Irving Penn and Platinum Printing

by Brian Edwards

"Photographing a cake can be art." - Irving Penn

When I first took up photography and began to take it seriously, I was lucky enough to have included in the very first books I purchased (in the additional to the usual how-to books on technique): 1) Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places [8]; 2) Walker Evan’s American Photographs; [1]; and 3) Irving Penn’s Worlds in a Small Room [6]. Like the newly born bird who keeps close to those it first lays its eyes on, I have not (for better or worse) strayed too far from these early influences. My initial interest in Irving Penn was less about technique and more about subject matter; I found his images of indigenous peoples from many parts of the world fascinating and eye-opening to say the least. It also opened the door to much of his still life, fashion, and editorial work that he did later on the likes of Vogue. It was later on after developing my own interest in alternative/historical processes, and in particular, platinum and palladium printing, that I discovered that Irving Penn was one of the many photographers responsible for the resurgence in interest in these and other historical processes.

Irving Penn, Truman Capote, 1965

Irving Penn, Truman Capote, 1965

Irving Penn, Cigarette No. 86, 1965

Irving Penn, Cigarette No. 86, 1965

I have a large bucket list of processes I want to learn and experiment with, including gum printing and albumen printing (I have actually tried this process, but have not quite gotten the hang of it). Moreover, the type of gum printing I want to do is to combine gum printing with platinum that involves adding layers of gum images on top of a platinum or palladium to add elements of color to the underlying platinum print. This is one variation on alternative/historical processes that has likely become much simpler with the onset of digital technology that has allowed us to make digital negatives as well as make the types of color separations in those digital negatives to fine tune the addition of different colors to a platinum or palladium print.

Irving Penn, Scarred Dahomey Girl, 1967

Irving Penn, Scarred Dahomey Girl, 1967

Nevertheless, combining multiple negatives to create a single platinum print is a technique that was used by Irving Penn to create a wonderful series of platinum prints. What’s even more interesting and remarkable was that he did this well before the adoption of digital technology to the creating of prints using alternative processes (Irving Penn died in 2009). Penn worked mostly with gelatin silver and color processes, but also experimented with other processes including chromogenic color and silver dye-bleach. In the early 1960s, long before the invention of digital cameras, Penn began experimenting with platinum printing to develop methods that would improve the contrast and complexity he felt that existing platinum prints lacked. Having a background in printing, he created a technique that utilized vacuum presses and pin-registration methods (not used by photographers at that time) to produce prints that required a process of multiples coatings, exposures, and development cycles to achieve prints with the rich blacks and contrast that he felt traditional platinum printing lacked. If you’re not familiar, pin registering involves inserting pins in the printing paper and negatives to ensure that the multiple negatives used in each printing step are in complete alignment. Otherwise, the sharpness that we see in Penn’s prints is impossible. Vacuum presses are used by contact printers (instead of the usual contact printing frames) since they can ensure tighter contact between paper and negative that many believe makes for sharper prints.

Since platinum printing is a contact printing process, he also had to go through a process of creating larger negatives from the (often) much smaller 2 ¼ negative obtained from his Rolleiflex. In and of itself, this can be tedious. An article by Mike Ware [9] describes one way to do this. Penn’s process of making platinum prints from these multiple enlarged negatives is described in a recent Metropolitan Museum video by former Penn assistant Vasilos Zaste, but also described in a series of notes published by the Art Institute of Chicago and available on their website [10]. Some of these methods are also discussed in Penn’s highly recommended Irving Penn: Platinum Prints [4].

What’s remarkable was that Irving Penn undertook years of experiments to determine how to calibrate the making of the enlarged negatives and chemical formulae needed to obtain the results he needed. In a throwback to traditional printing methods, this is all largely done by hand.

 

Sources:

1. Walker Evans, American Photographs, The Museum of Modern Art, 1988, https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/1360

2. Irving Penn, Cigarette No. 86, New York, 1972, from The Art of Platinum Printing, https://artofplatinum.wordpress.com/tag/irving-penn/

3. Irving Penn, Notebook, The Art Institute of Chicago, pages 1-29, http://digital-libraries.saic.edu/cdm/ref/collection/mqc/id/14960

4. Irving Penn, Platinum Prints, Yale University Press, 2005, http://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=YU066&i=&i2=

5. Irving Penn, Scarred Dahomey Girl, 1967 (Platinum palladium print mounted to aluminum), from Irving Penn – Ethnos, Bernheimer Fine Art Photgoraphy, http://www.photography-now.com/exhibition/80220

6. Irving Penn, Worlds in a Small Room, Penguin Books, 1980, https://www.irvingpenn.org/worlds-in-a-small-room-80/

7. Irving Penn, Truman Capote (1 of 2), New York, 1965, from Exhibition: Irving Penn, Resonance’ ad the Palazzo Grassi, Venice, https://artblart.com/tag/irving-penn-poppy-showgirl/

8. Stephen Shore, Uncommon Places, Aperture, 1982, http://aperture.org/shop/shore-uncommon-places-revised-book/

9. Mike Ware, Making Enlarged Internegatives – Traditional Darkroom Ideas, IePhotoZine, January 9, 2001, https://www.ephotozine.com/article/making-enlarged-internegatives---traditional-darkroom-ideas-4691

10. Vasilos Zaste, Irving Penn Darkroom Technique: Platinum-Palladium Prints, Metropolitan Museum of Art, April 14, 2017, http://www.metmuseum.org/metmedia/video/collections/ph/irving-penn-darkroom

 

Finished and Unfinished

by Jiheng Yan

Recently, I watched a Chinese art talk show which talks about one of Vincent Van Gogh's early unfished work called 'Fishman on the beach.' The host talked about the beauty of this unfished work. The painting is raw but fascinating.  According to the host's assumption, the painting was unfished because it was Van Gogh's early work and he doesn't know how to finish this painting. It leads me to the question I have for a long time. I asked a lot of people for the answer. But I still haven't get one that can convince me.  The question is how artists decide whether the artwork was finished or not?

Fisheman on the beach, Vincent Van Gogh, Unknown date

Fisheman on the beach, Vincent Van Gogh, Unknown date

I asked myself this question again and again. When I see Mr. and Mrs. Becher's typology series for the first time, I had that question in mind immediately. Artworks especially typology works, the quantity of work was decided by artists. But how did the artists make the decision? I understand that some artists may consider their presentation strategy before they finish the project. They figure out a number that works best for exhibiting. Excluding that reason, how do artists make the decision? Take my self as an example; I created a series for my midpoint review. It is a project of my emotional transformation in the past two years. The requirement for midpoint review is one series of work have to have 12 to 16 images in it. I submitted 12 images for the MPR only because I can pick the best 12 images in all the photos I have taken. The fewer photos I show, the possibility of having weak images in this project is lower. But after graduating from the school, there is no such a requirement for artists. How could I know if the project was finished or not?  I can have 40 images of one series and keep shooting. Should I stop working on a project just because I am tired of it? Or should I continue to work on a 'finished' project if I have an idea how to improve this project? I still don't have the answer.

 Untitled #2, ‘Where I passed by, Jiheng Yan, Sep 13th 2016

 Untitled #2, ‘Where I passed by, Jiheng Yan, Sep 13th 2016

Landscape as a witness to history

by Cecilie Oedegaard

Currently residing in Tel Aviv, Israel I recently visited the garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem’s Ancient City, claimed by Christians as the place where Jesus Christ prayed before he was crucified. The garden is located close to the Mount of Olives and the feeling of being amid history is palpable. In 2012 carbon dating of samples taken from olive trees that can be found in the Garden of Gethsemane, showed that they are at least 900 years old making it likely that these trees are in fact the very trees that were sheltering Jesus at the site where the Bible says he was praying and later betrayed by Judas.

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The land of Israel is pervaded by history whether ancient, modern or more recent. Being truly fascinated by the idea of nature as a quiet observant of history led me to the discovery of Israeli contemporary photographer Ori Gersht’s body of work titled Ghost (2004). Socio-political concerns underpin most of Gersht’s work and Ghost is no exception. With this body of work he simultaneously explores the symbolic power and vulnerability of the ancient olive trees in Israel which have been invested with political and cultural significance.

