Category Archives: Cameras

Leif Skoogfors: Interview

 

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LEIF SKOOGFORS INTERVIEW:

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TW: When did you first realize your vocation would be to become a photojournalist? Who or what influences in your life early on led you down this path?

LS:  The weekly arrival of LIFE magazine, in those days a respected and worldly periodical showed me the world. I saved up to buy a 1958 book on LIFE’s photo staff and was fascinated by the adventures the men and women who worked for LIFE were.

Politics and world events were part of my blood; my father, a Swedish engineer, had worked for a time in Germany. He was in Prussia as Hitler tried his Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. After he returned to Sweden, he was consumed by news about the Finish-Soviet Winter War of 1939, and my father, who had worked in the US, decided his family was best raised there. Three months after the German invasion of Poland, he packed us up, and we emigrated to the US, so current events were subject to daily analysis.

My interest in world events and politics was consuming, and photojournalism combined all of this with art. It was the ultimate answer for me.

TW: What impact did studying with Alex Brodovitch have on your approach to photography and photojournalism in particular?

LS: I’m not sure I fully understood Brodovitch at first. He said to the twenty-plus students who met in Richard Avedon’s studio, he would only talk about photographs that were new to him; or were so terrible as to raise his anger. He ignored the mediocre. And most of my work was mediocre. It led to a healthy self-criticism. There is a push to go beyond, even in the most ordinary projects. And that is an invaluable lesson!

TW: As I reviewed the breadth of your work for this interview, it became readily apparent that the themes you addressed in your visual reporting from 40 years ago are very relevant to the types of demonstrations, marches and protests we see currently on the American streets and throughout the world. What are your thoughts about the Trump administration and the propaganda the white house espouses these days?


LS:
I photographed Donal Trump once, at first as other journalists have written about, he pretended to be his own press agent under another name. I arrived at his Atlantic City casino and asked for the press agent by name, John Miller. A tall blond haired man came down the stairs and I said,”Hi John, good to meet you”. The man scowled and said, “I’m Donald Trump.” We didn’t get along well since I didn’t really know who Donald Trump was. An ego jolt?

More eloquent folks have analyzed The Trump White House. It is clear it sucks. And it is incredibly sad that the current demonstrations must go on to force more change. I’m sorry that my current situation won’t allow me to be out there still.

TW: What was the most exciting assignment you worked on where you believe your photographs may have influenced public opinion for the good of mankind?

LS: I’m not sure my photographs influenced people; I know I tried in my book, “The Most Natural Thing in the World,” done a long time ago. I tried to show the situation there, and the poor folks caught in the middle of a bitter war. Recently a journalist said that the essay in the book, text by friends John and Lenore Cooney, was the most accurate depiction” of “The Troubles” he’d ever seen.

 Just two years ago, I had an appointment with a doctor who had emigrated from Bosnia. When I told her of my time there, she was effusive in thanking me. She said that it was the journalists who covered that terrible war, influencing the US and NATO to come in and enforce a Peace. It made me realize how important the work we do is, helping end a war with the highest mass killings of civilians in Europe since WW2 .

TW:  You have spent a significant amount of your time working with the DART Society and the effects of war and its aftermath. How has seeing so much death and destruction impacted your life and well being?

LS: One of the most severe problems facing any journalist covering current events; from a war zone or a local car crash is Post Traumatic Stress. Estimates range from 15 to 30 percent of photographers who face horrific situations will have to deal with these issues. If not treated, the photographer may experience a lifetime of problems.

I suffered from a severe attack years after covering the irregular war, known as “The Troubles,” in Northern Ireland. Fortunately, I’d also attended a workshop on Post Traumatic Stress given by the Dart Center and found treatment.

I’ve volunteered with this and other groups to raise funds for groups helping journalists both to understand PTSD or receive counseling.

TW: What advice can you offer the young photojournalist who has the compassion to document tragedy?

LS: I would advise any young photojournalist always to be prepared to offer compassion or help when covering traumatic events. Often, just letting a subject you know the pain they may be suffering will help. And never be afraid to ask for help yourself.

TW: If you were to start your career over again, what would you do differently if anything?

