Friday, October 30, 2009

Alan Grayson- What Sanity Sounds Like...

My god! Is this even physically possible? Can, not one, but two people who speak truth to power occupy The House at the same time?!?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Roy DeCarava- RIP

“White photographers called me and they got angry with me, because I won it,” says DeCarava. “They said, ‘You won the Guggenheim?’ I could see the face screwing up and it was likely like this, “How could you win a Guggenheim?’”

The Prosecution Of George W. Bush For Murder

If ever there was a dream well within the power of our grasp, this would be high on the list- and this is the man that could make it come true. Chances are we won't be able to control global warming, curb the self annihilating pollution of our land, sea and air, or achieve world peace within this brand new century without first having little left to fight over. But this at least, is achievable...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

William Eggleston- Stranded In Canton (with Lou Reed)

I'm not big on "going negative." It's way too easy and hardly novel these days, when everyone's ready to cuss out anyone at the get go. But then you come across something the likes of William Eggleston's latest "book," Stranded In Canton, and you kind of ask yourself, "What the fuck?"

I had no idea what the major premise behind this "book" was (if one can, in fact, call it one) when I came upon it, or the DVD contained within. Basically, the book portion consists of a couple of grainy, blurry B&W photos that look like grainy, blurry B&W film stills. Perhaps what's contained within the cover is the greatest artistry ever burned unto disc, I would hope so since this has no reason whatsoever to exist as a book- well, other than because of the name.

And now I find out that none other than Lou Reed has been named a guest curator at the 2010 New York Photo Festival- and don't get me wrong, I've been a looong time fan... of his music, that is. And I have no idea if I saw his first, or his second book- but whatever I saw was one level above the aforementioned Stranded, or very much at home on your average FLICKR photostream... If that was number one that I saw, why on earth was there a number two? And if it was number two that I saw...

Aren't there enough legit photographers already out there who can't get their work published? I guess you could argue that a name like Lou's could help pump in some much needed revenue and publicity- in that case, I hope he plays Coney Island Baby...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Joseph Rodriguez- "Our Country Lies..."

Much has been made of the "irrelevance" of current photojournalism, as if it was some long dead hair band from the '80s. Now if you want to argue that 90% of photojournalism centers on 10% per cent of the world- point taken. But obviously it goes well beyond that. "Art" photography has been decades removed from the small format style that both compromises and enables most of photojournalism. And the public has long been weary of images of strife and poverty so many miles removed- a weariness ever the more prevalent and threatening now that it's extended to their very backyard. We no longer crave pictures that shake us from our ignorance, as our ecosystems collapse en masse and we tweet on to the very end in our self contained bubbles of denial.

This all comes readily to mind viewing the work of Joseph Rodriguez. Or as Stephen Mayes asks, "Where is the intimate, the personal and the real?" Mr. Rodriguez is not concerned with getting the action winning Pulitzer, he'd much rather shoot pictures that ultimately provide some measure of understanding and insight into the plight and lives of his subjects- and the environments that collude to create those lives, often reflecting the background of his own. Or as one of his subjects asked, "Why are you going to Bosnia? The war is right here." Sometimes that road less traveled is right next door.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Be it Romania, China or Tennessee, USA we're all more than adept at shitting on our own home planet...

Photos: Lu Guang


Friday, October 23, 2009

Paolo Woods, Eric White and The Art of Subjugation

I've been exposed to such amazing work the past several days! Brenda Ann Kenneally, Vivian Maier- and now Paolo Woods and Eric White (via A Photo Student and The Exposure Project, respectively).

Paolo Woods' ChinAfrica (above) exhibits the kind of blatant colonial subterfuge that sends chills down my spine despite the relative beauty of its images, and Eric White's Borderlands (below) would have an almost heroic air to it- if it wasn't for the voiceless shadows you sense behind every image. Behold the art of contemporary subjugation, practiced right next door, or half a world away...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Part Of Me- Part Of You?

Admittedly, I used to be absolutely fascinated looking at historical images and photos depicting racism in ways so twisted, varied and perverted that just made my head spin. Human "creativity" is truly timeless. These days, the depressing aspects of such voyeurism largely outweigh the remaining fascination. So it's with equal parts hesitancy and reluctance that I delve into a bit of historal research for the upcoming symposium. Fortunately, the internets make that research so ridiculously easy these days- instant historical depression at the touch of a keyboard!

