Yearly Archives: 2012

The Daily Edit – Tuesday

- - The Daily Edit

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Creative Director: David Curcurito
Director of Photography: Michael Norseng
Photo Editor: Alison Unterreiner
Art Director: Stravinski Pierre

Photographer: Taghi Naderzad

Note: Content for The Daily Edit is found on the newsstands. Submissions are not accepted

The Daily Edit – Monday

- - The Daily Edit


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Design Director: Geraldine Hessler
Photo Director: Suzanne Donaldson
Art Director: Sarah Vinas
Deputy Editor, Photo Visuals: Julie Stone
Senior Photo Editor: Martha Maristany
Photo Editor: Brian Marcus

Photographer: Frederike Helwig

Note: Content for The Daily Edit is found on the newsstands. Submissions are not accepted

This Week In Photography Books โ€“ Chris McCaw

- - Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in America. Today, belts will loosen around the fifty states. Cholesterol levels will rise faster than the sea in the six years since Al Gore’s Climate Change movie was released. And we’ll see “A Christmas Story” pop up on cable any day now. (You’ll shoot your eye out.)

It’s hard to imagine a movie achieving cult and classic status as quickly as that one did. I remember going to see it with my now-dead-Jewish grandma in South Florida when it came out back in the day. (Big ups to Nana, wherever you are.)

“A Christmas Story” endures because it contains so many memorable moments. It left us with one scene, once seen, that remains in your neuron-memory, forever. I’m talking about the bit where a dumb kid name Flick gets his tongue stuck on a frozen pole after a triple dog dare. (And I double dog dare you not to laugh when he starts crying.)

Despite the film’s popularity, that type of adolescent humor seems anachronistic in a Post-Jack-Ass world. Just the other night, I was watching the 3rd installment of the Harold & Kumar series, and the Korean dude got his penis stuck on a frozen pole while trying to escape from Ukrainian hit men. Like I’ve said before, the 20th Century seems like a long time ago.

Will this prosthetic penis be burned into my brain like the Flick’s frozen tongue? Probably not. It’s just harder to shock people these days. (Unless you choose not to caption photos of dead people in an interview about War photography.)

Perhaps the key to mental resonance is rooted in simplicity? I will spatter paint, instead of apply it. I will film a Western in Spain, instead of America. I will let the sunlight burn through a paper negative inside a view camera. Had no one ever thought to do that before? I don’t know. But when San Francisco-based-artist Chris McCaw stumbled on the technique, he was probably pretty f-cking psyched.

I just got to look at “Sunburn,” Mr. McCaw’s new monograph from Candela Books. (Richmond, VA.) It’s a beautiful new hard cover, and they even took the trouble to burn through one of the intro pages. (Amazing what they can do with lasers these days.) There are a couple of essays at the beginning, including one by New Mexico’s own Katherine Ware. The other was written by Allie Haeusslein, the gallery manager at Pier 24, thereby closing the loop on our San Francisco series.

The first time I went through the plates, I found myself just a wee bit underwhelmed. My eyes naturally went to the landscape subject matter, and I didn’t catch the emerging patterns of the Sun. Kind of like it’s hard to watch the crowd in a sporting event on TV. Your eye keeps tracking the ball.

Even so, the pictures of the Sun’s path caught my attention enough to decide to come back to the book again today. Good sign. The closing text, written by the artist, gives some more context as to where he’s gone to get the images, (the Galapagos, Alaska, and around the American Far West,) and the titles share specifics about the exposure type. He’s like one of those old Mayan shaman guys, charting motion to harness the power of light.

Upon the second viewing, I began to tune out the ocean and bay vistas, and just watch the lines, dots and dashes appear up in the sky. Code. The sunrise to sunset arch is a basically the portrait of a spinning planet. Wow. By the time I saw the vertical sunpath that ends the book, I was hooked.

Mr. McCaw has had a lot of success with this work over the last few years. Deservedly so. You might want this book, you might not. But the lesson in the power of reductiveness is one I’ll leave you with, now that you’re regretting yesterday’s binge-eat-turkey-fest.

