The guest for this episode of The Documentary Photographer podcast is Penny Wolin, a US photographer who has had an illustrious career.
Penny is known for her many entertainment industry portraits and her work documenting the life of Jews in the US, including those in her birth state Wyoming. For the last six years, she has been interviewing and photographing US photographers of Jewish ancestry for her Descendants of Light project.
This is a complex project. Among other things, it investigates the relationship between the importance of Jewish photographers in the US in the 20th century and their common ancestral background. In her own words: "In no other visual art form except cinema has there been such a staggering number of influential figures of Jewish ancestry as in photography. For over 100 years, in reportage, portraiture, fashion and street photography, Jews have excelled in the medium. In 2006, I began multiple trips throughout the United States to photograph and interview photographers of Jewish ancestry, while questioning whether their identity as Jews did, or did not, matter to their photographic work."
The list of photographers she has documented reads like a Who's Who of the business: David Burnett, Cornell Capa, Bruce Davidson, Larry Fink, Robert Frank, Gregory Heisler, Annie Leibovitz, Helen Levitt, Jay Maisel, Eva Rubinstein, Garry Winogrand... the list goes on.
In our conversation, we try to put our finger on the cultural aspects that may contribute to the success of Jewish photographers. We also talk about her work methods and what next for the project.
Links and more info
Penny’s WebsitePenny on Wikipedia
Penny produced a video to help raise funds to produce the Descendants of Light book. It contains great insight into the project:
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