The great NY Blizzard of 2010

So this little storm stranded me in London this week as East Coast airports closed (no big deal, stayed with good close friends, got in a trip to the Natural History Museum with the kids and a couple more pints in a proper pub with my extra couple of days! Highly enjoyable, which is more than can be said for the conversations with the rude Virgin staff at Heathrow...)

Anyway. Here's a Wall Street Journal report on the flak Mayor Bloomberg is getting (photographed here by a friend, former student and general all round West Coast dude Phillip Montgomery) along with an upsetting account of a newborn baby's death and a video of a 'Day After Tomorrow' style snow covered New York by Dustin Drankoski.


Vivian Maier - For the love of photography

And I thought I had a task on my hands with 10 years of unscanned negatives from the U.K. and a box full of New York street photography from the past 4 years to deal with....

This woman had a lifetime of photography that it seems no-one ever saw until now.




More here.. http://vivianmaierphotography.com/. The stuff looks great. Check it out.

Off the grid

I listened to a BBC program earlier this year about solar powered lamps in off grid areas. Sounds like a top idea to me. Here's a video and great set of photos by Ed Ou and an article by Elisabeth Rosenthal on the same story in the NY Times.



Ed Ou/The New York Times

Thanks to this solar panel, Sara Ruto no longer takes a three-hour taxi ride to a town with electricity to recharge her cellphone. More Photos »

Errol Morris on Anosognosia

Can rubbing lemon juice on your face make you invisible to cameras? Erm, well, no, but your mind can.

Read how here. Make sure you go all the way through the 5 parts....

Basetrack

"For a previous generation of photographers, their job was to simply record the events of the world, and then hand those pictures over to their publications, their agencies. Those pictures would be shown to the world and some unspecified third party would take action and do the rest.

I don’t believe that anymore. I don’t think it’s enough to make photographs."

Some interesting thoughts on the Lens Blog from Teru Kuwayama on how the Basetrack project came about and what it hopes to achieve. I certainly agree with the idea that there is a great wealth of opportunities for journalists to connect and share with their audience and the people they're reporting on.

Oh and then there's that hipstamatic iphone app again....

Last minutes with Oden

"The older I get, the more sensitive I get. And thank god."

Amen to that.

Anytime your ego gets the jump on you and you start to feel a bit self centered, it's not difficult to get a little perspective on your life. You just need to pay attention to what other people are going through. Whether you know them or not.

Via Ciara on Duckrabbit.

Yvon's Paris - Exhibition and Book signings in NYC

Landes, France

If you are in NYC over the next few days you have a couple of chances to see some great vintage photographs, and pick up a signed copy of Robert Stevens book on Yvon's Paris.

Tonight - December 16th. 6-8pm Higher Pictures, 764 Madison, between 65th and 66th street, 3rd floor. Both Robert and Yvon's daughter will be there.

Also this Saturday 18th December, a book signing in Brooklyn at the Invisible Dog Arts Center, 51 Bergen Street from 4-7pm.

Riding the Dog



Who doesn't love a road trip? There are a million little phrases and witticisms out there about the joys of travelling. I happen to personally like the one that says "The less time it takes you to get somewhere, the less point there is in going."

Anyway, a photographer and friend of mine Brendon Stuart has just embarked on one of his greyhound bus road trips across the U.S. He is keeping a blog of the trip with photographs and stories, which is worth both a look and a read.




check it out.

http://brendonstuart.wordpress.com/

Anarchy in the UK?

Not quite yet.. But getting there it seems.

Anyway, the papers went with the money shot of two Royals on their way to the west end, probably because it is supposed to illustrate the class divide and conjure up notions of revolution and the proletariat rising up against the aristocracy. Or something. However, I like this one much better.


This is a great shot by Andrew Testa for the New York Times. Loaded with dynamism, symbolism and all kinds of other isms and nowhere near as blunt as Matt Dunham's shot - which I think is a great breaking news photo by the way and I understand completely why editors jumped on it!

From what I can tell from my current viewpoint on the other side of the pond, it seems like people in England are very unhappy. And it's not just the students. I wonder how long before the public spending cuts result in the police marching side by side with the students. Now that would be something.

Let's hope something positive comes of all this.


Tim Parkin

What do I love about the internet (other than it's amazing ability to waste my time and the fact I can stream BBC and London pirate radio while sitting in a New Jersey suburb)?

Well, I love the fact that I can be looking for one thing and find something else even better. In this case I was looking for some info on a piece of camera equipment and came across the website of Tim Parkin, who takes sublime photos of fantastic landscapes, and is a Yorkshireman to boot. Bloody brilliant.

Check it out.

http://www.timparkin.co.uk

After the Quake - Andre Lambertson, Lisa Armstrong and Kwame Dawes in Haiti

"...if you cannot connect with the humanity in the people you cover, it becomes too easy to sensationalize, to focus on the brokenness and despair that supposedly make for better stories."

So says Lisa Armstrong

I tend to agree.

