A New Jacob Holdt Interview

Jacob Holdt will be speaking Thursday morning at NYPH09. I wish I could be there. NYPH just posted a new interview with him.

I’m not one who likes art because of the “hardcoreness” of the maker, but really folks, this is as hardcore as it gets:

Remember, I came to the USA with only $40. That money lasted for five years due to the American hospitality, but would not have been enough for a camera. The films I financed from selling blood plasma twice weekly paying $5 each time, although I hitchhiked 16 times to the blood bank in New Orleans, where they paid the highest in the nation, $6.10.

I didn’t know anything about the Festival since photography never interested me. Photography was for me only a tool for social change. I was just told that you present me as “historical figure”, which made me laugh since I am extremely well known in Denmark for my present social activism for speaking up for our ghettoized Muslim population in the same way I, for 34 years, have spoken up for the black ghettoes in American universities. My slideshows usually last five to six hours or a whole school day—or in American universities five hours in the evening followed by my racism workshop next day. It is now for the first time digitalized. The first two hours of it can be seen on my website.

I had several offers from American publishers in the ’80s, but realized that none of them had a single black high-level employee. So instead of supporting such of institutionalized racism, I decided to publish my book myself in order to let the people photographed in my book sell it along with the homeless and street people in the ghettos. Soon I had a whole network of homeless, criminals selling my book in many of the big cities as an alternative to selling dope. Although I didn’t make much money, three of my street sellers were killed before they paid me off.

If you make an audio recording of tomorrow’s lecture, please share it. Thanks!

No Flash Corner Goes Global

I started 2point8 nearly four years ago, while shooting No Flash Corner. Happy to see the concept has gone global, and that people are making really interesting photographs that are quite different than mine.

My favorites belong to a flickr photographer named Fernando Cipriani, who shoots in Buenos Aries. He uploaded his take on naturally reflected light + street photography to the No Flash Corner group, and it really stands out.

Here are a few selects, one of which has been my desktop for the last few months. Salud, Fernando!

For background on how to make your own photographs with dramatic (free & natural!) lighting in an urban environment, check out the No Flash Corner article in JPG Magazine, the How To, or Explanation.

Go Start This New Global Photoblog, Okay?

Hey, can someone please start a photoblog that’s about rephotographing, on a global scale? Something that takes a look at familiar and famous photographs, and accounts how they’ve been rephotographed, since? It’d be an easy enough task, on tumblr or wordpress. I’ve seen quite a few posts over the years around the topic, and shoot, there’s even a Wiki page to get you started!

Blake has a new one of Shore/Ulrich. I saw a few over here awhile ago. There’s a Jeff Wall one, and one of my own from a few years ago of a Shore picture from El Paso, below. There are larger projects, like the Bernice Abbott “New York Changing” project and there’s the Kertesz train that appeared in Genius of Photography.

I haven’t seen a comprehensive, myopically obsessed gathering of these. Anyone willing to bet whether this is being tackled already on flickr? Let us/me know! If you start the thing, please leave a comment so we can keep an eye on what you find.

Bill Cunningham, on Hemlines or Street Photography

NYTIMES Fashion/street photographer Bill Cunningham, profiled in full in the print version of the New Yorker, had a quote about hemlines and looking for fashion that sounded a lot like a wider statement about his approach (and the approach of many) to street photography.

“You watch, you’ll see something. There’s the old saw about hemlines. Who knows? It’s only in the future you can know. You just have to stay out on the street and get it. It’s all here.”

Andrews / Ladd Q&A

If more people heard the advice Jeff Ladd heeded from his teacher, there’d be so many more interesting photographs in the world. Or not! From a great interview over on Blake’s blog:

“I remember I was in class with Thomas Roma and he was the one that made me realize that this was a big problem. He was critiquing some portraits of old people I made in the street with a 6X9 camera and he bluntly asked me if those photos were interesting enough to make me leave my naked girlfriend in bed in order to go out and make them. They weren’t – to a 19 or 20 year old male not much was – but I got his point. That’s when I started photographing in nightclubs and looking at my own lust and that of others. That’s the time my pictures became more about my interest and ultimately about me. Things became very interesting after that.”

