Thursday, March 27, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008


Saturday I took my kids to get their hair cut at a kid's only hair salon. Leafing thru RADAR magazine I come across one of my images used in context...I kind of forgot this ever was purchased from me, for some reason I thought the magazine went under or something, but here it is. Without really bothering to explain, I ask the woman cutting my son's hair if I can rip this page out to share with y'all. This is it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Olivier Laude Interview

When I first moved to SF I somehow got myself invited to a party of SF editorial photographers. I guess my plan was to ingratiate myself to them, appropriate all of their clients, and then launch my career, and it was all to take place at this party. There was this dude in the kitchen who was holding court, spouting frustrated yet intelligent observations about the industry and essentially commenting on how moronic the whole business was. He said he was a documentary photographer. He was pure acid, but then his wife would come by and kind of laugh and make everything seem ok. This was my first introduction to Olivier Laude.

A few years later Laude tried to make a push into the world of advertising photography. In an attempt to create advertising work, Laude began creating a body of work that really had nothing to do with advertising, but solidly found his voice and his own way of making photographs. Out of default, he created the defining work of his career. That work can be seen HERE.

It was clear to me that O.L. could not really steer his vision. It was strong and it was coming out and he really wasn't willing to get in it's way. At the time I was trying to push the Sex Machine work, trying to get a book deal, trying to get it in front of people. I looked at a bunch of Olivier's work, asked him why he wasn't trying to push it harder down everyone's throat, and he explained that it is really just nice to be working without outside pressure. It's nice to just create. His sentiments made me feel like a shameless climber.

So, just thought we'd do a quick Q and A with Laude, to see what is up with his blog "Dear Leader". Like many things, its just never simple. As Laude explains : I think I struggled too much with this one for it to be good. I just don't enjoy talking about myself...

None the less, it is an interesting view into his brain. started blogging, got an audience, then pulled the plug. Why?

Firstly: I have not pulled the plug per say, anyone who asks will get a password unless they all apply at the same time and on the same day.

In a nutshell, I felt that I was censoring myself and that the quality was starting to suffer.
Secundely: I am going to try to write a poorly written book. I have no real intentions of becoming an author, but figured that it might not be a bad idea to give it a shot, just to see if I can do it.
Ever since last April when I began blogging, I was happy to discover that I could write on a daily basis, consistently and somewhat well.... and so I think, and so it goes, and one gets illusions of grande oeuvre.
Except that there are people, like you, who think me "un-comprehensible". You obviously wouldn't be part of my readership, as it is mostly comprised of 18 to 44 year olds and whose exceptional income, higher education and family fortunes have provided me with ample time and monstrous amounts of capital to lavish and subsequently serve, further, refine and aggrandize childhood dreams of martyrdom.
Thircundely: It is only by hiding behind a firewall that I may truly give free rein to my vilest and most profoundly disturbing instincts. Short teaser clips will be made available for download.

Having known you over the years, the one thing I can say is that you are very consistent. Your art is as hard to "get" as your personality is. When you started blogging, the posts were obviously intelligent, but also typically un-comprehensible. Yet, the audience embraced you. Were you surprised you had a readership?

I don't think I ever really thought about that too much. Those are your perceptions, as I do not see myself as incomprehensible, but understand where you are coming from. In many ways my entries were reflective of how my mind generally works. It serves to demonstrate what goes on when I am alone, skimming that sugary scum and off that tub of condensed milk, and which I am proud to call: " Thy-Home-Office".
The older I get, the more jumbled and unintelligible I become, which can only mean one or two things: That I am being personable, or that I am being myself, without realizing that the consequences of said ruminations are incomprehensible and unintelligible to others; abrogating any future profits from those "mostly comprised of 18 to 44 year olds and whose exceptional income, higher education and family fortunes have provided me with ample time and monstrous amounts of capital to lavish and subsequently serve, further, refine and aggrandize childhood dreams of martyrdom".

I am by no means disconnected from the world, but the minute I sit down to write or pronounce my eternal and monastic dominion over my photographic "Oeuvre", my conscious efforts at maintaining a respectable and civilized facade falls off and with it, it is escapism I embrace.

