Collaborations for Cause

April 26, 2013


I’m so excited to be attending the Collaborations for Cause conference Friday and Saturday April 26 & 27, in Portland, Oregon.

Collaborations for Cause brings together photographers, NGOs, activists and communications professionals to discuss the collaborative future of storytelling. Presented by Blue Earth and Ecotrust, their second annual conference builds on Blue Earth’s mission to support photography that makes a difference through a combination of in-depth presentations and panel discussions, insightful case studies, and a full day of breakout sessions.

On Friday, award-winning visual storytellers and communications strategists will share groundbreaking examples and examine the new media landscape, practical considerations for effective collaborations, and the ethical complexity of cause-driven storytelling. A keynote by photojournalist Ed Kashi on the intersections of social media, visual reporting and media partnerships will round out the first day. Saturday will be dedicated to small group, constructive conversations diving deeper into these and other topics using a participatory Open Space, or “unconference,” model.

After the conference, I’ll be bringing to you a recap of the events and further info on what I learned. Stay tuned!

Yann Arthus-Bertrand captures fragile Earth in wide-angle

January 19, 2012

Chris Jordan– Prix Pictet Commission– Ushirikiano

October 14, 2011

This week, The 2010 Prix Pictet’s Commission was unveiled at Diemar/Noble Photography here in London. The gallery hosted the commissioned exhibition last year by Ed Kashi, which you can see here. This year features the body of work by environmental photographer Chris Jordan, documenting his field trip to Northern Kenya, specifically focusing on the horrors of elephant poaching.

‘This year I was honoured to receive the Prix Pictet Commission, which took me on a thousand-mile behind-the-scenes photo documentary safari in Kenya’s northern rangelands. There I encountered a confederation of NGOs working closely with local indigenous tribes to create a sustainable way of life based on principles of environmental stewardship, wildlife conservation, and peace. Despite enormous adversity and the dubious intrusions of first-world religious, commercial, and educational culture, this quiet mini-revolution—led by a council of tribal elders—is bringing peace and stability to a huge area of Kenya. I found the process heartening, especially considering that it is happening in a resource-poor part of the world that is being ravaged by the effects of global climate change. Throughout our two-week expedition across a stunningly wild landscape, I found myself constantly humbled by the grace, dignity, and spirit of the ancient tribal people I had the privilege of encountering there. I hope my photographs convey a small fragment of the complex and inspiring story of Ushirikiano* that is emerging in this remote part of Africa.

The phenomenon of elephant poaching strikes me as profoundly symbolic. As the largest animal to walk the Earth, the elephant is one of our planet’s most sentient beings, with a brain about four times the size of ours, equal or greater in intelligence to dolphins and higher-order primates. Elephants are one of the few creatures who grieve their dead in community, and this kind of mourning is one of the characteristics that anthropologists use to define the line between early humans and pre-human apes. In my view, our elephant populations—along with the ecosystems they inhabit—should be revered and preserved as sacred planetary treasures. Hopefully these photos can serve as a visual reminder of the trail of destruction we leave, and the damage we do to our own spirits, when we forget our relationship with nature and our connection with the higher purposes of our life and our own human dignity.’

Prix Pictet Commission: Chris Jordan
Building a sustainable future in Kenya’s Northern Rangelands
Diemar /Noble Photography 66/67 Wells Street, London W1T 3PY 6 -29 October 2011
[*Ushirikiano: noun (Swahili): partnership, collaboration, or community of shared interest.]

To see more from this body of work, check out Chris’s website gallery here.

Brad Temkin

June 5, 2011

Chicago based photographer Brad Temkin (American, b.1956) has been documenting the human impact on the contemporary landscape for over 30 years. He has exhibited his photographs throughout the United States and abroad. His work is part of several permanent collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, Milwaukee Art Museum, Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Akron Art Museum and Museum of Contemporary Photography among others. Temkin’s images have appeared in such publications as Aperture, Black & White Magazine, China Photo and European Photography. A monograph of Temkin’s work was published in 2005 entitled “Private Places: Photographs of Chicago Gardens”. Temkin currently teaches at Columbia College Chicago and teaches workshops in Ireland every year.

His new series titled Rooftop, Temkin documents the growing trend of green roofs and rooftop gardens all over the world. These large-format elevated landscapes serve as important markers of the cultural shift towards sustainable design. Daylight Magazine recently featured a podcast including commentary by the artist, an interview with Katherine Ware, Curator of Photography at the New Mexico Museum of Art, as well as examples of Temkin’s work. Check out the podcast here, and to view more of Temkin’s work from this series please visit his website.

