Posts Tagged ‘Amazon’

Four Continents: 30 Photographers

December 29, 2011

For the third year, we’re celebrating the NEW YEAR with updates from some 30 members of our TWO LOOKS online photographic community from around the world, which includes first books, upcoming and current exhibitions, new blogs, and long-term projects.  Congratulations to all of you.  

In addition, we’d like to give a special thanks to everyone who’s supported Rebecca’s “My Dakota” book and upcoming exhibition in 2012.  We couldn’t have done it without your support.  (There is still one limited ed. of “My Dakota” available, as well as a few of the handmade artist books; please contact Alex for more information: rnorriswebb@yahoo.com).  Near the end of the column, you’ll also find two worthy projects you may want to consider supporting.  And, as some of you have requested, this column ends with a short list of some of our upcoming 2012 workshops.

So, to all of you, we’d like to wish you a very productive NEW YEAR, and — as always — please stay in touch.—Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb

Please leave your congratulations to fellow photographers in the comment section at the end of this blog posting or contact him or her directly through his/her website.

NEW BOOKS

Magdalena Sole, cover of her new book, "New Delta Rising"

Some of you may remember New York City-based photographer Magdalena Sole (originally from Spain) from the Venice and New York workshops.  Above, is the cover of her first photography book, NEW DELTA RISING, which will be available from Amazon in January.  You’ll also find, below, the cover of L.A.-based photographer Alia Malley’s new book, A CAVALIER IN SIGHT OF A VILLAGE (Havana and Brooklyn workshops), which was funded thanks to a very successful Kickstarter campaign, and Norwegian photographer Marie Sjovold’s DUST CATCHES LIGHT (Norway workshop), a book which was launched this fall in Paris.

We’ve also included covers of Austin, Texas photographer Bill McCullough’s limited edition book, TECHNOCOLOR LIFE: AMERICAN WEDDING (Woodstock workshop), Canadian photographer Richard Marazzi’s book on Cuba,  EPOCA (Toronto workshop), British photographer Justin Partyka’s FIELD WORK (Cadiz workshop), Canadian photographer Ewa Zebrowski’s artist’s book, SEA OF LANTERNS (Venice and Aperture workshops) with text by Anne Michaels, a book which will be launched at the Art Gallery of Ontario in May 2012, and award-winning Swedish photographer Per-Anders Pettersson’s catalog of photographs from South Africa, EKHAYA (Project Workshop @ Caption Gallery).

You’ll find more details about the above publications — including where to purchase them — on the photographers’s websites,  as well as on some of the additional links listed below (such as the Amazon link for Magdalena). — AW and RNW

–Where to buy Magdalena’s new book, NEW DELTA RISING: (will be available in January 2012)
Amazon.com: New Delta Rising (9781617031502): Magdalena Solé, Barry H. Smith, Rick Bragg, Tom Lassiter: Books
–Magdalena’s website: www.solepictures.com

Marie Sjovold, cover of her book, "Dust Catches Light"

–In U.S., the book will soon be offered by Photo Eye — http://www.photoeye.com,  Currently, here’s where it can be ordered in Norway and Sweden:

–Marie’s website: www.mariesjovold.no

Alia Malley, cover of her book, "A Cavalier in Sight of a Village"

Book is available at:  http://www.aliamalley.com/cav_book.html

Alia’s website: www.aliamalley.com

Richard Marazzi, "Época"

Richard Marazzi, "Época"

Richard’s website:  http://www.richardmarazziphoto.com/

Bill McCullough, from the book "Technicolor Life: American Wedding"

Bill McCullough, from the book "Technicolor Life: American Wedding"

Bill’s website: http://www.billmcculloughphotography.com/

Justin Paryka, "Field Work"

Justin Partyka, "Field Work"

 Justin’s website: http://www.justinpartyka.com/

Ewa Zebrowski, from the artist book, Sea of Lanterns, text by Anne Michaels

Order “Sea of Lanterns” at this link on Photo Eye.

