|John Bentham Photography|
Party with Bikers at the Indian Larry Biker Block Party
DPA Advanced Documentary Workshop with John Bentham
Saturday September 24, 2011
11:00 am – 6:00 pm
The Annual Indian Larry Block Party
Indian Larry (1949-2004) was an award-winning legendary bike builder and master mechanic who specialized in custom retro styles. Larry famously created modern bikes that combined classic 50s and 60s chopper looks with gritty styling. His creations were fabricated at Gasoline Alley, his build shop in Brooklyn, NY. His resume included movies, TV, national and international magazine spreads including Rolling Stone, Easy Riders and The New York Times. John Bentham had the pleasure of photographing Indian Larry in 2004.
Following his tragic death his mechanics and build team re-launched the company as Indian Larry Motorcycles and continue the legacy. The new shop hosts the annual Indian Larry Block Party, a motorcycle meet and festival as a memorial and tribute to the great cycle artist.
On Saturday September 24 photographer John Bentham will lead a location workshop to The Annual Indian Larry Block Party in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Class will begin with a discussion and Q&A session on the logistics and special considerations required of documentary location shooting including interaction with subjects, the quality and direction of light and the dynamics of a photograph. John will be available all day to advise and lead by example as students learn to zero in on the important parts of a scene. We will spend approximately 4 hours photographing the block party and then wrap with a post capture critique of your images.
John Bentham is an award-winning photographer specializing in documentary photography and portraits. His clients and publications include Bike UK Magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times, People, Rolling Stone, Sony, Time and Vanity Fair. John has photographed photo essays on biker rallies, burlesque dancers and drag queens, automotive campaigns for AUDI and Mercedes-Benz in addition to travel and location work around the globe. See Johns recent spread published in Cycle Canada magazine and John Bentham website.
Register for this workshop online at http://www.digitalphotoacademy.com/
Toll free: 1-877-372-2234
Sign up online for the class HERE
You do not need to ride or own a motorcycle to attend this workshop. A workshop makes a great gift for the photo enthusiast in your life and gift certificates are available from DPA.
Bike Week: Photographs by John Bentham
Documentary Photography of Bike Week, Daytona Beach, Florida
In 1996 I went to Bike Week for the first time. I was invited to join friends who were driving down to participate in the flat track races. I knew nothing about Bike Week or flat track racing. It was an excuse for a road trip and something new to photograph, I said “count me in.” We loaded up a car, hooked up the bike trailer and drove straight through the night.
My initiation to flat track came about on arrival when I was abruptly appointed to the pit crew. I quickly figured out I was invited as a pusher. You have to push flat track bikes to get them started, like jump starting a car.
I carried a camera in the pits and distinguished myself as the pusher in danger of cracking-up a Nikon each time the bike finally kicked in.
Between races and after hours I shot photos. There was always plenty going on and it didn’t take long for me to be hooked. Who were these people? ... And how come I’d never heard about this before?
I have continued to shoot Bike Week almost every year since that first visit. These photographs wereshot in Daytona Beach and the surrounding area during Bike Week 2011. They represent the wild ride that is Bike Week.
All photographs copyright John Bentham 2011. All rights reserved.
Jay Leno Quote: “The photographs are wonderful. John has a great eye for the whole biker culture”.
Introduction by Tracy L. Adler
Curator, Art Consultant, New York City
Representing Real Life: John Bentham’s Bike Week Series
The Ideal is a major subtext in the history of Western art—from bucolic landscapes to perfect nudes, from genre scenes of daily life to historic events and portraits. Subjects are elevated or altered to serve the artist’s intended meaning or fulfill the use of the work. In addition to impressing the eye, representation is code for conveying and controlling visual and contextual information. Images are often contrived to express different kinds of meaning and authority such as religious, political, and commercial. These depictions in turn mold the perception of individuals and events. Regardless of their approximations to the truth, they often become accepted as documents of our past and therefore are integrated into our history. Such is the power of representation to divert the natural order—creating exotic from the everyday or definition from the vague—transforming our view of the world, its context, and history. Located within this mass outpouring of historic and current visual imagery, some contemporary artists try to discover and uncover some truths and contradictions about the world around them through investigating the way it is portrayed.