Terry Falke

January 17, 2011

I recently picked up Terry Falke’s Observations in an Occupied Wilderness at my local Powell’s bookstore here in Portland, Oregon, one of my many home towns. What a perfect place to find such a gem, Portland’s backyard is literally wilderness. Even the Portland metro area, starting with smack downtown, is home to some of the largest urban parks in the country, including remaining old growth forests. Strict urban sprawl restrictions during the environmental movement in the 60s has kept city limits restricted, and wild areas preserved. Portlanders and indeed Oregonians are an outdoorsy bunch, reveling in the wild that is their own backyard.

How had I not heard of Terry Falke before? To think that he walked in the steps of Robert Adams, one of my favorite landscape photographers, in initiating the most modern landscape movement, and here I was ignorant of his work. In a wonderful essay by Carol McCusker, Falke’s work is compared to that of the early environmentalists and conversations, both as the observation of beauty and plenitude in the landscape, as well as the fear of a dystopia that is all too real and possible. In Observations in an Occupied Wilderness, Falke travels around the American Southwest, his home turf, to bring us views and observations of several concerning juxtapositions; the grandiosity of the American western landscape coupled with our desire to “collect” it in the form of tourist viewing platforms, paved with concrete and lined with handrails. As the jacket so eloquently states, Falke photographs “the ‘improvements’ that position visitors within a landscape while simultaneously disconnecting them from it.”

The photographs are beautiful, quiet, eerie, yet not scary. They are a very subtle interpretation of man’s need to control nature, tame it, collect it, present it, and even replicate it. For more information and work by Terry Falke, visit AfterImageGallery here.

CoolClimate Art Contest

July 30, 2010

The Canary Project, Environmental Defense Fund, Metropolis mag, and several other great organizations are sponsoring to promote the CoolClimate Art Contest. Submissions will judged by Agnes Gund, David Ross, Carrie Mae Weems, Philippe Cousteau, Van Jones, Jackson Browne, and Chevy Chase. Winners will be voted on by the public on Huffington Post. Here’s some more info.

The gist:

The contest seeks to generate iconic images that address the impact of climate change and spurs participation in the climate change debate. Create a work that encompasses the questions above and explores our relationship with the climate – from clean energy jobs to pollution-free oceans – the subject choice is yours.

The rules:

Entry must be received by 11:59:59 PM (PT) on August 23, 2010 and be submitted to the Contest gallery on There is one Gallery for U.S. Submissions and another Gallery for International Submissions.

  • Submit your art to either the United States gallery or to the International gallery at the Contest Site on based on your place of residency;
  • Entrant must be 18 years or older;
  • Entries must be in GIF, PNG, or JPG file format;
  • Entries may originate in any visual medium;
  • Entries may not have won previous contests;
  • You may submit more than one entry;
  • Online entries only, hard copies not accepted;
  • Entries may not use any watermarks or distinguishing artist marks (such as signatures);
  • You must be a member of deviantART to enter. Membership is free.

We are open to a wide array of submissions, but the images have to be static (no motion graphics or video, sorry!) and they have to be your own. You can do photo manipulations as long as you own the rights to the photo you are manipulating. We look forward to your submissions!

The judging:

Semi-Finalists will be selected by staff and twenty (20) Finalists will be chosen by our esteemed panel of judges. Judges include:

  • Jackson Browne (musician)
  • Jayni Chase (philanthropist)
  • Chevy Chase (comedian)
  • Mel Chin (artist)
  • Dianna Cohen (environmental artist)
  • Philippe Cousteau (ecologist)
  • Agnes Gund (renown art collector)
  • Van Jones (environmental activist)
  • David Ross (former head of Whitney Museum and SF Museum of Modern Art)
  • Carrie Mae Weems (artist)

Entries will be judged on the following criteria: Originality, Effectiveness in Communicating Ecological Challenges or Solutions, Creative Application, and Technical Skill.

The public will vote on the winners on the Huffington Post web site.

The prizes:

The top five winners of the popular vote will be named as the “Top 5 Climate Artists” of 2010 and will be:

  • Featured on the Planet Green Planet100 show.
  • Showcased at key global warming events on 10/10/10.
  • Disseminated to non-profits and the press.

Courtesy of Creative Visions Foundation, a U.S. based nonprofit organization, 3 prizes will be awarded for the three top-ranking United States Finalists selected by the Judges: (First prize $600, Second prize $350, Third prize $150).

CONTEST ENDS AT 11:59:59 PM (PT) ON AUGUST 23, 2010.