Earlier this summer I had the good fortune to share an lunch break with Andre Lambertson, who was my first seminar instructor when I was a student and has been working with Lisa Armstrong recently. I hadn't seen him for a while and it was great to catch up. In the time it talks to eat a sandwich the conversation covered movies, music, media, photography and video and the pros and cons of both, working as a freelancer, being human, consumer society, living in New York and a bit about the weather.

He told me about the work he had been doing on HIV and AIDS in Haiti and also the work he has been doing on a marching band in New Orleans.

In mid November, there was a great feature on the Haiti work on the NY Times Lens Blog. If you haven't already, I would check it out.

There is also more on the project on the Pulitzer Center website.

Andre has incredible integrity in the way he relates to people and it shows in his work.

Don't miss.

Places (Exhibition)

Check out this exhibition:




Featuring works by Sooyeun Ahn, Minny Lee, and Unhee Park

December 1-14, 2010
Opening Reception: Wednesday, December 1, 6-8 PM

...Chelsea West Gallery
547 West 27th Street #307, NY, NY (bet 10th & 11th Ave)
www.chelseawestgallery.com | 212.242.4251

About the exhibition:

Places showcases photography and video works by three Korea-born artists who reside and work in the New York area: Sooyeun Ahn, Minny Lee and Unhee Park. Despite their common heritage, all three photographers have divergent photographic visions and syntax, creating their own places in photography.

A photographer’s place is created by his or her history and memory; a work is a journey through the past and present interspersing reality and the surreal. Then the viewer, according to his or her own background, reinterprets the photographer’s place. This possibility of different interpretations widens the notion of the place and raises questions about the photographer’s work. The exhibition, Places,invites viewers to enter into each artist’s place and experience their own.

Sooyeun Ahn worked as a writer for 10 years before studying photography at The Tokyo Polytechnic University and the International Center of Photography (ICP). Slow Walker is her ongoing project of photographing city streets at night. Rather than documenting in a more traditional form and content of narrative storytelling, Ahn focuses on variations of possibilities and changes that could happen from photographing subjects through a very subjective vision.

Born and raised in South Korea, Minny Lee has been living in the USA since 1992. Lee studied and worked in the fields of fashion and art history before getting into photography. Her ongoing project Encounters began in late 2008. Lee is interested in personalities and characters of elements in nature and her interaction to the subjects. In Elsewhere, Lee seeks to capture and create an ideal realm within our reality. In her photography, time and space are crucial as well as feelings of intimacy that are translated into photography with her poetic vision.

Unhee Park studied Glass Art and Art Therapy before studying photography at ICP. In 2009, Park started her long-term project on museums. Virtual Memory consists of still photographs and audio interviews of museum visitors describing a surrealism painting at the museum. With her video work Visitor, Park has been interviewing museum visitors both in public and private spaces. After an initial interview in front of the museum, Park traces down museum visitors to their hometowns and interviews them with more personal questions. The project has taken Park to several American cities, becoming a cultural and social commentary of our time that everyone can relate to. Through her project, Park explores how people portray their identities to the outside world, weaving through both truth and fiction.

The Middle East Journals of Tom Hurndall - online panel talk

This seems like a worthwhile endeavour...


PRESS RELEASE
PANEL TALK TO LAUNCH FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN
FRIDAY 26TH NOVEMBER 2010

16.00-17.00 GMT (17h Central Europe, 11h East Coast US)


Trolley are launching a crowdfunding campaign for our book ‘The Only House Left Standing - the Middle East Journals of Tom Hurndall.’ Tom Hurndall, a young British photojournalist and peace worker, was shot in the head in Gaza in April 2003 whilst carrying Palestinian children to safety. He died nine months later in a London hospital. The book will contain Tom’s photographs in the weeks running up to his shooting, as well as his personal writing from his diaries and poems, and contains a preface by Robert Fisk.

The eight week campaign will launch on Friday 26th November, the day before Tom’s birthday, with a panel talk commencing at 16.00 GMT. The panel includes:

• Tom’s parents Anthony and Jocelyn Hurndall
• John Sweeney - BBC Panorama journalist who did 2003 documentary ‘When Killing is Easy’ and Independent article Silenced Witnesses
• Rowan Joffe and Simon Block - Director and Screenwriter of Channel 4 BAFTA-nominated film documentary The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall
• Mohammed Qeshta - who was with Tom when we was shot and worked for the International Solidarity Movement
• Gigi Giannuzzi - publisher and founder of Trolley Books It will be an hour long panel discussion of people who know Tom’s story and will be filmed and streamed live online to launch the fundraising campaign. The aim of this talk will be to engage the audience with Tom’s work and the concept of the book, whilst encouraging people to donate money towards it.

