Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Art For Obama 2008 Benefit Auction

Oh, did you hear the banks are failing? Stock Market crashing? At least this blogging thing is free and can keep all of the un-employed photographers amused while they surf the net. Maybe a new president can help this situation? It would be nice to see what Barack Obama could do.
The bidding starts Wednesday October 1st at 5pm.
Buy some art from these luminaries and move things in a positive direction!

More in at http://www.artforobama.net/

Monday, September 29, 2008

Self Google

photograph by Chase Allgood

Digging deep into the art of Self Googling this weekend...

It was nice to have Tony Fouhse acknowledge Thomas Broening and I in his "10 +" list on An Art Buyer...it's always nice to know you are not invisible. Reading that TB's "cockrocking" phrase has spread north into Canada was a real good sign for the power of photography and our national spirit. TB's blog is something I read every single day, but I always felt that his readers were kinda mean-spirited or something. Were they really all tech oriented dudes who subscribe to View Camera Magazine? And they always seemed so willing to take a stab at him over the smallest thing. It always seemed to me that my readers all had master's degrees at the very least. I don't have a master's degree in anything, but my readers all do seem to be smarter than me. For whatever reason, they all seem to be on their best behavior. Rarely is there a full on attack.

These are pleasures and terrors of Self-Googling. One of the most flattering thing I found Self Googling was this, by photographer Chase Allgood, back in July. I think it is a great photograph, and of course I am flattered by the reference. It is titled "Psychic Break".

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Isaac Leung / Lingnan University

On Friday Isaac Leung from the Lingnan University Department of Cultural Studies in Hong Kong flew to the states, arrived in San Francisco, rode BART to the El Cerrito Plaza Station and took a cab to my office in El Sobrante. He's working on his thesis. Somehow I figured into his project with the publication of "Sex Machines : Photographs and Interviews" that came out in 2006. It seemed like he had recieved some sort of funding for this research.
Before he booked the flight I got nervous and wrote him a note: Look, I need to be frank with you before you spend all of this time and energy coming out here. I'm simply this suburban-Dad type of guy who did this project on a subculture. I'm not part of any sexual scene out here. I have no machines. I'm a photographer and this is simply a project I did.
He seemed to understand and here he is, at my front door, smiling and gracious as he pays the turban-wearing cab driver and unloads his camera and gear into my house. His thesis? The title is "Queering Sex Machines: The Cultural Formation of Non-Normative Sexualities and Contemporary Technosexual Practices. "
As an interviewer, he's a pro and had done his homework. His questions were spot-on and made me think; he seemed to know all the characters in the book. With some apology, he asked the following question that really was a keeper. My only hope is that I remembered it correctly:
IL: So with the technological advances that are being made concerning the future of sex robots, are you optimistic about the future?
TA: The future of what?
IL: Optimistic about the future of our civilization. Do you feel that humans will continue to have sex with each other even when faced with a potentially perfect sex robot?
TA: Oh, I dunno. Do I really need to answer that?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Lost Continent at Todd/ Browning in LA

Just got this snapshot from the gallery director...there were four other artists in the show. The gallery promises to send some other shots so we can see the show in it's entirety....

The show is up until October 4th.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Late Afternoon

Late afternoon is when the electronic noises start. The sounds of an electric train accelerating and leaving the station, the sounds of an engine shifting into high gear, the beeping of a garbage truck when it is backing up. The sounds of a hydraulic lifting mechanism. The beeping of a microwave oven, but very, very loud.
TA: Can you make those noises any softer please?
EA: No, I can't. That is the the volume that the machine creates. It can not be turned down.
TA: Oh.
The electronic noises have been around since he was three. Later that year came the robotic voice: the voice that sounds as if it is a recorded message being spoken through a faulty static-filled public address system. Flat monotone, metallic sounding but still vocal, it is not a robot voice as much as a recorded anouncement, stated clearly and slowly. It usually begins with "May I have your attention please. All passengers..." and always ends with the words "Thank You" stated through the static.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pebble Beach / Snow White

Snow White Discovers The Cottage by Thomas Kinkade, 24 x 36
Every now and then you come across a curve ball that surprises you...out of nowhere...just when you thought you had made up your mind on an artist. I spent the weekend working on a project for StoryWorldwide set in Carmel, CA. The area is packed with art galleries of every sort...galleries on both sides of the street...galleries specializing in sculpture, landscapes, dancing sculptures, every niche you can imagine. To my uneducated eye it all looked like schlock- the stuff you'd find decorating a large hotel lobby or corporate building.

Ha, ha, ha...hey, lets go check out the Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery. Ahhh...I hate that guy's stuff. OMG...it is all so bad...and packed with people...!

