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.


The Ipad is great, no wait, it's shit, no wait...

Dear computer people. sort it out. I want a powerful, mobile portable device with a high capacity battery (solar cells for on the run charging please) that I can use to run full spec editing software like Lightroom and transmit photos. And as a machine I want to get 'under the hood' and I want it to be customisable. Is that too much to ask?

Netbooks, small, light, long battery life. Great. Really small screen. My wife has one and I steal it often, but with a 9 inch screen it's hard to use if things get complicated. Macbook Pro. light, slim, powerful. Except it's got that closed computing Apple thing going on. And it's expensive because it looks pretty.

Tablet computer... Now we're talking. The Ipad? Erm. No. As Dennis Walker of Camera Bits explains here, when explaining the problems with producing a version of Photo Mechanic for the Ipad - problems which by the way result almost entirely from Apple's own restrictions on what will work with their operating system. "From what we can surmise, the iPad is meant for the consumption of media, not the production of media content."

However, I think we might get there. Eventually. The Ipad is great for viewing content and with it's size, interface and portability it is fantastic for some things a normal computer might do. Like this for example.

So until the advent of holographic computing what we need is an open source version of the Ipad. Like a big android phone.

I guess we will see it eventually (tablet pc's are nothing new and I recently read about one that sounded interesting but I can't find the link, or remember where I read it or anything else useful about it.)

However, we will have to wait for the market to catch up with the technology. You know how the economics of these companies go - R&D is usually way ahead of what we can buy in the stores. Incidentally, with things like computers, why do we need to mass produce them and fill warehouses full of them? Surely the technology available in the stores is held up because companies have to offload their existing stock. Every computer should be built to order. Many are, so why not just extend that option. Maybe because that would require a rethink of the way the economy is run, which would not be a bad thing. Just think - no oversupply, efficiently run factories producing only what was required, shared technology, the latest developments available to anyone who requested it, peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind...

Agnes Dherbey: Red Shirts protest in Bangkok



This is a quite incredible set of photographs taken in the midst of violence in Bangkok earlier this year. A friend of my wife lives in the center of the city and she told me that many residents go into a self imposed house arrest when the violence flares for fear of getting caught in the crossfire. I don't blame them.

Watch the slideshow here, though you'll want to turn off the autoplay - which is way too fast - and go slowly through the essay one picture at a time.