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Introducing Flak Photo Stories

A closer look at The Collection

Editor's Note: I'm always thinking about new ways to showcase the people whose work I feature here on the website. If you're like me, you love looking at photographs. But it's also fun to hear image-makers talk about how or why they make their work. So I'm excited to introduce Flak Photo Stories, a place for photographers to write about the pictures they've contributed to The Collection. I'm also taking requests: if there are other images from the archive that you'd like to learn more about, send me an email and I'll do my best to coordinate a story for a future installment. I'd love for more people to discover these artists; please feel free to share this post with friends or colleagues. Enjoy! - AA


Thomas Jackson, Cups, 2012

Thomas Jackson: When I began my Emergent Behavior series, I didn't have the idea of swarms in mind specifically, just a vague notion of shapes and forms from the natural world occurring in unnatural ways. But like the termite mounds, schooling fish and other "emergent systems" that organize themselves, so too did my swarms. Cups is among my favorites in the series, and probably the most difficult to create. The sculpture itself was constructed from galvanized steel wire and a few hundred plastic cups. I shot it first in Brooklyn under the Manhattan Bridge, but didn't like the result. I aim for radical juxtapositions in my images, and in that man-made environment the cups seemed too much at home. I then photographed the sculpture in rural Pennsylvania, but the setting was too drab and wintry. Since it was January, lush greenery wasn't available so I exercised the nuclear option, placing the cups as shot in Pennsylvania into an image I'd made in the Catskills the previous spring. And after more hours in post-production than I care to recall, I got the image I'd been after all along.

Thomas Jackson is based in Brooklyn New York. Learn more about him on his Flak Photo Profile »


Keren Moscovitch, The Other Woman, 2010

Keren Moscovitch: After years of monogamy, my boyfriend and I began exploring what would happen if we stepped outside the traditional bounds of commitment and opened our relationship to other lovers. Through these adventures, my eyes were opened to a new way of seeing the world. I learned to embrace taboos, challenge all my assumptions about right and wrong and cherish vulnerability as a gateway to deeper experience. This image is about being face-to-face with The Other Woman, and claiming my power by staying present in a challenging situation. The image also represents her strength, the way she stares me down, doesn't look away, engages me in a taboo space, and owns her role. Her fears are revealed in her eyes and mirror my fears back to the camera. It is just as much about the intimacy between two women as it is about the intimacy between the lovers in the photograph.

Keren Moscovitch is based in Brooklyn, New York. Learn more about her on her Flak Photo Profile »


Matthew Baum, Untitled, 2011

Matthew Baum: Every now and then — almost always in retrospect — I am able to identify a photograph that somehow marks a transition in my work. This picture is one of a very few I have taken that stood out almost immediately. I was early for a meet-up with my dad at MoMA and wandering around midtown with my camera. The light was extraordinary. New York City is at its most dramatic in the late afternoon when the light is low and, chopped and filtered by skyscrapers, only hits certain corners. I was at 53rd Street and 5th Avenue, about to head down the block to the museum when I saw him — a prototypical NYC businessman, a Master of the Universe, screaming into his cell phone. He was standing alongside a big church at a bustling intersection, but in the picture he seems like he is alone on Earth. He was oblivious to those around him and I was able to look for much longer than usual. In that light, it was like watching a movie — or a 21st century Edward Hopper painting come to life. I was instantly focused and thrust into that primal space that happens when you lock in to make a picture on the street. I took a few shots, resisted the urge to look at the LCD, and went to meet my dad.

Matthew Baum is based in Brooklyn, New York. Learn more about him on his Flak Photo Profile »


Brian Finke, Untitled, 2012

Brian Finke: I made this portrait of a member of the 4-person rowing team called The Corinthians while on assignment for Kesselskramer earlier this year. The crew had just landed in Barbados after rowing approximately 2,600 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. I first photographed him in the Canary Islands at the start of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, after spending several days shooting these racing teams against the backdrop of the sea. As the rowers started arriving, it was my job to record the emotion and the physical toll of completing one of the hardest endurance tests in the world. I think this portrait gets to the heart of what it feels like to spend 48 days on the open ocean in a row boat.

Brian Finke is based in Brooklyn, New York. Learn more about him on his Flak Photo Profile »


Malwine Rafalski, Untitled, 2009

Malwine Rafalski: I was looking for subjects for my Holon series, which is about people that have rejected modern society for a utopian communion with the natural world. I had photographed numerous families and communities, but few real “dropouts” living in the middle of nowhere. My research turned up a newspaper article about a man called Öko-Udo (which translates to “Tree-hugger-Udo” in English) who had left his family to live in a cabin without electricity and running water in order to escape western civilization. The article gave a rough description about his whereabouts (between two villages, near a little creek), and so I set out to find his hidden house in the woods. I wasn’t sure how to prepare; of course I couldn’t find a telephone number to call him beforehand, so I brought some homemade cake along with me. I knew that people like him, who lived most of their life isolated in the wilderness, could be complicated, but I hoped to break the ice with my little gift. And it worked! He was very kind and when I told him about my project and he agreed to be photographed.

