Industry Trends

Black & White Photography

Black and white photography is something that will never go out of style. While the bright colors of contemporary photographs are eye-catching and visually appealing, there’s something about looking at a black and white photograph that really allows you to feel connected to the image. Perhaps it has something to do with the distinct lack of color; without having an array of bright colors to focus on, viewers are forced to look deeper into a photograph – into the expression of the subject’s face, into the lines and shapes that make up the subject, into the distinct differences between light and shadow. There are plenty of aspects of photographs that go unnoticed when looking at a photograph in color. By reducing it to its black and white state, more is observed.

While all early photographers were forced to shoot in black and white before color film was invented, there are some that were more influential than others. And in a day and age where color photography is everywhere you look, there are still modern-day photographers who appreciate the beauty of a simple black and white photograph and choose to continue its use. Some modern-day photographers are even still photographing with black and white film!

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams

Perhaps one of the most – if not the most – well-known black and white photographers of all time, Ansel Adams is widely known for his large, beautiful, black and white landscapes taken between the 1920s and the 1960s. By choosing to photograph with a large-format camera, Ansel Adams ensured that no detail was left unnoticed. The sharpness, clarity, and perfect tonal range of each of his images show the painstaking measures that were taken in the darkroom to create such beautiful images.

Robert Frank

Robert Frank

Robert Frank, a black and white photographer born in Zurich in 1924, immigrated to America in 1947. He began his work as a photographer shortly before moving to America, and once there was fascinated with the American culture. Traveling across America for two years, he took almost 30,000 photographs. After narrowing this collection down to under 100 images, his famous book The Americans came to be. This work documenting American culture is interesting because it comes from the eyes of an outsider. Since Robert Frank was not an American himself, he chose to document the aspects of America that he found quirky or unusual – aspects that many Americans of that time wouldn’t have thought twice about.

Sally Mann

Sally Mann

Sally Mann, while controversial, is an incredibly talented photographer. She is most well known for her photographs of her children, controversial because she often photographs them naked, running around the yard in which they grew up. While many will say that these photographs are beautiful portrayals of children in their natural state, many others have accused her of child pornography. She has a photograph of one of her daughters, topless, wearing a pearl necklace and earrings that has caused quite a stir within the photographic community. This photograph blurs the line between the innocent and not so innocent within child photography. Whether you believe her photographs are beautiful works of art or not, it’s hard to deny that her tonal range is always perfectly spot on.

Joel Peter Witkin

Joel Peter Witkin

Not for the faint of heart, Joel Peter Witkin creates work that is controversial in a whole different way. Take one look at his work and you’ll see what appear to be dead bodies. The photograph above, in which two heads of an old man appear to be kissing each other, is actually the real head of one man, cut directly down the middle and positioned this way. Apologies for those who are squeamish. While his work deals with disturbing subjects such as death and decay, and oddities such as hermaphrodites and dwarves, his use of traditional black and white photography is beautiful, if not shocking. He often uses techniques such as toning his prints by hand or scratching the negative or print to create different effects.

Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon can be mentioned in regards to many different types of photographythe use of the white background, traditional fashion photography – but overall he is most well known for his exceptional use of black and white. His large-scale portraits are famous due to his attention to detail and ability to bring out an emotion in his subjects that most cannot. The large size and lack of color allow viewers to really gaze into the soul of each and every subject, and see emotions that most photographs these days do not contain.

Have you guys ever experimented with black and white film in the dark room? What about converting digital images to black and white? It can be easy to get wrapped up in the beauty of color images, but it can be interesting to see how the same image changes in mood and meaning by simply removing its color.

The Polaroid

With companies like Fuji Film making the instant image popular again, it’s no surprise that more and more photographers are turning to this type of photography. Those who are especially dedicated to the medium can still get original, working Polaroid film cameras and continue to purchase Polaroid film. With the instant camera becoming increasingly popular in today’s society (seen by many applications and Photoshop actions that can instantly transform any traditional photograph into one that looks as though it is surrounded by a Polaroid-style frame), it’s important to remember where this type of image came from initially. Many famous photographers and artists used the Polaroid as a source of artistic inspiration and expression, from Ansel Adams to Andy Warhol to the more recent Dash Snow.

Ansel Adams

Photo by Ansel Adams

While Ansel Adams is most famously known for his stunning, large-format landscape images, Adams also used the Polaroid SX-70 to create equally stunning (albeit smaller-scale) landscapes. A book of photography by Ansel Adams called Polaroid Land Photography showcases a handful of beautiful Polaroid images that he took during his career. While he typically preferred shooting large-format images, Ansel Adams believed that Polaroids produced tones that were not possible to recreate through other formats.

Andy Warhol

Photography by Andy Warhol
Photo by Andy Warhol

We all know and love (or hate) Andy Warhol for his Pop Art paintings, namely the Campbell’s Soup can and Marilyn Monroe. A bit lesser known is a collection of Polaroid portraits taken by Andy Warhol throughout his career as an artist. While most of these Polaroid images served as a source of inspiration for his painted works, the photographs themselves are a work of art. He photographed famous people such as Dolly Parton, Diana Ross, and Georgia Armani, among many others.

David Hockney

Photo by David Hockney

David Hockney is famous for his ongoing series of photographs that are one big image made up of many, many smaller images. Many of his larger images are made up of a collection of smaller Polaroid photographs, which he connects together to create one cohesive scene. His images made through traditional photographic processes overlap each other to create the final image, while his Polaroid images are simply a collection of squares all lined up together to create the final photograph. His work is often compared to Cubism, due to the varying focal lengths and perspectives with which he photographs the individual images.

Walker Evans

Photo by Walker Evans
Photo by Walker Evans

As was the case with Ansel Adams, a book of Polaroids by Walker Evans also exists. He too used the Polaroid SX-70 camera to take Polaroids of his desired subjects, although he typically chose to photograph signs and people rather than landscapes. He didn’t pick up a Polaroid camera until much later in his life, and he believed that “nobody should touch a Polaroid until he’s over sixty”.

André Kertész

Photo by André Kertész

André Kertész began to photograph with a Polaroid SX-70 camera to console himself after the death of his wife. The resulting photographs are beautiful, colorful compositions of the world around him. One of his most famous Polaroid images is a portrait-esque image of two glass figures which became a tribute to his marriage. Beyond these two glass figures, he photographed many other small objects in front of his window.

Robert Mapplethorpe

Photo by Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe is a well-known photographer, most often associated with his slightly homo-erotic images of himself as well as other men. This subject is seen through his Polaroids, as well as portraits of friends and lovers, figure studies and still lifes. He shot primarily on a Polaroid camera between the years of 1970-1975. Ranging from vulnerable and intimate to tough and violent, these images are not soon forgotten.

Dash Snow

Photo by Dash Snow

Dash Snow began his career as an artist in New York by tagging almost anything he could find. Well known as a graffiti artist, he later became good friends with both photographer Ryan McGinley and artist Dan Colen. Ryan McGinley took him under his wing, and soon Snow was taking Polaroids of the grittier parts of his life, from explicit sex scenes to people doing drugs to drunken escapades. Snow was always living on the edge, a trait that led to his untimely death by heroin overdose in 2009.

Helmut Newton

Photo by Helmut Newton

Helmut Newton was a famous fashion photographer who worked for French Vogue, and often shot high-contrast, controversial portraits of women. Newton used Polaroid film to test his shots before shooting on a film camera, which was the traditional way to test a shot before digital LCD screens were common. His Polaroid test shots are just as striking as the rest of his images, so much that an entire book of them has been published, Helmut Newton: Polaroids.

David Levinthal

Photo by David Levinthal

David Levinthal’s work primarily focuses on small figurines in real-life scenarios. He was given small toy figures as a child, and his make-believe play as a child paved the way for his photographic work in the future. From figurines of baseball players to nude figurines of women, he uses large-format Polaroids to create beautiful, large images with a close focus and shallow depth of field. These images blur the line between reality and make-believe.

Have you experimented with instant film? While Polaroid film is getting increasingly more expensive these days, other companies are jumping on the bandwagon and creating more budget-friendly alternatives that still give you the joy of instantly printing a photograph. If all else fails, you can just slap a Polaroid filter on it.

Double Exposure Photography

Old Spirit Photography

Old Spirit Photography

Double exposure photography has come a long way over the years. What began as “spirit photography” is now extremely commonplace. Back in the age when digital cameras were not yet a thought, double exposure photography was either done in camera (with no way to rely on post-processing), or in the darkroom. Regardless of which method the photographer relied on, it was much more difficult to create a beautiful double exposed image before the days of digital photography.

Learn more about double exposure photography by taking a digital photography workshop at the New York Film Academy today! Workshops are held in New York, Los Angeles & South Beach.

