Afghan Girl

PhotoTalk 2020/22

In June 1985 Steve McCurry’s photograph (since called Afghan Girl) was printed on the cover of the National Geographic magazine, anyone looking at the magazine was immediately struck by the intent look of an adolescent girl staring intently out from the magazine. 

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It is such an iconic image that it has been named “the most recognized photograph” in the history of the magazine.  It portrayed an adolescent Sharbat Gula (or Sharbat Bibi) in a red head scarf, with her striking green eyes staring intently at the camera.  McCurry’s use of Kodachrome film was widely known, and the colours he achieved were brilliant, needless to say he used his tools to advantage.

The context in which the image was published likely aided the readers, but the image itself stands alone.  It has been widely discussed, widely reprinted, and widely reproduced on the internet as well.  McCurry has lost some standing worldwide due to a few scandals involving some of his photographs and “editing”, but the impact of the Afghan Girl image is undeniable.

Fame or infamy, Photo-Journalism or Exploitation? Let’s talk!

#PhotoTalk


Original comments and discussions can be found on the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook post.


At Home with Guyana Photographers

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Lockdowns around the world are taking on different forms, here in Guyana, we have a curfew, and many people are indoors, also, most photographers who rely on photography for income are finding it difficult, added to that, any photographer worth their salt is probably itching to shoot something, anything!

To this end, we’d like to invite the members of Guyana Photographers’ Facebook Group to turn a fresh eye to what’s around you, embark on a project to show us what your idea of “At Home” is.  The selected images will be compiled into a virtual magazine.

Guidelines:
All photos must have been taken after April 1, 2020
Photographs must have been taken by the entrant
Each photographer may submit up to 20 images to convey their idea of “At Home”
Each submission must be accompanied by an Artist Statement and an Artist Biography
Start shooting! Submissions will be accepted from July 27th, 2020 to August 7th 2020

Submission details to follow.

Submitted Photographs will be curated by a Curatorial Panel, and the results published in a Virtual Magazine for electronic distribution.  Photographers retain all rights to their work, by submitting you give VISIONS and the Guyana Photographers the right to reproduce your images for this publication and for any promotional use regarding the publication.
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Moon Landing

PhotoTalk 2020/18

Moon Landing.

On July 20, 1969, the crew of the Apollo 11 landed their Lunar Module on the Moon, Neil Armstrong became the first man to step onto its surface, he was also the crew member trained in the use of the special Hasselblad cameras, and while two such cameras were with the Lunar Module, only one went outside, and Armstrong had that for almost all of the time spent on the moon’s surface, so he was also the first man to take a photograph on the moon’s surface, that of his friend and crew-mate Buzz Aldrin.

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Hasselblad worked with NASA to produce specialised cameras for the missions, there were many things different, but two notable ones were the lack of a viewfinder (not all) and the inclusion of a Réseau plate.

Jennifer Levassur (in 2019) was a curator in charge of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s astronaut cameras, with regards the viewfinder she said “They needed to know that the position of the camera … along their body was going to produce a certain king of image,” While the landings produced some stunning images, it’s not surprising that without a viewfinder, some of them were poorly framed, she says. “There are about 18,000 or so images taken during the Apollo program and there are plenty that aren’t any good.” (taken from NPR.org)

The Réseau plate was a special glass plate included that added several crosshairs to the image, this assisted in correcting any lens distortion as well as to assist in judging sizes and distances of objects in the frame, since the moon is devoid of landmarks and other objects with which to compare scale. (You can probably make them out in the image)

Famous man, famous photo, famous camera, now about the photo… Let’s talk!


Original comments and discussion can be seen on the post in the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook Group.


Rhine II

PhotoTalk 2020/17

Rhine II
Touching on some things that might prove controversial today.  The Rhine II by Andreas Ghursky is the most expensive photograph in the world, there was one called Phantom that disputes this, but the sale of the Phantom has never been verified.

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The Controversy: why would someone pay US $4,338,500 for a photograph? Let’s deal with the artist’s approach for a bit; by this stage he no longer approached a photograph without a plan, and lots of setting up; as I understand it, he shot several exposures on medium format film, then scanned and combined he images on his computer, with quite a fair bit of digital editing, removing buildings etc.  The print itself is an impressive photographic C-print mounted to acrylic glass at a staggering 73″tall by 143″ wide (that’s roughly six feet by 12 feet).

