BLACK+WHITE Call For Entry : Curated by Elizabeth Avedon

First Light © Sean Perry

Mahavodi Temple, Bodhgaya, India © Nicholas Vreeland

Black and white photography still holds a place in my heart; it holds an incomparable mystique and mood. Actually film star Ginger Rogers said something like that, but I am of the same opinion. Canadian photojournalist Ted Grant said, “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!” I’m not sure that is an actual fact, but I like his point of view. – Elizabeth Avedon

I’m looking for entries on all subject matter, real or illusive, unpredictable or expected, complicated or plain, in black + white.

"Black + White” Photographs Call for Entry
Curated by Elizabeth Avedon
Entry Deadline: January 6, 2020

Notifications: January 20, 2020
Framed images due at Gallery: March 1, 2020

Exhibition hangs March 1 - May 15, 2020
South x Southeast Photography Gallery
Molena, Georgia

questions: nancy@sxsemagazine.com


FRACTURED : photo-eye Juried Exhibition

(click to enlarge)


Photo-eye Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico: This year marks the 40th Anniversary of photo-eye and they are celebrating with their first-ever juried Open Call looking for photographic submissions for a gallery exhibition in Santa Fe (and online) entitled: "F R A C T U R E D." They invite the submission of photographic works exploring the concept of “fractured.” The exhibition will take place in their physical gallery and online from February 28th to May in 2020.  Read more here

Submitted photographs may come from photojournalistic or documentary projects, commercial assignments, as well as photographs made as expressive artworks. Artists are encouraged to be creative in their interpretation of the theme. Read more here

This exhibition will be juried by the photo-eye Gallery staff. The gallery is looking for new work, and submissions to the open call are also considered for future representation in our online Photographer’s Showcase. Standard artist contract applies. Read more here

Deadline to submit work: 1/12/20


JONATHAN BLAUSTEIN: Extinction Party Kickstarter

 © Jonathan Blaustein

 © Jonathan Blaustein

 © Jonathan Blaustein

 © Jonathan Blaustein

 © Jonathan Blaustein

© Jonathan Blaustein
Images and text by Jonathan Blaustein
Published by Yoffy Press, with an essay by Kevin Kwan
A limited edition photo book about over-consumption
and its impact on the planet

Photographer, writer and educator, Jonathan Blaustein, is asking for your support to help publish his new limited edition photography book that is about to go into production with Yoffy Press in Atlanta.
Check out Jonathan's KICKSTARTER and View his Video for full details on how to support this project by purchasing a book and/or a limited edition print (images above) in the next 11 days. 
Extinction Party

My 2014 Interview on L'Oeil de la Photographie / The Eye of Photography with Jonathan Blaustein about this project in it's earlier stage just before an exhibition of this work opened at The Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, New Mexico:

The Eye of Photography
Jonathan Blaustein Talks To Elizabeth Avedon

“I’ve lived in cities on both coasts, and have found that the man-made landscape leads people to over-consider the power of humanity…. When you’re staring at skyscrapers all day, and traveling via underground train or high speed elevator, it’s easy to overestimate our capabilities.”– Jonathan Blaustein

Jonathan Blaustein is an artist, writer, and educator based in Taos, New Mexico. His photographs have been exhibited widely in the US, and reside in several important collections, including the Library of Congress, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. He also writes about photography for the New York Times Lens blog and APhotoEditor.com, and has taught at the University of New Mexico-Taos for many years.

His series, “The Value of a Dollar,” was published by the New York Times in 2010, and subsequently went viral on the Internet. Ultimately, the conceptual series was seen by millions of people around the world, creating dialogue about the manner in which food represents deeper issues of wealth, class, power and health.

Opening February 22, Blaustein‘s photographs will be part of a three person contemporary art exhibition, “The Mindless Consumption of Animals,” at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, New Mexico.
I spoke with Jonathan recently about his work and his upcoming exhibition:
Elizabeth Avedon: We first met several years ago during CENTER’s Review Santa Fe, while you were working on what eventually became your very successful series, “The Value of a Dollar.” Please explain your works point of view.
Jonathan Blaustein:
My point of view is informed by my background and my experiences, like anyone else. “The Value of a Dollar” was a project that was born out of my obsession with food, many years in the restaurant business, my conceptual art training, and my economics education.

