On Blog Exhaustion

It was funny for me to read Joerg Colberg’s recent post on blogs,  I myself have had a half-hearted post about the state of blogs lingering as an unfinished draft for some time. But not surprisingly with my current life, I never got around to posting it. My general feeling about photo blogs has been a bit negative lately–that is not against other people’s blogs, but towards the overly insular and self-contained universe that it created. While I think some incredible things came out of it, and I have made some real friendships, ultimately it was not satisfying the true need I had to be more engaged in the photo process with my peers. In fact, it started to feel like an impediment to my own creative process. The amount of energy and time that was going into Ground Glass, was sucking me a little dry–leaving very little time or energy to make pictures.

However after my recent experience of having a meaningful, engaged dialog with my peers in person, I left re-energized and brimming with ideas. In a way, not blogging has helped me finally really edit of my Singular Beauty work, it gave me time to finish my book and actually start sending out my mock-up, and it gave me time to make room for a new project. So as much as I loved blogging, I realized for me right now, I had to choose. And paying my bills and my own photo work has to come first. Followed by Women in Photography. There is not a whole lot left over after that. I wish I could be super woman, but sadly I am not.

But at the Young Curators New Ideas, II opening, I got into a conversation with two woman who are still actively blogging. I will admit I was a bit negative about the entire “blogoshpere,” but the next day I got a google alert and went to PalmAire, (WIPNYC artist) Tema Stauffer’s blog and realized that is it me that is currently experiencing blog exhaustion. Both Tema, and Tethered’s, Elizabeth Fleming, have really engaging, personal and intelligent posts. And other blog’s, like Horses Think, and Nina Corvallo’s blog, and others, have continued to be really great reads. I think at the heart of the blog, is the personal voice. For me, blogs that stay like personal online diaries, and have an certain intimacy and that focus on sharing information about a subject they truly love, work best. When blogs move into the professional media territory, they start to lose a bit of soul.

Once blogs become “professionalized,” to me they are less interesting. The internet is the great equalizer, it is a place where major news organizations compete with small individuals for market share and audience. Something that was impossible when you had to pay to publishing costs.  So I understand the temptation to step up your game, but there are so many blogs now from the mainstream press, why not keep the individual blog more personal and less concerned with blog stats.  Unless you want to become a mainstream media outlet, with advertising etc. Which, by the way, I am not against.

Yet blogs like PalmAire and Horses Think, remind of what a valuable part of the photo community a blog can be–and perhaps now that my first solo show is close to being completely framed and delivered to the gallery, I will again be drawn back to share some of the amazing things that have happened in the last few months. But until then, there are a lot of wonderful voices out there, you just need to find the ones you care enough to listen to.

The Nature & Purpose of Photography

Brian Ulrich had an excellent post recently on why photographers are not recording the the current economic crisis.  His post has generated 47 comments so far and it seems to have struck a nerve.  I find it interesting that on one hand there is a debate raging over whether we should incorporate unfolding current events into our work, and on the other, the Andrew Kreps Gallery current exhibition To Be Determined–focuses on work that deals directly with the medium of photography. While several of these artists I individually admire, collectively, at this moment, having a show about photography, does seem out of step.  Time Out New York said this:

The cerebral queries posed here spring from pioneering 20th-century photographers (Moholy-Nagy, James Welling, Richard Prince), but fail to break any new ground themselves. One has to hope that this current generation of photographers will ultimately choose to define itself by means other than a few tired lines of inquiry. What form those fresh ideas might take is clearly still, as the title of the exhibition suggests, to be determined.

Ouch!  This genre of work has been championed by Blind Spot, which coincidentally is hosting an event for this show this week.   In the last 5 to 7 years, this type of work has dominated–one name says it all–Roe Ethridge (however, the Soth-style {aka Sternfeld/Shore/Myerwitz} of portrait-scape has also been a force, but it has focused more on the set-up Crewdson stylistic version, which is also less content driven.)

In an age of cultural complacency, during which we elected GW twice, and few of us took to the streets to protest, Iraq, Guantanamo, the Patriot Act, or the dramatic and rapid disparity which expanded between the rich & the poor, work that doubles back on itself and shied away from engagement with the world made sense. But we are in a new era, and maybe Brian’s battle cry, which is being sounded by many major art critics in slightly different terms, has something to it.  As artists, it is our responsibility to be continuously questioning what makes a photograph art, especially in a world not only filled with copious amounts of commercial and amateur imagery but that is also overflowing with fine-art photography.  It is important I think at this moment to pause and question, what is more important–making a photograph that will be deemed “art” or making a photograph that can be powerful and that affect how people view the world.  Will post-post modernism mean that we can re-unite these concepts?

Many photographers currently worry about getting stuck in the “photo ghetto.”  Meaning once your work is represented by a photo gallery, you are stuck as ‘just a photographer.’  The insinuation being that you will be considered ‘less of an artist.’  Photography still hovers in a strange place in the art world.  If your work is photo-based, it is a good way to differentiate yourself from the rank & file.  However, if this is done merely as a way to get ahead in the art market, most likely the result will be all surface.  The best work centering on the photographic process, often incorporates multiples levels of engagement.  For instance Penelope Umbrico’s appropriation work , not only plays with authorship, it includes complex cultural critique, and an exploration of human desire.

With all this ruminating in my mind, I came across these photos on National Geographic.com of an 1908 National Geographic article on the survey of Alaska.  What I like about them, is that they remind me of the incredible power of the photograph to transcend its original purpose.  These images were taken to record a scientific exhibition, yet 100 years later, they could just as easily be a meditation on the landscape genre.  Grainy, muted and strange, they are quite beautiful.  Sometimes, perhaps we try so hard to imbue meaning and concept into our photographs that we actually close down this process, and in fact make them more empty.  There is a fine line between too much content and too much concept.


Radcliffe Hordern




Photographs by E. R. Martin

When Did Chicken Little Become a Prophet??

Today on my morning subway commute, I noticed some EMT workers walking past me with all their gear.  I did not pay too much attention, I was in a hurry to get to work, however as I got to the other end of the platform, I was met with the overpowering smell of bleach.  I looked down and discovered an MTA worker moping up a red substance.  It took my brain a split second to process that for the first time in my entire NYC subway travels, (10 years and counting,) I was seeing blood getting wiped away.

