Two images by photographer Alan Burles, winner of this year’s Leica/Street Photography International photographer of the year award. The British-born Burles, who began his career as an advertising art director at Saatchi & Saatchi, says of his prize-winning work, “I love ideas, I love humour, I love photos that are what I call ‘never ending photos.’ They reward you every time you look at them.”
The eyes certainly have it in this striking trifecta of composition, timing, and evocativeness that garnered an honorable mention in the “People” category at the 2017 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year awards, announced last week. Taken at a railway station in Bangladesh, the photo is a mix of moodiness and mystery (what’s with the umbrella sticking out the open window?) punctuated by the penetrating gaze of the rider next door. The photographer, who titled his image “The Man’s Stare,” succinctly summed up his achievement with the comment, “I got the moment.” Which is what all great photographers do.
PHOTO: MOIN AHMED
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s retrospective of the unparalleled work of the American photographer Irving Penn (1917-2009), on the centennial of his birth, is an opportunity to marvel again at the creative genius of a true legend of the arts – one who left his indelible mark in portraits, still lifes, and most famously, his fashion photography for Vogue, where he began his career in the 1940s. The magazine provided fertile ground for his artistic labors, which also included stunning food-oriented essays that graced many an issue or two. The culinary portfolios captured Penn’s singular intuition for the unexpected, coupled with whimsical touches that tripped lightly on the eye. (Don’t miss “The Big Cheese”!) Penn once said, “Photographing a cake can be art” – and to that we can add some delectable ice cream, and a few perfectly placed fruits and vegetables, as well.
Irving Penn: Centennial is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through July 30.
In the finding-wonderful-art-in-unexpected-places department, I ran across the work of a French photographer, Christopher Hibbert, as a backdrop image from Google Open Gallery on my streaming device one evening. It sparked my curiosity enough to search for more of his pieces, two of which are shown here. A spectral blend of soft whimsy and technical prowess, the “light paintings” as they’re called, harbor a lingering quality, bringing a dash of the preternatural to settings that would ordinarily be typical, if lovely, landscapes. A process in which exposures are created, usually at night, by manipulating light sources or by the movement of the camera, the end result transcends technique; or, as the artist says, “Light is life.”
Photos: ©2016 Christopher Hibbert