Ewa’s website: http://www.ewazebrowski.com/

Per-Anders Pettersson, cover of catalog, "Ekhaya"

Per’s website: http://www.peranderspettersson.com

Susan Berger, Jersey City, NJ 2010

Susan Berger, Jersey City, NJ 2010

NEW EXHIBITIONS/GALLERIES

CONGRATULATIONS to many of you with recent and upcoming exhibitions, including U.S. photographer, Susan Berger‘s, MARTIN LUTHER KING BOULEVARD, which will be on view at the Griffin Museum of Photography near Boston from January 5, 2012 to March 1, 2012. (Susan was recently in our Book Weekend Workshop @ Radius this past fall.) Also, New England photographer Chris Chadbourne‘s STATE FAIR photographs (Photo Project  @ Caption Gallery) will open next June at the Griffin Museum, and then travel to venues in Las Vegas, Nevada, and North Carolina (the work was also shown at the New England Photo Biennial –see photo below).  San Francisco-based Jane Paradise , recently who attended our UNBOUND workshop at LOOK3, has work in a group exhibiton at the Bedford Gallery near San Francisco, including this photograph below from her BLUE COMMA series from Cape Cod, which was selected for the Bedford Gallery show by SFMOMA’s Sandra Phillips and Oakland Museum’s Drew Johnson (here’s a link to a video interview of the two curators about the exhibition).  Jane will also have work in Buenos Aires and near Boston at the Griffin Museum in 2012.

For all of you who remember Norwegian photographer Tone Elin Solholm (Venice and Barcelona workshops), she will be having an exhibition of 20 photographs from her first book,  THE GIANTS’ LIVING ROOM, at the noted Oslo gallery, Fotografiens Hus (House of Photography) from February 9-26, 2012, which will include the poem Rebecca wrote for the book (Tone’s photograph and Rebecca’s poem below).

U.S. photographer Susan Cardona (CPW Workshop) will have an exhibition, IN WASHINGTON COUNTY, this summer in Eastport, Maine.  New York City-based British photographer, Shane Gray, will have an exhibition of his STREET PHOTOGRAPHS this spring at the Lunasas bar at 126 1st Av. (between 7/8 St.), and you can see his latest projects and the exact dates of the show on his website. One of  Minny Lee‘s photographs from her Self-Portrait series is currently featured in the group exhibition, DREAMS, at the Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, until January 7, 2012.

Belgium photographer Serge Maes — who some of you may remember from the Barcelona and New York workshops — currently has photographs in a joint show in Bussum, the Netherlands, until the end of December, and will have a new website up and running soon.  And one of the youngest photographers in our community, Austrian photographer MAFALDA RAKOS (Photo Project @ Caption Gallery), will have some of her photographs of her fellow teenagers in the photography festival in Braga, Portugal, “Entcontros da Imagem,” in fall 2012.

Lastly, we are pleased to announce the opening of a new collective gallery in Seattle by two of our former PCNW workshop photographers, Minh Carrico and Carina del Rosario — along with a third photographer, Su’J’n Chon.  The gallery is called  IDEA Odyssey.

Jane Paradise @ the Bedford Gallery in California

Tone Elin Solholm, from her upcoming House of Photography exhibit, "The Giants' Living Room," in Oslo in February. Rebecca's poem -- "Seven Rooms" -- will also be included in the Fotografiens Has exhibition.

 Remember when the world had seven rooms?

Ours had a back staircase and pocket doors. 

One winter, I had a room under the wingback chair only I could enter.

Next summer, I hid in the flowering plum for hours, & my mother called & called.

Flattening their wings, bats crawled under any closed door.  No one was safe.

Falling asleep, my book half open, I dreamt I was flying.

Since then, I’ve visited six continents and three oceans.

Now, the world with seven rooms lives inside of me.

Slowly I climb the back staircase.

My dead brother swings me around and around — finally lets go.

I fly through the air.

–Rebecca Norris Webb

Chris Chadbourne, installation view of the 2011 New England Photo Biennial

Chris Chadbourne, installation view of the 2011 New England Photo Biennial

Sue Cardona, Lobster Fisherman, Jonesport

Sue Cardona, Lobster Fisherman, Jonesport

Shane Gray, Dining Hall Scaffolder

Shane Gray, Dining Hall Scaffolder

Minny Lee, Self-portrait, Mestre, Italy 2011

Minny Lee, Self-portrait, Mestre, Italy 2011

 

S.M. Maes, Barcelona, Spain

S.M. Maes, Barcelona, Spain

Mafalda Rakos

Mafalda Rakos

Carina A. del Rosario (right) with IDEA Odyssey gallery co-founder Minh Carrico. (The third co-founder, SuJ'n Chon, is not pictured.)

