Thursday, November 26, 2015


Lies, Lies, Lies... Very popular these days. On the news, the internets, the mouths of the pettiest of Presidential candidates. As true now as it was then- make them big enough, repeat them often enough... and people will fall in line to follow.

Not as loud, or convenient or as popular, there are always the facts. And for that, we can always give thanks, thanks for that increasingly rare opportunity to glimpse through the window of sanity...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

As I Pressed The Shutter...

Photo: © S. Banos

I remember thinking- would I be comfortable having a beer with a guy who has giant tattoos of a penis, spermatozoa and varied amounts of weights and ornaments about his genitalia? Not your average thought, agreed. Nevertheless, the one that sprung to mind. And must say, the guy definitely seemed a nice enough bloke. What would we talk about: sports, the demise of the gold standard, the coming El Nino?

It's all very much part of the annual experience called The Folsom St. Fair in San Francisco. You're walking about everyday streets that are cordoned off into a temporary and separate reality, one to which you never quite adjust while there, and for some time thereafter...

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Status Update

Jander Yat- Photo: Robert Gumpert

Pete Brook recently informed me of his co-curated group exhibit: Status Update. Hadn't seen anything worthwhile up close and personal in months, and happily, this didn't disappoint- not one weak link in the entire show. Robert Gumpert's prison portraits (go to Take A Picture, Tell A Story for some seriously devastating, one-two combinations of portraits/oral histories), and Elizabeth Lo's tightly edited, well executed video were my two personal faves. I can't ever say enough about the simplicity and power of Gumpert's portraiture, and Lo's short video, Hotel 22, just took me by surprise with it's oh so revealing tale of a mobile 'homeless shelter' shuttling about one of the most prosperous strips of American realty. This is one show that seriously needs to be seen, heard and discussed in much larger public venues, throughout the country...

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Photo Essay Waiting To Be Done...

Had I the $, I'd jump in the car (I don't have) and hit the road for a few years to photograph these places, one sick name at a time... I hope someone with the resources and necessary sensitivity does just that!

Meanwhile, to see what could be possible from such an undertaking - Eva Leitlolf's work is somewhat of a similar vein (and sets one very high standard).

Monday, November 2, 2015

10 Ways To Lose At Street Photography

I didn't win, no surprise there. I've been doing this for forty years, during which I certainly haven't been allowed to obtain or nurture an exaggerated view of myself or my work. I know my place as a very small fish in a very big pond... but to say that not one of my photos was worthy of being displayed in your selected 176- That's one major crock of shit piled high.*
Yours truly,
Stan B.

I've been posting on my competition rejections for some time- so why quit now? The above is my most recent response to my most recent exercise in self debasement and humiliation, this time at the hands of the street photography competition sponsored by Lens Culture. Now they usually show some pretty good stuff there, so I knew the competition would be stiff. But I thought I had ten really strong images (see below), you can fault them for not following a strict narrative, granted- but isn't the street itself the perfect tableau for all things incongruent and unpredictable? So I figured if I got lucky I just might make it to the finals (and then be rejected outright for lack of cohesion- fair enough), but I figured I would at least garner some kind of minimal recognition... like being selected for one of the 176 images used during the campaign to promote the competition itself. 

The work within those 176 images range from some of the actual (and very deserving) winners to... work that amounts to well exposed snapshots- and I certainly don't mean of the William Eggleston variety. Now I understand competitions are mostly just a matter of taste, current convention, etc, etc at best (and that's when they're run on the up and up- and I'm certainly not saying that this wasn't) and that those chosen 176 don't necessarily amount to a hill of beans- but if people are paying $65 for the privilege of being judged, they at least deserve to be judged fairly and evenly- throughout the competition

Disappointed? Of course. Sour grapes? I just think that respectable competitions should strive to be just that- from start to finish, particularly when you're paying more than a nominal fee. I have, in fact, previously written (as constructively as possible) on how various competitions have succeeded (or failed) to do just that  (see here and here). Stan, did you ever think that some of your "street" photography may qualify more as "environmental portraiture?" The thought did occur, but one of the actual finalists in this competition submitted an essay on life in an isolated Indian hamlet- it's definitely documentary, as to "street" photography.... go figure!

Anyway, congrats to the winners, running a competition is not easy (even in my limited experience co-editing ExNo) and very much to their credit, Lens Culture does, in fact offer a concise "review" of individual submissions for those who paid $65- something quite valuable for those starting out. As for me, well, that $65 will go nicely toward a new photo book come next year- could even be one of my own, for which I am currently editing.

* It should be noted that Lens Culture was gracious enough to reply recently, stating that the contest was subjective, etc, etc...Not the greatest response, and certainly lacking the all out creative ingenuity of this one- but still appreciated.

And now for the much anticipated 10 ways to lose:

Times Square Photo: © Stan Banos

Bay Bridge Photo: © Stan Banos

Brooklyn Photo: © Stan Banos

Folsom Fair Photo: © Stan Banos

Comic Con Photo: © Stan Banos

LIC Photo: © Stan Banos

Williamsburg bridge Photo: © Stan Banos

Golden Gate Bridge Photo: © Stan Banos

Brooklyn Bridge Photo: © Stan Banos

SFPD Photo: © Stan Banos