Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Glastonbury – Another Stage

July 31, 2010

Most people expect the summer with eager anticipation. The weather gets progressively better; the days grow bigger and the summer holidays are fast approaching. But the advent of summer brings something more than hot weather. It brings music festivals, those summer happenings where people cram together under the hot sun (or under rain if you end up in North countries), free from stress, preoccupations – and sometimes clothes – to hear their favourite music. Among the festivals around Europe, one has captured the interest for 40 years now for its “love, sun and mud” atmosphere: Glastonbury festival.

Incidentally, the motto “Love, sun and mud” was also chosen by Mulberry to celebrate their love for the event and to promote Venetia Dearden’s photobook “Glastonbury – Another Stage”. Her book attempts to give us a better picture of the festival goers, who flock the Worthy farm in South West England every year to listen to music. Interestingly, Venetia did not choose to focus on mud-filled pages on festival lifetime, but instead, strips her subjects from the natural surroundings and presents them in plain white background. In fact, the only hint about Glastonbury is the wellies that most subjects are wearing and traces of mud on the white floor. But it is to their personalities that Venetia wanted to focus, not their silly behaviour when camping in a mud-filled farm.

In the 322 pages of the book, we spot the familiar faces of Glasto celebrities – Lilly Allen, Amy Winehouse and Dame Shirley Bassey in Swarowski-decorated green wellies – along with common people: a couple expecting a child, a couple dressed as cows, lots of young children, a businessman with a tuxedo and a briefcase, two men dressed in Spiderman-like tights, a 30-year old man with tribal tattoos, three middle-aged housewives sporting floral dresses and leather purses, two Elvis impersonators and a complete family – to name but a few.

In her 6-year project, Venetia wishes to remind us that the biggest open-air music and performing arts festival does not appeal to a specific type of people. You can come as you are or as you wish to be perceived. As long as you have a love for music and open-air events, as long as you can spare some time from work, strip off from your businesslike attitude and relax, you can join the crowd. The book only begs the question: do all those people look and behave like that in their daily lives or are they just dress for the occasion?

Lambda.

P.S. Venetia Dearden’s book “Glastonbury – Another stage” is published by Kehrer. The publication was sponsored by Mulberry and Mulberry included some of Venetia’s pictures in their Bond Street store during the summer. Mulberry was selling the book in a custom made “Love, sun and mud” tote bag.

[all images © LambdaPhage]

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009

May 3, 2010

Clash of the Yellowhammers

Every year, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition at the Natural History Museum manages to impress me for the freshness, quality and originality of the winning images. Though, it is not wonder, as it is the most famous wildlife competition and attracts submissions from professional photographers and amateur enthusiasts. This year, with 43,000 submissions from 94 countries, a new exhibition room with black panels and low lighting, I spotted many recurring themes from the previous year but several new interesting photos, as well.

One of the most interesting categories was this of the young photographers, consisting of three different subcategories: those of ten years and under, 11-14 years and 15-18 years. Indeed, if you were not told that these images were captured by young children, you would have probably imagined that they were taken by professional adult photographers. Among those, the prize for the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year went to Fergus Gill from the UK, who won the title for the second time after turning his photography hobby into a passion, with his captivating image of the “Clash of the Yellowhammers”.

Footprints

Footprints

But the most astonishing category for the exhibition was the “One Earth Award” category, which depicts conservation issues or actions and the interaction between humans and the natural world. Among the images, the “Footprints” was my personal favourite: an image of a penguin who pauses and inquisitively examines human footprints at a sea shore in the United States.

Unfortunately, this year’s competition was surrounded by controversy, regarding its top prize, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year. When I visited the exhibition, the judges had given the top prize to “Storybook Wolf” by José Luis Rodriguez; an image of a wolf jumping a fence to search for his pray. The judges not only commended the technique of the photographer, who seems to have invented it especially for these types of shots, but the excellent composition of the image, which elegantly captures thousands of years of wolf predation in a single moment. But others who saw the image recognised the wolf as not being a wild animal but a tamed one that the photographer allegedly hired to get his shot. After some discussion with wolf experts, who questioned why the wolf would jump the gate when a wild animal was more likely to squeeze between the bars. and the photographer himself, the judges were not convinced that the wolf was wild and decided to strip the photographer of his award because of violation of the competition rules. The photographer strongly denied that the wolf was tame.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition has now ended in London, but you will still be able to see the wining images in the exhibition roadshow touring around the globe. You can also find them at the website of the Natural History Museum.

Lambda.

P.S.: All images © of the respective owners and the Wildlife Photographer of the Year owners.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2008 in Greece

June 28, 2009

greek_wildlife_photographer

I hope you already know about the competition “Wildlife Photographer of the Year” which is being organised by the London Natural History Museum and the BBC Wildlife magazine. If not, please refer to my other post for the 2008 winners.

After it finishes at the Natural History Museum in London every April, the exhibition travels around the world. In fact, the Natural History Museum maintains a site with a list of all the cities the exhibition is scheduled to be hosted at, both in the United Kingdom and around the world.

exhibition_stand

During my recent visit to Greece, I was positively surprised to see the exhibition there. The Exhibition was hosted by Polaris Publications, with Piraeus Bank as the sponsor. Instead of a museum or a gallery, the exhibition was featured in the atrium of the new Citylink commercial centre, within walking distance from the Syntagma square at the centre of the city. Although the pictures they are illuminated from the back as in the exhibition at Natural History Museum in London,they were printed in high quality photographic paper and were still lokking superb. And the best thing of all is that  you need not pay a ticket to see them.

exhibition_stand2

The pictures are from the area of the atrium. I managed to get some, until security told me it was not allowed to take pictures.

Lambda.

