Member News

From Neil Lawner

Neil Lawner really made the news on December 5, quoted and photographed by The New York Times in an article about the mayor of Rockefeller Center.

 

 

From Linda Hacker

I had a photo included in the Women Street Photographer Exhibition at the Regional Museum of Anthropology in Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico from November 4 – December 4, 2021.  As it happens, Alec Rill’s wife also had a photo in the exhibition and they went to see the show.   

From Joel Morgovsky

We have a terrific new juror for the 2022 National Competition – Mercedes Jelinek. Very different and exciting repertoire. She was recommended by Kris Graves, our juror for 2020, who has been a warm and supportive friend to SPG.

From Jim Lustenader

I have had a photo, “Sniffers” from my “Rear View” series, accepted by the Garrison Art Center in Garrison, NY, as part of their PHOTOcentric juried exhibition, running from December 4, 2021 – January 9, 2022.

From Stuart Zalka

My 2021 Polaroid Project was accepted into the 2021 Facebook/fotofolio Group Portfolio Call.

 

From Jean Karotkin

My Covid Self-Portrait Series Disappearing Soul:Self Portraits In The Time Of Covid…was selected with 25 other photographers from around the world to be published throughout the year in FotoNostrum Magazine. I was published in their #21 Issue. The article discusses my life as a photographer and shows not only the Covid Series, but my very first series that jump started my career and then the Women Photographers Series…(In)Sight:Women Who Work Behind The Lens…which will be exhibited at Soho Photo in April. 

 

From Rosalie Frost

As a member of a lifelong learning community at CUNY’s Graduate Center called LP2, my story was accepted in Voices, their annual online publication. Voices allowed my image to accompany my story, but my contribution was considered as prose. However, the image was crucial as it served as my inspiration for the story – perhaps sort of like a back story – and I wanted both published together as one work. (Scroll down to see “Diary of an Anthropologist”.)

 

A Conversation with Vince Aletti, January 2005

By Norm Borden

 

In digging through the Gallery’s archives a few weeks ago, I happened to come across this interview that I did 17 years ago. Vince Aletti is a curator, writer, and photography critic and the author of Issues: A History of Photography in Fashion Magazines (2019). He was the New Yorker’s photography critic until 2016. 

Thought this was worth another look. 

Vince Aletti, the Village Voice’s art critic and a columnist for Photography, was the juror for Soho Photo’s 2005 Members’ Show. Aletti judged the work of 51 entrants and awarded first, second and third prizes as well as an unprecedented ten honorable mentions. Here’s what he said about the work at the Gallery and how he views his role as a juror and critic.

Q: Why ten?
A: I decided on ten honorable mentions because there were so many entries I wanted to acknowledge, 

I judged the entries of each photographer as a group. If all of the photographer’s work isn’t equally good, I question the talent.

Walking into a gallery and making judgments has become my job…I am very pleased to have found ten people who deserve honorable mention. I didn’t know what to expect I am impressed…there is also work that made me say, “What were they thinking?” yet I have the same question at galleries I visit in Chelsea. But there’s enough work her (at Soho Photo) to make me want to see more.

You can see from my choices that I am interested in a wide range of approaches to photography. I like something that looks fresh and individual and when the artist has a point of view that looks contemporary.

A lot of the work here looks conservative. It’s strong, but I look for work that could go to a gallery in Chelsea, i.e. the first place winner. (Karen St. John-Vincent). The lighting is what I’ve been seeing. I can see this work in a Chelsea gallery. I think personal vision is what drives the best photography. I do look for work that combines personal vision and what’s going on in the world.

I think some of the best artists have no sense of what’s going on in the world but it doesn’t matter. That’s the exception. You have to be sort of an extraordinary visionary to make that work. The ability to combine a personal way of looking at things and a sense of what’s happening, not being caught up in your own self, is important for a working artist. It’s a complicated issue.

It’s hard to judge on the basis of one image, it doesn’t always give you the right idea. You need more to judge. It’s easier to make a decision based on three or four images. In my way of thinking, it’s easier to go with a group.

You have to learn to edit the work. Some people don’t know what’s good.

Q: Are you a photographer?
A: No, I don’t take photographs. I started out as a music critic and began writing about photography after I became very close friends with the photographer Peter Hujar. By knowing a working photographer, watching him at work and seeing work through his eyes, it changed the process of how I looked at photographs.

Q: Which photographers do you like?
A: I like a broad range. My favorites are Arbus, Avedon, Penn and Frank. I’m a big fan of fashion and I like Steven Meisel and Sally Mann.

I am drawn to portraiture. I like the abstract. If everyone were doing the same thing, I’d be bored. The people who surprise me keep me writing.

 

Diary of an Anthropologist

by Rosalie Frost

 

Here’s Rosalie Frost’s story published in CUNYVoices, which shows another side of her creativity. Rosalie took her first picture when she was five years old, bought an Instamatic when she was a teenager and when she started taking photography seriously in the 1980s, she became a Gallery member. Rosalie says, “In recent years, I have worked with and incorporate text with traditional imagery. While text is usually seen as in opposition to traditional imagery, I believe that text is just another form of visual imagery [even braille].”

