© Amy Stein
from her Halloween in Harlem series
Welcome to a new daily blog feature: The Hold.
I’m in no way the first person to start a photo-of-the-day feature (see PDN Photo of the Day, Flak Photo, The Impossible Cool. I do. Every day). But I wanted to join in the tradition, both as a way to single out images I find exciting and as a way to keep myself thinking about and questioning what I find to be quality photographs.
I’ve found that most days can be made better with a photograph by Richard Avedon.
© Richard Avedon
Like many photo enthusiasts, one of my first “wow” moments come from looking at Avedon’s work. When I worked for the Richard Avedon Foundation in 2005, I spent much of my time helping them work on a digital archive, which is now online and amazing.
In the process, I came across his contact sheets from this shoot with Marilyn Monroe, which produced surely one of his most famous images. I consider myself a good worker, but this is like coming across photography gold, so I pulled up a stool, sat down, and took my time. And let me tell you, he really did capture a moment here. Beautifully, simply, intimately.
Lately, I have found myself with a lot of ideas. For poems, scenes, inventions, images, songs, websites, etc. And I get very excited about them.
But I have also found that there is no one holding me to following through on these ideas but myself. This, and the fear that I may become one of those people who’s all talk and no action, has led to my interest in the two following quotes:
“You’ve got to have something to say. It could be conceptual, or you can try to save the world as a photojournalist. But you can’t just be a technician. Everybody’s a technician. You’ve got to have an idea.”
“Some photographers think the idea is enough. I told a good story in my Getty talk, a beautiful story, to the point: Ducasse says to his friend Mallarmé — I think this is a true story — he says, ‘You know, I’ve got a lot of good ideas for poems, but the poems are never very good.” Mallarmé says, “Of course, you don’t make poems out of ideas, you make poems out of words.’ ”
Both were originally brought to my attention via the always-thoughtful blog A Photo Editor
Remember that freaky red dust storm in Australia a couple of weeks ago? Before New York’s cruel early winter weather and the Balloon Boy drama?
In case you don’t, here’s a 40-page magazine already created about it.
The intro reads: “Strange light fell over Australia on 23 September 2009. An unexpected dust storm blanketed New South Wales and Queensland, turning everything an eerie shade of amber. At its peak, the storm swept up 140,000 tons of soil per hour. In spite of the worst dust storm in 70 years, intrepid photographers ventured outside to document what was happening to their homes, neighborhoods, and country. This is what they saw.”
While I have to wonder if it’s a bit quick to be publishing a well-edited body of work from this event, I’m also in awe of how swiftly collections can come together now thanks to web-based platforms. For just $6, it seems like a steal, but having never purchased from MagCloud, I can’t vouch for the printing or paper stock.
Thanks to Dooce.com for first posting about it.
I attended an event last night that should have been awesome. It should have been inspiring and enlightening and enjoyable. It was not.
The headline was a conversation between photographer Sam Haskins and Features Director the New York Times Style Magazine Horatio Silva. The venue was Milk Gallery.
I have nothing against Milk, but I feel like they dropped the ball on this one. The gallery was set up as a lecture space, with directors chairs for Haskins and Silva at the front. Each had hand-held microphones and unfortunately, Haskins often forgot to hold his close enough to his mouth for anyone reliant on the speakers to hear him. This could likely have been avoided with a little forethought and a revised plan to mike them instead.
Furthermore, they opened up the drink stations before the talk even started, so the standing room in the back grew from quiet to a slight murmur to distracting loud conversation. It was rude and it didn’t give due respect to the two gentlemen most of us were there to listen to. I would love to know why they didn’t just wait until the conversation was over to crack open the booze. Surely folks could have waited until the end of the event they presumably came to experience.
It’s a shame that people couldn’t sit still, and a shame that most didn’t have a chance to hear much of anything, because both men were interesting, funny and engaging. Silva asked some great questions and it was plain old fun listening to Haskins reminisce and comment on photography then and now. I left deflated and annoyed, but at least I also came away with a few good one-liners from Haskins:
“I’m a visual man, not a verbal man”
“Commercial work is the work of a committee”
“This thing about homage…it’s rubbish”
“It wasn’t easy, but it was fun”
“A special something happens on a very long exposure”
“I think that art has its greatest effect when it makes people sensitive to life. And that’s more important than how well or badly images can stir people to immediate political action. That belief gives me the courage to do the kind of things I do.”
-John Wood, text from the statement at his ICP show
A week ago I was standing in line at Whole Foods, mentally justifying spending a whole day’s food budget on toasted almonds and blackberry-lemon sorbet, when I looked up and was transfixed by a pair of blue-green eyes. It was the cover of the October 2009 Details Magazine and it got me good.
Amidst the starlets with their wind-blown hair, pouty lips, flirty glances and perfect(ly photoshopped) bodies, this image stood out. One could argue that’s because Mr. Owen is not an unattractive gentleman, and most photographs of him would be appealing, but there are countless ways that this could have been shot and this one truly works.
The blues in the background, clothing and text bring the attention right to his eyes, which are connecting directly with the viewer (oogler…newborn stalker?). He’s well-dressed, but there’s a rugged quality with the popped collar askew and facial lines. The lighting is even, the darks are deep, the focus is crisp, the intention is direct. If you want a magazine to jump off of a stand because of a face, you don’t get much better than this.
I had to see who shot it and it was no real surprise to find that it was Norman Jean Roy.
You can see all of the photos from the spread at the Details online feature
Norman Jean Roy is a contracted photographer for Condé Nast and his images are all over the pages of Vogue and Vanity Fair. He’s represented by Art Department (who has, um, a few other photographers you may have heard of) and has proven that he can beautifully accomplish nearly every type of portrait, from the obligatory studio groups:
to Hollywood glamour,the situational professional,the actress close-up,the whimsical moment,the dignified studio,the gracefully athletic,the powerful star,the model editorial,and the normal-made-chic.
He’s good. Real good. His photographs are clean, dazzling, accessible, gorgeous. And I’ve found more than once that I’ll be drawn to his portraits before even glancing at the name.
But I wouldn’t be nearly as interested in that name if I hadn’t seen a show of his personal photographs, Traffik, at a Milk Gallery opening last year. Roy worked with Somaly Mam, a former sex slave, and her organization AFESIP to photograph of victims of the Cambodian sex trade.
Although the evening’s mixture of being the fashionable place-to-be-seen with showing the grave and disturbing subject was somewhat troubling (Curator Magazine has a spot-on review here), it was invigorating to see such images by such a photographer.
When a photographer decides to turn his eye towards a subject that demands thoughtfulness and attention and employ his considerable skills to create a body of work such as this, that’s when I truly become a fan.
A final note: It’s unfortunately difficult to find many photos from this body of work- powerHouse Books has the best selection I could find.