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Emerging Photographer Fund – 2013 Recipient

 

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EPF 2013 WINNER

 Diana Markosian

My Father, The Stranger

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I knocked on the door of a stranger.

I’ve traveled halfway around the world to meet him.

My father.

I was seven years old when I last saw him.

As the Soviet Union collapsed, so did my family.

I remember my father and I dancing together in our tiny apartment in Moscow and him giving me my first doll.

I also remember him leaving.

Sometimes he would be gone for months at a time and then unexpectedly be back.

Until, one day, it was our turn to leave.

My mother woke me up and told me to pack my belongings. She said we were going on a trip. The next day, we arrived at our new home, California.

We hardly ever spoke of my father. I had no pictures of him, and over time, forgot what he looked like.

I often wondered what it would have been like to have a father.

I still do.

This is my attempt to piece together a picture of a familiar stranger.

 

Bio

Diana Markosian is a documentary photographer and writer.

Her reporting has taken her from Russia’s North Caucasus mountains, to the ancient Silk Road in Tajikistan and overland to the remote Wakhan Corridor in northeastern Afghanistan.

Diana’s images have appeared in The New York Times, The Sunday Times, Marie Claire, Foreign Policy, Foto8, Time.com, World Policy Journal, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, amongst others.

Her work has been recognized by a diverse range of organizations including UNICEF, AnthropoGraphia, Ian Parry Scholarship, Marie Claire Int’l, National Press Photography Association, Columbia University and Getty Images. In 2011, Diana’s image of the terrorist mother was awarded photo of the year by Reuters.

She holds a masters from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

 

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Diana Markosian

 

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Irina Werning

Back To The Future 2

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I love old photos. I know I’m a nosy photographer. As soon as I step into someone else’s house, I start sniffing for those old photos. Most of us are fascinated by their retro look but to me it’s imagining how people would feel and look like if they were to reenact them today…  a few years ago, I decided to actually do this. So, with my camera, I started inviting people to go back to their future.

Back to the Future won the Burn Emerging Photographer Fund  2011. The EPF grant allowed Irina Werning to extend and finish the project. For Back to the Future, she shot 250 pictures in 32 countries.

 

Bio

• Born in Buenos Aires

• BA Economics, Universidad de San Andres, Buenos Aires, 1997

• MA History, Universidad Di Tella, Buenos Aires, 1999

• MA Photographic Journalism, Westminster University, London, 2006

• Winner Ian Parry Scholarship 2006

• Gordon Foundation Grant 2006

• Selected for the Joop Swart Masterclass (World Press Photo Organization), 2007

• Flash Forward, The Magenta Foundation, Canada 2011

• Winner Fine Art Portraits, SONY World Photography Awards 2012

 

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Irina Werning

 

 

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I hesitate to say everyone should have a child, because becoming a parent is an intensely personal choice. I try my best to avoid evangelizing the experience, but the deeper in I get, the more I believe that nothing captures the continued absurdity of the human condition better than having a child does.

After becoming a parent, the first thing you'll say to yourself is, my God, it is a miracle any of us even exist, because I want to freakin' kill this kid at least three times a day. But then your child will spontaneously hug you, or tell you some stupid joke that they can't stop laughing at, or grab for your hand while crossing the street and then … well, here we all are, aren't we? I'm left wondering if I'll ever be able to love other people – or for that matter myself – as much as I love my children. Unconditional, irrational, nonsensical love. That's humanity in a nutshell.

Parenting is by far the toughest job I've ever had. It makes my so-called career seem awfully quaint in comparison.

the first 9 months is the hardest

My favorite part of the parenting process, though, is finally being able to talk to my kids. When the dam breaks and all that crazy stuff they had locked away in those tiny brains for the first two years comes uncontrollably pouring out. Finding out what they're thinking about and what kind of people they are at last. Watching them discover and explore the surface of language is utterly fascinating. After spending two years trying to guess – with extremely limited success – what they want and need, truly, what greater privilege is there than to simply ask them? Language: Best. Invention. Ever. I like it so much I'm using it right now!

