What is 50mm?
50mm features a mixture of contemporary photography, classic and vintage images, photojournalism, mobile photography, influential photography by photographers old and new, videos and website links – gathered from all sorts of places.
It’s photography i like, admire and even aspire to. There are also occasional posts that feature my work.
In the South American country of Bolivia, the Salar de Uyuni salt flat stretches for over 4,000 square miles, making it the largest in the world.
Captivated by the area for years, Japanese photographer Asako Shimizu made her way there in 2006, and captured the unique way in which the sky is reflected on the ground.
A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter launches mortar shells towards Zummar, controlled by ISIL, near Mosul, Iraq –– A stranded dog stands on the rooftop of a collapsed house in an inundated neighborhood in Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir –– Cavalry horses and their riders are exposed to smoke as members of the Dutch cavalry undergo a stress test at the beach in Scheveningen, the Netherlands –– A family from San Jose, California, cover themselves with pillows as they sit on the concrete stairs in the service area of a resort after the designated area for shelter was destroyed by winds in Los Cabos, Mexico –– Pakistani Army soldier distributes food bags in flooded areas in Shujabad, on the outskirts of Multan, Pakistan… are just a few of the photos of the day for September 15, 2014.
(Photos by REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah, AP Photo/ Altaf Qadri, EPA/Bas Czerwinski, AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano, EPA/Omer Saleem)
In Syria’s civil war, a conflict with many villains, a group of first responders called the Hanano Civil Defense team are doubtlessly the good guys. They are one of the last hopes for civilians caught on Aleppo’s front lines: after a bombing, they’re first to the scene to evacuate the injured, retrieve and clean bodies, and fight fires. In June, the reporter Matthieu Aikins and Reportage photographer Sebastiano Tomada spent seven days in Aleppo embedded with the group, who are the last hope for civilians who find themselves on the front lines of war. Their story and images were published as this month’s story in the online magazine Matter, part of the publishing platform Medium. See the feature here.
The Black Chronicles II is a newly curated exhibition exploring black presences (African and Asian) in 19th and early 20th century Britain, through the prism of studio photography.
Drawing on the metaphor of the chronicle the exhibition presents over 200 photographs, the majority of which have never been exhibited or published before. As a curated body of work, these photographs present new knowledge and offer different ways of seeing the black subject in Victorian Britain, and contribute to an ongoing process of redressing persistent ‘absence’ within the historical record.
A highlight of the show is a dedicated display of thirty portraits of members of The African Choir, who toured Britain between 1891-93, seen here for the first time. Perhaps the most comprehensive series of images rendering the black subject in Victorian Britain, these extraordinary portraits on glass plate negatives by the London Stereoscopic Company have been deeply buried in the Hulton Archive, unopened for over 120 years.
These are presented alongside those of other visiting performers, dignitaries, servicemen, missionaries, students and many as yet unidentified black Britons. Their presence bears direct witness to Britain’s colonial and imperial history and the expansion of Empire. (read more)
Sep 12 - Nov 29, 2014
“It is helpful to once in a while stir the stew.”
Navigating the road between maintaining personal freedom and earning a crust can be a rocky one. Sit in one place too long and stagnate or cut loose until the cash runs out. Armed with a restless spirit perhaps the decision becomes easier, but maybe not the road.
Burk Uzzle has carved out a career with the ideas of integrity and personal freedom always close at hand. He joined LIFE magazine at the tender age of 23, and later became member and twice president of institutional heavyweight Magnum. Needless to say Burk Uzzle has two feet firmly planted in the tradition of classic story telling. With an eye keenly fixed on a distinctly American sensibility, Uzzle dances between humour and wit, shrewdly capturing a portrait of his countrymen.
From Woodstock to Martin Luther King’s funeral, Uzzle has been witness to some of the defining moments in recent history - his photographs are lucid documents of that cultural giant we call America. With such an iconic catalogue, it was our pleasure to have a chinwag with the man about how heart, mind and energy creates great work.
