This Week in Photography: Looking Back

 

 

I just saw a massive hawk.

(Up in a tree.)

 

 

 

They’re around a lot, this time of year, the red-tailed hawks.

The brown, dead grass makes it easy to spot prey, so they sit and wait, before swooping with efficient ferocity.

I’ve noticed, over the years, whenever you get too close, the hawks fly away.

 

 

 

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a threat or not.

Either way, as soon as you reach their discomfort zone, off they go.

(That’s nature for you.)

 

 

 

 

The coyotes are no different.

I’ve seen two this week; their sand-gray coats blending perfectly with the ground color in winter.

(Until the snow comes.)

If you want to appreciate a coyote, and watch the way it moves, you have to stand perfectly still, and if you’re inside, never open the door to get a better look.

They always spook.

Always.

Again, it’s in their nature.

At the merest hint, the faintest whiff of trouble, off they go.

(It’s not for nothing coyotes are such great survivors.)

 

 

 

 

 

This week, in addition to watching hawks and coyotes, I’ve also been following The Beatles massive new documentary, “Get Back,” on Disney+, by the master of lengthy story-telling: Peter Jackson.

(Trying to explain to my kids why “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy was such a big deal, in an era of digital-effects-ubiquity, was more difficult than I might have imagined.)

 

Courtesy of IMDb

 

We’re only halfway through Episode 2, but I needn’t bother with spoiler alerts.

We all know how the story ends.

The Beatles break up.

 

 

 

 

 

They go out on top, as their late-stage-music is some of the best ever recorded.

But they also dissolve the group, more-or-less hating each other.

A decade of unhealthy relationship patterns turned the band into a ticking time-bomb, and the only question was when it would go off.

Not if.

There is a phenomenal moment, early in Episode 2, that Sir Paul must have nightmares about, as he correctly predicts in 50 years time, people will shake their heads that The Beatles broke up because Yoko Ono sat on an amp.

(Sidebar: Peter Jackson’s opening disclaimer scrupulously states each person is rendered accurately. If that’s true, Yoko was an inscrutably odd bird.)

Immediately after his prediction, though, the film cuts to a scene in which Paul and John are secretly recorded at lunch. The dynamic duo basically admits they ganged up on poor George all these years, denying him power or agency.

The agree (again, not knowing they were being taped,) that he had a right to be pissed at them.

It gives context to the narrative that George is ready to ride off into the sunset, with his Hare Krishna buddies, who at least show him some GODDAMN RESPECT!

 

 

What The Beatles prove, not-quite-exactly 50 years ago, is that unresolved emotional issues in relationships can doom even the most productive, successful, lucrative “family” the world has ever seen.

If you can’t sort out your business, it’s going to blow.

That’s as much a law of nature as spooking hawks.

 

 

 

 

 

When a person has tried every way to make things better, and failed, eventually that person will tap out.

Or go down in flames.

And this week’s book, “Tulsa, OK,” sent in by Victor d’Allant, a French photographer based in San Francisco, makes that point visually explicit.

Page after page.

This one came in Summer 2021, but I bumped it up the pile, as it represents two anniversaries at once.

“Tulsa, OK” was published this year, on the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, and the 50th anniversary of Larry Clark’s seminal book “Tulsa.”

Speaking as an artist, a critic, and a human, the cold-open “Watchmen” recreation of the Tulsa Race Massacre was one of the most disturbing, riveting things I’ve ever seen filmed.

(Up there with the beginning of “Saving Private Ryan.”)

Larry Clark’s “Kids” would also make the short list, as watching poor, young Chloë Sevigny get HIV from her punk boyfriend almost made me vomit. (Should I have said spoiler alert? The movie is 26 years old.)

 

Courtesy of IMDb

 

And Clark’s “Tulsa” was one of the first photo books I was shown in class, at UNM in the late 90’s, and until that moment, I hadn’t realized anyone could make art that way.

 

 

 

 

As the well-written, extensive opening essay in “Tulsa, OK” explains, Larry Clark lived within the world he was documenting, in Oklahoma, and Victor d’Allant did not.

The former was a junkie, making photos of his own world, the latter is a “Visual Anthropologist” with a single-mother-drug-dealer as a fixer, introducing him around the sad, defeated city.

Said fixer, Julie Winter, actually wrote the intricate introduction, in which tells us she knew Victor before she ended up Tulsa, and invited him to come check it out.

Julie refers to this book, (as well as Clark’s,) as “grotesque, terrifyingly awful, full of despair.”

That about sums it up.

The text briefly mentions d’Allant photographs his subjects naked, but I don’t think it really landed in my consciousness when I read it. (At least, not enough to prepare me for what was coming.)

The quote is here:

“Many subjects in both Larry’s and Victor’s books are pretty much naked, as if they both felt their sitters were trying to display some human softness in this awful universe. But in truth, it’s a clever way for the artists to show what would be hidden beneath clothes: cuttings made in desperation, tattoos ordered on some drunken whim, flesh damaged by too many pregnancies…In Tulsa, Victor told me one night as I was trying to fall asleep, ‘nudity shows the fragility of life and the difficulty of survival.'”

 

 

 

 

 

I say this now, because it would be impossible not to discuss the elephant in the room, with respect to this book.

Given how much I’ve written about the male gaze in the last year, and the question of when, if ever, men photographing nude women is OK, (because of power dynamics,) I just couldn’t resolve the tension.

So many of the portraits of down-and-out, attractive young women, topless, or totally nude, struck me as exploitative to the point of obscenity.

Many viewers would likely dismiss this book immediately, and on the final page, even the text editor is credited as anonymous, because he doesn’t want his name associated with the book.

OK.

I said it.

But when a book is admittedly meant to be “terrifyingly awful,” you need to expect some fucked up shit within.

(And I will not be sharing any of the explicit photos below.)

 

 

 

 

 

The book is dynamic in its design, featuring messaging-app-style text bubbles, calendars, and really excellent image placement, with respect to the visual path.

There is a fire-engine red throughout, and as Victor is from Paris, I need to acknowledge in every episode of “House Hunters International” I’ve ever seen filmed there, that color has always been included in home interiors.

Always.

To the point that Jessie and I joke about it.

They’re filming in Paris?

We’re gonna see that red…

I guess it represents passion, or desire.

Maybe both.

But the quality of the production here, and the compelling, first-person stories of violence, addiction, depravity and love, within the context of a culture of poverty, kept me glued to my seat.

Page after page, my jaw would drop.

I never got comfortable with why the women were depicted topless, when confronting the camera directly, but there are some images, done in a documentary style, where the action is not directed by the photographer… and yes, the nudity makes sense there.

Trigger warning: one story describes a woman being fisted while she’s having her period, and I really hoped we wouldn’t see that illustrated, but we do, in full color.

Damn!

For a book trying to reflect on the vision of Larry Clark’s “Tulsa,” and the worst racially-motivated massacre in American history, I get that controversy serves a purpose.

(Which is why I’m reviewing this book, and why I don’t think it should be banned, panned, or denied its existence.)

It’s a seriously fucked up book about a seriously fucked up subject.

I’m guessing Victor d’Allant is an edgy dude, and though it might be cliché, the French supposedly consider Americans to be prudish.

The structure of book implies that all the subjects chose to be photographed, but if you’re high as a kite, can you actually offer consent?

(He even does a ride-along with the cops, which pisses off his new-underworld-buddies.)

So there we are for today.

Most of you will probably hate this book.

Some of you will love it.

As my old basketball coach used to say, “Where you stand depends on where you sit.”

 

To purchase “Tulsa OK” click here

 

 

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by artists of color, and female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. And please be advised, we currently have a significant backlog of books for review. 

The Art of the Personal Project: 2021 Books to Purchase for the Holidays

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist:  Various Photographic Artist and their published books of photographers I have featured on “The Art of the Personal Project”

Sam Kittner:

Faceless Faces in Public Places is a curated collection of 80 images made during the pandemic.  And can be ordered here

 

David Black:

 

Candy Mountain is the final installment in David Black’s trilogy of titles with Hat & Beard Press. It follows his first two volumes, Cerro Gordo and The Days Change at Night, on another magnificent photographic journey, this time through the vast Western landscapes of his childhood memories and current geographical explorations.  Pre-order here

 

Grace Chon

Japanese dog grooming does not follow the rules of traditional, breed- standard grooming. In fact, it only has one mission―to make dogs look as adorable as possible! With extreme attention to detail and careful consideration of a pup’s best attributes, Japanese dog groomers and salons achieve the perfect transformation by forgetting uniform looks and getting creative.  Purchase this book here

 

David Doubilet

Two Worlds: Above and Below the Seas.

Purchase here

 

Tony Novak-Clifford

Rising Tides: A Photographic Rediscovery of the Chesapeake Bay Tidewater Region

Purchase here

 

Michael Grecco

Punk, Post Punk, New Wave: Onstage, Backstage, In Your Face, 1978–1991 features stunning, never-before-seen photography from this iconic period in music. Order here

 

Max Hirshfeld

Though Sweet Noise: Love in Wartime (Damiani – October 2019) features events that began seventy-five years ago, the material is eerily timely.  As Eastern Europe grapples with this horrific legacy, and many countries are reassessing their responses to mass immigration, those in a position to bear witness need a supportive environment wherein art and language serve to remind the world what can occur when hatred and the concept of ethnic cleansing are given free rein.

Purchase this book here

 

Jimmy Chin

THERE AND BACK: PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE EDGE

The Academy Award-winning director of Free Solo and National Geographic photographer presents the first collection of his iconic adventure photography, featuring some of the greatest moments of the most accomplished climbers and outdoor athletes in the world, and including more than 200 extraordinary photographs.  Order here

 

Happy Holidays!

 

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art-buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.

 

 

The Daily Edit – 30 Moons Apart: Hashim Badani

30 Moons Apart

Photographer: Hashim Badani

Heidi: How were the first few months of lockdown in India for you?
Hashim: The initial months of lockdown in India skewed all sense of distance and direction. I was living close enough to my parents to spot their home, but further than I have ever been in every other way. I decided not to visit them through this period, which felt particularly surreal during the month of Ramzan.

How did you cope?
I borrowed a telescope and found it bridged the gap a little. I called Ma and asked her to come to the balcony. I was able to spot her–a white speck. This became a routine, even a strange mode of communication. I would make photos of her through the telescope, and she would make some pictures aimed in my general direction.

In between, I found myself collecting pieces of the city that surrounds us. Otherwise receding images gained focus–the fact that we’re a port, or that the sea is never far. This is where my father went to work; these were some of the places where I grew up. All seemingly unreachable but carrying a sense of familiarity. Much like the moon. The moon that dictates the beginning and the end of this month.

Maybe it is the strange solace we seek from traditions when times are tough. In the end they only fit right, together, in the lunar chart made over thirty days.

This grid of images shot through the telescope is a map of many things, but most of all it is a way home.