[photos © Lambdaphage, except for the photos of the exhibition, which are copyrighted by their respective owners].

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2008

March 10, 2009

Natural History Museum Cromwell Road entrance (source Wikipedia)

Natural History Museum Cromwell Road entrance (source Wikipedia)

The idea of organising the same exhibition every year would probably be rejected as outright crazy by many museum directors in London. Yet, for the “Wildlife Photographer of the Year” exhibition, it is the annual photography competition that supplies it with fresh and original images of wildlife. The competition, running for the 45th year and jointly organised by the Natural History Museum in London and the BBC Wildlife Magazine draws thousands of entries by professional artists and amateur enthusiasts.

Sun Jelly, Nature in Black and White - Winner (© Carlos Virgili)

Sun Jelly, Nature in Black and White - Winner (© Carlos Virgili)

It consists of different thematic areas that include animal behaviour, life in the underworld, animal portraits and animals in their environment, plants, nature in black and white, and creative visions of nature. The exhibition, however, is mostly famed for its special awards: the Gerard Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife, the One Earth Award, that showcases the interaction of human and the natural world and the Young and Adult categories of the wildlife photographer of the year.

Deadlock, Animal Behaviour: All Other Animals - Winner (© David Maitland)

Deadlock, Animal Behaviour: All Other Animals - Winner (© David Maitland)

This year, the exhibition entries were again a mixture of images that were carefully planned and executed, represented technically challenging shots and conditions but also images of the unexpected, the funny and the remarkable variety of wildlife. Among the photos we noted was a picture of a jellyfish in exquisite detail in the “Nature in Black and White” category and a striking image of a snake and a frog entangled in a “Deadlock” that according to the photographer lasted for several hours. Other interesting shots included an underwater image of two arrow crabs and sea urchins in “Daddy long legs” and an amusing photo of a black macaque in “Bleak outlook” that has made it to the banners of this year’s competition advertisements. However, the most artistic and skillfully taken photographs were –without doubt – the ones featured in the awards. For example, a few silver lines in a black background were enough to betray a silhouette of a polar bear in sunlight in the “Creative Visions of Nature” category. Equally, a theatrical display of a lion chasing a giraffe in afternoon sunlight in Africa and the image of an endangered snow leopard were awarded the Young and Adult Wildlife Photographer awards respectively.

Daddy Long Legs, The Underwater World - Specially Commended (© Jordi Chias)

Daddy Long Legs, The Underwater World - Specially Commended (© Jordi Chias)

After visiting the exhibition, you feel the sudden urge to get your camera and start experimenting, hoping that you can make it into the next years’ exhibition. But even if you can’t wait that long, you can buy many of the featured images in posters. And if you do not have time to see the exhibition, go to the museum’s internet gallery instead, where you can browse all of the winning categories in the comfort of your home.

Lambda.

P.S.: Read about the exhibition in Greece at my other post.

A Photographer’s Life, 1990 – 2005

January 10, 2009

annie_leibovitz

She is probably the most prominent portrait photographer of our time. Her works are featured in the glossy pages of the biggest magazines on the planet – Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair– and examples of her work are the topic of heated discussions worldwide. One of her most-talked photographs, the portrait of the naked John Lennon kissing Yoko Ono, was taken only a few hours before Lennon’s death. Yet, visitors of her latest photographic exhibition “Annie Leibovitz, A Photographer’s life, 1990 – 2005” at the National Portrait Gallery will get another glimpse of her personality. Next to her colourful, defined and artistically mastered commercial work, there exists a collection of mostly black-and-white, unprocessed and intimate images of her personal life.

“I don’t have two lives,” Leibovitz says. “This is one life, and the personal pictures and the assignment work are all part of it.” The exhibition contains portraits of celebrities, including Brad Pitt, Leonardo diCaprio, Nicole Kidman and the naked, pregnant Demi Moore – the famous cover of Vanity Fair in 1991. It also includes photographic assignments of Leibovitz from the siege of Sarajevo in the early 1990s and the election of Hillary Clinton to the U.S. Senate. It could certainly do without the uninspiring pictures of George Bush and his cabinet, Colin Powell and General Norman Schwarzkopf. Among the celebrity pictures, two of them stand out not for the popularity of the subjects, but for not belonging to the human kind: a picture of R2D2 in a box and a slimline droid model from the film Star Wars™, The Attack of the Clones.

anne_liebovitz_gallery_guide

For the first time, we also see a collection of private moments of the photographer. Moments with her family, the birth of her children and the death of her father. But the most powerful work is a series of photographs of her long-time partner, writer Susan Sontag. The images display Sontag during her battle with cancer, her various treatments, her return to New York after a failed treatment and her eventual death.

At the last room, visitors can look at the creative process of organizing the images for this exhibition. A sample of her images, both of her personal life and professional work, are pinned on big cardboards, mostly in chronological order. This process helped her to decide the images she wanted to and to envisage the entire exhibition. In fact, the initial idea for this exhibition came about searching in her archive to find various pictures of Susan to include in a booklet for her memorial service.

In this exhibition, we do not get just a glimpse of Leibovitz as an established professional but as a human being. It is not the mastery of Leibovitz’s technique that elevates her to an iconic photographer. It is rather the narrative nature of the images, the underlying story that they tell, that makes her photography the work of a genius.

Lambda.

P.S.: The exhibition “Annie Leibovitz, A Photographer’s life, 1990 – 2005” at the National Portrait Gallery in London lasts till February 1st, 2009. The book, Annie Leibovitz, A photographer’s life, 1990 – 2005, containing more than 300 of her images, was published by Random House, Inc.

(photo © Robert Scoble and second image, scanned from the gallery guide © National Portrait Gallery)