Monthly Archives: September 2009

Little Things

Lately, when new acquaintances ask me if I’m a photographer, I have found myself answering, “Yes, when I can be.”

This is a cop-out.

Working full time makes it considerably more difficult to pursue my photographic projects (mind you, this is not a complaint about being lucky enough to have full time job). But, while I don’t consider myself a street shooter, I am a subscriber to the theory that beauty is everywhere, always. If you keep your eyes and mind open to it.

I snapped these in the past 24 hours (thank you, new and improved iPhone camera) as a reminder.

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Geniuses: Past and Present

In case anyone thinks I don’t know what I’m talking about (and yet, still decides to read this blog), here’s a bit of an “I told you so.”

The 2009 MacArthur Fellows were just announced and among the scientists, writers, economists, doctors and artists was the photographer Lynsey Addario.

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Because I recently posted about her, I clearly deserve to share some of the credit. I will hold the honor proudly and humbly.

But, in all seriousness, it’s so exciting to see a photographer recognized and awarded this highly prestigious “genius grant.” Fellows are nominated anonymously and the lucky chosen few receive $500,000 over 5 years with no strings attached.

According to the MacArthur Foundation, the recipients are “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.”

Addario joins some estimable company which, among many other notable figures, includes another photographer I greatly admire, Fazal Sheikh (his images below).

Many congratulations and much thanks to Addario and all of the other recipients for creating such worthwhile, inspiring and important work.

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The Victor Weeps: Afghanistan (Abdul Aziz holding a photograph of his brother, Mula Abdul Hakim) 1997

Fazal Sheikh

Fazal Sheikh

Edible Internationalism

I was introduced to these images by my friend Estrella, who was apparently shown them by her friend Kat, who I think saw them on I Believe in Advertising, which posted about the ads created for the Sydney International Food Festival.

Which is a long way of saying, they are neither my original creation nor discovery. But the campaign is sublimely simple, creative and makes me smile, so I must post anyway.

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From I Believe in Advertising:

“Good Food Month has been a Sydney institution. This year it makes the transition to The Sydney International Food Festival. The brief was to get people excited about the festival and celebrate international food.

Advertising Agency: WHYBIN/TBWA, Sydney, Australia
Executive Creative Director: Garry Horner
Creative Director: Matt Kemsley
Art Director: Miles Jeffreys
Copywriter: Tammy Keegan
Photographer: Natalie Boog
Retoucher: Nick Mueller
Food Stylist: Trish Heagerty”

Enjoy Penn Station, for once

As a girl born and raised in the New Jersey suburbs, I’ve spent many an hour in New York’s Penn Station.

Sometimes it was good: Waiting for the first weekend morning train with my then-boyfriend and taking a walk around the block at sunrise.

Sometimes it was bad: Rushing for the midnight train with the Z100 Jingle Ball concert crowd of pre-teens and their mothers, as they held hands in rows and screeched.

Oftentimes it was ugly: Drunken Rangers fans after a loss, the dim, sad lighting in the underground station and the insane look in people’s eyes when the track for their train is posted.

Yet, with all of these associations, I was still thrilled to come upon this video of Jorge Colombo‘s finger painting of Penn Station.

The New Yorker‘s use of Colombo’s paintings, all done through an iPhone app, is old news to most now, but they continue to delight me and the discovery of these videos showing the process was especially thrilling.

You can’t say more than you see

“You see, the extraordinary thing about photography is that it’s a truly popular medium . . . But this has nothing to do with the art of photography even though the same materials and the same mechanical devices are used. Thoreau said years ago, ‘You can’t say more than you see.’ No matter what lens you use, no matter what the speed of the film is, no matter how you develop it, no matter how you print it, you cannot say more than you see. That’s what that means, and that’s the truth.” – Paul Strand, Aperture vol. 19 no. 1, 1974

Them English

Last week I was at a gallery opening with my friend Manj and, over the buzz of the crowd, she shouted in my ear that this kind of thing is why she’s afraid she’ll never be able to leave New York.

One of the most amazing things about living in this city, and something I think people (though happily not Manj!) quickly get used to, is the phenomenal level of access to art and artists. I was reminded of this again upon attending the intimate and interesting gallery talk by Simon Roberts about his newest body of work, We English, at Klompching Gallery in DUMBO.