How did the pandemic force you to find creative solutions for self expression?
I think when the pandemic began and the world went into various states of lockdown, there was a massive urge for me (and I believe many others) to learn or create something during this period but then the numbers started rolling in and the devastation was extreme. People were losing loved ones. India saw a huge urban to rural migration crisis as the government had left its citizens with few alternatives. At some point we started looking inward and reflecting on what mattered to us. The work borne out of that stems from a similar space.

How did this new act of “seeing”, be it through binoculars or a telescope, push you as an artist?
It made me rethink my relationship with photography. One which had so far followed the more linear approach of having a brief and finding a way to translate it. This was more organic. There was no brief. I was responding to how I was feeling. That in some strange way altered things for me and now I find myself more curious about the idea of photo fiction rather than just documenting.

What made you keep the edges of the images organic?
When I began looking at the images together it was fairly obvious to me what I was going to do with them. The imperfect circles of the images were what got me to that decision.

What are you bringing forward from the last two years, and what are you leaving behind creatively?
A large part of my decade old career has involved traveling. Mostly internationally. The pandemic turned that on its head. I wasn’t certain where my next gig would come from if I wasn’t allowed to travel. It took me a good year to make peace with that and change my approach to make work with what surrounds me. So far it has been rewarding. I am no longer excited by the idea of ‘skimming the surface travel editorial’ type of shoots that I once truly enjoyed. I want to find ways of doing work that is more immersive, closer to home or the idea of home.

Are you still selling prints in order to support those in need?
My print sales are currently not associated with any organisation but please keep an eye on my instagram handle for regular updates.

What projects are you working on now?
I am currently pursuing assignments that I am not certain I would have made the time for in the past. Some perhaps not as much about the images produced but the learnings they allow. I am currently in the process of documenting the palliative care work done in India by the Cipla foundation. At the same time I am quite excited by the idea of photo fiction and the path it allows me to take to narrate certain stories. One of them is called #makingupmanto. The series allows me to relook and document South Central Bombay through the life of a prolific and controversial writer who briefly lived in the city during the country’s partition years. I have also found myself on the other side of the camera hosting and participating in non fiction shows this year and it has been an interesting experience.

This Week in Photography: Love and Wisdom

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

(You know I like to write on Thursdays.)

 

 

 

It was Thanksgiving, 2011, when I stumbled upon my signature style, so I’m always thankful for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you each week.

Thank you for the motivation, the inspiration, and all the kind words you’ve sent my way, as an audience, over the last decade.

I appreciate it!

The truth is, I have much to be thankful for.

I’m healthy, and have an amazing family, when it comes to my wife, children, and the dog.

(Who knew pandemic pets would be such a thing?)

 

Haley in the yard after dusk

 

My kids are off-the-charts fantastic; beautiful inside and out.

Being their teacher, their life-guide, their friend, their pandemic companion… it’s been the most rewarding experience of my life.

And I’m thrilled to report that after 20 months, my wife’s recovery from clinical depression is going better than ever.

We still have the occasional setback, and have learned it’s a disease like cancer, where you hope for a permanent remission, rather than all-out-victory, but really, Jessie is happier and healthier than she’s been in years.

Surmounting this challenge together has made us stronger as individuals, and as a family unit.

 

Thanksgiving 2021 family selfie, by Amelie Blaustein

 

I love my job, get plenty of recognition for what I do, and have created a network of super-talented, kind, and loving friends around the world, while also getting to travel.

As I said, I have much gratitude, and try to share it on the regular.

With respect to my family of origin, things are rarely rosy, and we had yet another blow-up last night, as our respective value structures do not align.

But no one’s road through human existence is totally smooth, and truly, we grow through challenges.

(Of course, personal evolution requires self-awareness, and the discipline to admit one’s failings in order to self-improve, which many can not do.)

Thankfully, the sky is deep blue at the moment, the sun is pouring in through the window opposite my writing-chair, and my belly is full with leftovers from Tuesday’s dinner party.

Hope you’re having a good morning so far as well!

 

 

 

 

That said, working on a holiday is challenging.

This time of year, the wheels come off the bus, as we all function on an annual cycle, and our energy winds down with the calendar.

So let’s get the show on the road, shall we?

I reached into the book stack this morning, searching for the final 2020 submission. (Need to keep my promises.)

I swear, I assure you, I had no idea it was thus, but the ultimate book from last year is actually an exhibition catalogue sent along by my friend, Richard Bram, called “Richard Bram: Short Stories,” which was published by the Mannheimer Kunstverein, in Germany. (In conjunction with a retrospective he had in Mannheim.)

 

 

 

 

Richard Bram is the best friend I’ve made via social media.

After corresponding on Twitter, we met up at the Photo Plus Expo, in NYC in the Fall of 2010, on the very first assignment Rob gave me for this website.

 

JB in the Fall of 2010, courtesy of Susan Worsham

 

He’s a kind, thoughtful, considerate, smart, literate, intellectual, creative soul, and has turned up as a character in this column many times now.

Once, we shared beers and katsu in a tiny Japanese restaurant in the East Village, after listening to a lecture from a brilliant Belgian video artist. In 2019, we toured Photo London on the day I ran into my NYT nemeses, and on another occasion, we walked through a terrific exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, alongside a Slovenian photographer who’s based in Beijing.

 

 

 

 

In particular, because my family of origin believes in unconditional love, (code for not having to be nice to, or interested in someone, yet still they’re supposed to “love” you,) having friends who share my ethical and moral framework is a big part of how I’ve become a sane, happy person over the years.

So it was quite interesting to see this book, which chronicles my friend’s vision, as he has grown as a human, and a photographer, over time.

Full disclosure: when I opened it up, it contained a note stating the book was a gift, and not intended for review. (Though I told Richard when he sent it, every book that arrives is considered for review.)

I don’t love this one, and find it inferior to his Peanut Press book, “Richard Bram New York,” which I reviewed positively several years go.

 

 

But it is perfect to discuss today, for several reasons.

 

 

 

 

To begin with, Richard, in his many decades as a street photographer, has been fortunate to roam much of known Earth.

As a witness to humanity, he’s done a great job.

Off the top of my head, we see images from New York, Kentucky, (where he also once lived,) England, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, China, Cuba, Cambodia, and Mexico.

(Likely I’m missing a few locales.)

The book is structured with a schism between the early black and white work, and his later shift to color. (Which is the work I know.)

In the B&W section, there is an homage to Elliott Erwitt, one to Cartier-Bresson, and a captured moment of Mohammed Ali that will make you stop and take notice.

The images feel more generic, or derivative, but are still inspirational, because you sense the humanism in the man. And the Occupy Wall Street photographs, depicting a moment lost to time, are also prescient, as the ideas motivating that movement are more relevant now than ever.

{Editors note: when photographing the book just now, I realized perhaps I was a tad harsh about the B&W images. Some really are charming.}

 

 

 

 

When the shift to color comes, I released a breath, because while the essay tells us it was a challenge for him, I’d argue his vision is stronger working this way.

The compositions are more dynamic and strange, (edge to edge,) and some of the colors really pop.

Hot pink on the streets?

Why not.

The color pictures also have a wit that feels particular to the man.

Watching Richard’s work get “better” as he ages also gives a viewer reason to hope.

In the ideal world, with age comes wisdom, and perspective.

With experience comes deeper knowledge.

As I wrote in my 2019 London series, Richard lives in Limehouse, which is a river-front neighborhood in East London.

He has a daily relationship with the Thames, in romantic ways most of us can only dream of.

Watching the light change on the water, and the tides rise and fall.

 

Richard by the Thames, 2019

 

The book ends with his moody photographs of the river, and having seen those views with my own eyes, it made me nostalgic for London, a city in which I feel so comfortable.

Sitting here, on American Thanksgiving, licking the wounds from some pointless family drama, the last few images put me in a positive frame of mind.

If you have proper love in your life, it doesn’t matter who delivers it.

Real love is based upon respect, kindness, compassion, empathy, joy, and genuine interest.

As I’ve grown over the last 11 years writing for you, I’ve tried to share the accrued wisdom.

I’ve tried to cultivate my curiosity, chat with as many people as possible, see new things, eat great food, and live in a way that would entertain and educate you, along for the ride.

So it’s no exaggeration to say that writing this column has made my life so much better.

Thank you!

And I hope you stay safe and healthy this week.

See you next Friday!

 

To purchase “Richard Bram: Short Stories” click here

 

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by artists of color, and female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. And please be advised, we currently have a significant backlog of books for review. 

The Art of the Personal Project: Kris Davidson

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist:  Kris Davidson

 

The idea of belonging — the desire for it, the threat of it — wends its way into every American story ever told. In her brief history under the name America, this country has wrestled with every form and manifestation of belonging: how to belong to an old land, a new land, how to stake a claim of ownership of said land; how to belong to oneself, how to belong to each other, either by brute force, subtle coercion, or by open-hearted, willing choice.

How we hold our stories — as a nation and as individuals — is inexorably tied to how we understand how we belong within a society. As an immigrant to the United States, I am keenly aware of the tangled storylines of my adopted homeland; America’s storytelling tradition is expansive, born out of countless colliding, merging and overlapping storylines. American Portraits (working title) is a photo-collage series that seeks to honor the vast range of individual stories held within the American people. These large mixed-media portraits consider Americans from all walks of life, adorned with shared personal snapshots, revealing threads of ancestry and aspiration, a mix of hope, loss and dreams. Each portrait is a collaboration of sharing, reflection and listening spread over many months.

Americans have come from every corner of the world — willingly and unwillingly — creating a cultural landscape of shimmering memories and endlessly shifting storylines of many refurbished selves. Every snapshot deployed in these collages contains layers of meaning when considered across time, as a part of a larger American storyline.

We are made up of blood, bones and stories. A form of cultural DNA, stories show us who we have been, who we are now, and who we are becoming. This project is a way for me to make sense of the stories of my adopted homeland while also honoring individual Americans along the way.

 

ABOUT ME + MY PROCESS:

As a visual artist, Kris works primarily with American stories and memories. As a photographer, she makes portraits with a medium format camera (for large prints) and utilizes reproductions of archival/personal photographs shared by subjects in her artwork, along with paint and additional mixed media elements.

A native of Sweden, Kris Davidson spent the first half her childhood in the Scandinavian Arctic and the second half in Texas. In her twenties she became a travel photographer working worldwide, collaborating with various editorial and commercial clients including National Geographic, Lonely Planet Traveller, and others. In recent years, she has shifted her focus towards an in-depth study of the United States. Across all her current work, Kris investigates the question of what it means to become and be an American, with an eye to the role of reconstructive memory as it gives shape to individual identity in a larger cultural landscape. She also uses mixed media elements on photographic prints to explore the fluid intersection of perceived truth, memory and imagination.  LightSource SF was the printer on this project.  They can be found hereInstagram

 

To see more of this project, click here.

https://www.instagram.com/hellokrisdavidson/

 

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art-buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.