Nowadays, some higher end digital cameras can create beautiful double exposures right in the camera, with an LCD screen that shows you the result as soon as you take it. There’s no guesswork and no laboring away in the darkroom. If you aren’t lucky enough to own one of the cameras that can do it for you, Adobe Photoshop makes it extremely easy to layer images on top of each other with a couple clicks of the mouse. From Gjon Mili and Duane Michals in the age of film to newer photographers such as Freeman Patterson and Tamara Lichtenstein, the use of multiple exposures doesn’t seem to be going out of fashion anytime soon.

Gjon Mili

Photo by Gjon Mili

Photo by Gjon Mili

An Albanian photographer known for his years of contribution to Life magazine, Gjon Mili is most well-known for his photographs that illustrate human movement through the use of external flashes. He was one of the first photographers to use stroboscopic photography – the use of a specially timed external light source to capture a sequence of motion. Many of his photographs have an eerie quality to them, one that seemingly could only be created through the use of multiple exposures. Gjon Mili is unique in the sense that although he didn’t use multiple exposures to create his images, he was the inspiration for many photographers who became interested in double exposure photography after him.

Duane Michals

Photo by Duane Michals

Photo by Duane Michals

Duane Michals is an American born photographer who uses the technique of double exposure to create images that are dreamlike, whimsical, and a little eerie at times. His fascination with the dream state also extends into his fascination with creating and preserving memories, a theme that is seen in one of his well-known books, Sequences. In this book, his photographs and double exposed images are coupled with hand-written text that reveal more about his life and what the images mean to him.

Philippe Halsman

Photo by Philippe Halsman

Photo by Philippe Halsman

It is very likely that you have come across the famous surreal portrait of Salvador Dali jumping in the air while water flows across the composition and cats seem to be suspended in mid-air. This portrait was due to the artistic mind of Philippe Halsmann, of which Dali was a favorite subject. In collaboration with Dali, Halsmann created an entire book entitled Dali’s Mustache, in which he cuts up negatives, enlarges portions of images, and uses double exposure to create unusual portraits of the surrealist artist.

Freeman Patterson

Photo by Freeman Patterson

Photo by Freeman Patterson

Freeman Patterson takes an interesting, unique approach to double exposure photography, straying away from the eerie and surrealist qualities of the technique and instead using it to create photographs that look like Impressionist paintings. Impressionism is a style of painting that originated in the 19th century, and was used to attempt to capture the changing effects of light and color over a period of time. Patterson uses two exposures of the same image, layered on top of each other yet shifted slightly, to give the same Impressionist feeling to his images.

Lee Kirby

Photo by Lee Kirby

Photo by Lee Kirby

Lee Kirby, like Gjon Mili (although much more modern) does not actually use the technique of double exposure in his images, yet the images themselves are inspired by photographers who have used double exposures in the past. Instead of layering images on top of one another, Lee Kirby uses a projector to actually project the second image onto his subjects, in a sort of real life double exposure. In many of his photographs, Kirby combines the use of projection with blurred movement to create images that sometimes look more like paintings than portraits.

Tamara Lichtenstein

Photo by Tamara Lichtenstein

Photo by Tamara Lichtenstein

Tamara Lichtenstein, a modern double exposure photographer, focuses on taking portraits that are filled with happiness and beauty and youth and sunny days. Her double exposures are dreamy and full of beautiful, bright colors, qualities that have made her quite popular within the Tumblr and Flickr community.

Christoffer Relander

Photo by Christoffer Relander

Photo by Christoffer Relander

Christoffer Relander’s photographs are a prime example of what we can do with modern technology. His series of photographs, We Are Nature, are a series of stunningly beautiful double and triple exposures that are (almost unbelivably) done completely in-camera, with post-processing only being used for some tonal changes. We Are Nature is a series of portraits of humans that seem as if they are slowly changing into different ferns and trees.

Yanzhou Bao

Photo by Yanzhou Bao

Photo by Yanzhou Bao

Yanzhou Bao combines different photography techniques, including the use of multiple exposure, long exposure, and colored gels to create photographs with bright pops of color that play with motion and light. Many of his models wear loose, ethereal, futuristic clothing that only intensifies the dramatic quality of his portraits.

Have you played around with double exposure photography? There are still plenty of older film cameras available that allow you to create double exposures in-camera (and allow for a wonderful surprise once the film is developed), and will give you an idea of how the professionals used this technique in the past. Whether you want to go the old-school route or prefer to create your own multiple exposure images in Photoshop, the effects can be beautiful, surreal, and shocking; all you need is a bit of imagination.

Minimalist Photography

Sometimes in the world of photography, less is more. Minimalist photographers know that sometimes it’s important to focus solely on one particular subject, rather than overwhelm the viewer with tons of color and pattern and information. While there are plenty of successful photographers who take “busy” photographs, photographers on the other end of the spectrum – including Hiroshi Sugimoto and Hans Hiltermann – are successful for completely different reasons. When dealing with minimalism, it’s important to understand the relationship between subject and viewer, texture and pattern, and light and shadow.

Michael Kenna

Michael Kenna is a highly influential minimalistic landscape photographer. Born in 1953 in England, he works only in black and white, preferring to shoot at odd times of the day – including dawn and dusk, and when the weather is misty, foggy, rainy or snowy. Blue skies and sunny days don’t inspire him as much as they do other artists, and this shows through his work. In regards to why he works solely in black and white, Kenna said “Black and white is immediately more mysterious because we see in color all the time. It is quieter than color.” He is highly influenced by his travels to Japan, and most of his photographs are seen as serene, calm, and having a meditative quality.

Photo by Michael Kenna

Photography by Michael Kenna

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Born in Japan in 1948, Hiroshi Sugimoto is most than just a photographer. Through different bodies of work he has shown many different interests, including minimalistic dioramas, wax portraits and photographing early photographic negatives. His photography tends to blur the lines between painting, illustration, photography, and architecture. From seascapes to natural history dioramas, there’s something about Sugimoto’s photographs that resonates with viewers. Like Kenna, Sugimoto only photographs in black and white. He prints all of his images himself with a great understanding of silver print, creating images with unbelievably beautiful tones of black, white and gray.

Photo by Hiroshi Sugimoto

Photography by Hiroshi Sugimoto

Grant Hamilton

Grant Hamilton differs from the previously mentioned photographers, in that he shoots in a way that almost completely focuses on color, and he only shoots Polaroid film (more specifically a Polaroid SX-70). He has a keen eye for hidden color, shape, and form in everyday life, and this itself is the subject he chooses to photograph most often. Because of the way in which he shoots, there is no room for error. There are no negatives, no memory cards, and no post-processing. Each image is exactly as he saw it in real life, and there’s a sense of honesty and beauty to that. Since there are only ten images in each film pack (and since the price of Polaroid film continues to increase), he has to examine each subject with meticulous detail before taking the shot. More time is taken to consider shape, form, light, color, and subject. His photographs range from the corner of a motel sign to balloons on a ceiling to the words on a neon sign – no subject is left untouched.

Photo by Grant Hamilton

Hans Hiltermann

Hans Hiltermann is a Dutch photographer who was born in 1960. He began his career in photography as an advertising photographer, where he spent his time creating elaborate and artificial scenes used to sell a product. After years of creating these scenes, he finally decided to take his photography in a different direction; instead of spending his time creating elaborate photographs, he decided to figure out what he could say with the minimum amount of visual information. Thus, his well-known portrait series was born. In this series, Hiltermann takes hyper-realistic portraits of people (ranging from young to old and everyone in-between), all looking straight into the camera. None of the subjects are wearing any make-up or have their hair done, none are smiling or frowning, and there are no visible articles of clothing in any of the portraits. Because of this, each person is stripped down to their own unique essence, and the hyper-realistic detail in each photograph means that no flaw is hidden. This is a true example of “less is more”, as viewers really feel as though they are staring directly into the soul of the person in the photograph.

Photo by Hans HiltermannPhotography by Hans Hiltermann

Mark Meyer

Meyer, an Alaskan native, began a series of minimalistic images that are all of the view from the same window in his bedroom. He began this series after realizing that he continued to wake up to the same window every single morning, although the changing of weather and seasons gave him an entirely different view day by day. His series, entitled An Alaska Window, is just that. Although the subject matter may not seem very interesting at first, the entire series as a whole shows us just how much we can experience from the seemingly mundane events in our everyday lives. From frost to rain to fog to snow, the landscape is constantly changing, and Meyer has captured that.

Photo by Mark Meyer

Photography by Mark Meyer

Take a look at some of the more recent photographs you have taken. Are they bursting with information, or do you tend to lean towards the more minimalistic approach? Although one is certainly not better than the other, try to challenge yourself to shoot with the idea “less is more”; you may find that you begin to appreciate your surroundings more than ever before.

