Tag Archives | famous photographers

Showtime…

We hung the student show today at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts, here on Paros.  It is a very pretty show with a wide assortment of photography, painting, printmaking and drawing.  The vocal ensemble had their first concert last night in Naoussa and will have two more this weekend.  Overall I have a had an excellent time here this arm and am looking forward to being back here in about three months.  My photography has improved and I have also gained a little more patience with the younger students.  While I am no smarter than they are, I have experienced more of the world so I am perhaps a little wiser. Perhaps.

In the past few days I have thought a lot about what I will be doing next year while I am here.  Yes, my own photography certainly, but also the work with the director and painting in the spring.  On top of that I feel that it is time to begin work on my own book, probably in the format pioneered by Wright Morris and Andre Kertesz, the photo-text.  In this format the images on the page do not have to directly correspond to the text but by the end of the reading they have made sense as an accompaniment to the reading.  I have many other ideas but I will not share them lest I talk myself dry of the concept.

I have begun packing my stuff and will begin putting it in storage tomorrow.  I have to conduct the inventory of the darkroom supplies and print some last few pieces.  After that I head to Athens on Monday and back to New York Thursday.   Christmas, New Years, my birthday and then back here.  Time flies indeed.

JDCM

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4×5 work, landscape portraiture, good weather and bad…

Much has happened since my last post.  The figure study project I had been working on came to naught, both by my hand and outside forces.  Thankfully I have the knowledge that I cancelled the shoots due to artistic apathy and ennui before there were complaints from some parents about “possible improprieties” in the studio.  Although the models are all over 18 and therefore legally able to make up their own minds (and vote and die for their country) whether to pose nude or semi-nude  and that there has never been any complaints or actual difficulties is apparently besides the point.  I was told that I should stop the project. Like I said I am happy that I decided to end it before I heard that news.  What’s over and one with is just that.  I must admit however that these revelations left me feeling as if my integrity and honor as a man and a photographer had been questioned when really it is a matter of politics for the Center and the director.  Once again art and politics clash and the outcome is predictable.

My new work is exclusively 4×5 film, scanning them in the digital lab and then working on them in RAW, PhotoShop and finally printing them on one of the big Epsons.  The large format camera is a steep learning curve itself.  So far I am achieving some lovely results.  The portfolio will be a series of’ “Paros Portraits-People, Places and Things.”  I am taking my time with this, although the actual time is limited.  12 pieces need to be finished by December 7th.  The same holds true for my darkroom work–12 pieces of MF based on the Italian session and these also have to be matted–all by   December 7th.  The student show is the 9th and I leave Paros on the 12th to return to the USA on the 15th.

The weather has been up and down.  Cool at night, dry and sunny during the day with a north wind that whips all the warmth from the stones.  We are expecting tough weather this weekend with rain, Force 9 winds and temperatures in the low 40s F.

There are other things to blog about but as of now they are vague.  When I can speak of them with surety, I will.  Right now, mums the word!

JDCM

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Athens greeted me with cool rain and grey eyes…

If I stand on the balcony of my hotel room and look to the left I see the Acropolis and the Parthenon through a small canyon of more modern buildings.  I am back in Greece and I feel like I have never left.  I know the streets, the alleyways and the mood of the people.  It is still winter and the economy is in shambles, so they are very dark and full of woe–Wednesday’s Children one and all. 

I didn’t sleep on the flight from New York, so I hit the sack when I checked in to the Hotel Attallos, just off of the Monastiraki.  I slept for 6 hours then I went out for a coffee and met up with some Greek and ex-pat friends closer to the city center.  I came back, grabbed a gyro and hit the hay.  I have slept for another 4 hours and am now wide awake at 1:40 in the morning.  No worries.  I am in town for another day so I can use that time to re-aquaint myself with a museum or two.  I need to buy my boat ticket for Friday also.  I am meeting up with some returning students today and we’ll all go to Paros Friday morning. 

I have an idea for a photo shoot based on the pre-Olympian gods, the Titans.  It might make for interesting subjects for carbon printing or at least large format printing.  I invision Edward Steichen’s images of sculptor Auguste Rodin and I see gods and goddesses in his place…

More to come,

JDCM

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Will I or won’t I…?

I had a great meeting with a commercial photographer near where I live the other day.  he is a real pro and his work is lovely. So far no call back and he promised to introduce me to a small round-table of photographers in the area who meet occasionally.  So far nix on that as well.  So will I or won’t I be working with him?  I have no idea.

