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When a Picture is Worth 1,000,000 Words- Stephen Mayes September 28, 2015

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Essays, Writing about Photography.
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Portland Oregon 2015,  Geoffrey Hiller

When a Picture is Worth 1,000,000 Words
by Stephen Mayes

It’s time to stop talking about photography. It’s not that photography is dead as many have claimed, but it’s gone. Just as there’s a time to stop talking about girls and boys and to talk instead about women and men so it is with photography; something has changed so radically that we need to talk about it differently, think of it differently and use it differently. Failure to recognize the huge changes underway is to risk isolating ourselves in an historical backwater of communication, using an interesting but quaint visual language removed from the cultural mainstream.

The moment of photography’s “puberty” was around the time when the technology moved from analog to digital although it wasn’t until the arrival of the Internet enabled Smartphone that we really noticed a different behavior and adolescence truly set in. It was surprising but it all seemed somewhat natural and although we experienced a few tantrums along the way with arguments about promiscuity, manipulation and some inexplicable new behaviors, the photographic community largely accommodated the changes with some adjustments in workflow. But these visible changes were merely the advance indicators of deeper transformations and it was only a matter of time before people’s imagination reached beyond the constraints of two dimensions to explore previously unimagined possibilities. And so it is that we find ourselves in a world where the digital image is almost infinitely flexible, a vessel for immeasurable volumes of information, operating in multiple dimensions and integrated into apps and technologies with purposes yet to be imagined.

The big change came with the adoption of digital capture, which quietly but definitively severed the optical connection with reality, that physical relationship between the object photographed and the image that differentiated lens-made imagery and defined our understanding of photography for 160 years. The digital sensor replaced to optical record of light with a computational process that substitutes a calculated reconstruction using only one third of the available photons. That’s right, two thirds of the digital image is interpolated by the processor in the conversion from RAW to JPG or TIF. It’s reality but not as we know it. For obvious commercial reasons camera manufacturers are careful to reconstruct the digital image in a form that mimics the familiar old photograph and consumers barely noticed a difference in the resulting image, but there are very few limitations on how the RAW data could be handled and reality could be reconstructed in any number of ways. For as long as there’s an approximate consensus on what reality should look like we retain a fingernail grip on the belief in the image as an objective record. But forces beyond photography and traditional publishing are already onto this new data resource, and culture will move with it whether photographers choose to follow or not. As David Campbell has pointed out in his report on image integrity for the World Press Photo, this requires a profound reassessment of words like “manipulation” that assume the existence of a virginal image file that hasn’t already been touched by computational process. Veteran digital commentator Kevin Connor says, “The definition of computational photography is still evolving, but I like to think of it as a shift from using a camera as a picture-making device to using it as a data-collecting device”. (more…)

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Chris Occhicone September 23, 2015

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Amateur boxers line up for registration and weigh-in. Passaic, NJ 2012

Chris Occhicone (b.1978, USA) is photojournalist based in Northern New Jersey. Before coming to photography he received his BA in history from Fordham University and did graduate work in public health at Harvard and international relations at the Whitehead School of Government. He decided to pursue his passion for photography on a full time basis by enrolling in ICP. His project Fringe was screened at the 2014 Visa Pour L’Image festival in Perpignan Chris attended the Eddie Adams Workshop and was awarded the Time Magazine Award for his work there. His photographs have been published in TIME Lightbox, and Al-Jazzeera.

About the Photograph:

“I had really just started photographing and considering changing directions career wise and a few lessons that came out of taking this photo have been important. After meeting some trainers at a gym in Passaic, NJ I had started shooting amateur boxers in gyms in Passaic, Patterson, and Newark. I had seen a lot of the younger kids train in the gym and was always impressed by their confidence. When I saw them lining up for registration and weigh-in they looked much more vulnerable than at the gym. The guys running registration all had the hard look of older fighters and I wanted to see what they saw. So, I squeezed behind them and shot a few frames. What’s funny is that, while I was shooting one of them grabbed me and dragged me out and started to loudly say you like taking pictures of little boys with no shirts on, telling me he was calling the cops and I better erase the images.”

“My first reaction was to laugh at the absurdity of his accusation. They were live streaming the event- an event where the same kids were going to shirtlessly punch each other in the face in front of a crowd with cameras. He didn’t find my observation funny. Also, the guy had been a boxer so I didn’t have a chance to physically back him off. I had gotten to know a lot of trainers, several of who were local law enforcement and I waved them over to explain that I was not some pervert. The whole incident taught me how important it is to shoot what I see as an important moment and deal with any problems afterwards. It also was a good lesson in dealing with people who don’t get what you are doing and in standing my ground as a photographer. I knew I had the photo I was looking for and there was no chance I would delete it.”

Lydia Panas September 21, 2015

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Turning to the Phoenix. Kutztown, PA in 2007

Lydia Panas (b. 1958, USA) has degrees from Boston College, School of Visual Arts, New York University and ICP. Her work has won numerous awards and has been featured in the New York Times Magazine, Photo District News, Popular Photography and is held in numerous public and private collections including the Brooklyn Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; and the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego among others. She has received a Whitney Museum Independent Study Fellowship. Her first monograph The Mark of Abel (Kehrer Verlag), was named a best book of 2012 from PDN and the Daily Beast.

About the Photograph:

“I was working on a series of portraits about family relationships when I made this photograph. Vanessa is a gentle and quiet woman. She is fiercely political, but always soft and discreet. I admired how she spoke about her daughter. She and Abby’s father divorced early and Abby was raised between two homes. I remember thinking how difficult it would feel to share my daughter with another woman/mother but Vanessa was always generous about the time Abby spent with her father and stepmother. I would ask her, how do you feel having to share? Do you resent it? Do you feel pushed aside when she is with them? Vanessa, measured perhaps, but also thoughtful indicated that Abby had a second perspective and extra love in her life. I think it was somewhat painful, but she did not waiver, referencing Abby as most important in the equation.”

