How Long…

…until a contemporary large format photographer revisits locations of suicide bombings to show us street scenes that have rebounded from carnage and devastation?


In other news, Luc Sante sees Rembrandt tones in a “make this digital picture look like black-and-white film” Photoshop filter. Horsesthink on printing. And via horsesthink, cheers to Sze Tsun Leong for keeping the hope (of the analog c-print) alive.

Fave Corner, Now Mapped

The Tour de France may be one positive-dope-test-shy of a complete sham, but the geography’s still beyond par. And now that Google has street-mapped the Tour route, one of my favorite places is closer than a cliche. “Turn 11”, Alpe d’Huez. It’s no No Flash Corner, but still.

Every July I wish I was there again, riding over those climbs on my old Trek, eating lots of chevre, and making field recordings of sheep on the Col du Tourmalet. (Though not at the same time.)

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John Lewis, Taylor Branch, Politics, and Prose vs. Pictures

There are hundreds of photographs from March 7th, 1965, and one of the most memorable is this by James “Spider” Martin, which shows Alabama police preparing to attack the non-violent civil rights marchers (led by John Lewis and Hosea Williams) who’d just crossed the Edmund-Pettus bridge, in Selma.

© James “Spider” Martin

By contrast, here’s historian Taylor Branch, from his book At Canaan’s Edge.

After one minute and five seconds, Major Cloud addressed his front unit without the bullhorn: “Troopers, advance.” The blue line of elephantine masks moved forward with slow, irregular steps, overlapping and concentrating to curl around the front ranks of marchers. With nigghtsticks held chest high, parallel to the ground, the troopers pushed into the well-dressed formation, which sagged for nearly four suspended seconds until the whole mass burst to the rear, toppling marchers with accelerating speed as troopers hurtled over and through them. Almost instantly, silence gave way to a high-pitched shriek like the war cry of Indians in Hollywood movies, as the march line screamed and white spectators thrilled, some waving encouragement alongside the charge. John Lewis shot out of the mass at an angle, leaning oddly as he sank to the ground in five steps, felled by a truncheon blow to the head. A clattering of horses’ hooves on pavement signaled the general deployment of Alabama reserves and raised the volume of the pulsing shrill yell. Two troopers in the forward tangle stumbled over bodies into a heap and came up swinging clubs. The sharp report of guns sounded twice on the first launch of tear gas, one round reportedly fired by Sherriff Clark himself. A canister landed behind a moving wave of chaos that had not yet registered all the way back up Pettus Bridge toward Selma, where some marchers in the distance still knelt in prayer as instructed. From the tangle in the foreground, a Negro woman came spilling out to the side, pursued by one masked trooper and struck by two others she passed. Three ducking Negro men crossed toward nowhere with an injured woman they carried by arms and a leg, her undergarments flapping. Horsemen and masked officers on foot chased marchers who tried to escape down along the riverbank, herding them back. The cloud of tear gas from canister and spray darkened toward the mouth of the bridge, obscuring all but the outlines of a half-dozen figures on the ground and scattered nightsticks in the air.

Branch’s prose is spectacular, and it illuminates how the strength of the written word is so drastically different from the strength of photography, something I’ve been exploring on unphotographable for years.

For your ears, here’s how it sounds:

And here’s another picture of Lewis, seconds later, from a press photographer, after the police ran over the front of the march and begain beating people, including Lewis, who suffered a skull fracture.

john lewis and troopers

I ran into Lewis a few weeks ago, and one of his handlers took this picture with my camera. In our district, Lewis is running again for Congress, and has challengers. Lewis was on a panel discussion yesterday about “Road to Freedom” at the High Museum with Dorothy Cotton and Andrew Young. Young made great strides toward ameliorating the tension caused by some of his outlandish comments from the primaries. But the star was Lewis, who talked the audience through the movement’s timeline (which is becoming more and more fascinating to me) beginning with the murder of Jimmie Lee Williams.

Though I don’t really understand why Lewis (and Young) were so slow on the uptake with getting on board the Obama train, it’s refreshing that they’re there now, and committed, and fully grasp the potential of what an Obama presidency might mean – more than I might, for sure.

