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March 29, 2004

Industrial Decay, Water and Children...In Moody B&W

Sorry I've been very busy for the last week, and until I get my class schedule straightened out for the next term (along with a few other things), my next couple of posts may be brief.

Anyway, I've often noted that the search for good black and white photography on the web is a challenge...but if the images are good and use black and white effectively for mood, then the viewer can fill in the loss of detail or subtlety. A few finds recently:

Bruce Haley is an Oregon-based photographer who photographs old factories in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. His 8x20 panoramas are presented rather small online, but are still interesting viewing. He is also featured in the February 2004 issue of B&W, and has a book out as well.

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Bruce Haley portfolio image

One of Haley's key influences is the legendary German photographer Albert Renger-Patzsch. The latter was certainly prominent in my mind as I viewed Haley's industrial images. More of Renger-Patzsch's work (which is scattered in multiple places around the web) can be found here.

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Generators, 1927, Albert Renger-Patzsch

In a different direction, Brian Oglesbee uses water imagery in interesting ways to depict transformations and illustrate impressive detail and light. The "Toward Metamorphosis" series occasionally flirts with new age concepts in its depiction of dream-like states, yet it's also the most ambitious and interesting of his water series to my eye. A interesting essay on the series can be found here.

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Brian Oglesbee image, from "Toward Metamorphosis"

And finally, there is nothing like black and white combined with an master artist's sensibility to convey a questioning, disquieting mood effectively. Ingar Krauss, another excellent German photographer, does this very effectively with children in a way that evokes one of my favorites, Sally Mann. (thanks to Conscientious for the reference)

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Ingar Krauss image

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March 25, 2004

Street Kids, Fashion, and Art-Fashion Magazine Hybrids

I've come across more interesting to good magazines, with interesting to good lesser-known photographers, and sadly, the same non-web presence.

Issue Magazine is an excellent contemporary magazine that's either a brilliant hybrid of several genres or a hopelessly confused mishmash. Their past mission statement reads as follows: "ISSUE magazine strives to be the National Geographic of the American Liberal Arts focusing on the Visual Arts and Sciences, Photography, Music, Film, Architecture, Culture and Fashion with a distinctive and classic aesthetic". Yikes.

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The magazine re-launched last fall with a fresher format and a mix of features on contemporary photography, painting, comic book art and a variety of other broader cultural topics. The photography that's featured is very good and printed wonderfully; most striking to me in the most recent issue (Fall 2003) were Bradley McCallum and Jacqueline Tarry's video and photographic project, Endurance, on homeless Seattle teenagers, and Mark Lyon's alternatingly affectionate and voyeuristic photographs of the development of a teenage model.

McCallum and Tarry's work has a dedicated website where one can view the portraits of the teenagers and watch time lapse video of each teenager occupying a single block, one at a time, telling their stories in sequence. The site is worth visiting and the project has received rave reviews from a number of art critics. You can also see larger images and associated press on the Conner Contemporary gallery web site (click on "artists" and look for mccallum and tarry)

This isn't just another documentary style project about hard luck kids, though, as worthy as that would be. What's striking about the project (and difficult to appreciate on the web because of the size of the images) is the juxtaposition of the reality of the teenagers' lives and the sheer endurance exemplified by the video work, with the sheer beauty of their portraits. I felt almost guilty when first looking at the images in the magazine because they conveyed more beauty and buzz than the vast majority of fashion magazine layouts or Vanity Fair/New Yorker portraits...slacker/heroin chic, but with a weirdly unsettling hardness or emptiness hovering around the edges. The portraits were taken with highly flattering frontal lighting and saturated color, which serve as an interesting contrast to the usual photojournalistic practice of stark and grungy reality associated with street portraiture.