If you’re interested in a career in photography contact the New York Film Academy’s School of Photography on +1 (212) 674-4300 to request an application form.

Surrealist Photography

Surrealist photography has come a long way. While Photoshop and other post-processing programs make it fairly easy to create surrealist photographs, back in the days of darkroom photography there were no computers to help you. All surrealist effects had to be either done in camera or in the darkroom – a feat that is not very easy to accomplish. From the famous Man Ray to the more recent Erik Johansson, it’s interesting to see where surrealist photography started and what it has morphed into throughout the years.

Man Ray

While Man Ray worked with a wide variety of mediums, he is most well-known for his surrealist photography and photograms (which he called rayographs). For those not familiar with photograms, they are photographic images made without a camera. You can create a photogram yourself by setting yourself up in a darkroom, placing objects on top of photo paper, and then exposing both the paper and the objects to light. Once you develop the photo paper, you’ll see that there are white shapes where the objects sat. Photograms are an easy way to get acquainted with surreal and abstract “photography” in the darkroom.

Man Ray Photography

While Photoshop was not an option in Man Ray’s day (1890-1976), this didn’t stop him from creating some of the most influential surrealist photographs of all time. He used solarization, double exposures, montages, and combination printing to create works of art that left viewers scratching their heads.

photo by Man Ray

Maurice Tabard

Maurice Tabard (1897-1984) is another notable surrealist photographer. Like Man Ray, he used the techniques of solarization, double exposures and montages to create eerie and unnerving photographic images. He began his work as a portrait, fashion and advertising photographer, while experimenting with surrealist images in his personal work. A room with an eye, a lady who seems to be turning into a tree, and ghostly solarized portraits are only a small portion of the surrealist work he created.

Maurice Tabard Photography

photo by Maurice Tabard

Hans Bellmer

Hans Bellmer (1902-1975), born in Germany, is most well known for his unsettling portraits of mechanical dolls that he created himself. He originally studied engineering and was incredibly interested in politics, yet gave that up to pursue a career as an artist. He had read about Surrealism and sent photographs of his dolls to other artists, who immediately praised his work. This spurred the collaboration with other artists and led to his work on a few more books, ranging from his own photography to experimental poetry to illustrations of erotic stories.

HansBellmer Photography

Dora Maar

Dora Maar (1907-1997) is best known for being one of Picasso’s lovers. Together, she and Picasso studied with Man Ray, which could be why Dora Maar became so interested in Surrealism. Her famous Portrait of Ubu became well-known within the Surrealist movement, being a photograph that many have speculated to be a armadillo fetus; Maar declined to let the public know exactly what the subject of the photograph was. This photograph is a good example of what Surrealist photography is when it doesn’t include the use of double exposures or solarization; the image itself is strange and unusual, and while it may be grotesque, continues to fascinate a wide audience.

Dora Maar photography

Erik Johansson

Let’s fast forward to the modern day. Erik Johansson is a Swedish photographer and retoucher, born in 1985. He is lucky enough to be born in a day and age in which post-processing techniques are used widely throughout the photographic industry, and lucky enough to have an imagination that allows him to create beautiful surreal images. He began his career as an artist primarily through drawing; when he became interested in photography, his love of drawing as well as computers led to him experimenting with different post-processing techniques. Instead of simply being finished with a photograph once the moment was captured, this became a canvas on which to create surreal scenes that are crafted so beautifully that it’s almost hard to believe they aren’t real.

Erik Johanssen photography

photo by Erik Johanssen

Christopher McKenney

While Erik Johansson creates beautiful, dreamy surrealist images, Christopher McKenney takes dreamy surrealism and puts a darker twist on it. His photographs often feature a human whose body is missing and face is covered; the face is either obscured by a sheet, covered with a paper bag on fire, or hidden behind a mirror (among many others). In these photographs, the entire body is often not seen. All of his images are post-processed to have eerie, de-saturated color tones, and are typically shot in the middle of the woods or on a back country road.

Christopher McKenney photography

photo by Christopher McKenney

Stephen Criscolo

Stephen Criscolo is a 20-year-old self-taught photographer. While all of his images are heavily edited via Photoshop, he has had no formal photographic training. Instead of creating surrealist images within our own world, each of his images seems to be from an entirely fictional planet created within his own mind. Jellyfish and planets are both reoccurring themes in Criscolo’s work, along with images that tend to be monochromatic in color (primarily blue hues, primarily purple hues, etc).

Stephen Criscolo photography

photo by Stephen Criscolo

What type of surrealist photography do you prefer? Are you drawn more towards the original, darkroom manipulations, or the wide variety of new options on Photoshop and other post-processing programs these days? While surrealist photography has certainly come a long way, it can be argued that Photoshop makes it almost too easy to create images that once were only able to be made by professionals in a darkroom setting. Even so, it can be hard to argue against the fact that both original and modern surrealist photography requires a lot of originality and creativity. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

The White Background

The white background is something that should be talked about in relation to photography, since so many different types of photographers (from fashion photography to art photography to commercial photography) use it in so many different ways. Two notable photographers – Richard Avedon and Terry Richardson – are both known for their use of stark white backgrounds and portraits of celebrities, but in vastly different ways. It just goes to show what creative minds can do with a very simple space.

Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon is arguably the most influential ‘white background’ photographer of all time. It’s almost impossible to enter a photography classroom and find students who have never heard his name. He was primarily an American fashion and portrait photographer, and is well known for his images of celebrities (as well as others) who helped define America’s style and culture. He worked for a handful of fashion magazines, breaking out of the norm of fashion photography of the day to ensure that his models showed emotion in his images – something that many fashion photographers had not done before. Instead of focusing merely on the ‘fashion’ of the time, Avedon used the stark white background to almost force viewers into looking deeper into the emotions of those he used as models.

Richard Avedon
Richard Avedon, self-portrait, Photographer

Richard Avedon

Terry Richardson

Terry Richardson, on the other hand, is arguably the most controversial photographer of this day (although I hardly want to give him the credit of even having that title). While articles of his mistreatment of young women and models litter the Internet, somehow he still has managed to photograph celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Lena Dunham, and even Obama. In many of his images, he gets his models to pose as Terry himself, giving them his glasses and posing in the traditional creepy way he usually does (see photographs below). While Avedon shot beautiful large-format portraits on a stark white background, Richardson often uses the white wall of an apartment and any camera he can get his hands on. You can tell when you’re looking at a Terry Richardson image when the models are on a stark white background and a flash has been fired directly at them. He focuses less on the technical aspect of photography and more on his ‘minimalist’ style.

Terry Richardson

Terry Richardson
Terry Richardson Photography
Terry Richardson

^ This is Richardson himself

Morten Koldby

Perhaps a lesser-known name in the photographic world, Danish photographer Morten Koldby also uses the stark white background in his aesthetic – though in a different way than those above. He is most well known for his minimalist animal portraits, all shot on a white background and slightly de-saturated in color. He treats the animals almost as if they are human models, with many of them looking straight at the camera. While he uses human subjects in his work as well, his animal portraits set him apart from the rest.

Morten Koldby

Morten Koldby

Morten Koldby

Andrew Zuckerman

Andrew Zuckerman is best known for his high-definition, hyper-realistic photographs set on, what else, a stark white background. Yet, even he finds a way to make the white background his own – focusing on subjects ranging from humans to birds to flowers. Looking at a Zuckerman photograph, you can almost feel yourself right next to the real subject he has photographed. His images are so sharp and so clean that it’s almost impossible to tell what is an image and what is real. The only thing keeping you from jumping away from an image of a huge bird with its wings outstretched is the fact that it – luckily – is only 2D.

Andrew Zuckerman

Andrew Zuckerman

Andrew Zuckerman

Commercial Advertisements

When speaking about white backgrounds in photography, it’s almost impossible to overlook that fact that many commercial photographs (often used in advertisements) are taken on a white background as well. Take a look at the CoverGirl advertisement below:

Cover Girl

There’s a beautiful lady on a perfectly white background, yet how does she differ from the models that Avedon or Richardson use in their photographs? Since this photograph has been transformed into the ad it is supposed to be, it’s easy to determine the fact that this photograph is used to sell a product. Oftentimes, commercial photographers use white backgrounds and negative space to give companies a clean slate on which to write their copy. But would this photograph still be considered “commercial photography” if the completed ad was not placed on top of it? While it can certainly be argued that Avedon, Koldby, and Zuckerman’s photographs are all more emotive and thought-out than the CoverGirl ad, are Richardson’s? Where does one draw the line between commercial and art – especially when the subjects and background are seemingly the same?

While some photographers feel too confined and limited within a studio space, the white background offers almost limitless possibilities. Since photographers cannot rely on context to create an interesting photograph, they are forced to think outside the box and create an image that is full of emotion and power. What would you do if all you had was a white background?

