Rockstar Photographers: Luke Evans and Josh Lake & Their Insides

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Photographers Luke Evans and Josh Lake made creative use of 35 mm film by swallowing it to see how their digestive systems process it. The piece, titled, “I Turn Myself Inside Out,” began when the team put film strips inside a brightly-colored capsule (to avoid damage to their colons) and swallowed them.

Eventually they excreted the film, sorted out the tablets, used fixer on the film and scanned it with an electron microscope. They blew up the resulting images into massive black-and-white prints, showing the details of the body at work.

“..these are not light based, but are images of the damages, bumps, scratches, deposits made by our bodies on an otherwise smooth film. This was not a *photographic* process, it was an experimentation to see how such a widely used and historic medium could be used alternatively. There was no way of telling at the beginning if it would work without trying it. It took a long time, and a lot of problem solving for us to achieve these images and not kill ourselves in the process.”
-Luke Evans via Creative Review

[via Huffington Post]

Rockstar Photographers: Steve Gschmeissner & The Bug Portraits

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Scientific photographer Steve Gschmeissner uses a Micrograph or a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) to capture various specimens at up to a million times their original size:

Larva of a Bluebottle Fly (Protophormia sp.)

Wasp (order Hymenoptera).

Honey Bee (Apis sp.)

Yellow Dung Fly (Scatophaga stercoraria).

Dog Flea (Ctenocephalides canis).

Tropical Caterpillar (order Lepidoptera).

Common Housefly (Musca domestica).

More photos here [via The Telegraph].

Rockstar Photographers: Chris Jordan & The Baby Albatross

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Photographer Chris Jordan gives us an intimate view of the challenges that these baby albatrosses face. From Mr. Jordan’s website:

“On Midway Atoll, a remote cluster of islands more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent, the detritus of our mass consumption surfaces in an astonishing place: inside the stomachs of thousands of dead baby albatrosses. The nesting chicks are fed lethal quantities of plastic by their parents, who mistake the floating trash for food as they forage over the vast polluted Pacific Ocean.

For me, kneeling over their carcasses is like looking into a macabre mirror. These birds reflect back an appallingly emblematic result of the collective trance of our consumerism and runaway industrial growth. Like the albatross, we first-world humans find ourselves lacking the ability to discern anymore what is nourishing from what is toxic to our lives and our spirits. Choked to death on our waste, the mythical albatross calls upon us to recognize that our greatest challenge lies not out there, but in here.”

A documentary is in the works as well – watch the (heartbreaking) trailer and support Mr. Jordan’s cause:

MIDWAY : trailer : a film by Chris Jordan from Midway on Vimeo.

Rockstar Photographers: Alain Delorme & The Shanghai Totems

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Photos :: Totems by Alain Delorme

“These towering loads – or “totems”, as Delorme calls them – are symbols of both a bustling boomtown and a reminder that the country’s economic leaps forward have depended on the hard graft of an army of workers. At first glance, these workers are the Herculean heroes of this brave new world, able to balance and heave huge loads. But linger longer and Delorme’s images take on a different dimension. “After a while I had the feeling that the objects they carried swallowed them,” he reveals. These pictures aren’t an ode to consumerism, then, but a reflection of our slavish clamoring for endless piles of goods. Look closer still, and the loads seem to teeter at crazy angles, defying gravity. The piles have, in fact, been digitally exaggerated to question their role in the world’s fastest-growing economy. “I wanted to show how small, traditional jobs in Shanghai life may soon disappear,” explains Delorme – replaced, that is, by gleaming transport trucks bought by a city in hot pursuit of modernity.”

Text :: Adam Jacques :: Shanghai’s Totems of Consumerism :: The Independent :: April 2011

Rockstar Photographers: James Mollison & Where Children Sleep

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Photographer James Mollison spent more than three years traveling the world and getting glimpses of where all sorts of children spend the night. He documented his findings in the book “Where Children Sleep,” published by Chris Boot. Here is a sampling of Mollison’s images and excerpts from the captions found in his fascinating book:

Kaya, 4, Tokyo
Kaya’s bedroom is lined from floor to ceiling with clothes and dolls. Kaya’s mother makes all Kaya’s dresses – up to three a month, usually.

Bilal, 6, the West Bank
Bilal’s family are Bedouin Arabs. Their home is a one-roomed shack they built themselves in Wadi Abu Hindi on the West Bank.

Indira, 7, Katmandu, Nepal
Indira’s house has only one room. At bedtime, she and her brother and sister share a mattress on the floor. Indira has worked at the local granite quarry since she was 3.

Alyssa, 8, Harlan County, Kentucky
Alyssa lives with her parents in Kentucky. Their small, shabby house, heated only by a wooden stove, is falling apart.

Dong, 9, Yunnan, China
Dong shares a room with his sister and parents. They are a poor family who own just enough land to grow their own rice and sugar cane.

Alex, 9, Rio de Janeiro
Alex does not go to school but spends his time begging on the city streets. Most of the time he sleeps outside, on an empty bench or discarded sofa if he can find one – otherwise on the pavement.