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Jessica, McCallum/Terry image from Endurance

This, of course, will raise hackles from some who believe that aestheticization and beautification has no place in documentary projects of this sort, a debate that's been around for a long time. Personally, I feel McCallum and Tarry are far more successful in producing a deeper sense of discomfort and empathy doing what they've done, than with a more putatively straight approach. One of my favorite passages on this topic comes from photography critic David Levi-Strauss's essay, "The Documentary Debate: Aesthetic or Anaesthetic?":

"The doctrinaire right contends that politics has no place in art, while the doctrinaire left contends that art has no place in politics. Both takes are culturally restrictive and historically inaccurate...The idea that the more transformed or "aestheticized" an image is, the less "authentic" or politically valuable it becomes, is one that needs to be seriously questioned. Why can't beauty be a call to action? The unsupported and careless use of "aestheticization" to condemn artists who deal with politically charged subjects recalls Brecht's statement that 'the right thinking people among us, whom Stalin in another context distinguishes from creative people, have a habit of spell-binding our minds with certain words used in an extremely arbitrary sense'.

To represent is to aestheticize; that is, to transform. It presents a vast field of choices but it does not include the choice not to transform, not to change or alter whatever is being represented. It can not be a pure process, in practice...Aestheticization is one of the ways that disparate peoples recognize themselves in one another. Photographs by themselves cannot tell "the whole truth" -- they are always only instants."

On a lighter note, another magazine with a well presented but frothier mix of fashion, photojournalism and pop culture, Noi.se, doesn't even have a website...really lovely black and white and color layouts, cutting edge fashion and intense black and white portraiture, but none of it to be found on the web.

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One photographer, though, Sarah Silver, has her entire portfolio from Noi.se and other publications available online, and her color fashion work is particularly nice. The lighting and compositions don't always push the envelope, but the use of color and motion is eye-grabbing, and her feature on New York ballet dancers in the current issue of Noi.se is particularly well done. Worth checking out.

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Sarah Silver image, 2003

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March 23, 2004

Pinhole Visions, and Slasher Landscapes

My current class on lighting and flash photography is coming to an end, and though this is truly one of those classes that has packed substantial learning into a short period of time, it will be good to get to stuff I've been dying to try out, mainly alternative photographic processes (assuming the class I've signed up for has adequate enrollment). I've already mentioned a few alternative processes in past posts, including the whole aesthetic of plastic/toy cameras...which seem to me more about sensibility than actual process, even though there are some very hard working folks out there who get an amazing amount of poetry out of working over those fuzzy negatives.

Pinhole images are widely considered to be the granddaddy (or mama) of alternative photography, and Christopher James' alternative photography bible, "The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes", starts off with a chapter on the pinhole. I've seen some amazing pinhole images in galleries and in books, and there are quite a few resources online, and some very good galleries (including and especially Antonio Viera's work at defocused). (UPDATE: his pinhole gallery can be found here). I'm just starting to experiment with the simple options now (I have a roll of film waiting to be developed, with images taken using a pinhole body cap on my medium format SLR), but I'm anxious to try large format pinhole work in due time. The best part about it is that stunning images (depending on your definition of stunning, of course) can be made from the most basic of makeshift cameras.

Like plastic camera imagery, though, there's a lot of highly variable work online, owing to the ease of getting started and getting "interestingly fuzzy" results immediately. Getting beyond the initial fizz of the fuzzies seems to take a bit more effort and more vision, and I've been casually seeking examples of such vision online and elsewhere.

One of the better books I've seen of pinhole photography, at least in terms of using the method to deliver a highly personal vision, is Barbara Ess' I Am Not This Body. Here, the distortions and dreaminess really do go beyond the cliches, and come across as an interesting and evocative extension of the subconscious. Wide angle, close up, color, black and white, Ess uses the pinhole in a myriad of ways to suggest all sorts of enigmatic but highly personal stories. She doesn't have a lot of her work online, and the images online are pretty small...but the book can be found inexpensively at many online outlets.

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Barbara Ess image

Another model turned photographer, UK-based Jan Dunning, has been employing color pinhole photography to do fantasy-based pinhole self-portraits that I find to be a cut above the typical alternative process self-portrait, even though the themes she explores are quite familiar. She just completed an exhibition at 31 Grand in Brooklyn, NY, and has a nice selection of work online. Her work is interesting for its ostensible hybrid of fashion and the pre-Raphaelite atmosphere that's characteristic of so much alternative process work, but as she says, "I'm not really interested in fashion photography, more in the critique of modelling."

