Monday, March 30, 2009

Commercial Break : La Library

Shaye La McKenney of La Library, S.F.'s socialist boutique for 7x7 magazine with p.e. Kathryn Roach.

Inspired performance by Shaye and high drama hair and make-up by her stylist Shana Astrachan.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

First We Take Manhattan

San Francisco based photographer Emily Nathan drops the commercial photography neutron bomb and signs a contract with photo agency titans Bernstein and Andriulli!
Nathan and I crossed paths in 1998. She was the first assistant I ever worked with on a regular enough basis to form the psychic bond that sometimes happens in these situations. That period taught me that this photographer/assistant relationship could be a two way street: it was an opportunity for both of us to learn from each other. You spend so much time both need to get something from the process. You have the potential to open each other's eyes. This situation allowed me to create a model that I've tried to have with everyone I've worked with on a regular basis: I want to have someone with me who would bring something special to the table, even if they often times don't know what that is...even if it is really just who they are. She brought that to my work and brings it to every photograph she creates.
Here are excerpts from Nathan's recent personal series, titled "Fairy Tales".
m m
See her site HERE.
See Emily's page at Bernstein and Andriulli HERE.
all photographs copyright emily nathan

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rorschach Test

Putting lots of time trying to get the commercial portfolio off the ground. It's not terrible but there isn't a sense of discovery to that project like there is with the Echolilia book. In the evening, the kids go to bed, I try to put some energy into it and come up with a spread that speaks in some non-literal manner. I gotta make a choice here, between these two creations, though. They seem to mean different things.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Commercial Portfolio Prototype

My portfolio has always's always been the weakest link in the whole package. I'm just not a clean and neat craftsman when it comes time to produce these things big epson heavy books.

After trying to beg my reps to let me double click and crank out a BLURB book as my portfolio, putting them off and telling them I'll get to it another time, they finally told me the current book looks terrible and needs to be redefined. Borrowing liberally from TB's book, but changing it enough to avoid legal action and papers being served. Here are shots from the new prototype I pitched the reps. They seemed to like it, now we gotta produce it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Richard Morgenstein Exhibits In S.F. Mansion

I guess I was expecting white walls and glass. Maybe some wine and a cracker or two.
The invitation looked traditional enough. Paige Gallery which represents Richard Morgenstein's work chose to stock a 25 million dollar S.F. mansion on Scott Street with giant prints from R.M.'s personal projects, as well as the work of fine artists Susan Green and Julie Green. OMG, this is how the other half of the other half lives. This is way over on the other side of the tracks. Who expected this?
I would have invited my Mom to come out of I knew this would be part home tour part art experience. And then...the roof top lounge area....I dunno what to say. Enjoy:

Captions, top to bottom:
photographer Richard Morgenstein, a detail from the Paintball series, the main wall, the rooftop lounge.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Oh, you just gotta try different things and see what sticks.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Power Chord

I come home and the house is quiet. My son Eli looks different. The noises are gone. The non stop talking that usually fills the house is gone. The edge, the staccato everything, the aggressive dynamics are absent. He has a fever. He sits at the table.

Can you come into my room? I want you to hear this song. It's number 11.

I sit on the floor and he falls on the bed. The illness has taken away all of these things that are so evident and on the surface every day. The fever has equalized us.

The music fills the room, its dark, we both whisper the lyrics. We are both 19 right now. No child no parent. Big anthemic album, power chords and choruses, we both take it in. Our eyes never meet...we never glance over to see if it's all right, if it's cool. We are both in the music...the appreciation is instinctual, it really is the equalizer here.
I can't make out some of the lyrics but look them up after he falls asleep, looking for clues or at least a passage for my project. I find one but I'm too embarrased to share it: it's too adolescent, too easy to exploit. Giving the moment the respect it deserves, I just let it go.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Review: WTJ Lecture in NYC

Lots of buzz in the photoblogging world about the Amy Stein/Andrew Hetherington lecture earlier this week. Rumor has it that bootlegs exist of 100% of the Stein lecture and roughly 90% of the Hetherington lecture....I'm sure they'll surface eventually in the sphere. Me? Well I couldn't attend but of course needed the gossip and all. Photographer Andrew Dolgin was in the audience for a bit of A.H.'s lecture and penned this curious document which is part lecture review, part WTJ press release, and part psychoanalysis. It was forwarded my way. See what you think:


When Andrew Hetherington’s turn at the mic arrived a brief video spot from the BBC television series “Jackanory” highlighted the inspiration for “What’s the Jackanory’s ?” name. Everyone in the room could sense the changing in the air from artist to artist...Stein and Hetherington both had their own styles of handling their presentation. What immediately struck me was Andrew’s dry wit and subtle presence. It was the lynch pin of his whole presentation, just as it is in his photographs.

The more Hetherington unveils his roots in Photography, characterized by lighthearted old photos of his youth, his journey for something more becomes clear, though he does not necessarily have his finger on what the more is. He moved from Dublin because for him, being a photographer should be more than a job. With that in mind he infused himself into the mix of the fashion industry. His brief fore in fashion left him wanting, so still he sought the more. This brought him to a critical juncture in his photographing career: searching for something else. He started to find the more as intangible aspects, back in Ireland with his new snapshot with high quality approach.