So it was with a certain amount of surprise, and shame, that I ran into the image above, an image I recognized from my own far gone youth. It brought an instant smile of friendly recognition, and guilt by childhood association.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Race, Diversity, Photography: The Online Symposium

Well, what may well be enlightening to some, and anathema to others is one step closer to reality- thanks in very real part to one Pete Brook...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

People of Durban- Daniel Cuthbert

Daniel Cuthbert almost drove me past insane in the comments section concerning Sebastien Boncy's response to Pieter Hugo's photographs at Amy Stein's blog. So it was with a reluctant half heartedness that I looked at his People of Durban essay- and was instantly taken aback. This essay contains anything but the stereotypical, exotic images of deepest, "darkest" Africa. Nothing here will haunt you in your dreams, or entice you to book a flight over ASAP. They are the African EveryMan; walk out in any neighborhood anywhere and you're quite likely to see the same. Perhaps this is what the face of truly "subversive" photography looks like in Africa.

Cuthbert makes this open, honest, no frills approach work- no mean feat without the circus sideshow... And that's why we should continue to discuss and better understand this delicate and multifaceted relationship between race and photography, eventhough sometimes its the words that can get in the way...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Resealing The Deal...

The cheapest way of acquiring a full frame sensor is still via a film camera. I just recently purchased two ultra compact Nikon FGg's for everyday shooting that were in practically mint cosmetic and mechanical condition for a combined purchase price of $150. Nevertheless, if you're going to purchase any vintage camera (anything over twenty years old for purpose of argument), they will more likely than not need to have the light seals resealed- despite the description on Ebay stating that they're just fine. Closer inspection will often reveal a crumbling residue transitioning into one gooey mess.

Now, you can either send it out to be professionally resealed ($50 to $100), or choose to do it yourself. That's where Jon Goodman comes in- he supplies handy, pro quality DIY resealing kits custom cut for specific makes and models at extremely reasonable prices via Ebay complete with instructions, illustrations and scraping tool (you'll also need some lighter fluid).

Word of Caution: This is not a task for those of you with ham hocks for paws. Even those with delicate digits like mine will find this a chore requiring considerable patience, concentration and care. Cleaning the old seals releases sticky crumbs that can attach to the shutter curtain- get the picture? So take adequate precautions. Once done cleaning, installing the new seals is relatively easy since they fit readily into place.

Unless you're fortunate enough to have a camera with removable, interchangeable focusing screens, replacing the mirror dampener is where it really hits the fan. Since you don't want falling crumbs from the old dampener falling onto the focusing screen, you really want it outta there. So seriously consider having a professional do this part- and since you've already replaced the light seals, it won't cost as much.

If you're hell bent on doing it yourself however, as was I, you'll definitely need a 00 Phillips head and tweezers to remove the focusing screen from the bracket. Getting it out is fairly easy, repositioning and replacing it in the bracket properly is considerably more difficult. One of my FG's wouldn't cooperate and the screen suffered a few minor scratches along the edges, the second went much more smoothly without any damage- I'd like to think it was experience, but I know it was just pure luck. And even a cheapo vintage SLR viewfinder runs circles around those of $1,500 DSLR's.

The following video highlights the procedure (although it also makes it appear as if it's something that can be done while watching Monday Night Football)...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tokyo Camera Style

My Leica sized $75 Ford Falcon Nikon FG (w/20mm) will hold me till I can afford the real deal (and whose to say this aint).

I've already stated on many an occasion that I really don't care if an image is made via traditional film or digital capture. What I really abhor are those clunky, plasticky, butt ugly digital DSLR's! And, of course, one can't get away from them these days, even though (thankfully), I don't have to deal with 'em. I plan to dump all my 35mm SLR equipment when I reach my sixties, and pick up a nice 35mm RF with a couple of dimed sized lenses (seems that's about the only thing to look forward to at that age). Until then, there's always Tokyo Camera Style whenever I need some hardcore vintage porn. I just hope they don't buy up every damn vintage film camera in existence over there!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Race In Photography Conference, Part II

Well, they're tossing ideas about at Prison Photography on what it would take to actually realize the above said conference. While it would be great to have an actual face to face somewhere (for obvious reasons)- there are also the obvious limitations of who can actually make it there, wherever there would be. Perhaps we can (also) have a round robin of sorts, different aspects of the discussion covered on individual blogs. Obviously, it would also be nice to have some of the artists in question participate:

Uhh, Mr. Mcginley, why do all your photos look like a 21st century Hitler Youth wet dream?

Or perhaps one of the more prominent online photo mags might want to consider it as one of their themes? And it would be nice to get something in print. En Foco is a photo organization that has been focusing on minority photographers since the 70's for exactly the reasons we've been discussing- perhaps, perhaps they might want to get involved... Yes, it's definitely going to take more than the efforts of just one person!

