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Siem Reap | Angkor Wat | Workshop December 2019

In Photography, Photography News, Workshop in Motion, Workshop News on August 26, 2019 at 9:07 AM

Siem Reap | Angkor Wat | Workshop December 2019

When: 7th – 11th December 2019

 On the way to school. Angkor Wat, Siem Reap © Photograph by Jack Picone

 

Reportage Photography Workshops will hold its next roving workshop in Siem Reap, Cambodia’s fastest-growing town and the jumping-off point for the spectacular temple ruins of Angkor. With a maximum of 12 participants, the 5-day event will provide an opportunity to explore the cultural riches and social dynamism of this exotic corner of the world.

With the world’s most breathtaking ancient ruins on its doorstep, Siem Reap and surrounding areas offer endless photographic possibilities. The town itself has gone from backwater to boomtown in the space of a decade, and traditional Khmer culture coexists with the emergence of a new, hip generation of Cambodians. As well as the vast temple complex of Angkor, nearby are floating villages with traditional stilted houses, the rural beauty of Tonle Sap Lake and the flooded forest of Komplong Phhluk.

Celebrated photographer, artist and filmmakerStephen Dupont and Documentary photographer  Jack Picone  will work in tandem to deliver an immersive, insightful and enriching learning experience.

The workshop’s schedule will be engaging, energising and highly rewarding.

An introductory get-together will be held on the evening of the 6th of Dec. before the workshop’s formal start on the morning of 7th of Dec. Like any working documentary photographer, you will be given an assignment brief to interpret as you wish. (The brief will be announced two weeks before the workshop to provide you with time to research possible topics before you arrive.) The aim is to produce a documentary photo-essay with a striking visual narrative to be shown on the final evening of the workshop on Wednesday, Dec. 11th.

Stephen and Jack will hold one to one and group sessions to supervise, critique and edit participants assignments. Intensive dialogue is promoted on topics such as; photographic composition, portraiture, advanced camera techniques, how to research ideas and tell an original story, how to market a body of work and how to hone your personal style.

Early evenings are peppered with lively discussions concerning the aesthetics, philosophy and politics underpinning photography as a medium and with digital projections of both Stephen’s and Jack’s work and other noteworthy photographers.

 

“Enterprising.” A girl draws to glean donations from tourists en route to temples. Siem Reap, Cambodia  © Photograph by Jack Picone

 

Cost: US$ 1,955. Includes all workshop sessions. Workshop cost does not include travel costs to Siem Reap and accommodation.

Application: The workshop is strictly limited to 12 participants. A $US500 deposit will be required at the time of booking to secure a place.

Registration: To receive further information or to request a registration form, please contact: jack@jackpicone.com

Please Note: Siem Reap is a safe destination. That said and within a cautionary context, Reportage Workshops advise that all participants take out medical/travel insurance for the Siem Reap workshop. 


 

References and Links:

Stephen Dupont

Website

Netflix

World Press Photo

Jack Picone

Website

YouTube 

Wikipedia

 

On Being A Fujifilm | X-Photographer

In Photography, Photography News on August 23, 2019 at 12:27 PM

As a Fujifilm AmbassadorI often get the chance to explore and author photographs with Fujifilm’s ‘thinking out of the box cameras.’ Chinese Opera actors on stage during a performance at Chiao Eng Biao Shrine, Bang Rak Shrine. Sathon Bangkok.
© Photograph by Jack Picone

Have a peek at recent photographs I made with Fujifilm’s X-T3 and X100S cameras.

The X100S was launched in 2013 and has now been superseded by the X100F. Even so, I continue to use it. It is small, ‘quite’ and unobtrusive, a trilogy of psychology in making photographs that is invaluable. Combine this with the legendary and brilliant Fujifilm film science, and it is as relevant today as the day it was released.

Fujifilm’s X-T3 is a triumph of science and art. It is liberating creatively for any photographer who picks it up and puts it to their eye.

Does being a Fujifilm Ambassador make my preceding comments bias? Clearly, ‘yes’ but it is worth keeping in mind if either of these cameras were other than the way I communicate them than you would be reading precisely that.

