Category Archives: Book Reviews

Anisha Arora: Shoes


Photo: Anisha Arora, Copyright 2018


Photography and Text by Anisha Arora, Copyright 2018








When talking about Lewis W. Hine, one of the photographers included in the book, the author writes that “he conceived of the medium as a means of studying and describing the social conditions around him”. That is also how I aim to use the art of photography- to bring to light difficult truths that we often want to forget.

What I found truly intriguing while reading the book was the variations between photographers. Variations in their purpose/objective behind photography, as well as, variations in what they found worth capturing on camera. While some find fashion photography to be their calling, some find it interesting to capture the mundane routines of common people. Among all the photographers, I could most relate to Lewis W. Hine.

Hine wanted to use photography to drive social change, and his pictures were a celebration of people who had nerve, skill, muscle, and tenacity. He captured the common people. That’s what I want to achieve through my photographs. His picture of little children on the streets, reminded me of a picture (attached as a jpeg) I happened to click while walking on a street in Ethiopia in the town of Harar. The picture is of a small 7-8 year-old boy splashing water over his face to cool down in the terrible heat. This water is generally used to clean people’s shoes. This boy, like many other 5-12 year-old boys, is a “shoe-shine” boy. These children leave their homes in Ethiopia’s rural areas to work in the big cities as shoe-polishers. They stay in deplorable living conditions, often beg for food and money, have never seen a school classroom and are most likely physically and sexually exploited. They save a part of their meagre incomes to support their families back in the rural areas, who make next to nothing from agriculture. What I find beautiful about this picture is that the boy seems so happy splashing the water on his face. This is normal life for him- he has forgotten his miseries and adapted to life on the streets.

I lived in Ethiopia for a year before school, working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Prime Minister’s Office on strategy and policy projects aimed at improving incomes of smallholder farmers. I’m hoping that some of my organization’s projects can raise agricultural incomes, so that more children don’t have to leave their families and can have a normal childhood.


About The Author: Anisha Arora is enrolled in the Graduate program, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Anisha Arora, click here


Also posted in Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Health Care, History, News, Photography, Politics, Travel, UPenn, UPenn Photography, UPenn: Photography Students, Women

George Krause: Lunch With a Legend


Martha Gibson. George Krause. Lunch at the White Dog Cafe, March 8, 2018. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018.



Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018




I first met my friend and mentor, George Krause in 1975 at Photopia Gallery on South Street. The Philly based gallery was located in the same neighborhood where Man Ray was born and where Ray K. Metzker, also a legendary photographer and friend of George, lived by converting an old 19th century fire house into his studio. Metzker’s studio was located just around the corner from where George Krause lived for several years before relocating to Wimberly, Texas, where he currently resides with his girlfriend, the artist, Martha Gibson.  Photopia was the place to see fine art photography during those days and George Krause was amongst the finest artists to exhibit at the avant-garde exhibition space.  A couple of years earlier,  Krause had  published GEORGE KRAUSE-1, his first book of groundbreaking photographs, which became a visual bible for anyone interested in photography as a fine art at the time. Toll & Armstrong of Haverford, Pa. published the monograph with forward by Mark Power, in 1972. I have a signed copy proudly displayed of GEORGE KRAUSE – 1 in my personal library. 

Before I was informed George would be visiting Philadelphia this year to install his latest exhibition, Introspective 1957 to 2017 at the University of the Arts, I had already introduced his work to my photography students at the University of Pennsylvania. In September, I assigned the class a book review of John Szarkowski’s classic, Looking at Photographs.  George was  selected by Szarkowski to  be represented in this  iconic representation of the history of photography published by the Museum of Modern Art in 1973.

Needless to say, my students were thrilled to learn that the legendary, George Krause would be visiting their class during his visit to Penn’s campus.  When I showed the students the signed copy of his first book, I completely forgot that it contained personal letters. I  shared with the class, that I had received letters from George during the 1970’s when we corresponded while he was working in San Miguel, Mexico or at the American Academy in Rome. I was a graduate student studying photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology where many of Georges contemporaries lectured at my graduate seminars including: Ralph Gibson, Emmet Gowin, Duane Michals, Susan Sontag and Peter Bunnell. The list would also include George Krause after he accepted an invitation that I forwarded to him on behalf of the masters program at R.I.T. We’ve stayed in touch ever since.

