Jock Sturges at Kahmann Gallery in Amsterdam (till August 31st)


Kahmann Gallery (Amsterdam, NL) currently presents in cooperation with Duncan Meeder from Foto Henny Hoogeveen (Lisse, NL) Jock Sturges'  The Rollei Project. The exhibition is on till August 31st 2013. 


Photo: Maya; Seattle, 2012 © JOCK STURGES.     

Photo: Maya; Seattle, 2012 © JOCK STURGES.


Zoe Wiseman On Her Photography

Contribution by Emil Blake, on invitation by

If you look through Wiseman’s work and spend even the briefest of visits to her website there is one thing hits you immediately: the sheer, utter joy she gets from photography and doing what she does.  Her images are wonderful compositions and visual narratives, created using more traditional tools and a high-level of detail. It is perhaps how much love she has for the medium that also comes through in her work.

Photo: Copyright Zoe Wiseman, 2006.

Photo: Copyright Zoe Wiseman, 2006.

Feminine Beauty, Elegance, Strength and Feminism

Zoe Wiseman’s handling of the artistic nude set her apart from many others in her field; being female in a form that has always been dominated by the gaze of the male artist as voyeur, her subjects show feminine strength and elegance in equal parts – her interpretation of female beauty beyond the erotic:

“There is a strength in women not so often shown in men's images that I like to tap into. I'm not concerned with sexy, glamorous or exploitation. I'm concerned with beauty, elegance, strength and feminism. The nude can be so. I'm always telling my models to lift their heads up so that they never seem submissive. Submission is ugly to me. Misogyny is deplorable.”

Her willingness to develop and experiment with her craft means that she creates both wonderful imagery and tests the medium to its limits. Demonstrated wonderfully in Wiseman’s Underwater Nudes collection –  mermaids and renaissance-like subjects, with a boldness in its fusions of reflection and light.

Photo: Copyright Zoe Wiseman, 2003.

Photo: Copyright Zoe Wiseman, 2003.

Nothing is Perfect and Nothing Should be Perfect

Being known for her fierce love of film, with most notably her support and use of Polaroid type 55 and 85 film, I asked her what her views are on digital photography, and what has changed in photography:

“Having a camera that captures an image in exactly the same way every time, in the same precise way (sort of like auto-tune in music) leaves me feeling like the camera has more control over an image than I do. And I'm a control freak. Film gives me control. And by control I mean I can expect happy mistakes, spontaneity, imperfection. Nothing is perfect and nothing should be perfect.”
Photo: Titania and Carlotta, copyright Zoe Wiseman, 2009.

Photo: Titania and Carlotta, copyright Zoe Wiseman, 2009.

Having learned the craft of photography while being a model, clearly she has an appreciation of the work from both sides of the camera and a yearning for the lost art of photography. In a world proliferated by ‘instagramers’ and top digital kit hanging off the neck of tourists, where once a point-and-shoot would have sufficed,  modern technology has made a ‘photographer’ of everyone.  It’s her overwhelming dedication to photographic production and the will to create that she conveys most clearly. For Wiseman, it’s about keeping the craft alive and proving through her captivating body of work why it should be kept alive:

“Learning about film photography is learning photography. If you only learn digital, you still don't know photography. You know computers. I'm a geek, I know computers too, but being able to pick up any camera and know how to make an image is something that's being lost on a lot of photographers.”
“No digital camera can make a polaroid type 55 or a polaroid 665 or 85. No digital camera shoots like my Rollei. And my Nikon FM leaves me free to move with the images instead of looking at the back of a computer screen telling it to shoot at F8 at a 15th then trying to revert back to F16 at 250 in less than a second.”

The polaroid cameras have a huge place in her work and her heart, as do many older older cameras – she lists the he number of cameras she has, and even for a photographer – it’s staggering.  Being one of the first supporters of New55, she championed its cause and that of Robert Crowley, the initiator of it. She points to the demise of polaroid and the sub-plot of avarice and illegality that came after:

“The film didn't go away because people weren't buying it. It went away because of greed. So photography saints like Bob [Crowley] should be enjoying everyone's support.”
Photo: Achilles Knee, Stephanie Anne, copyright Zoe Wiseman, 2007.

Photo: Achilles Knee, Stephanie Anne, copyright Zoe Wiseman, 2007.