Two short photo-essays with the X100S and X-T3:

The X100S Chinese Opera in Bangkok

The XT3 Revisiting Rwanda 

jp

 

RWANDA PEACE VII/F The VII Foundation

In Photography, Photography News on April 16, 2019 at 12:58 PM

April 2019 is the 25th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
As you read this, Rwandan people are midst 100 days of mourning.
The final number of people who died (and maimed) in the most violent, base and horrific of circumstances has never truly been quantified. Educated estimates place the death toll, conservatively, at one million people. Previously unknown mass grave sites are still being discovered, today. The depth and breadth and vast scale of death solicit inevitable comparisons of the wholesale slaughter of the Jewish community during the second world war and the Cambodian genocide in South-Esat Asia.

In 1994, I documented and reported on the genocide as it unfolded. After crossing the border illegally from Uganda with fellow photographer and friend Stephen Dupont we quickly realized that we had easily, too easily, walked through a door into hell on earth. In front of us was; a burnt, blighted, broken, bomb and a bullet-scarred landscape peppered with the dismembered dead. We ricochet across Rwanda in the back of pick-up gun trucks with the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). At times we crossed paths and interviewed the RPF’s leader Major General Kagame (now President Kagame) as he led his men and pushed towards the capital Kigali to regain power, he saw was theirs. During the battle for RPF to regain power, Rwanda spiralled into a politically toxic and human abyss. Rwanda almost fell off the edge of the world. Such was the heightened level of destructiveness, horror and carnage dispensed by both Tutsis and Hutus it is not implausible to suggest that Rwanda may have never been seen again. It was on the cusp of annihilation.

Fast forward >> to the Twenty-First Century; The VII Foundation is examing countries now at peace (like Rwanda in this case) critically and with rigour and by dispatching leading photographers and writers of war to those countries where they first reported from during the conflict to consider them contemporarily.
Some of the other countries and regions included in the series include; Iraq, Cambodia, Bosnia, Colombia and The Middle East.

I have recently returned from Rwanda working with The VII Foundation VII/F documentary film crew making a feature-length documentary film re-tracing the dark journey I made in 1994. I was assigned by VII Foundation Directors Gary Knight, Ron Haviv and Directed and collaborated with Fiona Turner. On the
ground in Rwanda, I collaborated with the erudite VII Cinematographers and photographers, Christopher Morris and Maciek Nabrdalik our translator and Rwandan all things cultural ambassador was Gadi Habumugisha. Peter Klein the legendary Producer, Director and Founder of The Global Reporting Centre kept us all flying at a high altitude and being the best we could be.

As quintessentially important and necessary as it is documenting war, media is often absorbed with documenting wars as they unfold. The distinction here is, the VII Foundation Peace Project is innovative in adjusting the balance by extending the documentation and the conversation to be more inclusive of the aftermath of war. It is an exploration of countries previously ravaged by war, considering the legacy and impact of war upon their specific culture and country. It is rooted in reflectively making an attempt to quantify the ‘quality of peace’ in post-war time and most importantly – maintaining peace.

Our Rwanda at Peace documentary is in the editing suite for a while yet but as soon as I hear of a release date. I’ll make a post about where and when it can be viewed for those interested.
I have attached a random précis of photographs made during the 1994 genocide (as historical documents) and some contemporary photographs of Rwanda in 2019 – at Peace.

 

Rwanda April 1994

 

An RPF rebel soldier advances towards Kigali during the Rwandan genocide, Rwanda.

 

Rwanda February 2019

Alice Mukarurinda (right) and the genocidaire Emmanuel Ndayisaba (left). Emmanual viciously attacked Alice during the genocide cutting her hand off and leaving her for dead. Against all odds, both have reconciled with each other and now teach reconciliation to fellow perpetrators and victims caught up in the 1994 genocide.

Ecotourism (above and below) is a major contributor to Rwanda’s growing economy. In these photographs, Rwandans perform for foreign tourists at The Guardian Village an Eco lodge in Ruhengeri.

Belancila (Laurencie Nyirabeza’s close friend who was murdered during the genocide) Taba, Kigali.

Poignant and pervading photographs installation at the Kigali Genocide Memorial of Rwandans who were slaughtered in the 1994 genocide.

