Thursday, October 23, 2014

Know Thyself

9/21/14 NYC- Photo: © S. Banos

"A photograph should be more interesting than the subject and transcend its obviousness." 
The most succinct and eloquent definition of "fine art" photography I've yet found. Someone like John Gossage has done exactly that his whole career. Apply it to your work, see where you stand. Many of my photos serve merely to celebrate and complement the subject. Alas...

Actually, not bad for an epitaph- "At the very least, he realized his limitations."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mark Page- Man On A Mission

A YEAR IN PROVENCE 2013- Mark Page
HENS 2013- Mark Page
Mark Page, me ol' mate from across the pond  (my best Cockney impersonation- even though, it should well be noted he hails from Manchester*) and collaborator at Expiration Notice has been a most busy man of late. Not only has he created a series of brilliant and exquisitely tongue in cheek Still Lives, he has also set about single handedly establishing the much adulated and critically acclaimed Museum of Takeaway Menu Art (MoTMA)- yes, complete with requisite gift shop, interactive family education center and related art sundries.

Again, nice to see someone operating with a sense of humor out there- and coming up with the goods to show for it! Can't keep a good man down...

*would call him a Manc- but hesitate upon reading these "definitions." Are there really that many Manc haters out there, Mark!?!?

Sunday, October 19, 2014


9/21/14 NYC- Photo: © S. Banos

Worst thing about getting old (and lord knows it ain't easy picking just one) is the loss of that intangible lightness called... hope. Like raging hormones, hope is a product of youth, it's most potent, bountiful and thoroughly addictive of drugs. It's what keeps us chugging along- despite the odds, regardless of the setbacks, irrespective of the failures. Year, after year, disappointment after disappointment. Hope was always there picking ya up the next day- it's gonna get better, things are gonna change, just... keep... going... 

Until the day arrives when hope no longer greets you. Like a receding hairline, dissipating at a snail's pace, it doesn't come as shock- more... foregone conclusion. You can still make plans, you can still test your limits, but the mindful reassurance is forever gone. Hope will get ya up the hillside, but ultimately it must revert to those still young enough to believe.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

McAfee Sucks- And Other Various Sundries...

Went to see Kill The Messenger (recommended) this Wed; got home at 8:30, turned computer on and... an ominous black screen appeared that I'd never (ever) seen before.

Stay calm, stay calm... stay... the fuck... calm...

Try my thoroughly, amateurishly pitiful this and that and- nothing, nothing, nothing... Call some numbers on the official Mozilla and McAfee sites which immediately hook me up with your friendly internet technical specialists (ie- Major Scumbag SCAMMERS). One tells me that my IP address is compromised, the other that some files are corrupted, one says he wants $400, the other wants $200. I tell both to go fuck themselves, knowing full well that the only one who's totally fucked is yours truly. And it's now 1 AM.
Come home from work following day- delete Mozilla, install Mozilla... same shit. Repeat- same shit. Screw Mozilla, I'll just use IE that came with the hard drive, thank you very much. Dead in the water. SHIT!!! Somewhere amidst the cussing I see that IE wants to install a security update. Why not- nothing else works. Install finally completes, and... IE is fully operational!!! I'm a happy man; lost a ton of bookmarks (actually, in a file I can't open), but least got my computer back for "free" (even if it does, or doesn't, have a freaking ticking time bomb inscribed with my name somewhere deep down under). Guess I now know why people buy freakin'... Macs.

9/22/14 NYC- Photo: © S. Banos

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bloggity Blog Blogger...

UPDATE: OK, OK- I have no idea what the hell happened yesterday morning, but when I clicked to embiggen my photos on Blogger, not only was there the apparent lack of contrast (which has been manifesting of late), but the resolution and overall sharpness were shot to absolute shit. It was scary- so I took them down, and out of their misery. Tonight, I reposted one of same said photos for the hell of it, and although the lack of contrast was still apparent, the resolution had indeed... returned! So, I guess I'm more or less back in the game, more or less...

9/21/14 NYC- Photo: © S. Banos

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What's Up With Blogger???

Took down two most recent photos that I posted here. Reason? They look like shit on Blogger- particularly when embiggened. The loss in contrast became apparent in recent months, but now the loss in sharpness and resolution is truly frightening. Don't know what's going on, perhaps it only affects scanned B&W (is that even possible?)- but it wasn't like this before...

From now on, think I'll just link to them on Flickr while keeping them small here- RIDICULOUS, yes, but the best work around I can think of...

