Tuesday, March 31, 2009

MOPLA - Fresh Look Portfolio Reviews and opening reception on Saturday

UPDATE: They've changed this to be an online first come, first served signup one week prior to the event.

The first annual Month of Photography Los Angeles, aka MOPLA kicks off this Saturday with what is sure to be an excellent projection of night photography in LA, including works by Amanda Friedman, who I've featured before. MOPLA is put on by the Lucie Foundation.

Included in the list of events is a portfolio review called Fresh Look. I thought about signing up for the reviews, as the list of reviewers is actually quite impressive.

And then I saw this in the FAQ section:

6. How do I sign up to meet with a particular reviewer?

Due to the nature of democracy (don't they mean anarchy?), there will be a first come first serve sign up list an hour prior to start of the review. You will be able to sign in based upon availability. The sign up list will close 20 minutes before the start of the review so that we can provide the reviewers the names of photographers with whom they will be reviewing.

Is anyone else imagining a group of 60-80 photographers surrounding a table with a list on it pushing and shoving to make their $250 entry fee count? Why in the world would they choose to do it this way in lieu of the standard lottery system, where you're at least guaranteed to get a couple of your top choices? If you still want to participate, the deadline to sign up is Friday April 3rd.

MOPLA's official opening event - Saturday April 4th

Frank Pictures Gallery Bergamont Station
2525 Michigan Ave.
Santa Monica, CA

7-10 PM

Friday, March 27, 2009

Feature - Melissa Rodwell

Melissa Rodwell is a local fashion photographer, who also happens to run the excellent Fashion Photography Blog (listed in the sidebar to the right), which is a great resource for anyone interested in fashion photography. She recently posted a list of her 10 favorite fashion photographers working today. I also recommend Jason Christopher's Los Angeles Fashion Photographer blog.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Interview - Bryan Formhals, La Pura Vida Gallery

Bryan Formhals, the founder of La Pura Vida Gallery, which accepts submissions via its Flickr group was kind enough to answer some questions regarding this new endeavor and the gallery's first physical show. There will be a closing reception for the show tomorrow at 8pm, which I'll be attending if anyone wants to say hello.


How did the idea for La Pura Vida come about and why did you choose flickr as a venue to receive submissions?


La Pura Vida was born out of a small network of photographers who met through the HCSP (Hardcore Street Photography) group on Flickr, which is one of the most active groups on Flickr relating to documentary aesthetic. Ludmilla Morais, Raoul Gatepin, James Hendrick and myself were all admins of the group for about a year and half. After awhile we decided to move on because we were interested in more than just street photography.

Through numerous discussions, Raoul and I thought monthly shows would be a good way to try something different. Most Flickr groups simply maintain a constant pool of photographs which never really ends. As consumers of photography we found this approach to be rather boring.

It was around that time that I read an op-ed by Garrison Keillor in the LATimes called 'La pura vida beckons in L.A.' The name stuck with me, so we went with it.

The reason we take submissions primarily through Flickr is because we believe strongly that there's great work being created there by talented, intelligent photographers that deserves to be seen by a wider audience. Which is why we're aiming to make some of the quality work more accessible, both through our monthly shows and the regular features on the blog.

However, we'd certainly like to evolve to a point where we have submissions coming in from all over the web and not just Flickr. But Flickr does makes it really easy for people to submit photos. There are plenty of blogs out there that have pools running on Flickr seeking new work. Booooom! is a good example. Someone needs to design a cool application for art submissions on the web.


Well, I certainly agree that "someone needs to design a cool application for art submissions on the web." If the photo community could agree on a standard size, say 1000px wide at 72dpi, quality 8 jpegs also, it would sure save us all a lot of time with submissions!


Yeah, standardization would make life easier for publishers, bloggers and curators. The flow of content is too inhibited at times. I understand why photographers want to protect their work, but if you're working in the fine art community, then I think it's important to unchain your work and allow it to spread. Most fine art publishers and bloggers are non-profit entities anyway, so there's really no lose of value. Commercial publications and websites is a different story all together of course.


So you just had your first physical show. How did the opening go? Have you seen any sales in these tough times? How is the work priced and presented? Are you happy with the result? Any changes going forward based on this first experience?


My spies on the ground told me the opening went well. They even brought back a few photographs and videos as evidence. I wasn't expecting too many sales considering the audience was primarily poor and struggling, art loving urbanites. However, we did sell two photographs during the opening. But that's been it. The work was priced by the photographers with my consultation. Who knows how to value to this type of work? I'm not sure I do, which is probably not a good sign for someone presumably getting into the gallery business! I'm very curious about the 'affordable prints' model that's seemingly being adopted by a few online galleries and collectives. CONTACT editions out of the UK is the latest that I just saw. Of course, these are all based on 20x200 , which has been very successful. So it's no wonder people are copying the idea. I just really wonder how large the market is. Maybe there are more amateur photography collectors out there than we can imagine. Or maybe people will turn to affordable prints for more decorative purposes. It will be interesting to see the market evolve.

