About Chris Hunt

http://www.chrishunt.com

Chris Hunt is a fashion and advertising photographer, based in New York, Los Angeles and Mexico City. Originally from California, he has spent the last 15 years living and working in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Moscow and across the United States. Beginning his career as a photojournalist, Chris then moved into fashion photography after working as a model agent for several years in L.A. He has recently broadened his portfolio into film, directing TV commercials for fashion and lifestyle brands. Chris balances outstanding creative talent with an impressive level of technical expertise, delivering impeccable professionalism and work of the highest quality with a relaxed and friendly attitude. On the rare moments he is not in his studio, Chris can be found pedaling his road bike through Italy, SCUBA diving in the South Pacific or riding a motocross bike in the mountains of California. His advertising clients include Google, TELCEL, Mitsubishi Automobiles, Pond's, Samsung, GNC, Chevrolet, Knorr and Garnier. He also works for fashion and beauty clients such as BCBG Max Azria, Herve Leger, Forever 21, bebe, ALDO, Nine West, Macy's, GAP, Banana Republic, Wet Seal, Arden B., Jockey International, Avon, Liverpool, Skechers, Fox Girls, Billabong, Stila Cosmetics and C&A. His work has been published in international magazines including VOGUE, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Interview, Maxim, Surface, Men's Health, Nylon and InStyle. High profile clients include sports stars Maria Sharapova and Wayne Gretzky and rappers Ludacris, Ice Cube and 50 Cent.

Posts by Chris Hunt:

An Open Letter to @alexilubomirski: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Need A Wedding Photographer!

An Open Letter to @alexilubomirski: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Need A Wedding Photographer!

Dear Alexi, Congratulations on the announcement that you will be Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding photographer! Your engagement photos of them were beautiful and you did a splendid job of capturing them as a couple. I love the way you talked about them on the red carpet with your wife. You described them as “Deliciously in love” and your photos documented that superbly!

You may see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle engagement photos here and on Alexi’s Instagram account.

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I’ve enjoyed going through your Instagram feed and you’re quite the accomplished fashion photographer. As a fellow New Yorker, I enjoy your love of NYC and how you document our beloved town. You also have a beautiful family and seem like a great Dad! The book you wrote, Princely Advice, looks like a wonderful book of which I plan on buying for my kids.

But… You’re NOT a Wedding Photographer

Alexi, you seem like a nice guy. You’re smart, talented, a great dad, but you’re NOT a wedding photographer. There’s no doubt you’re an accomplished fashion photographer who has had the honor of photographing some very big personalities. From Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Kristen Stewart, and Reese Witherspoon, I’m sure the knowledge you earned has helped you become a renowned portrait photographer.

However, if I may be so bold, I want to point out that setting up in Milk Studios to do a portrait shoot of a famous person is VERY different from strapping a DSLR to your hand and photographing a bride walking down the aisle! A wedding photographer does so much more than simply follow the bride and groom around, snapping away while they giggle and laugh. A wedding photographer has a tight timeline with so much more to capture than just the bride and groom.

I could understand if you were an award-winning photojournalist who understands the stress of “in the moment” photography, but you’re a portrait shooter, dude!

May I Make A Suggestion?

We don’t know each other, but you seem like a nice guy. May I make a suggestion? If you’re going to shoot this wedding, PLEASE get some help! This is going to be a fabulous wedding that the world will want to see! The faces, the emotions, the locations will all be a sight the planet will be waiting with baited breath to see!

As you described, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are “Deliciously in love!” — we just hope you understand the responsibility bestowed upon you. There are thousands of photographers out there who have dedicated their careers to capture the moments of people in love.

Call Me!

I was a wedding photographer for 25 years, and I’ve had the pleasure of working with thousands of incredibly talented photographers from around the world. We’re a friendly community and would be happy to help anyone in need! You may call the office (314-884-2201) or email me jg@songfreedom.com for advice anytime!

My Final Plea!

In the article where I found you, they list that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have also chosen a florist and a wedding cake baker. Philippa Craddock is a florist who’s been creating events for decades who will build a team of florists to put the event together. Same goes for Violet Bakery, who makes wedding cakes in their business as their profession. These are professionals who specialize in their crafts and hold business practices that fall within the values of the bride and groom.

