Friday, July 10, 2015

News of Southern Photographers Part I -- Mid-Summer 2015

Much news of Southern photographers here at mid-summer, 2015. 

Here are some recent items. Part II, with even more news, will follow soon.

1. Durham, NC-based photographer Aaron Canipe (see image above) has been named a Runner-Up in burn magazine's Emerging Photographers Competition for 2015  for work in his Plateau portfolio.

2. Florida-based photographer Kathryn Harrison (see image above) is featured in the June issue of Aint-Bad Magazine, here, with work from her Side of the South portfolio.  

3. Dallas-based photographer Rachael Banks (see image above) is interviewed on the Mull It Over blog, here.

 4. Atlanta-based photographer Forest McMullen (see image above) has work featured in LensCulture, here, from his portfolio Black Cow Boys (and Girls). 

5. Atlanta-based photographer Megan Connolly (see image above) is featured in the June issue of Aint-Bad Magazine, here, with work from her From Elsewhere portfolio.  

6. Lexington, KY-based photographer Sarah Hoskins (see image above) has had a collection of over 250 images from her portfolio acquired by the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University. 

This body of work documents the traditions and daily lives of African Americans living in communities originally founded by freed slaves in Kentucky's Inner Bluegrass region the Civil War. 

 7. Williamsburg, VA-based photographer Eliot Dudik (see image above) has had his Civil War battleground photographs featured in the Smithsonian Magazine, go here. 

And there are more items to come -- keep watching this space.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Lets Support the New Orleans Photo Alliance

The New Orleans Photo Alliance has, for the past ten years, brought us significant cultural events like the annual photography festival PhotoNOLA and has awarded thousands of dollars in grants to emerging and established photographers through the annual Michael P. Smith Grant and Clarence John Laughlin Award

This December, it will sponsor the 10th annual PhotoNOLA festival, an event rapidly becoming one of the major photography festivals of the South, and of the nation.

Now, the good folks at NOPA want to continue development of the organization of the Alliance by hiring an Executive Director to provide leadership for the organization as it moves into the second decade of its existence. 

Thanks to a generous patron, NOPA has the chance to do this. But they need our help.

The patron will match donated funds, dollar for dollar, up to a total gift of $25,000, if NOPA can raise $25,000 by July 15th. 

This will enable NOPA to hire a full time Executive Director, but to do this, they need us to help them raise $25,000. 

If you go here,  you can help the New Orleans Photo Alliance reach its goal. 

Only six days left, as the button on NOPA's form says, to "Double My Donation."  

Whatever you can give, you can double your money. I've responded, and I strongly encourage you to join me in helping them out.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Faces of Slavery -- Some Reflections on Charleston

Ever since I learned of the events at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, I've been struggling to find a way to mark this event on this blog. 

Our concern here is, after all,  with the making of meaning out of the Southern experience through the medium of photography. 

So now we must make sense of the murder of 9 African Americans in a church (no more Southern place than that) on a Wednesday night (after Sunday morning, the most religious time in the South) by a white guy inflamed by the rhetoric of white supremacy and the lies about slavery and race and the Civil War we Southern white folks have had the habit of telling ourselves and our children.

We Southerners take some pride in Southern distinctiveness. 

But these events remind us that, while the South is special in many ways, some of the ways in which we are special are truly barbaric, truly coming from the dark heart of Southern bigotry, racism, meanness, fear, arrogance, and a desperate clinging to some fantasy of white supremacy.

So far, all I've found to do that feels appropriate is to bring to our attention the work of photographers long-dead who documented in haunting images from the early days of photography the faces of enslaved people in the South. 

These images remind us that the South was built by the work of enslaved people, and that their owners held onto this economic system long after it was given up in other parts of the country. 

Their owners, including my ancestors on both sides of my family, were then willing to plunge the nation into a war to defend that economic system, a war so vicious that it killed more Americans than the combined total of all those Americans killed in almost all the wars we have participated in, before and after the Civil War.

Then, when the South lost the war, it set about to restore white supremacy through Jim Crow laws and a reign of terror across the South that resulted in over 4,000 black people being killed in “racial terror lynchings” in a dozen Southern states between 1877 and 1950. 

Some of that was put right during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950's and '60's, but events of the past several months have served as bitter reminders of how difficult it remains for people of color to live lives of dignity, freedom, and respect in the USA.

I rehearse all this tragedy to point out that the events at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston did not happen in isolation, but in a tradition of white Southern violence against people of color. 

This is the history and the heritage we as Southerners live with, struggle with, seek to understand, and at our best seek to redeem. 

This is the history and the heritage the flag embodies, and this is why the flag has to go. 

And this is why it is truly significant, truly a turning point in Southern history, that the flag was taken down in South Carolina, at the request of a Republican Governor, as an action of a Republican-dominated Senate and House, who delivered an overwhelming vote in favor of its removal.

But the flag is at best a symbol, at best a token of the unfinished business of the Civil War, and of Reconstruction. 

There is still much to do before the South will truly be a region of one diverse people who share one complex and often tragic history and one diverse culture that strives always to make meaning of where we've been and who we are and what we have left to do. 

We still have much to do.

For more of the faces of slavery, go here:

and here:

and here:

and here: 

and here:

Monday, July 6, 2015

Robert Frank in the New York Times

Distinguished American Photographer Robert Frank is featured in this week's NY Times Magazine, in an essay called "The Man Who Saw America:Looking back with Robert Frank, the most influential photographer alive," go here. 

His most significant book, The Americans, is also featured here. 

For an interview with Frank, go here.  

For more of Frank's work, go here. 

Funded by a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation, Frank set off in 1955 to photograph America.