“Polaroid film was at every shoot I ever modelled for years and years. It's easy to manipulate with the sun, or your hands or even flame. I think if New55 can be brought to market people will eat it up. I know lots of photographers just waiting for a chance to use it. Having Pos/Neg film disappear was like taking oil paints away from painters.”

Cameras you Buy Now Stop Working After a While

While it might seem sentimental to harbour love for old formats for those who have turned their back on shooting with film , it is clear that Wiseman’s knowledge about cameras new and old – is immense. Yet rather than being sentimental, it is a longing for a time long before the digital age when the medium had greater respect and when cameras, much like all other equipment we use in our lives, were built to last:

“The photography industry is filled with lots of greed unfortunately. Camera companies that need to sell cameras now, so the cameras you buy now stop working after a while. I use a film camera that was made in 1924 that has never been serviced and has never failed to open the shutter. And it takes sharper images than a digital camera.”

Yet it is also the sheer love and joy Wiseman gets from each and every one of her cameras that is so astounding. Being the proud owner of Holgas, Dianas, Kodak Brownies and Bronicas and a Rolleicord you get the impression that Wiseman is well equipped and prepared to take arresting images wherever she may be. Clearly she derives great joy from learning every fundamental strength and weakness of each camera at her disposal and is central to her philosophy as an artist:   

“Each of the cameras do different things. They each have different quirks about them. If I see some light that works well for the Holga I use that. If I want tack sharp images I'll use the Rollei's. It all depends on the scene I'm looking at and the surrounding light. The light does different things when seen through the lens of different cameras. And the same for film. I use all sorts of film types for different scenarios too. Ilford, Kodak, Agfa, Efke, Polaroid, and on and on… And the variations continue when you mix and match different films with different cameras. It's all just learning what films do what in each camera and visa/versa. You have to know what they do and what they do with each other.”
Photo: From the Water series, copyright Zoe Wiseman, 2009.

Photo: From the Water series, copyright Zoe Wiseman, 2009.

Photo: Vogue, Kat Love, copyright Zoe Wiseman, 2006.

Photo: Vogue, Kat Love, copyright Zoe Wiseman, 2006.

Photo: Sublime
Nude, Meghan Claire, copyright Zoe Wiseman, 2010.

Photo: Sublime Nude, Meghan Claire, copyright Zoe Wiseman, 2010.

Photo: Copyright Zoe Wiseman, 2011.

Photo: Copyright Zoe Wiseman, 2011.

Paul Coates Enjoying His Leica M7

Paul Coates, copyright by Paul Coates.

Paul Coates, copyright by Paul Coates.

Paul Coates (24), originally from England, currently lives in Japan. He has been taking pictures ever since he started photography when he was 11 years old and was an enthusiastic member of the dark room club at school.

About one and a half years ago that he learned about Leica M cameras. Street photography websites made him aware that Leica M rangefinders are ideal for street photography. They are small and come with exceptional lenses.

Since mid 2012, Paul has been using a Leica M7 film camera with a 35mm Summicron lens. He selected the M7 because of its aperture priority function but he found he does not use that feature very often. The 35mm Summicron was chosen because of its angle of view. He had learned from working with a camera with a similar angle of view (a Lomo LC-A+ with a 32mm lens) that that was a setup that worked for him. It delivered many more keepers than for instance a Canon SLR with a 50mm lens. 

Japanese Tea Ceremony, copyright by Paul Coates.

Japanese Tea Ceremony, copyright by Paul Coates.

As an English teacher in Nagasaki he was invited by his boss to join him to go to a tea ceremony. Although many people think that tea ceremonies are boring, he really enjoyed it and documented the event with his Leica. In the picture of the tea ceremony you see the lady in the middle that is in charge of the session. 

Wedding, copyright by Paul Coates.

Wedding, copyright by Paul Coates.

On his sister’s wedding he caught a bridesmaid off guard! 


Gert Weigelt - Dance Photography

Contribution by Emil Blake, on invitation by

Photo: Lin Hwai Min, Moon Water, Cloud Gate Dance Company Taiwan, copyright by Gert Weigelt.

Photo: Lin Hwai Min, Moon Water, Cloud Gate Dance Company Taiwan, copyright by Gert Weigelt.

Gert Weigelt (German, 1943) is one of the most prominent photographers in the world of dance. As a trained photographer and dancer with the Swedish Royal Ballet and Birgit Cullberg Ballet he has been in the best possible position to capture the beauty of dance. This resulted in a impressive portfolio that documents many important productions and works of influential choreographers such as Hans van Manen, William Forsythe, Gerard Bohner and Pina Bausch.

