© Gaetano Paraggio

www.GaetanoParaggio.com

I am attracted to places of everyday living: normal places, seen (or rather not seen ) — just passing through. Places that leave no trace on the retina of people, as if they were invisible.

I love walking along suburban streets or in industrial areas, laying my eyes on the abandoned factories. The mind relaxes and thinks freely. Watching all this from the viewfinder of the camera brings to life timeless places, denounces the deterioration from the “land without men,” the remoteness of the institutions, the grip of a crisis incomprehensible — how painful and cynical.

My research is about beauty. I like to photograph the city, looking for a symbiosis between me and the loneliness of spaces I do not know.

– Gaetano Paraggio, Bellizzi, Salerno, Italy

© Gaetano Paraggio

© Gaetano Paraggio3

© Douglas Ljungkvist

www.DouglasLjungkvist.com

How did you come to be interested in fine-art photography ??
Well, I started photographing almost nine years ago and was pretty much hooked right away.  But it took some exploring to learn what type of photography I was interested in. Stephen Shore’s book Uncommon Places, before I had any idea who he was, was a confirmation that one could photograph (uncommon) places and the vernacular.  I learned over time that how something looks and feels is more important than what it depicts.  That pretty much ruled out most other types of photography (for personal work), which was fine with me, as I see photography as a form of self expression.  If I could paint, chances are I would be a painter, too, or a writer.
 
How do you identify and develop a project ??
It starts with place for me.  By that I mean location(s), environments, private or public, places with names.  I’m interested in how and where we live, but more so in the place itself, than the people that live there now.  I think it stems back to my interest in geography and history in school and having traveled extensively since a very young age.  My process includes going back to places over and over so it’s important that I like spending time there, or be really curious about them.
 
I had visited and vacationed at Ocean Beach several times before I started my project there.  But I had not been there for 10 years when I went back to scout and started shooting.  I have photographed in Brooklyn since 2007. Mostly around the industrial areas as Park Slope, where I live, is too ornate, full of people, trees, and cars —- things I seldom include in my photographs.  Middletown USA is really the only body of work so far, and my first long-term project, that I had not visited before I started photographing it.  I was driven by curiosity how different 16 towns in 16 states that share a name, Middletown, would look.  And I wanted to experience small-town USA and photograph outside my urban comfort zone.
 
Please tell us a bit about your Ocean Beach project. What forms has it taken ??
I started by photographing the architectural landscape in the off-season. I loved the process of walking up and down rows and rows of cottages looking for visceral subject matters. Sometimes I could go all day without seeing a person.  After a while I contacted the rental agency for permission to photograph inside the cottages.  To my surprise they said yes.  Being interested in places stuck in time, especially the 70’s, I was disappointed to learn how many of the cottages had been renovated to be more attractive on the competitive rental market, from when I had vacationed there in the 90’s.  But with more than 2,000 cottages there were still enough that interested me.
 
About 2/3rds of the way through the project I started adding some personal items to select cottage interiors.  I wanted to create these fragmented self portraits what I might have looked like had I grown up spending summers at Ocean Beach.  The project was scheduled for publication in the spring of 2013.  But of course the timeline was thrown off after Superstorm Sandy.  Ocean Beach was hit really hard. More than 90% of the cottages facing the ocean were destroyed.  Many on/between the bay and ocean-sides were destroyed, too.  My initial reaction was that I didn’t want to photograph the aftermath.  I have never liked how post-disaster photographs look with all its debris and disorder.  Another concern was that it might look too documentary or like it was made by another photographer.  I think not having access to the thin barrier island for a couple of months helped change my mind about resuming the work.  I still didn’t think I wanted to include the post-storm work in the book though.
 
After a few visits it was clear that the post-storm work could co-exist visually.  But we didn’t want it to take away from the older work in the book so we solved it by adding a separate section with its own introduction.  It wasn’t until after Sandy that I started including photographs of the ocean and beach, which after all is what the place and book is called, Ocean Beach.  It felt appropriate as the ocean and sand had contributed to so much of the destruction.  I went back often to photograph the demolition and beginning of the reconstruction process.  My solitary work process was gone and things were changing very quickly. Looking back, I think it made the book deeper with the context and contrast of having documented a natural disaster area long before the catastrophic event.  Since the book came out I’ve been back a half dozen times checking on the reconstruction.  I find it hard to stay away for too long.
 
