STORIES BEHIND MAGDALENA SOLE’S IMAGES – PART I

Magdalena Sole recently shared with us some of the techniques behind his images.

MAGDALENA SOLÉ is a social documentary photographer. She is best known for her vibrant and complex color work. Visual language has been her life’s work. In 1989 she founded TransImage, a graphic design studio, in New York City. In 2002 she graduated with a Masters of Fine Art in Film from Columbia University. Her last film, “Man On Wire”, on which she was the Unit Production Manager, won an Oscar in 2009. She has taught in Europe and the US.

Her projects span the globe. Her current work includes: Kamagasaki — a photo documentary on the shunned elderly day laborers of Japan. Japan — “After the Water Receded”, an exploration of the aftermath of the great 2011 Tohoku disaster, which was shown at the Sidney Mishkin Gallery in April 2012 in New York City. Most recently her photographs of the Mississippi Delta have been selected as a PDN Photo Annual 2011 Finalist. Her book “New Delta Rising”, published by the University Press of Mississippi, was released in February 2012. It has won the Silver Award in 2011 at PX3 Prix de la Photographie, France. She is also winner of the Silver Prize 2011 at Slow Exposures, Concord, GA. Other shows in 2012 are Voices from Japan at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City, Dante and the Delta at Doma Gallery in Charlotte, NC, The Delta at WilJax Gallery in Cleveland, MS, and Sous Les Étoiles in New York City. The Mississippi Delta is on view until February 22, 2013 at the Leica Gallery in New York.

Born in Spain, raised in Switzerland, she arrived in New York City in 1984, where she lives with her family. She speaks seven languages.

Blackbids on highway 1 near Benoit, MS © Magdalena Solé

Blackbirds are the iconic bird of the American South. I am equipped with an umbrella, to prevent bird droppings on my Leica with its 35mm lens. Hardly the classic lens for wildlife photography. I am mesmerized by these birds. There is only a fraction of second between the time they disperse in the sky and when they still sit on the ground. One has to move very quietly so they don’t fly away prematurely, before the frame is set in the viewfinder. Actually, I had to hold my breath and become invisible many times over before the shot succeeded.

Ka’leisha Hurt with her mother in Baptist Town, Greenwood © Magdalena Solé

I first met Ka’Leisha at the Laundromat in Baptist town, Greenwood, MS. She loved to be photographed and was in constant motion in front of the camera, a whirling dervish. Baptist town is what they call the other side of the tracks in the South. It is  a place of poverty, predominantly African American, with a rich cultural heritage and the birthplace of many extraordinary blues musicians.

The mother was watching over her daughter as I was photographing. At times I like to crop a person or object in the foreground to create depth and mystery. Sometimes what is not fully revealed leaves room for imagination and makes the photograph appear larger then what we see inside the frame.

Geisha in Kyoto, Japan © Magdalena Solé

One evening, I was walking through the beautiful Gion district in Kyoto where geishas rush, usually on foot, from one appointment to the next. Photographers with giant cameras are always on the ready to see if they can capture a glimpse of a Geisha. I stopped walking to observe the spectacle of hunting Geisha from a distance. Poor women, I thought. As always I carry my Leica with a 35 mm lens, definitely no Paparazzi material. Suddenly, to my surprise, this taxi just stopped in front of me. Someone’s flash went off behind me and I took this picture, which became my favorite of a Geisha: Her beauty is still intact, but she abandoned for an instance her traditional and professional smile, and revealed a hint of anxiety over the Paparazzi in the distance. She never saw me take her picture.

Magdalena Solé will be teaching the workshop The Delta a Photographic Journey through the Deep South on June 10-17, 2014 and October 13-20, 2014.   More information here

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