 

The Daily Edit – Fairy Creek: Ola J. Cholewa

(A logging sort filled with old growth red cedar in Haida Gwaii 2018.)

Fairy Creek, Unceded territory of the Pacheedaht and Dididaht First Nation People

Photographer: Ola J.Cholewa

Heidi: Before joining the protest at Fairy Creek were you involved in other environmental movements?
Ola: I first visited Fairy Creek in early April of this year. Prior to that in 2018 I had the privilege of living in Haida Gwaii for a year. Haida Gwaii is an archipelago off the central coast of British Columbia where Haida settlement has been proven to date back to 13,800 years. Shortly after moving to the island for a new job, I quit my job with certainty, and I found myself participating and documenting a stand where Haida citizens re-claimed the rights to their territories and put a temporary halt to a forestry operation that was expediently harvesting one of the islands last available stands of old growth red cedar.

During this stand I witnessed the approval of an injunction by the B.C. Supreme Court, which granted the RCMP the ‘legal authority’ to forcibly remove Haida citizens off their own land to make way for industry. Shortly after camp was dismantled, illegal logging commenced at St’alaa Kun by the Forestry company, Husby Forest Products.

It was this experience that opened my eyes to the fact that our ancient old growth forests are threatened and endangered. I also learned how the exploitation of land is directly related to the exploitation of Indigenous People’s culture. I was introduced to the complex issues that have arisen out of tensions that sometimes exists between Band Council governance systems and Hereditary Chief governance systems within Nations.

My experiences in Haida Gwaii gave me the initial courage and the motivation to participate in the protests that were taking place in Fairy Creek.

What was your process like in terms of joining and photographing the protest camp community?
Initially I spent weekends on the mountain, getting a feel for camp. I spent time walking the lands of the Pacheedaht and Dididaht First Nation People, humbled that I had been welcomed by Elder Bill Jones and Hereditary Chief Victor Peters. I sat beneath ancient cedar trees- Grandmother and Grandfather tree up at a River Camp. I walked through mossy groves of lush old growth forest that was left intact along the river during previous logging operations. (The feeling of walking within untouched ancient old growth forest is comparable, I imagine, to the feeling of swimming in water for the first time. Sound, space and time all warp into an unfamiliar feeling. The beauty, balance, and biodiversity are simply too overwhelming to take in all at once).

)Two ancient cedar trees near River Camp at Fairy Creek.)

As I continued to visit on weekends, I could sense the movement was gaining momentum. Shortly thereafter an injunction was granted by the B.C. Supreme Court and on May 17th the RCMP began to forcibly remove land defenders and their supplies off the logging roads. It’s important to note that members of the Band Council did ask protestors to leave and agreed with the planned forestry operations, although, Hereditary Chief Victor Peters and Elder Bill Jones along with many other members of the community did not agree. Their views were ignored by our government and mainstream media.

My first stint on the frontlines was a time in which I spent 5 nights up at Waterfall camp. It was an experience like no other. The nighttime missions, the pickaxes, the deep wells and complex hard block devices were all overwhelming to witness. Also, the intense pushes up the hill by the RCMP each morning and their nighttime patrols. I witnessed people chaining themselves into the land to block industry from accessing land deemed to be clear-cut, impeding industries perpetuation of the destruction of ancient eco-systems. The community shared in the knowing that once destroyed, via clear-cutting logging methods, the land would never be the same. No place for natural succession. Forests are planned, planted, and turned into farms. The biodiversity of the land lost forever.

In what ways are you experiencing effects of the ecosystem destruction?
Today the land in our Province is literally speaking. The fires, the floods, the mudslides. Atmospheric rivers and heat domes, unfortunately two frightening terms we’ve become acquainted with this year.

We know that old growth forests are great climate moderators, cooling the air when it is hot, warming it when it’s cold. Douglas Fir stands hold the capability of withstanding fire. Trees are incredible organisms that retain and circulate water while they work to stabilize and create soil. Old growth forests work as giant carbon sequestering machines while tirelessly and simultaneously manage to pump out rich oxygen for us to breath. Ancient old growth forests are also deeply connected to the cultures of many Indigenous Nations in our province. From their arts to their medicines. Also, histories are literally held within the ancient pathways and the culturally modified objects that can be found within old growth forests. Activist and friend from Haida Gwaii Lisa White shared these words with me back in 2018. “Our culture is very, very, dependant on healthy lands.”  Like the roots of the forest- land, language and culture are all deeply intertwined.
(A culturally modified tree or CMT in Haida Gwaii showing a test hole that was carved into a trunk of a standing ancient tree. Test holes were used traditionally to check if trees were rotten on the inside. A way of avoiding unnecessarily cutting down a tree.)

Joining a blockade is bold action. Why did you choose to participate this way?
I joined the stand at Fairy Creek to support the land and its biodiversity. As Rivers are being granted the same legal rights as human beings, I believe that our remaining Old Growth Forests should finally be afforded the same.

I joined the stand at Fairy Creek to support Elder Bill Jones, Chief Victor Peters, select members of the Pacheedaht First Nation and other individuals who wanted to join forces to stand up for the rights of Indigenous Peoples access to healthy lands and waters. It is time the government offers Nations, Inuit, and Metis, other means of economic gain. Means outside of resource extraction.

I joined the stand at Fairy Creek to do something useful with my time. To be a part of something greater within a wider community. To avoid complacency, comfort, and distraction. To take the feelings of overwhelm I was feeling and transform them into some sort of meaningful action. In my journal I wrote, “Uncertain of what else to do but travel to the Ancient Forests to congregate with like-minded humans.”

I joined the stand at Fairy Creek as a supporter of the movement and as a professional photographer. My camera, a tool that could capture both the light and dark. A tool that documented the hard work of a community that had a unified sense of purpose in protecting the forests and standing up for Indigenous rights while also documenting the violent actions of the RCMP and their escalating tactics while they enforced the injunction over time.
(Elder Bill Jones had to negotiate permission to enter his own territory at the RCMP exclusion line blocking the road to Waterfall Camp.)

In May I witnessed Elder Bill Jones and Chief Victor Peters having to negotiate the rights to access their own lands with the RCMP. This was just days after there was a discovery of 215 bodies of children found within the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops which closed in 1969. (The last residential school in Canada closed in 1996, just 25 years ago). How was it that a respected Elder and Chief were being blocked from entering their own unceded lands? How did industry have so much power over the land? Where was the Reconciliation that our government has promised for so long?

(Pictured here is Skunk in ‘The Well’. This is deepest hard block I have witnessed to date.)

(Front liners working through the night. This device created a 5-person hard block. An 80 year old man helped with the dig that night and also proudly took it upon himself to chain himself into it the next morning.)

It was recently published that 5 months of enforcement up at Fairy Creek cost the RCMP $3.7 million dollars.  But still, the heavy machinery and fancy equipment could not outsmart the creative human minds on the frontlines. It was in the middle of August when enforcement really took a turn- there was a shift in the teams and tactics that were utilized on the ground.

As we know peaceful protests can turn violent. Did you ever feel threatened or experience aggression here?
On August 19th and 20th I witnessed an extreme escalation in the violent behaviour that came from the RCMP and Paramilitary. They pushed and aggressively rushed land defenders on the frontlines of Fairy Creek back towards the very last stand at Camp Landback where Indigenous Matriarchs were stationed. The intense movement tripped up land defenders and they toppled on top of one another. The RCMP and Paramilitary officers took this opportunity to tear and drag individuals out of the crowd to make violent arrests, some of which were clearly targeted because they were BIPOC. The violence and aggression was unnecessary and unprovoked. During these two days I also witnessed media presence on the ground being denied access to document the RCMP’s operations. On the night of the 20th there were only a few hard blocks remaining.  On the morning of August 21st , RCMP enforcement was present at the front lines for a total 97 days, they were almost at the last hard block at River Camp which would clear the road for industry. The RCMP was desperate, especially given that the injunction was soon to expire. It was on this day that I again witnessed an unprovoked attack on a group of 60 protestors who were participating in their civil right to peacefully protest. This occurred after the movement in which land defenders enveloped a gate in the formation of a human blob.

What commenced from the side of the RCMP was excessive use of pepper spray and force. Meanwhile some of the land defenders were bare-foot. Others yelled out, why are you doing this? We aren’t doing anything wrong? I saw my friends in the crowd and I saw youth. I witnessed honourable humans putting their bodies on the line in hopes to create a more sustainable and ethical future for us all. There was no retaliation from the side of the protestors. One voice could be heard calling out, pull back, pull back. The group remained peaceful.
(Land defenders on the morning of August 21st 2021 just before being pepper sprayed and attacked by the RCMP.)(The intense push by the RCMP and Paramilitary on August 20th which led to violent arrests.)

The RCMP’s frustration in failing to remove land defenders in what was nearly 100 days of enforcement might have had something to do with the officers violent actions that commenced that day. The alternate option could have been to peacefully wait out the blob, but with being so close to the end of the line at Camp Landback I believe the decision was made out of desperation to clear the road.

With your intense experience and coverage what impacts do you hope your imagery will have?
I hope my photos will emote a sense of community and unification and inspire others to get involved in the experience of participating in meaningful action within their own communities. Experience is always more transformative than reading about other people’s experiences.

It’s difficult to know what to do with all the footage I gathered, I can’t help but feel a sense of urgency to share out and amplify the truth of what I’ve witnessed over the last 8 months. I was relieved to hear Patagonia was publishing a story about Fairy Creek. We are so infiltrated with media these days and it’s hard to know where stories will make the biggest impact. I felt grateful that Patagonia, with such a large following, is amplifying the truth of what is happening here on the Pacific Northwest Coast of Canada.

I also hope my photographs illuminate how Indigenous Communities are being treated by the RCMP and our government right here, right now in Canada. The government has recently claimed that there is no old growth logging taking place in Fairy Creek, a classic play on words to appease the public. Although a two-year moratorium has been placed on the inner portion of the watershed, logging all around the outer edge continues. For example, in an area where a friend and artist discovered a rare speckle-bellied lichen on a stand of ancient trees at Heli Camp is now gone, diminished to nothing but a clear-cut.  If we continue to turn a blind eye there will be nothing left for our future generations.

I’ll end with the words of Elder Bill Jones which he shared during a speech back in August. He said, “We will indeed tell all those who are in power that we are here, that we are standing for our old growth and that we will not back down.”

(Elder Bill Jones welcoming a crowd of his supporters.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Week in Photography: Growing Older

 

 

“Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king,
And a king ain’t satisfied ’til he rules everything…”

 

“…it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive…”

 

From “Badlands,” by Bruce Springsteen, written in my hometown of Holmdel, NJ, 1978.

 

 

 

I’m re-watching “Marco Polo” on Netflix.

 

 

Such a brilliant show.

