CONTACTsheet No.4

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(click on photo to go LARGE)

The work just keeps getting more and more intimate, reflecting that genuine spirit of being human. The photo in the middle is certainly representative of what is going on here. This is a group from Marriane Hope’s www.seemycity.com  project who are about to head out on a photowalk. I love the universal form as all of the folks prepare their smartphones – readying themselves to rediscover and record the life which surrounds them in their home city. A great project — do check it out.  I had the pleasure of interviewing Marriane as part of my research and her enthusiasm and genuine positive spirit to engage others to see their city through fresh eyes is amazing.

Thanks for all your continued support and wonderful views into the lives that surround you. They are indeed rich. This month’s selected contacts are:

@_xST  @odespicht   @michaelarec

@sayerrich  @marrianehope  @_xST

@9magdalena9  @soulcinnamon  @cimek

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Week 29 SOTW

webread1

Pow! There it is. Raw. Real. Street. No filter. No gimmick. Just the truth. A prolific contributor to #thehashtagofman his images pepper the hashtag with his very distinct content and style. There were so many to choose from @_xST portfolio. From Philly folks drifting across his viewfinder in a suspended space, to frank, face to face portraits of folks in the urbane, some gentle others hard,very hard, but all looking right into the our eye thanks to his unabashed point of view. @_xST wonders the street like a anthropologist, taking field studies of the urban landscape, with a keen focus on its inhabitants, the people that flower through the brick and concrete. If you suffer from that common fear of photographing strangers, this IS your man. He is a wizard at the up close and personal and his work gives us permission to stare. He is able to control the busy backgrounds of the urban and give us enough stage to provide context for his portraits. The balance is bang on. The colours, the angles, the light and looseness of his approach all paint a consistent, grounded portfolio. His work breaks through the usual IG people portraiture. The magic within his workis that each face, each eye to eye contact, frame by frame teleports a message – and each has its own unique story. This is not something easily accomplished but he does it with such skill. @_xST feed is a reality tour around the streets of Philadelphia. Take a visit and don’t be afraid to stare.

IG _@xST
W facebook.com/the.xSTart

Week 28 SOTW

webread2

Each week as I prepare to write and slow down this “flickering” through the feed of IG images I look forward to my journey into the world of word and pictures as one getting ready for a short road trip. Once mobile the words come like quick vistas passing by. But this week an image submitted by @bigdaddylonewolf came with such a beautiful story that I decided to leave the metaphorical car in the garage. Instead I’d go for a walk, look up at the great big blue and just stare and reflect on the symbolism within her prose. I thought I’d ask her if I could recite the story verbatim and if she would be comfortable in sharing. She was. And so before I do I’d like to add this. This image is significant in that it’s addition brings a completeness to @thehashtagofman. Not that it has come to an end but that this group of strangers united by the image, assembled in this “non-place” have seen many of those aspects common to the original The Family of Man. It is with this image I feel we move from a non-place to a sense of place, where a beginning is born out of a completion, where we are tethered to a past through our present, where we feel perhaps a little bit of history. I find this extremely touching and thank you all for your stories found in the pixels and the glow.

The following is the story in the words of @bigdaddylonewolf:
This was my stepfather, Michael back in April. He was such a motorcycle enthusiast. This is one of the bikes he raced back in the 70’s. Somehow it got lost, or he sold it, but over 30 years later he found it in a bike shop in Glassboro, NJ and bought it back 🙂 I hope this picture captures his love for it…. @thehashtagofman This image is so personal and a little heartbreaking to me (my stepfather just passed away a week ago) that I was hesitant to share it outside of my followers, but I feel it belongs in your project. We (I) can often overlook the stories that go along with images and I guess I just want to share mine, or in this case, my stepdad’s, with such an incredible group of photographers, each with their own stories and histories.

IG @bigdaddylonewolf

Week 27 SOTW

eau

If you’re one of those folks who like to spend some time reviewing a body of work then may I suggest a look at @eauditalie. This imagery has shifted in subject and tone throughout its development in such an interesting manner I think it’s ace. It’s not that @eauditalie was anywhere near short of skill in the earlier days, but its the way the narrative has developed. It’s interesting to see the stages photographed, once void of anything made of flesh, now are occupied by the human form at angles and with expressions which elicit such a unique narrative of what I can only sum up as a black comedy classically shot. Atmospheric, beautifully awkward, intimately voyeuristic, contemporary yet timeless are just a few of the descriptives to wet your appetite to view @eauditalie. Worth the trip.

IG @eauditalie

Week 26 SOTW

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My research days here at university are turning into critical writing and design development days so I apologise for my absence. I do feel enlightened that the hashtag has its own life now and that kind folks are letting other kind folks know of its existence. I am most enlightened by the stories I receive, that make an image more than a facsimile of life and prove to be honourable through the embedded personability and history which transcends the pixels and light which glow. These are not simply captures but are resonance. Voices which carry.

