Anne-Sophie Landou

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I love Anne-Sophie Landou’s quirky style. In her photographs things appear as though  belonging to an alternative reality where everything is slightly offbeat and strange. Just lately, we chatted about her work and the things that inspire her.

Hi Anne-Sophie, please tell me a little about yourself. 

Hello Snapshot Aesthetic! I am Anne-Sophie, a 29 year-old self-taught French photographer based in Marseilles. I also have a law degree. Travels, people, music, nature, animals, art, society, words, food, dreams, everything is an inspiration to me. I guess I would describe my photography as intuitive, raw and quirky.

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How did you develop an interest in photography?

Words are my first love, but I have always been fascinated with images (movies, magazines, painting etc…). I grabbed a camera ‘for fun’ when I was a teen, I used to play with disposable cameras and I borrowed my parent’s first digital camera, a little Olympus when I was 14. In my head I wasn’t even ‘taking pictures’.

Photography became serious to me in high school when I got sick. I suffer from anxiety and chronic depression. For a year, I took intimate pictures of my closest friends, pictures of my family, of my dog, a lot of self portraits, and it literally saved me.

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What cameras do you prefer to use?

 Digital, analog, reflex, compact, smart phone, whatever the medium is, ONLY IMAGES MATTER TO ME. I tend to use flash and colour though. 

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4. Do you have a favourite photographer or artist whose work you admire?

 So hard to answer!!!! Martin Parr and Cindy Sherman were the first photographers to blow my mind. Boris Mikhailov, Roger Ballen, William Eggleston and Richard Billingham are major to me as well. I would add Picasso and Nicolas de Staël concerning influences.

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Thanks Anne-Sophie!

If you would like to see more of Anne-Sophie’s work, find her on Instagram, Flickr and Tumblr.

Also, go check out PoppyMag, her wonderful contemporary photo zine which she curates on Instagram.

Ruth McMillan

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© Ruth McMillan

I’ve been following Ruth McMillan‘s work for years, after seeing her raw, gritty photographs on Tumblr. Whether documenting her travels or capturing intimate moments spent with her muse, Sandra, her pictures are always interesting. We recently chatted about her work and inspiration.

Hi Ruth, please tell me a little about yourself. 

Hiii, I’m Ruth, I live in Glasgow but I’m originally from Northern Ireland. I’m currently
working on self publishing a poetry/prose book and also a photography book.

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© Ruth McMillan

How did you develop an interest in photography?

My Nana helped me to buy a digital Nikon camera because I wanted to photograph sunsets. I had that for a couple years until a few friends started using film cameras, so I bought a Holga and fell for the magic of film. Shortly after that, I met Sandra and she became my muse, and I bought a Kodak point and shoot camera on eBay which helped me develop my aesthetic further.

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© Ruth McMillan
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© Ruth McMillan

What cameras do you prefer to use?

I’ve been using the same 3 cameras now for a couple years, before that I experimented with many until I found my favourite. I use a Pentax slr, Mju and a Kodak point and shoot.

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© Ruth McMillan

Do you have a favourite photographer or artist whose work you admire?

I have many, some of them are… Justin Apperley, Perpetual Kitten, Joe Nigel Coleman, Isa Gelb and Alessandro Ruggieri. You can find these guys on Instagram.

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© Ruth McMillan

Thanks Ruth!

If you’re interested in seeing more of Ruth’s work, go check out her website or find her on Instagram.

Brassaï Graffiti

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Child Snatching the Moment © Brassaï

“Graffiti belongs to everyone and no one.”

– Picasso

French-Hungarian photographer, Brassaï moved to Paris in 1924. At first, he worked as a journalist, taking photographs to supplement his income. Often joining his friend, Andre Kertesz when he went out with his camera, it didn’t take long for Brassaï to find himself inspired. Photography enabled him to express his love of the city: “to capture the beauty of streets and gardens in the rain and fog, and to capture Paris by night.

In 1933, Brassaï began documenting the graffiti he found in the working class districts of Paris. Wandering the city, he’d make notes and sketches, noting down the location so that he could return to take photographs in better light. Resembling cave drawings, the marks were at odds with their modern surroundings and, over time, he noticed the graffiti would change; etched faces morphed and mutated, growing old as they weathered, exposed to the elements.

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Wall Propositions © Brassaï
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The Hanged Man © Brassaï

For local children in the fourteenth and fifteenth arrondissement, two death’s-heads held special significance. Dubbed “The Frog” and “The Giraffe”, they were treated as mysterious portents, and remained untouched, for a long time. Brassaï drew many comparisons between art, childhood and magic. He said, “everything is magic for a child. For children, the visible world is simply a screen placed in front of the visible world.

Like children’s drawings, graffiti for Brassaï, was pure and raw. It fascinated him and he wanted to explore the impulses that led people to make it. He believed, “in drawing a line or figure, a child has a feeling of power and dominion similar to that of a magician. Only through art can he force the world to obey his will.

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Death © Brassaï
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Tapestries © Brassaï

The urge to leave our mark is strong and walls everywhere bear witness to this compulsion. From the cave paintings of Altamira in Northern Spain, the lava-preserved etchings in Pompeii and modern street art, our primal gestures can express a range of human feeling and emotion.

