Eric’s Note: This article is written by Neil Ta, my manager and good friend who recently attended a Magnum Photos workshop in Toronto. The project he worked on for the week was “Meat Locker.” Below is his write-up of the experience and the lessons he’s personally learned. You can see upcoming Magnum workshops and events here.
Neil: I recently had the opportunity to attend a Magnum Photos workshop in Toronto as part of the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, which is one of the largest of its kind in the world. For the last six years, Contact has invited members of Magnum to run workshops focusing on photojournalism, documentary storytelling, and street photography.
This year’s line-up of instructors included Magnum Associate Moises Saman and Magnum Nominee Zoe Strauss. Moises is most well-known for the work he’s done in Afghanistan and Iraq and his focus more recently has been in documenting the Arab Spring. Zoe’s extensive work is more regionally focused in the community where she was born and raised – Philadelphia.
I ultimately chose to go with Moises over Zoe because I felt his work was a lot different than my own and I hoped he’d be there to guide me through a more photojournalistic project over the week.
Weegee is certainly one of the most infamous street photographers in history. Although he never called himself a street photographer (he worked as a press/news photographer) his obsession with capturing people was unparalleled. With no formal photographic training, he covered some of the most gruesome murders (and shots of everyday life) around New York City from the 1930′s to the 1940′s. Armed with a portable police-band shortwave radio, he was always on the beat for new stories to cover– and he even had a complete darkroom in the trunk of his car. This allowed him to get his photos to the newspapers as quickly as possible.
Weegee is also famous for the use of his 4×5 Speed Graphic large-format press camera and flash– which added even more drama to his gritty black and white photos. He was certainly one of the forefathers of shooting street photography with a flash (back when they used flashbulbs). He generally shot his camera preset at f/16 at 1/200 of a second, with flashbulbs and a set focus distance of ten feet (and didn’t always know what kind of photos he got until he processed them).
Many street photographers are under the false impression that shooting with artificial light in street photography is just a recent phenomenon. It started as early as 1887, in which the journalist Jacob Riis started using flash power to document destitute people on the streets. Certainly Weegee has had a strong influence on shooting flash in the streets to photographers such as Diane Arbus, William Klein, and Bruce Gilden.
If you want to learn more about the philosophy behind Weegee’s work read on.
Oculi is presenting a unique book making opportunity during the Reportage Festival in Sydney.
As a part of the 2013 Reportage Documentary Photography Festival and in partnership with BLURB books, Australia’s photographic collective OCULI presents HOME, an interactive exhibition where viewers are able to curate and sequence their own custom book from the Oculi Collective’s imagery.
The exhibition opening is May 22nd at 6pm and will run until June 10th at the Cleland Bond in The Rocks (Ground Level, 33 Playfair St.) in Sydney, Australia.
(All photographs in this article provided by Rinzi Ruiz)
My good friend Nicholas Susatyo recently recommended a book to me: “Zen in the Art of Archery.” In-fact, it was the book that Henri Cartier-Bresson said had the deepest influence in his photography. I have been meaning to read it for a while, so on my flight to Philly I decided to give it a go.
The book is written by Eugen Herrigel, a German philosophy teacher who went to Japan for several years and learned the art of archery (while teaching philosophy at a Japanese university). He heard about the art of archery, and was fascinated with the zen philosophy which was embedded in the art.
I am very excited to share that Issue 4 of Radiate Magazine is available! If you love street photography I highly recommend getting a printed copy (nothing beats reading it on a Sunday morning with a warm cup of coffee). I just ordered my hard copy, and the printing and binding is superb.
Eric’s Note: Federico Chiesa was born in a small town in Tuscany, Italy, in 1979. He studied commercial photography at “I.E.D” in 2005 and now works as a professional advertising photographer and retoucher. Street photography is one of his favorite vocations. See his “New York Diary” project and his thoughts on street photography below.
W. Eugene Smith is one of the legends of photography. Although he was notorious for being maniacal, emotionally distant, and unreasonable– he channeled those energies into being one of the best photographers history has ever seen. I consider his approach to be very similar to that of Steve Jobs.
I hope that this article can help you get a better understanding of W. Eugene Smith, his work, and his philosophies of photography– to take your own work to new heights.