An indomitable woman and a Magnum stalwart, London based American photographer Eve Arnold (1912-2012) was one of the first female Magnum photographers. She started off as a house-wife, turning to photography only in her mid-thirties once her son Frank was born. What Arnold lost in time, she made up in tenacity, and a body of work that makes the Magnum Legacy publication on Arnold an inspiration for all those who feel like they’ve lost out on something.
This publication is filled with many iconic images including her first photographs of the underground Harlem fashion scene. Moving on to her famous images of Marlene Dietrich and later the potato pickers of Long Island, early on you get an insight into why Robert Capa summed up Arnold’s niche as ‘falling between Marlene Deitrich’s legs and the bitter lives of migrant workers.’ She could do both with aplomb! Her images of Marilyn Monroe brought her glamour, but alongside these she worked on political projects with Malcolm X and Joseph McCarthy. In 1970 she made a film for BBC called Behind the Veil that featured never-before-seen footage of the harem of Sheikha Sana, the niece of the ruler of Dubai. After this last project, Arnold accepted that film was not for her. It didn’t allow her to wander off on her own in search of stories to tell.
1979: Horse-training for the militia, Inner Mongolia, China
Arnold managed to maintain the fine balance between doing commercial projects to finance her more journalistic stories. This book goes on to chronicle Arnold’s travels to Cuba, China and Russia with insights into how her projects and publications were planned. She had a trusted team around her and the same names crop up throughout the book, showing that Arnold maintained a lifetime of friendships. She had warmth and pluck, and she was a great entertainer, throwing parties and dinners at her Mount Street apartment. Arnold loved to cook and always took a break for lunch! Not a sandwich at your computer kind of lunch, but one where everyone gets together around a table full of food!
One of the lessons we’ve absorbed from this magnum opus is that no matter how easy it becomes to take a photograph, no matter how much more difficult it becomes to make money out of photography, there is always room for talent! That one image that shows emotion, an action, a gesture…that something that we would not have seen if the photographer hadn’t show it to us.
There is so much you can do especially when your options are limited! Arnold’s first images were taken in dimly lit nightclubs in Harlem, forcing Arnold to push the limits of her ability to develop these images in the darkroom. Arnold later went on to specialise in black and white photography, only using colour when the story really needed it.
1955: Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses by James Joyce
We are deeply impressed by Arnold’s belief that it is the photographer and not the camera that is the instrument; how she negotiated nearly every piece of text that went alongside her images so she had control over the context; how she coached younger Magnum photographers to focus on the big projects, the ones that would last them a lifetime; by her determination, her ability to move her audience with both images and words; her tenacity and desire to make more stories and books than her long life allowed her to.
This one goes on the shelf for inspiration and lessons to learn.
An immersive artwork that spans the front entrance-way of the Palais, it only allows the viewer to experience as much as they dare to. Crawl thorough it, walk at full height, look from afar, above or below; the feeling of being inside the outside, pervades at all levels.
Tape Paris is a version of what has been several other Tape cities, and is part of the exhibition Inside, an exploration of ‘a passage to the interior of the self, for which the exhibition space serves as a metaphor.’ That’s what Palais de Tokyo say; we think it works!
If André Kertész (1894 – 1985) had followed his family’s wishes, he would have been a stock broker his entire working life, and the world would have been bereft of his experimental and unorthodox contributions to photography.
And even when he did make a name for himself, he was often told that his photographs ‘spoke’ too much, as the editors of Life magazine told him in 1937.
But Kertész knew what he wanted to do and what he was good at, and after teaching himself photography at an early age, he went on to photograph the local Hungarian countryside, his experiences in the trenches during World War I, and later on when he moved to the U.S., his experiments with shadows and distortion mirrors.
Kertész sadly never achieved the critical acclaim and fame he desired for most of his career, and his struggles to speak English and be accepted by critics and audiences let him feeling excluded for most of his life. Kertész was also criticised for being more of a spectator than a commentator in his images, and his photographs being apolitical didn’t work in his favour during the two World Wars. However despite the absence of any strong comments or accolades from critics, Kertész is still considered to be the father of photojournalism and many years later his images still inspire with their simplicity and timelessness.
We featured Philippe Halsman’s iconic jump images last week, but we could only let a few days go by before we brought up his series on Dali’s moustache.
Halsman and Salvador Dali were very close in that they both tried to push the boundaries of perception and imagination, as far as science and existing technology would allow. They also both escaped to the U.S. from Paris in the early 1940’s, and left the war behind to reach New York barely a few months apart from each other. Having frequented nearly the same localities in Paris, it was strange that they had never met, and sheer serendipity that they got together in New York for what is considered to be one of the most intense and ambitious collaborations between an artist and a photographer over 37 years.
Such was their relationship that Halsman has been quoted as saying – Whenever I needed a striking protagonist for one of my wild ideas, Dali would graciously oblige. Whenever Dali thought of a photograph so strange that it seemed impossible to produce, I tried to find a solution.