Carina A. del Rosario (right) with IDEA Odyssey gallery co-founder Minh Carrico. (The third co-founder, SuJ'n Chon, is not pictured.)

NEW PHOTO AGENCY

Sebastián Liste, from the series "On This Side of the Mountain"

Sebastián Liste, from the series "On This Side of the Mountain"

SEBASTIAN LISTE — who some of you met at our UNBOUND workshop @ LOOK3 this summer —  is now a Featured Photographer at Reportage by Getty Images.  And, in case you missed it, here’s Sebastian’s two-part interview with photographer, writer, digital tech and our studio manager, TRENT DAVIS BAILEY, on Daylight Magazine earlier this year:  Link to Part I.  Link to Part II.

NEW BLOG

As a commercial photographer, how do you continue to inspire your personal photography?  For Colorado wedding photographer PRESTON UTLEY, he decided to start a blog devoted to his personal work, called THE SNAP SHOT DIARIES.  We look forward to following Preston’s new blog in 2012.

Preston Utley, "Snow Capped," from his new blog, "The Snap Shot Diaries"

Preston’s website

FUNDRAISING

What better way to start the NEW YEAR than to contribute to documentary projects??  Below are two we think you should consider: The first is Russian photographer OLGA KRAVET’s GROZNY: Nine Cities (Olga was in our Moscow Workshop in 2007), a collaborative project with two of her fellow Russian photographers, Maria Morina and Oksana Yushko.  Here is a link to the Grozny fundraising page. The second is L.A.-based photographer and documentary filmmaker SARA TERRY’s FOLK (the doc’s cinematographer, HENRY JACOBSON,is also a photographer whose work was recently featured on VISURA). Any amount you give will help support these very worthy projects.

Sara Terry, FOLK a feature-length documentary

Sara Terry, FOLK a feature-length documentary

NEW PROJECTS

David Bacher

David Bacher

We think it’s fitting to end FOUR CONTINENTS where it all begins — by taking a look at some new and ongoing photography projects from around the world.  First we’ll start in Europe with three talented street photographers — Paris-based DAVID BACHER, French photographer DAVID BELAY (You may remember David Belay from our recent Munich workshop and our Peru workshop), and Dutch photographer BAS LOSEKOOT (Caption Gallery workshop).   We’ve also included from Argentina, ALEJANDRO KIRCHUK  and his moving portraits of his grandparents, as well as Venezuelan-born GUILLERMO DE YAVORSKY’S tender and surreal Skype portraits of friends and family around the world, and many of these screen shots were taken in St. Barts where he now lives.  We end with Greek photographer DIMITRI MELLOS  and his photographs from the streets of New York, where he’s based, and Chinese photographer MAX WANG, who recently finished a second comprehensive project photographing and interviewing 100 people across Canada, ages 1 to 100 (Max recently did a similar project in China, as those of you may remember from the Unbound Workshop at LOOK3 this past summer).

David Bacher’s website: http://www.davidbacher.com/

David Belay

David Belay

David Belay’s photos: http://maddav.jalbum.net/4continents/index.html

Alejandro Kirchuk

Alejandro Kirchuk

Alejandro’s website: http://www.alejandrokirchuk.com.ar/

Bas Losekoot, from "Sao Paulo and the Urban Millennium"

Bas Losekoot, from "Sao Paulo and the Urban Millennium"

Bas’s website: http://www.baslosekoot.com/

Dimitri Mellos, 2011

Dimitri Mellos, 2011

Dimitri’s website: http://www.dimitrimellos.com

Yinan Max Wang, Aunjelica, 2011

Yinan Max Wang, Aunjelica, 2011

Max’s website: http://www.yinanmaxwang.com/

Guillermo de Yavorsky, from the series "FarAway So Close (Skype Portraits)"

Guillermo de Yavorsky, from the series "FarAway So Close (Skype Portraits)"

Guillermo’s photos:

http://web.me.com/deyavorsky/South_African_Football/index.html

http://web.me.com/deyavorsky/Skype_portaits/index.html


UPCOMING WORKSHOPS WITH ALEX AND REBECCA

–THE STREETS OF HAVANA, Sunday, Jan. 22 thru Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012.  There are only a few places left in this upcoming workshop sponsored by Norway’s Nordic Light.  For more information follow this link.