We are inviting participants to watch the online panel talk live, on your computer, ipad or iphone, simply by registering with your email in advance http://tomhurndalltrolleybooks.eventbrite.com/. We will then send you information on how to join us online live for the talk. The platform for the crowdfunding campaign will be Indiegogo, who support creative projects looking for much-needed financial support, especially those with a documentary basis. An edited version of the talk will afterwards be uploaded to our Indiegogo page online. Indiegogo is a pledge-for-reward social platform where supporters of our project will be able to pledge anything from £5 upwards. For example a pledge of £25 effectively pre-orders a copy of the book and supporters will be the first to receive it when it is printed.

The launch event on the 26th November will present our crowdfunding campaign live and explain further what the book is about, why it is important and how people can become involved to make it happen.

For more information please contact Hannah Watson, hannah@trolleybooks.com +44(0)207729 6591.


Shooting from the hip(ster)

Ok, I have a question. If I post processed my raw files from my SLR to look like Damon Winter's iphone photos would I breaking the (rather malleable) ethical guidelines for photojournalists on retouching? Does using the automated post processing of the hipstamatic app violate those same guidelines?




I find this very interesting. The front page of the New York Times presents heavily stylised automatically retouched photographs in a news context. The comments on the Lens blog range from applause on the intimacy of the imagery and the way it gives an insight into the daily lives of the soldiers all the way to: 'Great pictures. I need to get that iPhone app.'

I've always said that I have no problem with stylised photography, but there has to be a reason for it. When I was working in post production there was a road safety advert that mimicked the look of video on a camera phone. This was a few years ago so the quality of camera phone video was pretty poor. Prior to shooting, the producers wrangled over the concept trying to work out how they would post process the footage to make it so low res when the director said 'Well, why don't we just shoot it on a phone?' Or at least that was the story I heard. Whatever, the results were pretty effective. Watch it here.

When I teach Photoshop and digital post processing I tell students that if someone looks at their image and notices the style before the content, they have failed. If the first thing someone says is 'wow, look at those photoshop skills' then they have failed.

The style should reflect and lead you to the content of the image, not obscure it. In my opinion, some of Damon Winter's iphone photos fall into one category, while some fall into the other. From what I understand, Damon Winter is photographing with his iphone while also using a 'regular' camera. Of course, it would be a shame to not show great photography simply because it is done using a particular process or effect. Holgas, odd lenses, strange film processing techniques and digital darkroom effects have been used and abused many many times in journalism. I for one am a big fan of high speed, high contrast, grainy black and white film. The high ISO lets me shoot quickly, aesthetically I love the look and no one would argue that it would be unethical of me to load my camera with Fujifilm Neopan 1600...would they?

So here is my question again - ethically, can I hipstamaticise the raw files from my SLR? Or not?

Scribblers

Here's a quote from a recent article I just read (thanks Jason.):

"(Note to budding journalism students: never let the photographer decide where you’re going on assignment.)"


Really? I know a fair few photographers - myself included - who would throw that straight back at you Mr Steve Tuttle of Newsweek.

Especially as the photographer's diversion afforded you the core of the article you then wrote, which incidentally tells us more about yourself than the people you met.

Dear Writers; It's attitudes like that which will cause a photographer to refer to you with the derogatory term 'scribblers'.

Check out Antonio Bolfo's 'snaps' here.

The "National Iconography of Riot"





The recent student protests in the U.K. over education fees seem to have kicked off a debate that I think has been bubbling for a while, at least since the elections earlier this year and the absolute farce of a government that resulted. As the protests turned violent, with a small group of students and their supporters breaking into the Conservative party headquarters opinion became divided, with some people praising the 'direct action' and others condemning it. The interesting thing for me is that while I expected condemnation from the government and the official Union spokespeople, there were murmers of support from within the education industry, specifically Goldsmiths College's University and College Union. Now I am all for peaceful protest, but as we saw in 2003 when thousands and thousands marched through the center of London (and other cities) to protest the invasion of Iraq, peaceful protest doesn't always get the government's attention. Are we seeing a return to the energy and activism that Britain saw in the Thatcher years and that carried over into such things as the Poll Tax riots and the Reclaim the Streets movement?

Britain has a long history of mass protest, of mobs and grassroots activism, indeed, of violence and revolution. We may not have the defining moments that the French, the Russians or the Americans have (check your English Civil War history and the restoration of the Monarchy for a typically English approach to rebellion), but there has always been a sense that the everyday person has a right to protest the government and make their opinion felt in a very public way.

It will be very interesting to see if these student protests become a catalyst for the public expression of dissatisfaction with the Tory led coalition government. In particular, I wonder if the Liberal Democrat members of Parliament will join these protests from their benches in the House of Commons.

Of course, the protests were not all violent and were in fact mostly peaceful, but what the media has picked up on is the sensational side of the story. This is the photo that seems to have been most widely used to illustrate the day.

Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

On the Guardian website I read an interesting - if pompously worded - article examining this particular image. If you can get past the language, Johnathan Jones makes some pertinent observations on why this image was used, and how it fits into the cultural context.