How did you develop a relationship with Kehrer Verlag ?? Any advice for artists looking to publish books ??
I made a mock-up every now and then, using Blurb, and forwarded a preview link to a few publishers that were on my wish-list.  Kehrer Verlag was the publisher that showed the most interest and always offered feedback.  Luckily for me they were on top of my wish list.  So when their acquisitions director was reviewing portfolios at the CONTACT Festival in Toronto I decided to go.  Having only seen the work on screen she really liked the prints and said that she wanted to publish the project.  But it was still up to the owner to green-light it of course.  But she must have done a good sales pitch because shortly after I learned that we were in business. 
 
In terms of finding a publisher, I would try to resist the temptation to show work that is not nearing publication or at least has a clearly defined outline.  The risk being that it can be difficult to get a publisher, or anyone for that matter, to look at a project (again) if they have formed an opinion early on.  Most important, research publishers and target ones that publish books similar in nature to yours.  Learn who the decision makers are.  Try and include them in your marketing efforts.   Ask other photographers who have already published books with them what the experience was like and what to expect.  Meeting the publisher at a portfolio review might be your best bet to get your work in front of them.  If so, bring a book mock-up in addition to your portfolio prints.  Oh, and make sure you have a big bag of money saved up.  Expect to contribute to the books production cost in the area of $15-20,000 for a top-quality publisher with international distribution. 
 
What’s your next project ??
I have several in mind.  I want to get back to work on Middletown USA.  I hope to do that during several extended road trips starting this fall.  Hopefully I can get a grant or fellowship to make that happen financially.  I have a couple of project ideas in my homeland of Sweden, too, and there’s a nude project in the back of my mind.  I have some conceptual and studio/still life ideas, too.  I would want to do something in Pennsylvania in the future. I love how its small towns look and its working-class history: gritty, melancholy, and stuck in time and economic change. I think urban landscape photography will always be a part big part of my photography.
 
Your work is not currently for sale as prints. Could you please explain why that is ??
Though none of my work is available for sale now I will probably make Urban Cars available first.  But with other bodies I like the idea to release prints after a book release.  But I don’t have any immediate distribution plans for Ocean Beach.  Many reasons why.  The natural progression would be to secure gallery representation.  Based on today’s model I’m not even sure I could afford that, especially in several markets.  I don’t believe in the direct sales model even though there are several good platforms, unless you’re famous or have a large following (I’m 0 for 2).  I’m playing with the idea of selling work in editions of one print, or only as a series of prints.  I know these ideas are probably not feasible, especially for an artist not that well known yet.  I don’t hate the idea of leaving the work for my daughter either, to sell after I’m gone.  Perhaps a few decades will increase its value and demand, too.  But until I know which way I’m going, I’d rather hold off. 
 
How helpful do you find social media in your practice as a photographer ??
Very helpful, no doubt.  I have a fairly small social media network compared to many other photographers.  But online in general has been very helpful to get my work exposed the last several years, blogs, magazines, etc.  And several Facebook groups that I belong to have proven very valuable in connecting with other photographers.  But I have downsized my online presence in the last year.  I used to post a photo a day on Facebook.  The second half of last year I reduced that to 2-3 a week in a “less is more” exercise.  And I pretty much restrict it now to my typology Urban Cars.  Sometimes I get in trouble online for being too opinionated or saying how I really feel.  Now I’m trying (hard) not to say anything, unless I have something nice to say. I know some folks are looking to get a reaction out of you and too often I take the bait.  People generally find me more pleasant in real life.
 
I often find myself doing the opposite of what the majority is doing.  So when so many photographers are posting so much in so many places it kind of feels right to do less.  My work needs to be strong enough that it can survive despite not being top of mind everywhere all the time.  Besides I like the idea of slow and steady leading to longevity as opposed to trending.  As part of my online strategy I don’t belong to Instagram, Flickr, or Tumblr and I’m not very active on Twitter either. 
 