The Great Recession was imminent, as I was shooting the project in early 2008, and I began to pay more attention to how much healthy food costs. When I started buying less fruit, berries in particular, because my income was dropping, I felt that it was something worth exploring.

Furthermore, where I live in the American West, there are semi-trucks and billboards everywhere, showing these lacquered up, shiny Fast Food hamburgers. Everywhere, we see artificial visions of what we eat. And that visual language is a huge driver for America’s obesity epidemic.

Eventually, I got the idea to go shopping for food, as a part of my artistic practice. I’d buy things, based upon their aesthetic and symbolic potential, and then measure out $1 of each item, before photographing it on my stark studio table. I wanted to make up my own visual language that examined the incredibly complex underpinning of the global economy, via a simple and clean image style.

I photographed everything without any artificial lighting, packaging, or styling, so that the food items could stand alone and speak for themselves.

EA: And you followed this series with “MINE”?

Sort of. I actually spent a year and half working on a cultural landscape project in Southern Colorado. But I had a hard time making the pictures what I wanted them to be, so I put that to the side.

In 2011, I got the idea for “MINE,” which felt like a proper follow up, once “The Value of a Dollar” had been so well received. Like a lot of artists, I wanted each project to make sense in an evolving continuum.

After commodifying my food, I wanted to take a look at another primary element of human existence: territory. I actually live on 3.5 acres of land at the base of the Rocky Mountains, and it’s filled with all sorts of nominally worthless natural resources. Rocks, trees, grass, flowers, snow, ice, and, of course, animals.

The concept of private property gives me the right to do whatever I choose with that which is “MINE.” So I decided to turn those natural artifacts into art, in my studio, and then photograph them. In that way, the process was much like “The Value of a Dollar”. I went shopping for free nature on my land, rather than food in a grocery store.
EA: How did that work lead to your latest project “The Mindless Consumption of Animals.”

Well, I put a lot of effort into turning “MINE” into a solo show in Santa Fe over the course of 2012. And then, once it opened, I kind of abandoned my studio. I write from home, and teach at the University in town, so I began to spend less and less time in my photo studio after the massive production of the “MINE” exhibit.

Unfortunately, my studio was pretty expensive, for a small town. So eventually, I realized I needed to give it up. It was costing too much, and I’ve got two young children. It seemed like my priorities needed a re-ordering.

The studio was filled with crap. Piles and piles of waste paper, and worthless objects that I’d accrued over 8 years time. Facing it all, it seemed so daunting.

Then it struck me that I could photograph my junk, and imbue it with value through the artistic process. So it connected perfectly with the two previous projects, which were based upon presenting my own resources, and using them to make grander statements about life in the 21st Century.

Since I was excited about mining the trash for goodies to photograph, it made the process of culling through the clutter kind of a fun game. Each day, I forced myself to take at least one full trash bag out of there, so the piles gradually shrunk.

And then I was left with a blank space, and a trove of images to cull through.
EA: You studied Economics and History at Duke University. What led you into Photography?
In retrospect, I got a decent education at Duke, but I was miserable the whole time. Eventually, I learned I had enough credits to graduate early, so I came to hang out here in Taos, where my folks had moved. During that semester, I began to explore my creativity for the first time, and felt like there was something out there for me.

After college, I worked on a couple of movie productions in New York, before deciding to move back here to the mountains. Just as I was leaving on a solo, five day, cross-country drive, I bought a few rolls of black and white film for a little point and shoot I owned, but never used.

It was just a random idea, and I still don’t exactly know where it came from. But I was hooked within minutes, and shot hundreds of images along the way. By the time I got to Texas, I jotted in a notebook that I wanted to be a photographer. That was it.

