Contra Dance at the Emerald Ballroom

The Emerald Ballroom in Columbia, South Carolina, hosted a Contra Dance event Saturday, February 18. The first half hour dancers learned the basics of Contra, a dance a folk dance involving long lines of couples dancing in unison, from Stephanie Marie of Charlotte, North Carolina. After dancers learned the basics that make up the choreography for most of the dances Stephanie Marie switched hats and became the caller, instructing the dancers in traditional dances as music played. Battleaxe provided live music for the occasion. The all female group featured Amy Buckingham on fiddle, Lucy Allen on guitar, Brooke Lauer on banjo, and Nancy Hamilton on the upright bass. Attendees of all different experience levels enjoyed a night of dance, live music, and celebration of Southern culture.

Blooms and Bumble bees in February

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This is a photo I took of a bumble bee yesterday. I was out doing an assignment and happened to see this bee next to me and I decided to photograph it. I wasn’t expecting the photo to turn out very well because the rest of my photos were over exposed in this location, but I was actually pleasantly surprised by how it turned out. I think the colors came out quite rich and I liked that they are all in these bright yellow and green hues against the more dim, off white background. I also like the influence that the shallow depth of field has on the photo. The color contrast and focus of the image draw the eye to the bee which is a nice effect.

My parents keep honey bees at our home in Virginia and that experience has made me appreciate how important these wild pollinators are to our environment. Last month, the first species native to the continental US was added to the endangered species list which I found rather shocking. I was familiar with colony collapse disorder and parasites that affect honey bees, but I did not realize that wild bees were also facing threats. After doing some research about it and writing a speech for a class I learned that pesticides, industrial farming, and other damage to our environment are impacting all kinds of bees. I was thankful to see this bee out yesterday doing its symbiotic thing though!

Influences: Juergen Teller

Juergen Teller is a German born photographer largely known for his portraits and fashion advertisements. Teller’s point of view is defined by its casualness and humor. His photos embrace the imperfections of his subjects and reflect a sense of being candid, even in commissioned photographs. Teller’s technique includes using two film cameras simultaneously with bright, strobe lighting.

His work has been published by magazines including W Magazine and Purple. Teller’s advertising campaigns with Marc Jacobs between 1998 and 2009 have also been celebrated. There is even a book with the collected advertisements Teller did for the brand. This decade long collaboration largely shaped the image of Marc Jacobs, embracing a grunge aesthetic across all of Marc Jacobs lines including menswear, women’s fashion, and perfume. My own first exposure to his work was through these advertisements. When I was in middle school and high school I had a subscription to Teen Vogue and the grunge womenswear models and etherial “Daisy” perfume ads featuring platinum blonde models on horseback always struck me as being as beautiful as the editorial and feature spreads of the publication. More recently Teller has photographed ad campaigns for the French fashion house Céline.

 

 

Influences: Bill Cunningham

 

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Street style photos taken by Bill Cunningham that were unpublished until after his death, by the New York Times

Bill Cunningham (1929- 2016) is a famous fashion photographer for the New York Times who is best known for his street style photography. Cunningham is a self-taught photographer whose life long interest in women’s fashion turned into a career that lasted until his recent death. Cunningham had his start as a lady’s hat maker in New York City, where he made contacts with fashion industry insiders and socialites alike. Though he got his start as a journalist a few years early after his return from his service in the Korean War, his career as a photographer was formally launched when a candid photo he took of Greta Garbo was published by Women’s Wear Daily and the Chicago Tribune in 1978.

Though a photograph of a celebrity first popularized him, his unique perspective that photographing people, famous or not, whose style he found striking were worth documenting. In a 2002 interview with the New York Times, Cunningham described how he would wait outside on certain street corners waiting for “stunners” to walk by so he could document street style. He was often seen on his bicycle with his 35mm camera, riding around the city looking for interesting subjects that caught his eye. He became such a staple at fashion week and galas, sometimes attending up to 20 per week, that Anna Wintour editor- in- chief of Vogue said “we all dress for Bill,” in a 2011 documentary about Cunningham. He was even named a “living landmark” by the New York Landmarks Conservancy in 2009.

Alternative View - Womenswear Spring/Summer 2014
Cunningham working at Paris Fashion week in the spring of 2014.      Gareth Cattermole — Getty Images

Bill Cunningham is such an interesting photographer to me because of his compulsion to document what he was interested in rather than what would be considered the most desired photograph for a publication. He could have easily been part of the paparazzi, but he instead followed his own eye and his work is considered art. Cunningham’s work has been displayed in museums and he has recieved awards such as the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s photographer of the year (1983) and the Carnegie Hall Medal of Excellence (2012).