Fine Art Photography Daily

Our Favorite Things 2015

the-sound-of-music-1920x1080It’s been an exciting year at Lenscratch. We launched The States Project, invited guest editors to share their curations, attended numerous portfolio reviews and featured the work of hundreds of photographers. Today, we feature our Second Annual Favorite Things post that allows the Lenscratch staff to reflect on the year and choose some of our favorite things in photography in 2015.

Our very Favorite thing? Our Advertisers!

HUGE thank yous to The Santa Fe Photo Workshops, The Griffin Museum of Photography, Digital Silver Imaging, Life FramerColumbian College of Arts & Sciences at The George Washington UniversityColorado Photographic Arts Center, Laura Valenti Workshops, Daniel Cooney Fine Art Auctions, Atlanta Celebrates Photography, and the Donna Ferrato Workshops. We so appreciate your support this year!

Revenue from our ads and t-shirt sales allowed us to pay our hosting costs, bring editors Sarah Stankey and Grant Gill to the Filter Photo Festival, provide a cash prize to our Lenscratch Student Prize Winner Drew Nikonowicz, and give the Los Angeles based staff several meals. We do not take any salary for our efforts, but instead, feel tremendous pride and satisfaction that our Lenscratch efforts are a way to give back to our community.

Our other Favorite Things?

All the Guest Editors who contributed to Lenscratch this year, starting with our States Project Editors: Ben Huff, Caitlin Peterson, Mark Dorf, Carson Sanders, Eliot Dudik, Jeremy Chandler, Jonathan Gitelson, Jeff Rich, Linda Alterwitz, Peter Happel Christian. A big thank you to Dan Shepherd, Eleonora Ronconi, Ken Weingart, Tom M Johnson, Alexa Dilworth, and Beth Dubber for their contributions this year. And finally, thank you to all the Lenscratch Instagram Editors of 2016: David Emitt Adams, Sarah Stankey, Al Harding, Matthew Gamber, Eliot Dudik, Maury Gortemiller, Mindi LaRose, Tytia Habing, Michael Ast, Stan Raucher, James Stephenson, Grant Gill and Kyle Seis, Kory Jean Kingsley, Paula McCartney, Matthew Crowther, Barbara Ciureg and Lindsay Lochman, Daniel W. Coburn, Patrizia Fusi, Stephen Milner, Sandra Klein, Surendra Lawoti, Eleonora Ronconi, Drew Nikonowicz, and Cassandra Klos!

Have a listen and then enjoy some of our favorite things….

Grant Gill: Lenscratch Projects and Exhibitions Editor and Contributing Writer, Grant organizes the States Project and Guest Editor Posts and writes the weekly Content Aware posts, which features emerging photographers.

Favorite Lenscratch post of 2015?

Jared Ragland’s Everything is Going to Be All Right for The States Project, Alabama. This body of work is balanced in original content and appropriated imagery, touching on the unique history of single screened theaters, while also enticing the viewers through the narrative of his new noir.

Jared Ragland. untitled House of Wax

©Jared Ragland, untitled House of Wax

Favorite Photo Book of 2015?

Visible Spectrum by Conveyor is loaded with content.  The book features the work of Penelope Umbrico, Hannah Whitaker, Brea Souders, Andrey Bogush, Robert Canali, Inka & Niclas, Dillon DeWaters, Nicholas Gottlund, and essay by Mark Alice Durant, and is a companion to Conveyor’s fifth issue.  Prompted with a color, each artist fills a book of their own, and does so by defining each color in creative and poetic ways.  Even though I just received this over the holiday, it quickly became one of my favorites as it speaks to color through both scientific and primal understandings.  The book comes with every basic color of the visible spectrum plus black and white, Coveyor’s fifth issue, and a nice little tote bag.


What Photographer inspired you this year?

Sonja Thomsen‘s installation of Glowing Wavelengths In Between at the DePaul Art Museum was overwhelming in the best way.  Her multidisciplinary approach to photography really pushes the boundaries in how the viewer interacts with light and how light exists within a contemporary conversation.  Sonja will be featured next week in continuation of The Lenscratch States Project.


