Celebrating Ernest “Ernie” H. Brooks II at 80, 1/8/2015

Happy 80th birthday to intrepid diver, renowned underwater photographer, and marine conservation advocate Ernest “Ernie” H. Brooks II. Brooks has been widely honored for his photography, his contributions to photographic technology, for shepherding a new generation of underwater photographers, and as a respected ambassador for the marine environment.

“The homage to Ansel Adams is almost too predictable when describing the photography of Ernest H. Brooks II. That they are both masters of the art and science of black-and-white photography is obvious when reviewing their body of work…” ~Stephen Frink, Alert Diver

Ernest H. Brooks II was born to be a photographer. Ernie followed his father, who was the founder of the internationally renowned Brooks Institute of Photography, before forging his own photographic path. Brooks was a trailblazer in developing underwater photographic equipment and techniques. His book “Silver Seas” featured stunning underwater black-and-white photography captured with a Hasselblad and film, and now his work is digital and infrared.

“Over the years, I have witnessed tremendous change in the field of photography. From the days of the black and white darkroom, where images developed in chemicals to finally appear into a timeless statement, to current day where technological advances have provided tools that take the eye beyond the darkroom and into a greater realm of pure photographic intention and expression. I have grown to love the craft, its art, and the very private and personal time that it takes to pursue perfection.“ ~Ernest H. Brooks II

Over his long and distinguished career, Brooks has accumulated a mantel-full of prestigious national and international awards for his underwater photography and devotion to the seas. In 2013 he was designated one of ten “Legends of the Sea”, joining Jacques Cousteau, Lloyd Bridges, Hans Haas, and David Cameron. His work was recently featured at The International Climate Change Summit in Lima, Peru. He has contributed to numerous organizations and magazines, including the Cousteau Society, Monterey Bay Aquarium, The Nature Conservancy, Ocean Realm, California Highways and National Wildlife. His work has been exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Monterey Bay Aquarium Shark Exhibit, Yugoslavia ‘Man in the Sea,’ Our World Underwater, Smithsonian ‘Planet Earth’ and in the current traveling exhibition Fragile Waters  (along with Ansel Adams and Dorothy Kerper Monnelly) visiting five U.S. museums, opening at San Diego Maritime Museum on March 1, 2016.

His photographic legacy has illustrated dramatic changes in our oceans, and he himself remains a tremendous voice for oceanic exploration, and through that, the preservation of our marine environments.

“Photography is many things to many people, and for me it has been a vehicle to new lands, a medium for self-expression and a gateway to adventure. It has always been in my life. The ocean and underwater photography are among my main interests and, in the pursuit of dramatic marine images, I have dived beneath the polar icecaps and in almost every ocean on Earth.“ ~Ernest H. Brooks II

Brooks is currently on an expedition to Indonesia photographing black/white infrared images, in order to call attention to deforestation of a small island off North Sulawesi. This summer Brooks will have a belated celebration, joined by many of his former students on board The Nautilus Explorer, outfitted with Brooks’ photographs,, cruising to the Socorro Islands off the coast of Mexico.

“Photography affords us the tools to sculpt with light, to paint with textures and shapes and to write volumes into a single image—creating indelible, lasting impressions of where we have been, who we really are and where our future may take us.” ~Ernest H. Brooks II

“You must illustrate the beauty of light and the presence of design, the form the viewer realizes is a quality joined together to begin a ‘Statement’. These visuals ‘words’ are the language of all the people on our planet, and a language that all photographers need to learn as their careers take form. “ ~Ernest H. Brooks II

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Modern Cuba and ancient Yoruba religion

Continuing their lifework of documenting traditional African culture, Carol and Angela traveled to Cuba in 2014 for a fieldwork study of modern Voodoo, a diaspora of a Yoruban religion originally brought from West Africa during the slave trade.

