2009, State Capital Building, Albany NY, © Photographic Expressions and Pilar Arthur-Snead

Minor White

Minor White
Minor White, Frosted Window 1961, Photo From Luminous Lint,

Minor White’s work has been called poetic. He himself has been called a photographic sage. I would tend to agree. White comes from the modernist tradition of photography but he along with Aaron Siskind,  and to a degree, Alfred Stieglitz with his Equivalents series, sought to push photography past its depictive nature and use photography as a means to transcend the simple act of seeing.

Aaron Siskind

Aaron Siskind
Stephen Daiter Gallery, Aaron Siskind, Chicago 1960 | Gelatin silver print | 13.5 x 16.5 in. 1960s print. Signed, titled and dated in on mount recto and verso.

Siskind’s work is concise –viewing it is almost like getting hit in the head with a stick. When I first started taking pictures, I remember finding his work and being in awe of the way he could morph an object into something so beautifully abstract.

Alex Webb

Alex Webb, Magnum Photos, this image is copyrighted to the artist.

Alex does with color and documentary photography what Siskind and White did with black and white. He has a way of just getting to the heart of the matter. I had the pleasure of taking a workshop with Alex and Rebecca Norris Webb at The Center for Photography at Woodstock in the Summer of 2011 during hurricane Sandy. They were gracious enough to continue to hold the seminar with “impending doom” lurking round the corner and they are both truly as great in spirit and kindness as their work.

Renee Cox

Renee Cox, From the Series American Family. This image plays off the famous painting by Edouard Manet called Olympia.

Ms. Cox, in my humble opinion, is a pioneer in challenging cultural norms specifically as they relate to the black female body. Her images directly address stereotypes and conceivably pre-subscribed roles of black women in western society. I find her work to be engaging, edgy, if not controversial, but also connected to photographic and art history.


Edouard Manet (1832-1883), Olympia, 1863, Oil on canvas, H. 130; W. 190 cm, Held at Musee D’Orsay

Jemima Stehli

Stephen Daiter Gallery, Jemima Stehli, Strip No. 1, Writer 1999 | Chromogenic print | 17.25 x 10.5 in. , Set of 9 C-Type photographs mounted onto aluminum. 1999 prints. Each print it signed, titled, dated, numbered, and edition 4/5 by artist on mount verso.

Stehli’s work often challenges gender and power roles. She  confronts the way in which power plays out between men and women by playing with who has control over image creation and who has control over self-expression. Her work is more in the vein of performance with the photographs standing as evidence of the performance and how it unfolded.


5 thoughts on “5 Photographers I Like and Why

    1. I am going to assume she was. This photograph is lettered with meaning and historical references: one reference is to the infamous painting Olympia (Manet) and the second is that painting’s history within the contexts of representation of the female nude up until the 19th century and then finally representation of the black female body within fine art contexts and also in photography. Historically, Black women in America came to this country as slaves. They reared many slave owners children while their own children were ripped from their bosoms and sold as slaves as well. In the Manet painting the female is a prostitute pictured with her slave. Traditionally, black women have been represented as slave and as prostitute. All of these inform the photograph. In her photograph I am assuming these are her children as she has photographed with them before and she changes the representation of the black women from slave/mammie to mother and from prostitute to beauty or object of beauty. At the time, the Manet painting was considered to be a grotesque and twisted way to depict a woman because up til that point all representation of the female body and status were idealized. So in this way Rene Cox reclaims the idealized form for the black female body both as mother and object of beauty. How do most children hold their mother up in their eyes??? As the most beautiful woman in the world! That is my take away from the photograph. The nudity is not something that is done in a profane or pornographic way. It has meaning and context. More than the nudity one might see on tv that’s for sure.

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