On Photography of North Korea

May 27, 2009

Mass dancing in Pyongyang - Eric LafforgueMass dancing in Pyongyang –  by Eric Lafforgue

It seems the world’s great powers cannot rid themselves of their Cold War doings. As you have undoubtebly heard, tension between North and South Korea (and the rest of the world) continues to increase, after North Korea conducted, and continues to conduct, nuclear and missile tests. North Korea has now taken things to the next level, declaring the Korean War armstice (1953) ineffective and threatening military action against South Korea.

Being a documentary photographer and having a particular interest  in areas of restricted access, I have planned to write a post about photography in North Korea for some time. Trips to North Korea are highly structured and everyone who visits it has a similar, if not identical, experience. I thus find the wide range of photography from North Korea very interesting, not only because of what it tells us of North Korea, but also of photography itself.

Here are a few links to work done in North Korea:

  • “DPRK” by travel photographer Eric Laffougue
  • “Secrets and Lies” as part of the project “Commrades Revisited” by photographer Thomas Van Houtryve
  • A discussion (video) by photographer Christopher Morris about his assignment to photograph North Korea
  • While not a photographic work, the North Korea episode of the Vice Guide To Travel, is facinating (be sure to watch all the parts)
  • Andreas Gursky also has some great images of North Korea but he doesn’t have a website so they are hard to find, here is a Google Images link

If you know of any other great photo essays or videos regarding North Korea, please let me know of them in the comments.



Blog-o-rama: Games & Tech

May 25, 2009

I was surprised to expand my Games & Tech section of Google Reader and only see three blogs. Thinking about it, it makes sense as video games and technology coverage don’t really vary much in content. In fact you can pretty much get all your game and tech news from two blogs and there will still be some overlap.


One: Gizmodo


Gizmodo, part of Gawker Media, and thus has a great pool of talented bloggers. There is also a nice mix of tech news and opinion pieces on various tech topics, there is also a little bit of contrivercy now and then. If you love all things tech then there is no reason not to follow Gizmodo!


Two: Kotaku


Kotaku, also part of Gawker, is pretty much exactly like Gizmodo except it’s all game related. The math is simple, if you like video games, then you will like Kotaku.


Three: Nerdist


Other than loving the logo there are a few reasons to subscribe to Nerdist. Run by Chris Hardwick, a writer at Wired and reviewer for Attack of the Show (a tech TV show), Nerdist is tech plus comedy equals awesomeness, it is also a nice change from the straight tech coverage of other blogs.


As I wrote that I realize I should probably be subscribing to Wired, I think I’m going to go do that now, you should too.

Editing a Photo Project – Part 1

May 23, 2009

UkraineGrid© Eugen Sakhnenko 2009

Just over a year ago, I returned to my country of birth after 14 years away. Having left Ukraine shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, seeing a country so clearly torn between the past and the present was wildly facinating. I immediately began documenting my journey with a clear idea that I would create a small photo book of the trip. Unlike my usual personal work, rigid and formal, the Ukraine photos were very loose and fluid, instinctive. Returning home I was faced with over 3500 images with which to form some sort of coheisive body.

An initial edit to illustrate my trip to family and friends resulted in a few hundred images, however the idea of a tight book edit lingered. As school started up again, I was consumed with other project such as In Praise of Shadows and for the most part the Ukraine photos lay dormant. Fast forward to April of this year, I decided that this summer I would complete the Ukraine project and produce a book by the end of this year.

There were two main reasons for this commitment. First of all, after my initial edit I knew there were some really great photographs (some out of 3500 translates to quite a few), with several specific themes emerging. The second reason was that in June I’m leaving for six weeks to travel around Western Europe (more on that in another post) and I wanted to shoot in a similar loose style. Completing the edit would allow me to see what worked and what didn’t so that I wouldn’t make the same mistakes the second time around.

In the next Editing a Photo Project post I’m going to write about how I managed to go from 3500 images to 30 and some of the issues that come up when editing a personal project.


Please be sure to leave any questions or comments below!