These artists consider notions of the real and Ideal by examining traditions of landscape, the figure, still life, portraiture, and genre art in relation to common experience—employing the concept of the Ideal both ironically and with deference. In response to how visual information is commonly manipulated in art and the media, they approach this issue by exposing the fissure between the real and the symbolic. Additionally, they frequently use the same mass-produced, commercial media of photography that draws directly from life and therefore presents a viable reality. This deception runs deep—often appearing to exist where it does not or existing where it does not appear, using artifice in the guise of the real. Through doing so, artists attempt to convey the often contradictory relationship between context and image, real and the Ideal, true and false.
The exotic is found in those aspects of a work that are uncanny, foreign, or not quite what we expect—creating a new context for viewing what might initially appear explicit. By focusing on environments we are familiar with as part of contemporary existence in the city, suburbia, and the natural world, artists can reveal the inconsistencies inherent in the experience and presentation of contemporary life. The intent is through viewing work that reflects and closely resembles our world, the disparity between truth and this contrivance can be detected. One method of achieving this is through direct observation which allows for readings that serve to ratify or critique the Ideal—using familiarity as a tool to recognize an image’s inherent contradiction or uncanny bent towards the contrived.
In the photographs of John Bentham, images gleaned from daily life seem so ordered as to appear staged, highlighting the drama that occurs naturally. In these images and the moments they depict, everyday life and the Ideal come into alignment demonstrating that the Ideal can be glimpsed in our daily reality. Inspired by quotidian life, Bentham’s photographs document episodic, incidental experiences. His work focuses on represented experience as history or record, exploring the literal qualities of his media through direct observation. By examining these facets of existence through his work, he attempts to evince an authentic understanding of the way the world works through the way it is depicted visually.
In the Bike Week series, John Bentham captures aspects of everyday life unmitigated and unplanned. Employing a journalistic approach, he reveals the humor and novelty of the annual Bike Week rally in Daytona Beach, Florida through his images. As part of a project spanning several years, Bentham photographs the motorcycle races, crowds, and events of Bike Week often without the knowledge of his subjects. Shot using available light or supplemental flash, without setting up locations or particular situations, Bentham’s perspective emerges from within the crowd. Referring to the tradition of such photographers as Robert Frank, Sebastiäo Salgado, and Danny Lyon, the Bike Week series reflects the experiential quality of documentary photography, which focuses on the power and descriptiveness of the moment. Concentrating upon the thoroughly American pastime of motorcycle racing and the traditions that have grown up around it, Bentham explores the subculture to which the participants belong—infusing religious beliefs, with scantily clad women, family values, sporting and social events, drinking, and showmanship. This uneasy combination culminates in images that depict the irony of their subject matter even as they represent their truth. Romantic ideals are crossed with crass exploitation. Drive-in churches, children in leather chaps, topless women, bikers for Christ, and coleslaw wrestling provide the raw material for exploring one aspect of American life.
The motorcycle itself is a paradigm for America, displaying tenets that are at the foundation of this nation—among them freedom, independence, and individuality. It is not surprising then that a fiercely loyal group of motorcycle racers, collectors and enthusiasts has grown dramatically over the last century celebrating this unique mode of transportation. More akin to horseback than a car or train, the motorcycle taps into a particularly American slice of history—the reverence for the open range and the era of the Wild West. (As evidenced by the abundant Western/Native American custom paint themes and a preference for fringed riding chaps). Furthermore, the expansive space and seemingly limitless destinations, which distinguish the United States from other countries, makes its landscape a perfect backdrop for endless exploration. And though the first gasoline powered motorcycle was invented in Germany (Gottleib Daimler 1885), it grew up in America as manufacturers like Indian and Harley Davidson developed the machine.
