Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tierney Gearon: The Mother Project

Last night we watched the documentary by Peter Sutherland and Jack Youngelson called Tierney Gearon : The Mother Project. I was bracing myself for a freakshow about emotional exhibitionists and I was proven wrong. This was an absolutely inspiring film for any photographer tapped into the complexities of photographing family. Gearon granted the film makers what seems to be total access to her and her family as she is working on a project about her mother. We see her juggling her newborn baby, directing her mom, and parenting her older kids all while she is making photographs that end up being the real "keepers" of the project. For anyone who is raising kids and trying to photograph them, Gearon's behavior and intensity just seemed to ring true: this isn't a photographer on an ad job where everything is taken care of, this is a woman handling all the roles of her life at the same time: mom, daughter, artist, provider, caretaker...all of these things, and doing it while a film crew is present.

The thing that makes Gearon's work so great, and I now do think it is great, is that she really allows a full range of emotions to come thru in her work. People tend to focus on the weird shots, of which there are many: kids in masks, kids peeing, lots of nudity involving people of every age, an emotional needy-ness between the adults as the kids just seem oblivious. But Gearon can also deliver the touching and beautiful moments that even the most un-savy viewer would think was moving: her nine year old boy holding the newborn in biblical light, her mom smiling at her in a moment of clarity, pride and confidence. The real moments round the project out and anchor all of the weirdness. But no question, the wierd shots and the touching shots seem to work in harmony to create this emotional punch.

all photographs by Tierney Gearon

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Satin Satan in Chicago

So there is this guy, I think he goes to the Art Institute of Chicago, and he's really into being like a thinking person's photographer in this My Space era. Part Lee Friedlander, part Insane Clown Posse, part high school wrestler, part Walker Evans, all mixed in with flickr and My Space and hot chicks photographing themselves in the mirror for their page. That is his aesthetic.
Know that guy?
That guy is Brad Troemel, curator of the Fun Gun exhibition opening February 16th at Satin Satan Gallery in Chicago.

He describes the exhibition as such:
Satin Satan's next show, "Fun Gun", features photographs which are both visually playful and hint at more serious ideas. This exhibit can be enjoyable to look at for someone who isn't art educated or it can be an intellectual thriller for the skinny jeaned type. My aims for this gallery in a broader sense are to pair talented up-and-comers with established champions of art. I also want to give Chicago a place to look at great work and meet other people. Peoria Street galleries are funerals and I want Satin Satan to be drunk and full of life, you know, the Irish kind of funeral.

Wow. I don't know what to say. Is this the future of art? Do a keg stand for the medium, get drunk on photography? Mark your calendars, get a babysitter, book your flights, google these artists. The show opens on February 16th.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ghost Print

Spent the morning making this print from my current project at a new lab in SF for the upcoming group show at Satin Satan gallery in Chicago. More on Satin Satan and the show in a forthcoming post, cuz there are all sorts of great photogs in the show, including Jennifer Juniper Stratford, etc...
So what's this work all mean? I dunno. Lots of great interpretations can be found in the responses on this blog, and I'm open to all of them. My wife ( CS ) was looking thru the prints last night:
CS: You know, these images you are making, they aren't really about Eli. They are kind of about something else. Like you are trying to neutralize him in the shots. We never see his face, he's hidden and cryptic.
TA: Yeah, I know what you mean. He's always seeming spacey and isolated, not really as mischievous and amped up as he is in the day to day. I think he's more like an actor in these things, and we're using what he's like to direct the shots.
CS: Hmmm. I like the ghost print.
TA: Cool, me too. I have one for us, we can hang it in our bedroom if you'd like.
CS: Ugh. No, not our bedroom. Just too emotionally dark or something.
TA: I hear ya.
So, I dunno, but that all seems accurate. Right now I can't really explain how exciting it is to show this work, share it, just to see if people are getting it. And if they are getting it, its great to find out just what are they getting from it, because I don't really know myself.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bloodbath 2

Kind of a challenging week this week past was: trying to wrap up the tedious production details on the physical portfolios Tidepool needs for going on the road, doing a shoot at a muddy power plant and then dealing with a babysitter who resigned after one day spent with my two boys. The email she sent to us was a keeper and will be memorable, but is disturbing when taken out of context:

At one point Eli went to the kitchen and got a fork and came after me with it and said he was going to kill me. Now I know you said that them talking about killing is something new, but I do not like it.


All of that aside, the week was made better by the arrival of this big and beautiful print, above, as a result of a complex series of trades, from nyc photographer Sarah Small.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Work In Progress 2007-2008

I finally got organized and collected the images from the project I have been working on during the life of this blog HERE. Go see them and see what you think. Mixed emotions when I saw them all together. The thrill of creating the photographs and doing the scans, trying to make sense and order of all of this stuff that comes thru the house and our lives so rapidly seemed to carry the project. Seeing it all together I have to wonder: Is this too limiting? Does this work for anyone? Is it really the same shot and the same emotion over and over? I don't know, but seeing the work together helps to raise these questions. To me it looks like a chapter, but I don't know how to take it further.

Then this morning I got a note that I think is encouraging from a blog reader in response to an older post/image titled "White Glue, Plastic Eyes, White Paper":

I have to agree with another writer: "the photographs are of a child and are indicative of that sporadic and sometimes spastic realm of childhood creativity."

Not only that, but if your child displays questionable behavior, be it autistic or something suggesting such, then the quirkiness and randomness of the photos only adds one more dimension to your project; a puzzle of sorts, and a deeper meaning behind the image. The title of said project is "Weird Pictures of My Kid." And you can't create a project with this title if at least SOME of the pictures aren't weird, or "off", or just a bit out of the ordinary.

