Beautiful strangers, Ethni-city

Beautiful strangers, Ethni-city

Beautiful Strangers, stunning photography of London’s diverse races, cultures and styles by photographer Peter Zelewski.

His aim? To challenge the concept of traditional beauty by bringing out the uniqueness, personality and true individuality of the people he photographs.

Find out more on his website.



Camilo José Vergara

Camilo José Vergara


Camilo José Vergara’s photographic documentation of Americas slums and decaying urbanism is fascinating. A trained sociologist with a specialism in urbanism, Vergara systematical documents places at the point of urban decay.

In this great interview he explains whyhe photographs buildings, people and decay.

VERGARA: Not in the sense that I want them to fill the frame. I want them as part of the city, as part of the block. I want it to be seen that there is someone that’s walking around. Partly to give you scale and partly to show that the places are inhabited, because you know, certainly people still live there.

But the problem with people, on focusing with people, is that they are very demonstrative. And their clothes reflect the time, and their games they play and their expressions, all of that: they’re important from a historical point of view. But the buildings speak more eloquently about the time passing than the people themselves. I mean, what do you see? You see a face?

One of my big surprises was to walk into a room of Roman heads at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And I looked at those heads and I said, “These folks lived 2000 years ago.” And they just looked like the folks out on the street, you know? So then what can you say about the city by focusing on faces, expressions, their delight? I mean faces are interesting; I’m not against portrait photography. But portrait photography doesn’t tell the story of a city.


STAVANS: Now very few photographers bring out their work in the fashion that you do. You put the photographs in books, and you editorialize the context in which those photographs came about– or your experience of the place– by creating a narrative that mixes the autobiographical with the sociological-anthropological-historical. And so more than small captions, you have an entire story about it. Is that how you photograph, thinking how that image is going to sit in a larger book?

VERGARA: I photograph thinking that the places themselves are going to tell me a story eventually. And they do. The story needs time so that it can tell itself. And I need to go there frequently enough so that I can get that story.

Now the elements of the story are, on the one hand, the building and whatever is happening to the building: who is using it, for what purpose, what is falling, what’s being fixed, how? Is the City boarding it up? How is it boarding it up? Is it using tin, is it using wood? Who is doing this sort of stuff? Are they putting a fence around it? All of those things.

And then the other element of the narrative is what people tell you about that building: what’s going on inside. How do they perceive it? What’s their idea of the building? See, they are allowed to say that “this is a darn shame that that library is abandoned.” But I’m not allowed to say that.

STAVANS: I see, you let those voices tell the story.




Motherhood & Prison

Motherhood & Prison

Hanna Truscott, has spent over a decade photographing members of a Residential Parenting Program for her project Protective Custody. The project highlights a different side of mothers in prison.


What was your main goal when you started photographing the women?
Raising awareness. I thought, ‘No one’s hearing about this.’ [The program] is something I really strongly believe in professionally and personally. Second of all, I found the photographic challenges really interesting. I got criticized in the early days because my pictures were too “lovely” – they weren’t edgy enough, they didn’t show all the prisoners’ bad teeth and track marks. But that reinforced my resolve. You see edgy pictures of prisoners all the time. You don’t ever see pictures of prisoners who are really trying to fall in love with their babies.”

Find out more in on Refinery 29, i-D magazine or on Hannahs website

Edward Burtynsky

Edward Burtynsky

Inspired by Simon Sinek’s Start with the Why. I’m going to try writing about People and Projects by starting with the why and how they got started, to understand how they are making a positive social impact.
Edward Burtynsky the fantastic photographer who captures the epic scales of mans effect on the environment is my first attempt.
How did he get started?
In his TED talk, Burtynsky he speaks of growing up with his father who loved the outdoors and experiencing the sights and images of the General Motors plant in his home town, where his father also worked. After graduating from a BAA in Photography and Media Studies he founded Toronto Image works a darkroom rental facility, digital imaging and new media training company.
He tried for years to photograph the pristine landscape and felt himself being sucked into the calendar picture genre. So he started to ask himself, how can I rethink the landscape? His epiphany came one day when he was lost in Pennsylvania, and ended up in a coal mining town called Frackville, which had the most surreal landscape he’d ever seen. A landscape totally transformed by man. Burtynsky decided to start seeking out mines like it and the largest industrial landscapes he could find.
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Why? What change are he trying to make?
In his TED talk, Edward explains that the change he is trying to make with his work is to make us question on the impact our lifestyles are having on the environment and on people around the globe. It “looks at it, and tries to remind us that our built environment comes from somewhere, and that we just have ignored it”
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How is he doing this? what is the process?
He does this by making beautiful photographs that use scale as a way of showing this impact and the large scale changes that are taking place. He photographs landscapes that have been altered by large- scale human activity. His photography of China, is a prime example of this. By focusing on the wastelands that have been left behind Burtynsky uses photography as a tool for depicting this reality.
What is the impact? 
Burtynsky’s work calls for us to have ongoing global conversations about sustainable living.
Vidals story

