Archive for the ‘Two Looks’ Category

New Book: Photographers Looking at Photographs

January 29, 2020

Photographers Looking at Photographs, Pier 24, 2019


Alex and I are honored to be part of this wonderful new book, Photographers Looking at Photographs, edited by Pier 24’s Allie Haeusslein, a kind of creative conversation with John Szarkowski’s famous book, Looking at Photographs, in which the noted MOMA curator wrote about 100 photographs from the museum’s collection. We were among 75 photographers chosen—including Mark Steinmetz, Mimi Plumb, Jim Goldberg, Deborah Luster, Alec Soth, Catherine Opie, Hank Willis Thomas, Linda Connor, Robert Polidori, and An-My Le—to write about photographs from the Pilara Foundation collection. Alex and I wrote about two of our photographic inspirations—Josef Koudelka for Alex, Wright Morris for me.—Rebecca Norris Webb

To learn more about this book—including details about how to order it online—please follow this link.

TWO LOOKS: National Geographic

March 15, 2013
©Rebecca Norris Webb, "Ghost Mountain," from "My Dakota" in "Visions of Earth" column, National Geographic Magazine, April 2013

©Rebecca Norris Webb, “Ghost Mountain,” from My Dakota, in the “Visions of Earth” column in the April 2013 issue of National Geographic Magazine.

Please join me in congratulating Rebecca on her first photograph in the April issue of National Geographic.  Appropriately it’s from her book “My Dakota,” and, coincidentally, it just happens to be my favorite photograph in the book.  And how nice our work happens to be in the same issue. —Alex Webb




——Friday, March 22, 2013, 6-7:30pm, Tipton Hall, 1600 St. Michael’s Drive, Campus of the Santa Fe University for Art and Design, Santa Fe, NM: “Together & Apart: The Photographs of Alex Webb & Rebecca Norris Webb,” followed by a Q&A led by Radius Books creative director David Chickey, who has designed the last four books of Alex and Rebecca.  For more information:


——WEEKEND WORKSHOP @ APERTURE, NYC, Friday evening, June 21, 2013, thru Sunday afternoon, June 23, 2013, Aperture, 547 W. 27th St., 4th floor, NYC, DISCOUNTS FOR CURRENTLY ENROLLED PHOTOGRAPHY STUDENTS & APERTURE PATRONS

Do you know where you’re going next with your photography –– or where it’s taking you?  This intensive weekend workshop will help photographers begin to understand their own distinct way of seeing the world.  It will also help photographers figure out their next step photographically  –– from deepening their own unique vision to the process of discovering and making a long-term project that they’re passionate about, as well as the process of how long-term projects evolve into books and exhibitions. A workshop for serious amateurs and professionals alike, it will taught by Alex and Rebecca, a creative team who often edit projects and books together –– including their joint book and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, exhibition, Violet Isle: A Duet of Photographs from Cuba, Alex’s recent Aperture book, The Suffering of Light, and Rebecca’s new third book, My Dakota, which will be exhibited this summer at Ricco/Maresca Gallery, in New York City (June 20-Aug. 17), and the North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks, ND (June 5-Aug. 6).

For more information:

——NEW WORKSHOP ADDED: “Finding Your Vision @ NDMOA: Weekend Workshop with Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb, from June 7-9pm, in Grand Forks, ND.  Tuition-free DAVID HAL NORRIS SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE for the NDMOA Weekend Workshop for currently enrolled North Dakota high school, university, and reservation students. (Includes Moorhead students and other regional schools with reciprocity with ND).  For more information:

——Tuition-free workshop scholarship available for Alex and Rebecca’s week-long May workshop @ the Reportage Photography Festival in Sydney.  Details here:

——The May “Finding Your Vision” Workshop @ Caption Gallery is now full.  To be placed on the wait list, please email Alex and Rebecca at the following email:


——”Badlands” from “My Dakota” featured in the March 3 Sunday LA Times “Arts and Books” section with a Q&A with Barbara Davidson and Andy Adams about “Looking at the Land.”  Link here:

——”My Dakota” mentioned in recent interview with Radius’ David Chickey with Miss Rosen on Le Journal de la Photographie:

OCTOBER EVENTS: DC, Oslo, and Brooklyn

October 5, 2011

Alex Webb, "Matamoros, Mexico, 1978," from the book, "Crossings"

Please let us know if you can join us this month in DC, OSLO, or DUMBO, Brooklyn, at one of our slide talks/book signings.  You’ll find the details of all the slide talks below.

