Sunday, January 23, 2011

New photography studio offers custom digital photography

Conveniently located in the Great Lakes Bay Region, Signatures Photography Studios has opened its doors in Auburn.

It provides an inviting, friendly, and unique atmosphere and will shoot on-location or in the studio.

The "Signatures Difference" is the blending of traditional photography with the edginess of graphic design and creative lighting, according to their release. Their retouching services are designed to enhance the features of each of our clients/models. The owners take a black box approach, continually changing the studio to suit the needs of our clients. The studio also offers digital photography classes, studio rentals, and photo modeling courses.

Signatures, collaborates with local salons for hair and makeup artists and event organizers to create opportunities for the models. To try their one-of-a-kind photography studio, call (989) 545-1488 for reservations.

The owners are Terry King and Sean Jacobs. King founded Action Leaders (www.actionleaders.com), a Success Coaching company, and also teaches photography courses along with organizing The Great Lakes Bay Digital Photography Group.

He also helps small companies with social media and business solutions. He earned a bachelor of arts in accounting from Michigan State University. He is a former paramedic and former director of education for Mid Michigan Health. Terry is currently an ambassador for The Great Lakes Bay Region, Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Midland Area Chamber of Commerce.

Jacobs, a Midland native, founded Heavy Into Design Studios (www.heavyintodesign.com). He attained an associate of applied arts degree from Delta College, and later attended The Art Institute of California-Orange County where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Graphic Design with an emphasis in photography. While residing in Southern California, Jacob captured moments everywhere from editorial photos in Compton to picturesque views atop Laguna Beach

Good year for photography in Nigeria

2010 was undoubtedly a very good year for professional photography in Nigeria. In fact, it was a vintage year; the best so far. But paradoxically, it was also a year during which relevant questions about the proper place of photography in the hierarchy of the Nigerian Art scene, its independence as a valid and separate medium, and its financial value as collectors’ items, all came to the fore, craving for urgent and permanent answers.

Most of the prominent visibility photography enjoyed in 2010 was in the form of exhibitions; a spate of them. Well, over 20 across the country in Lagos, Benin City, Port Harcourt, Abuja and ‘unlikely’ venues like Bonny, Yenagoa, Ekiti, Asaba, and other cities. This huge number of exhibitions, their logistics as solo and group exhibitions, the collapse of firm contractual agreements (if there were any) between the photographer-exhibitors and the myriad of curators, galleries and institutions, cumulatively highlighted the non-existent or weak platforms that should guarantee photographers a fair deal financially and artistically.

Mixed grill

Predictably, the fact that 2010 was Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary provided both the perfect excuse and theme for all manner of ‘commemorative’ photography exhibitions. These exhibitions organised by curators, galleries and institutions eager to cash-in on the anniversary and operating on various levels of competence and expertise, inevitably ensured that these ‘novel’ photography exhibitions were a worrying mix of excellence, growing mediocrity, and sheer uncreative.

Many photographers, it seemed, were more eager to make creative statements in all these ‘prestigious’ exhibitions than appreciate and exploit the excellent business opportunities they provided. In the end, collectively, photographers made much less money compared to the windfall of the curators, galleries and institutions sponsored by blue-chip companies, state and federal governments.

Photographers also faced the big challenge of how to endure the new burden of an emerging number of specialist local and foreign curators and gallery owners trying to hoist their theories and expectations on which direction photography in Nigeria should take and how quickly too.

Dilemma of definition

And so, whilst photography is desperately trying to find its long-overdue and right place in Nigerian Art, it is simultaneously facing the dilemma of definition. What is and where should photography in Nigeria, in its longevity and diversity, head for in terms of sustainability, better creativity, and financial reward for professionals? It has become obvious that photography in Nigeria needs to grow independently of whatever sympathetic ‘Eurocentric’ curators, academics, galleries and institutions profess in the ongoing extensive world debate on what constitutes modern photography.

The widely-used buzzwords are ‘engagement’ and ‘narratives.’ Whose, remains the question. Prophetically yet unplanned as such, the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Yaba, Lagos, with its one-month-long Fine Art photography workshop, with the theme ‘On Independence and the Ambivalence of Promise’, held between February 8 and March 6, set the tone and flavour for most of the prominent photography exhibitions in 2010.

