Hossein Farmani hopes the new Lucie Awards exhibition inspires people to take better photos.
Hossein Farmani owns three galleries – in New York, Los Angeles and Bangkok – and travels the world preaching his own gospel, which he hopes helps people develop a greater appreciation of photography and, ultimately, capture more striking images themselves.
“In one year, I must see one million images so for something to speak to me, it has to be quite special, it can’t just be a duplicate of another image I’ve seen before,” Farmani says.
It was in this spirit that Farmani created the International Photography Awards – to celebrate master photographers with 30 or 40 years of experience – and the Lucie Awards, a competition that recognises new talent. This month, his Rooftop Gallery in Thong Lor hosts an exhibition of work drawn from the Lucie Awards. The images on display range across several categories and subject matter. They are, though, united in their ambition to arrest the viewer and capture the eye.
“There are many things that we look for – originality is a big part of it but it’s also images that tell a story, and then composition and colour,” Farmani says of the way he assesses the submissions. “But it’s also whether it affects me emotionally.”
He singles out one series of images – a collection of photographs of chickens and roosters shot in a studio by Lucy Snowe.
“The fact that we go through this world and everyone thinks they’re a star, through social media and so on but then there’s this image of a super-proud chicken,” Farmani says. “I’ve never seen chickens with such attitude.”
It’s not all so light-hearted, of course. Farmani is also drawn to photojournalism from warzones, particularly the photographer’s ability to work under such duress.
“There are a lot of press images like that,” he says. “But it’s amazing that even in all that chaos, photographers manage to achieve a really high quality of composition.”
When the exhibition opens on February 11, Farmani hopes it will attract people from outside the obvious circle of artists and photographers. His goal, after all, is to make photography more accessible and to raise the standard from the bottom up.
“My goal with my galleries has always been to create a dialogue – I don’t want it to be just for experts,” he says.
“I want people to come and be inspired and that’s why I exhibit work that I think people should see. I don’t want photography to be just for people in the art community, who already know about all this stuff.”
Farmani hopes that, by exposing enthusiastic amateurs to beautiful images, their work will also improve. He laments that, in the age of digital photography, when it’s so cheap and easy to simply click away, badly composed images proliferate.
“Whenever I travel around the world talking about photography, I want to encourage people but I also want to cut down on what I call ‘photo pollution’, all the bad images that people take,” he says.
“I often say to people, ‘before you push the button just think about it’. If this was film, they’d be really aware of whether that photo is right or not. But because it’s all digital, people can now take so many images.
‘‘Some of my friends call me a ‘photography missionary’ and I guess that’s been my job for the past 10 years.”
Lucie Awards Best of Show
February 11-March 11
440/10 Thong Lor | 091-573-6841