Malwine Rafalski is based in Cologne, Germany. Learn more about her on her Flak Photo Profile »


Kevin Miyazaki, Table Anthurium, 2012

Kevin J. Miyazaki: My mom was born in Hawaii, so I have a large family there and try to visit as often as I can. It's customary to bring food as a gift when you're visiting someone, and I have my favorite local places in which to find treats. If I'm in Honolulu and heading to the Big Island, I like to get Japanese manju from Nisshodo, a tiny bakery staffed by cute, elderly ladies. If I'm in Kona and heading to Hilo, I'll stop at Tex Drive In for a box of guava malasadas. And if I'm in Hilo, it's customary to visit Two Ladies Kitchen for their special mochi. On a recent trip, I asked a cousin in Hilo for any new ideas, and she mentioned the rainbow bread at Low International Food. So I found myself inside this small restaurant with my Auntie Lyn, buying loaves of warm bread. Though there's a sense of calm and order in this picture, it was made very quickly — between placing my order and paying for the bread. Aloha.

Kevin Miyazaki is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Learn more about him on his Flak Photo Profile »


Emiliano Granado, Untitled, 2011

Emiliano Granado: I have no idea who this guy is. He was at Umqua Hot Springs earlier this year when I was there photographing a project for a freelance client job. After camping the night before, we planned on waking up super early to catch the sunrise at the springs. Can you say best idea ever? I can! The sun had just started to rise above the mountains when we walked up to the springs. The air was still cold, so when this gentleman walked out of the hot spring, the hot air from his body turned to steam. He looked like a human fog machine. The early morning sun lit the steam up in this miraculous glow. I’ve been in the presence of photographic magic before, but this was the first time that I had seen a photographic miracle. I was speechless for about 20 minutes. I still don’t have many words to describe the moment.

Emiliano Granado is based in Brooklyn New York. Learn more about him on his Flak Photo Profile »


Steve Davis, Richard & Ron, 2006

Steve Davis: This image is from my Rainier School series, which is a state institution for the developmentally disabled in Washington state. For several months I made 8x10 portraits of some the last residents — people who spent most of their lives there and can’t easily be assimilated back into society. Richard and Ron are identical twins and they spent most of their lives apart, living in separate institutions. They had only recently been reunited, and they didn’t get along well with each other. No one thought I could get them together for a picture, but they were both good natured (and totally wired from drinking multiple cans of Pepsi) and it worked. This image is one of my favorites from a very satisfying, if challenging, portrait project.

Steve Davis is based in Olympia, Washington. Learn more about him on his Flak Photo Profile »


Daniel Ramos, Farmer, 2006

Daniel Ramos: I made this image while traveling in Uganda in 2006 to meet my wife´s family for the first time. I lived there for four months and during that time I would walk around with my 4x5 view camera making photographs of the people and places I saw. I was interested in capturing a more dignified Africa than is traditionally depicted in the press. I wanted my portraits to be strong and to present a different story; an alternative to the agony and famine we frequently see in the mainstream news. I come from a working class background so my interest has always been to eliminate negative stereotypes associated with the lower class. My hope with this Ugandan farmer’s portrait is to show what his work meant for him: hope, family and the value of life.

Daniel Ramos is based in Chicago, Illinois. Learn more about him on his Flak Photo Profile »


Corey Arnold, The North Sea, 2010

Corey Arnold: This seascape was taken while aboard a Dutch Beam trawler in the North Sea. I've logged years of my life at sea working or photographing aboard fishing vessels in Alaska and Europe and have probably shot many thousands of pictures of the ocean alone. Very few of these images make the cut to see the light of day. There was something particularly dark and calming about the light on this evening as a great storm was beginning to subside. We had been dragging for sole, flounder, and plaice for nearly six days with nothing in sight except the occasional gas rig, barge or sea bird. I lived with a crew of chain smoking Christians who (lovingly) made fun of me for being unmarried in my thirties and returned to shore with a lifetime supply of sea stories and fish carnage photographs.

Corey Arnold is based in Portland, Oregon. Learn more about him on his Flak Photo Profile »


Irina Rozovsky, Untitled, 2011

Irina Rozovsky: My first summer in New York was suffocating. But eventually, the endless blocks of paved concrete in this city-turned-desert pointed me to a place with a promising name: Prospect Park. What I saw in the shady oasis felt astounding, and under the guise of taking a break, I began to work on pictures. Here is one of the first photos I made, and one that laid the foundation to my developing project, In Plain Air. I am chasing after the brief but intense moment of escape from the city and from oneself and the illusory environment where we go to get away. In this picture, as in most in the series, there is a moment shared with a perfect stranger. It was made in a passing exchange — we did not know each other and hardly spoke, but there was an agreement, a fast and fleeting understanding, and suddenly a gesture meant like a gift for my camera. It reminds me of what is easy to forget from behind the lens: that photographs are delicate intersections between the taken and the given. In an anonymous, frantic city it is a heartening encounter.

Irina Rozovsky is based in Brooklyn, New York. Learn more about her on her Flak Photo Profile »


Get your work seen! Submit your projects for consideration of The Collection, Flak Photo's ever-expanding archive of contemporary image-makers. Featuring community contributions daily, Monday through Friday. Submission Info »

Posted on Sunday, March 4, 2012.


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