UPDATE: Apparently, Google (which bought up Blogger) now has a new algorithm thingie for uploading photos which automatically "enhances" your photos on Google+, and if you're not on the latter, I can only guess it automatically fucks them up for good measure, as is probably the case here. I have no desire to join Google+ (since it would cause a host of other unrelated changes), so I'm kinda stuck between fucked and screwed- kinda like in real life...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Gary Webb- Kill The Messenger

If we had met five years ago, you wouldn’t have found a more staunch defender of the newspaper industry than me … I was winning awards, getting raises, lecturing college classes, appearing on TV shows, and judging journalism contests. So how could I possibly agree with people like Noam Chomsky and Ben Bagdikian, who were claiming the system didn’t work, that it was steered by powerful special interests and corporations, and existed to protect the power elite? And then I wrote some stories that made me realize how sadly misplaced my bliss had been. The reason I’d enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn’t been, as I’d assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my job … The truth was that, in all those years, I hadn’t written anything important enough to suppress.   --Gary Webb

Before Assange, before Snowden, there was Gary Webb, not anywhere near as famous or internationally known, but a true American patriot and hero, who as overly dramatic as it may sound- yes, died for our collective sins. Repeatedly warned, by both fellow professionals and government officials alike, to keep his nose out and mouth shut, he divulged corruption to its deepest core- no matter the cost. Up until recently, I had always believed his death a suicide, end of story. But as most laypersons and professionals alike would naturally (and correctly)  assume... it's rather difficult to shoot yourself twice in the head...
On Dec. 1, 2005 I spoke with Ted Gunderson about Webb's death. Mr. Gunderson is a retired FBI agent who enjoyed a distinguished career with the FBI that spanned 27 plus years. Prior to his retirement in 1979 Mr. Gunderson was a "senior special agent-in-charge" with a $22 million annual budget at his disposal and over 700 persons under his charge. Mr Gunderson told me, "my expertise is analyzing and reconstructing crime scenes." He said, "Gary Webb was MURDERED. "He (Webb) resisted the first shot {to the head that exited via jaw} so he was shot again with the second shot going into the head {brain}." I asked Mr. Gunderson what he thought about the "two shots" to the head suicide theory that posits Webb "simply missed " his brain with the first shot, so he had to shoot himself again, this time successfully hitting the brain with a .38 revolver? Without hesitation Gunderson exclaimed, "impossible!"

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Peter de Krom

Photo: Peter de Krom

Give me an interestingly composed photo with a subtle, wry sense of humor and I'm all yours- hook, line and sinker... And of all the notable work that stood out at Photoville this year, the one guy whose work immediately drew my attention was Peter de Krom's conga lines of elders merrily scooting about colorful suburban landscapes. His website (in Dutch) may not be particularly easy to navigate for most- but it does lead to some nice surprises. Think Parr meets Carl de Keyzer!

Of course, if your name is not Erwitt, Parr or the guy with the dogs, humor and "serious" photography are seldom breathed in the same sentence. It's the demimonde of lowly street photographers, snapshot shooters and the generally ill and inbred. Photography's continued legacy of self imposed insecurity in the art world pantheon has deemed that humor must be limited to a precious, sanctioned few- proper decorum and respectability must be preserved and maintained. So kudos to Peter for spreading the humor, and letting us all breathe a little easier...

Photo: Peter de Krom

Monday, October 6, 2014

Third World New York

No, this did not happen in some ruthless Central American dictatorship or some lawless African semi-state. It happened in New York City, that historical hub of Liberalism and over regulation. Welcome to the subhuman nightmare in which a minor is allowed to rot for three years without jury, trial or conviction- much of that time in complete isolation... Welcome to Kalief Browder's world of injustice:

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Au Revoir: Politics, Theory, Photography

I suppose shocked too dramatic a word, but I was most definitely saddened upon my return home to discover that Jim Johnson has officially closed shop at (Notes On) Politics, Theory, Photography. Starting in 2005, Jim's online voice was one of unwavering sanity, and acute analysis and insight; no matter the issue, be it politically divisive and/or deeply personal, he would either break it down in a logical, forthright manner, or direct you to others who already had. And always, always, always- a class act. 

Though I'm sure he will continue to excel with those he directly serves, he will be sorely missed by those of us who knew him solely through his blog.

Thank you, Jim- and continued success...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The NY Report...

Well, the Climate March in NYC on 9/21 got 350,000+ people, considerably more than expected (approx 100,000). And what was especially good to see was that it wasn't just the usual gang of aging White hippies out there- it was multi-generational, multi-ethnic and multi-racial. And it's a damn good thing we protested on the streets of midtown (not to mention the sit down event the following day near Wall St.), because they weren't letting anyone anywhere near the UN building on the the day of the actual conference on the 23rd. One of the coolest things of the whole event was when the march stopped dead at 42 St. between Broadway and Seventh and had a moment of silence for Mother Earth- never did hear Times Square quite so eerily silent in all my years...

