Our ongoing Photowisdom Series brings you the story behind the careers of the world's most highly regarded photographers. This week, London-based photographer and artist, Tim Flach, whose work often examines the anthropomorphism of creatures in an abstract way. His use of composition, cropping and framing lead to his viewers discovering the humor, vulnerability and humanism these animals display. Flach aims to promote discussion and debate around the way humans shape animals and their meaning.

Monkey Bat (Egyptian Fruit Bat). 

Taking a picture was initially an almost voyeuristic thing. At the beginning I was not given the opportunity to do big projects, but I would be commissioned to go and photograph somebody or something. These jobs could be as diverse and everyday as recording a factory pickling gherkins, or shooting a portrait of a designer of a new bike – but it allowed me to go into different worlds, expose myself to different things. Then I started to see how photography was a way of creating a doorway for somebody else to find other things. You can have signs in the image that have a potential to take people somewhere else. You may not understand everything that is there, but you can have a sense for it. So I might have an image of a neck of a horse: at one level it is a horse, in another way people might see it more as a mountain, but having heard people discussing it, I see they can find other asso- ciations. Photographs have this potential for layering, many interpretations, ambiguity, which makes photography very special. But still it has this ultimate strength, in that some- thing existed at some point in front of the lens; if that ingredient is maintained, respected, then you have the potential for people to find a lot of connections out of that original moment that you may never have anticipated, that you could never anticipate.

 A painting has texture, an artist constructs something. A photograph is this and yet also something different. A photographer sees something – you do not simply create and you do not just look. You observe things like a fine artist and you make something too, but you do it in a real space and clearly share your journey with the viewer. You are both moving around, looking into a real space that existed, that the viewer understands you to have photographed.

Horse Mountain (Hassan, Arabian) from Equus, 2008. 

How you see the observer of the image is so important. Where this person is, where the image is: it’s almost everything. I consider who is seeing the picture and if it is being delivered on a website, in an exhibition, in a book or other print. I have done images for stamps, which obviously have a very special frame of reference, not to mention being small in size. I have to think: “Will there be the means to support the image with other information? Will the viewer be affected by other things?” It is important to consider what is possible, within the image and around the image. Understanding how it will be perceived is important. I am not a photographer who just does an image and thinks, “That is it. Now the viewer can make of it what they will.” You can take a lucky picture – it can work – but it is better if you take a true interest in how the communication works, how the photograph will transform somebody’s experience, how meaning will be achieved.

 If I take the subject matter of my bats, the series where the image is turned upside down, then I think people are surprised to find how easily they engage with a perceived “personality” in the bat through the turned-around image. At one level it is a simple trick, but it transforms the experience. Another image where I make a simple shift that transforms the viewer experience is where I have photographed a lot of flies on horse shit. This might not be an incredible image, but it is surprising how people are more willing to engage with the subject, appreciate the flies as remarkable things. And this is achieved through the scale being different. The flies are huge and you can see the beautiful iridescence of their wings and suchlike. Or take my image of horse placenta – not normally seen as a subject with aesthetic properties, but I have worked to make something that you do start to be curious and intrigued by, enjoying the architecture, the mapping of the veins, and you may be reminded of leaf-forms by the structure.

You always need some kind of framework to start, but also you need to be open to what you observe. Often the most interesting things are the surprise obstructions that you encounter on your presumed journey. But without the plan, you do not have the framework that gets you inquiring in the first place, or creates the situations where interesting things can happen. The photographer’s surprises become surprises for the viewer, too. You set out to do one thing but are open to changing direction as you see opportunities. When I brought these fruit bats into the studio, I had an idea to fly them around and then retouch them against a night sky. This was not a great idea, particularly as fruit bats are not that wonderful at flying by bat standards. Then I noticed the bats seemed to be almost chatting away together in the corner of the studio where they were hanging. So I opened out to the potential of that, saw something new in the idea of their personalities and the relationship between them rather than the flying, and asked the handlers to bring them back for another day where I could approach it with the fresh objectives.