View additional Beckwith & Fisher image collections


“We went to Cuba to explore the Yoruba religion of Voodoo which was carried to Cuba by the trans-Atlantic slave trade from Benin and Nigeria, starting in the 16th century. In Cuba today, we find  these ancient Yoruba beliefs and rituals practiced in a religion known as Santeria. Having studied Voodoo in West Africa for over two decades, we were fascinated by the diaspora of an African religion which protected itself by appearing to merge with Christianity, but in actuality practiced its secret rituals in privacy.  It is believed that 60 percent of the Cuban population have their roots in Africa. We were moved to realize that this vital religion which traveled across the Atlantic many generations ago has found a protected home so far from its origins.”  Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher


view Beckwith & Fisher Voodoo imagesVoodoo Priest at Seko Healing Shrine, Togo by Beckwith & Fisher Beckwith & Fisher / African Ceremonies: Recording the past, supporting the future

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Making a Difference

photokunst photographers making a differencephotokunst specializes in representing cause-oriented photography and projects. Our collaborating photographers personal projects, and the causes they passionately pursue, are making a difference – impacting and inspiring people around the world. Below are updates about some works-in-progress:


Acclaimed photographers Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher have spent the past 30 years preserving African traditions through their photography. Their charitable foundation, African Ceremonies, Inc., continues this mission of preservation, supporting the communities Beckwith & Fisher have documented, through locally focused community and individual projects. They continue their work as chroniclers of Africa’s vanishing cultures, and took seven exciting fieldwork trips in 2014 into the heart of Africa’s most remote regions.


Joey L is well-known in the commercial photography world for his celebrity portrait work and inspiring creative treatments, but he also has an intense curiosity and passion for understanding and preserving cultures in remote areas of the world. He recently donated use of a group of his “Cradle of Mankind” images to Survival International, an organization working to defend the livelihoods and cultures of tribes throughout the world. He documented in stills and film, tribes in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley. His film project “People of the Delta” is in the editing phase  Survival Internationals “Omo Valley Tribes” focus: A massive hydro-electric dam, Gibe III, is under construction on the Omo, threatening a fragile environment and the livelihoods of the tribes, which are closely linked to the river and its annual flood.


Jamey Stillings writes, “I am at a dynamic and vibrant point in my photographic career — a nexus formed from the cumulative and varied experiences of the past few decades. It is a time to summon my creative intuition, interpersonal skills, and seasoned perspectives to foster new work that has meaning, substance and relevance.” Stillings’ ongoing project series “Changing Perspectives“, including his recently completed “Evolution of Ivanpah Solar”, invites serious consideration and conversation. “Renewable energy projects such as Ivanpah solar also raise challenging questions about land and resource use,  exposing differing perspectives and contradictions within the environmental movement, local communities, the energy industry, and general public.  While Ivanpan Solar is located in the American West, the issues encountered during it’s planning and construction are global ones and relevent to future environmentally-responsible energy projects”  The completed project is in the process of becoming a book (to be published in 2015 by Steidl) and a traveling museum exhibition.


Dorothy Kerper Monnelly has spent the past 35 years photographing and advocating for the protection of the Massachusetts’ Great Marsh, an ecosystem that prior to her work was deemed a wasteland. A celebrated landscape photographer, her images are currently included in the exhibition “Fragile Waters,” along with other renowned photographers Ernest Brooks II and Ansel Adams, currently at The Las Cruces Museum of Art, New Mexico through January 10, 2015. Close to home and heart is her ongoing award-winning work for Essex County Greenbelt Association.


Pioneer of underwater photography and internationally acclaimed diver, Ernest H. Brooks II, has spent his life educating people about photography and the marine environment, using his imagery to inspire others to preserve delicate marine locales for generations to come. Brooks has generously shared his passion and gift as an educator, speaking and offering workshops around the world, recently in conjunction with the exhibition “Fragile Waters.” The exhibition presents his iconic images in combination with with photographs by Dorothy Kerper Monnelly and Ansel Adams. Additionally two of Brooks’ favorite organizations to support are: Academy of Arts & Sciences and Historical Diving Society of America.


