NO CAPTION NEEDED
ICONIC PHOTOGRAPHS, PUBLIC CULTURE, AND LIBERAL DEMOCRACY

No Caption Needed is a book and a blog, each dedicated to discussion of the role that photojournalism and other visual practices play in a vital democratic society. No caption needed, but many are provided. . . .

November 8th, 2013

PRO Photographer App Trial Offer

Posted by Hariman in photographer's showcase

There’s a new app in town, and it’s got a lot of sauce.  Full disclosure: NCN is one of the not so secret ingredients, along with features from other blogs and bloggers and much more as well.  The press release is below, along with a one-month free subscription for NCN readers.  We’re happy to be involved, and hope you will give it a try.

Download app

Introducing a new media hub for the connected photographer: PRO Photographer, an app released this week for iPad, iPhone and Android phones, represents a game-change in the presentation of content, bringing together for the first time premium magazine articles and live, curated news feeds. It allows photographers to browse in-depth features on the craft and business of photography while keeping up with a best of the blogosphere in one free app.

“As solo creatives and business-owners, professional photographers are always scratching for inspiration; it’s their stock-in-trade,” says James Frankham, publisher of PRO Photographer and himself a professional photographer since 1998. “But while the internet is awash in great imagery and helpful ideas, photographers don’t have the time to sift through it all. This app does that for you, featuring the opinion-leaders in the world of photography and sensational content to gnaw on, all in one place.”

On iOS and Android phones the PRO Photographer app offers expertly curated, free news content syndicated from PetaPixel, Feature Shoot, Wonderful Machine, PhotoShelter, Conscientious Photography Magazine, Unless You Will and more.

The free iPad app goes a step further. In addition to the daily news feed, it features new product announcements from leading photography brands and premium content from PRO Photographer magazine (unlocked with an in-app purchase) including long-form articles, exclusive galleries and videos from the world of photography past and present.

And in the latest issue, the future also: Celebrated blogger and academic Jorg Colberg investigates the changing landscape of digital imagery, the move from the press to the screen, and the burgeoning opportunities for photographers ready to exploit both. PRO interviews Cristina De Middel on the Zambian space race and the nature of truth, and we go aboard a foiling AC72 in San Francisco to witness the imaging technology arms race that ultimately decided the outcome of the 34th America’s Cup. GoPro cameras were mounted on hulls to analyse the performance of hydrofoils and 800mm lenses aimed at the competition in a game of spy-versus-spy where small observations created the big gains required to win the oldest trophy in international sport.

From articles on the craft of photography to deconstructions of complex studio shots and discussion of the ongoing challenges of professional practice, this is an app relevant to every pro.

Special offer for No Caption Needed followers: free one-month subscription to PRO Photographer premium content in the iPad app. Within a feature article, select LOGIN and enter NoCaptionNeeded in the surname field and subnumber 11526113 to gain full access to the latest issue. This is not an auto-renewing subscription, you will not be charged. If you like what you see, subscriptions can be renewed after the trial period using your iTunes account from within the app.

DOWNLOAD:
iPad: https://itunes.apple.com/app/pro-photographer-for-ipad/id675858687
iPhone: https://itunes.apple.com/app/pro-photographer/id662782098

FEATURES
• Free app
• Updated daily
• Includes syndicated stories, images and video clips of interest to photographers from dozens of publishers and content providers
• iPad app also includes premium content features fresh from the leading PRO Photographer magazine (activate with an in-app purchase) and free new product announcements
• Browse all stories from an index page
• Swipe through stories one-by-one and share with colleagues

PREMIUM CONTENT
News feeds and new product announcements are entirely free. Subscriptions can be purchased to premium content using iTunes from within the app. Premium content is updated every two months with each new issue. Back issues of premium content can also be purchased on a per-issue basis.
Bi-monthly subscription US$4.99
Annual subscription US$23.99
Single issue sale US$6.99

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER
PRO Photographer is published in New Zealand by Kowhai Media Ltd, also the publisher of New Zealand Geographic. A kowhai (pronounced ko-fy in Maori) is a native tree with brilliant golden blooms that flowers in incandescent glory among the deep-green trees of New Zealand’s temperate rainforest. Similarly Kowhai Media seeks to be a stand-out example of quality, creativity and originality in digital publishing. See more at www.prophotographer.co.nz

August 16th, 2013

Showcase: Humans of New York

Posted by Lucaites in photographer's showcase

Stanton.2013-08-14 at 11.06.06 PM

NCN is happy to introduce Brandon Stanton, a street photographer who devotes each day to photographing strangers on the streets of New York.  Over the past two and one half years he has taken over 5,000 portraits of strangers along West 14th St. in New York City, each accompanied with an appropriate quotation or anecdote from his subject that opens up a window into their life and world. He has over one million followers on Facebook and Tumblr.  Many of these photographs can be see on his website or in his forthcoming book Humans of New York, scheduled to be published in the Fall of 2013 by St. Martin’s Press.  As America Photo notes, “he has done nothing less than  create a fresh form of photography that capitalizes on the connective possibilities of social media. In doing so he may represent the future of photography itself. He is his own editor, curator, and publisher, and his audience is larger than any traditional medium could allow.”