I would say overall that I'm happy with the results of the show. It was complicated organizing it remotely and I wish I had planned better and given myself more time to select the photographs, but it does feel good to get something out in the real world and off the monitors. I have some ideas for more shows but as you know wall space isn't easy to come by so we'll probably have to try some more experimental approaches. The advantage that we have is the global network we've established online. We're not tied to any specific geographical location. So, if someone in our network can find wall space in Rome, Berlin or Albuquerque, then that's where we'll go. My goal is for La Pura Vida to be a moveable feast.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

AIPAD Request

Ooh, can someone who's lucky enough to be in NYC this weekend please record this for the rest of us?

Saturday, March 28, 2009 Park Avenue Armory - Veteran’s Room

10:00 a.m.What Makes a Photographic Print a Masterpiece?
(Why Process and Print Quality Matter)

Moderator: Grant B. Romer, Co-Director, Center for the Legacy of Photography, and ResearchCurator, George Eastman House
• Malcolm Daniel, Curator in Charge, Department of Photographs, The MetropolitanMuseum of Art
• Anne E. Havinga, Senior Curator of Photographs, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
• Hans P. Kraus, Jr., Hans P. Kraus, Jr. Fine Photographs
• James M. Reilly, Co-Director, Center for the Legacy of Photography, and Director of theImage Permanence Institute

Thursday - Hiroshi Watanabe / Four Evenings with Fine Art Photographers

Hiroshi Watanabe will be the first speaker in Four Evenings with Fine Art Photographers kicking off tomorrow at 7pm courtesy of Julia Dean Workshops. Organized by Aline Smithson, whose excellent Lenscratch blog should be one everyone's list, the series promises to be an interesting one and a great way for photo enthusiasts to come together here in LA. Here is the lineup:

Hiroshi Watanabe (http://www.hiroshiwatanabe.com/)
Douglas McCulloh (http://www.douglasmcculloh.com/)
Mona Kuhn (http://www.monakuhn.com/)
Whitney Hubbs (http://www.whitneyhubbs.com/)

Series Fee: $75
At-the-door admission: $20 General; $10 Students w ID (Art Center, Santa Monica College and Brooks Institute students only)
Cash and check accpeted

Location: A&I Santa Monica, 1550 17th St, Santa Monica, CA 90404

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chris Anthony - Show & Opening, "Venice"

Local photographer, Chris Anthony's Venice series will on view through April 18th at Corey Helford Gallery with an opening reception this Saturday from 7-10 pm. I'm really curious to see this one.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sanchez Brothers

The Misuse of Youth - Copyright 2007 Sanchez Brothers

Somehow I missed this. Canadian brothers (a bit of Wall has rubbed off on them) Carlos and Jason Sanchez have a show up at DNJ Gallery through April 18th. I definitely want to check this one out and recommend you do too.

154 1/2 N. La Brea (on the second floor)

Make sure you also pop across the street to Photographers Gallery to see some great Slim Aarons photos, which they seem to always have on sale.

Also, if you are looking for a new screensaver, there are a couple of their images that are large enough floating around a gooogle images search.

Weekend Happenings

So, since he's much better at listing events than I, I'll just point you all to PixFeed to see what's going on around town this weekend. Thanks for saving me the time, Eric!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Flickr Stigma

I have an interview planned for posting shortly with Bryan Formhals, who founded La Pura Vida Gallery. La Pura Vida accepts submissions from its flickr group for online and physical shows.

Bryan recently commented on a post over at DLK, which spoke to the negative reaction of gallerists and those in the art world to blogs. He went further and said the following about flickr:

A similar stigma exist for people who use Flickr which is equally as foolish. It always amazes me that photographers would shun the largest community of photography enthusiasts on the web simply because they don't understand how to navigate the social ecosystem.

Now, I'd been thinking the same as of late. It seems to me that every so often I hear someone dismissing flickr as full of flowers, cats and trees and lot's of crap. Well, true. Of course there is a lot of boring, awful photography on a site so huge but whenever I hear this, I think to myself, "This person has not made the slightest investment in seeking out all of the great photography on the site and is thus not reaping the rewards."

To which rewards am I referring? I log onto my flickr account and view my contact's new postings every day and it's one of my favorite parts of the day. In the time I've been on flickr, I've found 156 photographers whose new work I would like to see as it is shot.

Anyone who thinks there is not incredible photography on flickr - great shots you'll never see anywhere else and which will inspire you - is being plain foolish.

Here is a sampling of shots that my contacts posted in just the last week or so. I've been lucky to see them all and learned a little something more about photography from each:

(For the sake of time, I'm just posting their flickr names and a link to their streams, but everyone's got a real name, of course and usually a website so check them out!)