This this might not seem very dramatic to some,  NYC is a big city and certainly stuff does happen here – and in this particular occurrence, with no sign of police on the scene, I assume the blood was not the result of an act of violence. But it spooked me nonetheless, especially considering just last week on the same platform, I watched a man escape from the clutches of a transit cop, and handcuffed, jump down onto the R/W track and disappear.  He was soon  followed by about 10 bewildered looking cops.  The escape managed to shut down the entire N/S subway traffic for a good 20 minutes.  In my 10 years of subway riding I have seen some strange things, but in Giuliani & post-Giuliani NYC, this level of mayhem is rare. But I have noticed a chance since the collapse of Wall Street this fall, things are no longer just frayed around the edges, but starting unravel.

In the past 2 months, I personally have had several rather intense and fraught encounters.   And several people have told me stories, that have really made me question if we are on the verge of a collective breakdown.  One story, involved a person leaving an incredibly hostile, threatening phone call,  fueled by professional jealousy.  The anonymous caller felt the need to tell her, she was ugly and other choice expletives, which no matter how much you may dislike a person, are never appropriate to use.  Another friend had someone take the time to send them an email, basically just to tell them that they thought their photography sucked. This person did not even remove their name from the email.  Another person received an email that was an angry, three  paragraph tirade, and by anger, I mean personal, venomous, attack.  What is going on people!!!!!  When did this type of behavior become acceptable?  I cannot ever remember so many negative, random acts of hostility.  However, considering the current economic horror show, I am not surprised.

To me, one the first priority’s of the Obama administration should be to institute a qualified non-political commission to investigate the incredible malfeasance in Wall Street and in banking which has led to this global recession/depression. Because as much as we should focus on recovery, most people are suffering from feelings of incredible anger, and a sense that they are powerless to do anything about it.  When you read that the wives of  mega hedgefunds managers, CEO’s & investment bankers, are struggling to make do with their housekeepers coming 5 days a week instead of seven, or buying one pair of $700 Manolo’s, instead of three, it is hard to not want to burn down the whole of Greenwich, CT. Perhaps this is why so many people are acting out on strangers.  Someone must take the brunt of our collective anxiety, fear & anger.  Of course, these feelings are destructive and the exact opposite of what will help to lift us out of this economic disaster.  I think most of us, would feel a lot better, if we considered pooling our resources and supporting each other to survive this period of instability.

The art world has been particularly affected by the economic crisis.  One could easily argue, that when a roof over ones head & food on the table become issues, art tends to drop down on list of importance. But abandoning art and artists at this moment, could have a profound effect on how we interpret and think about this moment in culture. So now more than ever, it seems crucial that the art world pull together to make it through the storm.

On great example of this is the the Humble Arts Foundation. They just released their Collectors Guide, which they are in the process of distributing to the art industry and collectors.  (full disclosure my work is featured in the guide.) And while artists did pay a fee, once they were chosen to be included, it was modest, and was paid in two installments.  Humble footed almost the entire production bill themselves.  And by distributing the guide in the art world, they are giving every artist in the book incredible exposure.  Now, they very easily could have used the guide as a way to make money for the foundation, but they are choosing to use it as a tool to showcase artists, just like their group & solo shows do.

What impresses me most about this choice is that we are all in extremely difficult positions.  Gallery owners have incredible overhead to meet, artists have fewer outlets and opportunities, and non-profit’s donations are drying up.  So if there has ever been time to consider how we can work together, this is it.  If not, when this crisis is over, there will be dramatically fewer players left on the field.  Some may argue that this is a good thing, but keep in mind, that fewer galleries, museums and organizations mean fewer opportunities for artists.  And while yes, the art market has been over-hyped, over-saturated and over-indulged for sometime, leaving it to starve to death now, is no panacea.

So if you find yourself feeling like venting, take a few moments and consider what you could bring to the table rather than what you can knock off of it.

Something to Consider

If you, like me, are being bombarded this year with emails advertising sales on top of sales with extra discounts on top, you may want to take a moment to read this short article by Anne Quindlen on Newsweek.com.  It is right on target.  With these offers, I can’t help but get sucked in and seeing those discounts makes me almost think I have money to shop, almost. But it also makes it harder to not indulge, sort of like working at a chocolate factory.  This little tidbit from the article helps me put it into perspective:

Hard times offer the opportunity to ask hard questions, and one of them is the one my friend asked, staring at sweaters and shoes: why did we buy all this stuff? Did anyone really need a flat-screen in the bedroom, or a designer handbag, or three cars? If the mall is our temple, then Marc Jacobs is God. There’s a scary thought.


The Christmas Spirit reaches some Transient Flats children after Christmas via the city dump. (Text courtesy of the California State Library)

“Prints and Negatives,” c. 1935 – c. 1960
Department of Social Welfare
California State Archives
Sacramento, California

From the NY Times

I came across this very effective use of photoshop and multimedia technology on the nytimes.com.   While the current economic crisis has most people feeling pretty down, one can only imagine what the holidays must be like for America’s military families.  It may sound like new age mumbo jumbo, but until we are finally free of the dark shadow that has hung over this country for the last 8 years, we will not proper as a nation.


© The New York Times

F*#@ PayPal and Other Tidbits…

Why sometimes computers & outsourcing fail.  I apologize to all of you incredibly generous people who sent me donations for my AIOP outdoor photo project, now formally scheduled for October 18 & 19 in Union Square, and October 24 & 25 at 14th St and 9th Ave in the meatpacking district from 11-2 & 2-4 each day, weather depending.  There is also an opening party for the event on 10/5 and lots of other exciting stuff going on all month, I will post a map of the activities soon.

However paypal, partly because of my not understanding how to request money correctly, but mostly because of the two customer service agents from India were unable to comprehend or correctly help me with the issue, all of your funds were returned. Today I finally got someone on the phone who explained to me how all of my difficulty could have easily been avoided.  So I am up for round #2 if you are all, I have sent emails to you re-requesting the funds. It is quite embarrassing to be sure!  But, I am even more excited about the project itself, despite the paypal debacle, especially now that the work will be featured in two group shows this fall.