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"The Girl Became a Bird" Jan Dunning image

Dianne Bos is a Canadian photographer who has been using pinhole for a while to photograph a wide variety of subjects, from carousels to interesting interiors to still lifes. Some of her work explores subjects that have been done to death by other pinhole and plastic camera specialists, but she has a reasonable handle on the expressive capabilities of the pinhole image, and her interiors seem to me to be the most interesting and well realized of her extensive portfolio. In fairness to her work, it's possible that her fuzzy images really shine when blown up dramatically...one of the interesting paradoxes of alternative photography is how seemingly subpar images technically gain in visual and poetic impact when the fuzzy, distorted details are enlarged.

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Dianne Bos image

Finally, Kelly Richardson is a multimedia artist whose site I ran into randomly the other day, and though she doesn't do pinhole, her unsettling "Supernatural" series features hazy, mottled video screen grabs from horror movies that could pass for pinhole images. You can debate the aesthetics of these curiously washed out, hyperfuzzy images (shot as C-prints and blown up to 30x40), but the concept is distinctive to say the least: weirdly peaceful, weirdly colored landscape scenes taken from slasher flicks, that, as she says, "can be found just before or after a bloodbath".

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"Frogs" Kelly Richardson image from Supernatural Series

The aesthetic of the pinhole might indeed be appropriate for this series: in today's world, perhaps it's only in the wake of unspeakable, gratuitous violence that our cloudy vision acquires infinite depth of field and a sense of peace, however misbegotten.

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March 21, 2004

More from the PDN 30, and Zed Nelson

I mentioned in a recent post that PDN's latest newstand issue features the PDN 30, an annual list of emerging photographers: the PDN website has just been updated to provide access to small portfolios for these photographers, which is a good thing since many of them have limited personal websites (if any at all).

Apart from the folks I mentioned last time, I was happy to see some work from Alessandra Petlin, who seems to have a special skill for custom color printing (which shows much better in print than on the web), and I also like Matthew Porter's interesting environmental shots. Christian Patterson is an Eggleston protege (he's actually living in Memphis and working with the Eggleston trust), and has his own substantial website. There are many more interesting photographers...check them out.

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Alessandra Petlin image

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Matthew Porter image

On a separate note, London based photographer Zed Nelson has a sharp and biting eye in his photojournalistic essays -- I'd call it photojournalism with an alligator grin. His photo essays span a wide range of topics...everything from gun culture in the US to nose jobs in Iran. I found his "Porn Safari" essay particularly entertaining (it's buried in the "Other Stories" section)...these images could be film stills from the early part of Boogie Nights, very funny and larger than life. (thanks to notes from somewhere bizarre for the reference)

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Zed Nelson image, from Leisure World series

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March 19, 2004

New Design

To those who've visited here before, you've obviously noticed a different look. I'm still doing a bit of housekeeping behind the scenes, so my apologies if some links or archives are slightly out of whack. If you really like or dislike the new look, feedback is welcome, of course.

To people visiting here for the first time (and thanks to things magazine for the link this morning), some of the images in the archives are still being redone for the new template, so thanks for putting up with any housecleaning.

What I'll really need to work on is the photo albums, which are Typepad's biggest weakness, in my humble opinion. It's been a rough and relatively uneventful winter, photographically speaking, but I'm looking forward to adding new entries to the Portraiture and "Dreams of Dance" albums in the coming months.

The photo albums thing is important because any personal images I share will really not showcase very well in the new design, but I hope this site is a bit more readable and navigable overall. Thanks again to everyone who's emailed or commented with encouraging words.

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"Amber and Michael" from "Dreams of Dance" series

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Contemporary and Classic Fashion: The Good and the Ordinary

I wish I knew for certain that I had a "system" for making photographic discoveries on the web, beyond my usual network of fine blogs, news sites and friends...but sometimes you just discover stuff, and have no idea how you did it. (Doesn't help when the computer crashes midway through a random walk around the Web).