Andrew Moore

May 12, 2009

Avtovo_metro_station-St._PetersburgAvtovo metro station, St. Petersburg – © Andrew Moore

I am so excited by Andrew Moore’s exhibition at the Loggia Gallery, Koffler Centre of the Arts that I’m letting people know about it in anyway possible including this blog. I have looked through Moore’s gorgeous book Russia over a dozen times and everytime the images leap off the page as they did the first time.

Moore, a photographer and teacher at The School of Visual Arts in New York, has managed to capture contemporary Russia, in it’s post-Soviet struggle. His images reflect the super-power’s former glory and a longing for greatness. Shot in large-format the photographs offer exquisite detail in book form and I can only image (though not for long!) how gorgeous they must look on the wall.

You can see a good selection of images from the series as well as Moore’s other projects on his website.

The show runs from April 29 to June 30, check out the show link for more info.

This is probably the best show in CONTACT so don’t miss it!

CONTACT Film Picks

May 4, 2009


Cankun Factory, Zhangzhou, Fujian Province, 2005 - © Edward Burtynsky

Cankun Factory, Zhangzhou, Fujian Province, 2005 - © Edward Burtynsky



All of May TVO is showing various films on photography, there is quite a range of films so be sure to check out the full list. This is a great chance to catch some documentaries that you might otherwise have a hard time getting hold of. Here are my picks:


Eloquent Nude & Peppers and Nudes: The Photographer Edward Weston

Two consecutive films about Edward Weston, the first about his wife and their relationship, the second about Weston’s life in general.

When: May 10, 9 & 10pm

Hansel Meith: Vagabond Photographer

A documentary about a female LIFE photographer who immigrated from Germany.

When: May 13, 10pm


What Remains: The Life & Work of Sally Mann

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this film which explores the post-“Immediate Family” Sally Man. It takes an detailed look at the creation of a new body of work and her life in general.

When: May 17, 9pm


The True Meaning of Pictures

A great film about Shelby Lee Adams and his work documenting families in Appalachia. An interesting look at how photographs represent people and cultures.

When: May 21, 10 pm


Dolce Vita Africana

A film about photographer Malick Sidibe and his photographs of post-colonial Mali during the 1960’s.

When: May 27, 10pm


Manufactured Landscapes

I’ve seen this film twice already and will definitely be watching it a third time. A documentary following Edward Burtynsky as he photographs China’s industry and its effects.

When: May 31, 9pm


Make sure you set your PVRs or mark down the dates in your calendars! Also let me know what films you think are must sees.

Next up in CONTACT coverage will be Gallery Shows.


It’s May, YAY!

May 4, 2009

May is the best month in Toronto for a few reasons, university has just finished, the last remnants of Spring are all but gone, oh and it’s CONTACT, the largest photography festival in the world! CONTACT is huge so there is definitely more than a few shows of interest for everyone, at the same time it’s so big that it can be overwhelming. With that in mind I’m sharing my CONTACT picks divided into three posts for lectures, TV Shows and, Gallery Shows. Be sure to let me know what you are most excited for in the comments or on Twitter (@photoshowto).


Looking over the special events section of the CONTACT magazine the following lectures jumped out.


Why Photography Matters as Document as Never Before – Jorge Ribalta

Last semester I took an advanced photo theory course where a lot of the discussion revolved around the meaning of photography, its impact, and its weight. Media as we know it is changing at an ever increasing pace and doing documentary work myself, I am immensely interested in this lecture.

When: May 4, 7PM  |  Where: Ryerson University, 350 Victoria St., room LIB72, Toronto


Magnum Photographers Lectures

Magnum photographers, Mark Power, Bruno Barbey, Chien-Chi Chang, Peter Marlow, David Allen Harvey, and Christopher Anderson discuss their work. I love Magnum and will one day be a member so I can’t miss these. Note that the CONTACT magazine has incorrect info about this event, there is no longer a lecture on May 6 (it has been combined with the May 7 lecture).

When: May  5 & 7, 6:30pm  |  Where: Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen Street W, Toronto M6J 1J3


Photographing An Era: The ’60S & ’70S

A panel discussion between three photographers whose work is in the Black Star Collection, James Pickerell, Steve Schapiro and Fred Ward. This promises to be a great discussion as these guys photographer amidst the heart of the Cold War. I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to this but you should definitely check it out.