It was the first thing I binged, when we finally got high-speed internet in 2015, thanks to Barack Obama.

He’d given a massive chunk of money to the Kit Carson Electric Co-Operative, here in Taos, to bring fiber-optic cable to every rural home in the County.

The funds were allotted in 2009, as The Great Recession began crushing so many Americans, yet it took 6 years for them to wire up our home.

And we were lucky, as the money ran out soon after, and some people got screwed.

Now it’s 2021, and I wouldn’t have been able to work through the pandemic, without Obama’s largesse.

(Thanks, Barack! We miss you!)

How could I have Zoomed without the good WiFi?

I really don’t know, but hopefully the new Biden infrastructure package will help those left behind without sufficient bandwidth.

(Hopefully.)

 

 

 

 

That said, “Marco Polo” is fascinating.

I was just telling Jessie, it’s the kind of entertainment that helped launch Netflix, paving the way for all the streaming services to follow.

It’s also the kind of content no one is making anymore, as it was far-too-expensive.

(I read Netflix lost $200 million on the production.)

The amount of money spent, to recreate 13th Century China and Mongolia, must been seen to be believed.

The costumes, thousands of extras, the palaces, the horses, the piles of corpses; no expense was spared.

To achieve that degree of verisimilitude alone was a feat, but the acting is also terrific, the story-telling taut, (well, they do drag things out a bit,) and the kung-fu is stupendous. (Shout outs to Tom Wu and Michelle Yeoh.)

Doing a bit of research, I learned the show runner, John Fusco, also created “Young Guns,” “Thunderheart,” and “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,” so the Dude is obviously a unique talent.

 

John Fusco, proud of being 62

 

But massive productions like this rest on the collective skills of hundreds of people, not just one, and that kind of lucre is now only dropped on Marvel movies. (That Benedict Wong, who was genius as the lead, Emperor Kublai Khan, is now a side-player in the MCU is definitely ironic.)

I could shout out so many of the actors, but Olivia Cheng deserves particular mention.

{Caveat: I’d be remiss not to state this was a Weinstein Company co-production, and the heavy nudity included would not be acceptable these days, if such shows were still being made. Which, again, they’re not.}

Olivia Cheng played a concubine/assassin, (a combo she reprised in the underrated “Warrior,”) and she is such a badass.

 

Olivia Cheng in “Warrior,” Courtesy of Elle

 

There is a scene, relatively early in the first season, where to show off her skills, (to the audience,) she fights, and kills, three soldiers intent on raping her.

She does this, it should be said, entirely naked.

It did take me out of the narrative, just a touch, because I empathized with the actress, wondering how vulnerable she must have felt, to be in front of the camera like that, without even the meagerest of fabric defenses?

The scene reminded me of the unbelievably cool fight in the steam room, in “Eastern Promises,” in which a nude Viggo Mortensen takes out a Russian Mafia thug.

 

Courtesy of Flickering Myth

 

But that scrap is brutal, lacking grace, while Olivia Cheng’s triple-murder is filmed as if she barely breaks a sweat.

Girl power, indeed.

 

 

 

 

I mention all of this for a reason, of course.

This morning, I looked at one of two remaining 2020 submissions, a slim, self-produced book of poems and images, by Roxanne Darling, called “I AM: For the Love of Nature.”

It arrived in December 2020, and features a series of self-portraits, in which the artist took her clothes off, in nature, in a feat of self-empowerment, declaring the aging female form should not be ignored.

(She was photographed from ages 63-66.)

As an honest critic, I’ll say these images are not the type I’d typically review, just as art.

There is an audience for every style of photography, for sure, and this is not exactly to my taste.

But I’ve written countless times, books are experiential, not just a collection of successive images.

Pictures do not need to be brilliant for a book to have power, and one like this, in particular, in which an artist is taking control of her own narrative, often gets extra-juice from that context.

 

 

 

 

The opening essay states Ms. Darling has a history of trauma and abuse, and we learn at the end that her first nude-in-nature photo came just after she buried her mother, who died at 92. (We’re also told her partner, Shane Robinson, took the photos, so it’s not a tripod-and-timer photographic system.)

A fit of instinct pushed Roxanne to disrobe, and then she continued to do so, in various landscapes around the American West.

When I watch something like “Marco Polo,” I occasionally feel the naked women are being exploited by the camera.

Yet as we saw recently with Jason Langer’s collaboration with his muse, Erika, that is not always the case.

Certainly, with Roxanne’s book, the message is super-clear: she feels strong, beautiful, at peace, and engaged with the natural world around her.

(And she believes the aging female form should be celebrated, and deemed attractive, not hidden away in shame.)

As the father of a young girl, I’m always aware of the manner in which the media, and her peers, can impact my daughter’s self-esteem.

My wife and I discuss, with some regularity, how to prevent Amelie from getting “body issues.”

So I’ll always have a soft spot for books like this.

For offerings that scream, “Fuck you if you try to marginalize me, or insist women of a certain age no longer matter.”

This one is cool, for sure, and I’m so glad Roxanne sent it my way.

See you next week!

 

To Purchase “I AM: For the Love of Nature” click here 

 

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by artists of color, and female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. And please be advised, we currently have a significant backlog of books for review. 

The Art of the Personal Project: Justin Bettman

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist:  Justin Bettman

Having grown up in a reform Jewish household in Northern California, my initial perception of the Hasidic community when I moved to NYC was that it almost looked and felt like a completely separate religion. But I wondered: how are we similar? In this portrait series, I wanted to bridge the gap between the reform Jewish community I grew up in and the Hasidic Jewish community that I lived adjacent to in NY.

There’s a difference between watching people and really seeing them. To that point, many photographs of the Hasidic community in New York have a voyeuristic and documentary quality to them since there is a lack of permission and trust by many of the individuals in the Hasidic community. I did not want to replicate that. Rather, I wanted to elevate them and treat them the same way I would treat any individual or celebrity coming into my studio. I wanted consent and permission.

For many reasons, sitting for a portrait within the Hasidic community is seen as taboo. There is not a rule written in the Torah that expressly prohibits doing so. However, one of the main unwritten rules within the Hasidic community is to do what everyone else does and avoid what everyone else avoids. Without a doubt, the toughest part of this project was gaining the access and permission to find willing subjects to sit for a portrait.

My main goal was to make each person feel comfortable enough to reveal their unique characteristics and personality. Oftentimes, the outside world only notices the surface level trademarks that are reflected in the Hasidic community — their intricate hats, their beards, and their payot. I strived to go beyond that.

I used these photo sessions as an opportunity to learn more about the Hasidic community and share my experiences as a reform Jew. Through this sense of shared humanity, I was able to capture something timeless, personal and honest.

Many people have asked why I didn’t include women in the project. I had a few Hasidic women who were willing to sit for portraits, however they didn’t feel comfortable having their images shared publicly.

 

To see more of this project, click here.

Instagram

 

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art-buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.

 

Pricing & Negotiating: Lifestyle Images For A Vacation Company

By  Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Images of people enjoying a luxury vacation

Licensing: Unlimited use of up to 30 images for two years

Photographer: Lifestyle and Portraiture Specialist

Client: Luxury vacation brand

Here is the estimate:

 

Fees: The client hoped to promote their brand and a new vacation they were offering with a lifestyle shoot featuring talent partaking in a luxury vacation over three shoot days. They would primarily use the 30 images requested for collateral purposes, with the slim chance of print ads in industry specific publications. I started with a creative fee of $2,000 per day for three shoot days, and added $300 per image on top of that to arrive at a creative/licensing fee of $15,000. While I wanted to go higher on the per image fee, I felt collectively we would probably be pushing the limits on a fee for this brand based on an initial call with the client. On that call, they also confirmed that they would be able to provide the locations, any necessary lodging, meals and prop styling.

Crew: We included a small crew consisting of a producer (including prep, shoot and wrap days) and two assistants for the shoot days. The client was comfortable without a dedicated digital tech.

Styling: In addition to a hair/makeup stylist, we include a wardrobe stylist and a wardrobe stylist assistant to shop and provide clothing for six talent. Each talent would have two outfits each, which we estimated at $250 per outfit. We also included a bit of padding for styling kit fees, and expenses incurred while shopping.

Casting and Talent: As a cost savings measure, we included a line item to cover casting from cards, rather than working with a casting agent and having a live casting. We included session fees to cover six talent for three days each, as well as modest talent usage fee, which we felt would work for the market and licensing needed.

Equipment: This covered the photographer’s own gear, and the potential need for a few rented lenses/supplies for three days.

Misc.: We included a few hundred dollars to cover any unforeseen expenses that might arise.

Post Production: This covered the time it would take the photographer to do an initial edit and then a per image fee for retouching of 30 selects.

Feedback: The estimate was well received, however we heard back a few days later letting us know that they determined their budget was $50k, and they asked what we could do to come down to that number. We discussed the production approach, and the client was comfortable taking on those responsibilities while reducing the talent needs as well. We removed the producer (while adding a pre-pro day for the photographer to help line up her crew), reduced the talent to 4 instead of 6, reduced the styling and equipment expenses, while making a few other additional tweaks, and submitted the following estimate:

Results: The photographer was awarded the project.

The Daily Edit – Fairy Creek: Agathe Bernard

Cree Land Defender Lady Chainsaw Lady Chainsaw, chained to another wheelchair on the river camp bridge ready to confront the RCMP. Her fierceness is contagious, arrested more than 60 times

The Cleanest Line: Dispatch from Fairy Creek

Photographer: Agathe Bernard

Heidi: Fairy Creek is located on the territory of the Pacheedaht Nation, RCMP began enforcement of an injunction to clear forest defenders out of the way of logging company Teal Jones. The battle to protect this area is still ongoing, what drew you to this protest?
Agathe: In all honesty, when things started intensifying at Fairy Creek, I was swamped. I was working on a film about a double amputee going to the paralympics, pushing for the Sinixt (some of the Columbia River indigenous) to retrieve the rights back to their territories and get their voice heard through another film. I was working on a massive coastal cleanup. I didn’t have a lot of personal time then. I felt very isolated from the pandemic and in need of some girl time and community connection. So when Marie-France texted me to join her and Leah and a few other girlfriends, I knew deep down I had to show up, for the ecosystem, for the forest who gave me so much peace and to connect with the girls.

There were several female activists in your images; of course, men were present but was there a sisterhood afoot?
Definitively! It’s actually quite fascinating how Fairy Creek gathered so many caring women. When the police force was so intense, knowing that we had each other and could take care of each other and laugh, sharing food or resources was an absolute force. These friendships are forever changed and so much stronger because we shared that experience together. Building community, in this case, a sisterhood around the things you love and care for, I think is the key to flight for environmental and human justice.

