Blanketing much of Ghana’s landscape is Lake Volta, an artificial reservoir with the largest surface area in the world. The enormous body of water spans from the southern part of the African country through the northern region and is contained by the Akosombo Dam, which generates much of the nation’s electricity.
Despite the stunning environment and rich surrounding landscape, the lake has a sinister side that photographer Jeremy Snell captures in a new book, titled Boys of Volta. “Thousands of children work in its massive fishing industry—and many of these children are trafficked into labor,” a statement about the project says. Through intimate and impactful shots, the Brooklyn-based photographer peers into the lives of young boys who wade into the tree-speckled water with swathes of fishing nets. Snell writes about the project:
The trafficking of children and child labor in this region has a lot to do with the complex economic and social history of the Ghanaians residing around the lake. Young children are targeted for fishing because of their mobility and small hands for untangling nets. This series hopes to capture some of the solitude and innocence of young children entrapped in this reality.
Individual prints and the book compiling Snell’s series are currently available from Setanta Books with ten percent of proceeds going to International Justice Mission, a global organization that strives to end slavery, police abuse, and violence against women and children. Follow Snell’s projects that document life around the world on Instagram. (via Creative Boom)
Share this story
Interview: Photographer Jem Cresswell Speaks to the Intimacy and Humility of Documenting Humpback Whales
For years, Sydney-based photographer Jem Cresswell (previously) has been diving into the ocean to document the otherwise unseen lives of humpback whales, a humbling experience he recounts in the latest interview supported by Colossal Members. He discusses what drew him to the mammalian subject matter and how collaborating with them during a long period has offered insight into their complex natures.
There is very little you can control underwater—you are at the mercy of the elements—and of the wildlife. You can’t force a natural interaction with a wild animal, which makes it all the more rewarding when everything comes together.
In this conversation, contributor Anna Marks speaks with Cresswell about the pressures of working underwater, capturing the unique personalities of individual animals, and building relationships between species.
Share this story
A Massive Octopus and Floating Fish Comprise the Imaginary Universe in Ted Chin's Surreal Composites
In Ted Chin’s surreal dreamland, it’s not uncommon to see massive anglerfish swimming through the sky or a figure scooping up shooting stars. The San Francisco-based artist merges idyllic landscapes and outdoor scenes with fantastical details, choosing to upturn an evergreen in mid-air or position an oversized octopus underneath a floating house. Simultaneously uncanny and calming, the composites are eye-catching and rooted in imagination. “There are things in the world that inspire childlike wonder and awe, and it is my passion to recreate and share them with the world,” the artist says.
All of the digital works here, which blend stock images and Chin’s own shots, fall under the scope of Ted’s Little Dream, the fictional universe that the artist created years ago and continues to work within. “Storytelling has always been something that inspired me. When I was in grad school, I was not able to travel as much as I wanted to,” he says. “I’ve always dreamed about visiting different places, to see and experience new things, and to tell stories.”
If you’re a Photoshop user, you’ve probably spotted Chin’s cloudy flamingo work (shown below) as part of the 2021 Photoshop splash screen. To dive further into his meditative universe, head to Instagram, and pick up a print from his shop.
Share this story
Heji Shin has ruffled more than a few feathers in her career through provocative and, at times, controversial photographs of infamous celebrities, crowning babies, and explicit scenes that display the rawness and vitality of her subjects. Born in South Korea, the German photographer recently turned her lens on a particularly antagonistic bunch of roosters in her series Big Cocks. Shot in her distinctly discomfiting and emphatic style, the photographs are strikingly masculine and aggressive, documenting the birds as they screech, splay their claws, and do karate-style leaps into the air.
In a recent interview, Shin writes that while the portraits exude passion, they stray from the more systemic and militaristic views of violence we often see. “The short-lived outbursts of angry cock energy look Hellenistic and virile,” she says.
The photographer is represented by Reena Spaulings in New York, where Big Cocks was recently on display, and you can view a larger collection of her work on the gallery’s site and her Instagram. (via Contemporary Art Daily)
Share this story
To introduce her new body of work, Rachael Talibart writes that “the rhythm of the tides, tethered to the waxing and waning of the moon, shapes our very sense of time.” The U.K.-based photographer captures the ebb and flow of the English coastline through photographs that frame both erupting waves and the days surrounding violent storms. An extension of her previous collection that framed what appears to be otherworldly creatures jumping from the water, Talibart’s recent work has culminated in a book titled Tides and Tempests.
While her subject matter is similar, she shares with Colossal that limiting herself to southern coastlines has been fruitful. “I think that what at first may seem like a restriction has actually made me more creative—it has forced me to dig deeper and look for images where I might perhaps not have found them if I was more of a generalist,” she says.
While Tides and Tempests at times displays the mythical qualities and creatures of the water, it also includes the quieter moments. Talibart writes that this broader focus has taught her patience and to find as much interest and delight in the slow sunsets and discarded shells as the frenzied storms. She expands on how the lengthy and varied story of the ocean has shifted her view of time:
The tidal cycle, the sound of waves, the shapes carved by wind and water on the shore, the call of sea birds, the curl of seafoam around a pebble, the shape of a shell, these all have a rhythm or pattern that I find both energizing and soothing. But they don’t always reveal themselves to you straight away—you have to be willing to invest time.
If you’re in the U.K., Talibart teaches photography workshops that focus on various aspects of her coastal subject matter. Otherwise, pick up a copy of Tides and Tempests, which features more than 120 images, from Kozu Books, and follow Talibart on Instagram.
Share this story
“Family is intrinsic to my creativity,” says Ismail Zaidy about his photographic practice that’s grounded in color, emotion, and various aspects of Moroccan culture. In many of his conceptual images, Zaidy’s brother and sister serve as models positioned among swathes of pastel fabrics or balancing between taught ropes. Shot against the sandy backdrops of windswept deserts, each photograph amplifies movement and an interplay between light and shadow.
Pairing with the abstract and minimal aesthetic, Zaidy uses simple editing tools and only the camera on a Samsung Galaxy S5. He draws on his passion for color through silks, cotton, and other textiles that evoke the imagery of his upbringing. “When I was a kid, I used to live in a modest area in Marrakech where I was watching the way the women would wear their fabrics, hike and djellaba out on the streets. These women are still a huge inspiration for me today,” he says.
Although the involvement of Zaidy’s siblings began out of necessity when others weren’t available, they continue to offer direction and insight into the concepts, which the 23-year-old photographer explains:
I’m trying to shine a light on certain subjects. A lack of communication, distance between siblings and their parents, and family estrangement are problems that affect many but are rarely talked about. I am trying to treat this issue throughout my work in a poetic way, showing that family is one of the most valuable gifts in our lives.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Photography
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.