As a symbol of American ideals, observation of this group affords a window onto American culture revealing a myriad of disparate traditions and cultural phenomena. Gatherings of motorcycle enthusiasts that started out modestly have grown into international events. The photographs of John Bentham strip bare convention to reveal the various aspects of American culture with an emotional immediacy and honesty. Through the exploration of this subject, these ideals emerge—the person as individual remains very much intact as does the variety of American influences and the libido of a nation.
Portions of this text have been excerpted and adapted from the catalogue that accompanied the exhibition “Exotic Representation” Curated by Tracy L. Adler. This exhibition was on view at the Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Art Gallery at Hunter College, New York City.
Visit official website for John Bentham Photography
John Bentham is an award-winning photographer specializing in documentary photography. John was recently awarded one of only twelve juried and coveted slots in the Magnum Photos portfolio review. He was named A Photographer to Watch, by Kodak and has garnered accolades from Nikon, Photo District News, The New York Times and The Maine Media Workshops. John has exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, Paris, Tokyo and Prague. His images have been widely reproduced in periodicals and books and are represented in several private and institutional collections. John is interested in subcultures and his work reflects this fascination. He has photographed biker rallies, burlesque dancers, Native American Powwows and underground NYC clubs. Johns first monograph, OneLegUpNYC, was published in 2007 and his 2nd book Bike Week is in production.
Born in Toronto, Canada, John was introduced to photography early by his father who worked for Kodak. This led to attendance at two art schools after which he worked in every field and job imaginable except art. An inglorious route followed by a stint at yet another university to study photography. Offered a photo assistant position between semesters he quit school to begin his perilous career choice in photography.
In his spare time John teaches monthly advanced photography workshops for The Digital Photo Academy, in addition to teaching photography at Lehman College in The Bronx. See more of Johns work at www.johnbentham.com
Duvet Lounge, Photographs of Morocco, Two-person show, New York City, 2009.
PS122 Gallery, Two-person show, New York City, 2008.
Galapagos Art Space, Brooklyn, New York City, 2004.
The Ohio Theater Gallery, New York City, 1995.
The Centro Fotografico Alvarez Bravo, Oaxaca, Mexico,
Curated by Mary Ellen Mark, 2011.
Lehman College Faculty Art Show, Bronx, NY, 2011.
The One Story Literary Review Debutante Ball, New York, 2011.
Leave Out Violence Exhibition Benefit, New York, 2011.
The 4th Annual Drag Show Video Verite, Lincoln Center, New York City, 2010.
25th Anniversary Salon, Lehman College Art Gallery, Bronx, NY, 2010.
Leave Out Violence, Exhibition Benefit, New York, NY, 2010.
Galerie 13 Sévigné, Paris, France, 2008.
Art Gotham, New York City, 2008.
T.O.A.S.T., TriBeCa Open Artists Studio Tour, New York City, 2008.
Franklin Station Café, New York City, 2008.
New York Law School, New York City, 2008.
Toast to TOAST, Synagogue for the Arts Gallery, New York City,, 2008.
The Culture Center, New York City, 2008.
PS122 Gallery, Benefit Exhibition, New York City, 2007.
PDN PhotoPlus Expo, World in Focus Exhibition, New York City, 2007.
ADC Photography Invitational Review, New York City, 2007.
Leave Out Violence, Exhibition Benefit, New York, NY, 2007.
Toast to TOAST, Synagogue for the Arts Gallery, 2007.
T.O.A.S.T. - TriBeCa Open Artists Studio Tour, 2007.
TriBeCa Organization, The TriBeCa Film Festival, MI-5, 2007.
Franklin Station Café, New York City, 2007.
New York Law School, New York City, 2007.
Leave Out Violence, Exhibition Benefit, New York, NY, 2006.
