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Quote of Note | Mitch Epstein

(Mitch Epstein)“I used to make pictures without thinking about how they would relate to one another as a series. When I went to Vietnam in the early ’90s to collaborate with a Vietnamese dissident writer, a novelist, I started to conceive of my individual pictures as part of a greater whole, as projects. I began to conceive of these projects as photographed from the inside out, not the other way around. In other words, I let go of the conventions of supposedly neutral ‘street photography’ and began to find ways to insert and invest myself into a situation and yet still remain somewhat detached. Family Business is an example where I photographed something I knew intimately and cared about deeply, but did so with emotional restraint. I’d absorbed my lessons from strict documentarians, which allowed me to make something personal without sentimentalizing it.” —Photographer Mitch Epstein

Pictured: Mitch Epstein, Flag (2000), from Family Business, a film and photographic project about Epstein’s father and the demise of the family furniture store.

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Oh, Canada! Edward Burtynsky, Fred Herzog Among Photographers Honored with Stamps

herzog stamp

stampsCanada knows how to have fun with stamps, eh? Current postage options in the Great White North include a set of spooky stamps devoted to “haunted Canada” (featuring beloved phantoms such as Alberta’s Ghost Bride and the burning ship that is often spotted in Prince Edward Island’s Northumberland Strait), pop-country songstress Shania Twain, and Superman, but our favorites are the new set celebrating Canadian photography.

Designed by Stéphane Huot, the stamps—five domestic-rate stamps, one U.S. denomination, and one international stamp—feature Fred Herzog’s Bogner’s Grocery (1960, pictured above), Lynne Cohen’s Untitled (1970), Michel Lambeth’s St. Joseph’s Convent School (1960), C.D. Hoy’s Unidentified Chinese man (circa 1912) and Louis-Prudent Vallée’s Quebec City in Winter (1894). William Notman’s Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill (1885) graces the U.S. denomination while Edward Burtynsky’s Railcuts #1, shot at Skihist Provincial Park in British Columbia in 1985, appears on the international stamp. And for philatelists, the Canadian photographic fun doesn’t end there: the Canadian photography series is set to continue for three more years. Sorry, Superman!

Friday Photo: Monkey on Board

(Garry Winogrand)In 1959, Bronx-born photographer Garry Winogrand (1928–1984) captured what is surely one of the most wonderfully—and perplexingly—absurd scenes in the history of photography: a snow monkey perched on the rear of a Chevy convertible paused at an intersection on Park Avenue in Manhattan. The man and the woman in the car look over their shoulders to regard the primate with gazes of barely suppressed annoyance, as if poised to answer the are-we-there-yet? whines of a bored child. Meanwhile, the monkey, having spied Winogrand and his trusty Leica, looks straight at the lens with his mouth open.

“One day I asked Winogrand what actually was happening when he made that now-classic photograph,” said Jeff Rosenheim, a former student of Winogrand’s who now serves as curator in charge of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s department of photographs, at the recent press preview for the museum’s exquisite Winogrand retrospective. “He smiled at let rip a common refrain: ‘Forget about the original situation, Jeff. It’s gone. Look at the picture. A photograph is a new thing. An illusion. A lie. A transformation.’ It was important lesson for me to learn then, and even today I revisit its truths as I work to understand this ever-changing nature of this medium of photography.”
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Mark Your Calendar: Bill Cunningham at 92Y

The METROPOLITAN OPERA Season Opening Night GALA

The indefatigable Bill Cunningham has been prowling the streets for stylish types since World War II, child, when his camera of choice was a Brownie. Come September 3, the 85-year-old aesthete will pedal up to the 92nd Street Y—not to snap photos but to join Fern Mallis on stage for a rare interview. The event, announced today, will kick off the fourth year of Mallis’s “Fashion Icons” series, during which she has interviewed everyone from André Leon Talley and Bruce Weber to Tom Ford and Vera Wang with a surgical, this-is-your-life approach that inevitably reveals all manner of fun facts (did you know that Penelope Tree was a college classmate of Wang’s? Or that she herself had seven wedding dresses, in a nod to Chinese tradition?). Those interested in getting a peek at the man behind the blue French work jacket should grab tickets here, and fast. They’re likely to be gone in a flash.

Sim Chi Yin Joins VII Photo Agency

(Sim Chi Yin)
A view of the Yangon River, March 23, 2012. From Sim Chi Yin’s “Burmese Spring” series.

Beijing-based photographer Sim Chi Yin is the newest member of VII, the photo agency founded in 2001 with the goal of “documenting conflict—environmental, social and political, both violent and non-violent—to produce an unflinching record of the injustices created and experienced by people caught up in the events they describe.” As the collectively owned agency’s nineteenth member, she joins an esteemed group that includes Ron Haviv, Stephanie Sinclair, Ed Kashi, and Marcus Bleasdale, who worked closely with Chi Yin in the VII Mentor Program.

