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Apparition: Cyanotype Postcards from J Fredric May May 10, 2018

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Photographer: J Fredric May

A graduate of Brooks Institute, J. Fredric May received his B.S. in Commercial/Color Technology and was accepted into the prestigious Eddie Adams Workshop in 1989.
He made his living as a photojournalist and commercial photographer traveling all over the world, telling visual stories with a signature style of bold color and confrontational composition. He won numerous state and regional honors.
As a filmmaker, May directed more than 50 corporate and industrial films and helped raise more than 7 million dollars for non profit organizations. He won Telly and Cine Awards for his creative film work and national awards for his corporate and nonprofit clients.

During open heart surgery in 2012, he suffered a major stroke leaving him legally blind and subject to vivid visual hallucinations. This life event changed his artistic vision, opening up an entirely new visual style. The result is his current project, Apparition: Postcards From Eye See You.

Where others might have been discouraged or quit photography altogether, May embraced his unfamiliar perspective: “With profound curiosity and a life-long habit of experimentation, I picked up my iPad and started to explore. Because I was raised by inventors and engineers, I embraced regeneration as a way of life, so I focused my limited attention on what could be invented and created.”

To produce this series, May used imaging software to corrupt visual data. He explains, “I was effectively able to replicate what was happening in my own brain. I scanned found portraits, maimed their component features and rebuilt them as layered composites to resemble how I now see, in fragments, somehow familiar, yet strange. I take my layered composites and print them as cyanotypes, and then bleach and tone them with a mixture of photo chemicals and tea.”


In the very last step, May digitizes the cyanotypes and alters them further as he sees fit. The final images are like soft, hazy, mosaicked memories combined with intricate, focused fragments. The result is a testament to how the photographic process, as a medium, transcends static, repetitive, or mechanical use, and with each frame offers the real possibility to create something truly new.

—Cat Lachowskyj

Learning from Nadav Kander October 9, 2017

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Nadav Kander is a sought-after and immensely productive portrait-maker, shooting covers of some of the world’s most important individuals (Obama, Blair, Kissinger) for some of the most respected publications.

But alongside this public-facing oeuvre, he has spent decades pursuing personal work in the landscape tradition. Although the working methods in each genre are completely different, to Kander, there is little difference in the end result. In each case, he says, “I’m looking to be moved by the image and I hope for the viewer to recognize something of themselves in the image too.” 


Magnum and Lens Culture Want to See your Work April 14, 2017

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Magnum Photos Wants to See Your Work!

LensCulture and legendary photography agency Magnum Photos are seeking the best in global contemporary photography for the second annual Magnum Photography Awards.

Walking on Water Photo Bohdan Warchomij

Photographers working at all levels are eligible to participate—professionals, emerging talents, students and passionate amateurs. Likewise, photographers of all ages and all cultures are encouraged to take part in this worldwide celebration of talented image-makers.

The distinguished international jury will select 12 Winners, 8 Jurors’ Picks and 20 Finalists. Awards will be given in six categories: Documentary, Street, Portrait, Fine Art, Photojournalism and Open.

Magnum and LensCulture have worked hard to make this year’s edition an unparalleled opportunity for exposure and recognition. Our official media partner BBC Culture will be sharing top submissions throughout the competition to their global audience of 3.5 million and then will publish a series of features on selected winners. In addition, all the Winners, Finalists and Jurors’ Picks will be digitally exhibited at the Photographers’ Gallery in London.

The winning photographers will also receive exclusive access to Magnum photographers’ workshops around the world and have their work shown to industry insiders online and at festivals all over the globe. These Awards aim to offer an unprecedented level of international exposure from two of the largest organizations in the photographic community. So, don’t delay, enter now!

Open to all levels in these categories:
Documentary | Portrait | Street | Fine Art | Photojournalism | Open

Stephen Dupont LENS CULTURE INTERVIEW: Generation AK: The Afghanistan Wars, 1993-2012 May 3, 2016

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Over the past two decades, award-winning photographer Stephen Dupont has produced a remarkable body of visual work focused on hauntingly beautiful photographs of fragile cultures and marginalized people. He skillfully captures the human dignity of his subjects with great intimacy—and often in some of the world’s most dangerous regions.

His latest book, Generation AK: The Afghanistan Wars, 1993-2012 presents a retrospective selection of images from the country where he covered everything from civil war and the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s, to the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom and the ongoing war on terrorism. The book has just been awarded with the prestigious Olivier Rebbot Award by the Overseas Press Club of America.

In the following interview, Dupont tells us more about what drew him towards photography, about the consequences of a life-long career as a photojournalist and about what connected him so deeply to Afghanistan, a country he spent nearly two decades covering. 