Street Photography

While street photography (which tends to branch into documentary photography as well as photojournalism) certainly isn’t something new, it is something that started long ago and continues to hold power in today’s society. Street photography, whether taken in 1960 or 2014, comments on the society of the decade. While photographs taken in the 1960s may show war protests, photographs taken within the last decade may show the exact same thing; the similarities between decades are often most obvious in this particular form of photography.

While there are some notable street photographers of today, we’re going to focus primarily on the most well known photographers of the genre; these are the people who paved the way for most street photography we see today.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson is known to many students of photography as one of the most influential photojournalists of all time. Born in France in 1908, he traveled around the world with his camera, documenting many major events. He enjoyed traveling and shooting far more than he enjoyed actually printing and exhibiting his work, which is one of the ways that he ended up with so many wonderful shots. If you take away one piece of advice from Henri Cartier-Bresson, it’s that you should never stop shooting. He didn’t believe in post-processing an image (although in those days all post-processing was done in a darkroom), and preferred to do all of his “editing” in-camera at the time of the shot. Henri Cartier-Bresson was very interested in people’s daily lives, and his passion for the subject shows throughout his photographs.

Photo by Cartier Bresson

Cartier Bresson Photograph

Cartier Bresson Photography

Robert Frank

Robert Frank is most well known for his famous photo book The Americans. Born in Zurich in 1924, he began his photographic career by producing many different images between Paris, Wales, and England. When he hit his 30s, he was granted the Guggenheim Fellowship, which allowed him to spend two years in America. During his time in the states, he shot over 28,000 photographs! The message stays the same: if you want to be a good street photographer, you should never stop shooting. You never know what you may miss if you don’t.

Robert Frank’s book, The Americans, became one of the most influential books of all time – though not without some criticism. At the time, his way of shooting documentary / street photography strayed from the traditional way of shooting an image without any emotion behind it. Many photographers before him simply took a simple, transparent image, while Frank chose to let his own perspective rule his work. Since he was an “outsider” from the American perspective, Frank often documented the uglier side of America, something many American photographers had chosen to overlook in their work.

Photo by Robert Frank

Photograph by Robert Frank

Robert Frank Photo

Lee Friedlander

Lee Friedlander is an American born photographer, born in 1934. He is well known to many students of photography for photographing the American social landscape. Friedlander is able to mentally sift through a ton of visual information at once, which is an important skill for street photographers to have. Many of his images have a lot going on, yet they never seem cluttered. His unique way of composing images allows for this delicate balance between enough information and too much information. Since he primarily shot with a wide-angle lens, many of his shots contain a lot of interesting subjects. Later on in his career, Friedlander created an entire book full of self-portraits, many of which included shadows or reflections of himself in his street photography.

Photo by Lee Friedlander

Photograph by Lee Friedlander

Lee Friedlander Photograph

Martin Parr

Martin Parr is a British photographer, born in 1952. Martin Parr once responded to an interview question by saying (and I paraphrase) that he doesn’t think of images in terms of separate images, but rather groups of images in terms of projects. A very important thing to remember when shooting street photography is that street photography often comments on the social or political landscape of the time. While one image can certainly say a lot by itself, oftentimes viewers can get more of the story by looking at a collection of images from the same location and time period. Instead of focusing on how to create that one mind-blowing image, it’s important to understand what the underlying meaning of the body of work is; once you have that covered, then you can work on creating those beautiful images.

Martin Parr’s images range from hilarious to depressing, but he is a notable photographer in the sense that he is always making some sort of comment about society – whether good or bad. This certainly stems from the shift in photographic perspective that Frank began, in which photographers began to insert their own beliefs and emotions into their documentary photography. And, as opposed to Friedlander, Parr often gets much closer to his subjects.

Photograph by Martin Parr

Photo by Martin Parr

Martin Parr Photograph

Garry Winogrand

Garry Winogrand was born in New York City in 1928. He wandered the United States and took many photographs during the post-war years (1950-1980), creating an influential body of work that ended up being a wonderful portrait of the American life. Most of his most influential work was taken during the 1960s, and he photographed anyone from famous actors, to hippies, to women on the street. Choosing to shoot in post-war America left Winogrand with plenty to be photographed; those who had lived through the war were both anxious and full of excitement with new possibility, and these emotions are tangible in his photographs.

Garry Winogrand Photograph

 Photograph by Garry Winogrand

 Photo by Garry Winogrand

If all of these photographers together could tell you one thing, it would be (and I’ve said this before): Never. Stop. Shooting.

Mixed Media Photographers To Follow

Since everyone and their dog have a digital camera these days, many art and commercial photographers are toying with different ways to express their creativity. While still staying true to their photographic background, many have chosen to expand their art to other mediums as well. This may include digital manipulation using a tablet, collaging on top of images, or painting directly on printed photographs. Whatever the medium, these photographers are bridging the gap between photography and other forms of artistic expression. While many photographers have been using this form of expression for decades, many new and upcoming photographers are jumping on the bandwagon and using new forms of technology to manipulate their photographs in a way that sets them apart from the rest.

Ben Hecht

Ben Hecht is a truly unique mixed media artist, using original photographs and painting over them with handmade encaustic paints (made from beeswax). Instead of purchasing paints, Hecht creates all of his paints from scratch. He sources his beeswax locally, mixes it with dry pigments in his colors of choice, and adds crystallized resin to finish the process. He prints his photographs large scale (often over 40 inches on any side), and then manipulates them through the use of paint. He tends to play with photographs of the ocean, manipulating them by adding greens, blues and whites, creating a beautiful 3D piece of work that is part photograph and part painting.

Ben Hecht Photography

Photographer Ben Hecht

Jeff League

Jeff League works with the same medium as Ben Hecht (using encaustic paints, which are made from a mix of beeswax, resin, and sometimes pigment), although his final products are completely different. He began by primarily shooting Polaroids and black and white images, and has since begun to branch out and explore the possibilities of the combination of photographic prints and paints on canvas. His work focuses on the exploration of myth and nature, his choice of medium reflecting that (encaustic paint was originally used by ancient Greeks and Egyptians). He typically works from photo transfers, which he paints over in a sort of collage-like fashion.

Jeff League Photographer

Photographer Jeff League

­­Judith Golden

On Judith Golden’s website, it states that Golden “innovatively explores the intersections between reality and illusion by combining traditional techniques and contemporary cultural references, handwork and technology, rational discovery and uncharted flights of fancy”. Golden begins with a photograph, and then expands upon the mundane acts of everyday life by adding a bit of magic and mystery to the photograph by work of her own hand. Most of her series revolve around a particular subject or photograph, which she then manipulates in different ways in order to create many different works of art that form a cohesive whole.

Judith Golden Photography

Photography by Judith Golden

Jeane Vogel

Jeane Vogel is a mixed-media photographic artist who works with plenty of different mediums, ranging from Polaroids to watercolors to infrared images. In one series, Vogel takes Polaroids and paints or draws over them in order to accentuate particular parts of the image or create a more dreamlike scene. In another series, Vogel takes photographs and incorporates them into watercolor paintings. Sometimes the painting is an extension of the photograph itself, and sometimes it simply compliments the photograph. Although she works with many different mediums, she is known primarily for her photographic work.

Jeane Vogel Photograph

Photography by Jeane Vogel

Amber Isabel

Amber Isabel is a Dutch photographer who is taking the mixed media photography world by storm. Her series entitled “The Things You Put into Your Head Are There Forever” depict beautiful ladies who seem both calm and trapped within themselves at the same time. Her use of mixed media makes viewers wonder exactly how she managed to create the photographs in this series, since it is not immediately apparent whether she altered them by hand or used digital means. Her work is very minimalist, which is in tune with how many photographers are working these days. In some ways, her photographs feel as though they could be taken straight out of a fashion magazine, although the way in which she alters them makes them have an air of darkness that cannot be shaken.

Amber Isabel Photograph

Photo by Amber Isabel

Maurizio Anzeri

Maurizio Anzeri works in a slightly different fashion than those above, opting to embroider over found vintage photographs instead of using his own. The end result is not so much about the photograph itself as it is about what the embroidery says about the subject. In the majority of his images, Anzeri all but completely covers and distorts the faces of the subjects in the photographs. What does this say about these people? Some may find that his embroidery brings the aura of these people to light, or that the embroidery has a sort of underlying psychological meaning. These embroideries can be seen as masks, or even extensions of the people themselves.

Maurizio Anzeri Photography

Photo by Maurizio Anzeri

While all of these photographers are very different from one another, they have all realized that sometimes meanings cannot be expressed through one medium alone. What a photograph says is not the same as what a painting of the same subject would say, and vice versa. Many artists tend to get stuck in a rut of working with the same medium over and over again, but these photographers have learned that they can say much more by expanding on their artistic practice and allowing different mediums to enter into their studio.