Windows Chestnut (JJ Ballarina, Arabian) from Equus, 2008. 

I am often reminded of the Bill Brandt quote, where he said that photographers must see more intensely and reveal a sense of wonderment. (“It is part of the photographer’s job to see more intensely than most people do. He must have and keep in him something of the receptiveness of the child who looks at the world for the first time or of the traveller who enters a strange country.”)

This is the idea of really seeing, not just looking. If your reasoning mind distracts you from seeing then you are the poorer: less likely to reveal something that you find intriguing, that resonates.

There is a sense of wonderment about the complexity of nature, and I am often reminded and excited by that with the subject matter I approach. I am in awe of nature, but while my subject may be animal, at the same time I am exploring things to do with what it is to be human.

 Respect is due in a big way to the influence of philosophers like Roland Barthes and Vilém Flusser upon photographic practice today, my work included. Barthes has had an extraordinary influence on the generation working now, whether they are conscious of it directly or not. Our idea of the role of the image in our society, the concept of what an image is, owes a lot to philosophers at least as much as image- makers. It feeds back into the image-making.

There is a major “democratization of photography”, as Susan Sontag said. Photography today is a more exciting medium to participate in – there are richer experiences to draw from potential viewers of the work; the technology makes it even more of a medium that people can see and create, can participate in, than it was say twenty years ago. This influences me in how I think about how people view the image. I am aware that the viewer may have already seen a subject intensely, and that others have covered it. Part of my challenge is to defamiliarize the subject. I need to make us see the world as a little strange again, with fresh eyes and new insight. Perhaps I do animals as I do because I see so many people shooting wildlife images, going about documentary work with the subject. I am more interested in how we, humans, are involved in this subject: how we are anthropocentric, inevitably putting ourselves at the centre of any understanding of animals. We also respond to them by imposing our behaviours on theirs, see them as we see ourselves. We anthropomorphize the animal.

You can see more of Tim's work on his website here >> 

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Giuseppe Fedrigoni was a young Italian paper merchant in 1717. It was this year that young Giuseppe would make a decision that would set the foundation for his family trade for centuries to come.

In a small town in the mountains of Northern Italy, he opened the doors to a modest paper mill. Here, Giuseppe and his workers laboriously created handmade paper by pressing textile tatters with wooden forms. While his business met moderate success, it was his passion that endured.

Customers and suppliers registry from 1888.

In 1888, Giuseppe’s descendant, Giuseppe Antonio Fedrigoni, brought together his ancestors' love for tradition with his eye for innovation, to open the first Fedrigoni Cartiere factory in Verona, Italy. From there, the family business grew from son to son, first with Giuseppe Antonio’s son Antonio and in turn to his sons Gianfranco, Renzo, and Arrigo.
Since 1888, the passion and Fedrigoni family name has flourished under five generations of children, two World Wars, four fires, and one air bombing 1945 (after which the Verona factory was completely rebuilt). As the business grew with innovation, the commitment to their roots of tradition remained cemented. Even today, the company still has a team dedicated to the production of handmade paper in the Fabriano premises.

The first Fedrigoni factory opened in Verona, Italy 1888.

The family’s affection for craftsmanship and their foundation in Italian culture remains at the core of their papers. There are few other companies who can claim stronger ties with history of paper production. It is said that Fedrigoni owned Fabriano Paper (est 1264) was the favorite paper of Michaelangelo, da Vinci, and Raphael and that the company is responsible for the invention of many of the tools for paper production that are used worldwide today.