X050-02 Kills Boring Typological Photography is fantastic because it’s a photography site that doesn’t know it’s a photography site, in that it obsessively categorizes pictures of all kinds of “objects” (like the gun cameras & general stores, below) and then, wait… wait for it… folks vote on them.

I generally don’t trust the “wisdom of crowds”, but oobject has a good thing going. Here are a few that seem both categorically and photographically interesting: Worst General Lee, Control Rooms of All Types, 9 Walls of Death.

Soon (if not already), curators, gallerists, and photo festivals will come to the realization that curating via the Interweb isn’t just stupid easy, it’s a plethora of riches. The best part is how a site like oobject is beating all of them to the punch.



Somewhat related: I cannot for the life of me find an online curation project that was done by an artist/photographer, and included some incredible stuff — I hope someone’s seen it and knows what I’m talking about and can leave a suggestion in the comments. It seemed to be the result of google image surfing, and it wasn’t Mr. Tiny Vices. I think some of the links were hand-drawn images, but that’s about all I can recall…

Thanks, Paperspray!

Civil Rights, Road to Freedom, The Race Beat, Barack Obama & Moving It Forward

In response to the Schapiro. Young, King and Lewis, Selma, Alabama 1965 40th anniversary of MLK’s assassination, there’s been a lot of great programming in Atlanta this spring/summer that revisits the Civil Rights movement. Which is fortunate for me, because the more I learn, the more I’m interested in this region’s history, and it’s all proving to be a pretty incredible experience.

The High Museum have led the way with an exhibit called “Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956-1968“, which takes a wide look at image-making during the movement, by press photographers, photojournalists, and people inside the movement itself. It’s stunning, not just in the visual presentation (there are many incredible photographs to look at) but in the sense that the exhibition has the capacity to S T U N you.

Road to Freedom @ the High Museum

And that’s rare. When Freed. Women Kneeling with Sign During Demonstrationwas the last time you were stilled and dumbstruck in a museum? There were a few moments during the media walk-thru of “Road to Freedom” where I thought I might not make it through. Where I needed to take a breather, stand in the middle of the room, and collect myself.

The images in the show are a perfect storm of content, execution, message, and style. Some are artful, some are pure fact, some edge into carefully constructed propaganda. But in their aggregation (curated with impressive insight and dedication by Head Curator, Julian Cox) the photographs pack a wallop that sustains, not just in the eye, but in the head and the heart.

Many from my generation (born in the early 70s) seem oblivious & carefree about our nation’s past, preoccupied as we are with the present, the future, and making our way through both. The genius of the show (which will head to Washington D.C. next year) is that it forces you to stop, look, listen, and possibly even reevaluate where you are, where you’ve been, and where the heck you (and our troubled nation) are heading.


And then there’s this picture, from “The Race Beat“, taken by Matt Heron, of Bob Adelman, Steve Shapiro and Charles Moore, on the Selma-to-Montgomery March in 1965. There’s a lot to like about the picture, which isn’t included in the exhibition, but shows three photographers who are big contributors to the show.

A lot of writing about the show, and the movement in general, talks about how tailor-made the struggle for Civil Rights was for still photography, and how still photography helped the nation come to terms with the reality of segregation in the South. (In large part due to Moore’s pictures of Bull Connor‘s dogs and waterhoses in Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, which were published in an 11-page spread in LIFE Magazine.) According to “The Race Beat“, the motorcyclist on the march above was hired by Moore as a courier to ferry film back and forth.

Another of the main photographers in the exhibition, Danny Lyon, has launched a blog called Dektol, and gives his own personal insight into the show. (And yes, DL, it is “good to be alive in Obama time.”) The AJC has a fine review here, too. And last week, I had the pleasure of hearing Hank Klibanoff speak about his Pulitzer Prize winning book “The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation“.

Klibanoff came to Atlanta to become Managing Editor of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, a paper with a spotty record on Civil Rights, at least on the issues surrounding Forsyth County in the 1980s, when both papers, the Atlanta Journal & the Atlanta Constitution, treated the situation with kid gloves or worse, according to Elliot Jaspin’s “Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America“.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the AJC published a “special section” celebrating Barack Obama’s nomination on June 8th. Their decision to include Obama’s middle name on the front page of the paper feels questionable at best, especially considering the AJC is the state’s biggest paper, and Georgia is currently tilting by 10 points to Mr. McCain.