Mark Powell’s “Home of the Brave” at Yautepec Gallery

Thursday, Feb. 26th, is the opening of Mark Powell’s first solo show in Mexico, Home of the Brave“, featuring photographs of Detroit and Mexico City. The opening’s in Mexico City. If you’re there, you probably already know about it. If you’re not, check out the interview w/ Mark about the show.

My friend Ben Roberts is crowdsourcing a forthcoming interview with Mark over on If At First. If you have a question, serve it up for Ben & Mark, ok?

Mark’s site markalor.com. More Mark Powell on 2point8.

Turn Out the Light

My old friend Haj reminded me to post Richard Nicholson’s darkroom project, “Last One Out, Please Turn Out the Light“, a survey of London area darkrooms.

Peter Guest’s darkroom, by Richard Nicholson

Ironic that we’re having our own Open House for our color darkroom on Saturday, which is (apparently) the only place of its kind in the southeast United States. Know any other artist-owned/artist-run color darkroom spaces?

Richard Renaldi at Jackson Fine Art

Met photographer Richard Renaldi yesterday at the artist’s talk he gave about his new exhibition “Fall River Boys” at Jackson Fine Art. “Fall River Boys” is a project of street portraits of young men in Fall River, MA, that took Renaldi nine years.

Richard Renaldi @ Jackson Fine Art

The silver gelatin prints from Renaldi’s 8×10 draw you in, and draw you back. Their clarity and substance was remarkable. “Javie and Omar, 2004” below, is a large print in the show, and it just glows.

Javie and Omar, 2004
© Richard Renaldi

Richard and his partner have started a new imprint, Charles Lane Press, of which “Fall River Boys” is the first title, and it was released on Friday night. If you care about photobooks, and the quality of the plates and printing; check it out.

So glad to see work by a photographer who’s engaged with making fantastic prints, high-quality books, and great pictures. It’s a rare triumverate. Keep up with Richard and his latest work via his blog, ok?

Graham’s Shimmer in NYC

The New York Times just reviewed Paul Graham‘s “a shimmer of possibility”, which opened yesterday at the Museum of Modern Art. Monday night’s An Evening w/ Paul Graham.

“In both the books and the exhibition, you can sense Mr. Graham’s dissatisfaction with traditional photojournalism. His solution is imperfect; it forces the photographer into the role of editor, which doesn’t always work. But it acknowledges that the way we experience photography is changing, through slide shows, vast archives sifted and sorted by tags and key words, and ease of access to video.

In other words, the photographer setting out on the American road must obey the rules of the information superhighway.”

Roadside Reflections on Your Land, My Land – Karen Rosenberg

Barrage of Questions for Michal Chelbin

© Michal Chelbin

When the barrage of questions finally started, what the audience wanted to know was: How do you achieve such seamlessness, and such precise—and natural—lighting? Do you shoot digital? No. Do you use special film? No, Kodak or Fuji. A particular speed? 800 for color, 3200 for black & white. A special camera, perhaps? The same Hasselblad and the same lens, always. Photoshop? No—never!

via New Yorker Blog, and/or see Chelbin’s book Strangely Familiar.

Seeing Everything, Michael Wolfe, Robotic Cameras as a Kind of Surveillance, Trawling for Gold, Gigapan as the New Digital Back (and only 1 self-link)

A long time ago, in a post far away, I pitted a few pictures against Google’s Street View as a lark, to see which had more aesthetic muscle, a chosen picture or a robot’s picture. A faulty Word Press upgrade later, the pictures were wiped out, but a question remained. “Are robots good photographers?” (A shoutout if you can find an image of a humanoid-shaped robot from a Sci-Fi movie, walking around with a camera around its neck.)

The hullabaloo over David Bergan’s inauguration photo, taken with the help of a robotic tracking device, is instructive for a few reasons, not the least of which is the picture has brought the gigapan.org server to its knees. The picture is a step toward trying to solve how lame it is to look at detailed photographs online (while introducing a whole host of other problems) which is something I’ve been trying to address in my own work (no links, yet).