Pulitzer Award winning photojournalist Marissa Roth has spent much of her career documenting human rights issues. One of her recent projects, One Person Crying: Women & War, concerns the impact of war on women, and is a culmination of 30 years of work covering multiple conflicts around the world.. Roth’s  One Person Crying: Women and War photography exhibition has traveled to Germany, France, and within the U.S., and will be opening at Venice Arts, in Venice, CA  January 15, running through March 12, 2015.

“The consequences of war for women in countries, cultures and communities that are directly affected by it, have often been overlooked. My main hope for this project is to show that war doesn’t discriminate how it metes out pain or suffering, that women are basically the same everywhere in how they endure war and live with its aftermath into their post-war lives. I also hope that this project inspires dialog and activism, in order to bring on-the-ground psychological and social support to these war-impacted women.” Marissa Roth

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN – visual treats from Joey L

Annually since 2010, Joey L has  been photographing Halloween revelers on the streets of his New York neighborhood. His stunning  Halloween in Brooklyn series is an expanding work-in-progress, with plans laid for another shoot this year. We can’t wait to see this year’s results.

“In March 2010, I tried desperately to get to the Maha Shivratri Festival in India, a Hindu festival celebrating the God Shiva. I had a commercial shoot booked in Dubai and intended to complete that job, returning via India. To make a long story short, the Dubai shoot was postponed. I stayed there in limbo, and never made it to the festival. Plane and train tickets booked from Delhi to Varanasi sat unused and were nonrefundable. There’s always next year, I thought to myself.

Around that time, I began to think about the strange festivals I grew up with, such as Halloween. I realized what seems perfectly normal to me, would appear bizarre to outsiders. All along, Halloween had been happening just outside my doorstep. I wanted to photograph this series from the perspective of a foreigner looking in, as if I were making an ethnographic study of all the costumes and characters I found. My neighborhood, Bushwick, is a predominately Puerto Rican / Dominican neighborhood in Brooklyn. Although it is said to be the 7th most impoverished neighborhood in New York City, the costumes remain elaborate and creative. Parents watch carefully over their children as they walk door to door seeking the next trick or treat. It’s Halloween in Brooklyn, and it’s only one day a year.

In this series, every subject was photographed within a few blocks of my apartment. As you step back and observe the world around you, you discover new things that have been right in front of you all along.”
~Joey L

"Mr. Flores as Evil Clown" Joey L photograph

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Tribute to Alfred Wertheimer

It is with great sadness that we learned about the death of Alfred Wertheimer on October 20, best known for his iconic black and white photographs of the young Elvis in 1956.
“Al ” and I had been working together for the last 20 years and became good friends. He was a “must see” during my frequent visits to New York. His brownstone near Central Park was a shrine to Elvis, however I found many treasures in his archives with varied subject matter which he pledged he would release eventually, “after Elvis”.
He was blessed with an extraordinary memory and was probably the expert on Elvis’ first few months in the limelight, when everything was new and fresh. His photos reflect the innocence and excitement of those initial weeks.
I will miss Al’s humor, sharp wit and loyal friendship over the years. His photos will be his legacy and live on.    ~Barbara Cox


May 2013 Interview with Alfred Wertheimer by Barbara Cox


Alfred Weertheimer portraitB. Cox ( BC): Al, thank you for taking the time for yet another interview. I would like to mostly speak about you, the photographer, and your thoughts and experiences. How did you secure the initial assignment to photograph Elvis and why did you choose black and white?

Al Wertheimer (AW): I had a working relationship with Ann Folcino, the PR person for RCA,  who asked me about press photos for Elvis for her use. RCA signed Elvis in 1956. CBS was hosting a show with the Dorsey Brothers and Ann wanted press coverage: “ Don’t shoot color, RCA wouldn’t pay for it”.  Ann took me to a rehearsal space, 2 men were there, the younger one was Elvis, the other a ring salesman, who sold him a ring. It was my first year in photojournalism. Ann asked if it was OK for me to shoot some pictures, Elvis agreed.

