A bit of old news, but just going through old files and came across this post, which I meant to put up quite a while ago.
The winner of Magnum’s Expression Award this year, announced a few months ago, is Yvonne Venegas, a photographer from California. Her work that claimed the Expression Award, entitled Maria Elvia de Hank, is very quiet, very thoughtful – and very compelling. She describes it as:
…a view into the life, family and environment of eccentric millionaire and former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rohn…a work that reflect[s] on identity and a way of thinking, a state of mind that the couple of Mr. and Mrs. Hank have created together.
One of the things that struck the most about her work was not the images itself, but rather the way she speaks about them. Her entire artist statement is fascinating, but the words that struck me the most were these:
I understand that the intimate will consist only of the instants that I can locate behind those that are camera ready.
There are countless times that I’ve found myself, or other photographer friends have said that they’ve found themselves caught in a situation that seems far too cliched, to known to photograph. They can be varied in content, from formal wedding portraits, to a news conference, to even the release of Durga Puja statues into a river in Bangladesh, but they are similar in that they appear unoriginal, insincere – seen before. As Venegas says, to be able to look beyond and underneath these photo-ready moments is the job of the photographer, to convey emotions and content that extend beyond the actual edge of the frame.
It’s wonderful that Magnum’s award, designed to allow for the creation of a body of work that is purely the expression of a photographer, went to a woman who does that so beautifully – a photographer who can not only find striking moments within timelines, but who can also articulate why they are so. I hope to be able to take a few pointers from her.
For those interested, see more of Venegas’ work here.