Rebecca Norris Webb, Blackbirds, from My Dakota (left); Alex Webb, Nuevo Laredo, 1996, from La Calle (right)

“Photography is partially unpredictable because the world is unpredictable.” —Alex Webb

Creative team and collaborators Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb led an intensive two-day workshop at Aperture Foundation.

This workshop was dedicated to helping both serious amateurs and professional photographers to find their distinct way of seeing the world and to determine their next step in regard to their photographic work. The first day of the workshop was spent reviewing participants’ portfolios, and both Alex and Rebecca made comments, suggestions, and edits to their work, explaining which photographs were strong and how each student could further their project. Alex and Rebecca discussed books they’ve published—My Dakota (Rebecca Norris Webb, 2012) and Hot Light/Half-Made Worlds (Alex Webb, 1986)—and explained specific design choices, such as full-spread images and how text was placed in the book. Later, the participants played an editing game where, in groups, they sequenced a series of photographs. An optional assignment was given to participants, encouraging them to explore new ways of seeing and making work. At the end of the first day Alex led a walk-through of his exhibition at Aperture, La Calle: Photographs from Mexico, which was also open to the public.

On the second day, the morning was dedicated to reviewing each participant’s assignment. Alex and Rebecca made selections of the work and noted successful images. In the afternoon, Alex and Rebecca shared book spreads made on a large printing press and discussed the work that goes into producing a photobook. Both gave advice regarding book design, printing locations, and distribution methods. The workshop ended with an open discussion about photography and an informal Q&A. Alex told stories about being on assignment and Rebecca talked about the personal journey she had with her book My Dakota.

Best known for his vibrant and complex color work, especially from Latin America and the Caribbean, Alex Webb has published fourteen books, including The Suffering of Light (Aperture, 2011), a survey book of his color work, and most recently Memory City (2014, with Rebecca Norris Webb), a meditation about film, time, and the city of Rochester, New York, the longtime home of Kodak, in the year following the company’s bankruptcy. His fifteenth book, La Calle—which features some thirty years of his street photographs from Mexico—will be published in fall 2016 to coincide with the opening of the traveling exhibition of the work at Aperture Foundation in New York on September 7, 2016. Alex has exhibited at museums worldwide including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Guggenheim Museum, New York. Alex became a full member of Magnum Photos in 1979. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, GEO Magazine, and other publications. He has received numerous awards and grants including a Hasselblad Foundation Grant in 1998 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007.
Rebecca Norris Webb has published five photography books, including The Glass Between Us (2006), Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb on Street Photography and the Poetic Image (Aperture, 2014), and Violet Isle: A Duet of Photographs from Cuba (2009, with Alex Webb), the latter exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Originally a poet, Rebecca often interweaves her text and photographs in her books, most notably with My Dakota (2012)—an elegy for her brother who died unexpectedly—with a solo exhibition of the work this past summer at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Her photographs have appeared in the New Yorker, Time, Le Monde, and National Geographic, among other publications, and her work is in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Cleveland Museum of Art; and George Eastman Museum, Rochester, New York. This fall, Radius is reissuing My Dakota, which will be launched at Paris Photo, along with an Italian version of the book launched soon after in Rome. This summer, she was one of the guest curators of Documentum’s Pictures & Text issue, along with Teju Cole and Colette LaBouff Speer.


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