–WEEKEND WORKSHOP IN SINGAPORE, Friday evening, March 9, 2012, thru Saturday, March 11, 2012.  An intensive weekend workshop with the Webbs and Radius Books creative director and noted book designer, David Chickey. More information about this workshop will appear soon on the Magnum website and on the workshop page of the webbnorriswebb website.

–WEEKEND WORKSHOP @ APERTURE, NY, Friday evening, March 23, thru Sat., March 25, 2012. Do you know where you’re going next with your photography –– or where it’s taking you?   An intensive weekend workshop with Alex and Rebecca. Check the Aperture site midJanuary for details about fees and how to apply.

–FINDING YOUR VISION WORKSHOP @ CAPTION GALLERY, BROOKLYN, NY.  Sunday May 20 thru Friday May 25, 2012.* A week-long photographing and editing workshop where each photographers begins to explore his or her own way of photographing and how to edit intuitively.  Will include exercises, light room tutorials, and a presentation by a noted book editor. Applications open January 9, 2012, and early acceptance notification will start on February 9, 2012.  Check the workshop page of the webbnorriswebb website for fees, application process and further details.

*If there is enough interest, we will explore offering a second session of the Finding Your Vision Workshop @ Caption Gallery the week before —  Sunday May 13 thru Friday May 18, 2012.

TWO QUESTIONS: On Photographs that Inspire and Confound; On Birds and Returning

January 4, 2011

This month’s TWO QUESTIONS column features questions posed by two U.S. photographers. Based in Austin, Texas, BILL MCCULLOUGH makes his living predominantly from photographing weddings.  However, he is far from your typical wedding photographer — his pictures are witty, surprising, spontaneous; they take us into social worlds not often seen so perceptively.  His humor is gentle and good-natured, very much like Bill himself.  EMILY PEDERSON is currently studying photography, languages (she has mastered Portuguese, Spanish, and Czech), and social justice at New York University.   Her grandfather was a noted underwater photographer, so she grew up with photography in her life.   She has photographed in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and New York, as well as in her home state of Rhode Island.--Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb

Robert Frank, "Elevator Girl, Miami, 1955" from "The Americans"

BILL MCCULLOUGH: In photography, music, painting, and many other forms of expression, there is work that strikes the perfect balance of technique and emotion that can leave one in awe.  You may ask yourself, “how did they do that?” You are both photographers who have been in the trenches and attempted many things; therefore, you also have insight, understanding, and respect of what is truly difficult to accomplish.  Is there a photographer, dead or alive, who both inspires you and stumps you?  If so, who and why?

ALEX WEBB:  Ever since I first picked up a copy of Frank’s The Americans –– sometime in the late 1960’s –– my favorite photograph in the book has always been the mournful elevator girl.  I hesitate to say much of anything about it because Jack Kerouac in his introduction to the book said just about everything that needs to be said:  “And I say: That little ole elevator girl looking up sighing in an elevator full of blurred demons, what’s her name and address?”   What Kerouac latches onto is what has always most intrigued me about Frank’s work, its emotive heart.  Somehow, Frank managed to make deep and surprising poetry out of the mundane stuff of the world of America.

That quality is still what interests me most about Frank’s work. But looking back now at this photograph, I am also intrigued by how it speaks of another era in America.  I can’t recall when I last saw an elevator girl.  The notion seems quaint.  It makes me almost nostalgic, nostalgic, among other things, for a more intimate world, where human beings –– including those in more menial positions –– somehow seemed to count.  Now, soulless elevators in Miami gleam of burnished chrome.  Chimes denoting each floor have replaced the human voice.  Modern demons may sometimes stalk these elevators, but mournful elevator girls are long gone.   I guess today, Kerouac would have to go elsewhere to find a name and number.