On that note this week’s SOTW belongs to the raw and steet-cred style imagery of @graham_solidbond67. With all the recent (and ongoing) tensions that are about it was hard to skip past this image. It just kept calling out – that in the space of human’s BEING this we face too. The image remains clean, still fine for family viewing, and the line drawn between the individual and the state is a powerful metaphor that we all have come up against at times. I won’t get involved in a deep exegesis here, but I think there is enough in this image to elicit each our own reactions.

If you like more punchy, gritty street based action then @graham_solidbond67 (Graham) is your guy. This guy is a hunter with a smartphone. Pegging off unguarded moments in the urban jungle.  Whether his prey is in a pack or sitting alone and vulnerable – Graham has his sight sharply glued with instinct as much as an eye. His work is truly documentary – and very matter of fact. His black and white treatment reminds me of those grand Kodak Tri-X days — developing rolls of film in a hotel sink and coming out with stuff that was so much of the medium. The craft, materials and the content in perfect alchemic synchronicity. These feel like quiet and layered compositions, you need to look wide and see the bigger picture. It’s there in the gestures, the weight of living. The weight of being.

IG @graham_solidbond67

Week 25 SOTW

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It is with great pleasure and hopefully an aura of humility that I write Week Twenty Five’s SOTW. It’s as much a SOTW “Shot of the Week” as it is a “Statement of the Web”. As one researching IG, brands and user-generated content I am finding some interesting things happening. One of those is a hunch that our speed is changing. The speed we digest images, the depth in terms of time we drill down into IGr’s feed, and the speed in which we move from conversation to conversation in our time in between the many positions we play on each of our own devices. It’s left me question if the finger is developing and serving as an antenna, trained by persuasive technology (UX and UI) making us more adept at reading the mobile terrain, making judgements quicker, making patience more sensitive and tuning into the frequencies we need before we move on to the next. And through all the trawling and the flickering, the jumping and the twitching we no longer move through imagery nor roll through it but now  “flash” through it. It’s a slippery slope.

Focusing a lens beyond the IG ecosystem and onto  #thehashtagofman and its minutiae we have here a tiny yet expanding corner, attracting a diversity of picture making folk, using images and IG to expand voice, give document, and share in developing a story of the human spirit. I like to think that between these weekly updates and the amazing conversations that develop and motivate we somehow, are collectively slowing things down… even if for a minute or two. Maybe?

ty2So this week is not only about a photographer so much, but of an event said photographer shared with us here @thehashtagofman – the birth of his daughter. How many of you saw it?

While his work is fabulous in it’s own right, and was used to announce The Summer Soulstice shoot, it was this announcement and the speed of which we travel now which caught my eye and my attention. Tom Bolduc (@tom_bolduc) tagged a series of photos to #thehashtagofman and I realised that in this series we were offered something the original The Family of Man was not – a story as it was unfolding. But with this immediacy there is also a danger – that in the sheer amount and speed of our contributions such a story can get missed, such a precious moment dropping down, down.down as all our pictures pile on the top of others – freshest first. Here The Family of Man did not fail – for years and years the same images are there as record, as reflexion. Maybe, and I am not sure about this yet, we have traded in slowness and contemplation for speed and accumulation. Maybe this makes things exciting and always in the new. And maybe we like that too. But what I got caught in this week, and has been niggling away at me, is that this event shared came and went within the current of imagery and almost – just – was lost.

And yet I felt that in the rush of imagery @tom_bolduc did something else… through the use of the medium and this hashtag he connected the past and present spirit of The Family of Man. It was in this sharing of his daughter’s birth with us that I felt he edified the concept behind #thehashtagofman. And with that I realised that what we have here is absolutely incredible. Yes, we can rush, we can flash through, but we also can absorb, respond, communicate, share, converse, support, engage, cheer, empathise, cry and laugh at the images, yet it is through the images as they present their glow on our pocket size screens we can visit whenever and wherever we wish. I just think we need to make sure that we don’t lose the connection of one while connecting to many.

Congratulations to Tom and family. And thank you for the lesson.

IG @tom_bolduc

Week 23 SOTW

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Wow… what a fantastic week of excitement. @thehashtagofman has been posted on Goldsmiths academic blog – http://www.goldsmithsdesignblog.com/blog…. you may have to scroll down since they feed quite often.  And we’re really excited about the Summer Soul-stice. Get ready for that snappin’ action folks. But what’s REALLY exciting is dipping into some work that came in to #thehashtagofman a few weeks ago and it’s only now that I finally get to write about it.

Rolling through @starglo’s feed is like going virtual beachcombing. Passing between images of family and family life you find these images which feel like absolute classics. Maybe I’m biased but isn’t there a hint or Mary Ellen Mark whispering within the in between? I get lost in these ephemeral portraits,  moments I question if there was even the presence of a camera for their purity of render. These are not images in the light of my phone, but glimpses into a silent lucidity, a comprehension so pure of presence my eyes feel cleansed.

