Sunday, December 18, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Yesterday with Fluorescent lights that I purchased at Home Depot I made these two portraits of my friend Herman Johnson. I met Herman at a photography class at Long Beach City College. We collaborated on a project and have since become friends. I have a lot of respect for Herman. He's been through a lot, and done time. Yet, through it all he's one of the most positive people I know.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Last September Sydney was working in Memphis, Tennessee, so I decided to visit and keep her company . We had some good barbecue, both wet and dry, went to Graceland, which was not as tacky as I had assumed, and spent an evening on Beale Street in downtown Memphis listening to blues. We also took a long walk along the Mississippi. When Sydney worked I drove around Memphis, and West Memphis, Arkansas looking for pictures. I'm in love with my Super Graphic, so I travel with it while the 5D collects dust in the cabinet. I didn't make a lot of exposures, perhaps 15 total, but the ones I did make I am quite please with. We were lucky with the weather. Michael Sebastian who lived in Memphis for about 4 years wrote to me that in summer that part of the south could be as hot as the gates of hell. But we got a break with the temperature--it never rose above 75 and neither did the humidity. Although it poured the day we left, most days there was these high light clouds that illuminated the Mississippi Delta with sweet diffused light. I loved photographing there, and if get the chance to return for a couple of months I'll do a project called "chillin." Folks just hanging out waiting for what comes next. Here's sampling of some of the images I like best.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Yikes again. It's been two months since my last entry, and I initially promised myself that I would at least try to post something bi-monthy. Yes I am well aware that bi-monthly is not once every two months. Although I learned long ago photographers are not allowed to have excuses, it is much more challenging to update a photo blog when shooting film. The work flow is a bit more than merely downsizing an image. But I hope to make up for my insufficient frequency or for that matter any post by writing this very long post, yet hopefully interesting opus. Last Friday Sydney and I returned from a 3 week sejourn in Tuscany and Paris. We were in Europe for two reasons. We were in Italy for a very belated honey-moon. I wanted to share Tuscany with Sydney while we were young enough to completely savor the beauties of Italian life. Secondly we were in Paris for my show "So Far So Close." The vernisage, opening, was on October 13th. But, more about Paris and my show in the next post. I can only write about one country at a time. With the help of my friend Brian and his company BookMyAward we used my American Express points we had accumulated, from buying all that film over the years, for two first class round trip tickets. On both are flights Chicago to Frankfurt and Dusseldorf to Chicago we treated like royalty. On each flight for my appetizer I opted for Caviar . I hadn't eaten Caviar since my decadent days when I was a model in Paris back in the day. While waiting for our connecting flight to Milano we both took showers in the Lufthansa first-class lounge. The shower rooms were huge, with bathrobes and slippers. After traveling for 15 hours it was sweet. The real adventure began after picking up our rental cars at Malpensa airport in Milano and driving to our Tuscan villa in Chianni. We travelled east to Genoa than south along the coast to Pisa, but the scenic route to Tuscany meant little opportunity to view the Mediterranean coast as we drive through tunnel after mountain tunnel. It took us about 4 hours before we exited the autostrada at Pisa, and then things got very interesting. By then it was dark, and we were left solely with google directions to our destination. After about an hour of driving around in circles around roundabouts we realized that our directions were not accurate, and we had gotten separated from our friends who had the GPS in the other car. By this time we had been traveling for over 24 hours, and we were beginning to get a tad cranky. Fortunately Sydney's daughter Rachel had her phone upgraded to international service and we were able to contact the Renate, the German woman who was the caretaker of the villa. Even then it took us another two hours to finally find Chianni. Mostly by luck and the generous help of a owner of a trattoria we made it to our villa. After unloading our luggage we had the first of what would be many glasses of delicious local.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Last week I took pictures for my friend/ teacher's website. Carmen Fitzgibbon is yogini who teaches at Yoga Works Studios in Los Angeles. I met Carmen about ten years ago when I was practicing yoga on a regular basis at Yoga Works. Before she made the decision to dedicate herself to the teaching and practicing yoga she worked as a stylist, one time working with me on a shoot. Since I am no longer living in central L.A. I am, unfortunately, not taking as many yoga classes. It's of not just my opinion that the best yoga teachers and practitioners are located in Los Angeles. I didn't know that I had been spoiled by the quality of teaching in L.A. until I've looked into classes near where I live.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Last Saturday Sydney and I drove south on I-5 to the opening reception gala of The Art of Photography Show in San Diego. I was honored to have "Louise" selected by the curator of the show, Anne Lyden the Associate Curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum. 15,444 images were submitted by artists from 72 different countries and only 109 images were selected. So, it was quite the honor to be represented in this prestigious show. It was also fun to meet and mingle with some of the image makers. Obviously not all could come, but I was able to get about 30 of those artists who did attend to scribble their autograph next to their work in the catalog. It was good to see my new friend and inspiration Jesse Rieser. Our work has appeared together in about 3 different shows this year. They had an artists only reception an hour before the doors were open to the public, so it was fun to sip on the free bubbly and look at some stunning work. I had a chance to speak with Anne during the reception, and she remembered me from a review I had with her at Palm Springs Photography Festival 2010. She congratulated me on my selection and hard work, and told me my follow-ups made it easier for her to include me in her selection. As has been said by Aline Smithson numerous times: it's about hard work, persistence, and consistency. Truer words are rarely spoken.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