The Diary Aesthetic: Raw & Gritty Photography Is Taking Center Stage

Although the idea behind the work isn’t new, many photographers are adopting the raw, gritty, and all-too-honest aesthetic of well-known photographers such as Ryan McGinley, Larry Clark, and Nan Goldin. You can’t browse Tumblr these days without coming across far too many photographs of beautiful, thin, nude people frolicking in the outdoors, disposable camera shots of drunken nights, and purposefully blurred and light-leaked film photographs. While these photographs have become increasingly saturated in the art world, it’s important to understand where this aesthetic came from, and take a look at the handful of photographers who started this new trend of gritty photography.

Ryan McGinley

Ryan McGinley—famous for photographing beautiful, nude, seemingly fearless young adults in various locations across the country—is the perfect example of this aesthetic. Not only is everyone unbelievably gorgeous, he also doesn’t worry too much about the camera he is using as much as the final image. He plays with light and color, always creating an image that seems almost dreamlike yet at the same time so unbelievably real and honest. Although his models are beautiful, they often have imperfections—ranging from large scratches to crooked teeth.

Photograph by Ryan McGinley

Photograph by Ryan McGinley

Photograph by Ryan McGinley

Photograph by Ryan McGinley

The varying tones and imperfect white balance speaks to the film aesthetic; since film is so unpredictable, the colors and tones of the image are also unpredictable. The unique colorcast of each image gives the photographs a more honest feel than they would have if they were all perfectly color corrected.

Larry Clark

If you’ve ever seen the movie Kids (or even heard about it), you’ll know that Larry Clark is one controversial guy. His bodies of work often show an unrestrained view of teenage life in rural areas. These teenagers are often depicted nude, doing drugs, having sex, and holding guns. His work is often referred to as voyeuristic and exploitative, although it can also be viewed as intimate and honest. While many photographers aim to copy the gritty photographs of Clark, he truly photographed from the inside. In the introduction to his photo book Tulsa, Clark says “When I was 16, I started shooting amphetamine…once the needle goes in, it never comes out.” While the photographs of his life in Tulsa, Oklahoma ultimately made him famous, the sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle is not one to be reproduced by everyone.

Photograph by Larry Clark

Photograph by Larry Clark

Photograph by Larry Clark

Photograph by Larry Clark

Nan Goldin

If you think you’ve never heard of Nan Goldin, take a look at this image:

Photograph by Nan Goldin

Photograph by Nan Goldin

Familiar? Nan Goldin always seems to be at the wrong place at the right time (for photography). She hung out around all of the wrong people, lived a less-than-fairytale life, and yet young photographers around the world constantly praise her photographs. She photographs every little thing in her life, no matter how gritty or painful it may be. This level of dedication to her work allowed her to create a large body of work that is essentially a journal of all of her experiences, one that she has decided to share with the world. It’s truly an honest, gritty life that cannot be reconstructed, no matter how many people try. There is no next Nan Goldin, there is only the Nan Goldin.

Since the Internet is so saturated with young photographers’ ‘journalistic’ images, peering into the intimate details of people’s mundane lives slowly becomes less and less exciting. However, when you peek into Goldin’s body of work, you can instantly tell that her life is anything but mundane. She fabricated nothing, she simply lays it all out on the table, not caring whether it is accepted or rejected.

Photograph by Nan Goldin

Photograph by Nan Goldin

Photograph by Nan Goldin

Photograph by Nan Goldin

Photograph by Nan Goldin

Photograph by Nan Goldin

Corinne Day

Corinne Day is another photographer known for her personal, diary-esque way of shooting. The snapshot aesthetic is abundant in her body of work, making it clear that instead of posing and constructing moments, she simply snapped photographs whenever and wherever it seemed fit. True to the gritty styles of Goldin and Clark, she leaves no subject untouched, no intimate moment left un-photographed.

Photograph by Corinne Day

Photograph by Corinne Day

Photograph by Corinne Day

Photograph by Corinne Day

This raw, journalistic aesthetic doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. While many new photographers are taking tips and styles from the pros—such as playing with cross-processed film, light leaks, and shooting on disposable cameras—many of them seem to be leaning towards the more beautiful aspects of life. Photographs of beautiful models wandering through forests and images of rumpled bed sheets litter the Internet, although there are those who feel as though they need to get a little grittier, a little more voyeuristic with their shots. Which photographer do you think most young photographers are mimicking these days? Does the fame of photographers such as Nan Goldin and Larry Clark somehow glorify the less-than-ideal lifestyles they have chosen? It is always interesting to think about what trend will come next.

Learn more about sharpening your photography at the New York Film Academy. Click here to see our course offerings. 

Humans of New York: A Side Of The World That Often Goes Unseen

We’re constantly bombarded with images of war-torn countries, people suffering, those without food and water and shelter. Since so much of the news and media is saturated with these images, it can be hard for us to get a real grasp of what life in these countries is truly like on a day to day basis, war and suffering aside.

Humans of New York founder Brandon Stanton is doing just that. While he is known primarily by his portraits of interesting people (and their stories) that he finds on the streets of New York City, he has expanded his project to include photographs and stories of people across the world, from South Sudan to Uganda to Kenya. His photographs show that everyone – regardless of upbringing or current location – is connected and similar in some ways. Stories of people across the globe, and often in war-torn countries, show that we are not as separate as the news makes us believe.

All following photographs by Brandon Stanton

Photo by Brandon Stanton

“I want to be an engineer.”

“What advice would you give other engineers?”

“If you build a house that collapses, you’re going to get arrested. So you need to keep using the pendulum to make sure that everything is straight. Also, your cement mix has to be strong. You also need to be careful with the builders that you hire, or they will steal the cement from you.”

“What sort of building would you build?”

“A factory that makes new books, so that everyone can have new books for school. All of my books are old and have writing in them.”

(Entebbe, Uganda)

Photo by Brandon Stanton

“Do you remember the happiest moment of your life?”

“One day, I was sent home from my final exams because my mother had not been able to pay the registration fees. On the way home, a man came up to me and asked what was wrong. ‘Nothing,’ I told him. He asked me again. So I told him that I’d been sent home from school. He then gave me the money I needed to take my exams. I’d never seen him before, and I’ve never seen him again.”

(Entebbe, Uganda)

Photo by Brandon Stanton

“A few years ago, I got a call on my cell phone from a twelve year old child from my village. He was calling me from a bus stop. He’d taken a bus into the city alone, and he was calling me to ask if I could help him find a way to go to school. Both of his parents had died of AIDS, and he had no money for tuition. I told him to stay where he was, and left work immediately to pick him up. At first I was very mad at him. He should not have traveled alone. But then I looked at him and I saw myself. I’d also been desperate to go to school after my father was killed, but we had no money. So even though I was suffering myself, I told him I would try to help him. My salary was not enough, so I tried many things to get the money. After work, I went to the landfill to hunt for recyclables. But after I paid to have them cleaned, there was no money left. Now I’m trying to make bricks. I have a small operation in the village to make bricks, and I sell them in the city. It doesn’t make much money, but it’s enough to pay tuition for the boy and three of his siblings.”

(Kampala, Uganda)

Photo by Brandon Stanton

“Our team is called the Young Boys. We grew up in this neighborhood, so we wanted to give the local kids something to do after school. We bought them balls and shoes with our own money, and for game days, we go around and beg local churches for a place to play. We want to keep them very busy so they don’t have time for bad things. We don’t want to see anyone on our team wandering the streets. We practice every other day. The girls have their practice on our days off.”

(Juba, South Sudan)

Photo by Brandon Stanton

“Even if you punish her, she’s singing two minutes later.”

(Nairobi, Kenya)

Each photograph features anything from an upbeat, funny fact about the person in the photograph to heart wrenching stories of loss and destruction. There’s something so wonderful about reading something about someone in a completely different country and culture than your own, and realize that what they have to say resonates with you so well. We truly are all humans, and Brandon Stanton is doing his part to remove the walls and boundaries that we have put up between ourselves. While he is not the only photographer to have ever taken photographs of people in third world countries, he is unique in the fact that he has been able to spread these photographs and stories to over 9 million Facebook followers. If more writers and photographers aimed to show this side of the world instead of the side we see on the news, maybe we’d all love each other a little more.

All photography degree programs at the New York Film Academy include a one-week exotic photography trip to one of the following locations – The Caribbean, Rio De Janeiro, Paris, Beijing or another exciting locale.

Mobile Photography: From Smart Phone To The Real (Digital) World

Mobile photography has been taking over the market over the past couple of years. Everywhere you go, you see people with their smart phones taking photographs with their loved ones, snapping a photograph of their lunch and posting far too many photographs of their pets. While Instagram started with a handful of their own presets for editing images, many of the more popular Instagram photographers edit their photographs outside of the program, using applications such as Snapseed, Afterlight and VSCOcam.