©Sonja Thomsen

Favorite Personal Instagram Photograph?

©Grant Gill

Favorite Photograph of 2015?

This tango shot by sometimes collaborators Zak Krevitt and Tim Schutsky was one of the first images that led me to create Content-Aware, the short features we run on Sundays. So much beauty in one intricate trust fall.


©Zak Krevitt and Tim Schutsky


Valerie Patterson, Lenscratch Social Media Editor, Val keeps our tweets, Lenscratch Facebook posts, Tumblr, and other social media arenas going strong.

Favorite Lenscratch post of 2015?

Bego Antón: The Earth is Only a Little Dust Under Our Feet


©Bego Antón

Favorite Photo Book of 2015?

Self & Others: Portrait as Autobiography by Aline Smithson


What Photographer Inspired you this year?

Saul Leiter. Even though his heyday was in the 1940’s and 1950’s, I just barely managed to discover his incredible work this year. While seeing the film Carol, I fell in love with the beautiful cinematography. I was so visually blown away by how perfect each frame looked, I did some research and learned that the director used Saul Leiter as photographic inspiration to create the overall visual style and cinematography for the film. I am currently obsessed with Saul Leiter and his abstract, ingenious, revolutionary use of color and composition.

Saul Leiter_colors

©Saul Leiter, Colors


©Saul Leiter, Colors

Favorite Personal Instagram Photograph??

I took a photo of the movie poster for the documentary “Amy”, and after I posted it on Instagram, it instantly connected me with random Amy Winehouse fans from all over the world. The power of Instagram is amazing.


©Val Patterson

Best new photography app or technology or toy?

The Filmomat. As a strong advocate for film and analog photography processes, this DIY film processor looks amazing.


Jonas Yip, Lenscratch Digital Architect who built the site from the ground up and keeps us rolling along without too many hacking attempts!

Favorite Lenscratch post of 2015?

I always like the exhibitions because we never know what the Lenscratch readership will come up with. I particularly enjoyed the Masks exhibition.


©Jenn Libby, Tammie, Masked, Rochester, NY

Favorite Photo Book of 2015?

Until Death Do Us Part
by Thomas Sauvin published by JiaZaZhi Press

Not necessarily favorite photos, but coolest photo book for sure. A book about the role cigarettes play in Chinese weddings, made to look like a pack of cigarettes, in a real cigarette case that still smells like Chinese cigarettes.

What Photographer Inspired you this year?

I had the pleasure of seeing Peter Liepke’s Gum Bichromate and Platinum/Palladium prints in person and was struck by their luminous softness. I want my prints to look like that, basically.


Your Favorite Instagram Photo that you took in 2015?


©Jonas Yip

Best new photography app or technology or toy?

Not new, apparently, but new to me: an instant film (Fujifilm Instax) back for the Lomo LC-A. I’ve bought piles of Instax cameras and Instax backs for the Diana and such, and they’re always fun, and the results are… okay. This one is the most interesting by far because the film size is larger than the 35mm that the camera is designed for, resulting in lovely vignetting and beautifully crappy edges.

Sarah Stankey, Lenscratch Exhibitions Editor and Contributing Writer. Sarah also writes many of our book reviews. 

Favorite Lenscratch post of 2015?

Heather Evans Smith: Seen not Heard


©Heather Evans Smith, Possession

Favorite Photo Book of 2015:

Northwoods Journals by Kurt Simonson


©Kurt Simonson, Northwoods Journals front cover


©Kurt Simonson, Fold Out Letter

What Photographer Inspired you this year?

Jesse Burke


Wild & Precious Front Cover ©Jesse Burke

Favorite Personal Instagram Photograph?


Sarah J Stankey, The Algen, Rhineland, WI

Favorite Photograph of 2015?

I can’t get this image by Ke Peng out of my head.