So I threw myself into it, and studied undergraduate at UNM in Albuquerque, before a stint in San Francisco. Then I went to Pratt in Brooklyn, where I got my MFA. It’s been 17 years since I picked up a camera, and I still can’t believe how it all turned out.
EA: What inspired you to move to New Mexico?

I was very fortunate growing up, in that my parents discovered Taos when I was still a child, and brought me here when I was 14. We came back once or twice a year, and then they built a house and moved here permanently, when I was still a teenager.

I loved it from the very beginning. I met my wife while I was in Albuquerque, and she was born and raised here. Her folks live here, as do mine, so it was a natural place to settle down and raise a family.

I’m glad I grew up in New Jersey, because the East Coast does impart a certain drive in most people. But since I came here at such a young age, it’s become home in a way that Jersey could never be. The sunshine and the landscape are most definitely addictive.

EA: Were you always so environmentally or economically concerned or has this developed since living on the land in New Mexico?

That’s a great question, Elizabeth. The answer is that my time here has informed the way I think about the manner in which humans interact with the planet. It’s inescapable, as I see a two million year old extinct volcano out one window, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains out the other.

I’ve lived in cities on both coasts, and have found that the man-made landscape leads people to over-consider the power of humanity. It can’t be helped. When you’re staring at skyscrapers all day, and traveling via underground train or high speed elevator, it’s easy to overestimate our capabilities.

I definitely didn’t set out to make political work, or work with an environmental bent, but those themes crept in while I wasn’t looking. And then, when this exhibition opportunity arose, it gave me a chance to consider the deeper roots of my artistic practice.

EA: How did the upcoming exhibition come about?

I spend most of my time showing my work, and engaging with community outside of Taos, because our art scene is a little insular, and perhaps regional. But I struggle with that, as I’m a big believer in the power of community in general.

Early last year, the Harwood curator Jina Brenneman reached out, and said she wanted to get my work on the wall, to introduce it to Taos. It’s the best museum north of Santa Fe, by a long margin, so I was very excited. They have an amazing collection of Agnes Martin’s work, and it draws a good crowd.

Once she told me the premise of the show, and the title, “Art for a Silent Planet,” it really forced me to think about what I’ve been doing. I read the title as a metaphor for the Lorax: we speak for the trees [Dr. Seuss — ‘I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.’ ]

So I decided to find a through line in my work from the last six years, and lo and behold, the environmental themes were right there. As Jina pushed me to try do say something unique, I thought hard about how to best present what I’d been working on.

Eventually, I decided that as the new work was about “repurposing” my trash, I’d repurpose my older work alongside it. There will be a grid of four meat pictures from “The Value of a Dollar,” for instance, but for this show, it’s been retitled as a single piece called “Cow farts cause Global Warming.”

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Help Support this Project
Buy a gorgeous print from the images above

 Extinction Party : Jonathan Blaustein
Yoffy Press


MEXICO – BEYOND THE WALL : Scheinbaum & Russek LTD, Santa Fe, New Mexico

 Manuel Álvarez Bravo (1902 - 2002)
Frida Kahlo Con Globo de Vidrio 
(In Manuel Alvarez Bravo's Studio), 1938
Gelatin silver print
Image: 9 1/2 x 7 1/2"

 Manuel Álvarez Bravo (1902 - 2002)
Senor De Papantla, 1934, printed 1995
Gelatin silver print
Image: 9 5/8 x 6 5/8”

 Ellen Auerbach (1906 - 2004)
Queretaro, Mexico, Xmas Market, 1955
Vintage gelatin silver print
Image: 5 5/8 x 8 1/4”

Aaron Siskind (1903 -1991)
Durango 8, 1961
Gelatin silver print
Image: 12 3/8 x 22 3/4”

 Manuel Carrillo (1906 - 1989)
Boy Watering Horses, Catemaco, 1956, Printed c. 1970s
Gelatin silver print
Image: 8 1/8 x 10 7/8”

