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Reuters photographer Yannis Behrakis, based in Athens, spent several weeks documenting the unemployed and homeless in Greece as the continued economic downturn has impacted the numbers of homeless. Since the debt crisis erupted in 2009, hundreds of thousands of Greeks have lost their jobs -- the unemployment rate in the country reached 26.8 percent, as the economy contracted by another 5.6 percent in the first quarter of 2013, and even stricter austerity measures are being urged. See also Portraits of Greece in Crisis from last year. [23 photos]

Alexandros, a 42-year-old from Serres in northern Greece, sits in the abandoned car he lives in, at the port of Piareus near Athens, on April 10, 2013. Alexandros owned a plant shop in Athens until 2010, when it was forced to close, he became homeless soon after. According to Praxis, a non-governmental organization, the number of homeless in Greece has nearly doubled to over 20,000 from 11,000 in 2009. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis)     

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I manage to reach halfway up the corner of the church before I get stuck. I can see where I need to go, but there are no firm handholds within reach. No, I'm not playing Assassin's Creed, though I half-wish I was. The church wall I'm clinging to like a fat spider overlooks Newhaven Harbour at the north end of Edinburgh. The old Gothic building houses the Alien Rock indoor climbing centre, its interior walls and vaulted ceilings covered in white plaster and fluorescent plastic climbing holds.

I thought I would be terrified if this happened. I'm not afraid of heights, but I can't handle unstable footing. Instead I'm just tired and frustrated. It started well enough - I climbed two starter routes without much trouble - but this is my third attempt on this route. My fiancée ascended it earlier with no problems, and a ten-year-old girl has just scurried up the wall beside me like a squirrel.

This somewhat rash transition from sedentary games journalist to human wallpaper is the final part of an investigation into the portrayal of climbing in games. I decided to try it for myself because of something said to me by Dana Harrington, an experienced climber and creator of the climbing game Solo Joe.

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Marc Shoul

Brakpan

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Brakpan is a small town that lies on the East Rand of Gauteng, sandwiched between Boksburg, Benoni and Springs. A once-prosperous mining community, today there are pawnshops, roadhouses, mechanics, mini casinos and other day-to-day shops lining the two main roads that slice through the town. Brakpan is like going back in time; so many aspects of the town remind me of old images I have seen of South Africa. Despite all the changes in nearby Johannesburg, Brakpan still goes about its business in much the same way it did before.  There is a lack of modern development. You don’t see Tuscan townhouse complexes or buildings with glass facades. It’s all very simple and straight forward – almost transparent, and this transparency can be seen in the people too. You won’t find any airs or graces, no fancy cappuccino shops, sushi cafes or organic goods in Brakpan.

The town does not seem to have benefited from its gold rush glory days, which spanned between 1911 until the mid 1950’s, and it now has very little to show for its’ past. Today, the once flourishing mining town only pulls out a small portion of gold compared to what it used to generate, and some disused gold mines now only sell rubble.

A second factor that has contributed to Brakpan’s sense of preservation is the development of Carnival Mall and Casino, which conveniently lies just off the highway a few kilometers away from Brakpan Central. All the major chains and retail shops have moved to the mall and, as a result, the town centre has been left untouched and undeveloped, stunting it economically and leaving its inhabitants with little opportunities.

And yet there are many faces to modern Brakpan. Young girls push prams while karaoke competition winners don’t get their promised prizes. Pirated DVD’s get sold on the streets, crippling the nearby video shops that rent out older movies. There is a sense of nostalgia that remains and is reflected in the buildings and in the people. This is a place where you can still enjoy school and church fete’s, rugby matches, old bars, sokkie jols, biker rallies, fishing and braaiing at the Brakpan Dam; all of which are a part of the local’s lives.

Here there is a peacefulness and relaxed country town feel, without the stress about what tomorrow may bring.  The people of Brakpan live in the now but are still bound by the constraints of the past.

The images presented here are printed on Multigrade V1 FB Fibre matt photographic paper. Exhibition prints are 40cm by 40cm in size in an edition of 10.