It is apparent as I re-look as these images, that the soul and integrity of Hetherington the man, suddenly shone through his pictures. It doesn’t seem to me that Hetherington ever wanted to be Steven Meisel or Stefan Ruiz; he wanted to be himself, which is the most refreshing aspect about Hetherington’s perspective on the world he captures on his Hasselblad.

When we reached this point in his talk, I was personally left thirsting for a bit more of the development of the person through doing this work: stories of making the game changing images from him, or just something more. It felt like there was a wall, and he was only bringing us so far into his world. Now, in fairness there were a couple of urges from the powers that be to speed up the presentation, but nevertheless we were left hungry to know more about him in this way.

Let’s not be fooled folks, the seemingly no-frills approach is very calculated. Part of the je ne sais quoi of Hetherington, is his the appearance of a folksy casualness. His approach to making pictures though, is based in a technical mastery that allows for mobility and as such is part of how he achieves a certain quality or soul from his subjects. The same is true of his consistent dress. The g-star jeans, t-shirt and jean shop jean jacket it’s are playful and emblematic Hetherington is: simple yet calculated and identifiable. I wish I could understand this more the man himself.

As guarded as he was about his own process and development, the alter ego of the Jackanory was not so. During his development in his assisting days he speaks very fondly of his experience C- Printing at Print Space. The networking and conversations seemed to fuel the burgeoning Hetherington.

‘What’s the Jackanory’ was created from the desire to feed Hetherington’s creative disciplines. Jackanory is his vehicle to creating a new network where his own creative energy becomes invigorated by the sharing of ideas and work of his peers. And somehow this blog all stems from a staunch desire for greatness. Knowing the story of others and what is going on is an important aspect to keeping Hetherington’s mind working and his creative juices fresh. I never would have thought of a blog in this way, but Hetherington has achieved this: an arena to talk about the industry, but more importantly feed the energy of artists with a common goal. This representation of the unguarded Jackanory is in stark contrast to photographic persona.

If you didn’t know Hetherington personally before hearing him speak you would know that he is passionate about the exchange of ideas and the possibilities of his alter ego. The one thing that the presentation lacked was the ability to properly credit his passion and ability for making pictures. This I feel is because he only lets us in to a point.

In true Hetherington fashion, he ends his presentation with a checklist, “Jackanory’s tips to editorial photography and blogging.” It was a charming list of all of his eccentricities and personal favorite gear and tools for the job.

In the end we are left feeling that Hetherington is someone who genuinely cares about his craft and the world around him. This is evident. Yet there is an unfinished note of uncertainty…Hetherington, what are the deeper aspects of your story?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cameo in NYC

A brief cameo at the APA / NY Apple store " Photographers Who Blog: Amy Stein and Andrew Hetherington" lecture last night. Just proof that flattery will get you everywhere! Below is A.H, mid-lecture, in front of what looks like a childhood photograph.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Mom Photographer? The Dad Photographer?

So who is the defining Mom Photographer?

The first one that comes to anyone's mind seems to be Sally Mann. She seemed to carve out the territory on being a Mom, photographing her kids and letting all the complexities of those relationships steer the work. You knew the kids were question about the intimacy she recorded. These kids came from her loins and the connection is evident. These days, to me, the work still carries a punch. A bit romantic for our current times I thought before revisiting it, but she's got the sexuality and the physicality that kids carry and filters it all thru her images. And there is darkness. With all of that the work seems to be speaking to everyone. You rarely meet someone who is not a fan. ( I did...but only once.)

Now Emmet Gowin's early photographs look alot like Mann's. He came first...and for some reason I think he was her teacher. His stuff is GREAT: it's got this haunted intimacy that makes it all seem like a memory you were hanging on to from when you were a child. Was he the defining Dad photographer? I don't think so...he seemed to photograph kids and adults and cousins and old men and his wife and all sorts of never seemed like he was looking at his role of being a Dad in the photographs really. With his series on his wife Edith, it was almost like he was like the Husband Photographer, documenting Edith throughout their life together. Is that what Harry Callahan was? Was he the Dad photographer?
So...who was the defining Dad photographer? Was there ever one? Lewis Carrol? Was it Edward Weston? I dunno...he shot a torso of his son...but it looks like he just needed a still-life, had to watch the kids that day ( as if! ) and his peppers weren't around or something. Currently there is a crop of folks I've been exposed to thru this blogging world, Moms and Dads, shooting their kids and addressing their role in the whole family venture: Fleming, Pantall, Records, Deutsch, Blackmon....more names please? But....for right now, who is the defining Mom photographer? I'd say Tierney Gearon of course....but then....I just saw a series by Elinor Carucci that is great and is looking at all of the important stuff.