 Mexico – Beyond the Wall
November 23, 2019 – December 28, 2019
Scheinbaum & Russek Ltd
369 Montezuma Avenue
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Opening Reception
Saturday, November 23rd, 2-4 pm

Ellen Auerbach (1906 – 2004)
Manuel Álvarez Bravo (1902 – 2002)
Manuel Carrillo (1906 – 1989)
Eliot Porter (1901 – 1990)
Aaron Siskind (1903 – 1991)
Paul Strand (1890 – 1976)



W. E. B. Du Bois, the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1895, became the most influential Black civil rights activist of the first half of the twentieth century, in his office at Atlanta University, 1909.

"The photographs in the 1900 Paris Exposition were drawn from African American communities across the US. Both the photographers and subjects are mostly anonymous. They show people engaged in various occupations, in study and training, and posing formally for group and studio portraits."

 ‘The American Negro Exhibit’ 
1900 Paris Exposition

"At the 1900 Paris Exposition the pioneering sociologist and activist W. E. B. Du Bois organized an exhibit demonstrating the progress of African Americans since the abolition of slavery. In striking graphic visualizations, hand-drawn charts, maps and photographs he showed the changing status of a newly emancipated people across the United States and more specifically in Georgia, the state with the largest Black population."

W. E. B. Du Bois became the most influential Black civil rights activist of the first half of the twentieth century. As a scholar and historian, his exhibit at the Paris Exposition continues to resonate as a powerful affirmation of the equal rights of Black Americans to lives of freedom and fulfillment. This beautiful new book, edited by Julian Rothstein, reproduces the photographs alongside the revolutionary graphic works for the first time, and includes an essay by two celebrated historians, Jacqueline Francis and Stephen G. Hall, foreword by Sir David Adjaye Obe and a note on the photographs by Henry Louis Gates Jr. 

7a St Lawrence Terrace
London W10 5SU
0208 968 4302

*photos and text courtesy of Redstone Press






N. A. VAGUE. Recipient of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award in the Non-Professional Section for her Series #read#me#ad, and Winner in Fine Art Photography



This 14th Edition of The Julia Margaret Cameron Award has been juried by Elizabeth Avedon, Rebecca Robertson, and Analy Werbin. A total of 805 photographers from 67 countries have submitted 6,240 photographs for consideration of the pre-selection team of the Worldwide Photography Gala Awards, and the final selection of the jurors. In this occasion, the Worldwide Photography Gala Awards has waived or discounted entry fees of around 30% of the total amount of submitters. . . . An exhibition of many of these works will be in Barcelona at the FotoNostrum Gallery, March 2020



 Floyd Mayweather © Clay Patrick McBride

The.DPP hosts notorious photographer and director, Clay Patrick McBride on Bangers, Bricks + Gold in another installment of The Picture Review · In Conversation with Sean Perry at The Department of Professional Photography. Austin Community College, Austin, Texas.

McBride’s portraits of celebrities, top athletes, and musicians such as LeBron James, Allen Iverson, Metallica, Norah Jones, Jay Z, and Kanye West have appeared in countless magazines, among them Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated and New York Magazine. His commercial work includes hundreds of album covers for Sony, Def Jam, Universal, Blue Note and Atlantic Records, as well as print campaigns for Pontiac, Boost Mobile and Nike. 


Austin Community College
11928 Stonehollow Drive
Austin, Texas 

 Willy Nelson © Clay Patrick McBrid

Tickets: https://claymcbride.eventbrite.com


New York Portfolio Review 2020: Applications Open, Deadline to Enter November 19, 2019

Margaret Bourke-White holding an aerial camera while standing in front of a plane in which she made combat mission photographs during World War II. Algeria, February 1943. Credit...Margaret Bourke-White/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

James Estrin, New York Times, Photo Dept: "We are again bringing together 110 talented photographers with 75 top photo editors, publishers, curators, gallery owners and video producers, for the 8th annual New York Portfolio Review on March 27, 28 and 29 in New York City. Applications are now open for the free New York Portfolio Review, which is produced by The New York Times photo department, the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York and United Photo Industries. Participation is open to anyone over 18 years old, and all types of photography will be considered...."