Kincade's work has always been a reference point for me....I've never known why. I think that sometimes one just shouldn't ignore something that has achieved mass success...because there just might be something there. With Kincade, I never saw it, always mocked it. But this weekend I saw the above image " Snow White Discovers The Cottage , 24 x 36 " and just was moved by it. It's cartoony, its humorous, and sincere all at the same time. Epic in the way that all of Kinkade's work tries to be epic...and then there is this Disney character practically cut and pasted into the space. Here is what Kincade has to say:
...the prince's castle where Snow White will eventually discover happiness looms majestically in the distance, while a foaming waterfall and fanciful animals remind us that she is at peace with all of nature.
Does this statement help it or hurt it? Is it a sales pitch? I dunno...probably all of the above. For whatever reason, it all seems to carry a punch for me and it just feels good to look at it. Sometimes art can live in both worlds, sometimes it can really speak to everyone...though maybe for different reasons. We don't need to pretend we are too cool here....we can admit we haven't seen everything. Art sometimes delivers the goods despite itself. Click on the shot above, see it big, and see what you think...

TA photographing Pebble Beach / 17 Mile Drive 9/19/8

Friday, September 19, 2008

New Scientist / Seth Shostak

Curious time photographing Seth Shostak at SETI Institute with a hand-painted b-movie esque space scape for Kirstin Jennings and Adam Goff out in London at New Scientist Magazine.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Room With A View Redux

My son woke up at 2:00 am and told me he had thrown up in his bed. He did. I cleaned up his room and changed his clothes and he easily went back to sleep. The next morning I felt something was up. Something didn't feel right but it was very busy and I had to catch a flight to Las Vegas and couldn't concern myself with the details. The show must go on, right?
So we have Dramine and Extra Strength Tylenol and its all right here at the airport for me to grab. I gobble it all and its just not working. I'm shooting a story on a big deal chef out here, his time is valueable, and the budget is tight. I've hired a local assistant I didn't know. She meets me at the airport and I explain that I'm really hurting and she will need to kind of get everything in order as I just try to keep my head and stomach together. Please just drop me at the hotel, check me in and let me sit on the floor in the bathroom, ok?

HDTV in this beautiful hotel room has the banks collapsing. My blackberry is buzzing with the photo vultures watching every move of this Jill Greenberg/John McCain situation...her rep fired her!...they aren't gonna pay her!...I'm drawn to this stuff as much as it is repulsing me.

I wake up at midnight and empty my stomach. Fall asleep again. I wake again at 3:30 and do it again. I fall asleep again. Wake up at 6:30 to sunrise over the desert and distant Vegas strip. I feel it fading. Whatever it was has left.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Interview With Myself, Part 4

TA: Hey, check out these two retouched images from Echolilia I just got back. Laura Johnston did the post production on them.
Post production on your personal project? This isn't an ad shoot. Why did you do that?
TA: Just trying to make these gritty digital photographs look as beautiful as they can look...and take out some distracting stuff...while still looking real.
Beautiful? If you wanted that, why didn't you shoot it on film like everyone told you to?
TA: Oh, because I wanted to make the shots at blog speed and post 'em right away, be a blogstar, all of that. Nah...just kidding. It was part of the process- it allowed Eli and I to come up with the pose, shoot it, we'd both look at the shots, and then improvise from there. We needed that instant gratification to figure out how to make the shots better, or different, or figure out what would work together. And the with the scanner...it kind of worked in the same way. Just hard to hold an arm on the scanner still for 8 minutes, but sometimes it worked.
But now you are going back to fix everything? Struggling to make it look decent?
TA:Yes. But I did want this project to be made up of the consumer grade things around the house...and all the shots are from around the house, you know? Like a desktop scanner from Office Max, a consumer grade camera, prints from an inkjet printer, that type of thing. Do you buy that ?
Sorry, still no. But that was a good try.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jill Greenberg / John McCain

photographs above by Jill Greenberg

Ok...so Google "Jill Greenberg + John McCain" and you'll see what is going on. First it started with a story in PDN found HERE, and a response from The Atlantic...now the NY Post...what is next, a press conference at the United Nations? But JG is really going for it, not holding back, see it all HERE.

I love Greenberg's work done in the project End Times, and vividly recall staring at a giant print at Photo L.A. of a crying toddler and just thought it was breathtaking...like standing at the base of a giant canyon and being moved by it. But then...she had these titles with political overtones that just kind of took the work down a few i.q. points for me. I was confused. Why is this great photographer injecting politics into things whenever she can, to the detriment of the art? Pondering that work and this McCain situation, one can say that she is consistent.

No solid comment from me on the controversy about McCain, I'll leave that to everyone else in the world. But...we gotta remember, we are photographers often times paid for our viewpoints, and paid to have opinions. We are not camera operators. Just gotta finesse these things sometimes, and maybe let the photographs do the talking.