George was thrilled to see an exhibit of the students work at the Clutter Gallery in Addams Hall.  The class had the good fortune of reading about photographic history and then to meet a living embodiment of its history made for an amazing learning experience for the students. George mentioned during his talk that it was the first time he had been asked to speak about his work by accessing his web site:  George also mentioned that he may have been the first photographer in photographic history to cut a beveled mat window to present his photographs. After his talk we enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the White Dog Cafe on Penn’s campus with his girlfriend; the artist, Martha Gibson.



George Krause: Exhibition Announcement. UArts.


George Krause with Photography Students at UPenn

George Krause with Photography Students at UPenn. Photo: Martha Gibson.


George Krause and Tony Ward at Introspective opening reception, UArts. March 28, 2018.

George Krause and Tony Ward at Introspective opening reception, UArts. March 28, 2018.


About The Author: Tony Ward is a fine art photographer, author, blogger, publisher and adjunct professor of photography at the University of Pennsylvania.  His published works can be accessed here


Editor’s Note: Tony Ward used the new Sony RX100V to make the portrait of George Krause during lunch with an ISO setting of 320, White Balance: AWB, Shutter: 1/30th, F-Stop:1.8.


Also posted in Art, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Friends of TWS, History, Men, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, UPenn Photography

Wenjia Guo: Architectural Gift


Photo: Wenjia Guo


Photography and Text by Wenjia Guo, Copyright 2018


Book Review


John Szarkowski:  Looking at Photographs


When I first got this book, I was wondering why we need to look at such a “history” book to learn photography. The book I rented from Cornell University first surprised me with its date due list, whose first reader rented it in 1984, ten years before I was born. This magical feeling seemed to have nothing to do with photography technique, but related to the most important thing I absorbed from the book — the historical significance of photo selection, which I understand as real important.

The first time I read Looking at Photographs, I just focused on the pictures without tasting the articles, the first time, portraitures mainly caught my eye. The eye contact, the hairstyles, the clothes, even the gestures showed the harmony with the environmental background of the time. But after reading each picture’s introduction, I found even gestures are more vivid, needless to say landscape photography, architecture photography and other genres have come to my awareness. The historical background is quite charming. When you see a man with his hands crossed holding his head chatting with others, the situation that farmers in those those years with not much work to do, instead had plenty of time for conversation is reasonable but a little bit surprising. 

However, what inspired me most in the book is the staircase photo, which was created by Tina Modotti when she lived in Mexico in the years 1923 through 1926. Pictures of architecture definitely shows the combination of materials, the wood, the metal, the concrete all have diverse brightness, and even it is a picture of black and white, I could feel the different temperature when sun light heated them. What’s more, the powerful straight lines created a wonderful geometric pattern, the perspective of the stairs as well as the handrail created a spiral of beauty.

The light in this picture that I created is also attractive, it comes from the back and forms a different kind of depth. So, during my travel week in Miami, I paid a lot of attention when I visited different buildings, trying to find some contemporary characteristics of architecture and how the light and materials played in the view. When I stood in the hall of New World Center by Frank Gehry, I see the flow curvature, the prefabrication technique, the slowly rising stairs, the elegant boundary of windows and walls, as well as the light gently irradiated from a particular distance. 


About The Author: Wenjia Guo is a Graduate student in the School of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Wenjia Guo, click here


Also posted in Architecture, Contemporary Architecture, Current Events, Engineering, Environment, Health Care, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn Photography, UPenn: Photography Students, Women

Mu Qiao: Builder


Montage: Mu Qiao


Montage and Text by Mu Qiao, Copyright 2018


Book Reviews


Jerry Uelsmann’s “Poets House” and John Szarkowski’s “Looking at Photographs”


After reading JERRY UELSMANN’s “Poet’s House”, which is in the book of “LOOKING AT PHOTOGRAPHS”, I am quickly drawn into the idea of ​​synthesized photographs. I really appreciate the point that photographs can be constructed to produce an assembled effect, which the photographer wants the audience to see instead of showing the audience purely realistic photography, which may mis -convey the photographer’s points of view.

One of the examples that I used most for the synthesized photographs is montage.

Montage is a manifestation of freedom. Making good use of montages or collages, in the early stages of design, we architects can get many ideas and inspiration. The essence of collage is the creation of relationship between things. This relationship is not just a juxtaposition of two nearby elements, but also a spatial affiliation. In composition, the height of each collage element, before and after cover, material color, size and so on all related to their hierarchy in the entire collage works. A good collage or montage can portray a less clear story.

