Light. It envelopes us. We live for it. So when half of the world gets a smack good lot of it in a day it’s time to put it to good use and get snappin’. @thehashtagofman is a collaborative documentary project recording life – now. It’s a people project – a community forming through mobile photography and the Internet to produce one global portrait. It’s only fitting that this year’s summer solstice becomes our Summer SOULSTICE. When that clock strikes the 21st of June we go “glocal” and capture the soul of living in 2013. Load your images up to #thehashtagofman and let’s see what this planet is shaping up to. Who are we? What are we about? What are we driven to do and become? Spread the word. Pencil in the 21st and let’s form a picture the likes we’ve never seen before.
IG @tom_bolduc (photo)
This is one of those hiccup weeks folks. Where yours truly got so bogged down with studies and deadlines that he missed a week contibution. So to bring it all back into equilibrium may I introduce this week’s feature: @winnab.
How could #thehashtagofman feed exist without the highs and lows of humans in transport. And big city stuff usually amounts to some pretty interesting pictures. @winnab has found a niche on the subway or “Tube” of London. Picking seats strategically @winnab has the front row to acts and performances on all fronts of the human social spectrum. The seat becomes our theatre as we witness the uncomfortable and sad to the hilarious and poignant.
Being a train rider myself it is easy to get lost in a book, or dip ones head into the glow from a mobile device. While I do look and at times stare at people, @winnab’s camera freezes what the eye, the mind wishes not to see or gets interrupted during the seeing. The broadsheet becomes an etching out of space, a momentary staking of ownership, a shield, a place to hide from the world – but not from @winnab’s camera. I love the voyeurism of this work, the secrecy that exists, that authors pure, unguarded moments. Whether the person is caught within their own crisis or the bringing together of strangers sitting seat by seat produces something worthy of immersion performance, sitting across from the actors of @winnab’s play is pure life as theatre. The colours and exposure only add to the ambience of these moments. The world may be blurs in the background windows, but on board of @winnab’s world there is nothing of the sort – these artefacts of emotion are sharp in the detail of life and we witness them head on.
What a week folks. Apologies in not getting this out sooner. Had our first Masters presentations to a room full of professors and some industry readers last week so time was a bit thin.
However In the background, stewing, knowing that this is the next photographer to feature, kept a certain momentum brewing. So we bring to your attention the haunting works of Chris Lizon or @clizon and his documentation of his daughter Emma.
When this work first trickled into the #thehashtagofman it was tough to place. It was like – aren’t photographs of children supposed to be bright and colourful? And then one thinks of Sally Mann, Mary Ellen Mark, Eugene Smith and poof goes that thought. So here you have a father recording his daughter in these images lacquered with nostalgic tone. These are now and then – the past already rendered in the act of the picture making. Streaming through his feed is like putting your hand out in a dark, able to just make out things but not quite. After all the bright lights and colours of the IG ecosystem coming into @clizon’s feed you need to give your eyes time to adjust. And you have to slow down, this is not a cotton candy feed. In the darkness there is a magic, but it’s not explicit. It’s tender, delicate, deep. If you scroll far enough back you can see he used colour at one point but them assigned himself to this aesthetic and remained committed to it ever since – over a year long collaboration of content and style. This commitment seems to be metaphorical. It’s certainly unique and well worth slowing time down to view this feed one poetic image at a time. The narrative is fascinating and rich. It brings a depth to IG that is not normally on view.
This week’s SOTW is a real jobber’s work. I don’t know if this is a universal term but where I’m from a jobber is a photographer who gets sent out to all sorts of stories, sometimes five in a day, anything from auto accidents to community events like pie eating contests and Guess the Cow’s Weight – I mean c’mon — how do you photograph that?! Meanwhile the local vid crew shows up in their cable van, get out and aim a camera at ‘whatever’, dub it with a voice over and hit the road. The stills guy sticks around looking for the right angle, the right light, the right expression and if he’s lucky something will happen to boost the image from its banal form into something a bit more interesting to look at so it can get some real estate on the final run page. Personally I think this is one helluva tough job, and documentary photojournalism is built on a historic foundation of guys going out there to create picture stories of life in the everyday for those magazines of the pre-television era.
So this week it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you Si Bennett, a Fairfax Press photographer reigning in and uploading images from beautiful Australia. Visit his IG feed (@iamsibennett) and you’ll be treated to all shapes, sizes, moods and events that life fills us with. Si’s job is to professionally freeze it for press. When his ‘Talking Heads’ series came in I thought here is the body of work which is that personal stuff which we all search for. A theme or series of images that carves us out an edge from our usual path of sight and shows the light in the distance of the new destination we’re shaping. This image in particular I found mesmerising, even profound, and I hope you do too. The light, the everyday-ness of this everyday-type woman amidst the weight of the everyday yet in this moment, as the eyes close, Si shatters glass and heralds in something new. Take a few minutes to visit his feed and you’ll bump into these heads and they’ll certainly stick out. But don’t forget to look along the way through the eyes of a Fairfax ‘jobber’.
Before I begin with this week’s feature contributor, a big thank you to all of you who have been and continue to contribute. #thehashtagofman project stepped over the 300 images mark and while that may not seem so large, it shows that there is a growing community of folks aiming to show the spirit of what the project is all about. There is such good work coming in that it feels like this could be a SOTD but time just cannot permit that at the mo’. The wait produces a sweeter taste anyways right?
