Photographers’ Collectives

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I ‘ve mentioned it before but I’ll say it again.

I’m a big fan of  photographers’ collectives.

Collectives aren’t a new idea of course. Magnum, the prestigious photo agency is perhaps the oldest photographer’s collective or cooperative having begun in the late 1940’s.

The past few years however have seen, if not quite an explosion, then certainly a surge in the creation of collectives.

Collectives, for those who don’t know, are simply a group of like minded photographers who band together in order to further their photography and interests. A collective can be as simple as a few photographers pooling money to purchase and share studio lights to the previously mentioned Magnum which is a full agency with over 50 members.

One of my favourite collectives is Oculi, an Australian group. I personally like the styles of the photographers in the collective and I like the fact that one of the forces behind the creation of the group was the promotion of things and events Australian. Check out Tamara Dean’s Ritualism project.

A newer group of young American photographers, Luceo Images, has been getting a lot of attention lately. There’s good reason for that. The photographers are all talented, highly organized, they’ve been winning a ton of awards and their site is extremely well run.

In Canada we’ve recently seen the formation of two collectives.

Boreal was the first. Formed by five photographers, Rafal  Gerszak, Brett Gundlock, Jonathan Taggart, Aaron Vincent Elkaim and Ian Willms who are all about the same age and stage of their careers. Their site states they are “committed to the documentation of injustice and inequities that exist environmentally, socially, culturally and politically in Canada and abroad”.

The site is interesting and easy to move through. Limited to an info page with bios and links to the photographer’s individual sites, a projects page and  a blog it’s simple to get right to the work.

I’ve got one complaint with the blog and that’s when the individual photographers post a series of photos, they don’t often post any text or commentary with them. Personally I like to know if images were shot for an assignment or are personal. An example is the recent posting by Taggart of photographs simply labeled Main Street, some intriguing images and maybe I should just enjoy them as posted but I’d like to know more.

I do like that they don’t just post about themselves but will post about other photographers they know or work they like, such as John Lehmann’s phone images of roadside memorials.

Another new group is Rogue.

This group is a little more diverse with a mixture of female and male photographers with a greater range of ages and who  live right across the country, well,  aside from the Maritimes and one member is in New York.

The photographers in this group are Brett Beadle, Todd Korol, Marianne Helm, Tim Smith, Jennifer Roberts, Deddeda Stemler, John Morstad and Jimmy Jeong, the recent NY transplant and they have a pretty cool logo.

The Rogue site is brighter, literally, brighter colours, lighter screens as opposed to their Boreal counterparts site which is quite dark. The Rogue site is almost a little too light I had trouble seeing some of the links on the front page.

Their blog does include text with most postings and since they are very new, there’s not a lot up yet.

I should also mention The Photographer Network which has been around for a few years, a group of five photographers Ben Benvie, Chris Webber, Jenna  Shouldice, Ryan Macdonald, and Tristan Shouldice.

This site is much more basic than either Boreal or Rogue with the simple posting of  single images by the photographers. Interesting images though and with less pronounced photojournalism feel than the first two Canadian collectives.

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