So I just discovered this agency representing fashion photographers in Italy...and found that they represent an impressive stable of photographers who I'm mostly unfamiliar with. Perhaps I've seen a few of these folks' work without attribution in a random fashion or lifestyle magazine...and perhaps the work wasn't really worth noticing in that type of encounter. But the Salvioli agency has done a nice job hosting their photographers' work online, and the work displays very well, without a lot of clutter or distracting multimedia excess.

The work on display in this site *is* commercial work, though some of the categories are cryptic enough to imply that some of it might be part of a fine art portfolio as well. It's mostly studio or heavily produced and lit location work. In general, the sort of stuff that might make the hobbyist or fine art photographer sniff at the slickness and soullessness of it all. But anyone who's read my site for a while knows how much I enjoy the contradictions of talented photographers applying themselves in a commercial setting, and fashion is one of the more interesting (and treacherous) intersections of fine art, commerce, and pop culture.

With that said, most of the work at Salvioli's site is tasteful and is distinguished by the striking use of form and color. No playful transgression a la Helmut Newton, David LaChapelle, or Ellen von Unwerth. And a lot of it is fairly standard, but there's some good to great stuff, too. Best to browse through all the photographers with the expectation that most of the work explicitly reflects commercial expectations, but that creativity pops up in unexpected and pleasant ways.

Gianpaolo Barbieri is a long time fashion photographer and photojournalist whose track record in the world of fashion speaks for itself...he produced the cover for the first issue of Italian Vogue in the 1960s, has collaborated with many of the leading designers in fashion for over 40 years, and has seven books to his credit. Some of the black and white and standard fashion work he has on display online has almost too much spit and shine, and some of his hybrid photojournalism/fashion stuff (somewhere else...I can't find the link now...he has some black and white work of tribes in Madagascar) is rather dull, but the portfolio "A History of Fashion" (and I presume the book of the same title) is very good.

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Gianpaolo Barbieri image, from A History of Fashion

Brigitte Niedermair's fashion and personal work have a quirky airbrushed style that evokes Joyce Tenneson.

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Brigitte Niedermair image

I've heard of several female models who have gone on to be photographers themselves (the most prominent in my memory being Sarah Moon), but haven't encountered many male models who have done the same...until I saw the work of Robert Jaso, a one time French male model who now does fashion work seemingly inspired by Barbieri. He has a very nice online portfolio with a great eye for color...both the fashion and jewel portfolios are worth visiting.

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Robert Jaso, images from "Jewel" series


Most of the work on the Salvioli site is almost "old-school" in its high gloss, hypersaturated color, and classic poses and compositions, but if your taste runs to more muted, snapshot style contemporary fashion (a la Teller and Tillmans), Ralf Uhler on the same site is worth checking out.

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March 16, 2004

Painting vs Photography, and Beautiful Fuzzy Visions

I just returned from New York and the Armory Show, as I indicated in my last post, and I still have a bit to digest and catch up with. Since I never did the summary of the AIPAD photography show that I attended last month, I now have a convenient opportunity to compare and contrast my "art trade show" experiences...and trust me, these were trade shows just as focused on selling as the technology fairs I attended in my past life as a technology analyst.

I attended both shows as a photography and art lover and lurker, rather than as a potential buyer and collector, but it was enjoyable, if a bit exasperating at times, to witness the gallery-collector dynamic vis-a-vis certain artists first hand.

I'll get up my AIPAD vs Armory post in the next day or so...short summary, AIPAD quiet, genteel, black and white, "classic" representational photography...Armory loud, huge, crowded, in your face, huge color C-prints, never dull but much more exhausting. These are broad generalizations, and of course the Armory show is a broader contemporary art show with only a modest sampling of photography, while AIPAD is exclusively photography. But it was still fascinating to see (and feel) the differences.

In the meantime, here are some random links as I contemplate everything I've seen in NY over the period of a month...