Jessica Silversaga

Photograph by Jessica Silversaga

These dreamy filters have extended far beyond the mobile world. Many professional photographers are using Adobe Lightroom to manage and edit their photographs, and popular applications have taken advantage of this fact. While there are plenty of free Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop presets to download via the internet, popular photo editing application VSCOcam has created their own sets of Lightroom presets that can be purchased to make photo editing on the computer a breeze.

What do you think this means for the future of photography? While it’s hard to debate the stunning, dreamy photographs of VSCO edited photographs, will these photographs become so saturated in the market that there won’t be any photographs edited by hand anymore? Photo editing can be an incredibly tedious process, with professional photographers using dozens of layers in every single image, but the new arrival of professional presets saves hours of time.

Gabriel Flores

Photograph by Gabriel Flores

What About the Future of Film?

It can be hard to deny that film is a dying breed, but the new VSCO presets for Lightroom may help expedite that process. VSCO is offering five different versions of presets for both Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom that emulate the look of many different types of old film. For you film buffs out there, you can emulate the look of anything from Polaroid 665 to Kodak Ektar to Fuji Superia, all with the simple click of a button.

Instagram: Amateur or Professional?

There are two sides to the Instagram world. On one end, you have the amateur photographers, using Instagram presets and snapping a photograph of anything they see without worrying about lighting, composition, and other basic aspects of professional quality photographs. On the other end, you have photographers who painstakingly wait for the perfect moment to photograph, spend their time editing their photograph to perfection, and then posting their image to the social media network so that their thousands of followers can see what they have been up to recently.

Instagram is not just about smart phone photography anymore. Many professional photographers use Instagram as a platform to share their own digital images, taken with expensive equipment and then edited through smart phone applications before being posted. The lines between smart phone photography and DSLR photography are becoming increasingly blurred.

The Professionals

While there are plenty of people out there who are using VSCOcam and other popular editing programs to edit and share their images, these people truly blur the line between simple “mobile photography”and beautiful, professional photographs.

IOEGREER (Joe Greer)

Joe Greer

Joe Greer is one of the best examples of Instagram gone professional, as he recently accepted a job with VSCOcam due to the photographs he edited through their program and posted on his popular Instagram page. It’s easy to see how he has over 116k followers, since he consistently posts dreamy images of mountains, lakes, fields of sunflowers and simple, relaxing moments.

MARKCLINTON (Mark Clinton)

Mark Clinton

Mark Clinton posts from the picturesque Sydney, Australia. With over 52k followers, he constantly pleases the eye with photographs of towering waterfalls, winding mountain roads and starry night skies. He has the perfect mix of landscapes and portraits (as well as a handful of photographs in which you can see his own hand), which keeps the stream feeling personal.

WITHHEARTS (Cory Staudacher)

Cory Staudacher

With over 312k followers, it can be hard not to get wrapped into the magical world of Cory Staudacher. The fact that he is a professional photographer stands out at first glance, with perfectly posed portraits in unbelievable landscapes, stunningly shallow depth of field (that could only be the result of posting images that were taken on a DSLR), and a world of fog that makes you wish for the next misty day. His photographs offer a look into the world around Seattle that has nothing to do with busy cities and 9-5 jobs; a world in which everything is possible and the only thing holding you back is yourself.

JAREDCHAMBERS (Jared Chambers)

Jared Chambers

Jared Chambers, posting photographs from Los Angeles, CA, has over 273k followers. With photographs ranging from Todd Hido-esque nightscapes to portraits taken shadow to historic cars, there is something here for everyone to love. He captures both the city and the outskirts of the city with utmost perfection, and his frequent trips out of the country offer a nice break from the California landscape.

STELLAMARIABAER (Stella Maria Baer)

Stella Maria Baer

Stella Maria Baer brings an interesting twist to her Instagram, since she is a watercolor artist that frequently posts photographs of finished paintings as well as behind-the-scenes shots and various snippets of her life outside of the studio. From her perfectly constructed large-scale astronomy paintings to her portraits that could be found in a fashion magazine, Stella never bores. At first glance you’ll fall in love with her, her artwork, and her love for the desert.

An interesting fact about many of these “professional” Instagram photographers is that they offer links to their life and work outside of the application. Some have links to blogs where they post high-resolution images of their digital work, while some offer ways to purchase prints of the images that you see on Instagram.

One of the drawbacks of the social media application is that the photographs that are taken and edited strictly on the smart phone are not nearly as high quality as those you can get from your DSLR. By taking photographs with a DSLR, editing them with VSCOcam presets via Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop, and then posting them on Instagram, it offers a seamless way of advertising your photography or other work through Instagram and then offering high-quality images via other websites or networks.

So What Exactly Is Deadpan Photography?

If you’ve ever taken a photography class in your life, you’ve likely heard the phrase “don’t center your subject”. If this is such an important rule of photography, why has there been a rise of deadpan photographs over the past decade? (Note: the deadpan aesthetic has been around for decades, although newer photographers are beginning to adopt the aesthetic of the old professionals)

First, let’s speak about what exactly a ‘deadpan’ photograph is. While there are a handful of different definitions, the most popular is that a deadpan photograph is devoid of emotion. It simply exists as a subject and photograph, yet it seems to be empty. There is no joy or sorrow, although some can argue that the deadpan itself is a mood of its own. Famous photographers who use this aesthetic seem to be completely detached from the subject that they are photographing, and the word ‘indifference’ seems to describe the photograph perfectly.

There are a handful of aesthetics that you should be aware of when determining whether or not a photograph is considered deadpan, or if you are planning on creating your own series of deadpan photographs. Most commonly, the subject is in the center of the image, and the photographer is looking at the subject straight-on. There is no fancy camerawork involved here. The photographer is not laying on the ground, or standing on a ladder to distort the subject any which way, it is simply pictured exactly as you’d see it if you walked right up to it in real life.

The deadpan photograph simply says “this is how things are”. Deadpan portraits show people in their natural state, typically not showing any sort of emotion. These subjects are not posed, are not dressed up for the occasion, and seem completely honest. The color of deadpan photographs is commonly de-saturated. While not completely devoid of color, the colors tend to be muted.

So what purpose does this type of photography have? Why would photographers want to show these people or landscapes in such a mundane light? Many famous deadpan photographers choose this aesthetic to capture changes in the world around them, to generate questions that the viewer keeps in mind, or to provide an image that allows a non-biased relationship between the viewer and the subject matter.

Famous and Upcoming Deadpan Photographers

1. Jitka Hanzlova

Jitka Hanzlova

Czech photographer Jitka Hanzlova, in her series “Here”, captures small moments in Germany that many people would walk by without ever noticing. A run-down building, a stoic young girl, an empty soccer field. Because of the deadpan quality of the photographs, she offers no personal interpretation, no peek into her every day life. The viewers are left with a sense of unease and unfamiliarity, which are two emotions that are common in this aesthetic. Throughout the series you get the vague notion that the photographer is viewing these same landscapes and people with the same apprehension, trying to make sense of this new foreign land.

2. Rineke Dijkstra

Rineke Dijkstra

Born in the Netherlands, Rineke Dijkstra is famous for her many different series of deadpan portraits. While technically and compositionally her portraits are very simple – they tend to showcase one individual, shot straight-on in the center of the frame – the meaning behind the images is not as straightforward. Many of the individuals she chooses to photograph are in a state of transition. They may be transitioning from childhood to adulthood, they may be pregnant, or they may be preparing to join the military. While the exact details of their life and personality are left out, this only makes the photographs even more compelling. Who is this person? What kind of life are they living? Why did she choose to photograph them in particular?

3. Bernd and Hilla Becher

Becher

Perhaps two of the most famous deadpan photographers in history, Bernd and Hilla Becher became famous through their typological deadpan photographs of water towers, coal mines, industrial landscapes, grain elevators and gas tanks. Their many different series of photographs offer a look into the industrial past of the world, and showcase landscapes and subjects that cannot be seen as readily in the world today. While many viewers may see the images as lacking substance or meaning, their work resonates with many people today as a typology of a world that no longer exists.

4. Alec Soth

Soth

Alec Soth has an incredible way of creating engaging images while at the same time seeming disengaged with his subjects. He photographs a mixture of still lifes, portraits and landscapes, and in each image a sense of distance is so tangible you can almost feel it. He photographs people who seem as though they have worlds of stories to tell, yet the photographs of them speak nothing about these stories. His strange abandoned landscapes and forlorn subjects offer lots of questions but no answers. The result is a series of striking images that the viewer cannot draw themselves away from, no matter how many of their questions go unanswered. Instead of drawing away in frustration, the viewer simply looks deeper.

