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table of contents
L E T T E R FR O M T HE E DI TO R S
Fe d e ric o Ve spig nani
24 Matth ias Van D romme K UPA-P ITI
L A DISTANCIA
A L I LAPE T I N A, R E VI ST E D
A l ex B l a ck YO U N G+R E S O LU T E
C o dy Co bb W EST
Photo © Cody Cobb
M a r i l i s a Co s el l o C O MPLE AN N O ( BI RT HDAY)
Miish a Nash
Ch ristian We rne r RUBBL E AND DELUSION
Ryan Walker VOICES IN TH E WIL DERNESS
TH E WIL D ONES PART 1
Noe la Roib ás LOVE AF TER TH E QUAK E
32 20 Laure nc e Kub ski DOMESTICAT E
Portfolio of One SARAH BL ESENER
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT John McGeary
LETTER FROM THE EDITORs
VICE PRESIDENT/PUBLISHER, PHOTO+ Lauren Wendle DIRECTOR, CREATIVE SERVICES Moneer Masih-Tehrani MANAGING EDITOR Jacqui Palumbo
This is the seventh issue of Emerging Photographer we’ve published since its rebirth as a submission-based magazine in 2014, and the photographers in this issue will join the group of more than 70 talented individuals we’ve since featured. We hope you’ll get comfortable while ﬂipping through the magazine and let the work take you on a journey. In these pages, you’ll head out to the American West with Cody Cobb, follow a forensic anthropologist in El Salvador with Federico Vespignani, step into the homes of parrot caretakers in the UK with Miisha Nash, observe an intimate relationship in Nepal with Noela Roibás, go into the underground homes of Australia’s Coober Pedy with Matthias Van Dromme, walk with Christian Werner through the day-to-day lives of those living in war zones in Syria, and travel with Ryan Walker to a remote “off-grid” island off the coast of Canada. We also feature conceptual ﬁne-art work from Laurence Kubski and Marilisa Cosello, as well as a portrait series from Alex Black. We also catch up with previously featured photographers Ali Lapetina (“Ali Lapetina, Revisited”) and Sarah Blesener (“Portfolio of One”), two incredibly talented documentarians. If you’d like to catch up on previous issues, you can visit pdnonline.com/emerging-photographer to read them online (for free) or order copies. If you’d like to submit to Emerging, our next submission period will open in November at emergingphotographer.com. –Jacqui Palumbo & Taryn Swadba
ASSOCIATE EDITOR Taryn Swadba COPY EDITOR Elissa Hunter ART DIRECTOR Kelly Holodak CONTRIBUTORS Lindsay Comstock, Brienne Walsh PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Daniel Ryan CIRCULATION Lori Golczewski SUBMISSION SUPPORT Brad Arshinoff, Brad Kuhns, Reiko Matsuo EMERGING PHOTOGRAPHER JURY Moneer Masih-Tehrani, Jacqui Palumbo, Taryn Swadba, Libby Peterson (Features Editor, Rangeﬁnder), Conor Risch (Senior Editor, PDN), Rebecca Robertson (Photo Editor, PDN) ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Mark Brown (646) 668-3702 SHOW DIRECTOR Mike Gangel (646) 668-3717 SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Lori Reale (858) 204-8956, Jon McLoughlin (646) 668-3746 ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Dennis Tyhacz (646) 668-3779
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A PUBLICATION OF
Pictured: Salvadoran criminologist Israel Ticas shows pictures he has received by family members of missing loved ones. Photographer Federico Vespignani shadowed Ticas for two months for his series "La Distancia."
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Photo © Ali Lapetina alilapetina.com
Ali Lapetina, Revisited
The community-oriented photographer discusses her work for the Detroit Achievement Academy.