We are pleased to welcome him to NCN and we encourage you to examine and engage his work.

May 24th, 2013

Andrew Fisher’s Images of Emptiness Beside the Seaside

One might ask why a public art would have a place for emptiness.

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Photography certainly does.  Whether looking across a Civil War battlefield, or at a road in the Crimea, or at the desolate streets and empty storefronts of urban decay, or at grasslands burnt down to dust by drought, scenes of desolation have played an important part in photography’s history.

One result is that it is easy to see another exhibition of empty places as verging on cliche; haven’t we been here before, and what is to be gained by looking again?  When the loneliness is part of an amusement park or boardwalk or beach, one can feel manipulated: isn’t it just a cold day or off season?  What’s to be learned when we know the people are just somewhere else and perhaps having a good time anyway?  Is the point merely to contrast the artist’s work from the Happyville aesthetics of commercial media?  That very likely is one motive behind a lot of documentary photography, but is that all we have here?

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These questions were part of my initial reaction when looking at Andrew Fisher’s exhibition, Beside the Seaside, but something else keep me looking a bit longer.  What I like about these images is that they don’t just show a degraded public space, even though the decay on the posts in the first photo hints at that.  What I get instead is a complex sense of public space that says several things at once: that pubic life requires a built environment, however minimal that might be; that minimal is often good enough, because of how much will happen simply by people being present to enjoy a bit of leisure in a largely uncoordinated fashion; how it really is about the people and how they can share a common space, something we can forget when dazzled by newer construction or when isolated in our places of media consumption; and how association can lead to abandonment of the place and of each other as people follow their different interests to go elsewhere; and how even that sadness need be only for a while and can become a basis for reflection and repose.

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So we need images of emptiness after all.  Public culture is not just a story of bustle, excitement, conflict, change, and progress.  It is all of this, but they all are prey to time, which is in fact something that Andrew is trying to tell us.  We experience the amusement or the conflict or any specific event as if it will always reverberate across our lives, and some do.  But there also is the down time, the emptiness, which was there before and will come again and is within us right now, always.  Sometimes it helps to see that.

March 22nd, 2013

Ten Years After: Lest We Forget

Posted by Lucaites in photographer's showcase

Unknown

Peter Turnley is a good friend of NCN, but more important, he was on the front line of photographers who refused the invitation to be embedded in Iraq and brought us some of the most powerful and compelling images of from both the first (1991) and second (2003) Gulf Wars.  A small portfolio of his images can be seen here on the 10th anniversary of the most recent conflagration: Lest we forget.

February 15th, 2013

Remittances: Images of Migrant Labor by Robert Gumpert

Posted by Hariman in photographer's showcase

Given the date, I’m tempted to label this one, “Valentine’s Day, The Day After.”  It’s a beautiful, beautiful image of what love is all about: the deep bond and real beauty that can be found when people face life’s struggle together.

Gumpert Remittance 8

I could go on about the richness of this image–the fruit on the table on the left, as if out of a Dutch still life; the varied cultural associations, all powerful, caught up in her red shirt; the tension between repose and anxiety in her clasped hands. . . . But these and the other details, both light and dark, in this remarkable photograph are not there for merely artistic appreciation.

The photo is one from the Remittance series by Robert Gumpert, a photographer working out of San Francisco on behalf of prisoners, migrant laborers, and other human beings.  (Warning: this link to his website will take you to some heart-stopping photos.)  This series is a meditation on migrant earnings–the remittances–that flow back across borders as yet another form of alienated labor.  Gumpert notes that, according to the World Bank, remittances to developing countries are expected to increase 7 to 8 percent annually, reaching $467 billion by 2014.  Thus, capital flows at the bottom of the economic hierarchy much like it does at the top: transnationally, and in a manner that can abstract, displace, or destabilize social relationships.  The difference, of course, is that the flows at the top hurt other people, while the social costs at the bottom stay there.