The violence against Indigenous women appears to be much more pervasive than publicly available data would indicate. This suspicion was confirmed in 2013, when the RCMP released a report revealing 1,181 cases of missing and/or murdered Indigenous women and girls. The 2015 update document now unavailable on the RCMP’s website added 19 female Aboriginal missing cases, for a total of 174 Aboriginal females missing for at least 30 days as of April 1, 2015.

Missing Murdered Indigenous Women MMIW is an essential and necessary movement that gives voice and raises awareness for mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and friends that have gone missing from reservations. What did you want your images to say and or how did making those photos hit you as a woman?
I was quite intimidated to take photos of these incredible indigenous women. Knowing how much they had been through and suffered and how hard it was for them to show up for their right in hopes of a better future for their daughters, sisters and grandchildren. That was a very humbling experience! In these images, I was trying to convey their fierce and strong nature, that enough is enough, and you just don’t mess with indigenous women, period. In each woman I could see a set of Russian dolls standing, lineage of generations standing into each woman and saying: “No more, we have had enough, and we will not put up with the abuse anymore”.

It was like drawing a clean line with the past, acknowledging the intergenerational trauma and choosing to end it at all cost. I still have shivers going through my body when I think of how I felt taking these photos. I still feel so much shame for our society to have allowed that to happen and so much anger when I look around and see how people keep ignoring the harm. Some photos will change you forever.



When you are in the forest, what type of energy or messages do you get from the trees?
The forest is hands down my favorite place to recalibrate. Bathing in big trees sparks my senses so much. I love observing the leaves unfolding and the sun sparkling through the branches, hearing the sounds of the wind passing through…I grew up playing in a forest every day and visited the big lumpy tree daily, wishing it well. That tree had motherly energy to it; it was comforting, safe, always there for me until they built the golf course. I still go by that same place when I go back East, and it’s sad now, endless rows of suburban houses that look all the same.

I was given my first film camera at seven, and the trees were the first thing I photographed. I feel like I still haven’t broken down the code to give them justice. I never thought of them as male or female; they are the perfect balance between standing solid and sturdy yet swaying with the wind and adapting beautifully like a gracious feminine dance. It’s the ideal mix between the feminine, caring quality of nurturing and community and the more individualistic strong male nature of pushing upward towards the light.

How has the environment and or the outdoors informed your work?
I grew up in nature between a forest, a river and a lake that was the city water reservoir. The environment was always everything for me. I was a little bit of a black sheep and felt quite lonely at times with all my passions and big dreams; nature was my safe place.

I was stealing my dad’s Handycam daily, wrapping it in my sweater on my way to school and making movies secretly. I stormed into the minister’s office at 13 with it and my concerns about pollution. I wanted answers because it didn’t make sense that we were polluting our planet with aerosols.

I brought one film to show my school. It was about the seal massacre in northern Quebec (my mom and sister had agreed to play the dead seal covered in ketchup). My parents were teachers, so they explained everything we saw: how the glaciers formed, the river flow, how everything evolved through time. I was raised with curiosity and a thirst to explore.

When I went to BC for the first time at 19th years old,  I felt like I didn’t deserve to be enjoying the mountains. I didn’t understand why there were volcanoes amongst the coastal mountains, so I went to do a geology degree. That was a first-hand experience in seeing the inside of “the industry” that didn’t feel good. When I graduated, I worked in Peru, and our team was kidnapped. That experience was eye-opening, I was so naive. Eventually, I went to work as an environmental scientist specializing in contaminated soil and water, knee-deep cleaning up the industry’s pollutants. Unfortunately, because I was on the front line there, my health took a hit. I went back to school to do a graduate certificate in environmental education and communication. I feel like I am finally finding where I belong, bridging science and storytelling to show up for what I think is the most important. An incredible editor (you) told me once “you can express those motherly caring and loving qualities towards the causes you care for” and that is how I have resolved my own life purpose. Hopefully, seeing my work published and creating tiny ripples of change has brought me to hope that love, perseverance, and trust can do anything.

What message do you hope to share?
The balance with our environment is very fragile. Ecosystems are getting affected to a level they may not be able to recover, and I hope to help people understand we need to take better care of our mother. We need to look after her rivers, bring salmon back, leave the glacier alone, forbid development that brings crowds of selfie sticks, have the cruise ships gone so that whales can communicate, and regenerative design systems that prevent single-use plastics, hold industry accountable for ghost net and contamination, to name a few solutions.

Healing our mother comes hand in hand with healing social justice issues and healing ourselves because consumerism is a bandage. How much do we really need? What if we gave back the love our mother gave us?

Follow
@fairycreekblockade@rainforestflyingsquad and @camplandback on Instagram, and visit facebook.com/FairyCreekBlockade for daily updates from the front lines.

 

Featured Promo – Emily Brooke Sandor

Emily Brooke Sandor

Who printed it?
I chose Mixam.com to print the Saffron cookbook. I first learned about Mixam from reading aphotoeditor.com, so here we are, full circle! Mixam has great customer service and I’ve been very happy with their print quality.

Who designed it?
My boyfriend an illustrator/graphic designer, Daniel Peacock, and I designed the Saffron cookbook together using InDesign. I knew that I wanted the Saffron cookbook to be a blend of my travel and food photography and designing the layout flowed easily – starting with a brief written intro, a short history of saffron, tips on how to use and store it, followed by twelve recipes featuring saffron, and finishing with a photo story of the annual saffron harvest in Krokos, Kozani, in northern Greece. I also collaborated with Greek-American chef, Christina Xenos, who co-authored this project and developed the recipes for the cookbook.

Saffron crocus flowers bloom for three weeks, only once a year. Every aspect of the saffron harvest is done by hand – picking and gathering thousands of flowers each day, separating the red saffron stigmas from the rest of the flower, and skillfully drying and packaging the spice. I wanted the Saffron cookbook to reflect this level of care, too. So, I wrap each book, add a handmade stamp of a crocus flower on the front, tie the book with red twine in a way that’s meant to mimic the red saffron stigmas, and include a handwritten note.

Tell me about the images.
There are a few categories of photos:

A photo of the saffron that I grew at home and a bowl of saffron corms were taken with my iPhone.

The recipe photos were shot over three days with prop stylist, Robin Turk. I used natural light, a diffusion panel, and several reflectors. I shot everything on the Canon 5D Mark II with the 100mm lens.

Daniel and I traveled to Krokos, in the town of Kozani, to document the annual harvest over ten days. I shot stills and Daniel shot video. We met many wonderful people we are still in touch with via social media. As a thank you, I sent 20 Saffron cookbooks to Greece to the folks who allowed us to photograph them. The majority of our shooting time was photographing outside, in the saffron fields – mostly of the saffron flowers being picked, and shooting various portraits of the harvesters. We spent one morning photographing the dried saffron as it was being weighed and packaged at the Kozani Saffron Producers Cooperative. That evening, we documented the saffron sorting process. At one point, it was good to put the cameras down and join the women sorting the saffron.

While out shooting in the saffron fields one day, it occurred to me that I would really like to get a shot of a single saffron crocus flower on a black background. It was windy and hot outside, so I sat inside the rental car and photographed a single flower on my lap (I was wearing black pants). When we returned home, Daniel retouched the shot and it became the cover of the cookbook.

How many did you make?
I’ve printed 350 Saffron cookbooks so far. I’ve been sending them out to clients, family, and friends. I’m also selling the cookbook, along with a few prints from the saffron project, in my Etsy shop, Xploria. www.etsy.com/shop/xploria

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I usually send out promos twice a year – but with a big project like Saffron, I think it’s going to be my only promo for a little while.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Yes, definitely. There’s something wonderful about sharing a printed promo/book with someone who understands and resonates with the work.

Where did you get the idea for the project?
It’s amazing to me that a big project can start from such a small question: what is saffron?

Before this project, I didn’t know much about how to use saffron beyond a few recipes, so my little jar of saffron sat mostly on the shelf, unused. I knew saffron was pricey but wasn’t exactly sure why. I was cautious about using the precious red threads in a casual way and unsure of what to make with them. This spice held a lot of mystery.

My journey with saffron started because I was looking for something new and interesting to grow in my Los Angeles home garden. Then I got a job opportunity to photograph in Bulgaria and Crete and decided to extend the trip to photograph the saffron harvest in Greece. The only catch was that I had to wait a month for the saffron harvest to begin!

One of the best pieces of advice that I ever got from art school came from the late photographer, James Fee. I had asked him how he mentally/innerly prepared himself for a photoshoot. He responded, “Don’t be afraid to shoot on the way to the shoot.”

So, in preparation for the saffron harvest shoot, and because we had plenty of time to explore, Daniel and I did some photo/video mini-stories together: an organic olive mill on Crete, the cultivation of citron on Naxos, and the production of Kitron (a special liqueur made only on Naxos), and a family farm growing Greek mountain tea.

I want the Saffron cookbook to inspire others not only to understand and appreciate what saffron is but also to give some practical, easy ways to enjoy this beautiful spice – to demystify it a bit. Simply put a few saffron threads in warm water, add some honey, and, ta-da! saffron tea. Full of health benefits and tasty, too.

Chef Christina, Daniel, and I put together a video presentation of the saffron cookbook: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9ToGVUkKcM Christina demonstrates how to make a few recipes and there’s a video of the saffron harvest that Daniel and I created.

This Week in Photography: Visiting Chicago Part 1

 

I don’t smoke weed every day.

(Not anymore, anyway.)

 

 

 

I only consume occasionally now, as it’s better for my body.

Beyond the perpetual munchies, (which make you fat,) marijuana tricks the brain into dumping extra serotonin into the blood-stream, so once you stop, the emotional crash is no fun at all.

Like booze, with its famed “hair of the dog,” weed entices you to stay on the ride, because getting off is a bitch.

Thankfully, I prefer life sober, and only smoke for “special occasions” these days.

As such, the first thing Jessie and I did, once we dropped our bags at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel in Chicago last month, was head to Verilife, the closest dispensary we could find.

Given our stressful day, and that we were sort-of on vacation, it was a lock we’d go buy some reefer, as dealing with the maskless hordes all day was a big-fat-drag.

I’d already scoped out Weedmaps, (which now counts the great Kevin Durant as an investor,) so I knew where to go.

 

 

 

 

Verilife was a slick operation, with lots of digital interactions, a well-organized rope-line, and a succession of people who’d check you in.

The guy who verified our ID’s noticed we were from New Mexico, and asked about Ojo Caliente, the famed hot springs resort on a Native American Pueblo, about an hour from Taos.

(I hated to tell him they had a huge fire last year, which burned down the historical bathhouse, but what can you do?)

When we made it to the front of the line, where you pre-order on an iPad, I asked the helpful bud-tender for a good pre-rolled Indica joint, to chill us out, and he massively up-sold us to an $80 Sixpack of pre-rolled, half-gram joints, which came in a fancy box, replete with matches.

 

 

He was right, of course, as who needs to go right back to the dispensary, and that box kept us good and happy until Sunday morning, when we went back for a pre-rolled Sativa joint to power us through our last day.