Robert Frank, "Barber shop through screen door, McClellanville, SC, 1955," from "The Americans"

REBECCA NORRIS WEBB: From the moment I first saw a print of Robert Frank’s barbershop in McClellanville, South Carolina, the image has lingered with me, a sign –– I’ve learned to trust over the years –– of a truly poetic image.  Like the strongest and most resonant poems, the image sends me into a kind of reverie each time I view it.  I think this has something to do with the fact that it’s a reflection, one that blurs inside and outside, like a daydream. So, for me at least, Frank’s mysterious barbershop blurs into the barbershop in my small town in southern Indiana where I was born.  Like Frank, I, too, have pressed up against a small town barbershop’s screen door, have seen into the interior thanks to my own shadow.  Come to think of it, the screen door itself seems somehow quintessentially American (I don’t recall coming across that many screen doors in Europe, for instance…).  The screen door is welcoming yet protective, practical yet vulnerable, luring both june bugs and photographers alike.

ROBERT FRANK LINKS:

Link to NPR story:  “Robert Frank’s Elevator Girls Sees Herself Years Later”:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112389032

Link to Robert Frank’s book, “The Americans”:

http://www.amazon.com/Americans-Robert-Frank/dp/386521584X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1294157675&sr=8-1

Link to reviews of the “Looking In: Robert Franks” The Americans” show:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/09/14/090914fa_fact_lane

http://www.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/2009/sep/29/looking-in-robert-franks-emthe-americansem/

Links to reviews of Robert Frank’s,  “The Americans”

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100688154

http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/01/0082794

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

EMILY PEDERSON: Rebecca, what is it about birds?  In Violet Isle, birds are constantly appearing in your photographs. Why is that? What is it that draws you to birds?

RNW:  As someone who comes out of the street photography tradition, I only photograph what I come across in the world, and the most common creature I found in Cuban menageries was the bird –– from roosters and peacocks and woodpeckers to cockatiels and pigeons and parrots.  I love the rich and resonant questions this suggests:  Of all the creatures, why are birds the most popular animal in Cuban menageries?  What does this suggest about the individuals who have these menageries?  What does this suggest about Cubans and their relationship to nature?  And what does this suggest about Cuban culture more generally?

What I love about photography –– and poetry –– is that sometimes images have the ability to suggest these sorts of questions.  One of my favorite lines about birds is by the poet, Li-Young Lee:

Only birds can reveal to us dying by flying.

And just yesterday I came across these two wonderful lines by T.S. Eliot in his poem, “Four Quartets”:

…a hollow rumble of wings…

…wait for the early owl…

Personally, when I first started photographing birds in Cuba, it was a period in my life that roughly corresponded to my acquiring my first pair of professional birding binoculars, inspired in part by the red-tailed hawks in Prospect Park near my apartment, the same kind of hawk that’s also found in my home state of South Dakota.

During one of my last trips to Havana, I remember the delight of watching a hawk attempting to open her wings just inches away from me –– instead of my observing the raptor from the usual distance of my field glasses.  Yet simultaneously I also felt a something catch in my throat as I watched the hawk fumble, unable to spread her wings fully in so small a cage .  Looking back, I realize that I often had this complicated and seemingly contradictory emotional response –– delight and discomfort –– while photographing caged birds throughout Cuba.

Li-Young Lee link:  http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/291

LInk to T.S. Eliot’s poem, “Four Quartets”:  http://www.tristan.icom43.net/quartets/

Alex Webb, Havana, 2008, from "Violet Isle"

 

EP: Alex, when you photograph you seem to go back again and again to a particular place. You don’t move there for a while to carry out your work, but you return over and over. How does that affect the way you see, the way you work?

AW: My meanderings in a country are rarely planned.  For instance, in Havana, even when I find myself working in the same neighborhood, it is often somewhat by chance: I wander into the same locale three days later –– or even, perhaps, a year later.  And even if I contemplate returning to a specific area, it is often a spur of the moment decision: I find myself completing work in one street or block and suddenly decide to return to somewhere that I have been before.  Sure, sometimes I may decide that a street or a market that I photographed in the morning might be more interesting in the afternoon or vice-versa, but as often as not the return to a particular locale is serendipitous.

For instance, the above photograph was taken during my last of 11 trips to Havana over 15 years.  Who know how many times I had walked down this particular street during my other trips.  But the particular mood and color and feel of the street caught my eye in fall 2009.

EMILY PEDERSON

Emily Pederson, Prague, 2009

I was born in Newport, Rhode Island in 1989. I study photography, Portuguese, and Spanish at the Gallatin School at New York University.