Bio

Marc Shoul lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was born in 1975 in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa and graduated (with honors in photography) from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 1999. Since then, he has had several exhibitions of his work including group shows at the Arts Association of Bellville, Fusion (1999), Artscape, Mental Health, (2001) Cape Town, Month of Photography, Detour, (2002), Cape Town, Photo ZA, Obsess (2004) and Resolution Gallery, Faces (2008) in Johannesburg as well as at the World Health Organization TB exhibition in India (2004). Solo exhibitions of ‘Beyond Walmer’ were held by the Association of Visual Arts Gallery in Cape Town (2000) and Natal Society of Arts, Durban (2001).  “Flatlands” a solo exhibition was also held at the Association of Visual Arts in Cape Town (2009) with help from the National Arts Council. Shoul was also featured in the AGFA Youth International Photojournalism Publication 1999. He also reached the finals of the Absa L’Atelier 2009.  Flatlands showed at KZNSA in Durban, South Africa and Galerie Quai 1 in Vevey, Switzerland in 2010. Shoul was invited to hold a workshop at the Vevey School of Photography on the 2010. Shoul was also been included in After A at the Report Atri Festival, Italy, June 2010 curated by Federica Angelucci. Beyond Walmer is on show at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum June-August 2010. Brakpan (work in progress),Shoul has also been included in the Bonaini Africa 2010 Festival of Photography, Cape Town Castle of Good Hope and Museum Africa, Johannesburg. Brakpan (work in progress) was included in 10 a group exhibition at the PhotoMarket Workshop, Johannesburg, 2010. Brakpan in 2011 won the 1st prize at the Winephoto.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum added “Beyond Walmer” to its permanent collection (2007).

For the last ten years, Marc has worked for various local and international magazines such as Time, Colors, Wired, Blueprint, Dazed and Confused, Design Indaba, World Health Organization, Mother Jones, Stern, Gala, De Spiegel, Financial Times Magazine, Monocle, Smithsonian and The Telegraph Magazine, He has also shot for many advertising clients and agencies.

He has recently completed a project named ‘Flatlands’ in the Johannesburg inner city.  He is now working on a new body of work in Brakpan on the East Rand where he is exploring the city’s way of life and its people.

He is interested in exploring theams of social relevance and changes within his country and further a field.

Shoul works largely in black and white, using a medium format film camera and natural light printed on Fiber photographic paper.

 

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Marc Shoul

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©Delaney Allen

I browse numerous photography blogs and magazines, probably not as many as some people, but I’m guessing more than the median photography enthusiast. There are plenty of destinations to find quality work these days but I find there are very few that have a distinct point of view, and finding quality writing about photography is still a challenge. Far too many new blogs and magazines simply want to replicate what’s been done already (me too!) or have misguided editorial missions (“we want to expose photography/photographers we love/think is great/deserves more attention/ to a wider audience!”).

These days I can get a bit cranky about internet publishing, part of which comes from my own frustrations with trying to carve out a distinct perspective for LPV, but also I think there’s a shortage of critical discussions about what we’re dong online. Nobody in general is to blame for that, after all, who really wants to talk about social media and publishing? “Is blogging dead?” “How is social media impacting photography?” discussions tend to be short of new observations and generally resort to platitudes and hype, both of which we need far less of online. The critical, combative, engaged discussions generally aren’t very well received online, and in fact the web might not even be the best venue for those type of discussions. Anyway, I digress.

With this list I want to briefly comment on a group of blogs, magazines, destinations, websites, that I have a tremendous amount of respect for at the moment. There are many others that are very good, but these have triggered something in my mind that I think is worth noting. Please feel free to disagree and create your own list! After all, it is that time of the year!