Language also allows kids to demonstrate just what crazy little roiling balls of id they (and by extension, we) all are on the inside. Kids don't know what it means to be mad, to be happy, to be sad. They have to be taught what emotions are, how to handle them, and how to deal in a constructive way with everything the world is throwing at them. You'll get a ringside seat to this process not as a passive observer, but as their coach and spirit guide. They have no coping mechanisms except the ones we teach them. The difference between a child who freaks out at the slightest breeze, and a child who can confidently navigate an unfamiliar world? The parents.

See, I told you this was going to be tough.

There are of course innumerable books on parenting and child-rearing, most of which I have no time to read because by the time I'm done being a parent for the day, I'm too exhausted to read more about it. And, really, who wants to read about parenting when you're living the stuff 24/7? Except on Parenting Stack Exchange, of course. However, there is one particular book I happened to discover that was shockingly helpful, even after barely ten pages in. If you ever need to deal with children aged 2 to 99, stop reading right now and go buy How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

We already own three copies. And you're welcome.

What's so great about this book? I originally found it through A.J. Jacobs, who I mentioned in Trust Me, I'm Lying. Here's how he describes it:

The best marriage advice book I’ve read is a paperback called How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. As you might deduce from the title, it wasn’t meant as a marriage advice book. But the techniques in this book are so brilliant, I use them in every human interaction I can, no matter the age of the conversant. It’s a strategy that was working well until today.

The book was written by a pair of former New York City teachers, and their thesis is that we talk to kids all wrong. You can’t argue with kids, and you shouldn’t dismiss their complaints. The magic formula includes: listen, repeat what they say, label their emotions. The kids will figure out the solution themselves.

I started using it on Jasper, who would throw a tantrum about his brothers monopolizing the pieces to Mouse Trap. I listened, repeated what he said, and watched the screaming and tears magically subside. It worked so well, I decided, why limit it to kids? My first time trying it on a grown-up was one morning at the deli. I was standing behind a guy who was trying unsuccessfully to make a call on his cell.

“Oh come on! I can’t get a signal here? Dammit. This is New York.”
He looked at me.
“No signal?” I say. “Here in New York?” (Repeat what they say.)
“It’s not like we’re in goddamn Wisconsin.”
“Mmmm.” (Listen. Make soothing noises.)
“We’re not on a farm. It’s New York, for God’s sake,” he said.
“That’s frustrating,” I say. (Label their emotions.)
He calmed down.

This book taught me that, as with so many other things in life, I've been doing it all wrong. I thought it was my job as a parent to solve problems for my children, to throw myself on life's figurative grenades to protect them. Consider the following illustrated examples from the book.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, cartoon about empathy

Notice how she cleverly lets the child reach an alternative solution himself, rather than providing the "solution" to him on a silver platter as the all-seeing, all-knowing omniscient adult. This honestly would never have occurred to me, because, well, if we're out of Toastie Crunchies, then we are out of freaking Toastie Crunchies!

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, cartoon about description

I've learned to fall back whenever possible to simply describing things or situations instead of judging or pontificating. I explain the consequences of potential actions rather than jumping impatiently to "don't do that".

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk is full of beautiful little insights on human interaction like this, and I was surprised to find how often what I thought was a good parenting behavior was working against us. Turns out, children aren't the only ones who have trouble dealing with their emotions and learning to communicate. I haven't just improved my relationship with my kids using the practical advice in this book, I've improved my interactions with all human beings from age 2 to 99.

Kids will teach you, if you let them. They'll teach you that getting born is the easy part. Anyone can do that in a day. But becoming a well-adjusted human being? That'll take the rest of your life.

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Tomasz Lazar

Theater of Life

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In 2008 we began working on the long term project entitled ‘Theater of life’. Themes are the changes occurring in our society under the influence of culture and technology, which are increasingly present in our everyday lives.

Historically, Platon developed the notion of Theatrum Mundi – Theatre of the World. Place where a man is only a puppet, an actor whose role is to play its normal role on stage of life. Planned by the powerful being known as the creator (Demiurg, God). At present, the place of this being has been taken by mass media.  Mass media, with which we have to deal every day. They have increasingly greater impact on us, our life and behavior. People under the influence of mass culture that comes straight from the television or the Internet, get lost in the border of two worlds: the real world in which they live and the world created by the media.