Now – this week’s SOTW.
I remember my first “meeting” with @cimek on Instagram. It was very early on in my research, looking at bodies of work and photographer profiles and seeing how portfolios either shifted or remained the same over time. She had this huge body of work committed to a very disciplined recipe of tone and light, so over-exposed an aesthetic – as if your perception was blinded by looking towards the sun. Washed out colours and faint lines, objects and structures hanging sideways or even upside down. And yet it all seemed to work, to hold ground and receive applause. Her submissions to #thehashtagofman are so far removed from this first meeting.
For #thehashtagofman @cimeks haunting figures sweep across Silent Hill landscapes where the moan of isolation is muffled in a palette of isolation and ominnous light. One can hear the wind in these images, and a lighthouse bell off in the distance. It’s hard to believe the iPhone is capable of possessing such projections from a tiny screen. Not all of her people images are of this render, and those which peak out from the shadows or play in the light of day show a celebration and youth in their body, face and spirit. These are just such clean images – their sound is pure. If you like more hard core street photography this will not be your work, this is more articulated than shoot from the hip or in your face. The lovely thing about #thehashtagofman like The Family of Man is the artistic voices and translations of life that curation brings.
The outstanding visual poetry and sensitive eye of Sydney based pro and long term project photographer Markus Andersen aka @theseventhshore will pull you in by its thick “printing” and disorientating mix of light, contrast and composition. This blend produces a powerful impact that kinda knuckles you on the jaw with a bite of reality within these fleeting, in-between moments between strangers. Markus takes the banal, the lost, the passing and through his high contrast treatment abstracts the reality and authors a beautiful film noir pastiche. The subjects are stuck in the today but remain classical nonetheless. Frozen, caught in their own worlds so exactly, a viewer can almost hear the thoughts and one can feel like they are witness to a secret. People enter and exit through chasms of light and we are left suspended in animation. Where are they going? Where are they heading? What have they done? What are they planning? All questions viewers will be asking. Take a tour through this talented photographers body of work. His style is consistent, his narrative has impact and his eye for carving out the quiet amongst the noise is exceptional.
To find out more or take part in this project read about it here.
There’s just so much good work flowing in to our #thehashtagofman project that it seems a waste to let them float about in the IG ecosystem and not get the light of day. So here is the first page of what we’re calling a Sheet of Contacts so you can follow these talented shooters and others over on IG as well.
@roxiesunderland @carolinefogell @urs___
@sugarbeam @tom_bolduc @spaghettz
@theseventhshore @roxiesunderland @jack_oc
Thanks again folks for all the support.
For more info about this project or if you wish to submit images please see here.
The work which is coming in is phenomenal and I feel I must, MUST say thank you to all those who are spreading the word and contributing. The body of work unfolding feels like a modern version of Steichen’s original Family of Man, and I can only imagine what it was like for him to be receiving by both post and courier, little packages in brown envelopes, labelled by hand and coming from lands maybe not even he heard of. To open these packages and see jewels of grain arranged on paper and served by strangers in a moment caught, a slice of life frozen, how precious. And so here we are, brought up to date with the technologies available to us today, and each time I look on the unfolding page simply identified by a #symbol I feel a sense of that too. The magic in that moment an image was taken by people I don’t know and places I’ve never been and yet to look and see what they looked and saw at the moment of conception between inspiration and exposure where they look down at the image before them and for an instant think to themselves “I’ve just done something incredible” – well…. to witness this shape through the mobile platform is absolutely a journey I feel privileged to watch unfold. Once again thank you.
And so with this week’s entry we add the colour, youth and electricity of this edgy young photographer Shayna Batya aka @shaynabatya. If you take a tour of her feed you’ll find nuggets of the friendly, the odd and the unreal…. The beautifully eclectic really. There’s something on the verge of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to her work. It’s that point where when winding up a Jack in the Box you think the next plink or plunk is going to set it off. The stuff she sent in to the #thehashtagofman made for a really tough choice but this pick really sums up her look and spirit. The beautifully unexpected, that Amercanised hotness that you think is cliche but then pokes you in the eye with its up to date rawness. That’s what comes to mind for this reviewer. She’s got a pretty rich following and one can see why. Looking forward to seeing more of her work.
To find out more or take part in this project read about it here.
Greg Briggs. One more time…. Greg Briggs. Remember that name. My index finger hurt from writing #thehashtagofman so many times on too many of his IG images. Don’t believe me? One of his images made it into the Mobile Photography Awards exhibition at the Soho Gallery for Digital Art in New York and we can imagine how many mobile images he competed against. All this attention and this chap is still studying in school.
This image is just a perfect shot to welcome in the warm weather and the fresh summer season that is amidst us. Those who know Magnum photographer Bruce Gilden will know he likes to say – ‘If you can smell the street in a photograph its a successful street photograph’. This may not be a street image but you can smell summer in this shot and so its a winner for us. Go on over to @gregbriggs and there will be many images that come to life. Pack a picnic though as it’ll take you all day to get through his 3283 images but its a heckuva ride with a lot of great scenery. This week’s SOTW goes out to Greg Briggs.