Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Are those flying monkeys? And what are you doing to my sister?


Sorry for the delay this week.  As many of you know the Eastern Seaboard of the US was hit with some severe weather resulting in a number of tornados this last week.  Our community was one of those affected.  My house and studio were both left virtually unharmed…however a small community very nearby was completely devastated.  My wife’s hometown was very nearly erased by a EF3 tornado that was about 3/4s of a mile wide. 


AP photo

We chose to relocate to this area because of…well…everything.  Great schools, virtually no crime, cultural significances,  low cost of living, and it’s charm had gone largely undiscovered by the nation as a whole.   This region in Virginia was also inland enough to never have a Hurricane issue or major flooding…in fact most residents that were injured would tell you that despite the warnings, no one imagined that this could even happen here.  Imagine a tornado in…say, Nantucket?  It just isn’t on the radar…except last Wednesday, it quite literally was. 

The American Red Cross is accepting donations.


I had a epiphany while helping in the cleanup and relief.  As I was leaving my house to go help some friends cleanup, I grabbed my innocuous little rangefinder and went to the disaster area…(literally a federal disaster area).  On the way I looked over into the passenger seat and saw my M8 sitting neatly on top of my work gloves….I decided the camera would stay in the car.  When I arrived, the task ahead was unbelievable…I have never seen the aftermath of a tornado before…but people were in one spirit helping each other…children were still playing.

While helping out I noticed a photog roaming the area…two pro bodies, white lens on one…vest and all.  He aimed his Canon at me and fired away.  I was a little pissed about it.   I have been planning to blog about the Pulitzers soon, and I thought about the expressions on the faces of the Haitian people after the earthquake.  I recalled the indignity of  those poor souls leering into our lens…Or maybe I just disliked him because I ‘m in the “Biz” too…I can’t say…I was nearly motivated to run to the car, get mine and shoot back….I know it’s just a job and I have been on the other side of that lens…I don’t even know why it bothered me.  If something like this has happened to you let me know…I ‘m curious if I am really just a lone jackass out here.   

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What the Hell is a Cinemagraph?

I interact, like most of you, with a group of photographers.  Recently, one I respect, brought to my attention a website that featured “The next ‘big thing’ in photography…’Cinemagraphy.’” This really begs the question does any photographer really respect any other photographer…I’m speaking of our peers, not guys like Alec Soth or Dan Winters…nope we don’t…really if you’re shaking your head or rolling your eyes, stop and confirm that little voice inside…if you are reading this with another photog…then one of you is better than the other and knows it…I digress.    So he’s all abuzz about this fantastic new concept…I imagine it is something akin to a Topaz filter in Photoshop, that fakes HDR…that is what the world really needs is more fake (or real for that matter) HDR.  Wrong.  I will admit, upon first sight, the whimsy of the concept was entertaining…and then it just pissed me off.


Image: Jamie Beck

Okay…snap out of it dammit!  I know, my first thought was also Harry Potter too.   This enchanting lady could be adorning the nightstand or desktop at Hogwarts.   A novel concept except that it isn’t photography…it is an animated GIF.  Like those found on   


Image: Jamie Beck


  They also can be a little creepy.  So about the time I thought I needed to tell you about this I did some research and they’re everywhere.  No, not the concept.  The actual work…featured in the Atlantic, and on  The Photographer is Jamie Beck, a very talented Fashion and lifestyle photographer from NYC. This may prove to be a big stepping stone  for Beck. 


Image: Jamie Beck


Alright, by now you either really like this or really don’t…Let me be first in line to say this:  Jamie Beck has got killer chops.  Her work is really impeccable.   I love the post-war feel, and inspired style in her portfolio.  Her “Statuesque” portfolio illustrates her technical prowess with a camera…as well as her ability to compose a moving photo (I mean this emotionally…not actually moving) from an over-photographed subject.  But…

isn’t this….


Image: Jamie Beck

pretty much the same as this….


