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 – July 2013

“We Are the Creative Class” by Adobe
Years ago, I read “The Rise of the Creative Class” by Richard Florida and recognized many things about myself described in the book’s pages. This promotional video by The Experience Design team at Adobe shows what life can be like as a person pursuing creativity.

The Path of the Generalist by Joe McNally
“I liken my wonderful predicament as being like that of being a pretty good utility player on a baseball team. I don’t handle any one position the best, but by golly I can play a bunch of different spots pretty well, and hit the cutoff man when the game is on the line. Most of the time.”

Why I think a day job is good for you (for aspiring artists out there) by Yuko Shimizu
An interesting perspective from a very accomplished and amazing illustrator. Well worth the read for those looking to work in creative fields.

Support – Shouldn’t It Be a Two Way Street?
“As much as I can say there is a photography community in New York, I find myself questioning how much of it is self-interest and how much of it is reciprocal.”

The War in Afghanistan in Tintypes
A US soldier deployed to Afghanistan makes tintype photos. “[I]t became less important that my work was done in tintype than that I could show the humanity of war in the eyes of airmen I fly combat missions with.”

Documenting the Legs of New York with @stace_a_lace
A photo editor at the New York Times uses Instagram to show off the legs of New York City. Go follow @stace_a_lace.

Dispatches of a Baseball Freak
Sports photographer Brad Mangin also uses mobile photography on his beat as a photographer for Sports Illustrated and shares his photos via Instagram as @bmangin.

Nir Arieli’s Breathtaking Photos of Male Dancers in Motion
A photographer combines multiple photos of male dancers to show motion in a single image.

A Short Film About A Man Who Has Sold Millions Of Forgotten Personal Photographs
This man rescues discarded photos, giving them new life in the hands of others.

Backpacks from the Border
Photos showing the accumulated stuff discarded at the US border by those crossing.

Pardon My Dust
A short film about a creative person who draws on chalk boards and about the artistic process and dynamic sketching.

Snap It See It Assignment – Decay
Instant film photos illustrating the idea of decay, including pieces by my friend Teresa Heath.

Human Dilations by Roger Weiss
Distorted figures photographed in a contemporary style yet referring back to Bill Brandt’s Perspectives of Nudes and Irving Penn’s Earthly Bodies.

Graham Smith – The Craftsmen Series
“For the most part I am an observational artist, so I like to interpret things I see. But I also work a great deal from my imagination.”

A Modernist’s Challenge to Instant Gratification
Images from a photographer who has been working away at his art for many years. Ray K. Metzker is one of the unsung greats that did not go the way of pop art and continues to explore his ideas in new directions.

Interesting Stuff Last Month – June 2013

Steven Lippman “No Bad Days” for Malibu magazine
A wonderful portfolio of pale blue images of nudes in the surf.

A haunting, wordless retelling of the myth of Artemis and Actaeon
Short Film (3.5 minutes) made for the National Gallery in London with Anna Friel, reminding me very much of Bryan Fuller’s style for Hannibal.

Tell No One – Experimental Short Film Makers
They made the film above with Anna Friel. Be sure to check out the film “Seaweed”.

Annie Leibovitz on Getting the Shot and the Future of Photography
“I think photography is stronger and better than ever before. Those of us who are photographers, the difference between us and everyone else is that we take what we do very seriously.” Ms. Leibovitz is still one of my favorite photographers.

Julieanne Kost on Unavoidable Relationships Between Photos
Julieanne’s work is always interesting. Her combinations are intriguing and the individual photos themselves somehow help reveal her personality.

An Interview with Mona Kuhn in Musee
“The nude to me is always clothed—clothed with art history references all around, almost in a way that it cannot escape it. The nude I am interested in presents an inner strength and confidence that keeps them from feeling ‘naked.'”

Digital Black & White Printing Tutorials and Expert Interviews
John Sexton and Kim Weston, masters of black & white photography, talk about their craft. My friend Tony Corbell and Epson print guru Dan Steinmetz show techniques for digital printing.

Robert DeRosa (a classmate from SVA) Interviewed on Photoshop.com
“I’ve always been fascinated by landscapes. At 10-years-old, I would show my mother the pictures I took when I was out and about and she would say, ‘That’s nice, dear, but where are the people?'”

Photo Book – Bourdeaux Series by Mona Kuhn

Mona Kuhn Bordeaux #1

My artistic drive restarted about 12 years ago with figure and portrait drawing. I got my first digital camera around the same time, so it only made sense that at some point they’d converge. My drawing skills by that point were not improving, but my photographic skills were getting better and better. As I started looking into figurative and nude photography at the time, my eyes found the images of Mona Kuhn.

Mona Kuhn Bordeaux #2

Mona Kuhn Bordeaux #3

The casual posing of the subjects is immediately engaging. So is the realization that these people are completely comfortable in their own skin. This level of comfort and familiarity between the subjects and photographer was something new to me. Mona Kuhn’s body of work is more than just nudes. There is also the techniques she uses to create the images. She likes narrow depths of field, which render most of the figure as blurred abstracts, with slices of sharp detail.

Mona Kuhn Bordeaux #4

Mona Kuhn Bordeaux #5

Photo LA is a photo gallery show in Los Angeles each January. I could not make it the first year I heard of the show (I was probably too busy working at the time). Mona Kuhn’s debut as a fine art photographer was at that show. Her prints were selling for about $500 and her first book by Steidl had not been published yet. I did make it to the next year. By that time, it was too late. She’d been priced out of my budget for art. The print prices had quadrupled and more. Large, beautiful color prints were at several of the gallery booths (M+B Gallery and Flowers Galleries) at the show.

Mona Kuhn Bordeaux #6

Mona Kuhn Bordeaux #7

Mona Kuhn has pursed her interest in the figure. She has released a few more books. Each improves. With her photography, Mona Kuhn is exploring her own background, interests, and techniques. While in Brazil, she started adding more nature and environment images to the books, in addition to the nudes. “Bourdeaux Series” continues this exploration by setting all the figures in a room in Bourdeax, France and including images from around her rented place.

Mona KuhnMona Kuhn Photographs
Mona Kuhn EvidenceMona Kuhn Native

This book sits well on my shelves of photo books with her previous books. She does not seem as interested in narrow depths of field, but still captures images of people at home in their own skin. The nudes are casual and comfortable and beautiful in their ordinariness. Each could be someone you might know. My own efforts with the subject of the nude is different than Mona Kuhn’s, but her images have had a big impact on mine.