I'll be in the U.K. in December and am looking forward to some armchair revolutionary discussions in the Pub with my non student tax paying friends on how things are. I'm a bit old and a bit past my 'building occupation' days. Besides, it'll be cold and I'll have the kids with me and as a final excuse; my wife would kill me if I got arrested. So I think the limit of my protest will be a grumble to the landlord about the price of a pint. I definitely won't be doing anything as stupid as throwing fire extinguishers into large crowds off of tall buildings..

This is more my revolutionary pace these days..

Photograph: Richard Jones


PROUD TO SERVE by Jo Ann Santangelo



This being Veteran's Day in the U.S. (and Armistice day in the U.K.) I thought it only relevant to post something related to the military.

Photographer Jo Ann Santangelo has produced a series of portraits and some multimedia on the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender American military who served in silence or were discharged under the current Don't Ask, Don't Tell law. This is a situation that, personally I find ridiculous. It is institutionalised discrimination and should stop. Regardless of what I think of the Military in general (I'm no big fan of war, let's put it that way) if someone wants to do this job, their sexuality should have no bearing on their ability to do it.

Air Force Coin of Airman First Class Kelsey Snipes, US Air Force Feb 17 2009-Nov 5, 2009. She was discharged after her roommate reported her for homosexual activities. Kelsey was an Aerospace Medical Services Apprentice (Medic) Stationed at Sheppard AFB Wichita Falls, TX

The work is on show in New York at the LGBT Center, 208 W.13th Street (7th/8th Ave). There will be an opening reception and a moderated panel today, November 11th from 5:30-9:00pm.

There is also a self published book of the project for sale on her website.

Check it out.




A Lincoln Photograph

"A Capitol Police officer saw us shooting frame after frame of the same nondescript spot and came over to ask, rather menacingly, what we were up to. (Um, sorry – just taking exterior photos of the most famous public building in America. Clearly we must be terrorists.)"

A little slice of photo history here.

JR wins the TED prize


I just opened the paper today and read about the photographer JR, whose work I wrote about here back in 2008. I think the way he distributes his work and the way he works with the communites he is photographing is an inspiration and I hope that methods such as these become the norm, rather than the exception. As I write this I am sitting in a gallery with white walls and spotlit photographs and fine though that is, the interaction with the public who come and see the work, either deliberately or in passing, is not as loose and free as it is on the street.

I'm a big fan of street situated and public art, especially when it is rooted in a desire to connect and share. JR's work may seem like a gimmick, but exploring it I think he has some good intentions and seeing it makes me wonder and think, which is always a good sign in my book.

For those of you who are looking at the $100 000 JR received - a lot of which will hopefully be used by him in a worthwhile way - and thinking, (like me) "Damn, how can I get my hands on money like that for the things I want to do?" maybe you should stop scanning award submission guidelines and concentrate on producing some innovative and well thought out methods of working instead. As JR states to the NY Times:

“I’m kind of stunned,” he said of the prize. “I’ve never applied for an award in my life and didn’t know that somebody had nominated me for this.”

Nature Within

Some shameless self promotion:





I am pleased to announce I will be included in the NATURE WITHIN exhibition curated by Minny Lee at the 25CPW gallery.

Please join us for the opening reception on Friday, October the 15th from 6-9pm.

The exhibition runs from October the 14th to the 28th 2010.

www.naturewithinexhibit.com

www.25cpw.org

The gallery is located at 25 Central Park West. New York City.

Exhibition hours are 12-8pm Tuesday-Sunday.

Exhibition: Annabelle Dalby & Lucy Steggals Chapter One—Origins And Approaches

My incredibly talented friend and all round wonderful person Annabelle Dalby has a show with Lucy Steggals in London this month. A lot of her work deals with found objects, archives and re-presentation. I'm very upset I'm not in London to check this out. It's all clever art photography stuff and she does it very very well. Press release is as follows....


Annabelle Dalby & Lucy Steggals
Chapter One—Origins And Approaches
Saturday 9th October 2010
17.00—21.00

Join The 12 Gallery to celebrate our first exhibition with artists Annabelle Dalby & Lucy Steggals.

This collaborative show at The 12 Gallery explores and questions existing modes of collecting & archiving.

These perpetual editing decisions are an intrinsic part of life and are very telling, exposing our desire to modulate our reality to project a preferred version.

Dalby & Steggals are appropriating objects and images from their own collections to create an alterior archive. Using their individual approaches; Dalby sensitively re-presents existing photographs to highlight that which we may have missed; Steggals appropriates and maniplulates imagery to weave alternative fictions. By combining the two they have made a series of works that resonate with compelling narratives for lives both real and imagined.

We warmly welcome you with cocktails and our house chanteuse Colette.

The exhibition runs until 29th October, viewing by appointment only.

RSVP
Elin Clements
elin@the12gallery.com
Tel 07868 731127

Rachel Weschke
rachel@the12gallery.com
Tel 07976 272704

www.the12gallery.com


Business online.