Deadline to Enter: Tuesday November 19, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

"We will screen all applicants and choose 110 participants who will all attend all three days. This year there will be travel grants to assist between 15 and 20 participants to attend the review, thanks to the generosity of Prince Claus Fund, Open Society Foundations, and The Chris Hondros Fund. Once the participants are chosen those that wish to apply for financial assistance will have the opportunity to do so."


MESMERIC : SVA Master of Professional Studies in Digital Photography 2019 Class Exhibition

 The Dragon Dream / Film by Sophie Cheung
Showing a pivotal moment from her 10-minute narrative film, The Dragon Dream, and a series of monologues, Sophie Cheung explores the mental-health consequences of the great academic pressure placed on young people in Asian societies.

Inventing the Dog / Photographs by Stephanie Zimmer 
A celebration and typological study of the wide variety of purebred dogs. Bio-engineered over hundreds or even thousands of years to serve a specific purpose for humans, dogs come in a remarkable range of sizes, shapes and personalities. The project’s photographs examine both this variety and the specific physical issues associated with selective breeding.

 Bathhouse / Photographs by Jaichang Sim
A documentary study of the Korean bathhouse and its societal importance, featuring intimate portraits of customers and self-portraits of the photographer, Jaichang Sim, at a bathhouse owned by his father.

Mutations / Image by Huai Yi Tsai
Huai Yi Tsai’s images, prints and handmade book from his series “Mutations” are based on sculptures he has created from found garbage to critique people’s lack of awareness of the pollution caused by their disposal of consumable items.

+  +  +

The School of Visual Arts presents “Mesmeric” an exhibition of thesis work by the Master of Professional Studies in Digital Photography The Class of 2019 / Curated by NYC gallerist and SVA faculty member Debra Klomp Ching.

Curated by Debra Klomp Ching
Oct 12 – Nov 2, 2019
SVA Gramercy Gallery
209 E. 23rd Street, NYC

Wed, Oct 23, 2019
6:00 – 8:00pm

"Mesmeric is, fittingly, an exhibition with work by 11 talented photographers and artists who maintained an intense focus on their thesis projects and their ideas, often blocking out other voices and distractions around them. They were in it! The exhibition showcases the class of 2019’s commitment to the continuous improvement, imagination and experimentation needed to produce transfixing bodies of photographic work.” – MPS Digital Photography Chair Tom P. Ashe

Also exhibiting: Yangzi Huang’s photographs in “Indirect Object” transform and elevate common objects using perspective and lighting to create visuals that are reminiscent of 1920s avant-garde still-life photography.

In “Contour,” Luiza Ladeira Lavorato celebrates the female form by bringing new photographic strategies to the classical black-and-white nude. The project is in part a reaction to the debasing of the female figure and the way this has desensitized our culture to the nude’s natural beauty.

Overloaded” is a series of abstract images that capture Qikun Li’s emotional struggles. His goal in this project is to capture these feelings in what are, essentially, psychological landscapes.

The Five Elements” by Kam Lin is a group of fashion photographs inspired by the “Five Elements” of metal, wood, water, fire and earth in traditional Chinese culture. The Five Elements theory explains the interaction and relationship between all things.

Xuanang Tian’s project “[me, you]” is a series of still-lifes containing fragments of mirrors and Mylar that incorporate viewers’ reflection into the image, symbolizing the many personal and social boundaries that restrict us.

The images in Ruojia Wo’s “Color After a Fashion” take the aesthetic of fashion photography into a different realm using a muted palette and a style derived from architectural and landscape photography.

The Chinese Zodiac” by Zhou Zhou explores this important cultural concept by depicting its twelve animal signs through photographic collages that combine styled models with traditional Chinese objects and symbols.

