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What Remains; Photo by Chantal Riekel

Chantal Riekel’s images portray someone she never knew.

She’s photographing old snapshots, newspaper clippings and hand
written prose to portray her grandfather, Harald Bratt.

Bratt was an Austrian screenwriter during World War II who kept a diary
compiling newspaper articles, hand written entries and family pictures.

Riekel’s pictures show the diaries and Bratt through her
eyes.

“I don’t want to illustrate,” she said. “Just hint.”

Family Mysteries

Riekel loves the search.

She wants her pictures to communicate this longing.

“We all have secrets in our families,” she said. “Hopefully,
[viewers] can identify with this feeling of searching for someone.”

Riekel says that Bratt was not the screenwriter’s family name but a
stage name.

She wants to find out why he chose Bratt over Riekel, the family’s
name.

Riekel’s Influences

The diary project is part of her masters in photography at the University of
Westminster.

Peter Beard is one of Riekel’s influences.

Like Beard she often works with text and images simultaneously.

The biography on Beard’s website says he began keeping a diary when he was young
and photography became part of his diaries

Beard’s site biography says he worked in Kenya’s Tsavo National Park in the early 60s,
photographing the depletion of elephant and Black Rhino populations.

Many of the photographer’s final images are similar to scrap books.

The borders of the images are collections of other pictures,
text and paint.

World War II

A couple of Bratt’s diary entries are vivid for Riekel.

She mentioned one where her grandfather addresses her father,
then three years old.

Bratt wrote that he hoped his son would never be pulled into the
war.

Another entry where Bratt describes Russian soldiers
that had occupied his house during the war.

The men drank wine from a petrol canistaer.

Burnt Paper

Chantal Riekel recently exhibited one of her images at Transform,
a gallery show at Ferreira Projects for the second annual westPhoto/
grafiche antiga Photo Prize.

The image, “What Remains” features some burnt paper over the pages
of Bratt’s diary.

Like some of Beard’s work, the image addresses a sinister darkness that
drives a large historical event.

Italian printer grafiche antiga printed the image and many others entered
in Transform in a catalogue.

Harald Bratt’s words have been published again.

Click here to go to main story.

Click here to go to Andrew Otto’s personal blog.

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WestPHOTO, the University of Westminster’s new student-run
photo agency gives students photography experience in an industry
where even onlinecommerce is struggling.

WestPHOTO’s current business model is a sign of the times.

Westminster and other educational funds provided the startup money for the
agency.

Students run the agency’s office, try to get assignments for photographers,
provide scanning services, printing services and make available
photographers’ work online.

The agency, based on Westminster’s Harrow campus, is trying to
take hold at the same time a similar business, Digitial Railroad folded.

Agency Closes

WestPHOTO’s project manager Kit Oates says the initial funding and
student labor are the only reasons that the agency can survive.

“Otherwise, I think it would be pretty difficult,” Oates said.

Digital Railroad had over 1,500 professional photographers using its site for archiving
and photo sales according to tech writer Rupert Goodwin, editor of ZDNet.co.uk.

Both Goodwin and Photoshelter, and the National Press Photographers
Association
pointed said that Dgitial Railroad would not be giving photographers
a chance to get their images off the failing company’s servers.

Despite industry difficulties, Oates and others at westPHOTO are optimistic about
the agency.

Oates thinks that students bring a unique eye to stock photography, as evidenced by
westPHOTOs latest collaboration with Italian publisher grafiche antiga.

Partnerships

Transform, a photo competition sponsored by westPHOTO
and the publisher recently displayed still image entries from several University of
Westminster photography students during an exhibition in London.

The competition’s title was also the show’s theme.

Entries addressed historic transformations, beautification and other changes.

Grafiche Antiga is publishing a catalogue of the entries from the competition.

Oates helped hang the show in the London gallery Ferreira Projects.

Unique Pictures

The project manager said the show was a challenge.

“It was quite tricky to get it together,” Oates said.

He felt that, as a whole, he didn’t want didn’t want any image to
get lost in the collection.

“[I had to] make each one look individual,” Oates said.

Given the current state of stock photography, westPHOTO may be facing
problems outside the photographic frame.

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