e previously featured Ali Lapetina for her body of work on Bangladeshi immigrants in Detroit—it's just one of the many projects she's worked on in her native city that shed light on a local community. Over the years, she has photographed the students of the Detroit Achievement Academy, a public charter school that empowers kids—and their families—to succeed. Emerging Photographer: How were you introduced to the Detroit Achievement Academy? Ali Lapetina: I was introduced to DAA when I saw their Kickstarter campaign a few months before they opened their doors for the ﬁrst time. EP: How long have you been photographing this body of work? AL: I started this body of work ﬁve years ago on Detroit Achievement Academy's ﬁrst day of school. Ever since, I have been photographing [their] students' growth a few times each year. EP: What is it about the school that sparked
your interest in a long-term project? What is unique about the Academy? AL: I heard about the Brightmoor neighborhood of Detroit, but never visited until learning about the school’s opening. I broke down because of the familiar landscape I witnessed from my recent trip to Haiti—the neighborhood felt ignored. Detroit Achievement Academy's presence and the founder's dedication to not only the children attending the school, but the parents, too, was inspiring. The school specializes in project-based learning, provides three meals a day and offers employment opportunities to students' parents. EP: How does this series ﬁt into your overall portfolio? AL: I’m inspired by stories of communities, the obstacles they face and how they face them. The Brightmoor neighborhood captured my interest and I wanted to see how the new school affected it. EP: Where have the images appeared? AL: The photographs have appeared on The
Ellen DeGeneres Show, in Detroit newspapers and on Chalkbeat. EP: What are your hopes for the series? AL: My hope for this series is that it creates a conversation about the importance of educational expectations and opportunities for black children in America. Kids [who live] in poverty succeed if given the right resources. I would love to see the work published in a book that shares this story of hope, [given] Detroit Public Schools' current educational climate. –Interview by Jacqui Palumbo
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— Alex Black —
Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Mark III; Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM, EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM + additional camera
Alex Black is constantly on the lookout for people who use fashion as a means of selfexpression. When someone catches her eye on the street, she approaches him or her and asks if they’d like to be photographed in her studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn. “It’s not just about getting their photos, it’s about getting to know them as people,” she says. “I ﬁnd bringing them into the studio gives me that space and intimacy.” If she’s unable to bring someone in, she memorizes their look and re-creates it on
someone else. “All styled portraits stay true to the model, considering they are also a unique individual,” she says. The portraits belong to her series “Young+Resolute,” which she began in the fall of 2016. At the time, she was working toward her MPS at the School of Visual Arts; she has since graduated, and is making her living photographing for magazines such as i-D. In this series, her subjects are shot against earth-toned backdrops, and, like Renaissance-era portraiture, a rich history
about each subject is contained in their facial expressions, the style of their hair, the way they turn their torsos toward the camera. Black has thus far only shot subjects in New York, though she plans to scout for portraits in Montreal, Los Angeles and Tokyo in the upcoming year. She envisions the series more as a blog than a book. “If I make it into a book, it will feel ﬁnished, but for me this work will never be ﬁnished.” —Brienne Walsh
Photos © Alex Black alexblackphoto.com
— Cody Cobb —
Cody Cobb’s background in design affects the way he sees color and shapes in landscapes. “I see structure where there is no structure,” he says. “I ﬁnd these alignments.” Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Cobb has spent the last 12 years working in animation and visual effects in Seattle, Washington. Until a few months ago, photography was just a hobby. Every year, he spent time hiking around Colorado, Utah and Arizona in what he calls the “quintessential American West.” He always brought along his camera. “I don’t want to call the images I took road-trip photos,” he says. “They were photos that happened while I was exploring.” Cobb’s landscapes are both earthly and otherworldly, with shapes, shadows, color and texture that push them into the realm of the fantastic. “They’re almost accidental,” he says. “I’ll have a spot in mind, and these photos come from seeing these things on the way to these places.” The images in his series “West” are largely unaltered in post-processing, he notes. “I try to be as faithful as I can to what I remember feeling.” Cobb's work has circulated among indie publications such as If You Leave and AINT - BAD, and he also published a small book, Cascadia, with Another Place Press last year. With a growing list of group exhibitions, open calls and zines under his belt, he decided to devote himself to photography full time. Recently, he attended EXPOSURE, a portfolio review in Los Angeles. “I felt like I bumped into a barrier, and talking about my work was necessary to push through,” he says. It’s the ﬁrst step in what he hopes will be a long career as a photographer. —Brienne Walsh
Photo © Cody Cobb codycobb.com
— Marilisa Cosello —
COMPLEANNO ( B I R T H D AY )