When: May 9, 3pm  |  Where: Ryerson University, Rogers Communications Centre, 80 Gould St, room RCC-204


Quick Fix – Vanessa Gronoswki

A lecture about “photo blogging and how the presence of a photographer can transform the nature of an event.”  This pick is sort of hit or miss as discussions around these topics tend to be either insightful and interesting or really dull.

When: May 14, 7PM  |  Where: Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen Street W, Toronto


***Be sure to check the links to any events you might be attending as dates and times can change as they have for the Magnum lectures.***


Mark your calendars as these lectures, unlike CONTACT shows, only happen one day. See you there.

My next post is going to be about TV Shows as TVO is having photography month!

“Last Things” by C. K. Williams

April 20, 2009

Last Things

In a tray of dried fixative in a photographer friend’s darkroom,

I found  a curled-up photo of his son the instant after his death,

his glasses still on, a drop of blood caught at his mouth.


Recently, my friend put a book together to commemorate his son;

near the end, there’s a picture taken the day before the son died;

the caption says: “This is the last photo of Alex.”


I’m sure my friend doesn’t know I’ve seen the other picture.

Is telling about it a violation of confidence?

Before I show this to anyone else, I’ll have to ask his permission.


If you’re reading it, you’ll know my friend pardoned me,

that he found whatever small truth his story might embody

was worth the anguish of remembering that reflexive moment


when after fifty years of bringing reality into himself through a lens,

his camera doubtlessly came to his eye as though by itself,

and his finger, surely also of its own accord, convulsed the shutter.


– C. K. Williams (from the book Repair)


Website Re-design!

April 13, 2009


I excited to announce my freshly re-designed website, head over to www.eugensakhnenko.com and check it out.

It seems that every year for one reason or another I do a redesign. This year I had to create a personal website for one of my classes and I jumped at the incentive to give my site a new look. I have also added a portfolio of my commercial interior images so be sure to check-it out.

In addition, I’m currently wrapping up work on a new body of personal work and will be posting it soon so look forward to that!

Let me know what you think.


The Final Push… before the final push.

March 17, 2009

© Eugen Sakhnenko

Bar Chef | © Eugen Sakhnenko 2009

So I have been working non-stop all this month; weekends, evenings, mornings! I’m currently finishing up two commissions; one product photography shoot for a cosmetic brush line and I’m also nearing the end of a project I’ve been working on for a couple months for BlogTO, which involves many interior shoots (see photo above).

I’ve also been doing research for my final personal project for this semester, that will involve shooting in parks across Toronto, I’m hoping to start shooting early next week if not this weekend. I’m working on a redesign of my website (for a class), and a ten page essay on “Mikhail Gorbachev’s foreign policy” for my History of the Cold War class that is due on Monday.

I’ve come to terms that my life will be in some sort of constant state of frenzy, which make it easier to deal with what seems like a million things due by next week. It’s also tons of fun and I’ve met lots of great people and seen some amazing spaces so I’m not complaining too much.

For the next few weeks, posts will probably be rare until I achieve some level of normalcy.

Cheers, hope everyone is enjoying the warmth that finally seems to be here.

Blog-o-rama: Design & Architecture

March 7, 2009

I had so many links under this category that I thought I would have a really difficult time picking only five blogs. In the end though, I went with what I felt was the best blog in it’s own sub-category of design and architecture, with a few twists thrown in.

One: swissmiss


What is great about Swiss Miss is that it has a bit of everything; Clothing, ID, Web, Illustration, Photography, Writing, some current affairs thrown in for good measure. Get all of your design goodness in one place.



Contemporist is my architecture pick because it includes everything you need for a modern home; architecture, furniture, and lighting. Another great site that is strictly architecture is Arch Daily.



Three: Street Anatomy


Street Anatomy is one of those unique sites that has a really cool and interesting niche. It features art and design that somehow incorporates anatomy, which results in some surprising finds.



Four: Lovely Package®


Lovely Package features the best package design from around the world, and who doesn’t like a lovely package.



Five: Quotes on Design


Quotes about design = Quotes on Design. Simple yet brilliant.