Weigelt’s work captures the very essence of contemporary dance and with it some classic examples of documentary photography.  While much of his work is in black & white and reveal the timeless quality of greyscale to its full effect, his colours show a restless imagination with a palette.

Weigelt’s ‘authorial photography’ – creates meta-narratives within the choreography, the idea that the image captures one element within a dance performance. While his images retain his obvious passion for dance he is able to tell his own stories and create his own storyboard from the productions he has documented. Weigelt told

“Of course it seems to be a contradiction within itself wanting to transfer an art that lives from movement and three-dimensional space into a medium that is just 2 dimensional and cannot transport the elapse of time.”
“One cannot do justice to dance - instead one has to strive for independence. The photographer has to do the work of a translator.”


In terms of photographic composition, Weigelt’s collection captures the elements of symmetry, repetition, motion and shape in the art form with staggering precision. The eye is drawn to lines crafted through the use of limbs and catches the essential components of the choreography to create compelling narratives.

Photo: Mats Ek, Swan Lake, Cullberg Ballett, copyright Gert Weigelt.

Photo: Mats Ek, Swan Lake, Cullberg Ballett, copyright Gert Weigelt.

His crafting of imperfect symmetry and creating engaging asymmetrical shapes provide the textures in his images. The two elements of mirroring are present: in Mats Ek version of Swan Lake with the Cullberg Ballet, the image of intersecting lines has an immediate animated quality about it. The dancers, caught in various compromises with gravity but retaining their poise – yet show the narrative of trajectory – and states of entropy with the energy and diminish.

Photo: Swan Lake, Staatsoper unter den Linden (just before the performance), copyright by Gert Weigelt.

Photo: Swan Lake, Staatsoper unter den Linden (just before the performance), copyright by Gert Weigelt.

With Swan Lake at German State Opera in Berlin, the compositional symmetry is used once again, creating a ‘Y’ shape with the flourish on the dancer in the top left – a geometric form within a a greater geometric composition.

Another good example of this is an image taken from George Balanchine’s Serenade with the Basel Ballet.

The image shows 5 female dancers ‘en pointe’ from behind with long, white flowing skirts. The movement of the dancers raised arms creates the dynamics out from the centre of the image.  The depth of the composition is delivered by the dark background and the light floor providing horizontal bands of darkness in the images’s vertical thirds,  While the poise of the dancer is a startling ‘go-to’ point for the viewer, the beauty and sensuality of taut muscles is a theme we see reoccurring in the artist’s work.

Photo: George Balanchine, Serenade, Ballet Basel, copyright by Gert Weigelt.

Photo: George Balanchine, Serenade, Ballet Basel, copyright by Gert Weigelt.


When dealing with portraiture Weigelt shows a unique understanding of both his subject and his vision on capturing their image. The portraits he has taken of dancers focus on their physical beauty and vitality. The body is seen as a canvas in which to mould interesting shapes and forms.

Photo: Hans van Manen, 1995, copyright by Gert Weigelt.

Photo: Hans van Manen, 1995, copyright by Gert Weigelt.

His portrait of Hans van Manen shows a deep respect for both subject and craft. His excellent use of contrast and the off-centre composition of a two-tone background on which van Manen stands creates both immediacy and depth. He portrays his subject with elements of the flamboyant and distinguished. 

Other portraits of choreographers such as Bausch and Forsythe hold the same seriousness and respect, while attempting to capture their personality. In contrast with this he has made an experimental an playful portrait of Maurice Béjart showing of a master in the use of light.    


Weigelt’s work demonstrates a beauty and fascination of the physical human form.  While the symbolism of dance is intertwined with courtship and lust, the photographer’s work demonstrates the sexual aesthetic and athleticism of dancers. The contours and muscular definition are every bit as vital to Gert Weigelt’s work as the overall composition. I asked him what elements of dance are most important for him as the photographer:

“Dance, to be interesting, has to involve eroticism. The sculptural part is very important. It has to radiate energy and sexiness. Just like Duke Ellington said: ‘It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing’.  The "swing" in dance is physical power, is sexiness.”
Photo: Copyright by Gert Weigelt.  

Photo: Copyright by Gert Weigelt.  

The tetratypch shows a dancer en pointe from all sides, exposing the curves and contours of elegance, as well as the breath-taking feats of balance required for such a stance. The lighting emboldens the athletic definition of the dancer.