Marilisa Cosello believes that although society often depicts people as having simpliﬁed identities, we are much more complex, with many identities living inside of us. In her series “Compleanno (Birthday),” she brings ﬁve versions of herself to life in photographs and collages that resemble diaries. She calls them the Bride, the Lover, the Man, the Bourgeois Woman and the Kids. “The characters are a projection of myself,” she says. “Some of the images in the series are self-portraits, some depict people who look like me, some are images that I pretend to be from my past and some represent my every day.” Cosello, who lives in Italy, started out in
photojournalism before devoting herself full time to making art. “Our version of reality is always shaped by who we are,” she says of deciding to investigate the many sides of her persona. Creating “Compleanno” took a full year. Cosello kept a diary for each one of her characters that numbered in the hundreds of pages—the series envisions the moment when they all meet for the ﬁrst time. Currently the work is an artist book, but Cosello would like to have it published; it has also been shown in Paris at Central DUPON in 2015, and at the Milano Photofestival in 2016. “When people see the work, they always try to identify themselves in one of the characters,” she says. “It’s
amazing, the way people try to ﬁnd a connection. The work is very personal, but in this way, it becomes collective.” —Brienne Walsh
Photos © Marilisa Cosello marilisacosello.com
— Federico Vespignani —
L A D I S TA N C I A
Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM + additional lenses
Born and raised in Italy, Federico Vespignani has long been fascinated with Mexico and Central America. After graduating from Istituto Europeo di Design in Rome in 2013 with a degree in photography and ﬁne art, Vespignani worked as a freelance photojournalist for publications such as The New York Times and Neue Zürcher Zeitung. In 2015, he traveled to El Salvador in search of a story that wasn’t about the nation’s ongoing gang violence, which he felt had already been covered thoroughly by other photojournalists. In a local El Salvadorian newspaper, he read an article about the forensic anthropologist Israel Ticas, who searches for missing people. He spent the following
two months trailing Ticas as he exhumed bodies in the jungle. Vespignani’s willingness to go anywhere earned him the nickname “todoterreno journalist,” or “all-terrain journalist.” The resulting series—which includes dark images of mass graves, skulls and Ticas on the job—is titled “La Distancia.” “Ticas is very concerned with the victims, and this affected him a lot during his daily life,” Vespignani says. “He explained to me that he has to keep the right distance from these things.” Vespignani had to keep distance as well. “Once we found a 16-year-old girl beheaded,” he says. “It made me sick. Photography is a kind of protection for me against these things.”
Although some editors have declared the photographs too violent to publish, Vespignani plans to continue the work. He recently received a grant from Il Giornale to photograph a story on enforced disapperances in Central America—he'll work with forensic anthropologists in Guatemala and Honduras for that series—and hopes to create short ﬁlms along with still images. —Brienne Walsh
Photos © Federico Vespignani federicovespignani.com
— Miisha Nash —
THE WILD ONES PA R T 1
Miisha Nash ﬁrst became interested in parrots when she was 17 years old and working at a Petco in Beverly Hills. “I made a connection with this baby cockatoo,” she recalls. A customer, observing how tenderly she treated the bird, told her about an asylum in the United Kingdom for parrots who had lost their owners. Nash told herself she would document that one day. Nash majored in African studies and photography at Hunter College in New York City and, years later, moved to South East London with her husband. One day, she spotted a feral Indian ringneck parrot while walking outside; later that night, she recalled the asylum she had wanted to
photograph. “I thought, ‘That’s it, I’m going to do the project,’” she says. Beginning in late 2014, she began traveling to parrot sanctuaries in the UK and US. Her initial goal was to capture the parrots, but when she showed early images to editors and peers, they were curious about their caretakers. “The two creatures are very different, but they both want to belong to a ﬂock,” Nash says. She began focusing on capturing the unique relationship between the birds and their caretakers with “emotional respect and coherence.” In her photographs, the camera's gaze is tender, showing interior spaces that look
surprisingly cozy despite being devoted to unruly birds. Nash has plans to expand the series into a three-part book that will capture the lives of other displaced exotic pets, including tigers and chimps, and their caretakers. “Some people think they’re nutty—I’m trying to ﬁnd the love story.” —Brienne Walsh
Photos © Miisha Nash miishayana.com
— Noela Roibás —
LOVE AFTER THE QUAKE
Noela Roibás — “Love After the Quake”
When Spanish-born, London-based photographer Noela Roibás visited Nepal in early 2017, she was struck by the number of young couples she noticed. In Nepal, traditional practices still reign: arranged marriages, “chhaupadi”—a practice where women are banned from their homes during menstruation—and the general treatment of women as the property of men from birth. “Women and girls have little to no access to education and are denied control of their bodies, healthcare choices and ultimately, their lives,” she says. “They have little opportunity to ﬁght for anything but their own lives.”
She started interviewing and making portraits of couples to learn more about this divergence from traditional cultural norms. Among the couples she met were a woman named Maya and her boyfriend, in a park where “young couples go to cuddle privately.” Training her lens on Maya, whom she befriended and lived with during her month in the country, “Love After the Quake,” became Roibás’ poetic homage to a new generation of feminism that’s bubbling just below the surface in the wake of a country still recovering from the devastating earthquake of 2015.
