February 26, 2008
At least when it comes to press coverage of attractiveness. I was not at all surprised when Joerg forwarded me a Cosmetic Surgery blog featuring my interview on Conscientious. As I replied to him, “there is no irony in plastic surgery.” I went to the link and was fascinated by the banner ads on the site. The headline “Age Catches up with Demi Moore Despite Fortune Spent on Cosmetic Surgery,” really encapsulates many of the issues I am exploring in my work. When I went to the Daily Mail to look at the entry, I saw another link to a George Clooney article. As you can see below, the two actors looks are portrayed quite differently.
Hmmm…. Is it just me, or are they inferring that 40 something sexist man alive George, really doesn’t need the ‘photo retouch job’ but poor 40ish Demi really looks like shit despite all the surgery. It is pretty amazing how men continue to get ‘distinguished’ and remain sexy well into middle age in Hollywood, while women never seem to be never good enough. One day these actresses are held up as beauty icons and the next they are being shredded. In reality, most actors now seem to get “work done” male and female. My mother recently mentioned to me that she saw Jessica Lange on television, and that her first thought was how old she looked. But then she realized that she just looked like a 50 something year-old woman, not like a 50 something year-old woman who has had a ton of surgery. She, like most of us, is now judging these women against a different standard. Something to consider.
February 24, 2008
Susana Raab has a great response to my post on mentoring, I really enjoyed reading it and I think based on the emails I received about my Frank/Sternfeld post, most people will identify with her experiences. While I chose to write about a really positive and meaningful mentoring moment in my life, I certainly had my share of the opposite. Unfortunately, a lot of people teaching photography seem to very unsuitable for the task. There are many who seem to teach only for their ego, money, or to meet starry eyed young ladies they can try to take advantage of, I have had all of the above. She brings up another point, which is the importance of having a supportive mate, I am also lucky enough to have a partner who not only encourages and supports me, but who has an amazing eye and understanding of photography. But all of my experiences, many of them quite imperfect, have moved me forward on my photographic journey. In retrospect, I feel really grateful for all of it.
Many blogs have discussed the worthiness of assisting and how to get started in photography. My advice would be to get yourself around as many talented people as you can. You learn so much by osmosis. I think people assume that if they intern that they are entitled to “get something back” for working for free. I have done a lot of interning, and almost all of it has turned into paid employment or has given me invaluable information. I began interning at my current job, and I have to say I enjoyed every minute of archiving negatives. I learned more going through hundreds of negatives of an incredibly accomplished photographer than I could ever learn in any workshop or class. So I say to all of you who want to get somewhere, bite the bullet and get yourself in somewhere where you can be around the best. Sometimes ‘mentoring’ is not an active experience. I think you can create our own mentor by changing your expectations. Right now I have the privilege of being a part of the production of really great photographer’s show. I am getting to see what goes in to the making of a top of line gallery show from start to finish. This is an invaluable experience. You can get mentoring from your peers, your loved ones, and from anyone you can find you can offer you support, encouragement and feedback. It takes a village to make a great photographer. I get a ton of support from my rental place, without the incredible their tech knowledge, I would not be able to make my photos. Yes I was very lucky to have studied with Joel and with Penelope Umbrico, both of whom gave me incredible gifts. But at some point you are out there on your own and you have to find your way. At least that is what I keep telling myself.
February 21, 2008
I am honored to be interviewed today on Joerg Colberg’s fantastic fine-art blog, Conscientious. It was a great experience and Joerg asked some really interesting questions. Also, if you have a chance his past line-up of conversations includes, Stephen Shore, Alec Soth, Martin Parr, Richard Renadi, Brian Ulrich and a stellar list of photogs. The interview includes portriats from my latest project which is in progress.
February 21, 2008
The Getty is sponsoring an amazing archival project to save our film heritage. As a proponent of film, I am glad someone cares enough to actually try and save this stuff. Every time I go home I spend hours going through my mother’s old family photo’s marveling at the beauty of these little treasures from the early 20th century. So if you have any photos that you can bear to part with or just want to be rid of your analog production remnants, the Getty’s project seems like a good bet.
