atlas

creative and inspiring photography from around the globe

Anne Launcelott: Life in the Omo River Valley

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Anne Launcelott is a Nova Scotia-based photographer who specializes in candid photography. Anne attended the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design and has been capturing beautiful and spectacular images for over thirty years. She has a unique gift for telling stories with her camera about people from different cultures and countries, including Vietnam, Myanmar, Morocco, and Ethiopia. Anne’s work has been shown in many solo and group exhibitions around the world, including Canada, China, and Nova Scotia. She was elected to the Society of Canadian Artists in 2012 and her black & white image, “Face at Window (Havana, Cuba) was selected as Best of Show for the Society of Canadian Artists National Open Juried Online Exhibition. This week Anne speaks to atlas about how she got started in photography, her experience photographing the Kara and Hamar Tribes in Ethiopia, and the impact the tribes people made on her during her trip.

How did you first become interested in photography?

Anne Launcelott: I received my first camera, a Brownie Instamatic (for those old enough to remember) as a birthday present from my father when I was 14. I have had a love affair with photography ever since.

Some say photographing people can be challenging. What is your approach?

My specialty is candid photography. I am inspired by people and the themes of everyday life. In order to photograph a certain expression or action, I try to be as unobtrusive as possible so as not to break the moment. More often than not, travel takes me to countries where a blonde white woman with a big camera around her neck really stands out. In these circumstances I spend time with the person, talking through gesture. Once I have their trust, I then indicate I would like to photograph them. I never get a refusal and I have a memory that lasts long after the photograph I have taken is forgotten.

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You used to photograph in black & white exclusively up until ten years ago. Why did you switch and what do you prefer to photograph in now?

I went digital in 2006 because B&W film, or film of any kind for that matter, was impossible to buy here in Halifax. I find color is more of a challenge because if there is a red bucket in the background, for example, the eye goes to that and not your subject. In a B&W image, it is just one more grey or black object in the background. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Color shows the viewer what it was truly like when I photographed the scene, whereas B&W is so much better at creating a mood and dispensing with the distraction of color.

In 2013, you went to the remote Omo River Valley in Southern Ethiopia with a group of photographers to document the lives of isolated tribes living in the valley. What inspired to you go on this trip? What was your experience like?

This trip was being led by world famous photographer Steve McCurry, and since this was an area that really intrigued me, I just had to sign on. I loved travelling with Steve. He took us to this remote area of Ethiopia and then we were free to wander and photograph to our hearts content. At first it was very difficult and overwhelming to photograph.  About a hundred children were crowded around me yelling, “photo, photo”, but since we were camped outside their village for about a week, they soon became familiar with me walking around their village. It was virtually impossible to take any candid shots so I was certainly outside of my comfort zone.

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You captured some very beautiful and compelling images from the trip. What were your impressions of the Kara and Hamar Tribes? What did you take away from your experience?

The Kara tribe lives in a very remote region. Despite having nothing and contending with so many hardships just to survive, the children were carefree and happy, free from the trappings of our modern technical world. The women do all the work while the majority of the men sit around every day doing nothing. This was rather disconcerting and I really admired the wormen whose every waking hour is devoted to looking after the children, cooking, gathering wood for the fire, collecting river water for cooking and washing, and tanning the hides of the goats to make clothing. The boys go to school — up to grade 4 or 5 — but the girls do not as they are needed in the village to help their mothers with the work. Feminism is certainly not a word they know in this society.

The Hamar Tribe, on the other hand, live right beside an Ethiopian village called Turmi and are much more influenced by the outsider through the tourism. The tourist has to pay to take a photograph, and the members of the tribe would spend it all in one of the three bars in the small village. This was very sad to see. Regarding what I took away from the experience, I was amazed at the resilience of the human species and realized that despite such huge differences, we have so much in common.

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What was the highlight of your trip?

The highlight of the trip had to be traveling with Steve McCurry and getting the chance to make a connection with a young teenage girl from the Kara Tribe. She would hold my hand every time I came into the village and learned very quickly some English words I was teaching her. She would place on my wrist each day a bead bracelet she had made for me. Here they have nothing and yet she was giving me a gift each day. I will never forget her.

What message do you hope your viewers will take away from these photos?

I want the viewer to come away having learned something about the way of life and culture of these people. I really hope my images have told a story about how rich this culture is and the importance of tradition. Despite having nothing, the Kara Tribe are a proud people and we can certainly could learn so much from them about taking joy from the simple things in life.

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Where do you want to travel to and/or photograph next?

India is very high on my list of travels. I feel that this country is a feast for the artistic eye.

If you had one piece of advice for a novice photographer, what would it be?

I am often asked by the person I photograph to send him/her the image I took. Always honor this request if you have said you will do so. It will make a person trust foreigners and make it easier for the next photographer who comes along.