The AJC's Front Page Republican Dog Whistle

All said, Klibanoff’s presentation during a panel discussion at the High was impressive and inspirational, and I’m currently knee-deep in “The Race Beat“. Klibanoff seemed to know every person on both sides of the issue (movement/segrationists & press/newsmakers) and told incredible stories about how the Civil Rights Movement becaume a national media story, which accelerated public awareness that helped push the Voting Rights act and other reforms forward.

A day or two after seeing “Road to Freedom”, I met John Lewis in the middle of the street. I’m always surprised by people who decry celebrity culture and the lack of role models for kids in this country, when there are people like John Lewis around. Here’s Lewis on the right, before being knocked unconscious in front of Haisten’s Mattress & Awning Company, at the foot of the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Alabama, on Bloody Sunday, in an image not included in the exhibition.

There’s a lot more to say about all this. One thing I’m sure of is it feels good to be in a place that in more than a conciliatory way, is committed to discussing its history with race — a place that in a small but significant way is turning its ear toward Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union“, which urged the country to take a deeper look at these issues.

That said, in the exhibition, I was walking toward the picture below (taken an unknown New York Times photographer) and a woman was looking at it and shaking her head. She stepped back and said to me, “look at this — it’s still true.”


To close, I feel lucky that in the past year and a half, my path has led me on a “Race Beat” of my own, through Jasper, TX, to Jena, and Jim Crow Road. I may not have set-out to make pictures about race, but feel lucky to have had the chance.

To that end, let’s push this forward, America. It’s been far too long.


(Top photo credit, Bob Adleman. Picture of kneeling woman, Leonard Freed. Picture of Barack Obama pushing it forward, Derek Powazek. The first two can be found in the catalog for Road to Freedom, which includes essays by John Lewis and Charles Johnson.)


Kenneth Goldsmith is a poet who transcribes radio reports from 1010 WINS & retypes the New York Times & transcribes entire Yankee games. If we relieve art of imagination, we’re left with the verity of exactly what’s in front of our noses, which, in a not-so-roundabout way, sounds similar to a good deal of contemporary photography.

I appreciate an act of documentary that’s so complete, it’s a carbon copy of what happened. What happened? The 1010 WINS traffic report happened, and here it is, exactly, as before — so why does it sound so different, so mysterious, so evocative? (Sound like photography, yet?)

Gotta love the folks out on the edge, making the rest of us furrow our brows.

Link: NPR, “Uncreative Writer Retypes the New York Times“.

Audio from NYPH08

I’ve been sitting on these mp3s from NYPH08, and should have posted them weeks ago. They’re not the best sound, and they only confirm the fact that I didn’t record the Roger Ballen lecture because my recorder was all velcro’d up in my bag, and I didn’t want to break the spell.

Here’s forty minutes from “Aperture Presents: The Secret Life of Images featuring Lesley Martin, Joachim Schmid & Penelope Umbrico”. [download]

And here’s “Aperture Presents: Curating 2.0, a panel featuring Tim Barber, Jen Bekman & Laurel Ptak” [download]

Flickr is a Car Crash

When I pop into the occasional discussion on flickr, I’m reminded that there’s no substitute for Real Life Conversations and that the online world (and this flickr thread in particular) continually misses the boat of intent, context, and reason. On all sides.

It’s like an accident-in-slow-motion, and there’s metal screeching and burning tires and everyone’s screaming, including the people who are watching, claiming they’re the victim.

Truly nothing to see here. Move along.

Update: Rather than deleting this post, which was intemperate and not to form, I thought I’d open up a transparent discussion on flickr about the surrounding issues.

Sunday Stew (Dyer/RFK/Fusco/Wassink/Grenier)

Geoff Dyer’s best book may be the “sober study” he didn’t write about D. H. Lawrence (which became “Out of Sheer Rage“) but most in the photoworld know him for “The Ongoing Moment“. Dyer recasts a few TOM arguments and examples in his largely unfavorable review of the Tate’s new “Street & Studio” show (via Jim Johnson).

It’s good to see Matt getting a Dyer name-check (even if Matt’s site takes over the width of my browser), and yes, if you’re going to have a show that’s looking at street work, why not include Trent Parke instead of ____?

