Photographer Lakin Ogunbanwo creates colorful portraits of Nigerian women that are simultaneously majestic and dreamy. Set against gauzy draped backdrops, Ogunbanwo’s subjects are dressed for bridal ceremonies in vibrant lace bodices, sculptural headdresses, and embellished tulle veils. In a statement on the series, the artist describes his use of veiled portraiture “to document the complexity of his culture, and counteract the West’s monolithic narratives of Africa and women.” The series, titled e wá wo mi (“come look at me”), documents “the traditional ceremonial wear of the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa-Fulani tribes, amongst others. Rather than objectively archive these as past-traditions, however, he mimics the pageantry of weddings in present Nigeria.”
e wá wo mi is currently on view at Niki Cryan Gallery, in tandem with another of Ogunbanwo’s series, Are We Good Enough. The exhibition runs from October 14 to November 3, 2019 in Lagos, Nigeria. The photographer’s work has also been featured in The New Yorker and The New York Times, as well as the Grid Photo Biennial in Cape Town, South Africa. See more of Ogunbanwo’s stylized portraiture on Instagram.
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Stark Photographs by Benjamin Dimmitt Show the Ecological Damage of Saltwater Encroachment in Florida’s Wetlands
An Unflinching Look, a documentary photo series by Benjamin Dimmitt, is set in Florida and focuses its gaze on rising sea levels. Dimmitt has been photographing in the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge north of Tampa since 2004, after an initial visit more than 30 years ago.
“The dense palm hammocks and hardwood forests were festooned with ferns and orchids and the fresh water creeks were a clear azure,” Dimmitt tells Colossal. But, around 2011, saltwater began leaching into the creeks, due to rising sea levels and the state’s environmental decision-makers. Florida’s water commissioners allowed more fresh water to be drawn into large-scale inland developments and agricultural interests, leaving less for wetlands in the aquifers that feed these essential ecosystems.
“What had been verdant, semi-tropical forest is now mostly an open plain of grasses relieved by palms and dying hardwood trees,” Dimmitt explains. “In 2014, I began to photograph in the salt-damaged sawgrass savannas and spring creeks there as a way of reckoning with the ecosystem loss and of understanding what has become of my native Florida. I have narrowed my focus to a small, remote area that I know and love. My intention in bearing witness to this loss has been to portray the ruined landscape with respect, nuance and beauty.”
In order to create each photograph, Dimmitt canoes into the wetlands, stepping on to land to set up his tripod when possible, or shooting from his canoe if the water is too deep or land too soft. The selenium-toned gelatin silver prints are created with a medium format camera. Dimmitt grew up in a creative household, and his mother was an abstract painter. She gave the photographer his own camera at age 16, and her aesthetic continues to inform Dimmitt’s own practice to this day.
Because Dimmitt has been working in this region for so long, he is able to show the dramatic changes in the landscape over time, as salt-intolerant vegetation has been wiped out by the encroaching ocean water, as documented in the diptychs shown here. The artist tells Colossal that he has a very direct approach to photography, shooting from his eye and his heart. He sought to channel “a hammer in a velvet glove,” creating compelling images that would draw viewers into the larger issues at stake. As part of his artistic practice, Dimmitt also researched saltwater intrusion and spoke with scientists, activists, state water management officials, and locals to gain a full picture of the situation. For the photographer, the experience of documenting the changes in Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge “has been painful and cathartic for me, evoking grief, anger and feelings of loss and mortality.”
An Unflinching Look is part of a current exhibition, “This is Climate Change,” now on view at Southeast Museum of Photography through October 26, 2019. Explore more of the photographer’s portfolio on his website and Instagram. You can also learn more about the buyouts that state governments in regions impacted by climate change are offering people to leave their homes in an incisive article on Bloomberg, and explore “ghost forests” all along the Eastern seaboard in the New York Times.
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Chicago-based artist Reuben Wu (previously) blurs the lines between photography and art in his unique images. Wu’s work brings him to remote locations around the world to capture rugged landscapes. But rather than focusing on purely documenting local topography, Wu uses lighted drones to create geometric shapes in the air, accenting the natural surroundings. Featured here are images from Wu’s Lux Noctis and Aeroglyphs series, showcasing the artist’s interplay of organic and constructed shapes.
“Lux Noctis started as a means to present landscapes in a different way to conventional photography. The use of artificial lighting in a natural landscape came to me at Trona Pinnacles in 2014 when a random truck drove into my time lapse, unexpectedly illuminating the pinnacles in a way that shouldn’t exist,” Wu tells Colossal. “This expanded into the idea of introducing my own look and feel to a landscape using very nuanced aerial lighting. Rather than rely on the sun, and timing, to light my images, I was able to light it myself, like I would in a studio environment.” For his most recent Lux Noctis images, Wu traveled to Bolivia with sponsorship from Phase One, to use the company’s new XT camera platform.