We are delighted to present our favourites from Dali’s Moustache, a 1954 publication of 36 different views of the artist’s moustache that Halsman captured
Along with being a remarkable portrait photographer with 101 Life magazine covers to his credit, and jump images of nearly every US celebrity of his time, we’re inspired by Halsman’s ability to hit the nail on the head when he says that ‘ a true portrait is the image which reveals most completely both the exterior and the interior of the subject. A true portrait should, today and a hundred years from today, be the testimony of how this person looked and what kind of human being he was.’
Martin Parr, one of our favourite photographers, never fails to capture those aspects of being British that are especially endearing.
Here are a selection of his images (some we’ve featured before) from ‘The Non-Conformists‘, a body of black and white images taken from the 1970’s when Parr moved out of London to settle down in the little mill town of Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire.
That the photographer dotes on his subjects is clearly visible,
that he captures the moment you think no one is watching, is his skill,
and that he makes the pomp and scone loving British more lovable, is his art.
Mayor of Todmorden’s inaugural banquet. 1977
Halifax. Steep Lane Baptist Chapel buffet lunch. 1976
Todmorden. Jubilee Celebrations. Street Parties. 1977
Calderdale. Hebden bridge. Lord Savile has just shot a grouse. 1975-1980
Halifax. West Vale Park. Three local chapels combine to have an outdoor service. 1975
Todmorden. Mankinholes Methodist Chapel. 1975
Sowerby Bridge Mouse Show. St John’s Ambulance rooms. 1978
Crimsworth Dean Methodist Chapel. Chris is another natural rebel who finds it hard to enjoy Sunday School at the Chapel. 1975-1980
Crimsworth Dean Methodist Chapel. 1975
Some of the congregation making there way to the Crimsworth Dean Chapel Anniversary. 1975
One of the prominent photographers from Porto Novo in Benin, his work borrows from both the modern and the traditional, and throws light on how the world seeing Africa, leads it to see itself. Featuring dramatic masked Egungun figures, bare breasted women, and a colonial style backdrop in some of the images, Agbodjelou references both the history and the ritualism that cloud our gaze when we look at this continent. At the same time his images stand as testament to how Africa has embraced and shared those aspects of its culture that are rich and unique, while blending in with other social and cultural aspects that the globalised world favours.
Untitled triptych (Demoiselles de Porto-Novo series), 2012
Untitled triptych (Demoiselles de Porto-Novo series), 2012
Capturing an image of someone jumping is really harder than it seems. You are most likely to have made several attempts with the ‘jumpee’ losing energy and enthusiasm with each successive take. But Philippe Halsman seems to have mastered the art especially when you begin to ask every famous personality you meet to pose for a jump shot. Since in the very act of jumping, the jumpee’s attention is mostly directed to the act of jumping, the mask they usually carry tends to fall away. The end result is a brilliant show of limbs and smiles.
Halsman counted Albert Einstein among his close friends and even took the famous Einstein portrait that featured on the cover of TIME in 1999. He worked with Salvador Dali and Alfred Hitchcock and was even lucky enough to have Marilyn Monroe pose for him. His adult life began quite dramatically when at 22 he was accused of murdering his father while they were out on a hike. Later released from prison he soon had to escape Europe to get away from the war. Moving to the US, he made a name for himself as an expert portrait photographer and had his images feature in many a Life and Vogue spread.
We’re inspired by the poise in his jumps and by the fact that though essentially the same action, no two images are alike.
Actress Eva Marie Saint. 1954
American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, 1958
American Federal Appeals Judge Learned Hand, 1957
Grace Kelly and Philippe Halsman
Marilyn Monroe and Phillipe Halsman, 1959
American pianist Liberace, 1954
Actress Kim Novak
Audrey Hepburn, 1955
Sophia Loren, 1955
Spanish painter Salvador Dali,”Dali Atomicus.” 1948
The American Vice President Richard Nixon, 1959
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, 1958
American actors Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, 1951
If you like Halsman’s jumps, check out his 1959 Jump Book that features 178 photographs of jumping celebrities. There’s also a movie Jump that’s based on the murder mystery that surrounds his father’s death.
Yesterday we watched the inspiring Advanced Style, a film that follows some of the women featured by blogger Ari Seth Cohen on his eponymous blog. These grand dames of style are anything over fifty years old, and all take the greatest pains and delight in dressing up and being beautiful in their own way.
We came away with big smiles on our faces, and the realisation that no matter how old we are, we never get tired of wanting to be ever beautiful and dressed up.
There are a multitude of inspiring quotes in the film, a world of advice and examples to learn from, but we won’t paraphrase because they are best delivered by the people who live them. But we will share with you some of our favourite images from the blog. They are an inspiration to all ages and genders.
What do you mean by ‘a portrait of domestic violence?’
Why would you make a portrait of it?
Why are you not intervening?
Why are you not making it stop?