Photo-like paintings (as opposed to painting-like photographs) were still highly visible at the Armory, though as a trend they're supposedly on the wane. In particular, Jerry Saltz of the Village Voice wants a moratorium on the unimaginative use of photography as a foundation or model for painting, and he makes a good argument. Actually, what I like about Saltz's argument is it could be used the other way as well...the numerous ways photographers attempt to make their images "painterly", particularly with quirky cameras, filters and Photoshop, all too frequently these days produce a predictable and unimaginative result. Mark Sink has been making such arguments for a while now, and they're nicely summarized in his artist's statement regarding his Diana camera work:

"You can not make a bad picture; the [Diana] camera is too easy. Sadly many use it because they can’t make a good picture with glass so they depend on the effects the plastic creates. It can often make very cute weak pictures look serious and seemingly much stronger. I see a dangerous similarity with Polaroid transfer. It's too easy to be arty; the majority of work I see is often empty of vision, personal style and craft. It started as a teaching tool but has spread into the a dangerous realm of interesting gimmickry with little previsualized concept among young photographers.

Ansel Adams once said most people have sharp lens but fuzzy concepts."

Going with the flow, I discovered a painter, Johnny Robertson, whose hazy monochromatic work evokes toy camera photography's fuzzy dreaminess, in a good way...and I imagine painting here provides more punch, however subtle, to the way color and texture signify. (thanks to the fascinating art blog, bare and bitter sleep, for the reference).

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Road City, 2003, Johnny Robertson acrylic

Another painter who is more well-known and explicitly photographic, is Elizabeth Peyton, who's one of the hits at the current Whitney Biennial in New York. Her work is really worth seeing in real life and up close, and is particularly compromised with web viewing...not to mention it's not collected well in any one place online. However, a google image search using her name will give you a glimpse of her rich and sensitive portraits...I've always liked her style since I saw her first Kurt Cobain painting. Here's a cool interview with her as well, in which she has discusses photography vs painting, and acknowledges David Hockney as a huge influence.

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Elizabeth Peyton paintings

And finally, on the "straight" photograph side of things, I discovered the work of Australian photographer Bill Henson at the Armory, though he's been around for a while...great looking C-prints at the show (though easy to get lost with all the other distractions and the crowds at the Armory), and his luscious nocturnal landscapes and dimly lit teenagers are spooky, erotic, and yes, painterly in all the right ways...they look fine online as well.

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Bill Henson C-print

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March 13, 2004

Art Blogs Beyond Photography, And One Path Away From the Darkroom

As I'll be going to New York City again this weekend, my posting isn't where I'd like it to be for now...I'll be away until Monday. I do plan to go to the Armory Show while in New York (which most people at AIPAD recommended as a better outlet for contemporary photography along with other art), though I don't how much I'll get to sample while I'm there, as my time will be limited. It will still be fun to check out and contrast against my AIPAD experience.

There are enough photography options on the Web to keep one's time occupied for days if not weeks and months, but I find it's worthwhile to consider photography within the broader discussion of art and the contemporary art scene, and actually eavesdrop on other visual artists as they create and share their work. There are a number of art blogs that I've enjoyed dropping in on, and the ones I tend to enjoy the most are those where the artists share their own art creation experiences, but also happen to be enjoyably open-minded and literate about the art and popular culture they enjoy.

Rachael at Balduffington apparently maintained a zine in the past, and it shows because her voice on her blog is personal, but confident and positive in its eclectic reach across numerous topics, and it's a real pleasure reading her. She's a painter, but she has an active interest in photography and has recently posted some worthwhile links. She has a special skill for making a few words say a lot (something I could use, I have to say).

Tom Moody also has experience writing for art publications, seems to have less interest in photography, and is considerably more opinionated about various topics...he also shares a lot of drawings, animations, electronic music, etc. I just find his wide ranging interests, personal work, and opinions fun and thoughtful (a good read, as they say), though he's frequently likely to provoke readers as well.