West Wittering Beach, Chichester, West Sussex, 3rd May 2008

West Wittering Beach, Chichester, West Sussex, 3rd May 2008

Had Roberts been a self-obsessed, snooty jerk, I still would have fallen for these images, with their entrancing depth in landscape, poetic attention to the quiet places and formal composition set by the horizon line. But, to my delight, he was utterly intelligent, well-spoken and accessible.

Tandridge Golf Course, Oxted, Surrey, 2nd April 2008

Tandridge Golf Course, Oxted, Surrey, 2nd April 2008

In the discussion, he spoke of how he approached the project by giving himself guidelines to follow: 4×5 format, shooting landscapes, looking at places of leisure. The strategy paid off for him and We English feels like a cohesive body of work; the group of images work well together but are also strong photographs individually.

Maidstone Young Bird National Pigeon Race, Maidstone, Kent, 13th September 2008

Maidstone Young Bird National Pigeon Race, Maidstone, Kent, 13th September 2008

Roberts said that he wanted to “embrace the notion of beauty,” which I think he does well and without venturing into sentimentality. He also addressed the challenges of photographing a familiar place and found that he really had to look at the mundane and the “edges of spaces”.

Sunderland vs. Liverpool, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, 16th August 2008

Sunderland vs. Liverpool, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, 16th August 2008

One of the questions he posed that I found most compelling was that of representation. He set out thinking about his own English identity and what it means to have an English life. But he also didn’t want the project to be based entirely on his experiences, so he created a website where he wrote about his route and people could contact him with suggestions of places to photograph. He also managed a deal where he ran a full-page photograph once a week in a major newspaper, which led to more followers and contributors. (As well as money to fund his travels. Brilliant.) It’s a virtually impossible task to capture a country, but his efforts to reach out to his fellow countrypeople and shoot as many places as possible are admirable.

Fantasy Island, Ingoldmells, Lincolnshire, 28th December 2007

Fantasy Island, Ingoldmells, Lincolnshire, 28th December 2007

South Downs Way, West Sussex, 8th October 2007

South Downs Way, West Sussex, 8th October 2007

Rushey Hill Caravan Park, Peacehaven, East Sussex, 21st December 2007

Rushey Hill Caravan Park, Peacehaven, East Sussex, 21st December 2007

Camel Estuary, Padstow, Cornwall, 27th September 2007

Camel Estuary, Padstow, Cornwall, 27th September 2007

If I could start buying pieces to collect today, I think I’d begin with a photograph from this body of work. But, as I’m not quite at that level yet, I had to settle on getting the book. A big splurge, but a great present to myself on my 24th birthday. Maybe by 25 I’ll have a new print on the wall.

Marcus Bleasdale & Fashion

Somali refugees in Kenya. Riots in Kashmir. Gold mining in the Congo. New York Fashion Week.

One of these things is not like the others.

These images have been out for a while, but in honor of New York’s fashion week, I thought I’d bring some attention back to them. For the past three seasons, New York Magazine has employed documentary photographers to cover the fashion shows and the task was most recently bestowed upon Marcus Bleasdale of VII. I was first introduced to Bleasdale’s work through his impassioned presentation at a VII conference and my ears have perked at his name ever since.

Bleasdale often attains what I hold to be one of the most lofty and important goals of photojournalism- to make beautiful, arresting images of difficult situations and create photographs so striking that the viewer must stop and look. He shoots of some of the most violent and tragic situations in the world while employing dynamic compositions and incredible attention to light to bring the photograph to its utmost possibilities.

As a photographer with one foot in the door of fashion and the other stretched longingly towards documentary, this partnership is especially exciting.

New York: L'wren Scott

New York: L'wren Scott

Paris: Hermès

Paris: Hermès

Paris: Placing the seating cards at Chloé

Paris: Placing the seating cards at Chloé

Paris: The runway at John Galliano

Paris: The runway at John Galliano

Milan: Lovani Pinnow at Dolce & Gabbana.

Milan: Lovani Pinnow at Dolce & Gabbana.

Mundane and Momentous

I quite enjoyed this excerpt from a Nymphoto interview with photographer Ying Ang. Her thoughts aren’t exactly uncommon, but it’s nice to see them presented so succinctly and directly.

“Photography [is . . .] a tribute to personal histories and a way of justifying the mundane and the momentous. The pursuit of photography as a career serves as a vehicle for social change, a visual record and a commentary of the way we are. I am also easily seduced by ideals.”