Here are some shots where the photographers took some liberties and delivered their opinions. In descending order, we have portraits by Richard Avedon, Arnold Newman, and Gregory Heisler. This is what the history of photography is made of:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Commercial Break #7

Some pages from On Earth Fall 2008 story on ASU's School of Sustainability. I don't know why, but the colors in all the portraits all kind of looked like this...sometimes it's just good chemistry.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

End of ...The First Paid Blogger

Sorry to hear that Rachel Hulin and her PhotoShelter blog "Shoot - The Blog" have been given the pink slip and ceased production. But, uh...wow...great while it lasted and congrats to Photo Shelter for even trying to pull off such a thing. The format, the voice, the general tone will be resurrected and copied somewhere in the blogosphere I'm sure....and R.H. defined herself as a curious combination of the Sex In The City gurl, an issue of Aperture, and The National Enquirer...and placed in a blender. What about the haters? Were there bitter vibes coming off the legions of unpaid photo bloggers during her tenure? Sometimes. This is photography, right? Can't have it without it...
Of course I liked her because she actually helped me perpetuate the illusion that I was really a player or something...like here and here...but even without that, I thought her blog was a good thing that created a form of community around this previously invisible PhotoShelter entity.
Hulin is still blogging and being a photographer, keep up with her HERE.
photograph by Rachel Hulin

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I read a book about this guy last month

Leslie Conway Bangs (December 13, 1948 – April 30, 1982) was an American music journalist, author and musician. Most famous for his work at Creem and Rolling Stone magazines, Bangs was and still is regarded as an extremely influential voice in rock criticism.

Just a truly original voice that really had a quality of wonder and amazement. You knew he loved something and he wasn't too cool to let his enthusiasm show. It's ok to gush about something...it's ok to admit that something is great. It's ok not to be jaded. We haven't seen everything before...there are things that still can take our breath away.

I'm looking for a great quote from Bangs to share with you, but I can't find a great one that sums it all up. But all of these sentiments reminded me of an interview I read with Andrew WK, a few years back:
Somehow, for some reason, it's gotten cool to not have a passion about something. It's gotten cool to be distant and detached from things, to have a seen-it-all, done-it-all, been-there-done-that attitude about things. Which I only can attribute to the amount of information that's available and the things that are expected of people, and the way people are judged based on what they decide. No wonder people are tentative about believing in something: First, they're wondering if it's going to let them down, and second, they wonder what people are going to think of them. The more you believe in it, the more it becomes your own. I just hope people have the strength to still give things a chance, and to say, "You know what? This isn't too good to be true. Maybe I haven't seen everything."

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lost Continent Exhibit

The exhibit is titled "Lost Continent" and features Kyle Cassidy, Sam Fentress, Alex Vertikoff and myself. Cassidy is the author of "Armed America", Vertikoff authored the classic "Weird Rooms", and Fentress authored "Bible Road". What's the link? All the artists are looking at America in a curious and affectionate type of way...showing and accepting the quirks and obsessions. Good company and an interesting collection for sure.
The show opens Thursday September 11th, 2008 at Todd / Browning Gallery.

Massive After-Party? Chateau Marmont on Sunset? Bungalow 22? Well...all of that did indeed have to be cancelled. Unfortunately I can't make it to the opening. There is a P.T.A meeting that my wife wants to go to and I need to stay with the kids that night. But I do encourage all of you in Los Angeles to check it out and tell me all about it, send out jpgs, all of that.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Sitting across the dinner table at Erik Almas' home last night, Brooke of Tidepool says " When you have a shot that is getting attention, you really just need to beat people over the head with it, show it to them every way you can!"
I am trying...
What is Flak Photo? Why is it called that odd name? It looks like an actual magazine, or like a high art magazine for online photography fans whom have graduated into a higher and more intellectual brand of photography...and I mean that in only the best way. Where Conscientious feels like you are going to grad school, Flak seems to be on a different, more consciously human channel.

Intelligent, slick and polished, elegant approachable design, it looks like a staff of 10 puts it out or something. But no, one guy, Andy Adams, and this is his manifesto: Flak promotes interesting visual approaches to seeing the world and celebrates the art of exhibiting quality photography online.

And that does indeed sum it up.

See my Sept. 1st shot on Flak HERE, see how great Flak is everyday HERE.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Emotional Exhibitionism

NYC Photographer Jonathan Saunders is self publishing a series of magazines that can not be ignored. On his blog he is pushing iliketotellstories TWO, but if you really want to enter the heart of emotional darkness and feel what it is like...because maybe you've been there yourself, I recommend buying the issue titled DIES MERCURII XI JULIUS MMVII. How is that pronounced? Lord knows, but who cares? This a visual medium, and the title looks appropriately heavy and profound and not easy going at all.

The author states:

On July 11, 2006, after a love and I made a choice we could not take back, I made a promise to myself to make something beautiful every following July 11.

I walked to where we made that choice a year before and back home again, trying to not regret and trying to not think what if.

Buy it HERE.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bent Stick

Stick bent twice to mimic the figure in the " Cardboard Tube For Arm" photo posted below.