We also need to bring to light some of the historical aspects of what we mean when we talk about responsibility. If its anything that has become evident, it's that many people are oblivious to the historical legacy of racism in this country (and elsewhere), and how that has influenced and been portrayed in photography throughout history. Many people really don't have a clue...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Race In Photography Conference

Well, The Race In Photography Conference exists in name only at the moment (and that much thanks to one Pete Brook), but it's definitely something to contemplate and someday achieve. Especially when you got the likes of what's going on at French Vogue- a white model in black face. Perhaps the smart way to address the latter in this case really is to simply dismiss it for they're just being French, since all they obviously want to do is cause enough controversy to sell their dumb magazine...

Meanwhile, the conversation continues at Amy Stein's Blog, and the always forthright DuckRabbit... (shame I had to remove that beautiful Vivian Maier photo for the crap above).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Black & White Of It

Photo: Vivian Maier

I recently wrote Benjamin Chesterton of Duckrabbit about Vivian Maier, and he had a most interesting response:

Amazing ... they don't take them like they used to ... photography is too knowing, it's lost its sense of wonder and black and white now just feels like such a pale imitation ... sorry to say.

Of course, one could argue that photography was still finding its voice and sense of style well into the the latter part of the last century. And now it's pretty much settled into what it can (and can't) do- and how it can do it. And the innovation of digital technology, while adding speed, ease and flexibility, has done nothing towards creating an original "style" within the medium.

As to black and white, perhaps its current repititious feel can be attributed to something as simple as to how one approaches it. Instead of acknowledging that it is a very limited medium that therefore challenges you to somehow draw some measure of originality from it (and the subject matter), it seems that photographers now choose it for an instant "look," whether it be an instant retro look, an instant photojournalist look, or some slick and "classy" Euro look. Most photographers are now shooting away making digital captures only to convert to B&W after the fact. If the intention is not there from the onset, it's no doubt gonna show in the results, color pictures without the color.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Amazing Find, Amazing Story!

Real time developing story of incredible, unknown talent (one Vivian Maier) found undeveloped and unseen by John Maloof at auction (via Rumblings From The Photographic Hinterlands)!

Mr. Maloof is currently looking about for a suitable home for this treasure- wonder how long till the retrospective exhibit and book...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Brenda Ann Kenneally- Upstate Girls

Brenda Ann Kenneally's Upstate Girls (via The Digital Journalist) is one of those rare photo essays that humbles me to my very knees upon viewing. This is one intense dynamo of an essay, a visual experience you won't easily forget- and it has to be, or the subject matter itself might launch you into a depression from which you'd be hard pressed to recover. Everyone of these photographs hits it out of the park! And as impressive, dynamic, and yes, beautiful as these images are- one never loses track of the subject matter at hand. This is monster talent documenting one of the monster social issues of our day...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

365 Days of Activism!

Sometimes one tends to forget that there are genuinely good people out there in the world, perhaps more than we sometimes dare think. My mate, Mark Page reminded us of one such person just yesterday...

Ryan "Brown" Dalton is a teacher and child advocate in South Africa, I very much wanted to respond to quite a few of his posts, started to, and could never get around to finishing a single respose. Sometimes it all seems so hollow to simply agree, congratulate or acknowledge. When it comes to people in need (of any age)- it's the doing that carries weight...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Ralph Lauren Blues

Apparently, Google removed the "original photo," I mean illustration, from the Photoshop Disasters (Blogspot) blog. Does that mean these photos are simply not going to post, or magically disappear after being posted on this particular Blogspot blog? Is everyone who posted or emailed them also going to be sued? Ralph, you twit- the only person who should be suing is the model.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Yes Men Fix The World...

It's great being 53 and having "heroes" that are younger than me. How else would you describe a couple of guys who go around taking the corporate philosophy to the limit, only to turn it on its head and then some... like setting up a fake Dow Chemical Company that actually does the right thing and takes full responsibility for a "little" accident like Bhopal...

And in that spirit of complete and total corporate unreality-- take a gander at the post below...


Yes, you read right. Not sure if THIS is on the reals- or Not! Either way-- it's damn funny!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Photo Mixer

In these days when even astrophysicists have donate buttons on their photoblogs (hey, I'd have one too if I thought anyone would actually send money)- there's only one that actually makes me smile...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Paul Graham- Before and After

I'll probably catch shit for this... And this is a photographer whose work I hold in the highest regard- for its power, originality and social relevance. What more could one ask? And who am I, a nobody, to criticize- then again, that's never stopped anyone else.

