Posts Tagged 'Anthony Karen'

Are You Photographing Only 10%?

Photo by raffaespo*

Photographers these days are experiencing some major groupthink.

From the current issue of Nieman Reports, Harvard’s journalism review that is devoted entirely to photojournalism this quarter, there is an excerpt from VII Photo Agency’s Stephen Mayes‘ address at the World Press Photo awards.

Mayes talks about his takeaway from five years as a juror for the awards — that certain subjects in photography are overexposed. And, naturally, that means that most other subjects are largely ignored. This, he reasons, is because of the fact that traditional media outlets are shrinking, so more photographers have turned to competitions as an outlet for their work. Mayes says the jurors are “astonished” by the lack of variety and pinpoints the three common themes: the dispossessed, exotic and foreign.

This assessment really rings true and is something we’ve noticed ourselves. But, at the same time, it seems that the only photography that is noticed or appreciated is foreign, whether it be conflict, poverty or strife. (Chicken and egg problem?)

Of the 2009 College Photographer of the Year awards, only one project really stood out as original — Phoebe Sexton‘s series, “Joshua,” on a young bulimic gay man. And that’s why we really like Anthony Karen‘s work. His photos of the KKK are dramatic and powerful but, more importantly, not derivative, addressing a serious, elusive domestic subject matter. 

Mayes breaks it down succinctly here:

Overrepresented: commercial sex, suffering black folk, Muslim women in veils, same sex couples kissing, holding hands.

Underrepresented: middle class, affluent drug users, real sex, personal sex, black culture and expanded vision of black life outside Africa. 

One juror said 90 percent of the pictures are from 10 percent of the world. So how’s that for a challenge — as a photographer, can you seek out the underreported subjects that are inhabiting 90 percent of the world?

Article from Nieman Reports

*This is a good photograph that we are using as illustrative and is in no way meant to impugn the photographer.

Anthony Karen & the KKK

Photo by Anthony Karen

Just when you think we’re getting somewhere, you realize we have a long way to go. Racism is a fact of life in this country, and the Ku Klux Klan is, sadly, very much alive and well. It could be said they’re even more fired up with the election of Barack Obama as president.

We interviewed photojournalist Anthony Karen last June about the unparallelled access he’s had to the KKK, photographing their secret ceremonies and rituals in several states in the deep South. The UK’s Independent recently did this article on the KKK and Karen’s work, and it’s worth a read.

Article via The Independent

Talking to…Photojournalist Anthony Karen

Photos courtesy of Anthony Karen

Whether it’s humility, patience, diligence or daring, New York-based photographer Anthony Karen has a personality that’s ideally suited to a photojournalist — because somehow he infiltrates enclaves and subcultures that are notoriously closed off, among them the Ku Klux Klan, shantytowns in Haiti and one of the few surviving leaders of Cambodia’s murderous Khmer Rouge regime.

After listening to a recent NPR interview with Karen, we were curious to know more about his start, his style and his process.

Interview by babydiscarted and discarted.

Why do you take photos?

I used to take photographs because I wanted to; now I also take them because I need to. I have to express myself in some creative way to feel alive — photojournalism allows me to do so many things. It fills my soul to experience the gift of being allowed into someone’s most private moments and the trust they give me to try and capture what’s going on the best that I can. It’s the beauty of creation, going home and seeing what I’ve captured on film. It’s not always a great image, but it’s a moment of time that I’ll always have access to. I can make that experience last forever. And I like to make people “feel” — hopefully it’s not a feeling to blog [about] me and say my images suck, but photography is so subjective. So what can ya do!

Continue reading ‘Talking to…Photojournalist Anthony Karen’

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