Gumpert Remittance 6

Which is one reason why this highly enigmatic image is so moving.  It could be a work of performance art, but it’s not.  The decor suggests that she is doing fine, but the mask, well, that’s another story yet to be told.  Asthmatic?  Factory worker?  Sex Worker?  (In fact, she works in a nail salon.)  She is both present and concealed, and somehow alienated from us and even it seems from her own environment.  She seems too enclosed for her own good, and yet that enclosure may be all she has left of herself, with her money, chance of getting ahead, and control over her own life already sent elsewhere.

Gumpert Remittance 2

I don’t know what Robert Gumpert had in mind when he took these images, but I do know that he has given us something to think about, and something to think with.   Each image captures a profound sense of reality without out telling us exactly what that is.  What is unsaid is as important as what is being said; if, that, each side of the image is used to understand the other.  This back and forth is not an arbitrary exercise in interpretation, however, but essential to understanding a reality that is defined by people and capital constantly moving back and forth across so-call borders, and often leaving only desolation in between.

Photographs by Robert Gumpert.  The series is not yet available for public distribution, but I’ve provided these examples with his permission.

June 15th, 2012

Showcase: Kids, Life, Violence

Posted by Lucaites in photographer's showcase


Robert Gumpert’s “Take a Picture, Tell a Story” project is about as simple—and as complex—as its name, calling attention to the way in which the interaction between words and image amount to more than just the sum of their parts.  It is an extension of an earlier project called “Lost Promise,” documenting the closing of San Francisco County Jail #3.  The tale here is about Kimberly Waller, and it is part of the “Locked and Found” series, giving men and women incarcerated in the San Francisco County Jail an opportunity to  be seen and to be heard.  This post is tagged: kids, life, violence.

May 14th, 2012

In Memoriam: Horst Faas, 1933-2012

Posted by Lucaites in photographer's showcase

Horst Faas photographed everything from wars in Algeria and the Congo to the 1972 Munich Olympics and much  more, but he was most noted for his work in Vietnam and later the horrific conflict in Bangladesh, twice winning both the Pulitzer Prize for Photography(1965, 1972) and the vaunted Robert Capa Gold Medal (1964, 1997).  By all accounts he was responsible for setting new standards for war photography.  His photographs in general displayed a gritty realism and his images from Vietnam in particular depicted the execrable effects of the war on both sides of what he called “this little bloodstained country so far away.”  He was chief of photo operations for the AP in Saigon from 1962 to 1972.  In 1967 he was seriously wounded by a rocket propelled grenade that nearly took his life; but even then, forced out of the field and confined to a desk he was pivotal in insisting that two controversial (and ultimately iconic) photographs were distributed over the AP wire: Eddie Adam’s “Saigon Execution” and Nick Ut’s “Accidental Napalm.”   He was the AP’s senior editor for Europe until his retirement in 2004.

At NCN we mourn his passing and celebrate his vital  contributions to the public art of photojournalism under the most difficult of circumstances.


Photo Credits: Horst Faas/AP

November 11th, 2011

Photographer’s Showcase: Paul Shambroom’s Shrines

Posted by Hariman in photographer's showcase

Paul Shambroom is a photographer based in Minneapolis, which is much too “Minnesota nice” a place to be if you are interested in exploring American power and culture.  Paul gets out, however, to where power is really on display: places like Mayville, North Dakota.

This monument of an F-84F Thunderstreak isn’t quite elegiac, but it surely is an inadvertent depiction of power in decline.  The plane seems to be falling rather than climbing, and the marker in front could be a gravestone.  The picnic table is an almost surreal touch, and suggests that there is no necessary relationship between the military machine and the agricultural economy in the background.  Military culture and agriculture, two staples of a state containing both grain elevators and the Strategic Air Command, and yet as alienated as life and death.

The shrines to American military power are hardly limited to any one state, however.

Or to any one technology.  Here a Titan I missile adorns the Krystal restaurant parking lot in Cordele, Georgia.  The muscular assertion of male dominance is still there for all to see, but if that weren’t sad enough, just look at the rest of the scene.  Once again, the weapon seems out of place–and we should be grateful that is not surprising–but now another relationship becomes evident.  The symbol of power seems to be there to compensate for a civil society that can hardly rise above the mud.  Whatever that missile cost, it seems more than would be needed to give Cordele an upgrade.  The inverted flag in the rainwater makes the point all too clearly: while lifting up the symbols of national power, other national priorities have been left out in the rain.

Or that’s how it seems to me.  The words are mine, but the photographs are Paul’s.  I highly recommend that you spend more time with the photos.

Photographs by Paul Shambroom, from his Shrines series.