In closing, Alex, please know this was written out of respect, and our little community is pulling for you! Let us help you. We are all excited about the timeless photographs that will be created on May 16th! We just want you to have the tools you need!


P.S. And speaking of tools, let us know if you need some great music and a kick-ass slideshow creator, we’ll hook you up! Good luck my friend!


About the author: Jason Groupp is wedding photography veteran, the former director of WPPI, and the current President of FyrFly-SongFreedom. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. This article was also published here.


Image credits: Header photo by Mark Jones and licensed under CC BY 2.0


Source: PetaPixel

An Open Letter to @alexilubomirski: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Need A Wedding Photographer!

My Quest to Find the Best Photography Gloves

My Quest to Find the Best Photography Gloves

After almost freezing my hands during an Iceland photo trip, I began a long search for proper winter gloves that would be both warm and ergonomic for operating a camera.

For many years, most of my photo career was based on shooting the gorgeous seascapes and landscapes of Portugal. Even though our winters can sometimes be a bit harsh, as long as the shooting sessions were not too long, one could get away with not using proper winter gloves.

Then I found a new love for the arctic and high mountainscapes, and suddenly my hands could no longer handle the intense cold and strong winds. My first trip to Iceland in 2014 was not easy at all in this respect, as I naively took just a simple pair of fleece gloves with me. I don’t know how, but my hands survived, but that was an experience not to be repeated…

The difficulty in choosing proper photography gloves is something that only photographers who work in harsh conditions for extended periods will understand. Our main problem is that we not only need very warm gloves, but they must also allow us to push extremely tiny buttons of a camera, change batteries, remove and insert SD cards, remove and insert lenses, handle delicate filters, and so many other precision tasks.

If you have never tried to operate a camera while using regular gloves, then please stop reading and do it, as you’ll only need 60 seconds to realize it is near impossible.

Considering this, when you read about gloves specially designed for photographers, this is not a gimmick nor a way to make you spend way too much money on a product you will not use. As a matter of fact, using decent photo gloves makes the difference between actually being able to deliver the shots or not.

There are different ways to turn a regular glove into a photographer’s glove, and all of these involve creating a way to have as much tactile sensitivity and grip as possible in your thumb and index finger, trying to emulate the use of your bare fingers (and, in some cases, actually allowing you to use your bare fingers).

This can be created through different types of gloves:

  • Thin tactile smartphone compatible gloves
  • Gloves with removable finger caps
  • Fold down mitten gloves

Just like I said before, and because I’ve always been a budget conscious photographer, I decided to start with inexpensive gloves belonging to the first group. I chose to go with thin tactile gloves because the idea of removable finger caps or fold down mittens didn’t sound that appealing at first. Before diving into the complex world of online reviews and Amazon ratings, my first option was to search locally for a pair of fleece gloves, and so I ended up buying a pair of generic Karrimor fleece gloves.

Before I continue, I would just like to make it clear that when I mention “tactile”, I’m referring to the feature of a glove being able to provide enough sensitive feedback that allows you to properly sense small details in the texture of something you are grabbing, like camera buttons. At the same time, some brands use the term “tactile” to describe the feature of a glove being compatible with smartphone operation.

To me, both features are absolutely essential, so a glove must be both “tactile” and “smartphone compatible”, as I often use my smartphone during my shooting both to create “B-roll” content and to ask for the rescue team when my life is in danger!

So, going back to the Karrimor gloves, they were definitely smartphone compatible, but their tactile feeling was terrible. There wasn’t any kind of non-slip rubber on the fingers or palm area, so I not only had trouble operating the camera, I didn’t also feel secure at all while changing lenses or delicate glass filters. Insulation wasn’t too bad, but certainly not enough for harsh winters, but it was not even worth to try it with liner gloves for added warmth.

