Photo album: A love letter to the human body

At Idealist, the sporting world is not our usual beat. The Olympic Games, however, hit us where we live as an inspiring, international gathering of outstanding individuals and teams (not unlike our own new network!). So we’re taking this opportunity to pay homage to excellent athletes, winter beauty, fun games, and a host of other concepts we could tie (even tenuously) to Sochi. Welcome to Olympics Week on Idealists in Action.

For many, the Winter Games are a celebration of national pride and the triumphs of the human spirit. But this Valentine’s Day, we’re also thinking of the Olympics as a love letter to the human body.

How flawlessly can we twist on skates mid-air? How fast can we propel ourselves across a stretch of snow? What’s physically possible for us to achieve, and what form does this perfection take?

New York-based photographer Howard Schatz took on the latter question in his 2002 photography book Athlete, a collaboration with his creative partner and wife Beverly Ornstein. By photographing 125 Olympic athletes, they revealed an incredible diversity of shapes and sizes among our world’s champions.

Juxtaposing wiry with stocky, tall with short, male with female, the series lovingly disproves the notion that an “athletic” body should look one particular way.

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Photography by Howard Schatz

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Photography by Howard Schatz

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Photography by Howard Schatz

And all together…

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Photography by Howard Schatz

[photography by Howard Schatz, enlargements via reddit]

Whether it’s for Valentine’s Day, the Olympics, or another occasion altogether, how did you show love this week?

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Join Idealist on March 11 as we launch a new global movement for action and change!

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Awesome photographer shoots grandmas in band t-shirts; blows the doors off his own stereotypes

This week on Idealists in Action, we’re exploring the concept of Home.

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Photography by Jay Hynes

Jay Hynes didn’t set out to prove that grannies rock, but he definitely did.

By photographing grandmas in their homes wearing punk and metal t-shirts in a photo series called “Grandmas Rock,” the Melbourne-based photographer aimed to contrast the rebelliousness represented by rock n’ roll with the more prim and proper lifestyles he expected from his subjects.

A former advertising art director, Jay recently switched career paths to become a full-time music and portrait photographer. He wanted a photo series in his portfolio that would combine his interests in portraits, domestic spaces, and bands—and look really awesome.

As he went out to meet the women he’d be photographing, his assumptions and opinions about what “normal” grandmas do and how they live started to unravel. For starters, their interest in participating in such a conceptual art project was a delightful surprise.

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Photography by Jay Hynes

“I think this part is almost cooler than the actual photos—the fact that all of them said, sure, I’ll do that!” he says. “It showed me that they were trusting and supportive, but more than anything that they were interested in doing something out of the ordinary.”

Before the shoot, Jay sat down with each of the women—strangers that he’d connected to through friends—over a cup of tea to get a sense of their personalities.

“That time spent with them made me realize how much I miss my own grandma,” he says.

Although his project started out as a way to contrast rock n’ roll with the straight-laced exterior of grandmas, he came away from the project inspired by how rad these golden girls really are.

“They don’t take life as seriously as people assume they would. I think if I had asked a bunch of 40-to-50 year old women to do the same thing, the answer would have been no.”

Right on, Jay! We think grandmas are pretty punk rock, too.

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Photography by Jay Hynes

See the complete photo series here.

Have you ever started a project and ended up surprised by how it changed your perspective? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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Join Idealist on March 11 as we launch a new global movement for action and change!

 

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What Humans of New York can teach us about not caring what people think

 

There’s been a lot press a lately about Brandon Stanton, founder of the Humans of New York photojournalism project.

If you’ve been following the HONY story as religiously as I have, you’ll know that last week Brandon released a book of his 400 best portraits since beginning the project in 2010.

I love HONY for a myriad of reasons. I love how he captures beauty in all its diverse forms amidst the chaos and congestion of the city. I love how his subjects are so unbelievably raw and wise. I love how he connects me to a place where I once lived.

And finally I love Brandon’s chutzpah, not least because he approaches random strangers all the time, but because he took a chance on his passion. Before millions of people started following his blog, Brandon was a bond trader in Chicago. Then he quit his job, picked up, and moved to NYC with a camera in hand to try and make it.

People thought he was crazy.

This is a common fear that we hear from you, our Idealist community. Brandon’s story is a great example of preserving, despite the people around you thinking you’re cuckoo.

Here’s a snippet from Huffington Post on how HONY came to be:

My initial plan was to take 10,000 street portraits to plot on an interactive map, creating a photographic census of the city.

But I was completely broke. My friends and family thought I was crazy. I’d only had six months of photography experience, yet I was moving across the country to be a photographer. Despite the absurdity of the decision, I felt confident. I knew that my photography skills left a lot to be desired. But I also knew that I had the best idea of my life, and that everything else could be figured out as I went along.

I made that move about 2.5 years ago. There were a lot of lonely times. That first year was tough. I knew nobody in New York. I never knew where rent was coming from. All I did was take photographs. I never took a day off. I worked every single holiday. I took thousands of portraits before anyone paid attention. But even though I didn’t have much to show for it, I knew that I was getting better, and I knew the photographs were special.

Have you ever taken a chance on a seemingly crazy idea, only to have it be more successful than you ever could’ve imagined?

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In their own words: Portraits of LGBT youth from around the U.S.

Each June, millions gather worldwide in parades, rallies, festivals, and more to celebrate LGBT pride. In honor of this movement, this week we’re shining a spotlight on the LGBT youth community and the myriad of ways you can get involved.  Today we’re  featuring stories from We Are the Youth, a project from childhood friends Diana Scholl, a journalist and current Communications Strategist at the ACLU, and photographer Laurel Golio.

We Are the Youth is a photojournalism project that shares the stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in the United States. Through photographic portraits and “as told to” interviews in participants’ own voices, We Are the Youth captures the incredible diversity and uniqueness of the LGBT youth population.

We created We Are the Youth in June 2010. We wanted to combine our strengths to create a project that would serve as a living archive of experiences and stories that chronicle a rapidly changing period of American LGBT rights.

Since the project was founded three years ago, we have the the fall of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the legalization of same-sex marriage in several states, a rising awareness of bullying and suicide among LGBT youth, and the changing face of queer identity, particularly among transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals.

In addition to being a dynamic time in American history, We Are the Youth records a transformative period of time in the lives of the participants who are between the ages of 15 and 21 years old.

To date, we’ve profiled more than 75 young people across the U.S.  Our project is entirely a labor of love.



To enable more stories of LGBT youth to be shared, please consider making a contribution to We Are the Youth.

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Contests from Through Your Lens and YouTube

Photographers and videographers: two contests are challenging you to zoom in on change.

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Photo by Flickr user kevindooley (Creative Commons)

Through Your Lens: School Facilities in America

Students, teachers, and anyone else with an inside view of our nation’s schools: don’t miss out on this opportunity to photograph what you’re proud of, stuff you’d like to see changed, and anything in-between. The 21st Century School Fund, Critical Exposure, and Healthy Schools Campaign hope that your perspective will click with enough elected leaders to start improving the quality of school buildings. Prizes include being featured in an exhibition in Washington, D.C., as well as a book and online gallery, and a digital camcorder. Deadline to submit is March 7.

YouTube’s DoGooder Nonprofit Video Awards

For the fifth year in a row, the superstar video site is calling on nonprofits of every size to show off all the hard work they did last year. The prizes will have you reeling: $10,000 in grants from the Case Foundation, free registration to NTEN’s 2012 technology conference, a Flip Video pack, and your video featured on YouTube’s homepage. Deadline to submit is March 2.

Know about another funding angle? Leave a comment below!

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