It looks like I'll be having a show of a work from both Lakewood: Portraits of a Sacred American Suburb and Au Bout de la Ligne (ABDLL) in Paris this October. The details are still being worked out, but it looks as if the vernisage (opening night) will be the Thursday (Jeudi) the 13th. You're all welcome. The other day in beginning initial preparation for the show I went through my images from ABDLL again and came upon some photographs that had missed the prior cuts. I find that it takes approximately six months before I can objectively look at an image, and even then until I print it out and see how works at least 12"x12" I do not know if it's a keeper. The monitor can fool you. I save my heart until I see the print. Then and only then will I allow myself to fall in love. But photographs can sometimes be like that girl you ignored in high school only to see her again a few years later when she's blossomed. And like some photographs I've always thought that those that bloom last bloom best. Anyway enough about romance and blossoming here are few aged images from the archives. Of course I'm just dating them again, I will not get serious until I make a test print. However, you're opinions are indeed welcome. Cheers.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Last Friday as I do nearly once a week I went into to L.A. to drop off and pick-up film at A&I. If I have the time and not the need to carry anything large I'll ride my bike. From my home I pedal about 3 miles to the Del Amo station L.A. Metro Blue line. With my bike I hop on the northbound train towards downtown L.A. to 7th & Metro stop; there I transfer to the red line toward North Hollywood. I exit at Vermont and Santa Monica Blvd,; from there I hop back on my bike and head west on Santa Monica Blvd. another 3 miles to West Hollywood. Normally when I am finished with my errands I return as I came. However, last Friday I was feeling rambunctious, and on a whim I decided to make the entire 27 mile ride back home on bike. At a quarter till 4:oo pm I set off south on La Brea Avenue. Many who have not ridden bikes as long as I have fear traffic. I'm not implying I wouldn't be safer if I was driving like any normal person in the comfort of my car, but bike riders with experience know how to make car traffic aware of their presence. In fact Friday afternoon rush hour traffic is the best time to ride a bike in Los Angeles. Actually rush hour is an inaccurate description of traffic during the periods when working folk are on their way to or from work. It should be renamed snail hour, because L.A. traffic from 3-7 in the afternoon is merely creeping along. So not only am I unconcerned by the possibility of being injured by a car traveling at 5 miles an hour, I'm able to speed past most past most of them. At Washington Blvd with the wind at my back I headed east. L.A. traffic in the afternoon is usually heavy eastbound, but that wasn't the case, and to my surprise Washington Blvd. was free of potholes with plenty of room for me to ride comfortably between the parked cars and traffic. I remained on Washington Blvd through Korea town to downtown where I eventually was riding parallel and next to the Blue Line Train from whence I came. As does the train I turned south on Long Beach Avenue where all L.A.'s recycled scrap metal appears to reside.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Today was special. I learned that images from my ongoing project Lakewood: Portraits of a Sacred American Suburb had been posted on the New York Times Photography Blog. This is a result of my interview with James Estrin, staff photographer for the New York Times and co-creator of Lens the New York Times Photo Blog, at Santa Fe Review in early June. It just goes to show you work hard at something and stick to it good things eventually happen. This business is all about consistency and persistence, simple as that. Oh, I would also like to thank Kim Nowacki who did the interview and wrote the article accompanying the images. I think she did a fine job.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
The Horse is short for Horseman, my recently purchased 8x10 camera. I got a very good deal, yet it's a very expensive camera. One sheet of film and process is a bit over $20.00. Think about that $20.00 for one exposure. How much is a digital exposure? Crazy, crazy. But there is something subtly special and compelling about the feel of the image. Of course there is the fall off, i.e. the look of the background as it fades away from the point of focus. I have a 300mm/5.6 lens and if I dare to fully open up and I am near my subject the background beautifully obliterates. And the texture, which I have always loved, is so rich you can taste it.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I love street photography, and shoot much more of it if I did not live in Los Angeles. But, to shoot street you have to walk streets where there are pedestrians. When I take good street images I'm feeling the street. It wasn't that Cartier-Bresson was just quick that made his work so profound, more importantly I believe he had a spiritual sense of what was about to happen. The man was in harmony with the street.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
This was my second year attending Palm Springs Photo Festival, and I am certain it will not be my last because I probably learn more in this week about photography and myself than in the course of the year. The difference for me from this year to last is I took Frank Ockenfel’s workshop, which was cut short a day because Frank had a job in New York that could not be rearranged. To make-up for Frank’s early departure Jeff Dunas offered us a day of studio lighting with Nels Israelson. Also new for me this year is arrived a day earlier to attend a meeting of stock photographers sponsored by Blend Images. After a portfolio review last year with Sarah Fix, the creative director of Blend Images, and showing an interest in stock photography, she invited me to attend. It was their spring meeting to give their photographers the opportunity to network and hear discussions on all things stock photography and the trends of the their business. Sarah is one of the nicest people I’ve met at PSPF and I’ve come to learn that stock photographers are some of the coolest and least pretentious shooters I’ve met since becoming a photographer.