For Aeroglyphs, the artist draws inspiration from the Land Art movement to create interventions without physically touching the earth. Images from the series are currently on view at photo-eye in Santa Fe, New Mexico through November 16, 2019. A catalogue from the show is available for preorder from Kris Graves Projects. Stay up to date with Wu’s new work and travels on Instagram and Facebook.
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Photographer and Fashion Institute of Technology professor Jessica Wynne has spent the last year documenting the numbers, symbols, and models drawn by mathematicians onto chalkboards. The photos capture the thought processes and physical efforts of professionals in a medium that has been largely abandoned.
Wynne tells Colossal that she enjoys photographing the dusty work surfaces because of “their beauty, mystery and the pleasure of creating a permanent document of something that is ephemeral.” The “Do Not Erase” photo series, soon to be published in a book by Princeton University Press for release in 2020, includes boards from institutions and universities around the world. Wynne hopes that viewers can appreciate the aesthetic of the worked surfaces while “simultaneously appreciating that the work on the board represents something much deeper, beyond the surface.”
Wynne adds that she feels a “kinship” with the mathematicians. “Their imagination guides them and similar to an artist they have the higher aspiration to create, discover, and find truth.” For updates on the release of her book and for more interesting photo series, head over to Jessica Wynne’s website.
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Real and imagined worlds come together in photographer Samy Al Olabi’s nighttime landscapes. Miniature structures like log cabins, light houses, and abandoned ships are set against a backdrop of the United Arab Emirates desert with distant galaxies glimmering in the night sky. Olabi’s lifelong interest in astronomy inspired his professional affinity for astrophotography, along with a sense of wonder and play. The photographer, who is based in Dubai, sets out with an equipment-packed SUV to camp out and shoot his fanciful images on-site. By stitching together multiple photos to get the correct blend of lighting and focus—which he explains in detail on PetaPixel—Olabi’s final images create new visual narratives. See more of the artist’s work on Instagram and Facebook. (via PetaPixel)
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Still life photographer Ellen Cantor meditates on memories imbued in familiar objects. In her series ‘Prior Pleasures’, Cantor uses her childhood book collection to create multiple exposure images documenting the literary loves of her youth. Each image features a single book on a black background, with the pages ablur between the illustrations, cover, and end page art.
The photographer shares that she finds inspiration in Abelardo Morell’s camera obscura work, challenging her to “explore the myth of the photographic truth and… create a new way of looking at childhood icons.” Cantor seeks to capture the pleasure of losing oneself within the page of a book, a tactile experience that has become more rare with the advent of e-readers and the competing content on smartphones.
“My photographs are about time, loss and memory. I seek to understand how life proceeds and then ultimately disappears, the artist explains. “I document the artifacts of the past to enrich the present. I am interested in reimagining the family photo album and objects that hold personal histories in order to explore the distillation and persistence of memory.”
Cantor is based in southern California, and is represented by dnj gallery and Susan Spiritus Gallery in California and Truth + Beauty in Vancouver. The ‘Prior Pleasures’ series was most recently exhibited at the West Hollywood Library in spring 2019. You can explore more of Cantor’s memory-soaked photography on her website.
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Photographer Shin Noguchi spends his time, camera in hand, in Japan’s public spaces, observing and seeking out candid moments that reflect the humorous, heartbreaking, and bizarre realities of the human experience. Noguchi shares with Colossal that he values the existential affirmation of human life that he gleans from his work, accepting his and others’ situations as they are. The artist shies away from the term ‘street photographer’, as he views his work as more of a sociological experience.
“To shoot people with a camera is, for me, is like saying hello,” the photographer explains. “Sometime I use my mouth for it, sometime I use my eyes, and sometimes my camera, that’s it. I just really enjoy ‘talking’ or making conversation with people in the street, and if I use a camera for it, I always use the viewfinder; I never use hip-shots to hide myself.”
Noguchi tells Colossal that he was raised in a very creative household, and quickly fell in love with photography as a teen when his father gave him an old Fujica camera. Of the innumerable memorable moments Noguchi has encountered over the years, two memories stand out in particular.
After an exhausting day one February, in which the photographer had spent four hours shooting during heavy snowfall in Kamakura, he passed by a life-size mascot of a Kentucky Fried Chicken store, with the snow-crested Colonel Sanders offering a quiet, seemingly reassuring smile. On another winter’s day, Noguchi observed a craftsman carrying dozens of shoji (paper-paned interior doors) out of a Shibakoen temple for routine re-covering. Growing tired from his repetitive labors, the man finally punched a hole in the paper to make the shoji easier to carry.
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Editor's Picks: Photography
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