After this first episode of wasted money, it was time to move on to online reviews and Amazon ratings, searching for another budget-friendly thin glove. The next candidates were the GearTop Touchscreen gloves. They seemed to have all the features I needed, and most Amazon reviews were great. I ordered them and they looked quite good. They were properly tight, smartphone compatible, lots of non-slip rubber grip in the palm and fingers, adjustable fist cuff, lifetime warranty, I was happy!

Unfortunately, they had one extremely important thing missing: comfort. I bet this has certainly happened to you before, when you have just bought that gorgeous piece of clothing you love at a great price, you just want to use it forever, but after some denial you just need to deal with the fact that it hurts or irritates your skin, ending up abandoned in your closet. The GearTop gloves fist cuff was very uncomfortable, and the stitching inside the inner palm hurt the delicate skin of that area, so after two outings with them I decided they were taking away from the pleasure of shooting in cold conditions, rather than making them nicer and more productive.

And this was when I started to think that finding a suitable pair of gloves wouldn’t be as easy as I thought. And so I resumed my online search and then found an interesting pair of Under Armour No Breaks gloves and these were chosen as the next candidates. Even though they were described as being liner gloves (meant to be used under warmer gloves), their description seemed to indicate a good level of warmth, comfort and, unlike every other smartphone compatible gloves I had seen, these ones didn’t use the classical thick layer of fabric on the index and thumb extremity, responsible for the smartphone touch compatibility, but also to a severe loss of sensitivity, making it difficult to operate the camera.

In the specific case of Under Armour, they managed to create a non-slip rubber grid pattern whose contact is recognized by the smartphone screen, avoiding the thick fabric problem I mentioned above. During my first outings with these gloves, everything went smoothly, even though the weather was not too cold. The comfort was absolutely top-notch, and so were ergonomics. I decided to take them to Iceland and, since warmth wasn’t enough for the Icelandic climate, used them with thinner liner gloves on the inside.

I was happy that I had finally found a great pair of gloves to be used for photography, but then all of a sudden the non-slip rubber pieces on the index and thumb started to fall apart after a total of 9-10 days of shooting, rendering the gloves useless! I thought it could be a manufacturing defect, but selecting the negative reviews on Amazon quickly showed up there were lots of people with the same exact problem, which seems to be a “feature” of the Under Armour gloves with this “technology”.

Just like it unfortunately happens with some specific pieces of photo gear, sometimes you just get what you pay for, so I decided to do a different search: photographer’s favorite gloves when money is not an issue. This was what finally led me to the Vallerret Markhof Pro Gloves, touted by many as the best photography gloves you could ask for.

After getting in touch with Vallerret and clearing some doubts, I got a pair of gloves and expectations were quite high. Initially, I resisted the thought of going with finger cap gloves as I thought it would just be a gimmick, the removable caps would not properly work and my index and thumb extremities would quickly freeze in extreme conditions. At the same time, as I read more reviews, it became clear that this was a nice way to keep both the natural full sensitivity of your skin while operating the camera and create a thicker and warmer glove, as extreme thinness was no longer a concern.

When I received the gloves they seemed to be quite high quality, even though their aesthetics were nothing to write home about. Comfort seemed to be quite high, and the merino liner and overall thickness would certainly make them much warmer than my previous gloves. My biggest doubt about these was related to the finger caps use in the real world, as they could possibly get in the way of operating the camera. Fortunately, Vallerret implemented a clever small magnet on the tip and back of the index and thumb finger, so that when you pull the cap it sticks through the magnets and stays in its place.

There are other interesting features in these gloves, being the only one I did not like the zip compartment in the back part of the hand, which I did not find much useful, as I’d rather put small accessories in the usual jacket or pants pockets. Removing this compartment would create less bulk on the back of the hand and make the gloves more portable.

Apart from this, I’m very glad to say that these gloves are just great! I spent 15 days in November in the Dolomites using them every day for several hours, and they held up admirably. Snow came much earlier to the region, so we had freezing weather during night and day, and it quickly became clear that in this case, you get what you pay for.