Gianfranco Tripodo September 17, 2015

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Spain.
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From the project Frontera Sur, Ceuta, Spain, 2012 

Gianfranco Tripodo (b.1981, Philippines) has a degree in Media Science and Semiotic fromt Bologna University. After graduation he spent a brief period in Milan and then I moved to Spain, where he has lived since 2005. His work has been published in: The New York Times, The Financial Times Weekend Magazine, Monocle, Der Spiegel, L’Espresso and Rolling Stone. Gianfranco is represented by Contrasto.

About the Photograph:

“This image is part of my on-going project about migration in the far southern border of Europe, in the two Spanish enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla. The project is called Frontera Sur, and is about the path that thousands of migrants travel from Morocco to the border of the enclaves until they reach Spanish soil. This particular photograph was taken during an Easter celebration inside the offices of Elin, a Ceuta based NGO that help sub-Saharan migrants with Spanish language classes and general assistance. It was a very intense moment while they were praying and wishing to finally reach Europe.”

Anne Rearick September 13, 2015

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Glenn’s Ferry, Idaho 2014

Anne Rearick’s (b. 1960, United States) work as a photographer has taken her from exploring life in Basque villages in the French Pyrenees to the culture of amateur boxing in the US and Kazakhstan, to post-apartheid South African townships. Anne has received numerous awards and grants in support of her photography, most notably a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright and the European Mosaique Prize among others. Anne Rearick’s Eye, a monograph of her Basque photographs, was published by Editions Atlantica in 2004.  She has recently completed work on her latest book, Township, Life after Apartheid, slated for publication in 2016 Collections include the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, the Centre Nationale de L’Audiovisuel in Luxembourg, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  Her work is distributed by Agence VU.

About the Photograph:

“This  photograph was made on a scorching  July day in Glenn’s Ferry, Idaho. Glenn’s Ferry is a small town (population 1319) located on the Snake River in southwestern Idaho. I’d parked a few blocks away and was walking up and down streets looking for pictures. It was a ghost town, I hadn’t seen a soul.  Finally, I came across this group of teenagers. Hot and bored, they were lounging under a great tree, totally unaware of me. One of the boys, the oldest I think, had a pellet gun trained on the house across the street. I approached the group and talked with them for a bit about what they were up to. The boy told me that he was waiting for his older brother to come out of the house they shared with their father and stepmother. He was going to shoot at him for laughs. Thankfully, the brother never came out, and I stayed and photographed the kids for awhile. They reminded me of myself as a teenager, trying to survive those long hot summer days.”

Miska Draskoczy September 10, 2015

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Egret above the Gowanus Canal. Brooklyn, New York 2013

Miska Draskoczy (b.1975, United States) is a photographer and filmmaker whose most recent project, Gowanus Wild, explores nature and wilderness in the notoriously polluted industrial neighborhood of Gowanus, Brooklyn where he lives. Miska’s photography has been exhibited in the US and abroad including solo shows at the Vermont Center for Photography, Ground Floor Gallery in Brooklyn and Davis Orton Gallery in Hudson, NY. He was recently named a Photolucida Critical Mass finalist and his work has been featured in The New Yorker’s Photo Booth, Time Out, PDN, and many other publications. Miska also works as a director, editor and animator on documentary and commercial projects through his production company snow23.

About the Photograph:
“I was taking pictures for the series at the end of this particularly tortured alley which ends in a tangle of metal and trees above the Gowanus Canal. I decided to go for a look right at the edge, pushing through a dense mass of vegetation with my tripod. Emerging onto a small rail precariously balanced 15 feet above the murk below, I was shocked to see a snow-white Egret perched in the tree next to me just a few yards away. I was suddenly thrown into the unfamiliar role of wildlife photographer, trying to shoot four second exposures on a clattering Rolleiflex without scaring the bird off, a seemingly hopeless task. Somehow I got a roll off before it flew away and luckily one shot came out sharp. It still amazes me this beautiful creature could survive in such a damaged environment. It’s these sorts of contradictions I find fascinating and they encourage me to keep looking.”

Rob Hart September 7, 2015

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Red Neck Fishing Tournament in Bath, Illinois 2014

Rob Hart (b. 1982, United States) is an Adjunct Faculty of Photojournalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He spent 12 years working for the Chicago Sun-Times Media and was named the 2013 Chicago Journalist of the Year.  Rob’s work has appeared in US News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The New York Times, USA Today, The Miami Herald, The Detroit News & Free Press, and many other newspapers and magazines.He has worked for corporate clients like Adidas and Nike.

About the photograph:

“My photos of the Red Neck Fishing Tournament in Bath, IL exist because my amigo and Weird Sports lover Sol Neelman roped me into going in 2011. It was a great adventure and at the time I was still working for a newspaper, so it was really nice to just go make photos for no reason on a boat in southern Illinois. Huge monster size Asian carp jump from the water and drunk people try and catch them with nets, and then bash them with bats. It’s equal parts disgusting and amazing. A completely  genius way to deal with the invasive species and draw attention to the problem.”

“When the opportunity came around to spend more time there last summer I couldn’t pass it up.  It’s a lot of everything I want to do as a photographer. Hang out, have a ludicrous amount of fun, and take great photos. I found a pantoon loaded with fun folks and we spent three hours with boats following us as the noise of the motor makes the carp jump. I just hung off the back and worked getting everything to line up, and let the world happen. Whenever I’d speed past another photographer in a boat covered in mud and fish guts we’d just look at each other with huge smiles, like it’s unbelievable this is a real way to live. It’s a unique experience, defiantly a top five day.”