My grandfather was an undersea photographer and cinematographer, and documented undersea life in the Bahamas in the 50s and 60s. So there were always neat old cameras in my house as I was growing up, and I started to take photographs early on. The summer after my junior year in high school I lived in Peru for a month doing volunteer work at an orphanage. It was my first true experience of life elsewhere, and it played out like a fever dream. I took thirty rolls of film, and after that was significantly more fascinated by photography.

After graduating high school, I moved to New York City and have lived there since, except for four months last year, which I spent studying in Prague, learning Czech and traveling in Eastern Europe. I’m currently working with Alex Harsley at the 4th Street Photo Gallery, which he established in 1971, helping him distribute his work and documenting the history the gallery has witnessed. I see photographs as agents of information and as records of light. What allures me the most is how photography gives us the ability to freeze time.–Emily Pederson

My website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/emilykpederson/

BILL MCCULLOUGH

Bill McCullough, Waco, Texas, 2005

American photographer Bill McCullough was born in 1963, in Dickenson Texas. He graduated with a degree in Plan II economics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1986. He is a self taught photographer. His work has been published in Spot (Houston Center of Photography), United States; and Photonews, Germany. In 2008,  his work was purchased for the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. His first solo show will take place at the SRO gallery at Texas Tech University in March, 2011. He has been chosen as a 2010 Fotofest discovery. He currently resides and works in Austin, Texas.

Bill’s webswite:  www.billmccullough.com

TWO QUESTIONS: On Beginnings and Endings

June 1, 2010

We’re bidding farewell until next fall with TWO QUESTIONS about the beginnings and endings of photography books.  SERGE MAES, a Belgian photographer and psychologist who attended our Barcelona workshop this spring and is working on the long-term project, “Any Given Day,” asks us how photography books begin and how they evolve along the way. West Coast photographer, ALIA MALLEY, who’s attended two of our workshops–– one in the U.S. and one in Cuba –– asks us about endings, a question very much on her mind as she finishes her MFA and is exhibiting work from her series, “Southland,” at an L.A. gallery this summer.  (See below for more information about both Serge and Alia). –– Alex Webb & Rebecca Norris Webb

MAKING BOOKS:  ON BEGINNINGS AND MEANDERINGS

Alex Webb from "Istanbul: City of a Hundred Names"

SERGE MAES:  “Alex/Rebecca, could you elaborate on how your book projects have started out (did they start out with a vague idea, with a particular interest in a topic or place, with a preconceived aesthetic notion,…) and on any influences or decisions that may have changed the direction the projects were heading in?”

ALEX WEBB: I often am  unaware of the genesis of a project, sometimes remaining skeptical of its possibilities until I am well into the project.   The process of looking at the photographs, of playing with them, of making juxtapositions and sequences, usually leads me to begin to understand what it is that I am working on.  The process of photographing and editing  becomes a process of self-revelation, a simultaneous exploration of the world and the self.

To give you two examples:  my first book, Hot Light/Half-Made Worlds, began as an obsession, a passion for photographing in certain kinds of places — loosely speaking, the tropics — places where intense vibrant color seemed somehow embedded in the culture, unlike the gray-brown world of my New England background.  I had no intention of making a book when I began photographing  Haiti,  other parts of the Caribbean, northern Mexico, and sub-Saharan Africa.  But, as I started to look at the photographs that I had been producing in these places and began to put them side by side I began to realize that despite the vast cultural and historical differences between these various worlds there were links, links of emotion, links of sensation, links of atmosphere, that somehow allowed me to leap over cultural and historical differences and make a book that existed on another plane — a more poetic and atmospheric plane — in which though there were socio-political rumblings, they were only just that — rumblings.  The heart of the book lay somewhere else, in a more metaphysical realm.

Istanbul: City of a Hundred Names began somewhat differently.   I had a photographic assignment in 1998 to go to Turkey to photograph in several locations, including Istanbul.  When I arrived in Istanbul in 1998 I had a kind of revelation: I had returned to the city that I had visited 30 years earlier for a day with my family as a teenage photographer.  But whereas in 1968 I had been overwhelmed with the exoticism of a culture so unlike my own, in 1998 I found something strangely familiar, a kind of border.  In those intervening years I had been drawn to borders, places where cultures come together, sometimes easily, sometimes roughly.  Istanbul, both Asian and European, Eastern and Western, Islamic and secular was another kind of border.  I rapidly realized that I had to return to Istanbul and continue photographing, which I managed to do over the subsequent seven years.  So one could in fact say that the roots of the Istanbul book, unbeknownst to me at the time, lie in the trip that I made as a teenager in 1968.