To purchase “Sunburn” visit Photo-Eye

Full Disclosure: Books are provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.

Books are found in the bookstore and submissions are not accepted.


The Daily Edit – Friday

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Creative Director: Alex Gonzales
Design Director: Anton Ioukhnovets
Art Director: Anna C. Davidson-Evans
Photography Director: Caroline Wolff
Photo Editor: Jacqeline Bates

Photographer: Tim Walker

Note: Content for The Daily Edit is found on the newsstands. Submissions are not accepted

After Sandy The Photo Industry Still Needs Your Help

- - Working

A reader sent this to me:

An OpenLetter to the Publishing and Advertising Community:

In the wake of Sandy, if you want to help out, hire people from New York and New Jersey. If you shoot your job here, that provides work for photographers, photo-assistants, producers, hair and makeup artists, stylists, rental studios, equipment houses, printers and caterers.

Most people lost at least 2-3 weeks of work and are still losing because of Sandy. We have the best in the business right here in NYC. Almost all of us are freelancers. We are not getting sick days or vacation days.

Every time you assign one shoot or award an advertising campaign, that helps New Yorkers get back on our feet. As photographers and producers, we can then hire other local people to work with us. We don’t want hand-outs. We want to work. Some of us have lost power, had our houses flooded, lost belongings but we persevere with our desire to work and rebuild.

If it can be shot in New York, shoot it here! (Your community is depending on you.)

How David Friedman’s Inventor Project Became A PBS Series

- - Photographers

This is a fantastic success story of a personal project that turned into a web series for PBS and it has some hallmarks I notice all the time in successful personal projects:

  • The project starts as something intimate, a story only you can tell
  • Social media allows you to test the response to see if it has legs
  • Someone sends you in a direction you hadn’t anticipated when the project started
  • The project gives you an excuse to connect with important people
  • Someone discovers your project through social media channels

Here’s David to tell us what happened:

A few years ago I quit a staff photographer position that was a pretty good job but wasn’t quite what I really wanted to do creatively. When I left, I decided I needed a new body of work that bothย represented my personal interests and my work as a photographer. I’m a big fan of creative ideas and as a side project I’d written a semi-popularย blog about my own invention ideas (mostly silly rather thanย practical). With that in mind, I decided my new body of work would explore who other inventors are, and see what separates people like me — who get creative ideas for inventions butย don’t actually pursue them — from people who actually do something with those ideas.

When I started, I didn’t know any inventors. So I went to local inventor support meetups (where successful inventors help aspiring inventors), talked about my project, and asked for volunteers. Afterย I shot a few inventors this way, and it became clear the project had legs, I realized I’d need to travel so it doesn’t just turn into “Inventors of the Tri-State Area”. So when I was shooting jobs out of town,ย I’d reach out in advance to inventor groups in those areas and get their help coordinating area inventors who might be interested. Then I’d tack an extra day or two onto a trip I was alreadyย taking and shoot for this project.

For the first half dozen inventors, I was only shooting stills. But around that time I met Brian Storm ofย MediaStorm, and he said “You really should be shooting video of these people” and it was like aย lightbulb went off. I hadn’t yet incorporated video into my repertoire, and had only imagined the project being a book, but video was such an obvious way to go. So I added that component with theย idea that the video would be great for promoting the project, and for including in an iPad version of the book. Plus, it would be a great way for me to learn to shoot and edit video.

As the project grew, I made connections in the inventing community, and was introduced to more prominent inventors, and began traveling just for these shoots. And once I had a fewย recognizable names in the project, it became easier to cold call other notable inventors and persuade them to participate. Now that it’s a serious body of work, I’ve had incredible cooperationย from places I wouldn’t have dreamed about approaching earlier. Just a couple weeks ago I photographed a military inventor on a Navy battleship, which is the most complicated locationย I’ve arranged for a self-produced shoot, and I couldn’t have pulled that off a few years ago.