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The olive trees Gersht photographed were located in Arab villages throughout the Galilee, the war-torn region in Northern Israel, bordering on Lebanon. The trees represent the Palestinian people, the Arab culture and they signify the bond between the people and the land, and thus the continuity of history. Gersht explains in an interview that the trees actually lived through the Ottoman Occupation, The British Mandate and they are entangled in the current Israeli-Palestinian territorial dispute, spreading indiscriminately, as they do across a physical and symbolic divide. During the Six-day War in 1967 Arab land in the Galilee was claimed by the Israelis and the ancient trees where destroyed in the process of reclaiming land and establishing identity.

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Gersht states that he wanted to photograph the silent and beautiful trees and at the same time capture the violent environment they grow in. The violence is expressed through the photographic process, as Gersht intentionally overexposed the photographs in the bright light of the midday sun, bleaching the film and fading the images of the trees. The photographic process hence serves as a metaphor for the fading presence of the majestic trees as they appear both ghostly and delicate, almost dissolving into the earth and sky.

In the artist statement Gersht writes: my practice investigates the themes of history’s violence, the poignancy of time’s indifference to what passes and the cyclical relation between past, present and future.

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Although the olive trees in Israel as Ori Gersht beautifully captures remain at the centre of an ongoing conflict, in other parts of the world the so-called Witness or Survival trees are offering hope to the ones left behind in tragic events.

In October 2001, a tree was discovered at Ground Zero severely damaged, with snapped roots and burned and broken branches. The tree was removed from the rubble and placed in the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. After its recovery and rehabilitation, the tree was returned to the Memorial in 2010. New, smooth limbs extended from the stumps, creating a visible demarcation between the tree’s past and present. Today, the tree stands as a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth.

image5_GroundZero_survivaltree.jpeg

In North-East Japan a single Pine became the observer and survivor of a natural disaster when a tsunami killed 1 700 people in the town of Rikuzentakata. It grew into a symbol of hope for the people left behind in this tragic event. The 250-year-old "miracle" pine – was the only one among 70,000 trees left standing along the town's coastline after the disaster.

Image6_japanese_miraclepine.jpeg

Throughout history, from the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to our modern times’ Israeli-Palestinian conflict the olive trees of The HolyLand have witnessed endless violence and bloodshed. Are we ever going to see peace in this region? Well, if anyone will get to experience that it will be the olive trees.

Sources cited:

The Edges of Trauma, Explorations in Visual Art and Literature, Tamas Benyei, page 182-183

http://www.thegundgallery.org/2013/02/ghost-olive-olive-4-mark-01-from-the-series-cypresses/

www.reuters.com (Olive trees of Gethsemane among oldest in world,  October 2012)

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/arts/design/ori-gersht-history-repeating-at-museum-of-fine-arts-in-boston.html?mcubz=1

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/280390/beauty-tender-fleeting.html

http://www.inglebygallery.com/exhibitions/ori-gersht-jan-brueghel-the-elder/

http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/-witness-trees-testify-history-hope-visitors.htm

 

Huis Marseille

by Dianne Morton

Recently, while traveling with my husband and dear friends, I had the opportunity to visit Huis Marseille in Amsterdam. Though we were all incredibly exhausted and jet-lagged from our long flight from the U.S., I succeeded in talking everyone into joining me. Upon first approach, the lovely façade of the museum appears to be a charming Dutch home, complete with an exquisite garden courtyard. However, once you enter, the oriental architectural structure and bold design will jolt even the weariest traveler wide awake.

Huis Marseille, nestled amongst beautiful Dutch canal homes | Huis Marseille

Huis Marseille, nestled amongst beautiful Dutch canal homes | Huis Marseille

Ornate Entrance to Huis Marseille | Huis Marseille

Ornate Entrance to Huis Marseille | Huis Marseille

Huis Marseille opened its doors in 1999 as the first photography museum in the Netherlands. Located in the heart of Amsterdam, surrounded by city streets bustling with bicycles, the museum resides in a former residence that a French merchant built for himself in 1665. Currently offering 13 exhibition spaces, the structure was restored and extended into a neighboring structure in 2012. The Huis Marseille adopted its name in two parts — using the Dutch word Huis, which translates in English to “home”; and from its original owner, Isaac Focquier, who attached an ornamental stone plaque depicting a map of the French harbor Marseille to the classicist portico.

Original Map of Marseille Plaque | Huis Marseille

Original Map of Marseille Plaque | Huis Marseille

As a privately owned niche museum, Huis Marseille would probably appeal more to a serious museum-goer, but my husband and friends seemed to enjoy the exhibits as well. The structure lends itself quite well to a museum format, as each of the 13 rooms intuitively and organically open into the exhibited work areas. With beautiful natural light throughout, Huis Marseille offers temporary exhibits by various artists, and the day we visited, it was not crowded at all. This gave my exhausted group time to enjoy the exhibits in relative solitude.

Gallery Room | Huis Marseille

Gallery Room | Huis Marseille

Huis Marseille’s collection includes over 500 globally themed contemporary photographs. One of the exhibited artists that stood out to my group was Andres Serrano (American, b. 1950) whose portraits of the homeless population are included in his series Revealing Reality.

Ahmed Osoble (Denizens of Brussels) | 2015 | Andres Serrano

Ahmed Osoble (Denizens of Brussels) | 2015 | Andres Serrano

“The oeuvre of the prominent artist Andres Serrano (New York, 1950) is both provocative and fascinating. In terms of scale, composition and subject matter his works of art show strong similarities to the work of the Old Masters, but unlike these old paintings Serrano’s work confronts us powerfully and directly with contemporary reality. Serrano has a deep interest in the condition humaine, which he photographs in ways that are both moving and unsettling, but he passes no judgements. Revealing Reality is the first large Dutch exhibition of Andres Serrano’s work in twenty years. The exhibition includes a collection of works from Serrano’s newest series Torture, Denizens of Brussels and the Residents of New York, together with photographs drawn from the earlier series Bodily Fluids, Cuba, The Church, Nomads and Holy Works, among others. Serrano has a master’s hand that is particularly evident in his portraits. In the various themes explored in his wide-ranging oeuvre Andres Serrano lays bare the reality of human existence, following us from the gutter to the stars.” — Huis Marseille

Stranded and Pregnant | 2015 | Andres Serrano

Stranded and Pregnant | 2015 | Andres Serrano

Information

Address: Keizersgracht 401, 1016 EK Amsterdam, Netherlands

Website: http://www.huismarseille.nl

Opening Hours: Tue–Sun, 11:00am–6pm

Price: General Admission — €5 | Students/65+ — €3

If you’re planning to visit several museums while in the Netherlands, it would be wise to consider purchasing the Museumkaart, a card that provides admission to most of the museums and attractions in Amsterdam and throughout the country. It is available at museum counters and is good for 31 days. The card costs €59,90.

Map and Location of Huis Marseille

Map and Location of Huis Marseille

WHERE AND HOW TO FIND MODELS FOR YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS

by Kailey LaValliere

Finding models and people to photograph can sometimes be a daunting task if you have never approached someone before for this reason. Where do I find models? Do they need to be professionals or can I use friends and family? How do I approach strangers to take their photo? These are questions that I have asked and that I am sure many other photographers have asked when involving others in your images.

I have been working on a series for about 6 months now that I would like to expand. The photos are a series of composites that study the relationship between humans and pets. I find this relationship fascinating as well as how pets have personalities that mimic that of their humans’. I have taken this forbidden rule of photographing pets as a professional photographer and turned it into a concept that reveals dogs taking on the role of their human parents through Photoshop compositing.

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Social Media
For the past 6 months, I have only used my own dogs, Bob and Daisy, as well as my husband and I as subject matter. Moving forward, I want to expand this series to explore the relationships other people have with their animals. I have been carefully thinking out who I want to include and how to ask them. I decided to first start with my Facebook page to reach out to people because many of them are familiar with the series and have shown interest. From there, I plan to use Instagram and connect with followers that way. I don’t think it will be too difficult to find willing subjects, it will just take planning and time to coordinate meet ups. Many of your friends and family are also connected to you through social media. I guarantee many of them are willing to help you out if you ask.

