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Alison Wright
Alison Wright
Alison Wright

Alison Wright

Country: United States

Alison Wright, an award-winning documentary photographer and author, has travelled to 150 countries photographing indigenous cultures and people while covering issues concerning the human condition. She is a recipient of the Dorothea Lange Award in Documentary Photography, a two-time winner of the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award, and an Explorers Club Fellow. She was recently named a National Geographic Traveler of the Year as someone who travels "with a sense of passion and purpose."

Alison has published ten books. Her upcoming book, "Grit and Grace: Women at Work" documents the empowerment of women working in global communities (Schiffer 2021). Her work has been published in numerous magazines including National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, National Geographic Adventure, Outside, Islands and Smithsonian.

Alison's life was nearly cut short during a devastating bus accident on a remote jungle road in Laos. Her best-selling memoir, "Learning to Breathe; One Woman's Journey of Spirit and Survival," chronicles her inspirational story of survival, the years of rehabilitation and her ongoing determination to recover and continue traveling the world as an intrepid visual storyteller. This experience while working in post disaster/conflict areas inspired her to establish a foundation called Faces of Hope (facesofhope.org); a non-profit that globally supports women and children's rights by creating visual awareness and donating directly to grass-roots organizations that help sustain them through education and healthcare.

Human Tribe
The emotive beauty and grace of the human face, in all its diversity, will never cease to inspire me but it's the enduring spirit of our collective tribe of humanity that will always certainly amaze me. One of the many things I have learned during my years of global travel as a documentary photographer is that no matter how unique we may look in appearance, from the exotic to the mundane, we basically have the same universal desires and concerns. Our needs are actually quite simple: to love and be loved; to have a useful place in our society with some meaningful and fulfilling occupation in our life; work that will hopefully provide us with enough money in our pocket to get by; food on the table; education, health and safety for ourselves, our family and our children. The freedom to be oneself is a right that creates the exquisiteness of our human race.

These portraits are an unguarded moment in the lives of a few of the people I have photographed from our remarkable human tapestry. Some are celebrating significant events, while others are living out ordinary days. Others are merely struggling to survive. Many are from countries whose lives are in flux or change due to war, natural disaster or the inevitable rapid progression of modernity. I feel drawn to those who live close to the land, documenting communities that may not last even another generation. Most are surprised that I actually wanted to stop and photograph someone who is considered in their culture to be such an ordinary looking person.

From tribes in Africa, to nomads in Asia, survivors of post conflict and disaster, families and individuals around the world have graciously opened up their homes and hearts to me. Surprisingly, I have discovered that it is often the ones who have the least who share the most. I find compassion in what can seem to be a world of chaos. The planet, at times, can seem so vast, with the numbers almost too large for us to comprehend. But when you capture the look in someone's eyes, an intimate stare, a knowing glance, his or her situation becomes a shared experience, a more personal connection. Their eyes seem to radiate a dignity, a claim for a right to be seen, no matter what their circumstances. These eyes are what initially draws us in and connects us together.