How do you see the future of photography, including your own ??
It seems to me that we’re going through a period of short-term trends.  The medium and its critics, curators, and tastemakers all seem to be searching for what’s next.  Right now abstract and conceptual is big.  Perhaps it’s also to more clearly define and separate the artists from the non-professional photographers considering the enormous amount of photographs being made and looking for viewers.  Looking back it’s kind of funny how digital photography was going to ruin photography.  And in retrospect the film vs. digital discussion and impact turned out to be pretty minimal compared to smartphone photography and social media.
 
I spend very little time looking at contemporary photography except what I see on a few favorite online magazines and blogs.  I live in a bit of a bubble.  Movies, not photographs, are by far my biggest sources of inspiration.  And not even so much the cinematography as the overall art direction, mood and atmosphere created by location, time of year, shooting, and light.  I’m going through a period of re-watching Italian neo-realism movies now.  As for my personal photographic future, in an ideal world, I would like to see 50% of my income come from personal projects and the rest from editorial and commercial work.  Commissions would be the ultimate way of working for me and I would love to teach some workshops, too.

How has photography changed you as a person?
It’s changed me tremendously. When I photograph is pretty much the only time that I’m not affected by sometimes disruptive OCD and ADD. So from that perspective it’s therapeutic. Though I don’t photograph people that often it has also changed how I interact with people. When I started out I was very defensive even hostile at times when people would approach me about what I was photographing or why. Coming home from a portfolio shoot in the Dominican Republic I had all these stories about people I met and engaged with and my wife pointed out how I had turned a corner in how I was communicating with people. Now if someone approaches me in an aggressive manner we almost always part on friendly terms.

Photography has also taught me to trust my instincts and grow my confidence. Almost all hobbies or interest I’ve had in the past, and even in my previous business career, I was never the most confident person. I was often better than average but never really stood out or excelled. At times I could feel intimidated, especially by authority. Where a colleague might be excited to run into the boss and have a chat I would take a detour to avoid them.

With photography it’s different. Sure, it’s easier to be confident about something that is subjective. But having found my photographic voice and receiving some praise and accolades along the way has given me the confidence that an artist, or anyone for that matter, needs to be successful. I’m almost more embarrassed by praise than the hurt of criticism, but I’m working on that. Regardless how I compare to others, I have found what I do better than anything else that I have ever engaged in. Being a middle aged, self-taught white dude, from the digital revolution might not be the ideal platform to start from, but with my newfound confidence and the fact that I’m still growing as an artist makes me feel very good about me and photography having a future together.

Is there anything else you’d like to say ??
I would not recommend my online strategy to a photographer just starting out.  They need to be in as many places as possible.  I would probably not recommend it to someone in my shoes either.  But doing what suits your personality is important to me.  I come from a culture where self promotion is considered in poor taste.  I’ve always said; if I’m “going to make it” it’s going to be based on the strength of my work, not who I know, not my personality, or how popular I am.  However, deep down, I don’t think it is only about the work.

– Interview conducted and edited by Willson Cummer

254 West Bayview Drive

© Douglas Ljungkvist3

© Alexander Pisarev

www.AlexanderPisarev.com

From the very beginning of the human race, people have been expecting the end of our world. It’s a paradox, but in the last two centuries, in spite of scientific and technological advance, or due to it, there were made more apocalyptic predictions than there had ever been made before.

2012 passed in expectation of calamity predicted by the Mayas.

This project aims to inquire into how our perception of objective reality will alter in the face of factual or imaginary apocalypse. Ordinary walks through the hometown become the quest for signs and warnings of upcoming disaster. Familiar landscapes and situations look weird and dream-like, although nothing terrifying is happening — or is it all just freak of the imagination?

– Alexander Pisarev, Moscow, Russia

© Alexander Pisarev

© Alexander Pisarev3

© Marc Llach

www.MarcLlachFotografia.com

At Minimum wants to explore and analyse the aesthetic of the industrial suburbs located around our cities, because these contemporary landscapes built by our society can be a revelatory proof of its moral courage. In the aesthetic of these desolated environments we can watch the ferocious control, the power and the influence that the modern society applies on its closest surroundings, in general, and on the human being, in particular.

