Sally Brownbill

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Archive for September 2014

23/9/2014

Q&A with New York based photojournalist Ben Lowy

– posted by Sally

For the last 2 years, I have been lucky enough to meet and work alongside Ben Lowy at the Head On Photo Festival in Sydney. Boy, I though I had a lot of energy!

Ben began his career covering the Iraq War in 2003. He has received numerous awards from World Press Photo, POYi, PDN, Communication Arts and American Photography. His work from Iraq, Darfur, Afghanistan and Libya have been collected into several gallery and museum shows including the Tate Modern, SF MOMA and the Houston Center for Photography.

In 2011 Lowy's Iraq | Perspectives work was selected by William Eggleston to win the Duke University First Book Prize in Photography. In 2012, Lowy was awarded the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund to continue his work in Libya, as well as the ICP Infinity Award for Photojournalism.

Give us a current description of what you do Ben.
I am a globe trotting photojournalist. Or used to be before the editorial industry tanked. Now I have my fingers in every pot - documentary, commercial, social media, teaching and starving artistry.

What inspired you to become a professional photographer?
I came across Jim Nachtwey's book Inferno while studying illustration in University. It changed my entire perspective about art and representation and educating people.

How did you get your first break?
Another photographer was denied a visa to Kuwait for the build up to the Iraq war in 2003. I walked into this photo agency's office at just the right moment and raised my hand.

What paths have you taken to get to where you are today?
Sacrifice, hard work and frankly tunnel vision with a single goal in mind.

What advice about the do's and don'ts would you give to an aspiring photojournalist/ photographer?
Don’t show work or shoot something that you think the community or editors want to see. Shoot something, show something that you want them to see. And inherit a lot of money. Because that will always help pay the rent better than photography.

Tell us about what you're currently working on and what sets you and your work apart from other photographers?
I am constantly innovating. That is where I see media and technology going. The only way to stay afloat is to constantly change my tools, my aesthetic and my presentation. I am constantly letting each project I work on guide me into a new way to visually articulate. That creativity is an important feature that can help anyone stay relevant in today's world.

Ben Lowy

Head On Photo Festival

12/9/2014

19 shots, 15 litres of milk & 10 m2 of black plastic

– posted by Sally

The Creation of Man by Daniel Gregoric

I started with the concept of making a series of images inspired by creation narratives using liquids. This was inspired by sci-fi films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, and to a lesser extent Terminator (not that I would ever watch a tacky movie like that!).

As part of this series, I knew the final image would of course be 'The Creation of Man'. So in keeping with the liquids theme I set about creating an image of a human head made of liquid. This was always going to be relatively complex, and I received some great help from my lecturers and mentors on the finer details of executing the idea (as well as a few fairly sceptical initial responses about whether this would be possible!)

The pre-production involved in this was mainly in sourcing an appropriate (white) mannequin head to force my liquid over. The choice of liquid was milk, as it didn't stain as badly as paint in case of any spills. I also had to find a way of keeping the liquid from spilling all over RMIT's studio - which is where a kiddy pool came in very handy! This all had to be wrapped up in black plastic in case of a colour cast from the brightly coloured pool.

Once it was time to shoot, most of the hard work was in wrapping up the set in plastic and making sure everything was safe by keeping cords and flash packs off the ground. Electricity and liquid don't mix! The lighting used was simply a beauty dish in very close to give a soft, symmetrical shadow under the chin. I then had a (legend) friend of mine pour the milk onto the head for me while I shot images. We had to experiment with different pouring methods. For instance, a pour from height gave a great splash, while a very gentle pour from close to the mannequin gave nice smoothly textured detail in the forehead. We also tried different sized jugs for some variety. The main things that had to be 'in the can' on shoot day were a few different options for background splashes, and liquid texture on each area of the face, ears and neck. The shoulders were shot separately from another plastic mould that I sourced.

Post production was where everything finally came together. Basically I had to first go through the plates and pick my favourite splashes for the background, facial features and textures in the 'skin'. Then began the process of masking each area that I liked together in photoshop. In the end the post production was slow, but not too difficult, because I had made sure to shoot lots of options for each feature that needed to be covered.

Daniel Gregoric is a final year student in the RMIT BA photography program

8/9/2014

Petrina Hicks wins the 2014 Bowness Photography Prize

– posted by Sally

One of Australia’s most established photographers Petrina Hicks has won Australia’s prestigious photography award, the $25 000 Bowness Photography Prize.

The Director of the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, Angus Trumble announced Hicks as the winner of the Bowness Photography Prize at a cocktail party at Monash Gallery of Art on Thursday 4 September 2014.

Petrina Hicks’s winning photograph Venus 2013 from the series The shadows is an alluring and symbolically rich picture. As with many of the Hicks’s works, Venus is at once a beautiful, archetypal and complex image.

In Venus, Hicks references mythology and art history to explore representations of women. The artist presents the viewer with a portrait of a young woman whose face is obscured by a conch shell.  For Hicks the conch shell is ‘symbolic of fertility across many cultures’, and her portrait of Venus stretches back to some of human culture’s earliest images of women.


Monash Gallery of Art

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