Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Ralph Gibson abandoned his B&W wide angle ways and proceeded to make some uniquely "fragmented" images with his 50mm. John Gossage continues to define his own original B&W language and territory to this day, at times it's almost as if he's managed to incorporate the "new" color sensitivity- without the color. Look at the photo above, it's like many other color photographs one would see today in art galleries or contemporary photo books- except somebody clicked the desaturate button!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Another way to work around this B&W "dilemma" is to switch to square format, where the compositional restrictions and balance of a one by one and a half rectangle is negated. Square format (eg- Arbus) offers a more immediate, more democratic and less formalized (snapshot) manner of presenting information and drawing you into the image. Going "soft" with either toy (eg- David Niles) or large format cameras (eg- Sally Mann) is yet another proven alternative that goes the other way and plays to the medium's "weakness." Come to think of it- that's quite a few options right there that I've seen converted into a myriad of personal shooting styles. Perhaps the person who originally initiated my response, and has in the past stated that he just doesn't care for B&W except in "extreme cases," would be a tad more accurate just reminding everyone of that. Sometimes, sometimes, there are reasons why certain things persist as long as they do. No, that doesn't mean one shouldn't strive to change, modify, and reinvent them- just that sometimes if you really feel that strongly about it, it helps to show the way.
And while I'm at it, have you ever noticed how a thin black border can do wonders to unite the tonal values in a B&W composition into one unified, handsome, working whole- and yet looks absolutely tacky on a color image, which is why you thankfully never see it. More to come...
Friday, December 26, 2008
Photo: Pat (circa '75)
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Nice to see in these times of me, me, me...
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Frankly, this undertaking may flat out tank, or it may turn into one very valuable resource for photographers (and other lovers of the medium) to engage in some excellent photography by unfamiliar names who have achieved high level bodies of work, and are currently lacking gallery representation. Obviously, we're hoping and betting on the latter. And please note that the work need not be current, good photography withstands the test of time- isn't that what it's all about? I often wonder what happened to the scores of incredible photographers whose work I saw in NYC galleries in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and have never heard of again.
So, if you're past the age that values the aesthetics of sagging trousers... Represent! Deadline details- first week of Jan '09!
Friday, December 19, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
If you can transform a desert into a megalopolis by throwing money at it, why not revive a city by throwing together the most creative, productive people anywhere to be found? The money always follows. I can't think of a better time, or reason to try...
Detroit, MI- Art Capital of the 21st. Century! Why not?
Photo: Sean Hemmerle
Monday, December 15, 2008
This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog! This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Then there's Joe (He's Back) the Plumber- and all you godforsaken foreigners out there can deduce for yourselves just how astute we Americans can be at deciphering the political process (the punch line's at the very end). File this one under... hindsight.
And certainly not least, everyone all over the world now knows that there's at least one honest politician in the world, a man unafraid to put it all up front and center, and tell ya, "I wanna make money on this!" Yeah, that's right- foresight.
(all via HuffPo)
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
2 : intent to commit an unlawful act or cause harm without legal justification or excuse
Call it what you will- but this is just one example, of thousands. Ibrahim Jassam Mohammed is one of the (very) lucky ones whose name was known and who had the contacts in a country that has been raped, tortured, and for all practical definitions- kidnapped. Fortunately, he has survived to be set free... in 2009.
The time is now- before they actually close down the plants and factories (those remaining few that haven't been outsourced), before they get away with everything, and leave everyone save themselves on the street!
PS- And I trust someone in the Windy City is documenting one kick ass photo essay/series of portraits out of this...
Monday, December 8, 2008
OK... so I've been thinking about this age thing lately. I'm neither young, nor emerging- more like middle aged and festering. And this year I finally got around to shaving off the uppermost region of my anatomy. I really thought I had this unwritten agreement with The Guy Upstairs. He didn't do all that great with the body, so I'd at least get to keep the hair- but even that small measure of dignity has been stripped away.
Once I'd fantasize about winning the MacArthur Grant, now I fantasize about some asshole discovering my negatives many moons after I mix my last ratio of D-76 1:1, and making his next month's rent off my entire lifetime's work... Of course, there's an infinitely better chance that my portable, fireproof, Kodak negative safe will get swallowed up in a giant crevice when the inevitable Big One hits SF.
Actually, the totality of all these miserable thoughts came about upon first hearing this song. And I really do love this little ditty, which I've been meaning to post for a good month now (and was probably known to everyone but me). It's just that my life was once filled with so many tunes I couldn't bare to live without each and every day (as my head was once filled with hair). A curiously joyful addiction which I somehow mourn more than miss. I'm just happy I still got an ear, and a pork pie hat (that I've been lusting for since my Ska days in the late '70s) to wear over both of 'em.
