While visiting the town of Gulu in Northern Uganda, Italian photographer Martina Bacigalupo discovered a very unusual set of studio portraits. Despite being perfectly composed, none of them featured a subject’s face as they were all cut out leaving blank rectangles in the photograph. Oddly enough, it appeared to be a common practice in Gulu for taking ID photos.
Bacigalupo visited Uganda searching for ways to document this community, which was suffering from violent conflicts. The first faceless photograph she had stumbled upon lead her to meet Obal Denis, the owner of the oldest photography studio in town, the Gulu Real Art Studio (est. 1973).
“The portraits were well composed, with subjects seated on a chair or on a bench, with a blue, white or red curtain behind them, in various poses and modes of dress. Obal <…> told me the secret behind those pictures: he only had a machine that would make four ID photos at a time, and since most of his clients didn’t need four pictures, he therefore preferred to take an ordinary photograph and cut an ID photo out of it.”
For Bacigalupo, these ‘leftover’ images were the purest form of representation of Gulu’s society. She gathered the unused prints and interviewed clients of Obal’s studio. To most Ugandans, who suffered from more than two decades of war, taking new ID photos marked important changes in their lives: getting a driver’s license, starting a new job or applying for a loan. The value of such events is perfectly conveyed through the subject’s pose, gesture, clothing and other subtle details.
Dreamcatchers, cowboy hats, flannel shirts and nostalgia are all present in Theo Gosselin’s vagabondish journey through forgotten and mystical America. In 2012, this young photographer took a road trip from Harlem to Venice beach and truly captured the essence of free spirits running wild.
“My favorite subjects are the uninhibited young people who are my friends, photos taken from the inside, in the privacy of our travels together, our adventures, our evolution in this strange world. Love, friendships, and our appropriation of nature and the urban world. Young, free and immortal.”
Gosselin started his journey with two friends and used social networks to meet new people and find places to stay. According to him, it was an incredible experience on a human level as he got to meet very different people: from students to squatters and hippies.
Because of his untamable energy and carefree attitude which he brings to his work, Gosselin quickly became a true hit on Facebook with more than 80k followers. In the times of posing and retouching, Theo Gosselin’s photos stand out due to their purity, sincerity and capability to take viewers on board.
In his project “Scrublands”, French photographer Antoine Bruy pulls down the curtain on the mysterious back-to-the-land movement and its members. His series documents the lives of several communities who isolated themselves from the civilized world and have been living in the wilderness for more than 20 years now.
In 2010, Bruy embarked on a hitchhiking journey across Europe. With no specific destination in mind he wandered from one place to another hoping to find those secluded communities of people who abandoned their modern lifestyle, freed themselves from social constraints and chose to live in the wilderness. He would spend days and weeks together with them, helping in everyday chores and taking photographs of their daily routines.
Photographer notices that despite different locations and professional backgrounds (from philosophy teachers to engineers), these communities and their members are all linked to each other through handmade buildings and agriculture-based living. Bruy has plans to continue his project next year by exploring the United States. (via featureshoot)
Sam Alive is a New York city-based photographer who has truly aced the digital lens of an iPhone. His project “Through the Phone” features stunning landscapes, urban cityscapes and natural sceneries all captured with a mobile camera.
The key to Sam’s work is the juxtaposition between the sharp and detailed view presented on the mobile screen and the blurry unrecognizable background behind it. To mock the late influx of smartphones in our lives, artist takes these wide breathtaking vistas of sea shores, valleys and skyscrapers, and crams them into a tiny 4-inch display. Thus, limiting the viewer’s vision and making a good point about the change in our perception.
“Life is like an adventure, because you never know what is going to happen next; you only have one life, all we can do until we die is live everyday to the best of our ability. As long as I am still alive, I will continue to take pictures everyday of my life.”
Sam started his project “Through the Phone” two years ago and already had a chance to travel and take photographs all over Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, San Francisco and New York. In his Tumblr blog, he promises to keep on traveling and updating his project with more captivating shots through the phone. (via designboom)
The strength of the portraiture tradition, and what separates it from documentary photography, lies in the skill of the photographer to attach meaning and the essence of the person in a simple image. Using metaphor, subtlety, and open-ended but vaguely familiar narrative, photographer Shelly Mosman is able to imbue an intensely personal and soft-spoken beauty to her photographs. Drawn to subjects for reasons she says she often cannot immediately describe, Mosman spends a great deal of time with her subjects, waiting for key moments when their personality is revealed through action, or the subtlest of looks or gestures. “Portraiture relies on the smallest mannerisms and expressions to offer narrative,” saysMosman, “I rely on the spontaneity of circumstance.”