Through her quiet and intimate photographs, Roibás hopes to tell a more hopeful story about Nepal’s future: “There are many educated women there, ﬁghting for their independence and rights—I believe it's necessary to know that and support them.” She says she was lucky to witness the culture from the inside and to see that “women are really done with patriarchy and are ﬁghting for their rights and freedom.” —Lindsay Comstock
Photos © Noela Roibás noelaroibas.com
— Laurence Kubski —
D O M E S T I C AT E
“The world is too wide to see everything with our own eyes,” says Lausanne, Switzerlandbased photographer Laurence Kubski. “Photography is a good medium to tell stories, to witness situations and to broaden our view.” Preferring to take on several roles to communicate a concept—bearing witness with her camera, telling stories through design and ﬁnding ways of disseminating it to the world—Kubski doesn't simply label herself a photographer: she’s also a graphic designer and art director, having studied these two subjects at ECAL/University of Art and Design, Lausanne.
Her most recent magazine series, “Domesticate,” completed as part of her master’s thesis project, applies her graphic aesthetic to still-life images and long captions that illuminate the interaction between humans and animals. Noting that most publications about animals are often intended for “hunters, wildlife photographers, environmentalists or animal owners,” she wanted to go beyond this context to tell culturally diverse stories about the long history of human domestication of animals, and the ways these concepts have changed through cultural modernization. Seen in this series: a Fukuro café in Tokyo
where people spend time with nocturnal birds of prey, a songbird in its sculpted cage at the Hong Kong bird market, lynx tongues ordered from an online taxidermy shop, insect boxes from Shanghai “where crickets are kept for singing according to a tradition more than a thousand years old” and a dried snake used in China to treat arthritis. —Lindsay Comstock
Photos © Laurence Kubski Laurence Kubski — “Domesticate”
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— Matthias Van Dromme —
K U PA - P I T I : W H I T E MAN IN A HOLE
When Belgian photographer Matthias Van Dromme ﬁrst heard about the South Australian town Coober Pedy, he was drawn to its residents, whom he describes as “fortuneseekers living in their own dugout mine, like cavemen, building their homes.” In Coober Pedy, known as the opal capital of the world, many of the residents live in these dugouts. The way they live, called kupa-piti by the Aboriginals—which translates literally as “white man in a hole”—shelters them from the blazing desert heat while they work in mines procuring the precious gemstones. The barren landscape has attracted many
ﬁlmmakers over the years: Parts of the 1991 sci-ﬁ ﬂick Until the End of the World and 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome were ﬁlmed in the area. But Van Dromme was fascinated by how people could live in this primitive way while much of the world was reaching a technological apex. Once he arrived there, his project took on a more philosophical bent: “I had the impression that these people are trying to escape something, that the mine is a retreat that is detached from reality,” he says. Considering kupa-piti as a metaphor for the absurdity of the human predicament, he shot
environmental portraits and the interiors of the cave homes, evoking the rawness of humans living within the clutches of the rocks, grasping for wealth, and the “extreme banality” that accompanies this lifestyle. In his artist statement, Van Dromme references the myth of Sisyphus, forever rolling his boulder upwards. “Is the goal of ﬁnding these stones inherently meaningless?” he asks. Or, we could consider philosopher Albert Camus’s notion that “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” —Lindsay Comstock
Photos © Matthias Van Dromme
— Christian Werner —
RUBBLE AND DELUSION
Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark III; Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM, EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM and EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM + additional lenses
Referring to today’s swiftly shifting news cycle and celebrity compulsion, German photojournalist Christian Werner only has modest expectations for the reception of his work. “If my stories and my messages only reach a few people, it’s a success,” he says. By his terms, his series “Rubble and Delusion,” which has been published by DER SPIEGEL and The Washington Post, can be seen as a success several times over. Werner began the project with writer Fritz Schaap in 2016, documenting the Syrian cities of Damascus, Homs and Latakia. The series is an attempt to understand the conﬂict that began in 2011 and how a culture has been able to endure—and live relatively normally—in the face of grave danger,
decimated metropolitan centers and death. “People live their daily lives despite war,” he says, and ﬁnd a way to continue extending generosity, too. Werner’s ﬁrst taste for photojournalism came from smuggling a camera into a compulsory military service, where he spent a few months documenting his life in the army. Since then he’s produced numerous multimedia stories in the Middle East, making more than 20 trips to Iraq and Syria, and also covered the plague in Madagascar, immigration to Europe, religious war in Central Africa, and the impact of uranium on public health. His top priority: maintaining journalistic ethics to protect his photographic subjects and their families.
