Women in Photography: Lorna Simpson

As a follow up to our intro on Berenice Abbott, another important pioneering female photographer we’re spotlighting for Women’s History Month, is African-American visual and multimedia artist, Lorna Simpson. Born in 1960, the Brooklyn native’s work revolves around young black women and explores themes of history, culture, race and gender identity through photographic portraiture. Over the past years however, the artist has brought drawing, painting and photo collaging into her toolkit to create some fascinating art.

Best known for her conceptual work Stereo Styles 1988, Simpson presents ten instant black and white film photographs of African-American women’s heads modeling hairstyles that were popular in the 80s. Their backs are turned to the viewer and we don’t see their faces suggesting that they could be adaptable to any narrative.

Words such as Daring, Sensible, Magnetic and Country Fresh are written between the images as if were an advertisement on hairstyles available. However, each image is not paired with a word description, which might enable the viewer to form their own opinion on what they are looking at.

Stereo Styles, 1988

Stereo Styles, 1988

Simpson’s conceptual photographic work continued to build on the themes of identity, race, history and memory in her work, Gathering – an exhibit of found photographs of mostly 1950s pinup images of young black women, paired alongside with her self-portrait recreating the exact same scenes.

1957-2009, interiors. 2009.

1957-2009, interiors. 2009.

The interplay of fact, fiction, history and identity comes to mind in this meaningful work comprised of found vintage images she procured from eBay and her own self-portraits.

Building on the theme of identity arrives Simpson’s recent book Lorna Simpson Collages – a collection of found photographs drawn from vintage magazines she skillfully collaged with colorful ink washes on paper. The vibrant and dream-like images Simpson created in this body of work continues to explore memory and identity of black women and their complex language of hair.

Author of the book writes:

In Lorna Simpson’s collages … black women’s heads of hair are galaxies unto themselves, solar systems, moonscapes, volcanic interiors … It is sinuous and cloudy and fully alive … Watercolor is the perfect medium for Simpson here because of how it holds light and appears to be translucent. But it is also a wash, a shadow cast over what we cannot know in these women.
— Elizabeth Alexander

"Top”, 2012. (to left) and “Unbroken” 2017. (to right)

In an interview with the Paris Review, Simpson explains that this work is:

a discovery I made of these old Ebony magazines belonging to my grandmother. I found them really satisfying to look at, because they’re so contextual … For me, the images hearken back to my childhood, but are also a lens through which to see the past 50 years in American history.
— Lorna Simpson

To learn more about Lorna Simpson, visit her website and browse her fascinating work.

Women in Photography: Berenice Abbott

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re taking a look back at some pivotal contributors to the photographic medium. Since the early innovation of the daguerrotype process, women had been experimenting with photography and have been using this expressive form of communication as a method to tell meaningful stories, archive history, visualize style and illustrate dreams.

Our first focus is the photographer Berenice Abbott (July 17, 1898 – December 9, 1991) , born in Springfield, Ohio and later pursuing sculpture in Paris, Berlin and New York, working as a studio assistant to Man Ray, a landmark figure in photography. Thus begun her road in the medium, soon meeting the French photographer Eugene Atget whose now-famous depictions of Paris streets and their transformation during the 1920s were not at the time well known. Her appreciation and promotion of his work, to the point of purchasing his estate after his death, has been instrumental towards Eugene Atget being a household name among photographers today.

Abbott returned to the US in 1929, and secured funding from the Federal Art Project to photograph the transition of New York City during the Great Depression. These were published in her best known series Changing New York (1936-38) which showed the movement of people within the ever-changing landscape of the city.

“A photograph is not a painting, a poem, a symphony, a dance. It is not just a pretty picture, not an exercise in contortionist techniques and sheer print quality. It is or should be a significant document, a penetrating statement, which can be described in a very simple term—selectivity.”

— BERENICE ABBOTT


Today Berenice Abbott is considered a pillar of photographic history, particularly among the street shooters, documentary and archivalists, and architecture buffs. Through her imagery, Abbott was able to express a significant and almost ominous dynamic of scale between people of New York and the increasingly large buildings that surrounded them. Her work remains as a passionate document of city life during a critical time in our history.



NEW YEAR = NEW YOU #neverstoplearning

It’s a new year and for many of us it’s an opportunity to change and try something outside our comfort zone. Whether it’s a new way of looking at things, a career change, adopting a new process or kicking bad habits to the curb, we believe the new year is the best time to start a “new you” and create a fresh path that may lead to something amazing in 2019.

Take inspiration from these successful late-bloomers that took winding career paths before discovering their passions later in life:

Julia Child  worked as a researcher for a government intelligence agency before discovering her passion for cooking at the age of 36.

Julia Child worked as a researcher for a government intelligence agency before discovering her passion for cooking at the age of 36.

Designer  Vera Wang  was a professional ice skater and even appeared in Sports Illustrated before she dipped her toes into fashion and launched her own brand at the age of 40.

Designer Vera Wang was a professional ice skater and even appeared in Sports Illustrated before she dipped her toes into fashion and launched her own brand at the age of 40.

Photographer  Brandon Stanton  worked in finance as a bonds trader before pursuing his passion in photography with  Humans of New York , a photography project celebrating everyday New Yorkers through portraits and interviews that lead to even bigger things.

Photographer Brandon Stanton worked in finance as a bonds trader before pursuing his passion in photography with Humans of New York, a photography project celebrating everyday New Yorkers through portraits and interviews that lead to even bigger things.

Writer, Comedian and Radio Personality  David Sedaris  didn’t make his national public radio debut until he was 44 and worked as a Christmas elf (!) at Macy’s before gaining recognition in his 30s for his memoirs.