 

About: A website dedicated to contemporary fine-art photography, founded and edited by Jörg M. Colberg

Comment: Next year will be the ten  year anniversary. If there’s one blog that’s on the must read list for fine art photography, it’s Conscientious. I’ve not always agreed with Jorg but I’ve never stopped reading his articles or viewing the work he publishes. He’s simply very good at what he does and doesn’t mince words. He writes about ideas and is a curious curator. You can try to pigeon hole him, but it won’t work. This year, what I’ve respected most are his new initiatives. He jumped back on Twitter and quickly became a must follow. He published a book, “Conversations With Photographers.” He continued his publishing initiative with Meir and Mueller. He experimented with Google+ and sharing photography books on Youtube. He showed his comedic chops in a couple of very funny videos. He does what every good blogger and publisher should do: he evolves and continues the curious pursuit of his passions.

Recommended: Photography is Over

 

About: “…a unique site combining social giving and photography. Its mission is to raise funds to purchase equipment for young, emerging photographers from economically disadvantaged backgrounds from Colombia, and eventually from around the world…”

Comment: The mission statement very clearly announces what you’re to expect and it’s very admirable. Tom Griggs is a savvy publisher, creating features that tap into the active online community with a keen editorial eye. I’ve always thought that the internet was a good place to learn if you can make your way through the noise. Griggs is certainly someone who believes this and isn’t hesitant to put in the necessary work to achieve his mission. I’m very excited to see where he takes things in the next year and can’t wait to view the work from the students he’s collaborating with. This is an incredibly exciting new site and one that I hope others with aspirations for creating photography platforms will learn from in the future.

Recommended: Current Microgrant

 

About: The blog of photographer Blake Andrews.

Comment: Not much to add from what I wrote last year. Every post is still a surprise.

From 2010: You never really know what to expect from Blake.  He operates in a mental space that very few bloggers can access on a regular basis. He taps into the photography web zeitgeist in a way that adds depth to his irreverent posts.  Beyond the hijinks and humor, he’s also a fantastic and insightful writer.  When he decides to challenge an idea, he makes sure he’s thought about the argument, and offers counter points worth thinking about.

Recommended: The Sprig and Optimal Lag

 

About: To joust in the melee of contested meanings in surveillance, fine-art, documentary, amateur, institution, and virtual photographies of prisons and other sites of incarceration.

Comment: Pete Brook gets straight to the point and he’s on a mission. I was fortunate enough to meet with him twice this year and each time I came away believing more and more in his mission. His blog doesn’t ask you to think, it forces you to think. It’s always smart, finely edited and illuminating. The subject matter isn’t for everybody. It’s the type of work and issues that we’d just rather ignore. After all, of all the members of society, prisoners are the mostly likely garner little sympathy from the general public. Pete understands this challenge but confronts it head on. Realistic, honest, funny and passionate. After a few minutes browsing through his blog, you’ll come away thinking and it’ll be a nagging thought you’re not likely to shake.

Recommended: Photographing the Prostitutes of Italy’s Backroads: Google Street View vs. Boots on the Ground

 

About: LightBox, a new blog by TIME’s photo department, will explore how photography, video and the culture of images define today’s world.

Comment: As I’ve heard, LightBox was a clandestine operation by the Time photo editors that didn’t have the sanction of the corporate overlords. Thankfully for us, they’re disobedience went unpunished. It’s really a no brainer, but the cynic in me says, “jeez guys, it took you this long to get started?” Now that they’re here though, we’re exposed to a very tightly edited, engaging dose of photography on a daily basis. They have the resources and access that most independent bloggers and magazines simply never will have, and it shows in the quality and diversity of the work.

Recommended: Merry Christmas from Lee Friedlander

 

About: An independent charitable gallery (Cardiff, Wales) run by photographers Joni Karanka, Maciej Dakowicz, Bartosz Nowicki and a group of committed volunteers.

Comment: I’ve known Joni for a few after meeting him in HCSP. It’s been exciting watching what they’ve done with TFG this year. Actually, it’s pretty fucking remarkable and shows exactly what a group of passionate, intelligent photographers can achieve if they have a vision and dedication to bringing it to fruition. The TFG web presence is pretty straightforward and that’s all it needs to be. They’re able to get the word out to the right people and have been successful in raising the necessary funds to keep them afloat. In their first two years, they’ve exhibited Tomas Van Houtryve, Rob Hornstra, Ben Roberts, David Hurn, Laura Pannack, Chris Steele-Perkins, Peter Dench, and Carolyn Drake. That’s impressive. What more can you say?