Compensation
One thing to consider with this route is how to compensate the volunteers. You may want to give them a print of the final photo and allow them to share your image on social media. Yes, you aren’t getting paid, but you reached out to them and they are helping you build your series. They payout will be when you gain exposure, get into a gallery with the finished work, or advance your career some other way. The more people that share your work, the more exposure you are gaining.

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Collaboration Sites
Depending on your concept and style, you may need to join a resource site where models, makeup artists and photographers can find each other and collaborate. One thing to consider with collaboration sites is that you should expect to pay models as this is also their profession. One site that I came across is Model Mayhem. I have read about some controversy going through a site like this but if you are really at a loss for subject matter, it would be worth a try.

Approaching People
Have some examples to present to potential models. It will be much easier for your subjects to get an idea of what you are looking for. It would also be a good idea to create some kind of idea board, even if the photos on the board aren’t all yours. Maybe you are trying to do something different; giving your models something to go off of will make the shoot more successful. Hand them your business card so they know you are a professional. This way they can also see what kind of work you have done before.

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Signing a Model Release
One last thing worth mentioning: have your models sign a model release. This will give you the permission to share your images however you would like. This is especially important if you are photographing children. Get the release so you don’t have any problems in the future.

Currently In – England

by Sabreeyah Mason

“The sky looks different when you’re in another state.” - Valencia

“The sky looks different when you’re in another state.” - Valencia

You sit on a coach for a painfully long time. Moving from one city to the next, excitement and fatigue rising and falling. Exhausted from all of the experiences you were fortunate enough to have in the city you’re leaving. Happily anxious for what awaits you in the next. You’re in this sort of limbo. Leaving behind friends, keen to make more. There’s only so much planning and expectation you allow yourself. You try to rein it in. You want to leave things to chance. Otherwise, the excitement is for nothing, you’ll end up missing out on the real experiences. You love not knowing what will happen. That’s what life is all about. Small but pleasant and impactful surprises that keep you on your toes. Keeps you guessing. Keeps you wanting more.

Eight hours is a long time to be in this space. You blast music, alternating between sleep and anxiously tapping your foot in anticipation. You try to drown out everything else around you. The child kicking the back of your seat, the couples vying for the pda prize, the person snoring next to you. Because this is a time for reflection. The only real alone time that you ever get. A time for appreciating all of the good you’ve had thus far, analyzing the things you would like to do differently. Reinventing yourself once again.

Because each new place offers the chance to be whoever you want. To be more confident, more outgoing, more charismatic. To rest, to be active. To laugh more, to let yourself cry. To revel in solitude, to surround yourself with new and friendly faces. It’s all up to you. Only you know what you need, what you crave from your next adventure. Because it changes so often. Your wants, needs, and emotions rise and fall like waves.

So you’re sitting on the bus, finally pulling into your destination. You smile to yourself, turn the music up, grab your bags and walk, head up, into the unknown. Starting all over again.

Photo of the Week – Brisbane, Australia

Photo of the Week – Brisbane, Australia

Letting Go of my Fears

by Quiana Jackson

Every since I started on my photography journey I have been too afraid to show my work because I thought that I was never as great of a photographer as I thought I could be. I would research tons and tons of photographers and compare my work and notice that I have yet to even compare. I would even compare myself to friends because I simply felt…not good enough.

As a military spouse I frequently move with my husband every few years. I was grounded at a school that I loved (Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham) when I moved and I would keep in contact with my friends over social media. It hurt leaving the comfort of my supporters and great instructors. Once I arrived in Hawaii I transferred to AI-Pittsburgh Online and started over again. I worked my behind off in the class and then I started to learn my style. I hate to say it but depression gave me the motivation and the skills to try something new with the medium.

During this time my work was so dark! I mean I could hardly tell that it was coming from me. I received praises for going for something new and was encouraged to keep taking the back seat and let the photographs create themselves. I would wake up out of my sleep and immediately write down ideas that turned to concepts. I would be energetic and alive when I picked up my camera. Finally I was beginning to be that photographer that I compared myself to. Not the pros…but my friends.

So someone told me about Raw Artist. That name sounded familiar and I couldn’t remember from where. But then I remembered that my friends from AI-Raleigh Durham were all having group shows (yes I was jealous). Now here was little old me getting the chance to show my dark work to the world. But it was dark work that I was proud of. I signed up, got selected and the day came to where I was showing my images in a group exhibition.

As we all hung our photographs up on the walls I was embarrassed because I purchased the cheapest frames! There was an ugly glare off the glass. I think one fell off the wall and didn’t break because it was plastic. Actually they were the poster frames from Walmart and they were $3.77 so that was a deal to me. But I must say that once I got to the show, looked around and observed I felt like I belonged amongst other artists. That day I met some of the best people of my life, sold every single photo, made over $800, got commissioned work, and won photographer of the year, nothing can beat that.

I faced my fear. I am very shy, sometimes I think that I am a comedian, I suffer from extreme photography block whereas I don’t want to pick up my camera for months at a time, but of all those FEAR will take the best of me. The Raw community worked well with me. They knew that I was nervous and the day of the show the MC came to my section and interviewed me over the microphone. My voice was shaky, my knees were shaky and I stuttered. Immediately I composed myself and began to explain my photos. It was important for me to believe in my work and be able to speak about it. I wanted to be respected as a photographer, a professional photographer but undergraduate didn’t prepare me for presenting my photographs in an exhibit with hundreds of people staring at me.

My point is, as photographers, we need to be able to be confident in our work. We need to be able to speak about our work, take criticism either good or bad and believe in ourselves.  We can be our biggest critics. Fear can only aid to that but once we get the confidence and stand high, fear has no chance.

Ruins Porn: The line between fascination and exploitation.

by Shannon Polugar

Eric Holubow's "Shedding Stairwell" shot in 2008 at the Hyde Park Hospital in Illinois.

Eric Holubow's "Shedding Stairwell" shot in 2008 at the Hyde Park Hospital in Illinois.

Abandoned places fascinate us and fill us with a variety of emotion: nostalgia for times gone by, a bit of fear, loneliness, awe. When photographs of these abandoned or destroyed places are done well, I think about this fascination in terms of a good amusement park. The nostalgia is the antique carousel. The tempered fear is the dark, haunted house. Loneliness is the ride you love but no one else will ride with you. Awe is taking the ferris wheel just to stop at the top to see the view.

However there is also a side of ruins porn photography that is darker. It is the old, seedy side-shows where some charismatic hustler is making a pitch in front of his booth, enticing the viewer into see some poor “different” person, and making a profit off their suffering. 

The term “Ruins Porn” is credited to being first used by photographer James Griffioen, who used the term when he described how photographers would flock to the abandoned and derelict places in Detroit, not to show the story of the locations but to use the locations for their own entertainment, or to make a point about an unrelated topic. Of course he too photographed these places, but it was the intention that mattered to him.

Part of a short series by James Griffon, this is one of the images that helped to triple traffic to the Vice UK website

Part of a short series by James Griffon, this is one of the images that helped to triple traffic to the Vice UK website

I however use the term more liberally. I don’t think it needs to be a term only used to describe those who some may find disrespectful to a place and its history, but as a term for the genre of taking photographs of abandoned places in general. Regardless of the photographer’s intent, the viewer still views the images because there is a quality to them that is fascinating. In his interview with Vice UK, their editor noted that Griffioen’s short series shot inside an abandoned Detroit school tripled the website’s traffic. So to the viewer, at least initially, it still deserves the ‘porn’ descriptor.

While Griffioen considered those using the long abandoned places for their own entertainment in terms of photography as bad apples, on the spectrum of ruins porn, I would argue they were the kids playing pranks: tasteless, but not inherently harmful.

There are far worse versions of ruins porn, and the debate is not a new one, though with the recent destructive forces of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean and Florida, it is a topic ripe to be readdressed. Just as Griffioen complained about people flocking to his hometown in his interview with ArtNews in 2013, “with $40,000 cameras to take pictures of houses worth less than their hotel bills,” people also flock to natural disasters to do the same.

So what is the difference? It is the immediacy of human suffering. While in Griffioen’s Detroit the community has long suffered, the places photographers are flocking to for their fix of ruins porn are long detached from the individual. The abandoned Packard plant hasn’t been anyone’s place of work since the 1950s. The abandoned schools he muddles through haven’t seen a student since the late 1980s.