I am writing up my evaluation forms for SUNY ESC so I can get credit for my work at the Aegean Center for the FIne Arts, on Paros.  We’ll see.  I have had very little luck with the ESC people since they changed  their tune and became a place for adults moving up the management ladder.  When I first went there, it was all about learning.  Now it seems to be about increasing the global cache of the place while taking in the dough.  Maybe I’m wrong, but the level of bureaucracy has grown and that almost always means more administration who need to put things in neat little pigeon-holes and fewer teachers who can think outside the box.

We shall see…

JDCM

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One week and I’m off…

I am beginning to feel the tug and draw of the traveling jones.  I fly from JFK next Tuesday, non-stop to Athens and my next great adventure.  I have been reading a lot of photographic philosophy on the Webb’s photo blog and this is all good food for thought.  Things I need to remember–the sudden flow of geometry, the instance of emotional capture in the viewfinder and a need for patience.  I need to wait and see what happens.  I need to relax.  I am pretty hyper.  There has been a lot on my mind lately that does not feel so good, mostly to do with family and their emotions.  Nothing I can do about that except step back and let things happen.

I would like to have at least three new prints to add to the portfolio I am bringing with me.  I have been taking pictures of the interior of my home–bureaus, mantles, doors, windows, clocks…all very intimate and full of humanity.  If I can glean something from them, I will be happy.  Then I can finish packing on Monday night and go to sleep knowing that all is taken care of and well in hand during my absence.

I purchased another digital camera.  I decided to bring my 50D with me so I needed a smaller digital point-and-shoot for street work.  I chose the Canon G11.  It’s a great compliment to the Voigtlander, I feel.  I like that I can shoot in full manual and adjust my shutter and aperture like the Rebel.  I can also adjust the film speed from 80 to 3200ISO.  It fits in the palm of my hand.  Lovely, and not too dear.

More to come…canon_g11_front1JDCM

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Some news on the front…

…and a photograph or two.

I have been accepted to the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts for the spring 2010 semester.  This is quite an honor and it will be an exhilarating and difficult three months, effectively finishing my BA in style.  To celebrate this occasion, I have purchased a new film rangefinder, a Voigtlander R4M with a 35mm lens.  This is a significant upgrade from the little Canon QL17 I have been using for a while.  I leave for Greece at the beginning of March and will return at the beginning of June.

I have also set up a full darkroom in the house.  I have a large extra room with an adjoining bathroom that I have blacked out with curtains–very dark indeed.  I have great new, used Metro-shelf worktables.  My good friend Bruce has sold me his Beseler 23C Series II enlarger with two lenses (50mm and 80mm) plus some other gear for about $100.  A real deal, IMHO.  I have been developing some film, but this weekend I will have all the supplies and stuff I need to start working with paper again.  Now I do not have to drive to use the darkroom, nor sit in a cold barn, or have my good friend Carol pay for heat when she doesn’t need to.  It’s a good thing all around.

Last week there was truck fire in the nearby town of Millerton, NY.  Serendipity was on my side and I was able to capture some dramatic shots.  Here is one them.  I will post another tomorrow.  I offered them to the local papers but they declined, using there own images instead.  Oh well.  Their loss.  The editor asked for me to stay in touch with anything I might have.  Right.  Not a chance.  This is not the first time they have given me the Bum’s Rush.

I went to Alex and Rebecca Norris Webb’s opening in NYC last week.  It was a lovely show and left me wanting more.  The Ricco Maresca Gallery highlighted their new, collaborative, book (a first for them) on Cuba called “Violet Isle.”  I was able to spend the day walking the streets of Manhattan, visiting museums, and practicing the craft.  A wonderful day.

JDCM

PS…Yes, I saw the Frank  and  Meyerowitz shows…Boffo!

Truck fire, Millerton, NY.  November 2009

Truck fire, Millerton, NY. November 2009

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Searching for Robert Frank…

I have just returned from a visit with my sister and her husband just outside Boston.  While I was there we were all able to meet up with my father at a bookstore in Cambridge where he and his wife gave a reading of some of their new work.  I took a couple of pictures, but felt very uncomfortable doing so.  After refection I discovered it wasn’t the act, but rather the subject.  There was nothing spontaneous and the observing seemed to draw the attention of my father, something I didn’t want.  In fact, he pointed it out to the small audience at one point–very off-putting. Our relationship is difficult.  His own narcissism has progressed as he has aged and he either contradicts what I say or disregards it.  If I think of him as an old man with difficulties and not my father I have a better relationship.