Here's a list of links you might find useful if you are running a photography business in the online world. Which you probably are. I wish I was better at it myself, which is why I'm posting it here, to remind myself to check out all the links and figure out how better to make money doing what I love so I can continue doing what I love!

http://share.xmarks.com/folder/bookmarks/mI8XAH8Lof

Oh and as another reminder; if you want to continue doing what you love (like taking photographs) then you should probably switch off the computer and go and do it (like pick up a camera). Which is what I'll be doing shortly...

Brion Gysin

I could chatter on at great length about Brion Gysin, whose work I first encountered in my teenage years when I read the beat writers and in particular William Burroughs, who I was happy to discover utilised his warped talents in a variety of different media. Gysin was a profound influence on Burroughs creatively and personally. Actually, it turns out that Gysin was a profound influence on many people much more famous than himself, as it seems most people find out about him through their exploration of the work of others.

Anyway, earlier this summer I visited the New Museum exhibition of his work (which ends this week) and it prompted me to re-read Terry Wilson's book of 30 year old interviews conducted with Gysin entitled Here To Go. The title itself references Gysin's answer to the question "What are we here for?"

The answer is of course, "We are Here To Go."

There is a passage in this book that has always stuck with me since I first read it. I had to order a new copy as my original one was lent out and disappeared a long time ago. Having just finished the re-read I thought I'd share the passage in question. Still one of my favourites in the book.

TERRY WILSON - I see here an article about "Copier Art" in which you are quoted. What's that all about?

BRION GYSIN - About nothing at all. Even less than the "Emperor's New Clothes"... which have been hanging on the museum clotheslines for too long. All that shit was replaced by so-called Conceptual Art, which I call Deceptual Art. There is, literally, nothing to it but some cancerous growth out of the Me generation of Americans who were "Spocked" by the ideas of that dumb permissive addle-headed doctor Spock. As Warhol said, anybody can now be a genius for nearly five minutes and a superstar for 15 minutes of public exposure by the media. It will last a little longer if there's a mass product to sell. The trouble with Deceptual Art was that there was a very thin product and even that so ephemeral that no collector in his right mind would want to "invest" in it. All this technological rubbish that has been spewing up from video to polaroid to newly-dubbed "Electroworks" does sell the electronic equipment involved to an over-affluent society of idle housewives who need an "outlet" in programmed "creativity", a way of burning up the bread of the starving Third World and the Fourth and the Fifth on an electric toaster. All this decorative garbage they turn out is what they can pick and choose from as they rollerskate through the air-conditioned supermarket of the arts. It's like painting with numbers and it should stop at the kindergarten. It's not that these things make creation too easy - they have nothing to do with creativity. This is the ugly flab on a fatcat society that burns up everybody else's calories of psychic energy and leaves the whole world impoverished, not enriched.

TERRY WILSON - You have not only practiced photography and incorporated it into your paintings but written and published in french a long text about photography... That means you take it seriously-

BRION GYSIN - Of course I take it seriously. With photography began the whole insane proliferation of images. Previous the the 19th century, most people saw at most one image a week at church or once a year on a pilgrimage. Now images flow past us and through us by the multiple millions, daily. What does that mean and what has it done to us: none of us is quite sure, even now. we have seen revered objects and even whole countries fade under the assault of picture postcards and tourist cameras. in our day, things which had endured from all time have been burnt down, absorbed, obliterated as sure as the beaches of Bali have been overrun by hippies on motorbikes who pass out on speedballs in temples they burn down with an abandoned roach before they catch their cheap charter back home. Get it while it lasts. Use it all up.




And so it goes on.

The guy was clearly off his rocker, but goddamn it if he wasn't right about so many things so I'll have to put him in that raving genius category. He should be on the reading list of every creative arts college course but then if he was the students would probably realise how much of a sham the whole creative arts industry really is.

As he says, "This is the ugly flab on a fatcat society that burns up everybody else's calories of psychic energy and leaves the whole world impoverished, not enriched."

I urge you all to check out some Gysin. I can certainly guess what he would of made of the state of things today.


Strait Is The Gate



This Friday afternoon I dropped by my friend's studio to borrow some time on their scanner. While I scanned a few frames and drank a beer over a quick chat, frantic activity buzzed around this rather atmospheric studio space on the corner of Grand Street & Bowery in Lower Manhattan in preparation for a showcase exhibition featuring some incredibly talented people. The temperature was almost 90 degrees and humid. Wonder what it will be like tomorrow when the space is filled with bodies...




Curator's statement is as follows:


featuring:
Emile Hyperion Dubuisson
Wayne Liu
Pax Paulele
Gabriele Stabile
Louise Ingalls Sturges

Hidden in the flamboyant colors of Chinatown there’s a green stairs that leads to a green gate which finally conduct to a green, very narrow, hallway at the end of which two magnificent windows open up on a very unexpected scenario.

blinks to the famous novel by Andre Gide where a secret event was perceived by the back of a narrow door. This is the mood where the idea originated as well as running through a previous experience held in Rome in the nineties (Studio 14 was an open space where international artists, especially urban and street artists, used to meet and perform their works in complete freedom).

A studio space, in the heart of the Bowery, has become the sophisticated playground for artists and friends to meet up and mix images.