LC: Why did you choose to become a photographer? What is it about photography that makes it so important to you?

SD: I have always blamed Don McCullin. After seeing his amazing war photography I knew I wanted to take pictures. It was McCullin and then photographers like Josef Koudelka, Sebastião Salgado, James Nachtwey, William Klein, Robert Frank and Gene Smith that got into my blood. I was transfixed into the world of photography through their pictures. They, in a way, were my teachers and so I was committed from a young age to go out and see the world and make photographs.

I am drawn to documentary work and the macabre side of life, I suppose. Recently, as I watched my mother pass away, I came to the realization that I had been searching out death in my photography my whole life, or maybe death had been searching for me.

When I am roaming the world with my camera I feel a kind of freedom that is more liberating and exciting then just about anything else. I love the challenges that photography brings to me, the challenge of capturing a great human moment in time. And then I like to see people’s reactions to my pictures, how it makes them feel and sometimes how my pictures might just make a difference or be that record of history.

Photography is like a gift to me and I always treat it with respect, passion and commitment. It is the closest thing I know to exploring the unknown; we’re explorers of light aren’t we?

LC: Do you think that photography can make a change? What is the power of photography that continues to inspire you?

SD: Of course photography has the ability to make change, to make a difference.

It is truly great photography, from dedicated photographers, that get themselves to the right place at the right time—and then the magic can happen. There is no greater or more powerful medium in the arts than photography.

Powerful emotive moments have the ability to stop people in their tracks, to make people think and to utterly move people to act. There is something unique and so powerful in the “moment” of life. Those kind of pictures inspired me to pick up a camera and teach myself the art of photography and it still moves me to get out there and make pictures.

It is a kind of wonderful addiction really, something that most photographers I know all feel universally.

LC: “Generation AK: The Afghanistan Wars, 1993 -2012″ collects all the compelling work you did in Afghanistan for nearly two decades. Can you tell us more about it? Why did you choose Afghanistan? How did you get involved with it in the first place? 

SD: Afghanistan got into my blood and never left.

While living in London during the 90s I wanted to find an excuse to go there and see it for myself. While the world’s attention was on Bosnia, I turned my lens to Central Asia.

In the winter of 1993, I read that hundreds of thousands of Tajik refugees were fleeing a civil war in their own country and seeking salvation in neighboring Afghanistan. I found the absurdity of thousands leaving one war behind them in order to escape to a country that was at the height of its own brutal civil war enough of a good excuse to go and cover the story.

So why Afghanistan? Its intrigue, its mystique drove me there; its fear and savagery keeps me thinking, creating, wondering; its timeless beauty keeps me smiling and awe inspired. It’s in my face, there’s no escape: it’s a battlefield in my guts, surprising, shocking, always real.

I’m living on the edge of life out there, it feels like my first trip and sometimes my last. When I depart, I leave a little of myself behind.

But back to my first vists: I saw a story there that was not being told. When I started going in 1993, the world was not interested in hearing about Afghanistan. I saw a people and country that was crying out to be heard. Although I was just one small voice, I was at least able to offer my photography of life, struggle and war. At least I could bring back the moments that captured the horrors and the ecstasy of conflict. I felt my pictures mattered and somehow would—either then, or some day—provide a history of what took place during those savage years of war.

If I could reawaken a sense of responsibility in anyone out there who was listening, then I felt that I had achieved something important, something that was not done in vain.

LC: You’ve been a constant witness to human grief and pain. Do you cut yourself off emotionally in the field—or have another way of conceiving of your relation to your subjects?

SD: It’s never easy watching someone else’s pain and suffering.

Before I became a father, it was much easier for me to cope with that. Now I find it almost unbearable to watch people in crisis, in trauma, especially children.

But there was, and still is, a kind of barrier that is my camera.

When working, I find myself in a transfixed zone, mentally: I am on the move and capturing the things happening in front of me. The tension, the enjoyment and the energy of being caught up in life, while having the challenge to capture something extraordinary…that is so powerful and drives me to the edge of my senses.

I am a kind of realist in that I tell myself that what I am going through emotionally is nothing compared to what my subjects might be experiencing. I just put things into clear perspective and recognize my role as an eyewitness.

For me, the really hard part is editing my work. It turns out that being there and caught up in the event is easy—it’s the editing that brings home all the horrors you have seen. I relive the experiences all over again and in some strange way, I relive them more real than the original reality. Editing pictures is so emotionally draining and reflective…Memory is the strongest emotion there is and that is what makes photography so, so powerful. It deals with memory and acts as a window: not only into what you have just witnessed but also as a portal into your own mind and soul.

