Something like love

Stephen Wilkes Lecture at PhotoNOLA

Posted in Commercial, Documentary, Fine Art, Fine art, Lecutre, Moving, Photography, Pretty things by linhdy on December 24, 2010

Stephen Wilkes - Ellis Island

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I returned from PhotoNOLA at New Orleans where we  had the wonderful experience of hearing photographer Stephen Wilkes lecture, in the flesh.  The December 11th lecture was two hours long and focused on his personal work with glimpses of his from high school work up until his recent project on the BP Oil Spill.

The most critical moment in the lecture and (in some ways his career), was when he was serendipitously granted unlimited access to document the Ellis Island hospital complex, which housed ill immigrants from 1892 to 1954 on their way to the United States.  As he said, Wilkes was in the right place at the right time.

The abandoned hospital complex was left in all its haunting glory in a secluded section of the Island.  During that time, it was exposed to the natural elements and–most importantly– time.  Wilkes captured the beautiful decay of the rooms,  parallel to the heavy history of those who stayed and even died in within the hospital ward.   His photographs tell the story of those who suffered, lived, and died within those confines.  The photos hint at an unsettling, and sometimes light, side of humanity.

On a lighter note, his lecture segued to his Vanity Fair piece on the billion-dollar financial swindler Bernard Madoff (incredibly clever!), to his on-going documentation of China as an industrializing machine (both scary and admirable).

Wilkes ended on an uplifting note by sharing his photos document the BP oil spill.  At that moment, it became clear that he aims to use his work to drive change.  And that my friend, is incredibly inspirational.

[Photos by Stephen Wilkes, Ellis Island]

Marc Garanger: Documenting Dignity

Posted in Documentary, Fine Art, Fine art, Identity, Photography, Portraiture by linhdy on November 20, 2010

In 1960, Marc Garanger was the official photographer of the French army that occupied  Algeria in 1960.  The French military forced the Algerians to build new houses around the military barracks.  As part of the occupation.  Garanger’s commanding officer ask him to photograph all the villagers for mandatory photo IDs.

In 10 days I took 2000 images. The first days the portraits I took showed the women with their veils on. When I showed the image to the commander, he asked for the veils to be removed.

The village women were photographed against their will without their veils and/or headpieces.  Garanger’s Femme Algérienne is a statement of defiance; a strong show of dignity and humanity.

Phillip Toledano: Days with My Father

Posted in Documentary, Photo essay, Photography by linhdy on January 18, 2010

This is an oldie but goodie. I stumbled upon this website maybe eight months ago as I was reading PDN. Photographer Phillip Toledano‘s moving photo essay “Days with My Father” that describe the last days with his dying father. It is accompanied with simple writings of his experience. I find it very inspiration, real– and just plain moving. Apparently, he will be publishing this collection in a book by the same name this spring.

Here are a few of my favorites…

Father pointing to window