On some specific days, temperatures dropped clearly below zero, and my hands got a little bit too cold, even though it was bearable. To avoid this I would have needed extra liner gloves (which would partially defeat the purpose of these gloves) or an upgrade to their thicker “Ipsoot” model, meant for very cold winters, also with removable finger caps. The Markhof Pro model, like the official website states, is meant to be used in mild winters, being suitable until temperatures drop below zero degrees Celsius.

Regarding real-life experience with these gloves, and considering that I make extensive use of tripods and glass filters during my photo sessions, I can say that these gloves are the most ergonomic I’ve ever used. Removing the finger caps or putting them back in place quickly became second nature, and in a few days I forgot I was using them.

“Forgetting” that you are using something while you shoot is, in my opinion, the most desirable state that reveals a truly ergonomic product. When you are shooting using expensive and delicate gear under harsh conditions, you should not feel like you are fighting against the equipment, but rather that it’s working as a natural extension of your hands, brain, and heart.

Right now I’ve found my favorite pair of gloves and had no idea it would take me so long to find them. Totally recommended!


Full disclosure: I liked the Vallerret gloves so much that I’m now collaborating with the brand, testing their products and providing input for future improvements. This relationship happened only after extensive use of the model reviewed here, as well as after testing other competitors.


About the author: José Ramos is a landscape photographer based in Lisbon, Portugal. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Ramos has been published in several notable international publications, including National Geographic and The Telegraph. You can find more of Ramos’ photos on his website, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.


Source: PetaPixel

My Quest to Find the Best Photography Gloves

GoPro’s New Trade-Up Program Takes Nearly Any Camera in Any Condition

GoPro’s New Trade-Up Program Takes Nearly Any Camera in Any Condition

In 2017, GoPro announced a Trade-Up promo to boost the sales of its HERO5 Black — send in an older HERO camera and you got up to $100 off a new GoPro camera. This year, GoPro has just launched a new and improved Trade-Up: send in virtually any camera and in any condition and you get a hefty discount.

This latest program can score you a $50 discount on the HERO6 Black ($400 to $350) or a $100 savings on the Fusion 360-degree camera ($700 to $600).

The camera you trade in doesn’t have to be in good, working condition — you can even send in a broken digital camera that barely looks like a camera.

“Trade in any GoPro or digital camera, in any condition,” GoPro writes. “Dented, dinged, destroyed—no problem, we’ll take it.”

The only requirement for a digital camera to qualify is that it needs to have been worth at least $100 when it was originally new on a store shelf.

GoPro says that nearly 12,000 people sent in GoPro cameras during the 60-day promotion in 2017. With the expansion of the program, the company hopes to see an even bigger response this year.

To participate, purchase a GoPro HERO6 Black or Fusion through the Trade-Up website and you’ll receive a prepaid shipping label for your old camera. Send it in within 45 days, and your order will be processed and your new GoPro will be shipped within 14 days.

And in case you’re wondering what will happen to your old camera, GoPro says it’ll recycle it “responsibly via zero landfill and recycling methods appropriate to material type.”


Source: PetaPixel

GoPro’s New Trade-Up Program Takes Nearly Any Camera in Any Condition

Watch the Hilarious Trailer for SZA and Kendrick Lamar’s Tour

Watch the Hilarious Trailer for SZA and Kendrick Lamar’s Tour
The artists of Top Dawg Entertainment are prepping for The Championship Tour, and you’re not going to want to sit on the sidelines for this.  Kendrick Lamar, SZA, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, SiR and Lance Skiiiwalker will all hit the stage on the all-star tour.  To prep fans for the much-anticipated shows, TDE has released a trailer showing the artists “training” for the North American venture, as well as their full list of cities.

The hilarious video is a series of gags, with re…

Keep on reading: Watch the Hilarious Trailer for SZA and Kendrick Lamar’s Tour
Source: V Magazine

Watch the Hilarious Trailer for SZA and Kendrick Lamar’s Tour

Canon Unveils IVY, A Compact Wireless Photo Printer

Canon Unveils IVY, A Compact Wireless Photo Printer

Canon has just announced IVY, a new compact photo printer that lets you create tiny prints on the go without any cables involved in the process.

