Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Head On- Photography Portrait Prize - Annual Competition (Australia)

Paul Gosney Dianne - Cashier, Victoria Mart
2006 Finalist

I thought I would just quickly link to this portrait prize in Australia, Head On, which seems to capture that perceived Australian spirit with it's 'alternative' slant.
The image above is from last year's selection, and this year's finalists are about to open at The Australian Centre For Photography (ACP) in Sydney this month.
It's great to see photography thriving round the globe.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Well done to Richard Boll! Photography Portrait Prize 2006

Joe (from the series 'Pavement')
by Richard Boll
© the artist

Congratulations to my friend Richard Boll who recently won the Photographic Portrait Prize 2006 with the National Portrait Gallery, UK (formerly the Schweppes Portrait Prize.)

text below from the National Portrait Gallery website:

"The fourth annual Photographic Portrait Prize has been won by Richard Boll, 29, for 'Joe'. His first-prize winning photograph was taken outside his flat on Brighton's seafront and is the result of a four-minute chance meeting with Joe, a total stranger walking past, who initially did not want to be photographed. After eventually agreeing to the photograph, Joe left Richard Boll and both went their separate ways. But once he had heard the portrait had been shortlisted for the Photographic Portrait Prize, Boll set about trying to track 'Joe' down. Having called at local pubs with a copy of the picture to ask if anyone had seen him, he eventually found him outside a café.

Part of a series of 'very informal, quickly shot' portraits of passers-by, entitled Pavement, the winning photograph was taken on a hot day in June of this year. Joe is shown standing with his arms at his sides, exposing a naked torso adorned with beads, bracelets, tattoos and a naval piercing. He carries a bottle of water and a long-strapped bag is wrapped around his shoulder. 'Joe immediately interested me' says Richard Boll. 'It was a quick encounter, four minutes, most of which was spent persuading him to pose. Joe insisted he wasn't photogenic. I disagreed. With this kind of portraiture, there's a level of trust that has to be won in a short space of time, and I always tell my subjects to be themselves. It lets them know I'm not out to misrepresent them; that I'm not being unkind.'

In Boll's portrait, Joe's stark but enigmatic facial expression and ambiguous pose seem to convey both confidence and vulnerability. 'In Joe's portrait there are some details that hint at a certain level of vulnerability, but these are played off against other details, like his tattoos and adornments, that suggest a real resilience and self-belief. His expression is quite complex and defies interpretation.'

Joe was shot using a Canon 1 Ds Mk II plus one camera flash in order to control the exposure of the subject whilst over-exposing the background and throwing it out of focus. While the figure of Joe dominates the portrait, behind him two cars give added depth to the background and symmetry to the overall composition. 'I didn't appreciate the significance of having the cars in the background until I was looking at the image later' he says. 'I now feel they really hold the portrait together.'

Richard Boll (b1977) graduated from the Edinburgh College of Art with a degree in photography in 1999. He has photographs in the libraries of Getty, Millennium and Famous. In 2004 he won the Audi /Next Level Award for contemporary photography, with pictures of empty painting and sculpture studios in an art college. Born in Kenya but brought up on the Isle of Wight, Boll began taking photographs as a teenager, experimenting at first with black-and-whites of the local landscape. Inspired by photographers such as Irving Penn and Nadav Kander who juggle art and commerce, Boll now specialises in still life and architectural client-work while also pursuing his own personal projects. He hopes to exhibit his Brighton series Pavement in the near future. 'Brighton has a very diverse population' he says 'that's why I enjoy taking portraits there. If I can't take a decent portrait in Brighton, I can't take one anywhere.' "

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Magnum Photographer's Blog

I'm really enjoying being subscribed to the Magnum Photographer's Blog, which is updated regularly and keeps me informed with their latest projects.
'Magnum Photos' is a photographic library which is co-operatively owned by its photographer-members. I assume this means that all benefit from the licensing of their stock photographic images rather than the business models of Getty Images or Corbis Corporation (owned by Bill Gates) where the man at the top reaps the rewards.
The library covers world news events, and is recognised by the outstanding quality of the photography.
I love these images of the Magnum Photographers in 1950 and then again in 2005, taken in Paris, France at their annual meeting. (both images are from their website and are (c) Magnum Photos, the second is taken by Peter Marlow.)