When he’s not in the ﬁeld, Werner resides on a small farm in Germany where he says he tries to live as self-sustained as possible, ﬁnding moments of reﬂection while gardening. —Lindsay Comstock
Photos © Christian Werner/Zeitenspiegel Christian Wer ner — “Rubble and Delusion”
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— Ryan Walker —
VOICES IN THE WILDERNESS
Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM and EF 85mm f/1.8 USM + additional cameras
Toronto, Canada-based photographer Ryan Walker has an interest in people who, he says, “eschew what E. M. Forster calls ‘the architecture of hurry’ that comprises contemporary urban environments.” Walker’s ﬁrst priority before picking up his camera is to cultivate a sense of meaning and transparency with his subjects—a lesson he learned from assisting Magnum photographer Larry Towell. Through his photography, he presents “alternative, self-sustainable lifestyles and ideologies” with the hope of engendering a meaningful dialogue about the relationship of humans and their environments. While attending Ryerson University, Walker was exposed to Robert Frank’s
The Americans, which he says will forever inspire him as a photographer. “It was then that I realized how photography has the ability to express and communicate a person’s thoughts, ideologies and diverse perspectives in engaging and poetic ways,” he says. “I was hooked.” Continually exploring themes of land and identity, he embarked on his series “Voices in the Wilderness” after learning of the “offgrid” Lasqueti Island, located off the west coast of Canada, while working on another project. He ﬁrst visited the island in 2014, expecting a utopia of “back-to-the-landers and New Age hippies,” but what he found was more akin to a “microcosm of society” composed of 350 residents of diverse
backgrounds. While getting to know the community, Walker began to realize that although it was not as idyllic as he originally expected, it could be a model for sustainable and autonomous societies. “There is a heightened connectedness with not only the land around them, but also their neighbors,” he notes. “The challenges of living on a remote island bring them together, creating a more authentic and genuine connection that is often lacking in urban cities.” —Lindsay Comstock
Photos © Ryan Walker Ryan Walker— “Voices in the Wilder ness”
Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM
PORTFOLIO OF ONE Could you define your work with a single image? Documentar y photographer Sarah Blesener gives it a tr y.
When we ﬁrst featured Sarah Blesener two issues ago, we presented her series “Toy Soldiers,” a survey of Russian patriotic camps and education. Now, with funding from the Alexia Foundation and the CatchLight Fellowship, she is exploring similar themes in the US, traveling around the country to photograph youth culture. And though this new work is an extension of “Toy Soldiers,” Blesener isn’t drawing parallel lines between the two, but instead widening the scope. “I’m really looking for the universal, this concept of what makes us human, what we can all relate to,” she says. “In adolescence, I ﬁnd this in themes of identity, camaraderie, bonding and ideology.” These themes are seen in the pictured image of siblings from Watford, North Dakota, who come from a long lineage of homeschooling in the rural oil-ﬁeld region in which they reside.
Taught by their mother, who emphasizes literature in their curriculum, “[they] have a sense of wonder and excitement about life.” The sun, the grass and their splayed limbs evoke strong memories of childhood, and though the overall series will address sociopolitical issues and the current backdrop of American politics, it’s these moments of human connection that will take center stage. “It is not my aim to photograph in a way that reinforces our own stereotypes,” she says. Rather, she wants to provide a nuanced look at “lifestyles and individuals we do not understand,” that differ from our own. So far she’s traveled to nine states down the East Coast and out to the Southwest, Midwest and West, and she’ll continue shooting the series for the remainder of the year. She keeps the stories with her from each state: “The kid who is joining the Marines in three days, who
I ask, ‘Are you sure about this?’ ‘No, but I’m going;’” the girl who leaves the reservation for the ﬁrst time for college; the couple who is in love before their twenties and isn’t sure if they should get married or see if they are together in a few years; the young kids drowning themselves in alcohol, dying of boredom, throwing Busch Lights at stop signs in the middle of the oil-ﬁeld country.” And though we may not have these exact experiences tucked away in our own memories, she says: “I hope we recognize part of ourselves in this wide-eyed fear, anger, hope and bewilderment I ﬁnd across this current generation.” —Jacqui Palumbo
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Photo © Sarah Blesener sarah-blesener.com A DV E RT I SE M E N T
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