LC: In 2008, while on assignment in Nangharhar, a suicide bomber attacked your convoy. How did you manage to overcome this experience and keep photographing conflicts? How did it change the way you approach photography?

SD: Like any life-changing moment, this was a big one.

Of course, it is all luck. Right place, in the wrong place, at a really wrong time. The blast was meters away and I was sitting inside a Ford Ranger vehicle at the time. After temporarily blacking out and then finding myself under fire, I scrambled away from the car and behind a dirt mound with some Afghan policemen.

After realizing what had taken place, I started to make picture in the immediate aftermath. What else do you do, right? I am a photographer and this was something so relevant to the nasty war going on and so fortunate (in a way) that I was able to function and then move inside the blast zone to capture pictures moments after the explosion. This was a very rare situation to be witness to. So it felt natural to take pictures.

Still, I was lucky to have not only survived but to have walked out relatively unscathed. Having a newborn daughter back home in Australia really put the focus on survival for me: I was not going back in a body bag.

The experience has definitely changed my approach to photography. It made me more aware of my own vulnerability and a responsibility to stay alive for my family. I don’t want my daughter to grow without a father, my partner to grow up a widow. I take fewer risks today, I believe, or at least more thoughtful risks—calculated ones to get the photographs I seek.

LC: What are the consequences of a photojournalist’s life? How does it change you as a person, both for better, and perhaps for worse?

SD: The consequences are great, both in positive and negative ways.

Now, more than at any other time, I think covering conflict has become far more dangerous to photographers than before. There is no more neutrality: we are all targets now, which makes things so hard when trying to capture something and bring back pictures that will tell the story. Too many photographers are being killed these days and this should be a big worry for all of us.

Saying this, most photographers don’t cover war and I think being involved in capturing history is so valuable and fulfilling. Witnessing and seeing the troubles of our planet has certainly made me a better person; it has taught me so much about people, personality and philosophy that I credit my life to it.

Most of my close photographer friends are wise, thoughtful and generous and loving people…so photography must being doing something right.

LC: What other projects are you currently working on? Anything on the horizon that you feel excited about?

SD: I am a pretty good multi-task creator, so I am constantly working on many projects.

I spend most of my time creating books these days. I have a new book in production with Steidl called “Locks, Chains & Engine Blocks.” This a project about a mental asylum in Angola that I shot over 20 years ago while covering the civil war there. It is work that has never been seen and only now did I have the courage to dive back into my archive and make a new edit with fresh eyes.

I have also completed another book with my friends at Pholpo called “We Cut Heads.” If I tell you about it, I’ll spoil the surprise…so you’ll all have to wait and buy one!

—Stephen Dupont, interviewed by Winifred Chiocchia

View Stephen Dupont’s Profile

Competition to Celebrate 70 years of Magnum Photos May 3, 2016

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Lens Culture, Magnum, Metaphor Online , comments closed

LensCulture and legendary photography agency Magnum Photos are joining forces to produce one of the best opportunities for photographers all over the world to be recognized and rewarded for their talent.2017 marks a significant year for Magnum as they celebrate 70 years since four pioneering photographers toasted the conception of an independent photo agency. This landmark anniversary will be marked by a series of international events, projects and partnerships, with an emphasis on the agency’s digital presence and the photography community at large.Ahead of the anniversary celebrations, Magnum Photos and LensCulture invite you to enter our inaugural Magnum Photography Awards, an international call to discover the best photographers from all over the world. Our distinguished jury will select 12 Winners and 20 Finalists from Documentary, Street, Portrait, Fine Art, Photojournalism and Open categories. In addition, the jury will select 7 photographers as “Jurors’ Picks” and give out 5 “Student Spotlight” awards to young, up-and-coming talents.Winners, finalists and top-rated photographers will gain access to an unprecedented level of global exposure and recognition from two of the largest organizations in the photo industry, with a combined audience of over 4 million.

Celebrate 70 years of Magnum Photos!

Since 1947, Magnum has served as an important collective of the visionary photographers who captured (and continue to capture) world-famous, iconic images that define and shape our rapidly-changing lives. It is often said that if you picture an iconic image, but can’t think who took it or where it can be found, it probably came from Magnum.

Magnum Photos represents some of the world’s most renowned photographers, maintaining its founding ideals and idiosyncratic mix of journalists, artists and storytellers. The agency is strictly self-selecting and membership is considered the finest accolade of a photographer’s career.

Both Magnum Photos and LensCulture are committed to developing visual talent. With this partnership, Magnum will continue to expand its education initiatives while recognizing new, talented photographers from all over the world. Together, the two organizations will continue their mission of helping photographers move forward in their careers, both creatively and professionally.