October 10th, 2011

The In/visibility of the Warrior-Citizen

Much of what we experience as war photography focuses attention on the manner in which war is fought.  And whether the photographs we see shows soldiers conducting military campaigns, interacting with local children in occupied territories, experiencing the boredom of war that punctuates the time between skirmishes, suffering from wounds both physical and psychological, or returning home to the hugs and relief of friends and families—or worse, in flag drapped coffins, the focus is always on what we might call “the conduct of war.” And because wars are typically fought in the name of collectivities the role of the individual is played down—not erased entirely, but nevertheless minimized, as such photographs underscore the archetypal quality of the scenes displayed.  Individuals tend to stand in for something larger than themselves.  And yet for all of that, one of the genres of war photography continues to be the individual portrait.

The most common portraits of soldiers tend to be taken prior to battle and usually feature the soldier in full uniform.  This is of course a practice that is as old as the Civil War.  And whether taken by the military itself or by friends and family members, such portraits veil the identity of the individual beneath the uniform and mark the soldier first and foremost as a representative of the nation-state.  In recent years a number of photographers have begun to challenge such work and in a ways designed to remind us of the individuals doing the fighting (here and here).  Among such work is the photography of Suzanne Opton.

In a series of projects beginning as early as 2003 Suzanne Opton has been photographing individual soldiers, emphasizing the artistic conventions of portraiture designed to help us engage and understand the individual qua individual.  And with stunning results. Taken “at home,” rather than on the war front, the soldiers she photographs are all out of uniform.  And thus there is a sense in which their status as “citizen” is accented, rather than their status as “warrior.”  And yet at the same time they are unmistakably marked by their experiences as warriors.

In one set of images, titled “Many Wars” she photographs veterans in treatment for combat trauma, but what marks the series is that they cut across every American war from World War II to the present.  As with the photograph above, they are shrouded in cloth, and generally distinguished by age, though only somewhat incidentally by the particular wars in which they fought. And the point seems to be that we need to see them as one, even as they are portrayed as individuals—a paradox that underscores the in/visibility of war as it crosses generations (and more).

 

In one of her most recent works, titled “Soldiers” she photographs veterans returning from Iraq, by asking them to lie on the ground with their faces at rest, almost as if they were preparing to go to sleep.  The pose not only resists the typical conventions of portraiture (showing the individual sitting or standing up straight, shoulders back, emphasizing their strength and agency) but locates them in that liminal state between full and active consciousness and the dream world of sleep. The pose surely operates as a visual metaphor for the condition of such individuals.  There is also a gesture here to the “two thousand yard stare” that recurs as a convention of war photography, made all the more haunting by the fact that these individuals are out of uniform and thus that much closer to us as citizens on the home front.   These photographs were part of a provocative and controversial “Billboard” campaign which, in their own way, demonstrate the sense in which the soldier has become more or less in/visible.

Whatever one makes of Opton’s work, it is clear that she is challenging us to think about the conventional representations of war and the warrior-citizen, and more, the implications for how we experience and engage such representations as we go about our daily lives.  Suzanne Opton will be lecturing on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington, IN on Monday, October 3, 2010.  The title of her presentation is “Many Wars: The Difficulty of Home” and it will take place in Fine Arts 015 from 7:00-8:30.  If you are in the neighborhood I encourage you to attend.

Photo Credits: Suzanne Opton

Note:  My colleague Jon Simons and I are co-hosting the 2011-2012 Remak New Knowledge Seminar on “The In/Visiblity of America’s 21st Century Wars.”  As part of the seminar we will be bringing eight speakes to campus including Michael Shapiro, Roger Stahl, Diane Rubenstein, Nina Berman, David Campbell, Wendy Kozol, and James Der Derian.  Suzanne Opton is the first speaker in the series.  In April 2012 we will be hosting a conference on the same theme that will include presentations by Robert Hariman and Michael Shaw.


September 16th, 2011

Vernacular Photographer Herman Krieger

Posted by Hariman in photographer's showcase

This week we feature the photo essays of Herman Krieger, an independent photographer living in Eugene, Oregon.


There may be less irony in this photograph than you think.  Herman’s photo essays include everything from candid contrasts to captions that are as corny as anything you’d see in a flea market, but they are neither judgmental nor superficial.  Instead, he achieves an intimacy with and understanding of his subjects that is rarely found among other hobby photographers.

You can learn more about Herman by watching this brief PBS video, or by going here (including the link to the New York Times review) and here.  But I’m sure he would be the first to say that the photo essays are not about him, but rather about appreciating the small pleasures–one might even say “authentic delights”–of ordinary life.

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