Artist Spotlight: Zanele Muholi

Somnyama Ngonyama
Zanele Muholi
Exhibition runs: October 23 – December 5, 2015
Yancey Richardson Gallery
525 West 22nd Street
New York, NY. 10011

I first met Zanele Muholi in Arles, France in 2012 where she was one of the Discovery Award nominees and a favorite of mine at the festival. She was very kind in taking the time to talk to me and to walk me through her work (bottom right). Her projects and her passion for giving voice to marginalized LGBT South African people left a lasting impression on me then and her work continues to do just that in her latest show “Somnyama Ngonyama” on view in New York at the Yancey Richardson Gallery.
Read the press release below:

Yancey Richardson Gallery is pleased to present Somnyama Ngonyama, the debut exhibition of self-portraits by South African artist Zanele Muholi and her second solo exhibition at the gallery. Somnyama Ngonyama, meaning “Hail, the Dark Lioness”, represents a newly personal approach taken by Muholi as a visual activist confronting the politics of race and pigment in the photographic archive.

In contrast to her ongoing project Faces and Phases, which documents members of the black LGBTI community in South Africa and beyond, Muholi has now turned the camera on herself to make portraits in which she is both participant and imagemaker. Over the last two years Muholi has traveled to Amsterdam, Charlottesville, Durban, Johannesburg, London, Mayotte, Oslo, Paris and New York City, for various engagements relating to her work and dedication to visual activism. It was on these trips that she used found props and simple equipment to rethink the culture of the selfie and the concepts of self-representation and self definition as evidenced in these portrayals of her mood at the time each image was made.

Inspired by family, friends, society and consumer culture, Muholi experimented with different characters and archetypes, drawing on the performative and expressive language of theatre, and the highly stylized archetype of black and white fashion photography. The exhibition images form part of the ongoing series MaID (My Identity) or, read differently, “maid”, the quotidian name given to black women domestic workers. Individual portraits reference specific events in South Africa’s political history, from the advent of the mining industry to the fame and infamy of the “Black Madonna”, to the recent massacre of miners at Marikana.

A number of photographs are processed and printed to emphasize the blackness of the artist’s skin. As the artist states, “By exaggerating the darkness of my skin tone, I’m reclaiming my blackness, which I feel is continuously performed by the privileged other. My reality is that I do not mimic black; it is my skin and, the experience of being black that is deeply entrenched in me”. At the core of her photographs, Muholi strives to exorcise the culturally dominant images of black women that infiltrate media today.

LensCulture Magazine’s Top Picks at This Weeks’ Photo Paris

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For nearly two decades, the annual Paris Photo fair has punctuated the photography’s world fall calendar by bringing together some of the top artists, collectors and professionals to the City of Light. This year’s edition promises to be no different: thousands of lovely images and an exciting, stimulating week of presentations, discussions, signings and off-shoot programming.

As ever, the fair this year is underpinned by the invited galleries. 140, from 33 countries, will be featured at the Grand Palais, presenting both historical and contemporary works. Joining them are 27 publishers and specialized art book dealers providing a complete panorama of the photographic medium.

As in the past few years, the photo-book will have a prominent place. In partnership with the Aperture Foundation, Paris Photo presents the 2015 Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation Photobook Awards ( see last year’s winners!). From just over 1,000 titles, the Awards will present a shortlist of 35 books. There will ultimately be three winners in the following categories: “First PhotoBook,” “PhotoBook of the Year,” and “Photography Catalogue of the Year.” READ ALL

Gentry to Sail with University of Virginia’s Semester at Sea Program Spring ’16

Erika Gentry has been selected as a faculty member to teach with the University of Virginia in their Spring 2016 Semester at Sea Voyage “Around the World”. The voyage begins January 5, 2016 in San Diego, Ca and ends April 16, 2016 in England. Together with 600 students and 35 faculty, the floating University (a 1998 cruise ship outfitted to contain 10+ classrooms) will voyage for 101 days stopping in 11 countries and 15 cities starting in San Diego, CA and continuing on the below route.