Deadline: Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lens Culture and Visual Story Telling September 23, 2015

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Lens Culture Call for entries to its second Visual Storytelling Awards is now on:

Show Us Your Story

This is the 2nd annual international call to discover the best visual storytellers today — from all corners of the world! We are searching for photography in Documentary, Personal Stories, Photojournalism, Fictional Narratives, and any other photography that tells a story. You are invited to participate with your best work!

We believe photographs tell stories that can reach the broadest audiences — across all cultures, languages, political borders and age groups. We are wide open to all themes and approaches. A picture is worth a thousand words—show us your story!

Deadline: Monday, November 2, 2015

Antoine D’Agata Interview by Lens Culture managing editor Alexander Strecker from Paris Photo September 12, 2015

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Antoine D’Agata is an itinerant figure: a photographer, a film-maker, a world wanderer, a member of Magnum Photos. As an artist, he is most widely-known for his graphic and intense images. But during a brief sit-down with LensCulture managing editor Alexander Strecker at Paris Photo, D’Agata revealed some lesser-known facets to his personality. One of them is his dedication to the workshop format.

For the past 10 years, D’Agata has been traveling to the village of Siem Riep, Cambodia to offer photography workshops to children and young adults at no charge. This program is part of the annual Angkor Photo Festival and Workshops, which D’Agata helped start. Some of the workshop’s alumni have gone on to become world-famous photographers. Other students were simply touched by the man’s indelible, strong character and his infectious passion for the journey of photography.

Antoine D’Agata Photo Bohdan Warchomij

LC: Can you talk about the beginning of the Angkor Workshops?

Well, I feel very attached to this area of the world, to the country, to the people. There were three or four of us at the beginning, about 10 years ago. It began, like many great things, as a project of love. For the first workshop, I had to go from house to house, looking for kids who might be interested in taking a course with me. I had to talk these kids’ parents into letting them do it. Perhaps some of them said yes because I was offering some English along with the photography classes…

Now, each annual workshop draws about 40 students from around 15 countries. It remains a labor of love, since the workshops are free for the students. We do our best to ensure there are some local Cambodian students but the rest come from all over south Asia: Pakistan, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia and so on. Our aim is to mix people, to mix energies. The workshop is such a powerful setting to experiment, to take risks. Many of the students return year after year—some have even returned to become workshop leaders themselves.

LC: Can you talk more about the students? Their backgrounds? Bringing together individuals from such diverse points of view?

We try to choose the students from a very young age. The only thing we are looking for is engaged people who are willing to suffer to make photography. Recently, some of the most exciting student work I’ve seen came from Vietnam. The projects were focused on gay issues, a topic that is largely taboo in the country.

As I said, many of the students we choose are deeply impacted by the workshops. Some have gone on to successful professional careers—one of my students, Sohrab Hura, was recently nominated to join Magnum.

But beyond the student’s seemingly different backgrounds, I think they share a lot more in common than they differ. Each student has to overcome local censorship or cultural limitations, but deep down, I find that they all have the same desires—culture matters very little. Since I require my students to get physically, mentally, politically involved in their projects, everyone is bound together by the intensity of their efforts. You have to let go to become involved with your work. During the workshop, we are in class for 8 hours a day and then the students have to shoot before and after class. It’s dense, it’s exhausting, it’s prolific; the results are amazing.

LC: So, does teaching feel central to your practice as an artist?

One thing that teaching has affirmed is that whether you’re a retired businessman in Tokyo or a boy in the Rio favelas, the issues in all photography are the same: how to be yourself, how to express yourself, how to confront your own fears. I try to adapt to the students but really what I do is help them be themselves. I put my energy at their service.

That being said, if I could, I would not teach. Some part of me enjoys the process but this kind of involvement is also exhausting. I’ve had over 1,300 students in the past few years. I know most of them by name and I remain involved in their work and in their lives. This takes up a lot energy to be so implicated in someone else’s creative, personal processes. It doesn’t matter if I’m getting paid for the workshop or not, it takes the same amount of energy out of me.

I also use these workshops to keep myself constantly moving. I haven’t had a permanent address for over 8 years now. In the past few years, I’ve done 90 workshops all over the world. It’s much more about giving myself a reason to keep moving than it is about the money.

During the workshop, I’m completely engaged. At the end, I ask the students to send me emails to keep me posted on how they’re doing. But I never answer. Once the workshop is finished, I need to give myself space again. The space to find my own silence, to return to the darkness. This is essential for my process of working. There needs to be a line somewhere. After giving myself to the space of the workshop, I need to go back to my real world, my real life—the life of my pictures.

—Antoine D’Agata, interviewed by Alexander Strecker