New Ideas in Photography: Amy Elkins

© Amy Elkins, Charles, Brooklyn, NY. 2006
From the series "Wallflower"

Colin Pantall and Joerg Colberg have organized a collaborative community initiative to start the fall. They asked a range of bloggers and editors to select up to five photographers who "have demonstrated an openness to use new ideas in photography, who have taken chances with their photography and have shown an unwillingness to play it safe. These three categories can be interpreted in any way."

This week I will select and post a photographer each day. My five selections are not in any order.

Other selections for this initiative will be posted on (or by): ConscientiousAndrew PhelpsaCuratorMrs DeaneReciprocity failureHarvey BengeMicrocordeyecuriousLPV Magazine, and Stella Kramer.

First a few words on how I made my selections and interpreted the criteria.

I took "new ideas" to mean visually and thematically fresh photography, but not necessarily working within or creating new modes of photography.

"Taken chances" and "unwillingness to play it safe" I understood as photography that has prefaced the pursuit of the internal logic of a project and individual artistic lines of thought over engaging contemporary visual trends - as well as over the artist's own history in making images.

Finally, I also added my own final criteria, choosing photographers I believe produce strong images in addition to using new ideas and taking chances.

I came up with a list of 24 photographers over the last couple months, adding names as I came across new work or thought of someone's work that I believe fits the criteria. I cut the list down to 10 fairly quickly, but getting from 10 to 5 has been difficult. At this point, however, it's time to leap.

My first selection for the series was Bryan Graf.

My second selection for the series is Amy Elkins.

Elkins I nominate for the intelligence, visual richness, and - especially - for the variety with which she solves the artistic questions she poses herself about the role of prisons in US society, masculine identity, and longitudinal portrait studies. She embodies the positive development of the photographer as polygamist, working with a variety of approaches to image making, hinging her artistic choices on the requirements of a particular body of work. I appreciate the visual risks she has taken, particularly with "Black Is the Day, Black Is the Night," in which she abandons the obvious abilities she has for "straight" portraiture in order to more successfully resolve the demands of the project.

© Amy Elkins, Willow, Oxnard, CA. 2006
From the series "Where I Found You"

© Amy Elkins, (Not the Man I Once Was)
From the series "Black Is the Day, Black Is the Night"

© Amy Elkins, Orange flowers, Ventura, CA. 2009
From the series "Where I Found You"

© Amy Elkins, Momentary, Brooklyn, NY. 2007
From the series "Gray"

© Amy Elkins, Dan (Wing/Fullback), New Haven, CT. 2010
From the series "Elegant Violence"

© Amy Elkins, Willow and INSP channel, Oxnard, CA. 2009
From the series "Where I Found You"

© Amy Elkins, Lucas, New York, NY. February 25, 2012.
From the series "Lucas"