©Ke Peng


Noelle Swan Gilbert, Lenscratch Copy Editor keeps our spelling and grammar from getting out of control.

Favorite Lenscratch Post of 2015?

It was difficult to single out one post out of so many good projects, so I chose two…

I immediately fell in love with Bensingers. I felt drawn into a world I’d only seen depicted in movies. This series felt foreign and familiar at once, and I wanted to see more. I contributed to the Kickstarter campaign to fund Garren’s book, and am so disappointed this project didn’t meet its goal.

©Helen Garrne, Bensingers

Tom Alleman’s incredible documentary about his family is intimate, raw and deeply layered. He is the definition of a storyteller.

©Thomas Michael Alleman, from The Unwinding

Favorite Photo Book of 2015?

The Lonely Ones, Gus Powel

The Lonely Ones is both intimate and poignant, pairing photographs with one-line texts to create an inventively designed photo book. The book is small in size, all the pages folded, with the text on the outside of the folded page, and the photograph on the inside. It’s a thoughtful, unpretentious and engaging book, one of my favorite books of the year.

The Lonely Ones by Gus Powell—Trailer from Jason Fulford on Vimeo.

What Photographer inspired you this year? 
I was very fortunate to see Matt Black and Endia Beal speak at GeekFest Oakland this past September. Matt was at the tail end of his award wining  project, the Geography of Poverty, which took him across the country photographing and geotagging America’s geography of poverty when he stopped by to address a room full of photographers gathered in Oakland, right after he shot the final image for the Instagram project. He’s soft spoken, but his words are powerful, and his tireless exploration of the issues of poverty, farming, migration and the environment has shined a spotlight onto these critical issues.
Endia Beal is such an inspiration to me, not only as a photographer, but as a woman. She is fierce. Just look at her work and you’ll know what I mean. She’s the real deal.
Favorite Instagram I took in 2015 
Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 7.53.23 PM

Lost and found photo, ©Noelle Swan Gilbert

Clay Lipsky, Lenscratch Art Director who keeps us looking good, who designs all things Lenscratch including our t-shirts (you know you want one)!

Favorite Lenscratch post of 2015?

I love work that pushes boundaries. Linda Alterwitz’s series “While I Am Still” definitely got my attention as it sits at the abstracted crossroads of science and art. It challenges the mind and eye with a painterly quality that really needs no explanation (or artist statement).


Number 16 from the series In-Sight (part 1) ©Linda Alterwitz

Favorite Photo Book of 2015?

Anouk Kruithof ‘s “The Bungalow” is another selection that challenges the definition of what “photography” is these days. Considering I am usually found in front of a computer, this series hit close to home. I appreciate the idea of re-interpreting source material, much like a downtempo electronica hip-hop remix mashup of some country western dance track.


Anouk Kruithof , The Bungalow book cover

What Photographer Inspired you this year?

Imma let me finish, but Aline Smithson is my favorite photographer of the year. Inspired, inspiring, accomplished and just getting started. She has killed it this year with simultaneous shows, a buzz-worthy book, editor in chief of this site, a mentor, curator, friend, teacher, cheerleader, spirit animal and so much more. No struggle here, it’s the hustle that is real. She proves that the being a photographer can mean so much more than just making work, and she does it in style. Cheers.

3_Clay_photographer Favorite Personal Instagram Photograph?

Wish I had a “real” camera with me for this one. Ironically taken going to the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles.



Best new photography app or technology or toy?

Digital photography is loathed by some, but I just see it as another tool. The Sony A7R II camera won me over this year by being small but mighty. Also, contrary to most digital cameras that perpetuate e-waste, this one can be adapted to accept any lens you can throw at it from vintage Leica screw mounts to crazy Russian lenses. Thus giving new life to old gear while also opening up worlds of experimentation not possible before (aka it’s fun).


Patty Lemke, Lenscratch Resource Editor, who keeps our resource pages filled with possibilities.

Favorite Lenscratch post of 2015?

