Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Feature - RJ Shaughnessy

I received my copy of RJ Shaughnessy's book, Your Golden Opportunity Is Comeing Very Soon this weekend and am quite excited to own it. I always feel a sort of brotherhood with other photographers who venture out into the dangerous night to shoot. They know why.

Shooting structures damaged by cars with flash at night in the city that lives and dies by the car, RJ presents a collection of abstract white forms on black - an excellent portrait of a side of Los Angeles.

Check out the whole series here.

You can purchase a signed copy in a first edition of 500 here. The book is gorgeous and I'll be hounding him for info on where he got it printed.

Also, see these write ups on the book from:

DLK Collection
Horses Think
Exposure Compensation

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pictures as "Proof"

From this NY Times Op-Ed piece:

The M.P.’s had no military training as prison guards, and they were told to do whatever the interrogators — a mix of military intelligence and C.I.A. officers and civilian contractors — asked them to do to the prisoners....

...What were the pictures for? “Just to show what was going on,” Ms. Harman said. To say, “Look, I have proof, you can’t deny it.” Sometimes she and her fellow guards posed alongside their abused wards, but most of her photos from Abu Ghraib have a purely documentary quality — solitary prisoners, stripped and manacled in their cells, stretched over bed frames or forced to balance on a box. Cpl. Charles Graner, the M.P. in charge of the night shift on the intelligence block that fall, also took photographs. And Corporal Graner, too, spoke of his snapshots as a form of “proof.” He showed the pictures to his superior officers, medics, lawyers.

Later, he told Army investigators how he had routinely beat up prisoners for interrogators, or kept them up all night, making them crawl naked back and forth across the floor. “Was all this stuff wrong?” he said. “Yeah.” But his point was that it was no secret. He kept getting praised for his work.

Six months later, in April 2004, when the Harman and Graner photographs were leaked to the press, they shocked the world’s conscience. They also performed a great public service. They told us something about ourselves that we might have suspected but did not fully know — that the Bush administration had decided to fight terror with terror, and torture with torture.

We did not fully know this before the photographs came out, because our leaders hid it from us, and when it was revealed they denied it. “We do not torture,” Mr. Bush kept saying, even as a stream of official documents leaked to the press contradicted him.

Had a journalist taken the photos, there would have been prizes. Instead, the photographs were used by the administration and the military to frame the soldiers who took and appeared in them as rogues acting out of their own individual perversity. In this way, the exposé became the cover-up: the soldiers who revealed our corruption to us were made scapegoats and thrown in prison.

(Empasis Mine)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Feature - Zoe Crosher

Zoe Crosher's Out the Window (LAX) series consists of shots taken of both the interiors of hotel rooms adjacent to the airport as well as planes out the rooms' windows flying in or out of Los Angeles in the same frame. I love the execution and the concept, which I imagine came to her since her mother is an airline stewardess. The series is linked to a map of the LAX area showing the location of each hotel.

Out the Window (LAX) was also made into a book and is available at a very reasonable $20 here.

Zoe's bio refers to Los Angeles as “a place that moves in shifts and perpetual motion, with no real center, no point of concentration." I couldn't have said it better, especially in light this week's earthquakes.

Take the time to check out this and her other excellent series. You won't be disappointed.

Tomorrow: A Conversation with Jo Ann Callis, Gay Block, and Catherine Opie

Copyright Jo Ann Callis

Tomorrow the Getty will be hosting Woman Twirling: A Conversation with Jo Ann Callis, Gay Block, and Catherine Opie to coincide with Callis's current show there. Don't miss this write-up on Callis over at the LA Times, which ends with:

Though she was a top photographer through the mid-’90s, her response to the digital juggernaut was to take up painting and printmaking. “As a career move, this is ridiculous,” says Callis, whose work is shown at Craig Krull Gallery in Santa Monica. “But there is no point in making art unless you do what you want to do.”

Info on tomorrow's talk here.

Free - Reservations required.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Show tomorrow - Koury Angelo, "Perspectives"

Koury Angelo, who's photos of MOPLA I previously linked to, will be showing his "Perspectives" series, all shot on an iPhone, which remind me of this sweet app that emulates a variety of film stock, lomos etc. for your iPhone. Its like Alien Skin for your camera phone.

"Perspectives" is an exploration into the idea that a photograph of the finest quality transcends the bounds of manipulation. Instead, one must depend on the heart and soul that lives within the composition itself. That is the true inquest the observer must face.

When: Saturday, May 16th 7-10PM
Where: The Santiago Art District: Loft 910 Gallery on 910 East Civic Center Dr. (Santa Ana Blvd. just off the 5 frwy)

You can see a selection of the images on Koury's blog and I must say shots I've seen taken on the iPhone have been surprising me in terms of quality. Surely in 5 years our phones will match the quality of a 5D, right? That teleportation thing will be a reality too, right? Too much to ask for?

Blurb Beware

I'm a big fan of customer service, which is why I'll never ever consider renting from Hertz again after they left me and my ex stranded with only 12 euros and no ID or credit cards for 28 hours after being robbed on a beach in Spain. They didn't even get us another car to sleep in that night.

Sounds like Jonathan Saunders has had a similar experience with Blurb. After reading his story, I'd think long and hard about going with them for my next photo book. When are companies going to realize that this stuff can kill you in the age of web 2.0?

Continuing with a theme

I just realized that Elliott Erwitt shot reminded me of this one by Roger Ballen. Speaking of Roger Ballen, I just saw he'll be speaking at PhotoEspana. I'll try my best to correct the wrongs of last years NYPH by recording his talk and posting it here (if I can get permission, that is).