The Tintoretto paper itself was created as a modern ode to artistry and was named after the great Renaissance painter Jacopo Robusti, dubbed Tintoretto or little dyer because of his father’s profession as a dyer or tintore. His works "The Last Supper" of 1594, "Saint Mark Rescuing the Slave," and "Susanna and the Elders," are widely regarded as some of the best examples of Venetian painting.
Fedrigoni owned Fabriano Paper still dedicates a small team to producing handmade paper today. 
The Tintoretto, much like the family who created it, manages to be both steeped in tradition as well as the result of great innovation. It represents that passing on of artistry from generation to generation which resonates at the core of Fedrigoni. In this way, it is entirely appropriate that Tintoretto paper is still produced in the families original Verona factory.
While every book may have a story, it is this story that gives Fedrigoni papers a soul.

Our ongoing Photowisdom Series brings you the story behind the careers of the world's most highly regarded photographers. This week, Joel Meyerowitz, the renowned photographer known for his street, portrait and landscape photography.

Meyerowitz photographed the aftermath of the 911 attacks and was the only photographer allowed unrestricted access to Ground Zero immediately following the September 11. This resulted in his book Aftermath: World Trade Center Archive (2006).

Florida, 1967.

I connect to things in a visceral way. There are things that surprisingly move me and often I am shocked at the unpredictable character of these things. The camera is a reflex for me, it rises to my eye and opens up to take in that thing out there – sensation, feeling, cohesive elements that appear in front of me. It is a way of matching and absorbing the response I have to the world. It captures my consciousness and, later, this allows me to read my consciousness back like a text and understand my relationship to things or moments.

 I couldn’t have explained it like that when I began forty-odd years ago. But what I saw then was that photography allowed me to move through space and time in a different way. I had witnessed Robert Frank taking photographs one day. He would move around and take pictures of things that in turn were moving – it was a physical, balletic activity. As I left this commercial shoot he was doing, the world looked different to me. When I was back on the street I saw you could raise the camera to your eye and capture that gesture that intrigued you; I embraced that physicality.

 I went back to my office where I was an art director and told my boss that I was quitting. Said I wanted to become a photographer. He asked, “Do you have a camera?” I said, “No, I don’t have one.” He reached into his drawer and gave me his camera. After work, I went out to the first camera store I saw and bought two rolls of colour film. It didn’t occur to me to buy black and white film – I saw that the world was in colour and so I bought colour film. It was also pragmatic: I didn’t know anything about photography but I wanted to see the pictures as fast as I could get them, and with colour I could take them to a lab and have slides back in three hours. It took years for me to really understand that I needed to see prints, hold them in my hand, and not just project them on to a screen. Then I started to shoot in black and white, and taught myself all the darkroom techniques. And then I started to carry two cameras, one with black and white and one with colour film, and I could trade between the two. I would look to make comparable photographs and see which one made something more interesting. I saw that colour was a richer, more nuanced depiction of the world.

Interior, Cape Cod, 1976.
In the subsequent two years, which I spent a lot with Tony Ray-Jones, we were two naifs on the street. During that period I began to understand that to take a picture was to build a line of small consciousnesses that I could put together and it would describe my areas of interest. Interactions and relations, portraits; I started to understand the nature of photography slowly – I wasn’t drawn to documentary, or to save the world, I was drawn because it was a way of seeing how my mind worked.

I can’t put a strict label on what kind of photographer I am – I think that narrows your parameters. I am a generalist: when the world appears interesting to me through the images I have collected, then I realize it can be my divining rod.

 Years ago I had a farm and I hired a water diviner. He walked around the site and at some point he said, “Dig here.” So we did, and twelve feet below we hit water. How did he know? In a sense the stick led him and for me the camera and the pictures I make over a period of time lead me to see where my interest is strengthening.

I think a book of photographs is the most coherent way of putting across your ideas, some argument you are making about the way you see. Putting a book together, for me, has been the strongest way of using photography. But I also love the experience of a print, standing in front of something which is at an appropriate scale, so that you can dwell again in the experience. Photography has this incredible characteristic of illusion, presenting an illusion of deep space with many things going on. It stills time in such a way that if you can stand in front of it and immerse yourself in the experience it describes, you can lose yourself in there. I look for that kind of opportunity, where the photographer has been generous enough in how they have been entranced in their moment that I have an opportunity to stand in their shoes.