I’ve done forty-something of these shoots so far. They range from people who just tinker in their garage all the way up to Nobel Prize and National Medal of Technology winners. Their inventionsย include the Post-it Note, the cell phone, the first video game system, first digital camera, the computer mouse, the Segway, and more humble inventions like a better sewing needle, wheelchairย brake, an ice fishing vehicle, etc.

As I’ve worked on the project, I occasionally released a few of the videos on Vimeo. I posted them on both my photographyย blog and the “ideas” blog, which reaches a much differentย audience. I got great feedback, but a few of the videos really took off.ย Two of them each reached six-figure views within 24 hours, and were featured on prominent websites. I’ve talked aboutย the project on various blogs, on public radio, andย Wired ran this interview with me.

Someone at PBS Digital Studios found my videos on Vimeo while researching new talent and felt it would be a good fit for their network. They approached me about turning it into a series for their YouTube channel. After a bit ofย surprisingly pleasant negotiation, we reached a deal to produce 20 episodes to be released every other Tuesday. Some of those episodes will be existing videos I’d previously put online, but the majorityย will be new, culled from inventors I’ve already shot but not released, and some I’ve not yet shot.

This is a good example of a nice aspect of this particular project: while self-producing a project of this scope has been expensive, it has also managed to generate at least a little money along the way. Since a lot of my subjects are occasionally written about editorially, I’ve licensed photos and footage from the project to The History Channel, Time Magazine, science magazines, museums, and text books.

I think the very best thing about this project, though, is that I get to meet and talk to all these incredible people (many of whom are older and won’t be around for much longer). Being able to sit down and talk with Steve Sasson, inventor of the digital camera, and geek out over the tools of my trade, was a great moment. I talked to Dean Kamen, who invented the Segway but also the portable insulin pump and so much more, about the roles of art versus science in education (his father was comic book illustrator Jack Kamen). And I askedย chemical engineer Esther Takeuchi, who has more patents than any other woman, why she has no female students in her University classes, and we had a great conversation about that. Even the unknown and struggling inventors are smart people with incredible stories to tell.

See more of Davids work here:

The San Francisco Fall Season: “About Face” at Pier 24

- - Art, From The Field

by Jonathan Blaustein

In the last exhibition review, I told you how to see some excellent art, in San Francisco, for free. Just go to SFMOMA on the first Tuesday of the month. With your savings, you can buy a couple of mouthfuls of seafood at the Ferry Building down the street. Or four pears. Seriously, I paid four bucks for an asian pear that was nearly as big as a large guinea pig.

From there, it’s a short walk along the water to Pier 24. I’ll say this now, prominently, so that it doesn’t get misunderstood. Pier 24 is always free. That’s more great art without spending a dime. But, and here’s the catch, you must book ahead via their website. They have several “viewings” a day, limited to 20 people per session.

The pier, which actually sits below the bay bridge, sat vacant for 30 years, I was told, before it was renovated to its current very chic status. You’d never know from the anonymous wharfside locale, but the innards are stuffed with more photography goodies than a pelican’s belly.

Once buzzed in, you’re offered a catalog, to borrow or buy, which shows you the names and relevant info for each work. (There is no wall text, which some might not like.) I met up with Pacarrick, and he knew a docent named Mark, so I made those guys hold the catalog, and we embarked straight away. We could go one of two ways, and chose to go with the natural flow, into a room filled with Hiroshi Sugimoto’s wax figurine photographs.

I’d seen them at Fraenkel Gallery, when they were exhibited many years ago. Then, I was dismissive of the work. “He just photographed someone else’s sculptures. Big deal.” Here, though, my opinion spun. These large scale black and white portraits have gravitas. And they’re spooky too.

It’s probably a good time to mention that much of the work on the wall was procured by the same Fraenkel gallery, either to sell to the Pilara Foundation, which runs the place, or to arrange the borrowing of work to be shown. As I wrote in the intro article, much of San Francisco is working with itself, and this partnership has created something terrific here. (Along with shipping crates full of hedge fund dollars.)