This situation turns into spaces that float in a one existentialist lethargy. They are defined by a monotonous aesthetic with childish tones, homogenous textures, inorganic nature and unmoving geometry. And, one of the most important things, it is the fact of representing a one-sided break with natural space and its rules. Here, the environment is manipulated and deformed by the way the human being wants and being a self- caricatured. We can say that its identity becomes minimum, project itself like a poor reflex of the cities that they have seen it growing.

– Marc Llach, Girona, Spain

© Marc Llach

© Marc Llach3

© Evan Deuitch

www.EvanDeuitch.com

So much of the nocturnal landscape is dominated by narrow, pre-determined areas of light that have been set up for practical reasons. After numerous walks home from either work or school, it became apparent that most of the visual characteristics of the suburban nighttime were determined by traffic lights, signage illumination, and security lights, among others. In these circumstances, subjects that would otherwise seem banal during the daytime became seemingly more dramatic and almost theatrical because of the selective illumination.

The images that I produced for this series were all captured from current and previous neighborhoods I have lived in. While photographing, the difference between each individual location became unnoticeable, as the points of illumination were often sparse, and its subjects were consistent. The resulting images depict concentrated oases of visibility among a universal dark void.

– Evan Deuitch, State College, Pennsylvania, USA

© Evan Deuitch

© Evan Deuitch3

© Janelle Lynch

www.JanelleLynch.net

From January through December 2013 American photographic artist Janelle Lynch was the first artist-in-residence at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, New York. Lynch, who was born and raised in Western New York, made eight week-long visits from her current home in New York City to Buffalo to further her own work inspired by Charles Burchfield.

Sixteen works she made during her residency will be shown in an exhibition, titled Presence, at the Center from June 13 through November 30, 2014.

Lynch was first drawn to Burchfield’s work in 2006 due to a shared capacity to imagine human-like characteristics in nature; hence, she anthropomorphizes her subjects. Lynch, like Burchfield, was inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s nature writings and transcendental philosophy, which suggests that the natural world is formed and informed by spirits, and that its elements are symbols of a great spirituality.

Presence emerged from Lynch’s exploration of two landscapes: across the street from Burchfield’s former home in Gardenville, New York, now a nature preserve, and at her studio in the Catskill Mountains.

Presence 1 TJ

Unknown-9

© Massimo Cristaldi

www.MassimoCristaldi.com

In 2013 about 42,000 migrants ventured out the sea to reach Italy and Europe, mostly through Sicily and its islands. Many thousands of people have done the same route in previous years.

In Touch Ground I photographed beaches, harbors, cliffs: places where, in recent years, migrants went ashore (or just attempted to arrive) from North Africa. It’s an exploration project on a firm ground, a coveted place, object of hopes, tragedies, happiness, disillusion, and sometimes death. Places that at night appeared full of meanings and in which I perceived absences that have influenced me, as indeed as a whole a migration of epic proportions has done. It is then, once again, a work on the borders, in this case between sea, land and men. Seascapes, and yet “places of the present,” places of contemporary history, theaters of tragic events for some, simply “sea” for all of us.

– Massimo Cristaldi, Catania, Italy

Fanusa (3)

Eloro

© Panayiotis Lamprou

www.PanayiotisLamprou.com

No words can describe what I see.

There is always a reason to go and find an image. It seems an appointment with myself.

The result has a quality that remains inner and elegant to see. 

This is enough for an eye to breathe. 

No words can describe what I see. But I feel.

– Panayiotis Lamprou, Athens, Greece

christina_3 002

christina_3 002

© Giacomo Streliotto

www.GiacomoStreliotto.com

Via della Stazione, Urbino, Italy. A road that leads to the old railway station which now is a restaurant. Along this street many workers and students park their cars to reach the historical center by bus. Via della Stazione is in fact “outside” of the city. I used to walk along this street for the pleasure of doing so, especially on weekends. I decided to carry my camera every time I went for a walk in Via della Stazione, and to “note” what I saw. The images I present are the visual notes of these walkings.