The IVY itself measures just 4.7×3.2×0.7 inches (11.9×8.1×1.8 cm) and weighs 5.6 oz (160 g), so you can carry it around in your camera bag without it weighing you down.

You won’t need any cables around when using the printer, as it’s powered by a rechargeable battery and it communicates with your devices through Bluetooth 4.0.

After connecting to the app using the Canon Mini Print app on an iOS or Android device, you can apply things like creative filters, photo frames, stickers, photo edits, and augmented reality face distortions.

The printer uses ZINK Zero Ink technology, creating 2×3 photo prints and stickers without the use of ink cartridges. Both the prints and stickers are water-resistant and smudge-free. You can also automatically print a photo as a large photo mosaic made up of 4 to 9 individual 2×3 prints.

Each print is finished and spit out by the printer in as little as 50 seconds.

The Canon IVY Mini Photo Printer is available now in Rose Gold, Mint Green, and Slate Gray with a price tag of $130. The photo paper will be available in packs of 25 and 50 sheets for $10 and $25, respectively.


Source: PetaPixel

Canon Unveils IVY, A Compact Wireless Photo Printer

Developing Your Photographic Style

Developing Your Photographic Style

Defining your style is one of the, if not the, most difficult and time-consuming aspects of photography. It takes many people years or even decades of shooting before they really start to narrow down their photographic style.

Today I am going to try and speed you up past all that trial and error to help you start figuring out your style right now! It’s an incredibly simple process that after reading might sound completely obvious, but maybe something you didn’t consider before.

To make this easy, I will break it down into two phases. But be warned, this is about to get real nerdy.

Phase One: Exploration and Analysis
Phase Two: Growth and Development

Exploration

So first you need to explore — everything great starts with exploration, right? So start by making a folder on your phone, or computer, or wherever you tend to look at photos the most. Name that folder “Style Development” or something similar.

From there you will need to start looking at photos. Scour the web and start looking at tons of photos, every time you come across a photo that resonates with you, add it to the folder. You may not know why you are drawn to a particular image, but that’s okay for now, just add it to the folder.

When looking at photos make sure to look at many different types of photos from different time periods, different genres, and from many different photographers. The more photos you save, the better this works so make sure to look at tons and tons of photographs.

This may take weeks, or even months of looking through photos but trust me, it’s worth it!

Analysis

Okay, now it’s time to get nerdy once you have a fairly large collection of images (anywhere from hundreds to thousands). Take that giant folder of images and open them up in your favorite image viewer. We are going to start looking through all those photos you saved and start analyzing.

At this point, you probably won’t know what it is that draws you to these particular photos, but don’t worry, because we are going to analyze them and figure that out. The goal of this process is to learn what it is exactly that excites you photographically.

In my opinion, the best way to do that is to analyze photos you like so you can start understanding yourself and start understanding your desires as a photographer.

Once you have the photos loaded up and ready to view, grab yourself a notebook and a pen, or open up your notes application on your phone. Start going through the images, looking at them one by one and start trying to find similarities between them.

Basically, what you are doing is trying to establish not only why these particular photos speak to you but also what most or all of these photos have in common with each other.

Start thinking of things in adjectives and start asking yourself these types of questions.

Are these photos colorful and vibrant? Not colorful and vibrant? Contrasty or not contrasty? If there are people in the frame, are they posed or not posed? How does this photo make you feel? What is the composition like?

The goal here is to start breaking the majority of these photos down into adjectives that describe them.

For instance, when I did this for myself, these are some of the adjectives that described my collection of photos:

  • Colorful
  • Vibrant
  • Contrasty
  • Photojournalistic
  • Simple and sophisticated compositions
  • Lots of visual impact

I wrote that list of adjectives down and that became the beginning of my style.

Once you have gone through this process and analyzed each photo, you can start to identify what it is you are drawn and then start to understand what type of work you want to create. Once you know what you want to create, your style is born.

Growth and Development

So you have a vague idea of what it is you want to create. Now it’s time to grow that idea into a developed and unique photographic style. That all starts with shooting in a way that tries to follow your list of adjectives, so what I did was carry my list around with me for a while.