Do you think your audience understood what you were talking about, or were they just going along with you to appear cool?
Those would be rather contrived, convoluted and lengthy ways to project an appearance of "coolness". Maybe when I was thirteen I may have wanted this affectation projected onto my equally miserable scholastic companions. And, if I remember correctly, it was only meant to awkwardly impress upon some fictitious female companion that she would have been better off had she agreed to dispense with those vividly imagined candy red French under-garments.
I am sure that those results will be remarkably similar to my other efforts, which is to say, chaotic and unpredictable. But as long as I am cool or perceived as such by those school yard coeds, I am willing to continue surviving exclusively on a diet of cream of wheat and "Lite Water".
I always figure my audience is all photographers. Who did you think was your readership?

I have no real idea as to whom my audience is, but as I have already mentioned it would stand to reason that since I am a photographer, and that I am somehow linked to and feted by other photographers, that sadly my readership would chiefly be composed of photographers.

Ok, so you have bailed. What is the future of this blogging thing? What is next for OL?

I would not mind getting a private pilot's license, and/or travel back in time to that fateful day in 83 and rob you of your identity, and/or father the most perfect love-ghost-child with "Mumzy", Eleanor Roosevelt's famed bookie, bitch, and American Pitbull Terrier, and/or compile my personal field collection of African cricket sneezes and make it available on-line, and/or expose myself fully to Holland America cruise directors, and/or backstage to "Cirque du Soleil" funambulists..... as I cunningly and craftily understand that performers are not swiftly or easily able to separate reality from common fantasy.

all photographs by olivier laude

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rules of the Blogosphere

1. Remember that this is wide open territory. It is uncharted. Simply by doing, you become a player.
2. If hits are down, controversy helps greatly.
3. Grab what you can.
4. Seniority means nothing.
5. Keep self promotion to a minimum.
First, there was Conscientious. Then, we had Alec Soth's Blog. They are great in a going-to-grad-school kind of way. Then, Whats The Jackanory came on the scene, kind of like a Village Voice for the working editorial photography community. A Photo Editor anonymously sprang up, and hit the jackpot. Then Bitter Photographer came on the scene, quickly achieving air superiority with a few targeted posts and ruining it for everyone...or making every one's day.
Now, PhotoShelter has tried to drop the bomb hiring Rachel Hulin to blog full time with Shoot The Blog. Lot's of talk last week with her very first post. Two photographers told me she was "hot", 3 told me she seemed "really smart". Everyone has their priorities.

Now the blog is rolling and Hulin reports she is having a blast...and it shows. RH's voice amidst the thing is right on. She brings you in the club, welcomes you as a member, and makes you feel like we are all in this together. And, of course, she has nothing to promote, no real agenda, unlike blogs such as mine. Bookmark this thing HERE.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tokyo Calling

I always resented my friend Mark Richards' book Core Memory. While I criss crossed the country for two years attempting to get the inventors to open their lives and homes to me for my book, MR simply cruised down the 101 to Mountain View, CA and shot his entire book in a few days. WTF? And...of course, it sold like crazy. Now, out in Japan, MR is in Tokyo lecturing about the thing and sending forth transmissions from planet Japan, above. See the Japanese version of Core Memory below.
In Japan, buy it here...

photographs by Mark Richards

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I Like To Tell Stories Redux

I said it before, but it's only gotten better. I Like To Tell Stories is the most satisfying word and image combination in the blogosphere today. At it's best, it is like reading Raymond Carver, but with photographs. Here are links to four special stories, be careful not to cry:

photographs by jonathan saunders

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

Manufactured Landscapes / Edward Burtynsky

MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES is the striking new documentary on the world and work of renowned artist Edward Burtynsky. Internationally acclaimed for his large-scale photographs of “manufactured landscapes”—quarries, recycling yards, factories, mines and dams—Burtynsky creates stunningly beautiful art from civilization’s materials and debris. The film follows him through China, as he shoots the evidence and effects of that country’s massive industrial revolution.- Zeitgeist Films

Friday night I rented this documentary and watched it at home. My wife loved it, felt it had an important message about man's impact on the environment, and was really taken by EB's photographs. I felt differently: if I ever wanted to make photography seem boring to a bunch of students, to discourage them from getting into the field, this is the film I would show them.

The DVD seemed like a promotional handout that would be given to collectors interested in purchasing E.B.'s work. In the same way that people who purchase a Toyota Prius now feel like they've done some good, this film seemed to try to encourage buyers that E.B. really cares, that this work is important, that the planet will be saved. we explore the DVD extras, Al Gore is chiming in on one of the segments. WTF??? His inclusion on this film was so expected, so calculated, any thinking viewer saw it coming.