These photos are a celebration of the universal human spirit within us all. It is what bonds us as humankind, a continued thread, as together we continue this journey on the pilgrimage of life.
 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri
France
1819 | † 1889
André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri (French: 28 March 1819 - 4 October 1889) was a French photographer who started his photographic career as a daguerreotypist but gained greater fame for patenting his version of the carte de visite, a small photographic image which was mounted on a card. Disdéri, a brilliant showman, made this system of mass-production portraiture world famous. Disdéri began his working life in a number of occupations, while also studying art. He started as a daguerreotypist in Brest in 1848 or 1849 but in December 1852 or January 1853 he moved to Nîmes. There he received assistance from Édouard Boyer and Joseph Jean Pierre Laurent with his photography-related chemistry experiments. After a year in Nîmes he moved to Paris, enabling easy access to people who would be the subjects of his cartes de visite. Photographs had previously served as calling cards,[6] but Disdéri's invention of the paper carte de visite (i.e. "visiting card") photograph second enabled the mass production of photographs. On 27 November 1854 he patented the system of printing ten photographs on a single sheet (although there is no evidence that a system printing more than eight actually materialized). This was the first patent ever for a carte de visite. Disdéri's's cartes de visite were 6X9 cm, about the size of conventional (nonphotographic) visiting cards of the time, and were made by a camera with four lenses and a sliding plate holder; a design inspired by the stereoscopic cameras. The novelty quickly spread throughout the world. According to a German visitor, Disdéri's studio became "really the Temple of Photography - a place unique in its luxury and elegance. Daily he sells three to four thousand francs worth of portraits". The fact that these photos could be reproduced inexpensively and in great quantity brought about the decline of the daguerreotype and ushered in a carte de visite craze as they became enormously popular throughout Europe and the United States. So great was the publicity that all of Paris wanted portraits. Disdéri also invented the twin-lens reflex camera. The great French photographer Nadar, who was Disdéri's competitor, wrote about the new invention in his autobiographical "Quand j'étais photographe", "about the appearance of Disdéri and Carte de Visite... It spelled disaster. Either you had to succumb - that is to say, follow the trend - or resign." At the pinnacle of his career, Disdéri was extremely wealthy and renowned; but like another famous photographer, Mathew Brady, he is reported to have died in near poverty. By the end of his life, Disdéri had become penniless. He died on 4 October 1889 in the Hôpital Ste. Anne in Paris, "an institution for indigents, alcoholics, and the mentally ill". He was a victim of his own invention. The system which he invented and popularized was so easy to imitate that photographers all over the world took advantage of it.
Andreas Feininger
United States
1906 | † 1999
Andreas Bernhard Lyonel Feininger (December 27, 1906 - February 18, 1999) was an American photographer and a writer on photographic technique. He was noted for his dynamic black-and-white scenes of Manhattan and for studies of the structures of natural objects. Feininger was born in Paris, France, the eldest son of Julia Berg, a German Jew, and the American painter and art educator Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956). His paternal grandparents were the German violinist Karl Feininger (1844-1922) and the American singer Elizabeth Feininger, (née Lutz), who was also of German descent. His younger brother was the painter and photographer T. Lux Feininger (1910-2011). In 1908 the Feininger family moved to Berlin, and in 1919 to Weimar, where Lyonel Feininger took up the post of Master of the Printing Workshop at the newly formed Bauhaus art school. Andreas left school at 16, in 1922, to study at the Bauhaus; he graduated as a cabinetmaker in April 1925. After that he studied architecture, initially at the Staatliche Bauschule Weimar (State Architectural College, Weimar) and later at the Staatliche Bauschule Zerbst. (Zerbst is a city in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, about 20 km from Dessau, where the Bauhaus moved to in 1926.) The Feininger family moved to Dessau with the Bauhaus. In addition to continuing his architectural studies in Zerbst, Andreas developed an interest in photography and was given guidance by neighbour and Bauhaus teacher László Moholy-Nagy. In 1936, he gave up architecture and moved to Sweden, where he focused on photography. In advance of World War II, in 1939, Feininger immigrated to the U.S. where he established himself as a freelance photographer. In 1943 he joined the staff of Life magazine, an association that lasted until 1962. Feininger became famous for his photographs of New York. Other frequent subjects among his works were science and nature, as seen in bones, shells, plants, and minerals in the images of which he often stressed their structure. Rarely did he photograph people or make portraits. Feininger wrote comprehensive manuals about photography, of which the best known is The Complete Photographer. In the introduction to one of Feininger's books of photographs, Ralph Hattersley, the editor of the photography journal Infinity, described him as "one of the great architects who helped create photography as we know it today." In 1966, the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) awarded Feininger its highest distinction, the Robert Leavitt Award. In 1991, the International Center of Photography awarded Feininger the Infinity Lifetime Achievement Award. Today, Feininger's photographs are in the permanent collections of the Center for Creative Photography, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, London's Victoria and Albert Museum, and the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Source: Wikipedia