Every time I was putting together a shot I would ask myself: “Is this Colorful? Contrasty? Is my composition simple?”. If I could answer “yes” to those questions I would proceed with the shot. If I answered “No” to those questions I would try to find a way to turn that “no” into a “yes”.

At first, it was a conscious thought of “Does this fit within what it is I want to create?” But after a while, it became subconscious, and once it becomes subconscious is when the real development starts happening. That subconscious style is your foundation, and from that point on it is just about shooting, experimentation and building off of the experiments that work and forgetting about the ones that don’t.

I am currently at this point in my style development and I’ve actually tried to make it a point to not look at too many other photographers’ work because I find it starts to influence my own work — that’s totally not a bad thing, but I am curious to see where my style goes organically, without too much outside influence.

Developing your own personal style is just one part of the long journey that is photography.


P.S. If you are interested in learning more I have a few other resources that might help you along your way. First, is my guide to multiple exposures and the second is my full day intensive off camera flash workshop. You can also watch my MagMod ambassador video here.


About the author: Carsten Schertzer is a formerly homeless teenager turned professional wedding and engagement photographer in Los Angeles. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can see more of his work here and follow him on Instagram here. If you are interested in learning more about how you can use off camera flash and magmod to create awesome wedding photography you can sign up for his workshop here.


Source: PetaPixel

Developing Your Photographic Style

This Guy Built an Aluminum Medium Format Camera at Home

This Guy Built an Aluminum Medium Format Camera at Home

Photographer Lucus Landers has built one of the most impressive do-it-yourself cameras we’ve ever seen. Called the Landers AL6, it’s an all-aluminum camera that shoots medium format film.

“I have recently completed my most recent camera build,” Landers tells PetaPixel. “With the exception of the lens and shutter, everything is handmade in my Brooklyn apartment.”

While most homebrew cameras are made with wood and ingredients that are easier to work with, Landers opts to do metalwork.

“I live and sleep mere feet away from a welder and milling machine,” he says. “To build this camera, I use a combination of casting, machining, and welding.”

Landers started the project by making sand molds using a red sand called Petrobond.

Melting down and pouring aluminum into the mold produces the camera’s lens cone and top plate.

Other plates of aluminum are welded together to form the camera body.

A rangefinder is installed into the top cap.

A back door is installed on the camera with a hinge to allow film to be loaded. A pressure plate with leaf springs helps keep film in the camera flat.

The camera even has a camera strap mount.

Here’s what the finished Landers AL6 looks like:

Here are photos Landers has captured using the Landers AL6:

Landers documented his entire build in a 9-part video series that you can watch on his YouTube channel.

There’s also a still photo step-by-step walkthrough in this online album.

You can find more of Landers’ photography and homemade cameras on his website.


Image credits: Photographs by Lucus Landers and used with permission


Source: PetaPixel

This Guy Built an Aluminum Medium Format Camera at Home

Watch Canon’s Ultra-Dramatic Video Showing Off Its Sensors of the Future

Watch Canon’s Ultra-Dramatic Video Showing Off Its Sensors of the Future

Canon recently released this incredibly dramatic 5-minute video to showcase its latest CMOS sensor technologies. The opening question, set to moving music, is: “Have you ever seen a rainbow in the light of the moon?”

“A moonbow is a rare phenomenon that can only be seen when the appropriate lunar brightness, angle of elevation, and moisture in the air align. They are said to bring happiness to those who see them.”

Thanks to the company’s ultra-sensitive low-light CMOS sensor, Canon was able to capture a moonbow as vividly as a rainbow in midday… in a scene so dark that nothing could be seen with the human eye.

“For several decades Canon has been developing and manufacturing advanced CMOS sensors with state-of-the-art technologies for exclusive use in Canon products,” Canon writes. “These sensors are a critical driving force behind many of our successful product lines, ranging from consumer products all the way up to high-end business and industrial solutions.”

(via CanonUSA via The-Digital-Picture)


Source: PetaPixel

Watch Canon’s Ultra-Dramatic Video Showing Off Its Sensors of the Future

Is Ryan Kelly’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Photograph an American ‘Guernica’?