The Minneapolis-based portraitist continues:
“In my photographs I negotiate and characterize the balance between my own vision and the unknown and often powerful potential given by each portraitâ€™s subject. I am drawn to certain people for the simple reason that I know shooting them will give me an image I could never have created on my own, and because my camera can reveal something they may not have known was in themselves. Â It becomes a synthesis of us both, captured in a single photograph. These connections with each subject areÂ often too straightforward and immediate to be conscious, but rather they are something that is felt immediately, coming straight from the gut, which is the home of our instincts.”
Sara Angelucci’s intriguing series titled Aviary recalls the past to create strange portraits of birds that are superimposed onto anonymous nineteenth century cartes-de-visite (small, business card sized) photographs. It began by the artist studying the American Victoria area, and she connects its cultural, social, and ecological aspects conceptually to her work.
The nineteenth century was the United States’ colonial era when there was unprecedented expansion, exploration, and an interest in science and art. Family photo albums and commemorating memories were something new, as photography became increasingly common. The collection of cartes-de-visites were like trading cards, and the urge to collect didn’t stop there. People had cabinets of curiosities that included things like taxidermied birds, an interest that lead to the extinction of the passenger pigeon. Angelucci explains in a statement about the work, writing, “Made by combining photographs of endangered or extinct North American birds with anonymous nineteenth century cartes-de-visite portraits—they portray creatures about to become ghosts.”
She goes on to muse:
So how do we read these strange human-birdlike creatures? One could at once see them as manifestations of their time: a hybrid crossover of faith in science with a belief in otherworldly beings. As W. G. Sebald writes in Campo Santo, “[photography is] in essence, after all…nothing but a way of making ghostly apparitions materialize by means of a very dubious magical art.” And, what would it mean to embody another creature: Could one then see, feel, and understand its desire to live? Might we then imagine the Aviary portraits as chimera suspended in a state of empathy, and wonder what our treatment of other sentient beings might be if we could feel what they feel, or see what they see? (Via Observer: Design Observer)
If you’ve ever taken a road trip, you are probably familiar with tourist attractions (also known as tourist traps). Caves are not an uncommon destination for these off-the-highway places, and are often ostentatious with not a lot of intellectual substance. Large-format photographer Austin Irving travelled across America and East Asia photographing these places, which were developed for weary travelers. She titled the series Show Caves.
The caves feature unnatural lighting, revolving doors, public restrooms, and man made design elements. There are penguins, for instance, that line the path of one interior and feels like a disingenuous attempt at showcasing the wonders of the wonders.
There aren’t any crowds in these photos, which allow us to see the attractions clearly. It also showcases the fact that these places are not much different than some place like a suburban shopping mall. (Via Artlog)
Photographer Amelia Bauer’s series Burned Over showcases brilliant spectacles of light with a supernatural twist. The images are inspired by the deeply-infused religious history of the New York region, and the dark forests have an eerie light or haze that is concentrated in a tree or covered clearing. Bauer explains her photographs in an interview with Feature Shoot, stating:
My work is a series of discrete investigations into our cultural conceptions of the natural world. I examine my surroundings, specifically rural Central New York, through a lens of history and mythology. Aesthetic traditions are repositioned to create spaces that exist somewhere between our fears of the uncultivated wild and our romanticism of the ‘virgin’ landscape. In this way I explore the American experience of the frontier — the transitional landscapes at the boundaries of civilization.
In upstate New York, there’s an area called the “burned-over district,” where religious fervor tread through the landscape in the early 19th century. The territory was the birthplace of several early American religious and occult groups like the Shakers and Mormon, as well as the Spiritualists. It’s the Spiritualists who this series is really inspired by, and they believed that Mediums could interact with spirits via seances. They created photographic evidence of these meetings and used gauze, double exposure and darkroom techniques to produce their images. Bauer further explains:
Inspired by these photographs, I set out to make portraits of the landscape that hosted such religious and spiritual pursuits by those early settlers. Working with a pyrotechnics crew, custom fireworks were created specifically for the shoot, and hiked into the forests of rural upstate New York. The photographs that make up the Burned Over series reveal something felt but not seen about these forests, as though the land itself holds a presence we seek to uncover but fear revealing entirely. (Via Feature Shoot)