Because much of my time and energy was consumed by the workshops I was unable to attend any of the symposiums and I could not commingle and network as much as I would have liked at the festival’s hub in the Hyatt Regency. Nevertheless I learned a lot, so hear goes.
I learned that Frank Ockefel beyond being a prolific image-maker is a photographer’s photographer and a philanthropist of spirit. I learned from him that with a bit of resourcefulness and less than $50.00 worth of lights purchased at Home Depot I can make a very provocative portrait, that if I wanted to get out of my creative box I had to suffer, and that if I wanted to get better I needed to delete my ego and embrace being a beginner… I was delighted to learn that my slideshow entry “Lakewood: Portraits of a Sacred American Suburb” was one of the 4 finalists. Ultimately my project placed behind the winner Angela Bacon Kidwell, but for the entire week many of my colleagues approached me with compliments. I don’t believe I have ever been more touched and honored…. As there were highs there were lows. There were no book deals or exhibitions offered by the book publishers and gallery owners I respectively reviewed with. I sense they appreciate the merit and quality of my work, but they don’t yet believe Lakewood will help pay their rent. And the curators I met with weren’t jumping out of their shoes either; one even suggested I try to exhibit my work in the Lakewood Public Library. I am still discerning if this suggestion was an insult, however; I intend to do exactly that. My two best reviews came from those I least suspected, photography reps: they see Lakewood as being more editorial than fine art. I can’t really argue with that, and I got the impression from them that if the work was tweaked a bit here and there it could be commercially viable. Wouldn’t it be swell if I started making money because of Lakewood? Talking with some of my colleagues we are still assessing the review process. Is it worth money? Is it for everyone? How many should we do? All of us agree we get something out of reviews: we learn not just something about are work but ourselves. More often than not the reviews are frustrating, because as my Wisconsin friend Mike Rebholz told me they seem to always want something you don’t have. That written, upon hearing this criticism I have gone out and sought those missing photos which have in turn added depth to my work. And one last thing Tom, you numbskull, when you pack for Review Santa Fe in June bring a recorder… From Nels Israelson I relearned the Inverse Square Law and that all lighting is a corollary of that law, that dramatic lighting works on everyone as long as you or someone you know is good at retouching. That with the continuing advancement of digital technology, the exception being fine art, dots on a screen will eventually replace dots on paper. It’s the Wild West and you have to continually reshuffle your deck and there is no such thing as a pat hand… From Todd Hido’s presentation I learned that art is nonstop and to constantly play and tinker with my vision, from Arno Rafael Minkkinen to make every thing I love into a piece of art… I learned to never have more than two drinks the night before I have reviews… I learned from Martin Gisborne that I would have saved myself hours if had used Aperture to make my slideshow presentation rather than Final Cut…
I learned to never ever test a new camera while trying to see the world differently… I relearned that Jeff Dunas is a pretty cool guy even if he can’t remember that I photograph Lakewood not Lynwood… I wish I would have learned more from Lee Varis’ Photoshop class but I was too tired and too hung over to take my face off the table-$95.00 for naught. I learned if I was not madly in love with and incredibly dependent on, Sydney, my wife I would volunteer next year because there are a lot of nice girls wearing blue t-shirts at PSPF. I learned that I have a group of colleagues that truly wish me well, and I would like Brad, Svjtlana, Nancy, Laurie, Tom, Mike and Mike, and Jamie to know I feel the same about them.
See you at PSPF 2012
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
We were assigned to make a portrait inspired by the film Bodysong and make a documentary/contemporary portrait that reflected something personal to us about the human experience. For two weeks I struggled to find an original theme that resonated with me. I racked my brain begging for an idea that was not contrived or cliché, then as with most of my concepts it evolved by happenstance. In this instance it was a combination of events: music from a ballet I attended and the inspiration of another student's Christian devotion.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
First I apologize for not posting something in some while. Preparing for New York, being there when the thermometer rarely rose above thirty degrees, then recovering from the trip consumed a lot of time and energy. To add to my excuse I was very sick before we departed, so I simply did not have the energy to blog. However, I promise my dedicated followers, all fifteen of you, in a future post to write in detail about my New York experience.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Sadly, I was unable to fulfill my desire to make a photograph a day in 2011. In the course of a day I was unable to accomplish all that I needed to do and make a photograph. I chose not to, in desperation, whip out the camera and take another photograph of my cats to maintain my requirement. I think that in the long run that would have been unfulfilling. Rather I intend to make at least one very good a photograph once a week.
Monday, January 10, 2011
2. 5 I 2011, Alamitos Bay
This year I intend to make a photograph a day then post at least one photo from each day of the year. However, on some days I will be shooting film, so it may be a month before I'll be able to post an image for that day on this blog. Or perhaps even longer, because I may shoot an image which may lie dormant in one of my Hasselblad backs until I get around to finishing the roll of film, taking it to L.A. to be developed, selected, scanned, cleaned up and adjusted, sized down and finally posted. Oh dear, it's so much easier shooting digital.