The first one at Michael Mazzeo Gallery, formally Peer Gallery, opens next Friday, the 12th.  I know it’s a crazy season but I hope those of you in the NYC area can stop by.  Some great photogs are also in the show, including the indomitable Will Steacy and Miss Rachael Dunville.  I met Michael at a portfolio review, and have kept in gentle contact since. Part of what makes this show so exciting for me, is that all my hard work and energy has led to being in a group show at his gallery.  It is so important to develop and maintain relationships, no matter what field you are in. Developing them takes enormous amounts of time, energy, and a willingness to accept that it often leads to nothing.  But if you are patient and persistent, and if your work has any value, things do happen.  During my month off, I thought a great deal about where I want to go next, and now that things are happening, I am energized to pursue those ideas. So I hope to see you all on the 12th!

Michael Mazzeo Gallery

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

September 12 – October 11
Opening Reception
Friday, September 12, 6 PM – 8 PM

526 W 26th St Ste #209

And don’t miss this week’s big opening for me, Joel Sternfeld’s the Oxbow Archive. From the Press Release:

Sternfeld’s new work represents a break with painterly notions of the Picturesque and the Sublime; his field is flat, average and indistinguishable from thousands like it. He does not take the view from nearby Mount Holyoke as the Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole did in 1833 and look down on the Oxbow of the Connecticut River, the “grandest prospect in North America.” A single field that appears in Cole’s now iconic painting is of ample interest for Sternfeld’s attentive eye.

This work represents a departure from archetypal photographic depictions of nature; grandiloquent mountain views and dramatized skies are eschewed, as are ideal specimens of flora. Anthropomorphization of “perfect form in nature” does not occur; the geometric is not valorized. The photographs are not meant to be metaphoric equivalents of anything else. Rather, the images present themselves without pretense as a systematic index of seasonal progression.

If you know Joel, you know that is probably the most personal project of his life. It is a very subtle and intellectual body of work and a departure from his oeuvre in some ways. But I give him enormous credit, for his willingness to continue to grow and take risks as an artist, instead of churning out show after show of the same work, guaranteed to make $$, or to live off his glory days and just keep endlessly having retrospectives.  I am not naming any names of other photographers of his caliber, but I think you all know who I mean.  When you have a certain level of success and still have the balls to fall flat on your face, or to make work that needs to age to have meaning, is a rarity in today’s art world.  But if we want to have anything to look at in two hundred years of any value, we need artists wiling to do just those things.

Luhring Augustine

Joel Sternfeld

Oxbow Archive

Sep 6 – Oct 4 2008

531 W 24th St

Blogs Go Commercial

I recently discovered Vincent Laforet’s blog via the Jackanory, I know I am a few weeks behind the curve, I have found myself unable to motivate myself to do much more than read, go for walks and eat in the midst of such beautiful surroundings and weather.  But I did take a peek over the weekend, to see if I had missed anything.  I have been thinking quite a bit about blogging up here, strange how as you remove yourself from something your feelings and perceptions change.  When Shoot the Blog launched, I understood that the photo blog would inevitably be co-opted by mainstream media outlets. However Rachel Hulin has managed to maintain a relatively corporate free attitude and I never read it and think “this is an ad for Photoshelter.” A very smart decision by them and to Rachel’s credit.

However, when I clicked on the first Olympic photo on Laforet’s blog and was taken to the Newsweek site, I knew that something had shifted.  Laforet’s blog is absolutely a commercial endeavor, and it is backed a major media corporation, even if they are not paying for it (as most blog hosting companies are free).  When you click on the images and texts on his blog, they are hyper-linked directly to the Newsweek blog. The sites exist both as the Newsweek blog about their assigned photographer at the Olympics and as the blog by a Newsweek assigned photographer at the Olympics. Confused yet?  There is definitely something really interesting about Newsweek site, it is rare that a major news magazine lets a photographer write about his experiences. It is a very successful addition to their website, and similar to the NY Times blogs, it functions as a place online to feature mini stories.

Laforet’s blog in contrast, is a miss. Part of why the blog disappointment to me, is that I have always found his work to be the most visually interesting and whimsical of the NY Times photographers.  So, I want to see the pictures Newsweek doesn’t pick. The ones that are too racy, too weird for publication. Or his favorites, or the ones he thinks failed and why. I already know that Vincent Laforet is an amazing, successful and talented photographer and I know he has to protect his status, but why start a blog to just show images that are already so accessible in other venues. On the Newsweek blog, he is giving us an edited and professionally produced “inside view” of a super successful magazine photographer, which in that context works very well.  But in the context of the personal artist blog, it functions like an infomercial for him. I think this raises some very interesting issues about the nature of the photo blog. So far, the most successful blogs, have either been very personal in nature or curatorial.

My fear is that big companies will see blogs succeeding and will jump on the bandwagon to create what they deem as safe replicas of the blog genre.  I think there should is a definite line between a blog sponsored by a major media conglomerate and the blog of an individual artist.  When the two are blurred, something is lost. Even though I know the change cannot be stopped, to me the blog should remain the wild west. A place where artists can meet, share information, show their work, and connect with the world around them. If that helps their career, great, but please leave the unremitting self-promotion for your website, or for dinner parties.

Feel Good Moments…

Andrew Hetherington has a lovely post up about the struggles to be a photographer, and how one kind word or email from a stranger can suddenly make everything seem better. I think we can all relate to his feelings about existing in today’s world of photography. And with his readers sentiments, Andrew’s work is full of his own particular form of sarcasm and wit. So many editorial photographer’s seem to take the same boring shots, which makes Andrew’s individual voice so much more valuable. And my feel good moment, I came across this one Sarah Sudhoff’s blog today:

Today I was greeted with two wonderful emails. First was from a photo editor at the New York Time Magazine who is planning to run an image of mine for an upcoming issue. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this. It was just last week that I attended a lecture by Mary Virginia Swanson at HCP in Houston in which she discussed artists licensing their images for editorial purposes and the pros and cons of this decision. I had always wondered if my Repository series would find a home editorially since my other main series Sorority Rush had. I’m not sure how the NYT came across my work. Maybe it was from when I sent them my portfolios over a year ago or it might have had something to do with my second email today which was from Women in Photography. My Repository series was selected by WIP for an upcoming on line solo exhibition yet I had no idea it would launch today. Needless to say it was a great surprise to see my work featured on their site. I’m not sure if one email had anything to do with the other one but somehow for one brief moment today the stars aligned for me.