While deadpan photography is not for everyone, it offers an interesting way of looking at the world in a completely un-biased way. While many photographers choose to pose their subjects and distort the images to create a certain mood or tell a specific story, those who choose to share their world through deadpan images offer an honest look into the everyday life of people and scenarios that all too often go unnoticed.

The New Age Of Wedding Photography – Use A Drone

wedding photography drone

Before you hire a photographer for your big day, contemplate the idea of having your photos taken from a drone overhead. Yes, that’s right. The wedding photo industry has taken an entirely new perspective on photography by the use of drones for their shots. However, there is controversy regarding the legality of using drones for this purpose.

Especially in small towns, where everyone is limited by where to hold the ceremony and are stuck in the same old wedding routine, for those couples looking to venture outside the norm, you can turn an average, boring old wedding into an atypical one. Most people haven’t even heard of drone wedding photos which may make you one of the first to have your special day captured through this technology.

Dale Stierman is a leader and one of the first wedding photographers to capture these special moments by the use of a drone. The drone is equipped with a camera to take these spectacular shots. The photos that these couples receive in return are unique and cannot be replicated without the use of a drone.

The first thing that may come to mind when you hear the word drone, isn’t necessarily wedding and more like war. But isn’t that refreshing to finally be getting something amazing and wonderful in return from a drone and really change the negative connotation of the use of a drone. Why not put it to some good?

Dale stated that at first advertising drone was a bit alarming to potential customers so he changed the way he introduced the new photography technique as ‘quad-copter’. This less known explanation of drone caught on, creating a personal and warming touch to wedding photographs and less dangerous and high tech as introducing the technique with the terminology ‘drone’.

The debate over the legality of using drone technology for wedding photos comes primarily from the Federal Aviation Administration whose guidelines dictate that drones must fly below 400feet, avoiding flying over areas that are greatly populated and they cannot be used for commercial purposes. The FAA does grant permission for photographers to fly a wedding drone but without this permission, these drones are actually illegal to fly and capture photos.

From a photographers perspective, using drones enables photographers to capture the best images. With drones, photographers are able to take shots at different angles and get different lighting which can take an ordinary photo and make it remarkable. Dale explains that he uses the drones for this particular purpose of capturing wedding photos and uses the utmost respect for the FAA by not shooting photos that are anywhere in the close proximity to hospitals and airports.

Although an unlikely first thought, drones certainly maybe the center of attention for this year’s trends in wedding photography.

Photographer Andy Murch: For Shock Or Awareness

Andy Murch Photography

Seeing the world through a camera lens can be an adrenaline filled career but it can also be away to bring great awareness to causes that we hold dear. For countries that are devastated, year after year through war and poverty, photographers have the chance to shock the masses with photos of clear abuse, impoverishment and violence. Others use their talent to uncover the travesties that are occurring and bring international attention to the cause.

Photography doesn’t just hold a place on the international political scene. Placing oneself right in the midst of dangerous creatures such as sharks like the underwater photography and expedition leader Andy Murch does, he can portray the long, harboring struggle that these sea animals have long faced.

Murch is able to capture the brilliance of these sea creatures in their natural habitat while seemingly condemning fisheries for their mistreatment of various shark species through shark finning and overfishing. Murch began his wild fascination of underwater life as a youth, traveling abroad to more than 70 countries and discovering the great mysteries of the land and sea life down-under. He currently shares his love of sea life with other explorers, leading them on under water tours catching magnificent views of sharks, dolphins, whales and squids among others.

Opening the public up to his message took some trial and error through his journey of photography. Commencing his journey by distancing himself from these loved and feared creatures, he realized that he would never be able to truly portray his message of the importance of maintaining wildlife habitat and preservation of sea animal life without getting up close and personal. The deep sea adventurer could then snap ferocious shots that were thought provoking and made it apparent to observers “are we ready to say goodbye to this amazing creature, because it is in grave danger of becoming extinct”.

As always, Murch plans and executes his trips with caution and awareness from the amount of food in the water to the gear he wears. Understanding these creatures, is part of the amazing images that he captures because he can be entirely focused on what’s at hand rather than whether he will be the target of one of his muses. For the majority of his photo shoots, there is no need for cages because he understands that sharks know the difference between divers and fish food through their distinct scents and he knows when to call it a day when he can observe the sharks becoming too agitated by the amount of food or their presence.

Capturing wildlife in their natural habitat can create an overwhelming amount of support for a cause like overfishing and sea life extinction. These images promote much more than a ferocious, mouth wide open, teeth blaring shot of a shark coming right at you. Through the eye of the lens, photographers like Murch are not shocking their audience, they are creating an awareness that transcends words and motivates the public to make a change.

You Can’t Miss This Photo App

EyeEm App

In this tech savvy world, we snap and send. Most photos are decent on mobile technology but what about the photographer that makes his livelihood out of capturing these amazing events on the go? EyeEm is the photo-sharing, must-have app which has already gained the endorsement of 10 million users. This app allows its user to focus on photography while finding the perfect expression between eye-popping photography and a clear conversational message.

This app creates the visual focus for stunning photos with a jet black background which enables the artist to eliminate all distractions and concentrate on the detail within the photo itself. With the one-touch, easy-to-use zoom feature, users receive a full-resolution photo that doesn’t sacrifice the appearance nor fidelity of the photograph. Photographers capture intricate details that no other app can quite get a handle on which truly distinguishes the snap and good luck shot to premium artistry. Users and observers can engage and discuss these photos on the go rather than posting a comment.

Eyeem Screen

In this 10 million and growing EyeEm community, users not only engage with like-minded photographers but they also have the chance to enter contests labeled “Missions” and win prizes from monetary incentives to an Xbox One. If that isn’t enough to convince the average user to join this community maybe the opportunity for a lucrative publication of your photo will. Huffington Post and FourSquare are all hosts of missions that ask this community specific tasks to capture in photographs like “Where do you Swarm?” from FourSquare. The winner not only receives a nice chunk of change ($300) but their photo receives massive attention by being hung right on the popular wall of FourSquare’s New York City office. Talk about primo exposure.

EyeEm engages users with these Missions and users jump at the opportunity to show their skills. Creative challenges are regularly created for this eager and skillful community of photographers. After all, you could generate a new business or career all from the exposure of this one, eye-capturing and thought provoking app. EyeEm is available to download on iPhones, iPads and there are also versions for Android.

5 Photographs You Will Never Be Able To Afford

The photography world has never been without its fair share of sensationalism and headline-grabbing news, particularly when it comes to the prices that some fine works fetch on the market. Indeed, the amounts people are willing to pay and the lengths they’re willing to go to attain these highly prized originals is nothing short of astonishing.

It’d be an understatement to say that selling your work for such sums right out of photography school is unrealistic, but it’s fun to dream nonetheless. Here are the current most expensive photographs ever sold, as well as why they commanded such high fees.

5. Edward Steichen’s The Pond – Moonlight – $2,928,000

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Sold at a Sotheby’s auction in New York in 2006 just over a century after it was taken, the photograph was the highest paid at auction at the time of sale. This is mainly owing to both its haunting beauty and rarity; three very different versions are known to exist, with the other two currently held in photographic museums.

Though many observers would assume it’s a black and white photograph, it’s actually one of the earliest know examples of color photography (the subtle hues were hand-crafted using light-sensitive gums, which in 1904 was a good few years ahead of mainstream color techniques).

4. Andreas Gursky’s 99 Cent II Diptychon – $3,346,456

99cent

The next example of photographic largesse is brought to us by German visual artist Andreas Gursky and his two-part/diptych piece, a C-print mounted to acrylic glass (207 cm x 337 cm/6.79ft x 11.06ft).

The diptych depicts a product-laden supermarket with numerous aisles, all of vibrant colors and hues, making for a very visually busy piece. Gursky here opted to digitally alter the perspective, reducing it somewhat and resulting in perhaps a busier-than-otherwise-would-be finished article.

As with the Steichen photo above, Gursky’s photograph garnered much attention for setting a new record as the most expensive photo ever sold at the time. Owing to this, it was reprinted twice more, with one print being sold for $2.25 million on May 2006 in New York, and another (making three in total) print being sold for $2.48 million on November 2006, again in Sotheby’s. For some time, all three prints of this were within the prestigious list of Top 10 Most Expensive Photographs Ever Sold.

 3. Jeff Wall’s Dead Troops Talk – $3,666,500

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At 7.5ft tall by 14.5ft, it’s easy to see why this striking and detailed image is best seen in its full size but even scaled down it’s an alarming scene. The full title of Dead Troops Talk includes the detail “A vision after an ambush of a Red Army patrol, near Moqor, Afghanistan, winter 1986″ in parentheses, giving a clearer picture of what the subject matter of the photograph is about.