But the hurricanes and other natural disasters bring fresh destruction. Deaths are still being mourned. People are far from ‘moving on.’ In these cases if a photographer chooses to go, one has to be far more careful in their subject matter and intent. Their goal should be documentation, telling the story of the disaster and situation for what it is rather than entertainment value.

Victims of Hurricane Irma pick up the remains of their family business, but did they have any choice in their lives being photographed for the view of others?

Victims of Hurricane Irma pick up the remains of their family business, but did they have any choice in their lives being photographed for the view of others?

Just this morning I came across the photograph above, and the attached article. At least the article helps get across the story of the people in the image, but one also can’t help but feel uncomfortable by it either. The reporter likely asked permission in this situation to photograph them as they pick of the pieces of their lives, but there it is also a hard situation to back out of. People want to be polite and helpful, and saying ‘yes’ could be easier than the perceived stress of someone asking again if you say no.

Some may argue that to documentary value wins out here, but I think if one asks themselves if they would want to be photographed in the same situation. The answer may change. Imagine the same scenario Griffioen described with the $40,000 cameras and outrageous hotel bills, and those people coming to photograph the mere fact that you just lost everything. You are suffering, without a home, without a business. They get to go back to their lives and livelihood. Where do you come out ahead by being their muse? Now imagine even worse that they aren’t a reporter for a non-profit news organization as with the photo above, but are profiting directly from your suffering? Not so nice.

This isn’t to say ruin porn in relation to disaster photography doesn’t have a necessary role, but the photographer should not be there because it is ‘cool’. It should be in service to the community in suffering.

Image 12 in the Silent Existence series, taken of the aftermath of the 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami, in city of Ishinomaki. Hyakutake presents the images as a ‘new page in Japanese postwar history’.

Image 12 in the Silent Existence series, taken of the aftermath of the 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami, in city of Ishinomaki. Hyakutake presents the images as a ‘new page in Japanese postwar history’.

Tetsugo Hyakutake’s series “Silent Existence”, taken of the aftermath of the 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami is a good example of how one can document in the realm of ruins porn without taking advantage of the people who are suffering. He took the images with no one else around, the people had left. Their suffering while recent was not immediately present in the images.

Back to James Griffioen. He doesn’t go traveling across the country to the latest and greatest site that has been ‘found’ to photograph the abandoned remnants of society. He stays in his own area, a place where he is personally invested, and a place where he feels that his voice as a photographer can add to our understanding of the predicaments his city has faced.

His approach should be the goal of ruins photography: adding meaning to the places that remain even as we seek out the photographs because of our own personal attraction to the emotions they bring forth.

 

http://ebow.org/section/76239-Hyde-Park-Hospital.html

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/ppzb9z/something-something-something-detroit-994-v16n8

http://www.jamesgriffioen.net/index.php?/photography/vacant-schools/

http://www.artnews.com/2013/02/06/the-debate-over-ruin-porn/

http://www.npr.org/2017/09/13/550640402/-looks-like-a-bomb-went-off-returning-home-to-a-trailer-park-leveled-by-irma

http://www.tetsugohyakutake.com/Silent-Existence

Male Gaze in Contemporary Art

by Ronni Knepp

The male gaze in art dates centuries back when men created art for the viewing by other men.  Women were portrayed in various mediums in order to please the male client purchasing/viewing the piece.  One can look at paintings such as Venus of Urbino by Titian and see the elongated features, welcoming smile, and (obviously) nude position of the woman.  The same can be said for virtually any other art medium.  Films and comics are the same.  They rarely feature female lead roles and their physical appearance is often indicative of the stereotypical "ideal female form" of that given time period.  Photography, of course, is also no stranger to the male gaze, although it is a significantly newer art medium then some of the others.

Venus of Urbino, 1534 by Titian

Venus of Urbino, 1534 by Titian

With the rise of feminism lately, it seems absolutely appropriate to readdress the issue.  Cindy Sherman created a large series of self-portraits in which she portrayed the stereotypical woman from housewife to actress.  According to Stefania Sorrentino, "Sherman is not perpetuating the objectification of women, but rather subverting the male gaze as through this play of masks she makes it almost impossible for the male viewer to fix the woman in a steady identity." (Curating the Contemporary) Sherman reclaims the power as a woman and shows herself willingly in these roles.  Lately, more and more women have been pushing back in regards to the male gaze.  Barbara Kruger, another well-known feminist and artist, has been creating plenty of images using text to bring various topics to light.  On a cover of the W magazine, she placed the text "It's all about me - I mean you - I mean me" over a nude portrait of Kim Kardashian. 

Untitled Film Still #21, 1978 by Cindy Sherman

Untitled Film Still #21, 1978 by Cindy Sherman

Untitled, 2010 by Barbara Kruger

Untitled, 2010 by Barbara Kruger

So, what can "we" (as a collective group of artists) do about it now?  Actresses and models are taking to the news and social media platforms asking for their bodies not to be photoshopped to be skinnier (which is all the rage right now in the Western culture).  More and more women are standing up against body shaming on both fronts.  That's right ladies, we're still at fault here too!  My proposition to help curb the male gaze and stereotypes of the "ideal female" is to take the power back ourselves.  Create works of art that show our bodies as they naturally are, and support each other accordingly.  I'm not aiming for any nutritional arguments here (we all know there are risks to obesity as well as eating disorders).  But perhaps if we started loving our bodies the way they are (stretch marks, muffin top, smaller breasts, flatter butt... it doesn't matter!) then we can help to adjust or even delete the male gaze entirely. 

Stacy J. Garrett, a photographer based out of Sacramento, California features women of all shapes and sizes in her fantastical work.  In the majority of the images, the only photoshop done is to seamlessly blend reality with fantasy.  Her image titled Bluebelle shows a woman with curves and flowers, delicately draped in flowers and shot in a soft, romantic focus.  It contradicts the "norm" of what society would expect to see in a nude (or even implied nude) nowadays.  She was able to reclaim the power as a female photographer to support the fine art work without enforcing a "perverted" perception of the photo.

Bluebelle, 2017 by Stacy J. Garrett

Bluebelle, 2017 by Stacy J. Garrett

Illustrators can even be included in fight against the male gaze.  Recently I asked Alex R.R. to do an illustration of myself hugging Stitch (yes, I'm a bit of a Disney fan).  Her reply, when she was finished, was that she hoped she got my curves perfectly.  This is one of the first times I'd ever been given a compliment on my curves!  Not to mention the image turned out absolutely darling and she had a blast with my hair color (which is always changing).  This artist though, who could have given me a much thinner body, chose not to.  She felt that I was beautiful just as I am and it's these types of artists that we need more of in the world.

Ronni's Stitch Commission, 2017 by Alex R.R.

Ronni's Stitch Commission, 2017 by Alex R.R.

In my project titled Objectified Form, I went a different route entirely.  I photographed a set of 25 images of the female nude form, but removed all colors and shadows so that the viewer is only left to see the form for its lines and shapes.  When viewed as a whole, the body takes on even more abstraction as the grid breaks lines apart even more, pushing the male gaze further from a possibility. 

Objectified Form 1, 2016 by Ronni Mae Knepp

Objectified Form 1, 2016 by Ronni Mae Knepp

Objectified Form Final Grid, 2016 by Ronni Mae Knepp

Objectified Form Final Grid, 2016 by Ronni Mae Knepp

Overall, I think as women especially become more proactive in how we are shown to the world, the male gaze will eventually dissipate.  Who knows if it will ever completely go away.  And even then, there's always the question if society will then turn tides to a more prominent female gaze.  But that's getting further into theories and what-if's that I'm not prepared to speak on at the moment.  The point is that although we've grown as a society (women have far more rights and responsibilities in the world then they did back during Titian's day), we still have a ways to go and grow.