A large element of Weigelt’s ‘Body’ collection involves creating new forms from the human body, with symmetry a key component.  The build and definition of many of the models is based upon that of dancers with the masculine and feminine elements simultaneously clearly-defined and also blurred to some degree. His photography demonstrates isolated elements of corporeal beauty on which larger ideas and shapes are created.

Photo: Meathooks (1985), copyright by Gert Weigelt.

Photo: Meathooks (1985), copyright by Gert Weigelt.

Meathooks is one such image, where the erotic is perhaps more clearly stated as an isolated idea - the symbols of eroticism carefully juxtaposed with flesh and the commodification of flesh for consumption. The podium that the model stands upon may also demand the viewer to consider the elevated pedestal that standards of female beauty are placed.

Gert Weigelt’s photography demands attention in that it captures images and ideas that the human eye would not normally be so skilled at seeing. He uses his intimate knowledge of Dance and of esteemed choreographers to give some insight to beauty, skill and sensuality of contemporary dance.     


>> Gert Weigelt - physical photography 

Photo: Martin
Schlaepfer "3", Ballett am Rhein, copyright by Gert Weigelt (2010).

Photo: Martin Schlaepfer "3", Ballett am Rhein, copyright by Gert Weigelt (2010).

Nudes – John Swannell

Contribution by Emil Blake, on invitation by

Swannell’s ‘Nudes’ collection is an engaging and striking work that spans his career as a fashion photographer, and is by his own admission, heavily influenced by the work of Horst P. Horst. The creation of this body of work started while on photo shoots with Vogue, and Tatler & Queen with willing models, who were convinced by his ideas and vision. On his pictures the female body is often married to both nature and natural forms. While he displays feminine beauty in a conventional manner, Swannell’s work highlights the sensuality of the female form as a whole – with his models creating structures and shapes that remove the overtly erotic, while highlighting objective beauty.

The elements of his composition are naturally governed by shape, texture and depth. The shapes and shadow are playful yet considered, in terms of tonality.

Playing with symmetry, tonality and shadow, ‘Nudes’ can be broken down into three different categories: within nature, variations on classic portraiture and shadow play.

Within Nature

In the images involving nature, the nude form can be seen as an extension or a ‘mirroring’ of nature forms such as branches, vines, or trees, the nude add both layer and flow to the physical object in ‘Becky in Uprooted Tree’ (1984), ‘Naked Vine’ (1985) or ‘Dasha In Cumbria Series No. 1’ (1999). The lightness of the skin offers sharp relief to the darker textures of the wood of the bark or branches. The organic quality of the shapes created gives the images movement and flow, as if to absorb the human body back into nature, making it far removed from the abstractions of society, and the social mores of clothing and etiquette.

An exception to this is the dreamlike ‘Back View’ (1987) where the nude is in a country lane, with the duality of lightness and darkness of the field’s pasture carefully balanced between left and right, and high and low elements of the sky, the clouds and contrasting tones of the model’s flesh. While this represents a departure from the blending of body and nature, it is a good example of Swannell’s masterful skill at monochromatic composition. 

P hoto:
Naked Vinde (1985), Copyright John Swannell.

Photo: Naked Vinde (1985), Copyright John Swannell.

Variations on Classic Portraiture

Swannell engages with elements of standard portraiture in the nudes, yet clearly the most striking images are those that maximise the model’s body shape, focussing on the nuances of muscular definition or curve, using the body’s contours to create new geometric forms as in ‘Emerging from Tree’ (1984), ‘Diagonal Nude’ (1982), and ‘Nude Behind Silk Series No 1’ (2004). These images demand much more from the observer, asking the viewing eye to see other forms beyond the immediate perceptions of body parts and primary non-living elements of the image.

P hoto:
Nude Behind Silk Series No. 1 (2004), Copyright John Swannell. 

Photo: Nude Behind Silk Series No. 1 (2004), Copyright John Swannell. 

Symmetry, either complete or broken is achieved in Swannell’s work with pairs of models. In ‘Black Circle’ (1991) there is a nod both to Leonardo da Vinci’s timeless ‘Vitruvian Man’ and of course, the act of sexual congress – with layered bodies on the bottom and the top, with the latter throwing back her shock of black hair, adding texture to the pale and dark  – with the contrast of the black circle against the white background. ‘Fine Lines Plate 41’ (1978) has the same dynamic of contrast, with a one dimensional black foreground, off-set by the contrast of the skin and the limbs taking the viewer’s eye from left to right, into the white background.  ‘Fine Lines’ (1977) is yet another configuration of this, with two women standing with their backs to the camera, the symmetry broken only by the arm extended at 45 degrees to touch her companion’s buttock.