I know it isn’t…but this will catch on…You’re going to see this everywhere.  Oh God…wait until the hipsters find out about this. 

Maybe I just think she’s more talented than me and I’m angry I didn’t think of this first…I saw all of the Potter films too, dammit. 

They are very cool.  They are very neat.  They're very well made. But is it Photography?  I guess I’ll just wait for the book…oh wait.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Richard Prince ordered to destroy (someone else’s) lucrative artwork

A US federal judge ruled against the Gagosian gallery and Prince for unfair use of “appropriated” images.


Click the Photo to view the story.  Photograph: Canal Zone


As a photographer I am naturally opposed to Mr. Prince’s practice of “Rephotography”…I have never really understood how anyone could appreciate it.  I would generally refer to it as simply ‘hipster garbage’.  So to really analyze it I have to remove myself from my thoughts and feelings as a photog. 

As far as technique goes….he could be using a xerox for all that matters…really.  Lets just get past this.  His composition…photographically, isn’t his own…however through perspective and creative cropping he does impart his own composition to this work…(sorry; inner feelings)  Seriously…the real ‘Art’ in this is the mutilation of the photographs…taken by French photographer Patrick Cariou.  This very well is the heart of it.  I feel its a indictment of society or maybe the photographer or maybe both….let me explain.  Prince removes faces or facial features like eyes…mouth, etc.  Removing that seems to remove the very “soul” of a photo…to us in the west….the actual soul to others namely…we are to assume, those pictured.  It is also an indictment of how we prefer to see things in this nature…How we can peruse the local grocery magazine rack, smilingly flip through a National Geographic mag…taking in the horrible suffering from around the globe….then glibly grab our Pop-Tarts and pick up Junior at soccer.  An indictment of the Photog for feeding us those images; well composed photos of interesting – but dangerous – people-things. 

But does Prince use these photos like a child uses newsprint in Papier Mache?  I don’t think so…because of those artistic accusations…the artwork wouldn’t feel at all the same if these were just throw away shots of anybodies. 

The reality is Richard Prince’s work only really works if it is someone else’s.  It drives the story…yeah, the PR.  Prince is self admittedly talentless…someone with his same intent could simply take very similar pictures and use those…and that is it really.  The art is repulsive to some…brilliant to others – that is what it take in today’s market.  Something controversial…and lots of PR.

Me…I find it fucking stupid.  I would probably kick his ass and photograph it rapid release with rear curtain flash…(so it looked like I was the Flash – that’s the superhero-you strobist punks)  

Anyway…He lost in court not for any reason relating to the actual use of the photos…but because the value of Mr Cariou’s photos were now diminished…Yep.

I would like to see Carious’ face the first time he showed the work and someone said “isn’t that a Prince?”

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Welcome to You Call This Photography

Soho (1 of 1)-2

Photography is the art, science and practice of recording light on some kind of film or image sensor.  That pretty much nails it all….from Richard Avedon to that dude in the men’s room making kissy faces at his iPhone.  Modern Photographic composition has blurred the lines even more…I literally have seen those kissy face shots hanging in a gallery in SoHo. 

First off…I am not anointing myself some kind of Master of the universe of photography…(By the power of Nikon…I have the power!)  But rather an arbiter of reason and technique…products and equipment. 

For instance, the photo above, I shot that in the middle of the day…I had my kids with me and didn’t really have a ton of time to expose properly…I blew out the sky…pretty badly too.  I converted it to a high-key B&W and felt it was a little better…not really.  When I look at it for any length of time it just feels off.

Maybe photography is really about intent.  I shot said photo without any real composition or intent…however in development I did intend to make the image an artful one through creative editing…I failed.  But I am really critical…seriously.

So…lets get the party started and lets talk photography…let me see some of your shots or questions and we’ll tear them apart…constructively….maybe,  I can be a real jack-ass…but I warned you first.

Thanks for all the fish...

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