+  +  + 

I'm fortunate to teach a summer course, Book and Brand, in this department! The students concentrate on creating their printed book or portfolio, and design and produce terrific branding and marketing materials. It's exciting to see their completed photographic series in this upcoming exhibition. – EA

The Master of Professional Studies in Digital Photography, chaired by Tom P. Ashe, is an intensive one-year graduate degree program that addresses the digital-image capture, workflow, exhibition printing, sound, video and visual storytelling skills required of professional photographers and photo educators in the vanguard of commercial, fine art, portrait and fashion photography practices. Within the year, students are prepared to excel at producing conceptually compelling and technically outstanding images, and are ideally positioned to pursue gallery representation, editorial or commercial work, as well as high-end digital retouching and consulting careers. 

The SVA Gramercy Gallery, located at 209 East 23rd Street, New York City, is open Monday through Friday, 9:00am to 7:00pm, and Saturday, 10:00am to 6:00pm. The gallery is accessible by wheelchair.


ARNOLD NEWMAN PRIZE WINNER: Louie Palu FINALISTS: Jess T. Dugan, Cheryle St. Onge, and Bryan Thomas

 Arctic Passage
 Photograph © Louie Palu, 2019 Winner

 Arctic Passage
 Photograph © Louie Palu, 2019 Winner

 Arctic Passage
 Photograph © Louie Palu, 2019 Winner

 Arctic Passage
 Photograph © Louie Palu, 2019 Winner

This year's winner of the 2019 Arnold Newman Prize for New Directions in Photographic Portraiture is Louie Palu for work that demonstrates a compelling new vision in photographic portraiture. His project, Arctic Passage, is a series of photographs from the Arctic and an installation composed of large format portraits frozen in ice blocks. Since 2015 Palu has been working on a long-term photography project related to climate change, which documents the changing lives around Inuit communities in the high Arctic. The project also explores the evolving situation related to the geopolitics of the Polar region and the growing militarization of the Arctic as countries look to capitalize on the melting ice revealing natural resources.

"Two years ago I began experimenting with freezing these photographs in ice blocks, then putting them outdoors to melt. The concept came out of a book on the Franklin voyage, which was a British Naval expedition in the 1800’s. Franklin’s two Arctic exploration ships were crushed by the ice and the crews perished succumbing to the Arctic’s severe weather. Their camera was never found and I imagined the photographs frozen and lost somewhere in the ice."

"The Arctic is about imagination, because most of us can’t go there we can only imagine it. In some ways we must use imagination combined with science to understand how climate change will affect us. The Arctic is the region in the world where the planet is warming the most rapidly. I felt the need to push the boundaries of traditional portraiture to not only looking and at encountering another person through photography, but experiencing what they are seeing, which is ice disappearing as a part of their identity. I wanted to take the work beyond the image, pixels and paper prints."

"In 2019, I submitted a proposal to the SXSW Festival’s Art Installation Program with this concept and it was selected. I installed the work outside in front of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin and made several discoveries. First, the ice block portraits took several unique forms and changed while they melted including forming frost, spider web cracks and water running down (from melting) the faces of some of the portraits. They all eventually fell over due to melting, and the only way I can put this in words is destroyed themselves by shattering on the ground. Attendance to the installation was high and what I found interesting was everyone took photos of the slowly transforming, what some called “ice portraits” and shared it on their social media tagging it related to climate change. The result was viewers documented the changing portraits as the ice melted which made their photographs inclusive to the installation and conversation around people affected by climate change."

"Ice defines the Arctic and is as much a part of the identity of the people from there as it is a part of the environment they live in. Fusing ice and images of the people there and how their very identity is slowly vanishing is what I want people to experience. The portfolio submitted is a combination of my photographs and examples of some frozen in ice. Work in this project has been supported by the Harry Ransom Center, Joan Morgenstern, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, National Geographic & Pulitzer Center." – Louie Palu

+  +  +

Three Finalist's were also selected: Jess T. Dugan, "Every Breath We Drew"; Cheryle St. Onge, “Calling the Birds Home"; and Bryan Thomas, “Sunrise/Sunset".