Sources:

http://www.thedollarbin.net/shows/2012/10/9/woman-as-object-woman-as-subject-the-male-gaze-and-the-dc-comics-relaunch

https://curatingthecontemporary.org/2014/11/07/subverting-the-male-gaze-femininity-as-masquerade-in-untitled-film-stills-1977-1980-by-cindy-sherman/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/14/jennifer-lawrence-photoshop_n_4446190.html

https://www.stacyjgarrett.com/

https://alexowoa.deviantart.com/

http://ronnimaephotography.com/

RECOLLECTIONS

by Elizabeth Stitch

I discovered an artist named Julia Huerling. She created an interesting series entitled RECOLLECTIONS https://www.behance.net/gallery/33492547/RECOLLECTIONS. Her comments relating to her work read as follows:

"A project from an Artistic Residency in Buenos Aires 2015. Photos of Buenos Aires traffic reconstructed as visual memory. What I remember is the flow, quantity and movement rather than the objects in it, which is why the cars are reduced to fragments."

This series caught my attention because I often feel like my experiences in transit are a blur. The amount of time that we spend going from point A to points B, C & D, then back to point A is immeasurable! I don't remember the people that I hold an elevator open for, or those that I say "hi" to in passing, or even the accident that I see on the side of the freeway. It's all a blur. Am I wasting this time, which frankly takes up a good 2 or 3 hours of everyday? Should I be more observant and in the present rather than planning ahead, daydreaming or singing along to Salt N Pepa's "Push It" on the radio (I only mention this song because I just heard it on the oldies station, again, which kind of blew my mind)?

I love that Heurling doesn't depict any people, it's all a blur of traffic. She also makes the cars anonymous through her use of repetition. It's a rat race. It's routine. It's repetitious. It's our daily lives. It makes me a bit sad. I kind of wish that I commuted via bicycle, horse, or simply walking. Maybe then I would be more observant and present. Just something to think about.

The Art of Storytelling

by Sarah Hayes

I have always been drawn to images and films that capture the imagination through the use of visual storytelling.  There are photographer’s renown for their stylized ability to transform their subject matter into entities from worlds only conceived in our dreams.

I recently picked up a copy of Brooke Shaden’s book ‘Inspiration in Photography, Train your mind to make great art a habit.’  Although Shaden is known for her heavy use of compositing, her book is refreshingly personable and full of useful information to guide the photographer, who aspires to increase the visual narrative within their photography.

Shaden discusses the importance of using props, costumes, locations and the creation of characters within the concept of an image. One aspect of the book I really appreciate, is the ‘practical pointers’ included at the end of each section and the sharing of useful websites that can aid with location scouting. I feel that the advice Shaden shares with her readers is humble and achievable for every photographer, especially those of us on a tight budget. She makes the dream worlds accessible to all, specifically to those prepared to commit to specific narrative.

The book is full of Brooke Shaden’s fantastical melancholic imagery that is used to support her advice and demonstrate the opportunities, accessible to all innovative photographers. Shaden concludes her book with her ‘Final Word’ …

“If you can imagine something, it can be your reality. That is why photography us such a powerful tool. It gives us a medium with which we can bear our souls, tell the stories of our dreams, or live the life we always wanted to live. It is a vehicle for change, a carrying pigeon of hope, and most importantly, it gives people a voice who might otherwise feel silenced.” (Shaden 186)

Work Cited

Shaden, Brooke. Inspiration in Photography: Training Your Mind to Make Great Art a Habit. N.p.:

Focal, 2014. Print.

Shaden, Brooke. Shaden: Gallery. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2017.

SHOW YOUR WORK

by Simone Dutra

Over the last few months I've been thinking more and more about the idea / importance of showing my work. For all the guest lectures I've attended lately, one point seemed to be the common denominator between them. Can you guess? Right if you answered the importance of showing your work.

My email is being constantly bombarded with Call of entries, Submissions, Photography Awards. And in the end, it all comes to… Show your work! Which means: get yourself noticed!

With that in mind I decided to give some spoilers on another great book. I have to admit that I haven’t read all of it in the right order, as I am more of a “nibbler”. And the book is called (ta-da): SHOW YOUR WORK by Austin Kleon, who also wrote Steal like an artist.

We cannot deny anymore that we do live in a digital era. So drop the ‘I don’t do social media stuff’ because “in this day and age, if your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist”. That was the first sentence that hit me right on the stomach… page 23.

But for that to happen, we must first have work to show, to post. And that is when the Vampire Test comes in handy.

So for now, let’s imagine (and hope) that you are working with whatever excites you. It’s time to decide ‘what’ to share….

When we look at this flowchart it seems pretty obvious right?

But the question is: Do we really follow this flowchart? And, if so, how often?

I don’t really want to give a lot on the book because I think it worth reading it. The author goes deep and has some interesting views and, why not say, advices. For example, he recommends that we read Obituaries!!! And of course, I will not say why!

I will just end with my new mantra:

Tapping into the human condition.

by Melody Hall

I spent the last 10 years hiding away from people. I am awkward in social situations. I spent so much time alone thinking, that I forgot what it was like to connect to people. I may have even lost my empathy and compassion for people outside of my family. I’m not sure what happened to make me disconnect.

Now, all I think of is how I am going to turn my camera around and capture all the things about being human that I’ve been missing. How can I tap into humanity, connect with people again,  on a whole new level.

All of these feelings I have are essential for empathizing with others. It’s basic emotions that bring people together… longing, love, pain.

If I had never experienced pain, would I have empathy? If I had never been alone, would I know what it’s like to long? How can I use my past experiences to connect to people genuinely? How can I create a portrait of a human condition with the tools I have been given?

Then I wonder if all of this is out of some selfish need to feel relevant in the world, satisfying the unconscious.

What is really important to me now?

My son, my parents, my friends and their families. Teaching my son culture and humility, humbly. Helping people in need, not with money, with kindness and my two hands. Being genuine, real and not living through my ego. Building bridges and relationships with people. Being kind and having good intents..showing my son how to be transparent with his actions. 

How can I use my own life experiences to bring awareness to causes that I hold close to my heart?

After speaking with Ed Kashi, something clicked. Was it his words or his tone? I think it was his genuine desire to understand my situation as we talked. He had questions to better understand me and where I was coming from. Then, he shut his mouth, and allowed me to speak. He listened. It was a moment in my world where I felt like someone was hearing my voice, I longed to be more like him… more human.

Finding my voice in photography has been a journey. Chasing my dreams, one after another…never giving up completely. I have had a very diverse path in getting here, and it’s taught me a lot about life, myself and relationships. I am learning to have the courage to let go and allow myself to enjoy the small moments along the way.

Doug Ethridge, Selective Memories

by Kathleen Larsen

I’ve never felt any need to intellectualize what for me is essentially an emotional process; by that I mean that when I make an image it is usually in response to emotional or sensory input. So I’m after emotional content in my images. All of my work, to me, is simply an exploration of what is out there for us to see. I’m interested in telling stories, illustrated by the way I perceive the world. —Doug Ethridge

Selective Memories, Point Reyes

Selective Memories, Point Reyes

Although fine art photographer Doug Ethridge began his creative life as a musician [2]—which continues to influence his creativity—he has come a long way with his body of work titled Silent Memories from his humble beginnings as a young child photographing family trips and summer camp with an instamatic camera . The project’s inception came about after his father suffered a stroke followed by “a period where his memory was jumbled” [1]. Memory is not static. As time passes our memories fade and change, reshaping themselves “nearer to the heart’s desire” [3]. It is the concept of transience that Ethridge explores in his photographs.

Selective Memories, Jelly Beach

Selective Memories, Jelly Beach

With a plan of action at the ready, Ethridge set out to capture “moments encountered while mostly driving along the Pacific Coast from Neah Bay to San Diego” [1]. Although he begins with a plan, Ethridge allows himself to work intuitively, reacting to the moment and the place while also considering the light and structure of the composition before clicking the shutter. His intended response by the viewer is simple: “whenever I can motivate a viewer to pause, to look twice, or to think about the way they view the world, or to simply enjoy the beauty of a moment I may have been lucky enough to capture, I am a happy guy” [1].

Selective Memories, San Francisco

Selective Memories, San Francisco

Working with a plan yet allowing for surprises along the journey, Ethridge set out on a journey with his Rolleiflex camera taking him past the boundaries of his front yard to capture “fleeting memories of places glimpsed once, of momentary impressions” [1]. The images in the body of work use selective focus to illustrate the fragile nature of memory. Choosing to print in the alternative process of palladium adds to the overall effect. Viewers are taken on a journey through both space and time. In the foreground objects are substantial, dark, and detailed and as viewers walk back in space the objects shrink becoming more obscured and mysterious.

