I’ve joined The Great Resignation.
I’m guessing the news won’t come as a shock, as I announced this summer the column was being scaled back to 2x a month.
That one was on Rob Haggart, who hosts my blog here at APE. (And I understood his position, given the changed nature of the photo industry.)
But this was on me, and as I quit a month ago, I’ve been sitting on the news, waiting for the right moment.
(Which is now.)
Along the journey, I was a blogger at the New York Times for 6 years, (which I might have mentioned 1000 times,) but I also tried it out with The New Yorker, Vice, Hyperallergic, and The New Republic.
Nothing else fit right.
So the fact I began writing here in 2010, and am finally ready to go, (nearly 13 years later,) speaks to the quality of the situation I had.
APE was my goldilocks gig.
But once the weekly-column-spell was broken, (and I spent all summer reminiscing,) in early November, I felt ready for a different challenge.
So I gave notice.
And here we are…
Certainly, I’ve changed styles over the years, while hopefully presenting a consistent voice.
We covered photo books, portfolio reviews, art exhibitions, restaurants, toured cities, interviewed artists, and so much more, all to the tune of 600+ articles.
(That’s a damn good run, by anyone’s definition.)
I might want to write a book.
Or a movie.
Pitch a show to Netflix?
Open a martial arts dojo?
This fall, I did my first large-scale, independent photo/writing journalism, (for HuffPost,) and loved every minute of it. (The story will be out soon.)
Seriously, it was the funnest job I’ve ever had!
So that’s a start.
Or a direction, anyway.
And if I’ve learned anything as a full-time, freelance creative over 22 years, you have to trust your instincts, and be willing to step out there, not knowing what comes next.
(Exciting is just another word for scary, after all.)
Wrapping things up, though, after this long, can take a bit of doing.
I’ve previously promised articles about three portfolio review festivals, (Medium, Filter and PhotoNOLA,) and am sitting on a big inventory of books people sent, hoping for a review.
(The famed book stack.)
So starting today, we’re on the final countdown.
I’ll begin with the best work I saw at the 2022 Medium Festival of Photography, in San Diego, and we’ll end my time here over the next four columns.
(Making today the first of JB’s Final Five.)
As has always been the case, I won’t show the artists below in any particular order.
They come from different backgrounds and areas of the photo industry, but all these nice folks bared their souls last May, when they put their work out there for critical and public reception.
I sincerely thank these artists, and the hundreds of others who shared their pictures with you over the years, because they first shared them with me at a photo festival.
Anh-Thuy is originally from Vietnam, but teaches in Tucson, after getting an MFA from SMU in Dallas. (Have you got that straight?) She studied with a good friend of mind down there, Debora Hunter, and I was super-impressed by ATN’s art practice, which includes video, performance, sculpture, photography, and food.
Brendan is English, but lives with his wife, Carmen, in Mexico City. (The series is titled after her.) Carmen suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, which afflicts many people, but is not well known. As Brendan and Carmen were cooped up during Covid, they made a project together in her honor.
Rainer is from Austria, and his wife is from Ireland, but they live with their two children in Topanga Canyon, outside LA. We hit it off, and chatted NFT’s, (as it was shortly after my NFT article dropped here,) and Rainer has had some serious success in the field, if I understand things correctly. That said, he showed me images shot from his favorite beach, where Topanga meets the sea, and they’re seriously gorgeous.
Oriana is a classic Californian, based in La Jolla, and seems like the type of character someone would invent, if they wanted a cover for a female James Bond, or Indiana Jones. (I’m not kidding.) In addition to being a talented artist, she’s also a marine scientist, trained at Princeton, and scuba dives deep down into the ocean, to study kelp forests and other creatures. During her forays, she makes images which become cyanotype prints. Just remarkable stuff!
Perry is based in Santa Barbara, and he and I had the inevitable talk about taste. I wanted to know if he was in on the joke, and realized these pictures are about as tacky/kitschy as it gets. He loves working this way, and knows the pictures are bonkers, so really, I’m down with it. Self-aware and weird-as-shit is fine by me!
David was in from the East Coast, and showed me some images made in an abandoned house. But really, it wasn’t the exact story of a dilapidated, haunted structure, but rather he knows the owner, and they let him in. That’s a bit different, and the awkward feeling extends to the black and white prints, which I thought were really well made.
Robert had a bunch of small projects, and when I just went to his website, I remembered I liked his color diptychs. But this group below is also very cool, as the textures and tonality are strong. This micro edit is almost creepy, if you ask me. (Then again, I edited it.)
Last but not least we have Alexander, who had a really odd, but very cool project. Though he’s not Jewish himself, Alexander learned of a tradition in which physical boundaries are created by string, to cheat the Sabbath rules for Orthodox Jews. It’s called an Eruv. So he photographed these lines around LA, which are otherwise totally unseen by the outside world. Love it!
Hope all is well, and see you in two weeks.