August 23, 2009
August 8, 2009
As a still photographer, the challenge is to tell the story in a single photograph. It’s a little more complicated when you get to moving images but here’s a nice version of a 5 minute history story in a single unbroken film shot. OK, it’s for whiskey but it’s still engaging. Robert Carlyle is the actor and Jamie Rafn is the director.
August 6, 2009
Louis Psihoyos and I were photographer’s together at Fortune Magazine and also National Geographic Magazine. He’d gone quiet for a time but now I see what he’s been up to: The Cove.I call it a brilliant documentary; a friend called it an advocacy movie with a sense of humor. Make a difference and go see it. The trailer here is brilliant 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.
December 24, 2008
September 27, 2007
Film maker Errol Morris looks at two Roger Fenton images of The Valley of the Shadow of Death from the Crimean War. Many people think one of the images was staged or posed. But which one? And how do you know?
Morris does the home work in his NY Times blog. A great ethics puzzler, it’s already garnered 600 responses since it was posted les than 24 hours ago. And he has a few interesting things to say about Susan Sontag.
September 4, 2007
August 10, 2007
One fun thing about my trip to Italy was the contrast. In Sant Anna in Camprena where I was staying, there was no internet access and cell phones only worked in a far off corner of the property. So Gianluca and Sophie and I went to nearby Pienza where an entrepreneur has set up a satellite internet point. The cool part is that after you buy your online time, you can go outside and sit on the medieval walls of a building with your laptop and use the “weefee”. After the three of us finished catching up with the virtual world, we engaged in that old fashion form of communication: a conversation.
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.
May 6, 2007
Bob Taylor has been passionate about the hard work of shearing sheep in Athens County, Ohio for 51 years. These days he makes most of his living delivering huge bundles of the Columbus Dispatch to distributors around the region. His dream is pretty common: to retire and travel with his wife. But he wants to spend the rest of his life shearing sheep. When I told him I thought most people want to spend their retirement taking life easy, he just laughed. I spent some time with him last Saturday on Ladd Ridege in Athens, Ohio. Click the picture see a few minutes in his life.
April 18, 2007
6 Million Others is an amazing new multimedia presentation from French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand.
April 9, 2007
For the past decade, the Dutch photographer Bert Teunissen has travelled Europe photographing people in their houses using natural window light that seems borrowed from a Vermeer painting. He says he’s hoping to archive a way of life that “fated to disappear as a consequence not only of architectural standardization but also of social displacement and shifts in public opinion about life and how it should be lived,” according to an interview in the NYTimes. Perhaps he’s trying to recapture the lost world of his youth in a series of photos he calls
March 22, 2007
Thinking about Bernice Abbott makes me nostalgic for NYC…
March 22, 2007
Was not this frat row? It’s funny what memory–or time–can do to perception.
March 22, 2007
March 22, 2007
March 22, 2007
March 16, 2007
Last night I took the bus in from the airport (new financial mentality) and as it went across 125th street in Harlem, I got all teary eyed. So many different types of people: an elderly turned-out black woman with a cane that had a lions’s head carved on the handle (complete with a marble in its mouth); a white girl talking on her cell phone (“whaddup?” she said.); a guy with a tee shirt with pictures of the Vice and Prez: Dumb and Dumber and a young attractive family from South America clutching their luggage, the boy wide eyed as their friend gave them a running commentary in Spanish. Got off that bus, walked past the Apollo theatre and at the next bus bus stop there was a record store blaring a tribute to James Brown and a soul food restaurant ($4.95…all meat $5.99) that really smelled good. I almost cried.