Vidals story

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I have been watching the Story of HONY on my facebook feed for a couple of weeks with great joy.

It started with two posts by Humans of New York. Humans of New York (HONY) is a lovely project by Brandon. He started it after he was made redundant and with no photography experience decided to photograph 100,000 New Yorkers. It has since become a story telling device, he collects little stories or quotes as well as the photographs. It is such a great concept, a way of giving people a voice. Allowing them to tell their story, whether it is happy, sad, or thought provoking. So many people I know and many people around the world have been connected by it creating a community of HONY supporters.

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His photograph of Vidal had a huge response. Vidal was asked who has influenced him the most and he spoke of his headteacher, Ms Lopez. An absolutely amazing woman who is fighting a battle to make her students believe they matter. She is a change maker, impacting the lives of her students every day. But Ms Lopez herself had been about to give up hope, but her mother had told her to pray on it. A couple of days later she saw Vidals story online.

Brandon did something that i’ve never seen him do in the year of so I’ve been following him on facebook. He went to meet her and asked her what she needed. They struck upon increasing the horizons of the young people at Mont Hall Bridges Academy by providing the students with a visit to

They started a campaign on Indiegogo, setting out to raise $100,000 but have since raised over $1 million. Creating a massive impact on the community. Meaning the Harvard trip can not only be permanent but they can run a summer school. The HONY community has been truly generous. It’s really brought home to me the power of creating connections, of telling stories. The Mont Hall Bridges Academy community has felt the outpouring of love and support from people around the world.

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It just saw that Vidal and Mrs Lopez were at the White House, a couple of days ago they were on the Ellen Show. Absolutely amazing. By allowing Vidal to tell his story, Brandon Vidal had been able to touch the lives of not just his classmates, the future students of Mont Hall, the Brownsville community who have been given a voice, Ms Lopez, HONY & extended community. Creating connections that go beyond geographical boundaries.

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I think this quote by Barack Obama, says it all.

“You don’t do things alone. Nobody does things alone. Everybody always needs support. For a young man like you, you should never be too afraid or too shy to look for people who can encourage you or mentor you. There are a lot of people out there who want to provide advice and support to people who are trying to do the right thing. So you’ll have a lot of people helping you. Just always remember to be open to help. Never think that you know everything. And always be ready to listen.”

Richard Mosse } Making seen the unseen

Richard Mosse } Making seen the unseen

A friend if mine has a photograph of Richard Mosse which i’ve been admiring for ages. I’s a haunting photograph of a soldier, standing in a pink field. Taken from his film ‘Enclave” which I really want to see.
His work is stunning. He turns the dark subject matter of war into something beautiful and haunting. Richard uses an infrared camera, a Kodak Aerochrome, to film the scenes creates this psychedelic imagery. In this talk at the Portland Art Museum he describes how the camera has the ability to see the unseen. It is interesting that his use of the camera began when he was frustrated with his work and wanted to push himself out of his comfort zone.
Enclave is a documentary that documents the war in Congo, which barely makes the news. The infrared camera reveals the unseen and Richard speaks about how he wanted to reveal the unseen. Communicate the war. He casts the war in a new light forcing us to change our perception, or pre conceptions of the conflict. The pink almost seems to make you think of blood. It’s a very powerful way of telling a story, by making it beautiful. It brings back the humanity to what is a really dark subject.
“”Of primal importance to me is beauty. Beauty is one of the main lines to make people feel something…. if you make something that’s derived from human suffering or war… if you represent it as beautiful it creates an ethical problem in the viewers mind, they get confused and angry and disorientated. Which is great because you get them to think about the act of perception and how this imagery is produced and consumed…. make visible whats beyond the limits of language”
This is a fascinating video where Richard Mosse talks about how he went about filming the documentary.

Richard Mosse: The Impossible Image from Frieze on Vimeo.