For even more information and to enter the contest, please click here. Official rules here.

ECOAESTHETIC: The Tragedy of Beauty

June 15, 2010

ECOAESTHETIC is an annual summer experience of environmental issues affecting our visual world and spiritual selves through exhibitions and special events.

ECOAESTHETIC: The Tragedy of Beauty is the first exhibition of SEA to be mounted in Exit Art’s main gallery. In keeping with SEA’s mission to present artworks that address socio-environmental concerns – and to unite artists, scholars, scientists and the public in discussion on these issues –ECOAESTHETIC will establish a summer encounter of social and environmental projects. Through the work of nine international photographers, it approaches the mystery of beauty in the natural and built environment, which can be destructive or utopian.

The Tragedy of Beauty will focus on photography of land where the tragedy of the image becomes the aesthetic of the environment. The artists in this exhibition do not have a passive engagement with the environment; rather, they seek out beautiful and tragic images to emphasize the human impact on fragile ecosystems, to elucidate our relationship to nature, and to visualize the violence of natural disasters. The purpose of The Tragedy of Beauty is to demonstrate that global environmental struggles are creating an aesthetic.

In conjunction with The Tragedy of Beauty, Exit Art will also create a collective terrarium in its two ground floor windows facing 36th Street and 10th Avenue. For this project, the public has been invited to bring a plant and a photo of themselves with the plant to Exit Art, in order to contribute to a communal garden that gives a presence to the local environmental movement.

Curated by Papo Colo, Jeanette Ingberman, Lauren Rosati and Herb Tam.

Edward Burtynsky (Canada); Mitch Epstein (USA); Anthony Hamboussi (USA); Chris Jordan (USA); Christopher LaMarca (USA); Sze Tsung Leong (USA); David Maisel (USA); Susannah Sayler/The Canary Project (USA); Jo Syz (UK)

Exit Art
475 Tenth Ave
New York, NY 10018

T. 212 966 7745
F. 212 925 2928

Gallery Hours:
Tuesday – Thursday 10:00am – 6:00pm
Friday 10:00am – 8:00pm
Saturday 12:00pm – 8:00pm

Opening Reception: Friday June 16, 2010, 7-10 pm.
Dates of Exhibition: June 18 – August 18, 2010.

Ed Kashi: Madagascar, A Land Out of Balance

May 4, 2010

Each year the Prix Pictet commissions one of its short listed photographers to produce a body of work based on a region where Pictet & Cie is supporting a sustainability program. In 2009, Ed Kashi won the honors of this commission, taking him to Madagascar in connection with a UK Charity titled Azafady helping the poorest communities in Madagascar develop sustainable ways of living. I recently visited the Diemar/Noble Gallery here in London on Well St. only a couple of days after the opening reception and general huge bash for unveiling of this series of images. As much as I love a party, it’s really difficult to see the work in its entirety at an opening, with people and drinks always in the way.

Madagascar is one of the richest nations in the world when it comes to biodiversity. Yet it is simultaneously one of the poorest, with poverty and unsustainability reeking havoc on the land and people. Ed Kashi is an award winning photojournalist well known for his work dedicated to documenting the social and political issues of our times, recently and specifically about environmental degradation as it affects the state of humanity and the world. Kashi traveled to Madagascar in January of this year to document the ongoing destruction of the forest, the increasing desertification of once lush habitat, and the plight of the people as they fall ever deeper into a state of poverty as a result of dramatic unsustainable development. The party charity organization, Azafady, is working with some of the poorest communities in developing sustainable ways of living through promoting local forest management solutions and engaging people in planning, implementation and monitoring activities, and reducing forest dependence and depletion of forest resources. Kashi writes, “This Commission for the Prix Pictet is in direct response to the global cry to stop and take responsibility, seen through the dignified and vibrant people of south east Madagascar.”

The illegal practice of tavy, or slash and burn agriculture, is one of the most urgent threats to Madagascar's people and forests. As farmers search for fertile land in which to plan their crops, the forest is destroyed and a life-saving resource for Madagascar's rural poor is lost.

Men work on a brick kiln in Anosibe. This is a very inefficient use of wood, which is the main source of fuel for burning the clay to make the bricks.

The land fails, the crops fail. The people's ancient connection with the land is collapsing.

These young girls, ages 11-13, use a paste made from the tsiambara plant's roots to beautify their skin. They usually leave it on for 5 days and keep on redoing the process except on market days. The meaning of this process is called "I don't want to show you".

For further info and plenty more images, please visit Diemar/Noble, Prix Pictet, or Ed Kashi’s website’s directly.