On the Paul Fusco front, just because it’s familiar doesn’t mean it might not be one of the best “street” projects ever. On the 40th anniversary of RFK’s assassination, Fusco’s “RFK Funeral Train” project is now hanging in NYC, and has been given the multimedia treatment on This morning, I saw footage of RFK campaigning, and being pulled out of his car (literally) by handshakers eager to grasp the hand of their man, not unlike the crush I’ve seen in the past year while photographing Obama and the campaigns. To combat this, RFK had a true “body man” who literally held him by the waist so he wouldn’t get sucked out of the car. That’s love. (I think a photo of this can be found in Eppridge’s “RFK” book).

Every time I look at Fusco’s project (made in the course of the train ride carrying Kennedy’s body back to Washington) it moves me more than any of the arch, winking, ironic projects that won’t stand the test of time. Yes, Fusco is a Magnum photographer, and yes, Magnum tends to make jaded eyes roll, but look at the pictures and tell me they’re not a brilliant, substantive taxonomy of their own, with resonance solid enough to last forty years.

Now look at your own work and tell me what you’re doing that’s as good.

It’s surprising that Aperture’s waiting until Sept 1. to release the reprinting. Why not this week?

Above, I linked to 5b4’s review of WassinkLundgren’s empty-bottle-in-China project. I saw the project, as displayed at the New York Photo Festival, and after seeing it the first day, was eager to hear their lecture a few days later. By the time their lecture rolled around, I’d been thinking about how much I hated their project for a good day and a half. I realized I had no interest in hearing artists explain why they would go to China and plant plastic bottles and photograph the people who picked them up. Perhaps I would have been pleasantly surprised? You think?

I was pleased to see 5b4 pick-up the critical ball (especially in the glad-handing world of back-patting photoblogs afraid to say something of substance) and am doubly glad to hear Simon Norfolk’s take below, via foto8.

As an aside, or salt for the stew, it was great to get a glimpse of William Greiner‘s show at Klompching Gallery, where he’ll be until June 27th. (And while you’re there, step next door to see the Gitelson videos and books – fun stuff, all, and an inspiring way forward for those of you who feel limited by still photography.) Grenier’s pictures pleased me in a few different directions, mainly because I thought my eyes were completely burned-out by pictures that could be seen as distinctly Southern, or “Egglestonian”, even.

One of the best things about Grenier’s frames are that they’re not those of an interloper, they’re pictures of the South taken by someone who lives (t)here, and as such, have a freshness rooted in authenticity. Looking at them, I see something visually familiar, of course, but Grenier’s work feels free of that nasty, omniverous, “everything out there will become mine” manifest-destiny that can be seen in work by so many of us. I trust Grenier’s photographs. They don’t feel like pictures that were made with the express intent to deliver a slice of “the colorful South” to please the art establishment, which makes their presentation that much more purposed & appealing.

© William Greiner

I’m becoming a defensive regionalist. Must sign-off now!

Papageorge on Sports, the Economy, & Eliot/Auden/Frost/Yeats

There’s been no better palate cleanser for Papageorge on Sports, the Economy, Eliot & Frost me in recent months for all those photographs about nothing than Tod Papageorge’s latest two books, Passing Through Eden, and American Sports, 1970: Or How We Spent the War in Vietnam, and here, in an interview for The Nation (which, as of today, no longer password-protects its full content) Papageorge discusses his photographic whys, hows, and what the heck for.

“But with the success of the galleries, the defining energy became that provided by money. And so what do you see now when you go to a gallery that’s selling photography? You see big, huge color prints, most of which really aren’t about very much. They’re illustrations.”

Also seen here, yesterday.

Thanks, Tod!

Robert Frank’s Letter to Walker Evans and Two Unrelated Timely Tidbits

I’ve spent some time rewriting “Two Thousand Odd Words on Robert Frank’s The Americans” for print. I’ve always thought the best writers are the best rewriters, which means: I’m happy to be working with an editor. I’ll post again when it’s published. In a small way like “The Americans”, my review won’t be published in print in the United States.

In the meantime, my SF pal Kevin Bjorke has two great documents on that involve Frank’s brief incarceration while making “The Americans” in Arkansas in 1955. See “Robert Frank Arrest Report” and “Robert Frank’s Account of His Arrest“.