(If only Mick would've stuck with his game plan.)
photo: Gene Hackman as Popeye Doyle in The French Connection
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Read about the Gulabi Gang here, and if you can, help make the film a reality.
Update: Another bad band of sisters! (via PhotographyLot)
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Actually, I think it's great young photographers get together and form collectives and organizations to promote their work, advance their education and careers, etc- particularly in these hard times to come. I know I could have benefited back in the day. But other than social networking, how much are they gonna actually learn without, at least, a few, more experienced (ie- older) members to share the wealth (of much needed knowledge and experience). Imagine an entire generation of photographers making work like this!
I've always thought diversity to be a crucial key to growth and wisdom in most any "intellectual" forum. But perhaps the time has indeed come to put me out to feed the polar bear and ensure the well being of the next generation. After all, the time has long, long past when one could walk into a "prospective" NYC gallery with a portfolio of 35mm B&W prints...
(photo- Friend with First Car; my first "good" photograph, circa '73)
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
A man without principles declares they were never compromised.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
The Blackbird Fly has flown unto our shores at ICP just in time to celebrate and document our glorious recession era epoch. Two f-stops, two shutter speeds, two "formats" (ff 35mm and square mask). Two wonderful!! Make mine blue...
Friday, November 28, 2008
These retired US Air Force military officers (you know- your average, everyday UFO whackos) relate how they have personally witnessed and/or documented UFOs "shutting down" and "turning on" our Minuteman nuclear missiles. Bill Nye, sad substitute for the voice of all things scientific, attributes the shutdowns to common power failures- despite triple redundancy backups, and offers no explanation for the CIA confiscated film. As one officer so eloquently puts it- you're not going to explain this away with "vinegar and baking soda."
Thursday, November 27, 2008
The absolute brilliance and simplicity of it all left me dumbfounded. Some guy with a pick up somewhere in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri...
Update: Ummm, errrr... aint no brilliance to it no how- see comments (guess it's better if you do actually watch and listen).
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I aint feelin' the change here folks!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
For video #2, click here for the utterly Pythonesque
Palin/Turkey Kill Interview...
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Either way, if you're that artistic genius that won't be denied- you won't. If, like me (and I suspect countless others), you're someone "of more modest gifts," you do it for that love, and rejoice on those occasions when you are recognized and appreciated. It won't be often, or writ large, and certainly won't come anytime when you most want and need and demand it. You'll learn to live with that too- or not. These days at least, this little thing called the internet can help take the sting out of working in the anonymity of yore, as well as help disseminate the ideas and aspirations of photographers and creatives everywhere.
I remember when I first started making the rounds socially in NYC, occasionally you'd run into these congenial blowhards who'd promise you anything and everything straight outta nowhere. Of course, they had no intention whatsoever of doing any of the things they said aloud. They simply liked to hear themselves talk, and obviously had a lot of practice doing it. I mention that prehistoric memory because sometimes (as in rarely), someone does hear your voice, someone does recognize your contribution. Most recently in my case, the duckrabbit blog (yet another quality site that until recently had alluded me) has been more than generous in extolling the virtues of Reciprocity Failure, the writing and work that appears here- not to mention my own photography. Many thanks, Benjamin (wish there was someway I could... reciprocate)- and to all who frequent these pages...
Finally, if you've made it this far in this ever wandering ramble, recognize that the world is at a crossroads, and it comes from decades of ignoring the very world around us, and what we have done to it. Many of us will go down in denial to the very end, hopefully, the majority will rise to do what has to be done- or it will get done, and be done, regardless.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
And once they've dispensed with the personal niceties, there's the little matter of how they're going to actually compose and shoot that face, that body, that flesh and blood person before them into a meaningful portrait that will somehow, someway transcend their mere physical presence. Avedon portrays every nook and cranny, every crease and fold, devoid of any background distraction- their faces, clothes and bodies all alluding to their personal history and travails. Arbus portraits were as straightforward and simple as simple could be- her counter culture subjects always provided the necessary plot twists and distractions. Bruce Davidson uses his subject's immediate environment, Platon his clean but highly orchestrated lighting, and even the subjects of Mr. Sander's typological portraiture often included a uniform or tool of trade for contrast and content.
I mention all this because upon seeing Living With War by Judith Joy Ross, I'm left amazed and clueless as to how she achieves such somber, reflective and deeply intimate portraits. She photographs (for the most part) people who are the male and female equivalents of your very Average Joes, apparently in available light. Depth of field is shallow, subject details minimal with backgrounds well out of focus. And yet, her portraits manifest as some of the most revealing and intense ever captured on film, or any other medium- as if her subjects momentarily invite us in to share their inner conflicts, hopes and fears.
