photography

Photo of the Day

Burning oil wells in Kuwait, 1991. Sebastiao Salgado/Amazonas Images/Sony Pictures Classics

Burning oil wells in Kuwait, 1991.
Sebastiao Salgado/Amazonas Images/Sony Pictures Classics

Sebastião Salgado

Salgado is a photojournalist who seeks out the most moving, unsettling, perspective-shifting images of life on Earth. From his mind-swarming images of the Serra Pelada gold mine to his most recent epic labour Genesis, which documents the last pockets of undamaged nature and unmodernised peoples on Earth, Salgado shows secrets from remote places: things you thought were lost, crimes you never imagined.

Salgado is not just a great photographer. He may well be the last great photographer – at least in the classic, humane tradition, working in black and white, telling profound truths. You can leaf through any of Salgado’s books and every few pages be pulled up by a shot that seems like one of the best photographs ever taken.

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Photo Of The Day

1887 "Setting up the Bow-Net." IMAGE: PETER HENRY EMERSON/ROYAL PHOTOGRAPHIC SOCIETY/SSPL/GETTY IMAGES

1887. “Setting up the Bow-Net.” IMAGE: PETER HENRY EMERSON/ROYAL PHOTOGRAPHIC SOCIETY/SSPL/GETTY IMAGES

1885-1888

Life on the Norfolk Broads

Idyllic Images of the Waterways of Eastern England

Peter Henry Emerson promoted photography as an independent art form, rather than one that is dependent on the tradition of painting. He developed a theory of naturalistic photography’ and took photographs of working figures in natural settings, particularly in East Anglia.

Peter Henry Emerson was born Pedro Enrique Emerson in Casa Grande, La Palma, Cuba, on 13 May 1856, to a British mother and an American father of significant means. Following a brief period in the United States, the family went to England, where Peter Henry was sent to Cranleigh, a public school in Surrey. After a short time at King’s College, London (1874), he studied Medicine at Clare College, Cambridge (1874-79), and, embarking then on a career as a gentleman of letters, first bought a camera at the age of 26 to aid him with one of his hobbies, ornithology. However, he became completely devoted to photography, and rose to become one of the most influential photographers in nineteenth-century Britain.

Although Emerson essentially remained an amateur, he did publish eight books during his lifetime such as Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads (1886) and Pictures of East Anglian Life (1888), and exhibited regularly until 1900. Much of his work focused on the rural life of East Anglia, and should be seen as a life- long anthropological study of the region’s people and traditions. This scientific approach to his photography tallies with his reputation as an academic with a fearsome intellect, and he became a well-known, somewhat notorious figure in the photographic circles at the end of the 1880s.

One of the notable characteristics of Emerson’s work was its simple technique and brutal honesty it was this that caused ruptures in the photographic industry at the time. British photography had long been trying to achieve an equal academic reputation to painting and in Emerson’s eyes, through the work of pictorialist photographers such as Henry Peach Robinson, had grown complex, derivative, and over-produced – some of Robinson’s images were compilations of up to 20 negatives. Upon his election to the Council of the Photographic Society in 1886, Emerson began a series of public lectures denouncing this method. His book Naturalistic Photography (1889) further expounded his views, celebrating a simpler, one-shot technique that celebrated the photograph for what it was. The effect of the book was described at the time as like dropping a bomb shell at a tea party’ Emerson was advocating a completely new approach to photography.

The honesty behind Emerson’s work was also reflected in subject matter that featured real, working people rather than staged models in costumes.

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Photo Of The Day

© Estate of Diane Arbus. Diane Arbus photographing the Doppelgänger Twins.

© Estate of Diane Arbus.
Diane Arbus photographing the Doppelgänger Twins.

Go Places You Have Never Been

Adore your subjects

Photographer Diane Arbus’s distinctive portraits showed the world how crazy (and beautiful) New Yorkers were in the 1950s and ’60s.

Arbus took a lot of photographs of marginalized individuals in society (transgender, dwarfs, circus people, etc) and of course she had her natural prejudices when she took photographs (as we all do). Her individuals would try to present themselves to the world in a certain way, but other people might perceive them in a different way.

For example, if someone dressed up as a rock star with chains and spiked studs, they may feel that they are giving off the image that they are powerful and cool. However an outsider might see this as frightening, and something abhorrent.

“Freaks was a thing I photographed a lot. It was one of the first things I photographed and it had a terrific kind of excitement for me. I just used to adore them. I still adore some of them, I don’t quite mean they’re my best friends but they made me feel a mixture of shame and awe.

There’s a quality of legend about freaks. Like a person in a fairy tale who stops you and demands that you answer a riddle. Most people go through life dreading they’ll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They’ve already passed their test in life. They’re aristocrats.”

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Photo Of The Day

Photograph by Frederick Nelson Jones.

Photograph by Frederick Nelson Jones.

Demonstration of Hypnotism, [circa 1914]

But is it Really, the First Un-Documented Appearance of Planking?

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: © Roman Buxbaum, 1987 Tichý in his homemade outfit with one of his long telephoto lenses. He ground lenses out of plastic with toothpaste and ash, putting them together with cardboard toilet paper tubes, dressmaker’s elastic and old camera parts he found. Tichý famously once said, “First of all, you have to have a bad camera”, and, “If you want to be famous, you must do something more badly than anybody in the entire world.”

Photo: © Roman Buxbaum, 1987
Tichý in his homemade outfit with one of his long telephoto lenses. He ground lenses out of plastic with toothpaste and ash, putting them together with cardboard toilet paper tubes, dressmaker’s elastic and old camera parts he found.
Tichý famously once said, “First of all, you have to have a bad camera”, and, “If you want to be famous, you must do something more badly than anybody in the entire world.”

The Reclusive Peeping Tom Photographer and his Cardboard Camera

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Convicted for doing nothing illegal

Showing my libertarian streak here, but hang in there with me.  This situation frustrates me.  David Clarkson explains

A man who took photos of women’s breasts and buttocks as they walked in Hagley Park said he was pursuing a “hobby”.

Errol Reginald Standeven was today convicted of offensive behaviour and fined $600.

The 49-year-old technician took 269 photographs around Hagley Park, including many of women and children’s breast and buttock areas.

The photographs showed people walking or exercising around the park.

Many were full-length images, but many also focused on the body area with no faces visible.

Standeven defended the charge at a Christchurch District Court hearing before two Justices of the Peace, but was found guilty.

He had taken all 269 photographs over one or two weeks, he told the hearing.

“It’s a hobby,” he said. “I like taking photos.”

Even though Errol’ behaviour is extremely concerning, I don’t understand it to be illegal.  As a photographer, you are allowed to take photos of anything and anyone as long as they are in a public place.

Granted, asking permission is a good thing to do.  But it isn’t actually a legal requirement. Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Philippe Halsman: Dali Atomicus, 1948

Philippe Halsman: Dali Atomicus, 1948

Halsman and Dali Playing

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: Philip Jones Griffiths GB. NORTHERN IRELAND. 1973. The incongruities of daily life in the urban war zone. For years, the people of Northern Ireland lived in a strange and strained symbiosis with the occupying British army.

Photo: Philip Jones Griffiths
GB. NORTHERN IRELAND. 1973. The incongruities of daily life in the urban war zone. For years, the people of Northern Ireland lived in a strange and strained symbiosis with the occupying British army.

Just mowing the Lawn…

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Ladies and gentlemen… I present the latest Darwin Award nominee

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