As an aside, I had the pleasure to interview Bruce Davidson this weekend in conjunction with my day job and his new exhibition of “Time of Change” in Atlanta. I hope to bring part of it here to 2point8 (as well as a more full report to ACP Now!) before I sneak off to NYC for the Photo Festival and for the Robert Frank event(s) at Lincoln Center.

If you’re in NYC this weekend and want to share a beer, I’m planning a small get together with friends for Saturday night, May 17th. Mail me for info. We did something like this in London last summer, and it was a good bit of fun bringing people together – one of the more memorable nights of last year, from my end. Apparently, I picked a lousy venue in Manhattan, so the location’s currently in play — will update via email.

Joel Meyerowitz, For The Win!

In the interview with Liz, she posted a link to a Joel Meyerowitz interview that I hadn’t heard before on a podcast called “Candid Frame“.

In the interview, Meyerowitz says this:

“I’ve always been a photographer less interested in the academic and formal side of photography than for the feelingful side. I always opt for feeling. I think my pictures have in them–at the risk of sentimentality, which I try to avoid…nonetheless, I think people are suspicious of feeling and beauty. They’ve become sort of no-no’s in the modern, contemporary art world, and so if you make pictures that evoke some form of beauty, people are suspicious…and you see a lot of flat-footed, boring fucking photography out in the world today, that passes as conceptual or high-valued, art-world photography. I look at most of that stuff and I think, ‘these guys are boring, they have nothing to say, they’re walking around formulaicly making bands of modern life…industrial things or supermarkets….’ I don’t give a shit if it’s Gurksy or…any of the others who are playing that game. Most of that stuff bores the shit out of me.”

Here’s the clip:

It reminds me of that ages-old Stephen Shore interview, because both are well-respected photographers who don’t have anything to lose in calling bullshit on the trends of a self-obsessed art world (or flickr, in Shore’s case).

Sure, the world’s full of negativity, but I’m tickled whenever I see a photographer who calls it like they see it. Meyerowitz may sound bitter, but frankly, I’d rather hear his beef about how bad contemporary photography is than read another article in ART FORUM about Damien Hurst’s Skull. Go, JM!

(Thanks, James.)

Joseph Luow and the Act of Looking Away

Forty years ago last week, television producer Joseph Luow was staying two rooms down from Martin Luther King, Jr. on the second floor of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. When the shot struck MLK, Luow grabbed his cameras and started photographing.

Everyone knows Luow’s iconic photograph of Andrew Young and Jesse Jackson pointing in the direction of the shots. But I’d never seen these two before, which are less direct, and are far more unsettling to me – not by what they’re saying, but by how they simply and factually record a scene, and in doing so, create all kinds of questions of their own.


© Joe Luow

I’ve been thinking about other “reaction” photographs that tell a wider story about what’s front and center. I can’t recall if I’ve seen stills from Dealy Plaza, or if there were any from Salgado’s portfolio of Reagan that looked away from the scene. In looking away, the awful is implied, imagined, and often, so much more powerful, a la this, from Gus Powell, on 9/11.

© Gus Powell

It’s a photographic trope to “look away” to see the faces of onlookers, and others have written about it elsewhere — but I haven’t seen a study or grouping or exhibition of photographs taken with the photographer’s back turned to a dramatic news story. Pictures like Luow’s police coming over the wall, or Powell’s even, are a kind of anti-news. They tell the story without showing The Story. They’re as sharp as they are open-ended, and they just might be my favorite kind of picture. (I’ve been working on an onlooking project of my own, but more on that later.)

On April 4th in ’68, Luow stayed focused. He took frames that show him approaching King’s body, but the majority (I’ve seen) are taken from the relative distance of his room’s window. The two above are the only two that turn away and show something other than the murder scene.

Thinking about all this was definitely sparked by McCallum Tarry‘s current show here in Atlanta, called “Another Country”, which is the best show I’ve seen anywhere (London, NYC, SF, LA, ATL) in years. If I were a collector, I’d buy the lot.

© McCallum Tarry, Kiang Gallery

For “Another Country”, McCallum Tarry have repurposed press photos of the civil rights movement (including a portion of 105 mugshots from the Montgomery Bus boycott) turning what’s known and familiar into something entirely new and energized, by merging iconic photographs with photorealistic painting & printing on transparent silk. (Localephemera took a long look, as did the AJC.)