Ultimately for the me, the process of creating a project remains somewhat mysterious.  Projects move forward on inexplicable happenings and impulses.  How they begin, how they end remains couched in enigma.  This is part of what I find exciting about the process.

REBECCA NORRIS WEBBMy current work-in-progress, My Dakota, started out as a photographic exploration of South Dakota, the sparsely populated Great Plains state where I grew up, and a place, to quote the Nebraskan photographer Wright Morris, where the Great Plains “…grew up in you.”  A year later, my brother died unexpectedly, and the project also evolved into an elegy for him.

How can My Dakota be about the American West and also be an elegy for my brother?  This is one of those questions that prod me and humble me.  I don’t know the answer.  I don’t know if I ever will.

I do know that the question itself has provoked me to reread some of my favorite elegies, not necessarily to find an answer, but hopefully to stumble upon a different way of looking at the question, perhaps viewing it from a “slant,” to quote Emily Dickinson.

So, between my photographic trips to South Dakota this past winter and spring, I’ve been rereading Emily Dickinson’s and Walt Whitman’s elegies.  In some of these elegies, Death seems to venture West along with the explorers and the prairie schooners.  In Whitman, Abraham Lincoln’s corpse heads West on the funeral train, and, in Dickinson’s famous elegy, “Because I could not stop for Death,” Death and the poet also journey West –– sharing the carriage with a third passenger, Immortality.

If nothing else, rereading these elegies reminds me of just how long the Western landscape has inhabited the American psyche – those wide open spaces, those fruited plains, those seemingly endless skies ––as a place of both death and hope, transience and immortality, whether we’re talking about Manifest Destiny in the 19th Century or the environmental movement today.

This meandering process –– being prodded by a question, rereading poetry, continuing to travel from New York to South Dakota to photograph–– has lead, if not to an answer to my question exactly, then at least to something unexpected: Lately I’ve managed to write a few spare lines, which may or may not accompany the My Dakota photographs.  Perhaps that’s as much of an answer as I can expect…

MAKING BOOKS:  ON ENDINGS

Rebecca Norris Webb from "My Dakota"

ALIA MALLEY:  Alex and Rebecca, I’ve been wondering, “How do you know when a project is “finished”…?”  It’s something I’ve been asking myself a lot recently, as I’m starting to work on a new project while still continuing to work on another project still.

RNW:  As with any relationship in your life, each photography project or book ends in its own way.  Some end more organically or naturally; others end rather abruptly or completely unexpectedly.  Each project has its own rhythm.

That said, I have found that there are a few signs that a book or project may be ending.  I often slow down at the end of a project, and don’t find myself taking as many photographs as at the beginning.  The curiosity and visual excitement ebb, too.  .If I happen to be working on another project simultaneously, that second project tends to pull at me more strongly than one I’ve nearly finished.

Right now, I’m in the midst of finishing the My Dakota project.  It’s been the most challenging project to date to complete for me, probably because it’s also my most personal project, since it’s an elegy for my brother.  I still feel something is missing in the sequence, but I’m not entirely sure what that is.  I suspect it may be the final sequence of the book itself, which, is quite different from my past two books whose middle sequences were the last I photographed.

I’ve gotten somewhat used to the notion that making books is ultimately a very intuitive process, and I am learning to trust this more and more.  For instance, a couple of weeks ago this line came to me, seemingly out of the middle of nowhere:  “In a deep loss, something inside you is broken, and slowly – through the cracks and the gaps and the jagged openings – you begin to see the light again.”

After I read this line during a slide talk in Toronto recently, one of the photographers in Alex’s and my workshop thoughtfully said to me:  “Maybe that’s the key to the ending of the book.  The light.  You end in the light.”  Her words made me smile.  She may very well be right.  If you’re open enough, books, I’m learning, try to let you know – often in rather roundabout ways — how and when they are finished with you.