– Giacomo Streliotto, Padua, Italy

© Giacomo Streliotto

© Giacomo Streliotto3

© Ivan Petrovic

www.IvanPetrovic.com

Fieldwork is an ongoing project representing people working on the fields producing food, considering landscape as ambient of sight with its singular changing that comes from the relationship between human beings and nature, combining ideas about meanings of landscape as romantic and political.

– Ivan Petrovic, Belgrade, Serbia

© Ivan Petrovic

© Ivan Petrovic3

© Pascal Demeester

www.PascalDemeesterVisualArts.com

I had to find peculiar fragments of reality, which after having been recorded and printed will have the particularity to disappear before my eyes.


Naturally, landscape studies became my place of predilection for my research. During the last two years, I rode my motorcycle with a 4×5 Ebony Camera through the landscapes of France, Belgium and England.

The sites found became sanctuaries of sorts to which I can go back and explore their evolutions according to the time and seasons, until their possible disappearances.

Using techniques that are as discreet as possible, the elegance of the landscape’s harmonious inner natural composition and the application of the contrapuntal principle, I want to create potential moments where a photograph will visually destabilize me, triggering specific cultural memories.

During these moments, my spirit has no choice but to spontaneously build webs of visual, emotional and musical sensations freely above the original documentary print.

– Pascal Demeester, New York City

© Pascal Demeester

© Pascal Demeester3

© Jeremy Kohm

www.JeremyKohm.com

What most attracts me to photography is the ability to no longer experience an environment but rather simply observe it. I find that when I bring the camera to my eye I am completely removed from my surroundings. Once looking through the viewfinder I go back to exploring the same themes that I have always loved.  I am particularly fascinated with the interaction between the constructed and the natural world and how that affects the way people move within it.

– Jeremy Kohm, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

© Jeremy Kohm

© Jeremy Kohm3

© Ettore Moni

www.EttoreMoni.com

An architectural and anthropological research along the banks of the river Po. Attentive to the landscape, but focused on housing. Stilts, boats, barges beached like whales. Hanging houses in a world a part. Details on the border with the city, because it is discovered that you want to talk to them, the mansion built by the mighty river. The hanging houses. Between everything that moves constantly and the will of man to put down roots. Among the tales of a never-ending story and metaphorical signs of a past not yet forgotten. Inside the landscape created by the force of the Po.

– Ettore Moni, Parma, Italy

© Ettore Moni

© Ettore Moni3

© Giovanni Albore

www.GiovanniAlbore.com

I see gas stations as contemporary monuments. I imagine that very soon in the future there will be no more gas stations, because of the end of fossil fuels, so they will not have any function in the future. They will become past architectures and witnesses to our society.

I deal with photographic research in the context of landscape, urban and otherwise. The silences, the empty spaces, are the subjects I prefer. The human presence is not physical, but it exists. My photographic research is inspired by human traces, signs, overbuilding uncontrolled where the uncontaminated is replaced by urbanization. My research is almost exclusively about urban areas, a subjective/objective vision that leads me very close to the documentary photography.

– Giovanni Albore, Bari, Italy

© Giovanni Albore

© Giovanni Albore3

© Troy Paiva

www.LostAmerica.com

My light-painted night work captures the abandoned and discarded underbelly of the American West.  I sneak through fences during the full moon to capture the inevitable march of nature, scrappers and developers, who conspire to erase the fading memories of all these things we once held so dear.  I convert these dark, dirty, places no one wants into surreal, glittering wonderlands, colorful, ghostly echoes of what once was.

I started lighting because, right from the beginning, I saw these places as theatrical. As dark movie sets.  The thing that makes a stage set compelling is lighting.  So I use key lighting and shadow areas to control the composition and lead the viewer’s eye.  It’s basic cinematic story-telling.  As a life-long, career artist (graphics, painting, illustration, etc.) I understand and take advantage of color theory and the cultural meanings of colors.  The feelings they evoke.  Generally, I like to use colors that contrast/balance with the ambient tonal range of the scene or enhance the natural colors of the subject.

– Troy Paiva, Redwood City, California, USA

© Troy Paiva

© Troy Paiva3