BC: What was your relationship with Elvis and the Colonel at that time?

AW: Ann, PR person from RCA, handled Elvis that first day. After rehearsal, Elvis went back to the Warwick Hotel, looked at fan mail, read it and shredded it. He did not ask me to back off. That evening we went back to the TV studio, 6 minutes airtime, 2 songs and the kids in the audience went wild.
My first  encounter with the Colonel came at the rehearsal for the Steve Allen Show, June 29, 1956. He was a shrewd businessman and acted like he was doing me a favor. He loved that I was photographing and wound up with a whole set of photos. He later sold the set to Elvis Presley Enterprises and never paid me royalties.
Sept. 1956 an Elvis Magazine was released (my first cover shot), sold 400,000 copies.

BC: You had unprecedented access in the beginning. Why did you not pursue the relationship as Elvis became an icon?

AW: I was spending my own money to follow Elvis and just couldn’t afford it at the time. RCA would not fund any more photos. I did take a train to Memphis to photograph Elvis family to round out the story. I shot 100 frames in color, the rest in black and white.

BC: Which image would you have liked to shoot, but didn’t have a chance to?
AW: I was happy to get what I had. Everyone was cooperating, the Colonel, Steve Allen, Elvis, his family…

BC: You have mined your Elvis archive to the utmost. What is your advice to other photographers in that situation?

AW: No one gave me advice. I had exclusive photos of someone who became a household word. I was able to report and document the change from NOBODY to SOMEBODY and many photos have yet to be reproduced. And a new genre was born “Rock and Roll Photography”.
As to advice to others: Keep your expenses down, don’t give your images away, there is a demand somewhere, there is the fan market, don’t sell yourself cheap.
Hint: Behind the scenes shots plus your stage shots make a much more interesting story.

BC: What makes a good photographer in your opinion?
AW: A good photographer shoots what makes people tick, not portraits. You have to be curious and observant. Have your subject involved in something other than being photographed. Example: “The Kiss”, Elvis and his date were oblivious to my presence, they were involved otherwise and paid no attention to me. Don’t ask them to do something, you’ll have broken the spell. Wait, be patient, be prepared, be curious and hopefully be lucky. Instead of following someone else’s style, learn your craft. Keep the composition clean. Make sure you have your background and foreground in check. I used 2 Nikons, one with a 35 mm and the other with a 105 mm lens. I tried to shoot from 8 to 10 feet away, no zoom lenses, not motorized, it makes the background blurry. I focused on the face and made sure to have background and foreground in check. Elvis’ most important attributes for great pictures were that he permitted closeness, getting 3 to 4 feet next to him; he never flinched. And Elvis’ performances made the girls cry from the balcony to the First row, he had that power.

BC: Why didn’t you want to become the Rock and Roll photographer of record?
AW: On September 22, 1958 I took the last photos of Elvis, now without sideburns, no longer the rebel the kids loved……. In 1964 I fell in love with film and became a motion picture cameraman and left still photography.

BC: Thank you Al, that was a great interview. I was mostly interested in Al Wertheimer the photographer and his approach, and we accomplished that.

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Crazywise: Rethinking Madness – A Film Directed by Phil Borges

Phil Borges, social documentary photographer and filmmaker, has directed a new film Crazywise. For more than 25 years he has been documenting indigenous and tribal cultures, striving to create an understanding of the challenges they face. He has visited many of the remaining cultures whose beliefs encourage a spiritual communion with the environment. He began to interview and photograph many of the people in these cultures and their spiritual mediators, the Shamans. The vast majority of the shamans he met were identified then nurtured to become healers or seers after they suffered what we in our culture refer to as a psychotic break from reality.