Note: the following story is a work of fiction and does not intend to represent actual past or present persons or events. 

I was quite taken aback to see this, the photograph I took so many years ago, enlarged to life size and placed at the entrance to the exhibition “Western Impact on Indigenous Peoples: Negative/Positive” at the Museum of Natural History. I took the picture while researching headhunter tribes in Papua-New Guinea. I felt disturbed, not entirely unpleasantly, to see the two foreground figures again standing before me. Last year, the exhibition curators had sought me out for permission to include the original print that I took forty years ago for their upcoming exhibit and I felt honored to be asked to contribute.

Forty years ago, I was a young anthropologist anxious to make my mark in the field by conducting post-doc research in a remote, relatively unexplored area in the jungle highlands of Papua-New Guinea. In that mountainous jungle of deep shadow and intermittent scraps of light, the two men in the picture had served as my primary informants about tribal culture. They somehow had acquired sufficient knowledge of pidgin English which enabled me to learn their language and customs. Among all my findings, perhaps the most ground-breaking concerned the details of rituals conducted by various headhunting societies, which were composed of not just men, but women as well. All these memories – and yes, even longings began to surface unbidden as I stood there, transfixed by the familiar life-size figures before me.

The privilege of making photographs had been granted me, but only after my successfully undergoing certain initiation rituals. My success allowed me to become an honorary tribal member as well as to join several hunting societies. In the picture, the man on my right is the tribe’s shaman and storyteller, with whose extended family I lived. The man on my left was a fierce warrior and headhunter. In the picture, his gaze seemed to have been attracted to something more interesting than my head hiding under a cloth hood at the camera’s back. It was one of only a dozen pictures I was able to make in the first few weeks there because all my camera equipment —- tripod, lenses, plates, films and development chemicals — quickly deteriorated in the jungle’s heat and humidity.

Some of the tribe were frightened that the tripod legs and camera resembled a person from the underworld coming to claim their souls. Others were braver and laughed like children as they put their heads under the black hood to gaze at the upside-down world through the viewing glass at the camera’s back. They said such a world was familiar to them from when they ate certain roots and fungi during ceremonies. Eventually, I too participated in those very ceremonies. I couldn’t have been happier, although anthropologists later told me that by accepting tribal membership and participating in hunting rituals I had really gone too far, giving up my professional objectivity in the process.

Finally, after almost two years, I returned to the university from whence I came. It was disappointingly dull in comparison to my lived experience in the jungle, but I busied myself with writing the papers and books based on my field experiences that shook up traditional anthropological research for a while. I had my fifteen minutes of fame, yet my life after returning never quite provided as much pleasure, excitement and happiness as when I was adopted into the tribe and participated in hunting and other ritual ceremonies. 

Turning my gaze away from the exhibited picture with difficulty, I began to tremble, causing me to accidentally bite my lip. The saltiness of the blood trickling into my mouth was somehow familiar, even strangely comforting. When I regained some composure, I begged a visitor to take a picture of me next to my old friends with his smartphone. The visitor then sent this image to my own smartphone. Gazing at this new picture, I felt a great contentment, as it shows me reunited with my tribe, together again after all these years apart. 

 

The Story Behind the Pictures

By Martin Rich

In 1963 I was a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania in a class with the architect Louis Kahn. I was carrying my camera. Kahn was demonstrating how he could make a drawing with two hands symmetrically. Something told me to start taking photos and I ended up with seven pictures. Sometime later I processed the film and found the seven negatives. I may have made a print or two and filed the negatives with the rest of that roll. 

Kahn died in 1974 from a heart attack in a Penn Station men’s room on his way back to Philadelphia. Tragically, someone stole his wallet and consequently he was not identified for two days. 

Several years passed and people started to write about Kahn. Richard Wurman, a past student and creator of TED Talk, was the first to start a book. Wurman contacted past students, employees, friends and anyone who had contact with Kahn. He asked for stories, anecdotes, drawings, photographs and anything else that would give a sense of his thinking.

I remembered the negatives that had been in the files for maybe fifteen years. I found them and made some prints and sent them off to Wurman. Maybe a year passed, and I had forgotten about it all when I got a note that he wanted to use them. He asked that I sign a release which I did. 

 

Three years passed and the book was published. It was a nice freewheeling book thick with a huge variety of great material. The photos were grouped at the front. The first three pages were my photos right before a two-page spread by Henri Cartier Bresson. Needless to say, I was pleased but the story doesn’t stop there, it really begins. 

I got a call from Julia Converse, the Director of the Architectural Archives at Penn, which had all the archival records including drawings, models, office files etc. She asked if they could have a set of prints to display in the exhibition space. 

After they were displayed, I started to get calls from authors, professors, educators, all doing some sort of writing about Kahn. It still continues to this day. The most recent is a great book by Wendy Lesser. The photos have been published in at least a dozen books, numerous scholarly papers, magazines, one film (Silence and Light) the cover of Metropolis Magazine in 1995 and are used in printed teaching materials by the education department at MoMA. 

I still don’t have a clue about the longevity that this set of photographs has had. Last week, I got an email from someone that is working on a thesis and used them. 

 

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