 I use the real world: whatever the light is, wherever I find myself, I make the picture. I don’t often say I will come back the next day for it. There is only now. The moment is now, I am here now, this is happening now, take it now. The sense of that moment, the magnitude of that, is the only thing I can respond to. I can’t think about the future when I am only in the now. Photography is about the consciousness of now for me.

 With digital, it is a negative asset that you can immediately see what you have got. I observed it in other photographers, and it is a temptation for me, to look straight at the image just taken. When you only have film in the camera and you start to shoot something, a small event is transpiring in front of you. Well, you move closer and keep pushing and keep moving all the time, only focusing on the event. But with digital, I have noticed so consistently that photographers take a picture and then look at the back to see what came out, while the event is still going on. The event might be getting better but they are looking at the camera. I have been training myself not to look at the back of the camera but to stay with the event. It is like a sin to be looking at the camera when the next moment actually was the best picture, but you missed it because you were looking at the last moment!

 The street is like a text. It is capable of being read by me in my own imperfect way. When I am out there, I am talking to myself, there is such a noisy chatter in me, watching all the time. There is such a joy in being alive and reading what is going on. I am looking at all the stuff coming down the street and I am trying to read the possible connections between them and what might happen when they converge or dissipate. The lively potential the street has in terms of picture content is incredible, even though it is so open-ended. I am not really looking for something but looking at it, watching like waves on the shore as it throws more stuff up. It enriches the daily life for me. I am never without a camera and when I am out on the street I am open, a sense of play for the unpredictability of the bounty of street life bringing unexpected connections.

A lot of people put their intellectual concerns first with photography, but I think it is a discipline that is at first a visceral one. The primary aspect of this whole engagement with, and through, photography is to try to understand what your instincts are. Don’t go counter to that, learn what the feeling is. If your instinct says go left, then go left. If you keep following every instinct – you want to get closer, or kneel down, or jump up two steps – then just do it. The results will describe to you who you are. The visceral and the intuitive side will combine to show you your intellect as a photographer.
Pictures work in many ways. They can reveal the mind-set of the person who has made them: they can tell you if someone is bored, they can tell you if someone is engaged, they can tell you if someone is sensual.

Astonish me! This is what I want from photography. It can be with the most ordinary thing and yet change my consciousness.

Malaga, Spain, 1966.

Keen to learn more about Joel? Hear his perspective on his Ground Zero 9/11 Project Aftermath: The World Trade Center Archive (2006) here > bit.ly/1VCPiyk 

In my kitchen there is a drawer and in it lives one copy of Julia Child’s "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" alongside what feels like hundreds of recipes scrawled on pieces of scrap paper. Amongst these are recipes passed down from my grandma that I had frantically clung to during my first few years living on my own.

So, when I finally decided to undertake the lofty task of sorting through my infamous kitchen drawer and creating my own cookbook, I went to our own Bridget White, designer and exceptional cookbook creator for our MILK Book’s sister company PQ Blackwell. Bridget is the woman behind some of my all-time favorite cookbooks including "The Great New Zealand Cookbook" and "Love & Food at Gran's Table."

1. How many books have you designed?
I have worked on about 20 books for PQ Blackwell – sometimes I will be heavily involved in the look and feel of the final product, while at other times I focus on the production/print aspects of a book. PQ Blackwell’s list has become smaller over the years as we’re more interested in producing an exclusive selection of high-quality photographic books with high production values. I feel very lucky to be working with such incredibly talented photographers and authors.

2. What have been your favorite projects to work on?
We recently worked on a cookbook for the Australian and New Zealand market called ‘Love & Food at Gran’s Table’. A well-known local chef called Natalie Oldfield was inspired by her beloved late grandmother to collect recipes and stories from grandmothers all around the world. The result was a beautiful book that I’m very proud of, as it reflects my personal style and even includes some of my original illustrations!

