Erik Lunsford

Musings About a Photographic Duet: Violet Isle

Through the lens of one photographer, a melody can be cast. It might wind around corners, creep through windows, or curl around a smooth or weathered face. Those great picture melodists might also choose to add harmony to their images, allowing the subject to sing along, contributing warmth and magic. Perhaps there is yet another level of melodic composition. Bach for one, was not satiated by melody and harmony alone. He craved independence between two layered melodic ideas; counterpoint allowed for greater depth and contrast, dissonance and resolution. In this, Bach demonstrated the concept of unity in diversity: the idea that separate individual entities, when woven together, will reveal a chimeric unit; one stronger and more vibrant than either could be in isolation.

Rebecca Norris Webb and Alex Webb have brought their contrapuntal photography to Radius Books with their vibrant photo-essay on Cuba, the “Violet Isle” which will be published this Fall. Their contrasting artistic backgrounds and creative synergy are evident in this book, the culmination of a nearly two-decade-long project.

The book will feature work by the two photographers, woven together in a seamless and elegant visual poem. Standing alongside the photographs is an essay by famed writer Pico Iyer (in both Spanish & English). The book itself will come in a printed cardboard sleeve, and the limited edition of the book comes with 2 type-c color prints, one each by Alex and Rebecca (and from a choice of 4 total). Pre-order the book now.

Alex Webb is best known for his work in Latin America and Istanbul. He describes himself as a “street photographer” who must, “walk and watch and wait and talk, and then watch and wait some more, trying to remain confident that the unexpected, the unknown, or the secret heart of the known awaits just around the corner”.

He has been a full member of Magnum Photos since 1979 and was granted a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007 to continue his work in Cuba. Some of his previous books include Crossings (Monacelli Press), Istanbul (Aperture), Amazon (Monacelli Press), and From the Sunshine State (Monacelli Press).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9abMx6TEhAs[/youtube]

Alex’s Istanbul project is the subject of a wonderful short film, which  you can access below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9abMx6TEhAs[/youtube]

Rebecca Norris Webb describes her moving earlier work, The Glass Between Us as, “An exploration of the complex relationship between animals and people in cities”. The work is supported by Blue Earth Alliance, a non-profit company that supports documentary photography that challenges social norms. St. Louis photojournalist Erik Lunsford muses in his blog, Uncommons, that the work “let’s you choose — rapt attention or casual exploration”. It is this unassuming generosity that characterizes Norris Webb’s work.

As a team, the couple offers masterclasses around the world to photographers who have an interest in long-term projects. Their classes focus on developing spontaneity in photography and intuition in editing. These two important facets of the Webb Method are explored further in this article and interview by Behance Magazine with Norris Webb on following creative inklings.

More information on Rebecca Norris Webb and Alex Webb can be found at their website.