The symmetry is fractured in ‘Couple Entwined’(1991), yet somehow there remains an element of harmony in the way arms and legs couple to the same flow to create movement yet again from left to right of the legs and the interlocking of the embrace and the breast. This most iconic of shots encapsulates the complexity of the collection.

P hoto: Fine
Lines (1977), Copyright John Swannell. 

Photo: Fine Lines (1977), Copyright John Swannell. 

Shadow Play

Mood and spatial depth are set with the use of shadows in some of the other images, creating a ‘film noir’ cinematic effect.  Chair Series No 2 & 3 both use shadow to create frames in which to illuminate the picture’s subject – depth and spatial perception are unsettling factors within the composition – and the anonymity of the model whose face is hidden, adds to the dynamic of darkness.

On the same theme, Vivienne in Church (1979) presents an uneasy juxtaposition of a nude in the foyer of a church. The striking geometrical shapes presented by the rectangle of the open door, the half-visible circle of the stained glass window and the stone alcove of the church arch, demonstrate the tonal range of the image. The light, the observer can suppose, is natural daylight, which washes the foyer’s corner – and the model – in a column of whiteness, conjuring up images of the divine.

Female Beauty

Swannell is arguably most famous for his insightful portraits for the great and good of the UK’s establishment. However, his most intriguing body of work is clearly his ‘Nudes’. Obviously his huge experience working for the biggest names in fashion photography has given him the ideas and the canvas on which he could pay tribute to his inspirations and to evolve the form.

The quality and consistency found in John Swannell’s ‘Nudes’ show that he found his visual language and used it with huge ambition. With his bold compositions that are a homage to female beauty he challenges as much as he engages the viewer.


Significant Photography Auction at Christie's in Paris (November 16-17, 2012)

For everyone interested in starting or extending a collection of iconic photographs there is a good opportunity in November at Christie's in Paris. On November 16-17 there will be auctioned about a 175 photographs made by e.g. Man Ray, Eugene Atget, Brassaï, Henri-Cartier Bresson, David Lachapelle and many others.

One of the photographs for sale: The wild ones, with Cindy Crawford, Tatjana Patiz, Helena Christensen, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Karen Mulder, and Stephanie Seymour, in Brooklyn New York, 1991, by Peter Lindbergh

Photo: One of the photographs for sale: The wild ones, with Cindy Crawford, Tatjana Patiz, Helena Christensen, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Karen Mulder, and Stephanie Seymour, in Brooklyn New York, 1991, by Peter Lindbergh.

Photographs to be Auctioned at Christie's on October 4-5, 2012 (New York)

On October 4-5 it is time again for an auction of photographs at Christie's in New York. At this auction you can bid on important pictures by Irving Penn, Robert Mapplethorpe, Edward Weston, Jeanloup Sieff, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Mike and Doug Starn and many others.

For pictures by Richard Avedon there is organized a special auction on October 4.

Nu Pompier, 1956, by Jeanloup Sieff

Photo: Nu Pompier, 1956, by Jeanloup Sieff.

Marella Agnelli, New York studio, December 1953, by Richard Avedon

Photo: Marella Agnelli, New York studio, December 1953, by Richard Avedon.

Photographs to be Auctioned at Sotheby's on October 3, 2012 (New York)

On October 3 Sotheby's organizes their Autumn photographs auction in New York. Significant pictures from Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan, Edward Weston, Horst P. Horst, Nick Brandt, Ruth Bernhard, and many others can be bought there.

In the box -- Horizontal, 1962, by Ruth Bernhard

Photo: In the box -- Horizontal, 1962, by Ruth Bernhard.

Yulia Gorodinski

The Belarusian/Israeli photographer Yulia Gorodinski (1984) is one of those female photographers that create a whole mystique about themselves by making self-portraits. I find this type of photography extremely intruiging; again, it raises more questions than it provides answers.

You can find more on Yulia Gorodinski on her website:

Other female photographers creating series of self-portraits:

Photo below: Self-portrait by Yulia Gorodinski.

Self-portrait by Yulia Gorodinski