On a more mundane note, namely my own work, I'm currently working to photograph ballet dancers during their weekly classes for a local studio, and so far it's been fairly conventional (which is of course what the studio mostly wants). But I'm trying to determine some more creative ways of capturing what they do, without being obviously "arty" i.e. using a Holga or Diana and letting the vignetting and softness act as the expressive element, though that's an experiment I will play with in coming weeks.

One of the hazards of being around a photography school environment (as I have for the last year and a half) is that a fetish develops around larger formats of film, and 35mm comes to be seen as increasingly inadequate outside of sports and photojournalistic type work. I have to admit that for black and white in particular, I almost never use 35mm any more...but when it comes to dancers (especially since I'm not allowed to use any strobes), the smaller format is necessary for speed. So I've been working with my pet high speed film, Neopan 1600 rated at 800...it has a unique look ("soulful" grain and highlights, though not much shadow detail) that is one of the best reasons for continuing to use 35mm film (even at my most snobby).

*However*, printing high speed black and white negatives is one of my least favorite experiences...you can complain about chemicals and the obsolescence of the traditional darkroom all you want, but there's a distinct pleasure in seeing a fiber print from a well exposed medium or large format negative. An 800 or 1600 speed 35mm negative, however, is often tricky to print properly...you can still get memorable results, but I find it less rewarding and more tedious...so lately, I just scan the negatives, clean them up in Photoshop, and print them on thick watercolor or fine art paper. Whatever I say about issues with digital, it's a godsend for managing the problematic dynamics of high speed film and producing good prints.

Anyway, here are two examples of the type of stuff I've been shooting in this area, one in medium format, the other the 35mm stuff. The medium format shot obviously looks cleaner and more detailed (plus I had better light for it), but the 35mm shot has a character of its own, even in the tiny web form shared here.

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Ballet class, 645 film, Portra 400

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Ballet class, 35mm, Neopan 1600@800

(NOTE: Those interested in seeing a larger version of the first shot above can find it here.

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March 11, 2004

More Updates, Sites To Visit, Slide Shows and Self-Portraits

Just another short update this evening...the night before class is always a bit crazy...

Farrolas' fine art blog, flux plus mutability, has moved to Typepad, which I've credited myself for making blogging almost ridiculously easy. He has several new entries on his relocated site, and in two languages! Always worth a visit.

Ray Esposito, whose blog launched recently with a plug from me, has renamed his blog the Southwestern Art Gazette, and has started posting some thoughtful and meaty entries, along with some photos of his colleagues' work. I enjoyed his recent posts on art collecting and photo magazines (a subject always dear to my blog).

I know some people are wondering whether my large format camera is actually getting some use, or serving as a backup coffee table, and in truth, I'm still moving slowly with putting it together...I just picked up a used lens on eBay, and next week I'll probably pick up film holders and film, and work with a prof to put the whole thing together and make sure it all functions, learn how to use the large format area of the darkroom, etc. My sense of urgency is greater now, with the arrival of warmer weather, and my recent enrollment in an alternative process class for the spring term at NESOP. Now I just have to hope enough people actually sign up for the course, because the teacher is excellent (I've had him before for an alternative portraiture class).

Along the way, I expect to come into contact with many large format and alternative processes folks of various stripes, and the little wandering around the Web I've done in regard to these topics has produced some pleasant findings. One site I've admired for a while is John Bolgiano's Cold Marble Musings. Many interesting images and series on his site, and I'm struck by his current work with IR light painting. (Thanks John, for the encouragement on the large format journey as well)

Andrew has referred me to a fine flash-based presentation of Joyce Tenneson's work, complete with narration from Tenneson herself, made in conjunction with a new exhibition of Tenneson's work at the Whistler Museum of Art in Lowell, Massachusetts. Very well put-together...I've always loved Tenneson's "Light Warriors" series. What I liked about the slide show, apart from its excellent presentation, was the allusion to her early self-portraits, which I still find compelling today. At the used bookstore a few months ago, I picked up her first compilation of self-portraits of women (from 25 years ago) for 4 bucks, and it was a great buy.