Ruth Mukankuranga mid-class at Karushaka, Prefecture, Kigali. Pre the 1994 genocide many teachers imparted discrimination against ethnic Tutsis via anti-Tutsi writings within school textbooks.

Agnes Nyiransabimana (red headdress) Pyrethrum flower farm owner with her workers harvesting Pyrethrum flowers outside of Ruhengeri (or Musanze) a city in northwest Rwanda.

 

A one on one interview (Jack Picone green jacket) with The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame (blue windcheater). Producer, Peter Klein (far right).

Dairy cow shepherds care for their cows, Rubavu (former Gisenyi), Rwanda.

“Bringing in the wheat” (and below) outside of Ruhengeri (or Musanze) a city in northwest Rwanda. It’s the gateway to Volcanoes National Park, home to mountain gorillas and golden monkeys.                       

 

This is “Umuganda,” a community cleanup held on the last Saturday of every month. It is the reason that Rwanda is known as the cleanest city on the African continent. Kigali, Rwanda.

Daily life in and around Kigali’s CBD.

Daily life in and around Kigali’s CBD.

Dairy cow shepherds care for their cows, Rubavu (former Gisenyi), Rwanda.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~JP

Perfect for you?!

In Photography, Photography News, Workshop News on September 26, 2018 at 2:57 PM

If you can, pick up a copy of Australia’s contemporary and clever photography Magazine – [capture]. It is available in both print and online.

 

I am featured along with several noted Australian photographers [contacts below] concerning what our perfect camera would be.

Novel idea.

Below is an extract from the feature article inclusive of my thoughts about what my perfect camera might look like.

News Flash! We still have some places remaining on our up coming photography workshop in Havana, Cuba. If you are interested in going us view the details here and ping me an email  with any questions you might have.

 

 

 

~ Ends

 

 

A Small Selection Of Testimonials

In Ethics, Photography, Photography News, Workshop News on August 14, 2018 at 5:29 PM

Caption: Photoshop is “OK” but undeniable magic is experienced when a confluence of moment, aesthetic, light and emotion is delivered to the photographer in the form of a poetic photograph by the universe.

Join us in Havana for our upcoming photography workshop this November. Click here for further details.

 

Below is a small selection of testimonials from former participants who have attended Reportage Photography Workshops.

“For me, the Kathmandu workshop has been an unforgettable and very inspiring event in my life. Now after one week, looking back, I have only one word to summarize this experience: … wowww!!! It was a pleasure and honour to participate. Apart from the very professional instructions and guidance on photography from Jack and Stephen, it was amazing to discover that it is not only a great photo that counts but also the passion, vision, social/cultural involvement and messages of a great person behind all the work that was shared with us”.

Merci beaucoup!

Steven Van der Kruit

“Would I advise friends to do this workshop? YES

Would I do it again?

YES overseas to live a different experience and see a new place

Did I get out of the class what I expected?

YES, a lot more than what I expected.”

Andrea Francolini

“I had a very enjoyable time at the workshop and feel that I accomplished what I set out for – that is to hone my skills, learn new skills and become better able to take pictures of life here.  It was a wonderful experience and I think I took some of the best pictures that I have ever taken, so I’m completely chuffed”.

Luke Stephens

“Just wanted to say a big thank you to Jack for saying and insisting, “what’s your narrative about – tell me – I want to know”. To David for pushing me to explore things and persisting when I had a mini-crisis about it. To Steve for your artistic sensibility, sharing of your work and for questioning the suitcase shot. To Ed for your patience, encouragement and contemporary eyes for things. I was lucky to be part of it.”

Cim Sears

I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop experience. All four mentors offered sensitivity, encouragement and insight and were able to see the possibility of my work and push me to my strengths. Even though the critiques were casual the comments were direct and informed. After each critique, the bar was set that bit higher, as a consequence I was pushed into unfamiliar territory and subsequently into getting more interesting shots. The mantras “1 in 15” and “you don’t know until you go” keep me shooting and persisting. As a result, I built my confidence, resilience and stoked my photographic fire.

Skye

 “I have to say that I really enjoyed the week (even though it was hard work!) and felt that my photographic eye and technique improved significantly…I benefited greatly from the session with Jack and Steve in putting together my final selection for the showing on the final day – and the group praise from the panel afterwards was reassuring.”