Selective Memories, Whiskey Run Lane

Selective Memories, Whiskey Run Lane

For more information or to see more of Ethridge’s work, visit: http://www.douglasethridge.com/ and http://www.kevinlongino.com/portfolios.cfm?a=40&t=collector

Selective Memories, Grass Lake

Selective Memories, Grass Lake

Things I've learned while making photographs of the manmade landscape, and other tips.

by Lindsey Welch

About three years ago I wrote a blog post for my former company about shooting urban based night landscapes, titled “Photographing the Night” [1]. I was about a year into obsessing over them, and have obviously, thanks to AAU, expanded my interests and depth. For this blog, I'd like to revisit the entry and broaden the scope of the topic while looking at what I've learned. 

I've since moved beyond the purely aesthetic, and have tried to take a deeper look at these artificial landscapes both conceptually and expressively. I now more readily make images at all times of day and night, and can safely say it’s taken a while to figure out what works and what doesn't when considering the kinds of locations I work in. 

Lindsey Welch, 2017

Lindsey Welch, 2017

Gear (or lack thereof)

Unlike many photographers, I have minimized my gear greatly as I’ve gained experience. My entire camera bag weighs around seven pounds, and it is typically missing many of the 'staples' from other's bags. I do keep an 'overflow' bag in the trunk of my car for just-in-case scenarios, but to be honest, it gathers dust. My camera and lenses have also gotten smaller, as has my need for the very best equipment. I have started using cheaper lenses because they are lighter, a point that has gained importance above all else. Doubly, the smaller camera helps me to more easily blend in as a tourist, and no longer be regarded and feared as a 'pro'. Lightness and ability to not look like a photographer have been my primary goals in my kit selection, as I need to be able to cover a lot of ground on foot and not draw attention to myself when I get to where I am going. Also, I do carry a decent amount of cleaning equipment because I am usually working above f/8, where dirt and dust on the sensor can become visible. Working outdoors means every time I change a lens I get something on the sensor.

What's in my bag

What's in my bag

Items I don't have in my bag: 
Remotes
Filters
Flashes
Cables
Zoom lenses
Grey cards
Light meter
Reflectors

Items I do have in my bag:
350 or more lumen flashlight
Pen flashlight
Travel lantern (night only)
Visible Dust filter blower
SensorKlear Pen
5 total batteries
Extra batteries for lantern and flashlights
4 16gb SD cards
LensPen Mini
Lens cloth
Rain cover
35mm, 55mm and 85mm prime lenses
Sony A7rII

Techniques (swiftness gets the shot)

I have found that the faster I can set up, the least attention I can draw to myself, the better chance I have of getting what I’m after. Further, the least amount of energy I can expend getting somewhere, the more energy I will have for creativity and clarity when I arrive. As noted above, I use the most compact yet forgiving equipment I can. I tend to find myself in areas where ownership may be questionable, and even when it is clearly public land, I need to be able to get the shot before drawing attention to myself or causing obstruction. The image below is an example. I stopped along the highway to make this shot. This isn’t exactly allowed, so I needed to be able to make the shot in very little time.

Lindsey Welch, 2017

Lindsey Welch, 2017

This is one of the reasons I have all together stopped using remotes. Despite most often working from a tripod, I have found the less fiddly the set-up and breakdown, the better. Less cables to sort out and find outlets for is what has worked best. Instead, I now use the timer in my camera, I have it set to a custom button as do I have the timing choices. Two seconds to ten seconds depending on the wind, local vibrations, and time of exposure. This give the camera enough time to settle after I have removed my hand. 

Obviously for landscape work, flashes aren’t ideal. However, I have found a very bright LED flashlight to be imperative. In images like the one below. The camera can become confused when registering the focus is locked. As anyone who had shot with digital knows, it’s very hard to nail manual focus unless the light is optimal or you are using a very narrow aperture. I have found that an LED flashlight, anything over 350 lumens, tends to cast enough focused light for the camera to be able to lock onto. It works a lot like a focus assist beam. Shine it right where you want your focal point to be, focus, then turn it off. I also strive to never give into high ISO temptations. Unless there is movement you do not want to be evident in the image, image integrity will always be better with a lower ISO rating despite developments in camera technology.

Lindsey Welch, 2017

Lindsey Welch, 2017

Rights as a photographer

There are myriad of issues and concerns with shooting in public. While the moral considerations are those that the photographer is going to have to decide on, the ethics and legalities are ones that concern us all. Often, ideas and inspiration hit without much time to plan for permissions and permits, and for the most part these are not a major concern so long as images are not being used for commercial or advertising purposes. Still, it is often hard to discern when you are on private of public land, or if you can photograph. There are lots of resources out there for further reading on your rights in public.  

The Photographer’s Right, Bert P. Krages II [2]

The Photographer’s Right, Bert P. Krages II [2]

This print out was made based on many of the ACLU tenants, who also has a page dedicated to your rights to photograph in public, and guidelines on how to handle certain possible situations [3]. Basically, on public property, places tax dollars pay for, you are allowed to photograph anything you can see. Photographers are often accosted for various reasons ranging from no photographing infrastructure to worries of terrorism. This simply isn’t the law, though often, the authority telling you this also doesn’t know your rights. It may not always be advisable to argue though, which is why expedience in making the shot is so important. This image below was shot from across the street on a public shoulder. Despite the workers raising an eyebrow, I was allowed to be there because I could see this from the street.

Though, as an outdoor photographer of manmade spaces, it’s often hard to avoid private property at some point. I have found, generally, people do not mind you being there if you are in an area accessible by the public (parking lots and the like), and if you are quick to wrap up and not impeding traffic or causing danger to others.

Lindsey Welch, 2017

Lindsey Welch, 2017

Safety (or how to stay out of the way)

As I do make images from private property some times, it’s important to know how to respect the property and the owner’s rights. If asked to leave, do so, don’t be a jerk. However, I cannot stress enough the importance of looking like a tourist, and not a professional. People tend to be threatened by professional looking photographers because they don’t know what you may use the pictures for or what your intentions are.  If you look like you are just making photos for personal use, they usually don’t even see you. When using a tripod, do not under any circumstances use it where someone could trip over it. You could hurt someone and destroy your camera. Be aware of what’s around you, if you are in the way of anyone trying to get by you and be vigilant of possible threats. This is a good reason to use a digital camera via the screen on the back, so that you can make use of your peripheral vision while working. Though it may be recommended to use safety reflectors when working at night, I have found that I draw less attention to myself when I don’t. I simply must be that much more careful about traffic. A final point, always know when it’s time to leave.

I’m sure in another three years from now, I’ll have learned a lot more about this photographic avenue I have chosen. In the meantime, I hope what I have learned along the way can help and inspire others to get out of doors to photograph. There is always something to discover in the world with your camera, and often you don’t even see it until you frame it up. There are a lot of considerations when leaving the studio behind, but it makes each photograph its own adventure.  

[1]. Photographing the Night. Linz Welch (self). UPA Gallery Blog, June 4, 2014. < http://www.upagallery.com/blog/2014/6/3/photographing-the-night >

[2]. The Photographer’s Right. Bert P. Krages II, Attorney At Law. < http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm >

[3]. Know Your Rights. ACLU.org. < https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/photographers-what-do-if-you-are-stopped-or-detained-taking-photographs

Cheap Camera Challenge

We’ve probably all had someone say, “Wow - your camera takes great pictures!”  And I’m sure most of us would agree that the comment, while likely intended as a compliment, is something akin to telling a baker that his oven makes great bread, or telling a musician that their instrument makes great music.  The oven, the instrument, and the camera are necessary tools of the craft but the success of the equipment is determined by the hands that use it.

A few years ago I came across a You Tube series by DigitalRev called, “Cheap Camera Challenge” which aims to illustrate the point that it’s not the camera that makes the photograph but the photographer.  In each episode they challenge a professional photographer to create a series of images with the cheapest camera they can get their hands on.  The photographers have a time limit and generally don’t know what they will be shooting with until minutes before the time begins.  The cameras range from toys, such as the Lego Camera, assigned to Chase Jarvis and a Fisher-Price looking toddler camera, assigned to Lara Jade, to more sophisticated equipment that is long out of date or even broken.