For those interested, you’ll also find information about our October (Brooklyn), November (Munich), and December (Toronto) workshops at the end of this posting.––Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb


Join us for this captivating conversation between photographer Alex Webb and Juan García de Oteyza, curator of our current exhibition Mexico Through the Lens of National Geographic and former director of the Aperture Foundation in New York City.  Webb will present his most recent monograph, the Suffering of Light, which is largely drawn from his work in Latin America; provide insight into his fascinating photographs of the US/ Mexican border that are featured in the exhibition; and have a conversation with García de Oteyza about the important role of photographs and photographers in shaping our understanding of people and places.
Copies of The Suffering of Light and Violet Isle will be available for purchase by cash or check before and after the talk.
OCTOBER 6, 2011 | 6:30 PM
2829 16th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20009
Rebecca Norris Webb, “The Sky Below,” from the upcoming book, “My Dakota”
Host of the Evening Event: Norwegian Photographer Rune Eraker
Fritt Ord
Uranienborgveien 2, Oslo
Monday, October 10th,  from 17:00-20:00
Free and open to the public
This Oslo event will be hosted by Norwegian photographer Rune Eraker. Along with Alex and Rebecca Webb, Josh Lustig from Panos will also be speaking about the role of photo Agencies today as well as various ways to cultivate long term projects. There will be a debate and Q/A session after the talks.
For more information: Fritt Ord website
Rebecca Norris Webb and Alex Webb speak at PowerHouse in Brooklyn on Sunday, Oct. 23d, at 5pm
  1. There is one place left in our most advanced workshop, THE PHOTO PROJECT WORKSHOP 2011, the last week of October in Dumbo.  All former Webb Workshop photographers are invited to apply, but others will be considered as well.  For more information, follow this link of the Magnum Events page, or contact Rebecca directly at
  2. We’re holding a two-day photography workshop in Munich, November 15 and 16th.  Here is the link (only in German at this time).
  3. There are only three spots left in our upcoming workshop the first weekend of December at the Stephen Bulger Gallery in Toronto.  You can read more about the workshop here, or contact Natalie directly at the gallery:


May 23, 2011

Rebecca Norris Webb, "Havana, 2007" from the book, "Violet Isle"

What better way of celebrating our exhibition of Violet Isle at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, than with our work set to our favorite Cuban duet, “Silencio,” just launched as the latest Magnum in Motion?

We’d like give a special thanks to the Magnum In Motion team, especially to Phil Bicker and Adrian Kelterborn, who produced this presentation of Violet Isle.—Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb

Alex Webb, Cienfuegos, Cuba, 2007, from "Violet Isle"

TEXT AND IMAGE: World Poetry Day

March 21, 2011

To celebrate WORLD POETRY DAY, we’ve decided to post one of Rebecca’s prose poems from her first book, “The Glass Between Us,” both in English and in Chinese, the latter thanks to the wonderful translation by fellow photographer and translator, Monica Lin, who is based in Hong Kong.  We are dedicating the poem to all the Chinese photographers we’ve met — both in the Hong Kong workshop, at our Hong Kong slide talk, and through the TWO LOOKS online photographic community.  In addition, since the poem takes place in the Caribbean, we decided to pair it with a relatively unknown photograph of Alex’s from Puerto Rico, which will appear in his new book, “The Suffering of Light.”–=Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb

Alex Webb, Pinones, Puerto Rico, 1990, from the book "The Suffering of Light"

Reflections: 4

Sailing in the Caribbean, I catch a mahi mahi.  It takes two men to lift its four-foot body from the sea.  On the hot teak deck, I watch the creature shift its tint, from teal to indigo to aquamarine, like having a tiny sea, beautiful and raging, at my bare feet.  As it flips and flops, I feel a little afraid of this great hulking dying thing.  I wish it would fly.  I wish it would be still.  I’m ashamed how hungry it makes me feel.