The aim of the workshop was “to focus not so much on technique but on methodology, critical thinking, conceptual ideas and their implementation.” The contents of the programme included, “history of photography and its conceptual dimensions, methodology and strategies for the development of artistic practice, development of critical thinking skills, and a final exhibition.”

With a core of 13 facilitators from Belgium, Switzerland, Finland, Cameroun, Nigeria, Brazil, Ghana, Sweden, and the U.S.A. and observers from Kenya and Germany, the CCA workshop provided a global platform for exchange of ideas, skills acquisition, and intellectual discourse on photography. I presented a paper situating photography in Nigeria and the work of Jonathan Adagogo Green of Bonny, within the global photography scene of the late 20th century.

The subtle message was to guard against a bias towards thinking that Eurocentric concepts, ideas and even creative perceptions and techniques are ultramodern or ‘superior’ to the experience of indigenous Nigerian photographers in one whole century of practice.

It remains important to always emphasise that the tradition of indigenous photography professionalism is well over a century old and started by carving a niche of respect for creative and technical excellence by global standards then.

Contested concept

It is instructive that the historical place of photography in Nigerian contemporary Art had to be revisited many times in 2010. Most significantly, perhaps, was at the stakeholders’ public hearing on the proposed National Gallery of Art Bill at the National Assembly on Thursday, November 4, 2010. It was a ‘star-studded’ affair that attracted the minister of culture and tourism and his aides, the acting director general of the National Gallery of Art (NGA), representatives of the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), representatives of the Photographers Association of Nigeria (PAN), Art galleries’ owners, Art critics, Art collectors and lovers, and the general public were also there. It was also an exhaustive exercise which required a meticulous review of the suggestions that had been incorporated into the proposed Bill under review.

When it was time to define some of the functions of the NGA, it was unanimously agreed that it should collect ‘modern Nigerian Art,’ and given the nature of the stakeholders involved and the need to be specific, the next item became an examination of the term itself.

Rasheed Gbadamosi, an avid art collector and patron, proffered that ‘modern Nigerian Art’, as substantiated by Art academics, started in the 1920s with the emergence of Aina Onabolu as Nigeria’s first trained contemporary artist. This has been the long held view, but it had to be demystified. I countered by offering the information that since photography is now globally accepted as an Art form, the correct beginning of what can be identified as ‘modern Nigerian Art’ is the work of Bonny-based Jonathan Adagogo Green, whose photographs taken in the late 1890s were a big hit in Europe. Of course, there is now a body of academic evidence to prove this important point.

In many ways, the fact that photography as modern Art in Nigeria preceded contemporary visual arts in the country by more than three decades is an uncomfortable fact for art activists, particularly within the SNA. They seem to be driven by the grandiose ideas of being the ‘parent’ body of artists who should determine the fate and direction of Art in Nigeria.

The stakeholders’ sessions should by now have made clear that artists, photographers, and architects, the three bodies the NGA is mandated to nourish and protect, are equal partners in the national creativity progress.

The fact that most artists in Nigeria paint photographs does not help the case of the Art lobbyists trying to enshrine the concept of superiority within the spectrum of contemporary Art in Nigeria. Numbers have never translated into absolute quality.

That Art collectors and galleries in Nigeria are yet to fully appreciate the aesthetics and financial value of photography is more of their loss than that of photographers who continue to be appreciated globally.

Finding the right place for photography was the challenge and problem curators, galleries, academics, collectors and institutions grappled with in 2010, with varying degrees of success.

Capture the photography exhibition

Bangaloreans will get a glimpse of works done by internationally-acclaimed lensmen such as Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman and leading fashion photographer Tim Walker at an exhibition on contemporary photography collection at National Gallery of Modern Art between January 23-27.

The exhibition, which presents works of over 30 artists from a pivotal moment in photographic history, is part of `Something That I'll Never Really See'. This is part of the collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

This exhibition brings some of the major works acquired over the past two decades to a venue outside the UK for the first time.