(P.S. Part two of my post on Women in Photography will cover the 60′s, 70′s & 80′s. So don’t despair that Cindy Sherman will be ignored.)
Help Create an Archive of Photographic Materials from the Pre-Digital Age
Digital photography is replacing traditional photography. And it’s happening so fast that traditional photography, and the knowledge about how to create it, is in danger of disappearing altogether.
We need your help.
Scientists at the Getty Conservation Institute need your old photographic papers, film, negatives, and prints to build an archive of knowledge and materials from the era of classical photography. This archive will become a reference collection for future generations of photo conservators and scholars, and will allow them to research and authenticate the treasures of the classical photography era.
Surprisingly, the large photography companies—Kodak, Ilford, Fuji, Polaroid, and Agfa—did not save samples of the hundreds of different films and papers they developed over the last century.
We’re hoping that you did.
Below are some examples of materials to send.
• Photographs—don’t send us your family treasures; send the extra copies and rejects.
• Please only send photographs that have a date and/or manufacturer’s name or logo printed on them.
• Instant photographs from Polaroid, Kodak, or other manufacturers.
• Unexposed film in the original canisters—black-and-white, color, and Polaroid. If you have the original packaging, send that too!
• Unexposed photographic papers—ideally in the original box. If you have an unopened box you can part with, this is especially helpful.
• Exposed photographic papers, including prints, contact sheets, and contact prints if they include a date and manufacturer’s name or logo.
• Film, sheet, or glass-plate negatives, and transparencies.
How to Send
Send materials to the Getty Conservation Institute at the following address:
Project in Conservation of Photographs
Getty Conservation Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049-1684
February 18, 2008
The blogosphere is full of ‘best of’ lists and rankings. The blog is a perfect venue for this type of information. So I thought it would be nice to create a women in the history of photography list. I rarely read an interview where a photographer, male or female, cites a woman as an influence. The exceptions is perhaps Diane Arbus. And I have always found the sources on this subject rather limited. I like the idea of being able to see the range, and ability of female photographers from the advent of the art form.It is not in chronological order or by ranking per say, it is meant as a general source list. I discovered quite a lot of great work while putting it together.
I often wish I had more female mentorship and inspiration, but I guess it is out there if you are willing to look. So hopefully someone will find something or someone inspiring in the list. I am sure I have missed some artists, so feel free to email me your additions.
Louise Dahl Wolfe
Part Two – Coming Soon….
February 15, 2008
With last week’s announcement of the end of Polaroid, covered on pretty much every blog and must discussed in every corner of the photo world, I have to worry that film cannot be too far behind. While Kodak is promising to make film for at least another 5 years, with Polaroid gone, it seems that many film holdouts will have no choice but to go at least partly digital. The question I am asking myself, is digital like color film? When Eggelston, Shore, Sternfeld and the other early color art photographers switched, I’m sure the B&W purists feared that their form would also disappear. B&W survived but it became a ‘niche’ instead of the dominant force in fine art photography(sorry B&W shooters out there, don’t shoot the messenger.) I know there was quite a fight over color film in the early days, and I imagine artists felt much like I do about the current debate. But perhaps it would make more sense to embrace the technology and try to make to work, rather than hold on to my love of film. Personally, I find digital too perfect and lacking the sense of emotionality that film can capture. I have yet to see work shot digitally that can compare to large format film.
Yet the argument could be made that this is the moment to rethink my aesthetic choices? Maybe the too perfect, too harsh, and too sharp look created by these camera’s computer chips, better reflects the content of our current culture. Is there any sensitivity or nuance to the national obsession with the mental and physical breakdown of Britney Spears? Do reality shows use soft lighting or turn the camera away to protect people from being seen at that worst? Part of me feels that I should be shooting to reflect that reality, but another part of me feels that I should hold out, and stay true to my vision and hope for the world. If we all give up, and give in, is there any chance for us to rise out of our culture of exploitation and celebrity obsession – I will admit to having VH1′s Celebrity Rehab DVR’d. There is something entertaining about all of this, maybe Western Culture has never really left the Colosseum?
Which is better…
B&W or Color?
