Are Men & Women Equal?

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.

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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.

More on Mentoring

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.

Interview

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.

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Saving Film History

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.

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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
Suite 700
Los Angeles, CA 90049-1684

Women Photographers – Part One

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.

Julia Margaret Cameron

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Camille Silvy

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Clementina, Lady Hawarden

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Alice Austen

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Doris Ulmann

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Gertrude Kasebier

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Alice Boughton

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Eva Watson-Schutze

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Louise Deshong

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Laura Adams Armer

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Alice Lex-Neurlinger

Margrethe Mather

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Hannah Hoch

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Florence Henri

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Lucia Moholy

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Imogen Cunningham

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Tina Modotti

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Ilse Bing

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Bernice Abbott

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Margaret Bourke-White

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Marion Post Wolcott

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Dorothea Lange

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Helen Levitt

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Inge Morath

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Lotte Jacobi

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Barbara Morgan

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Carlotta Corporan

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Lillian Bassman

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Lisette Model

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Laura Gilpin

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Louise Dahl Wolfe

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Diane Arbus

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Thanks to Joerg Colberg, I somehow forget Lee Miller, and for suggesting,  Martine Franck and Ruth Bernhard

Ms. Miller

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Part Two – Coming Soon….

 

 

 

 

 

The Death of Film

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?

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Eggelston

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Walker Evans

Film or Digital?

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Annie Leibovitz

I got a facelift

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.