The Canadian photographer utilized a Hollywood special effects company – The Character Shop – to put recently slain soldiers in a frozen limbo, where they react to their deaths with a mixture of emotions in the still. It’s a jarring (and arguably horrific) commentary on the brutalities of war, and a very impressive example of a fantastical scene brought to life with the photographic medium.

2. Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #96 – $3,890,500

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Auctioned off at Christie’s, this work was sold in May 2011 and was – as with some of the other entries that preceded it – the most expensive photograph ever at the time of sale before being usurped by the photograph below.

A color coupler print (61 cm x 121.9 cm/24 in x 48 in), the photo depicts Sherman herself (an artist widely regarded as seeking to raise questions about the role of women in society) lying on the floor of a kitchen, clutching a page from the newspaper classifieds. The actual personal details of the photograph are for the viewer to discern; however, Christie’s would lay claim that it “exudes shock and confrontation through its scale and the boldness of Sherman’s tight compositional framing” along with the questions raised as to who/what/where/why.

1. Andreas Gursky’s Rhein II – $4,338,500

The Rhine II 1999 by Andreas Gursky born 1955

Another lot at Christie’s (and another Gursky) that was auctioned off in November 2011 to an unknown buyer, Gursky’s photograph is literally the single most expensive photograph to have ever been sold. A C-print mounted on plexiglass (190 cm x 360 cm/73 in x 143 in), the photo details the River Rhine – a vast European river (and one which flows through 6 countries) – as it flows in a horizontal, landscape fashion, occupying the middle section of the photo, between green fields and a grey sky.

A curious edition to standard after-work, the bleak appearance of the photo was achieved by again digitally removing a factory, some people walking, and other extraneous details, which led the artist to comment that the view in the photo “cannot be obtained in situ” and was – in a manner – “a fictitious construction”.

Fictitious or not, the price it fetched was very real indeed.

Comparing Cultures Through Photography

I’ve noticed a bit of a trend on the internet lately. There are many photographers who are choosing to open up the public to differences in cultures—as well as differences within one culture—by focusing on one certain subject, such as groceries, trash, or bedrooms, and photographing these subjects using a wide variety of people from many different backgrounds. The result is a sad and beautiful look into countries and that we may not be as familiar with. While many of these series offer a very limited view of certain countries—we all know that life in the US is not as cut and dry as a photograph of a man in a hunting uniform—they do give an interesting perspective and something to think about.

7 Days of Garbage by Gregg Segal

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Alfie, Kirsten, Miles, and Elly

While Segal’s series doesn’t compare the trash of other countries, it speaks a lot about the increasing waste problem in the United States. When was the last time you thought about how much waste you produce? Or where all of that waste goes after the trash truck takes it away? Throughout this series, you see couples, roommates, and families all lying in a week’s work of their trash. There are plastic bags, rotting food, and cardboard containers are mixed in together, which brings up another important question: are we all really recycling as much as we should be? Being able to see a week’s worth of trash on the ground really puts the trash problem into perspective.

Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel & Faith D’Aluisio

Hungry Planet Mali

Mali

Hungry Planet Mexico

Mexico

Understanding the food of different cultures is a beautiful thing. While Americans may go to an Indian restaurant, or a Chinese restaurant, or an Italian restaurant, these places only provide a small glimpse into the true essence of the food and the culture. By photographing different families with a week’s worth of groceries around the world, Menzel and D’Aluisio create a captivating series that show us just how much (and how little) people consume. A family in Chad is shown with simple bags of grains, nuts and fruits, a family in Bhutan is shown with a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and a family in the United States is shown with take-out pizzas, pre-packaged foods and a Burger King cup.

Before & After by Esther Honig

Before

After

Interested in different cultures’ ideas of beauty, Esther Honig sent an original photograph of herself—without any makeup or retouching—to forty different people around the world who were skilled in Photoshop. She only had one simple instruction: make her beautiful. While, again, it can be argued that if you sent a photograph to forty different people in the United States and asked them to Photoshop you, the results would likely be drastically different, some cultures really shine through. A photoshopped version from Morocco shows Esther completely covered except for her face, a version from Serbia shows her with blue eyes, natural makeup, and a pattern of circles across her chest, while a version from Philippines shows her with much longer hair, dark eye makeup, dark red lips, and flashy jewelry.

Created Equal by Mark Laita

Amish Teenagers / Punk Teenagers

Amish Teenagers / Punk Teenagers

Photographer Mark Laita aims to shine a light on the many different cultures found in America, exploring the many different ways in which people choose to express themselves and the many different life paths people take. These photographs range from young to old and rich to poor. Laita juxtaposes a janitor with the president of a company, a female bodybuilder with a drag queen, and a vegetarian with a butcher. He shows that even in one country, you can find many different people from many different walks of life.

While some of these photographs aim to show the differences between countries, some aim to showcase a problem within a country, and some aim to show that even one country can have a wide range of people, all bring to light parts of life that many of us don’t think of. Each is political in its own way, and each has stirred up a lot of joy and controversy in the age of the internet.

Beyond The Earth: 10 Awe-Inspiring Photos Of Space

The wide expanse of the universe holds many secrets, and much is still unknown about the planets, stars, and galaxies that surround the earth. Humans have never personally ventured further than our own moon, but with the help of telescopes we have been able to see further than any person is likely to travel any time soon.

Images of what is out there beyond our Earth give us a glimpse of the universe, and what is sometimes captured can be truly stunning. While such photography is outside of the scope of any terrestrial photography workshop, images released by NASA (particularly those taken with the Hubble telescope) can serve as great inspiration for our own work here on Earth.

Join us as we take a look into the great abyss with some of the finest examples of space photography in the public domain.

Aurora Australis From ISS

Beginning close to the Earth, this photo was taken by an astronaut from the International Space Station. It shows Aurora Australis, an ever-changing display of light in the form of spots, rays, ribbons, and curtains. An Aurora occurs when charged particles transported from the Sun by the solar wind meet with the Earth’s magnetic field.

NASA Apollo8 Dec24 Earthrise

Arguably the most famous images ever taken from outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, this photo was taken way back in 1968, by Astronaut Bill Anders while of the Apollo 8 mission. Its taken from orbit around moon, looking back at our planet. Although the moon looks as if it is quite close, it is actually around 780 km from the spacecraft. The land you can see emerging from the darkness is west Africa.

Enceladus geysers June 2009

In this image of Saturn’s moon Enceladus has an eerie feeling to it, and was taken by NASAs Cassini spacecraft as it flew past the moon on November 21st 2009. The stripes across the surface of the moon are fissures in its surface, from where plumes of water ice are expelled into space. The apparent glowing white areas across the surface are where the mix of ice, water, and other organic material are jettisoned away from Enceladus.

M104 ngc4594 sombrero galaxy

You’re looking at the Sombero galaxy, a spiral shaped galaxy nearby to our own galaxy, the Milky Way. This photo was captured by the Hubble Space Telescopes Advanced Camera for Surveys in 2003. Astronomers speculate that a black hole a billion times the mass of our Sun lies at the center of this galaxy.

NGC 6503 HST

Fresh new stars are forming all over this galaxy, marked by the pink and red colored areas dotted throughout its swirling arms. This galaxy is called NGC 6503, is smaller than the Milky Way, and lies around 17 million light-years away from earth. It is close to a great void in space, where very few other galaxies are located.

NGC2207+IC2163

Here you can see two spiral galaxies colliding with each other, with the larger one distorting its smaller partner. Eventually, in a few billion years it is thought, these two galaxies will become one single galaxy. Interestingly, because the distance between stars within a galaxy is so large, only a tiny percentage will actually end up hitting each other.

Cone Nebula (NGC_2264) Star Forming Pillar of Gas and Dust

The chaotic and enormous Cone Nebula is around 2,500 lights years from Earth, and its length has been estimated at a staggering seven light years long. It is an enormous pillar of gas and dust, and only the upper third of the nebula can be seen in this photo. This type of nebula is thought to be an incubator for new stars and planets.

HH_901_and_HH_902_in_the_Carina_nebula_(captured_by_the_Hubble_Space_Telescope)

Another nebula, called the Carina Nebula, is the subject of this photo. It was taken in February 2010, by Hubbles Wide field Camera. The jets of gas you see expelled from the peaks are being fired off from young stars buried within the nebula.

Ant Nebula

Here you can see a star dying, and the ejection of gas preceding an enormous violent explosion that will swallow the star and suck in any orbiting planets. Astronomers are intrigued by the symmetrical shape of the gas as it is expelled from the star, which contradict the disordered patterns resulting from an ordinary explosion.

NGC_6752 Hubble WikiSky

Looking like a collection of precious gems, a vast collection of stars can be seen in this photo taken on the 30th of January 2012. Referred to as a global cluster, it is thought to be around 10 billion years old, making it one of the most ancient global clusters ever known.