Gentry will take an unpaid leave from the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) in the Spring and return Fall 2016 to resume her normal duties as Professor & Chair of the Photography Department. During the voyage, Gentry will teach three sections of Fine Art and Documentary Photography and lead students on photography field labs in Mauritius, Saigon and Myanmar. She says “It’s quite interesting to plan three separate day-long, meaningful excursions for groups of 20 students to places I’ve never been before – but I am excited about it as well as connecting with local artists”. The lectures she will deliver will focus on local image-makers and technical jargon for many of the 15 ports visited. Gentry also has plans to work on her own fine art projects during the three months at sea.

“I can’t wait to make images and deliver an exciting set of courses and lectures for my students as well as to the general public if they choose to follow me virtually and with a donation. I plan to Instagram, blog and podcast lectures to my supporters” she said. To help – become a virtual passenger on the tour by supporting Gentry with a $5 or more donation. All donations will go to extra costs associate this journey. SUPPORT THE JOURNEY- BECOME A VIRTUAL FOLLOWER

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PORTS over 101 Days
Honolulu, Hawaii
Yokohama, Japan
Kobe, Japan
Shanghai, China
Hong Kong, China
Ho Chi Minh City, Việt Nam
Rangoon, Burma
Cochin, India
Port Louis, Mauritius
Cape Town, South Africa
Takoradi & Tema (Accra) Ghana
Casablanca, Morocco
debarking in Southampton (London), England.

Tutorial: Inkjet Printing Color and Black and White from LR and PS CC

Here is an updated printing video to print in color and BW to an inkjet printer from Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC.

DSLRS Gone in 25 Years?

This man thinks so:

Say goodbye? Full-frame DSLRs gone by 2025 claims Dr. Rajiv Laroia, imaging startup Light

Light's technology involves using multiple small camera modules to achieve image quality normally associated with cameras having much larger sensors. This computer rendering shows one concept for their technology, apparently using 11 camera modules; four tiny ones typical of current smart phones, and seven larger ones. The number of camera modules can be scaled up and down as needed; the current prototype being developed uses a total of 16 camera modules.

Light’s technology involves using multiple small camera modules to achieve image quality normally associated with cameras having much larger sensors. This computer rendering shows one concept for their technology, apparently using 11 camera modules; four tiny ones typical of current smart phones, and seven larger ones. The number of camera modules can be scaled up and down as needed; the current prototype being developed uses a total of 16 camera modules.

Will full-frame DSLRs be a thing of the past, 10 years hence? “Never” is a perilous word when it comes to technology, but full-frame SLRs gone, really? Ten years certainly seems like a bit of a reach, but that’s exactly what Dr. Rajiv Laroia, the Chief Technical Officer of imaging startup company Light predicted, when I spoke with him recently. (I’m sure our readers will weigh in with their own thoughts in the comments below ;-)

We told you about Light and their unique multi-lens/sensor camera technology a bit over a week ago, now we’re back with all sorts of juicy technical details about how their technology works, fresh from an interview with Rajiv and his co-founder and CEO Dave Grannan. It was an interesting conversation, to say the least.

The photo industry has certainly seen its share of bold technical claims that fail to pan out, but Messrs. Laroia and Grannan have extremely impressive resumes, and well-proven track records of bringing cutting-edge technology to market in successful products. Dave Grannan has been around the Mobile space for years, with previous stints at Nokia, Sprint, and Geoworks, and as CEO of Vlingo, whose speech recognition technology was behind the first Siri app and Samsung’s S Voice offering. Then there’s Rajiv Laroia. If you use a cell phone, you probably use technology Rajiv pioneered every day: His former company Flarion Technologies was the developer of 4G/LTE cell phone technology. (Yes, that LTE). Qualcomm bought Flarion in 2006 for $600MM to acquire both their patents and their tech team, Rajiv foremost among them. These days, he can clearly afford any camera/lens he wants, but decided to revolutionize the photography business instead. READ ALL