While I realize that this specific exhibition would be documentary in nature due to both Kashi’s work and the nature of the commission, regardless of this I am still aware that there is a crossover between social documentary and fine art that’s taking place in the art world. This was a fine example. Diemar/Noble specializes in fine art photography, generally large scale in both the process and presentation, and using materials around since relatively early on in the medium’s history. I’m not saying you can’t be a fine art photographer if you don’t shoot 8×10 negatives. However, it is becoming more and more clear that the well known gap between photojournalists who are harnessing the power of images to deliver news and events of the moment (these days with 35mm digital cameras), and fine art photographers exploring abstract ideas through visual imagery using the camera as their tool (large format film), is closing. Or at least lessening in its size. This blog could sometimes be seen as an example of that. Although I set out initially to cover fine art photographers and keep the focus very much in the art world, I’m finding it hard to exclude some documentary and reportage photographers simply because of style. Surely it should be the content, intention, and success their images have on sending messages regarding the environment and related issues. But why is it then we regard photographs in a newspaper in a different light than if those same photographs were viewed in a gallery?

Context, social pretense, and the idea of the gallery or museum as the ultimate authority on art could a handful of reasons. A photograph changes from being a document to something more expressive when taken from the front page to a gallery wall. The photograph itself however doesn’t change. The technical elements of a photograph, its actual physical appearance, none of that changes. Instead, it is our interpretation of it. And yet, when I look at a photograph I usually instantly categorize it as one or the other. I am still intrinsically aware of stylistic differences in the photographer’s approach. What do you think? Do you think it’s fair that this line of separation is drawn and has been kept apart for quite some time? I welcome your thoughts in the comments section.

Nadav Kander: Notes from the Discussion

February 11, 2010

I attended the presentation and discussion of Nadav Kander‘s “China” work at the Royal College of Art in London last week. With students, alumni, professors, and fans in the small theatre, it began with a short introduction from Paul Thompson, the director of the RCA who introduced the video we would soon be watching. This video was an original commission by Dr. Yanki Lee, research fellow at the Royal College of Art Helen Hamlyn Centre, in participation with the exhibition “Constant Stream: China 09” currently on tour internationally. The exhibition uses artists and designers to create alternative narratives about specific social issues in China as well as provoke critical viewpoints in our mind.

The video comprised of several of Kander‘s photographs from the China work in a slideshow fashion using smooth fading transitions, intermixed with periods of total blackness on the screen where we hear Kander‘s voiceover discussing the work, subject matter, location, process, etc. It was the first slideshow of this kind I had seen, where the commentary was intentionally not put over the photographs. I have to admit, at first the pattern of quiet photos followed by audible blackness struck me as an odd choice. But as the images progressed I relished in both the silence– literally and figuratively in the photographs, as well as the calm voice speaking to me in the darkness. I find it invaluable to be able to hear this type of commentary first hand from a photographer on both his thought and image-making processes.

As in the stills I had previously seen, the people in the photographs appear quite small against the immensity of the idea of China. This is similar to the scale and dynamic seen in paintings by Constable and Turner, or in photographs by Richard Misrach, all of whom have influenced Kander‘s work over the years. To quote Kander, “We are so small next to the meagerness of our ideas.” This is none clearer than in China, where the rate of growth of both industry and population is exceeding all possible expectations globally, as well as by the people of China themselves. In this work, as is consistent with Kander‘s vision and style, he seeks out landscapes that show the footprint of man. Not directly in your face in the middle of a busy city, but instead on the outskirts, where the marks left by man are more subtle and nuanced.

Kander does not call himself a conceptual photographer, first and foremost coming up with a concept and then going out deliberately to capture just that. Instead, he responds to what he sees in an organic way. He approached China with an empty head, with no preconceived notions of what it would be like, so that he could respond to his feelings without any predetermined opinions getting in the way. And while he is more than pleased that his work in China, as well as being awarded the Prix Pictet this year,  has increased awareness of the environmental situation there, it was never his intention to be either an environmental or documentary photographer.

Nadav Kander Discussion in London Feb 2nd

February 1, 2010

This year’s Prix Pictet winner, photographer Nadav Kander will be joining Bronac Ferran, RCA IDE Senior Research Tutor and Yanki Lee Curator of the Constant Stream Exhibitions in conversation . Kander will discuss his works and reflect on his China experience. It will be an exceptional opportunity to hear one of the world’s leading photographers talk about his work.

6.45pm in Lecture Theatre 1
Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU
Nearest tube: High Street Kensington, South Kensington
For more info click here.
Buses: 9, 10, 52, 452