LS: If I was starting my career over, what fun would that be! I’d wish for the opportunity for an excellent liberal arts education and add another language and some decent art courses. Drawing is a fast way to learn about two-dimensional work, and that’s what a photograph is all about.

TW:  Now that you are retired from the grind of day to day photojournalism, what is a typical day like for you since you had the recent health challenge?

LS: Unfortunately, I’ve suffered some health challenges, not to mention the infuriating limitations of advancing age. But I try to spend as much time going over my archive in anticipation of placing it with the University of Texas. I love finding a beautiful photo I’d overlooked in the past, something that surprises me. I also realize that my work covers history and I’m proud to have worked during the “golden age of journalism.”

TW:  Who is your favorite photographer and why?

LS: Too many, I fear. Among them, Cartier-Bresson for his “Decisive Moment,” Gene Smith for his passion, and Jacques Henri Lartigue for his sense of humor. Ed van der Elsken also influenced me, perhaps with the romanticism of his book “Love on the Left Bank.” I still have the first edition of that work from 1954.

TW:  How would you like to be remembered?

As one of the hardest working photojournalists!

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Portrait of Leif Skoogfors with Special Warfare unit.

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About The Photographer: Leif Skoogfors (born 1940 in Wilmington, Delaware) is a documentary photographer and educator. He was born in Wilmington, Delaware, one month after his family, including brothers Olaf and Eric, fled Sweden as World War II broke out. His family crossed the North Atlantic in December 1939 on a neutral Norwegian ship.

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Editor’s Note: Licensing of photographs available through Getty Images. Leif Skoogfors, Copyright 2020.

 

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Huiping Tina Zhong: Captivity

Photography and Text by Huiping Tina Zhong, Copyright 2020

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Captivity

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I have been following the update of the COVID-19 crisis since the very beginning when it was first discovered in China. Because I’m a Chinese international student, I’ve been worrying about my family and friends back home, although I did not expect that crisis to hit the US so soon and so hard, given that there were plentiful time for the government to execute precautions since the breakout in China in early January. I was in immense frustration, anger and sadness for the beginning of the social isolation period, yet now that intense emotions have passed, I’m increasingly aware of the fact that I’m not only physically trapped in my tiny apartment, but also am emotionally trapped in my lack of motivation and in my lethargy. Many have encouraged the public to face the current crisis with a positive attitude, yet it occurred to me that it was important to ponder negative feelings. Pondering and taking in these sensations in isolation is not only important for personal development, but also necessary for the progress of a society. Therefore, I shot these series of 24 pictures in my apartment to sit with the self that feels trapped.

When one is trapped, the positive thing is that one actually gets to spend more time with objects and self. As one observes the quotidian objects from different angles, the structures of these objects start to deconstruct. As their geometrical and linear structures get foregrounded, objects lose their identities while acquiring new poetic sensibilities. 

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About The Author:  Huiping Tina Zhong is a senior majoring in Art History at Bryn Mawr College. To access additional articles by Huiping Tina Zhong, click here: https://tonyward.com/iceland/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, commentary, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, Haverford College, Health Care, Photography, Popular Culture, Science, Student Life, Women

Tatiana Lathion: Silence Among Chaos

 

Photography and Text by Tatiana Lathion, Copyright 2020

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Silence Among Chaos

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It is spring in the year 2020. The world is silent, as the pandemic has forced the voices of the people inside. For me, the pandemic has sent me back to my hometown of Ponte Vedra, Florida. This is the place that saw me ride a bike for the first time and the place that I said goodbye to my parents four years ago as I made my way to Pennsylvania for college. I grew up here, saw the infrastructure grow over the years and experienced the excitement of southern hospitality. My house was the place I went to sleep in and every waking minute was spent outside in the sun. The only memories spent indoors over the years were during hurricane season in which the howl of the wind and rain were too dangerous to be experienced outside. 

During this quarantine, my experience of this town has changed drastically. The once crowded restaurants, boardwalks and beaches now lay empty. The people I interact with are limited to just my mom, dad, and dog. In this series of images, I focused on this concept of emptiness and isolation juxtaposed with the growth that occurs in the absence of humans. The beaches and nature seem unbothered by the lack of people while the existing infrastructure seems out of place with nobody to utilize it. While the lasting impacts of this prolonged isolation are yet to be realized, the moments of joy throughout this process have been truly rewarding.