 

 

 

 

Just for context, I went to Chicago last month for three reasons:

1. To have a romantic weekend with my wife, by the ocean-esque Lake Michigan, as we hadn’t been away from the kids together in years. (Thanks for the help, Mom and Dad!)

 

Jessie by the lake

 

2. To hang out with some of my photo-world buddies, whom I hadn’t seen since March 2020, in Houston at SPE, the day before the entire world shut.

3. To visit some art museums and galleries to write reviews for you, and just enjoy the city, eating and having fun for a travel article. (The one you’re reading right now.)

Therefore, having some killer, chill, smiley joints to smoke as we walked around the lake, and the city, made everything so much more dramatic.

 

Looking South along the lake

 

I highly recommend it.

Just going to 7-11 for some blue Gatorade, right after we left Verilife and lit up, was great, as you get the woozy feeling, where everything looks hyper-real, but without the lack of control and potential for disaster that comes from getting too drunk.

(Luckily, I didn’t overdo it with alcohol at all, even though I almost always had a drink in my hand when kicking it with my buddies.)

 

 

 

 

The first night, I went to Sparrow with three friends, and it was my first time in an indoor bar or restaurant since April.

The experience was awkward, to say the least, as masks were required to enter, but then everyone took them off the second they got inside.

One of my buddies kept his mask on the entire time, when he wasn’t sipping, and I would put mine on for a few minutes, realize I couldn’t be heard when I spoke, because it was so loud, and then I’d take it off again.

There was no doubt my mask-wearing-system was pointless, but the human brain often needs time to process, in new situations.

And my friends assured me the vaccination rate was so high in Chicago, (higher than I was,) that I should feel comfortable no one would breath Corona-air on me.

(They were right. No Covid the entire trip.)

 

One line for negative

 

 

 

The highlight of the weekend, if I’m being honest, were the long walks Jessie and I took by the lake.

Each day, we spent hours ambling along the concrete shore, staring out at the beautiful blue water, watching the high rise buildings jut up at its edge.

 

 

Walking along, smoking joints, taking in the people-watching, was worth the price of the plane tickets and hotel.

 

 

 

No doubt.

Part of why I chose the Millennium Knickerbocker, (beyond the nostalgia of having been there for 4 Filter Photo Festivals,) was it’s the closest place to the Oak Street Beach, other than the Drake Hotel, which is across the street.

You only have to walk a half block, then a very-short-block, to get to the entrance to the park, and being that close meant we could really utilize the gorgeous Lakeshore.

Additionally, the entrance features a phenomenal mural, by Jeff Zimmermann, which sets the tone each time you head to the beach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thing we noticed is Chicago is a town full of grown-up frat boys. Or, at least, the Magnificent Mile area is full of them.

I cannot tell you how many massive dudes I saw, (like, really big,) and they all wore a similar outfit: hoodie, baseball cap, shorts, and sneakers.

Always, no matter how cold it got, (and it was pretty nice when we were there, if windy,) they wore shorts.

Somewhere, there must be a memo, describing the Chicago-bro uniform, because no one deviated.

Well, almost no one.

We did see one guy walking past us, heading South, and he was so fabulous it’s hard to put into words.

His skin was brown, and it made me think of Persia, not Mexico or India, but who can say?

My man was nearly naked, wearing only a floral-print banana hammock bathing suit, to go along with his brilliant mustache, well-chosen footwear, hairy chest, sunglasses, and mohawk.

Jessie and I tried not to gawk, as he was so compelling, strutting with confidence, and I felt it was too rare a moment to pull out the camera. (I mean iPhone.)

“You only see someone like that once in your life,” I said to Jessie, so we made sure to describe him to each other, to remember details for me to share. (Here. Now.)

Needless to say, we were shocked, thirty minutes later, to see him walking North as we headed South, as I guess the walk-up-and-turn-back thing is pretty common at Lake Michigan.

The second time, I had no reservations about grabbing some photos, so here you go.

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond the walking, people-watching, drinking with friends, and art-viewing, (which I’ll cover in a separate article,) we spent a fair bit of time eating.

Some people I know, (yes, I mean you, Louie,) insist on bagging on Chicago deep-dish pizza, calling it a bread bowl, a plate of hot cheese, or something other than pizza.

As a born-and-raised Jersey boy, I still Stan for East Coast pizza, but have no problem opening my mind to other styles of the World’s Best Food.

However, in my 5 previous visits to Chicago, I’d never had brilliant pizza, despite many attempts.

Giordano’s was overrated, and Pizano’s was good, but not great.

I’ve surveyed folks over the years, and heard Lou Malnati’s is everyone’s favorite local chain, so for lunch on Friday, we ordered a monster pie.

(We skipped dinner and breakfast to properly feast.)

The River North Lou Malnati’s is located just off a public plaza, which I’m told is called the Viagra Triangle, as it has a series of high-priced, outdoor restaurants where rich, older guys take their young, pretty girlfriends.

We stopped in and ordered a Deep Dish Malnati’s Chicago Classic, which featured sausage with extra cheese and sauce, and I asked them to add the garlic spinach, and olives, so it would have more of a Mediterranean feel. (Plus, you need get your vegetables where you can when you’re eating pounds of melted cheese.)

While waiting the 30 minutes, we walked down to Walgreens to buy more Gatorade, an umbrella, and some OTC Covid tests, (so I could prove to my buddies we were clean, before attending a small house party.) Then we walked up Rush St to grab the pizza, in full-food-crash-mode, and brought it back to the hotel to eat.

 

 

If I’m a truthful critic, it needed a touch of finishing salt, and some fresh ground pepper, but beyond that, the jazzed up Malnati’s pie was super-delicious.

Totally worth the hype.

The sauce was sweet, but not overly so, (and there was enough of it,) while the spinach cut some of the richness of the sausage.

Lou Malnati’s 
Three and a Half Stars

 

 

 

 

That night, at my friend’s house, we had even more deep dish pizza, this time from the opposite of a chain restaurant.

Instead, Doug ordered from Milly’s Pizza in the Pan, the kind of joint that popped up during the pandemic, where you have to be in the know, call ahead, take what they’re offering that day, show up at the appointed time, and they bring the pizza out to your car from a commercial kitchen.

It’s not remotely a restaurant, and I must say, the bougie food did have more flavor than Sweet Lou’s.

 

Photos courtesy of Doug Fogelson

 

Each pie, (one vegetarian, one with meat,) utilized various colored peppers, which added freshness and balance, plus you could actually taste each ingredient.

The pies were a bit thinner, while still being deep dish, and it was more food to savor than stuff in your face, as you desperately try to get all the fat in your stomach to soak up the booze.

Milly’s Pizza in the Pan
Four Stars

 

 

 

 

 

I know today’s column is long, and I never want to go on forever, but there are three more restaurants to cover.

First off, on Saturday, we did a big takeout meal from Silver Spoon, which is an underground Thai restaurant I discovered in 2015, and continue to visit each time I come back to Chicago.

 

 

It’s literally below street level, and is always full when I go, so I’m not the only person who realizes how good the food is, and reasonably priced as well.

It’s near a Giordano’s, so watching the tourists line up, waiting for an hour to get mediocre pizza, when there is such great Thai food three doors down, always makes me giggle.

We had veggie eggrolls that tasted like they could be from a Jersey Chinese joint, (massive compliment,) vegan summer rolls that were as delicate as Donald Trump’s ego, some dumplings that seemed deep-fried, rather than in a pan, a brilliant Pad Thai, and a Pad See Eiw that was too spicy. (My fault for asking for medium-spicy.)

Silver Spoon
Four Stars

 

 

 

 

 

On Sunday, rather than join my buddies for coffee out West, we wanted to maximize our time downtown, as the hotel allowed us a late checkout. So we went to Tempo Cafe for brunch, a classic diner of the type rapidly disappearing in America.

There was a long wait, but all those schmucks wanted to eat inside, so we grabbed a semi-private outdoor table, on the sidewalk, straight away.

Tempo Cafe has been my go-to hangover breakfast three times now, and it’s always delivered.

Though they brought us coffee super-quickly, and kept re-filling the cups, (thankfully,) we had to wait ten minutes to order, then half an hour for our food, which was a huge bummer.

I distracted myself by looking up, staring at the buildings, and making up stories about the people walking by.

 

Sidewalk views at Tempo Cafe

 

 

Given what I said about getting your veggies when you can during a weekend bender, I ordered an egg skillet with broccoli, spinach and mozzarella cheese, and was excited for it to arrive.

Unfortunately, when the food finally came, they brought me a skillet loaded with sausage, instead of spinach.

My face fell faster than Carl Lewis, (the 1984 version,) and I had a decision to make.

Wait for the server to come back, (5 minutes,) and then for the cooks to make a fresh breakfast, (30 minutes,) or suck it up and dive in.

Jessie and I joked about the short order cook, reading the ticket the server handed in.

“Spinach and Broccoli? Are you fuckin’ kiddin’ me? It’s Sunday brunch, and this poor schmo is just orderin’ vegetables? Nah, I don’t think so.”

“What do you mean, Morty?”

“I don’t think this guy ordered right. The dum-dum. He forgot the sausage! I’m sure he meant sausage, not spinach. So we’re gonna fix it for him.”

Thankfully, I’m not a vegetarian, so I trusted Morty, ate most of the plate, and wasn’t hungry again for hours.

Tempo Cafe
Two and a Half Stars

 

 

 

 

Finally, I need to mention our Lyft ride, heading West to a brew-pub on Sunday, for our last visit with my crew before we schlepped to O’Hare again.

Her name was Delisa; she had an electric blue car, and electric blue nails.

Jessie and Delisa got to talking, as both were social workers for years, and though my mind was elsewhere, I kind-of followed along as they talked about helping kids in the system.

Eventually, (no surprise,) we got to talking about pizza, and she was a fan of Uno and Due, (which I’ll try another time,) but also said Parlor Pizza might be her favorite in town.

Sure enough, after we finished day-drinking at The Perch, (which has great beer, and good food, but was not-quite review worthy,) the remaining revelers walked down the street, in Wicker Park, looking for one last bit of sustenance.

There it was, right in front of us, Parlor Pizza Bar, so how could we not trust Delisa?

 

 

Sitting outside in the sun, savoring our last hour in the city, knowing we’d have a subway ride, the airport security line, then the plane flight home, and a 2.5 hour drive from Albuquerque, I hoped Delisa knew her pizza.

This time, it was more bar-pie-style, with a thin crust, and thankfully it was delicious. (Oddly, the menu was QR-code-only, which is apparently a thing now.)

The pizza margarita was amazing, a true gem of a pie. Our friends ordered a specialty number with honey and vegetables, which was also super-good, and I went off script, choosing a make-your-own, with burrata, heirloom tomatoes and meatballs.

In a place like that, with a long list of pre-selected options, the cooks obviously want you to go with their creations, and not do it yourself.