Sadly, the protest is merely an exclamation point, one desperate all out plea for a reality check that will not arrive anytime soon; the real progress occurs behind the scenes, and suffice to say, I really don't think any real action(s) of consequence will occur until the tsunamis are licking at the doors of those in power in real time. Of course, by then, it will already have been far too late...

Meanwhile, NYC has managed to cram yet another several million people unto its streets since I visited last year, and it was while I was promenading through Bryant Park that I spotted the oddest looking tour bus ever, in which people are seated in rows, theater style, all facing one side of the sidewalk, with pedestrians literally on stage and on display- a much more unsettling experience than even the bizarre scenario below alludes to, I assure you!

Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown
Also couldn't help but notice that there were considerably more photographers of color out taking fashion and wedding photos (a good thing), more people of color in the NYPD (good if their diversity impacts the police force- and not vice versa, as is usually the case), and MOST surprisingly of all... more people of color in the dancing, chanting Hare Krishnas- talk about... unsettling!

Naturally, I went to play with all the new cameras at B&H, and I'm happy to report that there wasn't one I was truly excited about save for the Fujifilm XT-1; happy because there's no way I can afford one of those along with a couple of lenses, happy because I'll no longer be tempted by anything else, happy to remain happy with what I got.... And I'm also bizarrely happy, confused and perplexed to report that I didn't see one single book at Dashwood, MOMA or Strands that I absolutely, positively had to have- not a one. And lord knows I have enough relatively recent acquisitions that I have yet to pay adequate homage and attention to.

Couldn't get to a lotta shows since I had familial obligations to attend to (my 91 year old father was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's), but did see Matt Black at Anastasia Gallery, and did manage to make it to Photoville on its last day. The latter was a bit overwhelming to do in just one day, even without attending any workshops/conferences; there was just so much there in all those assorted shipping containers- good, bad and indifferent, that in the end made for quite an impressive showing nonetheless. One was dedicated solely to James Nachtwey's work- always fascinating to see how he remains just one notch above everyone else's work in that particular "genre."

Gorged myself on Two Boots Pizza and donuts at the appropriately named Donut Pub on W14 St, but was disheartened to find that St. Mark's Books is no longer with us- that particular book store was to The East Village what CBGB's was to its music scene- RIP.

Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo of NY created a commission to examine corruption- only to disband it when it began to examine the festerings in his own backyard. And speaking of cover ups.... new mayor of NYC Bill de Blasio dropped the groundhog presented to him on Groundhog Day, which later died of internal injuries. The zoo however reports that the precipitous fall from the good mayor's arms had nothing to do with its demise. Why this came out in September, when it occurred in February...

Favorite T-shirt (particularly in these times when people my age are contemplating their own mortality while dealing with that of their elders): Too Old To Die Young (almost as good as the one I saw earlier this year- Don't Bro Me If Ya Don't Know Me).

Got four rolls to process and edit (a helluva lot for me), hopefully something to show for in the upcoming weeks, and will also be posting on my favorite new photographer spotted at Photoville. Oh, and one last thing- put my Tri-X naked into a clear baggie, asked for hand inspection, and request granted no ifs, ands, or buts... least at SFO and JFK!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Don't Shoot... Going Home

Photo: © S. Banos

Actually, this elderly (White) gentleman doesn't have much to fear in that respect- as clearly evidenced here. But point most definitely... taken. Seems that except for those in complete denial (and yes, that faction always does represent in substantial numbers), there now seems to have opened a small window to which the public at large can no longer claim ignorance to the fact that maybe, just maybe, cops do treat Whites different than... the darker complected spectrum of humanity.

Reciprocity Failure will be recharging its analog batteries in the coming fortnight as I head over towards the homeland to visit the folks, participate in the largest climate march in the world to date, check out the doings in Photoville, and catch a show or two. May send in a brief on the spot post if and when appropriate- and do say hello if so inclined...

Once again, thanks to all who drop by to make this little endeavor worthwhile!

Speaking of home...

And if ya made it this far, you may wish you hadn't- something else to think on during the interim... 10 mind chilling scenarios!

OK, OK- couldn't leave everyone in such a foul funk, these make everyone* happy!!! Least, did me, when I had one...
*(who has Pinterest- sorry)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Income Inequality Is Higher NOW Than In 1928


In 2001, the deputy spokesperson of the White House Press Office was asked what he thought the median income was on that year's tax returns. He replied it was around... $250,000.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Those Shooting Film...

Those of you us still shooting film should shoot a look at Aaron Brethorst's appropriately titled... I Shoot Film. Dissatisfied with The Massive Development Chart data, he set about compiling his own comprehensive film data chart-  in addition to the ultimate photo processing lab directory in these semi United States...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Money, Photography, Diversity

Recently, I shot Joerg Colberg a quick note of thanks and appreciation for his Sixth Annual Portfolio Competition  (deadline 10/31) labor of love. Interestingly, he wrote back a brief response stating how much more diverse the submissions were (as far as race and sex were concerned) than the usual competition fare, primarily because it was, in fact... free. Also of interest, the fact that the winners are "blindly" chosen, another nod towards avoiding- the usual suspects.