Recommended: Support Us

 

About: Wayne Bremser’s Tumblr/Blog.

Comment: My favorite blog on Tumblr. Wayne is smart and the connections he makes between photographs is stimulating (“Bremser Image Telephone.”) He doesn’t write much, but when he does, it’s always very insightful and relevant. The photos run the spectrum from contemporary to historical, and are generally photographs that haven’t been heavily circulated in our visually saturated internet wasteland.

Recommended: How to Photograph the Entire World: The Google Street View Era

 

About: Facebook group of Flake Photo. “My hope is that by hosting online photo conversations in a single place the FPN will make it easier to share ideas and meet photography colleagues using Facebook.”

Comment: Maybe the years I’ve spent in photography forums has made me jaded, and kind of skeptical of these ‘community’ organizing initiatives, but I applaud Andy for his ability to bring together people that might not normally participate in photography forums. There’s plenty of conversation, insights and idea sharing happening on a weekly basis to keep my interest. It can be a great resource and it’s always interesting to read the opinions of people that don’t normally share them publicly.

Recommended: If you can get in…and tolerate the self-promotion.

 

About: The blog of duckrabbit, an award-winning digital production company.  We work with documentary audio, still photography and video to make compelling film and audio narratives for commercial, charity and broadcast clients.

Comment: There are  some blogs you like because of the attitude. duckrabbit is one of them for me. They have their nose to the grind and are tapped into the pulse of what’s happening with documentary photography and photojournalism. They’re opinionated, passionate and won’t back down from a good argument or debate. One to read for sure.

Recommended: Are photography degrees the joker in the pack?

 

About: Bagnews analyzes and reports news and media images. In an ever more visual society, BagNews seeks to better understand the levels of meaning, the underlying story lines and the various agendas reflected in the more prominent news pictures of the day.

Comment: Bag is one of those sites that I’ve said I read but more often than not only skim. Then this year I really started to read it regularly and found it incredibly interesting and insightful. The way photographs are used by media organizations in our hyper saturated, fast paced publishing world is worth taking the time to consider. For that type of analysis, there really is nowhere else to go other than the Bag.

Recommended: Taking it to the Kittens: The Pepper Spray Cop Meme — and What It Means

 

About: A Photo Editor (APE) is edited by Rob Haggart, the former Director of Photography for Men’s Journal and Outside Magazine.

Comment: The online pulse of the editorial and commercial photography world. Great resource for articles that are floating around. Jonathan Blaustein’s gallery and book reviews are long…but well worth the time investment. Recommended reading for anyone remotely curious or interested in the business side of commercial and editorial photography.

Recommended: Why Does Everyone Think They Need A Photo Book?

 

About: I examine how documentary photography and photojournalism work, the opportunities multimedia bring, and the challenges presented by the revolutions in the new media economy.

Comment: David’s thoughtful articles typically get me thinking. His subject matter might not be the most exciting for photographers but if you’re interested in publishing and how the web is evolving, creating new challenges & opportunities, then David’s blog is a must read. Always well researched, timely and engaging.

Recommended: Agencies as publishers: a new approach to photojournalism

 

About: Feature Shoot is run by photographer, photo editor and curator Alison Zavos and showcases work from up-and-coming photographers alongside established photographers who have completed a project or whose work has taken on a new direction.

Comment: Alison’s eyeballs must get really sore because she seems to see just about every photograph that’s published on the web. FS publishes an eclectic mix of work, crossing many genres and styles. What I like most about FS, is that I don’t like everything that’s published, and yet I keep coming back because I know there will be photographs that I haven’t seen before, many of which I’ll likely find interesting. Having chatted with Alison a few times, I have no doubt she’ll introduce new and exciting features in the next year.

