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You might think that everything has been said about photographing flowers. You'd be wrong. Paul Solberg transforms botany into something you've never seen before: He takes you into a world of ethereal, translucent life forms. In this video he discusses the works presented in his exhibition at the Flo Peters Gallery in Hamburg.
Doing something new with flowers is challenging to say the least. The subject is dripping with sugar-sweet clichés: Valentine's Day, Weddings, romance and so on. But Solberg neither lives with flowers nor does he particularly like flower arrangements. There is no deep message in these images. It would, he says, be pretentious to claim so. He sees the flowers he photographs rather as jewellery that he makes portraits of. Robert Mapplethorpe's flowers were portraits too, but they are dark, sculptural images, almost like marble, laden with erotic innuendo.
Paul Solberg's images are stunning, light, almost abstract images of individual flowers, back-lit against white backgrounds.
Most of the work was done in the studio using a large array of small lights. Some shots were taken outdoors against the light. 'Light' is a word he uses repeatedly in talking about these pictures. " Colour is not the first thing that draws me in: It's the light". And on the subject of monochrome vs. Colour: " Black & white or colour is very secondary". 'Secondary' is the word he uses too about cameras: "They are beautiful machines, but it doesn't matter while I'm working. The most nimble and easy to use is what I use."
Paul was born in Minnesota in 1969, studied anthropology and photography in Cape Town, South Africa, andbecame a professional photographer quite late at the age of 35. There are echoes of Andy Warhol when he maintains," You don't have to make living at photography to be a photographer. You can't really teach photography. We're all photographers."
On his motivation in photography he says, "There's always a craving to do more. It's a process of slowing down and concentrating on one subject. Photography keeps me hungry, wonderfully ill at ease!"
Solberg lives in New York City.
A PDF version of Paul Solberg's book 'Bloom' is available free here.
Continuing in our news coverage of Europe is the most recent FEP Congress in Lyon. In this film we get the chance to talk with press chief Jorgen Brandt. After a short description about who and what is the FEP, he gives us a run down on the planned events and some of the featured speakers. He also hints to the next congress that will likely be held in Austria.
We also had the opportunity to talk with FEP President Neil Warner. He explains the importance of the awards, of the recognition and the prestige that it carries in Europe. He also shares with us the definitions of the award categories, Qualified European Photographer, the Master QEP for which there are only 40 recognized, the European Photographer of the Year, the Fine Art / Image of the Year and the Emerging Talent award that recognizes talent under 30.
He assures us that these winners and their works will serve to inspire and actively promote the organization. Join us for this special look at a very special organization.
Welcome to the latest installment of FotoTV news. Here's the latest happenings.
We're breaking out the party hats here to celebrate a major milestone here at FotoTV. Our 1000th film is in the can! And what a film it is! Here you'll get a preview of renowned photographer Lucien Clerc at work shooting on the beaches of Camargue in the South of France
The countdown has begun to kick off the worlds biggest photo tradefair; the Photokina. Right here in our home-town Cologne, Germany. What a homerun hit for us! FotoTV has been asked to produce live on-site coverage, so here you`ll get a preview of our custom glass studio, from where we will be producting all the latest news, trends, interviews and up-to-the-minute happenings live from the trade-fair floor. If you're planning to be there on Friday ...come celebrate with us in traditional Cologne fashion!
Another advance look we offer is a glance at the fascinating portfolio of Michael Schlegel. B&W photography
at it's best with timeless, poignant views from the world's last frontiers: Iceland and Australia.
Finally a look at, and a bid to participate in our annual charity, the Karma Calendar / Doctors for theThird World.
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The 6th edition of FotoTV.News is a special edition on the photo-festival Les Rencontres d'Arles.
With this issue we will provide you with another perspective on Les Rencontres d'Arles. Like always, Marc personllay attended the festival. Find out what he liked and disliked as he is looking back on the event in this film.
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In this film FotoTV’s founder, Marc Ludwig, talks to photojournalist, David Douglas Duncan about his Korean War photographs, his extraordinary career and the adventures and events he witnessed and recorded.
One of the most influential photographers of the 20th century Duncan was a prominent combat photographer for the United States Marine Corps, perhaps his most famous photographs were taken during the Korean War.
Duncan discusses his photo narrative of the Korean War, while his vivid combat scenes giving us an eyewitness account of the courage and ordeal of the fighting men and what their world was like. At the time of the photographs Duncan was a marine, and therefore most fighting men were completely unaware they were being photographed, while he took pictures of battling and dying men side by side, documenting their many unforgettable warrior faces.
Duncan’s Korean War photographs are truly iconic as they also convey the brotherhood and daily life of an ordinary soldier. He lived with the men following fellow marines through a series of fearful battles taking photographs on the rapidly changing front line.
In this film, photographer Thomas Struth and book publisher, Lothar Schirmer, of Schirmer/Mosel, discuss Struth's collective exhibition for the SK Cultural Foundation at Media Park in Cologne, Germany.
Struth is one of the three pillars, including Thomas Ruff, and Andreas Gursky, fondly termed as "Strufski". All three are Alumni's of the Dusseldorf Art School, having learned photography in the master classes of famed pair, Bernd and Hilla Becher, and are credited for elevating the status, as well as the prices being paid for color photography prints today. In the early 1980s Struth added a new dimension to his work when he branched out from landscape, city scenes and daily scenes of people and started to photograph family portraits.