So the JB Special was good, but not THAT good.

 

The JB Special, which wasn’t so special

 

For some reason, they don’t put meatballs on pizza in Chicago.

It’s a sausage town.

And when I said it like the New Yorkers do, (SAUW-szige,) I was told that’s wrong.

In Chicago, it’s SAAAH-sidge.

And they should know.

(When in doubt, just ask Abe Froman.)

Parlor Pizza
Three and a Half Stars

 

 

 

From there, my friend Jeff dropped us off at the “L” train, where we waited in the late afternoon light, (with very full bellies,) hoping we’d make it back to New Mexico in one piece. (We did.)

Thanks, Chicago!

See you next time!

 

Views from the “L” train platform

 

The Art of the Personal Project: David Black

 

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist:  David Black 

 

The photographs in this book are images that came to me after the loss of my father. I followed these images and saw them into actualization over the course of two years.

Located on the edge of Death Valley, Cerro Gordo is a ghost town that was once the greatest producer of silver in California. In the early 20th century, Eastman Kodak used the silver mined at Cerro Gordo to manufacture early motion picture film stock. The film was then utilized by an emerging Hollywood to capture the most popular genre of the time: Westerns. Western films were then exported all over the world and used to define a vision of the West.

For me Cerro Gordo is a steep winding street in Echo Park – behind Dodger Stadium – where I lived during the years that this work was made.

The house I lived in was a crumbling mission style from the 1920s. It was in that house, on that street, I experienced both love and heart break. This book represents what I learned about the paradoxical duality of Los Angeles during that period.

 

To see more of this project, click here.

Instagram 

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art-buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

The Daily Edit – Alex Farnum: Lina Prairie


Photographer: Alex Farnum

Heidi: Where is this artist based and is this a long term project?
Alex: Yes, great project and still on-going, in fact I’m working on a short film about Lina Prairie this week! She is an artist based in Point Reyes National Seashore. She collects kelp, bones, and other coastal artifacts, then uses the material to weave intricate baskets, wall hangings and other sculptures.

Was this a brand project or personal project?
Personal project.

Did you spend a day with her in the studio? Did you forage together?
I’ve spent multiple days with Lina in her studio and foraging along the coast. We are in the process of writing a monolog for the film and still have two more days of shooting together.

What was the art direction for the images?
I wanted to tell her story is a beautiful, cinematic and artistic way. Less doc style and more conceptual since her work is highly conceptual. The material she uses also has a life of its own and a beautiful all onto itself. It almost reminds me of lines in a midcentury drawing.

Your body of work ranges from stills to lifestyle, and portraits. How does one inform the other, or what is the common thread you are looking for in all three genres?
Good question – People, landscape, still life form a triangle to me. They are the language of the world and also the buckets that help me round out my stories. People and lifestyle is the humanity, still life helps the viewer understand the details of the story and the landscapes drive a sense of place. The landscape or environment is the cradle that holds it all together.



What have you been shooting more these days?

I’ve been shooting a lot of travel and hospitality lately. One project I did was for SENSEI, which is a new hotelier concentrating on full approach to wellness travel. The project is a great example of giving me the freedom to express my photographic style while being in-line with the clients needs.

 

Featured Promo – Kaitlin Parry

Kaitlin Parry

Who printed it?
mixam.com

Who designed it?
I designed the poster, book, and postcards. I wanted the poster and the book to have a very early 90’s NYC art feel when you would get posters in the Voice, and artists would hand out their work in cards and books. I am from New York, and its artistic history has really influenced me.

Tell me about the images.
The book and poster represent the spark that made me want to be a fully professional photographer. Two of the cards are images from West Texas, I really enjoy traveling and these images never really have a place to live. The third image is a product shoot I did for the Company Palms.

How many did you make?
I made 100 books, I have friends asking me for more so I am thinking of printing more! I made 100 posters and 100 of each postcard. When I run through them, I make more as I use them as a business card.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I am continually making digital promos. Some of my first internships for photographers involved running around New York handing out their promos to various clients and editors. I am continuously making promos, but sending them out to a client list becomes less frequent. Quarantine afforded me a lot of time.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I am not sure. I have had clients reach out to me years after I had sent them a promo. I would say for every 25 promos I send I hear from one person. The book was a bit different as I sent it more to work friends as opposed to a traditional marketing campaign. I find that handing out cards to people has a greater impact than a standard business card. I find it is a good way to continuously foster relationships with various clients.

This Week in Photography: Staying Alive

 

 

 

There’s a first time for everything.

(So they say.)

 

They also say things come in threes.

Both of those famous clichés collided for me this week, and as a result, I’m shaking off some serious PTSD.

That kind of stress will melt your brain, so we’re going a bit non-traditional this week.

(It is what it is.)

 

 

 

 

As to the details, I had my first proper Covid test, my first colonoscopy, and was held at gunpoint, by a raving lunatic, who might well have killed me had things gone differently.

(Like I said, it was a crazy week.)

Let’s unpack some of these things, so I can create a functional column, and offer the educational and entertainment value for which I’m known. (Or so I tell myself.)

It would be cruel to keep you in suspense, given the drama bomb I dropped a few sentences ago, so let’s get to it.

And before you ask, no, I’m not exaggerating.

It really happened.

 

 

 

 

On Saturday, I walked up to the basketball court behind the firehouse, to shoot hoops, and burn off some stress.

I’d been dreading the colonoscopy, for obvious reasons, and the fact I had to go into the hospital the day before, to get tested for Covid, was also weighing me down.

Nothing like a bit of exercise to combat the stress.

Right?

Of course I brought my camera, because as I wrote last week, I’m shooting every day now, (or close to it,) and this autumn light will only last so long.

Around here, November brings high clouds, gray skies, windy days, and brown grass.

Once the leaves drop, and until the snow comes, Taos is often dreary, no lie.

But Saturday was beautiful, and the afternoon light was great, so I was excited to shoot hoops, and shoot pictures, but it never occurred to me the verb might pop up in the worst possible way.

 

 

 

 

For the most part, I don’t trespass.

People around here like their privacy, a hallmark of the Wild West, and almost everyone has guns.

But I’m also known around the neighborhood, having lived here for 12.5 years, and my wife’s family has been here half a century, so that carries some weight.

I’ve also been shooting my project for 10 months, so I’m confident the neighbors have seen me around, which gives a sense of protection.

Plus, I’m a trained fighter, and carry a knife.

(Normally, that’s enough.)

 

 

 

 

As I was walking home from the court, I noticed a glowing, wooden, religious statue in a neighbor’s driveway, sitting next to a blue tarp, which was electric in the light.

It was a sure-fire photo, and there were no cars in the neighbor’s driveway, that I could see.

Frankly, I’d shot the trailer a couple of times already, as the place was normally empty, and no one had ever looked at me twice, much less said a word.

 

January, 2021
August, 2021

 

I yelled “Hello,” and began walking the twenty feet or so up the driveway, when I saw a big, white pick-up truck parked there, and the door was open, so I immediately turned around and left.

Didn’t want to intrude.

That said, as soon as I walked another five steps, I saw a group of chickens right in front of me.

 

The chickens

 

They belong to my neighbor, Morris, who lives across the street, and while the light wasn’t hitting them perfectly, of course I pulled out the camera to rip off a few shots.

There I was, crouching along the road, in full view of the trailer, with my camera, doing nothing but make art.

It got my blood pumping, but in a good way. All those creative juices flowing, combatting the stress chemicals I was trying to purge.

I got excited.

And it was totally quiet.
No one around.

So I got cocky, I guess.

And nearly paid with my life.

 

 

 

 

Having the camera out of the bag, watching the chickens literally cross the road, I wanted to keep going.

 

The chickens crossing the road

 

And as I said, it was totally silent.

So I waved at the trailer window, as I could clearly be seen, walked back up the neighbor’s gravel driveway, and took two quick photos of the wooden Santo sculpture, the blue tarp, the driveway detritus, and a part of the white truck with the open door.

 

The Santo and the blue tarp

 

Trying to be respectful, even though it seemed there was no one around, I walked quickly back towards the road.

But before I could get there, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the door of the trailer burst open.

A large, White, bearded man came charging.

Fast.

He had a gun pointed right at me, with his finger on the trigger, was obviously very angry, and started screaming at the top of his lungs.

“GET THE FUCK OFF MY PROPERTY,” he yelled! “Do you hear me? Move! Move the fuck off my property. NOW!”

I put my hands up, started walking backwards, immediately, trying to create distance between me and the insane, armed man implicitly threatening to kill me.

“That’s right, motherfucker. I’m the kind of guy who carries a loaded weapon. You better get the fuck off my property right now,” he threatened, all the while, keeping the gun trained at my head.

“Listen, man,” I stammered, “I’m very sorry I trespassed. I shouldn’t have done that. Very sorry. That wasn’t cool. But I announced myself, waved at your window, and I’ve lived here in the neighborhood a long time. I’m an artist, and was just taking a quick picture. That’s it.”

I continued to walk backwards as I spoke, calculating how quickly I could get to the property line, as he kept coming at me with the gun, enraged.

“I just moved here,” he said. “I don’t know who the fuck you are. And I got robbed last night. So you better get the hell off my property. Now. MOVE!”

I kept my cool, and trained my eyes on the gun.

“Listen, like I said, I’m sorry. I apologize. My bad.”

“GET THE FUCK OFF MY PROPERTY,” he screamed again!

I kept back-tracking, but he stood his ground, instead of charging, or pulling the trigger, thank God.

Finally, when I was in safe range, I went with empathy.

“I’m so sorry you got robbed. That’s awful. I can’t imagine how you feel. Really, there are a lot of nice people in the neighborhood too. I’m sorry you got robbed, and that it’s affected your experience here.”

“Yeah, well,” he replied, “as long as you get the fuck off my property, and never come back, we’ll be good.”

With that, he turned around, walked back into the trailer, and stared at me through the window. The same window, I should add, I waved at a minute before, so anyone might see me approach.

“Listen,” I added loudly, “please, let me bring you a beer, to make it up to you. I shouldn’t have trespassed, and I’d like to make amends.”

“You don’t need to,” he said, “just stay away from my property, and we’re all good.”

But that’s tricky. We walk by there every time we go to the basketball court.

So I headed home, got a beer from the fridge, wrapped it in tinfoil to be discrete, and walked back up the road, my heart pounding quickly.

I stayed by the property line, yelled towards the window, and told him I was back with a beer, as a show of good faith.

“I don’t drink,” he said, more calmly than before.

Are you kidding me? The only truck-driving, gun-wielding, large White guy in America who doesn’t like beer?

 

Courtesy of The Great American Disconnect

 

Just my luck.

But the tone of his voice had changed. I could tell he no longer perceived me as a threat.

“You don’t need to do that,” he said, more calmly still. “We’re good.”