The Robert Frank show is up at the Metropolitan in NYC.  I have plans to go in later this month…I think on the 21st.  I hope to spend the day looking through the viewfinder and trying not to try too hard.  I’m lucky that I am an avid walker…The soles of my shoes are well worn.  I’ll stay out of the park: too much wide open space.

JDCM

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The last photography workshop…

I returned from Woodstock last night with a head full of new ideas and a renewed sense of direction.  It will take me a week to process what I have learned this weekend, but that’s alright.  The photographers who ran the workshop were Alex and Rebecca Norris Webb.  I was very impressed–by both their work and their attitudes.  There was none of the “famous photographer” feeling about them and I understood immediately that they work very hard at their craft and love it.  It reminded me of the Lao-Tse quote about finding a job you love and never having to work a day in your life.  I felt it through these two.  Their work speaks for itself.

Through these workshops I am letting go of much I have done in the past few years.  The images of the Roma that I have been carting about for a year-and-a-half are being shelved indefinitely.  My work with them as “documentary” pieces is finished.  What a relief.  I have to find a new space in which to see the world, and by that I mean finding a new perspective.  Alex’s eye has inspired me to see with a more searching heart and Rebecca’s from a fresher sense of the poetic nature that all visual circumstances embody.  They really opened themselves up an revealed themselves as human beings in search of an explanation, a charecteristic of artists in every genre.

So I have learned to see the human body as a portrait through Tanya Marcuse; to use the photographic image as a “literary” thread from Mary Ellen Mark; and the build on this “literary” photographic story-telling by challenging my eye to see from a more immediate, layered and emotional point-of-view.  That last one is from the Webbs, who, I feel, come to their art through compassion and a need for comprehension of their own place within the experience.

It’s all about people and intimacy for me.  The document is two-dimensional, although necessary for my own exercise.  Now I will search for something about the interior, without which the external image is merely a shell.

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Ambitious darkroom work…

Tomorrow I head back to Catskill and into the darkroom once again.  There is a feeling there of a lack of time, all that matters is the slowly spinning hand of the exposure clock as the image transfers through the lens, across the negative and onto the paper.  I am still using RC stock, but my real paper has finally arrived and, to my surprise, some of it is from Croatia.  I have both Grade 2 and 3.  I also have a pack of Grade 2 Ilford to compare.

I wish to make at least 4 exposures tomorrow (or five) so I can include them in the portfolio I am presenting to the Webbs this weekend in Woodstock.  These will be part of the “Wright Morris” project, a series of b/w and color pieces that have been inspired by Morris’ work during his travels through America.  They areBlue Wall an expression of sadness and light, whimsy and decay…In some cases the crumbling towers of old feed silos echo the mountain fortresses I have seen in my European travels, like ancient Byzantine strongholds plundered by warring tribes.  In others, like the image above, it is a memory of a previous rural life fast disappearing in the small New York county I live in.  In both cases the past is a reminder of the lack of permanence.  Time stands still for no one, even in the sensory deprivation tank of a darkroom.

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Finding another voice and darkroom work…

I have taken two workshops this summer so far.  The first, with Tanya Marcuse was great.  It was about working with the human body, as in nude studies and served me well.  I have not worked with formal models much and the experience taught me a great deal about the interaction of photographer and subject. There were four models each day, both men and women, of different ages.  Illuminating.  I have. posted a couple of images on my photo site, in the “humans” portfolio.

The second was a workshop with the photographer Mary Ellen Mark.  She is a legend in the community and her work speaks for itself.  The only drawback was that although she is a professional with years of experience, she is not the best teacher.  She treated everyone fairly, but I found that she fawned on one workshop attendee more than others.  Granted, this person’s work was lovely and moving. They both had a great deal in common and perhaps that was another reason, but I found the undue attention to be distracting.  Also unfortunately, due to a personal situation at home, I was not able to attend the shoot the next day at the Ulster County Fair.  Mary Ellen was gracious enough to let me still contribute four contact sheets for a post-class critique.  Those I have mailed off.  They are a continuance of work I have begun as homage to Wright Morris.  My photography instructor has told me she wants me to put together a book of images and writings on the subject, much like Morris did, by the way.  I think I will.  It may take some time, but good things always do.  I am eager to hear Mary Ellen’s thoughts.

I have officially become an addict of the developing process and the darkroom.  I am spending more time over in Catskill at the darkroom and more time in my kitchen developing film.  It is a real high to produce the result from start to finish.

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