Is Ryan Kelly’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Photograph an American ‘Guernica’?

Jennifer Wenzel, Columbia University

On Aug. 12, 2017, Charlottesville Daily Progress photographer Ryan M. Kelly captured the moment that Nazi sympathizer James Alex Fields, Jr. drove his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counterprotesters, injuring 19 and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. It’s probably the most enduring image to emerge from the weekend of “Unite the Right” rallies in Charlottesville, Va.

Eight months later, Kelly’s iconic photograph from that tragic day has earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography.

At first glance, the photograph is nearly impossible to make sense of visually or politically. Cars are not supposed to drive into pedestrians; fellow citizens are not supposed to kill each other over political differences. And there’s so much in the frame of the image – so many figures and forms crowded together, most only partially visible – that you can’t take it in all at once.

Pablo Picasso’s 1937 iconic mural “Guernica” might teach us how to interpret this image more closely, and why it is important to do so. Like Kelly’s photograph, “Guernica” conveys a moment of terror through a jumble of forms and fragments that seem to make no sense.

In April 1937, a different sort of “Unite the Right” moment took place in fascist Europe during the destruction of Guernica. At the request of General Franco, the leader of nationalist insurgents in the Spanish Civil War, German and Italian warplanes bombarded the Basque town in northern Spain. Terror rained from the sky: Hundreds of civilians were killed, while military targets were left unscathed.

Days later, as May Day protesters filled the streets of Paris, Pablo Picasso began what would become an anti-war masterpiece.

Pablo Picasso, ‘Guernica’ (1937).
Reina Sofia

There are uncanny echoes of Picasso’s “Guernica” in Kelly’s photograph. Picasso used the Cubist techniques of fragmentation and collage to create a visual cry of anguish at the destruction wrought by men at the controls of war machines.

To make sense of the painting, you must do the work of reassembling what has been rendered apart. Yet you will never make sense of such destruction. You cannot merely glance at this massive painting or take it in all at once; you must stand and look and witness. There is nothing beautiful about it. It refuses to console. However, in the painting’s abstraction – its matte shades of gray, its distorted figures that stand in for the wounded and the dead – there is a kind of mercy toward its viewers and these victims.

If there is any mercy of abstraction in Kelly’s photograph, it is that of time. The image captures the moment in medias res – when the bodies of the men near its center still evoke the beauty of the human form in its wholeness.

Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress

Yet we know the victims are not whole; that is why it hurts to look. The contorted positions of the man in red and white sneakers and the man somersaulting above him make sense only in the realm of sports photography. But this is not a game.

Elsewhere the photograph captures only fragments: arms and hands, legs and feet, heads and faces. Empty shoes on the ground. Sunglasses. A cellphone in midair.

You will never make sense of this image because it makes no sense. (Or, rather, it makes as much sense as racism itself.) Yet to look away risks turning away from the truths it tells. A heavy aspect of our national tragedy is that we seem to lack a president – such as Abraham Lincoln – whose heart might break to see such carnage.

As he kept reworking “Guernica,” Picasso painted over a raised fist he had initially drawn near the center of the canvas. Then – as now – the raised fist is a symbol of solidarity against fascism. It makes an eerie reappearance on two posters in the top third of Kelly’s photograph.

“Guernica” includes small lines resembling newsprint. The Charlottesville photojournalist’s image is also crowded with text; some of it implicates the driver, while other words are a call to action.

Clear as day, there’s the incriminating license plate. No one can deny that this car drove into this crowd, as the colluding European fascists did when they claimed that Guernica had been bombed by Spanish Republican forces.

Then there’s the collage of protest signs and street signs that the neo-Nazi at the wheel didn’t heed: Peace/Black Lives Matter. Solidarity. STOP. LOVE. BLACK LIVES. STOP.

Kelly’s photograph redirects these injunctions to the viewer, who’s left to wonder whether this is what our democracy – or the state of our union – looks like.


The ConversationThis is an updated version of an article originally published on Aug. 17, 2017.

Jennifer Wenzel, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

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Is Ryan Kelly’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Photograph an American ‘Guernica’?