In just a few years, Chi Yin has made a name for herself by tackling stories on migrant labor, income inequality, and urbanization in China. She also shoots regularly for The New York Times and has completed assignments for publications including The New Yorker, Time, The New York Times Magazine, and Le Monde. “I’ve been thrown into the assignment world rather quickly,” says Chi Yin, who became a freelance photographer in 2011. “And now, I would very much like to do more thoughtful, meaningful group projects on global issues, and work on more social/community engagement with photography-based work. VII is already well-known and respected for its ethos: socially-concerned photography, so that befits my personal direction.”

Surface Brings Back Avant Guardian Photo Contest

(mario testino)Surface magazine’s Avant Guardian contest is back—and better than ever. Among the tantalizing opportunities up for grabs in the competition (returning after a few years’ hiatus) is the chance to share an issue with the man, the myth, the Mario Testino, who is fronting the October Surface in honor of his upcoming “Alta Moda” exhibition at Dallas Contemporary.

“The contest is all about nurturing rising talent—from getting entrants’ work in front of an exceptional jury, awarding free studio time to produce an original spread in the magazine, and exhibiting their work to a crowd of influencers in New York and Miami during Art Basel,” associate editor Aileen Kwun tells us. Among those who have signed on to judge the submissions are architectural photographer Iwan Baan and Johan Lindeberg of BLk DNM. Entrants may submit a portfolio of up to ten images in one of five categories (fashion, architecture, portraiture, fine art, and technical/still life) before the July 24 deadline.

Photo: Mario Testino

‘Detroit—Bruce Weber’ Exhibition Debuts at Detroit Institute of Arts

(bruce weber)The Detroit Institute of Arts has been busy lining up pledges—$26 million from Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, and General Motors Foundation; $10 million from the Mellon Foundation; $3 million from the J. Paul Getty Trust—toward its goal to raise $100 million as part of a “grand bargain” that will help the City of Detroit emerge from bankruptcy, support city pensioners, and protect the museum’s art collection for the public. An exhibition that opens today should bolster hometown pride. The DIA has partnered with Condé Nast to present “Detroit—Bruce Weber,” an exhibition of approximately 80 photographs by the celebrated fashion photographer, filmmaker, and golden retriever enthusiast. Weber began photographing the city and its citizens in 2006, and the images range from portraits of famous locals such as Aretha Franklin and Patti Smith to legendary locales such as Belle Isle, where he came upon a wedding and captured a poignant image of the flower girl. “Detroit—Bruce Weber” is on view through Sept 7 at the DIA.

Pictured: Christopher Gardner, Artist, and Von Jour Reece, Fashion Designer, at Bert’s Marketplace, Detroit, Michigan, 2006, gelatin silver print. © Bruce Weber

Quote of Note | Annie Leibovitz

chaplin“My background as a photographer is as an observer. I’m a terrible director. The performers I have the most rapport with are comedians, who make up a very special group. They’re sort of like manic depressives. I sympathize with them. They are usually also very intelligent. For me, the classic photograph of a comedian is Charlie Chaplin just leaning. That is such an extraordinarily funny picture. It’s as perfect a photograph as you could ever have of a comedian. Chaplin came from silent films. The challenge for a photographer is to create a visually funny picture without it being stupid. It’s difficult to take a funny picture.”

-Annie Leibovitz, whose images—from the black-and-white photograph of Richard Nixon’s helicopter lifting off from the White House lawn after he resigned as president in 1974 to the formal color portrait of Queen Elizabeth II taken in a drawing room of Buckingham Palace in 2007—are collected in a new SUMO-sized, limited-edition book from Taschen

Photographer Michael Schmidt Wins Prix Pictet

(Michael Schmidt)Berlin-based photographer Michael Schmidt is the winner of the third Prix Pictet. Sponsored by Swiss bank Pictet & Cie and with a purse of 100,000 Swiss francs (approximately $112,000, at current exchange), the entry-by-nomination international photography competition seeks to promote sustainability. This year’s theme was “Consumption.” Schmidt’s monumental “Lebensmittel” (food stuff) project, made between 2006 and 2010, was chosen by a jury that included Whitney curator Elisabeth Sussman and photographer Luc Delahaye, who won the Prix Pictet in 2012.

“There were many potential winners but, after much debate, we finally agreed to award the Prix Pictet to Michael Schmidt whose ‘Lebensmittel‘ is an epic and hugely topical investigation into the ways in which we feed ourselves,” said jury chair Sir David King yesterday evening at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, where Kofi Annan was on hand to announce the winner. Schmidt, 68, was not present due to severe illness. The twelve photographers shortlisted for the Prix Pictet included Rineke Dijkstra, Boris Mikhailov, Allan Sekula (who passed away last August at the age of 62), and Laurie Simmons. An exhibition of work shortlisted for Prix Pictet is on view through June 14 at the V&A.

Quote of Note | Elliott Erwitt

erwitt m

“I was traveling, doing interviews for the Macallan project. In each place, we had an exhibition with photos from the book. The receptions were very nice. Some of the questions [from reporters] were rather stupid. In Moscow, there were 500 journalists—supposed journalists. Three or four of them were intelligent. One asked if I was there when the pictures were taken. I replied, ‘Probably.’”

-Photographer Elliott Erwitt in American Photo magazine

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