Kieron Crawley

 ‘’I think what the Workshop is doing great is to give a different perspective to those pictures we “usually see without seeing”… and this is great and very refreshing! And also the Workshop has 100% fulfilled its expectations for me in terms of “inspiring people”! Great job!

I learnt a lot from the workshop, a totally new experience and can’t wait to go in the street taking pictures again.’’

Cecile Ducreux

 “Don’t miss the opportunity of learning photography with Jack Picone. He is a unique combination of professional photographer, local guide, and best friend. Work at your own pace. Have Jack review your images on a daily basis, discuss your shots in-depth, or shoot eight hours a day. He will let you know what to look for in a scene and be able to gain access into intimate situations. Jack is a photojournalist on a Magnum and National Geographic level with a passion for teaching. Take your photography to the next level and enjoy a memorable travel experience too.”

Jeffrey Jue

“Without a doubt the most inspiring six days I’ve ever experienced. I was inspired to develop my own style and to follow what I believe to be true to me, and more importantly, to go out and have fun! Thanks again for a fantastic six days. I went out to Kings Cross and I’m confident I’ve taken some of my best shots for my project immediately following the workshop… oh! and I’m shooting in film now. That’s how influential Jack, Stephen was, to the point of experimenting with a different medium”.

Ian Flanders

“The Reportage Photography Workshop” was an extremely valuable experience. It was an immense help to me to hear Jack and Steve both talk about their work, the changing world of photojournalism, and what it takes to be a photographer in this day and age. Not only that but their expert advice in relation to photographic techniques, equipment and critique was immensely beneficial. It was also a great opportunity to meet other talented photographers during the workshop. I highly recommend this workshop to anyone with the desire to extend their documentary/photojournalism photography. It was a very inspiring few days.”

Zoe Morley

 I attended the Sydney Workshop even though I don’t necessarily want to specialise in photojournalism. I found that the learning was applicable across all photographic disciplines. I came away with more knowledge and confidence about framing, composition and storytelling – what makes a great shot. But possibly the greatest thing I took away from the workshops was inspiration. To hear the stories and see the pictures made by world-class photographers like Jack Picone and Stephen Dupont renewed my energy to shoot and my passion for photography. The range of other presentations from legends of the industry like Tim Page and others only value-added and widened the appeal and scope for me. I found Picone and Dupont to be frank and honest in their critique of my work and yet sufficiently gentle in their suggestions and friendly nature not to crush my spirit.  I’ve found it very difficult to get honest and considered feedback on my photography over the years – but I found it at the workshops. I would encourage anyone who was thinking about attending one of their workshops to do so.  The more you put into it, the more you’ll get back.”

Tim Anger

 “This was an excellent workshop, with some outstanding international photographers coming in to show us their work, and to tell us their story. It was very inspiring. For me the best part was absolutely the critique of the images being taken, as it is very hard to get good honest critique, and to have the photos that you have just taken really given a working over was a very good experience and offered good insight into what other people are looking at and experiencing with the photos. The theme of photographing ‘Hope’ was also very interesting, as this was the first time I had been given such an assignment, and it was very helpful to see the thought processes that I went through.

“At 21 I was probably the youngest person in the workshop, possibly with the least experience, but this was no barrier; everyone was equal, everyone has constructive criticism, everyone had a story to tell, it was really lovely being in such a group. Given the opportunity, I would not hesitate to recommend this on to others, or to participate in the workshop again.”

Mitchell Mathieson

“The workshop was a chance to get up close and personal with two (Picone and Dupont) outstanding members of the professional photographic community as well as the guest presenters who were all amazing in their own right. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to meet, discuss and interact with the other students in an open forum. I will be using my experience as a foundation for my photographic style which will no doubt benefit from the valuable guidance I received”.

David Gross

 “I shot a lot of photos and I gained enormous insight into the editing process in regard to how to tell various stories from the one body of work. I also greatly appreciated the guidance in refining my shooting techniques. The relaxed environment was surprisingly conducive to learning and the opportunity to listen in on critique sessions of other participants was particularly insightful”.