Five artists, mainly photographers, used the space to change perspective on their work. The results of their long term projects and researches was here overturned, upset, reviewed and discussed. The usual set of photographic display (frame, white wall, right light) was here abandoned in honor of the images themselves. Beyond the power of their singular content, images were here used as pencils, colors, paint, frames. Disconnected from their structural logic they broke in a new passionate melody.

Pax, Emile Dubuisson, Louise Sturges, Gabriele Stabile, former students of ICP in New York, and Wayne Liu, by now brilliant artists and photographers committed to their personal career, let the people share for once the studio mood where everything, or almost, is allowed.

Curator: Valentina Casacchia (text)





Exhibition openings

Lots of Openings tonight in New York. It is the new season after all. I doubt I'll make it to any but here's one that looks interesting and they're raising some money for charity too.

It's not dead, but who cares?

Ok. So can we all agree that photojournalism is not dead - As I've said before, if it's anything it's a movie zombie that just won't die!). So, what do we do with this undead creature. The defense for photojournalism seems to revolve around photographers who are working, creating new business strategies and ways of funding their work and paying the bills (many of these methods are not new, by the way - it's just that more people are utilising them).

The real question to me is Who is looking at this stuff?

I didn't go to Perpignon, or Arles, or any of the other photo festivals this year (except one, in New York, which is on my doorstep) but perhaps someone who did go can tell me how many non-photographers were there.

When you go to a music festival, is the entire crowd full of musicians?

I guess that may be a poor analogy, as music is often seen as entertainment and a lot of good visual journalism is shall we say, less than entertaining. In fact it is often the opposite of that. But seriously, is the average person that concerned about what journalists are reporting on? I really think that - I mean I hope that - there is more concern out there than it would sometimes seem. I'd like to think that those people who I see reading the celebrity gossip and articles on how best to pluck your eyebrows or sculpt your abs into a six pack also read in depth reports on the latest political and economic situation. I'd like to think they volunteer for a charity, talk to their neighbours, expand their knowledge of the world via photography, film, the written word, art, culture and - whenever possible - direct experience.

The truth is however, that a lot of them probably only care about how many distractions they can cram on their tablets or they are too busy reading articles on what Katie Perry is up to.

Seeing as I have occasionally had to do a google search to find out who I'm being sent to photograph, I probably should pay more attention to pop culture, like who's number 1 in the pop charts and how to get my abs nice and firm, but in this day and age, where pretty much everything I do has a knock on effect with results that ripple across the globe, I should really care about things that are a bit more important. And I'm trying to avoid sounding pompous and self important here, but the stuff in my house has been manufactured in god knows how many different countries, I have no idea what the living conditions are of the people who grew, harvested, packed, and shipped the food in my fridge. The electricity I consume as I write this probably comes from the huge coal fired power plant a few miles away and we (should) all know how much damage that is doing.

My point is that although photojournalism is not dead, what does it matter if the only audience for it is other photojournalists? If we regard our work as important, shouldn't we make sure that the audience is as wide as possible? I know there are plenty of photojournalists out there trying to do just that, trying to get their work seen by people who are not photographers, people who can use the information contained in the photographs, people who care about what is being depicted, people who are just simply curious minds. If the profession is to shake off the rumours of it's demise - which are often perpetrated by photojournalism professionals themselves - then it needs to show that it is relevant to our society. If we care about who or what we are photographing, if we think that it is worth sharing then it is part of our job to get that work seen. It doesn't even have to be sensationalist, big issue stuff. Sometimes the simplest story can speak volumes and have a reach beyond it's own confines, but it needs to fight against and hold it's own in the culture of celebrity, entertainment and distraction.

Now I'm not saying we shouldn't had fun. I like to be entertained. Who doesn't? but I also like to be informed.

So if the photojournalism zombie finally keels over, twitches and lays still, it'll be because we let it. And no-one else will even notice it's gone.



TOMORROW // TODAY // YESTERDAY

If you are in NYC on September 1st, head down to PANDA and check out this exhibition opening.


16 year old Liliana Servin, from Mexico City, mother of two.

Photo by Tiffany L Clark.

The press release is as follows:

PANDA is proud to present

TOMORROW // TODAY // YESTERDAY

a group show featuring emerging photojournalists
...
RYAN BROOKS
TIFFANY CLARK
MAISIE CROW
ALVARO CORZO
EMILY ANNE EPSTEIN
AGATON STROM
AMIRAN WHITE

Each photojournalist has extensively photographed an individual, capturing the events and emotions of one person's life.

Curated by Emily Anne Epstein, people will walk around the gallery and be transported into different worlds- the world of a NYC graffiti artist, a child mother in Mexico, a burlesque dancer in Brooklyn, a Reverend of the Church of Life After Shopping and more.

This is a rare opportunity to experience in-depth photojournalism on gallery walls.

Please join us for our opening reception at PANDA at 139 Chrystie Street from 6-9 on Wednesday, September 1st.

