Friday, January 30, 2009

TB Shooting The Office Project

Dropping off some borrowed equipment from TB just in time to witness the history of photography in the making and snap a shot with my camera phone.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Muybridge or Daguerreotype or Something

Shot by Stylist Shannon Amos with an iphone at our shoot yesterday in Fairfield, CA

Friday, January 23, 2009

Week in Review

Of course...we gotta admit this Obama thing is powerful to witness. Not just him, but the fans, the mania. It is 0 t0 60 in 10 just seems to have this power. People see him and get taken over by this emotion that I haven't seen before. I can't pretend to understand his politics, I simply voted for him because he looked cool, but others in the know seem to think he is onto something.
There is probably a lesson here with the Obama thing, but I can't find it. It is just a phenomena to stand back and witness. The lesson occured the previous week on the east coast, when the pilot Chesley Sullenberger III landed a U.S. Airways jet in N.Y.'s Hudson River. A flock of birds, mother nature itself, clog up his engines. They fail. He is near the city, he needs to land the plane. Tell everyone we are having a crash landing. The attendants instruct the passengers to put their heads between their knees. Life jackets on. The plane lands on the water, the people get out on the wing, ferries come and pick them up. It's done. They didn't really have time to freak out. Everyone lived. Did anyone think this was a realistic option?
Want to apply for the Guggenheim? Ahhh, I might not win.
Want to do something odd in a photograph? Oh, the subject will say no...
This guy did land a passenger plane in the river and it worked better than anyone would have imagined. The lesson is in there somewhere.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Nail Thru Finger With Blood, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I thought this was curious and cool, but maybe you all will be underwhelmed by it:
a photographer friend recently went to NYC to meet with photo editors, show his book, etc. While meeting with a p.e. he noticed my promo card hanging in her cubicle and snapped a shot of it...something to give us faith that all this advertising actually sticks some time....or something like that. He sent me the shot yesterday and I noticed something familiar to the right of my card. It is the photograph of the young girl kissing Howdy Doody taken from Re-Visions by Marcia Resnick, the "Best Photo Book of 1978" I wrote about last week.
Serendipity? Good luck? Similar tastes? I dunno but I like it.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Best Photo Book Of 1978

Re-Visions By Marcia Resnick

The resonance this book has had, the various ways you see it's influence reveal itself in contemporary photography always surprises just never seems to die. It seems to be one of the biggies, as influential as "Suburbia" by Bill Owens and the Diane Arbus Monograph. My first photography teacher pushed this work on the students and they ate it was fantastic and surreal, but it all seemed do-able.

The stuff you are exposed to in the early years sticks with you, burns itself in your brain with the resonance of Beatles' know the images inside and out so thoroughly you often forget from where they originally came. That is the case with the images in Re-Visions. I've known the images, they've influenced me daily, but I forgot about the book and the photographer until this copy landed.

Resnick's images all have the confessional feeling of self portraiture, but I'm guessing none of them are of her. They are conceptual, they are literary fictions, all done with a style of make-shift / thrift store theatricality that just seems inventive and charming.

The images were paired with titles that created a third person narrative for the book to follow.

The cake image was titled "She would sneak licks of icing before blowing out the candles on her birthday cake". The Howdy Doody image was titled "She secretly lusted for her television idols". Engaging with some of the images on their own, with out the narrative, can be equally rewarding. The Pin-The-Tail-On-The-Donkey image above looks like it could be a Roger Ballen out-take. While researching the book I found a brief description of the book as follows:

A Lolita-like envisioning of staged photographs of the thinking of a young girl in the third person, dismissed by the photo community, but absolutely wonderful.

That quote pretty much sums it up. Not a surprise that the Camera Clubbers of 1978 would not be able to relate to this book, but I'm pretty confident it found it's audience .

Hard to find, but try to buy some of Marcia Resnick's work HERE.
Marcia's website is HERE.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Best Photo Book of 2008

Deformer by Ed Templeton

As the year comes to a close and people's best-of lists come out, I'm sure some massive Robert Polidori over sized tome will be on the top of the lists, or something serious by Burtynsky, all of these books trying so hard to save the world...I just can't get off on them. Best book of 2008 came in last night : Deformer by Ed Templeton.
The book has the size and feel of a high school yearbook. Templeton was born in 1972 in Orange County, raised by his grandparents, and met his wife Deanna seemingly when they were in high school. This is their story, seen thru Templeton's eyes, in words, pictures, report cards, hand written notes, and ephemera. The style owes a lot to Larry Clark, Jim Goldberg, the collage/mixed media journal style used by others but fits in comfortably in E.T.'s hands.

What I love about this book is that it isn't tragic, it isn't sad, nothing major really is just an intimate view into the life of two people. With it's view into the micro, it becomes universal. By the end of the book, seemingly by osmosis, you feel you know these two people and are entwined in their lives. A random photograph...of say, a kid hitting a pinata, takes on the feeling of a major metaphor. Inspired editing and design allow all of these elements to mix together and speak.

Buy it HERE.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Stroked By The Brush

Xmas break takes over everything and puts me in my place.

I've never really been as deep into this role of The Dad as I am at this time. There are no jobs to escape to, no co-workers to spend time with, no important phone calls to engage in. Everyone knows that the world of art and commerce is shut down. The kids know it better than anyone. I'm here and I'm present, there is no juggling of anything for two weeks. I just have one role and one set of things to think about.

The doors will be closing. Please stand clear of the doors.

The doors will be closing. Please stand clear of the doors.

The phrase is repeated obsessively whenever we encounter a moving door. At the library, on a bus, at the supermarket. It comes from deep within and interrupts common conversation. It's stated as an impulse, a reaction, not as a collection of thoughts expressed. It is repeated in exact tone and rhythm without meaning. This is echolilia.

The memorization of subway schedules. The tracking of buses and their schedules in real time. The affected style of speech, with a sing song up and down pattern. The focused attention on complex mechanical gears: bus doors, elevator doors, sliding doors, multi-plane doors that fit into each other. The lack of interest in physical affection...he never needs to be hugged, it just doesn't make him feel better.

A mainstream book on autism came into the house. We laughed at it at first...we really kind of had forgotten the whole diagnosis we got last year and have come to think of these characteristics as part of his personality that we just embrace. This book had 'em all, like a check list: yes, yes, no on that, not that one, yes, kind of, yes.
The book had one concept that really was the keeper: some kids get clobbered by this autism thing and it takes over their entire being while other kids just get gently stroked by the brush. Some of these compulsions stick like pollen, others don't, and all other qualities stay the same. During this break it was clear that what we got was the gentle brushing... that is what has made it so confusing to pin point and figure out.
Having an answer to the riddle feels always very different than simply having the riddle.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ranch Thatchmo: One Year Old and Dying

Thatcher Keats started Rancho Thatchmo a year ago, published a photograph everyday, and has closed shop. The experiment is over, but it certainly was addictive...I tuned in every day.

Who is TK? Looks like he is a Dad and it looks like he savors his role in life. He claims to live in NYC, but all his images depict a childhood on permanent vacation: tall grasses and wild weeds to run thru, natural pools to swim in, oceans to get absorbed in and everything looks like it is illustrating a mythological childhood...the one that exists only in fables.
I don't know TK, we've corresponded cryptically, but I always imagined he had some missing years...the big chunks of time that allowed him to learn the secrets.
Here are some favorites from the first and last year of the Rancho. Enjoy:

all photographs by Thatcher Keats