"Famous Modern Photographers and Their Photos" is part of the Creative Photography series on PhotoTraces. You can find the rest of the articles here: Creative Photography.
To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.
You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.
Alexey Titarenko (1962- )
Born in 1962 at Leningrad, USSR, now Saint Petersburg, Russia. He is a modern photographer that has been influenced by the Russian avant-garde works of Alexander Rodchenko and Kazimir Malevich as well as the Dada art movement.
At the age of fifteen, Alexey Titarenko became the youngest member of the independent photo club Zerkalo, and graduated with honors at the prestigious Department of Cinematic and Photographic Art at Leningrad's Institute of Culture.
His most iconic work is an exploration of urban spots during and after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and 1992 best known by the name of City of Shadows. These images began in the surroundings of the only public transportation system of the time, the train system. In this work Alexey captured the human condition of ordinary people in a metaphoric way thanks to his concepts, style, and technique. Many of this images were created with long exposures and intentional camera movement as well. He has continued to work his social photography until present with long exposure techniques.
One of the most important things to mention about Alexey's fine art work, is that he crafts everything, from the concept, to the printing, and this gives the final work a finer quality. For me Alexey Titarenko is the living evidence that limitations burst creativity into the most fantastic ways. While working City of Shadows back in the Soviet Union, he had very limited access to photographic resources such as film and paper, and still he managed to create such a tremendously good body of work by turning those limitations into photographic advantages.
You can delight yourselves with his work at his official website, and if you have the opportunity to invest in a book, I highly recommend to get yourselves a copy of The City is a Novel, which includes the work of The city of Shadows, and more work from other cities like Havana, and Venice.
Chema Madoz (1958 - )
Born in Madrid, Jose María Rodríguez Madoz, better known as Chema Madoz, is a modern renowned photographer known for his black and white surreal images. But he has personally considered himself as an arranger, and later a photographer. He creates visual poetry, freshly extracted from his imagination with ordinary objects that he arrange into mind blowing compositions.
The great simplicity of his images, is where the beautiful trick behind them, because is a very easy to digest art. His creations make us feel guilty for not being able to see the obvious that he so naturally can portray.
By the combination of elements and shapes, Chema Madoz creates images that are both suggestive and visually strong, with a great personality, and a poetical force. His images go beyond surrealism and abstraction, and are for me purely visual metaphors.
He is truly in love with the possibilities objects can offer, and his arrangements (that are later photographed with medium format film) are the crisp evidence of this belief.
There is little to say about his technique further than the adequate use of film, and the careful printing work he passionately performs. The best way to understand his work, is to contemplate it more than just seeing it. He is without a doubt, my favorite still life artist. He’s able to see far beyond the everyday and the ordinary. He is a visual poet, and you can delight yourselves with his work here.
Trey Ratcliff (1971 - )
Born in Dallas, self-pronounced as a warm-hearted, old-school gentleman explorer with really cool toys, Trey Ratcliff is an urban and landscape photographer with a great passion for high tonal ranges and saturated pictures achieved with HDR development.
The importance of Ratcliff style, is that he documents his explorations through his camera, and the sense of adventure is completely tangible. He crafts HDR images, and even though it is not a style for everybody, even for me, Ratcliff's HDR has a very careful consistency, and this is valuable indeed. For me there is only one rule to follow in order to create beautiful HDR images, and is that they need to stay inside the thin scope between Tonal Range Enhancement and Unreal Looks.
Landscapes crave to be photographed, but they also demand respect in terms of things that can and can't be done later on with their images. Trey Ratcliff feels this respect for nature and aesthetics, and creates breathtaking both urban and natural landscape imagery.
Iceland is without a doubt, one of the most desired places for Landscape Photographers. It is like the holy grail of the discipline, and the adventure-seeking tourists. Perhaps that was the main reason the Moldovan Photographer Iurie Belegurschi moved to Reykjavik in 2006 to study tourism and hospitality. After a while he founded what is now the biggest Photography Workshops Travel Agency in Iceland.
His passion for photography and tourism has being a wonderful venture for both Iceland and Landscape Photographers all over the world. His work has made Iceland the most popular photo destination for such photographers as well.
We have here an entrepreneur that has maneuvered his passion and business into a sustainable way of doing things. His absolutely mind blowing and jaw dropping landscapes have been published worldwide in books, calendars, ad campaigns, commercials and even newspapers; besides the reach capabilities of social media as well. People trust his workshops due to the fine quality of his own images, and of course he happens to be the instructor of the workshops.
Part-time Photographer from London currently based at the New York University in Abu Dhabi as a full-time professor of writing. His images are both bold and human. He shows a profound respect for people and has definitely refined his social skills in order to approach complete strangers on the streets, and rapidly gain their trust in order to allow him to portray them. He is currently doing an on-going exploration of his own ancestral hometown of Sahiwal in Punjab, Pakistan. He has only visited his hometown a very limited amount of times, but every visit has been exploited into the most efficient way. Each visit has resulted in great portraits that he shares through Flickr account, and his personal Website as well. Such images have the commons of beauty, and humanity of ordinary and kind people.