Salva Lopez

Ulrich Kreuner

Ryan Schude (from his iphone!)

Interview - Amanda Friedman

Amanda Friedman's work holds a special place near to my heart, being another photographer shooting at night in Los Angeles. I previously featured her work here. I was interested in asking her some questions relating to how she came to have gallery representation with one of LA's finest photo-focused galleries, Kopeikin Gallery and share her answers with you, as I think many of us are in the dark as to how to go about doing this.

Amanda will be showing her work in a slideshow during the Month of Photography Los Angeles, MOPLA on April 4th, titled Dark Side: The Anatomy and Topography of Los Angeles at Night.


So I am a huge fan of your night landscapes. I was pleasantly surprised to see how great an accomplice fog is for shooting at night and you use it extremely well. Having been focused on artistic photography, I've shied away from commercial endeavors even though they would allow me to more quickly pay my bills. I think there is a perception in the art world that shooting commercially in the early stages of one's career can take away some perceived legitimacy. However, you have found a way to shoot beautiful editorial and travel work, while having great gallery shows and representation. How do you view and walk this line between art and commerce?


I think shooting commercially can add to your legitimacy. its a good idea to fine tune your craft and make money so you can afford to shoot your fine art projects. If you believe in this "line" between art and commerce it will dominate your perception and reasoning. I think it best to try to blur or wipe this line out completely. When shooting commercially you need to be aware of your own artistic eye, and if you want to sell your art you need the structure of business and commerce to facilitate that. Having enjoyable and attractive personal work can also attract clients to you. Shooting commercially can provide you with situations that you wouldn't seek out, makes you adaptable and versatile, provides you contacts with people who can afford fine art, give you experience dealing with the business and money matters in photography, which can help you sell your art. In short there is no reason to be a starving artist when you have a valuable skill where people will pay for your talents. Forget about what you think other people think, get out there make some money, hone your skills, take time for your art.


You are represented by what I consider a pretty great photo-focused gallery here in town. Many artists would consider this a sort of be-all and end-all and the idea of how to reach this goal seems a bit unattainable sometimes. I once asked another photographer how he came to get his representation and he said he'd received a rejection from one of the big contests (something I'm sure we are all familiar with), had a bit too much wine that night and started emailing galleries. This one had responded favorably there he found himself talking to me at the opening reception. How did this come about for you and what challenges come next?


Upon moving to LA in 1998, I joined APA and entered some night landscapes into a contest they were having at the end of 1999. Fortunately, I ended up getting a judges choice award for one of my images. Charlie Holland, the creative head of Getty's LA office picked my photo as her favorite. APA then threw a party / award ceremony and that is where I first met Paul Kopeikin. He sat behind me during the slide show and we struck up a conversation. He liked the work and gave me his card. At that point, I remembered feeling like it was a good card to keep. Fast forward 4 years later. I had been working a lot on building up the night project and felt it was time to get it out in front of galleries. Paul was the first person I called and he invited me in to show prints, the rest is history. I was very lucky.

The only challenge for me has been getting a solo show at his space, which I’m hoping will come this spring / summer. Paul realizes that I do shoot commercially and I’m not shooting my fine art 100% of the time. He constantly asks to see new work and wants to see that I am shooting my personal work, not just commercial, which can be a hard thing to balance equally. However, Paul has faith in the work, the work has sold and does have a big fan base, so I guess at this point I just have to be patient and hopefully a show will come soon!


So it took 4 years for you to contact Paul. When did you know you were ready? I think a lot of us are aways trying to make better work and are feeling like we're not "ready" yet, but I guess we'll hopefully always be improving so at some point this becomes a bit silly. What has happened since "signing" with the gallery? I think it's easy to think of this as being the goal, but I'm sure there are a lot of next-steps that arise. How have things gone since? What are the next steps/challenges once one is represented? Have any other opportunities arisen as a result of having gallery representation?


When I contacted Paul, I had a significant body of work to show him, approximately 30-40 images that I was really proud of. The work was getting a ton of great feedback from various people, my friends, other photographers, and editors. People kept saying, "You have to get this work into a gallery, its amazing." so I took the advice and called him. I also just had a gut feeling that I was ready.

You can't doubt yourself or your work. You just have to go out and do it!
Since joining Paul, he has sold a lot of my work, which has been fantastic. Getting a show has been the hard part. Paul knows I shoot commercially and that my fine art is not always my top priority, so that has been hindering my ability to get a show. I've just had to be very patient and continually try to shoot as much new work as possible.

I did just show him 15 new images, and he became excited about the work again.
At that point he has promised me a show this summer.

Next steps: getting a book published, which I’m working on now through blurb. A publisher expressed interest in seeing a mock up, so hopefully once it’s made I can send out and see if that is a possibility.