3. What do you enjoy about designing books?
I love that my job allows me to be creative. I get to work on a variety of projects with a wonderful editorial team, and at the end of each project we’ve created a beautiful, tangible object that we can put on the shelf and say ‘we made that!'

4. Recently you have been working on a lot of cookbooks; do you have any tips for people wanting to design a recipe book?
Make sure you balance function and form. Ensure that the book is as easy to read and use as possible – this might mean using left-aligned text rather than centred text, using large, clear, sans-serif typography, or using a minimum of colours, fonts, etc.

5. What photography works best for cookbooks?
Make sure the focus is on the food – you can use some props to complement the food but don’t get too carried away! Close-cropping is usually a good idea, and it’s always handy to have a large selection to choose from.

6. Any other tips / hints you would like to share?
Designing and producing a book can take time, and sometimes your initial ideas may not work, so be patient! Sometimes you can be so deeply involved in the design of a book that you lose sight of your original goals and aspirations – for this reason, it’s always a good idea to get other peoples’ opinions. Keep your eyes open when it comes to other books and other photography that may inspire you!

Inspired to clear out your own recipe drawer? You can browse through MILK's recipe book formats here > 

Our ongoing Photowisdom Series brings you the story behind the careers of the world's most highly regarded photographers. This week, fine art and portrait photographer Jill Greenberg. From her work End Times, in which Greenberg photographed emotionally distressed children to reflect her feelings on the Bush administration, to her well publicized and intentionally unflattering portraits of 2008 Presidential hopeful John McCain, Greenberg manages to straddle the line between fine art and political protest effortlessly.

Torture from End of Times 

What’s driving me in how my images look? It reflects what I am feeling at a particular time, and the reality of the world I live in, even the day-to-day light. When I moved to California there was more daylight. That was influential. And when you go to a rock concert and see the light playing off the performer on stage, or notice how it looks in a movie, then study what the cinematographer has done. I figure out what moves me and learn from that.

This has been my aesthetic ever since I began making images, and as a child I was drawing and painting and taking pictures. I started taking pictures of my friends when I was ten or eleven years old. My approach has always been in your face, very graphic, strongly lit, and has never been about documenting in soft, natural daylight. I began lighting my pictures quite deliberately when I was in high school. In college I started doing studio lighting with coloured gels and strange scenarios. I would project things on people and shoot reflections. As soon as Photoshop came out I started playing with it, found it very exciting.

The actual shoot doesn’t usually take that long. A shoot day is a few hours, but if you are shooting a celebrity you might only have fifteen minutes or an hour. It is more about the preparation – the pre-production is the most time, second is the post-production, and the actual shooting is usually the least amount of time.

I have always been interested in portraits. I used to draw and paint just people, make up all different kinds of crazy characters. I only really noticed it recently, when I looked back at my old sketchbooks and saw that all my drawings were of really strange people or animals – animals with human bodies, and other things.

People are usually very happy to be made to look amazingly perfect. I don’t want to retouch them to make them look too plastic. With a celebrity I can’t take it too far – they have to look like themselves, so I make them a better version of themselves … just a little more perfect.

Petulant from Monkey Portraits.

If we are working with a model we can perhaps rearrange their face a little if that would improve their appearance. Most subjects are very happy and say, “The skin looks so amazing, the lighting is so amazing. I am so happy to be photographed by you!” They’re just happy and I want people to be happy with how they are photographed.

With the End Times project it was different. It was a series of children’s portraits I made to explore and illustrate the feelings that I had, and perhaps other parents had, about what faced our children. With George Bush being re-elected, it was so awful and upsetting. There were the evangelical Christians believing in “end times” – that the more bad things happen then the better it is, because we can all die and go to heaven, and these people had power. George Bush was listening to these crazy religious people who wanted the world to end.

So I made these images of children looking very distressed, as if they knew what was happening to their world. It is still upsetting. The message got across, because the controversy around them (for showing children crying) made a lot of people look at the pictures. I did not encourage the controversy; the works were shown in New York in an art fair and people liked them and no controversy.