Michael Wolf has taken a crack at the more-is-more pixels-are-good style in Transparent City“, where the detail he’s unearthed is only limited by the resolution of his scanner and the size of his film.

What gigapan instructs, is that you can achieve more resolution with an inexpensive (and multi-purpose!) $400 Canon G10. Now that gigapan’s robot is available for sale, every techgeek and equipmentnut is going to be taking timed exposures and printing them huge and mining the 100% view for gold (like Clarence Thomas nodding-off in the middle of Barack Obama’s inaugural address.)

from David Bergan

It’s easy to fold-in a discussion about Antonioni’s “Blow-up” here, in that the ability to see so deeply, so easily will lead to privacy concerns, whether or not you know you’ve witnessed a murder in the park. What interests me is when photography becomes a kind of driftnet, in which you don’t know what you’ve got (really), until the robot’s done and you’ve gone home and another robot (in effect) stiches the whole scene together for you.

Rosie the Robot Maid. She stiches?

As with Google Street View, or this incredible curation of satellite photos of sculpture and architecture, someone will be mining the digital clarity for nuggets of gold.

What amazed me in looking at the 100% views of a photograph by Joshua Schapiro of the view from Hotel 71 in Chicago, was that you didn’t have to look far to find areas of aesthetic interest.

Untitled 6
from Joshua Schapiro

Kinda looks like “The Architecture of Density“, doesn’t it? To be fair, I’m not trying to compare them as objects (I’ve seen Wolf’s prints from this exhibition, and enjoyed them very much) but I’m interested in how the aggressive resolution and detailing that’s only been available to photographers with large format cameras and sheets of expensive film/processing/scanning has now trickled-down, and the explosion of global detail is about to literally, blow-up.

On the pure surveillance level, and on the issue of street photography, there’s the inherent weirdness of being photographed everywhere, all-the-time. Londoners don’t seem to care, but Americans are a touchy lot when it comes to privacy. Look at them Chicagoans, wandering around as if no one were watching.


Untitled 5

Untitled 7

All from a photograph by Joshua Schapiro

Here are more Gigapan images from Chicago. I’d be interested in seeing what the (ahem) blogosphere comes up with as a kind of filter for these photographs, even if the gigapan site allows notating small details.

I don’t know where any of this is going, and don’t try to know. But I think that the inauguration photo is interesting if only because of what it’s sparked. It’s the beginning of something — a new trend for sure, where eager, able amateurs will begin to quickly adopt digital techniques that until now have been the limited-edition, analog signature of fine artists.

© Olivo Barbieri, “Site Specific_Las Vegas”

Robert Frank on Monday on XM Public Radio

I had the pleasure of seeing the Robert Frank exhibit at the National Gallery on the next-to-the-last day of the Bush Administration. Walked through with new friend Susana Raab, whose work I’ve enjoyed over the years. The highlight for me were Frank’s contact sheets. All the different views of the car accident in Winslow, Arizona. Some frames that only required one shot. I believe there were four that led to this frame:

Nearly an entire contact sheet for this one:

You’re not supposed to do this, but I’m quick with the cellphone.

It was interesting to see how the exhibit was arranged, in sequence, just like the book. But “The Americans” is so much a book that I didn’t really feel the flow of the pages while seeing them on the wall. There’s so much going on with the page turns and white space in the book; and that experience didn’t translate to the gallery setting, for what it’s worth.

For completists, the National Gallery has the sculpture of prints that Frank made, when he drilled through them and mounted them with bolts to a block of wood. Good, cranky stuff.

Oh right, Frank will be on XM on Monday, on the Bob Edwards Show. I’ll bet Edwards handles the interview better than LeDuff.

More Robert Frank on 2point8.

Updated: And here’s curator Sarah Greenough talking about the exhibition.

Old Cameras at the Inauguration

Interesting to see all the varieties of photographers out and about this weekend in DC.

Here’s the guy with two Rolleis and a strobe-on-a-pole photographing teenage girls.

Here’s the guy with the Mamiya twin lens. Click for detail. Looks like he could have used some glittens. Camera metal was C O L D on Tuesday.

Here’s a lone 4×5’er, from a cell phone.