Childhood is not linear and concrete by any means. Rather it is randomly abstract, with priceless moments thrown in for good measure, just to keep things from becoming too ordinary. There's plenty of time for that whenever it is we decide to grow up. :) So keep capturing those quirky moments, and random bits of life (and stickers and glue and glitter and eyeballs) and keep sharing.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Optimus Prime

Go ahead, push the button.
I can't find it. Its not doing anything.
It's time to stop Decepticons.
Try it again. I can't get it.
Megatron will be defeated.
Can you find Zorg? There is Zorg, they call him Zurg.
Will it say "Prepare to Die." ? Can you make it say " Prepare to Die. "?
We're not buying anything that says that, you know.
I know.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Photographs Not Taken

Will Steacy approached me sometime in the middle of the summer about writing an essay for a project he is working on titled The Photographs Not Taken. Of course, without a deadline, this stuff never gets done. Got a note from him back in December as my personal and occupational Guernica is at it's peak, with word that we have a needs to be done by the year's end. OMG, WTF?

Photog's live by deadlines, so here we go, next thing you know it's done and now gathered.

Artists contributing to this project include Alec Soth , Amy Elkins, Amy Stein, Andrew Moore , Benjamin Donaldson , Brian Ulrich , Chris Jordan , Christian Patterson , Debbie Fleming Caffery , Eirik Johnson, Elinor Carucci , Grant Willing , John Movius , Laura McPhee , Lewis Watts , Lisa Kereszi , Matt Salacuse , Michael Harlan Turkell , Misty Keasler , Nina Berman, Peter Riesett , Rachael Dunville , Rian Dundon , Simon Roberts , Tim Davis, Timothy Archibald , and Todd Deutsch.

Spend some time digging in ...I think you'll be moved by these stories from all these folks below. The site for the project with all of the essays is HERE. Read my essay, circa 1984 HERE, and see below photograph for reference.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Victor Conte & Veronica Conte

This is the future of magazine journalism: shoot the story on a Saturday, see it online layed out like a magazine on Wednesday nite, all jpegs and pixels and ....well, I guess this has been going on for a while now, huh?
This story just came together especially quickly and really ended up with some great design.
Read and see it all HERE.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Foggy Morning With Smiley and Antennae

Still trying to do something with this sheet of paper, obviously.
Don't know if these two pair off, but I think the shot of my son in the street fits the feeling of this project. Don't really think of this as a diptych, as much as a book that will have facing pages or a series of images lined up next to each a sentence.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bloggy Review


I essentially started this blog to promote my commercial photography career, and kind of disguise all the promotion by showing other curious photographers work that I was discovering, and then sharing new projects I was trying to dabble in and get off the ground. What was the idea. I hoped that photo editors would like to see the photogs I was writing about, they'd like to see my new work, and then they would stomach all the self promotional stuff that I wedged in the middle. Sound fair?

It evolved into an odd combination of all of that, as well as an excuse to share and solidify the new personal project I'm working on, tentatively titled "Weird Pictures of My Kid", which are the photographs and scans done over 2007 that kind of reflect on the journey that we've been on while trying to diagnose our eldest son. The doctors say he is Autistic, we think sometimes he is just mischievous and creative. None the less, that situation is fueling that project and directing the images.

The way it has evolved is that the blog audience seems to like engaging with "WPOMK", and then simply tolerates all the embarrassing self promotion I engage in. Hmmm...I guess magazines have ads that we all tolerate, so...this is like that, huh?

A great blog that I'm way into now and reads like a great photo magazine is Colin Pantall's blog.
Bookmark this thing: It's what I'd want my blog to be like if I was just more....pure or something. Check it out and engage with the conversation. There is a thread that Pantall's writing is following, from project to project, and its competing with Conscientious for my serious blog time reading. Check it out HERE. last commercial plug for a are some shots from the fat photoshoot we wedged in after case y'all were curious:

Monday, January 14, 2008

Out Take / ESPN


I got to spend a great few days this past weekend with Victor Conte of BALCO fame and his daughter Veronica for a project we were working on for ESPN. Home-made brownies? A truck full of hay? Costumes from the 18th century? And what is the big deal with flaxseed oil...why does everyone think that is just so funny?

I dunno, I just push the button. But sometimes, as I've said before, this really is just so much fun. I got a picture for myself out of this as well, above, which always feels good.

Friday, January 11, 2008

While Reading About Britney

Oh, and then, while in the supermarket reading about Britney in People, I came across our other M&M ad, wedged between tales of Britney's breakdown and the "Who Wore It Best?" section.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dr. Phil

Dr. Phil has been in the news this week.

What better time than share with y'all the Dr. Phil / M&M ad we shot back in November?

From The Associated Press:

Dr. Phil's planned sitdown Monday with Britney Spears' parents dissolved into accusations he was exploiting the troubled singer's emotional crackup.

The TV host insisted he canceled the taping with Jamie and Lynne Spears "because the Spears situation is too intense at this time, and out of consideration to the family."

The show was to air Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Communication Breakdown

Just cleaning off my desktop for the start of the new year and wanted to post some of these commercial and editorial things I've been working on, now finally published. Wait a minute...I came here for stickers, weird kid photos, scans of body parts...where are they? Sorry blog readers, I gotta make a living, here is a peak into some of that work:

Brenda Milis, PE for Men's Health commissioned these photo illustrations with the working title "Communication Breakdown". I read the story, did a brief sketch, below, and then got the go-ahead to put together the shots. Super simple but brilliant props created by Amos Styles.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Wacky Packages

Funny sticker someone gave to my kids:

Saturday, January 5, 2008


We spent the holiday in the desert.