No thank you Sarah. This is why Amy & I are so excited about WIP. While it has also generated a lot of great opportunities for us, it is so gratifying to know that we are actually making an impact with the project. Perhaps the Times found her another way, but there is something to be said for momentum. Amy and I have over 50 talented women on our show waiting list. And many more on our group show list. What I love most about this project is that is both bottom up and top down. There is no real hierarchy. Amy and I are slightly different stages in our careers, and we are showing work from artists at all different levels. So not only do we hope to have stories like Sarah’s, but also to give more established artists a chance to connect with a wider audience and have a stronger web presence. I am so happy to see all of these happening, in the midst of my finding out I am in a group show in the fall in Chelsea and that my proposal to do my UV portraits in October was accepted. AIOP, hosts a wonderful month long celebration of art by bringing artists out to interact with the public. I am very excited to be taking part. So yes, I have been working myself over trying to put my blurb book together, and trying to get WIPNYC on track, and putting my portfolio presentation in better form, to the point where sometimes it can pretty frustrating. But knowing that something is coming out of it, makes all the struggle worthwhile.

Andrew Hetherington

I Heart I Heart Photograph

I was incredibly flattered when Laurel picked my work up and posted some of machines shortly after I launched my blog and site. I was aware of her blog when I started, I had read about her gallery show in the NY times. There are a few of the early photo bloggers, pioneers, who have really not only invented the the photo blog, but continue to be influence far outside of cyberspace. While some of the early voices,Alec Soth and Christian Patterson have moved on, the remaining few dominate the world of fine-art photo blogging. Conscientious and I Heart Photograph being the most creative and well known. (of course there are many others launched right after with lots to offer) What both of these blogs offer is a chance to discover the work of an artist you may not know. They are doing all the leg work for you. While as a photographer this is useful and interesting, as a photo professional is is life changing!

When Laurel posted my images, I almost immediately received an email from a photo editor asking if I was the same Cara Phillips that used to work at Redux Pictures. Turns out we had worked there together over 4 years earlier and she was now working at a magazine. So because of Laurel we re-connected and I showed her my work. And in a stranger twist of fate, I am freelancing for her at that magazine this month doing photo research, which by the way is a lot of fun. What I have discovered on the other end side of the photo divide is just how much I Heart Photograph has to offer. It’s easy to navigate, well archived and all the images are linked to source sites. But most importantly it is a veritable treasure trove of undiscovered pictures of every possible kind. And each image leads you on to something, perhaps not what you are looking for but often worthwhile. Then you go to the stock sites where you seem to get 67 pages of the most banal, mediocre photography imaginable. (the exception being news imagery, which is often really good) I mean, really I can’t believe anyone ever uses stock! My guess is the sheer quantity of imagery is the problem.

Buried in there somewhere is probably a lot of good pictures, if you know how to find them, but there are so many dreadful things, you just want to give up. And truthfully, I am sure many corporations cannot always use the kind of innovative and exciting, and let’s face it sometimes weird work showcased on the site. But in a world so full of imagery, we are increasingly dependent on the curator. Those who are willing to shift through the metaphoric garbage to pick out gems are more important then ever. I am much more interested in seeing a site that has one person’s very specific taste I may or may not always agree with, then a generic hodge podge of junk. So hopefully as the blog scene grows, there will start to be more options for buyers, that will actually also give individual photographers a chance to sell some of their images. And for magazines to have an easier and better way to find imagery for their publications.

A random sampling of IHP artists

morten nilsson

Jesper Ulvelius

Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk

Women in Photography & Other Thoughts

Roger Ballen, one of my favorite images from the NYPF

I know I have been MIA since the last week’s NYPF, but it took me a little while to recover from photo-overload. There are a lot of great posts about the event, Shane, Andrew, Joerg, Robert, and others all have their take on the events. For me it really was a whirlwind of meeting people, and observing how the NY photo world operates. Relationships are the secret to the art world. For instance, Kathy Ryan was accessible for the whole event. I saw her giving numerous tours of her exhibit and talking to everyone. I never quite got up the nerve to introduce myself, even though I have emailed with her before. It just seemed too desperate, like throwing yourself at the hottest guy at bar at 3:45 am. But it was super interesting to watch everyone and listen to the conversations. There is definitely an inside world that once you are in, gives you a lot more opportunities. But while I may not be in that circle, I saw a lot of friends and made some new ones. I am still blown away that people know my work & blog. It is nice to know people get something out of GG.

That is why I am excited about WIP. At this moment, everything in the world is in flux. The internet is absolutely changing how we relate to each other. There is something great about people reaching out and forming communities. It empowers them to express themselves and to connect. Amy Elkins has been an incredible partner on this project. Not only do we feel like we are doing something that could really be positive, we are having a lot of fun. My hope is that WIP can help create more community among women artists. We are already scheduled through March of next year and still have a bunch of great artists to put on the calendar. Amy and I are really committed to showing quality work and to giving people a place to further their art career. So when we launch, I hope people spread the word about the site to friends and photo/art contacts. There will be a launch party in mid-June, more to come soon…

This project has me thinking a lot about intentions lately and what I want to get out of this experience. I think having a solo show online, can be a way to reach people who for various reasons don’t go to galleries. And perhaps help someone get noticed in the very crowded field of fine-art photographers. But the web is a funny thing, every good intention can come with a price.

Last night Nightline had a story about a stay a home Mom that has created an online blog for women to post their pictures and ask strangers to tell them what to do with their hair. She has a 2 year line up of people waiting to get help to ‘look better.’ While researching the hair site, I came across this blog, which illustrates the type of thinking that leads women to the Plastic Surgeons consult chair. I am sure Hair Thursday is only trying to help, but as soon as you use the internet community for this kind of thing, I think you are on dangerous ground.

Hi. How are ya? Please ignore my rosacea, beady eyes, crooked nose, and double chin. This is about the HAIR, people!

Hair Thursday features images of everyday women, who are given advice on their hair. Each person has a celebrity or two selected as their “model” of what they should aim for.

The web is full of places where you are welcome to be rated, the web boards of Teen Vogue include page after page of these rate me posts. As an artist I am fascinated about the human need to feel special. A large part of the Cosmetic Surgery experience is about this drive to be ‘seen’ even it is means being judged.