Film or Digital?
February 11, 2008
Well, my website did. I have added more to my Cosmetic Project work. The site also now includes a commissioned project I did for the Bellport/Brookhaven Historical Society in Long Island. As part of the grand opening of their new museum building, they commissioned me to re-photograph the exact locations of painting’s, photographs, and drawings of the town by several well-known Hudson River Valley painters from the late 19th and early 20th century. My images were were exhibited alongside the originals last August. I am still working out how to get the images to load faster, a problem hopefully a qualified web designer will remedy for me someday soon.
February 9, 2008
I apologize if you have already read it, it has been pointed out to me that there were some typos in my post today. No, I was not drunk, merely trying to fit my post into a shoot day. Lesson learned.
February 8, 2008
One of my favorite biographies of a photographer is Sue Davidson Lowe’s, Stieglitz: A Memoir. It really captures of one the great love stories of modern photography. Not the one between Alfred Steglitz and Gerogia O’Keefe, but the one between Stieglitz and Paul Strand. Strand, after studying with Lewis Hine found his way to Stieglitz as a young photographer. During the review of his work, Stieglitz gave him suggestions on his form and technique, which spurred Strand on to create the style which made him famous. Strand was a 291 favorite, Stieglitz gave him his first solo show there, and regularly published his photographs in Camera Work. But as the years went on, Strand’s success grew and a natural competition developed between the two men. Eventually differences in their ideas about photography, politics, and some wife swapping, destroyed their relationship.
The student teacher relationship no matter how fruitful is always complex. It is natural to go through a period of adolescent rebellion and disavow your mentor. Sometimes it is only subconscious tension, or in the case of Strand and Stieglitz a total break up. Or as I mentioned about Alec Soth in my post yesterday, perhaps only to want to be judged on your own work, not always in relation to your teacher. It is necessary to shift to developing your own thoughts and ideas about your work, if not you never find your individual voice as an artist. But you always have an imaginary creative umbilical cord to your mentor. Joel has only ever had good things to say about Alec, and I know that they have a great relationship (which Alec himself spoke of in a lovely email to me yesterday.). I think that it is rare to find someone who can help you find something within yourself that you perhaps did not know existed. And when you find it, although is may have some pitfalls, what you gain is invaluable. I am glad that so many people enjoyed Joel’s article and my post and I would love to hear stories from other people about their mentor experiences.
February 7, 2008
I happened to come across a copy of the new Steidl Spring/Summer catalog, only to discover that my photo teacher, mentor and all around favorite photographer, Joel Sternfeld had written a beautiful essay about his photo inspiration, Robert Frank. If you have ever met Joel, you probably already know he loves to tell stories and he is very good at it, as a former student I have heard a lot of them.
I remember with perfect clarity the day he brought Frank’s book to class and told us how he used to sleep with it every night and return to its pages over and over to decode its secrets. So reading his essay, I recognized the emotion in Joel’s voice about being present for the last printing of The Americans under Mr. Frank’s supervision. It must be pretty incredible to realize you have accomplished your dream and reached the level of your mentor. To me, American Prospects sits shoulder to shoulder with The Americans as a seminal photographic body of work. The same way Joel poured of Robert Franks images, countless numbers of photographers have obsessed over his images. What makes photography a wonderful medium, is that when you see Joel’s photo’s, Frank is there, embedded in the the Sternfeld photographic language. But Joel’s vision is also his own.
At the start of my photographic journey, I was dating someone in England. It was a very strange time in my life. September 11th had shaken up my world. I was back in collage in my late twenties and totally unsure of what to do with my life, and working for next to nothing. While visiting my boyfriend, he took me a a show at the Tate Modern called Cruel & Tender. At the time, I had only vague notions of August Sander, The Becher’s and Stephen Shore. Lewis Baltz, Reineke Dijkstra, Thomas Ruff, Fazal Sheikh, Gursky, and Robert Adams were all new discoveries. That day, I can honestly say, changed my life. As cheesy as it sounds, it was if a light was turned on inside of me looking at all of these bodies of work at once. I was more familiar with Eggelston, Arbus, Evans and Frank, but I had not seen much of their work in person. I probably developed my photo aesthetic that day, and the work that I could not get over, was Frank’s. His images were grainy and simple but at the same time they were jam packed with history and emotion.