In relation to the Luow photos, in McCallum Tarry’s show, there’s a large scale work that uses a photo I’ve never seen before – the perspective of James Early Ray’s location at the time of the shooting, from the 2nd floor bathroom of the rooming house across the street.

Poetry & Photography

I don’t have an MFA in photography, but I have one in poetry. I’m proud of it, in part because of its impraticality and steadfast denial of the marketplace. There isn’t a more worthless degree to have, frankly, but it’s been invaluable to me personally, and isn’t that what riches are all about?

Enough Marx-lite. When I came across this Poetry Foundation podcast from February that included a portfolio of poems by George Szirtes written about 20th century photographs, I gave a little celebratory hoot.

The presentation of the poems on their site isn’t ideal, so I’ve included one here with it’s instigating photograph, “Children of the Ghetto” by Henryk Ross. It’s a street scene of a child who’s playing like he’s a Nazi, marching his playmates to their end.

Scroll forward in the podcast below to 5:20 to hear an introduction to the work and the author himself. Just do it. You’ll thank yourself.

Ross: Children of the Ghetto
by George Szirtes

Love, we were young once, and ran races
over rough ground in our best shiny shoes,
we kicked at stones, we fell over, pulled faces.

Our knees were filthy with our secret places,
with rituals and ranks, with strategy and ruse.
Love, we were young once and ran races

to determine the most rudimentary of graces
such as strength and speed and the ability to bruise.
We kicked at stones, we fell over, pulled faces,

and doing so left no permanent traces
because we fought and fell only to confuse
love. We were young. Once we ran races

in ghettos, in camps, in the dismal spaces
of the imagination reserved for Jews.
We kicked at stones, we fell over, pulled faces

at elastic braces, shoelaces, empty packing cases
as if they were the expressions we could choose.
Love, we were young once, and ran races.
We kicked at stones, we fell over, we pulled faces.

Please listen to the mp3 here, if the player doesn’t work for you.

More George Szirtes poems about 20th century photographs:
Ross: Children of the Ghetto
Sudek: Tree
Kertesz: Latrine
Doisneau: Underground Press

The Portraitist & The Last Slide Projector

Two films that are new to me are screening at Contact in Toronto. “The Portraitist” looks at Wilheim Brasse, a prisoner of Auschwitz who was forced to make photographs of fellow prisoners. And “The Last Slide Projector” is about … wait for it … the last slide projector. Worth a look if you’re up north. Might want to steer clear of this one, though.

The Future is Alor

In a timely confluence, Mark Alor Powell released a new site of his work today, at the same time a post on Rob Haggart’s blog called for “a more perfect union” of photographers with their digital future(s). Mark’s site does exactly what Haggart’s post was asking for – offers large-sized content, watermark-free, while embracing Mark’s large and spirited fanbase on flickr.

Mark’s smarts were to realize that digital technology enabled him to grow as a photographer, both as a shooter, and as a way to distribute and promote his own work, and why not completely embrace that fact in how he presents himself to both clients and the world?

While the site is associative and doesn’t rely on traditional navigation, it’s immediately clear that it’s way different from the sterile portfolio sites of most photographers, which mimic the sterile walls of most galleries. Mark’s work leaps off the screen (when it loads); he’s the only photographer I know who can shoot straight documentary, low-rez digital, and have it pass for haute couture.


Haggart’s future of photography will not be found in the hushed walls of the gallery, or in the download-disabled watermarked-protected sites of copyright-scared photographers. The future’s already out there, in cheaply printed print-on-demand books, in small collaborative global-web-ventures, in xerox copies taped to lightpoles, affordably editioned prints, and in sites like Mark Alor Powell‘s.

Check out a review of Mark’s book V.I.P. on 2point8, and a conversation we had ages ago.

Mermelstein’s Street Illustrations in New WIRED

Interesting to see a few Jeff Mermelstein street photos with photoshopped tickers & billboards in the background in the new “FREE” issue of WIRED.

I’m not one to talk, but it’s also interesting that WIRED uses html code to resize images (which creates poorly rendered images) rather than resizing in pshop and using accurate height&width code.