Chase Jarvis

Chase Jarvis

Chase Jarvis

Chase Jarvis

Chase Jarvis

Chase Jarvis

Above images by Lara Jade. 

While each photographer’s experience is entertaining, if not a little stressful to watch, the work always comes out inspiring, and there are many take aways; food for thought and inspiration, and we see how integral process is to product.

In a more formal sense we might call this “using an alternative capture method” and there is great value in that in terms of creative challenges, stepping outside our comfort zones, and even breaking through the occasional waves of rut that are sure to sweep over us all from time to time. What camera might you choose in a personal cheap camera challenge? Or rather, what camera might you be just a little afraid of?

You can see more from “Cheap Camera Challenge” on You Tube at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7ECB90D96DF59DE5

Warning though - these episodes are slightly addictive!

How Juried exhibitions get a bad name

by Troy Colby

Over the years I have heard both positives and negatives about juried exhibitions.  I will be the first to say that I have participated in many of them.  Overall I have had good experiences with the majority of galleries that offer juried exhibitions. 

I wish I could say that I haven’t had any bad experiences but this wouldn’t t be true.  I have had two bad experiences from two different places.  Both of my bad experiences were from a lack of communication.  They wouldn’t follow up with questions being asked or would change the guidelines after the fact. This was my experience and it might be different for others. 

I think sometimes experiences like this tend to lead to the idea that juried exhibitions are a bad thing.  I bring this up because recently Shutterfest held a juried exhibition and the winners were recently were announced.  Which wouldn’t be a big deal but the owner (Sal Cincotta) of the Shutterfest had won one first place in five categories, second and third in many, even the Grand Prize!  In the end he pretty much won his own competition. 

An owner, juror, intern or employee you should not be allowed to enter his or her own competition. This just seems like common sense to me.  Looking at the website it looks professional and had a list of jurors to look review. I took some time and looked up some of the jurors.  The bulk of them were all family portrait studio/lifestyle photographers.  Just based on this list alone I would have not taken the time to enter.   For this is probably not the right venue for my work or other fine art photographers.

I am curious to see how this plays out.  The community that follows this has already caught on.  I am sure there will be some repercussions to come.  Sal has taken to Facebook to “defend” his win by stating, “judging was conducted blindly and in a public room with dozens upon dozens of attendees watching and listening to the scores and critiques.” He also stated, “the judges and chairs are encouraged to enter the competition.” I have never heard a judge or curator be allowed to enter the competition they are a part of.  What a crazy notion! 

This might be the last time you see a Shutterfest. I really feel bad for those who entered this completion.  Getting rejected is one thing but to feel like the whole competition was rigged is another feeling. Rejection always stings a bit.  I have learned that it is a part of the process and I should learn something from each rejection. I am sure this really stings to those who did enter. I can imagine they will be very skeptical before entering anything in the future.

There are many resources available to us to review before we enter a juried exhibition.  Lensculture, Lenscratch, F-Stop Magazine, Aint-Bad are just to name a few to get started with.  Research the venue, juror and past winners. If you are still in doubt, reach out to some of the previous winners or send the venue a message.  Most legit places will gladly answer any questions you may have.  It never hurts to take the time out before you go and drop your hard earned cash.  All of this will help you find the right competition to enter and hopefully avoid situations like this.

http://www.diyphotography.net/photographer-wins-his-own-photo-contest-causes-outrage-within-community/

http://shutterfest.com/image-competition-winners-gallery/

https://www.aint-bad.com

http://www.fstopmagazine.com

https://www.lensculture.com

http://lenscratch.com

All images by: Sal Cincotta

Examining the Man and Nature Divide Through Photography

by Lindsey Welch

One of the basic foundations of my thesis project is to look at how place is constructed both physically and through less tangible means, mentally. In my continued research for my project, I have been examining other photographer’s, looking for common threads among artists whose work inspires me. Something I have learned in creating a project about place, is that it is almost impossible to avoid narratives that speak to the line between man and nature. There is something elemental in our understanding of place, especially in recent times, that springs up when we speak of the concept of place. We cannot consider the created and built place where we spend our time without first looking at it in contrast the to the un-built world ‘out there’ that is nature. And this, brings our minds further to the over-built world that we fear that lives on the opposite end of that spectrum. We prefer to live, our place, somewhere in the middle. However, it is impossible to consider this place without considering the ends of the thin line most of us prefer to exist within.

This is an age-old topic, surely, as it is one the permeates the compassionate and often sensitive minds of artists. What harm have we inflicted in our modernizing and comfort seeking? How have we distanced ourselves from that which is natural? How can we express the divide, call out the other-ing categorizations and demonstrate how far reaching we are?

Artists whose work documents the terrible, and often almost sublime view of the massive changes to the land we have been capable of are the first that comes to mind. Edward Burtynsky’s famous carefully crafted large scale photographs of industry and industrial environments act as metaphors for this thin area between success and failurein which we live [1]. His work depicts breathtaking vistas of the terrible, made in a way that the vastness of these tainted locations or areas of mass development have a greatly memorable impact. When we think of man’s place in contrast to that of nature, our current concerns bring images of these to mind.

Edward Burtynsky, Oil. “Oxford Tire Pile #1”.Westley, CA 1999 [2]

Edward Burtynsky, Oil. “Oxford Tire Pile #1”.Westley, CA 1999 [2]

Following this though, photographer David Maisel’s work also comes to mind [3].  Maisel’s aerial based landscapes speak to a similar narrative as Burtynsky’s. He examines how man has changed nature to accommodate his place, what have we trampled to carve out our place in the world, and what are the ramifications.

David Maisel, The Lake Project. 62. 2015. [4]

David Maisel, The Lake Project. 62. 2015. [4]

These images of the often-symptomatic destruction of industry, and carries under its umbrella the implications of the even most humble places that man lives. These ideas are huge and difficult to grasp at times, but are extremely relevant to discussions of man and nature. Yet, often its necessarily to come down in scale to something more relatable and digestible. Our detachment from what is ‘natural’ can be seen within the ways we furnish our museums, and even in the seemingly innocent use of the diorama to depict that what we consider ourselves apart from.

Traer Scott’s project, Natural History, is based in the juxtaposition possible through reflections that create “allegorical narratives of our troubled co-existence with nature[5]. Through using taxidermies of wild animals in natural history museums, she is able to catch these candid moments where humans and nature align for telling narratives about over hunting, habitat destruction and climate change. The prolific human population is superimposed over the figures of endangered life.

Traer Scott, Natural History. Bald Eagle.

Traer Scott, Natural History. Bald Eagle.

Diane Fox explores similar paths in her work, in UnNatrual History [6]. Her work similarly utilizes diroamas existing in natural history museums, however other than reflections she uses found circumstances and awkward contrasts to tell a story of the natural experienced at a calculated distance [7].

Diane Fox, Wrapped, Milwaukee Public Museum,Milwaukee, Wisconsin 2006.

Diane Fox, Wrapped, Milwaukee Public Museum,Milwaukee, Wisconsin 2006.

While these are not images of physical place, they speak to the figurative place that we have set worked to set humanity in. The growing theme seems to be that we humans most obviously distance or displace ourselves, as seen in the work above. However, alongside these exists work that demonstrates our encroachment into the natural, spreading ever further into that which we consider the foreign nature as different from our place.

Jeff Brouws’s work involves examining the franchised landscape and the found corporate artifacts within them [8]. This is readily seen in his project, Franchised Landscape, where familiar logos speckle the horizon line of American scenes. Here, instead of creating this dividing line through great disaster or through encasing safely behind glass, man’s place is overlaying the natural world [9].

Jeff Brouws, Franchised Landscape.

Jeff Brouws, Franchised Landscape.

Following this, the work of Terry Falke also looks at the landscape full of evidence of man. In his series, Observations of an Occupied Wilderness, he observes the presence of man in cherished and ideal landscapes and natural monuments [10]. His work shoes a classically American landscape with all the paraphernalia of tourism, guard rails, picnic benches, plastic statuary and billboards litter the traditionally pristine. 

Terry Falke, After Image Gallery.

Terry Falke, After Image Gallery.