It’s possible that photographer Sara Naomi Lewkowicz faced a barrage of criticism for not intervening while taking the pictures that make up her 2012 series ‘Shane and Maggie’. What initially started out as a project following felons who have been released from prison and are readjusting to life outside (Shane in this case), Lewkowicz’s reportage took a different turn when one night Shane and his girlfriend Maggie got into a serious physical fight that ended in Shane getting arrested.
“Shane was like a fast car. When you’re driving it, you think ‘I might get pulled over and get a ticket.’ You never think that you’re going to crash.”
Maggie and Shane’s courtship was brief but intense. Shane called her everyday from prison, and upon his release, they began to date.
Maggie had two children, Memphis, two, and Kayden, four. She had separated from their father several months prior to beginning her relationship with Shane.
One month into their courtship, Shane had Maggie’s name tattooed on his neck in large black letters.
The stress of Shane’s unemployment and raising two young children on very little money often took its toll on Maggie and Shane’s relationship. As the newness of their relationship wore off, they began to argue more frequently, usually about money or Maggie’s focusing most of her energy on the children rather than her relationship. “Why can’t I be the most important one, for once?” Shane asked.
Within a few months of their relationship, Shane moved Maggie and her children to a trailer park in Somerset, Ohio. The location was farther away than Maggie had ever been from her family and friends before, and she said her feelings of isolation only increased over time.
Kayden lifted a chair and a toy truck over his head to show how strong he was.
Maggie and Shane took a rare night out alone together, singing karaoke at a local bar.
After a night out at a local bar, Maggie left after becoming jealous of when another woman flirted with Shane. Upon arriving home, Shane flew into a rage, angry that Maggie had “abandoned him” at the bar and then drove home with his friend, whose house they were staying at for the week. Maggie told him to get out of the house, that he was too angry and that he would wake the children.
Rather than subsiding, Shane’s anger began to grow, and he screamed that Maggie had betrayed him, at one point accusing his friend (not pictured) of trying to pursue her sexually.
As the fight continued to rage, Shane told Maggie that she could choose between getting beaten in the kitchen, or going with him to the basement so they could talk privately.
As Shane and Maggie continued to fight, Memphis ran into the room and refused to leave Maggie’s side. She witnessed the majority of the assault on her mother. As the two fought, Memphis began to scream and stomp her feet.
Around half past midnight, the police arrived after receiving a call from a resident in the house (pictured at right). Maggie cried and smoked a cigarette as an officer from the Lancaster Police Department tried to keep her separated from Shane and coax out the truth about the assault.
Shane hugged Memphis goodbye before being arrested. He insisted he wasn’t a bad person, that Maggie had been trying to leave the house and drive drunk with the children in the car.
The series then goes on to show how Maggie picks up the pieces of her life and moves back in with the husband she has separated from who is also the father of Kayden and Memphis.
Maggie tried to pull herself together as she prepared to drive with her children to her best friend’s house for the night.
An officer from the Lancaster Police Department photographed the bruises on Maggie’s neck from where Shane had choked her. “You know, he’s not going to stop,” the officer told Maggie as she wept. “They never stop. They usually stop when they kill you.”
Kayden, who had slept through the assault, was disoriented and began to cry when he awoke. Memphis remained calm and seemed mostly concerned with comforting her mother. “Don’t cry, mommy, I love you,” she said over and over.
As Lewkowicz rationalises,’While this story is, in part, about domestic violence, it is not a reportage on a domestic dispute—it is not a news event. It seeks to take a deeper, unflinching look into the circumstances that transform a relationship into a crucible, and what happens before, during, immediately proceeding and long after an episode of violence takes place. With this story, it is my goal to examine the effects of this type of violence on the couple, the absued, the abuser, and the children who serve as witnesses to the abuse.’
The day following the attack, Maggie had to grapple with what would come next for her and her children. She had no source of income, no childcare, and was afraid to return to the home she and Shane shared to retrieve her possessions. She expressed intense fear that Shane would be let out on bail and come after her, and called the jail several times to make sure he hadn’t been released.
In the days following the attack, Maggie had time to reflect on what had occurred and decided to make an official statement to the police. She said she had resumed communications with her estranged husband and the father of her children, and was considering moving with her children to Alaska, where he is stationed with the Army.
Maggie and Memphis, March 3, 2013. More than three months since the assault, Maggie has moved her family to Alaska to try to repair her marriage and give the children a chance to be closer to their father. Maggie and her husband met at 14. She said they’d been on and off since eighth grade, yet they always seem to find their way back to one another.
This series is one of the most hard hitting series we’ve shared on this site. And though it made us sad and uncomfortable to be even in the presence of these images (the photographs are currently on display at Somerset House as part of the 2014 Sony World Photography Awards), there is something in knowing that it is photographs like these that take the conversation forward, that reduce the discomfort and example that Maggie is, that make us more amenable to talking and looking at a problem. This is not the pretty esoteric art that we’re usually looking at, but a reality that we need to face.
Sara Naomi Lewkowicz has been awarded the L’Iris d’Or/Sony World Photography Awards Photographer of the Year for this series, winning the award from among 140,000 photographers from 166 countries.