On Portfolio Reviews

I attended my first portfolio review at Powerhouse Books in Dumbo this past Sunday, and overall I have to say it was a very positive experience. I almost missed the the event altogether, because despite my dedication and days of preparation, I somehow missed the news about the 5 borough bike race that went right through Dumbo. Needless to say my 12 minute car service ride, became an hour and 10 minute ride. But I made it and I am glad I did. I have Amy Stein to thank, she encouraged me to go at the Humble Arts panel.

Portfolio Reviews are funny things, especially un-curated ones, like Fotofest and the Powerhouse Review. There is such a large mix of work, I imagine the reviewers are at a loss sometimes as to what to say to people. But for me, it was just what I needed. To be 100% honest I think I have been avoiding showing my work to people after my very first experience 2 & 1/2 years ago at a gallery. But the assignment method at the powerhouse review was sort of like a blind date. So the stakes were not as high, it was more likely you were not going to be right for each other than to fall in love under those circumstances. So when I got criticism from one reviewer, I took what was useful from it and let the rest slide off my back. A very new experience for me. The rest of my encounters were very positive and I got some really concrete and useful feedback. The reviewers were all very generous with their insight and very engaged in the process. I left feeling really great about my work. Now, this is not to say I left with a scheduled show and a signed book deal, I think that is an unrealistic expectation for a review. I am starting to see that there is no overnight success in this, but rather a culmination of lots of little steps some in the right direction and some not. But getting the confirmation I needed on the quality and message of my project is an incredible gift. I am well aware that my imagery is a challenging sell for a gallery. But so is a lot of other great art. There is a lot of not too interesting fluff on the walls of galleries because they have New York rents too. If they do not show work that sells, they can never take a chance on anyone.

The bottom line is that most fine-art photography gets made for other photographers, museums curators and a select group of collectors. The average person, and I mean smart media savvy New Yorker, does not like most of what is lauded in the art world. I recently had this experience after inviting some friends to come to an opening. They are very intelligent people, but they were totally left cold by the photos. The imagery just did not translate. As a photo person, I loved them. It is not Robert Frank, Walker Evans or Diane Arbus that people buy posters and reprints of, but Weston nudes & flowers or Ansel Adams. The bottom line is that shows that make money are Sante D’Orazio’s Pamela Anderson nudes and Martin Scholler’s George Clooney Head portraits. But if buying those images makes people happy or allows the gallery to show other artists, so what? There reality of life is that a gallery is not a museum, it is a business. And artists will always have to balance their visions with that reality. The best piece of advice I got at the review, was to just keep doing what I am doing, and be patient. And that it is better to have the galleries come to you when all the pieces fall into place.

To Be a Photographer

I have been thinking a lot about all of the hoopla that went on last week at APE. There is definitely something about the blog format that invites that kind of craziness. But there did seem to be a little bit of ‘shoot the messenger’ going on. Let’s be honest, Rob has given us all a lot of advice. Advice can be a funny thing, photographers are often seeking it, but at the same time it can be really annoying. Especially if it is unsolicited. But annoying or not, you still need to sort through what is useful and what is not. For instance in the case of the ‘stalker’ photographer, I really understood Rob’s point. It seems to me that it is common sense not to behave that way. I find that at this moment in my career, it is important to narrow down what is worthwhile and what is worth leaving. So below is my own list of things, that I have either done, had suggested to me, or have seen other people do with success. I am not an expert and I am still trying to make my own way in this art photo world, but perhaps some of it could be useful to others.

Edit, then edit some more, then get someone to help you edit!

The number one secret to photography is editing. If I had a dollar for the all the times I have heard, “Once you have a better edit.” It is the most frustrating thing in the world. I often wonder why those who have the ability to edit, tell you to do it. My thinking is that when you hear the edit comment, the person probably sees potential in your work, but does not feel it is quite 100%. So you must edit and edit and edit some more, until you get a yes. One thing I have noticed with many of the Women in Photography submissions, is how poorly people edit their work. Often I will think the work is a definite no, only to go to the person’s website and find tons of stronger more cohesive images. One thing this separates your work from the crowd is a great sequence of images.

Keep shooting

While it’s tempting to think you have finished a project, most likely you have only scratched the surface. All of the greatest bodies of work, were shot over several years. Nan Goldin did not take 6 months worth of shooting to make The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, so its unlikely that you have a fully realized body of work. I am currently planning a trip to Miami, for this very reason. And I have been shooting my project for over 3 years.

Look at art other than photography

There is a fine balance between knowing what’s out there and getting completely demoralized. I stay away from photo shows when I am making work. But that does not mean you should avoid all art. There are many ways to get inspired. Go to the Film Forum, look at illustration, painting and sculpture. Take up knitting. Start a blog on another subject. Anything that sparks your creative self. Sometimes it is best to take a ‘photo vacation.’ But you should also know what is happening around you.

Only show your best work

If you only have 5 great images, that can stand alone and make a cohesive & developed statement, only show 5. If you have 20, then show 20. If you mix in ‘filler’ images you only dilute the quality of the overall message. So even if you love them, or worked so hard to make them, ditch the images that are not your best. But keep in mind, everyone has different taste. Some images will appeal to some people, there is no way that you can please everyone. So if you have to tailor you edit a bit for different people, so be it.

Don’t give up when you get silence

Curators, gallery owners, editors, are constantly bombarded with work. And a lot of good work. So if you contact someone and don’t hear back, wait a reasonable time and email again. Then wait and send something in the mail. Then wait and call. Then wait and email again. There is a big difference between a short, polite request and the stalker who harassed APE. While I am certainly guilty of doing it, you should not take silence as a personal rejection. Until you get a message saying they have reviewed your work and are passing, it is fine to keep asking. Even if they say no, you can still send them it again when the work progresses. I have heard many stories about how today’s no, became tomorrow’s yes. But always keep in mind, you are asking someone to do something for you. Following basic manners is expected and necessary.

Show your work everywhere that makes sense

A great piece of advice I have received about having success with contacting potential clients is doing your homework. If you shoot great still-lifes, don’t send your work to an editor who specializes in celebrity portraits. The same goes for galleries. If your work is super-conceptual, don’t pick a gallery that show straight photo journalism. I don’t know how many times I have received offers in the mail to get a gas card. I live in New York, have no car and rarely drive. It makes me nuts that they waste so much paper soliciting me. So think about who you are contacting. Does Newsweek’s world editor really need to see your lifestyle photography? Look at galleries artist’s lists, and check out their work. Go to Barnes & Noble and look at all of the magazines. Look at Communication Arts annual, pick Art Directors doing ads they fit your style. If your work makes sense for them, call them up and tell them why.  Oh and it may sound obvious, but make sure you dot your i’s and cross your t’s.  I once stopped a photog at my old job from sending his work out addressed to “Cathy Ryan.” Nuff said.