Within minutes, I slip a piece of deep red sushi between my lips.  The   freshest fish I’ve ever tasted, it is heavy and sweet and otherworldly, like a slice of mango or sex in the sun after swimming in the turquoise Caribbean.  What I hope my own death will taste like.—Rebecca Norris Webb, from the book, “The Glass Between Us”



几分钟后,一块深红色的生鱼片滑进我的双唇。这是我尝过最新鲜的鱼肉了,它厚实、鲜甜、超凡脱俗,如同一片芒果,又像在宝石般的加勒比海水中暢泳之后開始的性爱。真希望自己的死亡也有同樣的味道—Rebecca Norris Webb, translated into Chinese by Monica Lin, from the book, “The Glass Between Us”


October 5, 2010

Lee Lockwood, Fidel Castro

There are two exhibitions about Cuba at the Center for Cuban Studies/Cuban Art Space: “Cuba: The Decade After,” photographs by LEE LOCKWOOD and “The Years Before: 1945-1958,” photographs by CONSTANTINO ARIAS.  Both photographers’ work — in very different ways — give insights into Cuba’s past.  Lockwood, who died this past summer, was a committed political photojournalist (and journalist) who was probably best known for his marathon interview with Castro, which apparently took place over a week and was published as a book with Lockwood’s photographs.  It’s fascinating to see his intimate photographs of the young Castro.    He was also a founder of the Center for Cuban Studies.  Arias, known familiarly as the “Cuban Weegee,”  recorded Cuban life in the 1940’s and 50’s.  His work gives a palpable sense of the world of that era, documenting nightclubs, society, as well as life on the streets.  A catalogue of Arias’s work, with an introduction by Max Kozloff, is also available from the Center for Cuban Studies.  You’ll also find both photographers work is in the current ICP exhibition, “Cuba in Revolution,” which also includes work by KORDA, CORRALES, CARTIER-BRESSON, BURRI, GLINN, among others, and which is up through January 9, 2011.—ALEX WEBB and REBECCA NORRIS WEBB

Constantino Arias, Havana, Cuba

VIOLET ISLE: Review in Orion Magazine

April 25, 2010

Alex Webb, Havana, 2000, from "Violet Isle"

“Collaborative photography books are difficult to pull off –– maybe even more so by a husband-and-wife team, and especially when each is offering pictures (as opposed to one providing the text.)  Pick a popular, well-photographed subject like Cuba for even more of a challenge.  Violet Isle (Radius Books, 2009), by Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb, easily overcomes these difficulties.  Made from 11 trips to Cuba over 15 years, the book alternates between his and her images almost page by page, mixing Rebecca’s painterly vignettes with Alex’s harder-edged narrative into a single, deep, organically cohesive vision of this iconic island.” –– Orion Magazine, May-June 2010 issue, page 71

Rebecca Norris Webb, Havana, 2008, from "Violet Isle"

TWO LOOKS: Nina Berman and Carmine Galasso

March 7, 2010

For our fifth TWO LOOKS column, Rebecca and I are featuring the work of photojournalists CARMINE GALASSO, a staff photographer for New Jersey’s The Record newspaper, and NINA BERMAN of NOOR, a photo agency based in Amsterdam.  This New York-based couple both have work that strikes a more evidently socio-political note than some of the other work we’ve shown on this blog.  Carmine’s photograph comes from his book, Crosses, a work that documents a world that many of us have heard of, but have rarely seen: the victims of clergy abuse.  His ability to get inside this hidden world is remarkable.  Nina’s picture comes from her book, Purple Hearts, one of the first photographic examinations of wounded U.S. veterans from the ongoing war in Iraq.  It’s a profoundly disturbing book that examines the effects on our society of this terrible war.  A later series of Nina’s on a wounded Marine is exhibited in this year’s Whitney Biennial, a rare occurrence for a photojournalist.