“Listen, man, we’re neighbors. It’s important there be no bad blood. I just wanted to show you I’m a good dude.”

“Don’t worry,” he said. “We’re good. You’re peaches and cream.”

“OK,” I replied.

“I’m peaches and cream.”

So I re-wrapped my beer, turned on a dime, and walked home.

 

 

 

 

I’m going write about Chicago soon enough, but one thing was clear to me, traveling through two airports: people in America are ready to blow.

There is a seething anger that is not even below-the-surface anymore.

In both Albuquerque and Chicago, despite the Federal mandate, I saw people without masks, or confidently wearing masks below their noses, and under their chins, constantly scanning the area around them.

 

Woman with a mask under her nose; man with a mask under his chin

 

These people were waiting for someone to step to them, baiting anyone into speaking up, so they could unload.

They wanted to fight; to spew their anger at the world.

It was so unsettling.

You know I’ve been writing about the decline of America for years now, and when I came home from San Francisco in 2019, I did a big article reporting the social fabric in this country was badly frayed.

Clearly, the pandemic pushed things over the cliff.

People are ready to shoot, punch, or stab, and ask questions later.

I’m truly concerned.

When you have to kiss someone’s ass, and beg forgiveness, just so they don’t kill you, we’re in really bad shape.

 

 

 

But there’s one last part to this column, before I jump off and meditate some more. (It’s been helping with the PTSD, for sure.)

Today is Thursday, (as usual,) and this time on Tuesday, I was under anesthesia, having my intestines probed with a digital camera.

The whole thing was humbling, to say the least.

And it all came to pass, because my brother and Uncle both reached out this summer, within a week, to tell me the medical guidelines had changed, and people were supposed to get a colonoscopy at 45 now, instead of 50.

Then, my Uncle and Mom told me my grandfather had died of colon cancer, in his late 50’s, which meant I had a family history of the disease, making it vital I get checked ASAP.

Even typing the word, colonoscopy, I cringe a little, as it’s so much easier to say procedure.

Or surgery.

I really don’t want to evoke any visuals for you, (unlike last week, with the yellow hot-air balloon,) but I promised the surgical staff I’d use my platform to spread the word.

Colon cancer is deadly, and took down Chadwick Boseman last year.

 

Courtesy of Crazy Eddie’s Motie News

 

Black Fucking Panther, dead, in his prime.
(Scary stuff.)

But it is also preventable.

 

 

 

Listen, getting this cancer screening sucks.

I won’t lie.

Having the Covid test, with a Q-tip jammed almost into your brain, then taking all these medicines to clear out your insides, sticking to a liquid diet, following all the rules.

It’s laborious, and given the reality of many people’s work schedules, and insurance situations, I can see why so many put it off, or don’t do it at all.

Truly. I get it.

But having faced down the fear, and gone through the process, (with a clean bill of health, thankfully,) I wanted to at least share what I’ve learned.

There are so many things that can take you down, these days.

From Covid, to cancer, to crazies with guns.

Hell, a young Las Vegas Raider killed a women the other day, by driving drunk, at 156 miles an hour, crashing the back of her Toyota at 127.

She burned to death, trapped inside.

That is a nasty way to go.

But so is colon cancer.

So if you’re over 45 here in America, please consider checking with your primary care physician, if you haven’t had your screening.

It can save your life.

See you next week!

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Rachel Wisniewski

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist:  Rachel Wisniewski

 

On a Friday night at Beth Shalom in January 2020, only 70 of the 270 synagogue seats were filled — at least a quarter of them by tourists. Adriana Quiñones, 19, led the evening services, chanting at the bema in Hebrew beside her ex-boyfriend, Jonathan, in a highlighter-yellow dress. While Quiñones can read Hebrew beautifully, she doesn’t actually understand what it means — a qualification that has been overlooked in light of the fact that the synagogue does not have a rabbi.

There isn’t one rabbi living in the whole country of Cuba. Currently, only about 1,200 Jewish people still call the island home, down from 15,000 prior to Fidel Castro’s revolutionary rise to power in 1959.

Beth Shalom was built in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood in 1952. It’s one of three synagogues in Havana, and only five in all of Cuba.

Most of Cuba’s Jewish population over the past hundred years has existed as a result of displacement and persecution elsewhere. Jewish people fled from Turkey and Eastern Europe in the 1910s and ’20s, then again from Europe in the 1930s and ’40s as Nazis seized power. Many considered Cuba a stopover point on the way to the U.S. but stayed after the U.S. shut them out.

Beth Shalom’s current president, Adela Dworin, is the child of Holocaust survivors. Quiñones’ paternal great-grandparents emigrated from Turkey after they faced discrimination, while her maternal grandparents are Cuban natives.

In deciding to remain in Cuba, the Quiñones family is part of a striking minority. After Fidel Castro came to power, more than 90% of Cuba’s Jewish population fled, primarily to cities such as Miami. Many were middle-class business owners who suffered under Castro’s economic policies.

Jewish people are a minority around the world — a tiny fraction of 1% — but particularly so among Cuba’s 11 million people. Their small numbers have made Cuba’s Jewish community extremely close-knit.

And like in other Jewish communities around the world, the onus for continuing the practice of the religion rests on the young. Quiñones is one of a small number of Cuba’s Jewish youth who are under immense pressure to preserve an already minuscule religious group.

When Quiñones was in her second year of pharmacy school at the University of Havana, she would travel an hour from her university to Beth Shalom each week — spending three nights at the synagogue for services, Sunday school, youth group, and recreational activities.

Alongside her friends, the other members of the youth group, Quiñones participated in dances, played hours of domino matches, practiced pingpong, and learned to bake challah from Ida, another member of the congregation. Quiñones was slated to attend the JCC Maccabi Games — an Olympic-style sporting competition held each summer in Israel — for pingpong in 2021, but the event was canceled because of COVID-19.

As an explanation for her commitment to the synagogue, Quiñones offered, “Why would I want to be anywhere else? All my friends are here.” Besides, she said, her school classmates know so little about Judaism that they try to make fun of her with Islamophobic jokes, not knowing the difference between Islam and Judaism.

Since the onset of COVID-19, Beth Shalom has been closed to its congregation. Quiñones’ father, Isac, taught Sunday school each week. He’s now teaching virtually.

“We’re doing online activities, but it’s not the same,” Quiñones says. As for the coronavirus’s effect on all of Cuba, she says, “the situation is really bad.”

Cuba kept case numbers low in 2020, but they started rising in 2021, with more than 1,000 a day by May. Widespread vaccinations haven’t started. Cuba is not using vaccines from abroad, instead developing its own vaccines, which are still undergoing trials.

The lack of tourists during the pandemic is hitting the Jewish community hard, as they rely heavily on tourism for service attendance, monetary donations, and simply a reminder that they are not alone.

Quiñones says, “I like that visitors from other countries come to our community. It makes me feel proud of it and also allows me to compare what we do here with what is done in other countries … and these visitors are what support the daily life of our community.” After more than a year at home, she says, “it’s hard … but there’s nothing I can do.”

“Really,” she says, “We need a miracle.”

Rachel Wisniewski is an independent photojournalist based in Philadelphia. Follow her on Instagram @rachelwizphoto.

 

To see more of this project, click here.

 

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art-buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.

 

The Daily Edit – Graeme Jennings: Time Magazine

TIME Magazine

Photographer: Graeme Jennings

Heidi: Did you know that image was being used for an editorial cover?
I was not aware of it until TIME tagged me on Instagram.

When you saw the composed cover, describe your reaction.
Delighted and very surprised. I have not been published on the cover of TIME before, so it was certainly great to see!

What was the original scenario around that image, before it was part of the getty collection? Was it the from the testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law?
Due to the pandemic, there are restrictions on the number of photographers who can photograph certain events at one time. There is a pool duty rotation on Capitol Hill that was put in place to accommodate this. I was on pool duty the day of the House Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative law. I knew ahead of time that it was a virtual hearing. As a prelude to this, I feel I should include a long back story…..

I have photographed Mark Zuckerberg before. In 2018 he came in person to Capitol Hill to testify before a joint hearing of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees, about the use of Facebook data to target American voters during the 2016 election. I have photographed many important figures before, including the president, but I will admit that seeing Mark Zuckerberg in person had me just a tad star struck. Zuckerberg was wearing a perfectly tailored suit, he had a rather strange, generic haircut, perfectly manicured nails, and very pale skin. During this hearing, Twitter was going crazy with tweets. People were commenting on his somewhat robotic appearance. There was also a meme going around comparing Zuckerberg to the android character, Data, in Star Trek. All of this sparked my interest in him further.

After seeing all the reactions on social media, I started to think about a film I saw as a kid in the early 90s called The Lawnmower Man. It’s a movie about an experiment on a man to enhance his intelligence through virtual reality. The experiment goes wrong, and he becomes completely obsessed with evolving into an electronic being. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Zuckerberg in the flesh, but I was starting to think of him as someone who exists in digital form, in a sort of electronic ether. Or as Zuckerberg himself has referred to it as the “metaverse”. Essentially a virtual reality world where people would interact just as they do in real life.

All of this brings me back to that hearing where Zuckerberg was in attendance via video. A virtual hearing. I saw Zuckerberg’s face on the multiple tv screens in the room, flickering, pixelated, flat against a plain white background. It made perfect sense. During the hearing I took many pictures on the large screens, including one of Zuckerberg on a screen in front of the dias where the members of Congress sit. This picture was used the following day by The Washington Post and The New York Times.

How did you start your photo journalistic career and why an interest towards post conflict societies and reconstruction?
I started my career back in my home country of New Zealand. After finishing college, I worked freelance and was part of a book project about New Zealand going into the new millennium. I later moved to the UK where I continued to freelance. I worked with NGOs in Russia and the former Yugoslavia. My interest in post conflict areas began as a young college student where I took an interest in the work of many photographers such as Don McMullin, Ron Haviv, and Susan Meiselas. I also looked at images in magazines such as TIME, from the war in Bosnia and later Kosovo. I wanted to see these places myself and was curious what was happening in these parts of the world after the news media had left.

Do you remember your first assignment or when you knew this was the kind of work, you’d dedicate yourself to?
When I was in college, I spent time reading about these places that I would later go on to document – post conflict societies such as Azerbaijan, Chechnya, and Bosnia.

Once I moved to the United States, I started to transition into covering politics and daily news in Washington D.C and other part of the U.S.

How long have you been at the Washington Examiner? 
I’ve been staff with the Washington Examiner since 2011. I also work with other corporate and news clients. I cover Capitol Hill regularly. Coming from New Zealand, a relatively quiet place politically, covering American politics over the last 10 years has been a chaotic whirlwind for me. In recent years, I have become more and more interested in portraiture.  I draw my influences from various fields – television and cinema, pictorialism, chiaroscuro art, many, many photojournalists, and well-known portrait greats such as August Sander, Diane Arbus, and Yousuf Karsh.