Struth was not proactively seeking to photograph as many families as possible, how many photographers approach this subject. He steadily became involved in what would become an unending project after a meeting with a friend, Ingo Hartmann, who is a psychoanalyst. As Struth himself says, "Photographing families is a relatively difficult and personal matter that requires a different approach than that of photographing a jungle or something that is inanimate. As a result, his family portraits attempt to show the underlying social dynamics within a seemingly still photograph. In developing the show for the SK Cultural Foundation, Struth's approach was not the least bit ordinary. Like a conductor enveloped in an orchestration of music, Struth likens his exhibit to the different executions within a classical musical composition; from the Overture to the Andante Moderato, the subtle changes in dynamics and soft-hued colors in his presentation engages viewers, inconspicuously conveying them to the next scene.
In this film, photographer, Harry Gruyaert sits down with FotoTV and reflects on his life, career highlights and his priorities as a photojournalist.
Starting out in fashion, Gruyaert soon realized that he was more inclined to landscapes and people, rather than photographing the latest styles. He was absolutely enthralled by the locations he visited and fell in love with Morocco after his first trip there. His trip to Morocco was personal and professional success, where he produced intense photographs of light, color, objects, people and situations depicting an undisturbed, beautiful scene of life. Visions of pure landscapes and daily life saturated with rich and colorful surroundings.
For his first serious body of work, Gruyaert made photographs of distorted TV images, covering current events such as the 1972 Munich Olympics to produce a vibrant caricature of the new stories. He explains, “I had a television set that didn't work properly; as my assistant and I moved the antenna, fiddling with the switches, it was possible to obtain fascinating colors. At the time, of course, the video recorder didn't exist, not to mention the freeze frame. So I set my camera to 1/8 sec and f4.0, held my camera steady and sometimes moved very close to the screen to frame it differently.”
At the heart of Gruyaert’s work is his affinity to structuring the intense nature of color. His images are beautiful in terms of life, luminosity and the people in relation to their situations. A contrast of elements assembled into refined graphics of shadows, hue, light and atmosphere.
Gruyaert studied at the School for Photo and Cinema in Brussels from 1959 to 1962. He then began freelance fashion and advertising work in Paris, while working as a director of photography for Flemish television.
In this film curator and photographer, Michael Ebert shows us select images from the outstanding Civil War Photographs Collection, which he meticulously digitally restored to their original quality.
During the challenging restoration process, Ebert reveals to FotoTV the previously unknown details he discovered about the everyday life of the people who lived and worked around, or fought in the American Civil War more than 150 years ago. To arrive at the best results possible, he used a Wacom Cintiq 21UX with interactive pen display, one of the industry’s most intuitive image editing tools.
“The Civil War was the world’s first major event to be documented in photographs, which makes the database of images a genuine treasure trove”, Ebert tells FotoTV. “In addition, the so-called collodion process -a flammable syrupy solution- was used at this time. This was a complicated process that posed great challenges for photographers at that time. It produced photographs of a very high level of technical quality on plates, allowing a high degree of enlargement. Nonetheless, over the years, many of the plates were broken or damaged.
For the project, the Library of Congress provided Ebert with original scans at sizes of more than 100 MB. Working with Adobe Photoshop on his computer and, using a pen applied directly onto the screen of the Cintiq 21UX, Michael Ebert then painstakingly restored the damaged images to their original quality. At the same time he enlarged individual details from the images to create entirely new perspectives on the nostalgic photos shot by American Civil War photographers, Mathew Brady, Timothy Sullivan and Alexander Gardner.
The retouched images were part of Ebert’s exhibition “The mirror with a memory”, which was on display as part of the Visual Gallery at the 2008 Photokina in Colgne, Germany.
In this film, photographer and photo-collector, F.C. Gundlach talks to FotoTV at his fashion photography exhibit, discussing his career, his beginnings as a collector and what the word "fashion" means to him.
Gundlach explains that fashion comes into being when it is shown publicly and when there is a collective understanding of a new trend, taste, or smell, or whatever else, that trend becomes a fashion. Furthermore he says fashion is not only happening on the runway, or in fashion houses, fashion is also happening on the streets.
Interestingly enough, on a technical note, Gundlach has become somewhat of an advocate of digital photography. Initially he thought that through digitizing photography much would be lost in regards to content. But he soon realized that not to be the case. He describes how he came to his first digital photo to be displayed in one of his exhibits. "The last photo from this exhibit, a photo of the Pope, Benedict XVI, was a photo I saw published with an accompanying article in large scale in the FAZ Newspaper's Culture Section. It was very difficult for me to find that photo as the photographer was an unknown from Italy. I finally found her and she told me she didn’t have a photo-- but a data file of the image, and this was the first digital photo to be in one of my exhibits. I was skeptical at first, but changed my mind as did most large publishing houses of that time did. There was no data loss and it was simply advantageous in regards to time constraints. Photos could be sent around the world electronically in a fraction of the time it took to send an image via the postal service.
Gundlach is also a genuine admirer and supporter of other photographer's work. He goes on to explain a common feeling many photographers know too well, "Sometimes, photography can be an ambivalent activity. Many photographers have problems with the work of their fellow colleagues. I’ve never had that feeling; to the contrary it interested me. Since I’ve spent a lot of time in America, especially New York, which I nearly never left, with the exception of Los Angeles, I’ve met the American photographers and we had some lively exchanges about photography."
Times and styles change, but fashion will always remain inspirational. In closing Gundlach shares with FotoTV a story of one of his most memorable photos, "I remember in the 1960s when fashion was primarily black and white, reduced to forms and patterns. That worked really well for photography and fashion itself. One of my own photos shot for Brigitte magazine, in front of the Gizeh Pyramids, depicting two models wearing bathing caps has become an iconic image. The photo in the magazine is a variation from what we see printed today. That was a moment where the boundaries of fashion photography were transcended, resulting in a photo that will always be significant and timeless."
With timeless, Gundlach does not mean meaningless, his photo speaks for itself, as do all the photos in his exhibit. Some might say photos are the intermediaries of fashion, and it is Gundlach who is certain that it will always be the case.