I often wonder if her edit did not include these “snapshots” that we all take, the closeup selfies with friends, the odd landscape, the banal in the everything (“Must. Document. Everything” is her tagline) then the eye would feast on only complete sugar. Or fat. Or whatever vice fits this metaphor.

No.

You need the teaspoon of bicarb, the pinch of salt to give flavour to this. But its the opposite which is happening. It’s not a gluttonous feast, like junkfood Saturday’s around our house that’s on offer. This is a clean foods menu. I am left feeling ful-filled.

Do take a look through her feed. Try to slow it down. I highly recommend beachcombing. Its worth it.

IG @starglo
W alisonfechtel.wordpress.com

CONTACTsheet No. 3 – Celebrating 2000 images documenting the human spirit.

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Happy 2000!

Wow.

We’ve passed the 2000 image mark and it’s only fitting that we showcase some top shots in our ContactSheet (No. 3 this is). New faces. New work. Hope you enjoy it! Visit us on Instagram (#thehashtagofman) if you haven’t already and take some time to roll through the work. It really is very special and truly captures, reflects and pays an honest homage to the 1955 The Family of Man. Thank you.

Photo credits:      @andrea_paras @the_hat_ @woodava_

@morecakes @vmaker @samplepicturenyc (fabulous Coney Island series here -a MUST)

@iangarrington @mothervsartist @bhinceman

Summer Soul-stice Now Closed for the Season

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As some of you may know I like to write and http://www.thehashtagofman.com is where I often expand on the collection of pictures that are growing on Instagram from this project. So when I had spent three hours crafting a thank you to ALL of you for your efforts in this first of what I hope to be many Soulstice shoots only to have it replaced by an edit due to leaving the cloud on – well I learned about saving things the hard way. Frustrated and utterly exhausted I tried to let this go, let the writing NOT happen, but I find it’s now as important as the curation. Simply sticking a photo, or a collection of photos, up just is not enough for this platform. Or so it has become this way.

One puts an idea out there into the virtual ecosystem and never knows exactly what to expect. What began as a project to test the analogue to digital curation process has brought with it many teachings and so #thehashtagofman has been my tutor.

It began as a project to test the credibility of Instagram. On viewing the front page I had become disheartened by the lens with which the “crowd” was looking through. It changed one day – and I didn’t see it coming – from quality imagery shot by phone to infomercial, bling and a typology of selfies. Where did all the “art” go?

Reaching into my photographic history The Family of Man has been the most successful photographic exhibition ever. Curating the human spirit, represented by a myriad of cultures, ages and events there was a stickiness that lay in the heart of this exhibition. Something which cross borders of countries and barriers of language. Imagery speaking.

Steichen- in those analogue, snail mail days – received over two million images in his call for submission as he prepared to curate the show for MoMA. I found this utterly inspiring. If one simply thinks of the analogue process to go from idea to execution to send to curation process etc. the amount of time invested in that is something we no longer can understand nor, more importantly could stomach. The focus developed out of the slowness in process we have all but given away. In this day of “instant” and “now” we have gained convenience, multitasking, overachieving – microwave food to microwave imagery. But we have also gained connections, networks, audience and a “place” where we, the creative class, can let out a spark from within and witness the breadth of the light we create through that fire that burns from the primitive of expression, voice, and being heard and through the fibre optics to screens which serve that metaphor of fire and light so rightly.  In this transition I can only ask – have we lost anything?

So drilling deeper into this thought I wondered – if mobile photography and apps like Instagram are making it much more “democratic” a process now to have one’s visual voice presented and heard -in an instant and economical manner – then how would a Family of Man work today? In our contemporary ease of access from the spark of inspiration to “global” exhibition by way of the Instagram app, how do we respond to the brief of capturing the spirit of being human in this Now? How do our online friendships and building virtual communities, laid in the earth of the mobile phone image and raised on the foundation of tacit trust, keep ascending? And at which point do we recognise that we value our virtual community as much or more as our physical one?

These are not criticisms of our Now, they are just questions. I find that beyond the top-down architecture which appears in 1955 The Family of Man, #thehashtagofman shows that the images are only a start to the conversation, and that those conversations build community and that community is #thehashtagofman and woman and child. This circularity is what makes this the defining difference between us and the 1955 version. Or so I believe anyways. Please feel free to add your comments or thoughts to this. Be lovely to hear what you think.

To conclude it’s only fitting that with the adaptation of technology, and the movement ever forward and ever advancing, may I present images from the Summer Soul-stice shoot in Instagrams new video feature (those of you on Instagram can see it at @thehashtagofman). Thanks again folks!

Photo credits

@kaitlinrebesco

@g_e_mm_a

@fac_610

@blacksmithpat

@brian_mcswain

@mothervsartist

@13scouts

@ kaliopy