The 2019 Jurors were: Paula Tognarelli, Director of the Griffin Museum of Photography • Elizabeth Avedon, Independent Curator, PhotoBook + Exhibition Designer • Jessica Dimson, Deputy Photo Editor, The New York Times

The $20,000. award was funded by the Arnold and Augusta Newman Foundation and administered by Maine Media Workshops + College. Thank you to all who submitted their incredible work!

 2019 Arnold Newman Prize for New Directions
  in Photographic Portraiture
Winner and Finalists Exhibition
October 1-20, 2019
Reception: October 10, 2019

Calling The Birds Home
  Photograph © Cheryle St. Onge 

Photograph ©  Bryan Thomas

Every Breath We Drew 
 Photograph © Jess T. Dugan 
Courtesy of Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago


LEICA WOMEN FOTO PROJECT AWARD 2019 Her Legacy Interview with Elizabeth Avedon

 "fossil of light + time" Cover photo: Sean Perry
Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography

 Avedon: 1947–1977 
Farrar, Straus + Giroux, 1978

"Borne Back" Tintypes by Victoria Will
Peanut Press Books, 2019

"Vintage Contemporary Artists" Interview Series
Elizabeth Avedon Editions/ Random House, 1978

"I want photographers to be courageous and strive to create consistent work. Their personal stories, passions, and vision will ensure the work is seen as uniquely their own." 

Leica Women Project  Her Legacy: Elizabeth Avedon
Independent curator, photo book and exhibition designer, Elizabeth Avedon, shares her perspective as an industry leader in the world of photography.

1. What drives your commitment to the art of photography?

Having worked with many of photography’s past icons, I am now interested in the work of emerging photographers who will someday shape the future of photography. I continue to be drawn to the magic of photography, and I love the surprise of how each new generation of photographers bring their own uniqueness to elevate us to a new and unseen realm.

2. What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in the world of photography?

I was fortunate to begin my career working and socializing with some of the most successful photographers and art directors of their time - although being very young I wasn’t aware of how lucky I was. The challenge came 15 years later when I became over saturated with photography and turned my attentions towards contemporary painters creating a set of interview books for Random House with contemporary artists including Robert Rauschenberg and Louise Bourgeois. Not finding the ‘art world’ to be more enlightening than photography, I then worked with some well-known photographers in advertising and fashion, on print magazines and the early world of online photo magazines.

Feeling I’d explored all New York had to offer, I moved to New Mexico briefly where I was Gallery Director at Photo-eye. While living in Santa Fe, I attended several very inspiring talks by photo dealers, David Scheinbaum and Janet Russek, at their gallery Scheinbaum & Russek. Early in their careers, Janet had assisted Eliot Porter and David worked with and printed for the preeminent photography scholar, Beaumont Newhall, as well as Ansel Adams. One night a month they invited photographers and collectors into their gallery, sharing antidotes from their past experiences and passing around extraordinary vintage prints by some of histories most iconic image makers.

I returned to New York re-inspired and with a renewed outlook and appreciation for the new up-and-coming generation of photographers, which has only grown exponentially each year since.

3. Of all the projects you have worked on, which one left an indelible impression on your current point of view?

It started with Richard Avedon’s fashion retrospective book and exhibition, “Avedon: 1949–1979”, I designed for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1979. What I learned crafting that eight year project, gave me the tools to work with throughout my career. The project began in the years before computers and digital files, taking a team of darkroom printers many years round-the-clock to print contact sheets of all of Avedon’s fashion shoots from over 40 years. The contact sheets were in chronological order in endless cartons and took several years to edit with RA, then creating an extensive book dummy. I redesigned the space at the Met, the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts and several other museums across the country and Japan for the accompanying exhibition. I was able to tap into the lessons learned from that experience when designing Avedon's “In The American West” exhibition to fit the Amon Carter Museum’s unique architectural design, as well as refitting the show for the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the High Museum in Atlanta, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Phoenix Art Musem and others.

