Get ready to be inspired!
I'm sure you're wondering what this is, if you're even reading this, seems how I haven't posted on my blog since July 2015 (my first too actually... oops.) Well a lot has changed since then, however my love of photography has not. I now attend the Savannah College of Art and Design working towards a B.F.A in Photography with a concentration in Fine Art Photography (shocker right). Now for my studies I am taking a black and white film class called Black and White Technique and as a part of this class we are required to compile a journal of 50 artists that we find intriguing (hopefully most are photographers). We were given many options of how to do this, whether it be a book, a slide show... a blog post?
Thus this post was born. In it I aim to highlight some amazing photographers and talk a little bit about their work. Now this won't go in any particular order, just the order that I find them in. Feel free to suggest other artists / photographers that you might like because this doesn't have to be a stagnant list. As artists we need to look to others to see what we like, or don't like, to better understand who we are and what we want to create.
This will come as 5 separate entries and for this first one let's stick to black and white photographers, for no particular reason at all (sarcasm).
So without further adieu, let's begin with...
The very first name that comes to my mind, and surely to the minds of many others, is Ansel Adams. I feel as though I never had a true appreciation for this man's genius until I started working in the dark room. I can only imagine the crazy amount of dodging and burning Adams must have done to create the above photo. Somehow he manages to illuminate the scene without the highlights becoming over bearing, as well as has shadows that pull you into the detail. There is no way this scene was even close to as dynamic as he has made it appear through his experienced and dedicated darkroom skills. The drama played out in this piece suggests that the mountains and river work together in some sort of ruling over the land. Royalty and grandiosity are littered in the tones of this photo.
You can find Ansel Adam's website here.
Sally Mann is another, more modern day, black and white film photographer. Her photos are generally intimate and extremely expressive. One of her many projects was photographing her children, in whom she captured the perfect combination of pose and whim. In Candy Cigarette in particular, Mann juxtaposes the innocence of a young girl wearing a white dress with a very adult way of holding her candy cigarette. The spotlight affect Mann has chosen heightens the impact of the odd pairing and the two other neglected figures facing away from the subject and the camera add to the mystery of the scene.
Sally Mann's website is here.
Ed van der Elsken
Street photography is a form of photography that has always interested me but I haven't tried my luck in. Ed van der Elsken makes me want to change that. His eye for the unique and striking is superb and somehow manages to make the viewer feel like they truly are looking in on a fleeting moment. His attention to details even within the deep blacks draws the eye around his photos incredibly well, but his strong sense of subject matter and eye for the unique keep you grounded within the scene.
Ed van der Elsken's website can be found here.
Linda Foard Roberts
Linda Foard Robert's series "Simple Truths" takes a simple subject matter and makes it anything but... simple. Each one of these works has a weight to it, a strong draw in. Some ways that Roberts achieves this is through a soft focus on much of the image, even sometimes employing a tilt-shift affect. This draws the viewer right into the seemingly "simple" scene where they are greeted by what at first seems like a "simple" subject. The generic quality of each of these subjects however leaves a need to know more, and a way to relate.
You can check out Linda Foard Robert's website here.
Joseph E. B. Elliott
Joseph E. B. Elliott takes the old and decrepit and returns it to it's glory with his "Palazzos of Power" series focused on electrical power plants that were once an important part of Philadelphia's economy. The way Elliott captures the magnitude and scale of these ancient urban wastelands exceeds words. The symmetry and scale of the large towers radiates power and dominance. It is clear that plants like these used to run the cities that they were in and we can see that exemplified in Elliott's work. All of the photos are just what they are depicting, powerful.
You can find more of Elliot's work here.
Gauri Gill is a beautiful example of documentary photography. Gill's subjects live on in her photos just as they did when she photographed them. The raw quality of her images capture the viewer, whom struggles to interpret the life of another. In this image and a few others from this series, there is a harshly lit sky. Generally one would find this distracting and burn it down, however Gill leaves the sky an off-putting, abrasive, white color, possibly symbolizing some sort of hardship or struggle that bears upon the subjects of the photo.
Check out Gauri Gill's work here.
Brandon Thibodeaux captures life in the south with such ease. Clearly spending time in the places and with the people he photographs, Thibodeaux finds a way to portray some of the most intimate moments of life for those in Mississippi with his series "When Morning Comes". Pictured above is an intriguing glimpse into adolescence for some living in the deep south. Playful and fun, yet many Americans could not imagine growing up in such a place. Thibodeaux's photos are highly charged and to experience his photos is to experience what, in his own words, is "another man's faith, identity, and perseverance".
You can catch more of Brandon Thibodeaux's work here.
In 2009 Susan Berger set out to photograph streets named after Martin Luther King Jr. Her travels brought her to many different cities and of them one was Savannah. Currently living in Savannah I can say that she picked a very meaningful place on MLK Drive to capture. She could have chosen the run down projects or the hustling downtown but she chose to photograph a sign reading "Revival in Progress" which is what Savannah has been working towards for many years now. Savannah is a beautiful city with a not so beautiful past, and through the efforts of the community is building itself up to be great again. This shot embodies Savannah. The strip of MLK Drive shows the many different sides of Savannah, but this sign shows what Savannah is striving for.
More work by Susan Berger can be found here.
Brooklyn, NY photographer David Attie's son Eli recently came upon some of his father's old negatives and has put them together in a show called “Truman Capote’s Brooklyn: The Lost Photographs of David Attie,” that shares captivating images of New York City during the 1950's. Way of life was clearly different back then, but what will remain forever is the wide tonal range and almost surreal shots of every day New Yorker's every day lives. It is apparent that Attie was not afraid to get low to take a photograph, and in some cases, like when shooting children, it becomes so much more believable that we're there peering in on ordinary activity, taking part in a moment long forgotten.
Another New York photographer from the mid 1900's, however Arbus and Attie differ greatly in subject matter. Attie was all about every day life and capturing the essence of Brooklyn life while Arbus was more interested in the freaks and weirdos, the ones that hid in the daylight, people not often photographed. This makes sense due to the fact she started taking these types of images after her and her husband (who shared a fashion photography career together) went their separate ways. She seemed to be interested in the non traditional types of beauty, as pictured above. Sort of grungy, no shirt, hairy, and slightly chunky, this man surely would not be a beauty icon nor would he be shot by Attie, looking for the ideal. This is why Arbus stood out and became the star photographer she was.
And that's all for now! Finally getting into the dark room and making physical prints has made my work and my creativity do a 180... for the better. Exploring the roots of photography, and seeing work from modern photographers who choose to go the old school way inspires me and makes me think that I might have to just continue my experience with film even outside of class.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it and found a little inspiration yourself. Check back for more!