In collaboration with 1854/British Journal of Photography, MPB – a major international platform for used photography and videography equipment – is commissioning two new photographic projects exploring the iconic moments, movements and narratives that traverse America’s past and present
What are the stories that define America? Presidents, protests, people, communities. Fights for freedom, the war on fake news; iconic art, music, fashion and literature. Landslides, legislation, conflict, celebrations; small actions and gestures that gave birth to movements.
As part of their new Shoot the Sequel campaign, MPB is collaborating with 1854/British Journal of Photography to commission two new bodies of work exploring major moments and narratives in America’s cultural history. At its heart, the commission seeks to explore how tales and themes traversed by generations of storytellers can be reimagined in the context of new photographers, different kit, and the contemporary socio-political backdrop.
MPB is an online platform that transforms the way people buy, sell and trade in photo and video kit. Recirculating more than 300,000 items of used kit every year (and extending the life and creative potential of photo and video equipment for creators all over the world), the MPB team includes trained camera experts and seasoned photographers; crucially, every piece of kit is inspected carefully by product specialists, and comes with a six-month warranty — so that buying used doesn’t have to mean sacrificing reliability.
“We know how important it is to have access to the kit and knowledge you need to pursue your passion,” says Tammy Oler, Head of US Marketing at MPB. “As a platform for used equipment, MPB is committed to making photography more accessible and affordable, while helping to visualize a more sustainable future.” With this in mind, MPB’s Shoot the Sequel campaign is about realising the boundless world of creative potential that lies in every piece of used photo kit. After all, “photographers can produce wildly different — but equally amazing — work with the same piece of kit throughout the course of its life,” says Oler. The Then & Now America commission is designed to bring this idea to life within a larger creative and cultural context.
“We’re thrilled to invite photographers to engage with the different ways America has been captured by generations of their peers,” Oler continues. “It feels particularly relevant right now, given how much turmoil and transformation we’ve been experiencing in the US. Now, more than ever, it’s important to visualize what’s happening, as well as what’s possible.”
Following the application and proposal process, two selected photographers will be awarded a US$7000 commission fee each to undertake their projects between February and March 2021.They will be required to shoot on digital, and will have the option to use MPB equipment.
“We hope the commission encourages audiences to look deeply at the ways American culture and history are imagined, and the power of the person who holds the camera,” says Oler. “In applicants, we’re looking for a unique approach and aesthetic, along with the desire to harness the creative potential of digital photo kit to produce a distinctive point of view on America’s identity.”
Flossie Skelton joined British Journal of Photography in 2019, where she is currently a staff writer. She does freelance writing, editing and campaign work across arts, culture and feminism; she has worked with BBC Arts, BRICKS Magazine, Belfast Photo Festival and Time’s Up. She is also an illustrator, with artwork published in Marie Claire, ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style and the Guardian.