4. Who are some of the photographers (deceased or living) that inspire your perspective and approach to photography?

I was fortunate to have had Tod Papageorge as my first photography instructor, as he was such a traditionalist and a Leica lover. Papageorge later held the position of Director of Graduate Study in Photography at Yale for over 3o years, and received two Guggenheim Fellowships and two NEA Visual Artists Fellowships. In his world there were only a few true photographers worth studying – Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brassai, Atget, Koudelka, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and his best friend, Garry Winogrand.

I was also influenced by the work of Dorothea Lange, Bernice Abbott, Helen Levitt and now Vivian Maier. Inspiring to me for different reasons and in different ways are Sally Mann, Mona Kuhn, Carrie Mae Weems, Maggie Steber, Ruddy Roye, Julie Blackmon and many more contemporary photographers too numerous to name.

5. Based on your experiences in the world of art & culture, what advice would you give the next generation of photographers?

It might sound like a cliché, but anyone can copy something currently popular. I want photographers to be courageous and strive to create consistent work unlike anyone else’s. Their personal stories, passions, and vision will ensure the work is seen as uniquely their own.

6. Are there topics you have not yet seen covered, that you feel are important to explore?

What I most want to explore are the photographs that are unique, the ones you can't quite explain that call to be looked at again and again.

7. In your opinion, how does photography impact culture, and vice versa?

As one of my mentor’s Jean Jacques Naudet, L’Oeil de la Photographie Editorial Director, said to me in an interview, “Photography has never been as fashionable as now. Photography has replaced the verb in communication. In fact, Photography IS the communication now.”

I believe photography has always informed us how to see the physicality of our experience. In turn, that familiarity allows us to deepen our awareness and connect back with new understanding. Photographs are the cultural road markers forward.

8. What is one piece of advice you would offer to applicants of the Leica Women Foto Project award?

Pay attention to each individual image you submit. So often in competitions, I will see work by exceptional photographers I’ve met at a Portfolio Review whose work is terrific; however, the work they submitted to the competition is mediocre, or the images don’t work with each other. Remember, each image is new to the juror and should support and propel your project forward. 

Get a closer look on Elizabeth Avedon's perspective on photography: 

Continue the journey with Elizabeth on social media:

In The American West: Richard Avedon
Harry N. Abrams, 1985

 Portraits: Richard Avedon
Farrar Straus + Giroux, 1976

Call For Entries is Open to August 29, 2019

The first LEICA WOMEN FOTO PROJECT AWARD, dedicated to the female perspective and its impact on visual storytelling. In support of diversity in photography, Leica CameraUSA is seeking 3 photographers to receive $10,000 + 1 year loan of a Leica Q2 to support a personal project expressed through the female perspective.

Applicants will be reviewed on the basis of quality of photography, dedication to the medium of photography, sophistication of project, with narratives that broaden perspectives, ideas and conversations on today’s social and political climate.

 MORE INFO: https://bit.ly/LeicaWomen

Applications will be judged by a renowned panel of industry voices including:

Karin Kaufmann: Art Director & Chief Representative, Leica Galleries International
Maggie Steber: VII Agency photographer and Guggenheim fellow
Laura Roumanos: Executive producer and co-founder, United Photo Industries
Elizabeth Avedon: Independent curator, photo book and exhibition designer
Deborah Willis: University professor and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and author of Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery 

Candidates for the award are requested to submit a series of 10 images from a personal or long-term project, made on any digital or film camera of any make, model or brand, with at least 4 images created between 2018-19. Alongside the images, applicants are required to submit a 500 word proposal describing their personal project and its relevance in today’s social climate, including detail of how the funds will be allocated.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited and outside US.  Must be legal US resident 21+ at entry, and must not be affiliated with competitor of Sponsor. Entry must adhere to Submission Guidelines. Winner may not partner with competitor of Sponsor for 1 year.  

Official Rules http://bit.ly/LeicaWomenFotoProjectRules
MORE INFO: https://bit.ly/LeicaWomen