Fascinated by this difference in cultural framing (psychosis vs gift), Borges was left with many questions, and Crazywise chronicles his continuing exploration for greater understanding.

“In a sense, this new project began long before today. It started while I was interviewing the shaman and living with pre-industrial cultures. These were the experiences and insights that stuck with me, and have now become the catalyst for my current exploration: one that I hope provides a deeper understanding of our inner worlds.” —Phil Borges

A feature length documentary, Crazywise, centers around a young man struggling with his sanity, world renowned mental health professionals and a survivor-led movement… all challenging a mental health system in crisis.

A Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign for Crazywise has been launched with a goal of raising $75,000 by June 20 for remaining production and post-production costs. View the movie trailer and additional info on the Kickstarter page.

Phil Borges’ work is exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide, and his award winning books have been published in four languages. Borges has hosted television documentaries on indigenous cultures for Discovery and National Geographic. As an experienced lecturer, he has spoken at multiple TED talks, and has directed 13 short documentaries between 2004-2012 focusing on gender issues around the world.

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Chris Rainier – Globe-trotting Documentary Photographer

5/7/14 news update from award-winning ethnographic documentary photographer Chris Rainier:

“Just back from Japan – and a very successful shoot. And I leave tonite for four days in Norway to present at Nordic Light International Festival of Photography. I have a major exhibit opening as well as a keynote lecture. I return on Sunday. Then leave for Australia (where I have a Museum show opening and a Keynote speech at the Australian Major Photo festival – called HeadOn). I then dash to New Zealand and repeat that at the Auckland Festival of Photography the following week. . . A crazy but productive schedule …” 

Join Rainier at the following festivals to see exhibits of his work, hear him speak +/or perhaps have a portfolio review and join in the festivities…

Nordic Light International Festival of Photography Kristiansund , Norway, is a one week international gathering that celebrates photography as an art. The festival’s philosophy is to bring photography out to the people, to define what is a good photography, but also to give the photography strength as a mean of communication.

Head On Photo Festival , Australia’s largest photography festival, returns to Sydney 12 May- 8 June 2014 for its fifth year. This year’s festival showcases the work of emerging and established artists from across the globe.

Auckland Festival of Photography, 29 May to 20 June 2014, is New Zealand’s largest photographic event, encouraging more people to celebrate the art of photography through free public access alongside professionally curated exhibitions.

Chris Rainier is a National Geographic Society Fellow and documentary photographer – who is highly respected for his documentation of endangered Cultures and Languages around the globe. During his continued tenure with the National Geographic Society he has been the co-founder and co-director of both the Enduring Voices Language Project and Director of the All Roads Photography Program, designed to support indigenous groups with modern technology desiring to document their traditional culture and create sustainable solutions to preserve the planet. Rainier has completed photographic documentation Expeditions on all Seven Continents including the North Pole.

Rainier’s photography and books have been widely shown and collected by museums around the world, including the Australian Museum in Sydney, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the International Center of Photography in New York, and the George Eastman House International Museum in Rochester, New York, The National Geographic Society, and the United Nations. Rainier has published five books focused on traditional Culture, and “Cultures on the Edge” was recently published by the National Geographic Society. “Masks”, his new book and traveling exhibition project, is currently under development.



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Infinite Light: A Photographic Meditation on Tibet

For her new project, Infinite Light: A Photographic Meditation on Tibet, Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Marissa Roth has turned her lens on Tibet, capturing the light, atmosphere and energy that embody this land. The project consists of an exhibition that will be available from November 2014, and an exquisite accompanying book, which will be launched at the Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles on May 10th 2014. This also happens to be Marissa’s birthday and she will be signing books at the gallery if you would like to drop by and say hello!

Less of a traditional photographic exhibition and more of an installation piece, the flowing images from Infinite Light and the accompanying Tibetan music, combine to create a photographic ‘walking meditation’.