Writer, Comedian and Radio Personality David Sedaris didn’t make his national public radio debut until he was 44 and worked as a Christmas elf (!) at Macy’s before gaining recognition in his 30s for his memoirs.

87-year-old Nobel Prize-winning writer  Toni Morrison  published her first novel at age 40 as a single mom before receiving critical acclaim later in her career. On May 29, 2012, President Barack Obama presented Morrison with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and most recently, she received the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction in 2016.

87-year-old Nobel Prize-winning writer Toni Morrison published her first novel at age 40 as a single mom before receiving critical acclaim later in her career. On May 29, 2012, President Barack Obama presented Morrison with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and most recently, she received the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction in 2016.

Academy Award-winning film director,  Ang Lee   (dir. Brokeback Mountain, Ice Storm, Crouching Dragon Hidden Tiger)  didn’t screen his first big movie until he was 38.

Academy Award-winning film director, Ang Lee (dir. Brokeback Mountain, Ice Storm, Crouching Dragon Hidden Tiger) didn’t screen his first big movie until he was 38.

Blondie’s  first album wasn’t released until she was 31 and her commercial breakthrough didn’t occur until she was 33, when “Heart of Glass” topped the charts as a No. 1 Hot 100 hit.

Blondie’s first album wasn’t released until she was 31 and her commercial breakthrough didn’t occur until she was 33, when “Heart of Glass” topped the charts as a No. 1 Hot 100 hit.

48-year-old actor, director, producer and pro-skateboarder, Jason Lee didn’t discover photography until his late 30s. Now, he’s launched an entirely new photography career and chases his passion through the lens of a 4x5 large format film camera. His latest photo book,  A Plain View  is a beautiful and nostalgic homage to his new home state of Texas.

48-year-old actor, director, producer and pro-skateboarder, Jason Lee didn’t discover photography until his late 30s. Now, he’s launched an entirely new photography career and chases his passion through the lens of a 4x5 large format film camera. His latest photo book, A Plain View is a beautiful and nostalgic homage to his new home state of Texas.

And the list goes! So what we’re trying to say is that it’s never too late to change or try something new that excites you, because you’ll never know where it can lead you to next! 

PHOTOS: Holiday Fam Portraits

This month, we brought a little extra cheer to our neighborhood by offering FREE Holiday Portraits for families and friends – including furry ones! It’s our way of bringing folks together, giving back to this awesome community and spreading joy from our new home base.

The result: Holiday Portrait Success!

Below are some of our favorite moments captured that day, including some pre-production BTS shots of Justin creating our spectacular hand-painted cityscapes backdrop for the shoot.

Very special thanks to our BKC members/fam: Sina Hickey, Iris Ebert, Mariana Spirindon, Gloria Cook, Ellen Qbertplaya, Lanna Apisukh, Alizay Junejo and Adam Barcan for coming out to support our event AND to Fotocare for providing us with some sweet gear for the shoot. You guys are the best!

Happy Holidays and enjoy the memories 🎁🎄

Pre-pro BTS! Justin hand-painting NYC skyscrapers on our seamless to create a festive cityscapes backdrop.

Pre-pro BTS! Justin hand-painting NYC skyscrapers on our seamless to create a festive cityscapes backdrop.

Blinky was very photogenic as you can see.

Blinky was very photogenic as you can see.

Babies flying through the city with their parents!

Babies flying through the city with their parents!

Iris Ebert, Mariana Spirindon, Gloria Cook and Leila spreading a little holiday cheer outside BKC.

Iris Ebert, Mariana Spirindon, Gloria Cook and Leila spreading a little holiday cheer outside BKC.

Dressed to the nines for a night out in the city!

Dressed to the nines for a night out in the city!

Happy family!

Happy family!

Last but not least, our BKC FAM :) HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

Last but not least, our BKC FAM :) HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

BKC x PHOTOVILLE 2018

What an AMAZING experience we had at New York City's 7th annual PHOTOVILLE! It was wonderful seeing our creative community come together for our ON ASSIGNMENT: FASHION IN THE REAL WORLD workshop and all of our talented attendees who brought their truly unique vision to the shoot. We're so incredibly grateful!

Now Presenting... this amazing video created by our awesome new collaborative partner ADULTR, who captured the energy and all around good vibes from the workshop! 

For those of you who aren't familiar with ADULTR, they are a creative agency focusing in content creation brand collaborations with the mission of bringing diversity and inclusivity to the creative industry. Check 'em out when you get a chance. 

And a huge THANK YOU to all of our awesome partners Photoville, Adultr, Fotocare, Leica, models, volunteers and special guests Rockie Nolan, Tayler Smith and Official Rebrand – we couldn't have done this without your support! <3  

What is Photoville?  Only the biggest and best independent photography festival organized each year by the brawns and brains of United Photo Industries and a zillion big-hearted volunteers.  Featuring thought-provoking and vibrant exhibitions inside converted shipping containers from the likes of PDN, New York Magazine, VII agency, Magnum Foundation and more.

Justin Lin  delivering the challenge to students at  On Assignment: Fashion in the Real World   workshop at  Photoville  2018.

Justin Lin delivering the challenge to students at On Assignment: Fashion in the Real World workshop at Photoville 2018.

Justin Lin  and  Lanna Apisukh  holding down the BKC tent activity with  Leica &amp; Adultr  at  Photoville .

Justin Lin and Lanna Apisukh holding down the BKC tent activity with Leica & Adultr at Photoville.

PHOTOS: Casual Courtyard Portraits

We had a little fun at the last Student Show, grabbing a few dramatic portraits using a one-light setup in our casual Courtyard. A little preview of our Photoville workshop running this Saturday, everyone was assigned roles as photographer, lighting assistant or model. Pretty fun!

CLICK TO SEE FULL SCREEN