Interesting Stuff Last Month – March 2014

Amy Powell’s Family Album
“As a teenager, I photographed my parents discussing their divorce, the dirty kitchen, and my mom waving away the car as it was being taken by the repo man. To me, that’s what my real life was. I long to see things, taken by insiders, that are unabashed. Beautifully unabashed.”

Lauren Greenfield Commercial About Skier Heidi Kloser
Photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield made this short commercial from green light to broadcast in just a few days. It is the human story of an athlete injured just before the start of the Olympic games in which she was to compete. Greenfield continues to show she can tell meaningful stories in different formats, even commercial ones.

A Kiss Is Just a Kiss, Unless It’s an Ad for a Clothing Company
A clear look at the video that went viral and the backlash that followed it. Irregardless of it all, the video was fascinating to watch and well-crafted. This wired, social world longs for connection even if it is fleeting, even if we are pushed just over the edge of our regular lives.

Room with a View
Joe McNally selfies are the best. Ahead of the cultural trend, he took his in October 2001 from the very top of the Empire State Building. Beat that.

National Geographic’s Women of Vision Exhibit
A spotlight on several of the women who have contributed exceptional photography to the pages of National Geographic. No doubt you’ll recognize several of the images on display. I certainly did.

14 Female Photographers You Should Know Now
A starting point for looking at some of the best photographers working today. The range of styles and subject matter are linked by the quality of their craft.

Jo Ann Callis’ Color Work
A part of the movement that forced color photography to be taken seriously, this photographer was inspired by Paul Outerbridge and shows the same instinct for personal expression.

Ruven Afandor Photographs Paul Taylor’s “Cloven Kingdom”
Dance photography in black & white that becomes almost abstract yet remains figurative. And there is a wonderful sense of confrontation that must come from the choreography and performance of the piece.

Dreaming of the Pacific, part 2
Steve Lippmann shows light through the ocean waves. The power and rhythm and repetition and variety and constancy of the ocean creates a life long fascination with it.

Instagram Knows More About Photography Than You
“The emergence of data mining in photography is certainly going to change a lot of what we held as golden rules for maybe too long. It will not replace genuine talent, obviously, but certainly help some create better- as in more effective – images. What social media photography is teaching us is to start breaking down the walls of convention and accepted wisdom.”

How SVA Lectures in iTunes U Inspired a Photographer in Kenya
The graduate program in Digital Photography at the School of Visual Arts, regularly invites professionals in the field to give a guest lecture to the students. These lectures are filmed and shared for the rest of us to enjoy and learn from, too. The breadth and depth of the guests involved is staggering and addictive, even for those far from New York.

Spectacular Celebrity Portraits by Victoria Will
It’s nice to see Victoria’s photography getting showcased more and more. Her body of work has been building for years. She is a star finding her voice in a tough field.

Mark Seliger’s Portrait Studio at the Oscars
Even behind the scenes, those celebrities involved seemed to be having fun. Seliger’s simple portrait studio provided a canvas for them to express a range of emotions for his camera and us.

Creating the Photograph: Jenna Martin’s “Purple Cabbage Dress”
Another making of video from photo-illustrator Jenna Martin. This time she is building a dress made of leaves from a purple cabbage. Her results and these short videos continue to impress.

Tim Berners-Lee by Nadav Kander
The creator of the World Wide Web is photographed for Wired by one of the best portrait artists working. The stuff of vision.

Interview with Fashion Retoucher Nick Leadlay
An interview with a photographer that fell into retouching as a profession. Career paths are rarely straightforward in creative fields. Often one thing leads to another.

Fascinating Video Explore’s Wes Anderson’s Masterful Use of Symmetry
By the same guy that did the video of Stanley Kubrick and 1-point perspective. This and other videos like it are really teaching about the effectiveness of composition. There is more to life than the Rule of Thirds.

American Public Libraries Great and Small
The great institution of the American public library has a bumpy relationship with communities that fund and benefit from it. But the libraries are everywhere, expressing the variety of the American character with these familiar buildings.

A Unique Look at New York Architecture
“I’m drawn to the majestic details and materials of classical historical buildings, many of which are hidden from view, tucked behind new architecture. In these instances, a mere sliver of old, of history, is there to be photographed, leaving me to recreate the rest of the building to make it whole again.”