So there’s a touch of backstory. Where were we? Past Sugimoto, we see a room with work by Jim Goldberg and Larry Sultan. Two more Bay Area luminaries. And then, a few feet away, there’s a wall installation of photography baseball cards by Mike Mandel, who collaborated with the late Mr. Sultan. (Definitely a conversation starter.)

They were obviously taken in the 70’s, and were thoroughly tongue-in-cheek. I was standing with a Peruvian dude, and an Asian guy who’s exact heritage I don’t know, and didn’t bother to ask. I looked at them, giggled, and looked back at the wall of photographers. All were white. And at least 75% had moustaches. For real. We counted. Then we counted the women, and there were a few, but not many.

I’m not being critical. Times change, and thank god there is more diversity in photography than there used to be. The grid of photo heroes and big wigs was clever and fun. Who uses the baseball card motif to talk about war? It was a great artifact of the photo community back in the mutton chop days. (Like I said, there is visual evidence of my mullet/braces phase. Not that you’ll find it.)

The exhibition space slowly unfolds, and is absolutely huge. Museum size, with genius stuff wherever you look. I recommend that you actually use your entire 2 hour window. (I didn’t.) Go in, see half, go out, grab a coffee. Look at the water. Listen to the sea gulls. Then go back.

Back to the moment, I walked through to see a huge wall of Lee Friedlanders. That guy is one brave dude. He consistently turned the camera on himself, willing to depict his “image” in unflattering ways. The honesty, combined with his consistently off-putting compositional style, is the secret to his creative staying power. (IMHO)

Next, Avedon. Big portraits from “In The American West.” (I neglected to mention an earlier four-image-panel of John, Paul, George and Ringo that was orphaned in a corner.) I risk the wrath of many of you, but I don’t dig the Western portraits one bit. Slick and stylish, yes. But no soul. The dirt on their faces might have well have been pancake makeup.

Not to bag on Mr. Avedon exclusively. The Beatles pics were suave, and then just a bit further on, he has an entire room to himself, with smaller studio portraits of major honchos. Bush Sr., Rumsfeld, and on and on. (Regan was hanging next to Caesar Chavez. Nicely done.) A ton of portraits to see there. My brain was starting to slow down.

But not before I reached the Richard Learoyd section. I profiled his book, “Presences,” in my very first book review column, last year. So I was familiar with the representations. But as large scale prints, the camera-obsura-created photos were the showstoppers for me. Radiant, and beyond sharp. Wicked light and color. One pairing stood out, a man and woman’s naked bodies. Backs arching slightly forward, faces unseen. Identical poses, subtle differences. Magnetic.

If I have any criticism of Pier 24, it’s that it’s a bit like a photo exhibition on steroids. Don’t forget, Barry Bonds hit all those homeruns ten minutes up the water. Really, really close. But the stands were always packed, and here, it’s so much great work that I don’t want to nitpick. (It is pretty lame of me to criticize them for being “too good.”)

It’s just that my brain is getting tired remembering all these photographs, and you’re going to want to stop reading soon. From there, Diane Arbus had a room. An African-themed gallery had work by Pieter Hugo, and the combination of Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse. Great. Then a Japanese room, and a Chinese room. This being San Fransisco in 2012, diversity will be respected. Oh yes.

Then, we doubled back to the main entrance, to go see the final wing. The first room had a group exhibition featuring work by many, many famous names. I could list them, but what’s the point? The one photo you couldn’t not look at was by Vanessa Beecroft, of all people. It was the biggest, so that explains a lot. But it jumped off the wall. Ms. Beecroft seems best known for staging naked modeling shows in the Guggenheim, so to see an image of this quality made Pacarrik and I wonder how much she spent on a DoP.

Then, a room of mug shots, and the Paul Schiek photographs I already wrote about in the book review for “Dead Men Don’t Look Like Me.” As I learned in SF, those images, which work brilliantly as a little soft-cover-book of found photos, (and which were originally shot by an anonymous, talented jail-house photographer,) are a really big deal in San Franscisco right now. They just showed at Stephen Wirtz, and were here in a prominent spot at Pier 24. The prints are big of course; presented as high-end appropriation art. In that context, I’m a bit skeptical.

