Archive for the ‘Photographers’ Category

Mary Ellen Matthews

April 23, 2010 Leave a comment

SNL staff photographer Mary Ellen Matthews does the photography equivalent of herding cats every week as she makes cool, quirky and creative images of the show’s guests

By William Sawalich, Photography By Mary Ellen Matthews

Here is a great article from Digital Photo Pro magazine

Categories: Mary Ellen Matthews

Taryn Simon

April 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Taryn Simon (born 1975) is an American fine art photographer. She is a graduate of Brown University and aGuggenheim Fellow. She was born in New York, and currently is an assignment photographer for the New York Times Magazine.

Her photography and writing have been featured in numerous publications and broadcasts including the New York Times MagazineThe New YorkerCNNBBCFrontline, and NPR. Simon has been a visiting artist at institutions includingYale UniversityBard CollegeColumbia UniversitySchool of Visual Arts, and Parsons School of Design.

Below is a great presentation about her work from

Below is an interview of hers on Charlie Rose

Categories: Taryn Simon

Bill Owens

April 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Bill Owens (born September 25, 1938) is an American photographerphotojournalistbrewer and editor living in Hayward, California. The recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship in 1976[1]and two NEA Grants, he is best known for his photographs of suburban domestic scenes taken in the East Bay and published in the book Suburbia in 1973. According to The New York Sun, “Bill Owens is one of the very few photographers to have shot people in the suburbs to any great extent. There is a long, long list of photographers who made their reputations shooting in cities and a shorter but impressive list who made their names with studies of rural communities, but Mr. Owens is uniquely associated with suburbanites living in the tract housing developments that absorbed 60 million Americans in the decades following World War II.”

His new website

contains the series he is most famous for, Suburbia.

Here is a quote from the mother of the child holding the gun in one of his most famous photographs

“I dont feel that Richie playing with guns will have a negative effect on his personality.  (He already wants to be a policeman.)  His childhood gun-playing wont make him into a cop-shooter.  By playing with guns he learns to socialize with other children.  I find the neighbors who are offended by Richie’s gun, either the father hunts or their kids are the first to take Richie’s gun and go off and play with it.”

Categories: Bill Owens

Richard Avedon

April 16, 2010 Comments off

Richard Avedon is an American photographer from New York City.  He specializes on fashion and portraiture photography.  He has photographed for Harper’s Bazaar, where he did not conform to the standard technique of taking fashion photographs, where models stood emotionless and seemingly indifferent to the camera. Instead, Avedon showed models full of emotion, smiling, laughing, and, many times, in action.

He left Harper’s to work as a staff photographer at Vogue magazine.  He became the lead photographer of Vogue and photographed most of the covers from 1979 to 1988.

He is also distinguished by his large prints, sometimes measuring over three feet in height. His large-format portrait work of drifters, miners, cowboys and others from the western United States became a best-selling book and traveling exhibit entitled In the American West, and is regarded as an important hallmark in 20th Century portrait photography, and by some as Avedon’s magnum opus. Commissioned by the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, it was a six-year project Avedon embarked on in 1979, that produced 125 portraits of people in the American west who caught Avedon’s eye.

The American West exhibit (1979):  Avedon was drawn to working people such as miners and oil field workers in their soiled work clothes, unemployed drifters, and teenagers growing up in the West circa 1979-84. When first published and exhibited, In the American West was criticized for showing what some considered to be a disparaging view of America. Avedon was also lauded for treating his subjects with the attention and dignity usually reserved for the politically powerful and celebrities. Laura Wilson served as Avedon’s assistant during the creation of In the American West and in 2003 published a photo book documenting the experiences, Avedon at Work, In the American West.

Visit his website

Categories: Richard Avedon

Edward Weston

April 15, 2010 Comments off

Edward Weston was an American photographer and one of the co-founders of the group f/64 along with Ansel Adams among others.

Visit his website it has a great collection of his work.

Categories: Edward Weston

Shirin Neshat

April 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Neshat left Iran to study art in Los Angeles. It was about this time that the Iranian Revolution occurred. As an effect of the political restructuring after the revolution, her father who had been financially secure and about to retire was left without benefits and a meager salary (MacDonald 4). Once the revolution was over and the society was restructured as a traditional Islamic nation, her family was no longer able to enjoy the comfortable life to which they had grown accustomed. About a year after the revolution, she moved to the San Francisco Bay area and began studying at Dominican College. Eventually, she enrolled in UC Berkeley and completed her BA, MA and MFA.

Here is an interview by Charlie Rose of Shirin Neshat, it starts around minute 31:20

The work of Shirin Neshat addresses the social, political and psychological dimensions of women’s experience in contemporary Islamic societies. Although Neshat actively resists stereotypical representations of Islam, her artistic objectives are not explicitly polemical. Rather, her work recognizes the complex intellectual and religious forces shaping the identity of Muslim women throughout the world.

Here is an excertp for a Time magazine article

“Shirin Neshat doesn’t quite know where to call home. The 43-year-old artist was born and raised in Iran but moved to the U.S. after high school to study art. When the Islamic Revolution overtook her homeland in 1979, Neshat was exiled and couldn’t return until 11 years later–and the country she went home to bore little resemblance to the one she left.”