Avedon's performance art shooting style, in which he engages his subjects in conversation with entire studio entourage in tow, often results in his subjects' presentation of themselves as some heightened or hybrid portrayal of the character he elicits. And he may even score more "winners," his detail rich characters are always worth intense study like any finely detailed map, as opposed to say... some of the straight on compositions (which occasionally fall flat) in The Army Reserve section of Living With War. JJR's bare bones, no frills approach allows no filler to pick up the slack when "the magic" fails to appear. Fortunately, that magic never roams far, and takes us places a map can only suggest.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Holy Polidori- can the world possibly stomach even one more abandoned room photo essay? Yes, it can, particularly when it's the best of the bunch. What's different, and more importantly, what makes The Blue Room "better?" Like most essays of this genre there are plenty of still lifes and close ups of long forgotten and discarded personal affects- that's "the bad news." What really sets this essay apart is how Richards manages to reanimate these abandoned rooms. His photographs manage to somehow retain some of the life, and lives lived, that once occupied these living spaces. He does it not only by making the most of the outdoor light that still manages to permeate, but by also incorporating the surrounding outdoors into these solemn interior studies, thereby making them part and parcel of the particular landscape at large. Occasionally, he abandons the interiors altogether and opts for evocative, site specific, outdoor landscapes. The latter have a very sensual, seasonal feel to them that further enhance and accentuate that uncertain melancholy of lost time and space.
Another way that he manages to upgrade the genre is by occasionally incorporating animal imagery into some very surreal domestic scenes. He does this by including both live and dead animals, as well as some which just leave you wondering. And finally, he brings this project to life by his very use of color: sensual, foreboding, and one very viable stand in for the lives and people not shown. Competing boundaries of color both in closeup and at large, contrast, conflict and complement each other as they mark and define their remaining memories and territory. It's as if he was purposely saving color all these years for just said reason.
Richards, for once, has turned away from recording the dramas that unfold in our waking, everyday lives, only to evoke those left behind, and not quite dormant.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
While today's photographers are wisely networking and forming alliances, organizations, and associations to help promote and foster their goals, aspirations and visions via the internet- I worry about today's youth of limited means who express an interest, or passion, for the medium. Initial costs for photographic equipment in this digital age can be prohibitive at best- inkjet papers alone cost more than their silver coated predecessors. Even with recent price decreases, I fear that this medium (whether for art or commerce) will increasingly belong to the fewest of the few who can continue to afford it, particularly in our devolving economy. Shooting digitally "for free" presupposes that you already lay claim to the multi-thousand dollar hardware/software investments that makes it all possible.
And like any other art form, photography is one that continues to be beset by countless ironies. The incredible immediacy and plasticity of digital technology has revolutionized the photographic industry, and yet, has done more to homogenize contemporary photography than anything in its recent history. Meanwhile, photo trend setters call for a sea change to the traditional, pragmatic language that has constituted photojournalism (but offer no viable alternative) while continuing to champion large format color as art, which is already some thirty years old in the tooth- not unlike kids dressed in thirty year old punk regalia talking down hippies. A year or so back, some of the "in the know" proclaimed the resurgence of a B&W revival, even though no such movement actually existed. Perhaps it was merely an extension of those heady Bush years whereby an administration dared believe that they operated in a separate reality of their own wishful making.
One of the great things about getting old, the only great thing about getting old, is that sometimes (sometimes) when you say that you really don't give a rat's ass about something- you really don't. No ifs, ands, or buts. That's not to be negative, it's just that if you're around long enough, you get to see things come and go, learn to recognize the rhythms, the patterns- and if you watch closely and astutely enough, sometimes even learn to recognize the greatness that occasionally rises.
Keeps things honest, and occasionally... interesting.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
But then, it's all relative, aint it?
PS- I don't know who's responsible for posting the cryptic little messages (as seen above) throughout San Francisco, but they are appreciated. Ranging from political to purely personal, their topical irony usually manages to bring a smile to my face with inspirational motifs such as the "God Bless Series," which includes- God bless our brave war profiteers. Amongst others...
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Instances of vote switching have already occurred this year, and all credible reports have it from Obama to McCain (surprise)- and if you don't think the last two election were stolen, watch this. Then meet the man asked (by a Republican candidate) to create a vote switching program. Vote switching occurred in the '04 election 12 to 1 in favor of the Republicans... And to find out how it may happen this year, listen here!