Interesting Stuff Last Month – October 2013

House of Turds – Cover of New York Daily News at the Start of the Government Shutdown
The one image that captured the most political act of the year. A sly reference to the Netflix TV series House of Cards, which was itself a reference to the famous photo of Vladmimir Putin by Platon. Iconic.

Hurricane Sandy-Damaged Photographs of Ground Zero
Hurricane Sandy – Self-Portraits by Communities in Distress
Rising Waters show in NYC
Hurricane Sandy hit the city where many of the world’s best photographers live. Here are a few things to show how they hit back a year later.

The Moment a Photographer Became a Historian – Bill Eppridge
“I just turned to my left and there was the senator lying there and at that point my profession changed. I became a historian.”

The Impact of the Eddie Adams Workshop – 20 Years Later
This incredible workshop has been helping train photo journalist for 20 years. Here’s a few personal stories looking back at the first class.

Passenger Seat
More from Passenger Seat
A few images from Julieanne Kost’s personal project.

Advertising and the End of Instagram’s Sincerity
An analysis of Instagram’s evolution into a platform for advertising. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out. The line to walk is fine and yet undefined.

One Hour, One Camera, One Setting, One Dollar per Person
How a change in plans can lead to a wonderful photo project.

Things I Have Learned About Nature Photography
A friend I met at the Platon workshop traveled to Africa with two other friends from that same workshop. Along the way, she started becoming a nature photographer.

Women on the Front Lines and Behind the Lens
Profiles of some fantastic, National Geographic photographers providing different perspectives and access to stories that make that magazine an institution.

An Open Letter from a Photographer’s Agent
“I write this letter in the hopes of starting a conversation between agents and photographers that will remind us that we are in this together; each of us trying to make the other a better photographer, agent, partner, therapist and friend.”

Traditional 40’s Pinup Photos with Models Wearing High Speed Milk
Yes, you can do amazing work by being very technical and geeky and willing to put in the time planning. The results can stun the world.

Bill Atkinson’s new mission: Save the Postcard
This living legend in the Macintosh world and an accomplished photographer has built a digital tool to help revive an old form of communication. “Nobody sends hate mail on a postcard.”

Moleskin and Paper Collaborate to Bring You Custom Books
I am a fan of good notebooks and Moleskin makes some of the best. That a classy app like Paper teamed up with them should not be a surprise, but is certainly a pleasant one. It has led me to get back to sketching on my iPad so I can buy one of these books.

The Drones of Burning Man
Drone photography fascinates me. There are so many things I’d love to photograph using an aerial camera. This articles talks about the wonder and the practicality and the possible future of how drone photography will become part of our everyday.

These Time-Lapses Fit Into a Single Photo
Photographs capture a slice of time. One artist found a telling way to use slices to capture more than a single instance in one image.

Incredible Self-Portraits by 14 Year Old
A fantastic series of adventure.

Young Photographer Discovered by Band Creates Album Cover – Rosie Hardy
Digital tools can be liberating and life changing. Personal expression sometimes leads to rewards beyond expectations.

Why Make Prints?
Return to the Same Well
Two articles by John Paul Caponigro that answer a few questions about theory and practice as an artist.

David Maisel Interview
“I’m looking at landscape from a conceptual point of view. Politics and environment enter into it, but I’m primarily a visual artist, and I’m not making these pictures in order to change policy. If I was, I’d need to make very different kinds of pictures, and I’d position them very differently than I do.”

Angelo Merendino Photographed Every Stage of His Wife’s Cancer
As my cousin wrote, “Heart check. I passed.”

Spectacle Within an Argentine Limousine
Important Things are Said Softley by Myriam Meloni
There can be the image we project to others, the image we project to ourself, and the image of ourself we usually don’t see. This project captures all of those. The follow up story goes deeper and more personal into one of the subjects.

Creepy and Disturbing Vintage Halloween Photos
Anything can be used to make a costume and any costume can be creepy. Halloween photography should become its own genre. Here are some examples from the past.

PubCakes Cooking Class – Making Cupcakes with Beer

San Diego, CA has managed to become the craft beer capital of the country. Supposedly there are more local breweries here than any other county, including past champion Portland, OR. With places like Karl Strauss, Stone, Green Flash, Ballast Point, Pizza Port, and many more breweries, it was only a matter of time before someone smart and entrepreneurial created something like PubCakes. PubCakes are cupcakes created with craft beer. Beer in cupcakes. As if that is not mouth-watering enough, each cupcake is iced, filled, and/or topped with ingredients to match the beer flavor.