Copyright Roger Ballen

Quote of the Week - Eliott Erwitt

Copyright Elliott Erwitt

(from an interview with Elliott Erwitt, by James Danziger, in 1976)

JD: I understand your father is a Buddhist priest?

Erwitt: Something like that.

JD: Has that been any influence on you?


JD: Quite seriously. When you look at someone like Minor White's work, he makes it quite clear that he's been influenced by Zen philosophy in his approach to photography.

Erwitt: In what way?

JD: In his theory of equivalence, and the way he sees the photograph as a symbol - one step in a dialogue between the viewer, his spirit, the photograph, and the image.

Erwitt: Oh Jesus Christ. Really? What crap. I tell you, he's a nice fellow I'm sure, and all that, but that kind of stuff makes me retch.

Thanks, Bruce!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NY Photo Festival and Beyond! (even all the way to LA)

Remember that amazing talk that Roger Ballen gave at last year's festival that people couldn't stop talking about? The one that wasn't filmed? Well, that won't happen to you this year if you can't make it out to the opposite coast. Evidently, all of the daytime talks will make their way in video form onto the festival's website, albeit with a slight lag. Check out the full list of talks here (and be ready to squint).

Ah, and Mr. Hetherington will be blogging about (and I imagine filming) the festival too, probably in a more timely manner so keep checking in on What'sthejackanory.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Emily Shur

Emily Shur's poison is portraiture, specializing in Celebrities and naturally based here in Los Angeles. She just had 2 images nominated for the NYPH `09 Photo Awards. Congrats, Emily!

Be sure to check out her personal work on her site also.

Also, all you voyeurists out there can check out an inside look into her home/studio shot by Andrew Heatherington here.

Lake Powell Girl - - Copyright Emily Shur

Jeremy Pivin - Copyright Emily Shur

Marié Digby - Copyright Emily Shur

Mindy Kaling - Copyright Emily Shur

Amanda Seyfried - Copyright Emily Shur

Shooter Jennings - Copyright Emily Shur

This Weekend Only at ACE Gallery

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at ACE Gallery Beverly Hills photos will be on display from USA Network's Character Project, featuring photos by Eric Ogden, Sylvia Plachy, Dawoud Bey, Mary Ellen Mark, Richard Renaldi and more.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Magenta - Flash Forward

I found out today that I was a selected as a winner in the Magenta Foundation's Flash Forward 2009 competition. Congrats to all the winners and honorable mentions and special props to fellow left coast photographers, Ryan Schude (Los Angeles), Nicolas Silberfaden (Los Angeles), Peikwen Cheng (San Francisco), Rocky McCorkle (San Francisco), Narayan Mahon (Seattle) and Benjamin Drummond (Seattle).

We can shoot too.

Check out all the selections here.

Tuesday - Sebastião Salgado at the Hammer

For some reason I've been seeing him knocked a lot recently, but I must say Ansel Adams was my first B&W (or photographic for that matter) love. I'd been to Yosemite on a number of Cub Scout outings as a child and when I first came across his work and saw these places I'd been to and seen but never in this way his photographs portrayed them, it made me ask my best friend to teach me how to develop in the darkroom. For that, his work will always hold a special place in my heart.

My second B&W love is Sebastião Salgado. To me, no one else compares and if you've never spent any significant alone time with one of his books, I can't recommend it enough.

We're blessed to have the rare opportunity to see him speak at the Hammer on Tuesday at 7pm. Tickets are first-come, first-served starting at 6pm.

Info here.

Work from his Africa book will also be in a show at Peter Fetterman Gallery through September.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Feature - Mathew Scott

Born in Oregon, art school in San Fran and now residing in Los Angeles (San Diego next, then continuing south to Mexico perhaps?), Mathew Scott has some great portrait work in his The Book of Mathew series. I also recommend checking out Last Call...Portrait of a Dive Bar.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Refute: Conscientious

Copyright Bill Henson

So since Joerg doesn't allow comments over on Conscientious and I'd like to take issue with something he posted today, I'll have to do that here. I'm not sure if he even reads this but perhaps he's got me on his RSS since I'm on his blogroll. I do take comments here.

Joerg posted the following:

Photography at night might be technically challenging, but I'm always a bit of a loss as to what to make of it: This is what things look at night. But then the point is... what? Anyway, check out Levi Wedel's site for a lot of night photography.

Now, to just throw out a statement like that and not have any kind of follow up seems a bit silly (and borderline authoritarian - "What I say goes.) although I will give him credit for phrasing it as a question.

To simply discount night photography as technically challenging and a gimmick is illogical to me. Why not discount daytime photography (also technically challenging - in fact more so for me, as I've got the night thing pretty much down by now, though it did take quite a bit of work to get to where I am)?

Had Joerg said the following, we'd have all been thinking he's a bit loony:

"So this is what things look like in the daytime. But the point is ...what?"

Well, night is the yang to daylight's yin, the black to its white, so conversely the statement is equally silly. Certain things happen in the daytime, which has a specific mood or moods and others at night, which has it's own unique feel or mood. Why discount the exploration of roughly 1/3rd of our life on this planet?

Knowing that Joerg favors portraiture, I could turn his simplification to that genre:

"So this is what these people look like. But the point is...what?"

The answer, I think, to all of these parallel questions and for any type or genre of photography is that the point is what the photographer chooses to explore within the genre and show to the viewer. The deliberate selection by the photographer of subject matter and the way he chooses to portray it, in which order etc. is the point - the idea behind the work and its beauty -the voice given to it by the photographer and the feelings or ideas the work raises in the viewer.

It matters not whether one shoots in the daytime, at night or in caves - landscapes, portraiture etc. To simply discount an entire genre is a bit far-fetched. We should be asking, as Joerg did, "But the point is...what?" about every type of photography. Equally.