Challenges: coming up with a new fine art project and making time to shoot it in conjunction with my commercial projects.
Other opportunities that have arisen as a result of gallery representation: I did have a solo show at DWC gallery in Chicago back in FEB 08. The curator at the gallery saw my work through Paul’s website.

Thanks, Amanda!

You can also read all of the helpful posts on getting a gallery that Edward Winkleman has done on his excellent blog here.

Feature - Chloe Aftel

Chloe Aftel is another LA-based photographer and one who was recently named one of PDN's 30 photographers to watch this year. She also has a new book of polaroids she's taken available for sale on Blurb. You can view the first 20 pages and purchase it here.

I usually dislike dyptichs but I particularly enjoyed Chloe's poaroid dyptichs that are a continuation of a scene vs. what seem usually to me as unrelated weak photos trying to strengthen one another. Not so here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Center just released the results of both it's Singular Image and Project Competitions. Congrats to all the winners.

I was, however, bothered by one of the choices. In looking at the series submitted by Jarrett Murphy, who won the jurors choice award, my immediate reaction was, "this is a rip off of Tim Simmons work!" I've long been a Tim Simmons fan, though I feel not many people know of his work on this side of the pond.

Now I know no topic or idea is ever really fully explored and also that the Egyptians and the Aztecs both invented the arch independently of one another and with no communication, but were I a juror for a prestigious competition such as this I'd imagine:

a) I would be familiar with Tim Simmons work
b) one of my fellow jurors would be, all of us being knowledgable about the photo world
c) personally, I would not be able to award work that is so directly derivative.

Any thoughts? Room for both?

Tim Simmons:

Jarrett Murphy:

Monday, March 9, 2009

Feature - Bruce Haley

Bruce Haley is sort of a photo god living amongst us left-coasters. Bruce covered conflicts in every part of the world imaginable and is now living a more, much-deserved quiet life up in Carmel. I'm definitely stopping by to hear some stories next time I am up there, though lucky enough for us, Bruce has recently posted his Tao of War Photography, which is a must read for any photographer or non-photographer for that matter. Thanks for making feel like a coward, Bruce.

Bruce was nominated for a Pulitzer for his work breaking the story of famine in Somalia and was awarded the Robert Capa Gold Medal for his work on the war in Burma (now Myanmar).

His work now leans towards fine art, with an excellent series of California landscapes, titled Goldenstate, which was featured in Artworks Magazine. I can't recommend a visit to his site enough. I've chosen to feature works from his Post-Communist Project. Click to see larger versions.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Artspeak / Statements

An artist friend's advice to me on statements once was "Write it as if you were telling a good friend about the work for the first time"

From an article by Dan Fox titled "Serious Business: What does it mean to be a professional artist" over at Frieze:

Working for a contemporary art magazine, I get sent a vast amount of press material each day, almost all of which employs a strikingly similar tone of voice. Most common is the one of academic solemnity infused with a barely veiled aggression, as though art were engaged in some cultural ‘war on terror’. Words such as ‘forcing’, ‘interrogating’ or ‘subverting’ occur with incredible frequency. Boundaries are ‘broken down’ and ‘preconceptions challenged’ so often as to make subversion and radicality seem like a mandatory daily chore rather than a blow to the status quo. They perpetuate old-fashioned notions, such as that of the artist visionary liberating the masses from mental enslavement by bourgeois values. Overuse has made these words sound strangely toothless, for what’s at stake in the art is often less important (but not necessarily without value) than the language suggests.

This may seem like nit-picking when global capital is collapsing around our ears. Sure, the follies of art-speak are easy to laugh at, but often criticism of it begins and ends with a dismissive chuckle – which ignores profounder problems. Why should academic terminology be the default vehicle for discussing art? Why is there such an emphasis on newness, schism and radicality? Even when the art itself may be enjoyably throwaway, language pins it to deathlessly auratic registers of exchange. This suggests a subliminal fear that, if the subject in question is not talked up as Big and Culturally Significant, then the point of fussing over it in the first place might be called into question, bringing the whole house of cards tumbling down.

Read the whole piece here.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Re: Baldessari

After posting Baldessari's piece that made me laugh out loud the first time I saw it at LACMA, I was reminded from a visit to Todd Walker's excellent Gallery Hopper of ArtCareer.net's 100 Must-See Art Blogs list and happened upon Selling Art blog. While there, I found the folowing gem relating to the Bladessari I posted:

You want to market a body of work, not a single piece. Try working on a series, rather than a single piece, so you can address a number of different issues and a number of different pieces can be available for collectors.

I could rant now, but I'll spare you all.

And an unrelated one that was nice to rememeber:

You have come a long way, and have a long way to go. Focus on what and who you are, and not on what you’re not.

Can we say the same about Photography?

Copyright John Baldessari

No real need to make a special trip to LACMA to see piece this in person...