Trish Macris

“For me, the Sydney workshop was really valuable, not only in the obvious ways but also in the quiet moments of conversation, discussions and image reviews.  Spending time with photographers actually successful in their vocation was something that made it all very tangible. It was truly valuable to see portfolios of work by high quality, significant photographers and their personal commentary as they presented their own work…  Stephen’s work on PNG and increasing focus on the anthropological aspect of his art,  Jack’s work on the Thai-Burma border and pearls of wisdom throughout the week, Tim Page’s extraordinary body of work during the Vietnam war, and documenting the impact of agent orange since then.  I found the reviews of my own work and the work of my colleagues really helpful. Tim Page’s brutally frank reviews were really helpful and an eye-opener.  Jack’s thoughtful insight into what makes a good and interesting photograph resonated deeply.  Stephen’s eye and holistic view when it came to image selection, editing and presentation were excellent.  I came away with a great appreciation and respect for the photographers we spent time with and more clarity for my own path ahead.”

Kate Baker

‘I learned a lot. The shooting assignment was a brilliant idea… scary, but brilliant. Not only did it provide a platform to be critiqued by Jack and Steve, but I personally felt really encouraged to push myself. I found Jack and Steve’s passion for photography, encouragement and aiming for excellence very contagious. Having additional visiting photographers share their stories as well as just being really inspired by the creative energy of the other participants in the workshop all around made for a great week. I think I was on a high all week… I thoroughly recommend it!!’

“A”

 ~ ends

Havana, Cuba, Photography Workshop Nov. 2018

In Photography News, Street Photography, Workshop in Motion, Workshop News on July 5, 2018 at 3:03 PM

         Havana, Cuba Workshop: Nov. 18th – 22nd, 2018

Portrait of an old woman in the old city of Havana. Cuba, December 15, 2015.

            

During a catholic ritualistic procession a woman becomes overwhelmed with emotion. Havana, Cuba, December, 2015. Tens of thousands of pilgrims meet annually on Saint Lazaro Day to pray and make offerings to Saint Lazaro.

 

On the way home from college, Havana, Cuba, 2014.

 

People waiting a taxi stop in Havna, Cuba, December 11, 2015.

 All photographs  ©  Stephen Dupont

Havana, Cuba Workshop: Nov. 18th – 22nd, 2018

We are taking bookings for our Havana, Cuba Workshop in November 2018. Invest in your photography and yourself. Our photography workshops have a reputation for extending our participants photography in a quantum way. Yes, it will be a challenging experience but you will be amongst like-minded people and it will be affirmative and fortifying every minute of every day. We will fast track your photography authorship to a higher aesthetic.

This workshop is open to all regardless of your level of photography practice. We are invested in teaching all genres of photography from traditional documentary to contemporary art photography and much in-between. Stephen Dupont and I have decades of experience and can impart knowledge that an online photography course or YouTube Video is incapable of achieving.

Stephen has been making photographs like the ones above and like the photographs in  Havana Particular  in Cuba for half his life. He is immensely knowledgeable about Cuba and has an empathy and connection with local Cubans that few Westerners have achieved.

An introductory get-together will be held on the evening prior to the workshop’s formal start in Havana. Like any working documentary photographer, you will be given an assignment brief to interpret as you wish. (The brief will be announced prior to the workshop to give you time to research possible subjects before you arrive.) Stephen and I critique and edit your work one-on-one, and also take part in evening projections and discussions along with local Cuban photographers. The aim is to produce a documentary photo essay with a striking visual narrative, to be shown on the final evening of the workshop.

If you are passionate about your photography and wish to evolve your photography aesthetic than read below. Feel free to contact Stephen or me with any questions you have or to request a registration form, please contact: jack@jackpicone.com and/or stephendupont@bigpond.com

Cost: A special price of US$1,850 includes all workshop sessions. Workshop cost does not include travel costs to Cuba and accommodation. A US$500 (non-refundable secures a place on the workshop) with the balance to be paid no less than one month before the workshop starting date.

The final deadline for registration is Thursday, Oct. 18th.

Application: Our workshops are strictly limited to 15 participants. Havana is a very popular workshop destination, so please do book early to avoid disappointment.

Links:

Jack Picone

http://www.jackpicone.com/

Stephen Dupont

http://www.stephendupont.com/

Please Note: We advise that all participants take out medical/travel insurance for the Cuba workshop. Also, due to unforeseen circumstances, workshop dates can be subject to change. However, this is rare.