And who is this guy they keep showing, standing behind a view camera? He kind of looks like he could be an attorney for the Sierra Club. Oh, that's Burtynsky. Calm, professional, calculated, and at the top of his game, no question. Seems like a great guy, but after seeing the emotional exhibitionism of Tierney Gearon in the film The Mother Project, E.B. is just boring as he spouts vague platitudes about man and his impact on the environment.

E.B. points his camera at some interesting stuff, but it is all so clinical and un-emotional, that I feel the need to critique it. Richard Misrach, by comparison, touches on similar subject matter that seems to consistently deliver an emotional blow....even when you think you've seen it all, such as in his recent project "On The Beach".

Film maker Jennifer Baichwal did a great job creating a film version of the kind of quiet power that E.B.'s photographs carry. Baichwal hit a home run with her previous film about Shelby Lee Adams titled THE TRUE MEANING OF PICTURES. That film wrestled with the issues of a photographer's right to show what he wants to show amidst accusations of exploitation. The film transcended its subject matter and could be discussed for days. Manufactured Landscapes has the vibe of an a vanity project funded by the artist to help sell his already very marketable product to a larger audience.

So...why do I hate on this film? Is it because E.B. is so popular and successful? Maybe. But I think there is this feeling of liberation that comes when you see a person so deeply invested in their art, instilling their photographs with all the weirdness they have in themselves, and just being honest about it all and mixing it all up together. E.B. didn't have that...he seemed so detached, like he could have been doing any number of things successfully for a living but just happened to choose photography. Well...what's the problem with that?
I think it just comes down to a revelation about my personal taste. I like looking at weird photographs done by unusual people. Is that O.K. to admit?

100 Pennies

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Jack Pam from Australia

Australian film maker and photography curator Jack Pam parks in my driveway in an old Honda Civic. He rings the doorbell, my wife and son Wilson answer and let him in. He wants to talk to photographers featured in the forthcoming anthology Hijacked - Vol1. New Australian and American Photography that is coming out in April. At first I thought maybe I should have him meet me at some hipster coffee house in SF, like, say RITUAL or something like that, where I'd be surrounded by urban childless scene-sters. He'd be fooled into thinking my life was really like that, I'd gain some art-cred, and we'd all be good. The veil would never have been lifted. Whew.
Inspired by the emotional honesty depicted in the Tierney Gearon film, I think it best for him to meet me at home. The chaos: the laundry, diapers, silverware on a bookcase, a deflated jumpy thing sits in the corner. The kids come in an out, Eli is making electronic noises, Wilson is talking like a robot. My wife is getting frustrated with Wilson and he breaks down crying. Eli immediately begins taunting him. Jack tries to ignore the chaos and proceed.
JP:What is up with couches?
TA:Yes, we have two of them, one in front of the other.
TA:Oh, the kids were making a fort or something.
Jack references the suburban living rooms and kitchens depicted in Sex Machines and chooses our living room as his staging area. We discuss what ever Sex Machines was supposed to be about, and then dig into the new project, Weird Pictures Of My Kid. Jack tells me his dad, Max Pam, a mega photographer out of Australia, has shot him so much over the years that he'd be recognized at art openings by gallery attendees.
Oh...was that the reason for this meeting? Adult child of a photographer comes by to try to understand the work of another photographer who is photographing his child? Is he building a case against me? Ready to punish me for photographing my kid, exploiting my kid, just as was done to him?
No, it doesn't seem that way, he never pounces...and he just seems to approve. He leaves me with this observation:
Oh, I see. "Sex Machines" was not emotional, it was really about the information. This new project seems to be about the emotion, and the information, the literal stuff, seems to be secondary. Would you agree?
I kind of think I do agree. At least for now.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Nobody Is Blogging.

Lots of quiet photo blogs, including mine this week....but lots of blogs are sprouting up everywhere, and pretty soon WalMart or Microsoft will control all of these things, so enjoy them while you can. Tidepool Reps have a blog, you can read it HERE. When these reps have a blog, you gotta be carefull you are not being sold something when you log on, but these Tidepool folks are pretty innocent. Take note of the first post, referencing a trip to the zoo.

Then....PhotoShelter, an all powerfull entity that I've never been able to truly understand, has hired Rachel Hulin as a full time photo blogger. I met Rachel when she used to edit all those filthy images at NERVE. Is this the first full-time photo blogger in the history of photography? Notify Beaumont Newhall asap. I think RH is working on something with all of us here at TA ( well, just me ) , so stay tuned to the launch of the Photo Shelter Blog.