It seems from very early on you knew you wanted to be a photographer, Growing up in small-town North Carolina, was there a desire to see father afield? Is it curiosity that made you want to take photographs?
I certainly had a natural curiosity for that big world out there that I kept seeing in Life Magazine. A small town that I really did not like at all accentuated that. Still, I have always liked to keep moving and have a tradition of getting restless.
Now, however, after settling into another small town in North Carolina after decades of living all over the place, an interesting new development has changed how I think about subject matter.
I’ve found that working with the same people over and over, and staying within a particular community and knowing these people really well has brought out a much greater sensitivity.
It’s going deeper in the well, as opposed to hopping from place to place and being relegated to surfing the surface. Even with dramatic and exotic subjects and places, and perhaps especially if one is hooked on the exotic and sensational, working too quickly can often presuppose superficiality.
Also helpful is working with large format film with the demands of discipline and craft. I tend to perceive and compose and “feel” the pictures much better with that kind of approach. Emotional depth does not suffer with that approach. And, it has a great “Look.”
A great deal of your archive focuses on the American landscape, you once said that its craziness, the humor, the bizarre, the loneliness, and its starkness give you a kick. Could you elaborate on that and perhaps the distinctly American vision that preoccupies you?
The American Landscape has its concrete and pavement and angularity within which nature makes, generally, a token sort of appearance. Our discordant American aesthetic has been slow to develop a visual culture.
That automatically offers opportunities for the “Poor Lonesome Me” look, which I try to avoid. Then there is satire, or more preferably whimsy and humor. The “Pop Art” sense of graphics, when I can keep myself out of the “Kitsch Ditch,” is a hoot to work with.
There is an excitement to the energy of color and space relationships that come naturally in America. I have written on the back of my cameras the word “celebrate.” (As opposed to “incriminate”) That does not need to imply blandness, or a simplistic mentality.
The classic photo essay is for the most part a thing of the past, working for LIFE must have afforded you the time and commitment to engage with your subjects, do you mourn the death of publications like LIFE and classic story telling?
Yes. However, there was a formula approach that we saw in some of those essays. That’s only natural in a professional realm with the marketplace as a critical partner.
That is noticeable in much of the journalism of today, and possibly even more so in much of the art community. Not that this is anything new in the history of the world.
Question is, how to be better than that, and make a living.
Is teaching the answer? For me, no.
Some of the best work, but certainly not all, has been done by independently wealthy folks.
I have great admiration for those sturdy souls that are simply bound and determined to do things as they think they should be, and let the commercial chips fall where they may.
The death of Martin Luther King was one of the defining moments in a very tumultuous chapter in American history, after photographing him in life, it must have been hard to photograph his funeral, how did his death effect you personally and more broadly the American experience?
It was a heartbreak, from which we gained courage.
Most people would give their left leg to shoot for Magnum, being given the stripes, was it a defining moment in your career? Do you feel like it pushed you as a photographer?
Yes. Magnum was small when I was a member, and we hung out together. Those conversations were life changing.
There are echoes of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work in your own, his ability to squeeze the uncanny out of the everyday, what was it like working with the man? What do you look for when taking a photograph?
I showed my work to HCB quite a few times, and will never forget some of his most direct advice. “Respect Your Subject.” Study the Quattrocento painters. Never explicit in detailed methodology, his advice was the kind of head-trip that forced growth, if one was capable.
Having been twice president for the agency, what do you think Magnum is to photography now, do you think its haloed mantle is still relevant with shifts in contemporary photography?
I left Magnum in 1983, after 15 years as a member, when it was quite small compared to today’s Magnum population. I left because, as another ex-Magnum photographer, Ernst Haas, so eloquently put it: “after a while, being in Magnum is like holding hands and dancing in a circle.”
I agree with that ” holding hands” observation, but would also suggest the same was true after being with Life, or any other organization for a prolonged time.
I do not have informed knowledge or opinion about today’s Magnum, but I’m sure their standards are very high.
All of those environments have their own theology, points of view about how they, as a group, see themselves in the context of the big outside world.
It is helpful to once in a while stir the stew.