Find a job that lets you do what you need

Let’s be honest, getting started in photography is incredibly time consuming, expensive and tough. If you don’t have income you can’t try to get a job. If you can’t get a photo job, you can’t make money. So this means you need another source of funding while you work towards a photo career. This is perhaps the most difficult part of being an artist. There are few well paying jobs that allow you to take off long stretches, leave to go meet an editor or gallery owner, or who want an employee who is actively trying to have another career. New York is a tough place, most jobs demand a lot from their employees. There are way more photo MFA’s than there are teaching jobs. So you are left with a low-paying job or a job which makes you choose between it and your photography. Then there are those who get jobs printing or working for other artists. While right out of school assisting or working for another artist can be a great way to learn, eventually you are in danger of becoming a “printer,” ‘retoucher,” or ‘assistant” for good. This is my current quandary. The only thing I want to do is make images. I recently left my part-time job to take some time to try to get my photo career on track. However, I will not make it long without income. I often have sleepless nights on this subject. Someone recently told me I should be more open to “whoring” myself out, I.E. go the commercial photo route. But that is just as challenging as getting into the fine-art world. There is nothing wrong with getting paying jobs, I’m all for it. You are not a “whore” for shooting for a magazine. This is an out of date notion I think. But no matter genre of photography I pursue, I still have to pay for it – let’s look at the costs.

Website: Anywhere from $150-3000+ depending on if you get a designer, site capacity etc.

Travel: Most projects require some travel. Whether it is renting car (or taking a cab or car service) to drive to and from a location or airline tickets and hotel costs, it adds up. There is a reason we are all dreaming of a Guggenheim. Which to be honest, still would have us camping out, driving or eating trailmix, depending on the length and scope of your project. Check out Timothy Briner’s Boonville blog for an idea of what a project takes.

Photo Supplies: I shoot 4×5, so right away its close to $5 per sheet of film. Then we have printing costs. Leather portfolios run about $350- 500. 11×14 portfolio images can end up being $30 – $70 per, times 40 to 70 images in a book. Oh then there are gallery portfolios, 16×20 prints, presentation boxes, shipping. Oh yes, equipment rental. While I own my own 4×5 camera, which so far I have sunk almost 3 grand into, I can’t begin to afford lens and lights. My average 1 day rental is about $150.

Contests: Where do I begin. I am still appalled by the cost of everything Santa Fe. Most of these contests are used to pay for the organization costs of the people sponsoring them. Wow, I am so glad the artists, who are often desperate, and not making ANY money are paying to support all of these non-profits. The Critical Mass Award I heard, as you moved up in the contest, you had to pay more money. Shouldn’t these places be getting grant money and contributions from collectors, and companies, which they could then use to subsidise art making and help artists in their careers. There has been a lot of chatter on the blogs recently about this subject, and although we all feel the same, I still keep sending $35, spend hours filling out forms and get nothing back. I am going to my first portfolio review next week, I am interested to see what comes of my investment.

Last but not least, Living: Let’s see I live in Metro NYC. Do you really need to hear the numbers. Let’s be honest. Forever 21, Old Navy, and Urban Outfitters are sometimes too pricey for me.

Be a part of the community

To me the #1 best thing about blogging is the amazing relationships I have formed as a result of GG. I get really encouraged every time someone drops a line to say how much they like the blog or my work. And considering how much negativity I have to deal with in my pursuits, it is great to have the support. There are a lot of really talented people blogging. I have really enjoyed going to an opening and seeing a friendly face. Because of GG, I have been lucky enough to meet some great people or be helped out with my career. Andrew Hetherington, Joerg Colberg, Brian Ulrich, Andy Adams, Shane Lavalette, Mrs. Deane, Ofer Wolberger, I heart photograph, Dawn Roscoe, Elizabeth Fleming, Amy Elkins, Jen Bekman, Page 291, Susana Raab, Martin Fuchs, Rachel Hulin, Liz Kuball, Richard Wright, Rob Haggart and many others.

Make great work!

I don’t know how much work I have seen, which was visually stunning or well crafted which had no substance. Or how many statements I have read with a great concept, but then the work is either not quite good enough, or does not communicate the ideas expressed in the statement. Or work that is so derivative it is totally boring. Sometimes it is poorly edited, or sometimes I just feel nothing about it. There are a few basic ingredients in great photography. You must make great images, you must have a reason for making them, and that reason must be communicated to the viewer. And an individual eye is imperative. If your work looks like everyone else’s what reason does anyone have for looking at it.

So these are my 2 cents. I write this as much to remind and push myself as to provide advice. Of course we all struggle to take our own advice, to make it in the extraordinarily competitive world of photography you must be willing to give up a lot.

New is Old or is Old is New?

A very interesting (as usual) post from Joerg Colberg on Gregory Crewdson’s new work. I went to the opening, my friend scanned the show and I was excited to see how the raw images came together. I was torn about them, while they are certainly very accomplished, I felt disappointed at their lack of new ground. In some ways they were less produced than his last show. I could see that he was trying to capture the feeling of a rust-belt town, which has a very different look than his usual middle class suburb. I appreciate Joerg’s sentiments about our culture’s voracious appetite for newness. We do seem to focus on always wanting the next thing even when there is nothing wrong with what we have. But in the case of Crewdson, I would have liked to see a new visual or conceptual idea. This is an artist who helped to transform the look and process of contemporary photo practice. So I would hope that he would continue to innovate. His images seem to be more about meeting the demands of the current art market, then about anything else. I really can only remember one image from the show. I don’t think artists have to constantly be doing the ‘next’ thing or re-inventing themselves, but they should not rest on their laurels either. And yes some artists work in the same mode for years to create a long term body of work with great meaning. It is something to consider. You have to give Robert Frank credit for moving on to experimental film and art rather than repeating himself. His later work may not be as good as his masterwork “The Americans,” but it takes risks and is unafraid of failure.