Tamara Dean
Australia
1976
Tamara Dean (b. 1976, Sydney, Australia) is a photographic artist whose works explore the informal rites of passage and rituals of young people within the natural world.Her solo shows include Ritualism, Divine Rites, This too Shall Pass and Only Human.Dean has received numerous awards including a $10,000 High Commendation prize in the 2013 Moran Contemporary Photographic Award, the 2011 Olive Cotton Award and 2009 Sydney Life: Art & About.Dean’s works have been widely exhibited both nationally and internationally. Her works have featured in ‘Dangerous Beauty’ curated by Stephan Stoyanov, Bulgaria 2013, the 2013 Aspettando FotoLeggendo festival in Rome, Fotofever Brussels Art Fair, 2012 and Pingyao Photography Festival, China, 2012 as well as at leading Australian galleries including Inheritance 2009 and Hijacked 2 – New Australian & German Photography 2010, both at the Australian Centre for Photography; Sydney Now – New Australian Photojournalism, Museum of Sydney 2007; Terra Australis Incognita at Monash Gallery of Art.Dean has been awarded artist residencies with ArtOmi, New York (2013), and previously Taronga Zoo, Montsalvat and repeatedly in the remote gold-mining town of Hill End, NSW.For a decade Dean was a member of Oculi photographic collective.Dean’s work is held in a number of public and private collections including Artbank, Sydney; The Francis J. Greenburger Collection, New York; the Mordant Family Collection, Australia; and is represented by Olsen Irwin Gallery Sydney and James Makin Gallery Melbourne.Source: www.tamaradean.com
Geert Broertjes
The Netherlands
I try to look at the world as open and honestly as possible. No prejudices about people and not take things for granted. I'm a sensitive person, which means that I use my feelings as a guideline for everything I do. I think more with my heart than with my head. As a photographer I'm fascinated by the diversity of people. What are their motivations, on what do they base their choices in life and what is their purpose. This fascination began at an early age, when I was traveling with my parents through Europe. I used the old camera from my grandmother and I was immediately intrigued by this medium. After high school I studied Media & Information Management. But I soon realized that this was not for me and that my interest in photography was still there. So I began to study photography at the Photo Academy in Amsterdam where I graduated end of 2013. One of my strengths is that people quickly feel comfortable with me. This is because I have a sincere interest for the people I photograph and I'm open minded. This advantage I use in my photography. The photos I make are created from the feeling and trust that people have with me. They are personal, intimate and real. I'm not looking for the reality, because in my opinion, that doesn't exist. What I try to capture is a poetic, melancholic and romantic version of life. For my own projects I work with analogue cameras, because this expresses the mood I'm looking for. The magic of analog is that you never know for sure what the result will be. I encourage the viewer to use his or her own imagination. Since graduating I have been working as a freelance photographer for many different clients. I like the alternation between commercial assignments with a short span and my own long-term projects. About One Year In a very short space of time, Geert Broertttes lost the most important women in his life. His aunt, grandmother and mother passed away. He shared his grief with his girlfriend, who became a recurring theme in this series. But even this relationship ended, a couple of months after his mother passed. Broertttes photographed the process instinctively. It was only afterwards that he noticed the coherence of his work. It became a poetic story about love, loss and grief. The beautiful photographs, all shot analogue in raw black and white, reveal the dark feelings he experienced during this intense period in his life. All about One Year About Project K In March 2019 Geert had been suffering from abdominal pain for a while and it was getting worse. He had a rectal bleeding on the toilet and lost two liters of blood. After a few days in the hospital the doctor came with bad news. Geert had a tumor in his colon. They told him that he could not be saved anymore because the cancer had already spread to his lymph nodes, liver and lungs. After a second and third opinion in different hospitals the image was drastically adjusted. "It was all very strange and confusing, but after a few intense weeks the oncologists came with the message that I could get better." In April was the first operation, half of his colon was removed, then he underwent three chemotherapy treatments and in august he had another operation to remove pieces from his liver and gallbladder. His cancer is genetic. He got it because of the Lynch syndrome that his father was carrying, he past away last November. When Geert was diagnosed with colon cancer, Lotte asked him if she could make a portrait of Geert: "pure, without the presence of poisonous medicine in his body". That moment turned out to be the start of project 'K', in which we chose analogue photography to represent the three most common cancer treatments: chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. Directly after his chemo, we used Geert's urine to soak the fim rolls with chemo. This way, we represented chemotherapy. To represent radiation, 4x5 inch film was irradiated in AMC hospital: the square in the middle of the film symbolizes Geerts' colon tumor which has the same size. Lastly, we partially burned some negatives to represent the surgery. With this series, we wanted to visualize the world