From the wholly severe to the slightly quirky, this is a subject that still has more depth than there are photographs made of it. In these common threads certain major topics congeal into a larger narrative present in fine art and photography, the divide of man and nature. Its difficult to consider our place without considering what we have altered to be here, and how were confront or ignore that truth in our environment. Even though my project may not be directly correlated to climate change, species endangerment or environmental disruptions, it is important to keep in mind that these themes and motifs will always paly a huge role in an discussion of place. The dichotomy of man and nature is ever present in any photo made of a location in our world.

[1]. Edward Burtynsky. About, Homepage. < http://www.edwardburtynsky.com/site_contents/About/introAbout.html >

[2]. Edward Burtynsky, Gallery: Oil. < http://www.edwardburtynsky.com/site_contents/Photographs/Oil.html >

[3]. David Maisel, Homepage. < http://davidmaisel.com >

[4]. David Maisel, The Lake Project. < http://davidmaisel.com/works/the-lake-project/#3 >

[5]. Traer Scott Photography, Natural History. < http://www.traerscott.com/#/naturalhistory/ >

[6]. Diane Fox, UnNatural History, color. < http://dianefoxphotography.com/photography/unnatural-history/color/ >

[7]. Diane Fox, UnNatural History, Artist Statement. < http://dianefoxphotography.com/photography/unnatural-history/ >

[8]. Jeff Brouws, About. < http://www.jeffbrouws.com/about/main.html >

[9]. Jeff Brouws, Franchised Landscape. < http://www.jeffbrouws.com/series/main_franchised.html >

[10]. After Image Gallery, Terry Falke. < http://www.afterimagegallery.com/falkenew.htm >

Bill Jacobson: An Exploration of Geometry and Space

by Kathleen Larsen

As I continue to look to the future of landscape imagery, I am fascinated by the concepts and imagery that permeate the contemporary realm of landscape photography. The early works of Bill Jacobson were soft, out-of-focus black and white portraits and his images evolved to a series of color interior and landscape images. It is the body of work he produced between 2007 and 2008 that I find mesmerizing. Reminiscent of the paintings of Mark Rothko, the picture plane is split in two by the horizon line creating two rectangular planes in Some Planes. The work evokes a sense of flatness in conjunction with a sense of space. How is this possible? Through the use of color and light, contrast, and textural detail.

Mark Rothko, Ochre And Red On Red,  1954 [1]

Mark Rothko, Ochre And Red On Red,  1954 [1]

Bill Jacobson, Some Planes #410, 2007, pigment print on Epson Ultrasmooth paper, mounted to museum board; print, 49.5 x 36 inches; board, 52.5 x 39 inches; edition of 9

Bill Jacobson, Some Planes #410, 2007, pigment print on Epson Ultrasmooth paper, mounted to museum board; print, 49.5 x 36 inches; board, 52.5 x 39 inches; edition of 9

Bill Jacobson, Some Planes #436, 2007, pigment print on Epson Ultrasmooth paper, mounted to museum board; print, 49.5 x 36 inches; board, 52.5 x 39 inches; edition of 9

Bill Jacobson, Some Planes #436, 2007, pigment print on Epson Ultrasmooth paper, mounted to museum board; print, 49.5 x 36 inches; board, 52.5 x 39 inches; edition of 9

Bill Jacobson, Some Planes #414, 2007, pigment print on Epson Ultrasmooth paper, mounted to museum board; print, 49.5 x 36 inches; board, 52.5 x 39 inches; edition of 9

Bill Jacobson, Some Planes #414, 2007, pigment print on Epson Ultrasmooth paper, mounted to museum board; print, 49.5 x 36 inches; board, 52.5 x 39 inches; edition of 9

When discussing the work with Michelle Aldredge, an artist, writer, curator, and the founding editor of Gwarlingo, an online arts and culture journal, Jacobson states: “I became drawn to the rectangle as something which really doesn’t exist in nature…but which also represents an archetype of our visual journey through the world. So much of what we make is consistently rectangular. You find it constantly in art and architecture, furniture and signage, and all books and photographs. But it’s not only visual…I think the rectangle exists as an emotional portal as well” [2].

When I taught visual arts at the high school level, I taught them about the two basic kinds of shapes we find in the world: geometric which are regular, mathematical, and mainly man-made and organic which are irregular, unrepeatable, and found in nature. It is the organic shapes of nature that draw me to landscape photography, yet I am drawn to the rectangles created by Jacobson in these images and the power in these images is found in them. In the three images below, one would normally think that the soft analogous color palette would be soothing and serene. Yet, the juxtaposition between these pale colors contrasts with the hard edges of the rectangle causing them to vibrate with visual energy. The three-dimensional textural surface of the foreground contrasts with that of the two-dimensional background adding interest and a sense of space. Several of the images also include a curvilinear horizon that moves the eye between the two planes. The two examples here have stronger contrasts than those above, yet resonate with the same visual energy moving between two and three dimensions. The visual energy and tonal values in the images in Some Planes combine to create a body of work consisting of unobstructed landscapes that shift between organic and geometric.

Bill Jacobson, Some Planes #601, 2007, pigment print on Epson Ultrasmooth paper, mounted to museum board; print, 49.5 x 36 inches; board, 52.5 x 39 inches; edition of 9

Bill Jacobson, Some Planes #601, 2007, pigment print on Epson Ultrasmooth paper, mounted to museum board; print, 49.5 x 36 inches; board, 52.5 x 39 inches; edition of 9

Bill Jacobson, Some Planes #514, 2008, pigment print on Epson Ultrasmooth paper, mounted to museum board; print, 49.5 x 36 inches; board, 52.5 x 39 inches; edition of 9

Bill Jacobson, Some Planes #514, 2008, pigment print on Epson Ultrasmooth paper, mounted to museum board; print, 49.5 x 36 inches; board, 52.5 x 39 inches; edition of 9

by Melody Hall

Film finally made it’s comeback and is slowly on the rise. Kodak Ektachrome was brought back to life and I am patiently waiting to see what else is resuscitated. After peaking in 2003 with 960 million rolls, today it’s about 2% of that, according to Manny Almeida, president of Fuji-film’s imaging division for North America. But those numbers are rising every year.

Sales and Marketing director at Harman, Giles Branthwwaite, says that there is a 5% growth. That’s 5% each year, around the world. More and more photography aficionados are investing in analog photography. Is it because of popular culture or is it more calculated than that? Is it a generation of people, that are seeing a part of their own history diminished before their eyes.

The president of Kodak’s Alaris’ imaging states that the professional photographers are the ones stimulating the comeback of film. There are small pockets of Millennials and younger generations that are experiencing the charm of film.

I've always compared film to my record collection. There’s something authentic about playing records, every groove has it’s own clicks and pops… a little static. It all creates a feeling. Film does the same thing. It has a sound, winding and a mechanism inside that moves with each solid click. There is a color that is specific to a type of film. There is a depth that I cannot yet replicate with digital.

Is it the thought that getting back to your photographic roots somehow make you a better photographer?

I am sure it’s a little bit of it all, roots, current events, and subculture. For me, it’s a lot to getting back to my roots, how I first learned on film and in a darkroom. Something about the smells and the process that put me at ease and I am naturally patient for. It’s like coming full circle, one little journey in itself, representing where I am at on my creative path.

I am getting to re-experience what I had learned in the 90’s and get to play with cool new films, small batch films, color films, cinematic style films, toy cameras and other cool things being revisited and revived. So for me, there is really no debate. Just excited for the future of film.

References

http://time.com/4649188/film-photography-industry-comeback/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/01/artist-kiyoshi-nakamura-photographs-film_n_2582959.html

https://fstoppers.com/film/why-film-not-dead-meet-camera-shop-specialise-only-film-photography-135193

https://www.cnet.com/news/shooting-film-photos-with-a-35mm-camera/

Melody Hall, 2016, Digital

Melody Hall, 2016, Digital

Melody Hall, 2016, Digital Composite Canon D MK II

Melody Hall, 2016, Digital Composite Canon D MK II

Melody Hall, 2017, Kodak Portra 120mm film, Mamiya 645

Melody Hall, 2017, Kodak Portra 120mm film, Mamiya 645

Melody Hall, 2017, Kodak Portra 120mm film, Mamiya 645

Melody Hall, 2017, Kodak Portra 120mm film, Mamiya 645