All photo illustrations &#169 Jeff Mermelstein

Pause, to Begin

The competition/project Pause, to Begin has popped-up in quite a few places lately, but they seem to be onto something good, so what the heck.

Here’s what it is: a photo contest that’s as much about the photographer as it is about the pictures. They’re accepting entries until April 1st. On the 15th, they’ll announce who they’ve selected. Then they’ll travel to go meet these photographers, to film them and investigate and “begin”. A book will come out of the project, and a proposed gallery show.

I’m curious to see how it will all develop, and cheers to David and Co., for coming up with a really original idea. All info can be found on their site. And they even have a blog, which clued me into Andrew Bush’s “Vector Portraits” which look fantastic and are new to me.

Review of “Eyes on New York” in NYT

Glad to see some more of the great coverage the Times has been achieving on its ancillary blogs, including this coverage of a discussion on street photography with Matt Stuart, Gus Powell and Jeff Mermelstein.

“Mr. Powell said his attitude helps. “Honestly, when I’m taking a lot of these pictures, I’m usually not trying to do something that is ironic or pointing at, making fun of something,” he said. “I’m pretty much always responding to something that has been seduced me or that I’ve been moved by.”

While you’re here, don’t forget the 2point8 discussion with Gus Powell or the Jeff Mermelstein videos.

Finke’s Flight Attendants

If you’re interested in documentary photography, and are curious about how it can be extended in a more artistic direction (through close, sustained involvement and project focus) check out Brian Finke. I fall into a category of people who admire his work a great deal; the Spring Break book is phenomenal, the Cheerleading book is great, and this new flight attendant book looks good, too.
© Brian Finke

He has a show opening at ClampArt in NYC later this month. Wired Magazine has a selection of the flight attendant pictures and a brief Q & A. Some of the comments, as such, are par for the internet course:

“uhh…is this person related to the reporter? these are some rather mundane images. heavy on the strobe, light on the composition.”

Why the Web Still Lacks as a Method to Display, Evaluate, or Enjoy Detailed Photographs…

…because in order for a photograph to have impact when viewed on a laptop, it has to work as small, compressed jpg, which makes showing any kind of granular detail of significance, within a large or wide view, virtually impossible.

There are exceptions to this (large, hi-rez watermarked photos on flash-protected sites, egads!), but by and large, if it doesn’t work at 500 pixels, it doesn’t work online. Like this:

Mitt Romney, Candidate for President of the United States, Atlanta, GA
© MDM, Mitt Romney, Candidate for President of the United States

Cropped detail:

I’m not saying this is the greatest photograph ever, but I don’t believe a good photograph needs to say everything it needs to say in a jpg that’s 500 pixels wide.

I’m curious how the limitations of Web presentation might begin to change the kinds of photographs that photographers take.

Another example:
"MLK March  - Obama Chant List", Atlanta, GA
© MDM, MLK March – Obama Chant List

Cropped detail (clickable):

If you don’t get hives at the thought of flickr, I figured a way to use the site in such a way that helps show significant detail that’s lost at web-resolutions. If you’re interested, you can see that looks like, in Detailing. This example from Mark is intriguing (and clickable, for its detail).

© Mark Alor Powell

A few months ago, I began work on a series of prints that are attempting to address some of these zoom/crop/distance/activity/compositional-hotspot issues. More on those (like this one below) some other time.

© MDM 2007

Amy Stein’s 1st Solo Show

When I’m talking to gallery folks or collectors or fans of photography, and they want to see something new, there are four or five photographers whose work I eagerly recommend. One of them is Amy Stein.

© Amy Stein

The good news for Amy is that she has her first solo show in California at Paul Kopeikin Gallery. It’s of her “Domesticated” work, and the show opens on February 16th.

“Domesticated” involves intricate staging, animal trainers, and all kinds of behind-the-scenes production, but within that framework, Amy manages to deliver photographs that feel alive and are very much of the moment. Unlike the wide swath of fine art photographers who use production techniques to overcome still photography’s inherent limitations, Amy doesn’t employ production for production’s sake, she uses it to amplify her documentary chops and deliver views that are as aesthetically charged as they are conceptually sound.

Go check them out.

Photographs by Amy Stein
February 16 through April 26, 2008
Paul Kopeikin Gallery
6150 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Telephone: 323.937.0765