His images have consistency in terms of lighting, composition and posing. All of them can be categorized as "Street Environmental Portraits", with a careful composition that maintains the eyes of the subjects as the prime subject in many cases. His scope has hues of candid street photography as well, and is currently working on some monochrome conversions of earlier work. His work could be easily compared to the great Documentary Photographer Steve McCurry (he even got the chance to photograph the man with the same consistency of all his work). Sohail Karmani's work is a great evidence that watching the work of other photographers is important in order to refine our eyes, taste and even photographic discipline. Each photographer develops a unique style that is a melting pot of influences and experiences. His work is a gift to the eyes, and I just wanted to share it with you.
Unforgettable Wilderness Photography, that is the way Marc Adamus describe his own imagery, and trust me, the guy is right about this condensed description.
He is a young landscape Photographer currently based at Western North America. His love for wilderness is absolutely evident in his Landscape Photographs. Full time landscape Photographer in the ongoing pursuit of the wild nature at its most (still) purest state. His passion for the wilderness has attracted a wide audience around the world. His style is unmistakable, it depicts the most epic moments of true nature.
His images have been published extensively worldwide in a large variety of media; from calendars, books, advertisements to several publications of National Geographic. He seeks to express his own feelings evoked by the locations he visits and explores. He attempts empathy from the viewer towards his own experiences while being at the wild.
The more patience photographers put into the sublime pursuit of great Landscape Photography, the more the landscapes unveils to them. Landscape Photography is not just waiting for you to capture it while passing by, landscapes want you to forget about the modern world, and reconnect to the proto state of the human being sharing life with the wild, not threatening it like we have been doing since the last centuries.
Marc’s work has evolved from the days he started of course, but has been able to pull out the best of professional film, and digital formats. He currently just shoots in digital, and has made a clear statement about the importance of post-processing, just like Ansel Adams did back in the old days. What happens in camera is just the canvas for the beautiful master piece that is going to happen later in the favorite workflow of any photographer, and of course, the best quality this canvas is, the less work you'll have to struggle in the RAW development stages of the overall workflow.
Laura Wilson (1939 - )
American photographer with a current 40 year old photographic career, and one of the finest American photographers with an active career until today. Her work is reserved in its majority to books, which she has published four until today. She is one of those not broadly known but important photographers of our current times. She started her career as Richard Avedon’s research assistant in his famous work In the American West in which he detached from the celebrities and focused on the ordinary people.
She has been working for more than 25 years documenting present modern times cowboys in several ranches through West Texas and Montana. She has photographed these men that hold tight to their own traditions and behavior codes that are an important part of their cow boy heritage. She worked for six years as Richard Avedon's assistant while he was working on landmark "In the American West".
Her four books can be found directly through her website here, and are the following:
- Watt Matthews of Lambshead (1989)
- Hutterites of Montana (1990)
- Avedon at Work: In the American West (2003)
- Grit and Glory: Six-Man Football (2003)
All of them are documentary works of topics that triggered her curiosity into a exploring worthy state. The curious fact about Avedon at Work, is that she documented Avedon's creative process, working methods, and many other backstage findings while working as his assistant.
One of my favorite pictures of Laura, is this one, which is a behind the scenes snapshot from Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited, showing a very charismatic Owen Wilson, which happens also to be her son.
Social Documentary and Street Photographer, Free is what you can name a Living Legend. Currently based at Los Angeles, his photographic essays range from railroad tramps in California, to automobile abstracts, to London and Paris street life. He has trusted his love for photography to his trusty Nikon F3, and for me is a great example of the importance of always carrying a camera with you. You will not see John Free on any video (and I image in real life too) without his trusty camera.
He has a contagious soul, and shares from time to time his invaluable wisdom through his YouTube Channel. He has severely critiqued the academic systems that charge a lot of money and discourage people instead of encouraging them to practice and practice. And this unfortunate reality of photographic schools has inspired him into crafting his own visionary workshops around photography and what he believes is the real important thing in photography as well, passion and practice. One of the things he critiques the most (and is pretty logical if you just analyze it a little bit) is that these people discouraging students, rarely show their own work. I assume this unraveling idea is the reason why he shares his images with us.
The anecdotes he shares are the best evidence I can find about the importance of doing photographs with passion. He believes that no matter the level of skill, we, all photographers must study the same things over and over again in order to improve our images. He teaches us that we are always students, and he shares this vision through his workshops as well. He teaches to be aware of the time element in street photography, which is the most difficult element of the discipline, he even accurately states that time is what governs Street Photography.
He has being able to make meaningful and compelling photographs from everyday life situations that of course can be find in any country regardless of the visual landmarks, street photography is about capturing meaningful things from the ordinary and daily situations of human life. He also teaches about surviving in the real world while photographing strangers at close range without getting into trouble, in other words he teaches about respect and social skills in order to achieve the meaningful pictures we as street photographers are always seeking for. Street Photography deals with moments that are constantly vanishing, and once they are gone, there is no possible way for bringing them back.
