Interesting Stuff Last Month – February 2014

In a Walker Evans Photograph, Author Barbara Scheiber Saw Her Family
A woman chances upon a photo, taken decades ago by Walker Evans, and recognizes her father out with his mistress, the woman who became her stepmother. The photo opened a door to understanding events in her family history.

Seeing Themselves – Photographers’ Self-Portraits
“[I]n general, we ask more from a self-portrait than we do from a selfie: more consideration, more composition, more psychological insight and aesthetic care.”

Emmet Gowin: A Photographer’s Path to Seeing
A rare glimpse of a photographer’s thinking at the beginning and end of his celebrated career. The first is an excerpt from Emmet Gowan’s master’s thesis. The second is from a lecture he gave 42 years later as he retired from teaching photography at Princeton. Innocence and experience and insight and intuition.

A Thousand Words – Writing from Photographs
“Writing from photographs seems as though it should produce the same effect, sharpening the way we convert experiences and events into prose. I suspect that it also changes not only what we write but how we write it. It’s no coincidence that the rise of the selfie coincides with the age of autobiography.”

Sarah Moon in Color
A few images from the painterly fashion photographer showing some of the elegance she created. Bordering on abstraction, these illustrate how less can be more effective.

Annie’s Big Book
Taschen is publishing another huge book of photographs by a well-known and prolific photographer. Annie Leibovitz has a large body of work, mostly of celebrity portraits, some simple and some very elaborately staged. This new book is a retrospective that is also a piece of furniture. It comes with a custom designed display table. Most of us will never be able to afford to buy a copy of this marvel, so it is refreshing to see a few photos from it and from the book’s release party.

A Contemporary History of the Nude Body by Chuck Close
Chuck Close has been exploring ideas in portraits and nudes for nearly 50 years across a variety of mediums. Here are a few of the pieces, mostly photographs including daguerreotypes and polaroids, created during that time.

Platform Magazine #8 – Nudes with work by C. Bay Milin
A few photos from a classmate’s ongoing project “The Adorned Body” are included in this online magazine. The nude figure continues to be a subject of open-ended interpretation. Lots of good work by many photographers here.

The Evolution of the Mesa Arch by Moose Peterson
Revisiting a subject can sharpen your ideas about that subject, how you apply your craft, and how you change as a person. Even if that subject is a landscape object that changes very slowly and even if the photographer is very experienced.

Portraits of Kiev’s Protesters
Last month, protests in Kiev led to violence, death, destruction, and awareness. The events are still happening, much like they are in Venezuela, and much like they have in other countries the past few years. Here are a few of the human faces of those in Kiev trying to change things.

The Rockabillies by Jennifer Greenburg
Portraits of people living in the styles of the American 40s and 50s. Everything from mid-century modern to tiki to tube TV sets. This is not a political movement, but an aesthetic one. There is nostalgia for a time that may not have existed. It is a fantasy in the same way steampunk is a fantasy. Yet this colorful dream continues to thrill many.

Interesting Stuff Last Month – December 2013

Gracie Hagen – Illusions of the Body
Body language contains many subtle cues for interpretation. Our brains are very tuned to these small gestures. Here’s an interesting series that contrasts two poses by a subject to show how we can view a person differently, just based on body language.

Tender and Playful X-Ray Portraits of Couples
Here’s a great concept that is well executed. I imagine using an x-ray machine to create art of people requires you to really think it through before making the actual capture. The results are stunning.

A Reluctant Subject – Portraits of Samuel Beckett
Perhaps it is that the writer had such character in his face. Perhaps it is because he did not care much about the images. Perhaps it is because he was a very private man so there are so few of photos of him. Whatever the reason, portraits of Samuel Beckett can be very engaging.

Patrick Ecclesine on A Photo Editor
“Personal work. It is an absolute must. It is how you develop a point of view and find your visual integrity.”

Vivian Maier and the Hidden History of Women’s Photography
Here’s a good introduction to a recently discovered photographer, who has been making big splashes in the photo world the past few years. Viviane Maier went from obscurity to celebration very quickly. Unfortunately this all happened after her death.

15 Wise Quotes Every Artist Should Take to Heart
Great quotes from the celebrated art critic Jerry Saltz of New York magazine. Entertaining advice giving insight into the art world’s onion layered looking glass.

Grand Canyon Completely Flooded with Clouds
A rare weather inversion layer caused the Grand Canyon to fill with clouds. For two days, lucky visitors were able to capture this strange event.

Best Space Photos of 2013
Photographs of objects in space and those from space just keep getting more and more interesting. Even scenes that seem common get fresh new takes as the technology improves. The wonders never cease.

Golden Ratio on Film: The Math in There Will Be Blood’s Cinematography
Continuing my own explorations and study of composition, this short film is a marvel. It explores scenes from Paul Thomas Anderson’s film with an eye to explaining the mathematics behind how each are constructed.

How to Make a Globe-Spanning Short Film Using Instagram
A very clever use of Instagram images to make a short film from the posts of over 800 users. Filmmaker Thomas Jullien shows how perspective and lighting can make familiar objects dynamic combing the images of multiple photographers. These kind of short films seem like great starting ideas for more interesting commercial ideas.

Red by Jenna Martin
A short, time-lapse film from an SVA grad as she builds up her photo illustration layer-by-layer. This provides insight into how different photos can be shot, then put together to form a single whole. I love the refinements that happen at the end.