Traveling Light, Photographic Images of Travel, Elmhurst Hospital Center, Queens, NY, 2005.
Photowork’04, Barrett Art Center, Competition juror - Jennifer Blessing, The Guggenheim Museum, 2004.
Kodak Photography, The Duggal Lab, New York City, 2004.
SOHO Photo Gallery, Competition Juried by Janet Borden, New York City, 2004.
Contact/ARVD, Exhibition Benefit, New York City, 2003.
Design Trust for Public Spaces, Exhibition Benefit, New York City, 2003.
Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Gallery, Hunter College, New York City, 2002.
Mohonk Preserve, Exhibition and Benefit, New Paltz, NY, 2002.
Design Trust for Public Spaces, Exhibition Benefit, New York City, 2002.
Mohonk Preserve, Exhibition and Benefit, New Paltz, NY, 2001.
Viscomm '96, Jacob Javits Center, New York City, 1996.
Viscomm '96, San Francisco, CA, 1996.
The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada, 1995.
Fotoforum, Prague, Czech Republic, 1992.
Nikon House, Nikon Photo Contest International, Tokyo, Japan, 1991.
Nikon House, Nikon Photo Contest International, New York City, 1991.
Center for Art and Design, Toronto, Canada, 1990.
Ryerson Photography Gallery, Toronto, Canada, 1986.
Ryerson Photography Gallery, Toronto, Canada, 1985.
University of Western Ontario, Photography Exhibition, London, Canada, 1979.
1997, Mary Ellen Mark Workshop, Scholarship, The Maine Workshops, Oaxaca, Mexico.
1984-1986, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada, Post Graduate Studies, Photographic Arts.
1981-1982, York University, Toronto, Canada, Post Graduate Studies, Fine Arts, Photography and Printmaking.
1978-1981, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada, Honors BFA, Photography and Printmaking.
Finalist Nominee for The Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant, 2010.
Magnum Photos Portfolio Review. Awarded one of twelve coveted spots, 2009.
Finalist Nominee for The Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant, 2009.
White Columns Artist Registry, 2009.
Finalist Nominee for The Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant, 2008.
Px3 Photo Competition, Prix de la Photographie, Paris, 2008.
Photowork’04, Barrett Art Center Photography Competition, 2nd Place, 2004.
Folio Magazine Ozzie Awards, Best BW Feature, Gold, 2003.
Kodak ProPass, A Photographer to Watch, 2003.
Photo District News, Best Web Site, Photography Annual 2003.
RX Club Awards, Award of Excellence, VFEND Launch Kit, 2002.
RX Club Awards, Award of Excellence, VFEND Survival Ad, 2002.
RX Club Awards, Award of Excellence, VFEND Doctors Ad, 2002.
MacroMedia Site of the Day, Audi Website, 2001.
International ARC Awards, Gold Award, 1999.
International ARC Awards, Bronze Award, 1999.
Maine Photographic Workshops, Golden Light Awards, 1996.
Creativity '95 Awards, 1995.
Studio Magazine Award, 1994.
Art Directors Club Award, 1992.
Kenneth R. Wilson Memorial Award, Gold, 1991.
Nikon Photo Contest International, 1991.
Studio Magazine Award, Silver Award, 1989.
Art Directors Club Award, 1988.
Photography Award, Ryerson University, 1986.
The Catalog for Giving, 5th Edition, 2009.
OneLegUpNYC, STF Ediciones / Imagen, 2007.
Mark Morris Dance Group, Celebrating 25 Years, 2005.
The Catalog for Giving, 4th Edition, 2005.
Kodak Professional, ProPass Magazine, A Photographer To Watch, 2003.
Black Book Photography, 2002.
The Catalog for Giving, 3rd Edition, 2001.
The Alternative Pick, 10th Edition, 2001.
Fifty Women Turn Fifty, Meredith Publications, 2001.