you live in as a patient, and the huge contradiction in the treatments: it is made to make you better, but it breaks you down as well. Project "K" is about the fucked up reality in which strength and vulnerability play the lead role and hope is the constant factor. We are Geert Broertjes & Lotte Bronsgeest "Lotte explores the vulnerability of the body and the transience of life play an important role in her work, in which she always searches for the point where beauty meets confrontation. People are often quick in their judgement about each other, basing their opinions on the clothed body. Lotte is intrigued by discrepancies between opinions and reality." "Geert is fascinated by the diversity of people. What are their motivations, on what do they base their choices in life and what is their purpose. His work is a poetic, melancholic and romantic version of reality. He encourages the viewer to use his or her own imagination. His work is personal and emotional." We both graduated in 2013 from the Photo Academy in Amsterdam, that is where we met. We work as freelance photographers for different clients and create our own projects. Project K Website
Patrick Morarescu
Statement:Due to the natural dynamic and complexity of the individual, I have always been drawn to portraiture. I photograph persons to whom I feel an initial attraction and try to reflect this force in images. A power that you cannot describe in words or in rational concepts but it captures the attention and creates a strong curiosity, a sort of addiction not only to body shapes, eyes, skin tonalities, but to what is behind: the thoughts and the mental state of that persons. And I feel a sort of instinct of possession, a desire to materialize the moment that this person is living. The human presence, with it’s emotionality, is some times too strong; it is almost insulting, shouting to get all the attention: Like a red dot in the green, like a flash in the darkness. To balance that force I need the background, the space that as a negative form defines the contour of the figure. Through that supplementary space I create a whole story. The key of my research lies in the dialogue between the person and its background; sometimes I think I am not portraying a person with a background, but the background with a person; sometimes it is the opposite. The background speaks about fear, happiness, peace, desperation; it speaks about the circumstances through an atmosphere. There is one basic element that is crucial to bring all the elements together: The light. Like a thread that creates structure and consistence in a tissue; the magical substance of photography. It is a physical condition that contains many extraordinary qualities. The photography is a chemical reaction in which the light is transcripted in a plain surface, creating a code that by the eyes suggest reality; but photography is not reality itself but an abstraction of it. And this is the point that fascinates me; the possibility of recreating the reality through the chemical process.
Cecil Beaton
United Kingdom
1904 | † 1980
Born in 1904 in London and coming of age at the peak of the 20's, Cecil Beaton was in love with the worlds of high society, theater, and glamour. Beauty in his hands was transformed into elegance, fantasy, romance, and charm. His inspired amateurism led to a following among fashionable debutantes and eventually a full fledged career as the foremost fashion and portrait photographer of his day. He was so attunded to the changes of fashion that his career maintained its momentum for five decades; from the Sitwells to the Rolling Stones. Beaton died in 1980.Source: Staley-Wise Gallery Sir Cecil Beaton, in full Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton, photographer known primarily for his portraits of celebrated persons, who also worked as an illustrator, a diarist, and an Academy Award-winning costume and set designer. Beaton’s interest in photography began when, as a young boy, he admired portraits of society women and actresses circulated on picture postcards and in Sunday supplements of newspapers. When he got his first camera at age 11, his nurse taught him how to use it and how to process negatives and prints. He costumed and posed his sisters in an attempt to re-create the popular portraits that he loved. In the 1920s Beaton became a staff photographer for Vanity Fair and Vogue magazines. He developed a style of portraiture in which the sitter became merely one element of an overall decorative pattern, which was dominated by backgrounds made of unusual materials such as aluminum foil or papier-mâché. The results, which combined art and artifice, were alternately exquisite, exotic, or bizarre, but always chic. Many of these portraits are gathered in his books The Book of Beauty (1930), Persona Grata (1953, with Kenneth Tynan), and It Gives Me Great Pleasure (1953). During World War II, Beaton served in the British Ministry of Information, covering the fighting in Africa and East Asia. His wartime photographs of the siege of Britain were published in the book Winged Squadrons (1942). After the war Beaton resumed portrait photography, but his style became much less flamboyant. He also broadened his activities, designing costumes and sets for theatre and film. He won Academy Awards for his costume design in Gigi (1958) and for both his costume design and his art direction in My Fair Lady (1964). Several volumes of his diaries, which appeared in the 1960s and ’70s, were summarized in Self Portrait with Friends: The Selected Diaries of Cecil Beaton, 1926–1974 (1979). Beaton was knighted in 1972.Source: www.britannica.com © All photographs wer scanned and released by the Imperial War Museum on the IWM Non Commercial Licence. The work was created by Cecil Beaton during his service for the Ministry of Information during the Second World War as an official photographer of the Home Front.
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