You can read his fantastic blog here, and you can delight yourselves with his galleries here.
William Wegman (1943 - )
Watching the work of William Wegman over and over again, repeatedly, allowing yourselves to be surprised by the personification and the sense of humor he portrays, you'll eventually conclude about the great universe of possibilities a single, limited, and consistent subject can offer.
Wegman is best known for his evolving series of images involving not just dogs, but only his dogs, that are just one breed, Weimaraners. So, we have a great contemporary artist, working with a very limited subject, and still being able to produce a tremendously large body of work.
He originally intended to pursue a career as a painter, but I guess he found the photographic medium more comfortable to work with. By the early 19070s his work began to be showcased in several galleries, including the Konrad Fischer Gallery in Düsseldorf, pretty close to the famous Düsseldorf School of Photography. His work has been showcased in several museums, including the prestigious galleries of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Centre Georges Pompidou.
I just love dogs, and so does he.
Robert Mapplethorpe (1946 - 1989)
He was an American photographer treatment of controversial subject-matter with a highly stylized black and white medium. His work had a broad selection of subjects from himself, to celebrities, nudes, and still lives of flowers. His most controversial work is that of the underground BDSM scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s of New York City. You can see his eerie work at the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation website.
Above all the controversial portraits, he centered his work on still life images of flowers from the end of the 1970s to few months before his death in 1989. Tulips, lilies, orchids, poppies, and Alcatraz flowers.
The same year he was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, he took a photograph that was different. He used portrayed flowers in a spotless state while blooming, but this one was different, this one was dying. This image is a delicate metaphor of his own health decay, and eventually became his symbol for immortality in his later imagery. The image is currently part of the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of New York.
I am obsessed with beauty.I want everything to be perfect,and of course it isn’t. And that’s a tough place to because you’re never satisfied.
Beauty and the devil are the same thing.
When I work,and in my art,I hold hands with God.
Three of his quotes (shown here with an intended poetry like structure from myself) reveal the ideas behind his controversial and bold work:
Ralph Gibson (1939 - )
American living photographer best known for his editorial work in photography. His images continuously include fragments of mysterious and erotic undertones, and this ability of building narrative is outstanding. His work is sometimes about the perfect and basic detail, that when seen in context, what he left out speaks largely about the image itself.
His images often have a surreal juxtaposition that is both subtle and elegant. His frames are great examples of gestaltism thanks to affect he evokes in the viewer’s when just showing the key elements inside his frames.
His work has been described as a combination of the nature of street photography with the possibilities of still lives. You can lose yourselves in the endless river of images available to see at his official website as well, so if you don’t know his work, please give yourselves a treat.
Hiroshi Sugimoto (1948 - )
Born in Tokyo, is an active fine art photographer currently splitting his time between Tokyo and New York. His catalogue is made up of a number of series, each having a distinct theme and similar attributes.
He got his first camera at the age of 12. In 1974 he started studying politics and sociology at the Rikkyō University, but he later was retrained as an artist in 1974 and received his BFA in Fine Arts at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California. Afterwards, Sugimoto settled in New York City. He soon started working as a dealer of Japanese antiquities in Soho.
He started to work on a series called Dioramas, inspired in what he saw at the American Museum of Natural History of New York. Two years later, he started a series called Theaters, which is unique and beautiful study of both the screens and the architecture of such places, leaving the screens at a dreamy and timeless pure white.
He has worked with many subjects, and on the most renowned works of Sugimoto are his minimalist and gradient like seascapes. They all show a symmetrical duality between the sea and the sky, with a carefully perfect captured horizon. Some of his seascapes have been shot at normal shutter speeds like 1/30 or 1/60 of a second, and retain the wavy texture of the sea. Some others are long exposures that show a polished like surface of both sky and sea.
Fan Ho (1937 - 2016)
Great Chinese photographer and film-maker. We are still mourning his loss, and Fan Ho was a great among the greatest. The celebrated Chinese photographer won over 280 awards from international exhibitions and competitions worldwide since 1956 for his photography.
He got a TLR Rolleiflex camera from his father at the age of 13, and what a wonderful thing to do. This gift entranced him and was the perfect spark that triggered Fan Ho's passion for photography.
In the 1950s he moved to Hong Kong, and began documenting the street life of the city. During his career, he was repeatedly named a top photographer in the world and one of the most influential photographers in Asia, ever.
He invited by 12 Universities in Taiwan and Hong Kong as a Visiting Professor in order to teach the art of film-making and photography. Imagine what a gift for the students that had the opportunity to learn from the passion of this fantastic photographer. He wrote five books, and here you can watch him talking about his own history and his philosophy behind image making. Three of his films received the Official Selection of the prestigious International Film Festivals of Cannes, Berlin and San Francisco; and five of his films belong to the Permanent Collection of the National Film Archives of Taiwan and Hong Kong. His cultural background made his style so unique, lyrical, dramatic and poetic.
Many of his amazing street photographs are still able to watch in his official website.