Drawing or carving our name, a sign or symbol into a fixed surfaces, leaves a mark, and this impression can endure. Birth, love or death, it’s all there, distilled on the wall.

 

The Challenge of True Solitude

I am fascinated by people who live very solitary lives. Recently, I enjoyed Winter’s Watch, a short documentary about Alexandra de Steiguer, the caretaker for the Oceanic Hotel on Star Island, 10 miles off the coast of New England.

“You have to be at peace with the fact that something might happen, and you might not make it through,” says Alexandra de Steiguer, the caretaker for the Oceanic Hotel, in Brian Bolster’s short documentary, Winter’s Watch. De Steiguer has spent the past 19 winters tending to the 43-acre grounds of the hotel, on Star Island, which sits 10 miles off the coast of New England. In the long, wintry off-season, she is the island’s sole inhabitant.” (via YouTube)

Thanks to CJ Chilvers‘ and his newsletter for the heads up. Subscribe to it here.

Ben Roberts

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© Ben Roberts

Ben Roberts always seems to be creating new work. Every time I look at his Flickr, there is something new to see. His photographs are beautiful and atmospheric, with many of them being shot at night. We recently spoke about his work and inspiration.

Hi Ben, please tell me a little about yourself. 

I am a 38 year old American living in Japan. I live in the nature heavy area of Nagano. I live with my standard poodle. I actually grew up here in Japan, (my parents were Christian missionaries), but I didn’t attend the public schools. I am not a professional photographer, I just love photography.

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© Ben Roberts
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© Ben Roberts

How did you develop an interest in photography?

I always enjoyed the idea of photography as a medium for capturing memories. I shot instant cameras for fun while I was at college in America. When I got my first digital camera and started to take photos of things around me, I figured I would get more serious and bought a DSLR. Film photos were always more beautiful to me, and when I inherited a film camera, there was no turning back.

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© Ben Roberts

What cameras do you prefer to use?

I have used and owned a lot of different cameras. The film camera I first inherited was a Minolta CLE – a really nice rangefinder that is pretty much a Leica. I still use that camera. I also bought a Pentax LX which is great for the type of photography I shoot. I also love my Mamiya 7.  I have found I love the look of reversal film.

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© Ben Roberts

Do you have a favourite photographer or artist whose work you admire?

I spent tons of time on Flickr, so was inspired by many photographers on there, like Patrick Joust, for example.  I also like movie directors like David Lynch because I find their images inspiring.

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© Ben Roberts

Thanks Ben!

If you’re interested in seeing more of Ben’s work, go check out his website or follow him on Flickr and Instagram.

Not every shot is a masterpiece

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I love to look at photographer’s contact sheets. They’re private and intimate, like leafing through a sketchbook or reading someone’s diary. So often, we see a finished image and forget all about the process behind it. Henri Cartier Bresson likened contact sheets to the analyst’s couch, It’s all there: what surprises us is what we catch, what we miss, what disappears.” It’s amazing to think about all of deleted, discarded or forgotten photographs that go unseen. 

Some of my favourite contact sheets belong to the photographer, Robert Frank. While working on the The Americans, he took thousands of photographs, however, just 83 made the final cut. His contact sheets helped him sort through huge amounts of film, while figuring out which shots worked best.

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Spencer Bentley sums up brilliantly in this PetaPixel article, “Great photographers don’t just take great photos. They build them, they work at them, they move about a scene testing, and probing, and experimenting to find that one shot that will be shared. While I’ll never be Bresson, I can do that. I can test. I can move. I can probe. I can experiment.” 

Contact sheets remind us that great photographs don’t just happen, they’re carefully crafted, considered, framed, and often, edited.

Not every shot is a masterpiece.

Unconcerned Photographs

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Unconcerned Photograph © Man Ray

Man Ray’s Unconcerned Photographs are a series of images he created in 1959 for MoMA’s The Sense of Abstraction exhibition. Made in his Paris studio by swinging a Polaroid camera around on its strap, they epitomise his spontaneous, experimental approach.

“I deliberately dodged all the rules, I mixed the most insane products together, I used film way past its use – by date, I committed heinous crimes against chemistry and photography, and you can’t see any of it.”

– Man Ray

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Unconcerned Photograph © Man Ray 
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Unconcerned Photographs © Man Ray

While messing about in his darkroom in 1922, Ray accidentally created a photogram by placing a small glass funnel, graduate and thermometer on wet photographic paper. He elaborates in his autobiography“I turned on the light; before my eyes an image began to form, not quite a simple silhouette of the objects as in a straight photograph, but distorted and refracted by the glass more or less in contact with the paper and standing out against a black background, the part directly exposed to the light.” 

His camera-less photographs, coined Rayographs, seemed to remove all traces of the artist’s hand, while incorporating negative space and shadow, randomness and chance.

Now seen in galleries around the world, Ray’s radical photographic experiments firmly established him as a Surrealist, pushed the boundaries and turned traditional art-making on its head.