Is it fair to call it a “photograph”?  Should we call it a composite? Should we call it a photo-illustration? Should we simply classify it as art?

Let’s talk!


Originally posted to the Guyana Photographers’Facebook Group on May 15th, 2020; comments and discussions can be seen on that post.


Making Photographs – Frans Lanting

PhotoTalk 2020/15

For our fifteenth post in the PhotoTalk series we bring you the amazing wildlife work of Frans Lanting.  This image was the cover of a book called OKAVANGO – Africa’s Last Eden, I think it was first published in 1993. Frans Lanting is a well-known photographer who was actually the Photographer-in-residence for the National Geographic Society for a number of years.

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His wildlife photographs has resulted in him being considered one of the great nature photographers of our time. His works have captured and documented wildlife and our relationship with nature across the globe, from Africa, to the Amazon to Antarctica.

In an interview back in 2015 regarding one of his Exhibitions, when discussing smartphones, apps and mobile photography, he mentioned something that struck me: “What it does to the more deliberate kinds of photography, of which this exhibition is a result—hopefully it’ll stimulate a small percentage of the people who start with this to consider taking the next step from taking pictures to making photographs.”

These days, everyone can “take a picture”, but it takes some amount of deliberate consideration and a different approach to actually “ Make a photograph” – and looking at his amazing range of wildlife photographs, it is obvious that he has a point, we can all point our cameras at an animal or nature scene, but to come away with a “ photograph” we need to compose correctly, and develop a relationship with the scene/subject that goes beyond just seeing it through the lens. Again in his words: “If you don’t understand what you are photographing, you are just looking at the surface of things.”

Let’s Talk!


Originally published to the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook Group on May6th 2020, you can see the original comments or discussion on that post.


The Third Element by Kirth Bobb

PhotoTalk 2020/14

As someone who sees color as the third foundational element (light, shadow,+ color) of photographs. I’ve long studied and emulated the work of Alex Webb. Growing up in Guyana, the color was everywhere for me. From the vivid scenes at Big Market to all the colors of Pagwah, Easter, and Christmas. I can’t help but be drawn to color.

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This particular photograph, like much of Webb’s work in the Caribbean and Mexico, uses color, light a bit of his signature layering to give the photograph, what I think is a strong sense of place.

Here’s an excerpt from an interview where he discusses his use of color.

“What I also realized, and this took place over a period of a few years. As I did that (and I was working then in black and white) I realized that something was missing. That the intense, searing light that exists in the tropics. And the kind of brilliant colors that exist in a Haiti or a Mexico. I wasn’t capturing those in black and white. I wasn’t dealing with, at some level, the sensuality of some of these cultures. So I began photographing in color in 78 and 79 as a response to that. And basically have been working in color ever since. I mean, initially it was a response to working in certain kinds of places where there is vibrant color. Now I sort of work in color everywhere.”‘

The full interview can be found here:

http://www.streetshootr.com/video-alex-webb-on-inspiration-and-the-photographic-process/

How do you use color in your photo recipe when you’re making photographs? Guyana has so much fantastic color and harsh light, that when I look at Webb’s works, I can; ‘t help to think of home. a

This book remains one of my top 10 photo books to date:

https://aperture.org/shop/alex-webb-and-rebecca-norris-webb-on-street-photography-and-the-poetic-image-books/

And The suffering of light is another classic that’s in my top 10:

https://aperture.org/shop/the-suffering-of-light-3217

Thanks for joining in the conversation,

Kirth Bobb


Kirth originally published this to the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook Group on April 30th, 2020. To see the original comments and discussion please check that post.


Portraits as “Productions” – the Dalí Atomicus.

PhotoTalk 2020/13

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Portraits as “Productions” isn’t a new thing.

Dalí Atomicus. First some background… Salvador Dalí was a renowned Spanish surrealist painter, his works were well known not only for the display of Dalí’s technical skill and his amazing craftsmanship, but also for the striking and bizarre images in his paintings. To understand this unusual portrait of him by Philippe Halsman, you have to understand the nature of Dalí’s work, and the unusual approach (at the time) of Halsman towards portrait photography; Halsman tried to capture the “essence” of his subjects, while portrait photography at the time was seen as being very “clinical”, with the photographer and subject not knowing each other, and the portraits of the time having that poised look, and the soft blurred look; Halsman wanted sharp images that spoke of who the subject was, bringing the person themselves into “sharp focus” literally and metaphorically, in the resulting image.