But the last room in the house, (if you take the wrong path,) is the best room in the house. August Sander. Vintage prints. In a very large grid. I was too tired to count the photos. And I was too tired to enjoy them.

We’re all fans of the master German portraitist. I’ll spare you the mushy love talk. It’s a brilliant room of photographs, and I was way, way too brain fried to enjoy it. I’m still pissed off.
So, I’m saying this clearly, when you go visit Pier 24, which you should do, go see the August Sander photographs as soon as you get there. Or, at least, don’t see them last.

The Daily Edit – Tuesday

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Design Director: Lisa Steinmeyer
Photo Director: James Morris
Art Director: Barbara Reyes
Photo Editor: Jamie Keiter

Photographer: Ben Watts

Note: Content for The Daily Edit is found on the newsstands. Submissions are not accepted

Social Media Means More Opportunity To Be Seen

This is a series of posts based off a talk I used to give on social media marketing for photographers.

It’s a generally accepted rule of thumb that 3-5 point of contact (some say 7-9) is necessary for someone to make a hiring decision on you. What that means is someone must encounter your work 3-5 times either by you putting it directly in front of them or some serendipitous encounter somewhere. If you look at the typical day for someone whose job it is to hire artists, traditionally (in the past) this meant they saw your work:

Browsing the newsstand
Looking through their mail
Reading email
During an office visit
Talking with colleagues
At industry events and awards

Now with social media we’ve simply added blogs, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to the mix. And, what’s powerful about these new tools is they allow for more serendipitous and peer recommended encounters with your work, two of the more powerful kinds.

People who are reading less mail, email and having less office visits are probably spending more time online or at least trying to make up for it with more efficient network recommended stuff. There’s a great quote that goes “If it’s important it will find me” which means that your network will keep alerting you to the same thing over and over again if people around you deem it important.

This means two things for people marketing themselves. Participation in the different networks is mandatory and if ย good things happen to you offline, you can make them social by writing and publishing it.

Are “Pay To Play” Events Where Photographers Pay For Access To Creatives Good?

- - Blog News

โ€œIโ€™m new to New York so Iโ€™ve had a very positive experience with this because it allowed me to meet with a lot of photographers I hadnโ€™t met before because I was primarily a West Coast art producer. Iโ€™ve been doing a lot of FotoWorks and was paid $100 for 3 hours. For every terrible photographer you meet, you meet someone you think you might be able to use for something. It could be someone you would never have come in contact with or ignored on email or promo and actually had a face-to-face with them. And I thought it was a good event. The more you can face-to-face with an art buyer or producer I think itโ€™s a win/win. And itโ€™s a good way for artists to connect and get feedback on their portfolio, especially those with no rep.โ€ย 

–Hilary Jackson, Saatchi & Saatchi

via Continuing the Conversation with NYC Art Producers. Part III: The Dessert ยซ Heather Elder Represents Blog.

The Daily Edit – Monday

- - The Daily Edit



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Creative Director: Alex Gonzales
Design Director: Anton Ioukhnovets
Art Director: Anna C. Davidson-Evans
Photography Director: Caroline Wolff
Photo Editor: Jacqeline Bates

Note: Content for The Daily Edit is found on the newsstands. Submissions are not accepted

Michael Thompson

Emma Summerton

Nick Knight



Juergen Teller

Paolo Roversi

Mario Sorrenti

Deborah Turberville


Stephen Klein


Solve Sundsbo

Alex Prager

Patrick Demarchelier



This Week In Photography Books โ€“ Doug Rickard

- - Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

I like to mix things up. It’s a must for this column. Week in, week out, I’m going to write about a book. If I can’t sustain quality commentary, this venture disappears.