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About The Author: Tatiana Lathion is a senior enrolled at Haverford College majoring in Political Science and Government. To access additional articles by Tatiana Lathion, click here:https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/barbara-kruger/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Film, Friends of TWS, Haverford College, lifestyle, Photography, Science, Student Life, Travel, Women

Athena Intanate: Vacancies

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Vacancies by Athena Intanate, Copyright 2020

 

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Vacancies

I’ve never met a Bangkok this quiet – devoid of the hustle and bustle, the monotonous hum of vehicles, the faint smell of smog lingering in the air. I’ve never met a Bangkok where motorbike taxi drivers linger in their stations, idling, waiting in apprehensiveness for a customer; where roadside street stores don’t burst open with hungry lunchtime customers; where delivery drivers outnumber sit-in patrons.

And yet, can you ever truly hollow out a city?

Signs of life and normalcy exist even within the quiet: clothing still gets hung on lines; garbage bags still need collecting; restaurants still cook dishes that we all know and love. Even if I returned to a city that I had trouble recognizing, it didn’t mean that it was no longer the same city. People often tend to forget that we do not all have the luxury of self-isolating and self-quarantining in tumultuous times like this; for many, life has to go on. And life does go on, in the same cyclical cycles that it always has. Life grows; the absence of one thing sometimes leads to the flourishing of another.

In that sense, ‘Vacancies’ isn’t about true vacancies at all. Rather, it is about how perceived emptiness can sometimes actually be full of life, can still hold hints of existence and the what-once-was. Just like each individual photo is constrained in black, we too have become boxed into very selective views of our current world and lives. We’ve coloured in our blinkers, sometimes in bleaker shades than they should be. As I walked around the city creating this project, I came to realise this the most. That the memories of the city I love haven’t been lost – they’ve simply been put on a halt. The remains are still there but quieted, limited in their former capacities.

It simply waits for us to reach out once again, and press the amplify button.

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About the Author: Athena Intanate is a freshman enrolled at Haverford College, Class of 2023. To access additional articles by Athena Intanate, click here: https://tonyward.com/nan-goldin/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Architecture, Art, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Film, Friends of TWS, Haverford College, History, lifestyle, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Student Life, Travel, Women

Joy Bao: Inside Out

 

Photography and Text by Joy Bao, Copyright 2020

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Inside Out

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I have always considered myself as a homebody. At the beginning of self isolation this spring, however, I felt the longing to go outside desperately. “Home”, a word that represents warmth and comfort, also becomes a kind of burden that restricts our activity. After a few weeks into this life style, I began to get used to it and took it as a chance to reexamine my living space.

The dorm I currently live in is also my freshman dorm. At that time, I lived in the basement and the window in my room was higher than normal, resulting in significantly less natural lighting inside. I hated that room. I also learned how important, for me, the windows and natural light are. Especially nowadays, windows become the closest and most literal connection we have with the outside world. They frame in different views, make our indoor spaces less dull and more fresh.

In this series, I focused on the indoor spaces and the presence of windows. We walk pass all these windows everyday, but not every time we would stop and look outside. The views are always unique, depending on the time of the day, but also the different angles we have when looking at them. I also wanted to use this chance to observe the natural lighting that comes through windows. I found the backlighting in some of these pictures fascinating, as the effect that it creates resonates with my image of cinema. When I stand in a dark room and look at the bright world outside, it is almost as if I am looking at someone else’s life in another world. During special times like this, it is very easy to feel the disconnection with the world around us. While windows build and create the connection for us, they can also enhance that isolating atmosphere.

I also tried to capture the stillness and quietness in these spaces. Modern life seems to always involve a fast-paced schedule, but now is the time for us to take a moment and look at where we are. I hope this set of pictures provides the viewer a chance to reflect on living spaces and the relationship with the outside world, as well as a reminder for all the beautiful moments scattered around us that we have missed before.

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About The Author: Joy Bao is a senior enrolled at Bryn Mawr College. Class of 2020. To access additional articles by Joy Bao, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/sensational-

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