Six months later I showed up at Joel Sternfeld’s office, the day classes were scheduled to begin, without having registered or interviewed, big no no’s at Sarah Lawrence. I had no idea where to find him and it took quite a bit to finally knock on the right door. Then a man with some of the craziest hair I have ever seen opened the door and saved my life. Joel was the first teacher that ever believed in me, even when I did not. He was kind, and supportive and gave me the courage to express myself. I can never thank him enough. I was lucky enough to study with him for two years, and in that time I saw him encourage and support all of his students, regardless of their talent level, as long as they were committed to the class. Ironically, many of my classmates did not really seem to understand who they were studying with, they just thought he was funny, and late to class a lot. But I was already working in the photo industry, so I appreciated the opportunity in a different way.
To this day when ever I mention Joel’s name to another photographer, their eyes gets misty. He is the favorite of photographers. While I am now out in the world trying to make it as an artist, I often miss the creative cocoon Joel created for his students. And they return to him, like little puppy dogs, to show their work, hoping for a pat on the head. I sometimes wonder if it is overwhelming for him to have so many students out there desperate for his approval. I read an interview once with Alec Soth, where he attempted to distance his work from Joel’s influence. It sounded a little angry, I don’t know of anyone else who so directly works in Joel’s genre, but I can understand Alec’s wanting to free from the comparison. But while I was studying with him, Alec was still sending Joel his book mock-ups. I think the mentor relationship is very complicated for artists, but without guidance and inspiration from those who have already found their voice it would be next to impossible to find your own. I have been lucky enough to have several incredible photographers come into my life and help me on my way.
So for those of you who perhaps would not come across it, I am posting Joel’s homage to Mr. Frank. For both of these artists have been tremendously influential in my life as well. If any of you out there have a photo mentor, you will appreciate his essay. robert_frank_project.pdf
February 5, 2008
I actually work part-time doing digital work, and I scan and do minor work on my own negs. And I will admit to love drum scanning and some of the things Photoshop can provide. But it seems no matter how many times women are told that celebrities and models are retouched, we continue to measure ourselves by computer generated standards. I found these videos on YouTube, there are lots & lots of them. While part of me admires the tech ability, there is something sort of horrible about it when you consider that many women decide to get plastic surgery because of it.
February 1, 2008
I just want to give a special thanks to Casey, Alys, and everyone from SlideLuck Potshow Detroit. It means a lot that my project got its public viewing premier in my hometown, and that my parents got to be there. This Saturday is the Chicago Potshow debut, it should be really fun and I encourage anyone in the area to bake some cookies and head over (and I believe there will be plenty of alcohol involved.)
I am so impressed with the new and innovative ways people are finding to show photography. Humble Arts, Hey Hot Shots and SlideShow Potluck all provide great opportunities for artists to show work in a group and online setting. If you are working on a long term project, which takes a while to get to gallery/publication ready, these are wonderful ways to show work and get feedback along the way. What I was alluding to in my “Blog or not to Blog” post was not that Mr. Patterson was wrong to quit blogging, but to point out that even if there are an over-abundance of photo blogs, I think there is enough of value coming from them to make it worth sifting through the less successful attempts. The sad thing about Speak, See Remember going on hiatus, is that Christian had one of the most original voices and best graphic presentations in the blogoshere. But if he is taking a break to shoot more I can understand that entirely. But I continue to think that the community created online is well worth the influx of boring blogs that are really just being used as vehicles for self-promotion or bragging platforms.
And now back to me and my photos;)
SlideLuck Potshow Chicago
FEB 2ND AT MADRON GALLERY
1000 WEST NORTH AVENUE, THIRD FLOOR, CHICAGO,IL
POTLUCK STARTS AT 7PM, SLIDESHOW AT 9PM.
FOR QUESTIONS OR INFORMATION, EMAIL SLPSCHICAGO@GMAIL.COM OR VISIT WWW.SLIDESHOWPOTLUCK.COM