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January 27, 2005

Better Late Than Never in 2005

 

Well, it's taken me a while to get back to blogging in 2005, given many other things that have taken priority or just flat out distracted me at the start of this year.

A very belated happy New Year to everyone, especially those who managed to make my first year of blogging so enjoyable and instructive.  Thanks to everyone who sent me a note (and my apologies if I wasn't able to get back to you sooner...I'm still catching up with email well into the start of 2005).  Joerg at Conscientious, Stan at Reciprocity Failure, John at Orbit 1 (who's always run one of the most thoughtful of "photo-a-day" photoblogs)...before I even started a blog, I could tell that he was someone who liked to think about photographs, and not just dump one a day out there), Luis and Antonio at flux+mutability and defocused respectively, Kevin at Photorant and photopermit.org, Todd at Gallery Hopper, Stacy at the space in between...

...well, the list is getting long, isn't it, and I haven't even covered the half of it with thoughtful bloggers (not just photobloggers) out there who have managed to make me see and think in different ways, as well as the hundreds of talented photographers and other visual artists who continue to serve as inspiration.  It was tough keeping up with all the photoblogs, though I did what I could with visits to the ones I listed on my sidebar. Probably my favorite photoblog apart from John's was Gayla's Making Happy, which I never get tired of visiting.  Both John and Gayla use multiple cameras to explore, to engage in inquiry, to have fun with old quirky cameras, to just enjoy the process of taking pictures.  There's a lot to be said for that.

And even though I continue to see amazing work on the web, in books and in galleries, I also continue to find inspiration in the work of two photographers I consider peers and mentors: Ed and Dirk.

I wrote about a lot of magazines in 2004, some dedicated to photography, others with photography as a primary element, and some thrived, while others died.  Goodbye to Pictured, Nest, Issue, and In.  Thanks to SHOTS, Aperture, Next Level (when I can find it in a U.S. bookstore) and PDN for going stronger than ever, along with more specialized publications like B&W, Camera Arts, and View Camera. Thanks also to art magazines like Modern Painters and Art Review for providing thoughtful coverage of photography in the context of the modern art scene, rather than treating it as a stepchild.

Online magazines like ak47.tv and BlueEyes Magazine, along with the more established ZoneZero, may be the most vital (and cost-effective) showcases for contemporary photography outside the hot names of the gallery circuit, and I hope they keep thriving and growing. Influence was probably my single favorite art-photography magazine in 2004, but they could only get one amazing issue out...with the second one scheduled for publication in the first quarter of 2005.  I can't wait.

* More on my favorite photobook from last year, Martin Parr's The Photobook: A History Volume I, in this Guardian feature:

"His home office, for instance, is lined with books, all of them pertaining to photography, some of them, unbelievably, costing more than a vintage print by the photographer in question. Or, to put it another way, Martin Parr lives in a house of books, and their collective value outstrips the price of the house itself. 'I'm not sure I could, or even should, give you a precise figure,' he says, sounding suddenly defensive when I ask him how much his set of photographic books is worth on the market, 'but maybe somewhere in the region of a million and a half.'"

One of the visitors to this blog was lucky enough to actually see Parr speak: check out his blog entries here and here.

* Other books I've been meaning to mention that I've also enjoyed, in addition to the ones I mentioned in my post about 2004 photobooks: Helen Van Meene's Portraits, Larry Sultan's the Valley, Mona Kuhn's Photographs (artful nudes in various tableaux, sometimes too pretty, but compelling for the many "real-looking" friends and colleagues included), Jock Sturges' Notes, and Massimo Vitali's Landscape with Figures.

Mkbookcover_1


My only mild complaint about Van Meene's wonderful book of portraits is that I wish it had been bigger, given the larger and more lavish photographs published in Aperture just months before...but the compact book is well priced as a result and one of the better values for new photography books out there.  I just hope Aperture's upcoming monograph for David Hilliard is larger, because having seen him speak last fall, and marveling at his large multi-panel panoramic (and autobiographical) mini-dramas, it's hard to imagine them being squeezed in to the same compact format as Van Meene's work.

* Vince Aletti gets caught up with his Top 25 list of photobooks, and an article on the best magazine photography of the last year.  This speaks well to the fact that when people ask me what magazines to check out and subscribe to, there are obvious names that are very specific to the art of photography... but there are also many other sources for interesting photography that are ostensibly more glossy and ephermeral.  I know some folks out there want to keep church and state separate and will never allow fashion and lifestyle photography to enter their universe, but photography is just as alive to me coming from the pages of large glossies like Paris Vogue and W and Exit as well as niche (and often short-lived) magazines like Dwell, Anthem and Fugue, even if you have to often forage through some fluff to get to the good stuff. 

I may not collect the magazines or even buy them much of the time, but I'm certainly going through them on the newstands constantly and taking mental notes.

* Portfolios I've enjoyed recently: Sharon Core's iconic photographs of food (part of Aperture's Director's Cut feature; more Core here), and Juli Leonard's portfolio in the latest issue of Blueeyes magazine.

