When I was a Freshman at Bard College in the late nineties, I was awed by Jill Frank's photography senior thesis To Die 4, a series of candid, yet immaculately lit black and white images of women at sorority events, beauty competitions and nebulous college parties. They resonated through their ability to find poems among unsteady moments and transcend event-photography clichés. I didn't know Jill at the time, but these photographs have stood with me to this day. Fast forward more than a decade, and Frank has continued to make work that blurs the boundaries between tableaux, documentary and reportage. In her most recent series Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained, she approaches teenagers and young adults, focusing on the period of late youth that hovers on awkward and tender. Her mix of portraits and photographs of rituals like beer pong and keg stands tread somewhere between youthful nostalgia and an outsider's gaze, a tension she captures eloquently with her large-format 4x5 film camera. Throughout this work, there is a confusion about how much is orchestrated, what moments are genuine, and where Jill personally fits into the mix. I spoke with Jill to learn more.
"What is the state of our new atmosphere?" asks curator Efrem Zelony-Mindell as he approaches his latest curatorial project Are You Loathesome? The video series which screens from December 8th thru 11th at Brooklyn's Video Revival includes work from 15 artists addressing class, race, and gender with a variety of approaches that encourage dialogue, and "listening" over heavy handed diatribes.
"Now is a time to be outside, together, for each other," says Zelony-Mindell, "We are nothing more than shapes and sizes. Hurling labels won’t win—whispers fall. We are together; we will either be for one another or against. There are no real sides. That is only an illusion."
Around this time each year, it's become a tradition for Humble and dozens of other photoblogs and online magazines to list their favorite photobooks, and it's often a bit arbitrary. After what John Oliver recently deemed to be a particularly heartbreaking year for many - from the deaths of some of our beloved celebrities, to the tragedy in Orlando, the murders of unarmed black men, the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline, and the bubbling face of reactionary politics worldwide (the list goes on!), we decided to use this space to highlight photography titles with a particular focus on social concerns and civil rights. These books cover territory ranging from race, cultural, and gender representation to global warming, and include a particular title that we think should have been published over a decade ago (we'll let you figure it out). We encourage you to support these photographers and publishers as you begin making the holiday purchasing rounds. We recognize these lists are subject to our own narrow gaze, so if you think we missed a particularly engrossing book, please drop us a line at submit AT hafny DOT org. View our previous lists HERE and HERE.
Since 1996 The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia has invited photographers like Sally Mann, Alec Soth, Emmett Gowin and Richard Misrach to participate in their ongoing documentary series Picturing the South. The initiative prompts photographers to break from the regions potential visual clichés, in favor of a more open-ended approach. In his new book, One Sun, One Shadow, 2012 invitee Shane Lavalette focuses on the rich history of Southern music with an eye that strays from traditional documentary tropes.
There are no photographs of guitar players’ aging hands, nor are there caricatured images of Deliverance-style banjo players plucking away on back porches. Less than five of the photographs in the book include instruments or literal signifiers of music. Instead, the series reflects the ambiance of music and its rich sensation through landscape, portraits, still life. “I knew immediately I didn’t want to set out to illustrate significant places and people that are part of the musical history of the South, or directly trace any specific lineage,” says Lavalette. “I wanted to explore the subjects on the fringes of these places and focus on the atmosphere.”
A few years ago, Amy Lombard photographed a pug Meetup in Staten Island, NY. She left the event curious about how the Internet had united a diverse group of people, based purely around their shared interest in pugs. From that point on, Lombard began shooting more and more of these gatherings, evolving the photographs into a long term series documenting Meetup culture around the country. "At a certain point along the way," Lombard tells us, "I kind of had to play the role of therapist on myself: What is it exactly that is appealing to me about the idea of documenting people coming together from the Internet and finding their people?" Lombard's latest book, Connected, designed by Elysia Berman, follows groups ranging from "Parrot and Kimono Lovers" to the Harry Potter obsessed, with a curious, yet non-othering eye, looking to how they use social media to find community in real life. We spoke with Amy to learn more about the series and her inspiration behind it. The project was supported by the VSCO Artist Initiative, and you can buy the book HERE.