While Paul Graham's most recent work still works the social landscape, unlike most critics and fans alike, I'd have to disagree that his new, more "conceptual" work is anywhere near as aesthetically powerful or socially insightful. As a general rule, whenever I hear the words conceptual and transcendent, I start to shift uneasily in my seat, because I damn well know that, most likely, I'm being set up for something I'm probably not going to like, (if I do- fine) and if I don't- it's all because my tiny little mind is just way too small to grasp the work's total magnificence.

Graham's earlier work (eg- A1, Beyond Caring, Troubled Land) was groundbreaking in its incorporation of color into provocative essays. They were intense but not in your face, more laid back, contemplative, not the traditional photojournalism of the day. They excelled aesthetically as singular images, and revealed a subtle cohesive narrative that intensified the experience as a whole. These were essays that to this day withstand repeated viewings.

While looking at Paul Graham, the retrospective book, I took great delight at seeing his earlier essays beautifully reproduced in the beginning of the book. And I remembered an interview where he stated that after Troubled Land, he received many an offer to basically repeat that essay in different parts of the world. But he wanted to go on to something else- been there, done that. Understood.

What followed however, seems like a stage of decided indecisiveness- some rather lame portraits, including a series on people watching TV which are every bit as boring as the programs they must've been watching, and some close ups of graffiti... Even the book doesn't seem to quite know what to do with some of his latter work as it prints these photos in a noticeably smaller, haphazard manner- as opposed to the confident print per page of his earlier work.

Then we arrive at what I take is his conceptual, transcendent stage with repeated scenes of a man mowing a lawn (and how many times must a man...), and the overwhelmingly overexposed scenarios of African Americans lost in the distance of the American landscape (ie- consciousness?), in stark contrast to the fully exposed colors of white American suburbia. Part of Troubled Land's power and brilliance was its remarkable subtlety- one was never hit over the head with the obvious in your face animosity, hatred and violence that infested that beautiful country. Even though the writing was all over the wall (sometimes literally), it was always lurking in the shadows.

Would critics have been so lavish with their conceptual largesse had they been considering a no name photographer? Some of those overexposed prints appear as if they damn well would have made interesting compositions, guess we'll never know. Together with a handful of dynamic street portraits from the series, it appears Mr. Graham still has it- when he wishes to fully engage.

There are those who no doubt argue that Graham has well transcended the insular photographic world unto the larger stage of conceptual art. Perhaps, but I'll miss the one who could impart in a simple well exposed and composed photograph, all the power and subtlety that life, imagination, and society could bestow it- and do it on a regular basis...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mona Lisa- Supersized!

Never thought I'd even "dream" this day possible. Mickey D's not next to the Lourve, but right inside it- by the ticket counter no less!!! First Jerry Lewis, then Sly Stallone- is there some kinda pattern here? (via HuffPo)

Film Grant

Just came upon this film grant being offered at Too Much Chocolate. Pretty cool! They'll pick 10 winners from submissions- 11/1 is the cut off date..

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Capitalism- A Love Story

This is Michael Moore's best film to date. Starts out a bit rambling with: archival footage, personal childhood home movies and recent economic footage seemingly thrown together. But he quickly brings it on home as both enlightening classroom lecture and poignant human tragedy- all along drawing one in with various real life scenarios of which we're all very much a part.

And learn you will--- I for the life of me could not have imagined the outright evil genius of the Dead Peasant Insurance Policy:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Historical Sigh Of Relief!

I couldn't give two shits about a Nixon speechwriter- but this is an amazing bit of alternative history that had just as much of a chance (more?) of becoming reality- a truly frightening one. I mean, those guys knew full well that even if they made it all the way over there and somehow managed to land in one piece (the hull of the lunar landing module was the width of three sheets of aluminum foil)- the chances of getting off that rock were "questionable," at best. (via boing boing)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Reciprocity Failure- 5th Yr. Anniversary

This post marks the official 5th year anniversary. R-F originally started at a different address as a blog/website conglomeration on godawful Yahoo software with a dozen half assed scans of workprints (literally first try darkroom prints)- didn't have Photoshop, and wouldn't have known what to do with it if I had. Basically it started at a time when I was (after 17 years) no longer working as a Spec Ed teacher of E-D students (finally got around to telling a few supervisors, who could put the Bush admin to shame, which side was up in a district I wasn't tenured in), and consequently needed something to fill the gap It's been a kick ever since.

I'd like to think things have improved here somewhat over the years (along with my Photoshop skills), particularly since there are loads more sites (directly to the right) that offer the very latest in news, talent and reviews- so I really want to thank one and all who make the occasional stopover. I suppose we're an acquired taste, so I'm always grateful for your indulgence, and appreciative of your comments and suggestions.