Piespiespies2

Sharon Core image

* I visited the AIPAD show last year in New York, an annual showcase for a great deal of traditional photography, mostly black and white.  The Yossi Milo gallery made a pretty good showing by bucking the trend and showcasing leading lights like Alec Soth and Loretta Lux in all their contemporary color glory.  To start off 2005, the gallery is featuring two Irish photographers: the quietly compelling "is it fact or fiction" work of Trish Morrissey (gallery here, write-up here), followed by Martina Mullaney's curiously neat, curiously squalid bedroom interiors, "Turn In", presented in square format.

Mullaney12

Trish Morrissey image

* Finally, photo essays about America have never gone far out of fashion, but there's no shortage of them these days.  Two worth taking a look at that pose interesting contrasts in style and mood: Phil Bergerson's Shards of America, and David Carol's 40 Miles of Bad Road.  Bergerson has a nice interview with Making Room magazine, one of Davin Risk's many amazing online projects, and an online magazine to watch.

Bergerson1

Phil Bergerson image, from Shards of America

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Comments

Good to have you back!

I've noticed a sad trend here in the Bay Area -- local libraries stocking big beautiful new photobooks only to have them go missing within just a couple of weeks. SOMEONE has made off just in the past couple of months with the San Jose's copies of the latest Arbus, Shore, Friedlander, and Plachy. For books worth stealing you'd wish they sold better overall :)

Posted by: Kevin Bjorke at Jan 27, 2005 1:54:02 PM

Hey Kevin,

I owe you an email...while I was on hiatus, I did enjoy your PhotoRant postings the last few weeks.

That's a drag regarding the books...I remember reading one of your old posts regarding the ability to look at photo books in the library. Maybe there's someone savvy out there who's figured out that the books fetch $200 and up the moment they go out of print in a first edition. :-(

The local Museum of Fine Arts seems to be the best place to browse through (and manhandle) photobooks...there are some real characters that come through for repeat viewings of certain books. Arbus and Sultan seem especially popular based on my very anecdotal observations.

Posted by: Robert at Jan 27, 2005 2:41:20 PM

Inter-library loans help fill-in a few gaps -- found a copy of UNCOMMON PLACES at a distant Cal State library and it was swiftly delivered to the front desk of the city library a few blocks from home on Monday -- now waiting, speaking of pricey books, on a 1952 edition of THE DECISIVE MOMENT, found at another library out in the countryside (and on cue, got an email this morning from the local lib saying that their in-house copies of Tomatsu's SKIN OF THE NATION and ALL their Araki books have gone missing, grr). There are a few books that I regularly find on the ground near the stacks -- pretty much anything with nudes, say Penn or Sturges or Mann. A side effect of having the library co-located on a university campus I'll guess.

Posted by: Kevin Bjorke at Jan 27, 2005 5:10:51 PM

thanks for the reference. Happy new year and continue the good work.

Posted by: António at Jan 28, 2005 6:53:44 AM

Thanks so much for the kind words Robert. I'm very flattered.

Posted by: Gayla at Jan 28, 2005 11:23:19 PM

hi, where did you see 40 Miles of Bad Road?
David

Posted by: david carol at Feb 5, 2005 12:04:11 AM

Hi there, glad to be reading this!

(I was away from f+m and a lot more for quite some time, so this is a very late compliment).

Thanks for all the great notes on photography, all the tips, everything. Have a funtastic year!

Farrolas

Posted by: Farrolas at Feb 11, 2005 1:33:25 PM

that pie picture looks exactly like a Wayne Tiebaud painting!

Posted by: Lucraya at Mar 26, 2005 6:57:00 PM

Very interesting site and writings on photography. I'll be back often.

Posted by: pAul_shelasky at Apr 26, 2005 4:41:45 PM

I 'm really fond of your page,so I'll come here more frequently

http://plaza.rakuten.co.jp/adawindxo/diary/

Posted by: Ada at May 3, 2005 12:11:36 AM

I miss reading your entries.

Posted by: Walker at May 30, 2005 1:29:20 PM

Hola,

arte desde españa: www.blogia.com/ismo

Posted by: hello¡ at Jun 16, 2005 8:22:29 PM

OK . It starts here . I have kept telling myself I need to get into phtography, not just taking pictures but I have long yearned to have a collection of quality photo books. You have been my inspiration, thanks ..... Hope you don't mind me linking you at my blog.

Cheers IanB @ RetroBabe!

Posted by: IanB at Jul 26, 2005 12:30:33 PM

welcome back to the blogoshpere!

Posted by: dig at Sep 12, 2005 9:37:26 AM

what happened to this blog? I was enjoying it but there hasn't been a peep for almost a year! come back to posting.... please?

Posted by: Harlan Erskine at Nov 6, 2005 4:35:10 PM

great great photographs

Posted by: CArlos at Jan 5, 2006 2:58:55 PM

Glad to see you are back. Look forward to reading the blog again.

Posted by: raul at Jan 23, 2006 6:26:39 PM

well, now that I have started my own blog, I know its all too easy to fall of the blog wagon. I just re-started posting after falling off for 2 months. So what do you say... "better late then never in 2006?

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I love the pie photo. Good lighting. I love the raw feeling of most of these pieces, especially the brick wall with graphite

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