Frank made images across the country, but for me his photographs in the South are among his most powerful.  

The image above, made in New Orleans, gives testimony to Frank's eye, as well as his sense of composition and timing.  

The haughty face of the woman to the left of the image, in contrast to the pleading look on the man to the image's right, nails the social dynamics of the Jim Crow South.

Frank's work helped transform photography from a medium of social documentation -- represented by the photography of his friend Walker Evans -- to the world of fine art photography we find ourselves in today. 

Frank is in his early 90's, and lives in Mabou, Nova Scotia. He is definitely an Honorary Southern Photographer, but, oh, so much, much more. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Summer of Sally Mann

Distinguished Southern Photographer Sally Mann is having an eventful summer, following publication earlier this year of her new autobiography Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs.

The New York Times ran an interview about the book with Mann, actually the second interview they've done with Mann about this book, here:

The book is being reviewed widely. You may find reviews here:






and here:

Vogue has run its second feature story this year on Mann, here:

Also, on Bustle:

In the photography press, Jorg Colberg has published a review and meditation on Hold Still, on his blog Conscientious here:

Also on Collector Daily:

And there is much, much more. Google "Sally Mann Hold Still," and you'll find out. 

Mann is a challenging, deeply personal photographer, deeply embedded in her Southern identity.

She has thought long and hard about the South, a place to her of "mystery and complexity . . . preoccupied with the past, with myth, with family, with death."

Here is Mann on Southern light:

"The light in the South is so different from the North, where you have this crisp and clear light. 

"There is no mystery in that light. Everything is revealed in the Northern light. 

"You have to live in the South to understand the difference. 

"In summer, the quality of the air and light are so layered, complex, and mysterious, especially in the late afternoon. 

"I was able to catch the quality of that light in a lot of the photos."

Every Southern photographer needs to read this book.

Mann has also been doing a book tour, "An Evening with Sally Mann," well worth a visit if she comes to your area. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

InSight Photography Show Announced -- Images Due in July

Abbie Culbertson, Caroline Coulton, and all the other good folks at the Pastoral Counseling Centers of Tennessee are inviting submissions of digital images for their 3rd annual InSight Photography Show & Auction Photo Contest. 

This project is the major fundraiser for the PCCT, a worthy group of folks if there ever was one. 

You can learn more about the PCCT, and about this competition, if you go here:

The theme of this year's show is Southern Exposure. 

The contest is open to all photographers who reside in one of the following US states: Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, or Virginia.

Work may be submitted starting July 1st, 2015 through August 2nd, 2015. 

The Panel of Judges -- which this year will include Jerry Atnip, an old friend of The Southern Photographer -- will select 24 finalists to exhibit their work at Nashville's Cumberland Gallery on September 12th, 2015 at the event “InSight Photography Show & Auction.” 
All selected works will be placed in the event’s silent auction, and photographers will receive 20% of the final winning bids. 
Award prizes, to be announced the evening of the event, include $300 for first place, $200 for second place, and $150 for third place winners.

Proceeds from the InSight show will go to the Pastoral Counseling Centers of Tennessee (PCCT) to support families, individuals, and couples in Middle Tennessee who are in need of affordable mental health counseling services.

You can find the Official Rules at  But the bottom line is, no entry fee for up to three (3) images. Send submissions to

What a concept! A Juried Show with No Entry Fee, with sales opportunities, and prizes. 

I'm definitely going to enter work, and I strongly encourage you to do so as well.  


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

LaToya Ruby Frazier Named Infinity Publication Award Recipient

Distinguished American -- and Honorary Southern -- Photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier (see image above) has been named by the International Center of Photography (ICP) the recipient of the 2015 Infinity Publication Award for her Aperture publication The Notion of Family.

Frazier's award citation reads, in part, "In The Notion of Family, her first book, LaToya Ruby Frazier offers an incisive exploration of the legacy of racism and economic decline in America's small towns, as embodied by her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania. 

"The work also considers the impact of that decline on the community and on her family, creating a statement both personal and truly political—an intervention in the histories and narratives of the region. 

"Frazier has compellingly set her story of three generations—her Grandma Ruby, her mother, and herself—against larger questions of civic belonging and responsibility. 

"The work documents her own struggles and interactions with family and the expectations of community. 

"With The Notion of Family, Frazier enlists the participation of her family—and her mother in particular. 

"In the creation of these collaborative works, Frazier reinforces the idea of art and image-making as a transformative act, a means of resetting traditional power dynamics and narratives, both those of her family and those of the community at large."

Recipients of all the Infinity Awards by for 2015 were honored on Thursday, April 30th, 2015, at a gala at Pier Sixty, Chelsea Piers, in New York City. 

The Infinity Awards are widely regarded as among the highest honors for excellence in photography.

In addition to the Infinity Award, Frazier was also named a TED Fellow for 2015.the idea of art and image-making as a transformative act, a means of resetting traditional power dynamics and narratives, both those of her family and those of the community at large."You can see her TED Talk here.  

In 2014, Frazier was also named the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship based on her "prior achievement and exceptional promise" as a photographer.  

You can see more of her work here, from the LENS blog of the NY Times. You can find reviews of Frazier's work here.

Frazier does fine work, addressing issues central to the American South as well as to the rest of the nation. 

This is a time in the American South of deep grief, of horror at the awful deeds we have witnessed, and of at least some signs of refusal to continue with the casual tolerance of bigotry we have been willing to indulge in ourselves. 

It is, I hope, a good time to reaffirm that a photographer can use "art and image-making as a transformative act, a means of resetting traditional power dynamics and narratives, both those of her family and those of the community at large."