It’s great to see that despite few outlets for committed photojournalism, despite the fact that there are extremely limited sources for photographic production, these two have both managed to complete serious explorations of these often-unexamined subjects.––Alex Webb

CARMINE ON NINA’S “Randall Clunen, 2004”

Nina Berman, Randall Clunen, 2004

When I saw Nina’s take from the first shoot for her book. “Purple Hearts,”  I knew, of course, that the subject matter would be well-researched, compelling, provocative, and timely.  I knew that from having lived with her projects, her images, for so long, and from having helped to edit them over the years.

What I didn’t expect though, was that Nina was such an accomplished portraitist.  Her work until this project, was gritty and colorful views of subjects with Nina’s jarring socio-political take on things.  Often her pictures give a not-so-subtle “F.U.” to someone, some group, while being masterfully artful.

“Purple Hearts” is a tough subject, and though these portraits of severely wounded veterans of the Iraq War may be tough to look at for some, Nina displayed the maturity of a seasoned photojournalist, portraying these veterans in a dignified way, not holding back, yet not exploiting them.  I’ve always thought she gently forces us to look at the injuries and make a decision on where we stand on the war.  Never trying to influence us to take a stand either way though.  I think that’s why this book became so popular with people on both sides of the equation.  Odd?  Maybe.

The portrait on the cover of “Purple Hearts,” shows 19-year-old, Pfc. Randall Clunen, 101st Airborne, from Salem, Ohio.  He’s the youngest veteran in the book, and while pulling guard duty in Tal Afar, Iraq, a suicide bomber somehow got through security and blew up himself and his car.  Flying schrapnel  ripped into his face. Several surgeries later, young Clunen’s face is left scarred.  Though, compared to most of the other veterans’ injuries, the self-professed adrenaline junky’s injuries do not immediately appear as debilitating -– he didn’t lose an arm or a leg like so many.

Nina shows him through an icy window looking strong, some might even say proud.  And because his wounds are obscured, I was, at first, wondering about his psychological, not physical wounds.

I really like the fact that this young guy is not made to look freakish.  Nina put him on the cover and forces us to consider the layers of his and the other subjects’ wounds.  I keep looking at him and wondering what he’s thinking.

It’s so simple and not.  She dares us to take a stand –- either way.  How could you not?

That’s so Nina. –– Carmine Galasso


NINA ON CARMINE’S “Rita Milla and daughter, 2005”

Carmine Galasso, Rita Milla and Daughter, 2005

Of all the remarkable portraits in Carmine’s book “Crosses,” this one leaves me utterly crushed.

It’s deceptively simple yet full of tension and discomfort.   The decorative objects in the room –- the lamp, the figurine, the table cover — speak to a refined domesticity, yet the body language of the subjects, the contrast in their clothing, and the skewed pictures signal something profoundly disturbed.

When I look at it, it’s hard for me to imagine how Carmine got into that space, much less take the picture.

The woman on the right is the mother who is Rita Milla.  Throughout her teen years and until she was twenty, she was forced to have sex with Catholic priests.  The sexual violations ended when the seventh priest impregnated her at age 20.

The woman on the left is her daughter Jackie, whose father was that seventh priest.   In the photo, coincidentally, Jackie is also pregnant.

Of her daughter, Rita says,  “She was the only innocent in all of this.   I was not a good mother to her.  My mom raised her mostly.  I was just so depressed.  I did not want to deal with anybody or anything.  It’s sad because she really tried to be lovable.”

Before taking the photograph, she confessed to Carmine the whole excruciating tale of betrayal and assault, not just by the priests, but the bishop who then covered it up.