Recommended: Parisian twins photographed by Maja Daniels

 

About: Edited by Constantin Nimigean

Comment: From Bucharest comes this serendipitous find. I’m not really sure how it came on my radar but after I subscribed I started to notice that most the photography strongly resonated with me. It was fun to see what was coming next. Sometimes he’d link to work I’d seen on other blogs but more often than not I’d be treated to work that hadn’t crossed my radar. I’m very interested to see how the site evolves in 2012.

Recommended: Valentina Riccardi – NO RENT

 

About: Edited tags from Tumblr.

Comment: It’s brilliant. Tumblr has chosen a group of photography enthusiasts to edit tags and promote work they think deserves more attention. So, what you get from the chaos of Tumblr is some semblance of organization. You can check the ‘portrait’ tag and find what’s ‘popular,’ ‘promoted’ and ‘everything’ else. They’ve made good choices in their editors too.

To show the power of Tumblr, and why I think every photographer should have a presence there, I’ll share an anecdote. I signed up in 2007 and started aggregating work under LPV/Photographs on the Brain. In four years, I gained about 2,000 followers. A few weeks ago I posted this wonderful photograph by Chris Dorley-Brown. In two days, after being ‘promoted’ it accumulated over 10,000 notes and became ‘popular.’ Within five days I’d gained nearly 4,500 followers. If Tumblr can harness this viral power and create a compelling ‘Front Page,’ they could really be onto something very interesting.

Regular reads, recommended: Unless you will, Fraction Magazine, 1000 Words, Eyecurious, Colin Pantall, LENS, New Landscape Photography, The Great Leap Sideways, Two Way Lens, Wayne Ford, dvafoto, Raw File, Shooting Wide Open, lenscratch, DLK Collection, This is the what, Search the Light, Two for the Road,urbanautica, LUCEO, Banana Leaves

Related posts:

  1. Top 15 Photography Websites of 2010
  2. Social Media & Photography: Observations Part 1 – Introduction
  3. OpEd: Appreciating Straight Photography

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The 98th Tour de France cycling race came to a close in Paris last Sunday, July 24th, as BMC Racing Team's Cadel Evans became the first Australian ever to win the competition. Brothers Andy and Frank Schleck placed second and third. After covering some 3,430.5 kilometers (2,132 miles) in 21 stages, and climbing to some of the highest points in Europe -- Stage 18 included a run through Col Agnel, a 2,744 meter (9,000 feet) high pass through the Alps -- riders descended to Paris on Sunday. For his win, Evans took home a prize of 450,000 euros ($651,200), a prize traditionally shared by winners with their eight other teammates. Collected here are images from the second half of the 2011 Tour de France. Don't forget to see images from Part 1, published earlier. [41 photos]

Tour de France competitors ride through the rain in the 167.5 km 11th stage of the cycling race, between Blaye-les-Mines and Lavaur, France, on July 13, 2011. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

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With the crashes of the first half of the race behind him, Cadel Evans finally ascended to the top step of the Tour de France podium after winning the 2011 edition. Evans had twice finished second. It was a tour of firsts. Evans became the first Australian to win the world's most prestigious bike race, and the brothers Schleck, Andy and Frank, became the first siblings to share the podium, taking second and third, respectively. In an electrifying tour, Evans pulled out the win on the second to last day in the individual time trial, soundly beating both Schlecks to win the three-week race by over a minute and a half. A plucky Frenchman, Thomas Voeckler, had given French fans hope for ten days as he tenaciously clung to the overall lead, only to finally succumb on the grueling climbs of the Alps. He finished fourth overall. Defending champion Alberto Contador, perhaps weakened by his May victory in the exhausting three-week Tour of Italy, or Giro d'Italia, could do no better than fifth. Through it all, the beauty of France shone through. The Big Picture offers special thanks to Veeral Patel for making his photographs available. -- Lane Turner (34 photos total)
Australia's Cadel Evans (center) celebrates with BMC teammates on the Champs-Elysees after he won the 2011 Tour de France cycling race on July 24, 2011. (Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images)

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