Aperture

In Photography, Photography News on May 17, 2018 at 8:54 AM

The wee figure on stage is me during the recent Aperture Conference at Sydney’s International Conference Centre. It was an inspiring and affirming weekend. I was inspired both by my co-speakers:
ALEXIA SINCLAIR
MURRAY FREDERICKS
EUGENE TAN
KEN DUNCAN
GARY HEERY
KRYSTLE WRIGHT
MEGAN LEWIS

…and also the audience. The audience’s insightful questions was a highlight and a catalyst for further thinking surrounding what is philosophically and politically important concerning still photography. Glenn Mckimmin the brainchild behind Aperture is going to do it again. This time in 2019 stay tuned for destination and date.
News Flash!
Also, a reminder that Stephen Dupont and myself are taking bookings for our Cuba 2018 and workshop. Please visit Reportage [here] https://reportage.xyz or further details and/or direct message Stephen and myself on Instagram.

 

Aperture Photography Conference | April 2018

In Photography News on March 20, 2018 at 3:21 PM

Be part of Sydney’s first immersive weekend photography conference at the
International Convention Centre Sydney on 28-29th April 2018.Wat Prabat Nampu, Hospice for those living with AIDS. Lopburi, Thailand. 2004.

© Photograph by Jack Picone

Photograph made for the Positive Lives project.

Positive Lives was a unique international project that commissioned photographers to document the impact of HIV & AIDS around the world, illuminating positive human responses to this world crisis.

The project reflected the issues and emotions which confront people in their daily lives as they lived and worked with the disease. Issues of confidentiality, fear, prejudice, exclusion and survival, through to care, support, compassion, trust and openness were explored. Texts accompanied photographs authored based on the personal stories of individuals.

By sharing these moving stories the Positive Lives project aimed to challenge stigma and discrimination, and disrupt the myths and prejudices that surround people living with HIV & AIDS.

Positive Lives was a collaboration between photographers and a number of organisations, including Concern Worldwide and UK HIV charity, Terrence Higgins Trust. Concern has been at the forefront of community responses to HIV & AIDS and the fight for access to treatment since 1987. 

In her book ‘The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence’ when discussing the ethical and moral minefield associated with documentary and news photography, American writer Susie Linfield suggests that a good starting point is to consider the genres as “The beginning of a dialogue, the start of an investigation—into which we thoughtfully enter.”
Clearly, this photograph above is emotionally laden and for some will prove confronting. Many would object to it being made in the first place let alone viewing it subsequently. Conversely, some people would suggest that it was essential that documentary photographers make photographs like this one and communicate the inhumanity that often accompanies them. So why the polarization of opinion?
Join me and seven fellow Australian photographers speaking at Aperture Photography Conference 2018 in Sydney to understand more about the philosophies and politics underpinning a diversity of photography genres.
This is Aperture Australia’s first photography conference, and TV journalist and photographer Ray Martin is its host.
Live panel discussions will focus on how attendees can develop their skills, knowledge, and networking with first-hand experiences and tips from photographers.

My co-speakers include:
Ken Duncan, Australian landscape photographer
Alexia Sinclair, fine art photographer
Gary Heery, celebrity portrait photographer
Murray Fredericks, landscape photographer
Krystle Wright, adventure sports photographer
Eugene Tan, Aquabumps’ founder
Megan Lewis, Fujifilm X ambassador

More information here.

 Aperture Photography Conference.

 Short Video Overview

~ Jack Picone

APERTURE PHOTOGRAPHY CONFERENCE 2018

In Photography, Photography News on December 22, 2017 at 4:38 PM

If you are passionate about photography then pen Australia’s APERTURE Photographic Conference for 28th & 29th of April 2018!

It is a meeting of like minded souls and kindred spirits sharing a wealth of knowledge and experience about the medium of photography.