Topics touched upon in his essay can best be seen in most developed countries. Places where people use more and more technology, areas in which technology, the media have the greatest impact on people. Therefore, a further stage of the project is to travel to places like Tokyo (Japan), New York (USA), Las Vegas (USA), Hong Kong and Sydney (Australia). As well as to further develop this theme in my home country and the countries adjacent to it.

 

Bio

I was born in Szczecin(Poland), 31th march 1985. Studied Information Technology at Westpomeranian University of Technology. During my studies I discovered photography . After several months I discovered that it is my passion and that is what i want to do in my life. After three years I decided to begin photography studies at the European Academy of Photography. I studied under the guidance of Tomasz Tomaszewski, Lorenzo Castore, Michael Ackerman, Isabel Jaroszewska and others. Since December 2010 I started being apprentice in the biggest studio in Poland – Makata, to develop my capabilities with using artificial light in practice. I was also involved in various workshops, like with Tomasz Tomaszewski on photojournalism and photo edition. At present, I am planning to expand on my photography knowledge by studying at the Institute of Creative Photography in Opava (the Czech Republic).
Currently I am working on a project titled Theatre of life, whose task is to move aspects of everyday life and cultural changes taking place in society as a result of the development of media and technology in the world.
I am interested in mainly the impact of various factors on human life (such as culture, technology). I get pleasure from every moment of being with people and the possibility of taking pictures.

 

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Tomasz Lazar

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Ryan McGinley is being sued by the photographer Janine “Jah Jah” Gordon, who claims that over 150 of his photographs are taken from her work. Gordon’s argument has been backed up by the former New Museum curator Dan Cameron, who wrote “my long-term expertise as a critic and curator gives me, I believe, sufficient authority to say, without hesitation, that Ms. Gordon’s work is completely original, in concept, color, composition and content, and that Ryan McGinley has derived much of his work from her creations.”

McGinley’s lawyers are dismissing the suit on the grounds that the images in question “do not look alike in the slightest,” saying that Gordon is “really complaining that the images share the same fundamental idea.”

Looking through the images in question, and through Gordon’s site, I have two thoughts. On one hand, I think some of the examples of copyright infringement she provided for the lawsuit feel like a pretty far stretch. The guy in a mosh pit (image below) seems particularly weak as what she’s saying is stolen is the body position. Does she really claim the sole rights to photographing someone with outstretched arms? On the other hand, I suspect McGinley is aware of her work and may reference it from time to time. I don’t know any photographer who works in a commercial context – myself included – who doesn’t work with references, and since a number of the images in question come from a campaign that McGinley shot for Levi’s x Opening Ceremony, it seems totally plausible that some of her images were used by McGinley as references for that.

I ran Nan Goldin’s studio for several years, and we often had to deal with case of Nan’s work being copied. There was one case while I was there of a really big commercial photographer referencing several of Nan’s photos. The other photographer settled out of court for a huge sum because I think everyone knew had it gone to court, Nan would have won. The whole thing left a weird taste in my mouth, I think because of my awareness of how commercial shoots are put together (though to be fair the images in question were fairly blatantly copied ). The whole process, starting with the ad agency and moving through to the photographers, requires images to illustrate intention for the shoot, and while those images sometimes belong to the photographer doing the job, they often come from other people’s work.

It’s not just commercial photography that works that way. Nan told me that when she started Larry Clark didn’t like her because he thought she was stealing from him, and McGinley so clearly references Nan, and his work has become a reference for so many artists younger than him. I’m not sure what the line between referencing and stealing is, but referencing is very much a part of photography. How can your eye not be influenced by what you’ve seen?

My feeling is that some – but not all – of these claims of copyright infringement are going to be decided in Gordon’s favor. I think her examples involving the monochromatic color palate (top photo) are reasonably convincing, and if Gordon can prove she did them first then she might get some money. That’s my psychic prediction, but I’m not actually sure what I think of the whole thing. I’m curious to hear what you guys think…

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