AW: Knowing when a personal project is completed is one of the more difficult and challenging decisions I face as a photographer.  More than anything else, I rely on a kind of gut feeling — a sense of emotional completion.  But what that really means is inevitably elusive.  Different projects seem to have utterly different arcs of completion, arcs whose duration remains unpredictable.  I will give a couple of examples.

It wasn’t until the summer of 1987, a bit more than a year after I had been photographing post-Duvalier Haiti, that I began to sense that a Haiti book was in the making.  I started to put together a rough dummy of the work to try to understand what I had been doing, and how it might become a book.  That fall, as the November elections approached, I returned to Haiti.  As political tensions began to simmer, the country descended into a spiral of violence.  A reign of terror spread over the streets of Port au Prince, as dead bodies appeared in doorways each morning, burning barricades dotted the streets, and markets were torched.  Ultimately, the elections were destroyed, as paramilitary gunmen in Port au Prince shot down voters.  In Gonaives, where I was photographing, the gunmen blew up the town the night before.  No one dared go to the polls.

When I returned to the US a book on Haiti seemed utterly irrelevant.  What was the point of a book in the face of this violent destruction of Haiti’s aspirations toward democracy?  What was a book going to do?  But as time passed, as I looked at the pictures more, and especially after returning to Haiti for the next round of elections in January 1988 —  elections that were fundamentally fraudulent in installing the army’s candidate —  I began to sense that perhaps there was something in a book after all, some kind of document that tried to make sense of this troubled time.  A period of Haiti’s history — the cycle of electoral violence, from the fall of Duvalier to the installation of his short-lived successor Leslie Manigat  — had closed.  And I finally felt ready — emotionally as well as intellectually — to close this chapter of my relationship with Haiti as well.

With my project on the US-Mexico Border, however, I never entertained a sense of urgency of completion.  I photographed along the US-Mexico border for the first time in 1975, photographing in black and white.  For the next 26 years I continued to return to the border, shifting in 1979 from black and white to color.  Somehow, it was a project that I couldn’t complete — didn’t want to complete.  Other projects, other books — From the Sunshine State, Amazon, Dislocations — came and went.  It was only in 2001, after a trip to the Arizona border, that I was finally able to let go.

Completing a book cuts something off.  I  return to the same place without the same sense of obsession, without the same sense of passion.  For those 26 years I simply wasn’t willing to let go of the border.  I still occasionally wonder if I let go of the project at the right time.

SERGE MAES

Serge Maes from "Any Given Day"

I was born in 1976 in Sint-Niklaas, a small city in Belgium. About 8 years ago, I moved to Antwerp where I’ve been living ever since. I work as a clinical psychologist in a therapeutic community for people with personality disorders and in my own private practice.

Photography never held much interest for me until a few years ago, when my girlfriend who is a hobbyist photographer couldn’t come with me on a trip to Stockholm and asked me to take some pictures for her with a disposable camera she bought at the airport. Having only 24 pictures at my disposal I was very focused to get every picture right. Engaging the world in a visual way turned out to be such an involving experience that when I got back from Stockholm I decided to take up photography myself.

Among other things I’m working on a book project on city life with the working title “Any Given Day.” Photography to me is not so much about conveying a message as it is about the excitement of capturing that one fleeting moment in which everything seems to interconnect.

My website: www.statikon.com

ALIA MALLEY

Alia Malley from "Southland"

ALIA MALLEY (b.1973) was born in California, and raised in Portland, OR.  She received her BA in Critical Studies from USC School of Cinema Arts, and her MFA from UC Riverside in 2010.  She lives and works in Los Angeles.

Her series Southland won the 2010 Merck Award at the Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie, and will be shown at a solo exhibition at Sam Lee Galley, May 22-July 3, 2010.  She was a 2009 Runner Up at the Forward Thinking Museum/JGS, and a Finalist/Honorable Mention at the Newspace Center for Photography’s 2008 Juried Exhibition, curated by TJ Norris.  She has participated in group exhibitions including the 2009 CAA Los Angeles MFA Exhibition, curated by Alex Klein, and Sculpting Time at the Martin Art Gallery, Muhlenberg College, curated by Ara Osterweil. Her MFA thesis exhibition was on view at the California Museum of Photography, Riverside, CA until May 15, 2010.

www.aliamalley.com