Speakers include: 

ALEXIA SINCLAIR
MURRAY FREDERICKS
EUGENE TAN
KEN DUNCAN
GARY HEERY
KRYSTLE WRIGHT
MEGAN LEWIS

JACK PICONE

and more…

Where: International Convention Centre (ICC) Darling Harbour, SydneyTickets Available Now @apertureaustralia 
Speakers: @murrayfredericks@aquabumps @kenduncanphotos @garyheery@krystlejwright @jack_picone @meganlewis.com.au 
@raymondgmartin#photojournalism #documentaryphotography #aperture2018 #iccsydney #photography #sydney#photographyconference #behindthelens#photographer #artist #australia #darlingharbour#cityofsydney #aperture #lens #fineart#fineartphotography #alexiasinclair #intothegloaming #photos 

Consternation Over Winning Photograph in the Olive Cotton Award in Australia.

In Photography News on July 26, 2017 at 3:58 AM

Consternation Over Winning Photograph in the Olive Cotton Award in Australia.

This is a provocative image. I surmise in amongst multiple reasons it was chosen to be the winner was to – provoke. Creativeness, diversity, innovation, and vision in photography should be without boundaries – this is without question. This photograph goes some way to pushing the creative boundaries of photography. You know ‘Space the last frontier,’ go where no man (should be woman as well) has been before stuff boundaries!

                                          © Photograph by Artist Justine Varga

Winner of the Tweed Gallery’s $20,000 Olive Cotton Prize for photographic portraiture was a controversial choice by judge Shaune Lakin [Senior Curator of Photography at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra]. The photograph (above) is titled ‘Maternal Line’ and is by Justine Varga.

At this point, it is useful to ask a couple of questions; the first being, does this specific photograph succeed in doing that – being stellar? The second and more pragmatic for many here is the stinging question is, is this a portrait photograph? The answer to the first question lies with the individual viewer given the inbuilt subjectivity of photography itself. There is no x+y=z answer. The second question is also difficult to answer. It is though one needs first to ask what a portrait is? A portrait is defined as a painting, drawing, photograph, or engraving of a person, especially one depicting only the face or head and shoulders. No face, head or shoulders here? Though, more broadly a portrait is a representation or impression of someone or something in language or on film or television or in this case – photography. The latter is where we enter the twilight zone. It is plausible that this photograph ‘Maternal Line’ can loosely be defined as a portrait. I think especially because as I understand it, photographer Justine Varga lovingly collaborated with her grandmother in making it. It is a ‘representation’ of her grandmother, and representation can qualify as a portrait. In a very human way, I am touched by Varga’s collaboration with her grandmother in making ‘Maternal Line .’ Saying that I wonder if the final work is as compelling as the collaboration and methodology that produced it in the first place?
As mentioned earlier within the context of those ‘go where no man (or woman of course) has been before frontiers’ of photography; curators, judges, picture editors et al. at times could be more balanced in avoiding choosing photographs that are biased towards methodology and philosophical underpinnings. Yes, the methodology and philosophical underpinnings of a photograph are paramount but not at the expense of dumbing down the aesthetic, and emotion of a photograph. Equity of both methodology and aesthetic produces the most potent and powerful photographs. Any University first-year art photography student can write a three thousand word piece on why the close-up photograph of the wine stained piece of shag pile carpet s/he has photographed is ‘art’ with intellectual and philosophical justification and authority. This is basic 101 University art photography stuff. But the important question that needs to be asked is, is it an accomplishment as an aesthetically evolved and emotionally charged photograph? Does it question us and inform us, delight us and disturb us, make us laugh or cry, extend our understanding of what it is to be human and be part of humanity? Further, still, does it emotionally wound us and remind us what it is to be alive? I wonder? Perhaps in some way it does in a ‘quite’ way or is it that ‘the story’ of the methodology is more compelling in this case?
Could it be that the aesthetic of the ‘Maternal Line’ doesn’t equal the intellectual and philosophical maturity that went into making it? Perhaps this is at the core of the consternation concerning ‘Marternal Line’ winning the Olive Cotton award?
Provocative? Clearly so but at what cost? Generally put provocation at the cost of devolving an evolved aesthetic and emotion is narrow in vision and counterintuitive. Personally, am I provoked by the actual photograph? I I am emotionally moved when considering the intamacy and emotion surrounding the story of making the photograph. But and again, provoked by the actual photograph itself? No, a flat line. I don’t ‘feel’ anything, and that is a problem.

~ JP

External Link: ABC NEWS

External Link: Sydney Morning Herald