Thanks for being our featured photographer of the week, Anne!

For more information about Anne, visit her website.  All images © Anne Launcelott.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, atlas!

From my Southwestern Adventure of 2011, I had the pleasure of hiking out to The Wave! I got an early start before sunrise hoping I could at least get some alpenglow on some mountains, though the sunrise was uneventful. This hike is killer with so many awesome things to see and shoot! I made a point to pick out spots to explore and capture on my hike back out. They say it's only a three mile hike, but with some steep, rocky, and thick sand inclines, as well as some long, thick sandy trails, my little body felt it was more like six miles! It took me about an hour to get here as I stopped for a breakfast snack, to take a few shots, and simply enjoy the views. The weather was perfect...a bit chilly in the early morning and warming up for the day, but not unbearable. It will always be one of my favorite experiences.

Editor’s Note: This week we celebrate our blog’s first anniversary! It has been an incredible and wonderful first year for atlas. We have been so honored and privileged every week to showcase the beautiful works of so many talented emerging and established photographers from around the world. Every single photographer whom we interviewed this past year — from Canada to South Africa —  has inspired us with their passion, their stories, their hard work, and of course, their gorgeous artistry. We thank all of our featured photographers and more importantly, we thank you, our readers, for making atlas’ first year a big success! 

During the week, we are going to celebrate our first year by looking back at many of the beautiful and spectacular images that have graced these pages as well as give well-deserved shout-outs to some special folks who have made this blog a reality. We welcome any and all of your suggestions and comments on what you would like to see as we head into our second year so do not be shy to send a note on our Comments page. As always, thanks for all your good vibes and support and get ready for another year of intriguing interviews and breathtaking photography by some of the best and talented photographers in the field. A birthday toast to atlas!

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© Chris Konig

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© Camille Seaman

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© Ross Willsher

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© Bill Lies

Kerry Tasker: The Wild & Rugged Beauty of Alaska

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Kerry Tasker is an Anchorage-based editorial and portrait photographer. He graduated from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon with a degree in Fine Arts. Kerry’s passion for photography arises from his deep love of the wilderness and vast landscape found in his home state of Alaska. He has freelanced for numerous organizations, including the Invision/Associated Press, Alaska Dispatch News, and the First Alaskans Magazine. He has a masterful eye for style and composition whether he is shooting the Chugach Range, stranded murres or a live music show. This week Kerry speaks to atlas about how he got his start in photography, what makes his work a “success,” and what he is working on next.

How did you first become interested in photography?

Kerry Tasker: I first really took an interest in photography when I was in high school. My first camera was an old Canon AE1. Looking back, I wish I still had that camera.

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Are you self-taught or do you have a formal education in photography?

I have a BFA in photography from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. The school had three different darkrooms, including one just for color printing. It was great. I spent a lot of time in those rooms trying to get just the right print. I guess it might be a little ironic that I have not been in a darkroom in ten years now.

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From the photos on your website and Instagram, it looks like you shoot across various genres e.g., people, landscape, nature, etc. What do you enjoy photographing the most and why?

This is an interesting question, because I think it is kind of strange to categorize images like this. I try to approach photography the same way regardless of what it is I am photographing. My goal is always the same, which is to convey what is in front of me in a compelling way or at least not in a boring way. I consider it a success if my work is, at a minimum, not boring. So I guess to answer the question, I would have to say my favorite thing to photo is the interesting, however that manifests itself.

Any areas in Alaska which are particularly scenic to you that you find yourself coming back to over and over again?

One location that comes to mind is Hatcher Pass, which is about an hour from where I live. It is full of dramatic mountains and views and as far as I know, there are zero bears up there.

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Any photographers whose work you admire?

I have always been a huge admirer of artists who can create their own narrative, who construct meaning by literally building an image. Jeff Wall and Gregory Crewdson come to mind as perfect examples. The way they create is inspiring.

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What kind of camera equipment do you use?

I alternate between digital 35mm and medium format film cameras depending on what I think I can get away with. I jumped on the Sony train a while back with the a7R, but found myself fighting the camera so much that I quickly sold it and went back to Canon. The Sony was the only camera that would actually crash while I was shooting — like full-system restart crash.

If you could go on a photo shoot with any photographer (living or deceased), who would it be and why?

This is a tough one! There are so many interesting people doing amazing work right now. Maybe Alex Prager? Her work is awesome. I would love to see just how she puts an image together.

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Are you working on any new projects?

I have a few things in the pipeline. I am working on a show for next year and a personal film project. The day- to-day assignments from newspapers and magazines keep me pretty busy as well.

Thanks for being our featured photographer of the week, Kerry!

For more information about Kerry, visit his website.  All images © Kerry Tasker.