But then there was controversy as the media picked it up. I don’t feel it is controversial to make children cry – you have to make them cry, you can’t always give them what they want, five bowls of ice cream. At some point you have to say no more and they may start crying. They are children; they cry! It doesn’t mean they are being tortured. My children were among the models. I was pregnant with my son when I was first shooting the series and later I photographed him at about two years old.

This project in turn inspired me to shoot portraits of grizzly bears, the Ursine series. I was really taken aback by the anger, the vitriol, of the media. I wanted to capture that with growling, angry, ferocious bears. The bears were animal actors, but still definitely dangerous. Commercial and personal are very much two different areas. You don’t always have the freedom to spend time or resources on personal when the economy isn’t so good. The personal projects are expensive in time and money.
Heatmiser from Monkey Portraits.

I have a new series I have been working on, and reworking, an even more painterly series. My inspirations range from pop, and simple, clean portraits like Irving Penn, and then painters – Francis Bacon – and then some of the Surrealists; I used to love Dalí and still think he is great.
For somebody starting out, I would say: “You have to work very hard, try to develop and hone your own vision, find something that is personal to you. With all the photographs that are being made daily, it may seem almost impossible to make something that stands out, but you have to do it!”

People do copy, but hopefully people take things and can make it different, make it their own. When I was in college I started out trying to do stuff like other photographers. But you need it to end up looking like your own.

I am always thinking of new ideas and would love to pursue them. But it is expensive to produce images like the ones I want to make. The hardest part is you want to do this amazing picture and, whether for yourself or for a client, it can turn out you can’t afford to produce it in the way you want to. You need to be a bit of a business person, too, in this work. I would love to have unlimited money and time to make all the pictures I wanted! I have a million ideas, things I see in my head, and want to do them all.

You can see more of Jill's work at www.jillgreenberg.com/ 

Download PhotowisdomDownload your own copy of Lewis Blackwell's "Photowisdom: Master Photographers on their Art"


We’re all guilty of it.

Going on holiday, taking photos that we just LOVE and, 6 months later, finding that these once cherished snaps remain neglected in the purgatory that is our digital camera.

I personally have been struggling to print photos from my trip to Vietnam for about 3 years now (again, we are all guilty!).

Because of this, we’ve invited our friend Liz at paislee press to show her latest travel photo book and give us (me) that kick of inspiration needed to finally pull out that memory card and get going!

Liz is a prolific photo book creator and designer who creates beautiful templates for photo books. If you’re in need of a bit more help in the design department, you can check out her gorgeous templates here.

So without further ado, here’s Liz.

We went to Oahu in May of 2014. It was our first “big” family vacation and I felt this milestone was one that needed to be documented in photobook format.

I decided to go with the Moleskine Photo Notebook for several reasons.

First, Moleskine’s photo notebook option has a set number of pages – 96 to be exact. That seemed to be just the right amount of space to document a week’s worth of adventures. Second, there are limited layout options in Moleskine’s book making software, which in this case I felt would help speed up the completion process. Having less design options to choose from can be a good thing.

Lastly, and probably the most important deciding factor for me (along with price point), is Moleskine’s open-flat binding feature. I wanted to be able to build large format photo spreads that spanned across two pages without losing any details in the gutter.

Overall, I am beyond thrilled with the way it turned out.

You have the ability to include blank, lined or grid dotted journal pages. I plan on hand writing in the journaling in these spots.

The quality of the cardstock is top notch. It’s a nice sturdy weight and has an incredible finish – a soft velvety-matte sheen that you have to see (and feel) in person to truly appreciate.

A few more details I love…

The inside cover includes the same “please return to” message that you would find in the classic Moleskine notebook. The back includes their signature expandable pocket folder, perfect for storing memorabilia. For more details on the Moleskine Photo Books click here. 

Photo credit: Liz Tamanaha