Assignment: Creative Curves

Teaching students photoshop is a challenge, especially while trying to get across technical information and cultivate creativity. Today we completed a tech primer in preparation for the assignment “Creative Curves” and I recorded the demonstration. I’ve posted the assignment below for my colleagues as well as the practice lab and accompanying file for anyone who’d like to follow along. Happy image making! -Erika

Download the file joshuatree.jpg or use one of your own. (sorry wordpress won’t post RAW files)



1. To implement the workflow of ACR/Lightroom to make global adjustments and attach IPTC metadata.
2. To become extremely familiar with how to interpret the info palette, histogram and curves dialogue box in Photoshop.
3. To refresh your memory of the various aspects of making local selections and manipulating masks and curve layer adjustments.
4. To output 8x10s with proper icc profiles, tonal and color representations.
5. To experiment more with producing imagery that employs the learned techniques of this module.
6.  To utilize curves to control tonal adjustments and implement monochromatic creative controls.


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1. Choose two “fine art images” from your existing portfolio or capture two new images. These images should relate to one another so as to seem “plucked from a series”. Using techniques learned, you are going to “creatively interpret” the images. See the artists highlighted in the “artists spotlight” for this week for inspiration as well as the student work above.

3. With either the Nikon slide scanner or the Epson flatbed scanners, or using a camera, digitize your images in RGB color. The files should be at least about 10 to 25 megabytes each (large enough to print a 8x at 240-360ppi).

4. Employ the use of global ACR or Lightroom adjustments in the basic panel and then open in Photoshop to apply local curves to correct tonal qualities in an image, dodge/burn selected areas, control contrast and/or create creative enhancements. Feather and paint masks where needed.

5. Create a monochromatic image using TWO of the alternative techniques discussed in class (Color Fill, Black and White, Color Gradient, Cross Process, Cyanotype, Duotone, Split Tone, or other of your discovery) Use selective curves to control ares of the image to make choices about tone. Use masks selectively with curves to manipulate the transitions smoothly.

Turn In: 
– TWO final “photographic” prints that are at least ” 8 x 10″ but not larger than 20 x 24″ with proper output/profiles sent to service bureau.
– Provide a written paragraph describing the work and your process including screen shots. (EXAMPLE)
– Participate in the class critique.

I’ll show the work of many artists relevant to this project in class. Don’t miss these lectures.

-Followed guidielines (has global adjustments, SAM curves + 2 or more alt techniques, (30)
-Technical quality, tonal corrections, selections, burning/dodging, output, (30)
– Creative interpretation, uniqueness, (30)
-Submitted on time, participated in class critiques, screenshot/paragraph (10)

Artist Spotlight: Graciela Iturbide

“I am quite a solitary person. That is why I chose to do photography instead of movies because, while photographing, you work alone with your camera, you travel, you read…and at night you meditate seriously on the places you have visited and the photographs you are taking..My photographic work is the one that Graciela Iturbide does with her very own vision. I do not pretend to do contemporary or anthropological photography nor any other kind of photography except the one I bear in my heart”

Artist Biography
Born 1942 in Mexico City, Mexico. Graciela Iturbide urrently lives in Coyoacán,Mexico.
Photographer Graciela Iturbide is inspired by the poetry she finds in everyday life. Whether she captures birds in flight against an expansive sky, young men and women in East Los Angeles, or an iguana vendor in a small Mexican town, Iturbide photographs her subjects with a poetic sensibility and a respect for the way her subjects want to be represented. Her images reveal strong individuals at ease in front of the camera lens, a result of the relationships that Iturbide establishes with her subjects. Iturbide’s artistic career began when she studied cinematography at the University of Mexico. There she met photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo, who would become her mentor, teacher, and life- long friend. Like Alvarez Bravo, Iturbide was interested in photographing indigenous Mexican culture. She is best known for her black-and-white images depicting indigenous communities, in which she portrays both ancient customs and modernized life.



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