August 31, 2009
Of course the camera never lies…
I believe everything I read and see in the papers too….
June 15, 2009
The close of Look3 last night left many images, people and conversations lodged in my psyche. The 7 hour ride home today left me with some time to digest. A few of the things that I burped up included these pleasant memories:
- Martin Parr’s talk about photography, creativity and innovation
- Gilles Peress and the concept of Ambiguity
- Philip Toledano for his 3 bodies of work sketched in quick and entertaining succession
- Simon Bruty’s talk about luck and preparation and sports. Sports? uh-huh.
- Yolando Cuomo Studio’s Paper Cinema. Leave it to a pair of book designers to create one of the most creative multimedia events of the week.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the BURN Magazine grant to to Emerging Photographer Alejandro Chaskielberg for his project The High Tide. Wow, work that is truly fresh and exciting gets rewarded? My hope is renewed, if just for a little while. Thanks, David.
For the grand finale, I was looking forward to the “Works”, multimedia pieces “showcasing some of the most current photography projects.”
The evening program included three wonderful and stimulating projects:
- Ragner Axelsson’s Last Days of the Arctic.
- Chen Chi Cheng’s Escape from North Korea
- Tim Hetherington’s three screen nightmare, Sleeping Soldiers
These ranged from a simple, straightforward but extremely well crafted visual story with music and sounds to a very sophisticated narrative that left me breathless to a mind blowing seemingly breathing, living multimedia triptych that was like a very bad nightmare–but in the best way.
As for most of the rest of the multimedia last night, the only image that came to my mind was Play Them Off Keyboard Cat. And the sooner the better.
My second big take-away from the festival was about storytelling. “Storytelling” is the buzz word for everyone these past few years but it seems that only people from the United Kingdom really seem to comprehend what it means, at least at Look3 this past week.
As my colleague Jessica explained it to me on the long drive home, Americans pretty much think they themselves are the story, that anything they say or do or happens to cross the very shallow threshold of their attention span is interesting to someone else.
Perhaps it’s because it’s illegal to say to someone of any age: “That is boring” or “You are not the winner,” that American’s think that anything that pops into their mind is as fascinating to everyone else as it is to them. It is not. You are not the star of the show. Play Them Off.
Photographers so often think that because they’re talented image makers, they’re going to be equally good at things like writing and voicing narration. There are legions of talented and award winning people who are very good at those things. You are not. Play ‘dem Off .
Telling a story and engaging an audience that is not your family or friends does not include taking a pile of your very excellent images and dropping them onto a stolen pop song and expecting them to have any cohesion or power. They do not.
Contrary to your belief, your belly button is not the most interesting thing onstage. Look, I love you already and your images can tell me a story. But you have to work at communication else, Play YOU Off.
June 13, 2009
The third Look3 a festival of the photograph founded by National Geographic photographer Nick Nichols and Jessica Nagle comes at an interesting time for photography. With newspapers and magazines losing subscriptions and every photographer I met telling tales of diminishing assignments and struggling for survival, it seems like a great chance to explore where photography can go next.
So I was particularly excited to see the Shots show at the open air pavilion at the end of the pedestrian mall in charming Charlottesville, VA where the festival is held. This was all about multimedia, and trumpeted as “work from emerging and internationally recognized photographers.”
and there was some mighty fine work and presentations, including:
Michael Wolf’s Transparent City,
Christian Ziegler’s Art of Deception,
Saiful Huq Omi’s Bangladesh,
Alejandro Chaskielberg’s High Tide,
Andrew Cutraro’s Out Yonder
and the merciful relief of Alex Prager’s Big Valley.
But at the end of 2 hours, I came away overwhelmed from that distinctly American desire to confuse giving people too much crap the better option over smaller more thoughtful bites of quality.
So for a festival of three’s, I offer my gallery of too’s:
- too much volume. YEAH!! DISTORTEDAUDIO!!! YEAHHHHH!!!!!
- too many pictures. Thank god for the 4 minute limit
- too much self importance, visually and in narration, without showing me why
- too many things I’ve seen before in terms of style and approach
- too few surprises
- too many wide angle pictures following by more wide angle pictures
- too little desire to communicate understanding.
One big surprise was the amount of stolen popular music. It’s astounding that photographers, an artistic community that values ownership and rights to creative work would baldly rip off other artists, often without credit and most probably without permission. A colleague suggested we should have a music festival where all of these images were shown onstage without permission and without credit or payment. Any objections?
But if you’re going to steal, be bold so my vote for the best use of stolen music goes to Michael Rubenstein for his witty use of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On’ with his photos of Mumbai Sperm Banks. For a moment we got to laugh .
December 31, 2007
My friend and OU grad school classmate Tim Gruber has an interesting and opinionated blog.
As part of an exercise in our video class, we had to post our favorite movie. He chose this film from YouTube, which asks: If you had the power to turn back time, would it be a good thing?
See ya all in the New Year!!!
August 16, 2007
I love talking with interesting people. Last week I had breakfast with George Jardine, a very cool guy from Adobe who helped design Lightroom. We met at one of my favorite restaurants in NYC and talked about a few things that we’re both extremely passionate about, with the big one being photography.
Two days later we got together again and this time he recorded our conversation for his great series of podcasts. We spoke about photography, new media, films, audio and where this might all be going. It was a fascinating and enlightening conversation for me plus I got to wear a very cool and amazingly efficient microphone on my ear, just like a popstar.
Have a listen.
August 5, 2007
Last month in Rome, I visited Paolo Pellegrin’s Broken Landscapes, an excellent exhibition at Museo di Roma in Trastevere.
It’s a retrospective of sorts, work from 1995-today by a still young photographer who seems to have won every major journalism award: a Robert Capa Gold Medal Award, eight World Press Photo awards, the Leica Medal of Excellence, the Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography, and the Olivier Rebbot Award for Best Feature Photography and on and on .
After I looked at the work, I started to wonder why everyone–myself included–seems to be still shooting in a style developed in the 1960’s. Clothes have changed, music has changed, even car design has changed. And thank goodness people like Pellegrin have changed the way they see this world too.
How about the rest of us? When are we going to start taking pictures in a way that’s a little more contemporary? Yes, a good picture is a good picture but the way we deliver it can change. It’s no wonder that the NY Times Magazine is equally populated by photojournalists and art photographers. Maybe we’ve bored ourselves out of business? Maybe we’ll have a second chance with multimedia?
You can also see a video interview with Pellegrin, part of a project by Lelen Bourgoignie-Robert and other faculty in the Visual Journalism program at the University of Miami and part of the World Press photo website.
Broken Landscapes closes 09 September, 2007.