I have two: Thomas Alleman’s Unwinding (the skill he used in the midst of such personal discomfort is remarkable) and Carol Erb’s Animal Intentions.


©Thomas Michael Alleman, from the Unwinding


©Carol Erb, from Animal Intentions

Favorite Book of 2015

Detroit Unbroken by Dave Jordano
Dave Jordano deliberately set out to offset the ruin porn image of Detroit. I remember being infatuated with the end of the world images that were coming out of the decay- grass growing in deserted board rooms. But Jordano brings a truthfulness that cannot be ignored and his work is far more interesting in the humanity they portray.

What Photographer Inspired you this year?

Debbie Fleming Caffey
I was inspired by her ALPHABET book- the images are mysterious; treating with equal measure the spiritual presence of both humans and animals.

Favorite Personal Instagram Photograph?
I stayed off Instagram in 2015

Favorite Photograph of 2015?
Hellen van Meene


©Hellen van Meene


Aline Smithson: Founder and Editor-in Chief of Lenscratch

Favorite Lenscratch Post of 2015?

Ryota Kajita: The States Project: Alaska
This post was so exciting for me–we had just started The States Project and the first state was Alaska, Guest Edited by Ben Huff. I didn’t know what to expect from the guest editors and when I saw this beautiful work, I was thrilled not only because I knew the States Project would be successful, but I would probably have never come across this stunning work on my own. It’s such a unique project and Ryota ‘Kaji’ Kajita showed me new worlds within ice formations, so beautifully seen and captured.


©Ryota Kajita

Favorite Photo Book of 2015?

There were so many amazing books this year–but the first effort of Aint Bad Publishing, Meg GriffithsCasa de fruta y pan,just spoke to me. To be transparent, I wrote the forward to this book, but it’s Meg’s sumptuous photographs that continue to draw me in.

Miel y Sandia, 2012

©Meg Griffiths, Miel y Sandia, 2012

What Photographer Inspired you this year?


Eliot Dudik ©Penn Chan

The grand master of all things photographic, Eliot Dudik. I stand in amazement at what Eliot has and can achieve. He is a talented and dedicated large format photographer (we are talking an 8 x 10 camera with double backs–meaning an 8 x 20 camera–see below).


©Eliot Dudik

Eliot recently started the new William and Mary photo department from scratch, celebrating its establishment with an exhibition of over 100 photographs garnered from various contemporary photographers, of which Eliot single-handedly printed, mounted, and then burned.

Eliot had nine exhibitions in 2015, 4 of them solo shows, with many more lined up for 2016. He made all the frames for the exhibitions, he created the most talked about leave-behind at last year’s PhotoNOLA and also won the 2014 PhotoNOLA Review Prize for which he produced a monograph with custom made linen and foiled covers. He won the 2015 Archive of Documentary Arts Collection Award from Duke University and the 2015 Flash Forward Award–and has just been nominated for the 2016 Baum Award for Emerging American Photographers. And if that isn’t enough, he and Jared Ragland photographed, produced, and printed a spectacular book in ONE DAY during PhotoNOLA…and I have a copy to prove it.

Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 3.14.27 PMIt doesn’t hurt that he’s a wonderful friend and supporter of all who he encounters. Needless to say, he’s a constant inspiration. And he took my most favorite portrait.


©Eliot Dudik

Favorite Personal Instagram Photograph?

What can I say? A little humor, a willing stranger, and Whistler’s Arrangement in Gray and Black: Portrait of the Painter’s Mother. Perfection.

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 8.00.51 AM

©Aline Smithson

Favorite Photograph of 2015?

If you know me well, you will understand this selection by Corrine May Botz.

But then there’s this beauty by Rachel Jump.


©Rachel Jump

Favorite Project of 2015?

Resonantia by Louviere and Vanessa

A innovative, unusual, and amazing body of work..


©Louviere and Vanessa, F Sharp

We wish there were room in this post to celebrate so much more…

Posts on Lenscratch may not be reproduced without the permission of the Lenscratch staff and the photographer.

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