Solutions not Complaints

One thing I hear from men a lot (including my own boyfriend) is that women complain too damn much. Most men’s number one complaint about their wives and girlfriends is that they just want to talk endlessly about their problems, and they don’t see what that solves? I think it is perhaps too much of a generalization to say that all women like to discuss, mull over and talk through their issues and difficulties, but from my experience most women do find comfort in being listened to. We don’t like to just take action, without time to reflect and hear the thoughts of others. I personally think in some ways this makes us able to deal with more complex issues. When something does not have a clear cut solution men often get angry or frustrated. They want to ‘fix it’ and move on. Of course all of this is varies from person to person, but in my experience there is some truth to it. So when Joerg first emailed me about the Times article, I could see that he wanted to find a way to fix things right away. But he was frustrated because as a man there was only so much he could do about it. I am saddened by the responses to my post that directed their anger to Joerg. If you look at his blog, he clearly features just as many male and female photographers in both interviews and image selection. What more can we ask of men, then to be sensitive to our struggle and to give us the same opportunities as they give men.

The most important thing is that now, several amazing and talented women are using their considerable gifts to try and come up with ideas to make things better. Many of these issues are actually between women and about how we view ourselves and the world. So it seems to me, that we should be the ones to work to solve them. Hence the creation of Women in Contemporary Photography which is still in the development stage, that be a showcase for the work of women photographers. And the Ask me logo, when you see the logo, you know you are welcome to reach out to the person for advice, questions, or just to say hi. While we are all super busy and probably feel like we don’t have enough time already, a quick email or addressing a question on our blogs or directing the person to someone who can help seems like a reasonable goal. I invite anyone who has other ideas to bring them on. We have nothing to lose by trying all these things out. I also encourage women editors, gallery staff or any women interested to participate. I doubt women photographers are the only ones who would like to get some support.

I am excited to see where we go…

What’s a Lady to Do?

Joerg Colberg sent me a link to the NY Times article on Gallerina’s the other day. He was interested to know if I shared his anger at the rather condescending and sexist attitude of the piece. We had a lively email debate, in which he basically called me out:

It’s one thing to see reality as it is, but then it’s quite another thing to
make an effort to change it. If all women merely shrug off this
article and think “Well, this is just the way it is” things are
obviously not going to change. But if just two or three female
bloggers got together and published an “enough is enough” post on
their blogs about how this is ridiculous and offensive, that would be
quite interesting.
I mean it’s nice to have discussions about women in art (just like
the one you participated in the other day), but it seems they don’t
really translate into much outside of the debating halls. I don’t mean
to argue there should be no such debates, but there also has to be a
debate about stuff like that posted in the NYT.

I wanted to take a few days to think about Joerg’s point, do we as women make it worse by accepting this type of portrayal? The Times article seemed to attempt to defend the behavior of these women. The writer went out of their way to mention how educated these women were, and that they are often harassed by drunk men at openings. But there was definitely a underlying condescension in the tone. “She really is so very busy — e-mailing jpegs of artwork to collectors, writing news releases, updating a gallery’s inventory or simply ordering lunch for the staff.” In reality there is no excuse for their attitudes, but the article presented them as just another decorative object in the galleries. I have had my share of bad experiences with so called Gallerinas. A few years ago I attempted to purchase Peter Hujar’s monograph at his show at Matthew Marks. It was a Saturday and pretty slow, but the girl behind the desk was so dismissive, so clearly annoyed and so downright rude, that I finally had to ask “You do SELL books here, correct?” It was quite traumatizing to hand over money to someone who made me feel like the person who can only afford the book, not a print. From that moment on I have avoided them like the plaque. I see no reason to subject myself to their disdain.

But as an artist who hopes to show work in a gallery in Chelsea, how do I feel about people coming to see my work and being treated like that? It is very dismaying. If my work were shown, I would hope that they would be happy to answer questions and offer information, because they become an extension of you when they sit out there. But let’s be honest, how warm and fuzzy is most of the art world. Do curators, gallery owners or editors treat artists much better, not until you make them a lot of money. And if they are that rude to you, my guess is that they treat the $8 to $10 dollar an hour desk workers pretty badly, male or female. And so we get to the heart of the issue for women. Often, because women are in a position that make them feel devalued, they turn their rage on others. When you are in a position of dependence, you feel powerless to defend yourself. If you need a paycheck or the patronage of your employer how do you tell them to treat you fairly? But, as Joerg pointed out as long as we keep taking it, we will keep getting it. One thing we can do is to band together. If women had the same kind of strong networking skills as men, perhaps we would not always feel so desperate. I have noticed that my boyfriend and his male friends and co-workers often help each other get jobs, pass on information and do gratis design work for each other. I have never known a women to do this. We may offer information, but how often to we pick up the phone for someone and say, “hey, you should check out my friends work.” However, several men have done that for me.

So what’s wrong here? Why do women continue to keep each other down, or allow themselves to be objectified like the Gallerina’s? I think that from a very young age, women learn that their looks are their number one asset. They become so used to focusing on their external as the means to success, that they lose sight of the importance of their other assets. Most of us are unconscious of this, we probably never think of ourselves like that. But I know that I worry more about what I am going to wear to things, then anything else. Because even if I want to fight it, part of me knows that I will be judged first on that. Especially if I am meeting with a women. One of the most disappointing examples of this from my own life, was when a certain female photographer came to guest crit my photo class from one of the top MFA programs. She immediately started ripping my work to shreds, primarily the technique aspects. In my attempt to defend the work, I started to take about the nature of the glossy print, when she interrupted me to say in front of the class, “The glossy prints are not the problem, and besides they match your lip gloss.” That was the single most disheartening moment for me, because in one sentence she pretty much told me I was just a ‘face.’ Meaning that I should use my looks or would succeed because of them. Now as someone who spent most of their life feeling like an object, because of my past, she was trying to take away the first thing I had found that I could do that was not about what I looked like. Being behind the camera is the only place where what I look like does not matter. But in reality, it is very hard to escape these cultural assumptions. To me the worst part of the Times article was hearing Yancy Richardson, say that there was nothing wrong with looking for a pretty face to put out front.

Yancey Richardson, the owner of an eponymous Chelsea art gallery, notes that she employs front desk assistants who can answer questions from the public and clients, and also attack a rigorous list of tasks. “You can’t just hire people who are decorative,” she said, “but you can find someone with all those necessary skills and who is beautiful.”

