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I got coverage!

August 27, 2008 – 1:08 pm

Hello people,

This morning I was flicking through the tacky celebrity magazines and serious photography magazines. When I picked up the British Journal of photography and found Roof of the World in the number one exhibitions to see in the UK. My reaction was to yelp and to buy a copy. It’s brilliant to have got some coverage in a photo magazine.

Taking photojournalism to a whole new level

– 1:00 pm

Margaret Bourke-White success was due to both her people skills and her technical skills. As she explains in Portrait of Myself, the Otis security people were reluctant to let her shoot for many reasons: First, steel making was a defense industry, so they wanted to be sure national security was not affected. Second, she was a woman and in those days people wondered if a woman and her delicate cameras could stand up to the intense heat, hazard, and generally dirty and gritty conditions inside a steel mill. When she got permission, the technical problems began. Black and white film in that era was sensitive to blue light, not the reds and oranges of hot steel — she could see the beauty, but the pictures were coming out all black. She solved this problem by bringing along a new style of magnesium flare (which produces white light). The result of her being able to work well with both people and technology resulted in some of the best steel factory pictures of that era, and these pictures earned her national attention. 

In 1929, she accepted a job as associate editor of Fortune magazine. In 1930, she became the first Western photographer allowed into the Russia. She was hired as the first female photojournalist for Life magazine.

During the mid-1930s, Bourke-White, like Dorothea Lange, photographed drought victims of the Dust Bowl. The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadian prairie.

She also traveled to Europe to record how Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia were faring under Nazism and how Russia was faring under Communism. While in Russia, she photographed a rare “smiling Stalin” while in Moscow.

Mathew Brady – father of photojournalism

August 26, 2008 – 12:10 pm

Mathew B. Brady, was one of the most celebrated 19th century American photographers, best known for his portraits of celebrities and the documentation of the American Civil War. He is credited with being the father of photojournalism.

Brady was born in New York. By 1844, he had his own photography studio in New York, and by 1845, Brady began to exhibit his portraits of famous Americans. Brady’s early images were daguerrotypes, and he won many awards for his work; in the 1850s ambrotype photography became popular, which gave way to the albumen print, a paper photograph produced from large glass negatives most commonly used in the American Civil War photography. In 1859, Parisian photographer popularized the carte de visite and these small pictures (the size of a visiting card) rapidly became a popular novelty as thousands of these images were created and sold in the United States and Europe.

In 1856 Brady created the first modern advertisement when he placed an ad in the New York Herald paper offering to produce “photographs, ambrotypes and daguerreotypes.” His ads were the first whose typeface and fonts were distinct from the text of the publication and from that of other advertisements.

A photojournalist with balls

August 15, 2008 – 3:14 pm

Dorothea Lange was an influential American documentary photographer and photojournalist best known for her Depression era work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Lange’s photographs humanized the tragic consequences of the Great Depression and profoundly influenced the development of documentary photography.When the Great Depression began, Lange turned her camera lens from the studio to the street. Her studies of unemployed and homeless people captured the attention of local photographers.Lange’s best-known picture is titled “Migrant Mother”. The woman in the photo is Florence Thompson, but Lange apparently never knew her name.

In the sixties, Lange spoke about her experience taking the photograph:I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean-to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it. According to Thompson’s son, Lange got some details of this story wrong, but the impact of the picture was based on the image showing the strength and need of migrant workers.

A fine photographer who hung around with the Dalai Lama

August 14, 2008 – 1:07 pm

Pierre Toutain-Dorbec grew up in Orbec, Normandy and in Paris. Since he was thirteen years old his education was focused in the arts. His Grandfather Gabriel and his Uncle Jean where both photographers and artists, his Father Jacques was an interior designer and is now a painter, and his Mother Françoise was a professional musician and opera star in the Paris Opéra. A family of creative fellows; his art education began with his family, who taught him the ropes. He photographed and drew his family, being was fascinated by faces and expressions. He knew and was influenced by the famous French figurative painter Pierre Laffille, his grandparent’s neighbor.By the end of 1968, encouraged by his uncle and grandfather (who died this same year), he left his hometowns of Orbec and Paris to step onto the road and discover the world. He became one of the very rare intrepid travelers.  He then obtained a Masters Degree in History of East Indian Civilization at the University of Benares, India. Most noteworthy of his sculpture studies is when Pierre studied with famous Thailand sculptors during the restoration of Bangkok’s two most important Buddhist temples, Wat Po and Phra Keo. I remember when I was in Bangkok I walked around the Wat Po and gawped with amazement at the temples. 

Pierre then went onto receive his Doctorate in Buddhist Philosophy at the University of Bangkok. He then decided to top it all off and spend a year living with the Dalai Lama and completed two books with him. What an accomplished inquisitive mind.