Drinks and complimentary hors d'oeuvres will be served.

The show will be up until our closing party, Saturday, September 18th.

(BD to Grand, JMZ to Bowery, FM to 2nd Ave, 6 to Spring)

A concrete visual warning.


I saw this via duckrabbit. Thanks Ciara.

Seriously. If we don't stop burning coal and oil we're in the shit. The planet will be fine. In a million or two years it'll be happily running it's cycles as we never existed to fuck them up. That'll be because we will all have drowned in floods or rising oceans, or killed each other in wars over drinking water, or died during storms, or in an ice age brought on by our activities. Or all of the above.

The planet will be fine though.

There is no ground zero mosque.

Put this in your pipe and smoke it.


Climate & Energy

I recently photographed an extremely, ridiculously expensive newly built private property. While being shown around the builder and developer were keen to point out the state of the art features they had integrated into the building. I have to admit it was quite amazing. I asked about the energy efficiency of the place and was proudly told that the property needed commercial level power, in other words, it guzzled electricity. "So did you put in solar power or anything like that so that the building can generate it's own electricity?".

Resounding silence.

"It has it's own backup generator." Came the eventual reply.

In this day and age, in a country and a state that will actually give you money to help you install renewable energy technology, and with materials at your disposal to make a building as energy efficient as possible, that someone would build such a monster of a property without any of these features beggers belief. They'd rather budget for a basketball court in the basement. In contrast, earlier this year I photographed a guy who (unrelated to the article I was illustrating) had built his own house using energy efficient principles and he had nothing but good things to say about the amount and quality of power he got from his geothermal system.

But then, I am not actually surprised at the indifference of most people. Energy companies build huge solar arrays out in the desert, wind farms miles offshore and try and generate huge amounts of power that is then transferred miles and miles through a huge and inefficient grid. They then turn around and say, look, this technology is just not good enough. And people nod their head and say yes, you're right, we don't have the space for huge huge solar arrays and aren't those windmills ugly. This is the wrong way to think about energy generation and is a left over from the attitudes that built the huge fossil fuel burning facilities that generate the majority of our power today. What we need is localised, smaller facilities.

When I talk to people about how we can all live pretty much off the grid, generating much of our own power on site supplemented by small, local power stations powered by wind, solar and geothermal with facilities to generate power using fossil fuels as a a last resort and backup which would provide a consistent stable source of clean energy I am met with the most part by complete indifference. People who complain about their energy bills are reluctant to invest a lump sum to install solar or geothermal power. Some don't even properly insulate their houses properly.

Why the rant? Well, I get angry easily these days. On Sunday I was reading the paper and on the front page of the NY Times I see three pictures; one from Pakistan showing the devastating floods that have affected around 20 million people. I'll put that in bold shall I - 20 MILLION). The second picture was of the Russian wildfires and the third from Chicago, where June storms battered the city.

The headline below was "In Weather Chaos, a Case for Global Warming."

This looked promising. However, the article that followed put forward a rather feeble case that said yes, the world is getting warmer, and yes this will mean more climate chaos, more extremes of heat, drought, storm, fire, flood and snow. Yes a warmer world does mean we will still get cold days in winter. But it also tiptoed around the fact that this is our fault, with much made of the 'probably, possibly' and the 'can't scientifically, positively say for sure'.

So. When my kids turn to me in twenty years time and ask why we didn't do anything about our lifestyle, why did people spend millions drilling for oil and cleaving the tops off mountains instead of restructuring our outdated energy system. When cities are regularly blacked out, it costs $1000 to fill your car with petrol and there are a billion refugees every year thanks to storms and fires, when Bangladesh is made practically uninhabitable, when Katrina is no longer referred to as a 'once in a lifetime' storm, when LA is evacuated because of the threat of fire and Greenland sheds iceburgs four times the size of Manhattan every year, I will have to turn to them and say, "Sorry kids, people just didn't give a shit."

Ryan Lobo

This is a fascinating presentation by photographer Ryan Lobo.

I was particularly struck by his attitude toward the people he photographs. He seems very open and willing to let them dictate the stories he is telling, rather than going in there with a predetermined notion of what the story will be and therefore imposing a prejudice.

Check it out.


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

I just bought a new computer. There are Five in our house now. My office has four which consits of one desktop (actually my wife's, but it has been commandeered) and three laptops. One of those laptops is the first computer I bought, back in 2003. I didn't need one before that it seems. Anyway, this first computer is important. By today's standards it is slow, with a tiny hard drive and an outdated operating system. But it works. And I still use it. I record and edit audio on it. It's hooked up to my stereo equipment permanently and before stealing my wife's desktop I had my scanner running through it too. I don't want to get rid of it precisely because it still works and it gets used.

Besides, it eases my conscience to keep it running as I know E-waste is a big problem. The waste we produce is a big issue for me, for many reasons, and is one of the things about my lifestyle that really bothers me on a daily basis.