Here is another good interview where she explains her work in detail.

Excerpt “Of course, it’s important for both my Western and Iranian audience to understand that while my work investigates social and political issues of Iran, it remains conceptual, not at all claiming to be `actual’ or `realistic’ about the subjects. Another important factor to keep in mind is that the work is made from the perspective of an Iranian living abroad, therefore it bears an exilic point of view.

My themes always seem to develop as a personal inquiry toward certain issues that I am faced with as an individual; for example my resentment and questions toward political powers or events such as the Islamic revolution (1979) that has determined the course of my life and so many other Iranians’. Consequently this path naturally has pulled me toward a larger cultural investigation, which I happen to care deeply about. Therefore, to properly analyze my work, one must always consider both its personal and social context that always run in parallel. Of course in process I seem to frame and raise many questions, which naturally bring me to investigate, confront and at times deconstruct all kinds of stereotypes such as the notion of ‘orientalism’.

In regard to your other point, my interest in the subject of women is partially due to the fact that as a woman I feel closer and more sympathetic toward their situation living under oppressive societies. But also, because I believe in Islamic societies such as in Iran, by studying the predicament of the women, one could learn about the overall ideological structure of the political system that rules the country.”

Barbara Kruger

April 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Barbara Kruger was born in Newark New Jersey in 1945 into a lower middle class, Jewish family.  Her father was the first Jew hired by the Shell Oil in Union, New Jersey, and the family was harassed by anti-Semitic phone calls during the year he was hired.  She grew up in a black neighborhood, graduated from a competitive high school, and graduated from Syracuse University.

“Surveillance” 1983 the excerpt below is from Terry Barrett’s book “Criticizing Photographs: An Introduction to Understanding Images”

“A man is peering at us through a photographer’s lupe, a magnifying device for closely examining negatives, contact prints, slides, and phtographs.  The lupe is a fixed-focus device, a cube, and he has it and his other hand against something, perhaps a pane of glass, a window, or a light table used for viewing negatives and transparencies.  One of his eyes is closed, the other open.  The light source is directly in front of his face, and it is harsh, revealing pores of skin and stubbles of whiskers.  He looks to be in his fifties.  He is intent and, on the basis of the photograph, would be difficult to identify.

The photograph looks dated, out of style, but vaguely familiar.  It is dramatically lit and shot from a dramatic angle and distance-reminiscent of black and white Hollywood movies on late-night television, tough-guy cops-and-robbers movies.

Halftone dots are apparent-it is a halftone reproduction rather than a silver print made directly from the negative.

The word Surveillance is larger than the other words, in black type on a white strip, pasted at a slight diagnol above the mans eyes.  The phrase “is your busy work” is at the bottom of the image, in white type on a black strip.  The words are a declaratory sentence.  They are accusatory.  “Surveillance” is associated with spying, sneakiness, furtiveness, unwholesome activities.  “Busywork” is not something we want to be accused of doing-we have more important things to do with our lives.  Someone is being accused by someone of something, and there is an urgency about the image.”

Barbara Kruger started taking her own photographs and super imposing text onto them, but later (1980’s) “she stopped making her own photographs and instead selected photographs from magazines and cropped and enlarged them.  Most of the photographs she selects are posed or set up “she does not work with snapshots, in which the camera itself suspends animation, but with studio shots in which the camera records an animation performed only to be suspended.”

“All the photographs Barbara Kruger uses are somehow familiar.  They are “appropirated” images, taken from mass culture.  Kruger is working in the 1980s and 1990s, when postmodernism practice abounds, when many artists are using other images rather than making all images anew.  Postmodernism questions the possibility and desirability of originality in art.”

Kruger says of her work “I grew up looking not at art but at pictures.  I’m not saying it’s wrong to read art-history books.  But the spectators who view my work dont have to understand that language.  They just have to consider the pictures that bombard their lives and tell them who they are to some extent.  That’s all they have to understand.”

“The phrases she writes, like the photograph she selects, also have a familiar ring to them.  They sound like advertising, but are more terse and biting.  Kruger says her work is a ‘series of attempts to ruin certain representations’ in language and images by her use of photographs and text.  She wants her work to expose and condemn stereotypes and cliches in advertising and throughout culture.”

“Untitled 1981”

This image shows six men in tuxedos, with boutonniers, laughing, as they pull at another man in a tuxedo.  He appears to be laughing too.  Where they are, cannot be determined definitely, but it is probably a wedding reception, and he is probably the groom.

“You construct intricate rituals which allow you to touch the skin of other men.”

Untitled 1981: Your manias become science

“Your” and “science” are black on white and larger than “manias become” which are white on black.  The succinntness of the phrase, and the black and white pattern, are reminiscent of a blinking neon sign.  We can read it as “your science/manias become” or “manias become/your science” as well as “your manias/become science”

“The phrase ‘your manias become science’ over the image of a mushroom cloud is overtly political, resonant with controversial social issues in the 1980’s concerning atomic energy, nuclear warfare, and global nuclear disarmament.”

Categories: Barbara Kruger