Above, Marissa is pictured with Publisher Ed Marquand, and the dedicated crew at the Marquand Books facility in Tieton, Washington, and below is one of her beautiful books.

Two versions of the book are available: in the Clamshell version, the book is wrapped in a traditional Tibetan cloth made in a Tibetan monastery in southern India. The Clamshell also contains a limited edition, signed and numbered ink-jet print; The second version is the slipcase.

Editioning the books-8


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Celebrating International Women’s Day 2014

Photokunst marks International Women’s Day highlighting events with three of its photographers:  an exhibition about issues facing women and girls worldwide, a panel discussion of women on their career challenges and successes and a movie world premiere on sex trafficking.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, the Muhammad Ali Center, Louisville, KY, is opening social documentary photographer Phil BorgesStirring the Fire: a  Global Movement to Empower Women and Girls” exhibition., which will run through Mother’s Day, May 11, 2014. Visitors will learn about issues facing woman and girls worldwide, regarding education, economic security, health, leadership, human trafficking, and various forms of violence. Borges’ powerful portrayal of remarkable women and their stories, reveal the pathways that helped them achieve social and economic justice in their communities and beyond.

“The Ali Center’s education programs and exhibits are based on three specific focus areas: education, gender equity, and global citizenship. The Stirring the Fire exhibit brings all three of these areas to life here at the Center.” -Donald Lassere, President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center

Marissa Roth will be participating March 8 in the Annenberg Space for Photography’s panel discussion featuring accomplished women who work in photography, journalism, science, relief and development, arts and entertainment. They will discuss the challenges they’ve faced, the successes they’ve achieved and the importance of including a female point of view in these fields, The event is sold out, but will be streamed live Saturday, March 8 at 6:50 pm and will also include panelists: Penelope Spheeris, Margaret Aguirre, and Mireya Mayor.

Also in celebration of IWD, the world premiere of SOLD the movie, will be held at the CineQuest Film Festival in San Jose, CA. March 7th at 7pm, Made by Oscar Award winning team, Emma Thompson and Jeffrey Brown, the film is an adaptation of the National Book Award nominated novel SOLD by Patricia McCormick, and puts the audience in the shoes of an amazing 13 year old girl who is trafficked from Nepal to a brothel in Kolkata. Lisa Kristine’s work as photographer documenting human trafficking inspired a character in the movie.  The film is a global call to action to end human trafficking.. Watch the Trailer

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Library of Congress Acquires Jamey Stillings Photographs

 Jamey Stilllings images of Ivanpah Solar

The U.S. Library of Congress recently acquired a twenty-five print collection of award-winning photographer Jamey Stillings’ “Changing Perspectives: The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar” work, adding to his previous portfolio there: Bridge at Hoover Dam, this collection will also have a digital archive hosted within the Library of Congress’ Prints and Photographs Collection.


Initiated in 2010 “Changing Perspectives: The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar” is an aerial photographic study chronicling the development of The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, in the Mojave Desert of California.  Just completed, Ivanpah Solar is the world’s largest concentrated solar thermal power plant. 173,500 heliostats (mirrors) focus the sun’s energy toward three towers creating 392 megawatts of electricity, enough for 140,000 US homes.


“I want these photographs to raise questions. I want them to entice and intrigue the viewer by sharing something that is beautiful and fascinating — the geometry of a man-made structure existing within the organic landscape of nature. Yet I also hope they will encourage us to have the important and difficult conversations that emerge as we continue to exploit Earth for our own utility.”
~ Jamey Stillings


Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs 

“Unique in their scope and richness, the picture collections number more than 14 million images. These include photographs, historical prints, posters, cartoons, documentary drawings, fine prints, and architectural and engineering designs. While international in scope, the collections are particularly strong in materials documenting the history of the United States and the lives, interests, and achievements of the American people.” 

For LOC information:
 Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) info (describes about 95% of P & P holdings), 
Prints and Photograph Division’s acquisition program


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