was less of challenge then, but when it came to restless, excitable babies and children, the mothers were often cloaked or ‘disguised’ as supports for them, to get them to be calm and still. Mothers often covered themselves in black (or other) cloth to hold their children upright for the benefit of the camera. Sometimes the babies were propped upright from behind with the parent’s hands. Extra long child garments were also used to help hide the mother’s legs and body. The resultant images are a telling commentary on 19th century norms and photographic practice, however strange you may find them in the 21st. Take a look.

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Steve Schapiro: Photographing stars and everything else

Barbara Streisand. 1969

My first encounter with American photographer Steve Schapiro was via his portraiture work of the talented Barbara Streisand. Iconic portraiture that captured the spirit of a generation. And over the years, having seen a fair amount of his work while tracing his photographic lineage to two huge personal ‘heros’ of mine – Henri Cartier Bresson and W. Eugene Smith, it is clear to see that Schapiro is one of a rare breed of ‘photojournalists’ with an uncanny knack for capturing ‘the decisive moment’. Like Eugene Smith before him, Schapiro does wrap his photographer role around his activitist self, and not many do that any more. Here is a glimpse of some of his ‘celebritygraphs’ and a few ‘activitigraphs’.

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National Geographic Photo Contest 2012: Entries

Danielle Lefrancois: Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Canada

Last year the National Geographic Photo Contest saw more than 20,000 entries from over 130 countries. This year there are three categories, like before: People, Places, and Nature. Amateurs as well as professionals are sending in their entries for 2012. Take a look at some of them.

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Rare photograph manipulations before Photoshop: 1855-1950.

Two-Headed Man: Unknown, American ca. 1855 Daguerreotype

It is quite curious for us to look back at an age of visual practice which did not have the tools that we take as an assured presence now. From anonymous daguerreotypers (about 1855) to Oscar Rejlander (very often credited with one of the earliest articulations of manipulated photographs – 1857), the century that was to follow saw the imaginations and skills of myriad ‘trick photographers’ come to the fore. The George Eastman House and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have in their collection some of the early ‘imagineering’ that occurred much before the Knoll brothers changed the image making world in the latter half of the twentieth century. Take a look.

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Piero Ribelli: 50 Main Street. Same Address. Different People.

New Jersey: Prasop and Saowaluck Kiewdara, South River, NJ

New York based Piero Ribelli undertook a project of a lifetime in stretching his legs across the USA: 6 years, 50 towns, 50 people, 31,000 miles by plane, 16,000 miles by car, 12 hours on trains, 90 minutes on ferryboats. The people in his portraits share only one thing in common – their address of 50 Main Street. A Hasselblad enthusiast, Ribelli does manage to ‘paint’ more than just red, white and blue in his USA. Take a look.

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23rd National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest: Winners

Fernanda Credidio: Walking Beyond. San Pedro Atacama, Chile

Over 10,000 entries were submitted from all over the world, in these four categories: Travel Portraits; Outdoor Scenes; Sense of Place; and Spontaneous Moments. The stunning photographs captured an assortment of places, wildlife, and people that make traveling memorable. Here is a sampling of the best of the entries.

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