Last week, I cut out the personal narrative, and wrote about a book that proved controversial. Mostly because it didn’t look like the things I normally proffer. It was highly commercial, and not exactly original. But it also managed to create a maelstrom in the comment section. I won’t push my luck and say the work was brilliant, because it was not. But I have found that neat and tidy, safe projects do little to promote discourse.

Great art, or at least important art, need not be pretty. In fact, moving into anti-aesthetic territory is an easy way to distinguish “art” from “decoration.” Ugly doesn’t sell as well, until it’s branded “Genius,” but it does get people to rub their chins and fidget awkwardly in a museum context. Tweaking people’s expectations of attractiveness is a good way to get them to think.

Furthermore, as I discussed in the Boris Mikhailov review last year, when examining difficult, exploitative scenarios, it’s disingenuous to try to make things gorgeous. Or to avoid exploitation in one’s process. Difficulty of subject matter, rendered as metaphor through difficulty of concept and image structure, is a good way to take the carpool lane to MOMA.

Just ask Doug Rickard. Despite the fact that there are multiple artists that have come out with Google-street-view-themed projects in the last few years, Mr. Rickard is the one who made it into MOMA’s coveted “New Photography 2011” exhibition. Why?

He managed to take all the messy, uncomfortable strands that jut out of Google’s immaculate quilt, and tie them together in a coherent and edgy way. Mr. Rickard looked at a situation in which a major corporation was invading people’s privacy to an unprecedented degree, and he chose to take that exploitation one step further.

Is this a book review? Of course it is. Because Mr. Rickard’s new monograph, “A New American Picture,” published by Aperture, turned up in my book stack recently. The book is well-produced, with an essay and an interview with the artist. Aperture never scrimps on production quality, so you can trust that the book is well-built. The images themselves, however, will not match up with your expectations of quality and good looks.

The artist spent countless hours exploring dirt poor urban and desolate rural regions of the United States. All via Google’s street view interface. He slowly “wandered” the streets of some of the most crime-ridden, dangerous, and bleak spots, all without leaving the comfort of his Aeron chair. (OK, I made that last detail up.)

The plates are muddy, compelling, and not particularly attractive. On several, I could even spot banding. It appears that he output prints, which were then re-photographed for the book. Clearly, they’re meant to look “poor” on purpose.

And as to the subject matter, Mr. Rickard sees his exploration as a 21st Century version of Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange rolling, in physical form, through the same types of poor places, looking for photos. Documenting poverty. Shining light on the disenfranchised.

The big story here, though, is how the artist shamelessly exploits the poor folks in the photographs. It’s safe to assume they won’t see a dime, mostly because he couldn’t track them down if he tried. He’s not the one who took the source photos to begin with. Google did. He’s just doubling down on the capitalistic land grab. If the suckers didn’t know Google stole their “image”, how will they ever afford the plane ticket and admission fee to go see the prints on the wall at MOMA? (Or for free at Yossi Milo, through November 24)

The answer is, of course, they won’t. This is smart work, and Mr. Rickard is a smart artist. He knows his pictures won’t change a damn thing about poverty in America, and he also knows that none of his subjects are ever likely to even hear about his project. Most of them might not even have access to the Internet.

It’s a dirty, wicked system. Some folks are born with money, get a great education, live in city sky-scrapers, and travel the world. Other folks live in middle-class suburbs, inured from the “fear” of gang violence, but engaged in more-than-ever-before diverse communities. And some folks just get the shit end of the stick. Like I said, difficult art for a difficult situation.

Bottom Line: Smart and well-conceived, but you might not like it

To purchase “A New American Picture” visit Photo-Eye

Full Disclosure: Books are provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.

Books are found in the bookstore and submissions are not accepted.


The Daily Edit – Friday

- - The Daily Edit

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Design Director: Fred Woodward
Creative Director: Jim Moore
Director of Photography: Dora Somosi
Senior Photo Editor: Krista Prestek
Photo Editor: Justin O’Neil
Art Director: Chelsea Cardinal 

Photographer: Nathaniel Goldberg

Note: Content for The Daily Edit is found on the newsstands. Submissions are not accepted