Sally Mann's work...if it came out now...I dunno if it would speak to parenting. It's romantic and confident, where the current crop of stuff by Gearon has the emotional chaos, the anxiety and the stress...and the feeling that someone took recreational drugs at some point and is referencing those experiences. Carucci's work has a bit of that stress as well...but prettier, more lucious...even if it is a close up of a runny is beautiful and anxiety ridden all at the same time. And seems to carry the powerfull emotions only a Mother can seem to deliver when photographing their kids.
Obviously I'm looking at all of this because I'm a Dad, trying to do a project about one of my kids, or my relationship with the kid, or something like that...its my current territory. Fleming had a quote in a recent post about self doubt that everyone working in this territory can relate to:

oh my god, I'm not raw enough, I'm not saying anything new, I have to change the whole project ...I just create so-so shots that only deserve a place on Flickr under the surname mamahobbyphotog or some such.
"Mamahobbyphotog"..."Proudadphotog"...that type of haunts the genre. But lots of folks have transcended the genre and made really powerful work. I just can't think of the defining Mom Photog or Dad Photog pre Sally Mann/Gowin/Callahan. So....contribute here if anyone can.

(credits from top: Tierney Gearon, Sally Mann, Emmet Gowin, Elinor Carucci)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Blue Nailpolish and Floating Spread

There is a kind of "found object" excitement in putting this stuff together.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Back To The Book

So....I'm trying to make sense of all of this Echolilia stuff and look at it in book form. Thanks to everyone who is throwing out their ideas. Some of which are here:

JJS: ... go with what comes natural and be sure to explore your own awkward feelings that come up.

EF: This seems like a project that as you say will never have an end point, it will just change and grow, and so I could see there being another book down the road that shows the next chapter.

SA: You might as well ask if you can make a book about one street, one town, one junkie, one emotion; if the work is good and well and honest, reflects many aspects, touches at least some others, teaches some others, provokes stimulates and questions ideas, has an opinion and some humility then it will work and the rest are the details.

TB: The spreads need to speak to the subconcious. You can't make literal connections. Put them together and see what your brain gets a hit off of.

And then CP wants me to make it out of yarn and thread and get out my knitting needles.

Well...I asked, didn't I?

To me, this isn't a project that will go on through out the kid's life. It's not about his life, him doing things. It's about something seeing thru his bent lens, getting into that headspace and dealing with it from the inside and outside or something like that. Either way it has led to an interesting way to make new images. Sitting down with the project with E.N. the other day, she tried to break it down:

It looks like you are trying to see the world the way he sees this unique way that is natural to him but new to you...and trying to make sense of it. You've got the shots you do together of him, you've got the scans which are your voice, trying to make sense of everything, and need to give him a voice. You've hinted at that with text, but I think that is the missing link...more text, in his voice, verbatim from his mouth....leave out your filter. That may be the thing you need.

Here are more spreads we're playing with:

Saving The World

Rebecca Horne, exhibiting artist and photo editor of Discover Magazine fled NYC just before a snowstorm hit and made it out to rainy SF to put together the portrait series we were producing for The Conference on Climate Change. Always a little nervous in these situations...I mean...on the phone stylist Shannon Amos and I can talk a pretty good game....we sound like nice normal folk. When the client is on another coast, it's a piece of cake. But when they come to meet us and the dream team of Khalif, Poling, Sjoen...surprise! It's like art school all over again. Khalif and Poling are artists living the life 24/7, Sjoen is the last living Marilyn Manson fan, and Amos? When they see her pull in hauling slabs of ice and fake rocks dressed like the Unabomber with her mirror sunglasses on...oh, well....she always seems to charm them all of them do. And again I'm reminded how fortunate I am to be able to work with them all: we get together and they just do their thing....all I do is ask them to show up and press the button.

Just watch the video and see.

More pics of all of the fun below....

Rebecca Horne of Discover Magazine watching from the prism.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Coming Next...

TA and his Dream Team tackle The Discover Magazine Climate Change Conference!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Wrestling With The Book

Every Body Else Week last week was inspiring....all this great stuff everyone is doing I didn't even have to hunt to find all just presented itself. The economy is tanking but people are doing great things...or maybe because it is tanking that everyone is so prolific? m
My reps at Tidepool had been wanting me to do a Blurb Book of the Echolilia project for them to include when they do portfolio showings at ad a way to show a tangent project. I kind of put them off...I didn't think I was ever at a good stopping point. Right now I'm not wanting to stop but the pictures have slowed in coming and I'm trying to listen to that. TB has been recommending I do one for a different reason: he felt it would help me stop shooting for a bit and evaluate the project...what I have, what is working, what is repetitious. Does it have an arc? Is it all one note? Can someone do a book on just one kid...or on the relationship...and is it really any of these things? And how to start?

The process is an intense changes the context of the shots alot and really exposes the holes and the I think I've said before. When I started a few days ago it really all looked ugly, it struck me as dark and bleak and kind of a photographic crime against humanity. Why would anyone want to do this project?
It's all in flux and I'm just getting used to what I can and can't do with the format. Just thought I'd share some early spreads.