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In this film, “Unseen” we visit photographer and filmmaker Elliott Erwitt during his exhibition at the “Flo Peters Gallery” in Hamburg, Germany. Erwitt takes us on a visually stimulating journey through time as he walks and talks us through the gallery, commenting on several pieces of his finest work. He eclectically shares with us a humanistic, witty, and personal side of himself that enthralls, surprises, and entertains.
Erwitt discuss in detail some of his early advertising work and divulges a little trick he used that can actually be seen in an end shot. In addition, Erwitt shows us other “once in a lifetime moment” photos, like the funeral of John F. Kennedy and the photograph of JFK’s grieving widow Jackie Kennedy.
Other images stand out due to their placement, just as Erwitt himself stands out in this interview. He wears a plastic “sunny-side up” egg pinned to his lapel, which therefore, one might think he is a comedian or an odd fellow. But it’s exactly this transcending quirkiness that makes us so fond of Erwitt and his work. He himself says in this interview, “a picture is worth a thousand words” and the plastic egg on his lapel befits this phrase absolutely. He goes on to show us his shootings with Marilyn Monroe, pointing out that he placed her portrait next to a portrait of a dog in the gallery. Was there a connection to be discovered? No, it’s just simply that Erwitt is the opposite of mundane and has a multifarious approach to his work, and it is this approach that holds our interest at apex levels.
Erwitt third book, “Unseen”, hence the movie title, is a book of rediscovered, overlooked, and never before seen photos from his archives. He describes the process in making the book as depressing and interesting; depressing because he comes across old mistakes he made in photography, and interesting because he comes across rare gems of unusual photos, some more than fifty years old.
Erwitt was born in Paris in 1928 to Russian parents. In 1939 he emigrated to the United States, together with his family. And as a teenager living in Hollywood, he discovered his interest in photography while working in a commercial darkroom before taking photography classes at Los Angeles City College. In 1948 he moved to New York and began studying film at the New School for Social Research.
In 1953 Erwitt joined Magnum Photos and worked as a freelance photographer and in the late 1960s he served as Magnum's president for three years. Erwitt became known for kind irony, and for a well-proportioned sensibility, which was traditional to the spirit of Magnum. In the 1970s he then turned to film. At first documentaries, then in the 1980s he produced eighteen comedy films for Home Box Office, (HBO) in the United States.
Erwitt’s work is centered primarily on the observation of people, his pictures capturing life's most intense moments. One of the most accomplished photographers of his generation, Erwitt describes himself as a professional photographer by trade and an amateur photographer by vocation.
What led to his fame and longevity can be accredited to a single image and being at the right place at the right time; the kitchen debate photograph, taken in 1959 of Krushchev and Nixon arguing and grandstanding in front of a refrigerator. With his signature style and wit, his images tell the viewers, stories of the famous and the ordinary, the strange and the prosaic.
He was quoted having said, “It's about reacting to what you see, hopefully without preconception. You can find pictures anywhere. It's simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what's around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy."
Andrzej Dragan is a quantum physicist, with a professorship in Warsaw. He is also a composer and photographer. His photographs are portraits of persons beyond all ideals of beauty. With his works he wants to reveal the inconsistency of portraits to lead the viewer astray.
The shooting of a good model is irrelevant, Dragan says. In fact, he even does not like the photographing process very much. His works begins in the post-production, which can take up to a month for a single picture.
With his distinctive style Andrzej Dragan has already made a name of himself. Meanwhile the process of editing the picture in this unique look is called 'draganizing'. Dragan is not very pleased over the fact, that his works inspire others to do the same. In his eyes, copying is not very helpful to create something new.
We met the polish exceptional artists in the Hamburg G3 gallery at the opening of his exhibition "Allegories & Macabresques".
Fashion photography has had possibly its best time in the eighties. The photographic style of this era has been characterized by photographers like Sante D'Orazio. Everyone has seen his pictures of stars and supermodels like Naomi Campbell. They made history on the covers of glossy magazines such as Vogue and Elle. His nudes were shown regularly in playboy.
We met Sante D'Orazio at his exhibition 'Double Cross' at the NRW Forum in Dusseldorf. One half of this exhibition deals with photographs taken in the eighties 'behind the scenes'. The faces of the people in those pictures showing the excessive lifestyle of the fashion scene were scratched out to make those photographs publishable.
The second parts of the exhibition shows Sante's new work in which he portrays the high priests of modern art.
Araki Nuboyoshi is perhaps the most famous and controversial photographer of Japan. Araki breaks all the rules: His photography is very subjective and direct, it might even be too close for some people.
The interaction of sex, death and beauty has found its place in the works of Araki Nuboyoshi. In his country, he is a pop star. We were lucky to meet him for this interview during his exhibition "Araki Gold" in Rome.
The first part of our interview with Albert Watson is about the person behind the camera. This second part is about his photographic works.
Amongst other things, you will learn what the portrait of Alfred Hitchcock means to Albert Watson and why Hitchcock and Watson's father inspired him to photograph Mike Tyson.
Albert Watson also talks about the genesis of the first nude photograph of Kate Moss and the analogue portrait of Mick Jagger.
Albert Watson, blind on one eye, has made a name for himself as one of the most successful fashion and advertising photographers in the world. Born and raised in Scotland, Watson studied at the Royal College of Art in London. Since the early seventies he lives and works in New York.
His photographs were used on more than 250 Vogue covers and numerous other publications such as Rolling Stone or Time Magazine.
Many of his pictures are classic portraits of celebrities such as Alfred Hitchcock, the Rolling Stones member Mick Jagger or actor Johnny Depp. But Albert Watson does not only shoot the rich and famous, he also documents his travels around the world, works on still lives and art projects.
We met Albert Watson in Dusseldorf at his exhibition at the NRW-Forum Kultur. In this film he tells us about his life and the versatility of his photography.
After studying art, Douglas Busch worked as an assistant to Morley Baer and worked with Al Webber and Ansel Adams. Early on, Busch interrupted his photographic career to join the family business and become a jeweler. But some years later his addiction resurfaced and he founded the de Golden Busch Inc., where he started to build the largest portable camera in the world.
His works ranges from early "Street Photography", to large format black and white photographs with extraordinary landscapes and cityscapes to bizarre portraits. His latest work is a highly abstract series called "Waves."
Douglas Busch's photographs can be seen at the Museum of Modern Art, NY (MoMA), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Getty Museum.
In this interview, Douglas Busch gives an overview of his artistic works.
Roger Ballen was practically born to be a photographer. His mother was the first Photo Gallerist in New York in the 1960's. So from an early age, he was surrounded by the masterpieces of the famous photographers of the time. After obtaining a degree in geology and psychology, he has lived and worked for more than 30 years in South Africa.
At first glance, his photos seem mysterious, dark and obscure. Upon closer evaluation, they are multilayered and deep. As a geologist, he looks for things that hide below the surface of the earth. As a photographer he looks below the surface to discover the hidden uniqueness of the subject. Where others see misery, Ballen sees beauty.
"I am clearly interested in the conditio humana and a very specific perception of my surrounding," says Roger Ballen. His pictures represent an interrelationship between the subjects and the photographer; they don’t have a singular meaning.