Ms Richardson is one of the few female gallery owners, and who also prominently showcases female artists. Of all people I would hope that she would know better. What is a young woman who hopes to break into the gallery world supposed to think when she reads that. That no matter how hard she studies or no matter how capable she is, if she’s not attractive she will not have a chance. People wonder why breast implants are now one of the number one high school graduation gifts? Instead of burning our bras, we now fill them with silicone fantasies. Are we not telling young women, that not only do they need Master degrees, top grades, they also need to be sexually and physically attractive if they hope to make it in our society. And the fact that powerful women are re-enforcing these ideas is to me the most appalling.

So yes, Joerg’s call to fight against these ideas is necessary. How to do it, is another matter. We as women have to decide how we can change things. But I think most of us feel so much anxiety about our own talent, looks, bodies, personalities, it is difficult to find the energy to do it. I feel that I can only be different in my own life. I can decide to help my fellow female artist, I can work to be free of the self-hating brought on by our beauty culture, and most importantly I can make art that forces people to confront these issues. I will perhaps leave it to Joerg, to write more on this subject. I think we need more people like him, who are not afraid to get angry, and who are not too jaded to think nothing will ever change.

And I hope that Julie Saul, Yancy Richardson, Marianne Boesky, Bonni Benrubi, Elizabeth Dee, Rivington Arms, Becky Smith, Andrea Meislin, Deborah Bell, Paula Cooper, Margaret Murry, Janice Guy, Roxanna Marcoci, Robin Rice, Jen Bekman, and all the other women who have power and authority in the art world take heed, we need to be on the same team. That does not mean giving special treatment to female artists and employee’s, but being willing to examine your own culpability in this debate. Ask yourself if you are treating women the same sexist attitude of your male counterparts, and if so, why? I am sure it is not easy to be a female gallery owner, I have heard many times, “So in so only has a gallery because her rich daddy gave her the money.” Have you ever heard that said about a male gallery owner?

And as for us female artists and people in general, I will borrow the advice of the Gureilla Girls:

Boston, Mass.: Now that we’ve heard what you have to say, how can we help? What’s the best way to stop our national museums from being so racist and sexist? Write letters? It seems so … banal.

Guerrilla Girl Frida Kahlo: Complain, complain, complain! But do it creatively. Shame and ridicule are powerful weapons in the art world. And don’t forget to have fun in the process. Your laughter disarms the powers-that-be.

And ladies, start buying art? Because once you are a force in the world of collectors, galleries will take note!

Contests, Contests, Contests!

I recently received a form email from the Center, Santa Fe rejecting my entry to their upcoming portfolio review. My first thought was surprise. While I was certainly not expecting to win the Santa Fe Project Competition, which has one winner out of 800 or so entries, I felt pretty confident I would get into the review. So it shook me for a moment to get, “the thanks but no thanks” response. The email included a link to the juror’s statements, just in case you were interested to hear why they did not select you.

A project or series which is early in development will not hold up to one that is more fully developed or complete. Technique in and of itself does not constitute a good idea. Conversely poor technique will detract from a good idea. And for me technique must support your idea. I will draw upon what [previous juror] Rixon Reed said “There were portfolios that contained wonderfully exquisite prints but were too derivative of works by other well-known photographers”. These were eliminated quickly, as they were measured against the established works. There are very few new ideas, however, there is, your personal, fresh vision and point of view.”
–Donald Woodman, photographic artist

Hmmm, so which of the above did I fall into? Racking my brain with self-doubt, I started to consider the strangeness of the entire “competition” process. How exactly do you shift through hundreds of portfolios in one day, which include a mere 10 to 12 digital images and decide what is better? I suppose there are some projects which perhaps fit more easily into the winning slots than others, almost like the photo project prom queens. While other work might have just as much value, but not present as well in the constraints that these contests impose. ( And yes many that have no hope at all.) And who exactly are these people judging you? I have been applying to many of these things this year, and so far not one has wanted the same size jpegs, the same number of images, the same length of artist statement or the same supporting materials. Oh yes, and all of them have a fee. It is sort of like filling out college applications. Not something anyone looks forward to. But as much as part of me wants to chuck the whole process, I continue to solider on. Mostly because I continue to see people careers get launched by these emerging artist lists, shows, contests and events. Look at the CV of most art photographers who have a certain level of success, and you will see that most of them have been in the same contests or on the same emerging artists lists.

But of course there are plenty of people who are successful who have never entered or won anything. What my little rejection taught me more than anything is the importance of editing. You have to willing to throw away images you love if they are not adding anything to your work. So I put every one of my images on the wall and started from scratch and made my edit tighter and stronger. So thank you Donald Woodman, photographic artist and Nancy Sutor, Interim Director of the Marion Center for Photographic Arts, Educator, Photographer, your rejection was the best thing to happen to my work in a while.

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.



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.

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?






Walker Evans

Film or Digital?



Annie Leibovitz

To blog or not to blog?

I came across this post from Christian Patterson on Speak See Remember, and felt kind of turned off. While I understand it must be strange for those select few who started the whole fine-art blogging community to see it grow to such size (see the Jackanory’s blogroll) But both his sign off from blogging and Alec Soth’s to me seemed very much about something the art world is very good at, creating elite and exclusionary institutions. Gallery’s, Museum’s, and publications are difficult if not impossible to penetrate. Of course once you are there, I hear the MOMA dinner’s are like the middle school lunch room, in terms of who sits where, and who is the popular kid. But there is definitely an “inside” and “outside” in the art world. Once you have made it, you are invited in, whether you can stay is another matter. What bothered me about Patterson’s blog, was that it seems to miss the whole point of the internet and blogging. It is by its nature the most open and democratic of forums. It allows people who would otherwise probably never be in contact, because of geography or where they in the pursuit to trade information and ideas. I think it is great to read what art students think, commercial photographers and fine-artists who are both established and on their way. So can there ever be too many blogs? If you answer that question, I feel that you create a hierarchy of information. That is to say, you imply that one person’s thoughts or opinions are more valuable than another’s. But this is incorrect, because the expression of them is equally valuable, whether you find them valuable is up to you. The internet is a free forum, we can choose to read or not read any blog or site we chose. I personally like getting inside the heads of others and feeling like I am part of a community. There are enough curators in the world, I think this is one place that anyone and everyone should have a voice. We can decide to listen or not.