Carmine is a big man, immediately likeable, with strong hands and an open heart. No doubt, the ease of his personality, his gentle ways, and his clear indignation over the abuses of the Catholic Church, engendered in Rita and the 28 other survivors in his book, a degree of trust that cannot be overestimated.

Of this picture Carmine says,  “I could see immediately the tension between the two and that it was obvious to me that the mother was the child needing support and the daughter was the reluctant mother.”

As a photographer, I am humbled as to how easily he can communicate complicated, deeply felt emotions, without using any of the typical photo tricks so often seen in portraiture –- harsh lighting or ultra close-ups.

For him, the photographic portrait is truly a natural calling and leaves me endlessly inspired. — Nina Berman


TWO LOOKS: Laara Matsen and Jonas Bendiksen

January 20, 2010

Since Rebecca and I are traveling next week, we decided to post this month’s TWO LOOKS column a few days early.  For January, we’re featuring the work of LAARA MATSEN, a U.S. photographer who also works as a curator and photo editor, and JONAS BENDIKSEN, Magnum’s sole Norwegian photographer. These married photographers have been together for about as long as we have, and, like Rebecca and myself, have worked on photographic books and exhibitions together, including Jonas’s two books, Satellites, his seven-year journey through the isolated communities on the fringes of the former Soviet Union, and his most recent book, The Places We Live, in which he documents the fragile dwellings of the poor in four of the most overcrowded cities in the world. Former New Yorkers, Laara and Jonas now live near Oslo with their son Milo, which is unfortunate for all of us who miss the couple’s warmth, insights, and humor, but lucky for the Norwegian photographic community.––Alex Webb


Jonas Bendiksen, Birobidzhan bus stop, 1999

When Jonas and I met in January 1998, he was preparing to move to the Russian Far East for a year to begin his first long-term photographic project. By August he was there, and on New Year’s Eve, 1999, I landed in Siberia for what was, in all practical senses, our fourth date. The story he was chasing there was subtle: the disappearance of a forgotten community. There wasn’t actually much happening in Birobidzhan, but each morning he would slip out of bed and go out into the deeply sub-frozen predawn to shoot, returning with numb hands a few hours later. I always stayed warm under the covers. He shot mostly slides, and there was no reliable photo lab in the small town, so the results of his labor remained unseen until I brought seven months worth of film back to New York for processing.

I spent many hours over the next three months holding his slides up to the window of my tiny Brooklyn apartment waiting to see him again. This image was one of my favorites then, and remains so after 11 years. Three people waiting for the bus in the cold. Simple. But also ambiguous, humorous, cinematically lovely, and an astute translation of the complex and elusive Russianness that I knew he had been hunting over there. More personally, it stood as concrete proof of the parts of Jonas that most fascinated me (and still do): his solid patience, keen awareness of nuance, and good Norwegian ability to tolerate ungodly cold.–– Laara Matsen

Laara is in the process of building a website.


Laara Matsen, "Ghost Man," Brooklyn, 1999

When Laara and I first got together, I moved into her tiny studio apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. We used to sit out on the window ledge in the evenings, airing the tiny space out and watching people go by. It was my first real meeting with New York, and I remember that summer as a magical time. New York seemed so full of promise. I was fresh in photography, and New York was like a big cake made of things that could happen, and we were eating it.

Laara had taken this picture from the windows of our place. Just the fact that it was taken from that one spot makes it special to me. It was our first view, from our first window. But it’s the guy in the street, bleached dazzling white by the headlights of two trucks, that always grabs me. He always made me think of a blank slate. Like someone who had shed their skin, and was looking for a new one –  looking for who he was or maybe who he should be. Looking back at that time, I think that’s how I felt, sitting on that window ledge, wondering what the future would hold.

Also, I think what I love about the picture is that it’s this otherworldly moment taken without actually leaving our house. Just a fleeting moment, that probably nobody else in the world saw except her. A good reminder that if one is open enough, magic can appear at any moment in the day, wherever you look.––Jonas Bendiksen

Jonas’s photographs on the Magnum website.