Sebastian Liste And “Tough” Pictures

A few weeks back, on the Leica Blog, members of the D.C. street photography collective Strata had a wonderful joint interview with its various members, including the redoubtable Matt Dunn.  Something that stood out from the interview was a quote from Steve Goldenberg, who said, “One of the biggest principles that drives our work is best encapsulated by Joel Meyerwitz: we aim to make images that are “tough”. As he said, “‘Tough’ meant it was an uncompromising image, something that came from your gut, out of instinct, raw, of the moment, something that couldn’t be described in any other way. So it was tough. Tough to like, tough to see, tough to make, tough to understand. The tougher they were the more beautiful they became.”

We thought of that quote this morning when reading, in last week’s New Yorker, Jon Lee Anderson’s takedown of Hugo Chavez’s dystopian Caracas, which was illustrated by one of the most amazing sets of photographs in modern photojournalism. Sebastian Liste is a 26-year old Spaniard whose work in Brazil is in a league of its own.  If you ever wanted to know what Meyerwitz meant when talking about “tough” pictures, look at his work.  In its content, composition, and in kohl-dark contrast, every image of his we’ve seen is nigh on breathtaking.

We admit we hadn’t seen his work before, but at an amazingly young age, he’s making his mark.  From his website:

Sebastian´s work has been internationally recognized by POYi, The Overseas Press Club, Sony WPO, NPPA, Lucie Awards, PDN Photo Annual, Paris PX3, Anthropographia Human Rights Award, Daylight/CDS Awards, CENTER Awards, Freelens Awards, The PGB Awards, Reinassance Prize, Terry O´Neill Award, among others. In 2011 Sebastian was also selected to participate in the 18th World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass.

In 2012 Sebastian was announced as the winner of the City of Perpignan Rémi Ochlik Award, the Community Awareness Award at POYi, as one of the 30 photographers to watch at PDN 30 and received a Citation at the Olivier Rebbot Award. In addition he received a Magnum Emegency Found Grant to develop his new project in the Brazilian Amazon.

Fortunately, to bring this post full circle, Liste is represented by a lone gallery, and it happens to be in D.C.  Tough pictures.  Amazing photographer. Go check out the pictures from the New Yorker piece.  Then check out everything else.

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