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Given that Tenneson has become quite the celebrity, it was interesting to see the range of women photographers represented in this book besides her...60 in total...exploring a wide range of self-portraiture in a pre-Cindy Sherman era. In 2004, a Google search on most of these women turns up virtually nothing. I wonder how these women view their work now.

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Joyce Tenneson Self-Portait, 1978

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March 09, 2004

Living Life With Style and Weird Cameras: More Pet Photoblogs

I've said it often, there are many worthwhile photoblogs out there, and it's easy to get lost in browsing through the archives of the many talented folks out there. I have a several that I recommend highly on the sidebar, and try to visit regularly...but I know there are more that I miss out on, simply because of time restrictions.

I tend to go through phases where I hit particular ones regularly depending on what I'm in the mood for. I admit to having a weakness for weird cameras and offbeat perspectives...it really doesn't matter if the image on a particular day doesn't strike me...if there's a mood established over the course of a few weeks or months, I can get sucked in. A personal way of seeing things, even with highly varied subject matter, tends to hook me. If you're looking for the most beautiful and technically clean and sharp and well-lit photographs, the sites I discuss here don't strive for them, and that's good with me...I like the lived in, low-key feeling of these sites, and the photography happens to be pretty special as far as I'm concerned, even though it may not be to everyone's taste.

Making Happy is one that I most consistently visit, because of the quirky and impressive range of photographs, a real eye for detail and texture, and a fun assortment of odd cameras used by Gayla...and as it turns out, she's currently featured at Photoblogs.org, a well deserved (and in my opinion, overdue) honor.

There are clearly days in the life of all photobloggers where the inspiration isn't there, or the occasional detour into experimentation leads to impersonal results, or (most fatally) there's a tendency to "play to the crowd" based on certain images getting a stronger reaction than others. But Making Happy never seems to fall into this trap...you can tell Gayla is making images that she enjoys, and I (and clearly many others) enjoy following along. And her reservations about photography for pay, and fancy equipment as false status-enchancer, are viewpoints I can truly relate to, based on direct experience. More of her compelling work can be seen (along with the work of Davin Risk, who runs his own highly recommended weblog, Low Resolution) at a polished new site, See Feel Think.

I don't follow Unibrow as consistently, simply because the posting is far more infrequent, but I've been enjoying the pseudo-panoramas from Chicago, posted in recent weeks from the Ansco Pix camera, and the occasional Holga image. Apparently, there's a new site coming up, and I hope there will be more consistent entries, because I've enjoyed the photography that's there.

Shutterbabe.org, run by Emily Smith, has the typical photoblog format to lead on the main page, but it also has addictive galleries of pencam images and mirror images. The pencam gallery is wonderful, if dizzying and almost headache inducing...I'd say a gallery is pretty successful when the viewer is made to feel like they *are* the camera being swung around the wrist of the photographer...highly distorted and tilted waist level perspectives of people, buildings, shadows, etc dominate, with all sorts of weirdly amazing and occasionally poetic results, that far more expensive cameras and extensive digital manipulation couldn't begin to match. And the mirror gallery is highly enjoyable, original, and avoids many "mirror image" cliches...rare to see talent and quirky fun combined as well as Em does at her site.

A newer and promising photoblog from pro photographer Jerome Ferraro, 52, that I just came across falls into the more superficially conventional category of portraiture, but it features some outstanding examples of environmental portraiture, and it promises a portrait a week. As it turns out, Jerome is also featured on Conscientious (through a recommendation from Emily), and her entire portfolio is well worth checking out.

Finally, I don't often cross-reference to Conscientious, simply because I feel that anyone who thinks of visiting semi-regularly here should absolutely go there first, and that's usually the case with most of the visitors here. Joerg is back from Germany and has put up his usual collection of outstanding links to websites and thoughtful articles in the last week...but if you haven't checked out everything, I'll chime in with a strong recommendation of Andreas Gefeller's work..the photo essay on Chernobyl Ten Years After is amazing, and the other stuff on the site is just as good.

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Gefeller image from Chernobyl Ten Years After

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