Obsolete technology often gets dumped. Some of it ends up far from where it was used. This past Sunday the NY Times published a few photos from a series by Pieter Hugo form a dump in Ghana where some of the residents of a slum named Agbogbloshie break apart these abandoned machines to access the mineral components. In the process, they cause a huge amount of pollution, hazardous to themselves and the environment.


Pieter Hugo:
Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana 2009


Edward Burtynsky documented a similar activity in China, where rural villagers sifted through mounds of electronic waste. One village featured in the series so polluted it's own water source that it now has to import it's water from elsewhere.

Edward Burtynsky:
Ewaste Sorting, Zeguo, Zhejiang Province, 2004


I used to think that when you sent something to be recycled that is was processed through a gleaming technologically efficient plant, with minimal harm to the workers or the environment. The truth is far from that. We as consumers have a a huge responsibility. We buy more than we need. We buy things that are produced at great human and environmental cost and then we dump all that stuff somewhere out of sight and don't give a damn about what happens to it. For years I've thought about exploring recycling in the west. I used to work in a big company in London. We produced a huge amount of waste. For a while I had some management responsibilities for one of the company's departments. I remember calling Westminster council to try and arrange some recycling and was told, bluntly, that Westminster did not recycle. They did not have the facilities and I would have to arrange it through a private company.

In New York, I know a lot of Manhattan's waste gets dumped in the Bronx, where some of it is recycled. There are a lot of health problems in the South Bronx directly related to this.

In New Jersey, where I live, there are miles and miles of artificial hills I was told are full of landfill. I can only imagine what is lying in wait under that topsoil.

Even when we think we are disposing of something responsibly the truth is that often what we think happens is far from the reality.

I remember a wonderful story a colleague once told me. He was living in a flat above a pub. Every night after the pub closed the employees dutifully (and noisily) separated the brown, green and clear glass from the aluminum cans and deposited them (noisily) into the correct bins at the rear of the pub for recycling. in the middle of the night, the rubbish collectors arrived and (very noisily) dumped all the bins into one huge bin on the truck.

My colleague considered telling the pub employees not to bother with their ritual as for one, the bottles and cans were probably going to a landfill anyway and secondly, he would sleep better without all that noise.

Our world is one of over production and over consumption, of quick obsolescence and inconsiderate disposal. I am guilty of perpetrating that for sure. Hugo and Burtynsky show us some of the consequences of our actions. That is why, even though a new computer just arrived in my office, the first one I bought is staying. As long as it works that is. After that, it will be my responsibility to dispose of it properly. Burning it in Ghana or having it pollute a Chinese village's water source does not sound like a very attractive option.

Favourite Album Covers #5


Because I'm listening to it now. And because the liner notes say, "Prestige art director Don Schlitten, whose photograph adorns this album cover, risked death from those he blinded with his flashbulbs while attempting to get the shot."

All together now: "Those cats are heavy, man."

The death of photojournalism (again).

It seems like photojournalism is like one of those celluloid zombies - you can keep on blasting away but the brainless lumbering hulk just refuses to accept it's dead.

Here's yet another article on the subject from Neil Burgess that's doing the rounds.

Actually, I happen to agree with him on one particular point - most of what is called photojournalism these days is just photographers illustrating articles. I certainly do plenty of that myself. The journalism industry seems to be writer driven. I think that's one thing that could change as video becomes more and more prominent on the web.

But visual journalism is not dead, it's just underfunded and oversubscribed. In fact, it was always underfunded, but the pot isn't getting any bigger and there's a big crowd round the rim.

It seems like a lot of conversations I have these days are about getting paid. Thankfully, I don't think photojournalism - or visual journalism - is dead. I just think it's a tough job to earn a living at. But then if you want an easy job that's well paid, you should go work in a bank.

And who in their right mind would want to do that?

Opposition to mosques

I'm no big fan of organised religion. However, to oppose a mosque (or Islamic cultural center in the case of downtown Manhattan) on the grounds that Islam equates with terrorism not only shows a complete ignorance of the real teachings of the Qu'ran (a charge I would also level - but for different reasons - at oh, say, The Taliban for example) but also shows a complete ignorance of how the history of other religions have used (do use) houses of worship to raise funds and popular support for violence.

In any case. This ridiculousness is going on all over the place and reading an article about it today I found the following oxymoronic (is that even a word?) sentence.

"Feeding the resistance is a growing cottage industry of authors and bloggers — some of them former Muslims — who are invited to speak at rallies, sell their books and testify in churches. Their message is that Islam is inherently violent and incompatible with America."

Sorry, but I thought that America was completely compatible with inherent violence. I mean, not a day goes by in America without someone shooting someone else, or themselves, or a bunch of people. This is the country where Christianity and gun ownership often go side by side . It is a country which is at war all the time, both overtly or covertly (or both). I was under the impression that violence is a cherished American institution.

Considering the amount of intolerant, narrow minded people out there, I would have thought fundamentalist 'Islamic' hardliners would be welcome as kindred spirits. They should all meet up over tea and biscuits and discuss how much they hate people who don't think like them.