For example, Richard Hamilton’s very famous pop art collage “Just What Is It that Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?” (1956). This work is composed of images tailored from American magazines. There are many representatives of elements such as the explosion of multimedia information and the popularization of electrical appliances at that time. The elements create interest and conflict while expressing the author’s ideas. For example, the photo of the earth at the top of the room was taken from the cover of Life Magazine. Although it appears on the ceiling as an irrational phenomenon, it is indeed the result of the development of science and technology at that time. This shows that collages are often humorous.

In the procedure of synthesized photographs, there are many tips. Collage is to construct an order, what is new, what is old, what is important, what is secondary, and what is the role played by people in the scene character of. This information is generated by, but also the audience need to think about.

Appropriate to add some lines to help collage to form a complete space. Simply use the background pattern and white space to distinguish space outside. Another common practice is to use a natural scene or material texture as a material to create a silhouette of people or things. Such silhouettes will carry the emotions and atmosphere of the pictures they contain or reflect some of the characters.

The montage also breaks the perspective and combines the building with a flat map. The two parts interact to show the geographical orientation and at the same time add a visual texture to the map area.

In the model, people are used to represent the scale, while people in the collage can increase the sense of substitution and let the audience see the content of the painting from his perspective.

For the “Builder”, I used several photos of famous architects, who are working at a table. The table becomes the connection and also the center of that scene. Taking the photo of New York city view as the background creates the sense of space. The whole picture then presents a fantasy scene that architects are working together and designing the world.


About The Author: Mu Qiao is a Graduate student enrolled in the School of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Mu Qiao, click here


Also posted in Architecture, Art, Contemporary Architecture, Engineering, Environment, History, Men, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn Photography, UPenn: Photography Students

Grant Wei: An Accurate Painting


Photo: Grant Wei, Copyright 2018


Photography and Text by Grant Wei, Copyright 2018


Book Review


John Szarkowski: Looking at Photographs




Photos as emulations of paintings, creating some sort of misplaced hierarchy between paintings and photographs. Photographs, allegedly, were recreational, while paintings were considered to be fine art. At least, in the first couple of centuries of photography. But in another interpretation, mostly by fascists in Germany, the quality of the art was defined by how realistically it portrayed reality. And in that sense, there can be no greater portrayal of reality than through a photograph.

But some moments cannot be captured by a camera. The feelings associated with a sunset — those are moments that cannot be captured no matter how skilled the photographer. Or any artist, for that matter. There are aspects to a sunset that are seem to be intangible, leaving an artist with a sense of helplessness in capturing the sheer ineffability of the sun. Such a sentiment gave rise to the impressionist movement, which was coincidentally coined Tournachon’s studio. And so, the question is, how do photographers capture things that cannot be captured?

Alvin Langdon Coburn is considered to be one of the first photographers who attempted to capture abstract ideas with his photos. Some notable pictures by him include photos of clouds, which he considered to be oddly poetic in the sense that they only exist in the shape and position they are in at one period in time throughout the entirety of time. In this regard, each photo of a cloud is considered to be a rare photo in the sense that it cannot be replicated in quite the same fashion. In a way, Coburn gave birth to conceptual photography.

While Coburn extrapolated the meaning of clouds to be a series of different worlds, the uniqueness of his cloud photos lies in his interpretation. The photos have meaning behind them; in other words, they have concept in addition to aesthetic. What people can see is a picture of a cloud, but the picture of a cloud is not the photo. Although I do not particularly agree with his analysis of clouds as different worlds, I do appreciate his effort to add a poetic element to his pictures. The clouds are indeed quite beautiful, but to me, the value of a piece of art lies in its concept — not its aesthetic.

I, too, try to create art that is not only aesthetic but also conceptual. Titled: Black Mirror, I wanted to create a sense of existential dystopianism influenced from the Netflix TV series, Black Mirror. Taken in a bathroom of a random pop-up shop in Philadelphia, I wanted to create a sense of dread and confusion. By adding noise and distortions to the photo, I hoped to create a sense of discomfort while maintaining a degree of aesthetics. Because, like the reality of the TV series black mirror, our conception of reality is also warped by a warm filter that prevents us from seeing the nothingness that lies behind.

I saw a black space in a frame, and I saw an accurate reflection of the emptiness of our reality. But simply taking picture of a black picture frame was not adequate to capture my sentiments. I could not communicate my feelings of overwhelming despair with a simple photo, which is why I used Adobe Photoshop to modify the noise and add filters. Not unlike Coburn, I saw a different world in an object we see every day, and I wanted to share my sentiments through something more than an aesthetically pleasing photo.


About The Author: Grant Wei is a Sophomore enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2020. To access additional articles by Grant Wei, click here


Also posted in Art, History, Painting, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn Photography, UPenn: Photography Students