Best of the Best, Food and Wine Collection, 2001.
The Alternative Pick, 9th Edition, 2000.
Savoring the Spice Coast of India, HarperCollins, 2000.
The Catalog for Giving, 2nd Edition, 1999.
The Alternative Pick, 8th Edition, 1999.
Alternate View Magazine, Profile on John Bentham, 1997.
PhotoLife Magazine Article, Focus On John Bentham, Jan. Feb. Issue 1991.
The Kawamata Project, Mercer Union, Toronto, Canada, Documentary Photographs of the installation, Toronto, 1989.
Private Collections: Work is represented in numerous private and corporate collections (the following is a select list):
Barrett Art Center, Poughkeepsie, NY.
Alvarez Bravo Photographic Center, Oaxaca, Mexico.
The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction.
Danielle and Jeremy Galland, New York City.
Philip Glass, Composer, New York City.
Amy Gross, Editor, The Oprah Magazine, New York City.
Janet Hanson, 85 Broads, New York City.
Lori Hawkins, Eastman Kodak Company, New York City.
Gregory Hazelden, Savannah, GA.
Nancy Jeffries, M+ Management, New York City.
Yun-Fei Ji, Artist, New York City.
Jay Leno, Television Personality, Los Angeles, CA.
Estate of Frank McCourt, Author, New York City.
Joe Miller, Bank of America, New York City.
Dr. Karim Nader, Montreal, Canada.
Richard Rabinowitz, Rainmaker Marketing, New York City.
Justine Stamen, Founder, The Teak Fellowship, New York City.
Susan Swan, Author, Toronto, Canada.
Uma Thurman, Actor, New York City.
Tibet House, New York City.
Margo Timmins, The Cowboy Junkies, Toronto, Canada.
Employment and Teaching Experience:
2010 Lehman College, Photography Adjunct Professor.
2009 Leave Out Violence, Photography Program, Guest Lecturer. Teaching photojournalism to high school students.
2009 Guest Lecturer, Cold Spring Harbor School District, Cultural Arts Program.
2009 Host of monthly photography webinar series on LivinginHD.com.
2009 Lehman College, Photography Adjunct Professor.
2009 Panasonic Digital Photo Academy, Photography Workshop Instructor, Nationwide teaching network of professional photographers.
2008 Panasonic Digital Photo Academy, Photography Workshop Instructor, Nationwide teaching network of professional photographers.
2008 Leave Out Violence, Photography Program, Guest Lecturer. Teaching photojournalism to high school students.
2008 Lehman College, Photography Adjunct Professor.
2008 Lehman College, Guest Lecturer, Artist Studio Program.
2008 Leave Out Violence, Photography Program, Guest Lecturer, Teaching photojournalism to high school students.
2007 Panasonic Digital Photo Academy, Photography Workshop Instructor, Nationwide teaching network of professional photographers.
2007 Leave Out Violence, Photography Program, Guest Lecturer, Teaching photojournalism to high school students.
2007 Drew University, New York Seminar On Contemporary Art, Guest Lecturer.
2006 Leave Out Violence, Photography Program, Guest Lecturer, Teaching photojournalism to high school students.
2005 Leave Out Violence, Photography Program, Guest Lecturer, Teaching photojournalism to high school students.
1999 to Present, Urban Mozaik Magazine, Staff Photographer.
2003 Home of the Free, Washington Mutual Mentor, Teaching photojournalism to 7-8th grade with Eddie Adams and David Hume Kennerly.
2001 Junior League of New York, Teaching photography to High School Students.
1990 to Present, Freelance Photographer for numerous clients/publications.
1986 to 1989, Freelance photographic assistant to numerous photographers.
1985 Baycrest Hospital, AV Technician, AV Department, Toronto, Canada.
1981 to 1982, Printmaking Studio, Technical Assistant, York University, Fine Arts Department, Toronto, Canada.
Visit official website for John Bentham Photography