No surprise, of course, that most photo reviews and festivals are overwhelmingly White simply because of cost involved, or that most unpaid photo "intern" positions are filled by those (White) applicants who can most afford to work for... free. Or that those who can afford to attend those events are those that will most likely be remembered and invited to participate in upcoming projects, exhibitions, etc. The last part, at least, is easily understandable, it's how we humans interact and socialize- it's the first part that can get easily ignored, forgotten or... denied.

Anyone who's come here more than once by now realizes that I (along with a few handful of others) do on occasion talk about race and its relation to this thing we love called photography.  And while I'm certainly not going to apologize for it, it is very simply a reaction to the dearth of these conversations elsewhere, 'cause as we all know- people who talk about race are... racists!. Clearly, no faction of humanity is without fault or sin, and surely, everything isn't always "black and white," exactly why we need more open and ongoing discussion- as opposed to accusatory tirades. And it always, always, always devolves into just that because we never continue the discussion beyond that. Everyone either yells and screams at each other, or tries to talk over each other until in the end- we repeat, retreat or exhaust ourselves, accomplishing little, quietly gathering our strength and talking points until the next screamfest.

This is not to say that we could "cure" anyone of their hardcore, ingrained racism, no one is that naive, but it would be nice if there was an ongoing attempt to further dialogue beyond accusation and examine just how certain factors can influence and exclude. Of course, some (like myself) would say those factors and consequences are already well established and clearly evident- I think a good starting point is... why has their been so much more progress towards fighting sexism in the arts? Has sexism been vanquished- of course not! But the strides that women and LGBT people have made are obviously evident in places of power and consequence when it comes to the arts. Why has that segment of society experienced such consequential change, while so many people of color (with the possible exceptions of certain Asian populations) still struggle to maintain token representation? The question of economics looms large, but it is both cause and consequence of even larger factors.

Everyone harbors their own personal prejudices- admitting that is the first step, discussing how it impacts our world (of photography) would be the second...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Minimum Wage/Maximum Outrage- From Debt To Death

Maria Fernandes
There are those who seek to better themselves through sheer force of will, working as many jobs and as many hours (often at minimum wage) as their bodies will endure. The constant physical wear involved in multiple jobs combined with the challenges of raising a family leaves many a parent with little time to rest, sleep or stabilize themselves long enough to maintain their physical, as well as psychological well being. Domestic abuse, addiction, and other stress and chronic health related issues all come to manifest themselves as a result of this physical and psychic abuse. Forget success, hard work and determination at minimum wage can't even cover the rent, and only guarantee perpetual slavery to a system designed to ensure just that. Sometimes, as in the case of Maria Fernandes, the result is the new face of economic martyrdom- the once proud American Dream reduced to the nightmare of premature death.

But what of education, Stan? Surely someone who's had some years in the teaching biz cannot deny the age old ladder towards upward mobility? Going through all the hoops against all odds from ghetto to mainstream for acceptance into jobs that are simply no longer there is bad enough, now the final insult has been firmly nailed in place with prohibitive tuition costs and for profit schools that are pledged to keep you in a world of debt before you even enter it.

I don't know how many new capitalist ploys will yet be introduced to squeeze every last remaining crumb and penny from those who can least afford it, for those who least need it- but fear not, they're working scheming on it...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

On Blogs And Jackalopes And...

  Photo: Bruce Haley 

Not usually big on kid pictures, and yet... this is the kind that stops you in your tracks and just makes ya think. The contemplative look on this "little bruiser" (same two words came to my mind) does make one wonder the paths that lay before him- those he chose to walk, and those that chose him. Did he use his brawn and good looks to muscle his way through every one of life's problems; did those who came to fear him negotiate a premature demise? Did his physicality succumb solely to the allure of immediate gratification, or was he of a much rarer breed (as this photo seems to suggest) with the wherewithal to develop that rather pensive mind into that rarest of entities- a conscientious leader in the cause of righteousness? Yeah, good photography, good art, can make ya think on all them things....

Not many people keeping up (let alone starting up) photo blogs anymore. And along comes... Ropin' The Jackalope, making its grand debut with none other than former conflict photographer, prophet and raconteur extraordinaire (made at least one of those up) Bruce Haley at the helm. This could be (ie- will be) a most welcomed addition of oxygen rich blood doping into this now somewhat tired mix of the usual suspects, especially with all the youngbloods out there too busy tweetin' around. 

All shittin' aside, Bruce brings an experienced voice with a considerably different background and outlook that will be a most welcomed addition to most anyone's photo reading list: amusing, informative- and most definitely worth a look and listen...