Jaime, 9, New York City
Jaime lives in a top-floor apartment on Fifth Avenue. His parents also own luxury homes in Spain and in the Hamptons on Long Island.

Delanie, 9, New Jersey
Delanie lives with her parents and younger brother and sister in a large house. The children all have their own bedrooms.

Joey, 11, Kentucky
Joey regularly accompanies his father on hunts. He owns two shotguns and a crossbow and made his first kill – a deer – at the age of 7. “Even his teddy bear was camouflaged,” photographer James Mollison noted in a telephone interview.

Nantio, 15, Kenya
Nantio is a member of the Rendille tribe. She has two brothers and two sisters. Her home in Lisamis, northern Kenya, is a tent-like dome made from cattle hide and plastic, with little room to stand.

The book is written and presented for an audience of 9-13 year olds’  intended to interest and engage children in the details of the lives of other children around the world, and the social issues affecting them, while also being a serious photographic essay for an adult audience.

View many more photos at

Rockstar Photographers: Pieter Hugo & The Hyena Men


Follow along as photographer Pieter Hugo recounts his time spent with Nigeria’s Hyena Men:

These photographs came about after a friend emailed me this image taken on a cellphone through a car window in Lagos, Nigeria, which depicted a group of men walking down the street with a hyena in chains. A few days later I saw the image reproduced in a South African newspaper with the caption ‘The Streets of Lagos’. Nigerian newspapers reported that these men were bank robbers, bodyguards, drug dealers, debt collectors. Myths surrounded them. The image captivated me.

Through a journalist friend I eventually tracked down a Nigerian reporter, Adetokunbo Abiola, who said that he knew the ‘Gadawan Kura’ as they are known in Hausa (a rough translation: ‘hyena handlers/guides’). A few weeks later I was on a plane to Lagos. Abiola met me at the airport and together we took a bus to Benin City where the ‘hyena men’ had agreed to meet us. However, when we got there they had already departed for Abuja.

In Abuja we found them living on the periphery of the city in a shantytown – a group of men, a little girl, three hyenas, four monkeys and a few rock pythons. It turned out that they were a group of itinerant minstrels, performers who used the animals to entertain crowds and sell traditional medicines. The animal handlers were all related to each other and were practising a tradition passed down from generation to generation. I spent eight days travelling with them.

The spectacle caused by this group walking down busy market streets was overwhelming. I tried photographing this but failed, perhaps because I wasn’t interested in their performances. I realised that what I found fascinating was the hybridisation of the urban and the wild, and the paradoxical relationship that the handlers have with their animals – sometimes doting and affectionate, sometimes brutal and cruel. I started looking for situations where these contrasting elements became apparent. I decided to concentrate on portraits. I would go for a walk with one of the performers, often just in the city streets, and, if opportunity presented itself, take a photograph. We travelled around from city to city, often chartering public mini-buses.

I agreed to travel with the animal wranglers to Kanu in the northern part of the country. One of them set out to negotiate a fare with a taxi driver; everyone else, including myself and the hyenas, monkeys and rock pythons, hid in the bushes. When their companion signalled that he had agreed on a fare, the motley troupe of humans and animals leapt out from behind the bushes and jumped into the vehicle. The taxi driver was completely horrified. I sat upfront with a monkey and the driver. He drove like an absolute maniac. At one stage the monkey was terrified by his driving. It grabbed hold of my leg and stared into my eyes. I could see its fear.

Two years later I decided to go back to Nigeria. The project felt unresolved and I was ready to engage with the group again. I look back at the notebooks I had kept while with them. The words ‘dominance’, ‘codependence’ and ‘submission’ kept appearing. These pictures depict much more than an exotic group of travelling performers in West Africa. The motifs that linger are the fraught relationships we have with ourselves, with animals and with nature. The second trip was very different. By this stage there was a stronger personal relationship between myself and the group. We had remained in contact and they were keen to be photographed again. The images from this journey are less formal and more intimate.

The first series of pictures had caused varying reactions from people – inquisitiveness, disbelief and repulsion. People were fascinated by them, just as I had been by that first cellphone photograph. A director of a large security company in the USA contacted me, asking how to get in touch with the ‘hyena group’. He saw marketing potential: surely these men must use some type of herb to protect themselves against hyenas, baboons, dogs and snakes? He thought that security guards, soldiers and his own pocket could benefit from this medicine.

Many animal-rights groups also contacted me, wanting to intervene (however, the keepers have permits from the Nigerian government). When I asked Nigerians, “How do you feel about the way they treat animals”, the question confused people. Their responses always involved issues of economic survival. Seldom did anyone express strong concern for the well-being of the creatures. Europeans invariably only ask about the welfare of the animals but this question misses the point. Instead, perhaps, we could ask why these performers need to catch wild animals to make a living. Or why they are economically marginalised. Or why Nigeria, the world’s sixth largest exporter of oil, is in such a state of disarray.

Text and photos by Pieter Hugo, an award winning photographer living in South Africa. Check out more at The Hyena & Other Men. [Some website content is not suitable for young children.]