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Not long ago, Misty Birchall, the creator of these delights, did a Kickstarter campaign, so she could start selling craft beer cake mixes, so people like me could actually try making such cakes. Despite my non-existent baking skills, I thought this was a great idea. Even better was the option to be taught by the master herself about how to create such tasty treats. This past Saturday, I got to attend my first cooking class.

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The group of students were divided into two teams. Misty brought all the custom ingredients for us to craft our cupcakes. Mango, lemon, lime, orange, chili, cayenne, honey, vanilla extract, bacon, sea salt, Jameson’s, jalapeno sauce, chocolate, strawberries, pecans, almonds, coconut, peanut butter, and more were available for our noses to match with the specific beers. I was on Team Spicy, which ended up using the chili and cayenne. Team Brought The Beer did just that and was willing to share.

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I was definitely beyond my baking knowledge in this class. Most of the others already had good skills, following Misty’s detailed explanations easily. One woman had an apron that read “Baking is Science for Hungry People”, which she got from the online comic Questionable Content. Not that our skills mattered much. We made the decisions and Misty ended up doing most of the work. I did learn how to use an apple corer to create a space for cupcake filling. And to hold the icing bag like a boob. And how to melt chocolate correctly in a microwave. And to use a scale for measuring ingredients. And that I need to hang out with my foodie friends more often.

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In the end, each team crafted three cupcakes each. I wish I could remember the three beers used. But it was 9 AM on a Saturday and I had three (half) beers and three (half) cupcakes before lunch. What was unforgettable was how good they all were. Some were more successful than others. Besides leaving with more than six cupcakes and a bag of craft beer cake mix, the experience was a fun time. It was a mixed group of people (about half men and half women) that ended up having fun making and tasting and joking and learning together. My hope is that Misty gets to do these classes more often. We were the guinea pigs. Many more would enjoy just how crafty she can be with beer and cake.

Interesting People on Instagram – petesouza

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”
— Ansel Adams

Pete Souza is a photojournalist. He also happens to be the Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama. He was the primary subject of the National Geographic special and book The President’s Photographer, which described all the photographers who have had that job. His photos from the White House have been uploaded to Flickr for some time and are very worth checking out. A month or so ago, he also started posting photos to Instagram. You can follow him as @petesouza.


Besides being a rare glimpse into the political world of the President of the United States, this Instagram feed also offers a view into the head of a great photographer. Using the same, limited tools as the rest of us on Instagram, Pete Souza is showing what those tools are capable of doing.


Years ago, someone on the Photoshop team looked at the metadata from one of the White House photos and discovered that the latest version of the product was not being used to process the images. So the team sent a copy. The photographer (or the White House) sent the software back. It was a high priced gift that they could not for legal reasons accept. Although software is now used to create all digital photos, I also imagine that as photojournalists, the White House photographers cannot appear to be “Photoshopping” their images. Looking at the Instagram feed, most of the photos are very unfiltered, but there must be times when filters and frames are added.


Pete Souza is not doing selfies with POTUS. He is documenting history and working like a professional photographer. His experience shows in all the photos he takes, whether using a mobile phone or a DSLR. He is another example of an idea that many great artists express – it is the mind wielding the tools which is most important in the act of creation, not the tools themselves.

“It’s the singer not the song/ that makes the music move along.”
— Pete Townshend

White Dinner Party 2013

A few weeks ago was the 2nd White Dinner Party in San Diego. This is a pop-up party with the location released in the early afternoon on the day of the dinner. A location, tables, and chairs are provided. The rest must be brought by you and your table of friends.

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The idea is that of a spontaneous show of elegant dinning. Everyone is encouraged to wear white and to bring glass, china, linen, flowers, lights, and good food. Some tables go all out and even have personal chefs preparing the meals. Others bring fancy picnic baskets. Each table is as unique as the people dining there.

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At the right time, music starts playing and a mass dance happens. Some people have done this before. It’s a white, cloth napkin spinning line dance. And soon everyone is doing it and having fun. The meals begin with everyone soaking up the atmosphere they’ve created for their table but also across the whole pier.

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The band starts playing and the dancing really begins.

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This year the party was on the Broadway Pier near downtown. The next pier over is the berth for the USS Midway museum. The aircraft carrier’s structure with its red, white, & blue lights was a nice backdrop. The sunset and San Diego skyline also added to the ambience. And everyone had a good time.