Now about the image, I used this image in a workshop once, and I winged the description, but here I’ll quote directly from Time.com “Halsman created an elaborate scene to surround the artist that included the original work, a floating chair and an in-progress easel suspended by thin wires. Assistants, including Halsman’s wife and young daughter Irene, stood out of the frame and, on the photographer’s count, threw three cats and a bucket of water into the air while Dalí leaped up. It took the assembled cast 26 takes to capture a composition that satisfied Halsman.”

Just imagine that. Let’s Talk!


Originally published to the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook Page on April 28th, 2020. To see the original comments and discussion please check that post.


Sebastião Salgado

PhotoTalk 2020/10

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I think any photographer who happens across Sebastião Salgado’s work could agree that it leaves a lasting impression. His journey as a photographer is very interesting, and certainly one I would recommend any photographer to familiarise themselves with.

For a brief biography along with some of his photographs:

https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/sebasti%C3%A3o-salgado?all/all/all/all/0..

What is extraordinary and striking about Salgado’s work, for me, is the dedication, and level of immersion that he devotes to his projects – sometimes spanning years in extreme locations to capture remarkable photos in his distinct monochrome style.

He is described as a social documentary photographer, and photojournalist, but there is a level of artistry that he has achieved that sets him apart from the rest.

In his TED Talk, which can be found on YouTube, Salgado reveals quite a lot – about his life and photography, including the process, and its effects. He also gives insight into the purpose of his work and what he has been able to achieve – it’s truly inspiring.

I’ve attached one of Salgado’s most famous images for discussion – Mining, Brazil.

The photo was taken in 1986 at the Serra Pelada gold mine in Brazil where Salgado spent weeks observing and taking photos. I do not believe one can truly grasp the scope of his work from one image, so you may want to check out other images from this series, and others.

What are your first impressions? How does the work of Sebastião Salgado and other photographers inspire you? Do you see photography as art, or a medium for recording, journaling, and reporting, or both? Why is photography important to you?

The following links will give some insight into the life and work of Sebastião Salgado:

TED: The Silent Drama of Photography – Sebastião Salgado
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH4GAXXH29s&t=841s)

Haunting black and white images of the Brazilian gold rush by Sebastião Salgado (https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/photography/haunting-black-white-photos-brazil-gold-sebastiao-salgado-a9110031.html)

6 Ways the Life and Photos of Sebastião Salgado Will Stun You
(https://learn.zoner.com/6-ways-the-life-and-photos-of-sebastiao-salgado-will-stun-you/)

Thanks for joining in,

Darrell Carpenay.


The original was posted to the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook Group on April 17th, 2020. For the original comments and discussions, please check that post.


Joe McNally – Faces of Ground Zero

PhotoTalk 2020/09

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Joe McNally is one of those photographers whose works are known around the world, his images have featured in many major publications including TIME, Newsweek and National Geographic. One of his more notable works is “The Future of Flying” which was National Geographic’s first fully digital story. Joe’s portfolio covers fashion, portraits, dance, athletes, healthcare and industrial images among many.

The image I chose from Joe McNally is one from his series “Faces of Ground Zero”, a tribute to the men and women who were the true heroes of 9/11, all of the portraits are great, at a glance you can tell the individual’s occupation and associate with that their possible role in the aftermath of the terror attacks. As I looked at the images I loved how clean the images looked, but I also noted the state of their dress, many “cleaned up”for their portrait it seemed, but this one (and a few others) showed them as if they just climbed out of the rubble.

In this image I could see the looks of determination, of loss, of despair; I can see that these men worked tirelessly to help. I’ve seen many of Joe McNally’s situational Portraits where you get an immediate sense of the person, just from the photograph, from the surroundings. In this one Joe has accomplished that with a plain white background, and just the men, their attire, their tools and their expressions.

The information below was taken from TIME Magazine.

Billy Ryan and Mike Morrisey, Firefighters, Rescue 3, FDNY

Each was home when the attack came. They arrived at the site just after the second collapse.

“I tried to get overtime the night before but signed up too late,” said Morrisey. “It would have been me. Eight me in my house were killed.” Said Ryan: “Two tables of people from my wedding are not here anymore. I’m tired of burying my friends.”

Today, doctors and nurses are on the frontlines AND the last line of defence in the COVID-19 Pandemic, let us remember them, but can we also reach out like this?


The original post was published on the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook Page on April 9th, 2020. The original comments and discussions can be seen on that post.