Christopher Walken is the World’s Weirdest Tailor
Imagining Christopher Walken being strange is not hard to do. But someone took his magnificent character and put it in some ads for clothes. If all commercials were this engaging, they would have their own cable TV channel. The stare alone is worth watching all four.

Remembering the Photographers We Lost in 2013
“For photographers, the camera is a tool of existential negotiation. Regardless of the genre in which they work, they use the camera to mediate what is before them with what lies within. The best pictures are not a statement of fact, but a fully formed and articulated opinion.”

Julieanne Kost – Year in Review Video
One of my favorite photographers and people puts together another video showcasing her photos from the year. “I would strongly encourage you to create a collection of your own images for the year -I have found both the process and the results to be very insightful.” I could not agree more and try to do something similar each year.

Time’s Best Portraits of 2013
“In a year when the still image maintained its unparalleled power to inform, to shock and, at times, to delight, TIME’s portraits once again put a human face on many of 2013’s most relevant and gripping stories… as powerful as the grand gesture might be, it is often the quiet, unfiltered gaze of a fellow human being that makes for the most intense, and the most revelatory, of all pictures.”

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.

Interesting Stuff Last Month – September 2013

Steve McCurry Looks Back on His Stories Career
“Certainly when you have the time to really dig deep into a story, it is a great opportunity to explore every aspect of a topic and potentially find some interesting angles to include in the story. The same can be said for continuing to return to the same places over the span of many years.”

Military Rape, Enemy Within the Ranks
Photo-journalistic investigation into an odious problem. A good example of how one story can lead to another.

Sam Abell Interview
“It’s shifted in a good way, away from what you might call the singular successful image, to the sustained body of work. Yes, there are billions more photographers, and billions more photographs every day, but who’s building up a point of view? Who’s photographing with intention, and whose body of work will sustain itself and survive?”

RIP Gotham – Rands in Repose
A lament and attempt at recreating the discarded Instagram Filter.

Top 12 Photos by Paul Caponigro – Selected by John Paul Caponigro
The photographer and educator picks the top 12 photos created by his equally famous father. The result offers insights into both artists.

How Three Famous Photographs Were Edited Before Photoshop
The exhibit for Richard Avedon’s “Portraits of Power” included a photo of Jackie Kennedy done for Life magazine with marks similar to those shown in this article. It is naive to think that photos were pristine before the digital age.

The Economic Collapse Seen Through Aerial Photos of Abandoned Mansions
A fascinating way to visualize the economic fall out of the Great Recession.

Witness to a Massacre in a Nairobi Mall by Taylor Hicks
The photojournalist goes into an active terrorist attack as the police try to get bystanders to safety and contain the attackers. Truly news as it was happening.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About James Porto
A short interview with a wildly creative photographer. I had been clipping Porto’s early covers for Wired, before I was fortunate to meet him. Wish I had been able to take the Photo-Illustration class with him at SVA.

Francis Cisafio: Filter Photo Festival Blow Up Winner
I see faces everywhere and in many inanimate objects. So it’s always fun to see people mess around to create new faces.

Marty Knapp – Portrait of a Photographer
A short film about a photographer in northern California, who has been photographing Point Reyes for a long time.

Laurie Rubin Interviews Brook Shaden for Women in Photography
A good friend interviews a fascinating photo artist who is starting to gain recognition for her work. A future blog post will review her book, which comes out soon.

Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling
Very good advice for those telling stories in any medium – visual or otherwise.

Road trip begins for world’s largest film camera
Although cameras like this are a novelty, the prints must be amazing to see in person.

Interesting Stuff Last Month – August 2013

A fascinating peek into Dinner in New York
How people in New York eat dinner is as unique as each person. Here’s an interesting view into their meal time worlds.

Day-to-Night in the City with Stephen Wilkes
Fascinating cityscapes with night and day time scenes blended together.

Bigshot – The Camera for Education
Buy a build-it-yourself digital camera for $89. Perfect for teaching kids how to make tech.

108 Years of Herman Miller in 108 Seconds
A fun, iconographic look at this influential design firm.

Photography Phone Call – Are Snapshots Dead?
A phone call conversation with photo collector, giving insight into what he looks for and why.

Kathy Ryan’s Instagram Photos on Absurd Consciousness
The photo editor for the New York Times magazine regularly knocks my socks off on Instagram. Go follow @kathyryan1

20 Photographs of Abu Dhabi by Martin Sigal
I’m partial to the industrial photos of the freeways, but the landscapes and other photos are also excellent.

Strange, Disturbing Figure Work by Masha Ermak
Very curious article about how a thesis project developed and the stunning work it produced.

Photography Is the New Universal Language and It Changes Everything
“The dialogues you can have with neuroscientists about photographic images are as interesting and as provocative as the dialogues you can have with artists.”

Maggie Taylor (video 8 min)
Another short film about Maggie Taylor, her fabulous photo composites, and how she creates them.

4 Sisters Photographed Every Year for 36 Years (Nixon Sisters)
“Whilst the fashion, haircuts and indeed their lives & personalities continue to evolve and change over the years, one thing that is incredibly evident is just how much of a loving bond there is between the four of them.”

Ellen Wallenstein Interviewed by Elizabeth Avedon about “Respecting My Elders”
An interview with one of my SVA instructors about one of her long-term projects and the book she made of it.

A Photo Editor Interview with Erik Madigan Heck
“I saw photography as a medium that was actually doing something new when Callahan took photographs, because he had perfected this space where reduction and minimalism were not exclusive to humanity.”